The Wairarapa election race is “hotting up' as some would say, with 3 candidate meetings on consecutive nights this week.
On Sunday, all six contenders faced off at the Masterton Community Church before a relaxed and courteous forty-strong crowd (yes, courteous!); Monday night was a Greypower-organised encounter in the Masterton Town Hall; Tuesday saw the whole electoral caravan head up to Martinborough, where being wine country we at least had plenty to slake our thirst.
Election meetings in town halls are sparsely attended these days, and I predict next time around most meetings will be held in pubs. As I can attest from the meeting last week in Featherston (and as anyone who has watched Backbenches on TV will tell you) pub meetings are raucous, relaxed (once you've had a beer or two) and a lot of fun. So no wonder they attract a decent sized mobs of spectators—and hecklers. It’s like old-style campaigning on the stump.
Monday night saw us grilled before an audience of about sixty. Former Dompost editor Karl du Fresne sat in the back row taking notes, but sadly he bolted as soon as we finished the meeting. The Labour Party Muppet Corps were once again in attendance--with a fair share of patsy questions for their candidate—so perhaps the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the muppets during the after-match cup of tea didn't appeal to Karl.
Tuesday night in Martinborough was more sparsely attended, and we lacked local resident Deborah Coddington reporting for the NZ Herald as she did in 2008. Unfortunately the rather frail looking chairman introduced me as hailing from the Liberace Party! I responded by asking if anyone had a piano I could use.
Mind you, maybe he was on to something? Liberace was enormously popular with a certain type of punter.
Casting those thoughts aside, I used my allotted time to point out that there were three categories of party on show: the Big Government parties of National, Labour and the Greens; the Wanna-Be reformers of ACT and the Conservatives; and the real reformers - Libertarianz.
To loud applause, I described Epsom candidate John Banks as a bigot, a bully and a millstone around ACT's neck. And John Key’s.
The Conservatives, I noted, seem to want to have it both ways - angling for the Christian vote while not being a Christian political party as such. I challenged local candidate (and best speaker of the evening) Brent Reid on this, and pointed out their policies were still work in progress with less than two weeks before election day.
Speaking on National’s abject inability to spend within their means, I got a promise in front of the audience (for what it's worth)that National MP John Hayes would resign if New Zealand’s books did not return to surplus by 2015 as his party keeps promising. I reminded the audience that Phil Goff's Greek calculator really belongs to Bill English, and that Bill should cut up his Bank of Athens credit card - the one he flogs to the tune of $80 for every man, woman and child in NZ every week - the profligate spending that the Dipton Double Dipper reckons will result in rampant prosperity within four years.
I'll believe that when I see it. And I bet John Hayes retires from politics in 2014, so he won't have to resign in 2015 when BlueLabour's policies of borrow and spend have their inevitable destructive effect on the economy.
I was reacquainted with a young man in the audience at the last two meetings who I think has a future in local and national politics, with all that implies: Kieran McAnulty from the Labour Party. Still only in his mid 20s, it's only a matter of time before he is offered as a candidate for the Reds. It will be an interesting prospect if we end up crossing swords in the future, as he was a patient of mine in his younger days before he left Wairarapa for university studies.
And I have to thank Labour candidate Michael Bott for rescuing me from a Rick Perry moment, as I was relating what branches of government would survive a Libertarianz open season on bureaucrats. I had mentioned the Defence Ministry, but do you think I could remember the other two? After a second's pause, Michael chipped in with "Police." I added "Justice," and noted that at least Labour would leave all three alive (though the Clark government nearly starved the Defence Force to death).
At other meetings I've rattled off the three legitimate branches of government in a flash. But funny things can happen when you're at the podium with all eyes fixed on you. Readers should try it some time!
I will miss the final candidate meeting for the week on Thursday, at the RSA in Carterton, to attend the annual Porritt Lecture at Whanganui Hospital instead. A muppet-free evening will make a nice change.
So that’s just my news of the week, readers. Other Libertarianz candidates are tearing new exhaust holes in the opposition candidates at evening meetings up and down the country, while carrying on their regular paying work during the day. Hopefully this will be reflected in the party vote in nine days time.
But what's more important is that our message of small government is getting out there, our rivals are listening, and they respect us for our principled views--even if they rarely agree that freedom is something to be truly valued; even if they posit (as one candidate did) the bizarre view that a bit of slavery via the income tax system, like a little bit of sewage in the town water supply, is somehow acceptable.
To the other Libz candidates out there: Keep it up guys, and as one of our stalwarts in the 'Naki would say, rev shit out of the bastards!
Once more into the breach, dear friends!
See you next week.