Christchurch will cost National the Election
There are three things that will cost National the election in 2014 (or earlier).
The first is jobs. The Market is simply not creating new jobs as neo-liberal dogma dictates it should. And with National’s Hands Off policy in the economic, their 2011 promise to create 170,000 new jobs (see: “Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs” ) is something that will be used to beat them over the head more and more as Election Day looms.
The economy. A Hands Off policy in good times, when unemployment is low and growth is reasonably good, can be expected and understood.
In bad times though, taking your hands of the economic tiller poses one question; if government doesn’t act proactively (as other governments are doing around the world) – then what is the point of having a government?
And lastly, events with education-related problems will remain an open, painful sore for the Nats. Whether it’s the quasi-privatisation of education through dodgy “Charter Schools”; the unrelenting Novopay cock-up; or proposed closures/amalgamations of 19 schools in Christchurch – this will be an on-going sign for the public (and voters) that National does not have the co-operation of the community and can ride rough-shod over people’s concerns.
As Colin Espiner wroter in Christchurch’s “The Press” on 19 January,
“The secret to great comedy, they say, is timing, and if “they” are right, then this Government is not very funny.
With Friday looming as the second anniversary of the most devastating of the Christchurch earthquakes, Education Minister Hekia Parata’s school closures announcement could not have come at a worse time.
I don’t think anyone who wasn’t in the city on that day can truly appreciate the impact it had on the people of Christchurch, and continues to have to this day. Certainly Hekia Parata doesn’t.
I accept that in the wake of the quakes some decisions about the future of schooling in Christchurch needed to be made. Actually I think everyone accepts that.
I also accept that some of those decisions won’t be popular, but needed to be made. As John Key said yesterday, “the Government needs to address this issue for the long-term good of the community”.
But there are ways and means of doing something that isn’t going to be pleasant. Dentists use anaesthetic before drilling a hole in your tooth. And they warn you beforehand.
The manner in which this Government has approached the issue of Christchurch’s post-quake schooling has been woeful. Actually, that’s being too kind. It’s been careless, haphazard, unfeeling and downright incompetent.”
After a while “strong government” becomes arrogant, uncaring government. And that’s when voters rebel.
A recent IPSOS/Fairfax poll, which showed a drop in support for the Nats at 44.9% (1.3% points down on their previous poll in December) made this interesting obserservation;
” With the election probably still at least 18 months away, the big battleground will be for undecided voters, who made up 11.1 per cent of those surveyed.
Pollster Duncan Stuart said a breakdown of undecided voters suggested many were “soft” National supporters, who had started looking around. “
In other words, we are seeing a re-play of the final two years of the Shipley-led National administration, in 1998 and 1999, when public odium because so strong that voters couldn’t stampede fast enough to the Ballot Booths to vote for Labour and the Alliance. There is only so much “hands off” government the Middle Classes will tolerate before their ‘comfort zone’ is breeched.
In the late ’90s, the ‘touch paper’ was health.
This time it will be jobs and education.
After two major earthquakes; a loss of 185 lives; thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed; upheavals in peoples’ lives; increasing numbers of homeless living rough; slow processing of insurance claims; and many who have simply quit the quake-ravaged city – the current agenda from National, and implemented by Hekia Parata, is like a rolling, political slow-quake, of additional stress on the city.
Cantabrians must be looking skyward and beseeching the Heavens, “What have we done wrong to earn all this?”
That stress is leading to desperation and behaviour that in other, saner times, good people might never think of doing,
The stress on families, teachers, and others in areas targetted for school closures/amalgamations must be phenomenal.
New Zealanders watching all this, up and down the country, must be secretly sighing relief that they aren’t the one’s in the firing line of Christchurch’s twin curses of natural disaster and political upheaval.
Yesterday (19 February) National electorate-MP, Nicky Wagner stated on Radio New Zealand,
“The National MP for Christchurch Central, Nicky Wagner, accepts she may lose votes as a result of the education overhaul. But she says she believes the right decisions are being made. The MP won her seat with a majority of just 47 votes.
‘‘ We need to make really good decisions for Christchurch. We need to make good decisions in education but in all other ones and to make the most of every opportunity, and personally if it’s a matter between a good decision and being voted in again I’d take the good decision any day.’’ “
Source: Radio NZ, 10pm news bulletin, 19 Feb 2013
Ms Wagner’s nonchalence in losing her seat in favour of taking a “good decision any day” may come true sooner than she anticipated.
Cantabrians will be happy to assist.
Fairfax media: 71pc want Parata gone – poll
Fairfax media: Parata’s ‘lie-telling’ infuriates principals
= fs =
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