Lew has blogged again, and is no less caustic towards Labour as he was in his first post. The full post is well worth a read, but Lew's opening stands out; he opines:
David Shearer says he won’t rule out buying back shares in state-owned power companies sold by the government. He won’t rule it in, either. Why? Does he need to consult his leader?
There’s so much wrong with this that I scarcely know where to start. This buyback agenda has been set by Winston Peters; it’s now two years since the 2011 election campaign kicked off with a pledge to sell these assets, and it’s like the boffins in Labour haven’t yet had an original idea about it. The problem with old generals is supposed to be that they fight today’s war with the strategies of yesterday’s war, but this is worse — it’s fighting yesterday’s war with the strategies that lost the one before that.
But enough about my thoughts on the referendum. This time the issue is what happens after the SOEs are sold. Chris Trotter has articulated strong political arguments for nationalisation, and I think these serve to demonstrate that nationalisation is not simply untenable for a left-wing political movement.
So while I’m not persuaded the opposition should do it, there’s definitely a right and a wrong way to go about nationalisation. The core principles are similar to those in play with the initial privatisation: that we should have good information about the intentions of the main political decision-makers; and that people should not have property expropriated without due process. This need not be perfect consent — an election result delivering under 50% was sufficient to grant a mandate to privatise half the value of these assets, for example.
Lew's reference to Winston Peters is intriguing. If it revolves around the New Zealand First leader or if Peters is allowed to set the agenda, there's every likelihood that things will not end well; history bears that out.
But there's an upside for National here as well. There is frequent speculation from the Left that John Key will have to court Winston Peters in order to form a government after the 2014 General Election. However if Peters makes the buy-back of SOE's a bottom line in post-election negotiations, then Key can do as he did in 2008 and 2011 and rule out dealing with NZ First.
In 2012 David Shearer spent most of the year playing second fiddle to Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman. This year, he has allowed Winston Peters to claim the early running on an issue of such importance to Labour that it built an entire election campaign around it in 2011.