Over the next few days, you are going to see an escalating tide of “I think National should be part of the Government” as applies health decisions, because people “don’t want playing politics” with the crisis-response.
Sorry, I don’t think National’s demonstrated much capacity for doing anything *other* than “playing politics” with the health response, of late.
The calls for National to get the ‘seat at the table’ which they cannot win democratically had already begun when Judith Collins falsely claimed that something in the Cabinet Manual meant that we have a Caretaker Government [we don’t – Parliament hasn’t risen yet] , and therefore that there was a legal obligation for Cabinet to include her with decision-making.
This is going to escalate into demands that instead of being ‘included’ in decision-making, or notified pretty promptly of changes in the situation [the latter of which is *definitely* already happening – straight after the relevant Cabinet meeting, in fact] … to Collins and/or Brownlee and/or Reti being given ‘equal billing’ in unfurling any new elements to the Covid-19 response.
At least in part because they don’t feel they can ‘play politics’ from the sidelines … because they feel they are being electorally disadvantaged by a successful Covid-19 response for which they can claim no credit.
New Zealanders overwhelmingly want a positive and prudent response to this crisis. We have been fortunate, thus far, to get one that has been largely exactly that (albeit one that has benefited quite significantly from ‘luck’ at various points and could have gone severely sideways in its absence).
I remain to see how the forcible integration of National Party talking heads into said response is of a significant benefit to either the response or the people of New Zealand. Even leaving aside my own, perhaps paranoidly conspiratorial misgivings, that some in National might seek to deliberately undermine said response for desperate electoral gain.
I mean seriously – they’ve already had prominent members attempt to scuttle one of their own high-profile candidacies *from inside the party* and ‘prove there’s a flaw in Covid-19 data-handing’ by being the flaw.
National cares about power. Somebody else has it, they want it. Ordinarily, they’d be throwing all-out to try and ‘legitimately’ claim such power in an electoral contest. And I say ‘legitimately’, with the scare-quotes, because in previous elections they’ve repeatedly demonstrated that all manner of illegitimate tactics (ranging from having SIS material funnelled to an attack blogger to the much more pedestrian merely making things up) can and will be deployed in pursuit of that aim. Up until Tuesday night, they were endeavouring to engage in yet another pitch (the third one this year) for Why You Need Us, New Zealand – with the understandable aim of unseating the Prime Minister and current Government and ascending in their place.
When the previous round of Lockdown occurred, there were some occasional murmurings about a Government of National Unity for the course of the crisis. These were, to a degree, understandable in light of the uncertain times we found ourselves then living in. Yet these are not those. Either the times, or the suggestions. Instead, the new call is to try and allow National to turn our Covid-19 crisis response into an infomercial for itself (and probably implicitly against Labour), on grounds that the extant Dr Ashley Bloomfield Show airing at 13:00 daily plus the Government’s broader Covid-19 management is already just such an infomercial for their ongoing incumbency to continue.
It is – again – understandable that in times of crisis, the Government of the day is held to account by a Loyal Opposition. Given some of the circumstances we’ve faced recently, this duty is now more vitally necessary than perhaps ever before in the course of this millennium. But there is a vast gulf of distinction between, say, the legitimate raising of alarum about two arrivals leaving lockdown to travel the length of the country who later turn out to have Covid-19 … and inventing a homeless person getting in to lockdown because you want to make the Government’s quarantine security look as holey as sanctified Swiss cheese. There is a huge difference between probing to try and help shed light on how this latest outbreak occurred, and fishing for NZPP voters by claiming that it’s a “convenient” not-at-all-“coincidence” in conspiratorial tones that this outbreak is even happening this close to the Election and in a manner that may advantage Labour as if it were somehow pre-planned or pre-covered up. There is a huge difference between merely wanting to hold power and having the qualities with which we should like to see it used and governed.
And there is a huge difference between National demanding a seat at the table in these present times – and it actually being in our best, national interest to actually give it to them.