Is the customer always right?

Damien Grant gives us a dissertation on why National left no legacy and also why Bill English should go sooner rather than later.

It’s easy to have sympathy for Bill English. After leading the government to an unprecedented electoral result he was denied the final victory by the gnarled wizard of the North.

Still. He lost. Again. And, as happened last time, he has asserted his intention to remain leader through to the next election. Unlike last time, there is a risk he will succeed. This would be a mistake. Bill English lacks the credibility to hold the new government to account.   

English claims to have taken us through the global financial crisis, which is true but only in the sense that Edward III got England through the Black Death. His response to the economic mess was to avoid any hard decisions and to tick up $50 billion in debt.

This fecklessness could be forgiven if the massive debt expansion had been associated with a reorganisation of the economy along free enterprise lines. Alas, when you go looking for structural improvements since Helen Clark handed over the reins of power, you will find the cupboard bare.

There is the 90-day law for firing new employees, a few charter schools and a sheep farm in Saudi Arabia. These are trivial and are set to be unwound within days by the incoming socialist administration.

Bill English’s and John Key’s legacy is essentially nothing. Sure you might say they led us through the GFC, but that is all going to be forgotten now and certainly won’t be a lasting impression now the election is lost to a bunch of spendthrift socialists.

Contrast this with what Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble gifted the nation. State enterprises were sold, subsidies scrapped, the dollar floated and the Reserve Bank untethered from the political class. These changes were permanent and could not be unwound. They still underpin our economic success.

None of those things has been rolled back in more than 30 years…but Labour is promising to do so.

English and his former boss have left the productive class with no defences against what could be a rapacious state. The handful of charter schools are vulnerable in the way a thousand would not be. The failure to expose the health sector to the discipline of the market, scrap the RMA or unwind the expansion of welfare is negligent if you believe that markets work.

This timidity in the defence of free enterprise matters. Last week Comrade Jacinda Ardern pointed to the level of child poverty and homelessness as evidence that capitalism had failed. Mr English had nothing to say on this subject and wouldn’t be taken seriously if he had.

He spent most of the campaign promising billions of dollars in new spending and said not a single sentence on the defence of capitalism. As we stand here today it is painfully clear he either does not believe in the power of the market or lacks the moral courage to defend his beliefs.

Bill English doesn’t actually know what capitalism is, nor could he mount a cogent defence of capitalism. Steve Joyce even less such is his predilection to subsidies and picking winners.

What New Zealand needs is an opposition with the moral courage to challenge the very foundation this new government is based on; that the power and moral authority of the state are greater than that of personal responsibility and individual freedom.

Bill English cannot be that person. By leaving him in office the opposition is sending a signal that we, the electorate, got it wrong and they are graciously are giving us the opportunity in three years’ time to correct our mistake. Except we did not get it wrong. This government deserved to lose and the one lesson any good capitalist knows, the customer is always right.

Of course, sometimes it helps to throw in a few steak knives at the end of every promotion.

Or something with thousands of luminous spheres…right now we are being sold that and also being told that those luminous spheres emanate from Bill English’s arse.



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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.