The Herald concludes an editorial saying:
Its other major pursuit, the attempted flailing of Mr Key over relatively trite matters, serves no purpose. Labour’s criticism is disappearing into the ether because the public is not receptive to it. As much has been confirmed by this month’s polling. Labour’s poll support last year averaged just over 37 per cent. That, according to the three polls, has now slipped to as low as 32 per cent or, in the best-case scenario, 34 per cent. The big plus for Labour is that there remains time to buttress this position. It will have to use that well by presenting policies that make voters want to listen.
No one seriously thinks John Key has a serious plan to secretly lower wages for all NZ workers. Apart from the fact the PM doesn’t set wage levels (well not since Muldoon), it’s just silly to suggest Key want wage levels to drop when he is on the record as saying a major objective is to close the (real after tax) wage gap with Australia.
There is a real issue however, amongst the heat over Key’s comments to the Northland audience last year. His lack of clarity has generated a fuss where one could have been avoided. It reminds me a bit of the issue over his comments to the Herald over the trans-Tasman medicines regime – and that was an untidy affair.
Fixing the “problem” is not that easy though. One can train MPs up to speak entirely in soundbites and never say something unguarded. The problem is you get Hillary Clinton. Part of why people like Key is he does speak quite openly and freely. You don’t want to knock that out of him. On the other hand he will need to be very disciplined in election year not to say things which make him appear to be advocating something he doesn’t.