Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties
A previous moral hysteria surrounding welfare beneficiaries and especially solo mums (but never solo dads) took place back in August 2009, when Paula Bennett released the files of two solo-mothers who had dared to criticise the Minister for closing down the Training Incentive Allowance.
Despite having no authorisation or right to do so, Bennett released details of the women’s WINZ files to the media and three years later there is still an outstanding complaint against her. It was a nasty, vindictive abuse of Ministerial power not seen since the autocratic rule of Robert Muldoon.
Attacks on solo mums reached a hysterical crescendo that could only be described as naked misogyny – especially from a sector of the male population that has never had much success in relating to women. There were vile comments on many internet fora that cannot be repeated in polite company.
Fast forward to April 2012, and National is facing so much bad news that the media and bloggers are finding it difficult to choose what to hone in on. Just to remind us about some of the problems confronting National,
- Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year to 87,000 this year
- Total unemployment up to 160,000 – 6.7% of the workforce
- The government tax-take is down by $1.57 billion in the first nine months of the fiscal year
- Government deficit increases to $6.13 billion, or $800 million more than forecast
- Migration to Australia is increasing, with a net loss of 39,100 to the year ending February 2012
- Wages continue to lag behind Australia
- New Zealand’s sovereign debt is at a massive $13.5 billion dollars
- Student debt is at a record $13 billion – and rising
- Widening wealth/income gap
- Increasing child poverty and poverty-related disease on a massive scale
- Increased repayments demanded from tertiary students – effectively a tax increase
- Ongoing public resistance to state asset sales
- Ongoing public resistance to selling productive farmland to overseas investors
- Ongoing public resistance to mining in conservation lands
- A growing public disquiet over a hydrocarbon-extraction process known as “fracking”
- Selling legislation for a convention centre and 500 extra pokies
- Ministers involved in scandal after scandal
- Key’s ‘teflon coating’ now practically non-existent, and developing a reputation for not being upfront with the public
- A coalition partner whose brand is now so toxic that even right wingers are singing it’s funeral dirges
- and numerous other negative indicators
Time for the government Spin Doctors to swing into action, and deflect attention from National’s apalling track record thus far.
Time to dust of the Manual for Deflection, and flick through to the chapter on blaming solo mums (but never solo dads) for the ills of the country; the Black Plague in the Middle Ages; both World Wars; and most likely the sinking of the Titanic.
Time for John Key to point at some young woman pushing a pram, and shout – “Hey! Look over there!”
It worked in 2009.
Why not try it again, wonder National’s faceless, taxpayer-funded spin-doctors and strategists, to deflect public attention from scandals and poor management of the economy?
New Zealanders (in general) are suckers for this kind of Deflect & Demonise Strategy.
It’s what National does, when their economic policies fail; they blame it on the poor; the unemployed; widows; solo-mums (but never solo-dads), etc. It’s what the right wing do, blaming their failed policies on others. Because as we all know, right wingers are Big on Personal Responsibility… (Except for themselves.)
It happened in the 1990s. It’s repeating again.
It’s pretty much a given that the ACT is now living on borrowed time, and will end up in the political rubbish bin of history. It was never popular with mainstream New Zealand in the first place – New Zealanders having had a bitter taste of it’s ideology in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
Events over the last couple of years; last twelve months; and last few weeks, a cascade of scandals and dirty dealings have left the public wondering if lunatics had, indeed, taken over the asylum called ACT. For a Party that advocated the purity of market-driven efficiency, it was prone to one bizarre gaffe after another. They couldn’t even update their own website several months after last year’s elections.
So ACT will be gone after the next election.
The result has been media, pundit, and public speculation of a new potential Coalition partner for National. There has been recent speculation in the last week or so that Colin Craig’s Conservative Party might make a suitable candidate to shore up National’s numbers in the House.
I doubt that.
For one thing, does National really want a new coalition partner that appears to be every bit as flaky as ACT?
“We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”
Obviously Mr Craig has, um, “researched” this issue in some depth?! Did he go “undercover“, I wonder? And did he go “one-on-one“ with his “subjects“?
On this rare occassion, I find myself in sympathy with the Smiling One,
“… Colin Craig, had suggested New Zealand women were the most promiscuous in the world and therefore should not get taxpayer funded contraception.
