NZ Power double whammy?

It has been widely suggested that the price of Mighty River Power and Meridian shares where severely impacted by the Labour-Green-NZ First announcement of radical NZ Power reforms of the wholesale power market. It has been referred to by some as economic sabotage. See:

It’s unknown by how much but it seems to be generally accepted that it had some impact on both the share prices and the number of people interested in purchasing.

A comment by Akld Commercial Lawyer at Kiwiblog suggests there was a double whammy from the NZ Power policy announcement.

And incidentally, I continue to hear over the barbecue that the Power NZ snowjob cost the taxpayers more than just the depressed price and demand for MRP & Meridian. Anecdotally, the level of hedge fund activity that this tragically naive crusade engendered – meant that many of us were fleeced twice at least. So they made the folk they profess to hate – even richer. How ironic.

Ordinary New Zealanders are pawns in the big political and business power plays.

Superprofits versus Supersocialism

Both ‘Superprofits’ and ‘Supersocialism’ are exaggerated terms, but the power debate – as much about ruling the country as about about electricity – has become a highly charged superdebate.

There is more at stake than whether we will get a few dollars off our power bills. It may be critical in deciding who runs the next government, and is in part an ideological battle between capitalism and socialism.

The stakes were raised yesterday when business groups issued a critical letter – PDF of letter – and NZ Herald reports in Power plan an ‘ambush’:

Ten business groups led by Business NZ yesterday issued an open letter to Labour and the Greens criticising the policy – which the two political parties argue may reduce power prices for industrial and commercial users – and have asked them to withdraw it.

The business groups said they were “particularly” concerned the policies would have a “chilling effect on investment across the entire economy”.

David Farrar and co. comment at Kiwiblog: Major Electricity Consumers ask Labour and Greens to drop their nationalisation policy.

Labour’s ‘Eddie’ at The Standard hasn’t addressed the letter directly but continues his campaign of trying to discredit critics in Why First NZ Capital wants you to keep paying too much for power and Why Brian Gaynor wants you to keep paying too much for power, with modest levels of discussion.

UPDATE: ‘Eddie’ has address this now in on Why Phil O’Reilly wants you to keep paying too much for power.

Labour MPs are distracted by Parekura Horomia’s tangi so have been quiet, although David Parker commented:

He said the letter “repeats the National Government’s scaremongering about investment”.

“The NZX stock exchange is up since the announcement. There is no investor flight or fear. It is irrational and damaging to markets and the New Zealand economy to claim there is.”

Parker was reported as saying he knew more about markets than Phil O’Reilly of BusinessNZ, and put out a media release attacking O’Reilly:

Phil O’Reilly open letter wrong on many counts – Parker

“The letter from Mr O’Reilly does not cure the current problems in the uncompetitive electricity market. Prices have increased since the independent report from Professor Wolack found $4.3 billion of overcharging. The system must be fixed.

“Currently super-profits are made on the back of our public resource – free water. This must be addressed if power bills are to be lowered. Mr O’Reilly again offers no effective solution.

“There are several other mistakes in the letter. There are no subsidies involved. It is remedying overcharging and will increase retail competition, and enable new entrants into generation.

Mr O’Reilly has made no effort to contact Labour to discuss this policy. If he had some of his errors would have been avoided,” says David Parker.

That’s ironic considering Parker’s policy was released without any effort to discuss it with business groups.

And according to Whale Oil Labour corrected Parker’s original release:

How embarrassing

Correction: at Labour’s request this replaces the earlier press release on this matter.

As for the Greens, Russel Norman is still overseas on leave, and Clint seems to have muzzled Gareth Hughes, but Clint himself fought back yesterday:

Clint Smith@ClintVSmith 

Biz NZ’s extraordinary attack on Green/Labour plan to lower power prices shows they know it’s popular & it’ll work, ending rentier profits

@georgedarroch it’s pretty telling, eh? They’re advocating for rentier companies’ ‘right’ to parasite off real NZ businesses and families

Familiar parrot lines.  Clint later tries to talk down a poll result (see Roy Morgan poll bounce)…

Clint Smith@ClintVSmith 

latest Roy Morgan. did 1/17 NZers switch left to right in last fortnight or just normal statistical variation w Nat trend down?

…but the swing against Greens and Labour should worry him. But the business letter didn’t seem to worry Metiria Turei in Greens respond to Business New Zealand open letter:

The Green Party will not be withdrawing its popular plan to reduce power prices for Kiwi families and businesses, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today.

