Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord!

By   /   February 23, 2018  /   16 Comments

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WHOEVER EMERGES VICTORIOUS from National’s leadership contest will face the challenge of re-defining their party’s core political mission.

WHOEVER EMERGES VICTORIOUS from National’s leadership contest will face the challenge of re-defining their party’s core political mission. With Labour showing little sign of deviating from the general policy lines of the Clark-Cullen ministry – lines which John Key and Bill English more-or-less adhered to for nine years – it makes little sense to define National as Not-Labour. The steady reduction of the formerly stark ideological differences between National and Labour makes the Not-Labour definition increasingly problematic.

The relative sameness of the two major parties leaves both of them acutely vulnerable to any sudden break from the status-quo. Any sudden lurch to the far-right by National, for example, would benefit Labour hugely. Without having to deviate even slightly from its current policy settings, the Labour Party would be able to energise its base by presenting Jacinda Ardern’s government as the defender of moderate mainstream values against right-wing extremism. A lurch to the far-left by Labour and its allies would confer an identical advantage upon National. Policy convergence guarantees obvious electoral benefits to both parties.

Just how important preserving bipartisan policy convergence has become in the major western democracies was illustrated by the reaction of the US Democratic Party’s National Committee to Bernie Sanders presidential bid, and the response of British Labour Party MPs to the election of Jeremy Corbyn. The reaction of both party establishments was one of shock and horror. They were convinced that the enunciation of radical ‘socialist’ ideas would render their parties “unelectable”.

Events appear to have proved them right.

By the same token, the triumph of the Brexiteers in the United Kingdom, and the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency, has been taken as evidence of a sudden lurch towards extremism by two political parties hitherto perceived as moderate and mainstream. The dramatic improvement in the fortunes of the Democratic Party and the British Labour Party would appear to confirm the wisdom of keeping one’s political colours safely inside the lines.

Presumably, this explains why so many National Party MPs, while remaining tight-lipped about who they intend to vote for, are only too happy to make clear who they will be voting against.

The election of Judith Collins as Leader of the Opposition would allow Jacinda Ardern to go into the 2020 general election as the nation’s protector. The electorate would be urged to use their votes as shields against a rabidly right-wing National Party. The effectiveness of this pitch was proved by Helen Clark’s 2005 exhortation: “Don’t put it all at risk!” In successfully casting National’s Don Brash as an ideological bridge too far, Labour eked out a narrow election win.

The rejoinder of Team Collins would, undoubtedly, be that the secret to winning elections is to increase – not decrease – the level of political polarisation. Pitting like against like in any political contest benefits only the incumbent.

Polarisation can be benign, as it was, generally speaking, in Jeremy Corbyn’s “For the Many, Not the Few” campaign against Teresa May’s Tories; or, malign, as in Trump’s divisive crusade to “Make America Great Again”. The point Team Collins would make is that there has to be a clear reason for voting one way or the other. Without a clear choice before them, voters have an irritating tendency to opt for the devil they know.

The core political mission for National’s caucus is, therefore, a curiously biblical one. It must choose a John the Baptist figure to prepare the way for National’s Saviour to come. The hard-line Brash energised National’s base and gathered-up the overwhelming majority of New Zealand’s right-wing voters beneath its dark-blue banner. He was then removed from the scene so that John Key’s sunny, jokey, Labour-Lite Messiah could start turning water into wine. National’s caucus is thus tasked with identifying which candidate’s voice will sound the most persuasive crying in the wilderness. It must also decide whose head it is most willing to see served up on a platter in the aftermath of a 2020 election defeat.

The candidate seeking the role of Jesus in this two-part resurrection drama would be well-advised to spend the next two-and-a-half years keeping his, or her, head down in the National Party equivalent of Nazareth.


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  1. Tom Gardner says:

    Crickey Chris! Billy Graham’s death get to you a bit?

