All politicians boast a surplus – of promises
Don’t know about you, but at this time of the electoral cycle I find myself getting rather cynical.
Politicians of all hues say what they think we want to hear and generally don’t let the facts get in the way. Tailoring your message to your audience is what you do, of course, if you want to be elected.
Having listened to speakers from most of the parties, I am left wondering who on earth to vote for. Let’s have a look at the messages we are getting.
National, naturally, are patting themselves on the back for getting the books back into surplus, however nebulous that concept may be. Figures on paper don’t really seem to me to be a measure of what our people are actually experiencing in their daily lives.
Labour is trumpeting the fact that during their previous nine years in government, said books were always in surplus (the inconvenient facts about a global financial recession, the Christchurch earthquakes and Pike River are rarely mentioned), and promising to remedy everything that National got wrong.
The Greens are offering us a utopia- like vision of clean waterways, no pollution, and children all flourishing with no signs of poverty, etc – though where the money to carry out these dreams will come from is uncertain.
NZ First promises, among other things which will appeal to the older voters, to keep the Govern- ment honest – which hasn’t happened this time round, if all the shenanigans about dirty politics are anything to go by.
United Future plugs along quietly in Ohariu and promotes a Flexi- Plan for superannuation and fee-less tertiary education.
ACT? Well, that stands for Australian Capital Territory, doesn’t it?
The Conservatives are looking to reinstate basic moral values in a society which, to be fair, does seem to have lost them these days.
Both the Maori and Mana parties are, naturally, promising better deals and outcomes for Maori in terms of education, financial security, housing and the like.
The Internet Party seems to have a single vision – to oust John Key.
As Nikita Khrushchev remarked in 1960, ‘‘Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.’’
So where does that leave the voters? For many of us, in limbo, I suspect. However, it remains important we exercise the vote we have and do it thoughtfully.
Even the party we may have supported all our voting life needs to be looked at carefully through other lenses, such as ethics, reality, practicality, the benefit to the majority, etc.
The candidate vote is the easier of the two we have in many ways. We have a chance to size up the person we want to represent us and decide how well or badly he/ she may perform if elected. The incumbent obviously has a head start in that respect, but is also easier to judge in terms of past performance.
But the party vote is where the power lies, and for that reason needs to be taken very seriously. Minor parties which reach the required support level can wield huge influence in Parliament as both the main parties vie to keep the treasury benches. Is there some truth in the 1887 statement of John Arbuthnot: ‘‘All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies’’?
Last month, our local National candidate, Hekia Parata, offered her thoughts on what National would do for us after all the good things they had done during the last six years. This month, Winston Peters will address us. Come early if you want a front seat!