Oct 28, 2008

National Takes The Initiative

So suggests John Armstrong in today's New Zealand Herald

With less than two weeks to election day, National leader John Key is trying hard to grab the initiative at a time when many voters are starting to firm up their intentions.
He wrapped up a support deal with Peter Dunne on Sunday. Yesterday, he reheated National's planned spend-up on infrastructure projects to head off Labour's intentions of going down the same track.
But most attention will focus on National's rescue package for people who lose their jobs in the predicted prolonged recession.
"Transitory assistance" will be offered to those paying mortgages to tide them over while they hunt for another job,
National has to be seen responding to the repercussions of the financial crisis in an effective and credible fashion. But this is a big call.
The package is designed to show that Key will be as centrist as Prime Minister as he says he will.
It is all about negating Labour's "trust" message.
The nightmare is in the detail as to who is eligible for money and who isn't - this will be revealed on Friday.
The package must be seen as fair, although there are bound to be inequities.
The package also runs counter to National Party ideology, by discouraging savings and people taking out income-protection insurance.
But it does offer voters a comfort blanket in uncertain times.
Insiders say considerable and careful thought has been given to all this. If it is popular, the package could give Key unstoppable momentum. If it is not, it could throw the campaign wide open.