Let’s get this straight. Fisiani’s on-going sycophantic love-in with John Key may be nauseatingly embarrassing to read, but this does not make him necessarily wrong. Unforeseeable circumstances aside, John Key will see out five or six terms in office. He will then likely hand over to his carefully anointed National party successor. National will govern uninterrupted. Key is only the dark beginning. We already know most of the reasons why:
1. Key was appointed to run NZ from within his prior role at the the US Fed. He has powerful allies not just within the local establishment, but globally. In a highly globalized world this counts for a lot more than most of us imagine.
2. Thirty five years of neo-liberal dogma that is designed to appeal to the selfish and greedy in us all has eroded the foundations of civil society. 25% of us that were born here with pre-80’s pro-social values have left, and too many of those who have arrived came from countries where they are notably lacking.
3. National is funded with a landslide of money. It almost doesn’t know what to do with it all. Labour by contrast can barely afford mailouts to it’s membership.
4. The National govt runs an extremely well resourced PR organisation that the left cannot and never will match. Because the left sees itself as reformers, our internal discussions will always be louder and more rambunctious. By contrast the right is always united around the power of money, and will not only stay on message discipline … it will ruthlessly exploit any perceived dissent or weakness the left exposes.
5. At present there is no credible means for the left to effectively convey it’s message to the public. We have been shut down or marginalised, to the point we are pretty much constrained to social media.
6. A large fraction of the middle swing voters are fundamentally dubious about ever voting left because they perceive, rightly or wrongly that Labour and the Greens are prone to being captured by ‘PC gone mad’ special interest groups. Yes this is a fraught and nuanced issue … but none of this matters to a segment of the voting public who just hate it at a gut level.
7. At the same time too many of Labour’s senior people seem to have made their peace with the Establishment. And this just leaves another segment of voters uninspired, contemptuous of ‘beltway pollies with their snouts in the trough’, and lacking an option they want to vote for, they stay at home.
8. The continued assault on left wing institutions like unions, workers education, and social entities that once allowed us to organise effectively. Activism from behind a keyboard only takes us a certain distance; it’s weak at turning ideas into reality.
9. Increasing state surveillance and loss of civil liberties. What has happened to Ambrose, Hagar, Vance and others will continue to chill the public debate.
10. Too many activists on the left repeatedly make the basic mistake of confusing a dislike for John Key and what he stands for … for a lack of respect for his considerable political and managerial skills. It’s really time we stopped making this basic error.
This isn’t an exhaustive list. I’m certain others here can ably add to it or extend it. Nor is it meant as a counsel of despair. But it does inform us that Business As Usual will condemn us to more of the same.
Just waiting for the day when the NZ voters decided that they’re sick of Key’s face, and decide its ‘time to give the other guys a turn’ will not work. That plan is dead; fisiani is right on this one matter.