Brace yourself kiddies, this is going to be a wild one!
My coverage of the 2017 electoral cycle started out ten months ago in January with my first post titled Elections 2017: Ready, steady…Ugh!
It was here that I started my exploration of the topic by noting that even with John Key gone there was still a good chance that we could end up with a National government because a) Winston was going to be kingmaker again; and b) Labour had yet to atone for its piss-poor performance over the previous eight years (and thus was going to be hobbling its performance come polling day).
My summation was that the election was Little’s/Labours to loose, that the sooner he (Little) was removed the better and that Labour could do far worse than by tapping into the spirit of 72 and 84 (both watershed political wins for Labour) by making change to the status quo their key message.
Of course there were detractors (as noted in the comments to that post) to the idea of removing Little (and possibly also to jump-starting Labour) but I don’t get paid* to rehash their tepid opinions because as an independent political blogger, who makes all the money and gets all the glory, it did not take a correspondence degree from the Lionel Hutz school of Politics to see what needed to be done.
And surprise, surprise look what happened.
With two months to go before election day, National looked to have a commanding position as Labour wallowed in apathy and inaction. Then under mounting pressure to vacate the job, Andrew Little copped one to many negative poll results and finally stepped aside to allow Jacinda Ardern to take over as leader and actually lead the party to victory (as oppose to another thrashing on the hustings - because who wants their hustings thrashed?).**
And what flavor is that victory? Why a inimitably kiwi one of course.
But wait, what just happened? How did we get to this place? Why did things turn out the way they did and who is responsible for this?
To answers these questions we have to travel back into the mists of time to a place that no longer exists to find the genesis of this elections outcome.
And it’s here that our story begins… so as the song says, what we’re gonna do here is go back, way back.
Part 1 – Something is not right in Aotearoa
In 1984, after nine years of National, Think Big, The Springbok Tour, Bastion Point, Rob Muldoon and Smiths Dream New Zealand finally said “F**k it!” and voted in a Labour Government under David Lange.
However if Kiwis were voting for change, any change, they were about to get more change than they bargained for in the form of Rodger Douglas, Richard Prebble and the Neo-Liberal/free market revolution which set about dismantling the welfare state and making the rich richer at the expense of everyone else.
It was change all right but not the change that they were wanting or expecting and it turned the country on its head and remains a unspoken trauma on the national psyche to this day.
Globally, right wing ideologues like Thatcher and Regan were doing (or had done) similar things in their countries and with the fall of communism and the “end of history” there was little to counterbalance their predatory and rabid zealotry.
Of course much of the western world was also going through the same things in what can only be described as an international coup attempt by the global elites to roll back democracy, restore feudalism*** and elevate the market as the one true religion.
And for a time it succeeded, by the 90s New Zealand had “liberalized”, Labour had been driven from office in disgrace (by the people saying “F**k it!” again) and the new National government decided to “roll with things” by keeping on with the “reform” process Labour had begun and setting in stone market worship as government practice (think SOEs; calling citizens "customers"; the rise of the business consultants in government etc) and thus making people surplus to requirements.
Then in 1999 the people of New Zealand said “F**k it!” for a third time, evicted National for their skeezy doings under Bolger, Shipley et al (including a younger Bill English and the corpulent mass/mess known as Jerry/Gerry Brownlee) and anointed a fair maiden named Helen as their new leader and politely asked her to fix the problems of the last 15 years.
Unfortunately by that time Left wing parties, desperate to remain relevant after their ideological base had dissolved and seduced by the siren song of corporate influence, had decided that the best course of action was to abandon their traditional values and voter bases, strap on a suit and tie and steer their parties as far right as they possibly could into the toxic wasteland now known as the “middle ground”.
It was the time of Poodle Blair and Helen Clark; dull facsimiles of those that had come before them and happy to keep their masters happy, and the church coffers full, by exhorting the masses to spend more and be happy while public services and democratic mechanisms were quietly undermined by their duplicity.
The MO for both parties in this period was to avoid any clear ideological basis and focus on the simple exhortation for people to submit to the invisible hand of the market. It was an fugly ideology for an fugly time and saw kiwi politics dissolve into a swamp of rainbow vomit as greed and personal interest captured politicians and scandals became the norm.
Then in 2008, after 24 years of the grubby antics of both parties, NZ again said “F**k it!” for a fourth time (now said in much the same manner as a person desperately trying to get a lawnmower to start) and voted for a charismatic young man with a nice suit and a full head of hair (a merchant banker no less) who would fix all their problems and lead the country into the glorious prosperity that had long been promised.
That “nice young man” was John Key and the “glorious prosperity” he promised turned out to be the marketing and selling of New Zealand to tourists and anyone but the people that actually owned it (the People) in an orgy of criminality and corruption that made concepts as pedophile operated day-care centers a plausible reality and dairy cows elevated to a status greater than that of Hindu gods.
Another side effect of the “centering” of politics and the rise of the “men in suits” as politicians was that personality became the dominant factor in politics. Principles and Policy were downplayed in favor of winning the popularity contests which elections were rapidly becoming. Who cared that the PM had been caught in lie when ... hey look the Rugby World Cup!
And as it became clear to the public (both here and overseas) that their elites were only in it for themselves and happy to betray the rest of society in order to board the luxury escape rockets (built by Elon Musk of course) to the pleasure planet (where there are no poor people) their reaction was either to disengage from politics (ie cease to vote) or treat all politicians as paid liars and simply vote for the one who lied the most persuasively (ie promised the best booty).
The result has been the decline in the number of people voting over time (now 1 in 5) and the rise of populist politics and politicians which combine to weaken kiwi democracy and embolden our elites even further in their quest to build the new feudalism.
Come the start of 2017 the state of NZ was one of out of reach house prices, rampant child poverty, unswimable rivers and politics as the domain of the corrupt predators and bumbling incompitents.
And lo, there was much anguish in Gods own land as the people wailed and moaned with no succor from the plagues of tourists and real-estate agents which afflicted them. In desperation some turned their faces upwards and stared into the sun while others succumbed to the whispering of false prophets. And in the great hive the priests gorged themselves on the honey of the bees while erecting an idol of a golden calf, built on the backs of sweating zero hour contract slaves.
And that’s how it happened…
Tomorrow, Part II - I voted and all I got was this coalition government
*-In fact I don’t get paid for this at all. I just do it for the Lulz and grins
**-With the help of Winston Peters of course***-Albeit in a “new and improved form”