As well as this blog, we maintain an email list. The following article consists of bits and pieces written by a number of Redline contributors to the general discussion of the election results on that list.
Whooda thought the day would come when a slimey, smug, multi-millionaire money markets man would be by far the most popular politician in the country? Although I guess a chunk of it is luck – if NZ had have had a meltdown in the financial and banking sector, Key would not be so popular.
One of the interesting phenomena is the inroads National has made in the party vote in a number of big working class seats held by Labour. For instance, seats like Mana, Christchurch East, Wigram, Dunedin South, Hutt South (and others) which have been Labour (or in the case of Wigram Anderton) strongholds now have National out ahead in the party vote.
The only sustained exceptions seem to be the Auckland seats with big Pacific Island concentrations where Labour has retained substantial electorate and party vote majorities.
The Christchurch swing is pretty bizarre. Historically Christchurch is very much a Labour city and a liberal-labour centre. I’d put it down to the earthquake, except that doesn’t explain the swing in Dunedin which is quite pronounced as well – again, a Labour city and a liberal-labour centre traditionally. The two Dunedin seats also saw a big swing to the Nats on the party vote, far exceeding the nationwide average.
Interestingly even if you add in the Green vote the Right bloc (Nats plus ACT) still won the party vote in all of the Christchurch electorates except Port Hills (where the Greens are quite strong).
By contrast in the other urban centres adding in the Greens brings back Dunedin South, most of Wellington and West Auckland to the Centre Left. Just not Christchurch (or the smaller provincial cities like Hamilton and Palmerston North, which are all now shaded a deep blue).
In Christchurch, National also captured Waimakariri off Clayton Cosgrove, which is a surprise and they may take Christchurch Central, although I suspect the specials will favour Labour. But both Waimakariri and Christchurch Central (esp Central) were solid Labour seats. And the candidate in Waimakariri was the utter non-entity (although apparently she’s Minister of Labour) Kate Wilkinson, so it’s not like the Nats had a candidate full of charisma! Wagner, who could take Central, is another real lightweight, basically a liberal blue-green airhead.
Who best to run capitalism?
I was recently speaking with someone who through his work has met quite a lot of politicians over the years. He reckons most of the Nat MPs he has met are airheads and some of them are actual imbeciles while most of the heavy hitters (intellectually) these days are Labour. He reckons that on the whole Labour MPs are head and shoulders above the Nats in calibre. I thought this was funny because I tend to think Labour has much better personnel for running NZ Capitalism Ltd than the Nats and that this has probably been true since 1984.
If I was a capitalist who actually made stuff I’m pretty sure I’d be a Labour supporter, whereas if I was a capitalist who just lived off surplus-value created elsewhere in the economy I’d probably vote for the Nats.
It might be a sign of the sheer decadence of NZ capitalism, and the triumph of purely parasitic capitalism over producing capitalism, that the Nats did so well! No wonder so many people stayed at home.
New Zealand First a protest
Despite his background in the Nats, Winston is kinda Old Labour: social conservatism wedded to an interventionist state and Keynesian economic policy. (Of course, that is also Muldoonism.)
This was definitely a protest vote and not an entirely reactionary one either, despite his anti-immigrant positions (which he also seems to have moderated on; he didn’t really bang that drum this time around from what I could see).
NZ First is a vote mistrusting National and Labour, a vote for a stirrer. Winston’s not a nice lad, but there’s some perverse positives to be taken from his advance.
Number 4 on the NZ First Party List was until recently an active member of Social Credit, so it seems as though in addition to the Muldoonist constituency Peters is also angling for the agrarian populist tradition of Bruce Beetham et al.
People often forget just how divided the National Party was under Muldoon – a relation of mine, who was an old school patrician Tory and in the leadership the Nats in Canterbury-Westland, resigned rather than have anything to do with him, so in a sense it is only fitting that the “Rob’s Mob” constituency followed Peters out of the party once National abandoned Keynesian interventionism and reverted to type.
Although Mana did relatively well in the Maori seats – coming second in two, as well as winning the north – I wonder whether they will be able to build, let alone sustain, a serious party organisation even in those areas, let alone more broadly. The Maori-led working class party that some claimed Mana as hasn’t really materialised.
There is a coherent philosophy to the Alliance which I suspect will never die this side of a completely classless society.
The idea of sensible gradual advance to a sensible society by argument and persuasion, a society of free education, national awards and school milk. We did it once, without studying incomprehensible tests and shooting people; why for goodness sake cannot we do it again?
I like the idea myself, I would so much rather it was a possibility but it ain’t.