Hello New Zealand. I’m David Seymour – the new ACT Party member of parliament for the safe National seat of Epsom. I am hugely excited about representing both the interests of my constituents and those of the six people who still believe ACT to be a vibrant political force. Our combined party vote of 0.7% shows just how relevant we are.
What an exciting week it has been. I came to parliament on Tuesday morning not really knowing what to expect and who would have believed that parliament would be what it is. The ACT Party offices are adorned with some beautiful artwork, some of it quite modern and not to my taste, but I do understand that it is very good so I am happy to have it above my desk no matter how naked the subject is. The plant in the corner is a bit dead, but I am utterly convinced it can be nurtured back to health if I prune it at the base of the trunk.
After a lengthy 10 minute caucus meeting where I enjoyed my own company and talked about me, the ACT juggernaut went out into the corridors of parliament to soak up the atmosphere. As I walked near the Beehive I could hear both the maniacal laughter coming from the National Party offices and the tortuous screams coming from the Labour end of parliament. It really is an exciting time if you are not Labour.
I was also excited to hear during the week that John Key and his National Party have decided to allow me the honour of serving as one of minister Hekia Parata’s many minions with an associate education portfolio. I have long admired Ms Parata for her unwavering commitment to education policies that have wreaked havoc in so many jurisdictions around the world. Her abilities to speak for minutes at a time without uttering a single word of phrase of note is legendary among those of us who never wish to say anything. She is a true shining light in the coal-mine of indifference.
How nice of National to offer me this position. They didn’t have to. I was happy to sit in parliament and accept a range of anonymous donations from my wealthy benefactors, but to now be part of the parliamentary machine and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-free cash at no expense to our party is truly humbling. I would also like a new car, a gym membership and some of those little soaps and shampoos you get when you stay in a fancy hotel. They always leave me smelling quite nice.
So it is with excited hands and an indefatigable dedication to my job as Epsom MP for the National Party that I enter parliament. I promise to spend the next three years as your MP utterly committed to doing everything I am told to do by the National Party and the various tobacco, alcohol and food groups I actually represent.
Earlier this week Scottish voters participated in their independence referendum. There are many, many points to be made about this. Most notably, however, is the fact that the percentage of people turning out to vote in this democratic process was around 85%.
This is an extraordinary figure compared with the last Westminster election turnout at 65% or our turnout yesterday of around 70% (I’ve seen a range of figures this morning. I think people are working out the percentage without including special votes in the total – I will update if I find more information).
The reason so many people turned out in Scotland for this chance in democracy is because it was a chance to participate in history. Yesterday, almost 1 million New Zealanders decided there was an abject lack of anything worth voting for.
Our democracy, along with others, is facing a crisis of engagement. People no longer believe their vote is worth enough to turn out to use it. I’m not surprised with the choice being offered is so scant.
Unfortunately for those of us who believe in a progressive government, those who believe in the reverse are far more engaged in the process. They understand how important it is to vote. Sadly, there are 1 million of us that, probably for a range of reasons, don’t.
The missing million now appears to be a constant.
Millions and millions of people turned out to vote in Scotland for a positive change. Just imagine what sort of positive government we would have in New Zealand if we had an 85% turnout…
I have a few thoughts about the result last night. They are in no particular order so I’m just going to type them up and see how they fall.
- National appear to have won an outright majority despite being shown to be utterly corrupt with their constitutional machinations highlighted in Dirty Politics. Obviously New Zealand are taking John Key’s line that his massive right-wing conspiracy is actually a massive left-wing smear campaign. I suspect National and it’s allies will see this vote as an actual endorsement of how they are acting and the undermining of our constitutional conventions will continue unabated.
- National have succeeding in lumping Kim Dotcom in with the ‘left’ because of his association with Hone. Hone is gone, Mana is gone, and the left have not increased their vote. Dotcom is poison and a lot of people out there see him as a criminal trying to manipulate the New Zealand justice system (National are not ‘criminals’ because they haven’t been arrested yet). Labour knew this but the polling told New Zealanders they would need Mana to cross the line. People have stayed with National because of Dotcom.
- National were critical of Dotcom ‘buying’ the election. I wonder how many millions they have spent on their reelection. Why isn’t that considered buying an election? Because National do it?
- Has Labour suffered too much from trying to take out John Key? People love that millionaire banker. He’s one of them. I have absolutely no time for him but I have to admit he is one of the best politicians we have ever seen. A quietly ruthless everyman quick with the selfie and the withering schoolboy putdown of an opponent. He knows exactly how to play the game and we are all being played.
