Simon Bridges Leads National Down Into The Dark

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AND SO IT BEGINS, the National Party’s simultaneous descent and ascent. Downwards, into the dark territory of “whatever it takes”. Upwards, into the glare of electoral victory. It’s happening because the party’s present leader has convinced himself that it is only the first movement which makes possible the second.

Simon Bridges will, however, discover that conducting this double movement exacts a heavy toll. The National Party prime ministers we remember fondly: Sir Keith Holyoake, Jim Bolger, Sir John Key; all got to the top by taking a different route. National’s prime-ministerial villains: Sid Holland and Rob Muldoon; both chose the low road to power.

By the time Bridges gets to switch on the lights on the Beehive’s ninth floor, “whatever it takes” will have wrought its inevitable changes. The face that stares at him from the mirror of the prime-ministerial bathroom will be as unfamiliar as it is frightening.

Bridges’ journey into the heart of darkness began in Australia. His induction to the black political arts that secured the Australian Liberal leader, Scott Morrison’s, surprise election victory, is evident in the stinging social media campaign the National Opposition launched soon after his return.

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The campaign’s effectiveness, like the Brexit, Trump and Morrison precedents from which it borrows so heavily, has nothing to do with the presentation of positive policy. It does not seek to inform but to inflame. It bypasses both the heart and the head and goes straight for the gut. It arouses not hope but hate. Its goal is not unity but division. And it’s working.

Emboldened by this success, Bridges has descended the next few steps of the dark staircase at a canter. Rather than seize upon the opportunity provided by the stand-off at Ihumatao to advance the Treaty relationship – as Jim Bolger and Doug Graham took advantage of the Maori Renaissance in the early 1990s – Bridges has taken his inspiration from Don Brash.

In the face of the protesters’ resistance, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been advised to “send them home”. Bridges knows that dismantling the Ihumatao campsite and moving its inhabitants on will be achieved only by the application of force majeure: concerted and forceful police and/or military action. He also knows that the use of state violence at Ihumatao will necessitate its further and escalating use in the large-scale protest action that is bound to follow. He does not care. Why should he, when his political objective is to keep the electorate divided, angry and on-edge?

As if Bridges’ turning away from a brokered solution at Ihumatao isn’t bad enough, he has taken advantage of the serious failings at Statistics New Zealand to descend even further down the dark staircase.

On this morning’s (14/8/19) Morning Report, Bridges deliberately sowed seeds of doubt about the reliability of whole swathes of state-provided data. How could we trust electoral boundaries drawn up on the basis of statistical information that may be inaccurate? How can we have any faith in the economic and fiscal reports released by the Government?

This is an especially dangerous game to play. From calling into question the reliability of official information it is but a short step to advancing the Trumpian claim that the public is being assailed by “fake news”, or, worse still, that the election is being rigged.

That is no small matter. Once truth and propaganda become fused in the minds of one’s followers, debate and discussion become redundant. If one’s opponents are all outrageous liars, then engaging with them in any way is pointless. Rather than waste its time, a political party should, instead, target all its messages at those who have yet to grasp the full mendacity of the other side. Tell these “persuadables” the truth – your truth – before the other parties tell them theirs.

A key factor in any National victory arrived at via the low road is shaping up to be the Sustainable NZ Party. The party’s founder, Vernon Tava, may be perfectly sincere in his quest for a less polarising expression of ecological wisdom – as may the 500-plus people he has already signed-up to secure his new party’s official registration. Sadly, the genuineness or otherwise of Tava and his moderate environmentalists is irrelevant to Bridges and his fellow-travellers in the dark.

What Bridges and his strategists are hoping for is that Sustainable NZ will lure away just enough support from the Greens to cause them to fall below the 5 percent MMP threshold. All it will take is for a few thousand Green voters – many of them, perhaps, alarmed by some of the claims being made about Green Party MPs on social media – to defect to the Sustainable NZ Party, and Labour could find itself with insufficient parliamentary backing to continue in government. That neither the Greens, nor Sustainable NZ, will be in Parliament to fight for the environment is likely to be regarded by Bridges and his team as one of the more satisfying outcomes of the strategy.

A government elected as a result of such egregious bad faith is unlikely to be one of sweetness and light. If to bad faith we are required to add conscious lying, fake news, and the deliberate incitement of anger and division, then that government can only end up being bitter and dark.

“Whatever it takes” is really just another way of saying “the end justifies the means”. But, if history has taught us anything it is that the means we use, determine the ends we achieve. Bring National to power by dark methods, Simon Bridges, and you will soon find yourself and your government unable to accomplish anything but dark deeds.

25 COMMENTS

  1. That the census planning and decision making was locked in and done and dusted by the time the new Government came in seems irrelevant to National.

