Written By: - Date published: 1:05 pm, August 12th, 2013 - 106 comments
Categories: activism, bill english, brand key, capitalism, class war, democracy under attack, democratic participation, greens, john key, same old national, slippery, spin, Spying - Tags: GCSB
The op ed pieces by columnists who most often are cheerleaders for John Key’s government, are telling.
They indicates where national is heading for their 2014 election campaign.
This is not democracy. …
As argued by John Armstrong, and in some ways supported by Audrey Young, it’s about spin and PR manipulation in order to keep both a significant section of the voting public, and National’s wealthy backers on side. It’s about John Key aiming to win the election in whatever ruthless way he can.
Armstrong is most telling on this. He argues that the Kiwisaver, first home buyer policy announced at last weekend’s conference, is Key’s attempt to regain the upper hand, albeit by doing something that is tinkering around the edges of the issue. Armstrong argues that affordable housing is the only issue on which Labour has the upper-hand over National. That’s curious, given how much National is also on the back foot re the GCSB Bill.
Armstrong goes on:
That National was announcing the alterations some 15 months before the country goes to the polls says a lot about John Key’s irritation at being trumped on any matter.
But then this was a conference which seemed fixated with planning for next year. National attributes its staggeringly high poll ratings for a party in its fifth year of government to it being on the majority side of public opinion, particularly on fundamental issues like education and law and order.
English’s speech provided a vital clue as to how National will fight next year’s election. It will go relentlessly on the offensive across all fronts and try to put its opponents constantly on the defensive. You can also bet you have not heard the last from National about help for first-home buyers.
Behind this focus on English, looms the shadow of Key’s ruthless competitive streak. Armstrong also has a superficial, if any, analysis of why Key continues to score highly in opinion polls. But then, that would require him to face some home truths about how columnists like him skew media coverage in Key’s favour.
Curiously, while Armstrong inadvertently indicates ruthless, anti-democratic competitiveness, in apparent contradiction, Audrey Young highlights the lack luster presentation of the weekend’s National Party conference:
Conference 2013 was meant to be the conference of good ideas, according to the National Party’s Bill English and Steven Joyce last week.
It wasn’t going to be saturated with tight party messaging with no room for spontaneity or creativity. That will be next year’s prescription, being an election year. This was to be the conference where delegates came up with fresh ideas to wow the electorate and create the momentum for a third term.
Yet, the “bright ideas” were restricted by the apparent requirement that no speaker overshadow Key’s speech.
And the conference was full of self-congratulation, with ministers dominating every session to spell out what they had done.
There were certainly no new ideas in ministers’ speeches. They operate under the strict understanding that they are not to say anything that might detract from the prime minister’s speech and coverage.
Grumblings about possible changes to snapper bag limits were restricted to the last few minutes of a workshop.
This is an indication of how much the Nats are reliant on the public image of their anti-democratic PM. And the lack of democracy is exposed by Young’s attempt to mask this lack of party democracy by taking some comparative swipes at the Green Party:
Only nine policy remits were debated by rank-and-file members. At least National’s remit debates were open to the media, unlike the Green Party, who would rather hold debates on democratic reforms and other such policy in closed sessions.
The Greens’ exclusion of the largely right wing, Key cheer-leading, MSM political commentator is done to facilitate grass roots democracy, not stifle it. In contrast, Young’s piece on the Nat conference, indicates how the Nats prefer a top-down, structure that stifles democratic debate. No need to exclude journalists, as the Nat’s conference is one long piece of overly managed PR. But even Nat apologist Young is not fully convinced:
The biggest idea was when the prime minister told the Nelson magazine Wild Tomato that if there was any policy he could change overnight, it would be to change the New Zealand flag to the silver fern.
He was happy to talk about Fonterra, even the GCSB through gritted teeth. But he did not want the flag story to fly when the media seized on it.
So, here Key is trying to divert public attention from some significant issues, while announcing a housing policy that benefits the already wealthy and their children (See Eddie’s post on it).
But, there is a very good example of democratic engagement with grassroots under way in relation to opposition to the GCSB Bill and related amendments:
This is democracy!
Martyn Bradbury has posted on the great line up of speakers for next Monday’s public meeting about the GCSB Bill:
Here are the confirmed speakers for the night…
Dr Rodney Harrison QC (presented the Law Society submission on GCSB Bill)
Kim Dotcom (the most high profile victim of illegal GCSB spying)
Jon Stephenson (journalist and war correspondent)
Seeby Woodhouse (Founder of Orcon ISP and 2004 NZ Young Entrepreneur of the Year)
Helen Kelly (CTU President)
Professor Jane Kelsey (Law Faculty Auckland University)
Marama Davidson (Maori activist and blogger)
Russel Norman (Green Party Leader)
Hone Harawira (Mana Party Leader)
[Update: Winston Peters added to list of speakers
and Nicky Hagar]
Be there, or if you can’t watch the live stream online at TDB Live.
[Update] Gordon Campbell, on the latest addition of Werewolf – ‘Nanny National‘ – in which he lays out just how anti-democratic Key’s government has become/been:
… centre-right parties may campaign on a promise to reduce the clout of Big Government and the dinosaurs of commerce – but once elected, they seem happy to preside over the extensive growth of Big Government and the entrenchment of corporate power. It happened in the US under Ronald Reagan, and has been occurring here under John Key.
Clearly, there is compelling evidence that Big Government has become a far more threatening and intrusive presence in the lives of most New Zealanders under John Key, than it ever was under Helen Clark. When it comes to presiding over a nanny state – if that term is to mean an ever-expanding network of unchecked powers, wielded in the service of elites seen as being somehow more deserving – the Key government makes Helen Clark look like a piker.
The full detailed article is well worth a read – at the above link.
[Update] Winston Peters has been added as a speaker at the Kill the Bill meeting on Monday evening.
[Update] Nicky Hagar also speaking at the Auckland meeting on Monday.