“The NZ Power plan proposed by the Greens and Labour will lower power prices for Kiwi families and businesses. That will mean warmer homes, a healthier population, and more jobs. We are declining Business New Zealand’s request that we withdraw this popular plan,” said Mrs Turei.

“The Greens make no apologies for wanting to get power prices down to a fair level. Business New Zealand and National seem to think that electricity companies’ profits matter more than lower power bills for families and businesses.

Turei continued with familiar talking points, and concluded:

“The Greens are a democratic party and we won’t have our policy choices dictated to us by big business. We will make our policy choices based on what is best for New Zealand, its people, its economy, and its environment. NZ Power fits the bill,” said Mrs Turei.

The claim “based on what is best for New Zealand” is obviously just a Green view, they often seem to think their own convictions are uncontestable. But there are many opinions about what might be best for the country.

I also saw comments on Twitter suggesting that as National wouldn’t discuss with Greenpeace so why should Greens discuss with business groups.

I think when it comes to the election crunch voters will be thinking more about economic and business issues in New Zealand than they will worry about whaling in remote oceans.

The power debate will continue, largely between capitalists – National and business interests – versus what is seen as Labour backing more socialist Green policies.

A super heated battle between Superprofits and Supersocialism.

How much will the MRP float sink?

The Mighty River Power share offer closes tomorrow. There is conjecture about what the share price will begin at. The price will be set on May 8 (next Wednesday) and are expected to list on the 10th (Friday).

The top end of the $2.35 to $2.80 price range was initially expected, but after The Labour and Green power policy announcement it is now expected to be set at the lower end of that range. Estimates of a loss to the Government (us) have ranged from $100m-$400m.

National’s asset (partial) sales policy has been strongly contested since before the 2011 election. Labour and Greens have been contesting it strongly, as has the Maori Council through the Waitangi Tribunal and the courts.

Labour and Greens have been accused of deliberately sabotaging the share float. Their responses have ranged from lukewarm denial to satisfaction that the share float was being disrupted.

Due to the Labour Green announcement being made after the share float started those who applied for shares have been allowed to withdraw. The ODT report there is still ‘Reasonable demand’ for Mighty River Power shareorders:

Milford Asset Management senior analyst William Curtayne said yesterday the Labour-Greens announcement around the nationalisation of the electricity industry had caused some retail investors to cancel their share orders.

I registered an expression of interest but have decided not to apply. I’ve still been tempted since the disruption, the chance of capital gain have increased but so have the risks and I don’t have funds I’m prepared to expose to the level of risk at the moment. I don’t know if the Labour Green action has made the difference in whether I buy or not.

But there was still ”reasonable demand” from New Zealanders and institutions interested in the yields Mighty River Power would pay.

I have heard a number of people in social media saying they have increased the number of shares they have applied for, it seems to be a mixture of seeing an opportunity for getting more shares for their bucks, and there are also hints of political motives – to support the share float and to spite Labour and Greens.

The degree of success of this float may influence the Government on their other proposed floats.

”National won’t want Labour and the Greens to win so they will want to press ahead with the partial sale of Meridian. But if Mighty River is so bad, it might be back to the drawing board. I think the Government will plan to get another one across the line,” Mr Curtayne said.

Unfortunately this will not just be a business decision, there is too much politics loaded into the whole Mixed Ownership Model mess. National will want to float Meridian this year to get it done before election year, whether it’s the best timing from a business perspective or not.

Stuff summarise this in Opposition’s power plan: A rundown:

How will this affect the Mighty River Power float?

There are claims it will reduce the Crown’s return from the sale of 49 per cent of Mighty River Power, possibly by $400m, although the organisers have played down the level of withdrawal from investors who have already paid.

Other investors are apparently increasingly interested, as they see the chance to acquire power shares at a lower price, albeit with the greater risk that the returns on offer will be much lower.

They also raise an interesting point:

Politically, Labour has fired a warning shot, but it may have risked giving rival National a chance to share the blame if the state asset sales do not raise the at least $5 billion the Government has promised.

The outcome of all of this in next year’s election is hard to predict, but it’s easy to predict that claims and counter claims will be prominent in the lead up.

It’s certain that the MRP share price and return to Government will be less due to the nature and timing of the Labour Green power announcement.

It’s much less certain whether it will sink National – this will depend on how much the MOM sales sink from initial predictions, and how far Labour’s financial credibility has sunk.

Dim Post – more bizarre

More on the power battle of bthe logs, as detailed here: Labour/Green economics – denial or ignorance?

Danyl at Dim Post has posted another salvo, defending his graph, in Bizarreer and Bizarreer. But he doesn’t help his case, contradicting himself and revealing a shakyof understanding of investments.

