Well… that was a bit shit.
The empty feeling that appeared deep in my gut last evening around about 8:30pm remains. New Zealand has decided the born-to-rule Tories of the National Party will lead the next government. Yes, we can get in to the semantics of, “But Boon, Labour plus Greens plus Winston First equals 61. That’s a government. We can be the government!”
Yes. A progressive-led government is a technical possibility, but think about this: in 1996 and again in 2005 Winston Peters went with the incumbent government and ended up destroying first National and then Auntie Helen’s government with his nonsense. Everybody knows what he’s like. Like everyone’s drunk uncle, he’s unpredictable and cantankerous. Good if you are in opposition; not so good if you are in government. So, my progressive chums, you have a choice. You can be like National and demand power at any cost (that cost being Winston), or you can just let him go with National and destroy them.
I am urging Jacinda to think very carefully about how much she wants it. You have only been in power for half an hour. Auntie Helen lost the 1996 election and ended up leading our country for nine glorious years. Everyone pines for her. Her legacy is formidable and remains in tact. Does Jacinda really want to risk her legacy before it’s even started. I hope her advisers are pointing this out.
However, as someone pointed out to me on twitter last evening, some New Zealanders need rescuing now. That is the tragedy of this election result. Do progressives push for change now? It’s a hard choice, but then again, I’m not living in a car, or not receiving the mental health care I need, or not able to get “elective” surgery for knee or hip pain, or labeled a “failure” by the education system from the moment I start school, or have gotten e-coli from swimming in the poisoned river running through my town, so it’s very easy for me to say this.
Boomers vs Juniors
How have we got to the point where 46% of New Zealanders are regularly willing to vote Tory? Everybody knows older people are a lot more conservative and a lot easier to turn out. During my twitter feed last night there was a lot of abuse being hurled towards these home-owning boomers. That doesn’t really solve anything. Home owners are just protecting their assets. National, the good Tories they are, played on the fears of those home owners. You’ll be paying more tax! Interest rates will rise! That’s scary stuff if you live inside the better part of $1 million that the bank owns. If you want to attack someone, attack National for their shameless scare tactics.
There is now that divide. Those who own and those who rent. I voted for change because I know there are thousands and thousands of people out there who are worse off than me and need the hand of the state to help them. I know we are all in this together and if we don’t care for the most vulnerable New Zealanders. I’m a teacher so I may see this vulnerable side, but if you don’t see that part of New Zealand it is very easy to ignore it. Also, if you are saying things like, “I’ve worked bloody hard to get where I am,” then that conveniently removes you from the collective responsibility we have to look after the less fortunate.
We live in a society. Tories do not want you to believe in that society. For years they have been looking to divide and conquer. It is in their best interests to have home owners fighting to protect their asset base against the rest of us. It is in their interest to reduce voter engagement – that’s why Hooton was so vocal about early voting being “undemocratic.” It’s not that he’s being foolish, he just doesn’t want you to be exercising your right to vote.
A lot of the boomers I know, my parent’s generation, grew up in or around the 1960s. That was a period of great change and upheaval. When did this generation, who fought against the Vietnam War and for universal human rights, give up fighting for what is right? Or does society become more conservative as they age? I don’t have the answers to these questions because I’m not a boomer or a home owner (Yes, I am aware that not all older people vote for National or are the only home owners in society – these are just thinks).
Bill English is the definite winner in this election. He’s been anointed to carried on the strong and steady plodding of John Key’s government. Home owners are feeling wealthy and they have rewarded him for it. Jacinda Ardern as taken Labour from a third party to a genuine change contender. One wonders what may have happened if she had more than two months and National hadn’t forced the change discussion to be replaced by a tax discussion. Winston Peters again holds the balance of power. We may not know until well into October what may happen. I’m sure he will do what is in the best interests of Winston. Thank you to James Shaw who brought the Greens back after polls threatened their very existence.
Who knows what government we will end up with when the dust settles at the end of October? I’m picking Winston will go with National because National will, unashamedly, offer him everything he wants to remain in power.
Final Final Thinks
This election must be remembered for the saddest of all terrible ironies: Bill English and National lied and lied and lied and got the largest vote; Metiria Turei told the truth and got hounded out of politics.
This week Patrick Gower called it. The National Party was guilty of the biggest lie of the campaign. It’s not the only lie, but it’s certainly the biggest.
Labour, apparently, is going to lift income tax. National are arguing, like they think we’re all complete idiots, that black is white. Bill English outlined their argument thusly: because National has legislated for tax CUTS on April 1 next year AND Labour has promised not to bring in those tax cuts if they lead the next government, THEN that is a tax rise BECAUSE on April 1 next year taxes will be above said legislated level.