    You could see it, English’s demands that each department save money led to this half arsed online version. No one breathing down your neck to complete it,l and what a tidy little saving it was not paying for people to walk the streets collecting and cajoling. What better an example of 9 years of mindless budget cuts and the damage they caused.

    Too bad if you didn’t have internet access or even better the inclination to participate because in Nationals way of thinking everyone by now was on fibre and were tuned in, we hope. And that last point is so not surprising, National spent 9 years focused on their voters only whilst marginalising the rest.

    Bridges misleading lying on that subject alone is so unhelpful, mores the pity Shaw doesn’t remind the public of it.

    • The thing I haven’t seen is someone in the mainstream pointing out that it was National who set up the stats department to fail. James Shaw should be telling everyone but he’s spent that last 2 years telling everyone how fantastic the department is and can’t afford the U-turn.
      So we have 2 people both of whom bear responsibility for the problem busily blaming each other

      I really should stop following politics…

  2. Isn’t that Ashburton’s town motto? “What ever it takes”
    Previously, it was something like ” Blessed ( Or Glorious?) is the town where Jesus Christ is Lord”?
    jenny shipely country. Big bent jen. Besties with helen clark, ruth richardson, jimbo bolger etc. Some of the most Godless, greedy, evil fucks still alive and slithering.
    When I drive from Christchurch to Dunedin I turn off at Rakaia and head along Thompsons Track to Mayfield and Geraldine then back on to SH 1 at Winchester. It’s a journey of only a few more minutes but well worth it to avoid Ashburton. The views are awesome and the traffic is likely to contain less ‘recent arrivals’ and by that, I mean Aliens.
    The problem we ‘collectivists’ ( Previously known as Left Wing to my mind.) have in combatting the ‘ individualists’ ( Previously known as Right Wing to my mind. ) is that we have no one on the side of us collectivists politically. ( Collectivists might understand the vital importance of sticking together yet to be free to be as individual as one likes without fear of being left to die by the roadside. I.e. M.J. Savage’s vision of his Labour Party. )
    Today? Labour, it would seem, has had the cleaners in. The Cleaners have swept away all wit, all verve, all nuance, all colour, all bon vivant. Labour are drab, dreary and compelled by a lack of imagination to tow a beige anchor through the grey mud that is us.
    I’m sure soon, we’ll need to apply for a license to laugh. Or to cry. To apply for a permit to express emotion lest our ‘expressing of emotions’ stirs up in our more fragile within our mythical ‘communities’, ever more emotions therefore causing emotional overuse syndrome or EOS which could lead to passions rising which might then lead to revolution.
    Our politicians, all of them, are a cadre of witless, humourless, colourless Stepford People and they’re dragging us down with them. They’ve convinced us to expect nothing more from them either. We, in fact, hope they remain so lest we are given something daring to comprehend. Something with a little spice to it. Our politicians want us to stay at home, stay indoors and watch Netflix ( For example ) actors live the exciting, albeit mythical, lives we can only dream of as we work ever harder to pay for the greed and manipulative machinations of our politicians and their Masters
    And I know. I know that most people really have no idea just how dangerous that is. To abandon their lives to such creatures. To hand over their children to such dreary, greedy little demons. To get out of bed in winters darkness to drive to work, to grind out the day, to earn the money to pay them for what was our stuff and things.
    We MUST at least TRY to comprehend the cold hard fact that we have no politicians to keep us safe and secure. We have NO party in power tempered by an opposition party Hell bent on competing to make sure we, the public, get the best of any deal going. We don’t have that.
    What DO we have?
    We have Fay, Richwhite, Chandler, Hart, Gibb, Fletcher and sundry hyper wealthy Chinese micro-monsters sneaking into our lives and manipulating and re working us so as we become a service industry for the fiefdoms they’re building as I write.
    We’re leaderless and we’re in free fall and that should scare the shit out of everyone.
    It would be careless of me to write such things above without offering a fix-it.
    We should crowd fund an A lister actor to represent a script that would be collaboratively written by us, for us.
    That scripting process could be done publicly, on-line, and overseen by experienced scriptwriters who could reflect the opinions of the majority. An increasingly well informed majority.
    Mind you. There is this now this kind of thing to contend with.
    Tom Cruise deep faked.
    https://boingboing.net/2019/08/07/deepfake-bill-hader-channelli.html

    • The trouble is, the collective (left )is cheerleading worse loss of personal freedoms “for our own good” than the rightists did for their corporate overlords.
      An algorithm decides we must have stricter speed limits.
      Fireworks must be banned as decided by unmandated council meetings. Perhaps Guy Fawkes message is now considered terrorist incitement.
      No free speech,for your own good.
      Emails read, facial recognition, for your own good.
      Police monitoring online forums.
      It seems to me we have arrived at a place where a population is controlled by government, not the other way around.