And there’s an important lesson to learn there, one that I’ve bored everyone to death with ever since the Mixed Ownership Model was announced: ordinary people shouldn’t directly invest in the share market. They should buy index funds or put their money into a KiwiSaver account,

Why shouldn’t ordinary people invest in the sharemarket? It’s fairly easy, and very easy to learn that diversity of investments is important.

Suggesting they “put their money into a KiwiSaver account” is seriously flawed if seen as a sole means of investment. If a KiwiSaver fund takes a financial dive or goes belly up – it shouldn’t but it’s possible – that’s all your savings affected.

And Kiwisaver investments are locked up until you retire, it would be wise to have some savings more accessible than that.

It’s the most basic rule of investing,

A rule Danyl immediately broke by suggesting a single KiwiSaver investment.

…and it’s very unethical for the government to spend millions of dollars on an advertising campaign trying to convince people to break that rule because the Finance Minister needs to drive up the sale value of these assets.

That’s surely a false claim, I haven’t seen any attempt to convince anyone to put all their savings into MRP.

Labour/Green economics – denial or ignorance?

David Farrar points out A bizarre argument made by Danyl at Dim Post – Chart of the day, dead Wood edition, which graphs the share market since the Labour-Green power policy announcements. Farrar comments:

I’m amazed Danyl is trying to argue that as the overall sharemarket is up, then the destruction of value in some companies doesn’t matter.

Yes the NZX is up.That is because global investors are buying shares in Xero like it is the next Google.  It isn’t much use however to the person who only has shares in Contact Energy.

To use an analogy, it is like someone going into your street and burning your house down, but then telling you not to complain about it because the value of the rest of the street has risen.

Contact, Trustpower and Infratil shares are still lower since their drop after the power announcement. They haven’t “burnt down”, but a valid point is made.

There seems to be a wave of denial or ignorance of how sharemarkets work sweeping over the blogs on the left.

Anthony Robins at The Standard also did the graph trick – Economic apocalypse – not – he first called that post “No value has been destroyed”.

And similar from Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish (including a graph): Business elites denounce threat to their profits.

By way of example, the NZ Power announcement spooked the capital markets and led to a massive destruction of shareholder value, which in turn resulted in a loss in the value of many Kiwisaver funds. This potential disaster was only averted when the sharemarket continued to go up and up, resulting in an increase in the value of those same Kiwisaver funds.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when Scott is doing satire, or who he is satirising. At least he admits the aim of sabotaging power company assets:

I’m failing to see the problem. These companies have been doing nicely out of a business model that has resulted in too many people paying too much for their power. Of course their value was going to go down.

It doesn’t seem to have eroded confidence in the capital markets, though, eh?

Market confidence a Labour and Green government are looking less likely after attempt at market intervention, eh?.

Business elites making a lot of money out of an existing electricity model that few people actually understand but which appears to have failed, have slammed the plan. Critics have included the CEO of Mighty River Power, whose salary exceeds a million dollars a year, and stockbrokers who stand to profit handsomely from an uninterrupted partial float of the energy SOEs.

Critics of NZ Power will no doubt be hoping that its flaws will be evident to those cleaners on minimum wage, or solo mums on benefits, struggling to find the money to pay their power bill, and who might have otherwise be tempted to vote for either Labour or the Greens.

The profit bogey man and “poor people” sympathy appeal. This is remarkably similar to Metiria Turei’s latest column in D Scene:

We know that families are really struggling with increasing power prices. At the same time power companies are making even greater profits.

Stripping out excessive profits from the electricity sector is a smart Green solution.

The sharebrokers that are going to get a cut out of selling off our power companies are upset. Returning the excessive profits to New Zealand families will hurt the fat commission they are eying up.

Both Labour and Green camps seem convinced they are socialist saviours. In denial of market and business realities. And probably political.

Scott questioned me when I said “And Labour, which was already struggling with financial credibility”.

If you keep saying that enough, do you think people will believe it?

Some in Labour must surely believe it – John Armstrong in his Saturday column:

“This is part of National’s strategy to make next year’s election a referendum on which party can best be trusted with the management of the economy – a matter of some issue where both parties’ private polling has Labour far behind National”.

I would be as confident betting on financial credibility being the deciding factor in next year’s election as I would betting on a very uneasy sharemarket and plummeting business confidence if a Green Labour finance team take over in the next government.

It’s hard to know whether Labour and Green politicians and supporters are in political denial, or if they are ignorant of how business confidence and sharemarkets work in the real world. Possibly both.

Farmers unhappy about lower power prices?

