Following from the UK list, here are my top ten wishes for NZ politics in 2011. I'm not being starry eyed and overly optimistic, because I'm getting to the age when I want things to change. the blame and little of the credit.
My top ten from lowest to highest priority:
10. Winston Peters and NZ First remain irrelevant and a historical anomaly: Hopefully this is simply a matter of the personality cult members dying off over time. There shall be no third coming for Winston Peters, as much as National has left a constituency to one side again, the cheap talkback caller Muldoonist racism and anti-capitalist hysteria of Winston should be consigned to history.
9. Peter Dunne loses Ohariu: Long struggling to be relevant, Peter Dunne has been the great political prostitute in recent years having tried to woo ethnic minority immigrants, Christian conservatives, Labour, then National. His legacy is the creation of a useless bureaucracy called the Families Commission. He pushed his pork-barrel project, the Transmission Gully motorway, regardless of the cost and economics, and has never been consistently anything other than opportunistic. He exaggerates his influence for the people of Ohariu. It is about time they figured it out.
8. The electoral referendum is a negative for MMP: Having used disenchantment about economic austerity to harness enough people to vote for MMP in 1993, the left regarded this as one of its greatest victories. It would simply piss them off a great deal if MMP was voted out in the 2011 referendum. I am non-chalant about what replaces it, I simply want to expose the myth that such enormous constitutional changes should be made on the basis of a simple majority of votes cast.
7. Labour attacks the Maori Party for what it is, and argues the election based on reform of delivery of state services: Not exactly realistic, but it would be fun if Labour started arguing against the Maori seats and took on the Maori Party directly. It would also be fun if it had policies promoting private competitive delivery of health and education, as nearly happened in the late 1980s. This would attract new voters who would see National as status-quo oriented, and Labour as no longer stuck with its old fashioned view of state monopoly provision of services. Labour, after all, has almost always been the party of change in New Zealand politics.
Sadly, Phil Goff, who is more than capable of making those arguments, is hamstrung by a vile neo-Marxist, trade union, structuralist identity politics, control obsessed party filled with people who were only too keen to stick their sycophantic tongues up Helen Clark's "state is sovereign" view of government. As a result, I'll be content if Labour drops to less than 30% of the vote, happy if less than 25%.
6. The media puts the Greens under intense critical scrutiny, and fail to get 5% of the party vote: The Greens get an easy ride compared to most other minor parties, with their anti-capitalist and anti-science hysteria rarely facing real scrutiny. Press releases about 1999 being the last Christmas for safe potatoes, the hysteria about cellphone towers, nuclear energy, climate change, the anti-trade agenda, the constant desire to regulate, tax and hector people, and the barely concealed racism behind policies on foreign investment and Maori all deserve to be exposed for what they are - the policies of a radical socialist nationalist party that is sceptical about science, quasi-religious about its beliefs and more pro-violent than it would ever care to admit.
5. ACT makes its last gasp worth it by rolling Hide as leader and campaigning on principle: I personally had a lot of hope for Rodney Hide, but he has failed miserably to demonstrate that he could help pull the Nat led government towards less government in the areas ACT had some major influence over. His acceptance not only of Labour's local government policy for Auckland, but unwillingness to push for statutory limits on the powers of the Auckland Council shows a distinct lack of courage or commitment to what so many ACT voters were hoping for. ACT could have been National's conscience. It now looks like facing electoral oblivion for failure to deliver anything beyond the votes in Parliament to keep National in power. To have any solid following it will need to change, fast and fundamentally - that means Rodney Hide's political career is over.
4. Assuming National gets re-elected, it grows a pair: It sells at least one of the power generating SOEs, opens up the rest of ACC to competition, implements a voucher system for compulsory education, abolishes a long list of government agencies, eliminates the budget deficit and cuts the welfare state. Unfortunately, National's last pair was once Governor of the Reserve Bank. Expect Muldoonist plodding on, with little innovation, less courage and more government. Helengrad became Keynesia.
3. Maori vote in record numbers in general seats, not Maori seats: To do that they would have to reject the racist nationalism that education and media have inculcated in young Maori for the past thirty years, and wish to be treated as individuals with the same rights as other New Zealand citizens. It would be nice if Maori gave up their patronising racist seats, but I wont be holding my breath. However, they may turn their back on the equally patronising racist Maori Party.
2. Libertarianz make a good go at the election, getting its best result in 16 years thanks to a competent leader, a simple message about less government, ACT voters being disenchanted and the Nats facing a fairly safe victory. It would be delightful if the Libertarianz brand was sold on simply being the party that will consistently support less government, without being distracted by detailed policies or past difficulties. Even better if ACT and National supporters of less government united around the only political brand in the country that demonstrably supports less government spending and lower taxes. After all, a vote for National is not a vote for less government, a vote for ACT is a vote to continue the current government.
1. The NZ media gets journalists who can ask politicians as to whether governments should do less, spend less and tax less: Most journalists are reporters, and many simply ask politicians whether they are supporting the right policy or whether more or something different "should be done". Virtually none ask "why should people be forced to pay for this", or "why should people be forced to do this or not do that". The real fundamental political debate is whether the state should do more, or do less, but most journalists are more interested in shallow frippery and parroting the constant claims of lobbyists who almost always want government to solve their problems. When I read how a journalists has asked lobbyists why don't they spend their own money on whatever it is, then it will be a great improvement. Meanwhile, nothing holds back politics in New Zealand more than the lack of journalists willing to ask intelligent questions from both ends of the political spectrum - more and less government.