Monday, February 07, 2005

The Shakedown

Well, people have now had some time to assess Brash's Orewa speech, National's incompetent follow-up bungling, and the government's subsequent announcements.

According to the pollsters, Labour still retains solid backing from around about 45% of the electorate, with National generally trailing by ten percentage points. For a government seeking a third term in office, that is an excellent result to begin the year with. Whatsmore, you have to ask - what gunpowder do the Nats have left? The attack on beneficiaries has failed to deliver more than a poll bump, and it is doubtful that this is even sustainable.

My prediction is that the internal tensions within National will become increasingly evident as MP's and Party figures realise that the election is unwinnable, and seek to distance themselves from Brash's cabal.

The government has a booming economy, record low unemployment, real gains in social services (ie: 30% more orthopedic operations in the last 6 months), and positive policies for working families to crow about. More importantly, Labour has a positive vision for the future. The PM's recent announcements about government measures to help increase workforce participation neatly tied together the key government themes of:

1) improving economic performance to drive up living standards;
2) focussing on the needs of ordinary working families; and
3) smart and active government that implements policies to drive the above two goals.

Contrast that with the negativity and free-market extremism of Brash and you can see why even right bloggers are writing off National's chances.

I am away for the next week so blogging will be few and far between.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

national day should stay

While I think that Peter Dunne is someone who consistently makes constructive and useful contributions to the debate about national identity, I disagree strongly with his push to have our national day shifted from February 6th.

Waitangi Day whould remain our national day for two reasons:

1) The signing of the Treaty (whatever your views on it's interpretation) on February 6th 1840, unified New Zealand as a country under one sovereign. Prior to the Treaty, sovereignty in this country, under the doctrine of aboriginal title, rested with individual iwi and hapu. Before the Treaty there was no country called New Zealand, after it there was.

Events such as the signing of the Statute of Westminster, suggested by Dunne as an alternative, simpy do not have the same historical significance.

2) The fact that there are divided opinions about the meaning of Waitangi Day, leading at times to protest and controversy, doesn't in my view amount to a national crisis. While I would prefer a focus on the many positives in NZ on the day itself, the fact that there is a heated national debate about the meaning of Waitangi is actually a sign of maturity.

We as a country have faced up to our difficult past in a way that few others have. Plenty of other countries brush difficult topics around race relations under the carpet and engage in feel-good, but ultimately pointless flag waving on their national days. I would rather that we continue to have an open and honest discussion about our past and shared future

There's nothing wrong with a national day that as well as celebrating past events, reminds us that there is still work to be done to build a truly cohesive and just nation.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Banks in Pakuranga??

I haven't actually seen the news reports, but I've been told that John Banks is either courting or being courted by ACT as a possible candidate for Pakuranga. Presumably if such a deal was stitched up he would also demand a high list placing.

While he's high profile, it's all for the wrong reasons, so it's hard to imagine him taking the electorate by storm. What he might do though, is close the current 2000 vote differential between the ACT Party vote in Pakuranga, and the ACT candidate vote.

Anyone actually seen the reports??

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The end is nigh

The letters of one Ron Pearce to the Howick & Pakuranga Times are a real treat. When you've had a tough day at the office and stories about the intricacies of local government, or a planned new shopping centre look a bit too dull, then some apopcalytic mumbo-jumbo from this bloke will always wake you up and bring a smile to your face.

Today's effort which gained top billing on the letters page is as lucid as ever.

I can never remember if we in the Labour Party are part of the conspiracy by virtue of our alliance with the freemasons or our blood oath to the illuminanti.

Making the NZ Breakers Look Amateurish

The Katherine Rich affair is astounding. While National Party cheerleaders like DPF simply comment on the whole business as "very very sad", it is far more than that.

It is in fact political ineptitude of the most amateurish kind. In a mediocre caucus of 27, you need every hand on deck, particularly in an election year in which your back is to the wall. When you are a political party who's prospective ministerial ranks are still filled with discredited figures from the 1990s, you need people like Katherine Rich who have some basic political appeal.

Given that, why would the leader of the National Party not, when making a controversial speech covering Rich's portfolio area, sort something out with her in advance? Here's one "I support all of the principles outlined by Don today, and look forward to getting down to the detailed policy work that will flesh those principles out into specific initiatives".

I would have thought that National Party strategic supremo Murray McCully who masterminded National's past two barnstorming election campaigns could have come up with something like that.

Before Brash thinks about running a country of 4 million he should have a little think about running a caucus of 27.