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.