Burning Effigies a sign of despair.
Burning Effigies a sign of despair. The left needs to re-think
This campaign is bitter. People are burning effigies of the Prime Minister, holding Nuremberg-type rallies and destroying billboards.
But why is it bitter?
There are two common reasons for bitterness in disputes. One is genuine and passionate disagreement. Although that often engenders mutual respect, it also often creates hostility.
That cannot be the cause of the heat in this election campaign. Rarely have we had such a National-lite government.
This National government has happily accepted the agenda of the previous Labour party government. They are content to sustain Working for Families, Interest Free Student loans, and race-based legal privilege. They have actually increased government spending, even beyond Helen Clark’s massive increases between 2005 and 2008.
There is little in this National government for a left wing supporter of Helen Clark’s government to object to.
The real reason for all the heat and fury is the fact that National’s strategy has been electorally brilliant. By moving to the left, they have given their left-wing opponent’s nowhere to go, except the fringes of nutty policy and personal vindictiveness.
John Key has succeeded by becoming National-lite in the same way that Clark succeeded by becoming Labour-lite.
That is why the only serious opponent of the National Party, oddly enough, is ACT.
Of course, ACT will enter a confidence and supply agreement with National, at a minimum. Maintaining John Key as the Prime Minister is by far the most important immediate outcome of this election. The alternative is unthinkable.
But the electorally advantageous moves National has made are not in the long-term interests of New Zealand. Electoral success is not always promoted by the best policies. Often it is promoted by pandering to common misconceptions and a bias in favour of the status quo.
National-lite has not much improved public policy in New Zealand. We are still over-regulated and over-taxed. And, on account of that, we are still underperforming relative to our potential.
ACT can make that argument.
But Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Conservatives and Internet-Mana cannot. They are all committed to doing even more of what National has got wrong. More regulation, more taxes, more unsustainable government spending and more corporate welfare.
How can they seriously criticise National? They basically agree with their direction. All they can do is promote xenophobia, make obscene chants and deface billboards.
National’s move to the left has pushed these parties into looney-land.
ACT is the only serious alternative for people who know that public policy in New Zealand can be improved.