It was Gareth Morgan’s fourth talk in Christchurch last night and the atmosphere at the event centre was upbeat and celebratory.
I have been to three of Gareth’s talks so far and can see a notable difference both in Gareth’s delivery and attendee demographics.
Where did all these young people come from? The youth UBI (Unconditional Basic Income) and the cannabis reform policies have obviously struck a chord with the youth.
Gareth Morgan deserves credit for making these young people interested in and engaged with politics.
Although I remain interested in TOP’s policies and hopeful about their prospects in the upcoming general election, I am not without my doubts.
- The world is not short of good policies
Let’s face it- the world is full of good ideas.
We have enough good ideas to last us for hundreds of years.
Gareth Morgan’s policies are good ideas but none of them are new. They have all been thought of before and most of them have been implemented elsewhere.
Coming up with good ideas is not the challenge. The Challenge is to make good ideas powerful. And here is the question: can Gareth Morgan give power to his ideas?
This is an important question because policies don’t change the world by themselves, they need to be implemented and so they need mass support.
Some of TOP’s most effective policies are very unpopular (think taxing the family home). Gareth said that their own research showed their target market was only 6%.
TOP needs to devise the mechanisms necessary to make their polices popular by extending their reach beyond an elite group of intellectuals.
There is some indication that this is happening. The lecture-style deliveries are giving way to more lighthearted and accessible way of addressing the voters and they seem to be attracting some of the youth vote.
TOP has finally realized that people are not just logical machines and so appealing to their emotions and feelings are just as important as appealing to their power to reason.
- A poisonous personal brand
Kim.com never realized how poisonous his personal brand was until after the election when it was too late.
I thought Gareth would follow the same fate until I saw a billboard with his giant face on it that said: “make rich pricks pay more tax- and that includes me”.
What a stroke of genius!
Gareth has managed to turn his unpopularity to his advantage.
But despite this clever move, by choosing to be the front face for TOP, Gareth has overshadowed some real talents in his team.
In my opinion, people like Geoff Simmons and Jessica Hammond Doube should have been given more media time. Both could have attracted more votes for TOP by the sheer power of their intellect and personality.
- Rich business leaders transitioning to politics
We have had many political leaders with extensive business interests but business leaders transitioning to political leadership is something of a new trend.
Donald Trump is of course the obvious example even though his building business was all about selling the Trump name as a brand and nothing else.
And there are the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson who, through their various philanthropic activities, are trying to come up with solutions to problems in education and health. There is even talk of Mark Zuckerberg running for presidency.
So, what is the problem here?
Well, firstly that their interventions are not democratic and have had mixed results. Secondly, that the business mentality of silver-bullet-solution approach may not be suited to social and economic problems.
TOP refers to their policies as solutions. I am not entirely convinced that TOP’s policies are the ultimate solutions to the sort of fair society that TOP is advocating for.
To build a fair and sustainable system, we need more than policy reforms. We need fundamental reform to our economic system so it is not reliant on constant economic growth.
We live in a finite planet and Gareth’s policies are short-term solutions to save capitalism rather than our struggling planet.
Having said that, TOP’s policies are the best policies we have on the table so far to address the issues of housing affordability and poverty.
Even if they don’t reach the 5%, a vote for TOP is a message to the politicians about the value of evidence-based policy and the importance of content over packaging.