How about all those game changers, eh?

During the last parliamentary term we were all told repeatedly that this policy or that person was a “game changer”.

How did those game changers all work out?

Chris Trotter thought Matt McCarten was a game changer:

These are the stakes the Left is playing for – and they could not be higher. If progressive New Zealand rallies to Cunliffe’s and McCarten’s bright-red banner and helps them convince Middle New Zealand that Labourism, far from being an alien and dangerous creed, actually stands for all that is best in this nation, then it will have won an historic and lasting victory. But if it fails to seize the opportunity it has been given, then all that is worth fighting for on the Left will go down to defeat and New Zealand will be National’s for the foreseeable future.

Now IS the time for all good comrades to come to the aid of the party. Because, whichever way it turns out, the appointment of Matt McCarten is bound to be a game-changer.

Chris Trotter was very prescient in that post, he also predicted disaster.

[T]he Left has been given an extraordinary opportunity to prove that it still has something to offer New Zealand, but a desperately short period of time in which to do it. If old wounds, old grudges, old defeats (are you listening Jim?) are allowed to get in the way of making this unprecedented situation work to the advantage of ordinary New Zealanders, then it will end in failure.

And that failure won’t just be Cunliffe’s and McCarten’s, it will be the failure of the entire progressive movement. And it won’t just be for a triennium (or three) it will be for an entire generation.

If Cunliffe and McCarten are allowed to fail, the Right of the Labour Party and their fellow travellers in the broader labour movement (all the people who worked so hard to prevent Cunliffe rising to the leadership) will say:

“Well, you got your wish. You elected a leader pledged to take Labour to the Left. And just look what happened. Middle New Zealand ran screaming into the arms of John Key and Labour ended up with a Party Vote even more pitiful than National’s in 2002! So don’t you dare try peddling that ‘If we build a left-wing Labour Party they will come’ line ever again! You did – and they didn’t.”

Be in no doubt that this will happen – just as it did in the years after the British Labour Party’s crushing defeat in the general election of 1983. The Labour Right called Labour’s socialist manifesto “the longest suicide note in history” and the long-march towards Blairism and the re-writing of Clause Four began. (Never mind the impact of Maggie Thatcher’s unlikely victory in the South Atlantic, it was Michael Foot’s socialism wot won it for the Tories!)

Plenty of others thought Matt McCarten was a game changer…they just didn’t realise he wasn’t working for Labour. He certainly was a game changer…for National.   

NZ Power was touted as a game changer policy. As were many others.

GST off fresh fruit and vegetables:

“Labour’s plan is a bold one. It’s a game-changer. It’s about fairness,” said Mr Goff at the time.

Of course it wasn’t and was ditched for this last election.

Capital Gains Tax:

Leader Phil Goff yesterday unveiled the party’s “bold” CGT regime, saying its time had come, and it would be a game-changer for Labour, which is struggling to narrow National’s lead in the polls.

David Cunliffe persisted with the game changer policy of capital gains tax. 75% of voters agreed and didn’t vote for Labour as a result.

Raising the super age of eligibility:

Mr Goff hopes the announcement will be a game-changer. Raising the age of eligibility for National Superannuation would affect 2.4 million New Zealanders.

Still Labour policy and the game didn’t change a bit.

Cuppagate:

But the potential disclosure of the contents of that conversation – held only a metre away from the closest reporters – could yet throw a rocket into this election campaign. It is a game-changer.  

And they thought Dirty Politics was a game changer too…that’s two non-scandals that didn’t work.

The City Rail Loop:

“The City Rail Link is the game changer for Auckland. It will boost the rail network and drive the revitalisation of the city centre. Unfortunately the Minister has locked himself into opposing it,” Phil Twyford said

Yeah, nah…Auckland is lost to Labour, in all but 3 seats across the region labour came second int he party vote.

$5000 tax free threshold:

Labour’s plan is a bold one. It is a game changer which creates greater fairness, allows us to keep our assets, pay off debt and build a stronger economy.

Again, not a game changer.

The Canterbury Earthquake:

“It’s also important that this disaster is not used as an excuse to sell off our valuable assets. The quake is a game changer and we do need to take another look at our priorities but we can get through this without the need for asset sales.

How did Labour do in Christchurch? Oh that’s right, not so good.

Labour repealing the GCSB bill:

If this pledge is honoured by a Labour-led government then, to use an over-done cliche – this is a game-changer. It means that the constant growth and expansion of State powers will – for possibly the first time in our history – be reversed.

NO. ONE. CARES…about spying.

David Cunliffe:

Another firm believer in Cunliffe’s ability is Brian Edwards, who has blogged to say that the new leader represents a ‘game changer’ for the Labour Party – see: Congratulations David – and why John Key’s days are numbered.

Now David Cunliffe was a game changer…for National. He made 75% of Kiwis vote for a party other than Labour.

Labour’s electoral college:

The convergence of this decision together with the adoption of the new Electoral College process (caucus/party members/affiliated unions) for electing the leader always had the potential to be a game changer.

We are about to see this particular game changer put back in action. Oh the delicious irony.

Early voting was supposed to be a game changer too for the left…and the get out the vote campaign, and Labour canvassing teams, and turning out the missing million…all game changers to favour the left.

So for all these game changer policies, ideas and people the only thing in the game that has changed is Labour’s team got smaller and National’s team got bigger.

So much for the game changers.


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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.

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