Written By: - Date published: 9:28 am, September 10th, 2017 - 77 comments
Categories: accountability, democratic participation, election 2017, labour, national - Tags: #ChangeTheGovt, dirty politics, election 2017, let's do this, lies, truth
All politicians are liars, so the saying goes. It’s not the case of course, but the lies are so widespread as to tarnish all politicans by association. This damages rational decision making and political engagement. It’s bad for democracy.
In this election the contrast between lying politicians and a new kind of politics has never been clearer. Bill English, Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett are the lying politicians, and they have no one to blame but themselves. Jacinda Ardern is the face of what could be a new kind of politics. Yesterday’s editorial (Philip Matthews) on Stuff:
Is there truth in politics?
Ardern’s unexpected popular appeal is not just about youth and generational change. It is about a different kind of newness, even though she has been in Parliament longer than Little. She addresses a constituency that has become dissatisfied with the ritualised games, codes and gestures of politics as usual.
During the Newshub leaders debate on Monday, both Ardern and Prime Minister Bill English were asked if it is possible to survive in politics without lying. English answered along the lines that “no one is perfect”, which is a truthful answer, whereas Ardern argued that “I believe it is possible to exist in politics without lying and by telling the truth”.
You would have to go back a long way to find a major political leader who could have said that without being laughed off stage. That Ardern delivered it and survived speaks to the power of her image.
Ardern’s lines about truth came within a week dominated by Finance Minister Steven Joyce’s cynical sowing of doubt and confusion in the media about Labour’s fiscal plans. There is nothing new about Joyce’s tactic although the invention of a fictional “$11 billion hole” in the books seemed unusually brazen and Joyce and English seemed foolish in their determination to persist with it.
It was a serious error. National should have thought hard about deploying fake news during an election campaign in which truth and honesty have been weaponised by their opposition.
Johnathon Milne writes:
Finance minister devalues the word ‘sorry’ further than he ever lowered the NZ dollar
And this election campaign, Joyce has dragged a new leader into the muck with his claim that there was an $11.7 billion “fiscal hole” in Labour’s campaign promises. Bill English was forced to stand by his man this week – even though there wasn’t an economist in the land who didn’t dismiss Joyce’s claims as fantasy or worse.
Challenged on live radio to explain why he couldn’t substantiate his discredited calculations, Joyce took the cynical art of the cheap apology to a new low. “Well I’m sorry ,” he said, “but … they’re accurate.”
And with that, New Zealand’s finance minister devalued the word “sorry” further than he or his predecessors have ever lowered the New Zealand dollar.
Even those who have supported National in the past must see that this current bunch have lost their way. National needs to renew itself, some time in opposition will do them good. Don’t vote for liars.
— Bryce Edwards (@bryce_edwards) August 30, 2017