Key resisted taking the Lord’s name in van and rolling his eyes.
But he did say “it’s going to be a long two and a half years.”
Indeed. If the government lasts full term. Which I doubt.
National has a problem in this area. It has no viable coalition partner, and is unlikely to find one in the foreseeable future.
Part of that reality is based on MMP and how it has affected Labour and National.
After MMP was introduced in 1996, Labour splintered into it’s constituent factions; the centrist ‘rump’ Labour Party; the environmentalist/social justice Green Party; the overtly left-wing, worker’s, Newlabour Party ; and the nationalist Maori party, Mana Motuhake. (The Greens, Mana Motuhake, and NLP briefly coalesced into the Alliance Party, along with the Social Credit/Democrat Party and short-lived Liberal Party.)
The Greens, Mana Motuhake, and NLP, had been part of the factional make-up of Labour. MMP simply separated out it’s componants like a laboratory centrifuge. So when coalition talks took place, to form a Labour-led Coalition Government, those same factions simply re-morphed.
Before anyone complains that MMP has created a “mess” – not true. These factions had always existed in Labour, and had constantly ‘jockeyed’ for influence within the greater ‘umbrella’ Labour banner.
Under MMP, these factions and negotiations were simply forced out into the open, for everyone to see. The same had been happening under First Past the Post, but behind closed doors. This was internal party politics exposed to the glare of sunlight and public scrutiny.
National, on the other hand, did not fractionate in such a similar, dramatic, manner. It lost two MPs to the New Zealand Liberal Party (in 1992), Conservative Party (formerly Right-Of-Centre Party), and one to the Christian Democrats. None of those fledgling parties survived the grueling electoral process and quickly vanished into political history.
A third party, New Zealand First, had splintered from National earlier, and like Mana Motuhake became a nationalist party, but mainly from a pakeha perspective.
ACT was another party on the right, and appeared to draw support from both National and, to a lesser degree, Labour. It remained a small grouping, peaking in 1999 with nine MPs – largely at the expense of it’s larger right wing cousin, National.
It’s not that National doesn’t have potential coalition partners. On the whole, National remains intact; a solid bloc of the centre-right. It’s potential coalition partners are already a part of National.
National’s only hope of picking up an extra seat or two is to rort the MMP one-seat threshold system, as it did by supporting John Banks in Epsom (with success now mixed with regret, no doubt). It could give a ‘nod and wink‘ to Colin Craig in the Rodney seat, and if he won that electorate, and if Craig’s Conservative Party polled the same as it did last year (2.65%), then it would gain four seats in total.
That might give National a chance at winning the next election.
But at what cost?
- It would be seen to be once again manipulating the electoral system. The Epsom deal did not end well for National – do they really want to go down that road again?
- The Conservatives are opposed to asset sales – so that policy would be off the agenda.
- How would urban liberal voters view a coalition with a party such as the Conservatives? New Zealanders have always been averse to electing overtly religious parties to Parliament (eg; Christian Heritage, Christian Coalition, Destiny New Zealand) and when some of United Future’s MPs were revealed as having a strong religious bent, they were pretty smartly voted out.
- And would National want a flaky coalition partner with quasi-’Christian’ overtones, and who seemed to view New Zealand women in a casual Talibanesque-sort of way? How would National’s women MPs feel sitting alongside Colin Craig, knowing that he viewed them as the ” most promiscuous… women in the world “?
Craig’s Conservative Party may have a better chance to win seats in Parliament if the Electoral Commission’s review on MMP decides to recommend to Parliament that the Party Vote threshold be reduced from %5 to 4%. Of course, the Commission can only recommend to Parliament, and any decision to reduce the Party Vote threshold will ultimately be up to the National-ACT-Dunne Coalition.
I suspect the Nats will adopt the 4% recommendation. Not because it’s fair (get a grip!), but because anything that assists ACT or the Conservative Party gain seats in Parliament will be welcomed with open arms by the Nats. Self interest rules.
The Greens’ submission to the Electoral Commission supported abolishing the Electoral Seat threshold as inherently unfair, and promote reducing the Party Vote threshold from 5% to 4% to compensate for smaller Parties such as NZ First, ACT, etc.
