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Politics more than politicking

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 am, September 20th, 2009 - 8 comments
Categories: climate change, Media - Tags:

I get sick of hearing our illustrious fourth estate refer to some piece of politicking as ‘good politics’.  Who decides what’s ‘good politics’? The commentators, of course. And they define good politics as maneuvering to ones advantage, rather than getting good policies in place.

Take the ETS issue. If they wanted, the commentators could say ‘National has made a huge political mistake in weakening the already inadequate response to this most serious of issues’. Instead, it’s ‘National’s so clever for buying the Maori Party’s support’. They praise good politicking over good policy. No wonder politicians react to this and often put political maneuvering ahead of good policy results.

Imagine if, instead of criticising or praising National for the quality of its ‘politics’ on climate change they criticised or praised it on the quality of it’s policy. There’s no reason why they can’t; if it’s not a breach of the fiction of objectivity to judge a party’s political manoeuvring, it must also be OK to offer a judgement on the substance of its policy.

Take hack supremo John Armstrong:

“National could not care one jot about the cries of anguish from climate change experts and commentators. It is being unashamedly pragmatic”

John, call me crazy, but isn’t contributing our bit to save the climate and our economy the pragmatic thing to do?

What an indictment on political commentary in this country that, as every day the scientific evidence demands we do more to tackle climate change, our commentariat is befouled with the likes of Armstrong who praise a government for doing less.

Even Colin Espiner’s retraction of his original praise for National’s “astute politics” is because he now thinks it’s bad politics, not because he is worried it’s an inadequate response to the issue. He didn’t have “second thoughts on the ETS”, he may not even have had first thoughts on it. No, he had second thoughts on the politics of the ETS.

On this occasion, Vernon Small has been an honourable exception. In both Dompost and Independent articles he has ignored the politicking and instead written ‘hey, this policy sucks – it doesn’t do nearly enough to tackle the most important crisis we face by making the polluters pay’.

What a tragedy that a political commentator commenting in the substance of a political issue stands out as exceptional.

8 comments on “Politics more than politicking ”

  1. Zaphod Beeblebrox 1

    Small country, can’t see beyond the back yard. Nobody will take NZ seriously until it can engage in global issues beyond our narrow perspective

    • Agreed. If you think of the country’s leaders who did make a difference on the world stage there is this striking common feature that I am trying to work out. The leaders were Micky Savage and Peter Fraser for their contribution to the League of Nations and the United Nations, Norm Kirk and David Lange for their work on disarmament, Helen Clark for a multitude of things.

      Which Party do they belong to? I guess I can be accused of being biased …

      The only Nat I can think of who contributed to international issues was Simon Upton whose work on Climate Change was commendable. I used to go to campaign meetings and embarass the National Candidates criticising Kyoto by reminding them that he negotiated New Zealand’s endorsement of the treaty.

  2. Herbert 2

    Denying climate change is not only stupid politics but also bad economics, a fact that Lord Stern has pointed out. In his recent re-evaluation of his preditions in his own Review for the Bristish Government he said: “the cost of acting climate change, by stabilising emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, might be about 1% of annual global GDP by 2050. But the cost of doing nothing was found to be far greater – risking up to 20% of the world’s wealth.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/4979855/Climate-change-leading-the-world-into-catastrophe-claims-Lord-Stern.html

    And here is a wee taster that is worth a view. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxfPWFctRnI

    It amazes and saddens me that the very people who claim the economic credentials to save our economy continue to ignore the informed and considered voice of someone so main stream as Lord Stern.

  3. Jenny 3

    Yeah, it is like ACT supporters always banging on about there being too much politics in .

    What they really mean there is too much democracy in .

    Democracy being something these little right wing sh-ts detest instinctively. Act have this instinctive hatred for democracy because, they are the political representatives of the tiny minority of very wealthy plutocrats who expect their way in everything because they have the money, and find the whole business of having to listen to others views as being “to political”.

  4. Lew 4

    Marty, didn’t r0b already do this post in fewer words?


  5. Macro 5

    Marty I couldn’t agree with you more – I just don’t listen to them any more. The so-called “political commentators” of radio and tv seem to think that politics is only a game. They completely overlook the fact that what it is really about is the lives and welfare of every person in the country. This latest fiasco where every ordinary NZer has just been shafted by National and the Maori Party is a case in point. A few perceptive souls have cottoned on – but they are whispers in the wind.
    What I find incredible though is just how naive the Maori Party must be to have ever agreed to this shame of an ETS. What were they thinking?? Do they really believe that this new ETS will reduce carbon emissions by as much as one molecule of CO2?
    And at what cost to their people? Did they really think that there would be another 2000 Maori homes insulated. And if they did, is it really worth $1.2+ billion per year to the taxpayer? I can see a reverse claim to the Waitangi Tribunal in the not to distant future – brought by the people of NZ against the National Party and the Maori Party of NZ who have sold NZ down the river for a few insulated homes.
    And where are these questions being asked in the Media? The silence is deafening.

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