OPINION: If ever Labour was going to scream transformational government then the one policy it had in the shop front window was the capital gains tax.
It was the panacea, the holy grail on the way to Jacinda's socialist nirvana.
This would finally even up the scorecard. Utu was being whispered out loud.
The rich could no longer just simply get rich owning and selling assets. They would finally have to rethink how they got rich and the free lunch would be taxed. Hip hip hooray ... said Grant Robertson.
And, depending on who you believed, it was going to be either tax-neutral or raise billions in the years ahead for Labour's costly social programme.
And put to one side all this nonsense talk of Ardern being an international leader above all others, the latest being from Fortune magazine. She's not. Or it's downright meaningless marketing. She's best to ignore it.
If you can't put in place a policy so central to Labour's economic plan, then why have this lot in power at all? What's the point? Remember the slogan? It's about fairness. It runs through everything they talk about.
All that political capital or credit after Christchurch and Ardern doesn't spend a cent? Even John Key spent capital early on with his hike in GST. And he got away with it.
Is Ardern's leadership genuinely making a difference and is she closing gaps and making good law? I'm not even sure if that's her thing.
Or is she just a smiling face or a smiling farce? On that you will be the judge. We certainly know she's a warm, empathic one at that. Helen Clark was told to smile, through gritted teeth. Jacinda has to get told to stop. Please. Now.
Ardern is a clear communicator and marketing expert. But listen closely, what is she saying? Nothing. She commentates the situation. We know that. We know what this scenario looks like and sounds like, but we want answers!
Here's my summary so far:
KiwiBuild is kiwihoax.
TPP is CPTPP. And yes, Labour marches against it but voted for it.
Child poverty is still child poverty. And more kids are in state care now than ever before.
People living on the street are still living on the street.
Carbon zero is lofty but carbon emissions are higher than ever.
The economy is slowing.
GDP is down.
I asked a squillion questions on the CGT and Ardern told me to just wait. And wait and wait. Now this? What's the point of a transformational government if at the first sign of trouble the PM heads for the nuclear bunker.
Crucially, where I think Ardern is at her weakest is in the formation of policy, the development of it and the struggle and fight for it. Has she sold New Zealand her vision to reduce child poverty? Perhaps I've missed it but no, she hasn't. It seemed overly technical last time I looked.
So, big question? Did she fight for a capital gains tax? Did she put her best foot forward? Did she give examples of where it works? No. No. No. Does she believe in it? Who knows?
She no longer cares. Sure it's the nature of MMP that you win some, you lose some, but this was not the one to lose. This goes to the very DNA of this Government.
If this Government is who they say they are, and I'm now doubting that big time, wouldn't they keep a CGT alive?
Was this a point of principle or something that played well to the Left until they got caught flip-flopping like a matchbox toy in a Cook Strait southerly?
In the end Ardern didn't have to capitulate because that would infer she did a heap of work selling it in the first place.
I recall one paragraph to Business NZ where she stated the process from here on in but that's it. She was missing in action. Why? Because she knew Winston Peters was blocking it all along, perhaps.
If that's the case the young Kiwi world leader of the year should have ditched it during the election, if not in the coalition negotiations.
Never go into government with Winston still needing his votes on your crucial policy. It's naive in the extreme to think he's got your back.
Especially if his policy opposes the CGT. He's like a gang member who's house-sitting for the weekend at your place. You never rest easy.
Ardern's blind spot on the CGT has been the size of a small planet. Three clear chances to ditch it and she kept it alive.
Why? I can't answer it. Seems no-one can. But when a dog of an idea has Sir Michael Cullen pushing it and Helen Clark eye-rolling as a result, then Ardern should have known better.
But that was then and this is the great unwashed who simply won't remember in a year's time, when TV ads roll out of Jacinda holding ... well, her own baby.
For a week people will say nasty things about her decision-making but that's a small price to pay for the ultimate prize. By ditching this Ardern should win the 2020 election. And then the captain's call starts to look OK, huh?
And then there's Simon Bridges. And this is how the destabilisation campaign works. At first there's talk. Then denial. Then Bridges is scrutinised further. It starts to fall apart. Bridges goes.
Who steps up? Mark Mitchell and Paula Bennett or Judith Collins? It's Collins.
National doesn't have to win the next election it has to do what Don Brash did in 2005. Get close. Collins will hold the base. Bridges could do a Simon William English circa 2002 and Simon it all over again. And you don't need me to spell it out in plain English what a massive loss does to a major party.
Bridges need mending and it takes its toll and most certainly it takes time and these Nats are impatient to be back. The answer is Judith ... now hold your nose, what's the worst thing that could happen? Lose the election?
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