- Maybe New Zealanders, as a whole, are now only voting for things that affect them personally? Are we no longer that egalitarian society of fairness from the post-war baby boom generation that set John Key and his ministers up so well for their lives of success? Maybe New Zealanders no longer believe in thinking about the less fortunate? On Friday, a person I know who I thought was a bit more caring than this, suggested the ‘poor’ would have more money if they spent less on alcohol and cigarettes. I’m picking this is not an isolated feeling. It was still disappointing to hear.
- Labour are trying to attack Key for being this duplicitous character. However, if 50% of the public are willing to give their vote for him then they should move on to something else. As hard as it is for them not to attack someone who they see at the heart of, let’s call them questionable practices, if all of New Zealand love him then you’ll just be seen as playing the man not the ball. People won’t go over to your side because you attack the character of the leader of the other side. They will go to you when they are suffering, if they see a viable vision or if they are utterly sick of the governing party. I can’t see the latter happening any time soon.
- National now have a majority. They can do anything they want. Anything. Watch out if you’re a teacher, poor, and/or receiving a benefit. Your time is up. They don’t need any supporters now so they can totally do what they want. Whether their ‘reforms’ have time to bed in and begin hurting the middle classes before the next election we will have to wait and see. The other thing that might help the is Key resigning / being rolled. I suspect Crusher is waiting in the wings ready to spray old tea all over National at the first available opportunity.
- David Seymour and ACT are going to be utterly chewed up and spat out by this parliament.
We in the left a grieving for our democracy. I suspect the right will use this time to rub salt into our wounds with some of those classic schoolboy put-downs we all know and love.
Today utterly sucks.
Here’s a picture of the führer and his henchmen to remind you who’s in charge of where we are heading.
We’ve had several weeks now since the release of Dirty Politics and just as we thought it might be dying down as our lords and masters in the mainstream media decided followed National’s argument and moved on to reporting about health, education, the economy and selfies, John Key called a Pulitzer Prize winner a “henchman” and then a “liar.”
The fact that Key had several months of Dotcom hype to come up with his defence against the Moment of Truth and all he could manage was a bit of obfuscation followed by some schoolboy name-calling classically highlights where the National Party are in their strategy. I’m not going to talk about how Dotcom crapped on and event featured three of the greatest fighters for freedom we have seen in decades. Others have walked this path.
After Key pulled his henchman call it took me all the way back to the 1980s at Gisborne Boys when I one day used humour to retreat from a bullying situation and all the bully could manage as the laughter died down was, “shut up you egg.”
Key continued to repeat the word henchman at every available opportunity proving just how low he has actually sunk this campaign. What are they thinking up there on the 9th floor? I suppose they’re banking on the fact all those people who love and support Key will believe him and those of us who find his smile & wave double-track stealth attacks abhorrent will never vote for him anyway so he’s not even bothering to try. The polls have him on 50%. I’m sure he believes his own hype.
This brings me to mention and interesting interview I heard on Radio New Zealand late Monday afternoon. Simon Mercep interviewed Nick Davies – one of the Guardian journalists who uncovered the phone hacking undertaken by the Murdoch Press in the United Kingdom.
Near the end of the interview he talks about Rebekah Brooks testifying to the Levenson Inquiry into the hacking that money had been paid to the police. His thoughts on this were clear: the people who were doing the phone hacking and paying the bribes to police, clearly illegal activities, did not believe they were breaking the law. Somewhere along the line they somehow convinced themselves they were fighting the good fight for the greater public good.
I thought this was a very interesting way to read it and it got me thinking. What if, say, those in the National Party leadership and their various associated groupings actually believe what they are doing is right? What if they actually believe that rather name-calling and distraction are actually the right way to deal with a situation where you are under fire? What if they actually believe that if someone disagrees with your point of view then it is ethically fine to dig into their past to find information with the express purposes of destroying them (Pulitzer Prize winner and the country’s newest henchman, Glenn Greenwald wrote an article on his experiences with such smearification back in June of last year).
Of course, all those wonderings are a load of rubbish. The Murdoch media and National are totally aware of what they are doing and how morally bankrupt it is. We know this because of the veracity of their attacks on Greenwald and Snowden. National know this two-track smile-and-wave strategy is highly effective at distracting a weary public from what is actually going on and frustrating an under-pressured media in to giving up asking the hard questions and moving on to the next story.
This is their strategy. Ethically challenged attacks on people who dare question them and their actions.
Because, when it comes down to it, that’s all they’ve really got.
— StephT (@st3ph007) September 16, 2014