30 December 2010

Top 10 wishes for New Zealand politics - 2011

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.


Richard McGrath said...

Bravo Scott, couldn't agree more. Libz will certainly be pushing the less govt message in 2011.

Thanks for a well-written and thoughtful blog. Will we be seeing you back here any time soon?

ZenTiger said...

Happy New Year LS. All the best for 2011. I have really enjoyed reading your blog this year - great stuff.

Interesting list. My take on your points (FWIW):

10 - Don't like the thought of Winston playing Kingmaker again, so whilst the two main parties need a bigger shake up and some real competition of ideas, it's not going to come from Winston, so agreed.

09 - No real disagreement, but equally glad to see Jim Anderton off the scene and him being treated as a separate party rather than just another Labour MP irked a little.

08 - Wondering if we get another 88% vote that will be ignored? Or will the same people that argued against spending money on the anti-smacking referendum also argue that money spent on referendums is too much when we are in deficit. Hey, let's hold elections once every 10 years to save money.

07. What, Labour morph into what National are supposed to be even as National ensure Labour policies remain firmly in place?

06. I don't see the Greens support falling any time soon. If anything, they have survived the passing of Rod and Jeanette very well, and therefore I think they'll keep their 5% minimum. That being said, if National put a populist foot wrong, some Green voters may dessert to Labour just to get National out. I understand that sentiment well. I voted National last time around just to get Labour out.

05. I still retain some hope for ACT, but they do need a major rethink on how they go about rebuilding. They do need to change, but I'm not sure Rodney's career needs to be over for that. A revitalized ACT needs experienced MPs on the team. Maybe Rodney steps down as leader though and focuses on a couple of key issues.

04. I think John Key and National wont grow a pair, but one testicle may drop in the second term. John Key has proven to be a very politically capable leader, and is popular because of that. National may flex a little more policy muscle around SOEs and ACC and some innovative growth options. However, for the less mainstream voters, they will essentially remain a variation of Labour. I find them a little unpredictable in that their centrist ideology makes it seem they hold nothing sacred. To some pundits, that's political flexibility. To me it comes off as bereft of strong principles and core values. I find myself agreeing with your conclusion.

3. Wishful thinking only. Maori may move this way once we give the general Maori no real reason to need to maintain the Maori seats. I don't call overt racism and separatism a real reason. The Treaty claims need to be finalised and wound up and that entire grievance industry put to bed to enable us to move forward as a nation of Kiwis.

2. Good luck with that. Whilst "Gone By Lunchtime" remains on the policy manifesto, then a vote for Libertarianz seems to be a vote for deliberate social upheaval that would happen too fast, too soon and cause too much pain. It needs to be a plan, not a revolution. What you guys need to do is to get on to the panel discussions and get opinion pieces out there in the way the Greens so effectively do.

And your number 1 wish:

Amen to that!