Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flat-footed on the CGT

My take on Labour’s proposed capital gains tax, for what it’s worth, is that the Nats didn’t see it coming.

Hang on, let me clarify that. Of course the government knew, along with everyone else, that Labour was about to unveil a new tax policy. But I wonder if they under-estimated its impact.

National’s response to the CGT proposal has been surprisingly unconvincing, as if they didn’t bother to rehearse their lines beforehand or even agree on a script. As a result they have looked flat-footed.

Could they be victims of their own success – so accustomed to Labour floundering in the polls that they convinced themselves they had nothing to worry about? Arrogance and smugness have always been among the National Party’s less endearing qualities.

Maybe the CGT is not yet the game-changer that Phil Goff claims it is. Labour remains open to the accusation that it is ultimately concerned not with creating wealth, but with redistributing it. But Goff exploits one of National’s greatest areas of vulnerability when he says Labour is prepared to tackle the big issues that the Nats won’t. It’s a line that could play well to an electorate that still doesn’t really know what National stands for.

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