Democracy weeps as cynicism swamps Northland by-election

The Northland by-election began sort of normally. Labour’s candidate from the last election, Willow-Jean Prime, put up her hand to stand again soon after the by-election was announced. She and Labour then launched a normal looking campaign.

But then a week later King Cynical confirmed he would also stand, claiming Northland had been “forgotten”. Winston Peters hadn’t stood for a northern electorate since the 1970’s – before Prime was born and NZ First hadn’t stood a candidate for about a decade.

Some of the media jumped on the Winston bandwagon, becoming his willing orchestra “because Winston is fun” – and generates headlines. The free publicity given to one candidate is far more cynical than journalistic.

Next to join the cynical politics was Labour leader Andrew Little. He has all but strongly endorsed Peters, even repeating Winston’s main ‘send a message” message many times. And he has effectively dumped Prime under Winston’s bus.

Not to be outdone John Key and National have knocked things off the cynicism scale.

John Armstrong writes in National crosses into the cynical side of politics.

Brazen, shameless, cynical and more than a little desperate – yesterday’s contribution from National to the Northland byelection campaign was about as subtle as the concrete blocks which will go into the construction of the replacements for no less than 10 existing single-lane bridges in the electorate. Now we know why the Transport Minister goes under the name of Bridges.

The announcement heralded the return of pork-barrel politics – not so much with bells on as an orchestra at top volume, and with a lot more pork and precious little barrel.

Pork-barrelling has become less furtive under John Key’s prime ministership. The Future Investment Fund – which holds the billions of dollars from the sale of shares in the big state-owned electricity generators and Air New Zealand – has long been attacked by National’s opponents as the ultimate “slush fund” which the governing party uses to fund capital spending on major infrastructure items, such as new schools and hospitals.

Yesterday’s announcement is classic pork-barrelling. It indicates three things: that National is seriously worried that Winston Peters may well carry off what initially was seen as an unlikely victory; that such a victory will have serious implications for National’s legislative programme; and that National has few scruples about how it halts Peters’ momentum.

Prime has been muzzled, and Little may feel chastened with a strong negative reaction to him undoing his “cut the crap” persona by shitting on his own candidate while trying to maintain two contradictory messages.

But expect Winston to rise to the challenge and go toe to toe with National on cynical.

Big Time Wrestling has more credibility than the Northland campaign.

It’s a pity there’s no candidate standing for “Pox on All Parties” to really send a message to the campaigners on cynicism overload.

Meanwhile democracy weeps.

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1 Comment

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  11th March 2015

    Got the Osbourne campaign brochure today and it is dreadful. If Winston wins we can forget any roll back of bureaucracy and we will just continue our slide into brainless mediocrity and poverty led by the media and politicians we deserve.


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