Sunday 13 August 2017

Election 2017: No Country For Old Men.

A Big Ask: How are Bill English and Steven Joyce supposed to defeat a young woman who can set the cold, cold heart of Paddy Gower aflame? How do a couple of guys on the wrong side of 50 fight a social-media phenomenon? Sure, they can say that elections are about policies – not personalities – but, after ten years of relying on John Key’s winning personality, who’s going to believe them?
THE NATIONAL PARTY’S BIG PROBLEM in 2017 is that Jacinda Ardern cannot be relied upon to deliver it a fourth consecutive term in government. As anticipated, Phil Goff and David Cunliffe proved to be extremely reliable self-saboteurs – albeit for very different reasons. David Shearer’s challenge to National was real enough – that damn back-story! – but only for a while. The UN trouble-shooter realised pretty early on that he and the Labour Party were never going to be friends and wisely took himself out of play. Andrew Little desperately wanted to be Labour’s next PM, but didn’t know how. Confronted with a guy who couldn’t seem to get out of his own way, National must have thought its fourth consecutive term was in the bag.
Not anymore.
How are Bill English and Steven Joyce supposed to defeat a young woman who can set the cold, cold heart of Paddy Gower aflame? How do a couple of guys on the wrong side of 50 fight a social-media phenomenon? Sure, they can say that elections are about policies – not personalities – but, after ten years of relying on John Key’s winning personality, who’s going to believe them?
Besides, when it comes to policy, National’s bill-of-fare just isn’t that appetising. English’s great achievement, as John Key’s Finance Minister, was to impose an austerity regime upon New Zealand’s public sector without the voters noticing. Now that he’s Prime Minister, however, the consequences of nearly a decade of underfunded social services and insufficient infrastructural spending are hitting the electorate hard where it hurts. Promising to put right your own deliberate “mistakes” isn’t all that likely to make the voters feel forgiving.
You have to hand it to Key – he sure knew when to quit!
And this time National can’t even fight dirty. In 2014, Kim Dotcom and David Cunliffe may, between them, have rescued National from the consequences of its own spectacular political sinning. But, they can’t rely upon the “Moment of Truth” of an overweight deus ex machina to save them a second time. Jacinda Ardern sure as hell ain’t going to apologise for being a woman!
Not even the media is to be relied upon anymore. Oh sure, the dear old NZ Herald will continue to plod on ahead of the National Party, striking out predictably at all the usual left-wing suspects. In 2017, however, the Government must do without John Armstrong. Yes, Audrey Young and Claire Trevett are still there, but do either of these two women journalists any longer have a dog in National’s electoral fight? Does “More of the same” really beat “Let’s do this!”?
As for the rest of the news media: well, National can pretty much forget about it. With the obvious exceptions of Mike Hosking and Leighton Smith, the inhabitants of the news media’s Olympian heights are bored with the status quo. If “Jacindamania” didn’t already exist, they would have felt obliged to invent it. Moreover, thanks to Metiria Turei’s reckless gamble (heroic sacrifice?) the blood-lust of the press corps’ most ferocious predators has been pretty well satisfied. (Some of them, one suspects, may even be feeling a little guilty!) Destroying one young woman politician might be passed-off as an unfortunate necessity; but destroying two begins to look like sadistic misogyny.
And then there’s Winston. (There’s always Winston!) That old dog still has a good nose for what’s coming down the road – especially if that road’s in Northland. Like the hapless Green Party, he’s watching his supporters stream past him. He knows where they’re headed and what it means. Come election night, the winds of change will be blowing hard and he knows better than to steer NZ First’s ship into the teeth of a howling gale. Even if he was able to, somehow, reach the good ship National, Peters knows that all NZ First can look forward to in 2020 is being dragged under with it – along with his political legacy.
Winston understands that, in 2017, New Zealand is no country for old men who attempt to stand in the way of young women.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Saturday, 12 August 2017.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't know how much or if at all this might apply to New Zealand, but it's interesting.

Confused from Ekatuhuna said...

From my point of view, the issue at this election is Confusion. I've become confused with NZ First (perhaps because Winston back-tracked on immigration regarding agriculture and horticulture). One thing I believe, (rightly or wrongly), is this cheering of demographic change and rapid population growth (while clapping of the demise of Old New Zealand) will be a disaster. NZ First makes a lot of on the fly policy like a cake shop anticipating what the workers will want for lunch. That's why I'll probably vote for TOPs. Gareth is devoid of the ideological baggage of Labour (have you visited The Standard - OMG!) or the vested interestism of wealthy individuals with a vested interest in immigration.

peteswriteplace said...

