Trust and Taxes: How National Intends To Derail The “Jacinda Train”


NOW IT’S CLEAR. Now we know how the next 17 days of the 2017 General Election are going to go. National’s strategy has come down to frightening the electorate into betraying its own hopes of a better future. Distilled from God knows how many focus groups, the two trigger-words National have seized upon are “Tax” and “Trust”.

Yes, it’s pretty thin. But, what else has National got? Nine years of arrogant contempt for the accumulating evidence of New Zealand’s obscene social deficit has left the Government deservedly defenceless in the face of problems that have, to its horror, entered their acute phase at precisely the wrong political moment. Already bereft of their magic man, John Key, they have also been robbed of the other politician upon whose qualities they were planning to capitalise – Andrew Little. With the “Jacinda Train” bearing down on them with terrifying speed, what could they do?

Clearly, the Nats have done what the Australian, Canadian and British right-wing parties did when they found themselves staring down the barrel of defeat. They picked up the phone and called Crosby-Textor. A smart move, because if there’s one outfit capable of turning aside the electoral thrusts of the centre-left it’s the highly successful pairing of Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor.

Their most important talent has always been the ability to tease out of the words, the repeated phrases, and even the facial tics of focus group participants, and then use them to create the bare bones of a political narrative upon which their clients can assemble the flesh of a winning electoral campaign.

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Presented with the fresh face of Jacinda Ardern their search would have been for the challenges and responses required to expose her most easily exploited vulnerabilities. That the trigger-words extracted from this process turned out to be “Tax” and “Trust” strongly suggests that the focus groups responded most forcefully to a narrative that goes something like this:

Jacinda’s a warm and lovely person, but she’s very young and quite inexperienced. What’s more, when pressured on the big economic issues – especially those having to do with taxation – she comes across as uncertain and ill-prepared. She tells us that Labour has an economic plan, and that its been costed by “experts” – who we are, apparently, expected to take on trust. She is similarly relying on a “working group” of experts when it comes to Labour’s tax policy – which means she can’t tell us what our taxes will be until after the election. That strikes us as a bit suspect, a bit dodgy. We like Jacinda, but we’re not sure she knows what she’s doing economically-speaking. We might be persuaded to trust her. But, the people around Jacinda: the people behind her; we’re not yet ready to trust them. There are still a great many unanswered questions.

Crafting a campaign strategy out of these sentiments isn’t all that difficult.

First you go after Jacinda on taxes – all manner of taxes. You expose her uncertainty and you attribute it not simply to her inexperience, but to something more sinister.

Labour’s hiding its true intentions, you say, because it’s got a “hidden agenda” to tax New Zealanders within an inch of their lives. You inform the country that their economic plan has an $11 billion “hole” in it. Of course, they’ll wheel out all sorts of “experts” to tell the voters that it’s a wonderful plan. But, then, experts are ten-a-penny, aren’t they? New Zealanders will find out how it all works when, in the awful event that Labour wins the election, the membership of its all-important Tax Working Group is announced. (What’s the bet they turn out to be the same people who have just told us that Labour’s plan really does add up!)

This is the narrative that National will build and amplify over the next 17 days. It doesn’t have to be true and it doesn’t matter what the media and their “experts” say. Who trusts the “lying media” and its “fake news” these days? And, seriously, what do “experts” really know about anything? No. The only thing that matters is that enough voters begin to question whether or not Jacinda really is experienced enough to run the country. And, whether she can truly be trusted to keep her “tax and spend” Labour Party in check.

If they can convince the waverers; the voters on the point of climbing aboard the “Jacinda Train”; that Labour’s numbers just don’t add up. If they can make them feel that if they’re not very careful, then a bunch of so-called “experts” are going to advise Labour to tax their land, their batch, their business, their petrol, their water, their financial transactions, and even their inheritance. If they can inflame suspicion and build mistrust, then – dammit – they just might win.


  1. It DOES matter what the media and their “experts” say, National cant run any attack line without it, hence the notable silence that the National govt set up its own tax working group years ago. I wouldn’t hold my breath of what Chris hopes comes to pass, National’s dirty politics attempts are backfiring in a most spectacular fashion.

    • the media narrative is a factor however as Chris says they are largely distrusted (almost as much as politicians) and by instilling the doubt the job is half done….the next couple of polls should show if Nationals last throw of the dice has paid off….heres hoping not and that the electorate has learned something these past few years

      • You are on to it Frank, you’re right, looks like the electorate has learnt something judging by tonight’s Colmar Brunton poll that has National on 39%, so National’s last throw of the dice has backfired.

