Is it sensible comparing Labour and United Future policies?

Simply put Labour’s policies are vague, negative and sparse, versus United Future’s comprehensive list of policies.

In an April 1 post Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish inadvertently raised an interesting point. He was presumably trying to mock United Future policies compared to Labour’s.

A couple of weeks ago I was trawling through various political sites for inspiration. I was planning a post attacking United Future’s Peter Dunne, and during the course of researching my post I came across the United Future website.

I had expected to find there a trove of daft ideas to inspire my attack, but I came away surprised at how sensible most of the party’s policies sounded. I’d always regarded Peter Dunne as a bit of a joke, a one-man band allowed to continue in Parliament due to a nudge-nudge-wink-wink deal with National over the Ohariu seat.

But once I read United Future’s site I realised there was a lot more to Peter Dunne than met the eye. I immediately cancelled my anti-Dunne post.

I doubt that Scott bothered to actually look at any UF policies, but there are a clear, comprehensive range of policies  (see below).

In comparison Labour’s policy web page is paltry and vague. A David Shearer signed statement says:

Right across the economy we will make fundamental changes. We will replace a simplistic hands-off approach with a smart hands-on one.

Shearer simplisticly keeps referring to hands off versus hands on, but does anyone actually know what having Shearer’s hands on Government would mean? He doesn’t even seem to be have his own hands on his leadership.

Labour’s policy approach is vague and at times contradictory – for example Clayton Cosgrove and David Parker seem to have different ideas about how Tiwai should be handled, see Labour’s conflicting priorities with Tiwai. And David Shearer was typically vague, saying that  “the Government should have stepped in earlier” and been “more hands on”.

Labour’s website policy page links to detail in an old policy document…

Our 2011 election manifesto remains Labour policy unless we specifically announce a change to it, although all policies in the manifesto are under review as Labour builds toward the 2014 election.

…but some of that has already been discarded, or again, Shearer doesn’t know if his hands are on or off:

Labour gone cold on GST-free food

Labour is considering going back on one of its major election promises – GST-free fresh fruit and vegetables.

It says it has to prioritise, but the tax break would be the third major policy the party’s scrapped since the last election, if they go back on it –  and the Government says it’s impossible to know what Labour now stands for.

“If we can’t afford policies then they will have to go. GST off fresh fruit and veg is one thing we’re looking at,” says Labour leader David Shearer.

“We’re going to have to throw out some of the policies that are going to cost us a lot of money,” says Mr Shearer.

GST-free healthy food would cost $317 million, and would be tricky to enforce.

Mr Shearer says its savings and jobs policies are more important.

“How does that fit with GST off fresh fruit and veges? Can we do it all? I doubt if we can. We’re going to have to prioritise,” he says.

So Mr Shearer’s refusing to say outright whether the policy will definitely go, but all signs point to it being too costly, too difficult and too low down the list.

Is Yorke really seduced by this “bold rhetoric promising economic transformation, jobs and growth”?

Labour’s policy page has “the new policies you see below are the start of our new way of doing things.” Five policies are listed.


The housing market is failing thousands of Kiwis. The biggest barrier to home ownership is the difficulty of getting on the first rungs of the housing ladder.

Over the past 50 years the number of new affordable homes being built has dropped from a third of all new homes to just 5 per cent.

That’s why Labour is taking a bold hands-on approach to help Kiwis into their first home.


Many of National’s policies have passed their use-by date. Economists, many governments and major institutions such as the IMF realise that the world has changed. They know new answers are needed.

New Zealanders understand this too and know that we must change as well.

Kiwis want real and innovative solutions to take this country forward. They want a Government that sees problems and gets stuck in to fix them rather than try to explain them away.

That’s why there is significant support for major Labour policies, including KiwiBuild, raising the retirement age, universal KiwiSaver, updating our monetary policy and a capital gains tax.

It’s time for a hands-on government, one that is committed to making a real difference in people’s lives.

That is really Labour’s “bold rhetoric promising economic transformation, jobs and growth”.


Under National, education is going backwards. They are adopting tired ideas from countries with education systems that are less successful than ours.

Increasing class sizes and putting unqualified and unregistered teachers into classrooms are not strategies for success.

National are happy to spend $36 million on National Standards that measure the problem; Labour would rather spend that money fixing the problem.

Once again Labour leads with negatives.


National is taking us down a path to fewer jobs, lower wages and more of our young people seeking better opportunities in Australia.

The gap between the rich and the rest of New Zealand has never been wider – and it’s growing. It’s a lack of well-paid jobs that is sending 1,000 Kiwis a week to Australia for better wages.

It’s disappointing that John Key said he would give New Zealanders a reason to stay in New Zealand, and now he’s setting new records of Kiwis leaving for Australia.

Labour’s plan has concrete steps to create more jobs and better opportunities for New Zealanders.

Negative, negative, negative, vague.


Labour wants Cantabrians to have more control over the rebuild.

The rebuild will only succeed if Cantabrians can have their voices heard and respected. David Shearer spent over 20 years working in disaster zones around the world. He knows first-hand that locally driven recovery is the only way that works.

You can’t rebuild Canterbury from the top floor of the Beehive in Wellington. The vision of the future has to come from the grassroots right here in Canterbury.

John Key and Gerry Brownlee just don’t understand. They see local people as a barrier to progress instead of as the key to recovery.

Under National, CERA has engulfed the functions of councils, elections have been cancelled, and people dealing with insurance issues have been abandoned.

A Labour Government would put people back at the centre of the recovery.

They don’t promote being more hands on because they are implying Labour would be more hands off in Canterbury.

If Labour lead the next government the Christchurch rebuild will be well under way. Making major changes to how that is being done risks being disruptive. Apart from the standard negatives this policy is little more than a rhetorical nod to Christchurch, at best too late.

Those are Labour’s five policy topics on their website. They focus more on attacking National, with a bit of vague waffle about what they might do.

Mocking United Future policy as sensible is risky for Labourites, especially when looking at the lack of common sense in their own paltry list of lamentable rhetoric.

In comparison United Future have a comprehensive policy list that says what they propose, and don’t concentrate on whinging about their opponents.

And – who in Labour would want to see David Shearer having a policy debate with Peter Dunne?


Practical Policies for New Zealanders

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1 Comment

  1. OMFG. Bring it on. A Shearer/Dunne debate.


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