NZ Political Party strategy challenges 2012
Parliament starts this week, and here are some of the strategy challenges confronting each of the parties as 2012 politically begins. Normally I'd leave this type of thing to Bryce Edwards, but I just saw Bryce on TVNZ Breakfast - TV isn't his strong point is it? The only thing liberal about Bryce is his haircut and seeing as Tumeke is a constant blind-spot in his daily political review, here's my political analysis...
Key is our first truly international politician. Helen Clark had international aspirations, but Key has actually worked as a global citizen and so has a very different view of economic sovereignty. He sees the world in currencies and trading blocks, he doesn't see sovereign nation states meaning his world view will clash with the sleepy hobbits who are suddenly confronted with how relaxed he is to hock off state assets and productive farm land to as many Chinese and American interests as he can meet.
The real challenge for Key will be to balance the demands from National's financial backers while continuing the perception that National are 'moderate'. That perception is dependent on the relationship with the Maori Party who have been used as political camouflage. For the first three years National quietly lined up all the legislation and people required to ram their privatization agenda through so as not to spook the sleepy hobbits, but that strategy annoyed the money backers of National and they are demanding their corporate pound of flesh. Key infamously was caught out by wikileaks justifying the slowness of change to America by explaining that NZers had a 'socialist streak'.
The main problem for National is that our lowest voter turn out in 120 years means that 68% of the enrolled electorate didn't vote for this privatization agenda, leaving National alone to push this deeply unpopular policy. Some within National will understand that by 2014 there will be no 3rd term and so will be pushing for more radical reforms because they will have nothing to lose, where as the moderates and many backbenchers will see such extremes in policy ending their aspirations for 2014. This friction point will most likely erupt between English and Joyce.
Key's dream of being the next Holyoake and securing 3 terms may require a hell of lot more political skills than smiling and waving. To date, the terribly clumsy way he has handled himself under pressure with the deadfall response to the Epsom tea pot tapes, the Rena and his farcical explanation that Clause 9 had never been legally used for Maori all suggest the money trader's deal cutting skills simply don't provide the political vision required.
The lack of a Christchurch rebuild and the continuing lackluster economic conditions will keep the poor poorer and the middle classes nervous. National have to come up with much more clever ways to sell the genuine needs of private and public to work better together. I've been kind enough to give the new broadcasting Minister Craig Foss 3 new ways of using PPP's to support Public Broadcasting by creating the competition National philosophically claim to hold so dear in a guest column in this months Metro magazine. It's out on the 27th. I'll post a copy to Craig and Radio NZ.
Earth to Labour Party, where are you Labour Party? After confirming my worst fears about the intellectual capacity of the Labour Party, the coven went and picked a leader gift wrapped for them by David Farrar. The idea seems to be who will people like in three years, the money trader or the UN hero. Personally I think Cunliffe was ready now, and as a much younger man, Cunliffe would have suggested a real generational shift. That didn't happen, instead Shearer has been left propping up all the hopes and dreams of the Labour Party on his very, very, very green shoulders.
The fear is that Shearer needed the right wing faction of the Labour Party to win, (something the msm never clicked on) and so is not his own man. The sudden lurch to welfare reform, standing back from the Ports of Auckland dispute and dumping extending working for families for beneficiaries as well as the first $5000 tax free all point to the right wing within Labour now having Shearer's ear. Their strategy seems to be to take National voters rather than excite the million enrolled voters who didn't bother to vote.
The Labour mantra SHOULD be 'rebuild the middle class'. For the first time in their lives, the NZ middle class feel frightened and threatened, Labour should do everything it can to talk directly to them and argue that a secure and growing middle class enshrines the socially progressive democracy that makes NZ so strong and connects with Labour's values of social justice. Labour could argue that when the middles class do well, they don't feel bitter about taxes helping those less fortunate. Labour need to sell to the middles classes that their well being strengthens the social contract to help others.
If Shearer can't make any impact in the polls by the end of the year however, there could well be whispering campaigns over the Summer bbq season as any new leader would want 18months before the election.
The Greens are the Party with the most to lose come 2014. With their highest ever vote, what exactly can they do in the house? Cuddling up to National when the policy is as toxic as it will be simply isn't an option for the Greens and to be frank, bike cycle tracks that don't live up to the jobs promised is hardly inspirational.
The Greens watered down their brand to a lime color to appeal to the suburbs, and it's worked, but what they can actually achieve now with so many more voices in opposition is moot. Gareth Hughes is a star performer who should be given as much ammunition as possible against Joyce, but his seating arrangement right at the back of the class seems a tilt by the leadership to keep their future threat as far from the front bench as possible.
