In fairness to Jacinda Ardern, she didn’t raise the prospect of hiking the top tax rate, the media did.
But she didn’t deny it was part of her plans saying she’d wait to see the state of the books and make a decision then, adding it’d probably take several days to crunch the numbers.
Well the numbers were crunched within just a few hours and the top tax rate won’t be changed.
If she doesn’t realise that raising taxes does not a Government make, then she’d do well to look at the three previous elections she’s been involved in with Labour, especially the last one.
David I’m-ashamed-of-being-a-man Cunliffe was at the helm and made such a botch of remembering details about the capital gains tax proposal that he himself devised, during a television debate with John Key, that it ran Labour off the fiscal rails.
Tax is again shaping up to possibly be Labour’s Achilles’ heel and simply sidelining the issue to a taxation working group after the election won’t do.
Ardern was asked the other day whether finance was her weak point and she replied with a curt, “no”.
Being up against the former Finance Minister and one time Treasury wonk Bill English, she’d do well to know her stuff in what is a political minefield. Perhaps that’s why she’ll spend much of today with the spin merchants schooling her up on the difference between a hedge fund and the fence that her mum’s offered to paint to make her house look presentable in the lead up to the election.
As I said some days ago, analysis shows that Ardern can deliver a lie like she truly believes it herself. It’s given her an air of confidence not seen since Helen Clark.
But that only gets you so far. At some point, you need to also be able to discuss issues in some depth. She can’t have a pretend-working party for every issue she wants to defer discussion on.
All the taxes are aimed at “rich pricks”. Farmers, property owners and people who make too much money because they work too hard. This plays well with grassroots Labour voters who have always worked on envy and an imported hatred of “Torys”.
Will it be enough to fool enough voters for the next four weeks? Waiting for Jacinda to finally trip up and and reveal there isn’t anything behind the smile is turning into quite the cliff-hanger.
If she does stumble, it could be the “show me the money” moment of this election.