Green Party List MP, Jan Logie, told a joke on Twitter that fell flat. At least, I’m assuming it was supposed to be a joke. I seemed to be the only person in the country who found it slightly amusing, but my sense of humour can on occasion be somewhat askew. I think the outrage that sprang up on social media and the blogosphere was largely because she’s from the Greens. When someone who’s supposed to be so much holier than thou turns feral, it’s easier to jump up and down and call the principal.
Anyway, before I get accused of supporting the lowering of the tone of political debate, Lew at Kiwipolitico used Ms Logie’s tweet as the jumping off point for an interesting blog entitled “National Lite“. In answer to Logie’s question – who has Bill English f&%d to produce his latest budget – Lew answers, “Nobody. That’s the problem.” He writes:
When your enemies move to occupy your ideological ground, it is an opportunity to extend that ground, replacing what they claim from you with more advantageous ground deeper within your ideological territory. The trouble for Labour is that National has moved towards them, and Labour are still trying to fight them for the same ground rather than staking out more ground of their own. Six years after the “Labour lite” campaign that saw them ousted in the first place, they haven’t learned.
Over at the Dim-Post, Danyl McLauchlan says that Lew has drawn the wrong conclusion – that what National’s budget actually shows is that Labour is winning the ideological battle:
Back in 2011 National campaigned on asset sales. This year they’ll be running on the extension of paid parental leave and free GP visits for kids. Trust me, the majority of National MPs and activists do NOT want to be introducing those policies. I suspect that’s why Key is floating the vague notion of tax cuts at some distant future date – to placate parts of his base, who will be livid about all this communism and wealth transfer and additional welfare dependency.
This is what an election year budget looks like when the opposition is winning the ideological debate. What are National’s big ideas for their third term? There aren’t any. There isn’t anything to address the housing bubble in this budget so there might be a ‘big idea’ campaign policy around that but I doubt it’ll be a free market solution. Whatever they come up with is probably going to look like a watered-down Labour or Green policy.
Really they’re both correct. National’s occupation of Labour ground shows that National has no intention of marching right-wards. They’ve got their divisive asset sales agenda completed, and are now happy to simply placate the middle class by embracing families with children. It’s not a Right v Left ideological struggle; instead it’s a tussle over the degree to which Labour and the Greens policies get implemented. Just look at the opposition responses to the budget, which can basically be paraphrased as, “Well, National’s budget is a good start, but we’d spend a bit more on those areas.”
The major problem for Labour is that the party isn’t very good at persuading voters that they’ll make a competent government. They’re largely fighting with National over the same patch of ground, but Labour’s managerial skills are hopeless. People want to vote for stable, competent government, and Labour has for six years been doing a terrible job of looking either stable or competent.
So, who has Bill English f&%d to produce his budget? The answer is probably Labour, but the question should perhaps be why does Labour keep f&%king itself?