Even the left are questioning the wisdom of Labour’s focus on asset sales

Two sensible left wing commentators in as many days have started to question the validity of Labour’s focus on asset sales as a strategy.

Lew at Kiwipolitico was damning:

If it wasn’t already over on the night of 26 November 2011, the argument about the popular legitimacy of the government’s plan to partially privatise selected state-owned enterprises was finally put to bed when the pre-registration website for the Mighty River Power float fell over shortly after it went live. Whether this was a result of intentional underprovisioning to generate buzz or genuine organic demand doesn’t matter: within 24 hours100,000 people had pre-registered interest in buying shares. That’s about one-third of the signatures opponents of the scheme took seven months to collect to force a citizens initiated referendum. The battle over whether these assets will be sold has been well and truly lost, and expending more political firepower on it is futile. The left needs to start organisaing around how they will be run.

When people like Lew are telling them the game is up, it really is: 

If they persist with beating the dead horse of ownership, the risk is that the government will strengthen its case that the state simply isn’t fit to own businesses, paving the way for the rest of the SOEs to be sold as soon as they can secure a mandate to do so. The only alternative I can see for the opposition is a pledge to re-nationalise the sold assets. If they’re going to do that they need to get on with it — if they reveal this policy after the Mighty River Power float goes ahead the risk isn’t the argument that the state shouldn’t own businesses; it’s that Labour and the Greens are parties of big-government kleptocracy, trying to turn Aotearoa into the Venezuela of the South Pacific.

I think Labour, if they are serious about opposing asset sales, really needs to clarify what they will do. Either they will re-nationalise them or some of them or they will asset sales stand. If they let them stand then their campaign can rightfully be called a stunt with no electoral merit.

Chris Trotter likewise points out the fatal flaws of Labour’s campaigning:

NATIONAL’S MANDATE to partially privatise the State’s energy assets is strongly contested by the Government’s left-wing opponents. As a political strategy this is not only misguided but risky.

The groups behind the Citizens Initiated Referendum (Labour, Greens, CTU, Greypower) do not appear to have considered the possibility that as many people may end up registering their interest in acquiring shares in Mighty River Power as have already signed their CIR petition. With more than 200,000 Kiwis expressing an interest in the first ten days of the three-week registration period, the enthusiasm for buying shares in the people’s assets would appear to be at least as strong as the people’s opposition to their sale.

The larger danger in contesting National’s mandate is that it forces the Left to second-guess the electorate’s intentions.

Trotter too raises the spectre of nationalisation of the sold assets. When will Labour come clean?


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  • Patrick

    How many signatures on the referendum are genuine? There will be plenty of Donald Ducks etc for sure.

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      Sheep confirms every single one of them are genuine including one Mr Robert Muldoon….

    • AnonWgtn

      A few of mine and Minny Mouse – probably around 40 in all.

    • Gazzaw

      I personally know of three ‘Julius Caesars’ and an ‘Adolf Hitler’.

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Whale Oil – I had a strategy meeting with Sheep, I am sharing the outcome with the nasty Tories of this blog:

    (a) Sheep will be going underground on the Asset Sales issue for now. He will announce a policy of buy back of assets middle of next year. He will fund this move by selling other assets like Beehive, Government house etc

    (b) Sheep will now concentrate on attacking Naked Emperor on FBT on car parks. He senses a kill as the stupid Peter Done Deal Dunne has dug a hole the size of Brownlee to fall straight into. So watch out this space and see how the poll ratings plummet for Naked Emperor in the next Rouge Morgan poll due out this week.

  • cows4me

    If the left were to Nationalise these assets then it would be all on. There would be no safe place for these commie arseholes to hide, I say bring it on.

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      We will be buying it back Mr Cows4me and you will fund it one way or the other…Watch this space…the tide is turning on Emperor Key….

      • cows4me

        Socialists don’t do buying Sir they’re more into taking. Would be great fun watching the idiots nationalising everything that takes their fancy, do hope they come and try and nationalise my gun collection, what fun.

  • johnbronkhorst

    and over at the standard they are still using expressions like…”no mandate”….They will never learn!

  • tarkwin

    Russel Norman said Kiwis would only get five percent of the shares. And he wants to be minister of finance. God help us if that ever happens.

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      November 8th 2014 at around 11:00 PM…..

      • Richard McGrath

        I will hopefully be living offshore by then…

    • JeffDaRef

      Norman is quoted in todays Herald – “I’ve had plenty of people contact me who are opposed to asset sales who are planning to buy shares to keep [Mighty River] in New Zealand ownership as much as they can through their small stake.”
      So what exactly is the issue, and why did you spend so much taxpayers money on trying to manufacture hysteria???

