Free advice for Labour

A question for Labour:

Are you all bloody morons?

What has happened to the Labour Caucus’ collective brain cell. Through a mixture of over-reaction, denial and stupidity you have now managed to keep John Key’s speech and initiative on the front page of every paper for the last fortnight. What the hell are you thinking?

Let’s recap.

John Key gave a speech and it focused on the underclass and said we want to focus on how to break the cycle of failure for these families. And he put up a couple of examples of things one could do such as encouraging local businesses to assist local schools with kids who turn up hungry.

Now it wasn’t the invention of the century, but neither was it at all a bad idea. Labour’s response should have been:

“We are glad National recognises the problems of an underclass. We’ve been working on dozens of programmes to help out, but realise there is still work to be done and welcome any suggestions they want to make”

Do that, and the issue is dead within days.

But what do we have? Helen first claims the underclass was created by National, then claims they have all but fixed it. Then she refuses to go visit it. And others claim it is no more than 1,000 families in total.

But then even better after the launch of the foods for schools programme, Phil Goff comes out and declares he has never ever seen a hungry or malnourished kid in his electorate. Then one group comes out estimating as many as 15,000 kids may go to school without proper food and Clark denounces that as far too high. So what happens – another report is found suggesting 80,000. Now the PM is doing nothing but talking about this issue.

Doesn’t matter what number is right. You’ve now kept Key’s issue in the media for two weeks, and managed to portray the Government as one of denial and out of touch.

The really stupid thing is there is no need for such a defensive reaction. Key is not saying the fact these kids are hungry is all the state’s fault. In fact he is carefully shying away from making feeding of kids a state responsibility. He’s just said, hey let’s help out as a community, where for whatever reason kids are at school malnourished (because this interferes greatly with learning).

In fact this should be the sort of politics everyone wants from an Opposition. people complain about Oppositions blaming everything on the Government and never offering solutions. Well Key wasn’t blaming everything on the Government. He was just saying we have a problem and this may help.

But of course one can’t have an Opposition actually seen to be doing something, so suddenly Wesley Primary turns down the assistance saying there is no need for it. This is despite the local intermediate school having estimated as much as 25% of kids not having had breakfast or lunch. When was the last time any school turned down donations? Unheard of.

And if anyone thinks the Government wasn’t involved, I have a bridge for sale for you. Of course the Minister didn’t phone the Principal. That isn’t how it works. Either the local MP whispers in the ear of a member of the school board, or you talk to the Comrades in the PPTA who talk to the local PPTA official. And they talk to the principal. Trust me – I’ve seen this done hundreds of times.

Anyway it’s been sort of fun seeing a so called Labour Government act like the 1950s UK Tory Party, claiming there’s no problem here. I suspect they will wise up soon though.

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