The immediate future will be interesting.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" Gareth is devoid of the ideological baggage of Labouror the vested interestism of wealthy individuals with a vested interest in immigration."

I was going to get snide here, but I decided to go and look at their policies beforehand. They actually aren't too bad. So just as well eh? :)

Anonymous said...

The change in leadership was perfect but to maintain this huge momentum Jacinda needs to be a lot sharper. The water tax is threatening to derail the momentum due to lack of detail. It's going to be a "show me the money" moment if they don't cost it quickly. Yes, farmers will give examples of how some of them will go under and the path to farm ownership further diminishes, but we don't want National's tax cuts coming back into focus and into contrast with Labour's new taxes. It's not like the media are very supportive of the water tax right now...

Polly. said...

Sorry to her fans but Jacinda has got NZ swimming in deep water.
She's a paddler.
That's it.

Kat said...

No country for old women either, having just watched ex National party president Michele Boag make a complete fool of herself an Q&A this morning. You could see the fear in her eyes and the shrill quivering voice as she tried to slam Labours clean water policy. All her numbers either added up to nothing or billions.

Boag did mention on Q&A that Annette King as being a good "hit" for the week, I would say when King in her valedictory speech said she expected Jacinda Adern to enjoy a long loved leadership and be PM for many years that must have been seen and felt as a King hit to National.

Confused from Ekatuhuna said...

A friend asked Megan Woods (Wigram) whether she thought immigration was too high. She said "no, we just need to build more houses". Someone else up in Katikati said, "all the shops are owned by Indians". People may have two completely different reactions to that. One will think "they have taken over" another may think "diversity". An economist may say "well there is no such thing as lump of labour and therefore no displacement; the question, though is where have those other people gone? Over winter the tourist business is quiet but a bus driver told me he went to the airport the other day and there was one Kiwi (him) and 7 Chinese (or Korean speakers) in small buses towing trailers.

GJE said...

Unless labour can out attract more voters than national they won't be in government...forget the greens...Winton will be kingmaker and he sure as hell won't cuddle up to the second place getter.

carlos e said...

Sure could happen, but you don't mention the huge price WinFirst would be able to extract from second place Labour. So if she of little experience and all about big smiles caves in to the fox, it will not be a labour government at all. It will be an ugly 50/50 blend of perhaps sweet young and nasty old.
It may happen & Labour and NZ may regret it and it may only go 18 months.
But it would be fun, for we Tories to watch, and wait for the next election.
Meanwhile New (Spring)Green or Turquoise (mix of blue & green, which any red) would be getting underway perhaps.

Kat said...

ACT (association of crooks and thieves) has just attacked Nationals law and order policy, and Dunne is done (according to the polls).... ha ha someone better let Joyce know that the right must be in turmoil.

thefruitshop said...

How many TOP voters in Eketahuna who use language like 'Vested interestism'? LOL

Guerilla Surgeon said...

GJE. I don't think people could make much money betting on what Winston would or wouldn't do. Somebody made the point the other day that as New Zealand elections are cyclical, and a fourth term would almost certainly be National's last for a while, Winston might prefer to "cuddle up with the second-place getter" in order to get more than one term. Makes as much sense as anything else Winston does, and that Winston does what's best for Winston.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Kat – that's good news about Dunne. I've always regarded him as someone completely lacking in principles. Even for a politician. :)

Nick J said...

Last nights news...visual images, they old grey haired bow-tied bozo from that greyest on electorates..dull dull dull. Then other grey or bald types, Double Dipton, Joyce, Winston, Morgan. Dull dull dull.

I made a statement in the heat of the moment a few months back when my mid twenties daughter curtly pointed out what a mess my generation had made and was responsible for."Yes", I replied, "So its your turn now, you had better take charge. I wont vote again for anybody over forty!"

Looking at Labour there are enough significant young people to take the reins, it is "no country for old men". For the first time in many elections Labour will get my vote.

Victor said...


I will not mourn the demise of the Worm-meister.

Confused of Ekatuhuna

If your pal Gareth had stuck to the principle inherent in UBI of avoiding unnecessary and costly administration, bureaucratic bullying and perverse incentives, I might (just) be able to forgive his felinocidal demagoguery and cast a vote for his Opportunist Party.

But your mustachioed mate wants, in effect, to spend money on a means-testing regime to be applied to all older New Zealanders!

There will be those who can afford to survive on less than they're getting at the moment and there will be others who can't. But they'll all be subjected to rigorous intrusion into their private affairs, often at a time of life when this can only cause distress, fear and confusion.

