Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Playing at journalism

I went to Winston's big policy announcement today.

Partly this was an attempt to play at journalist and get some blog-fodder, and partly it was in the hope of scamming some free food. Unfortunately Winston doesn't cater, so I was left sitting in a room full of pensioners who'd been bussed-in from Wainuiomata or somewhere, half-listening to whispered conversations like "I've been following Winston since 1981. He was Rob Muldoon's favourite, don't you know". Ewwwww...

(In a weird case of synchonocity, the book I'd been reading on the train was Umberto Eco's Five Moral Pieces... and the part I was up to was his landmark essay "Ur-Fascism" (an abbreviated version of which can be found here). The cult of Tradition, rejection of the Enlightenment, fear of difference, appeal to the frustrated middle classes, xenophobia... spooky. But Winston doesn't have enough of the other bits to be regarded as truely fascist, which I guess is fortunate for all of us.)

As for the big policy announcement, you've probably already heard it by now: "[replacing] the present electoral tyranny with a system of direct democracy" and shrinking Parliament back down to 99 MPs. What was that Eco was saying about qualitative populism and opposing "rotten" parliamentary government...?

According to Winston, representative democracy is to blame for everything from "road tolls" to "social mayhem" to "gender-bending legislation". And of course he made a lot of hay out of the Supreme Court and the foreshore & seabed issue. Though he wasn't nearly so crass as to explicitly say that referenda were a way to keep those Uppity Maori in their place, his constant references to the "Treaty industry" and F&S issue left no doubt about what he expected it to be used for. And this is supposed to be the alternative party for Maori?

As for the substance, more later...