Mike Smith at The Standard asks: Farmers unhappy about lower power prices? and comments:

Former banker Bruce Wills and current head of Federated Farmers has joined the chorus attacking NZPower. He invokes how horrible  life was before 1984, as thought this had something to do with NZPower. You can read the full list of his horrors here.

He wonders:

It would be interesting to know if real farmers would rather have lower power prices, or banker Bruce as their spokesman.

I’m not so sure that this latest addition to the NZPower naysayers chorus has much in the way of real arguments. His reaction seems more based on specious history and knee-jerk ideology.

There was a quick reply from a farmer, ‘Jimmie’:

I’m a farmer and let me think:

If the Lab/Greens get in well lets see what the net benefit of their combined policies would be in relation to power bills:

– NZ Power = -$300 p/a (maybe)

ETS increase = + how much??
Petrol tax increase = + how much??
Income tax increase = + how much??
Interest rate increase = + how much??
RMA red tape cost increase = + how much??
Capital Value lost through CGT = + how much??
Land Use restrictions = + how much??

Hmmmm I wonder which option I would rather go with the status quo or the watermelon nightmare?

‘Karol’ responds:

Oh, so increases for the better off people, but ignoring that a lot of your list will have little impact on those who are, right now, struggling to pay their power bills. The latter people will be better off with lower power prices.

Such things as NZ power, and any other changes to taxes, will be a correction after the tax cuts for the wealthy in recent years, which have been at the expense of the less well off.

And Jimmie again:

Well then maybe the Lab/Greens should have been honest then.

Instead of bleating on at a press conference about reducing everyone’s power bill by an average of $300 they should have said rich pricks are gona pay more and poor folks will pay less.

(Though why you think that poor folks don’t buy petrol or that the ETS increase will somehow be aimed only at rich pricks beats me)

NZ Power was a ill-thought out and dishonest attempt to interfere with the MRP float – it may have given a vague short term boost to the far left morale but how will it be read by the general public – many of whom are in the process of buying the MRP shares.

NZ Power might end up being Shearer’s ‘show us the money’ moment and also the moment when the MSM decide that the Green’s economic policies require a fair bit more scrutiny.

There has been a few fairly muted follow-up comments.

The Standard seems to be getting a second wind on promoting NZ Power (or more accurately, fighting back against opposition to it), ‘Eddie’ has also posted – Why Doug Heffernan wants you to keep paying too much for power:

NZ Power is a direct threat to the health of Heffernan’s bank accounts. It will cut Mighty River’s profits by about two-thirds – with a similar effect on the share price. It will mean that its directors will have to cut their clothe, and their over-blown executive pay packets.

So, no wonder Heffernan, the most highly paid public ‘servant’ of all time, took the extraordinary and unconstitutional step of commenting on political parties’ policies. He called NZ Power ‘socialist‘ (as if that’s a bad thing) because it means lower power bills for you and me, which means less pay and lower share values for him.

Remember, when Doug Heffernan pops up to say that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for you to pay less for power that he has made millions off the current broken system and stands to make millions more if we stick with National’s broken system. Doug Heffernan’s bank accounts will be a lot more healthier if you keep on paying too much.

That continues the rich prick envy versus poor people paying too much for power lines favoured by the left of Labour.

This has become a battle between narrow ideology and wider economics.

Mike Smith works in David Shearer’s office.
‘Eddie’ is a Labour Party activist pseudonym.

Power promotion at The Standard

Labour’s regular and occasional bloggers came out in force to promote the NZ Power policy when it was launched last week.

Thursday 18 April

Friday 19 April

Saturday 20 April

Sunday 21 April

Monday 22 April

Tuesday 23 April

Wednesday 24 April

Thursday 25 April

Friday 26 April

Anthony Robins (Labour), karol and ‘James Henderson’ (Greens) are regulars, the others usually only pop up when there is Labour politics to push.

Many political stories hit the blogosphere with a hiss and a roar and fade just as fast, but NZ Power was described by David Shearer as “the big Kahuna”. As at Your NZ other blogs are still actively commenting on NZ Power related stories, such as The Daily Blog, Kiwiblog and Whale Oil.

Maybe The Standard will pick up on the Power debate again but it seems to have fixxled out on it’s enthusiasm.

NZ Power and the next step

Written By: Date published:

What The Standard isn’t saying

It’s been interesting to follow the responses to the NZ Power announcement and compare them to now.

When Labour launched there was a flurry of posts from authors that usually only appear when pushing something for someone in the party. Mike Smith posts rarely yet had three promoters – he works in Shearer’s office.

