So a writer can’t mix politics with other things they are better known for, but endorsements from rugby players is fine? Only in NZ.
Eleanor Catton was of course half right. She declared that we had “neoliberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians”. That’s true, but these “neoliberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians” were elected by neoliberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry voters.
What the Left are still trying to grapple with is the perverse popularity of Key. NZ crucified Helen Clark for signing a painting she didn’t paint, speeding tickets and water saving shower heads and power saving lightbulbs. With Key however we have a cavalcade of some of the worst abuses of political power this country has ever witnessed from retrospective legislation allowing the Police to break the law to mass surveillance powers for our Intelligence agencies while colluding with state spies to smear political opponents. Add to that draconian policies that rob the poor while enriching the wealthy and a shell shocked opposition is left asking, ‘what the hell has happened’?
It seems a perfect storm of wilful ignorance.
The rump of the National vote loath women’s rights, Maori rights and beneficiaries. Their view is that their success is self generated and if you are poor then it’s your own fault. What the Left fail to grasp is that these voters hate us. These rump voters are joined by those sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind who simply swallow what the right wing corporate media feed them. Seeing as the right wing corporate media have been working hand in glove with the dirty politics of Cameron Slater for the last 6 years, that harvest was always going to be poisoned. The final part of the National vote are the subdivided baby boomer middle classes whose only wealth comes from an inflated and over valued house price that they refuse to let go of.
Public Broadcasting has been killed off so that citizens are warped into consumers and a vacuous youth media that is so depoliticised that Key can appear on their programs and get cheered rather than jeered.
On the Left, we have a Labour Party with a Caucus so incensed that they had to listen to the membership with Cunliffe as leader that they actively conspired against him and did all they could to kill off any true Left wing political voice from achieving representation by knifing Hone in the back in Te Tai Tokerau. You have a Greens who have actual policy solutions but who will get outmanoeuvred by Labour and NZ First to form a minority Government where Green aspirations will have little say and a vast swath of the poor and disaffected who see no connection between their daily grind of poverty and who sits on the Government benches in Wellington.
This perfect storm of wilful ignorance has created the very thing MMP was supposed to protect us from, the tyranny of a First Past the Post majority. National have full spectrum political dominance, hence their privatisation of State Houses, hence their gutting of environmental protections in the RMA, hence their plans to work test the sick and disabled.
Labour’s approach to date is to give none judgemental hugs to the middle and try and woo them back, the Greens are trying to be more critical and NZ First is blaming Indian students.
I think a new media is the most important part of a rebuild for progressives because the old one has failed its obligations as the Fourth Estate to hold the powerful to account, but the idea of turning those who have a vested interest in the current inequality to vote left seems optimistic.
The reality is the economy must get worse before people demand enough. The question at this time is will there be a media vehicle that can direct that anger if it comes and will there be a political party that can articulate polices that empower that momentum.