“Nasty” Mr Key

This piece from yesterday’s edition of Bryce Edwards’ excellent NZ Politics Daily frames what is happening in New Zealand politics quite nicely…

Have we seen the end of Mr Nice Guy? The number of voters who say they’d like to have a beer or bbq with John Key might soon plummet, as the Government appears to be getting into the hard decisions early in its second term. According to John Armstrong, ‘National seems unaware of how hard-edged it is starting to look with its noticeable drift to the right. The contrast with the soft pragmatism of its first term is starting to become pronounced’. In his column, Ministers risk seeming uncaring as jobs culled, Armstrong writes that public sector reform looks likely to start having a real impact on frontline services – despite Government promises – particularly with possible layoffs of nursing staff at district health boards. He warns that the Government is still to reveal the extent  of contracting out of public services to the private sector, and says it may have a hard job selling that to voters. Tracy Watkins agrees and says even though changes to date have been done far more carefully than in the 1990s, real savings  – particularly in the big budget health sector – will mean job losses in the thousands – see: Public service cuts get deeper.

In my humble opinion, the “new” welfare reforms announced by John Key and Paula Bennett are perfect examples of knee-jerk conservatism. They didn’t actually have any new ideas for reducing welfare dependency, just some half hatched ideas to kick the poor while they are down. The thing is, even these ideas aren’t new, they were announced during the election campaign.

So why re-release them? Their polling is obviously not looking flash. They’ve seen that they’re losing traction to the opposition parties, Labour in particular, and want to remind people that they can be tough. The National Party will be expecting a bump in the polls from an announcement like this, and they may well get it. But will it be the 3-5% they need to actually open a lead in the polls? I doubt it.

4 thoughts on ““Nasty” Mr Key”

  1. If I was the editor I would have rewritten the headline mentioned above from ‘ministers risk seeming uncaring as jobs culled’ to ‘ministers are culling fucking jobs!’

  2. I must have missed the part whereby giving someone additional support so long as they go into training is “kicking them when they are down”. Likewise any of these other ideas.

    Welfare is a deal, and the deal is being changed with a new set of expectations. None of these things remove the availability of welfare if it is really needed.

    Really, the shrill response of leftists like yourself here Patrick is a bit dire. Did it occur to you that the electorate is not full of idiots, and that the reason that this may poll well is because it is just simply a good idea?

    1. I’ll accept that there are some on the left who will rally against any welfare changes – I’m not one of them. However, I don’t think that forcing single woman with 1 year old children to seek work is a particularly healthy change.

      As to your claims that people will support this because it’s a good idea – of course, those that do will support the changes. However, what I implied in my post is that it’s probably a reasonably small amount of people and I think it’s going to have a fairly minimal impact on polling for the government.

      1. Weird response Patrick, particularly in the last sentence where you imply that these changes are motivated solely out of polling. This govt seems not really too besotted with polling right now, particularly given that the 2nd term is pitched as the big change term.

        There are two ways these policy changes can be interpreted – the Labour view, that this is a populist policy to shore up support 2 1/2 years before the next election; or an alternative view that this might actually be a good idea.

        Now, we can argue about the relative merits of each of the individual changes if you like, but that wasn’t the point of your post, was it? FWIW, I’m not enamoured with the idea of parents with a one-year old working either. But encouraging people to look at what work they can do rather than what they can’t, and providing incentives to encourage that, seems like a pretty sensible set of things that will increase net skills, confidence and motivation.

        Simply put, while I don’t confess to be a neutral political mastermind, I think your analysis is the lazy knee jerk of a partisan. I look forward to talking about the detail if you’re up for it though.

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