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John Armstrong – shilling for Labour

03/05/2008

Kiwiblog, Keeping Stock and The Hive all have pieces on John Armstrong seeking to wriggle out of the fix he found himself in after shilling for Labour in his past several columns. If anybody has recently been feeding on a diet of dead rat it is Armstrong.

It is interesting to note, as indeed Armstrong did in his column, that so many Ministers arrived at the Premier House meeting in their flash new Beemers. Now this is the regime that is promoting the Public Health Bill with draconian powers for the health fascisti to dictate to us.

Now I am sure that the proponents of Nanny State would be appalled at this display of non-example setting. Do these people not have legs? Can they not walk? Do they dare to eat?

Or is it yet another example of ‘Do what we tell you and we will do what we like, because we can and you cannot’

Surely they have lost touch with reality.

Yet again, Armstrong has too, he went OTT with this remark:-

That ride has just got a whole lot bumpier. Labour has been struck by the so-called “silent tsunami” – the wave of rocketing food and fuel prices which has come crashing down on governments around the globe.

This is an explanation, from The Economist, of the ‘silent tsunami’ not the so called:-

Today’s pictures are different. “This is a silent tsunami,” says Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency. A wave of food-price inflation is moving through the world, leaving riots and shaken governments in its wake. For the first time in 30 years, food protests are erupting in many places at once. Bangladesh is in turmoil even China is worried . Elsewhere, the food crisis of 2008 will test the assertion of Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, that famines do not happen in democracies.

Famine traditionally means mass starvation. The measures of today’s crisis are misery and malnutrition. The middle classes in poor countries are giving up health care and cutting out meat so they can eat three meals a day. The middling poor, those on $2 a day, are pulling children from school and cutting back on vegetables so they can still afford rice. Those on $1 a day are cutting back on meat, vegetables and one or two meals, so they can afford one bowl. The desperate—those on 50 cents a day—face disaster.

Roughly a billion people live on $1 a day. If, on a conservative estimate, the cost of their food rises 20% (and in some places, it has risen a lot more), 100m people could be forced back to this level, the common measure of absolute poverty. In some countries, that would undo all the gains in poverty reduction they have made during the past decade of growth. Because food markets are in turmoil, civil strife is growing; and because trade and openness itself could be undermined, the food crisis of 2008 may become a challenge to globalisation.

This Labour government and New Zealand have not been struck by the ‘silent tsunami’ in the sense the phrase was coined.

We do not have major parts of the population living on US$1 per day or less.

Our problems are quite different. It is myopic, if not stupid, to maintain New Zealanders are victims of this crisis. Armstrong is at best naive to suggest this.

Armstrong went on:

Ministers talked of how Labour had lifted real household incomes,

(No they have not, unless you count welfare such as Working for Families and the electoral bribe of interest free student loans)

while stressing increased global commodity prices are beneficial to the New Zealand economy.

That was cold comfort to households where budgets are stretched by the combination of rising consumer prices and higher mortgage interest rates.

Neither development is Labour’s fault. But Labour knows it will get the blame. If people think they are suffering a decline in their standard of living, it spells electoral death for the incumbent.

Many of the problems the government are facing are self inflicted. Interest rates and the currency would not be so high if the regime had heeded warnings over the level and quality of government spending. Bollard has been sounding off on this for months.

If business and government had worked to address the productivity issues in NZ again some of the problem could have been averted.

Commissar Parker with his Climate Change proposals seems determined to take us to third world status. He is adding to poor international perceptions of NZ and thus raising borrowing costs.

Finance Commissar Cullen, exemplar of envy and class hatred, forces up the cost of borrowing with his political harassment of inward investment so as to enable his party to and I quote ‘ win the contest for power’ unquote.

This is despite the fact that intellectually he must know that the actions he took, were from a economic perspective wrong. Those actions have undoubtedly contributed to the cost of borrowing for our banks on the international market.

SO Labour has contributed, probably materially to the interest rate costs faced by ordinary New Zealanders

Armstrong then wrote:

John Key had long predicted the weakening economy and the spiralling cost of living would be the major election issue.

When he suggested Labour focus on the economy rather than attacking him, Labour scathingly advised him to get out of the kitchen if he could not handle the heat.

By continuing to hoe into National’s leader, Labour looked like it did not care that household budgets were being drained.

Indeed, it did and Helen Clark’s ‘Diddums’ comment and the coven of ‘singers’ at the Congress only confirmed that Labour were indeed fiddling whilst the economy and the country went to pot. Just like the last days of Rome according to legend.

Armstrong then goes on:-

Assuming the support of the Greens and (more optimistically) the Maori Party, Labour estimates it needs to lure back around 90,000 voters.

That is a relatively-small proportion of the vote. Labour believes – probably correctly – that those voters have only a weak attachment to National.

To that end, Helen Clark is said to have told Tuesday’s Premier House caucus meeting that it was vital to persist with the the party’s election strategy even if the polls continue to fail to move in Labour’s favour.

That strategy involves Labour getting back to governing in a competent fashion, demonstrating leadership, stressing how it delivers on its promises, while rolling out bold new policies to demonstrate vision.


The strategy is the correct one because it is the only viable one.

What bold new policies:-

  • Climate Change
  • Emissions Trading
  • Tax Cuts
  • Electoral Finance Act

No I do not think so

What leadership:-

  • Top half of the OECD
  • Sustainability
  • Carbon neutrality
  • Knowledge Wave
  • Productivity Growth

No I do not think so

What competence:-

  • Hip hop tours
  • Grants to corrupt companies
  • Wiping out the value of private assets
  • Excessive cronyism
  • Anti-business
  • Nanny state
  • ?
  • ?

No I do not think so

What vision????

No I do not think so

Armstrong concludes:-

The strategy’s weakness is that it relies on voters acting rationally rather than emotionally. Labour’s big problem is that voters angry at soaring food and fuel prices will use Labour as a convenient punchbag. Eradicating such a mindset is going to be difficult no matter what is in the Budget.

Still talking up Labour.

Voters will act rationally. They will vote this lot out, unless the beneficiary vote can be ratcheted up by huge sums on bread and circuses today to be paid for by pain tomorrow.

There is a real possibility that Labour will leave finances in such bad shape that any incoming National government will have to take stern and unpleasant action to sort out the mess.

2 Comments
  1. Ed Snack permalink
    04/05/2008 12:42

    Yes, the bribes have started with the latest vaccination proposal, worthy though it might be. I think I can see it happening, Labour will announce a huge raft of spending proposals that will basically empty the coffers with the deliberate strategy of making National take the hard decisions a la 1992 “mother of all budgets”. They can then capitalize on that fact for the next 20 years in the same way.

    I think it quite possible that Labour, and Helen Clark, have recognized that they will almost certainly lose in November, and they are taking the most damaging route to make the prize almost unpalatable. This is, one has to say, typical leftoid thinking and actions, it is a “throw the toys out of the cot” instinct, and stuff the poor “toys”, who, after all, are us, the taxpayers and citizens of NZ.

    I can only hope that National wins a straight majority, and institutes a public enquiry into the various corrupt actions of Labour, and as a result several currently high profile people are justifiably sent down for long and punitive terms. A bit of retrospective legislation around the $800,000 overspend and particularly the way its payment was railroaded through parliamentary services would be “justice being seen to be done”. The threat of that might trim a few sails before the damage is excessive.

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  2. 04/05/2008 10:17

    Contrast Armstrong’s “damage limitation” exercise with the slapping that Bill Ralston gives the government over the ETS

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/05/while-ralston-attacks-again.html

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