Red Clair Trevett has kicked the crap out of Labour yet again over their attacks on media for their own cock-ups over policy.
The theme of the Labour Party conference last weekend was “Backing the Kiwi Dream”.
The “Kiwi dream” has been an ongoing theme of Andrew Little’s leadership. On Sunday, the dream came by way of a policy to provide six months’ community work at the minimum wage to young unemployed people.
He painted a bucolic picture of strong, fit youth out in the wilderness building tracks, saving the animals and helping in soup kitchens.
Then came the wake-up call.
It was costed at $60 million. The amount is neither here nor there. It is certainly not worth the trouble it has caused. Journalists who took to their calculators could not make it tally with the six-month scheme on offer.
Questioned further, Labour told a television journalist it was based on an average uptake of four months per person.
She reported that, along with the observation Labour’s numbers did not add up for a six-month scheme.
That sparked a three-day war as Labour’s Phil Twyford took to Twitter and then in person to deride the report as biased, a “hatchet job” and “unprofessional”. What riled Labour was the claim it had botched its numbers (not helped by National minister Steven Joyce’s quip when told of the difference: “asterisk: may contain nuts.”).
Labour may not have botched the numbers but they botched the communication, and then doubled down on the media for daring to do their job.
At best it created confusion. At worst, it was misleading. It was certainly unnecessary.
It is no surprise Labour was defensive on the issue. It has to convince the public it can be trusted with numbers. Labour’s costings have been a sensitive topic since 2011 when John Key wiped the floor with Phil Goff in a leaders’ debate with the Jerry Maguire phrase “show me the money”.
That cast a long shadow which vexed two more Labour leaders after Goff and is now niggling at a third.
So the surprise was that Labour put itself in a position to be questioned over its costings at all. The whole brouhaha could have been avoided by simply including the relevant assumptions in the material distributed.
After five straight days of kicking, I imagine next week’s caucus meeting will be even more tense than this week’s one. Twyford was rounded on by caucus and given a weapons grade bollocking that even Andrew Little couldn’t stop.
If their campaign chair is getting a kicking a year out from the election about media matters then it doesn’t bode well for the campaign.
Despite that, the best Little could say, when asked why he had not mentioned the work scheme costing was based on four months, was to claim the media did not subject the Government to the same scrutiny.
He was not alone. Twyford and Grant Robertson made similar complaints.
Cry me a river.
In politics somebody will always catch out misleading or incorrect claims, whether they happen by conspiracy or cock-up. If it is not the media, then both Labour and National have staff dedicated to doing just that – running the rule over the other side’s costings.
It’s the game. Deal with it or go home.
But today Labour will have moved on to bigger battles.
The United States elections reportedly prompted a 141 per cent increase in Americans searching New Zealand property listings on realestate.co.nz.
Labour’s team will be calculating likelihood ratios on a list of American-sounding surnames for phase two in its campaign to save the New Zealand first-home buyer.
Ouch, how’d you like them apples Labour?
At this rate, I think we will have to stop calling Claire by her nickname. Still, no media reported the Roy Morgan poll, so Little can be thankful about that.
– NZ Herald