He has done it by being upfront, largely not obfuscating issues and being prepared to confront the wholesale evil snake oil which is sold by Labour, the Greens, Maori Party, most academics and the trade union movement. That snake oil is that it is necessary to grant special legal or financial status to Maori in specific circumstances that - if the people concerned were NOT Maori - they would not have the same rights. It is the snake oil that it is "the system" that is to blame for Maori failure when it happens, that the state fixes things rather than fucks them up - the idea that Clark, Cullen, Hodgson, Swain, King, Goff, Anderton and co somehow know best how to spend YOUR money.
I remember the howls of indignation when I confronted quotas for Maori and Pacific students at a tutorial at Vic University - the wimmin (and I DO mean that) branded me as white heterosexual male = the problem, the oppressor and stereotyped me, just in the way that they would have hated if someone else said a Muslim man was a terrorist. I was racist if i thought anything special for Maori was inappropriate - I pointed out that the reason most Maori are in prison are because they committed crimes, against other people, often Maori - stunning really!
Anyway I digress, Brash exposed this and outed it - and after calling it racist, the left learnt it was calling many of its supporters racist - blue collar workers want everyone treated the same way - it is moral and it is right.
Brash was assaulted and abused and misquoted by those with an agenda, and unwilling to listen. The Maori seats SHOULD go - the Maori party will then not hold us to ransom by the overhang of winning these racist seats. He is at best risking abuse, at worst risking a level of uprising and violence - but it will show the true side of those he confronts - the ones who do not believe in freedom, do not believe in equality before the law and do not believe in democracy.
The second reason Brash gets my respect is because he is unashamedly supporting tax cuts, not the tiny 1% cuts National pathetically campaigned on in 1999, but a lifting of thresholds and lowering the 21% rate to 19%. The numbers are not great, but the principle is - National believes the state can let you keep more of your money IN THOSE WORDS. That is important, Labour doesn't believe in holding your own money, Labour believes your life is linked to everyone elses and you are obliged to pick up the tab for anyone it thinks is unfortunate.
I will be pleased to see the back of Labour - big sister government par excellence - it has at least provoked National to get some backbone, soft though it is, it is still more backbone than it has ever had since 1993 - and more honesty than it has had since Muldoon. That honesty is refreshing given National's blatant deception at the 1990 election sowed the seeds of NZ First and MMP - National has some dignity again, and some principles... but
they don't go anywhere else. Some examples of the lack of backbone and the obfuscation. You don't see this in the Greens, and dare I say it even Labour:
- Arts and Culture : retains funding at existing levels. Why? Why keep funding these business beneficiaries, the people who have consistently voted Labour to give them the state tit because they WONT lower their own fees to perform at a price people are prepared to pay. Funding arts on a merit basis - says who? Why can the government judge this?
- Defence : Wont commit to rebuilding the strike capacity of the RNZAF, wont commit to allowing nuclear POWERED vessels in- not prepared to argue on principle about this point. The Nats fought this in 1984 and 1987 with principle, during the Cold War, why be scared of the Green hysteria?
- Environment: establish a New Zealand Environmental protection Authority. Why? Why have more bureaucracy? What is wrong with using private property rights more?
- Education: Besides trust schools - which has some modest promise, there is no commitment to genuine choice. Where are vouchers? A key part of 1987 policy, what is wrong with letting funding follow kids to independent schools. Where is the vision that parents know best?
- SOEs: Oppose Kiwibank and hang onto it? It has been a net drain on the taxpayer (in real terms). Why not sell electricity generators or at least a cornerstone shareholding, these assets need serious capital investment to provide capacity? Most funny is saying the rail network needs to prove itself - it cost $1 to buy because the government promised Toll NZ a virtual monopoly on freight and to plough $200 million into it- great investment, it couldn't be sold to anyone. Where is the attitude that the state doesn't need to be involved in business?
- Communications: So we hang onto the Telecommunications Commissioner, after 9 years of opposing a regulator - Maurice Williamson should remember that, he was at the forefront of it. The regulator that officials recommended against establishing originally.
- Broadcasting: Not selling TVNZ - though unclear why. Retaining NZ On Air, to fund more of the people who never vote National- why does the state fund this industry, why doesn't it fund book publishing or online publishing? If it was canned, hardly anyone would notice.
- Local government: Nothing about repealing the power of general competence - Labour's plans for big local government that can do anything it wants are NOT repealed. Besides some tinkering, the knife is not out to slash away one of the most pernicious, cancerous growths on the country - petty local planners and bureaucrats who love ruling how people live. It is time local government was slashed back and rates were capped, National will allow the growth to continue.
- Infrastructure: Appointing a Minister of Infrastructure. Why? Why not let the electricity sector invest and grow? Why not allow roading to be corporatised like you once proposed? What good will a Minister do directing infrastructure like some Stalinist central planner?
- Health: Besides contestability, no chance to opt out of the state system and insure yourself with YOUR money for non-critical care. Not even starting to confront the enormous growth in spending and drop in productivity - National is scared of the health lobby, which begs for more and gets it from Labour.
The others in the National caucus include Nick Smith - a man who is as committed to Nanny State as some of the Labour caucus, Tony Ryall - who doesn't believe that victimless crimes should be abolished. Yes John Key is probably one the best they have, but I am still disappointed.
Brash has let pragmatism slide in everywhere, and he is more popular as a result - popular because he is largely supporting no change where change is needed. He could attack local government, cut funding for the arts, NZ On Air, sell minority shareholdings in SOEs, not bother with an Infrastructure Minister - and support would hardly be touched. Brash has been got at by his centrist pragmatist colleagues - who could easily sit with Peter Dunne and the United to do nothing party.
That is a pity. He could do better.