Political kite flying in spring
A mug’s view
At the time of typing, Winston Peters was yet to announce who had won New Zealand’s 2017 general election. Doesn’t he realise I have a fortnightly deadline to meet? What happens when something actually happens and I don’t get to include that happening in this week’s happenings? Oh, the outrage.
For three weeks we have waited. First we waited on special votes to be counted. Then we waited on MMPnegotiations. In an instant 24/7 world this has been impossible stuff to endure. Impossible I say. And to think Winston lost his electorate seat and only got 7 per cent of the vote. Did I mention my deadline?
Despite the political emptiness there’s been no a lack of words written or spoken about said emptiness. Intrepid reporters from the press gallery have made camp in the corridors of the Beehive and doggedly interviewed closing elevator doors. And columnists have continued flying political kites. All that’s missing is any sort of wind to keep the kites airborne.
Luckily its spring, and I have plenty of hot air.
Three years ago I said Nick Smith should start his own political party. From memory I said he should join forces with Colin Craig and the Conservative Party. Boy, did he miss a bullet.
It was soft, tongue in cheek stuff pointing toward hard political reality – under the MMPsystem, big parties need little parties to be able to form governments. It’s this hard reality that has dominated the past three weeks Beehive negotiations.
Whatever Winston chooses to do this time, the National Party, the countries biggest and most politically successful, need fresh options to be able to form governments in the future. All their other options appear dead. And for the past fortnight that cold-hard reality has been expressed via the kite festival that has been the ‘teal deal’.
It was amazing to see how much a possible political alliance between National and the Greens got talked up. ‘‘Pick up the phone James’’, they said. ‘‘Bill’s just waiting for your call.’’
It reflected the news vacuum that needed filling. It reflected how the thought of Winston Peters holding all the political cards was so unpalatable. But it also reflected how influential certain voices in New Zealand media are.
It simply didn’t seem to matter that the idea – the Greens joining hands with National to form a government – was batty. There was an agenda to push and push they did, even if no pushing was required.
Nobody summed it up better than Stuff’s Vernon Small: ‘‘Lets forget that for 9 years, and more, National have been using the Greens as the bogey men of politics; one of the main reasons people should not vote Labour.’’
‘‘Lets forget that in National folklore [the Greens] have been dope-smoking, RMA-hugging, farmer taxing, welfare-enabling, SIS-dismantling, Iraq-deploymentloathing, Hagar-loving, cowculling, mining-denying, climate change-obsessive, growth-curbing, railroading, motorway-rejecting, anti-free trade peaceniks. And not very bright or realistic either.’’
James Shaw (Mr 6 per cent) phone Bill English (Mr 44 per cent) and cut a deal? You have got to be joking. As it stands, the relationship between National and the Greens is toxic.
The very platforms the two parties stand on are built on the rubble of undermining each other. Both parties would need to compromise hugely and fundamentally if they were to form a coalition. They would need to completely rebuild the very ground their parties and supporters stand on.
All of which makes me think a new political party will be floated soon. And once again I reckon the electorate seat of Nelson could/ should/would be the place to start.
The National Party are on the wrong side of environmental science and it’s a science that is fast going to flood them. Climate change and water quality are only going to become bigger issues, not smaller. Free market thinking does not fit neatly into any of this stuff.
A ‘Teal-Deal’ with an environmental political party would allow them to make that pivot. But it would be far easier to start up an entirely new political party than do the hard yards with the Green Party and make that political partnership acceptable.
Establishing an all new ‘Teal Party’ would have the added bonus of white-anting the Green Party by looking to take over the very issues the Greens might feel they have ownership of – issues that are increasingly mainstream and acceptable – while at the same time distancing themselves from the wider social issues pushed by the Green Party – issues that to date, continue to be less accepted, especially by National Party supporters.
Think of it as open heart surgery of a political party. Take the heart and leave the morals to those who think politics isn’t simply a game of winners and losers. Too cynical you say?
There are votes in it as the past fortnight of kite flying has shown. I expect there are already polling numbers to back it up. Now there’s also plenty of column-inches ploughed into the soil about it. Something is sure to sprout from all this fertile ground.
Anyone know of an electorate seat with a strong vote for both National and the Greens? Or a Blue-Green history? Teal even?
There’s plenty of hot air in the political scene at the moment as we wait for a decision on who will govern the country.