While Key was away on his 4-week holiday in Hawaii, the world economy deteriorated, reports on the dire state of poverty in our country came out, and access to strategic resources became a pressing issue – both with our farmland being bought and Iran threatening to close off the globe’s oil supply. But Key was working on a plan – to stoke up racial dissent at home.
It’s easy to forget, with the passage of time, that just 7 years ago National purposely whipped up a storm of Pakeha vs Maori anger to win Pakeha conservatives/reactionaries from Labour. Key was a senior member of that Brash-led National and his key advisor, Steven Joyce, ran Brash’s racist campaign. These people may not be racists themselves but they’re perfectly willing to use racism to win power.
So, Key comes back from holiday and what’s the first story he creates? A fight with the Maori Party over the constitutional status of the Treaty, intertwined with the asset sales issue (Of course, National already has a modified version of s9 ready to put into the asset sale legislation that will allow the Maori Party to save face without quitting the government but, for now, a whole lot of pissed off Maori suits Key very nicely). He then added to Maori anger with the announcement that TPK will be gutted.
He got to go along to Waitangi and face a crowd of angry, ‘scary’ Maori. When reactionary Pakeha read: “About a dozen sturdy protesters moved forward on Key as he approached the Marae to speak” (those big Maoris, so scary!) they saw an attack on their representative and, so, on all Pakeha, by all Maori. Key cleverly and cynically got all those reactionaries to identify with him by placing himself in conflict with their ‘other’.
To think that Key just so happened to insult Maori twice in the week before Waitangi and the resulting wall-to-wall coverage of protestors yelling at him while he quietly tried to carry on with the formalities and then left (ever so regretfully) because of the ‘bad behaviour of the natives’ was unexpected. To think that happened by accident would be to think that Joyce and Key are far worse at politics than we know they are. What’s more likely? That they couldn’t anticipate events a few days ahead, or that they are already laying the groundwork for 2014?
As I’ve discussed before, Key will need every conservative Pakeha he can get in 2014. He knows that his rightwing agenda has a one-seat majority this term. He knows that actually selling the assets, the continuing failure of the economy, the normal wear and tear of government, and (let us dream) a resurgent Labour will take its toll on National’s support. He knows the Maori Party is dead and its votes will go to Mana, the Greens, and Labour.
So, where does he get the votes to govern again? From the Conservatives and from what remains of Labour’s ‘Waitakere man’ support. Making his agenda (not just asset sales but also mining, public service cuts, and benefit cuts) into a Pakeha vs Maori fight is the perfect way to win those votes (and, nicely for him, send more Left votes from Labour to Mana) at very little cost.