Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Weak, irresolute, and deceitful

Back in July, then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins put paid to any hope of a progressive Aotearoa, ruling out wealth, land, or capital gains taxes under any government he led. The decision arguably cost him the election, with voters in previously-safe labour electorates staying home because they had nothing to vote for. But of course now he's out of power, that decision has been reversed:

Asked about a potential wealth tax, Hipkins said the caucus had a brief conversation about tax.

"I have also been clear with the caucus - we lost and that means we start again, and that means everything comes back onto the table - and that includes a discussion around tax."

Hipkins said he was clear he was only setting Labour's tax policy for the next term of government, and any changes would only be after a mandate was sought, but Labour lost - so now everything was back on the table.

I guess its because he's no longer leading a government...

The problem, of course, is that in addition to being weak and lacking any conviction, Hipkins now gets to add "deceitful" to his list of vices. And no-one on either side of this debate will trust him on this. Those opposed to fairer taxation will simply see him as going back on his word, while those supporting it will be worried he'll go back on it again. As one of the latter, while I’m pleased to see Labour reverse its position, I don’t for an instant trust them to deliver. And it has unpleasant shades of Ardern conspicuously refusing to back cannabis decriminalisation, then saying she supported it after it had lost.

But this is Labour in a nutshell: lions in opposition, spineless worms in government. And so no policy they pronounce can be believed in. It might be different if the party actually stood for something, or if its policies were under the democratic control of its membership, but neither has been true for a long time. And so there's no reason for anybody who wants actual progress to waste their time with them.

Update: I went for that post title, and then I see his wriggling refusal to say whether Isrrael is breaching international law. Weak and irresolute indeed. Muldoon once called Rowling "a shiver looking for a spine to run up". I have no idea whether or not that was true of Rowling - but it certainly seems to be true of Hipkins.