I am interested, if somewhat irritated, by some of the comments surrounding the decision of Simon Bridges to rule out working with New Zealand First after the election. I for one, and I know of many others, have been clamouring for this decision to be made for some time. The reason is quite simple, it removes the ability of the leader of a minnow party to determine who gets to rule the country while at the same time extracting every last ounce of political monetary largesse for his party in the process.
There is an argument to be had that this is how the system works under MMP and we have to live with it. My answer is that we don’t and it’s well past time the rules were changed. The more democratic way post-election, is for the party with the highest number of votes being given the chance to form a government. If they can’t, then the next highest polling party gets the chance. You may end up with the same result but it is a fairer way of getting it.
The debate over Simon’s decision is, to me, somewhat curious. There are some who say he has thrown the baby out with the bath water. I would be interested to know if these people know something that I don’t, that Winston has had a change of game plan. Is he indeed intending to, in good faith, seriously consider National as a coalition partner? Just look at the ludicrousness of that statement as regards who is considering who. In all sanity, it should be the other way round.
Audrey Young, in her column in a weekend newspaper, says the suggestion Bridges had no choice but to rule out New Zealand First was wrong. She makes the point that Simon could have done what David Seymour said about Labour this week – it is impossible to imagine a scenario in which they could form an agreement – or he could have delayed to better assess the impact on National. Well, maybe I’m a bit thick but unless Winston has had a change of heart in regard to National then the points Audrey makes are negated by his behaviour.
It’s a long time since principles played a part in politics, and we are the worse off for it. Politics has become beholden to another p word – POWER. As Brexit showed, politicians are no longer interested in what the plebs think or even what they vote for. Politicians want the power with them when it should be with the people they were elected to serve. The decision Simon made is one of principle on two fronts – first, that National will not be subject to Winston’s preposterous behaviour and second, it is not prepared to be in government at all costs.
Audrey goes on to say that instead of relegating New Zealand First to irrelevancy in the contest between National and the Labour Greens bloc, that Bridges decision has amplified the contest between National and New Zealand First, and between Bridges and Peters. She says that played out at Waitangi during the welcome to the parliamentary delegation where Bridges came off second best. All the while, Ardern sits aloof from the dog-fight looking prime ministerial.
What a load of bollocks! Relegating New Zealand First to irrelevancy can only be done at the ballot box which is precisely what the decision is intended to do. The relationship between Bridges and Peters doesn’t need amplifying: it is well known. There is no dog-fight for the silly little woman to stand aloof from. As for the sham that is Waitangi Day, it is beyond me why National bother turning up. They should stay away and instead campaign to abolish the apartheid based Maori seats.
I am beginning to wonder if there are some who are not understanding of the rationale behind Simon’s decision. It is a simple strategy based on principle. It may work to National’s advantage, it may not. But unlike Winston who loves his game of I’m not telling you who I am going with so I can screw who I want post-election, National have given voters a clear choice.
Audrey says the Bridges-Peters contest is a compelling one for the news media, the young and ageing alpha males. I’m not so sure the latter two will pay much attention. The news media, in their political rarefied air, will no doubt put their dubious spin on it. Audrey further says Bridges has given oxygen to New Zealand First and detracts from National’s contest with Labour. She says National’s high polling could fall quickly in a worst-case scenario putting pressure on his leadership. I’m beginning to get the idea from Audrey that the whole election is going to be framed around this issue. It will certainly play a part as to whether we elect a right or left-leaning government but what about other relevant issues: the economy, health, education etc? They will remain of importance.
The issue for both National and New Zealand First is one of trust with the electorate. Simon has made his position clear. Will Winston do the same? I am not holding my breath. For obvious reasons.
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