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 we might as well live under Trump. I’m a teacher so I may see this vulnerable side, but if you don’t see that part of New Zealand regularly 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. The people who fall off the vote boat are left-leaning and Hoots doesn’t want any more of those people voting.
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.