Thursday, November 18, 2021

How does Labour expect to get away with this?

Yesterday's decision by the government to open the Auckland border in December was, like all their other recent decisions, immediately panned by public health experts. The polite version, on Stuff, is that Covid will "travel for summer" with Aucklanders, leading to outbreaks. Newsroom's Marc Daalder cuts through the crap and tells us what that really means: people will die at home in an entirely avoidable pandemic, which will hit the most vulnerable hardest:

Baker worries about a scenario where the white, wealthy and vaccinated parts of the country remain immune to Covid-19 - and maybe don't even notice as it ravages Māori, poor and unvaccinated communities like Kawerau or Murupara.


Then there's Baker's nightmare scenario - one where the inequities of the outbreaks remain but where even highly-vaccinated populations are threatened by Delta.


"I'm just not sure if we're ready to see 10 to 20 deaths a day, because we could easily be in that situation by January or February," Baker said. "That's adding about 10 percent to our annual mortality."

I've been wondering how Labour expects to politically get away with this. Non-Aucklanders outnumber Aucklanders more than two to one, and having the government deliberately spread a pandemic to uninfected regions is the sort of thing voters are likely to feel strongly about (as a non-Aucklander, I certainly feel strongly about it). Is it just mindless optimism, a refusal to recognise the huge risks in their decision (which clashes violently with all their previous rhetoric about "an abundance of caution")? Are they really expecting voters to forget dead relatives and a mountain of corpses come election time? Or are they just going to point to stuff like this, say (accurately) "National would have killed more of you, who else are you going to vote for?", and rely in their usual fashion on the old political duopoly to return them to power?

But even if they get away with it, there'll be a price to pay. While I'm not qualified to speak for Māori, I would not expect them to be happy with being thrown under the bus by Labour. Meanwhile, the political duopoly supporting mass-death is unlikely to enhance its legitimacy, or that of the political system as a whole. In the 1980's and early 1990's repeated betrayals by that duopoly led to mass disenchantment with the political system and reform aimed at breaking it - and those betrayals didn't come with an obvious, explicit bodycount. If the political status quo chooses mass death over keeping us alive, then when this is over we need to rid ourselves of that rotten system, and the rotten parties in it.