We live in strange times.
At the Herald Matthew Hooton, National’s chief propagandist, shows his ability to bend reality by claiming that Jacinda Ardern is polarising and the country is divided. He even has the temerity to talk about how “Ardern’s all-important net approval rating [is] below Christopher Luxon’s”. Political statisticians throughout the world will be scratching their heads. To convert a statistically ridiculous comparison into an “all important” one requires a great deal of nerve.
National is consolidating their support now they have a leader that is not universally despised and a caucus that has stopped leaking. Their wall of sound technique where they seek to dominate all media with shriller and shriller claims is working although as shown by the last reputable poll their 4% gain was mostly at the expense of Act.
Is the country divided? There are two groups, one insisting on their right to come and go through the border with complete indifference to the public health implications, and another group who have refused to be vaccinated for various reasons. Both groups have dominated the media and created a sense of unease. But with a vaccination rate of 93% it would appear that the vast majority of Kiwis are still supportive of the Government’s actions.
The rhetoric is getting stupid. Chris Luxon’s claim that Ardern should resign if she changes the announced dates of reopening the country is US Republican Party level stupidity. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Circumstances should dictate decisions, not internal focus group results. If the public health system gets under extreme pressure than any leader who is not a psychopath would act. Leadership requires decision making, not sticking to a preconceived position.
National’s resurgence is putting Act into an awkward position and they are being denied all important media coverage. David Seymour has responded by making some pretty outlandish claims in his state of the nation speech delivered yesterday.
He attacked the Government over its Delta and Omicron response. The body count would beg to differ. New Zealand has had one death per hundred thousand people, the Australian figure now is 15.5, the United Kingdom figure is 235 and the United States figure is 269. His claim that MIQ does not work really needs to be considered against this background.
He brought out the right wing bogeyman of debt, despite the fact that the country’s debts are well under control and in far better shape than for comparable nations. He also blamed the Government for high inflation, completely ignoring the fact that inflation is currently a world wide phenomenon. He predictably attacked the size of the public service and the number of public servants currently employed.
Seymour then chose to get the dog whistle out and give it a big blast. He said this:
Democracy means one person, one vote. It’s the basis of New Zealand’s one globally significant political achievement, realising the idea that every adult New Zealander should have the vote.
The opposite of that principle is being rolled out in healthcare, with two systems. It is being rolled out in infrastructure, with co-governance of Three Waters. It is being put into resource management law. The three bills replacing the Resource Management Act will be filled with co-governance provisions. The history curriculum is being designed to tell the next generation that everything in New Zealand is about colonisation and most of the students are guilty before they open their textbook.
People came from England to escape class. From India to escape caste. From China to escape the one-party state where party members get special rights. From South Africa to escape apartheid. If you were to sum up New Zealand’s history, it is people dreaming of an equal chance.
He concludes with this statement:
Nobody is born special in New Zealand. There cannot be two types of people, Tangata Whenua, here by right, and Tangata Tiriti, here by the grace of the Treaty. All people born in this country, and who immigrate here, have a right to one five millionth of the opportunity it has to offer.
He advocates for the removal of all references to the treaty and, despite claims of respect for our cultural diversity, a one size fits all system.
The claim that people from South Africa came to New Zealand to escape Apartheid needs to be qualified. My impression is that more than a few left South Africa after the end of Apartheid for different reasons.
His claim that we should forget the Treaty is a valid one to take only if you think that treaties should not be respected and the rights created by the treaty should be ignored and excluded by fiat. Historical land ownings and property rights are fine and should be enforced as long as you are not black. And he does not address all forms of inequality, only the perceived inequality that Tangata Whenua apparently enjoy. Any analysis of statistics around health or poverty would confirm that Seymour should have stuck to twerking.
I suspect that we are going to see a lot more of this sort of populist game playing from Act.