The Tea Party and the G and T Party


 “In between posing for photos [PM John] Key tried on some free aftershave, swapped capital gains tax jokes…and told a crowd his wife, Bronagh, was better than him at Trivial Pursuit…” Press 23/11/11

He’s still not a bad second-but he won’t be second come tomorrow night.  Luckily elections are about credibility-not what is said, but who said it and how they said it.  Even though Labour Leader Phil Goff finished strongly in the last two TV main leaders debates and boosted his credibility both inside the Party and outside it, there was not too much serious debate on policy issues. The two most controversial National policies-partial asset sales of a few state owned enterprises and education were released either very early in the piece or very late.

But tomorrow we’re not just voting for the government-or at least for the jigsaw pieces that may comprise it-but also for the way we vote. The important MMP referendum has been overshadowed by urgent election politicking.

If there were a Polls Tax it would be a great revenue earner. A recent Herald poll shows that more than half want to keep MMP but only an eighth claim to “fully understand” how each of the alternative systems work.

Has the Election Worm turned? Will the election, like the Rugby World Cup Final, be a closer run affair than anyone predicted three weeks out in terms of coalition options if National doesn’t have the numbers to govern alone, which is, of course, a very First Past the Post position.

Not since the Boston Tea Party, the Mad Hatters Tea Party or the American Republican Tea Party has there been such an extreme weather event in a coffee cup (as the permissible soundless video footage at the Urban Café indicated) as the tea for two chacha involving the two Johns. They may have been jowl to jowl rather than cheek to cheek, but we won’t know what they were discussing until the Hotwatergate Tape is eventually made public one way or another post election. Perhaps they were talking about forming a new G&T Party to fill a post ACT III void. That’s what National needs by 2014 as a genuine coalition partner long term.

The media event was all a bit strained and had the unintended consequence of infusing rather more life into Winston Peter’s resurrection crusade than John Bank’s, but the transfusion still may be just enough to get him over the line in Epsom. The apparently defunct Peter’s Principle was kick started back into life by the CPR publicity jolt that came not a moment too soon if New Zealand First was going to last the distance this time around. It appears to be on a fast sprint to the line.

 Epsom National voters planning to vote tactically on the day probably wouldn’t self-disclose to pollsters.  Enough  National  supporters will still stoop to conquer by voting not for National’s Goldsmith but for ACT’s ring-in and lifeline Banks.  John Key may well need the former National Cabinet Minister as well as the perennial Peter Dunne to form a Coalition government.

The demise of perky Rodney Hide at the hands of then non ACT member and “old friend”-who needs enemies-Don Brash didn’t go down well in some ACT circles, which is what the party has been going in ever since.  Don dropped Rodney Hide like Rodney dropped dance partner Krystal Stuart live on national television, except the latter was an accident, the former coldly calculated.  Even Hitler joined the German Workers Party first and paid his sub before taking it over.

MMP does trigger some strange political behavior, which is why some critics maintain that the initials really stand for Mickey Mouse Politics. Under First Past the Post, the brilliance of the English Constitutional tradition was demonstrated.  Members of “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”,  an inprobably workable oxymoron which always provided a  government in waiting, were paid by the state to oppose the government of the day and keep them honest. Elsewhere they would have been hanged or shot.

Proportionality is all very fine in proportion, but the complexities of the extreme version, MMP, elude the false statistical precision of poll decimal point percentages. This election will be more interesting than looked only a few short weeks ago. Like the Rugby World Cup Final it will be closer in a number of ways than many may have thought in terms not of party vote ratios but of possible coalition permutations.

Despite their virtual invisibilty in the polls, will a  late run by the fledging Conservative Party, bolstered by their last week targetted letters and fliers, mop up some erstwhile ACT voters and others and act as a spoiler as well as a foundation for the future on the centre right?.  If so they should fly next election.

The major long term  outcome of this election-whether National can govern alone or whether it needs a ragtag bunch of coalition “partners”  to form a second National-led Government -could be that the Greens emerge as a big playmaker next election. In 2014 the Greens may be able  to stitch together a rainbow coalition, with Labour’s rump and New Zealand First, to prevent John Key making it three in a row.

This would raise even more concerns about the MMP process, too late to have any effect on tomorrow’s under the radar MMP referendum.

However,  by then Colin Craig’s Conservative Party may turn out to be no mere trivial pursuit and crucial to National’s longevity.


#Lyall Lukey 25 Nov 2011 My other more serious blog



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