The National government copped a cacophony of crankiness over the class size debacle. It was poorly introduced policy, and the ensuing flak was poorly managed, until Hekia Parata announced a retraction yesterday. That won’t be the last we hear of it for sure – Greens are calling for Parata to “step down” (I wonder if Green MPs will resign for errors in Government).
National will be wanting to try and brush this off and move on. But if they think the education/budget stuffup was an isolated embarrassment they may be in for more surprises.
There is a lot of political passion brewing around the country. Not just passion. Anger. Looking for an outlet.
The class size flareup was just a symptom of a greater problem. There have been multiple reports of arrogance and abuse of the select committee process on the MOM bill.
I’ve been seeing simmering and seething around the blogs, Facebook and Twitter. And I’ve been experiencing it in the real world.
I was at a Save TVNZ 7 meeting in Dunedin last night. There was a sizeable and responsive crowd. They were cheering activism, supporting public broadcasting. And they were jeering National.
People spoke with passion. There were signs of frustration and anger. They want action. They want action on public broadcasting. And they want inaction on asset sales.
This was a very Labour (and Green) friendly crowd. But that wasn’t all it was. People came to me afterwards, respectful and supportive of where I stood, but forcefully asking if I could do anything.
National won’t listen. So they want Peter Dunne to stand up and make them listen. Someone openly, publicly, virtually demanded that Dunne bring down the government.
This wasn’t an isolated case. I have also been confronted online a number of times.
The people don’t care about the niceties of how our MMP democracy works, and the responsibilities of coalition partners.
People are ropeable. Annoyed. Angry. And the feelings are growing, escalating.
And they are getting close to wanting political blood (some already do).
National can argue all they like about clearly signposted policies and elections and mandates. They have fair points. Generally they are still seen as good financial managers, far less risk than Labour/Greens in difficult economic times.
But National have been a disconnected Government, doing their own thing without much carrying the people with them.
John Key is personable, but National have thought that will do for all of them. It isn’t working. National are losing a good chunk of the people.
National got away with remoteness last term. But they are failing badly this term. Mistakes like the class size fiasco are one symptom of this disconnect.
Part of the problem has been generated by opposition. Talking up the supposed disaster of asset sales. Talking up the them versus us, the rich versus poor. Talking up a class war.
I don’t like this deliberate subversiveness, I think it’s a pox on politics where opposition parties actively try and bring down our country’s democratic government. It reflects poorly on those who indulge in black politics.
But that isn’t the only problem. It could be ignored, blown away as the negative nonsense that it is.
Except that National have believed in their right to rule, but have at the same time been losing touch with the people. And making mistakes.
I think National are facing major problems if they don’t face this and deal with it. Quickly and comprehensively.
National needs to find a solution to a problem largely due to their own negligent aloofness. Or they will crash, with the help of a lot of willing tyre spikers.
And even though some other parties would relish the chance to get their hands on power by any means, foul or fouler, that won’t be good for the country.
Labour have shown no signs yet of being ready to take over as a responsible government.
An early election followed by an undisciplined spending splurge, and business cost impositions, to reward special interest groups and coalition partners, would be a huge risk to our stuttering economy.
If National don’t wake up bloody soon we may all end up in a nightmare situation.