Fair enough, if you're a dogmatic Austeriac who believes it's more important to root out perceived bludgers" than genuinely to save money on administration and to empower the elderly to move in and out of employment as their health status and other issues permit.

But, if (Heaven profend!) Austeriitis was my dogma of choice, why wouldn't I just vote for Act?

David Stone said...

How the hell does he get away with calling it a "universal" basic income? A UBI has a lot of merit, but he is misusing the term for a currently fashionable idea falsely , to promote a policy that is anything but a a UBI.
cheers David

Nick J said...

Victor, lovely deconstruct. I listened to Gareth and came to the conclusion that he is just another market fundamentalist.

AB said...

Chris - which is it - the Yeats poem or the Coen brothers movie? Watching Steven Joyce the other day, the latter came to mind, mainly the possible efficacy of the cattle stun gun in stopping his vulgar idiotic yabbering.
But then, could Bill English now be realising that his life-long, self-deluding and inevitably unrequited love affair with neo-liberal economics is "fastened to a dying animal", just like Yeats's love for Maud Gonne?

carlos e said...

You group think posters are still making the same mistakes. You see people as either young (good), old (bad); similarly brown or white; woman or man, but that does not determine their worth, their ability, and it does not determine who votes for them much at all. Or when it does have some effect you may get the opposite of what your prejudices tell you. Like 52% of women voting for old white misogynist Trump or loads of young blokes voting for old Thatcher back in the 80s. I was one.
And don't forget if it is truly about age v youth, the majority of those who actually vote are old compared to big teeth Arden. Plus plenty of young are smart enough to know that the economy is more important than young faces so they know English and Joyce, have the tract record and ability on their CV to get the job. And they are not that old, and the Deputy is young and brown. All this celebrating at last that Labour after 100 years has a slightly brown Deputy. What a joke. National has one and she's a female and young! Surely worth tonnes of votes according to you guys!
No it's not about that. The young want a pay rise and no new tax on it. And the old want stability and predictability. Both may look left and say, yeah nah, not yet.

As for Kat thinking the right is in crisis. What? Who? You wish. No we are just waiting to see what other crap goes down on the left next while we mull over what we will have to offer WinFirst, or even if we will bother. May be best to be tough and let him have Labour plus the rest in a mish-mash mess, and take a break.

Victor said...

carlos e

You're right. Age, gender or pigmentation should not, per se, exclude you from high office. Nor should larger than average teeth.

But what should exclude you is having already spent nine years as a member of a do-nothing government that's presided over the mushrooming of homelessness,the further degeneration of the nation's infrastructure and urban transport snarl-ups worthy of the eco-disaster cities of South East Asia.

carlos e said...

On the contrary Victor a large majority of the country would, unless there is a sound looking alternative, think, well the last 9 years have been pretty good, here in NZ and definitely looking anywhere abroad. So probably wise to stick with the status quo.
And what's this 'do nothing gov' biz? You must be thinking of the Clark regime. What a waste for the left that was. Really did nothing at all, which was just fine by me. And caused house prices to triple. Built almost none and saw off heaps of talent abroad which has been coming home in droves under National.
The Key-English-Joyce team have been at it constantly in a mildly progressive way.
Certainly the best government in my 61 year I reckon.
But for the good of the country, a sober alternative for 3 years would not hurt at all.

Victor said...

carlos E

Could you please provide some examples of how the "Key-English-Joyce team have been at it constantly in a mildly progressive way"?

I would agree, though, that they're not the worst government New Zealand's had in the last few decades. And John Key deserves a degree of gratitude for the deftly pragmatic way he piloted our course through the worst of the GFC, taking advantage of all Michael Cullen's previous good work.

But the problems of infrastructural, environmental and social neglect that have accumulated during the last thirty plus years of hands-off management are now spiraling and need urgent attention and a shift in economic philosophy.

Most of that spiraling can be linked more to the government's sins of omission than of commission. But some of it (e.g. the privileging of the road transport lobby) clearly smacks of the latter.

And, yes, I'd agree with you that the Clark-Cullen government wasn't noted for its economic activism. But the country had just been through 15 years of manic de-structuring and, arguably, needed pause to breathe, whilst responsible adults took advantage of benign economic circumstances to pay off debt.

I suspect that C and C would have proved more adventurous had they held office during most of the GFC,recognising that such crises proffer opportunities as well as threats. But we'll never know.

And, of course you're right that lots of people think like you. But most of them are probably in your age group (I'm a decade older) and have seen their property investments spiraling in tandem with the nation's problems. Ask younger New Zealanders or those living outside of the silos of prosperity and you might get a different response.