  2. Nitrium Nitrium says:

    The US figured this out ages ago, with a two party system that is designed to make sure nothing “game changing” can or will happen. It’s actually pretty clever, when you think about. The illusion of choice is how you subvert the tenets of actual democracy. I’ve always maintained that “democracy” as we currently know it was cynically invented and promulgated by powerful people who wanted to ensure they stay that way and/or avoid getting murdered during the revolutions that would otherwise occur. “Game-changing” democracy in most Western nations is not actually possible. I’m going to be super patronising here, but those that think you can “vote and make a difference” are imo super naïeve.

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    Steven say’s gosh my cousin Barnaby Joyce over in Australia has just declared he is resigning from being the deputy PM of Australia!!!!

    Maybe I should pull out from the leadership of the National Party now too, I guess!!!!!

  4. Tiger Mountain says:

    “Events appear to have proved them right”-what?

    Hilary, and the super delegates helped ensure the democrats loss, and there was nothing socialist about her, Sanders vs Trump would have been interesting; Jeremy Corbyn, coming late to the party after unprecedented opposition from the Blairite MPs, almost won the election on a populist platform of reforms and a popular surge of support once he communicated directly with the people at rallies

  5. Marc says:

    There is NO Jesus like figure within the National Party ranks in Parliament, I think. So such expectations are simply a bit silly or frivolous.

    Amy Adams may appeal to the more moderate and yet pragmatic MPs, but she is still one of the same neoliberal clique as the rest, and I remember her supporting some pretty harsh new legislative changes in justice, welfare and so forth, which Judith was equally supporting.

    There is NO Jesus within National, it is simply impossible to find Jesus within a gang that has signed up to collaborate with hell. Lucifer was described as a handsome and shining Prince of sorts, in some scriptures, misleading people, believing he may be a kind of Christ, but he was not. So that is the only kind of False Jesus we may get within Nats, nothing else, Chris.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Labour has also failed to live up to its relationship with unions. Say what you will about National, truth is extreme lefties are just as dangerous an ideology as the extreme right wing who seek to exclude the other from the gene pool…

    • Marc says:

      There is also no John the Baptist type of character within the National Party Caucus.

  6. Afewknowthetruth says:

    There is no ‘Saviour to come’.

    The entire political-economic system is corrupt and irredeemable, and is in terminal decline……and is headed towards complete collapse……with the Abrupt Climate Change that may have been prevented if appropriate policies had been implemented decades ago (but was totally ignored by the political system) a leading factor in terminating current living arrangements.

    And the total failure of the political system to address Peak Oil is another major factor in the coming collapse.

    The game played by political parties is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic yet again, and telling the passengers the ship is unsinkable.

  7. Andrew says:

    They shouldn’t redefine themselves.

    They just need to plug on attacking Labour and wait for the inevitable balls-up by the coalition.

    Of course the government will fail. Their election promises were always a joke and they will be held over the coals for those. Labour doesn’t have a strong team – and that combined with loose cannons in NZF and the Greens will ensure some embarrassment.

    Political parties don’t get voted in, but governments get voted out.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Maintaining the national party lead over The Labour Party in the polls can not be maintained while national are in opposition. For the national party to maintain that lead in the polls will depend on how competent they are in opposition and simply cruising along hoping the government fails while the coalition government is trying to do great things only to have an opposition whining about the most irrelevant things… Simply relying on fear, incompetence and conflict does not win elections.

    • bert says:

      Aaron Gilmore and Todd Barclay, two very loose cannons, oh they belong too National! Failed party, failed ideals, poor opposition.

  8. Steve King says:

    yeeeeeeah – nah Chris. Forced biblical allegory didn’t quite work… I suspect that it wouldn’t have registered with many of the readers here.
    But I will make a prediction. My track record with predictions is abysmal, but nevertheless, I persist. I predict that Mark Mitchell will be the leader of National in the 2020 election. But not straight away.

  9. Helena says:

    First one out of the starting gate is the false prophet … to die and be replaced.