Now that I’ve had a day to get over how cross I am at Labour for wasting two years by delaying roads because of bloody-mindedness I’ve got to hand it to them: Brilliant politics.
Most people don’t realise they’ve just re-announced National’s roads. Most people don’t realise they wasted two years and that we’ll have two extra years of congestion because of Labour. Most don't realise that Labour’s lost us some construction workers.
For most people, that doesn’t matter. All they saw yesterday was a government finally spending some real money on roads, which we desperately need, and they’re grateful.
Most people will buy Labour’s story about why it’s taken two years to get to this point. About how they first had to pay down some debt, then rejig the roads to future proof them with cycleways.
Yesterday’s $8 billion spend is a political masterstroke. It’s one that, if they play this properly, could help win them the election.
There’s two reasons for that.
Number one, Labour might be able to shake this ‘can’t deliver anything’ problem, and number two, they’ve left National a bit snookered.
This was going to be a big election issue for National. They’ve gone hard on Labour for cancelling roads. They’ve put billboards up around the country reminding commuters that they were going to build a local road that labour cancelled.
That’s pointless now because Labour’s just flipped that on its head. And if Labour can get some of these roads underway before September 19th then it might just be able to nuke the delivery issue.
Again, most punters won’t remember that last year’s 'Year of Delivery' was a complete bomb. If Labour can say they delivered just one little road then they can claim delivery.
And here’s a bonus reason why it’s a masterstroke: there’s still cash in the kitty. They didn’t spend everything yesterday - only 8 billion of the $12 billion. So, anybody who moans that they missed out, well, that can get nuked with a spend too.
Ultimately, it means there’s a good chance Labour can steal a whole group of voters who would otherwise lean towards National. Genius.