Tim Dower: It's too early in the election for Labour's victory lap

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 11:59AM

Tim Dower: It's too early in the election for Labour's victory lap

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Jul 2020, 11:59AM

There are still more than 10 weeks till the election, and for my money that means it's a bit early for a victory lap.

But that's what it felt like watching footage from the Labour Congress on last night's TV news. And the tone of Jacinda's speech had a bit of that feel to it as well.

Now the polls might look pretty good but the fact is the campaign has barely begun, and the main opposition – well, is 'all over the shop' being too unkind?

Good content in Ardern's keynote address, focussing on the Covid recovery.

Investing in people, jobs, jobs, jobs, preparing for the future, supporting small business, positioning NZ globally.

A good, broad plan, but what about the realities?

She talked about infrastructure and the so-called Big New Zealand Upgrade, which sounds good on the face of it but the practicality is something else entirely.

How far do a couple of thousand gumboots and swrandi jobs go towards replacing the wall of white collar job losses we all know are coming.

The kind of work she's talking about creating is not the kind of work New Zealanders want to do anymore. So while it's all well and good to talk about a massive catch up” the fact of the matter is we've been sucking in thousands of immigrants to work on our farms and pick the fruit.

Are we being asked to reset our ambitions? She talks about apprenticeships and re-training across the board. Not just for our youth, for everyone.

But retraining to do what? Are we all going to become substance abuse counsellors?

More than that though, and this is why I think the victory lap is premature. If Labour's strength is Jacinda, its weakness is there's only one of her. And what we've seen in the past few weeks has exposed Labour's dearth of ministerial talent.

Even if you count Chris Hipkins, which I'll do reluctantly, you've got what, four competent operators? Good leadership is not in and of itself enough to create good government.