‘Eddie’ and ‘Zetetic’ also got involved, Anthony Robins was very busy for Labour (and so was ‘James Henderson’ who some claim to be a now well known Green staffer).

For a couple of days most posts and comments were about NZ Power.

Since midday on Wednesday there have been no more posts on power. There has been a little comment on Chris Trotter’s post at The Daily Blog criticisng Robertson – “Hey, Julian! – We Are NOT Pleased!” Grant Robertson Calls Off Labour’s Assault On Neoliberalism

But the excitement over a new direction for Labour (a leftward turn) has fizzled and they are back to their usual mix of mundane moaning.

The day NZ power was launched IrishBill posted NZ Power and ther next step where he said:

The NZ Power policy is the most significant break from the neoliberal political consensus we’ve seen for a long time.

Which is why it’s likely to draw a lot of fire from the elite. Let make sure there’s a lot of push back.

The Power seeems to have ben pushed back to off.

What blogs don’t comment on can be as interesting as what they say.

Green power bid pushes lamentable Labour

Now that Labour’s NZ Power pushing is turning to custard attention is turning to how they got into this hapless situation, facing a crisis of confidence while their leader David Shearer is out of the country.

And the claims are growing that the Greens forced Labour’s hand and rushed them in to launching their poorly thought through power policy.

A Chris Trotter post lamenting Grant Robertson’s capitulation to market realities also suggests that Labour were pushed by the Greens.

Grant’s willingness to rule out any further anti-market forays by Labour shows how peripheral Energising New Zealand always was to the key power-brokers within Labour’s caucus. According to the National Business Review, the party’s self-denying ordinance had been tucked away in the detail of Labour’s policy announcement from Day One.

David Shearer’s refusal to postpone his trip to London so that he could be on the spot to defend Energising New Zealand is now explained. The policy wasn’t his initiative, he had no personal stake in its success or failure, and he was happy to leave the explanations to the actual man-with-the-plan, Labour’s Finance Spokesperson, David Parker.

Parker, himself, would probably have preferred to wait, but the imminent release of the Greens’ almost identical energy policy forced Labour’s hand. Rather than see their Green rivals steal yet another march on them, Labour’s strategists acquiesced to a joint announcement.

‘MARC’ adds to this:

Well, I thought all along that it was really the Greens setting the pace and leading the agenda on the electricity regulation policies. Having seen the announcement by Norman and Shearer on the TV news it was so clear, that it was Norman, who pushed for this to be announced. I saw Shearer stand there, turn left and right, glance over to Norman, and otherwise display a composure that betrayed a degree of half halfheartedness.

Yes, Labour were forced to join with the Greens, so they would not lose face yet again, standing there with the undies down below their knees, while the Greens were announcing another, somehow smart-sounding, new policy.

This fits with David Shearer’s late Sunday night press release, his waiting until the BERL report on Tuesday and then standing between Russel Norman and David Parker on Thursday at the big announcement.

It’s been a mess for Labour, and it may keep getting worse.

And it’s interesting in the context of Shearer claiming that Labour wouldn’t dance in time to National’s agenda – he said…

“We are working…according to our own timetable.”

But it’s now being claimed they were dancing to a Green tune.

And it goes some way to explaining the Labour muckiness:

  • Shearer looking like and sounding like moulded cheese in the Norman and Parker sandwich
  • Parker on The Nation looking like he didn’t own the policy nor conviction that it was sensible
  • Robertson pushing the party lines for a while, then switching to damage control

So what about Greens? Since the joint announcement it was suspected that it was Green policy that Labour had belatedly tacked a few of their own bits onto.

If the timing was dicated by the Greens that put’s more responsibility on the Greens for the MRP share float sabotage claims. Gareth Hughes failed to contain his elation at the news that the MRP had been (temporarily) suspended – see Clint too.

If this was all planned by the Greens why would they time an announcment for after the start of the share float, just before Russel Norman was due to go on two weeks leave overseas?

That probably wasn’t the original intent. It’s likely the Greens wanted to make their Empowering the people announcement prior to the share float, but when Labour got involved at the last minute they had to delay.

That led to the Greens having to rely on Gareth Hughes to fly the Green flag. That resulted in embarrassment with the Clint incident.

What now for the Greens? Will they just keep congratulating themselves on losing the country money – Mighty River Power $100m down under proposal – and wait for Russel to return from holiday?

But maybe the Greens should be worrying – worrying about their already dubious financial credibility taking a hit.

Worrying about how to present their MPs as credible independent thinkers and not just puppets in a media machine.

And worrying that their sole hope of being a part of Government, the Labour Party, looks more and more like a lamentable leaderless lost cause.

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
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.