John Armstrong reviews a week with bad images on the news for Labour:
It was not the smartest piece of public relations for Labour’s Cabinet ministers to be caught on camera extracting themselves from their sleek and swanky new BMWs when New Zealand families feel forced to ration how much cheese their children eat.
However, it probably did not occur to most ministers what sort of impression they were giving as they rolled up en masse to Premier House on Tuesday morning – at least not until they saw the media pack.
It is an old cliche that Cabinet ministers long in the saddle get too accustomed to the soft leather seats of their chauffeur-driven limousines – and Tuesday night’s television coverage of Labour’s special caucus meeting predictably used the taxpayer-provided BMWs as a visual metaphor for a Government out of touch.
The Government was foolish to allow new cars to be introduced in an election year. It is a classic example of third termitis.
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.
As Gordon Brown is discovering.
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.