Labour has an open and active policy process – with all its democratic advantages and political risks. National is run by money from the top down. It makes National conferences dull affairs. Here’s The Herald’s Armstrong on National’s current Conference in the context of a discussion of Key’s “pragmatism”:
Pragmatism rules in Tiwai Pt handout
Just when you think the Prime Minister’s pragmatic streak has surely drunk for too long at the well of political convenience, John Key promptly undertakes an even more audacious departure from the ideological ethos supposedly guiding his party.
Labour could only stare in goggle-eyed wonder at the $30 million “sweetener” handed to Rio Tinto-controlled Pacific Aluminium in shameless fashion to keep the Tiwai Point smelter operating for at least another three years.
“Pragmatism” is the word we all use to describe a party, when it is our own party, selling out its values. Yeah, Key is pretty pragmatic all right. On to the conference…
The announcement of the smelter deal has certainly given any such purists within National’s ranks plenty to ponder at the party’s annual conference in Nelson this weekend. Note the word “ponder”. They will not likely get any opportunity to voice an opinion on this Great Leap Backwards.
Going on recent years, the two-day gathering is likely to be another over-choreographed affair during which Key will feed the news media with some new policy, while proceedings have any spontaneity sucked out of them by a procession of Cabinet ministers detailing (and thus glorifying) their many achievements in their portfolios.
There is unlikely to be any serious grizzling on the floor of the conference. Nothing succeeds like success.
National’s staggeringly high poll ratings will have silenced dissent in the unlikely event that there is any dissent to silence.
Key would anyway rebut any criticism by telling the party that at times, outrageous pragmatism is justified to keep National’s support at a sufficient level where a third term in power is still within the party’s grasp.
Perhaps if those with powerful voices in the media were to focus a bit less on games and personalities, and more on dull stuff like facts and policies, we would see “National’s staggeringly high poll ratings” take a bit of a tumble. Just a thought.