Tuesday 12 October 2021

Looking Forward To 2022.

Future Tense? Okay, so that’s where we are in 2022. Living in a New Zealand where all the usual rules of politics once again apply. And, guess what? Jacinda’s government, once again, isn’t doing very well – not very well at all.

LET’S PLAY A GAME. Let’s pretend we’re half-way through 2022. Covid-19 isn’t exactly a memory, people still get it, but hardly anyone ends up in hospital and almost nobody dies. So politics has returned to all the normal settings. The Government is no longer being judged on how well it kept us all safe from Covid. Now it’s all about what it’s doing; how well it’s doing it; and whether it should be doing it at all.

Now, those of us with good memories, will recall that this is exactly where the Labour-NZ First-Green Government was at in the weeks before the global pandemic swept politics-as-usual from the stage. Back when Simon Bridges was leading National, and National was leading Labour in the polls. Back when Jacinda Ardern had Winston Peters to protect her and Labour from their worst woke instincts. Back when, Winston’s presence notwithstanding, things weren’t looking so good for the Left.

Okay, so that’s where we are in 2022. Living in a New Zealand where all the usual rules of politics once again apply. And, guess what? Jacinda’s government, once again, isn’t doing very well – not very well at all.

What is the cause of the Government’s worrying slide in the polls? Most people would agree that it is Nanaia Mahuta’s “Three Waters” programme. With the local government elections fast approaching, a nationwide political movement is taking shape dedicated to rolling back what is now being quite openly presented as a Māori power grab for the nation’s water. Tickets are being organised all over the country of candidates pledged to resist the state’s confiscation of municipally owned water resources and infrastructure. Already ratepayer groups are pledging to engage in civil disobedience to prevent the Three Waters programme going ahead.

Why haven’t Jacinda and her colleagues simply cancelled the programme and gone back to the drawing-board? The answer lies in the disproportionate death-toll of Māori Covid victims. When the Delta outbreak turned deadly in the last few weeks of 2021, it was in unvaccinated Māori communities that it really went to work.

The anguish and anger of Māori is easily imagined, and almost all of it was directed at the Labour Party. It was, after all, Labour which had presented itself as the Māori people’s best friend back in 2017. And it was Jacinda Ardern who went to Waitangi in 2018 and asked Māori to hold her and her Government accountable for their actions. In vain did reasonable people point out that it was Covid-19 that had killed Māori – not Labour. But, after the trauma of 2021, Māori weren’t in a very reasonable frame of mind.

So, the Labour leadership felt obliged to back their own Māori caucus’s agenda without reservation. Anticipating the massive resistance Nanaia’s Three Waters programme was bound to inspire, they steeled themselves for the inevitable racist backlash and told them to press on regardless – the Government had their back.

This was why Labour had forced through the Three Waters reforms, legislating right over the top of an overwhelming majority of local authorities’ objections. And why, faced with the prospect of a clean right-wing sweep through the nation’s district, city and regional councils, the Government was seriously considering using its Covid Emergency Powers to postpone the local government elections for at least another year.

To say this idea was going down like a cup of cold sick with a majority of the electorate was to understate the position considerably. Following his generous settlement with Harry Tam, Winston Peters was now roaring back into electoral contention on the back of the racist beast unleashed by the Three Waters reforms. The votes that weren’t surging towards NZ First were being gratefully received by National and Act. Small wonder Labour was shedding support.

Although, not that much support. Thanks to the sterling efforts of the mainstream news media in explaining/justifying Mahuta’s scheme, a crucial chunk of the Pakeha population was refusing to jump on the anti-Three Waters bandwagon. Educated voters were sticking with Labour, even as principled conservatives, disgusted by the overtly racist narrative of the right-wing parties, were gritting their teeth and shifting their support to the Left.

Labour was looking at the fast-growing support for the Māori Party, calculating that the Greens would remain above the 5 percent threshold, and factoring-in the likely consequences of making it easier for Māori voters to switch from the General to the Māori Roll – coupled with lowering the voting age to sixteen. With the election still a year away, there just might be a narrow – very narrow – pathway to power.

Covid or no Covid, in this political game, there was still everything to play for.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 12 October 2021.


Anonymous said...

Presumably you're trying to be ironic/sarcastic in your description of any legitimate opposition to the Gov'ts separatism by stealth agenda as racist. It's a bit hard to tell from recent commentary.

This may help your frame of reference: from todays Dave Armstrong opinion

"...Wellington's woke-ing class heroes".

Bet you wish you had thought of that summary of the zeitgeist, I did.


Trev1 said...

There's nothing "racist" about opposing Labour's confiscation of community-owned 3 waters assets, which in plain language is theft. The planned bureaucracy and governance structure are bloated and unaccountable. If it goes ahead it will be a disaster for communities throughout the country. That is why it must, and will, be stopped.

