GUEST BLOG: Danyl Strype – A Change of Government Requires a Change of Attitudes

By   /   July 18, 2017  /   4 Comments

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NZ First’s persistent refusal to announce a preference between working with Labour or National puts those of us who would prefer the coming election to yield a Labour-led government in a very awkward position

NZ First’s persistent refusal to announce a preference between working with Labour or National puts those of us who would prefer the coming election to yield a Labour-led government in a very awkward position. The best solution is for NZ First to declare that they intend to help oust the NatACTs, either by joining a coalition with Labour, or offering them a supply and confidence agreement, preventing National having the numbers to form a government. But based on NZ First’s history, I’m not holding my breath.

Without a clear public commitment from NZ First that they will not prop up a 4th term National government, the rest of us have two strategic options. Either treat NZ First as an ally in our campaign to change the government anyway, or treat NZ First as an ally of the NatACTs, and try to hack away at their support so they won’t be in a position to help the NatACTs stay in government. If we follow the first strategy, we risk being knifed in the back by NZ First as we were in 1996. If we follow the second strategy, we risk the opposition looking like a bickering basket of snakes, unprepared to form a stable government, with the consequence that we lose votes to National or to apathy.

The worst case scenario is to have both strategies being followed at the same time, by different factions of the opposition, making us look completely incoherent. Sadly, this is the situation we find ourselves in at present, as the first salvos are fired in the election campaign proper. What to do?

Perhaps the solution has been staring us in the face all along. Winston Peters has been singing the praises of direct democracy via binding referendum for decades. His solution to any awkward and potentially divisive policy question? Put it to a referendum. Cannabis legalization? Referendum. Smacking? Referendum. Maybe it’s time for Winston to put his money where his mouth is?

What could be a more awkward and potentially divisive question than which party or parties NZ First should and shouldn’t be prepared to govern with? Maybe this question should be put to the NZ First
membership via a binding referendum, so anyone considering voting NZ First can be certain of exactly what kind of government they are and are not voting for? Sure, it might cost them some votes, but this would be the honest thing to do. The democratic thing to do. If NZ First are not honest and democratic, why should anyone vote for them?

All that said, the best answer, as it has consistently been over the last few months, takes the form of three words; policy, policy, policy! Again, I point readers to the Vote for Policies website created for the UK election.

In a war of personalities and rhetoric, those with the biggest media budget and the best PR companies win. If we lower ourselves to ankle-tapping NZ First with soundbite smears like “racist” and
“divisive”, we’re inviting the same and worse from them, and we’re setting ourselves up to lose. Instead, supporters of Labour, Greens, NZ First, TOP, and the Māori/ Mana coalition can debate each other in a fair and respectful way – attacking the ball not the player – focusing on policy differences and the deeper arguments for and against them.

This focuses the election campaign on policy, and hopefully, it demonstrates that a diverse coalition of major and minor parties can be a more unified and effective government than a diverse coalition of
opportunists, corporate lobbyists, and time-serving backbenchers (Nats), and one-man minor parties (ACT and Dunne).

In short, I’m proposing that we commit to the Bill and Ted principle (“Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!”) and focus on solving our country’s collective problems, instead of each faction focusing on their preferred party gaining a few % points in the next round of polls.

If an obsessive focus on narrow, short term self-interest is the dead-end tunnel that “neo-liberal” corporatocracy has led us into, could it be that focusing on the long term public interest is the way out?

 

Danyl Strype is an activist and independent news journalist.

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4 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    Ouch Daniel!!!!!

    try Winston’s discussion with Corin Dann last Q+A interview it shows NZ First is the best policy so far that goes back to his part in previous governments and he has very good policies mate we need to use today!!!!

    We need solid policies like rail services to reduce truck freight which is killing our residential communities every where we look now!!!

    We need rail services to all provinces as we in the east coast have been wanting our rail completed to Auckland for 80 yrs as promised in 1920’s!!!!!!!!!!

    it was the founding policy of NZ Governor in 1880 also as “the Vogel rail policy.” Winston Peters NZ First party has it also in their “RONI” (rails of national Importance” policies.

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a

    http://www.nzfirst.org.nz/transport

    Quote; “New Zealand First will develop a programme of railways of national importance (RONI) to ensure that better use of our railway network and services is achieved, with improvements and extensions where there is opportunity to significantly reduce dependence on the roading network, especially for heavy freight and bulk freight services, but also where passenger services can be redeveloped to attract sufficient demand over time.” Un-quote.

    Get together all our opposition Parties please as “together we stand & divided we fall.”

  2. WILD KATIPO says:

    Some very wise and sage words there , Danyl .

    THIS :

    … ” In a war of personalities and rhetoric, those with the biggest media budget and the best PR companies win. If we lower ourselves to ankle-tapping NZ First with soundbite smears like “racist” and
    “divisive”, we’re inviting the same and worse from them, and we’re setting ourselves up to lose ” …

    AND THIS :

    … ” In short, I’m proposing that we commit to the Bill and Ted principle (“Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!”) and focus on solving our country’s collective problems, instead of each faction focusing on their preferred party gaining a few % points in the next round of polls”…

    I seem to recall not so long ago that 77% of NZ First membership preferred a coalition with Labour. The problem now is ( and again its a two edged sword ) that with Peters touring the regions and gaining strength in the rural areas – which is great because it saps disgruntled Nats votes , – they stand to gain many soft Nat voters which could sway that balance of the membership towards preference for a National coalition…

    But if there’s one thing we should have all learnt , from the Dirty Politics era , – that despite all the revelations of corruption in high levels of government , – all the casually interested public sees is division , infighting and an inability to form a stable government.

    I think the left needs to be far more canny this time round.

    Even if that means biting the tongue for the greater good.

    We need to see the downfall of this neo liberal National government for many , many compelling reasons. That is primary. Tens of thousands of people are relying on this. From the family’s sleeping in cars to the homeless dying from the cold in our streets , from family’s locked out of buying a home to workers who cannot make ends meet in this deliberately kept low wage economy.

    All this has to end.

    And National has to go.

    And we cannot see that happen with a divided , house seething with animosity at each other , – over issues that , – with a little negotiating and dialogue can be resolved with an amicable solution or compromise reached.

  3. Strypey says:

    I notice neither Wild Katipo nor CleanGreen have commented on my binding referendum suggestion. Wouldn’t this be the honest and democratic way for NZ First to decide and announce to its potential voters what camp NZ First is really in?

    Sadly, the recent announcement about the Māori seats points towards NZ First forming a government with National. A majority-rules referendum on whether to keep or abolish the Māori seats is like three wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Labour and the Greens cannot agree to such a vote, so by announcing it as a bottom line, NZ First are effectively nailing their colours to the NatACT mast.