I think the reason is because the public are not convinced Phil Goff and Labour believe in them (their policies) themselves. This is hugely important to voters. They will vote for a party if they believe the party is sincere and believes in its policies – even if they themselves do not agree with them all. …
So if you change you policies and your position, especially from just three months earlier, you need to make the case for why you have changed your stance.
The same applies to Labour’s stance on the Government’s books. Labour spent two and a half year attacking every single decision the Government took to reduce spending to get New Zealand out of the projected permanent deficit that Treasury projected at the end of 2008. They not only opposed every spending cut that the Government made, they actually argued that the Government should be spending massively more like Obama did. Right up until 2011 they were arguing that it was more important to borrow and spend to (temporarily) boost the domestic economy than to keep a lid on spending.
Then a few months ago, they realised that the voters were becoming very worried about debt, in light of the on-going troubles in Europe, and suddenly Labour stopped arguing that the Government should spend more, and said that they would spend and borrow pretty much the same as National was.
Labour’s problem again, is whether voters will believe them. It doesn’t really matter that much what numbers they announce today as their fiscal plan. The bigger issue is whether voters actually believe that the current Labour caucus really believes in spending restraint, when they have spent two and a half years arguing against it at every opportunity.