Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Unleash the hamsters of indecision

I had a good chuckle over Colin James' Stout Centre speech on Ruth Richardson. After giving Ruth so many back-handed compliments I thought even Sue Bradford might complain, he ended by giving her a pat on the back. One point struck a nerve though:
"She confounded one TINA ("there is no alternative"), the undoubted need to deregulate and rely more on the market, with another, that there is only one true set of policies, which is demonstrably untrue. She applied a lawyer's logic to abstract economic rules and then advocated them with the intensity of a courtroom lawyer who allows no doubt about his or her case. She knew best. Actually, the electorate knows best."
This is ever so slightly an unfair criticism. What Mr James is describing is the plain and unvarnished dark art of politics. This is how politics works, the exertion of various powers to get what you want. Applying a lawyer's logic when pushing through legislation largely intact is a good start.

It is for this reason that Chris Trotter pulled the plug on Sue Bradford's Bill. Get out now. You sold it all wrong, lost the initiative. Whatever's left of the Bill after passing through the digestive tract of the select committee is bad law. It's as if the Section 59 Bill snapped a mast and the only way to win now is to get the team to walk on water and carry the thing across the line. It is for this reason that the prolific number of policy u-turns and drifting Order Paper is such a bad look for Labour. There are Tribbles in the halls of power.

It was also interesting to see Sidney Holland glossed over as a small-c conservative slash small-l liberal. The Waterfront strike and everything Holland did around it, from jigging for an early election through to evoking emergency powers, isn't a thought that sits easily next to "equilibrium". In many ways, the Holyoake years were a New Zealand reflection of the Eisenhower years in the States. Steady growth, conformity, boring as fuck. Just what the General Electorate is looking for in John Key.