The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

brat packers' policy bungles

Something strange is going on with at least two of the Brat Packers, Bill English and Nick Smith.

At an election forum on education in Auckland on August 10th Bill English denied that National supported standardised testing for 7 year olds. This is despite the following quote taken directly from Don Brash's speech on education given back in April; a speech English is believed to have written the policy for:

I am announcing today that National commits to those parents whose
children are, by the age of seven, failing to achieve the national standards we
will establish that they will be provided with “reading vouchers” to enable
their child to catch up.
Then this morning Nick Smith was on Nat Rad, up against Minister of Conservation Chris Carter, totally contradicting National's forestry policy which had been given to Nat Rad and Carter by Brian Connell, who is actually the National Spokesperson on Forestry (who knew?).
Even when bits of the policy were actually read to Smith he still denied it, accusing Labour of lying and saying that the policy hadn't been released yet. Nat Rad responded by referring to the date on the policy (which from memory was August 21st) and confirming that they had received it directly from Connell's office. I didn't hear the end of the interview unfortunately, maybe he climbed down from the tree before he fell down.

This is all very odd. Unless of course there is some nefarious internal scheming going on and English wants his own job back, meaning Brash has to lose come Sept 17th. Cock-up or conspiracy?


Update: Here's an article on Stuff about Smith's odd pronouncements on forestry, and Connell's approach. Sounds like released policy is going back into the maelstrom of caucus sometime soon...

All of this underlines some tension within the Nats. Desperate for power as they are, they are papering over the cracks frantically, but can you imagine this lot making a productive Cabinet any time soon? And imagine if Winston is in the room too? Can Brash spell I-N-S-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y?


Comrade_Tweek said...

It's hard being a Tory...very, very hard.

Someone should tell them to read the policy (and the Leader's speeches) next time. It helps avoid tricky situations like this...

span said...

i think they've largely worked out that the devil is in the detail, and their detail would be devilishly unpopular if revealed.

i've noticed that rather than talking about specific policy plans National are largely talking about big woolly things (motherhood and apply pie anyone?) and what they are NOT going to do.

eg nuclear policy - they are NOT going to change it without a referendum, and they are NOT planning a vote, but what are they actually GOING TO DO, especially given that they have identified it as a barrier to that cosier relationship with the USA that they are always talking about?

talk about taking negative freedoms too far!

Johnny the Red said...

"Can Brash spell I-N-S-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y?"

Well he can now. Why'd you have to give away?

Rich said...

I suppose one could be generous and assume that English meant that teachers would assess reading to national standards rather than having formal tests, and that parents would get vouchers for extra reading.

span said...

i think that would be quite generous Rich, but it could be the case. i notice that National are light on detail on how they would actually deliver on their promise, which makes it very hard to tell.

STC said...

Sean Plunkett pointedly asked Brash for specifics on NCEA during the NatRad debate. He didn't really have any, he just knew that what we had now was bad.

National are starting to get the attack machine moving, but their lack of real alternative vision (we'd do everything Labour would, but better and at a cheaper cost) is their biggest problem. People trust Labour to be Labour (and with Helen at 60% in the preffered PM stakes, they clearly like Labour and trust it) and taking a risk that National might be better at being Labour just doesn't really wash yet.

Anonymous said...

I also have a feeling that their tax policy would go down better if they did say that they would cut x and y. That would appeal to people's ideas as well as their pockets.