  3. ” The National Party prime ministers we remember fondly: Sir Keith Holyoake, Jim Bolger, Sir John Key; all got to the top by taking a different route ”

    I don’t know about anyone else but i don’t remember ” fondly ” any of these National leaders particularly Bolger who oversaw a massive assault on workers and beneficiaries the effects are still with us today Maori treaty settlements aside.

    And as for Key who sleazed his way into the ninth floor and once there engaged in the most aggressive attack on his political opponents by destroying them and their careers and his misuse of authority and the democratic process not seen since Muldoon i will always remember as a fraud and an evil individual who deceived many by his pretend compassion and blokey media inspired mythology pretending to care for the poor while massively enriching his supporters.
    His utter contempt for parliament , the rule of law and his political opponents makes him one of the worst prime ministers in living memory.

    Where have you been lately Mr Trotter.

    • Yep, John Key was and is a dark stain on this country in many more ways than one can imagine. It’s just he was infinitely more clever at his manipulation that seemed to come so naturally rather than Bridges sledgehammer book-burning version.

      • Not sure about that XRay, the average kiwi is now so ignorant and thick, but conservative to the core, that jonky easily manipulated the whole lot. And still holds them spellbound for another glorious National victory! God, I hope I’m wrong.

    • I was going to make a similar remark myself. I’m too young to know much about Sid Holland, but both Bolger and Key (especially Key) are not remembered fondly in my immediate social circle or among any of my family, even those inclined more toward the Right than the Left. Bolger has had the common decency to exhibit a little contrition in recent years, but Key remains the same smirking bag of poison he’s always been. He’s simply employing his dubious skills for the benefit of ANZ (and to the detriment of their customers it would appear) rather than inflicting his assorted miseries upon the entire country. The last thing this nation needs is Simon Bridges desperately attempting to reach the subterranean bar Key set for him. Perhaps he should have a long conversation with Jim Bolger and contemplate how he’s likely to be remembered should he continue on his chosen path.

    • Yes, yes and yes ! Key was up to his eyeballs with Whaleoil and all those other less often named nasty people. Jim B seems to have mellowed of late or is just getting old and losing the plot. But let’s not forget… seriously bad things happened on his watch. Have you forgotten Chris ?

  4. Chris, you’re right to be concerned about the effect of Mr Tava, but you have to admit that should he draw sufficient votes from the Greens to take them below 5%, this would not be so much a victory for him as an own-goal for the Greens.
    The behavior of the Greens in the last couple of years has been somewhere between dismal and disgusting. Including their support of Metiria’s welfare theft, Ghahraman’s attack on free speech (when it doesn’t suit her) to Genter’s underhand tactics over the Wellington transport proposals. One way or another, they deserve what’s coming.

    NZ deserves a proper environmental movement, not one hijacked by narcissists and crooks.

  5. ‘Tell these “persuadables” the truth – your truth – before the other parties tell them theirs.’

    The Mark Twain maxim: it’s much easier to fool the people than to persuade them they’ve been fooled.

  6. Simon Bridges is partially right when he says that due to the depressingly useless latest census that we shouldn’t trust government stats, including GDP stats.
    But he doesn’t mention two very important things that negate his arguments.
    One is that National governments are champions at cooking the official stats.
    The other is that GDP is not worked out just from government stats, it also uses data from a wide number of non government sources such as Sharemarket indices, business lobby surveys, commodity prices, export margins and a whole lot of others.
    And while I’m here.
    Talk about an embarrassing display of economic ignorance by Paul Goldsmith on Morning Report about a week ago.
    He appeared on the programme to say (predictably) that the coalition was doing a rotten job of safeguarding the economy but when challenged to say why he couldn’t give any actual reasons!!
    National have no answers to anything, only predictable political rhetoric.
    That’s why NZ First didn’t go with them after the last election, because they didn’t trust them!

  7. If the Nats are relying on a kind of BlueGreen Party to support them into government, they will fail, because most of those who would go with it, are already Nat supporters and members. So go right ahead with this, because alongside Simon Bridges lstest efforts, all that will happen is victory for the current government.

  8. Despite the dark path line, theres a lot of assumptions, one being the assumption dirty politics will get Simon Bridges to the ninth floor, bet that doesn’t happen and it it hard comprehend why anyone would have “fond memories” of past National pms, after the shocking mess they have left the country and people in, particularly in regards to one of the worst pms of them all, John key, who doesn’t deserve to be called “sir”

  9. agree 100% with Louis but he isn’t the only one that doesn’t deserve to be call sir what about bob the knob jones

  10. Bridges’s initial efforts were all to the left of Labour. And reactions to Labour announcements to a right Labour didn’t go. Don’t think he has it in him to go beyond his ethics. Despite his play of the game revealed by his alienated sidekick. He is incompetent. The major inheritance of Key is no politician now standing can go the Aussie/American route.

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