Monday, 17 September 2012

National is just managing retreat

Last week I posted a request. I blogged asking National Party supporters to tell me, after nearly a term-and-a-half in office, what they considered the Key Government’s greatest achievement. I got just 12 responses. Out of which, only three were from National voters.

Now, this might mean I have very few National-voting readers. That’s possible.  But according to my Statcounter, roughly 3,355 people read that post, many of whom must surely be National sympathisers. Yet they didn’t bother to comment.

Now, I don’t want to make too much stew from just those few onions (unlike the Australian academic who on less evidence would like us to think climate skeptics also wear tinfoil hats). But I was fascinated by the two I deemed the “winning responses”; from Simon…:

In 10 years time National will be remembered for slowing the train down for a few years before it gathers steam again under Labour and finally crashes off the tracks.

…and from Blair, who declared National’s biggest achievement to be:

Keeping Labour out of power. Not much I know…

He’s probably right on both counts. That it isn’t very much. And it is their biggest "achievement."  Not anything they've done themselves, simply what they've not allowed the red team to do.

In other words, their biggest achievement while in government is being in government.

Put one way then, it is just power for power's sake. But put another way, it's an admission of something very serious indeed—which is an acceptance of intellectual impotence: that they have neither ideas for reform nor courage to carry them out.  A recognition that the other team have all the ideas, and the best National can hope to do themselves is to be a speed hump in their road.

Very low horizons indeed for a party whose founding objectives were stated to be:

To promote good citizenship and self-reliance; to combat communism and socialism; to maintain freedom of contract; to encourage private enterprise; to safeguard individual rights and the privilege of ownership; to oppose interference by the State in business, and State control of industry. 

Very low horizons indeed—particularly when there is abounding intellectual ammunition on every one of those policy fronts sufficient not just to hunker down in a foxhole waging a war of managed retreat, but to advance boldly on all fronts.

Which tells me that the real political battle is still one of ideas. Unfortunately, while the teams wearing red and green know that, the team wearing blue still doesn’t.


  1. Bill English's; increasing GST, increasing ACC's coercive brutality, bailing out of an arbitrary finance company by continuing Cullen's dopey insurance; has not been accompanied recently by any equally damaging ideas.
    This is, sadly, a political achievement by modern standards.

  2. You not only asked what the National Government's greatest achievement was, but what they will be remembered for.

    Assuming National is re-elected in November, it is almost certain the crash will come on its watch (and read the post below if you don't believe me). Therefore, John Key and his government will go down in New Zealand history much as Captain Edward Smith is remembered as the master of the Titanic.

    They will thoroughly deserve their legacy.

  3. You are far too kind to Shipley and Boldger: Remember that every single one of Ruth's and Roger's reforms have been undone

    The policy prescription is a simple one finish the job and that is still remarkably easy: ending welfare takes an order in council; ending state health and education is practically one page of legislation; getting rid of the SOEs (once you recognize they are liabilities not assets) can be done in less than a week. Not years for one company - a week for the lot. repealing ACC, EQC, WFF and the rest - once your aim is truly to repeal and not replace, one can move very fast indeed.

    Key and Joyce could still fix NZ between now and Christmas if only they had the guts.

  4. Greatest backwards achievement is to take NZ even further on to its knees to part horis

  5. National is back to what it always did. The first and second National governments reversed nothing of the previous Labour governments. The third one only reversed the Kirk pension scheme replacing it with something worse, and the fourth one did a little good - till it was slowed to a crawl by Bolger.

    It is like the Conservatives in the UK pre and post Thatcher. For years they were thought of as stemming the slide to socialism, until she decided to turn the other way.

    Supposed opponents of socialism without the courage or intellectual fortitude to confront it.


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