Watkins on Goff

Tracy Watkins writes:

As the reality of John Key’s prolonged honeymoon sinks in, two things are happening within the Labour caucus.

I do wish media would stop explaining high poll ratings by claiming Key is still enjoying his honeymoon. Not only does this ignore all the potential problems such as a Budget that cancelled tax cuts, a Ministerial sacking, the Rankin appointment and a massive by-election thrashing – it goes against all the numerous tome media and thers have already proclaimed the honeymoon is over.

Duncan Garner called the honeymoon dead on 9 June for example. The Herald on Sunday on 17 May. Even Labour called it over on 13 May.

A honeymoon period is when you have no real problems. It is not a term meant to apply whenever the Government remains high in the polls.

The first is that they have become gripped by a sense of grievance that Mr Key’s honeymoon is only down to the media giving him an easy ride.

Yes I recall how easy the media went on him over Richard Worth, the by-election and Christine Rankin. As in, not at all.

Even defeat was seen as nothing more than an interruption to normal transmission. Labour MPs who wore the mantle of martyrdom about as well as could be expected for those who have taken a massive cut in salary and been forced out of their ministerial homes concluded that the temporary mood of boredom and recklessness that gripped voters on election day would be overtaken eventually by the realisation they had squandered a capable and much-loved government.

The culture of entitlement, as they call it in Canada.

Mr Goff’s blunders this week were twofold; he tried to dress up a reheated election policy as a new one, but was left scrambling to fill in the gaps when pressed to flesh it out. It was intended to put the Government on the back foot by painting it as devoid of ideas in the face of a looming unemployment crisis.

But the consequence of the rush was a badly thought out policy that pledged welfare for the rich, when the intended recipients had always been the battling middle classes.

Money for millionaires!

To compound the problem, Mr Goff championed the cause of a “Kiwi battler” who claimed to be on the brink of losing his home of 20 years because he could not get an unemployment benefit after losing his job, even though his wife earned only $21,000 a year.

The man’s story, which featured in an Auckland newspaper, rang alarm bells among many who read it on the Wednesday morning. It did not ring true that with 20 years of mortgage payments under their belt and a lifetime of frugality, the couple were a step away from the poorhouse.

And it was exactly that scenario which was the emotional string-puller. The Goff painted fantasy that you can have owned your home for 20 years, paid all your taxes, yet lose your home within months of unemployment because of the nasty Key Government.

The argument that taxpayers should pick up the tab for a couple with property worth well over $1 million is one that most would find preposterous. Worse, it transpired that Mr Goff and his team knew about the man’s other properties. But where warning lights should have flashed up after the newspaper’s failure to dig up the pertinent facts, Mr Goff and his team saw a green light instead.

Hopefully the media learn a lesson from this also. Ask for all the relevant facts when presented with a sob story. Mind you a Herald staffer said on radio that they had asked Labour if this couple had any other sources of income and were not told about the properties.

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