As National Party’s current Leader, Judith Collins, channeled former National Party Leader, Don Brash by playing the Race Card, I was reminded of a blogpost I wrote in March 2017;
Faced with increasingly negative indicators from high immigration, English was forced to explain why we were seeing high immigration at a time of rising unemployment;
English’s response was predictable if not offensive.
Playing National’s Blame Game
As per usual strategy, English defaulted to National’s strategy of Default Blame-gaming. When in trouble;
- Blame the previous Labour government
- Blame ‘welfare abuse’/Release a ‘welfare abuse’ story in the media
- Blame Global Financial Crisis or similar overseas event
(If the trouble is Auckland-centered, Default #4: Blame Auckland Council/RMA/both.)
This has been the pattern of National’s policy to shift blame elsewhere for it’s consistently ineffectual policies;
The Blame Gaming was applied recently to National’s appalling do-nothing record on housing;
Resorting to Deflection #2, English had the cheek to blame young unemployed for our high immigration level;
“One of the hurdles these days is just passing the drug test … Under workplace safety, you can’t have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can’t pass that test.
People telling me they open for applications, they get people turning up and it’s hard to get someone to be able to pass the test – it’s just one example.
So look if you get around the stories, you’ll hear lots of stories – some good, some not so good – about Kiwis’ willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available.”
We can now add an official fourth (or fifth category, if Auckland and/or the RMA is invoked);
4. Invoke/blame Maori separatism
Which Judith Collins has recently been exploiting with gusto;
“It is not actually an issue of race, there is nothing in being Māori that intrinsically makes anyone more in need in the health system.
We’re not going to go down that path, any more than the National Party will ever agree to racist separatism in education, or in the justice sector. It is important that we have solutions that work in communities, but they will not be based on someone’s ethnicity.
This is actually an issue of poverty and opportunity. It is not an issue, intrinsically based on or linked to ethnicity and to say it is ignores the fact that there are many New Zealanders of many different ethnicities who struggle.
We have to understand that we either have a country built on a separate system for Māori versus every other New Zealander, or we have a system that is based on equality and on bringing opportunity through to every New Zealander, irrespective of face.
We will not stand for a separatist New Zealand. We will stand for a New Zealand where everyone gets equal opportunity, and we’re able to help everyone to come through to the best of their ability and their own self-determination.”
When Ms Collins was challenged on RNZ Morning Report, Corin Dann (28 April, @7:07), recited a well-known scandalous litany of negative outcomes for Maori,
“...But you have said in that ‘tweet‘, I mean you’ve said that public health provision must be based on individual need not race.
How has that worked for Maori over the 150 years? Because they’ve had plenty of need, and we know the statistics; they die earlier; have poorer access to health, and are sicker.”
To which Ms Collins simply replied;
“Well, you’re quite wrong.”
Listening to the current National Party Leader, it was abundantly clear that she was not talking to Corin Dann and hundreds of thousands of mostly liberal-inclined RNZ listeners.
Instead, she was communicating directly to conservative New Zealanders; mostly white, middle-aged, property owners who tended to vote National and/or ACT – but who sometimes ‘flirted’ with the Labour Party in times of social stress.
It happened in 1984 and 1987 when Labour lurched to the Right and increased it’s popular vote from 829,154 to 878,448. More startling still, Labour nearly took the blue ribbon safe seat of Remuera – coming within 406 votes in 1987, down from National’s commanding lead of 3,483 in 1984 and 5,105 in 1981.
The social stressors in 1981 were a flammable cocktail of rugby, petrol prices, and stagnating economy. All of which diverted voters’ attention from the tired-looking National government of the day, to a fresh alternative – Labour, with it’s new charismatic Leader, David Lange.
In 2020, it was a global pandemic that turned voters en masse to Labour and it’s charismatic Leader, Jacinda Ardern. National continued to look tired, with last-century economic and social policies and internecene warfare that saw three leadership changes in quick succession; more leaks than the Titanic; and a constant tirade of non-stop negativity.
Make no mistake, this was a naked appeal to conservative New Zealanders – most of whom either fled to ACT or for whom PM Ardern’s tough stance on keeping Fortress New Zealand safe from the scourge of covid19 appealed to their yearning for decisive, Strongperson Leadership.
But whether it will attract a return of several hundred thousand voters and collapse Labour’s strong support? Doubtful. At best, a “bump” in National’s polling and/or Preferred Prime ministership rating will be the most Ms Collins can hope for.
But if it’s enough to save her shaky leadership until election day, then her blatant dog-whistle racism will have done it’s job.
As Māori Party co-leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, said;
“We are expendable and that’s the biggest tragedy of this. She’s not focused on Māori, she doesn’t give a hoot about Māori, what she’s focused on is putting Labour down and creating division.
That’s her role as opposition, but not at the cost of tangata whenua, and not at the cost of the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa who are truly hurting.”
(Side note: National can kiss good-bye to any notions of a coalition with a resurgent Maori Party whilst Ms Collins is Party Leader. That bridge hasn’t just been burned – it was fully nuked.)
National Party leaders – will happily stand on the bodies of the underclasses if necessary. Especially to save their leadership.
But will New Zealanders fall for crass, clumsy, quasi-Trumpian populism?
Wikipedia: 1984 New Zealand general election
Wikipedia: 1987 New Zealand general election
Wikipedia: 1981 New Zealand general election
Twitter: @Citizen1301 – 11.39AM 2 May 2021
My Thinks: Judith Collins goes whistle shopping
The Standard: National’s very bad day
Previous related blogposts
Acknowledgement : Sharon Murdoch
This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).
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