    • agree with you Louis and why aren’t our media calling the nasty gnats out on all their broken promises. Why aren’t the media saying but you promised us a brighter future and you promised you would get rid of P and you promised benefit changes would fix drug use and help our NEETS into work and you promised better public services. After nine years of broken promises and now we hear more of the same promises. We also hear repeated policies already delivered that has not even hit the mark and won’t because these are failed policies and they still keep trying to flog the dead horse when its been dead for 9 years. They still believe in their own spin and billshit despite the gapping inequalities in our country and they still refuse to accept their policies have in fact exacerbated all of the above. And now today I hear on RNZ tolley stuttering just like her boss about drug testing youth but that is old policy regurgitated.
      Trust and tax you say trotter well look at the taxes they implemented
      (and there were many) look at their (gnats) issues around trust ( just as many if not more) In my view experience counts for nothing when one does not learn from ones mistakes and one continues to do the same thing when it doesn’t work. Change is coming and we desperately need it to heal our country and all our people because a plaster doesn’t fix an infection we need antibiotics and the gnats prefer the plaster.

      • ^^ this!! Excellent comment Michelle, I couldn’t agree with you more on all the points you have raised. “They still believe in their own spin and billshit” how so very true that is. National are arrogant, completely out of touch and are treating us all like fools and idiots.

    • In any case, Jacinda can, and perhaps should, reiterate the assertion she made early on, that she has budgeted for a ZERO income boost from the taxation working party, because its inquiry is about equity and speculation control, not higher taxes. So those who expect some massive money grab are on the wrong track. And so are the dishonest National fear-mongers.

  2. It does seem a bit late in the day to be formulating financial policy, unless Jacinda has been persuaded to try to change it at the last minute in response to commentary and expectations from outside the labour party.
    Otherwise it should be well prepared and in place. It doesn’t seem likely that she would have difficulty coming to grips with the programme if it was already settled even if it had not been her particular focus before suddenly finding herself in the leadership role.
    The capital gains tax that doesn’t apply to a family home , but might apply to the ground under it which in Auckland might be worth twice as much , is something that needs clarifying urgently. It could do real damage. Unless the capital gains tax is a new idea initiated by herself on the trot she has been badly let down by the finance spokesman if that had not been sorted out long ago.
    I think there isn’t time to change policies before the election, if she does better than the present policies once elected so much the better.
    D J S

    • I heard her clarify this, RNZ I think, where she ruled out the land as well as the family home. This doubt came straight from Crosby Textor and will probably be remembered if the MSM don’t also publish her clarification. Dirty Politics 2017.

  3. I prefered Metiria with her bold assault on the high wankery that is NuZillind and it’s oh so solemn and steeped in honesty political tripe.
    Having said that, Metiria is no longer in the game is she.
    So I must go with Jacinda. Fuck it. Why not? What option do I have anyway?

    Perhaps what NZ needs, more than anything, is a lack of experience. Because the experienced, the seasoned, are the very arseholes who’ve done us in. The clever bastards. The cunning fuckers. The well educated and soulless. The conniving narcissists now fat and rich while their people live in cars or worse.
    Maybe an innocent is precisely what we need. Because surely, with an innocences and a ‘lacking in experience’, what ever that means, it might also usher in a fresh breath of honesty. A ‘say’s what she thinks’ kind of person with a good heart? I know ! Doesn’t sound like any kind of NZ politician since Norman Kirk right?
    No wonder the 30 years of Post neo liberal times types have a struggle with what they’re seeing. They’ll have no idea of what to do with an innocent, inexperienced thus perhaps honest politician. It must be like an Amazon tribes person watching a rocket launch on a wide screen tv after taking a tab of LSD. They’ll have no fucking idea what it is, exactly, they’re looking agog at.

    • Perfectly said genius CB

      “Perhaps what NZ needs, more than anything, is a lack of experience. Because the experienced, the seasoned, are the very arseholes who’ve done us in.”

      “New brooms sweep better & cleaner” is my take.

  4. The power of the media to turn public opinion in support of the incumbent government started a week ago.

    Even tonights One News only carried Bill English campaigning but Jacinda was missing in action and last night the story about Jacinda’s stand on withdrawing benefits for Aussies studying here in retaliation for them doing the same yet all the comments made by people when they were asked weather Labour would be justified taking that course of action was against the idea in other words it was a negative storyline and TVNZ are very good at Labour=negative coverage.

    The whole tax and spend is an old ploy by the tories yet their own record on the economy is less than satisfactory and had Robertson made up the same bullshit Joyce is currently peddling and proven to be wrong he would have been viciously attacked again and again.

    When Jacinda said it would be the fight of their lives that was a total understatement and as i have always said that this government won’t go easily and has powerful forces behind it.

    Despite the campaign for generational change we may see enough people “spooked “and sucked in by the deceit and will re elect the current regime.

