Fran O’Sullivan on Two-Face Cunliife

Fran O’Sullivan writes at the Herald about Two-Face Cunliffe.

Cunliffe also uses an essential duality – which has been accurately pin-pointed as “talking out of both sides of his mouth” – to try to assuage middle-class and politically adept New Zealanders that he doesn’t really mean all the tosh he threw as bait to Labour’s bedrock base to garner voting support during his leadership campaign.

What fascinates and frustrates is that it is difficult to work out which side of Cunliffe’s mouth will triumph if he ends up this time next year as Prime Minister.

Will it be the crusading politician who wants to bring down bloated plutocrats, raise the underclass up and cut the ground out from under particular corporates through legislative intervention?

Or will it be the more considered politician – an experienced former cabinet minister who is prepared to take advice and feedback from affected players instead of ramming decisions down their throats with a damn the consequences mentality? 

Ouch, talks out of both sides of his mouth.

Cunliffe wants to focus the political debate on inequality. The “many versus the few” slogan that is redolent of Labour’s 2011 election campaign will be brought back in a big way in 2014 with a renewed focus on living wages.

But to capture the middle-ground and some centre-right voters who want a shift away from an over-reliance on agriculture as the basis of national wealth, Cunliffe is spruiking an over-arching vision of a more innovative economy with policies to assist the move towards more high-technology and “value over volume” industries.

Around the traps he has also been talking to select audiences about cutting Kiwibank loose to enter the business banking market. This would mean recapitalising Kiwibank so it has a larger balance sheet to write off business loans.

Ed Miliband has endlessly tries the “many not the few” line much to his constant failure…it is clumsy and means stuff all to anyone but beltway junkies.

Of more concern is David Cunliffe’s discussions about Kiwibank. I’m not sure the words “write off business loans” are ones we want to be hearing…Kiwibank has never paid a dividend despite hundreds of millions of dollars in capital to provide banking services to the poor. Compounding risk by adding business banking write offs won;t help let along the many millions more required in capital fro no return whatsoever.

This might seem absurd given the dominance of Australian-owned trading banks. But Cunliffe says smaller New Zealand businesses suffer from market failure because the Australian banks are risk-averse and usually demand small business owners guarantee their loans with hard assets.

His plans to move the state further into the banking market is not the end of this interventionist scenario. Labour is also wedded to intervening in the electricity market to bring power prices down and plans to start KiwiAssure to give greater insurance cover for lower premiums.

I’m not sure how having a 93rd insurance company in the market is going to help in any way…especially as their chosen delivery method, via Kiwibank is already covered by the bank’s own efforts.

The problem facing Cunliffe is how he can convince enough voters the country is on the wrong track given the resurgence in economic growth. This growth will continue into next year as a result of a range of factors including Auckland’s housing boom, big demand for dairy exports, the Christchurch post-earthquake rebuild, immigration and the favourable terms of trade.

Overcoming this is no easy feat for any politician even one as experienced and competent as Labour’s leader.

There is room for much more contestability in politics. But John Key also has the power of incumbency. It is Key who can set the election date, bring in the royal circus and delight New Zealanders with the presence of Prince George and his parents, post a Budget surplus, crank up the Canterbury rebuild and much more.

Does anyone really think, aside form journos, that having a royal visit will make any difference to how someone votes ?

  • unitedtribes

    Does anyone really think, aside form journos, that having a royal visit will make any difference to how someone votes ?

    Well a win at the football dose

    • ex-JAFA

      I’ll admit it affects mine. If there’s no royal visit and Labia are in power, I vote against them. If there is a royal visit and National are in power, I vote for them. Mind you, I also vote for National if there’s no royal visit… and against Labia even if there is a royal visit. I wonder what the correlation is?

    • Saggy

      If Lenny gets close enough to slobber all over Kate it should send a few right. Not that I recommend it.

  • Cowgirl

    The royals make no difference to my vote. I’m guessing it’s the feel-good factor that sways some who don’t vote with any sort of consideration.

  • Jimmie

    One unintended side effect of Kiwibank is the enhancing of the major banks profits.

    Kiwibank has sucked off several hundred thousand low value customers which the big banks didn’t want anyway – no profit in a bene getting paid their dole money on a Tuesday night, having it withdrawn 5 minutes later and then the account sitting empty for another week.

  • Dr Wang

    Cunliffe “talking out of both sides of his mouth” – is that the same as “speaking with a forked tongue” or is it closer to “doublespeak”?

    • Other_Andy

      It’s ‘speaking with forked tongue.’
      However, most socialists will also use the latest Newspeak and doublespeak when addressing the proles and the media.