National's clear vision to exploit as much of our mineral and oil resources as they can in 3 years will provide the Greens with much to protest about, but for 2014, the Greens have to start looking like a member of the Government to keep their double digit poll rankings.
To this end, the Greens have more reason than any other Party to start promoting and pushing for the 'progressive majority' consisting of Labour, the Greens and MANA. The Greens must have Cabinet aspirations to remain a relevant political force, those Cabinet aspirations can only be reached by the progressive left. They can never be met by being chummy with John Key and his drill baby drill mentality.
With China on the rise and an immigration policy that just keeps selling more and more economic sovereignty China's way, Winston has never had so much political fodder to whip up. As the Nation on TV3 pointed out, a large chunk of the Chinese community are mandarin only speakers and the mandarin Newspapers are directed editorially by the Chinese Government, Winston can play to the fears these issues provoke and is setting himself up for kingmaker in 2014.
As a young man at University (so the legend goes) he didn't identify as Maori, he identified as Italian. He is a man who has strived for acceptance amongst the blue bloods of NZ and being kicked out of the club by Jenny Shipley has eaten away at Winston ever since and the downfall over donations hurt him personally.
This return to Parliament is all about redemption for Winston, he wants blood, and knowing Winston, he'll get it.
The political freak show he has brought with him on his coat tails will shut up and do as they are told, so unless the blogs pull any of them up for personal issues, they will simply be Winston's shadow. The weakness in Winston's armor however is Winston. He is an older man now who has lived a hard life, ill health could be what brings him down. Without Winston, there is no NZ First.
The Maori Party are a party in desperate decline. Minus Hone, they are shown up for the corporate Iwi backed vested interest that they are and this is at vast odds with the majority of Maori. Flavell had his 7000 majority stripped down to a mere 1800 and the MANA Party vote was only 800 behind the Maori Party in the Wairiki electorate, seeing as Flavell is the only one left after Pita and Turiana for possible leadership, his vulnerability is an even bigger issue.
The Maori Party have sold inclusion with Key as a strategic victory as they have voice on issues important to Maori, but the manner in which they were dealt to by National springing the removal of section 9 has shown that strategy up for what it really is, Maori begging for crumbs off Key's plate. Such a position is one Maori just can't live with and the pretense of a relationship that Key wants so as to look moderate is not enough of a reason to stay.
Expect story after story of questionable whanau ora spending courtesy of Winston to grind any perceived progress into dust.
The Maori Party will find obliteration difficult to avoid in 2014.
For a Party that didn't exist until 3months before the election, MANA's result that beat ACT is something to feel chuffed about. Hone's performance during the election impressed many, including John Armstrong and his continued rise as a voice for the poor will give him a statesman like quality. With the 3rd highest Facebook friend quota, MANA are a seed looking at 3 years of growth through flax root organizations and poverty focused policy.
I think the central tension of whether MANA is a Maori Party or a class party will be determined by economic factors. With a greater number of Pakeha in poverty than Maori, and Bennett's welfare cutbacks set to cripple beneficiaries, supporters of MANA will look to it for leadership on those issues impacting them directly rather than a purely Maori political voice. With the Party enshrined in Maori electorates and any sub 5% threshold list representation dependent on those Maori electorates, MANA could be a post race party that actually lives the Treaty partnership politically.
The most obvious display of this is the debate Hone has kicked off with Clause 9 of the SoE ACT. By welding Maori nationalism and economic sovereignty issues together, Pakeha see the Treaty as protecting their assets. This paradigm shift changes peoples perception of MANA and broadens the voter base.
It's such a basket case political party now, anything they do wouldn't surprise me. The self loathing ACT supporters feel propping up a homophobic bigot like Banks is enough to kill any oxygen off to this dead limb of a movement. The rot has set in, and the septic smell of demise wafts. How ACT handle the hand off of power as suggested in the tapes to Catherine Isaacs is far more convoluted now she's been appointed the Charter School's hangman.
The smartest move for ACT would be to set Vote for Change's Jordan Williams up as the next leader.
Peter Dunne will have a hell of a struggle on his hands to minimize the public service cutbacks his Ohahriu electorate will face and there's no way Katrina Shanks can keep her ambition in check not to go full tilt in 2014. Labour have to win Ohariu but with Charles seen as a Cunliffe supporter, the coven may punish by limiting electorate support. With Dunne propping up National's one seat majority, much of their sins will be painted as his sins.