Monday, July 18, 2005

Johannson on the election

Keith Ng has a very interesting interview with political scientist Jon Johannson on Public Address at the moment. Johannson nails down what this election is all about right at the start: the Revolution:

I think '05 is the final argument about the efficacy of the whole reform period and the politics that succeeded it, because Brash is so identifiable as the heir of Ruth Richardson, the neo-liberal purist. Despite the current packaging, that really is the real Don Brash.

It's a link that the government should be making more often. "Remember Ruth Richardson? Remember the Black Budget, the Employment Contracts Act, mass unemployment, food banks, run-down schools and hospitals? That is Don Brash's vision of New Zealand, and if he becomes Prime Minister, that is where he will try and take us again"

Or, they could just use this photograph, which really says it all...

But Johannson thinks that this is the last gasp for the market purists, their last desperate chance to impose their vision. And if National is forced into coalition with Winston, it will fail, and possibly screw the National party for quite some time.

There's also some musings on the "mainstream" and the constant cries that Labour is "too PC". Here, Johannson laments Labour's unwillingness to stand up for its beliefs, and suggests that Helen Clark respond as follows:

if it's too PC to care about the social cohesion of this country, then guilty. If it's too PC to actually want to reduce the inequality that was cause and accentuated last time National was in office, I'm guilty.

Like Johannson, I would very much like to see this. It makes the connection between Labour's policies of opening opportunity and reducing inequality with the basic kiwi idea of the "fair go" - and does it far better than ladders and silly cartoon chainsaws. But like Johannson, I don't really think she'll do it. This government has been characterised by a reluctance to stand up for its policies; instead it backs away at the slighest challenge, surrendering the ideological ground in the process. Up till now, this has been praised as "competant political management", but ironically this refusal to defend their position may very well be what costs Labour the election.


I agree with your post - and Johansson's comments. The only problem is that Labour has done sweet FA to achieve social justice - eg Housing Policy - 80% of state housing tenants pay market rents and those who do not have to jump through complex bureaucratic hoops on a regular basis - if they fail a step, they're back to market rents. In short, Labour has been too smarmy with its policies and adopted too much from Tony Blair's lot to make it credible.
Another problem is that our middle class, who decide the outcome of elections, are too greedy and selfish to give a shit about the welfare of those less fortunate than themselves. The Nats' early childcare package plays to these moral deficiencies in a brilliant way (take a bow, McCully).

Posted by Anonymous : 7/18/2005 12:06:00 PM