Obviously Labour are not going to raise income taxes. They have said it. Everybody else has said it. They are not going to cut taxes as National plan to. Keeping something at the same level they currently are is not the same as raising them. But then any normal and sane person can see that.
National have a long history of dishonesty. Even with Nicky Hagar proving through leaked emails that John Key was running a stung operation from his office, Key continued to fudge and obfuscate rather than answer in the affirmative. It was all Nicky’s fault – the well-known communist that he is.
In his piece last night Gower mentioned several recent examples – Brexit, the UK and Aust elections and Trump – where outright lies have won elections. What galls me the most, however, is the fact that Boris Johnson, Trump and, this week, Steven Joyce and “Honest” Bill have all doubled down on their lies. Mike Hosking and Jacinda both told English that nobody agreed there was an $11 billion hole in Labour’s budget. Good old Bill said, “No, that’s not true,” and said loads of people said there was a hole. Over the weekend on Q & A, Corin Dann told English to name someone who agreed.
“I can name loads of people,” he said, repeating Joyce’s lie from earlier in the week without ever actually naming anybody. I’m sure all the National caucus agree with the lie.
It is appalling that there is a constituent of the political class across the world who are so willing to lie to win. The Tories in the UK, Trump and the Republicans in the US, Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition in Australia. All these parties are from the right of centre. When did they all decide they were just going to lie and fabricate noise about their opponents? When did this happen?
American satirist and stand up comedian Bill Maher laments the Democratic Party. On his show he often calls out the Republicans and their ruthlessness and ability to lie and fabricate their way through election campaigns with various attack adverts paid for by various secret billionaires. He urges the Democrats to play the GOP at their own game and rip them to shreds.
The problem with us social liberal types is that we are too inclusive. We believe in giving everybody a fair chance. Tories, on the other hand, don’t give two flying shits about anyone other than themselves and staying in power. That’s why they peddle their fictions as they lie about beneficiaries and students and teachers and how much pollution farmers are responsible for and so on and so on and so on.
Jacinda has been trying to run a positive campaign talking about the issues. Unfortunately for her, National have taken her and Labour out with some well-timed lies targeted at her tax policy and various other mini-lies targeted at Labour’s general economic polices. Maybe she should have been clearer on what the party’s tax plans would mean; what sort of levels the might consider. She wasn’t clear enough and now we have the prospect of another 3 years being run by a bunch of lying liars. Whether or not National have a coalition partner after Saturday is another question.
Thankfully for us all the main political journalists are calling National on their lies. Even if they win on Saturday and form the next government I don’t believe the media will let them National as lightly as they did in 2014. After all, there is a definite mood for change in New Zealand. It’s whether it happens now or in 2020.
Either way, “Honest” Bill’s reputation as a straight shooter is now in tatters. Then again, he’s Catholic so he can always seek absolution for his bullshit.
MyThinks has been delving deep into many, many election issues. From Steven Joyce’s lying to the lying of Steven Joyce, we’ve really worked hard to cover everything. Today in our Auckland studio we are hosting a debate between Finance Minister Joyce and his Labour Party counterpart Grant Robertson.
Host: Good morning gentlemen.
Joyce: Good morning.
Robertson: Good morning Mr Host.
Host: This is shaping up to be a tight election race. National and Labour are neck and neck at the moment. I’ll start with you first Mr Joyce. What is your party offering that is going to make a difference to New Zealanders?
Joyce: That’s a great question. National has a strong record of helping ourselves during the global financial crisis. We have worked hard to ensure that everyone has a fair go…
Robertson: (coughing) Bhu-ll-sht!
Joyce: …that everyone has a fair go and are able to get the jobs and the opportunities they want.
Host: You don’t agree Grant Robertson?
Robertson: No I don’t. National has had nine years, nine long years to improve things, and what have we got? People living in cars, polluted rivers, homeless people dying on church steps, massive waiting lists… I could go on.
Joyce: Please don’t.
Robertson: You’ve had every opportunity and you’ve failed. Your government is not delivering for New Zealanders. It’s just delivering for…
Joyce: That’s a load of rubbish and you know it. National have a proven track record…
Robertson: Prove it.
Joyce: …I just did by saying it. National has a proven track record of delivering jobs and growth. And I wouldn’t be too quick to cast aspersions Grant. Your party is up to some pretty dodgy stuff.
Host: What do you mean?
Joyce: Well… there’s the tax thing. They are going to raise all sorts of taxes and hard-working New Zealanders are going to end up paying a lot more.
Robertson: No we are not. That’s a lie. We are holding a working group to look at whether our tax system is fair.
Joyce: And you’re going to raise income tax on our most vulnerable people.
Robertson: No we are not. We haven’t said we will.
Joyce: It’s clear from your denials that you are totally going to do that. National deny all sorts of stuff we end up doing or are found guilt of. You are totally going to raise taxes and force the poor to sell their babies.
