The Press on Cunliffe


But the poll has brought home the harsh reality that it was always going to take more than just the replacement of the maladroit, tongue-tied Shearer with the clever, experienced, articulate Cunliffe to improve Labour’s fortunes. And for all his touted virtues and supposed preparedness for the role, Cunliffe, in his first few weeks in the leadership, has been less than assured.

He has not got the better of Key in the House. A publicity stunt designed to highlight difficulties young people have buying an affordable house in Auckland backfired when the chosen example was a 23-year-old complaining about not being able to afford a pricey house in one of the more salubrious suburbs that he was not sure he was going to live in anyway.

Yeah I loved how Labour campaigned for the right of 23 year old property investors to buy a half million dollar home with a less than 10% deposit.

In a speech to trade unionists, Cunliffe was heard breathing fire as he told them what they wanted to hear on industrial policy, which he shortly afterwards cooled down considerably for more general consumption. Skirmishing with the Government over the SkyCity convention centre deal, he has been studiously evasive over what Labour would do.

Say one thing to one audience, and another elsewhere and hope no one notices.

None of this may be particularly significant but it points up a shallow opportunism and an unsettling lack of substance in what Cunliffe has so far offered.

National’s continuing high ratings in the opinion polls are almost certainly attributable to satisfaction with the Government’s handling of the economy, the core issue in any general election. On that score, the Government has done well, with growth, inflation, unemployment and the country’s finances looking good, certainly by international standards, and likely to remain so. Cunliffe has not yet presented any reason for voters to believe a Labour-led government would do any better.

As far as I can tell Labour’s economic policies are for more tax, more spending, more debt and more inflation.

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