Yesterday on the way home I saw one of those attempts to win the election by making the other side look bad. It was a poster with a photo of John Key and speech quotes saying “we would love to see wages drop”.
This has been one of Labour’s favourite attack lines for quite a while now, but I really wish they would get over it. Aside from the fact that I’d prefer they invested at least some energy into talking about how they want to make New Zealand better, I also think the implication behind the accusation is silly.
Most politicians I have met, from across the spectrum, genuinely want to do good things for the country. Yet the repeated repetition of this line implies two things. One: that John Key actually wants wages to drop. He is evil and wants to see people put into poverty. And two: that he is so naïve and foolish as to say this out aloud. He’s meant to be kind of like the villain in a James Bond movie that takes too long explaining his dastardly plan while Bond prepares his escape.
Here’s what I think. John Key is lacking in political experience and nous, but not that badly. Most politicians don’t need too much tutoring to know revealing their secret plan to impoverish people is not likely to win votes. They teach that one on the first day of politician school. Secondly I don’t think John Key has a secret, evil agenda to deliberately make people poor. Like most other National MPs he wants to do good. The fact that his employment relations policies will make people poor is neither here nor there in terms of the implied accusation that he is evil. What matters is whether he believes they will make wages drop or not.
So let’s clean things up a bit, stop trying to charge Key with the crime of being evil and just focus on the lesser charge of being wrong. Goodness Labour, we could even talk about our own policies and vision if we wanted to be really brave.