Joyce: It’s obvious. You have totally denied you are going to lift income tax but you have never said that you are not going to force the poor to sell their children. How do we know that’s not your policy?
Robertson: Because we aren’t ACT.
Joyce: Don’t dodge the question. How can New Zealanders be sure that the Labour Party aren’t going to force the hard-working poor of New Zealand to sell their children in order to pay for food and housing?
Robertson: You’re adding stuff to that!
Joyce: Damn right. You’ve never said you aren’t just going to ship all the old people living in rest homes off to the Auckland Islands because it’s just too expensive to pay for their care.
Robertson: I don’t believe what I’m hearing.
Joyce: I don’t either. I don’t think any New Zealander will stand by and let you harvest their organs to sell on the dark web. I certainly won’t.
Host: Where are you getting this information?
Joyce: From a hole. It’s a very big hole. But it’s there. All this information waiting to come out. I’ve run many, many campaigns for the National Party over the years and never, never have I been in charge of one which is up against a party that hasn’t denied they are going to remove all non-New Zealanders from the country via a lunar rocket.
Robertson: We will not do any of those things.
Joyce: But how do we know that if you aren’t denying them?
Host: I think he just did.
Joyce: No he didn’t Mr Host. He said he was, “totally not going to do any of those things.” But what things? What specific things is he not going to do. I haven’t heard him name one since we’ve been sitting here.
Robertson: What are you not going to do?
Robertson: Well… what are you and the National Party not going to do?
Joyce: Oh… I see what you are trying to do there… You’re trying to catch me out. Well I’ll tell you this right here and now. Everything. We are planning not to do everything.
Robertson: So… you’re going to do nothing?
Host: I think he asked if you were going to do nothing. That is, are you planning not to do anything?
Joyce: Um… sorry… what do you mean?
Host: You’re accusing Labour of doing everything so is the National Party planning on doing nothing to deal with all of our problems?
Joyce: Wha.. um… but… the… I’m… Roads! Roads and irrigation!! And tax cuts!!!!!!! Shut up.
Robertson: Hahaahaa! Classic.
Joyce: Shut up. I’m not playing anymore.
Host: Thanks for joining us today gentlemen. I’ve been talking to Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Labour Party finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.
MyThinks have been lucky enough this election to get exclusive access to some high level strategy meetings at National Party HQ. Led by New Zealand’s arch-nemesis Steven “I have the perfect face for radio” Joyce, this crack team of elite heavy-hitters have been working around the clock as they work to ensure National get another term in parliament. Our correspondent has been embedded with the party since early August and filed this report.
Reporter: The National Party has long thought of themselves as the ruling party of New Zealand. After years of tyrannical rule under Keith Holyoake and later Robert Muldoon, and then more years under cuddly farmer Jim Bolger and busybody fishwife Jenny Shipley, National have spent the last nine years in power following the rise of the “King of Meh” Sir John Key. This year they face an uphill battle to remain in charge of the country following Key’s resignation and promotion to the top job of dour grumblepants Bill English. We are here today at a key strategy meeting for the National Party election committee.
Joyce: Hello everyone. It’s been a tough week…
Reporter: That’s National campaign manager Steven Joyce.
Joyce: …Labour have risen 10 points in the polls and people are beginning to realise we are a bunch of uncaring wankers. I’ve tried my best to say that Grant Robertson is an idiot, not in so many words, but I’ve tried. Nothing seems to be working. We are falling in the polls and they are rising. What should we do next? Where should we go? Where are we heading?
Reporter: Many of the white, middle-aged men around the table scratch their balding heads. There are quite a few “ums” and some long sighs. It’s almost as if they’ve resigned themselves to the fact that someone who looks better and less tired than them might just take this election out.
Joyce: We have released billions of dollars worth of spending on roads to try to get people to vote for us but we need something else…. something a bit more visionary….
Reporter: At the front of the room we are sitting in is a large whiteboard. On the left of the whiteboard is a picture of former PM Helen Clark with a crudely drawn bullseye over her face. Joyce pulls out a dry-erase marker and takes off the lid. He stands there in front of the board waiting. It’s like he is wanting to look like he’s doing something but he just doesn’t know what to do.
Joyce: Come on boys! What can we do??!?
Reporter: Several of the pale old men excuse themselves from the table claiming prostate issues leaving just Joyce and a couple of others. He points at them with a wizened finger and demands results.
Joyce: I’m demanding results! We are paying you lot thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars per hour. You need to be coming up with something. Now!
Reporter: One of the old men suggests they bring back the dancing cossacks ad from the 1970s remembering back to a brighter past when the National Party could be openly racist and still increase their share of the vote. Joyce dismisses this idea but then suddenly his eyes light up. He puts the lid back on the whiteboard marker and throws it down.
