New Zealand voters like strong politicians. And today Russel Norman showed he’s a strong politician – a fighting liberal. For perhaps the first time since John Key took power, someone has had the guts to stand up and blame him for the corrupt government he’s been running.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the National Party-led government is arrogant and divisive and is undermining democracy with its “crony capitalism”.
In a speech to the Greens’ annual conference in Christchurch today, he gave examples of special deals for friends, citing dairy development in Canterbury, a deal to build a national convention centre and laws to limit protests against mining companies.
“John Key’s National government is arrogant and divisive, and only looking out for their mates,” said Dr Norman.
“Under National, New Zealand is a country of crony capitalism where public money and benefits are showered on those who have the ear of the relevant minister,” he said.
Thanks in part to the godawful backfiring H-fee attack on Key in 2008, the opposition has had a real fear of calling him to account like this. The consequence of this has been two-fold – Key’s popularity has been protected among those that don’t follow politics that closely, and, among those that do and see him getting away with blue murder, there’s been a sense that the opposition is simply a bit weak.
That’s a shame because, as Norman’s speech shows, progressives don’t have to be weak, rather it is vital that we fight for, and are seen to be fighting for, what’s fair and what’s just.
Indeed, there are a lot of voters that didn’t turn out in 2011, not because they weren’t offered the right policies, or because they were pissed of with progressive values, but because they didn’t see anyone fighting for them or what they believe in. We Kiwis are like that – we’ll back the underdog to the hilt. But only if that underdog shows the spirit to fight.
That’s what Russel Norman has done today, and I imagine that the Greens will gather some votes from some surprising corners because of it.