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Mike's Minute: Are we listening to policies or voting on a vibe?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 6 Sep 2023, 10:35AM

Mike's Minute: Are we listening to policies or voting on a vibe?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 6 Sep 2023, 10:35AM

As much as things change, the more they stay the same 

We have already witnessed one of the election's major lessons - Government's lose the vote, Opposition's don’t win them. 

We vote on the vibe, on a mood and the specifics are wasted on the engaged and the wonks. 

Labour and their mates have worked very hard since last week to try and undo National's tax policy, but they have failed. The evidence is in Thomas Coughlan's piece in the NZ Herald yesterday, a piece well worth reading because it's full of detail. 

But here is the key line - "It is complicated stuff. Many people contacted for this story politely declined to give their view on the issue, citing niche complexity of international trade and tax agreements. The dispute is being fought in a hotly contested area that only a handful of people can claim to fully understand." 

And with that, you move on. If the so-called experts can't agree, and the rest don’t even want to talk about it, I think we can safely conclude there is no resolution and you will decide not on the minutiae, but whether you like the idea of keeping more of your money. 

Another policy that got little coverage was National's idea to set up a cyclone and flood recovery ombudsman, the idea being you address disaster a lot faster than we have seen this year. 

The Prime Minister dismissed it as more bureaucracy, which I thought was kind of odd, given his own bureaucracy has left at least three regions and part of another very unhappy with how they have been dealt with. 

In other words, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Northland and chunks of Auckland are only just sorting themselves out after delays in decisions over events in January. Do they feel good about the way they have been treated? Are they voting on specifics of policy or the sense that they were let down badly when they needed help and what was offered didn’t cut it? 

That, essentially, is the story of this campaign, or at least it will be when it's played out. 

A two term Government with a record that too many will have decided is not for them; whether it's crime and ram raids or health and ED's you can't get to or clinics that are closed because of lack of staff or they're on strike or the recession we have been in, and perhaps the second one we are about to battle through, - that’s what drives votes. 

Policy is a distant second to the mood. Specifics are well down the list to the emotion of how you are feeling. 

It's why we don’t read the fine print.     

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