Spitting out pieces of their broken luck

Like a number of party activists on blogs Anthony Robins has been busy at The Standard over the last couple of weeks trying to promote Labour’s chances of getting into government, and trying to trash National.

A recent attempt: Nats – lousy at government – “brilliant” at opposition

National have been a lousy government. They have enriched the rich and impoverished the poor. They have inflated a housing bubble and done nothing for the homeless. They have let the environment degrade and made a mockery of our global warming commitments. They have let social institutions degrade, along with practical services like health and education. They have engaged in dirty politics in blatant lies. And for what?

A common refrain from the left – exaggerated generalities.

What will they be remembered for? Oh they “got us through the financial crisis” – yeah just like every other country on the planet (and it was our slowest ever recovery from a recession).

This diss is very lame. New Zealand is acknowledged to have done very well at weathering and recovering from the GFC, and our economy is now in a relatively healthy state compared to most countries.

They “got us through the Christchurch earthquakes” – yeah ask some people who live in Christchurch about that.

There’s no doubt that many people in Christchurch have had a tough time since the earthquakes, and there is more to sort out yet.

What National are “brilliant” at is opposition. They poll and focus group relentlessly, they have heaps of money, they attack like rabid rats in a sack. They have essentially spent the last nine years running opposition against Labour. They have been very successful at this, witness Labour’s long poll doldrums, and the fact that most of the “reasons” for those doldrums are memes of the Nats making.

Robins is really trying to blame National for Labour’s poor performance and their revolving door leadership over the past nine years.

When I say “brilliant” at opposition, the quote marks are because it’s only brilliant if you accept that tactics like dirty politics and outright lies are acceptable, that the ends of power justify any means. That way lies political madness.

All politicians have difficulty avoiding lying, and National is not the only party that has resorted to dirty politics.

Aside from disgruntled opposition activists I think National is regarded to have governed reasonably well over the last nine years, although of course there have been stuff ups, failures and some sleeping at the wheel, especially over housing and health.

I think National’s 9 years compares fairly favourably to an also successful 9 years of government led by Labour’s Helen Clark. There will always be justified criticisms of any Government, but New Zealand has been led and governed relatively well and successfully so far this century.

Robins is unlikely to have any influence on the current negotiations. He is preaching to a protected niche who are already convinced that National is evil and hopeless.

That’s been happening at The Standard over the last nine years, and it’s an approach to political activism that hasn’t helped Labour’s case (or more recently and increasingly the Green’s case) for improving their credibility or gaining support.

I think it’s noteable that Labour’s recovery and rapid rise under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership is due to her positive approach to politics. She has actually commended Bill English’s stewardship of the Finance portfolio, and she has acknowledged the relative success and strength of the New Zealand economy.

Robins and The Standard seems stuck in old school negative politics. If they stopped sounding so bitter, looked at the positives, and looked at ways of doing better they would get onside with the Ardern approach to politics and would help improve left wing credibility and respect.

Spitting out pieces of their broken luck, oh, The Standard should get over that and like Ardern look at how they can build a better political environment.

Adding value is far more likely to end up in success, if not this term then put them in a strong position next term, than bashing and trashing.

(Line borrowed from Aqualung)