Anthony Robins makes a case at The Standard that Labour is the party of economic competence.
The old myth that National are good managers of the economy should now be well dead and buried. By any realistic assessment of the records of the last two governments, Labour is the party of economic competence.
Labour: 9 surplus budgets, paid down net government debt to zero, established the Cullen fund, KiwiSaver, KiwiBank and emissions trading scheme, low unemployment, negotiated a successful free trade agreement with China, and so on.
National: 7 deficit budgets (so far), ran up record government debt, sold productive assets, made significant losses by cutting Cullen fund contributions, gutted the emissions scheme, got taken for a ride by Hollywood, Sky City and Rio Tinto, higher unemployment, is negotiating a disastrous TPP, and more.
There’s some valid points there, but also some questionable ones. And some significant omissions, for example Kiwirail, and the fact that the New Zealand economy was heading into difficult times while Labour was still in Government, having committed the country and the incoming National Government to significant increased spending.
There’s certainly things National can be criticised for, but “made significant losses by cutting Cullen fund contributions” is nonsense, and the Hollywood deal can be credited in part for improving tourism which is one of the countriy’s biggest earners now.
Labour needs to highlight the issue of economic competence next election (with any luck the media will do their job too and fairly present the facts). It is supposed to be a core National strength, but any clothes that emperor ever had are long gone now. National is vulnerable.
Robins looks back to the Labour Government led by Helen Clark and Michael Cullen. They were voted out in 2008, seven years ago.
National aren’t judged on the Bolger Government, or the Muidoon Government.
Of course National is vulnerable, especially if the economic situation worsens or doesn’t improve much.
But Bill English is widely seen as a very sound Minister of Finance who has managed the economy through very difficult times. If he remains then National may still look economically reliable. If not it National will have to look like they have got a comparable replacement.
Sure “Labour needs to highlight the issue of economic competence” – but Andrew Little and Grant Robertson have to do quite a lot of convincing yet about perceptions of their economic competence. If they are still leader and Finance Spokesperson at the election.
And absent any poll recovery miracle Labour still have to grapple with how economically competent Labour+Greens looks, or Labour+Greens+NZFirst looks.
They’ve got plenty of time. It’s two years until we head into the next election campaign.
But they’ve had plenty of time. It’s nearly seven years and four leader/finance spokesperson combinations since Labour lost power.
Before Labour is seen as ‘the party of economic competence’ they need to be seen as a party that can competently manage itself.