Saturday, 13 September 2008

Electoral blergh

I didn't mention the election yesterday because I can not be bothered with it, at this time.

I'm glad to see that other bloggers are getting excited about it (here and here (1)) but I'm finding it hard to muster up enthusiasm for this latest round. Perhaps this is because - though I'm a committed leftie - as an immigrant I'm not fanatically partisan for one party or another. Lacking this tribal loyalty, I can't get fired up about a choice between a party that will do anything in power, no matter how contrary to its supposed ethos (2), and a party that will say anything to get into power, no matter how contrary to its ethos (3). A plague et cetera, et cetera.

Also, the fight this time is a lot less amiguous. Barring some massive revelation or cock-up, National will finish the campaign as the largest party. The minor parties are roughly divided along partisan lines, so there isn't much amusement to be had there. The only real question is whether their lead is enough to beat off the challenge of a likely Labour-Progressive-Green alliance.

With the spectacular demise of New Zealand First taking place over the campaign, another point of interest is gone. There is no tension as to which way Winston will jump as Winston is unlikely in parliament in a few weeks time. This is, of course, a Good Thing, but the collapse of his party robs the election of another crucial possibility - would John Key, inspite of his recent declaration (4), be willing to swallow a final rat by cuddling up to Winston, if he needed the numbers?

I know it is arguable that it is a choice between slightly crap and potentially demonic (you are entitled to apply the labels to which ever parties they think best) but that has never been a choice likely to inspire enthusiasm. For me, the FTA with China is a massive rat to swallow. I don't know if I can vote for a party that would make support such a deal, (which means Labour, the Progressives, United Future and New Zealand First are out - admittedly the last two were never viable options for me) and I'm even less inclined to vote for one that would brag about it as if a complete lack of moral judgment was something to be proud of. Nor am I sure I can vote for a party that will go into coalition with a governemnt that makes deals like that. Which rule sout the Greens. And I'm not Maori.

WHich then pushes me toweards the fundamental choice - do I swallow the rat? National, obvuiously, won't cancel the FTA with China. Even if they were ideologically inclined to, Key's so used to ideologiacal somersaults that he'd probably announce himself in favour of it out of habit. So it will stand, no matter who wins - unless Winston somehow becomes Prime Minister. Does that make things easier?

In theory, pragmatism should compel me to vote for the lesser of two evils, which is obviously Labour. In the end, it may come down to blunt socio-economics - the difference between the number of babies that would die under (hypocritical, soft) left- and right- wing governments and and the for example (here and here (5)). Some principles have to be forgotten so others can be kept. The view from the moral high ground looks remarkably similar to the view from the opposition benches, and while little ill can be accomplished in opposition, neither can any good.

There are plenty of persuasive arguments in favour of this super-pragmatism. The problem is, the person I imagine making them has the face of Tony Blair. And that doesn't inspire anything other than revulsion.
1 - "Possible election date announcement," posted by David Farrar on Kiwiblog, 12th of September, 2008,(, and "Game On!" posted on 08 Wire, 12th of September, 2008 (
2 - As described previously on lefthandpalm:
3 - "Key in family scheme U-turn," by Tracey Watkins in the Dominion Post, 28th of July, 2008. Reproduced on (
4 - "Nats won't shift position on Peters - Key," unattributed NZPA article, 31st of August, 2008. Reproduced on the National Business Review website (
5 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: and


Pat said...

As Helen said, the election is going to be about trust - The Spencer Trust!

But seriously, I agree that National look like they will get the largest chunk of votes, but history would say they will not get enough to govern alone.

NZF look doomed, although I understand Labour are considering not opposing Ron Marks in Rimutaka in an attempt to get them across the line.

The Greens are saying they have not yet decided who they will give support to, but these seem like hollow words indeed.

That leaves the Maori party as king-makers. Their support is historically left-leaning, but there is some bad blood with Labour since the Seabed and Foreshore legislation, and the "last cab off the rank" comment. Still, it's hard to see them forming a coalition with National.

So it is likely that Labour, with a smaller voter mandate, can cobble together a mish-mash of a coalition.

But under MMP, I think a smaller party has an obligation to try and first form an arrangement with the party that recieved the greater majority of votes. After all, that reflects the mood/mandate of the country.

lurgee said...

It would be insane for Labour to try to keep NZ First afloat. Better to let the founder and hope that more of the vote goes to the left than to the right. For all the votes NZ first might bring to a coalition, they will probably lose more.

Where are you hear this from, Pat? It is an intruiging rumour. Possibly started by the right to make Labour look shifty and power hungry?

Pat said...

Yes it is a rumour. Google "Ron Mark Rimutaka" and you will see the goss.

This seat is a Labour stronghold, but with Paul Swain retired the new candidate Chris Hipkins looks like a bit of a plonker. He also looks expendable, so Labour could ask him to stand aside, and ask their supporters to give party vote Labour and candidate vote to Ron Mark.

We will know in a couple of weeks I guess.

Pat said...

By the way, have you seen lately? It has got interesting now that both Hooton and Trotter are regularly bloggers. You should throw your 2 cents in.

lurgee said...

I've been over there and I have made occasional contributions. Frankly, I find Hootn and Trotter equally difficult to take -they are very egotistical. You made a point the other day about me refering to Key as 'Johnny Flip-Flop,' but at least I'm even handed with my scorn, unlike more partisan blogs. My standard name for Trotter is 'Pompous Chris' - you'll even see him designated like that on the links list. I find his over-wrought prose almost unreadable.

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