The big issues beyond the coalition gavotte

While politicians dance their coalition gavotte, there is time to ponder big issues.

Election campaigns foreshorten policy horizons from causes to symptoms in pursuit of here-and-now votes.

But the looming 2020s are likely to continue the digital reshaping of our lives and require major policy adjustments in tax, regulation, economic management and social services, assistance and equity. read more

Transformation, big tweaks or steady does it?

Here’s Labour’s tax slogan: “Let’s do this but not yet and maybe not at all.”

Last week Labour pushed the panic button — a week after Steven Joyce’s backfired panicky attempt to dig a big hole in Grant Robertson’s fiscal numbers.

Helped from the sidelines by Winston Peters demanding Labour come clean, Joyce’s “show us the numbers” tax assault forced a Labour retreat to safe ground. National might want Joyce as campaign chair next time after all. read more

A younger Parliament points towards change

There is one certainty in this election of upsets, diversions and sudden career endings: Parliament will be younger. The under-40s will swell in number. So will the lower-40s.

Already there are 11 under-40 MPs: four in Labour, including its leader, four in National, two Greens and one in ACT.

On parties’ recent polling averages up to late August that would double to at least 21 — more than one-sixth of Parliament. read more

A hard place, a rock and opportunity

A question hung over Bill English on stage on Sunday at his campaign launch: will he be in Parliament three years from now? He has been there 27years already.

If Jacinda Ardern is Prime Minister, he will surely not want to stew in opposition. Note in that light a TV1 poll published Sunday showing a massive party vote swing in Whangarei from 50%-18% National-Labour in 2014 to just 41%-37%. read more

Soaring Ardern, sorry Greens, straight-line National

The good news for Labour at its campaign launch on Sunday was Jacinda Ardern: sure-footed, traditional-and-modern and an overflow crowd ranging from fired-up to goggle-eyed.

For that crowd Ardern personified the change they want and sense but thought till three weeks ago was beyond the horizon.

She asserted Labour tradition, invoking Michael Joseph Savage, Peter Fraser, Norman Kirk, David Lange and Helen Clark (in the audience supporting her former staffer). read more