Ditching that bitch in Wellington

Chris Trotter is on fire, two great posts in as many days. The one for today is a lesson in how Labour lost the election and some masterful descriptions. The main theme is about dance partners. He explores Labour’s dance partners and then he talks about National’s dance partners that helped get them through the election.

National?s partner ? let?s call him Waitakere Man ? has a trade certificate that earns him much more than most university degrees. He?s nothing but contempt for “smart-arse intellectual bastards spouting politically-correct bullshit”.

What he owns, he?s earned ? and means to keep.
“The best thing we could do for this country, apart from ditching that bitch in Wellington and making John Key prime-minister,” he?d inform his drinking-buddies in the lead-up to the 2008 election “would be to police the liberals ? and liberate the police.”
Waitakere Man values highly those parts of the welfare state that he and his family use ? like the public education and health systems ? but has no time at all for “welfare bludgers”.
“Get those lazy buggers off the benefit”, he?s constantly telling his wife, “and the government would be able to give us a really decent tax-cut.”
On racial issues he?s conflicted. Some of his best friends really are Maori ? and he usually agrees with the things John Tamihere says on Radio Live. So long as the conversation stays on sport, property prices and fishing, he doesn?t really notice the colour of a bloke?s skin. It?s only when the discussion veers towards politics, and his Maori mates start teasing him about taking back the country, treaty settlement by treaty settlement, that his jaw tightens and he subsides into sullen silence. Though he didn?t say so openly at the time, he?d been thrilled by Don Brash?s Orewa Speech, and reckoned the Nats? “Iwi-Kiwi” billboards were “bloody brilliant!”
That there is probably the best summary of just how out of touch the Labour party had become with middle New Zealand. The problem of having a party run by people who have never risked their own capital or earned a dollar that hadn’t already been taken from someone else in the form of tax.

Chris Trotter in those few paragraphs has told Labour that they must ditch their liberal elite homo brigade and get real. They won’t of course for they are now the party of the lesbian, gay, takataapui, bisexual, intersex, transgender and?fa’afafine, professional union hacks and failed teachers.

Winning over Waitakere Man turned out to be a great “twofer” deal for the Right. To its immense satisfaction, the highly-skilled, upwardly-mobile working-class blokes who began trooping into National?s camp following the 2005 election were bringing their wives with them.

The “gender gap”, which had for so long worked in Helen Clark?s favour, was closing. Where Brash?s unflinching neoliberal austerity had turned women off, Key?s boyish charm and his “aspirational”, “Labour-lite” polices were turning them on.
National was getting two (or more) votes for the price of one. Sometimes Waitakere Man brought with him the votes of his mother, daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces as well. How had Clark forfeited the trust of Waitakere Woman?
Between 1999 and 2005 working-class women took pride in Clark?s political success, and responded positively to the introduction of Paid Parental Leave and Working for Families. They?d admired her decision to stay out of Iraq, and had, by-and-large, been relieved when she spurned the Greens for Peter Dunne.
What broke their connection with Clark was the anti-smacking legislation. They felt affronted ? as if their parenting skills had been weighed in the balance of the Prime Minister?s conscience and found wanting. Clark, who had no children, was telling them how to raise their kids. She seemed to be passing judgement on their whole family ? turning them into criminals. They felt betrayed.
And that is the nub of it all. It is also where John Key cleverly got away with it all and also why national just went up in the polls despite his reaction to the referendum.
Waitakere Woman?s sense of betrayal, combined with the ingrained misogyny and cultural diffidence of Waitakere Man, was what got National onto the dance floor in 2008. Key should read both Rodney Hide?s intransigence on Maori representation, and the recent Referendum?s unequivocal result, as timely reminders of the price of his party?s admission.
When the band begins to play, Waitakere Man and Waitakere Woman must not be left standing.
And I am quite sure that John key will not be leaving them standing on the sidelines.
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