Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Labour has won the policy argument

Last night, TV3 reported the results of its poll, showing that kiwis - including National voters - overwhelmingly preferred Labour's policy of a capital gains tax to National's threatened asset sales. There are two conclusions we can draw from this. Firstly, Labour has won the policy argument, offered an alternative, and convinced people of it (at least to the level of the lesser of two evils). Unfortunately, they haven't convinced people to actually vote for them because of it, but at least they're getting one thing right.

(Why the disconnect? Labour people will no doubt be tempted to fall back on their usual excuses of voter ignorance and media bias - "the peasants are too stupid to know what's good for them, and its all a conspiracy by Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner" - but the truth is simply that there's more to politics than policy. People vote for governments for all sorts of reasons, including things like trust, likeability, and competence. If people don't like and don't trust you, or see you as a bunch of arrogant incompetent muppets, then the best policy in the world isn't going to help)

Secondly, things are likely to turn toxic for National the moment they try to actually sell anything. John Key is going to have a hell of a sales job if he wants a third term. Unfortunately, by then the damage will already have been done.