Joyce: Oh… my… god… I’ve got it!
Reporter: The remaining aged men in the room snap awake and some spend a few moments wiping the dribble from their wrinkled chins.
Joyce: So Labour have all these policies which are going to deal with all the shit we’ve created with things like housing, health, rivers, education, immigration, health, rivers, education, health, housing and housing….
Reporter: Sitting at the back of the room it is clear that Joyce is about to launch into something amazing. He is buzzed about whatever is rattling around inside his skull.
Joyce: …so hear me out on this. You might not like it, but… why don’t we just… lie?
Reporter: Some of the ancient relics at the table gasp. It’s unclear whether this is because they are outraged at Joyce’s suggestion or because their oxygen cylinders have run out. He continues.
Joyce: Look. Hear me out. Labour say they aren’t going to raise income taxes. Why don’t we just lie? Why don’t we say they are? Look everyone… if we lie and tell everyone that Labour are going to raise their taxes, then by the time the dust settles and the media start asking questions of us rather than Labour, nobody will care. The damage will be done. Voters are stupid and they’ll just think, “that’s typical Labour trying to take my money” rather than, “typical National lying about everything to try to cling to power.”
Reporter: Some of the pasty octogenarians nod, perhaps because they are in agreement, or perhaps because they are falling asleep. Either way, the room is buzzing and Joyce is on fire. The campaign manager triumphantly attempts a high-five accidentally snapping the wrist of the unsuspecting committee member he’s assaulted. It’s clear that National have their new strategy and Joyce is going for gold. Unnamed Reporter, at the National Party headquarters, MyThinks News.
In our first in-depth look at policy, MyThinks interviews Minister of Finance Steven Joyce about the National Party’s vision for New Zealand post-election – if they are elected into power.
Thinks: Mr Joyce. Thanks for joining us.
Joyce: Thanks for having me.
Thinks: Now… you have been saying a lot this election cycle about Labour’s plans to increase taxes…
Joyce: Yes. They’re planning to tax everything.
Thinks: …let me finish…
Joyce: You will be finished if Labour gets in. Do you know they plan to put a tax on people listening to progressive rock? It’s appalling. People should be able to listen to Genesis or Yes and not have to worry that the Labour Party is breathing down their neck with a collection bag.
Thinks: Um… OK. This wasn’t the plan for this interview, but…. where have you got this information from. How do you know, for example, that Labour are going to introduce this prog rock tax?
Joyce: Well they haven’t not said they won’t, have they?
Thinks: Pardon… I mean… what?
Joyce: Well… have you heard the Labour Party specifically say they are not going to introduce a progressive rock tax this election cycle.
Thinks: No, but….
Joyce: Exactly! This proves they are definitely planning to tax your progressive rock listening habits.
Thinks: I’m not sure I’m following you…
Joyce: You don’t have to follow me. All you have to do is listen to me say the words, “Labour is introducing a new tax” and everything else will follow.
Thinks: I see. But Labour have said they are having a tax working group to review the tax system.
Joyce: Exactly correct.
Thinks: And they’ve said the working group will be focused on making the tax system fairer.
Joyce: Yes. Correct.
Thinks: And they don’t want to pre-empt the findings of this working group by saying what taxes they will look at so they working group may have the freedom to investigate any tax which they might deem to be unfair.
Joyce: Correct again.
Thinks: And before the 2008 election you said you were going to set up a tax working group, which you did end up doing.
Thinks: And you ended up putting up GST even though you hadn’t mentioned this tax rise before that 2008 election.
Joyce: That is also correct.
Thinks: So Labour is being truthful with the public now by telling them what their vision for a fairer tax system might be by, say, taxing income on investment housing.
Joyce: Yup. Correct.
Thinks: And the National Party were being economical with the truth before the 2008 election by leaving out any mention of possible in the future tax increases.
Joyce: That is correct too.
Thinks: So why are you trying to get away with lying to the New Zealand public previously and also lying about the Labour Party’s plans for a fairer tax system?
Joyce: Oh… now I see where you’re going… No. That’s not true. National always tells the truth. We always have. Especially when we are talking words out of our mouths.
Thinks: Is any of that last sentence true?
Joyce: Are we on the record?
Joyce: Then yes.
Thinks: Well then Mr Joyce… what’s your plan? What is your vision? How will you deal with the housing crisis, the crisis in mental health, the chronic under-funding in our hospitals and schools and the threat of climate change?
Joyce: Oh… that’s easy. We’re going to spend billions of dollars on roads and irrigation.
Thinks: Okay… thanks for joining us today Mr Joyce.
Joyce: But Labour. Tax.
Thinks: Thank you Mr Joyce.