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Election 99: It’s Time To Pull Out The Plug

It’s Time To Pull Out The Plug

by Selwyn Manning

This week’s polls are showing it and the people have been saying it since December 1996. No prop for the National Party this time around.

New Zealand First’s executive council created a rod for not only its own back when deciding to go with National in December 1996, but also set the scene for a tory canning whenever the next election was to be held.

And now after all the sleaze and infighting that has continued to ensue from the black and white ranks since then, has only confirmed the people’s resolve.

As Nigel Roberts said this morning, two-thirds of New Zealand First’s 1996 election support expected their man, Winston Peters, to aid Labour to victory.

Roberts’ words reminded me of something few people know about.

About how this writer heard Peters himself say that very thing, in a meeting at an Otahuhu Hall before several hundred witnesses, the editor of that south Auckland newspaper, and one candidate Gilbert Myles; that New Zealand First would go with Labour after the 1996 election. The answer followed a question from the largely working class audience.

Of course, as a political journalist writing for southern Auckland’s largest newspaper, I reported Peters’ statement.

Later, it was to my amazement, that on national television, when questioned by Ian Fraser on this reported statement, Peters said one had to question the accuracy of the reporter’s facts, as he had never spoken at nor visited a hall in Otahuhu during the election campaign.

It is due to such inconsistencies that people have left New Zealand First in droves. But enough. It is almost now academic.

So, the centre-ground of politics was looked over by the two major parties. The centre is where elections are determined. Rich voter ground. The National lead Government’s free market pursuits, always made it near impossible to stake a centre claim.

Labour, with its broad and social democratic approach to policy has reclaimed that ground laid void by New Zealand First. But also has managed through pragmatic policy to highlight the failings of National’s social policy provision. This is in no small part due to Labour’s urban appeal. And this has kept Labour focused on its true membership base and also aligned rightly to the centre-left of politics.

New Zealanders too, it seems, have decided which direction it wishes for the social free market ideology experiment to go. Downward.

Simply, this is likely due to so many people facing the challenge of consequences of user pays policy. And also understanding through experience what a disinvestment in governmental social provision means to them. Yes we are talking about health, education, housing. Law and order, justice and industrial relations.

Now it is time to place experiments behind us. It is time to implement policy which works for the benefit of this country’s peoples. It is time they were represented not presented. And it is time for change.

This piece is not long. It need not be.

The writing is on the wall. And that shows clearly. Any government which abandons the responsibility placed in it by the people, to provide, not handouts but pragmatic social policy based on society’s needs, will go down the gurgler.

People: It’s time to pull out the plug.

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