Wednesday, 24 April 2019

No Hard Yards Here

The Plaudits Prime Minister

Political folk left, right, and centre are scratching their heads trying to understand the NZ Prime Minister's ditching of her personally promoted hobby horse--the imposition of a capital gains tax.

It was always known that her key coalition partner, NZ First opposed the introduction of the new tax.  But the leader of NZ First, Winston Peters has proven malleable and much less strident when the baubles of office and political power are festooning his suit jacket.  So we assume Peters was up for compromising on the capital gains tax.

But PM Jacinda Ardern pulled the plug on capital gains tax without the appearance of any political infighting or argy-bargy.  At the very least she could have put that particular dog's breakfast to the electorate, seen it go down to defeat (assuming Winston Peters continued to oppose it), and emerge with her integrity intact.

But it appears that she unilaterally pulled the plug on her own "must-have" as if she had a loss of nerve.  The activist left wing of the Labour Party is furious.  She had called for its loyal support and when it was given, she left it high and dry, up the creek, without a paddle.  Captain Ardern capitulated, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

How can this be explained?  Not easily, to be sure.

Mark you, we are glad that the proposed capital gains tax has been skewered.  It was a stupid tax from the outset.  Far, far better to apply the tax law already on the books.  But that aside, we are left with the puzzling mystery.  How can Ardern's actions in dumping her own flagship policy be understood, let alone justified?

We suspect it has something to do with her success in becoming a global political celeb.  She has become a political pop-star.  It has come relatively easily.  No hard yards.  No crunching down on nay-sayers.  No fight.

When trench warfare was needed, Ardern preferred sipping lattes, whilst chatting with one of her new besties, like Prince William.  If we are correct, we suggest that history will not treat Prime Minister Ardern kindly, albeit fairly.

We suspect she will be forever known to posterity as Prime Minister Ms Plaudits.

Postscript:  The Left Reacts to Labour's Capitulation

Anger and disappointment on the left

For many on the left, the decision is an indictment of the whole idea that this Government will be transformational. Danyl Mclauchlan argues that the CGT programme was one of four key policies agendas for this Government – the others being KiwiBuild, the Carbon Zero Act, and the Wellbeing Budget – and there are clear problems now in delivering them – see his column, Four months in, Labour's 'year of delivery' is a disaster.

He despairs that Labour axed the tax after first initiating "one of the most bafflingly disastrous public policy debates imaginable, making John Key's flag-change campaign look like the Normandy landings".

He says any strategic wins from ditching the tax, will come "at a cost of one of Labour's most important, long-term policies, and it was their failure to control their coalition partner or even attempt to make the argument for taxation reform that forced them to pay such a bitterly high price."

Mclauchlan argues that Ardern could have won the debate and got a mandate for the changes, but simply didn't bother. In contrast, even John Key, managed to use his political capital to campaign on and win unpopular policies.

Other leftwing bloggers are very unhappy. No Right Turn is now calling for a leftwing boycott of the Labour Party: "If you want change, don't vote Labour, don't donate to Labour, don't volunteer for Labour. Give your vote, your money, your time and effort to another party, any other party that promises change, than the one who betrayed you. Because if you don't, Labour will continue to treat you like a fool, and continue to promise change while delivering none" – see: Don't get fooled again
They also argue the decision means the Government won't have the money to afford many of their future policy goals: "Effective policy costs money, and this government has just robbed itself of that vital tool. Remember this next time they plead "poverty" as an excuse for not doing something: they chose to be poor. They chose to have a government which could not afford things. They chose to not be able to do the things they promised" – see: The cost of cowardice.  [NZ Herald]

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