Nick J said...

Very dystopian Chris. Let me posit another dystopian 2022.....after the failure of massed vaccinations to stop the ravages of the pandemic on the elderly and health compromised in particular the public became jaded with the opinion of the politicised experts. As the hospitalizations from Covid diminished and physicians found ways to manage the now common sickness people relaxed, even Covvid passports were scrapped. But soon a new fear began to stalk the country. There were worrying numbers of heart issues, autoimmunity issues and cancers in all age brackets and the health system began to buckle. Questions began to be asked. Long Covid or the vaccines themselves?

Jan said...

Everything to play for; playing for everything.

But we'll be happy!


Shane McDowall said...

Given that New New Zealanders have been poisoned by water supplied by a local council (Hawke Bay) perhaps water should be controlled by central government.

And Aunty Cindy will rock straight through the next election.

DS said...

Covid will remain the Number 1 issue throughout 2022. You really think the virus will end with Delta, or that New Zealand can seriously think about opening its borders for the foreseeable future?

(Seriously, wait for the Northern Hemisphere Winter. And the deaths from the impending Australian reopening. Everything else is a sideshow).

David George said...

I know this is a work of fiction but where did this come from: "overtly racist narrative of the right-wing parties"

I've not heard any of the right wing party's concerns that could fairly be described that way. Obviously the race hustlers will say that but they say that about almost everything, it's a tactic to shut up any questioning of their mad ideas.

The sooner people wake up to the implications of He Puapua the better. It is pure, undisguised ethno nationalism, how any reasonable person would think it's a good idea for the future of our country is beyond me. From Wiki:

"The central political tenet of ethnic nationalism is that ethnic groups are entitled to self-determination. The outcome of this right to self-determination may vary, from calls for self-regulated administrative bodies within an already-established society, to an autonomous entity separate from that society, to a sovereign state removed from that society.

Ethnic nationalism bases membership of the nation on descent or heredity, often articulated in terms of common blood or kinship, rather than on political membership. Hence, nation-states with strong traditions of ethnic nationalism tend to define nationality or citizenship by jus sanguinis (the law of blood, descent from a person of that nationality), and countries with strong traditions of civic nationalism tend to define nationality or citizenship by jus soli (the law of soil, birth within the nation state). Ethnic nationalism is, therefore, seen as exclusive, while civic nationalism tends to be inclusive. Rather than allegiance to common civic ideals and cultural traditions, then, ethnic nationalism tends to emphasise narratives of common descent."

David George said...

"Pat Buchanan famously said that America was the first country to have a ruling class that hated the people over whom it ruled. It turns out that they only hate some of the people, the white majority. The question that naturally follows is can such a country last when the ruling elite despises the majority with such passion? More important, can such a country last when the majority begins to hate their rulers back?"

David George said...

Michael Bassett has an essay on the governments priorities and prospects. Conclusion:

"Life is becoming more and more uncomfortable for Jacinda. She has never explained why she thinks it a good idea to divide New Zealand along racial lines. The spotlight is fastening on her preferred racial group but their lack of reciprocity keeps the country locked down for longer. For the rest of us, squeals from Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and John Tamihere about how unfair the health system is to Maori (“systemically racist” they say) is self-evidently silly. Jacinda’s favoured few are obviously biting the hand that feeds them, while prolonging lockdown misery for all the rest of us, and threatening jobs.

Once we get vaccination to 90% for the rest of the population, Jacinda might realise that her racist policies are hurting both her and her chosen friends and take her foot off the accelerator? She might even spare a serious thought for child poverty, housing, mental health, or most importantly, the education system that is in dire straits, none of them likely to improve until she changes her priorities."


greywarbler said...

Trev1 Water is part of the planet's bounty, Saying that Labour is committing theft is just imposing human culture on a problem of necessary resource. It is one way to manage the supply
and condition of water. What we have to watch and guard against is human greed and selfishness in wanting to utilise all there is for one person or group. That's a major problem of human culture. Also 'poisoning the well' against others need.

The neolib economic attitude is disdainful of real meaning and purpose in life, and concentrates on receipts of tradeable resources for personal advantage, often fleeting, so have sold our precious resource to entities that are unlike Tolkien's 'Ents' - how do we stop this? Labour is showing National how to really FUNZ.

Mark Craig said...

Why are not Maori getting vaccinated .Sure beats me ,I have severe health issues ,and am somewhat sceptical ,but I am double jabbed .I refuse to believe people do not know what is at stake here.Why should someone who has refused the jab get a precious hospital bed before the person who has tried to act responsibly. No nothing idiots should be attended to in the stables as time and manpower allows.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well David, I was unaware that Michael Bassett was still alive – the last time I saw him, he looked like death warmed up. But having said that, why would anyone believe anything the man says? He's just an ideologue.