    • Betty Swallocks

      No, it’s a euphemism for ‘Talking out of both ends of his digestive tract, mostly the lower end.’

  • Other_Andy

    “talking out of both sides of his mouth”
    He is just another socialist with cognitive dissonance.
    Together with hypocrisy, very common in those from the left.

  • Blokeintakapuna

    “Does anyone really think, aside form journos, that having a royal visit will make any difference to how someone votes ?”

    Perhaps it might in the general sense it all adds to the “feel good factor” NZ continues to receive, leading to increased apathy and more Labour voters apathetic about voting.

    The “missing million” voters Labour think are their own are clearly abstaining from voting, because they won’t vote anything Blue/Right and they aren’t in favour of aspects of Labour – probably the leader, policies and/or Coalition partners – so then don’t vote at all.

    Certainly the unfolding of political events over the next year will be awesome to watch!

  • rockape

    The problem with the many v the few is that you want to be part of the “many” group. Labour no longer are, they are not the workers friend anymore, the are the friend of those who cant work, the friend of government burocracy and thats makes them on the opposite side of the worker who has to pay for it with higher taxes. Thats labours achillies heel.

    • Blokeintakapuna

      Yep. They have many heels. The largest being their leader…

  • peterwiseman

    Will we see Cunliffe or CunTliffe? His mouth will get him in trouble. Also, he has to say how the Greens will fit in with Labour. It will be a case of the Green tail wagging the Labour Dog.

    • Blokeintakapuna

      They’ll need to have Mana in between to moderate themselves from each other.
      Brilliant!
      Bring on the beer and the Deckchair…

      • dumbshit

        contemplate the amount of flea powder to disinfect that lot

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Lok bros, minty says his mind will be twisted if he sees the royals….so…

  • RightOfGenghis

    Depends what the royals are wearing. If Kate wears a long hemp green dress with pink flowers and Willy looks resplendent in a red tie, I’ll defer to their intellectual superiority and vote labour. On the other hand…

  • David Moore

    “But Cunliffe says smaller New Zealand businesses suffer from market failure because the Australian banks are risk-averse and usually demand small business owners guarantee their loans with hard assets.”

    Banks don’t exist to provide capital to businesses. That is basic misunderstanding of what banks are for.

    Start up and existing businesses looking for working capital need to be talking to venture capitalist, listing on the sharemarket or on kick starter.

    Turning Kiwibank into a venture capitalist funding vehicle is just bat-shit crazy.

    • RightOfGenghis

      True, but it makes for a good sound bite. And Cunner’s appeal is to the non-thinking, brain-dead bene. To whom his vote is as good as yours…

    • MrLastMinute

      Is Cunliffe really suggesting small businesses will be better off under his Labour government?

      Labour strangles small businesses to death with increased wages, taxes, compliance, allowing unions to get their grubby little fingers in the pie etc. etc..

  • Pita

    Ultimately, whichever side of his mouth Cunliffe talks out of, will be determined by Russel Norman.

    • OneTrack

      Dont forget co-leaderTurei.

  • timemagazine

    The left can nerve tell its truths. It needs to smoke and mirror constantly, otherwise they would never get elected.

  • thor42

    With Labour committed to much more intervention I think that hammering the “Venezuela Cunliffe” theme will be very successful.
    So will replaying his massive-spending “promises.”
    If Cunliffe keeps them, he is seen as fiscally reckless.
    If he doesn’t, he is seen as a liar and an opportunist.
    If he doesn’t commit either way, he is seen as gutless.

    Add in a few “Tui billboard”-style quotes from Labour and things should go well.

  • Goldie

    “want a shift away from an over-reliance on agriculture as the basis of national wealth, Cunliffe is spruiking an over-arching vision of a more innovative economy with policies to assist the move towards more high-technology and “value over volume” industries”
    .
    And how will Cunliffe achieve “a more innovative economy”? (Quite apart from the fact that he is apparently oblivious to the fact that NZ already has a world-leading innovative sector – agriculture).
    .
    It is surely the sign of a politician with no ideas at all when they rabbit on about the need for “a more innovative economy’ without being able to say HOW.
    .

  • Rick H

    I wonder if “Silent T” has the guts to wear “Anti-Royalty / Republican” clothing and signage during the prince’s visit. After all, Labia are famous for hating the monarchy.
    That’d make him popular with his ilk.

  • cows4me

    I’m surprised the die hard lefty supporters aren’t calling for Cunny’s head. Isn’t his preferred PM status now lower than poor old mumbles ? Labia’s real problem is they have no leadership and aren’t about to find some. Cunny as PM would be a total disaster for this country, it seems most sane Kiwis think the same way.

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