05 January 2022

NZ political parties: Having low expectations in 2022

Given I have been in a summery mood to write, I thought I'd pontificate on NZ political parties for 2022, across their past performance and future prospects.

Labour: Labour has "kept us safe" (it says), has propped up the economy through massive borrowing and embarked on a radical programme for change, albeit not one ambitious enough for the leftwing Twitterati.Whether it be replacing the RMA with similarly planner oriented legislation, de-facto taking water out of territorial authority control into a part-Iwi governed quango, merging RNZ with TVNZ, radical interventionism for climate change whilst mostly ignoring the ETS, embracing critical race theory in social policy, introducing a de-facto capital gains tax for investment properties, growing the welfare state and dramatically growing a client-state of artists, writers and other creatives (which the Taxpayers Union has been gratefully Tweeting on).  

This keeps the base happy, makes the Greens look irrelevant (they are), and proves above all that Labour IS the party of change and reform in NZ.  

Labour MPs don't waste their time in power, they use it turn the country left, towards more government, more taxes, more spending, more regulation, more public servants, greater embrace of identity not individual based policies, and to further cement the dominance of the professional provider unions in education and healthcare. 

Labour's greatest asset remains Jacinda Ardern. Women love her in quantities that are difficult for other parties to counter, and as long as she commands that demographic, Labour will be able to scrape together a third term, albeit never again on its own. 

The biggest risk is non-performance. Housing is a disaster that may only stabilise at best, and then again only if immigration remains zero and construction continues to surge on. Inflation may or may not get out of control, and if it does, expect high interest rates to decimate some businesses, farms and mortgage holders. However, Labour has one main trick to play - smear the other side as "nasty mean people who don't want to give out as much money as we do, and be kind".  After all, the narrative that National would have "literally" killed thousands because of it questioning Covid policies, will play well for many, but only so much smiling and nice words can be a response to giving preferences for a foreign DJ to enter NZ three times in a year for "economic reasons".  

With performance on most measures beyond Covid and propping up the economy through borrowing looking poor, the other risk for Labour is looking out-of-touch and elitist. It looks like a Government that grants favours to favoured groups and individuals, because it IS. The party for the working people that is more looking like the party for its friends in entertainment, sports and media, professional elites (through unions) and civil servants. However, to lose, people have to believe in a viable alternative...

National: After a year of self-evisceration and internal soul searching, along with some poorly drafted attempts at steering politics in various directions, it has a new leader and a fresh start.  Luxon is an asset because he isn't tainted with past government performance, but what can National offer a tired public? Despite his valiant and indefatigable efforts, Chris Bishop is unlikely to convince enough people that the Government has performed poorly on Covid, although he certainly can grab the constituency of those stuck abroad whilst Labour grants MIQ spots to minstrels and thespians. 

National can play tales around government waste, and there is plenty of it about, with concern over the cost of living and inflation. It can try to argue that educational standards and dropping or the old right wing favourite of being "tough" on crime. It has chosen to take the side of local government on Three Waters as it hasn't the spine to argue for a better model than a modified status quo, and its arguments over Māori issues are woeful for their lack of clarity, when much of the public is crying out for a reassertion of belief that liberal democracy should be one person one vote, rather than Iwi co-governance.  It has shown little interest in arguing that the climate change agenda of the government will not only harm agriculture but inflate the cost of living.

National's instincts are, like most conservative parties, to argue that Labour is changing things the wrong way and National will reverse that. National rarely offers contrary agendas to turn back the tide towards more government and more regulation, because it is too desperate for power and too scared of principles to rebut Labour on not just the means, but the ends.  An example is its opposition to the light rail project in Auckland, but the criticism is that "nothing has been done about it, but reports". By what intellectual contortion can you both oppose a project AND oppose it having not been advanced?

Competence with the economy, competence with healthcare, addressing crime and cutting waste are themes National might take on, as well as brushing aside Labour's obsession with identity politics. It would be nice if National actually stood for reversing some of Labour's policies, wouldn't it? 

Greens:  The Greens are part of the government, but really rather invisible. Which may be for the best.  Labour has embraced the Greens on environmental policy and identity politics, with the Greens basically standing for MORE spending, MORE taxes and MORE bans of stuff they don't like.  The Greens want a wealth tax, so they can spend more on stuff they like (like higher benefits, trains and high-status trendy "new Green" businesses), and want a much more enveloping big mother state. James Shaw is the reasonable face of a group that includes outspoken and out-of-touch far left radicals like Ricardo Menendez-March the Marxist Mexican and Israel hater/defender of genocidal rabble rousers Golriz Gharaman.  The more they speak the more votes the Greens lose, but for now, the Greens have a core leftwing base, and with Chloe Swarbrick as an electorate MP, will feel more secure than before electorally. What's hard is selling what the point of the Greens are, when Labour embraces so much of its agenda? However what's easy is that most of the media give the Greens a very easy ride, and don't confront what is a radical socialist identitarian agenda that wants a big state in terms of spending, regulation and interference in people's lives and businesses.

ACT: Paradoxically, in policy terms ACT has never be LESS libertarian, but with its most libertarian leader (it's all relative though). ACT hasn't put much of a foot wrong, so the key is to remain outspoken on the issues the Nats wont deal with.  Confronting identity politics and being tougher on crime, along with government waste ought to be a core mix of libertarian and conservative values, with Labour's attempts to weaken freedom of speech being front and centre. Given National almost always is unwilling to take on Labour on principle and present radical policy ideas, ACT should take this role.  Three Waters?  Just say no to the status quo, and require councils to commercialise water, invoice consumers and cut rates proportionately, and put shares in the hands of ratepayers directly. Education? Let charter schools expand, and convert public school governance into a fully devolved model to fund all costs, including teachers.  Healthcare? Tax deductible private insurance to relieve the public sector, and focus the public sector on emergency and chronic condition care. Forget poorly targeted stunts like sharing a code for Māori to obtain vaccinations, and instead sponsor useful research into addressing social issues based on cause and need. ACT should be the party that says what National is afraid of saying, that free enterprise works, that personal responsibility is critical to a healthy functioning society, and that treating everyone as individuals with dignity is better than the identitarian view of people as either oppressed or oppressors.

Te Pāti Māori: Radical ethno-nationalists that have done well to promote their vision that the New Zealand Government is a racist white supremacist project that continues to engage in genocide against Māori, and unless it dismantles liberal democracy and institutes a Parliament whereby Māori have half of the seats and Pākeha the remainder (and which dismantles other white supremacist institutions like property rights), then Māori will always be "colonised".  It would be laughable if it didn't get people elected to positions of power. Labour might need Te Pāti Māori after the next election, so don't laugh too much, but the absurd positions stated by its two MPs from time to time need to be highlighted and laughed at.  

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