- Date published:
10:50 am, September 25th, 2020 - 39 comments
Categories: climate change, election 2020, Environment, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, national, same old national, science, Simon Bridges - Tags:
It has been a weird week on the campaign trail.
Tuesday night’s debate was a disappointment. Jacinda did her best to be Prime Ministerial but the set up and Judith’s constant sniping made it almost unwatchable. This was not a reflection of Jacinda’s qualities as a leader. Just a reflection of what was a pretty stupid arrangement.
Simon Prast had the perfect description:
I must confess, there was a time when I had my doubts about Jacinda Ardern. Back in the day, when she used to face off in the House against Paula Bennett, it often seemed that Paula, pushy, pugnacious and with a jugular-instinct for the humiliating put-down (remember ‘Zip it Sweetie!’) got the better of her. It often seemed that because she was unwilling to be loud and rude, Jacinda lacked the strength and the stomach necessary for the rough and tumble of politics at the highest level. But it only seemed that way. Fast forward a few years and it is Ardern who is the Prime Minister and Bennett who works for Bayleys. Why is that?
On Facebook, I often see the meme ‘Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness’. This could be Jacinda’s mantra. Since becoming PM, she has confronted, among a million other things, a mass shooting, a volcanic eruption and, of course, a pandemic that triggered a world-wide health crisis and global recession. Without once raising her voice, without once blaming or belittling or bullying anyone, she led the country through an unprecedented minefield that has claimed a million souls worldwide and ended life as we knew it.
Jacinda brought her particular skillset to a situation that stonkered most other leaders and oversaw the development and implementation of a plan to pull New Zealand through. And, so far, it has. That the world now looks to us as a model is testament not to good luck (though how lucky we are to live on these glorious islands at this difficult time) but rather, to good management. The PM’s good management. And you don’t have to take my word for it because the numbers speak for themselves. If we were drowning in an ocean of death, Judith’s only argument, that National are better managers than Labour, might warrant a desperate second look. But the numbers don’t support that argument.
This is the insurmountable problem for Judith. The very qualities she demonstrated in last night’s debate, loudness, rudeness, impatience, contempt, confrontation, these have proved to be the very qualities you DON’T need to succeed against Covid-19. Ask Trump. Ask Boris. Like them, Judith is constitutionally hard-wired for political conflict. For her, to rule is to divide. There can be no winners without losers in her world. And as we see in the UK and the USA, when it comes to Covid-19, losing is an existential concept. Life or death.
But Judith has taken the superficial comment about how she “won” the debate as some sort of vindication for her style. And National has come out with some appalling behaviour ever since.
Like all the social media that National and its MPs released immediately after suggesting that Jacinda thinks that dairy farming is a world that has past. She did not. She was referring to perceptions that dairying was still dirty not that dairying has no future. The comment was taken totally out of context and the party and the MPs who latched onto this should be ashamed.
Especially its shadow attorney general who said that National’s bastardisation of different words Jacinda said “is not a false quote – as it is not a quote. It is a construction of key words aligned with Jacinda Ardern”. I mean what does this mean apart from it is legitimate for National to stream a whole lot of random words to form something that was not said.
Then yesterday National announced that it would make major changes to the Zero Carbon legislation. Which is strange really because ten months ago it not only supported the legislation but called for a consensus to be reached between the major parties.
Remember when Simon Bridges, then National leader, said this?
Before this bill—before, in fact, the Government was even considering in substance the shape of this bill—I gave a speech to the Fieldays in 2018, and I said the following: “In order to drive long-lasting change, broad and enduring political support is needed for New Zealand’s climate change framework on the institutional arrangements we put in place to support a reduction in emissions. Both the Productivity Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment were clear about this. Stability is required to allow people and businesses to plan and respond. It requires a consensus between the major political parties on the overall framework through which we address climate change issues.”
Well you can forget that. Under Judith Collins’ leadership nothing is sacred and everything is available for political manipulation.
National is now proposing seven changes to the Zero Carbon legislation including:
How weak and insipid. National is willing to trash the recently agreed to consensus, pander to ill formed farmer preferences, oppose one of the most effective solutions, that is planting new trees, be internationally a slow follower, favour the economy over preservation of the world’s environment, ignore the major effects of methane and bet our future on technologies that are still unproven.
The strange thing is that this is not the sort of issue that a party would push in order to persuade swinging voters. It is the sort of policy that you engage in if you have an urgent need to shore up the base. Proposing that we wreck carefully worked through climate policies just so that climate change deniers feel better is not the action of a responsible leader.
It is a sign of National’s weakness. They are having to shore up diminishing support by adopting policies which most Kiwis, particularly young kiwis, realise are not enough.
As said by Rod Oram:
So, if any party fails to make substantial climate commitments in this election, it is telling us three things: it doesn’t believe we have a climate crisis; it doesn’t care a large majority of people want action on climate change, as polls consistently report, as the latest shows yet again; and it doesn’t take the Climate Change Commission seriously.
All three dismissals are deeply damaging to our future. But in many ways the last is the most important. Any party failing to engage with our Climate Change Commission breaks the political consensus absolutely vital to its effectiveness. Even if the party tries to patch that up later, it will take voters a very long time to trust it on climate issues. Breaking the consensus now will be a long-term electoral liability for the party.
At this particular time further culture wars about climate are the last things we need. Vote Labour or Greens.