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Hollow politics at work

Written By: - Date published: 2:14 pm, June 30th, 2008 - 22 comments
Categories: education, john key, slippery - Tags:

Brand Key on Waatea news: “A National government will be a lot more demanding about educational standards, a lot more demanding about under-performance in schools, a lot more demanding on failing schools”

There is no ‘how we will fix things’ here, simply a statement of problems. If schools don’t perform would National cut their funding? How would they measure under-performance? What would they do with failing schools?

Classic Crosby/Textor. Another hit and run, an attempt to sow a vague discontent with the current government while offering no answers. Where is the real discussion of problems and how to fix them? Nowhere, because National has no intention of fixing them. The aim is simply to make the current government unpopular and waltz into power as the only alternative.

22 comments on “Hollow politics at work ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    SP

    No not classic Crosby/Textor – classic politics no more no less.

    It baffles me that you expect the Nat’s to release any serious policy when an election date hasn’t even been released yet. As I’ve said before why would they when –

    1. The population has an attention span about as long as the last time the All Blacks played

    2. To release policy too early would be not to their advantage.

    I think you’re also giving way too much credit to the Nats and their advisors, whoever they are, for the current governments unpopularity.

  2. Lukas 2

    Another burning question SP is why are we still having such issues after 9 years of a Labour lead Government? Surely 9 years is enough time to at least start seeing a turn around in educational standards?

    [why did we still have such issues after nine years of National in the 1990s? Why do we still have crime after 200 years of a professionial police force? How come 150 years of democracy haven’t solved all New Zealand’s problems? No government can ever eliminate underperformance in schools, the question is who has the better policy to reduce it? Labour has a good record and more policy constantly being released, on this (educational outcomes are improving) and dozens of other issues; National doesn’t have any policy at all. SP]

  3. higherstandard 3

    oops no apostrophe – smack hand !

  4. It bafffles me that you are content for a party to proclaim it will solve problems while providing no policy with which to solve those problems.

    This is not how it usually is. When Labour was in opposition in 1999 they had announced all their major planks (including the less popular stuff, the 39% tax bracket) by now and they were willing to enter into an actual debate on whether their policies were better than National’s.

    Right now, the Greens have policy on every area – when they identify a problem they can also point to Green policy to fix it and voters ahve the opportunity to decide whether those policies are good ones to vote for. Likewise, Labour has 150 pages of policy on top of all the policies it is constantly developing and implementing.

    It simply staggers me that when you are shown Key is all puff that is OK with you. Honestly, why would you want him as PM? Because that’s the alternative to Clark. Clark’s far from perfect but when Key’s the alternative, I don’t see why you wold pick him

  5. Scribe 5

    Steve,

    Right now, the Greens have policy on every area – when they identify a problem they can also point to Green policy to fix it and voters ahve the opportunity to decide whether those policies are good ones to vote for.

    Is this what you’re talking about? http://www.greens.org.nz/policy

    If so, click on the individual policies and scroll to the bottom of the page. See those dates? 2005. If that’s not where I should find these policies, where ought I look?

    Someone has already pointed out to you that the policies on the Greens website are from the last election. Yet you’ve once again promoted the falsehood. Not a good look, sir. Not a good look.

  6. higherstandard 6

    SP

    I’ll vote for whichever party I think will be the best for the country over the next couple of terms I’ll make my mind up closer to the election once the usual debates etc have been concluded – at present I only know who I am very unlikely to vote for.

  7. Scribe 7

    higherstandard,

    It baffles me that you expect the Nat’s to release any serious policy when an election date hasn’t even been released yet.

    I agree. Having released the 2008 Budget and said the cupboard is now essentially bare, Labour can’t possibly release any more policy — well, not policy that costs anything.

    The trick Labour still has up its sleeve is having control over when the election is held. National will have its policy ready to release in the weeks after the election is called, giving it more opportunities to grab headlines from a party that is currently only making headlines for the wrong reasons.

  8. Scribe. Look at more than one of the policy papers. There are ones from 2005, 2006, 2007. They will be holding some updates for 2008.

    And why should their policies be out-of-date just because they are 1,2,3 years old? Ordinary parties don’t abandon all their positions each election, they simply improve and update them. It is National that tells us it has turned its back on 2005 but has presented no policy to fill the void.

  9. Stephen 9

    Scribe, it occurs to me that non-centrist parties like the Greens (and ACT for that matter) don’t really change their policies much between elections, so I would say those policies on their website are *probably* a pretty damn good indicator of what is to come.

  10. Scribe 10

    SP,

    Scribe. Look at more than one of the policy papers. There are ones from 2005, 2006, 2007.

    I’m sure you’ve got some fancy term for this strategy you’ve just used. It’s when you say something and hope people won’t check.

    There are 41 policy areas on the Greens website.

    From 2005: 31
    From 2006: 3
    From 2007: 2 (the same number as from ’04)
    From 2008: 1 (the same number, incidentally, as the number of policies from 2002 and 1999 on the same site)

    They will be holding some updates for 2008.

    Why can’t the Nats do that for all their policy? They’ll all be fresh, not up to nine years old. And as HS has said, it’ll be in their best interest.

