Friday, October 20, 2017

A political bastard child

I love the way political commentators are delicately skirting around the inconvenient fact that our new government is one whose formation was driven by a party with only 7 percent popular support. This willingness to ignore the obvious is hardly surprising, The commentariat generally leans to the left and is delirious with pleasure at the anointment – I won’t say election – of a left-leaning government. They don’t want anyone raining on their parade and would prefer to overlook the fact that this is a government with little moral legitimacy. It is a political bastard child and it’s unlikely to grow up happy.

Jim Bolger pointed out on Morning Report this morning that this is the first time that the party that won the most votes isn’t in government. The standard counter-argument from the left, and it’s superficially persuasive, is that the vote for change on September 23 outweighed the vote for the status quo. The problem with this line is that New Zealand First voters wanted change for very different reasons than those who voted for Labour or the Greens. It now suits those parties to claim they are all singing from the same hymn sheet, but the coalition is one born out of pure pragmatism and convenience rather than ideological compatibility. The fundamental differences – especially in areas such as social liberalism, where NZF is the polar opposite of Labour and the Greens – is likely to make this an inherently unstable government.

I like Jacinda Ardern. She has shown in her short time as Labour leader that she has formidable intelligence and political smarts to go with her attractive personality. It’s a winning combination and I believe she could make a very capable prime minister. It’s just a shame that she should attain power in such dodgy circumstances.


Noelene said...

Why did you have to mention "an attractive personality". You would not use that terminology with a male politician. I think what happened last night is a great example of MMP working for the majority of voters. All life is compromise, politics is no different

Karl du Fresne said...

Yes, I could have chosen a better phrase than "attractive personality". What I meant to convey was that Ardern comes across as fresh, empathetic, relaxed, articulate and remarkably assured for someone so new to the top level of politics. As I wrote somewhere else, I suspect there's a bit of Helen Clark-style toughness there too, although it's well-disguised. On the strength of her performance so far, it's hard not to like her.