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        The left wing commies and the toxic Greens are so patriotic bro, They are using their hard earned welfare money to buy the shares so that the assets are there for your grand kids. Support them bro.

        • In Vino Veritas

          SCC, error in logic – they aren’t buying shares so that the assets are here for my grandkids. For their grandkids. But, and you can bet the house on it, when the price goes up, they’ll be the first to bail out and take the profit. Followed by loud whining about power prices and the dividends forgone by the government when it sold (economic pygmies).

      • Cadwallader

        He’s aiming for a “bob each way.” Slimey wanker.

      • AnonWgtn

        How many 6 eh !!!!

      • tarkwin

        That Jeff, is just typical of the slimey sanctimonious hypocrisy this wanker pedals. We should be making a list of stupid things he says in preparation for the next election. Make no mistake, not only is this guy bad news he also seems to have amazing teflon like capabilities.

      • Richard McGrath

        Hope a few of those people told Norman to STFU and put his money where his overactive mouth is – in other words put up or shut up.

    • AnonWgtn

      I hope that Wussel and Greenpeace Party do not have Pension schemes, as they will be the largest combined holders of all the partial SOE sales.

  • thor42

    National have a bloody MANDATE! It is called the 2011 election.

    They campaigned on PARTIAL asset-sales and they won. **End of story**.

    It’s too late now for the losers to come back and say “waaaaaaah…. ***we don’t like the election result***…… we protest……” IDIOTS!

    If National backtracked now, that would be a **broken promise**, but of course that is what the lefties want.
    Dear Labour – are you going to buy back the shares sold? yes or no?
    ***What would be the point???*** The government KEEPS control of the assets – 51% – even AFTER the shares are sold!
    Any money used to buy back the shares is money that can’t be used for schools, health etc. Oh, but of course Labour’s ignorant followers **ignore that.**

    • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

      Commie Norman thinks 2011 election itself is a hoax….bring on 2014

      • Dave

        SCS we believe Commie Wussel Norman is a Hoax, and his old country think he is a absolute joke, I think he is needed back in Aussie to help Julia try and hold on to her leadership – i mean, she is really desperate after the WA election defeat, and Obeid, Tripodi and Thompson in NSW rorting anyone and anything.

    • Richard McGrath

      To me, as Lew pointed out, the most telling thing was the avalanche of enquiries re shares over a matter of days, vs the months taken to crank up the numbers on the anti-share sale petition. Says it all, really.

  • Trotter is wrong. Pre-registration for MRP shares opened at 10.30am last Tuesday, so the figure he refers to was reached in less than a week, not ten days. By the end of this week, pre-registration numbers may well exceed what it took Labour and the Greens ELEVEN MONTHS to collect, on our coin.

  • BJ

    Check out this – http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/june-2-birthday-astrology.htm (under career and finances) which reinforces the obvious – that Russel Norman is totally unsuitable to be anywhere near the government’s pursestrings

  • JeffDaRef

    And now Shearer having a grizzle that someone signed him up for the pre-registration.
    Um ah er – that means nothing except you’ll be kept in touch with information until they go on sale, so unless someone else has access to your bank details it will come to nothing!!
    Though Shearer is so fucking vacant he has probably given his bank details to that nice young man from Nigeria who emailed him seeking his assistance…..

    • johnbronkhorst

      Yeah…read that too, Russell Norman also….Now you know why neither of these idiots should EVER get elected……..Z E R O sense of humour!!!

      • JeffDaRef

        Normans people arent averse to a bit of electoral sabotage themselves – yet again, total hypocrite!

  • sheppy

    I reckon they should keep it up, keeps them from concentrating on something useful and every utterance from the left proves just how unelectable they are

  • Samsung

    I feel all Liebour/Green MPs should come clean and tell us how much they personally will profit from these sales either through their own personal investments or via their Kiwisaver funds. I suspect all of them will. Irony much?

    • Hazards001

      Irony much? Who are you? Yoda?

  • The solid energy saga has lessons for everyone who believes that the government can run businesses efficiently. The chairman – and maybe many of the board members – were appointed by the Labour government. They all knew that the government was mad on renewables, biofuels and the like. So they steered solid energy in that direction. And it went bust. I am fairly sure that Don Elder has no time for the global warming madness so, if this is true, it must have been the board that pushed him into all these crazy investments.

    Similarly, Meridian Energy and other SOEs have invested in wind farms that, in a New Zealand context, are seriously uneconomic.

    So the sooner the SOEs get public shareholding and independent directors, the better.