Reductio...

Reductio...

DPF and Chris Bishop have conspired to come up with a new canard-of-distraction de jour. Today's trope: "Labour are the conversatives, National the progressives, and Labour is the party of No."

At the risk of a conviction for discharging a firearm in an aquaculuture container, here are some highlights,with my responses.

Labour is now the real conservative party – fearful of innovative social policy, afraid of new ideas – in short, the party which says “No” to everything.

And which party fought so hard for the Marriage Equality Bill, and brought New Zealanders their full quota of holidays, and lead the parliamentary charge against zero hours contracts? Also, which party actually has the ideas on Auckland's housing crisis? You know, the ideas National keeps trying to water down and implement badly? Labour every time.

The party has nothing to say about the social investment approach to policy, nothing to say about better public services targets and little to say about Whanau Ora.

First, I have applauded the social investment approach publicly before, although I'll admit I am concerned it loses some of its benefit when applied to healthcare issues. But the bigger point here is: how on earth is accusing Labour of saying nothing consistent with the idea it is "the party that says no to everything. Internal consistency: fail. Duh.

You won’t find many press releases from Labour on these important social reforms, or many Parliamentary questions.

Yes, shame on Labour for filling its fixed allotment of questions with the multitude of issues where the government is failing New Zealanders. Imagine the temerity of doing that! I hear the internal Labour meeting to allocate these questions is getting longer and longer, just because there are so many serious failings where the government needs to be held to account.

If Labour does have something to say, it often reverts to tired and trite clichés.

As any observer of question time know, if you replace "Labour" in that sentence with the words "John Key" it would become much more accurate.

On the new social impact bonds, Labour wailed about people “profiting” from social services. Profit already exists throughout social services.

As Eric Crampton of The New Zealand Initiative has pointed out, private hospitals profit by providing publicly funded surgery, private pharmacies profit by filling Pharmac scripts and private medical device manufacturers profit by developing better replacement hips for publicly and privately-funded operations.

Do Labour want to nationalise all pharmacies, all GPs, all midwives?

There's the DPF we know and love: old Slippery Slope Dave! If you're opposed to social bonds, *obviously* your next move is to nationalise midwives! I can hear his inner monologue now: "...then they'll own all the farms, and we know what that's called, don't we?"

Bishop's argument is pretty specious, too. He's saying, for example, that if someone makes money from baking bread that prisoners eat, that's a good enough reason to privatise the whole prison. Perhaps he should google "Serco" to see how that one is working out.

These days, National is the party of progressive, equitable, social reform. Labour is the real conservative party – saying no to everything, opposing for opposing’s sake and uninterested in new ideas.

Where to start. First, I'm sure glad to see Bishop defining "conservatism" as "saying no to everything, opposing for opposing's sake and uninterested in new ideas." I'll remind him of that in the future. Second, it's great to see National, rhetorically at least, rejecting conservatism and embracing social democracy. It's just a pity they aren't very good at it (People's Exhibit A: Nick Smith). Third, it's a mark of how deluded National is becoming that they think they can stuff Labour into "no ideas" box, given the history. Both in the last few years, and over longer history, the major pieces of progressive social reform generally come from Labour, not National.

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