Is Labour still fighting last year’s election?
David Shearer’s limited announcements on economic policy have carefully been aimed to boost Labour’s image as a fiscally responsible government-in-waiting.
This clearly constrains them as they attack the Government’s Budget tomorrow.
The problem may be that the world has moved on and ‘fiscal responsibility’ is becoming synonymous with ‘austerity’ – policies that are becoming economically and politically less fashionable by the day.
There is clearly a majority of voters who think the Government has got it wrong or are unsure about the current economic approach according to Vernon Small and Tracy Watkins (see: Support for economic direction wavering). This would suggest there is fertile ground for a credible economic alternative, and there is no doubt Labour has plenty of ammunition with which to attack the Government. But they also need to provide a strong point of difference in order to be seen as a real alternative government.
- For an update on the Judith Collins defamation case, see Danya Levy’s Andrew Little told: You're served, no fries and Newswire’s Little claims email backing in ACC row. Levy’s article reports that the Labour MP got served his defamation papers when an ‘agent waited in the dark outside Labour MP Andrew Little's Wellington house and surprised him when he got out of the taxi with the words: "There's no fries with that but you've been served".’ According to Levy, Little complains that there is ‘an unwritten law that politicians didn't bother each other's families’ and that ‘Judith Collins came very close to the mark’. The Newswire article also reports that ‘Little says he has email evidence to knock back ACC Minister Judith Collins' defamation case against him’.
- Looking at the surprisingly liberal Government announcement this week about prison reform, the Taranaki Daily News editorial says that ‘Previously it would have been the Left-wing parties in Parliament making such noises, and some of the more Right-wing National Party factions will interpret it as their party "going soft" on crime and punishment’. The newspaper suggests that this significant policy shift on law and order is all down to the Maori Party’s influence in government – see: Corrections policy shows MMP working. While no doubt true, a more insightful answer can be read in a Colin James column from earlier in the month, in which he perceives a shifting mood amongst both the public and political parties away from hard-line law and order approach – see: A tide in the criminal affairs of men.
- Wealthy individuals funding political parties has turned into a nightmare for all concerned. Brian Rudman goes through a list of recent elite party backers that have caused trouble, starting with Michael Fay’s alleged $2m for Labour in the late 1980s, Owen Glenn’s $500,000 for the party more recently, the Exclusive Brethren’s financial ‘help’ for National’s 2005 campaign, Kim Dotcom’s bankrolling of John Banks, and now Louis Crimp’s embarrassing relationship with the Act Party. Rudman resurrects the call for state funding of political parties – a ‘solution’ that is unlikely to find favour with taxpayers – see: Danger of barrow-pushing donor.
- In his latest review of the New Zealand Comedy Festival, Paul Casserly gives a score of 8/10 in Crimpy's Comedy Catastrophe. Also Toby Manhire reports on ‘NZ’s answer to Michael Moore, Josh Drummond’ – see: Gissa job, British American Tobacco. I’m the one dressed up as a cigarette. Keith Ng has also endorsed Drummond in To Whom it May Concern.
- Finally, Russell Brown introduces a discussion on potentially offensive satirical and lewd political cartoons and suggests that we give cartoonists much ‘greater latitude’ on these matters – see: The Editorial Image.
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