Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!



National is in deep trouble.

Very deep trouble.

A clusterf**k of bad stories; low growth; a growing flood of New Zealanders escaping to Australia; rising unemployment; an unpopular asset sales agenda that has  turned into an unholy  mess; and a recent slew of massive job redundancies has left National sinking in the polls.

See previous blogpost: John Key’s “Bright New Future”

The last Roy Morgan poll had the Nats at 44.5% –  now polling lower than it did last November, where it won  47.31% of the vote.

See recent blogpost: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows change of government

At this current rate of dropping public support, National’s electoral defeat in 2014 (if not earlier), will be more like a rout than a close-result.  We may be looking at a repeat of the 2002 general election where National’s support collapsed, leaving a rump-vote of 20.93%.

See: New Zealand general election, 2002

A result  of that magnitude would mean 32 National MPs losing their seats.

If this blogger is aware of this simple fact, then you can bet your cotton socks that National’s party strategists are on over-drive.

National’s response, every time, is to employ deflection. The above image – “National:  Spin The Wheel Policy Development Process” – is not so much a funny picture as an actual strategy process.

During the last spate of bad headlines, National floated “kites” on sterilising beneficiaries and “encouraging”  solo-mums (but never solo-dads) and their daughters (but never their sons) on to contraception. (The unspoken inference being that all solo-mothers – but never solo-dads – are reckless “breeders”, and ignoring problems surrounding domestic violence, substance abuse, gambling addiction, marital affairs, etc.)

More recently  recently, the last dog-whistle was drug-testing the unemployed. (The inference being that all 164,000 unemployment are jobless by choice; on drugs; and unwilling to work.)

Never mind the ongoing Global Financial Crisis recession – that excuse is reserved solely for John Key and his ministerial cronies to use,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis..” – John Key

See:  View from the top

In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce

See: Parliamentary Questions and Answers – August 29

However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee

See: Petrol excise, road user charges increases

The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English

See: English warns of financial crisis lasting a generation

With low polling and redundancies dominating the headlines, National has cast about for another dog-whistle to distract the easily-led Middle class.

They’ve done the unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) “to death”.

Next minority on the List; Maori.

Cue: John Key’s derisory response to the upcoming nationwide  hui on water rights,

The Government does not believe there should be a national hui; does not believe there should be a national settlement and it probably would not recognise all of the rights and interests that some Maori groups believe they have.

If the Crown was to be represented at the hui, and it wont be, because we’ve said were not having a national hui, we don’t support that…if you are an MP in the government you represent the Crown and any representation by my MPs at such an event would be interpreted as representation by the Crown.

I’ve made that position absolutely crystal clear..I do not accept the view that there needs to be a national hui, because I do not accept there will be a national settlement, because I do not accept it’s a national issue.”

See: Key – Government won’t go to water hui


Almost as good as bene-bashing.

Or “get tough on crime/crush cars” rhetoric.

“Standing tough” with Maori “demands” for water rights will probably work a treat with racist rednecks and low-information voters.  With the former, their racism is deeply ingrained and such ignorance can be written of like the forty-plus financial companies that sucked billions out of mums and dads investors.

With the latter, it is a matter of education and dispelling myths and prejudice, before people’s  eyes eventually open and they connect-the-dots.

National will probably rebound in the polls on this strategy.

So unfortunately, Greens co-leader, Russell Norman is missing the point when he suggests that National has “blundered again” by deciding to boycott the Hui,

For the Government to say that it won’t even attend and will actually ban its MPs from attending is the exact antithesis of good faith negotiation and is yet another blunder from this Government.”

See: MP ban on attending water hui ‘another blunder’

There is no “blunder” involved here. This is naked, machiavellian politicking by National’s back-room boys.

Realistically, though,  they can only use this kind of demonisation and deflection  a few times before the public start to realise that they are being “played”. People wise up pretty quickly – especialy when Opposition Parties, political commentators, media, and bloggers patiently explain what the Nats are up to.

Too much Maori bashing  may even force the Maori Party to make some hard decisions. Do Sharples and Turia really want to be associated with a right wing party that vilifies Maori aspirations and exploits our society’s latent racist underbelly for their own ends?

Especially when a growing perception that Sharples and Turia seem  slavishly tied to National. Are they also  obedient to Dear Leader John Key’s diktat that all National MPs stay away from the upcoming nationwide Hui?

Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia stated categorically,

“Well at this point I don’t really see the point in going.”

And Pita Sharples followed,

We believe this is a thing that iwi/hapu have to work out themselves.”

See:  Maori Party likely to snub water rights hui

So whistle-away, Dear Leader.

But eventually,  as Abaham Lincoln pointed out,

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”



= fs =

  1. Paula Fern
    6 September 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Totally agree Frank (was going to say too right, but for some reason it’s taken on a different meaning for me).

    Despite Hone Harawira being slagged off in the media today for his Facebook comments, when he was interviewed this morning on TVNZ he was the epitome of control and reason, and did an excellent job of stating his case, and standing his ground.

    • 6 September 2012 at 10:06 pm

      Indeed, Paula.

      I’ve seen Hone Harawira speak in public and he can be a polished speaker. I think he has lots of potential as a politician of the people.

      No wonder his enemies slagged him off today. They couldn’t answer his criticisms, so they attack the man instead.

  2. 6 September 2012 at 9:42 pm

    The middle class won’t trust them any more…

    • 6 September 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Unfortunately, Peter, collective amnesia sets in again after a decade, and a new bunch of low-information voters step in and cast their ballots for another smooth-talking National Party charlatan.

      Brian Edwards (ex TV presenter) had a good idea; teach civics in school; educate young people about politics; and teach them to be critical about what politicians say. Not cynical – but critical.

      That might be a start…?

      • 6 September 2012 at 10:47 pm

        Good start, yes. You are right, we have to fight the battle every decade or so.

  3. 6 September 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Peter Petterson :

    Good start, yes. You are right, we have to fight the battle every decade or so.

    The good news, Peter, is that I’m meeting more and more young folk who are carrying on the struggle. The not-so-good news – theyt have no memory or experience of the 1980s or 1990s… For them, the past isn’t just “another country” – it’s an alien planet circling a distant star.

    I’m not sure how to share our collective memories/experiences with the next generation…


  4. Noel F
    7 September 2012 at 12:00 am

    The logical conclusion of his tuneless high-pitched drone is a Sleeping Dogs scenario.

  5. 7 September 2012 at 12:12 am

    If I remember correctly, Noel, that story started off with a fake “terrorist attack”, sponsored by the tyrannical government of the day…

  6. 7 September 2012 at 1:40 am

    They call Ghostbusters do they not?

    Well done Frank. When I was posting this to my page. I could not describe it – too remarkable. I was going to describe it as the ‘ugly’ truth or “how the National Government works 101.” It is similar to what we have studied in criminology.

  1. 11 September 2012 at 5:38 pm
  2. 18 September 2012 at 1:05 am

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