Wednesday, 5 May 2010

National nannies

Writes Colin Espiner:
Now, on a straight medical argument I accept it's a no-brainer. Smoking is highly likely to kill you. As is drinking too much, or eating loads of saturated fat. Raising the price of fags will lead to a drop in smoking rates, and probably a fall in the number of people who become a burden on the health system.

But it's a finely balanced issue. There's a tipping point, if you will, around how much the public will tolerate of We Know What's Best For You politics. Labour sure found that out.

Yet the irony is that National is imposing policies Labour wouldn't have dared to do, for fear of being labelled social engineers.

From bans on cellphones in cars to crackdowns on young drivers, raising the driving age to floating raising the drinking age and lowering the drink-drive limit, and now whacking up baccy tax, there's absolutely no question National has its sleeves rolled up and is getting stuck right in to social issues.

I could add that none of this stuff was flagged by National before the last election.

How voters respond is crucial. Will they see this as common-sense, middle-of-the-road politics? Or more interfering in their lives? Given that such a belief - however fairly or unfairly held - was one of the principal reasons Labour lost in 2008, National should take care.

What was even more surprising about the tobacco price rise was how it came out of the blue, without any previous kite-flying. Given the Maori Party's fervent wish to progress this, one can only wonder whether John Key finally gave in to its demands and offered it the increase as a policy concession.

The problem is, it's awfully inconsistent. Why refuse to implement Sir Geoffrey Palmer's suggestion of a 50 per cent increase in excise tax on alcohol just one day previously? It's arguable alcohol causes more harm in this society than tobacco does, and is certainly responsible for more crime.

The answer, of course, is politics. National couldn't raise alcohol and tobacco taxes on successive days. And it didn't want to wait for the Budget to whack up baccy tax - which is the normal way of doing it - because it doesn't want its Budget known as the Baccy Budget.

John Key can wear looking inconsistent. What he needs to be more careful about wearing is a nanny's apron strings. (emphasis added)
I rather like the comment by Tony:
tony #7 09:50 am May 04 2010

National have booted out the Nanny State...and replaced it with the Step Father State...he can pretend he cares as long as its all going well at work and he hasn't been drinking


  1. Disappointed you didn't pick my comment to same (somewhere in the #50's from memory) where I pointed all and sundry to your blog ;)

    In all seriousness though, there has been precious little to choose between National and Labour recently, they are both striving for the same middle ground. I think I've commented before that we are no longer voting for the main party, or policy for that matter, as we hear precious little in the way of concrete intent during election campaigns these days. Now we are forced to choose our party vote based on their likely coalition partner(s). It must have come as a rude shock to a number of National supporters when they found themselves in bed with the Maori party...

  2. @Lats: Ah, I didn't get that far down, unfortunately.

    I miss First Past the Post...