Labour spooked, supporters spitting

When Labour launched their NZ Power policy last week they were focussed on promoting prepared PR – the “fairness” of lower power prices for “hard working New Zealanders” and “real businesses”.

They seemed oblivious to the possible effects of their announcement on the financial markets, as this twitter exchange suggests:

H du Plessis-Allan@hdpaNEWS 18 Apr
Contact’s share price is down 3% after Labour/ Greens announced power regulation plans. If it affects MRP similarly, it’s less $ for us all.

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1
@hdpaNEWS
its actually lower power prices for us all, which is more money in your pocket, which gets spent elsewhere in the economy.

Or they were diverting and denying. They appeared to be playing politics and ignoring warnings. On Sunday Grant Robertson again:

Grant Robertson ‏@grantrobertson1 20 Apr
@stevenljoyce this policy really has you spooked doesn’t it Steven. lol

But three days later, after a number of financial experts had severely questioned the possible effects and threatened the credibility of Labour’s policy, it looks like they are the ones who are spooked.

Grant Robertson is fronting the damage control because David Shearer left on an overseas tour just after the policy announcement.

Labour won’t intervene in any other market, says Roberston

Labour Party deputy leader Grant Robertson has moved to try and reassure financial markets that its sudden lurch to favour central planning in the electricity industry is one-off.

In a statement attacking Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, Robertson says: “Labour makes no apology for stepping in to fix problems in the electricity sector. But this is not a signal that Labour is going to intervene elsewhere in the economy.

“As we said on the day we launched NZ Power, we have no plans to intervene in any other markets.”

That point was buried in the detail of last week’s announcements by the Labour and Green parties.

And it was either deliberately or negligently ignored by Labour in their promotion of their policy, until nearly a week after the policy announcement.

But the damage due perceptions of Labour’s economic recklessness has been done. The all important centre of the voting spectrum have had their initial suspicions confirmed – Labour have acted like financial misfits.

And it gets worse for Labour. While trying to limit damage to the centre they have riled the left. Activists lauded the lurch towards socialism when NZ Power was announced. For the first time since Shearer became leader

Chris Trotter has posted in response to Robertson with  “Hey, Julian! – We Are NOT Pleased!” Grant Robertson Calls Off Labour’s Assault On Neoliberalism at The Daily Blog.

WELL, THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG, did it? Exactly one week after jolting thousands of New Zealanders into reconsidering a vote for Labour, Grant Robertson, the acting Leader of the Opposition, issued the above statement – unforgivably surrendering all the gains his party had made.

That Grant Robertson turned out to be the author of this despicable document surprises me not at all.

With a little help from his spin-doctor, Julian Robbins, Labour’s Deputy-Leader composed and issued a media release that effectively runs up the white flag on Labour’s all-too-brief foray into heady world of radical policy-making.

I say ‘white flag’ because Grant’s statement is not just a deferential promise not to play the wicked socialist larrikin in any more of New Zealand’s industrial sectors, but a sotto voce reassurance that even Labour’s energy policy is unlikely to survive the process of lifting certain key Labour bottoms from the Opposition to the Treasury benches.

High power prices aren’t the only thing hurting New Zealand families, Grant. By ruling out intervention “elsewhere in the economy”, you have betrayed not only your party and its supporters, but the electoral victory which, thanks to the political energy unleashed by Energising New Zealand, had been yours for the taking.

Trotter was initially ecstatic about Labour’s NZ Power policy, and flip flopped with his change of heart about David Shearer (see Okay! Okay! I surrender. Shearer Stays).

Now Trotter is flipping his lid. And so are others, as the first comment on his post demonstrates:

Utterly Disillusioned says:

OH Effing soding unprintable reaction! Just when I had vague hopes that the pseudo-left MIGHT have got its head out of its butt they manage to screw themselves, AND so many of their supporters, over.

Didn’t the utterly hysterical rightist reaction show these people ANYTHING! Such a reaction indicates decent policy. Guess what? Joyce and Key were rattled. Thus….DO MORE OF IT! BUT NO! Lets NOT! SOB!

Clearly they either secretly don’t want to be the government or are actually too politically inept and stupid to be granted the privilege.

Most of the rest of the comments there express dismay, disdain and despair.

It wasn’t surprising that Labour’s NZ Power announcement resulted in anger from the right and scathing criticism from much of the financial sector.

There was suspicion about motives and scepticism about policy from the centre.

Initially the left applauded – or some of the left, there was also some caution from the centre left:

Giovanni says:

The thought that maybe you were a bit hasty in lauding the policy had crossed some minds. ;-)

And now the left of the left are spitting.

NZ Power showed signs of being doomed to being a debacle from the moment Shearer announced they would be announcing a grand power plan. Labour now face serious damage control, and their leader is missing in action – see Where’s Norman and Shearer?

Grant Robertson has recently raised doubts about his “leader-in-waiting” credentials. He is now left handling what looks like a lemon, and even Labour’s core supporters have gone sour.

Robertson’s mettle will be tested. This will take much more management than muttering media mumbo jumbo.

But his first tweet today isn’t encouraging:

Grant Robertson@grantrobertson1 

More evidence that cost of living is causing major problems. Time to lower power prices

La-la-la-la-la won’t cut it Grant. You have to rise to the occasion or you will be roasted.

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