Gareth Morgan’s TOP: My Hopes and Doubts

By   /   September 21, 2017  /   6 Comments

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Although I remain interested in TOP’s policies and hopeful about their prospects in the upcoming general election, I am not without my doubts.         

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.

 

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About the author

Donna Miles

Donna Miles is a British-born, Iranian-bred, New Zealand citizen with a strong interest in human rights, justice and equality issues.

6 Comments

  1. Stephen Howard says:

    Right on Donna, Gareth is not socialist, he is the old problem of a capitalist trying to save a failing system. As wealth accumulates to a few privileged individuals so does political power, and that gives us Trumps and Bob Joneses. We don’t need these people, we need democracy

  2. Jenny May says:

    Whilst some of Gareth’s policies sound good a lot seem to be copying the greens policies but without the depth or knowledge and reliable history. It seems rediculous to split the left vote and possibly prevent the change of government. Brings back memories of the flyby night Bob Jones who helped bring down the Muldoon era.

    • mikesh says:

      As far as global warming is concerned it should be noted that Gareth has written a book on the subject, so I think it unlikely that his knowledge of the topic would be in any way inferior to that of the Greens.

    • mikesh says:

      As far as global warming is concerned it should be noted that Gareth has written a book on the subject, so I think it unlikely that his knowledge of the topic would be in any way inferior to that of the Greens.

  3. janine says:

    “but business leaders transitioning to political leadership is something of a new trend.”

    Not in this country Bob Jones ( property investor) had his own vanity party called NZ Party in the 1980s. It probably helped overthrow Muldoon’s National government in 1984 leading to the rise of the neo liberal Labour party of that time. TOP is another in this ilk- libertarian but not making any attempt to change the destructive foundations of our current society.

    It is this foundation based on the colonial land grab and neo liberal ideals that has dragged us into this mess we are in.

    We need more than political parties based on big money and the vanity of rich people who think they know what’s best for us because there is zero evidence that they actually do.

  4. Michal says:

    I was at an event in chch last night put on by the Quakers. They showed Jane Kelsey’s 2017 Quaker lecture earlier this year (there were two commentators at this, Gen de Spa and John Minto who spoke following the film). It is well worth watching, Perhaps we could ask the organisers of the Progresive Forum in Christchurch to show it again sometime. In the end all of the parties in parliament believe in capitalism and its endless growth. We have to have real change away from capitalism and move to a system that starts with those at the bottom – the most fragile, the most down trodden and gives them hope for the future.

    As an aside:
    I heard on the radio this evening that some woman has gone down for 4 years for money stuff, you know getting dosh out of her employer. Could someone tell me the point of putting someone in prison for this sort of ‘crime’ what will it achieve a big NOTHING. We need these people out and doing useful stuff in the community.