  11. outofbed 11

    I guess the difference about the Green’s policies and National’s are that we know who writes them, namely the members of the party
    EVERYBODY who is a member of the Green party can have a say in policy direction and content.
    Believe me, there would be hell to pay if the membership were excluded from that process.
    I can not therefore understand how National Party members can be happy to have policy edicts from on high. I mean you really don’t join the National party just to mimic Labour’s position on just about everything do you ?
    I have no problem whatsoever with the National Party winning the next election if they are true to themselves, their ideals and beliefs.
    What I object to is the dishonesty of pretending to be something they are obviously not.
    Fortunately I think the electorate has more sense then the National Party gives them credit , and the poll that matters will reflect that

  12. Scribe. They are the Greens’ policies, it doesn’t matter if they came out three weeks ago or three years ago, they tell us what the Greens stand for and what they would do in power. Can you say the same of National?

  13. polaris 13

    Clint – this comment is laughable – “When Labour was in opposition in 1999 they had announced all their major planks (including the less popular stuff, the 39% tax bracket) by now”

    Labour had barely released half their policies. They had yet to release health, education, law and order, etc….

  14. Scribe 14

    Steve,

    I think, in a general sense, Kiwis know what a National party likes. Less government, lower taxes, public-private partnerships in a range of areas, more conservative social policies, need-based assistance/welfare etc etc etc.

  15. Matthew Pilott 15

    Scribe, given their turnarounds in recent times (policy wise) which of these statements is most true:

    a) these are purely pragmatic policy directions, meaning National is going against their core principles in an attempt to gain power

    or

    b) it’s impossible to say what National stands for these days since they won’t say and their policy direction is (to be charitable) unclear

    or

    c) National’s true policy is unpalatable to the electorate, so they must disguise it by adopting policy that is against their ideology, in order to implement their own ideas without having had them scrutinised during an election; thus it’s possible their policy is similar to the Brash era and prior, but they deliberately prevent the public from knowing this

  16. Scribe 16

    MP,

    I don’t think any of those are (necessarily) true, though I may be proven wrong in the coming weeks and months.

    I’ll gladly debate policy when it’s been released. I still don’t see why National should have to release policy because people like “Steve Pierson” think it’s his right to know them five months before an election.

    If it’s two weeks before the election and National is still flying on the “why release policy when we’re well ahead in the polls” strategy, I’ll be the first to give them grief.

  17. Matthew Pilott 17

    Scribe, one of those thre necessarily has to be true at this stage.

    Given their current policy is to adopt popular Labour policy, and Labour ideology was completely different to theirs in the past, one of those three options must be the truth, possibly nore than one. What do you think is more likely to be true?

    If you can’t answer, then I’d really struggle to see where you came up with the statement “I think, in a general sense, Kiwis know what a National party likes. Less government, lower taxes, public-private partnerships in a range of areas, more conservative social policies, need-based assistance/welfare etc etc etc.

  18. Lew 18

    I think Scribe has almost nailed the question of why people are supporting John Key and National with this. I say almost, because I added a bit in bold:

    I think, in a general sense, Kiwis think they know what a National party likes. Less government, lower taxes, public-private partnerships in a range of areas, more conservative social policies, need-based assistance/welfare etc etc etc.

    They may be right. I’m not confident, but plenty of people are. And they haven’t had a chance to prove it in so long that I think people are happy to give them one.

    It might not be rational, but it doesn’t have to be.

    L

  19. Scribe 19

    MP,

    Some of National’s policy changes have been, to a certain extent, forced upon them. How easy would it be to scrap Kiwisaver or interest-free loans or Working for Families? Incoming governments are sometimes simply unable to reverse such major policies, (cf. welfare cuts etc in the 1990s, which Labour never reversed).

    Since you disagree with my handful of overarching National principles, which of these aren’t what we’d expect from them and/or have been contradicted? Less government, lower taxes, public-private partnerships in a range of areas, more conservative social policies, need-based assistance/welfare.

    And it’s rich to say National is adopting Labour policy. It’s working the other way as well. They’re on a race to the middle to the point where the differences are harder to find than the similarities.

  20. Matthew Pilott 20

    Scribe, my point exactly – they have reversed direction in many areas, yet released virtually nothing in any of the areas to which you think they represent. So you’re more arguing for B or C, you think they’ve kept to the same direction but you can’t be sure.

    The example you gave about Labour is a good one on the face of it – I think something could have been done about it; however, they have done plenty to support beneficiaries in other areas, so the policy direction isn’t, in my mind, different. They haven’t adopted national’s stance of stomping on beneficaries.

    WfF is a pretty strong tool for income redistribution though, I don’t see how a National Party could really live with it, except to say that they accept it’s a core part of their ideology that they realise the electorate has rejected.

    Lew, they have the chance, and it’s over the next five months – it’s not after the election. If they don’t take it, all it shows is that they know their policies will be deeply unpopular and that they have no interest in participating in a real democratic election – more of an Americal idol contest. I wonder if they have anything in their constitution about promoting democracy – I know the Labour party does and they could be doing better, but this takes the cake.

  21. Lew 21

    Matt: I don’t think anyone will consider that they’ve `had a turn’ (as in Cullen’s beach cricket analogy, which is a great deal of the reasoning at work here) until they’ve had a term in government.

    L

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    Call me old fashioned, but part of democracy is debating policy and being able to weigh up the pros and cons of the contenders! I think they need to earn the opportunity to have that turn, and I hope they can give a better account of themselves closer to selection…

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