  5. National = gangsters all.

    These National politicians are all thugs who hide under the mantle of NZ Inc’.

    Hired guns all of them.

  6. Transcript of A study of the causes of the Cuban Revolution:

    Predominantly urban population
    Social inequality
    Huge divide between classes
    Standards of living went down
    Significant gap between Havana and other urban areas (1/4 of the population), b/c the revolution established itself in the eastern and central provinces
    Inequalities in health and education
    a forcible overthrow by the people of a state, of a government or social order as a means of initiating change

    The North Island of No Zealand looks a helluva lot like Cuba in more than one way

  7. Aggression.

    These current National party types understand nothing but aggression. And Adern needs to start getting aggressive. Aggressive in constantly asserting National , Keys and English’s hypocrisy’s and incompetence.

    Aggressive in overriding interjecting opponents and hosts seeking to achieve a preconceived objective. And she can do it , – we’ve all seen her with certain media talking heads who got their noses rubbed in it.

    We are just waiting for the fire to come down and for her to say enough ! – and out these liars as they need to be.

    We’ve all had enough of them and we are all backing her.

    • Yep WK,

      That is a pule fact that National ‘thrive’ (my word) on aggression, you hit there point there.

      Sad because that incites the general population to adopt this hateful trait also and I am old school 1944 born and cant cope i an aggressive world, we came from a softer gentler time.

      • We came into a world emerging from five years of war. Our parent’s generation had seen enough of aggression and were looking for something else. It was a better aspiration.

        D J S

      • I am sorry , CLEANGREEN , if it appeared ‘agressive ‘ ,…it is an unfortunate fact , however , that often unruly , unteachable leaders need to be fought using ‘ fire to fight fire’ , if they refuse to listen. There are ways to do it, that is still peaceful. And to win the fight without actually ‘ fighting’ .

        I’ve always taken an interest in the writings of Sun Tzu , there is a lot of political , military , business and social wisdom in that collection of writings…

        * ‘ The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting’.

        * ‘ Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting ‘ .

        * ‘ Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate ‘ .

        National assumed they were dealing with Andrew Little, therefore they became haughty , – then Labour / Little performed a Sun Tzu moment , – they brought in Jacinda Adern ,… ‘the extraordinary moment , – that which they cannot anticipate’ …

        And yet , Labour is subduing National without fighting, … as the lovely demeanor of Jacinda Adern disarms even National supporters…

        But this still does not negate the sheer ruthlessness of war….

        * ‘ If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected ‘

        Sun Tzu’s 31 Best Pieces Of Leadership Advice – Forbes…/2014/…/sun-tzus-33-best-pieces-of-leadership-advice/

  8. The Tories in the U.K election tried some Crosby-Textor lines against Corbyn’s Labour Party but it didn’t stop Labour’s dramatic rise in the polls.
    The lines….’ Labour’s magic money tree’ and :’Labour ,the spend borrow and hope party’ , were wheeled out with monotonous regularity but to no avail.
    Attack is the best form of defence and Joyce’s complete ignorance and misunderstanding of basic economics has given Labour a foot on the throat moment.
    Labour should dispel the myth once and for all that National are the better economic managers, because they aren’t….National’s favourite marketing tool is now in big trouble.
    Scratch beneath the surface and nobody else is at home.
    Their self promoting mythical business prowess is nothing but an illusion.
    Joyces’s hubris has exposed the truth.
    Labour should go in for the kill !!

    • Grant,
      Excellently said with clarity.

      Labour with Jacinda have real chance now as jacinda is sharp & concise and has deep well of wise knowladge from past ministers to draw upon.

      Helen Clark & Michael Cullen are just two that Jacinda can liaise with as they lead labour for nine years from 1999- to 2008 with monetary surpluses that left the books in good shape for National with a very low $8 billion dollar crown debt.

      Now National has squandered all our assets by selling off everything but the kitchen sink.

      But even after selling our birthright National has still mortgaged us up to the eyeballs with a staggering massive crown Debt in real terms of $96 Billion now that leave our grandchildren to pay it off!!!!!!

      Get rid of National vote them out on 23rd September.

  9. “the two trigger-words National have seized upon are “Tax” and “Trust”.

    That’s pretty ironic, considering they are the ones who seem to rely most on using trusts to avoid tax.

    • please watch this debate on RNZ today brilliant so we sent a note congratulating them.

      TO; Grant Robertson; – ‘labour shadow Finance.’
      Subject; Radio NZ Labour/National finance debate.

      Congratulations Grant Robertson on your effort on morning report Radio NZ show today.

