Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We're better than Labour thinks we are

Last election, Labour promised to extend working for families to cover beneficiaries in order to reduce child poverty. Then, having lost the election and change their leader, they backed away from the policy in order to "move to the centre". When a Green member's bill was drawn which would have implemented this policy, we had the farcical scene of Labour promising only to support it to select committee.

Now it turns out that that policy is actually quite popular:

Just over half of voters support extending Working for Families in-work tax credits of at least $60 a week to beneficiaries - a result that has surprised and pleased the Child Poverty Action Group.

In a Herald-DigiPoll survey of 750 voters taken last month, 51 per cent said they agreed with the Child Poverty Action Group's wish for the tax credits for parents to be extended to parents on welfare. Forty-one per cent disagreed with it.

And Labour? They're still "reconsidering" their policy and "looking at whether there were better ways to address child poverty" than giving poor people the money they need for food and rent. Chickenshits and morons the lot of them.

We probably have the Greens to thank for this. They've stuck to their guns, kept putting out the evidence on child poverty and the need to address it, and as a result have won the argument - just as they have on food in schools, home insulation, water quality, Auckland rail and a host of other issues (John Campbell has probably also been influential, though his focus has been tighter). Meanwhile Labour flits around, pretending that they are slaves to public opinion rather than influencers of it and being too scared to even make the argument for their values, let alone do the hard work of pushing those values against criticism from National and the press gallery until they win. Its lazy and its cowardly, but worse, its self-defeating.

With this poll, we've shown that we're far better than Labour thinks we are. No doubt we'll see them "reconsider" that policy again and end up backing it. But while that's good, we should remember their fickleness. Labour won't stick to our values of egalitarianism and a fair go, but will abandon them at the first sign of criticism. Better to support a party with a backbone.