Liam Dann on Cunliffe’s cunning plans

Liam Dann calls out Labour for their crazy policy announcement but notes that this is all part of Cunliffe’s cunning plan to hoodwink business.

The Labour Party under David Cunliffe already looks sharper than the David Shearer version when it comes to picking up on business and economic issues and turning them into ammunition for political attack.

A lot of these issues are complex and Labour seems happy to grab headlines with half-baked ideas that don’t bear serious scrutiny.

But that doesn’t really matter in the rough and tumble world of political point-scoring. Shearer’s more considered and generally more intelligent approach was getting the party nowhere. It is a shame that one Shearer’s biggest flaws was his tendency to think before he spoke.

Why waste time thinking – all that ever did was give the Greens a chance to get in first with a snappy soundbite? Cunliffe’s Labour Party certainly doesn’t.

While the strategy has seen them fall into line with the Bankers Association, the real estate industry and assorted fund managers, it does seem to be boosting their poll ratings.

So fair play to them – in modern politics it is smarter to play dumb

Until you start to pick the scabs off the policy ideas.

Let’s face it, the bulk of the public don’t have a clue about the actual mechanics of the Reserve Bank’s new lending restrictions or a how a listed company share buy-back works. Labour has managed to get traction on both these issues in the past couple of weeks.

Last week we saw Clayton Cosgrove taking a blunt stick to the Mighty River Power board over the timing of the now-listed company’s share buy-back.

Cosgrove was quite explicit in his accusation that the Mighty River board of directors had made the move to pump the share price so the upcoming Meridian float would go better for the Government.

There is no evidence for this and the suggestion that a highly respected director like Mighty River chairperson Joan Withers would breach the Companies Act and put the interests of a political party ahead of the best interests of shareholders seems quite defamatory. Not to mention stupid. The share buy-back does highlight the poor performance of the Mighty River shares but it doesn’t – nor is it expected to – get the share price back to the IPO price. So why would the Government be pleased with the timing? John Key has gone on record to say he had no knowledge that it was happening.

Never mind. It looked bad for half a news cycle and Labour successfully reinforced a perception that the Government is desperate and will try anything to flog state assets off.

The only desperation is from Labour, who are fast getting the reputation of just making shit up.

Of course, neither the property sector nor the market investment sector are going to like Labour messing around with the Reserve Bank Act.

Monetary policy has been almost sacrosanct in New Zealand politics for more than 20 years.

Cunliffe and his deputy, David Parker, seem prepared to overhaul the act. Personally, I find that worrying as it appears to be one of the few things about the economy that doesn’t need fixing.

It is worrying indeed that Labour appears to want to be so destructive.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.