My father remembers Labour Party meetings in our local town hall through the 70’s and 80’s. Staunchly Labour, Dad had many rousing discussions at the local pub with men of varied political persuasions – most of whom were his good friends. A heated debate on a Thursday night would often melt nicely into a friendly roll up at bowls on a Saturday.
Mum would never discuss politics with Dad and even with his eternal eye-rolling behind her back she never ever divulged which way she would vote in any general election. Later in life, unfortunately, I didn’t take Mum’s advice and instead told Dad that one time I had indeed voted for the Green Party (at the time I was a Recycling Education Officer), and in 2008 his Gen Y grand-daughter had voted for (gulp) National because she liked the billboards and John Key had promised $20pw in tax cuts…(she may have changed her mind, however, as she lost her position at an Early Childhood Centre when their funding was cut last year). Dad still loves us.
Now, Dad and I have rousing debates about politics and I’m the one who gets a teeny bit annoyed at his elephantine memory from the last 40 years, and his ability to pull up a quote from Muldoon’s era or a figure from Clark’s era out of the murky depths. I try and keep the dog whistles and wedges out of it – sometimes the generation gap makes that impossible.
He says people need to get off their arses and vote in 2014 – especially the 100,000 on the Maori Roll who didn’t turn out in 2011, or the 140,000 under 30’s who didn’t even enrol on the General Roll.
I say – well has he ever thought about why didn’t they vote? Maybe, civics education in schools is the answer or decolonisation models? He says – who cares why they didn’t vote – the point is they are the ones who lose out when a tory government is in power.
Hmmmmm. I suggest, how about Labour and Greens forming a coalition leading up to 2014 – it’ll strengthen the cause and get the Gen XYZ vote? And there’s always NZ First as a bonus pardner [sic] – at least it’ll be a move left-ish. He says bah.
Thanks Dad for cutting through the rhetoric and yabbering and bringing me back to reality when I espouse god-like advice from the extremes of either gossip or political or social theory.
He’s not always right, but experience counts for a lot. There’s a few of those wise older Kiwis out there with a good memory of what a strong New Zealand looks like, and a solid knowledge of our political history. Some of them are pretty good bowlers too.