Likewise, this blogger suspects that National will probably reject any recommendation to abandon the Electoral-Seat threshold. (The Electoral Seat threshold is where Party X does not cross the current 5% Party Vote threshold, but if one of their candidates wins an electoral seat, they get an exemption from the 5% threshold, and gain as many MPs as their Party Vote allows.)
This may be National’s one and only “electoral lifeline”, as ACT heads for the political guillotine – especially after John Banks’ incredible performance over his fraudulent 2010 Electoral Donations fiasco.
However, since Craig’s comment nearly three months ago, he has moved on from denigrating women, to gays and lesbians. His latest comment is indicative of a man who has little tolerance for matters outside his narrow worldview, when on 27 July he ‘tweeted’,
“It’s just not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal.”
It take a spectacular degree of arrogance to decide that another consenting adult’s relationship is “not normal”.
This blogger feels it only appropriate that Mr Craig’s marriage to his wife should be put under the microscope.
It has been said often enough that those who vociferously oppose homosexuality (especially in males) often have a measure of sexual insecurity themselves. For many men, condemning and reviling homosexuality has been an attempt to reaffirm their own heterosexuality by “proving their straightness” to themselves.
Perhaps, in this instance, Mr Craig may have something he wishes to get of his manly chest,
” He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.
“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.
“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.
“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.
“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied. “
Anything you want to share with us, Mr Craig? Don’t worry, we’re all consenting adults here…
Why are all small right wing parties loony-tunes?
Is this the sort of political party that National wants to cosy up to?
And more important – would a possible coalition with a bunch of religious homophobes and misogynists really endear National’s voting-base to keep supporting the Nats?
Happy times for Dear Leader, John Key.
National does have another potential coalition partner – the New Zealand First Party. Though their first attempt at coalition (in 1996) ended very badly for Winston Peters, that could be explained as “growing pains” after our very first MMP election. I doubt if any small Party would ever repeat such horrendous mistakes again.
But in coalescing with NZ First, National would have to abandon much of it’s right wing, neo-liberal agenda. State asset sales would be gone by lunchtime. The sale of farmland to overseas investors would be restricted (if Peters is to be taken at his word). And the edge might be taken of other policies favoured by National.
On the other hand, NZ First had been punished previously for coalescing with National. As well, NZ First has an active youth-wing that might not appreciate ‘sleeping with the enemy’.
Working with Winston Peters would be one very big rat for John Key to swallow. Considering how adamant he was back in 2008,
“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation.“
And just last year,
“I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.”
“If Winston Peters holds the balance of power, it will be a Phil Goff-led government.”
Sealing a coalition deal with someone he has categorically ruled out in the past would damage Key’s credibility even further. Our Dear Leader is already developing something of a reputation for being “untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, smarmy and out of touch”.
Does he want to compound that perception by backtracking on his declaration that he cannot/will not work with the NZ First leader?
So Colin Craig it is.
“It’s going to be a long two and a half years.”
= fs =
For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
~ No deep-sea oil drilling
~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ A Living wage at $18.40/hr
~ Marriage equality - Yay! Got that one!
~ Strong, effective Unions
~ No secret free-trade deals
~ Breakfast/lunches in our schools
~ Introducing Civics into our school curriculum
~ Cut back on the liquor industry
~ A fairer, progressive tax system
~ Fully funded, free healthcare
~ Ditto for education, including Tertiary
~ Fund Pharmac for Pompe's Disease medication & other 'orphan' drugs
~ No state asset sales!
~ Rebuild public TV broadcasting!
~ Keeping farms in local ownership
~ Reduce poverty, like we reduced the toll for road-fatalities
~ Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
~ Being nice to each other
- Farewell, Nelson Mandela…
- I’ve voted – have you?
- John on John…
- A letter to the editor…
- Bring in the clowns…
- Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 2 December 2013
- The ChCh by-election – a letter to the editor…
- Another “satisfied” WINZ client…
- Full access for everyone!
- Geoff Robinson – an era ends.
- Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 25 November 2013
- Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 22 November 2013
- 2013 – Ongoing jobless talley
- One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #5…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #3…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #2…
- Random Thoughts on Random Things #1…
- Another good poll for a LabourGreen government
- Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 30 September 2013
- Endorsing Celia for Mayor
- How To Guide: Voting in Auckland
- Guest Author: Dunedin election – my guide to who’s left and who’s not
- Endorsing Jeanette for ADHB!
- December 2013
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- December 2011
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