A Candidate From Bollywood Central Casting: What if the small business-owners of Auckland’s immigrant communities passed the hat around enough times to fill a respectable war chest? What if they secured the services of someone who knows how to run an effective election campaign. Finally, what if they conjured-up a first-rate candidate? Someone with the good looks of a Bollywood movie star; the eloquence of a top-flight barrister; and the devil-may-care daring of a successful entrepreneur? What might happen then to Labour's grip on Mt Roskill?
IT’S A GOOD NAME – “The People’s Party” – could be Left, could be Right. It could be the party of every citizen – the whole people. Or, with a shift of the apostrophe, it could be the party of all the peoples who make up New Zealand: Europeans, Maori, Pasifika, Chinese, Indian. It’s clever and, potentially, a game-changer.
But only if it gets a whole lot more professional – and fast. Because, at the moment, the NZ People’s Party looks like something thrown together over a few beers by a bunch of very angry dairy and liquor-store owners. Entirely understandable if your wine shop has been robbed three times in as many weeks and your staff hospitalised. Entirely justifiable when a table leg or a hockey stick turns out to be more reliable than the Police.
Desperate times have called forth desperate measures. If the politicians won’t respond to the pleas of their immigrant communities, then perhaps they’ll react to some good old-fashioned competition.
But they need to get smart about it. Curwen Ares Rolinson is absolutely right when he says: “Every electoral cycle, a bold group of political newcomers gather the gumption to put their money and mana where their collective mouth is, and attempt to set up a successful political party in an attempt to break into Parliament. They rarely experience significant success, and almost inevitably flame-out shortly after their first General Election.”
The three principal reasons for the near universal lack of success experienced by newly-formed parties are: their wildly unrealistic expectations of success; insufficient resources; and their refusal to seek out and follow professional advice.
Joseph Kennedy (JFK’s millionaire father) is supposed to have told his sons that to become President of the United States they would need only three things. The first is money. The second is money. And the third is, money.
He was right – sort of. Money alone won’t win you an election, but all the advice and paraphernalia which money allows you to buy, will most certainly help. Not least because the very fact that you have money proves that you’re serious, and seriousness of intent is crucial to attracting the interest of credible candidates.
These are the questions that the People’s Party has to ask itself before it goes any further. First. “Can we lay our hands on enough money to purchase both the advice and the resources we need to make a political difference?” Second. “Can we find a candidate with the requisite strength to take that advice and deploy those resources to winning effect?” Third. “Does our party have the strength to withstand the shit-storm that any successful intervention into the political process inevitably attracts?”
Until it can give a confident “Yes!” to all three of those questions, the People’s Party ain’t going anywhere.
But let us, for the sake of argument, assume that the small business-owners of Auckland’s immigrant communities (whom Rolinson quite rightly classified as “petit bourgeois”) passed the hat around enough times to fill a respectable war chest. Let us further suppose that they were able to secure the services of someone who knows how to run an effective election campaign. Finally, let us allow them to conjure-up a first-rate candidate. Someone with the good looks of a Bollywood movie star; the eloquence of a top-flight barrister; and the devil-may-care daring of a successful entrepreneur. Someone raised by hard-working immigrant parents who worked tirelessly behind the counter of their small family business to make sure that their sons and daughters would grow up to be successful New Zealand citizens. Someone who even born-and-bred Kiwis could admire – and vote for.
Now put this candidate up against Labour’s Michael Wood and National’s Parmjeet Parmar in the forthcoming Mt Roskill by-election and instruct him to bring down a plague on both their houses. Let him exploit the fact that there is hardly a family in either the Chinese or Indian communities of the electorate who hasn’t experienced, or knows somebody who has experienced, an assault, a robbery or a break-in in the past year. Gently chide Mt Roskill’s European voters for putting up with politicians who care more about the rights of criminals than they do about the rights of their victims. Invite Kiwis to be guided by the values of cultures that still know how to deal with those who attack innocent people in their homes, and rob hard-working families of their property. Suggest that the time might be ripe to liberate the Police, and police the liberals.
And see what happens.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 1 September 2016.