One big long sledge by Mike Yardley

Mike Yardley writes one big long sledge against David Cunliffe:

With just 11 sleeps to election day, and as the campaign trail hits the home straight, we seem to be back where we started. Despite all the political histrionics, National remains in pole position with Labour seemingly marooned on 25 per cent support.

The maths would suggest Team Cunliffe needs to be hitting 30 per cent if there is to be any sniff of a sixth Labour-led government taking shape. Last week’s The Press Leaders Debate was a gripping spectacle to observe, once again delivering what could well be the killer campaign frisson, with David Cunliffe’s dismal inability to blow-torch John Key’s strategic query about whether family homes in trusts will attract capital gains tax.

Cunliffe was not only flummoxed, but woefully outfoxed. At the half-time break, his platoon of crest-fallen advisers hastily tromped off backstage, more ashen-faced than Mt Tavurvur.

It was a catastrophe for the Labour leader, who, ironically, throughout much of the debate, was the more composed and commanding performer.

The capital gains tax stuff up has cost Labour dearly. I expect the next polls to show a complete disaster.

But bungles can have brutal consequences, and this was a botch to match the “I’m sorry for being a man” moment. The Press debate also heralded what continues to be National’s central attack catchphrase: “Labour’s Five New Taxes.” An attack line designed to scare the bejesus out of middle New Zealand, the swing voters that decide elections.  

Among my broad church of mates are many disaffected voters, some who feel estranged from Labour. A party they no longer perceive as sufficiently centrist, moderate and broad-based, but one that prefers to pander to liberal nostrums, practises gender quotas and promulgates state dependency. Meanwhile, I have mates who are equally disenchanted with National, fed up with the worst excesses of Tory arrogance and born-to-rule hubris, all-too-often exhibited by Judith Collins and Steven Joyce.

Labour has lost the middle voters. And while National supporters may be fed up with Steven Joyce they aren’t going anywhere.

They’re shopping around for a party that can put a leash on a third-term National-led government. Which is where New Zealand First and the Conservatives are sitting pretty, scooping up the votes of middle-of-the-road swingers, while Labour treads water. I’m picking we’ll see both NZ First and the Conservatives cross the 5 per cent threshold on September 20. Is John Key going to be taken to task for shamelessly changing his tune about working with Winston? An act of political expediency at its most majestic.

Finally, the Prime Minister repeatedly bangs on about “New Zealand being on the cusp of an exciting future” and a “really special time”. It sounds like Sky’s “Happy Place”. He needs to paint the details into the picture. Spell it out. Show us the vision.

The choice between Winston and Colin is a choice between the Bad and the Mad.


– The Press

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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.