National still deserves to lose: Grant

On August 5, commentator Damien Grant wrote an op-ed headlined “National deserves to lose.”

The frustrated neo-liberal saw Bill English’s government as devoid of ideas and for all intents and purposes a center-left administration.

That was back when Labour was on 23% in the polls.

Even then, Cactus Kate taunted Mr Grant and his supporters in comments, saying “Hilarious. If National goes out now they'll be not one term but nine years of tax rises, excessive spending and printing money. Good luck with that NZ business. You will vote for what you deserve.”

Now, with Jacindamania in full effect and the prospect of Labour seizing the Treasury benches suddenly very real, is having second thoughts?


“This government is increasingly contemptible, and you saw it the Newshub debate. Bill English fronts up and he says he’s going to take 100,000 kids out of poverty," the liquidator says.

"The problem is, we don’t have 100,000 kids living in poverty – and that’s what Bill English should be saying if he actually had any internal political belief system, he would not accept this myth of 295,000 people living in poverty.

"Even the Child Poverty Action Group’s own definition of material deprivation only comes up with 86,000* children living in poverty. And to get that, they have to have things like not having contents insurance on your house and only being able to afford second-quality cuts of meat. We simply don’t have 100,000 children living in poverty by any rational objective measure.

"What Bill English should be doing is he should be confronting Jacinda Ardern and saying “We can’t reduce poverty because we simply don’t have enough poor children to do it but he simply isn’t doing that."

While most pundits saw Mr English winning the Newshub debate on points, Mr Grant saw a comprehensive victory for Ms Ardern in terms of the Labour leader dictating the exchanges terms-of-reference.

"He is accepting the narrative of the left that we have this terrible, nasty, evil neo-liberal state," Mr Grant says.

"So no, I haven’t changed my opinion at all. The sooner this government goes, the better.

"Even if National retains office, we're not going to get a right-wing government, we're going to get a continuation of the last Labour government." **

* A spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group tells NBR the organisation gets its material deprivation figure from the Ministry of Social Development’s Household Incomes Report, which is distilled for easier viewing at It figures, using 2016 data, 155,000 kids are in lesser material hardship (going without at least seven of the things in this list of 17) and 85,000 in greater material hardship (going without nine things).

** Even though Damien Grant and I do not share the same politics, we do agree on historiography. 

Mr Grant recently wrote "This administration is no different from the first National government, elected in 1949, that retained the social welfare state enacted by the First Labour government; thus beginning a sad pattern that continues to the present day."

That follows my own theory that, broadly speaking, the current government has followed the historic pattern of National managing and tweaking big-bang policies introduced by Labour (the welfare state in the 1930s, ACC in the 1970s, Rogernomics in the 1980s).

Key and English only tweaked around the edges, maintaining core Clark/Cullen initiatives like the redistributive Working for Families, interest-free student loans, the free-trade deal with China, Kiwibank, KiwiSaver and the Super Fund.

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