Upton On Line - Getting Out of the Gloom
As New Zealanders arise numb from this morning's horror at Twickenham, politicians must pick themselves up to fight the election campaign. Labour will be tempted to revel in the "doom and gloom", National must find a way out of it.
As campaigning begins in earnest, National and Labour are probably two to three percentage points apart. From the position National was in two months ago, this is an incredible performance, one that hasn't quite dawned on most commentators yet. It's going to be a nail biting four weeks ahead.
Campaign launches: Needless to say upton-on-line was at Eden Park, not across at the town hall where a meticulously screened Labour audience danced, applauded and smiled on cue. Upton-at-Eden Park was at a real political meeting where real live protestors from the 1970s tried to break in on Jenny Shipley's best speech yet.
There was abundant evidence that the Prime Minister was speaking from the heart and largely "off the cuff", and it added a bite and freshness that carefully crafted texts will rarely capture.
The protestors represented the action group that has helped Labour renege on the West Coast Accord of 1986. It's well known that Labour's cynical rethink of earlier commitments has caused outrage on the West Coast itself.
Upton-on-line has learned that, fearing another violent reaction, Labour has decided that its hardline policy on native logging won't apply to Southland. In other words, sustainable logging is OK in Bill English's electorate.
Once this gets out, you can expect to see the protestors from both sides assailing Labour at its meetings. Michael Cullen's method of dealing with protestors is well known.
Tax: Jenny Shipley made it clear that tax is the defining issue of the election. Upton-on-line has been thinking about how the parties' tax policies can be summed up in sound bite terms.
National's policy is very simple: for every dollar in tax cuts, there is a dollar for increased expenditure on priority issues dear to the public's heart. It is the nearest you'll get to having your cake and eating it too.
Labour's policy will take the cake and eat it for you.
ACT will not only provide no cake, but inevitably will put us all on an enforced diet. They will, however, provide the tax cuts needed to enable you to purchase a dietary plan of your choice.
The Alliance will force feed you with large amounts of badly made state baked cake. That is, if you decide to stay and endure the swinging tax hikes.
Law and Order: Upton-on-line went off line on Saturday night to watch the Law and Order debate, chaired by Mike Hoskings. For those who missed the event, party positions can be summed up as follows:
Peter Brown (NZF) was concerned about everything and would do more about everything. He had anguished particularly over guns.
Phil Goff (Lab) was very tough on everything, despite having a voting record that belied it all.
Richard Prebble (ACT) had come to the startling conclusion that it was difficult for people to commit offences when they were locked away.
Matt Robson (All) promised (quote) "social support everywhere".
After all this, Tony Ryall (Nat) had the unenviable task of dealing with the facts. This he did admirably.
Upton-on-line confers a special rosette award to Mike Hoskings who, uniquely in recent television current affairs history, asked brief questions, pressed for answers and failed singularly to star in his own show.
Friday last saw upton-on-the-bus. It was a full day on the campaign bus, starting at Chartwell shopping centre in Hamilton at 9am, finishing in Pukehoke at 5.30pm. The bus (Christened, Lipstick 1 by Jenny Shipley's children) took the intrepid band (Sir William Birch, Don McKinnon, Eric Roy, Georgina Te Heuheu and self) all over the north Waikato.
It was an excellent day's hand-shaking, with the most welcoming place being the public bar at Rangariri tavern and the "Cossie" club in Tuakau.
There followed a rousing campaign opening for Paul Hutchison's Port Waikato seat attended by 200 people. Upton-on-line suspects that many in the crowd were locals who could not believe that Bill Birch was not going to make a last minute announcement that he'd stay. Upton-on-line is unable to report that any second thoughts took hold.
Upton-on-line understood their reluctance to see the end of this remarkable man whose campaigning style is inimitably cheerful. No one was safe from the smiling Sir William thrusting pamphlets in hands and telling passers-by to read these as an antidote to Alliance propaganda.