- Date published:
10:45 am, November 1st, 2020 - 49 comments
Categories: act, Dirty Politics, greens, labour, national, nz first, political parties, Politics, same old national - Tags: red dwarf, rimmer
I liked the process for the Greens and Labour agreement. From Labour’s side after this election it was logically completely unnecessary, except maybe under some weird scenarios.
Bearing in mind the election result for Labour, these scenarios involved disaffected self-entitled MPs doing a Jamie Lee Ross. But I think that problem is cured for the next few elections. Andrew Little showed by example how to avoid the equivalent of slipping envelopes under the parliamentary press galley doors.
It is probably even somewhat cured in the National party. Even conservatives would have to have a careful look at what the leaking, forced reactions to polling, and internal politicking it cost them up to and after spilling Simon Bridges. It meant that support went everywhere that looked more stable than National – which was just about every party except NZ First and Advance.
Act of course is a different story. Now we can see if this ‘Rimmer’ can manage a group that is even less coherent than the Red Dwarf crew. I trust that screenwriters are watching closely – I suspect there will be material for a half hour comedic series.
But I digress. For the Greens with the agreement, there was a balance issue between gaining governing experience as a party and getting co-opted into someone else’s political agenda. That is a particularly hard political problem to balance. It is also one that the parliamentary Greens and probably even their delegates and members are succeeding in threading. Contrast where they are now electorally compared to NZ First.
I don’t think that it was NZF’s performance in government. Tracy Martin and Ron Marks buckled down and did good solid work. Winston Peters did his usual excellent ministerial and deputy PM job because how he works and how he performs in public are two completely different things. Shane Jones pranced around like a oratorical peacock seeking attention (any attention) like a local comedic version of Trump – but that was all it did.
We’ll find out over the coming years if the provincial growth fund enterprises will sustain themselves or not. But I suspect that it won’t be like the grassroots tech company support that the 5th Labour Government did. All we will see is dead pot plants rather than burgeoning flower bed of our current tech industries.
You could argue that the SFO inquiry into the NZ First Foundation played a part in their rejection. But I don’t think it did. The politics played out in 2007/8 with much the same issues of donations and party funding resulted in a 4.07% party vote compared to their 2.7% this time.
The 2008 political funding was a whole lot more effective political hatchet job by both the media and the other political parties. In my opinion had a far deeper hit on their party vote than this years SFO enquiry. The similarities to the same kind of influence seeking funding tricks being performed by the then National party whip in the current term don’t seem to have any observable effect with National’s vote.
What I think happened was that NZ First took the wrong message from the voters after 2008. They got a solid 4% of the vote because they did good clearly cooperative work in government making policy changes to get better legislation and regulation. But they lost some vote from the spectacle of the parliamentary privileges committee.
This time around they lost vote because ministers did good work in their portfolios, but as a party NZ First seemed to spend most of their airtime proclaiming how great they were constraining the other parties in government.
This is a great thing for a source of political ‘buzz’ for political journalists. They can spend endless amounts of time pumping up and commenting on possible dissension (just ask this years National party MPs). But political journos are the soap opera of news – good at giving what happens in briefings – not so good on real politics.
They are generally useless at describing what is actually happening in government and what the implications downstream are. These days they’re not even that good at describing open party conferences (as Politik’s Richard Harmon points out as a side issue talking about the National party (paywalled))
Personally, I mostly read business journalism for downstream policy analysis to find out what is likely to happen. These days for NZ politics a high proportion of that comes from BusinessDesk. Currently, in my untrammelled opinion, the best subscription I pay for in NZ. For instance looking at NZ Steel (paywalled) and its survival as a local supplier.
But my sense is that with the trammelled times of the last decade and with floodgates of information flowing about just how bad incoherent governance can be – voters are getting more selective. Our political soap operas are disappearing from voters view like watching ads on ‘free to air’ TV. They mostly get ignored.
Instead voters seem to concentrate on how well the governance appears to be working together. Cooperation and active engagement in the process wins votes. Doing the dirty on friends, ‘enemies’, and public officials gets promptly rewarded with voting for others.
Probably the most obvious example with this is when the focus of the select committee set up for parliamentary oversight moved from eliciting information to badgering public officials. I’d have loved to have seen National’s internal polling in the following weeks and month. I’d expect to see a precipitous decline.
In NZ this is the era of constructive engagement while we get through this mess of deflating banks, covid-19 and other diseases, and the less predicable weather patterns. We’ll leave the aghast entertainment for the TV show called the US elections.
That is the framework of the Labour-Green agreement. Lets work together on the things we agree with. Disagree in public about the things we disagree with. Damn well get moving onward with things that we think need to be done.
Like covid-19 responses, climate change, housing, transport, inequities, and the resilience for the inevitable shifts in our economic position. Cooperation and reciprocity works in getting effective governance solutions – and that is pretty obvious when you look offshore right now.