Adoration of the PM is a strong card for Labour but polls are pointing to a close-run election

NZ   politicians  have  been  quiet  over the   holiday season,  perhaps  in the case  of   the  Labour team, reflecting  on the  “year of  delivery”  and where  it all  went  wrong.

But  now  we  are  into a new decade (one  authority has already labelled it  “the roaring 2020s”)  and New Zealand cannot stay  isolated in  some sort of  cocoon, no matter how  much  this may be desired.

Even   those politicians  who have succeeded  in finding a  peaceful  beach on which to  sun themselves  will  be  formulating the strategies  they hope will  work for  them  in election year.

Many  on the  Labour side  of the  fence   believe   Jacinda  Ardern  has a fan base    strong enough to  carry  the coalition to a  second term.   Here at   Point of  Order,   we have  encountered  sufficient adoration within  that  fan base  to  consider  that  they  will stay   loyal  when they  cast  their ballots.

And  she   is  regarded  as  one of the  most admired world leaders,  isn’t  she?

But  as  elections elsewhere have  shown,  particularly   in the UK  but also  in   Australia, constituencies  which have  never   deviated   from being  rock-solid  Labour  for  decades can turn decisively  away  from the party.

Party  strategists   may assess    Labour  in  NZ  does not face  the  kind of  political  trauma   which afflicted   their contemporaries  in  London or   Canberra,   but  current   polling trends  indicate   the  2020   election   could be a close-run thing.

And there  is a  distinct  problem   to  be  faced    after  the   so-called  “year of  delivery” did little more than   yield  a  series of   stuff-ups  by  ministers  like Phil  Twyford  and   Iain  Lees-Galloway, grandiose  but  unfulfilled  claims  from the likes of Shane Jones and  ( does   one dare  mention  it?) the   failure  by Ardern   herself  to limit   child poverty.

What   kind of   policies   can  Labour   campaign  on  in 2020?

A  new programme of   affordable   housing?  Just don’t call  it  KiwiBuild.

How about  fixing   the health system   after  all those years   of neglect   (no,  not the nine years of  the    Key-English government,  but the last three).

Let’s  see:  what about   new  measures  on   mental   health?  Or can something  be done   about inequality?.   Expansion  of the fees-free policy for  university  students?   Pledge   an increase   in the police  force?   Sure,  the average citizen might  say,  but have crime rates fallen? Do people feel safer  simply because  there are  more fresh-faced constables on the beat?

How about    building some new  highways?  No,  that  wouldn’t resonate  with voters  who  regard  the  lack of new  road projects as  one of  the biggest  failures of the Ardern-led  coalition.

What  about  making   NZ  more  prosperous?  Could  Labour   find  a  formula  to   lift  productivity?

The  problem   with issues   like that  is to  present  them  in a  way that voters  find  credible.   It  wouldn’t  be  easy,   given  the record  since  2017.

Even  where  actions like  lifting the  minimum  wage  appeal  to  elements in Labour’s  core base,   there  can be  negative  reactions in other  sections, such as  small business operators   who find  their  profitability  squeezed to vanishing point  when the  wage  bill  is raised by a Beehive diktat.

And   many  Labour  voters   among  tradespeople   are  not happy  when they see   their  hard-earned    taxes  diverted into  spend-ups on   beneficiaries    who  are  reluctant  to    find  work — particularly  in places  where employers  have to rely on  migrant  labour  to pick fruit or to  staff  retirement  homes.

There   will be considerable  pressure  on  Finance  Minister  Grant  Robertson  to  provide    goodies in  the   pre-election  budget.  But    would  tax  cuts—which  would almost certainly have to be targeted, if they are to  be a  vote-winner—capture  many votes outside  Labour’s  core base?

Tough  going then    for  those that   will be shaping  Labour’s  policy.

The  drums  can   beat loudly  over what the government has  done on  climate change.  But  if   NZ  politicians  on the  Left claim they are  leading the world  in  reducing  emissions,  will  the  weather  be any different  next summer?

The  evidence  may be daunting  even for  those  who like to think  NZ  can make a difference on global  warming.

Clearly,  Jacinda  Ardern  will have to  work   overtime  dispensing  those  lovely  hugs .

Hold on there:  hasn’t  the  present government  set a  record for the working groups  it  set up,  the  royal  commissions  beavering away,  and the endless  reviews  it has called  for?

Now there’s an achievement for the  history books.  Not perhaps  one to rank  with  those of the  Savage-Fraser , or the Lange-Douglas eras.  But in its own way, hard to  beat.



3 thoughts on “Adoration of the PM is a strong card for Labour but polls are pointing to a close-run election

  1. Let’s face it, the only thing this coalition has been proficient at is banning things: plastic bags, oil and gas exploration and , shortly, free speech. There is nothing to see on the positive side of the balance sheet – all the social indicators are heading South. Will more “hugz” and “feelz” from Jacinda tip the balance? Would you buy a used car from these people?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This government has been hopeless but I think they will be reelected primarily because of Ms Ardern. I think she is one of the laziest Prime Ministers. Unfortunately, the media, both here and internationally, love her. NZ MSM will wage a Ardern love fest leading up to the election of that I have no doubt. She will be given an easy ride during the televised leaders’ debates and continue to be protected in Parliament by our “impartial” Speaker. Finance Minister Robertson will also hand out lavish election bribes… er pledges. Perhaps tax cuts, benefit increases, free dental? I also predict that “journalist” Nicky Hager will publish another book a few weeks before the election probably about white supremacists and semi-automatic owning gun owners and linking them with the National Party.

    Liked by 1 person

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