      Though we couldn’t hear all your responses (due to the voluminous over-bearing interjections of Steven Joyce), we all agree you was simply brilliant with your presentation.
      Keep it up please.

      Radio New Zealand
      22 minutes ago
      Watch LIVE: Finance Debate – National vs Labour
      22 minutes ago
      Share this

      Who will do the best job balancing the books? National’s Steven Joyce and Labour’s Grant Robertson join Morning Report in the Auckland studio to debate all the details.

      Mr Joyce doubled down this week on his attack on Labour’s alternative budget, despite a series of economists saying he was wrong.
      Ahead of the second leaders debate on Monday, he claimed Labour had mistakenly not accounted for rolling out operational allowances year on year – describing it as a “$11.7 billion black hole”. He later adjusted his attack, saying Labour had failed to leave room for increased spending in areas beyond health and education.

      The New Zealand Initiative – a libertarian think tank – said National appeared to have made a basic accounting error in its initial criticism.
      ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie also suggested Mr Joyce went too far in saying there was a “hole” and said that term was “too strong”.

      But he did say it would be a challenge for Labour to govern within its budget.
      Independent consultancy BERL, which Labour employed to check its books, stood by its work.

      Sent: Thursday, 7 September 2017 8:34 AM
      To: ‘’

      TO; Guyon Espiner;





  10. They intend to derail it with typical National Party dirty tricks.
    Like trying to dig out dirt on Jacinda’s partner.
    Like asking ACT fossils to comment on her.
    If Richard Prebble says Jacinda is not PM material, we can be sure that she really is.

  11. Richard Prebble is one of the most despicable of all labour politicians we have ever had as he caused the “Rogernomics” policies into being to destroy many families lives, and has blood on his hands.

    • Prebble, Douglas, Coleman …. what the hell do they teach at the “prestigious” Auckland Grammar School? Certainly isn’t care or responsibility for anyone but No 1: certainly isn’t good citizenship; certainly is to look after your mates and to hell with anyone else; certainly is if you lie long enough and often enough even the plebs out there might believe you.
      But not this time.
      All their old boys become male, pale and stale in time – and that unholy trinity are living proof.

      • Well said , … and speaking of ‘ Prebble’ ,… the Labour party Benedict Arnold ,… he was indeed in the first wave of the original neo liberal ‘deformer’s’ of our great country …up there with Douglas , Shipley , Richardson and all the rest of that infamous ilk…

        Now is an opportune time for people to have a small read and be reminded of just who it was that subverted us as a nation.

        And ultimately are responsible for the degradation and poverty that hitherto never existed before their ‘ neo liberal reforms’….

        New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

      • They weren’t particularly smart when they were at Auckland Grammar School, I doubt whether they are put up as school icons ?

  12. National are simply confirming what I’ve been saying all along, in TDB comments and elsewhere. National can only win if the public are discouraged from being part of a robust debate about policy, and distracted by scandals and personal attacks. The last few weeks of the election campaign are key. If enough of us remember to keep talking at every opportunity about *policy* differences between the Labour-Green block and the NatACT block, and refuse to be drawn into pointless scraps between political celebrities (like the alleged “$11.7 billion hole”), we will get a change of government. Then the real work will start, to hold the new government accountable, and see if it can actually be a government of change.

    I’d love to see TDB using these next few weeks to publish blogs carefully examining the election policies of the different parties on essential issues like health, housing, education, and so on.

  13. No Chris. No No No. It can’t be.
    What we could do though to counteract the Crosby Textor spiel is this.

    From Cinny on The Standard
    At the petrol station, chatting to strangers… ‘wow fuel is getting expensive’, they reply.. ‘it sure is’… so I say ” did you know national have introduced 18 new taxes, including six fuel taxes since they took office”.. they reply, ” really, I didn’t know that”, I say…’this year I’m voting for change”, they respond… “sounds like we need change”…’ yes we do.. have a great day’… ‘thanks love you too’

    • Grass roots , engaging people in everyday situations so they see the relevance of discussing politics, … that’s the stuff !!!

      Its always when the people get involved passionately the big changes happen .


  14. Crosby and Textor were the architects of the UK Tory Party’s “Strong and Stable” 2017 election campaign. That didn’t work out too well for them as I recall.

  15. The main thing that concerns me is if Labour flood the market with $400,000 homes then there is a real danger that first home owners, like myself, who have purchased houses in the last few years face the real prospect that our houses will be worth far less than we have paid for them.

  16. The main thing that concerns me is if Labour flood the market with $400,000 homes then there is a real danger that first home owners, like myself, who have purchased houses in the last few years face the real prospect that our houses will be worth far less than we have paid for them.

    • You would prefer people living in cars and substandard accomodation leading to respiratory problems from cold mouldy homes ?

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