Archive for September, 2008

Mass Debate

September 29, 2008

Hey, let’s debate the debate!

Russell Brown on Public Address has been unusually silent on Labour and National’s withdrawal from TV debates with minor parties. More surprising still, Laila Harre’s come out partially in favour. The rationale, according to her on Kiwi Blog is that because Labour and National are the parties most likely to form a government, therefore they are deserving of more air time than others.

Well, that hardly seems fair or democratic to me. Like, isn’t the idea of the election to give voters a chance to express who they want in government? Let’s do that, then whoever actually becomes the government, trust me, they’ll get their airtime.

It’s a surprising position considering her own background in small parties. And also considering her usually unflappably logical, rational identification of relevant factors in complex issues.

She also goes on to suggest two more debates, one each among the lefty parties and one among the righties. This – to me – is bordering on crackpot. I’m always the first to encourage out-of-the-box thinking, so it’s good to share the idea, but let’s can this one. For one thing, neither the Maoris nor the Greens are really very interested – at all – in left or right politics. And Dunne and Peters represent the single issue parties who are only interested in being in government, so they don’t easily align on the old spectrum either.

Leaving actual parties aside: what if your policy is that left and right is the wrong way to think about politics anyway? What if you believe policies on tax and government involvement are not defining absolutes, but incidental to greater issues, like: peak oil, climate change, pollution, bio-diversity, healthy food, quality health, transportation, revenue, justice … oh yeah, that would be the Greens.

Of course, and I hate to raise this because the trains getting near my stop, but there is the issue of where you draw the line. The Legalise Cannabis party for instance. The McGillicuddies. Every single independent. Nah, Nobody takes em seriously anyway. More on that tomorrow.

It begins

September 14, 2008

What can you say about a governing party that announces an election, and then lets the opposition beat it to the hoardings by a solid 24 hours?

Yes, the election was set last Friday for Nov 8. National’s hoardings started going up on Friday night and by lunchtime Saturday were everywhere. Someone told me that Paula Bennett (National MP in Waitakere) had breached some kind of regulation by actually getting her hoardings up too early (which presumably means before the elcetion was announced, or more than two months prior to the election) but evidently neither she – nor the person who told me about it – were sufficiently concerned to do anything about it.

You can tell how close Labour and National are by the similarity of their hoardings. The only difference is that John Key’s put himself all over his candidate’s hoardings, which sends a clear message to everyonbe not to expect any actual autonomy or responsibility from their locally elected National MP.

Unlike the big two parties’ solid colour and bold text, the Greens are there with beautiful imagery and interesting messaging. There’s no doubt that the Greens have a more interesting statement. The only error – and it’s a detail – is that while their coreflutes look like billboards, hoardings generally occupy less premium real estate than billboards. They’re lower to the ground and generally in moving traffic areas, rather than stationary ques at intersections etc.

Good on the Greens – and National – for beating Labour to the hoardings, at least around where I live. And to think we do it ourselves, while the bigger parties pay builders to do it. Capable. Still to see NZ First (“Yeah, right”), Maori, UF. From memory of past elections, Jim Anderton doesn’t even bother until about the week before. Given his lone-wolf strategy of going it alone from Sydenham, you sort of wonder why he bothers at all. Maybe it’s something about credibility. Wouldn’t have thought he’d have too much difficulty there.

Oh, that’s right. He’s the fishery minister who resisted New Zealand’s UN vote to block the mega-destructive practice of bottom-trawling.

Who cares?

September 10, 2008

We always new that Helen jumping into beddy-bies with Winston was never going to give anyone a really good night’s sleep. I’ve never cared for him, although he certainly had his day over the winebox affair, and a few other corruption scandals.

Public Address is right to waggle the finger at those who compare the media attention to a “gang rape”. That is uncalled for nastiness.

But since the general tone has been lowered, I’ll chip in with my analogy: Graeme Capill. Not that I’m fingering Winston with the same crime as the former Christian Heritage Party leader, just that he’s going down in the same way: by his own sword.

For Capill, it was about sexual morality. Winston’s always thrived by pointing out corruption in others. There you have it.

Or the 70s Mad magazine on watergate: “The president said he never did it. His men say they never did it. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe it never happened.”

Or the leutenant in the Platoon movie: “This gonna be a shit sandwich and everybody’s gonna take a bite.”

Except Peters, Glen, Williams and Clark are all sucking down teflon. But over the last 24 hours, where’s Rodney Hide suddenly vanished to? As for National, they don’t even need to make a peep. Christmas just came early this year.

Campaign

September 8, 2008

So, the Greens have entered the fray with their camapgin. What do you think?

My associations with it are: future focus, cleanliness, simplicity, accountability, serious and, on the negative side, it looks a little cold and slightly damp.

Still, miles better than the blue team’s, which seem to suffer from exactly the same problems that the Greens’ did last time: confusion and clutter. I think both the Greens’ and National’s 08 campaign suffer from a certain over investment in fear mongering.

Chris Trotter has been quoted as saying this Green campaign has the potential to deliver a 2% increase of vote share, which, when you’re in the little leage hovering around 5%, is a big deal. But one can’t help but wonder in these days of peak oil, infrastructure crisis and the consumer drive towards authenticity, that maybe they couldn’t have set their sights higher.

Still, at least one things clear: party vote Green.

Things

September 4, 2008

Favourites

  • The multiple ironies of Winston Peters being made to squirm
  • The political no-one’s-land immediately post MMP elections
  • Action – albeit too little, too late, but at least, action – on climate change
  • The Metservice predictions of a dry, mild spring
  • Sharing the train with other commuters
  • Lou Reed, paris, 1974 (dig that tache)
  • Shifting the tax base from income to resource consumption

Wonders of the untrained mind

September 1, 2008

Nationals done well to be first on the scene with their billboard campaign. “Wave goodbye to higher taxes, not your loved ones”. At first, I thought I should be worried … was there something terrible happening to my loved ones? Should I be home, defending wife and daughter against some ghastly peril? Turns out there was nothing in it. National were just expressing concern that they might suddenly emmigrate.

What a load of nonsense! If my loved ones (or anyone else) wants to leave the country, good on them. No viable amount of tax cutting is going to stop them. As a small isolated country, we like people going away. We love it when they come back too, but let’s be serious

By all means, sing a song of tax reduction, but don’t pretend it’s going to mitigate the kiwis-leaving-the-country-in-droves problem.

People leaving the country is just something ytou have to expect. Where the hell did JK cut his teeth?