Time to Move Beyond the Beltway
by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held
Um, yes, it is. Well, at least in the eyes of voters beyond the beltway.
I earlier posted that Bill English should go. I personally still believe he should be removed, but any legal grounds for him to be removed have now been extinguished by the auditor general’s report. In the eyes of your Joe Bloggs voter, English has paid back the money and the auditor general has vindicated him – this matter is closed. Labour need to face the facts that it has lost this one and move on.
And Labour will continue to lose the wider debate if it insists on focusing on issues which don’t generally affect undecided voters without adequately framing what the implications are. Included in this is the opposition’s obsession with the amount of Urgency being used. Yes, the government is rushing legislation through, riding rough-shod over the legislative process – but for your average voter, this means that our politicians are wasting less time debating ‘innane’ laws and more time actually ‘doing their job’ – win-win in their eyes.
Labour has been handed their opposition agenda on a platter – there is plenty this government is doing that could be used against them:
- Why are motorcyclists being singled out for a massive ACC levy increase?
- Why is John Key’s own school being closed down?
- Why are responsible drivers being criminalised for using cellphones while driving?
- Why are ordinary New Zealand taxpayers going to have to subsidise big business polluters under the Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme?
These are the Government’s equivalent of Labour’s ‘lightbulbs and shower heads’ issues. I’m not saying that these should form the basis for the next election campaign – New Zealand deserves to be offered something a little more comprehensive and strategic than “vote for us, because we’re not them” – but these are issues that get under the skin of voters and could be used to lever support away from the Government.
At the moment, Labour is getting too caught up trying to act like a Government-in-waiting. And there will be a time when this is called for, but first they have to act like an opposition and go after the Government on issues which are important to the voters, not issues that are important to the MPs.