How right wing or conservative

I’m not much into political labels, but they are often used, sometimes to describe someone’s political alignment, but more often as a form of put-down.

Robert Guyton has labelled me as right wing several times recently but I don’t care much as his credibility is poor – he has often made things up about me, here, and since ceasing commenting in a huff has continued to make digs false assertions at The Standard (he was at it again yesterday). With Robert I don’t know if it is through ignorance, through seeing most people as ‘right wing’ from his fairly far left perspective, or if he is deliberately trying to provoke and smear, as he often does.

But another comment at The Standard was curious:

He is tribal conservative but has reached a position where he thinks the centre provides the best result in a goldilocks sort of way.

That was from mickysavage (Greg Presland) who is fairly straight up and doesn’t join the bash wagon at The Standard, so I take this as his genuine perception of my political leanings. But being described as “tribal conservative” is quite a laugh.

Last century I tended to vote Labour (never National). Early this century I voted Green, and Labour in 2005 to help help Don Brash out of power. I don’t know how tribal conservative this record is.

I approached Labour in 2009 thinking I could contribute to them rebuilding, but didn’t follow through because they (primarily Clare Curran) gave me the impression they wanted workers but not thinkers or contributers.

I have never considered being involved with National or NZ First. I have considered Greens but while I’m in line generally with their environmental ideals am not in favour of their radical social goals – in particular because they are unproven ideals.

I don’t think “the centre provides the best result in a goldilocks sort of way”. I considered myself centre-ish for a while, but my preferences are wider than that, depending on the issue.

I was never a fan of Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, and what I’ve seen of the New Conservative Party leaves me cold, they are not my thing at all.

My political preferences are similar to the more liberal National MPs like Nikki Kay and Chris Bishop and also similar to moderate Labour MPs – certainly not in line with conservative National MPs (including Simon Bridges). I agree in part with others more leftward, like James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter.

I’m sure I have some conservative-ish views, but on social issues I think I am usually not conservative aligned at all.

Homosexual law reform – strongly in favour, the laws up until the 1980s were terrible.

Smacking children – strongly against, except in very mild cases (tap/smack and not whack/smack). I voted against the smacking referendum. I am strongly anti-violence in the home.

Marriage equality – I supported the civil union law reform as adequate, but shifted to supporting full marriage equality after talking with people at a gay group meeting.

Marriage generally – I guess I’m conservative on this to an extent, I value marriage as a way of showing commitment to a partner. However I ‘lived together’ for several years prior to both my marriages – this is commonly accepted practice this century, but was quite a bit more radical first time round in the 1970s and certainly not conservative.

Abortion – I strongly support moves to make our abortion laws line up with our abortion practice, scrapping the ridiculous requirements women have to comply with now, making it women’s choice up until about half term.

Euthanasia – I support euthanasia in principle, and i think i will probably vote for if it goes to a referendum, depending on what we actually get to vote on.

Cannabis law reform – I have strongly support cannabis law reform and have campaigned politically on this. The current drug laws are not working, causing more problems than they solve. I want the legal, medical and social mess cleaned up. I have never used cannabis or any other recreational drug except alcohol.

MMP – I have supported MMP as a better than most of the rest option, albeit flawed. I oppose FPP. I strongly support lowering the MMP threshold, preferably to 2-3% if not scrapped entirely. The priority should be put on making as many votes count as possible. The 5% threshold is a large party imposition to protect their positions by excluding small parties, I think this is appalling and undemocratic.

Tax and benefit reform – I support a major rethink of our tax and benefit system. I’m disappointed by the timidity shown by the current Government with their hobbled tax working group – with the economy currently strong it would be a good time to change things more radically. I’m interested in some sort of universal basic income. I have some reservations, but in a total reform package it should be considered in the mix.

I’m interested to hear why Greg thinks that I was or am ‘tribal conservative’. I really doubt he has any real idea, my views have been generally heavily clobbered and misrepresented at The Standard – since I started commenting there thinking it might be the political blog most in line with my thinking about ten years ago.

Tribal politics

In a blog post Brian Edwards talks about his politics, concluding:

Idealism has a tendency to give way to pragmatism in politics. Leaders, particularly in opposition, have a tendency to become followers of what is sellable rather than what is right. Labour Party leaders are no exception.

But, all things considered, I’m still a Labour voter with a greenish tinge. What I’m not is one-eyed. I don’t believe that everything about the Labour Party is good and everything about the National Party is bad. I’m simply not “tribal”.

He then moves on to ‘Tribal Politics”.

Tribalism in politics is the death of reason. It involves seeing no good in the parties you oppose and no bad in the party you support. It involves blind admiration for the leader of your party and dismissive rejection of the leaders of opposing parties. It involves ascribing the worst motives to those on the other side of the fence and the best motives to those on your side. Tribal thinking can be bigoted, irrational and capable of real malice. To get a taste of this read some of the almost invariably anonymous comments about  my posts on this site or Twitter or the National Business Review which republishes what I write.

Tribal politics draws no distinction between the person and the party they support. It’s as if being Labour, National, Green, a follower of Winston or Colin Craig  was part of your DNA – permanent, irreversible and , perhaps worst, capable of explaining everything about you. “Typical Labour!” is the commonest term of disapproval I read about myself when I’ve written a post or left a comment on Twitter or Facebook. The words stick to me like the label on a supermarket apple.

But there’s nothing “typically Labour” about me. And the truth of the matter is that I could never join the Labour Party or any other party, because that would compel me to think  tribally rather than thinking for myself and saying what I thought.

Which is why I say that tribal politics inevitably involves the death of reason. If you really think that a political party, your political party, is the only viable option or can do no wrong, you’ve given up thinking.

On the other hand, it’s a very, very comfortable position to be in.

It’s easy to see tribal politics in action on political blogs (not here!), and ‘reason’ seems to be lacking at times, at least on the surface – political activism doesn’t always express reality, as the PR often rules.

But most people aren’t politically tribal. I I think the reality is that most people are very comfortable ignoring politics as much as possible most of the time.