Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Poor political choices

Last week, National's Simon Bridges introduced an SOP to the Statutes Amendment Bill to boost the value of former MP's travel rort. As the person who introduced the amendment, you'd expect him to be fronting it. But over the weekend he refused comment, and instead the primary voice in favour of giving Roger Douglas an 80% increase in his travel rort was Labour's Annette King (who coincidentally also stands to benefit from the rort when she eventually leaves Parliament). This pattern continued in the media and over Twitter, and even now that the amendment has been pulled, it is still Labour making the noise about it - to the extent that this morning we had Labour leader Andrew Little defending it on Morning Report.

Why are they doing this? This issue is toxic with the public. Its especially toxic with Labour's supporters, most of whom can only dream of flying to London, let alone flying business class every year (or, alternatively, a fortnightly trip to Sydney). It simply increases the perception that Labour is out of touch, and that instead of representing ordinary people, its MPs primarily represent themselves - a moneyed elite of political apparatchiks, members of the 1% who exist in a different world from voters. And even if they think that this is "doing the right thing", rather than protecting the value of Goff, Dyson, King, Mallard and O'Connor's retirement packages, there's a difference between supporting it and throwing yourselves on a live political grenade like Labour has been doing.

This is why Labour keeps losing: because they keep making poor political choices. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming to issues which turn out to be winners for them, while standing up for the worst cause in Parliament, MP's perks. It is a question of political judgement. And among Labour's senior leadership team, there just doesn't seem to be any.