Guest Post – Clare Curran: Where angels fear to tread

A couple of weeks ago Clare Curran asked me via Twitter if she could?have?a guest post on Whaleoil. I told her that she could submit anything she liked and I would post it unedited, I also told her that there is no moderation at my blog so she could and probably would suffer in the comments, if she was ok with that then she could send it thorough. Fortunately for her my blog is having some issues with the database that means commenting is difficult. Fingers crossed it will be fixed soon. Here is Clare’s guest post.

Where angels fear to tread by Clare Curran

Politics is an art. It?s also a trade and a thankless grind. It takes time to learn. Some never do. It?s always about moving. Sometimes forward. Sometimes sideways or backwards. Sometimes into new dimensions. That?s the space I want to inhabit. And it?s about risk.

One of the best things about being a Kiwi is that we have a bullshit radar. One of the not so good things is that we can lack confidence in ourselves and as a nation. But we don?t like someone trying to get one over us. I like that.

You might have noticed that some of us Labour politicians have been using the bullshit word a bit lately. I think that reflects how many people feel even if they?re not prepared to ?swear?.

I?d like politics to be more like that. Saying what you really think.

About 13 years ago, when I lived and worked in Australia, I had one of ?those? conversations that can determine the course of your life and perhaps even history.

Louise was truly a comrade. An ex member of the CPA (Communist Party of Oz) which had withered like all extremist organisations do eventually. Both of us belonged to the ALP (Aussie Labor Party) but neither was that involved. The union movement was our thing. And we worked together at the ACTU (Aust Council of Trade Unions). Don?t hiss.

We talked about the inability of the Labor Party to get its head out of internal factional infighting and address the big policy issues of the time. It was 1998.? The Howard government dominated. The country was divided and depressed. The ALP had turned inwards. And it?s very different to the NZ Labour Party. So don?t draw parallels.

We talked about a new way of doing politics. A new way of engaging with people across the political spectrum. Finding the commonalities. Leaving to one side the historical barriers. Realising that the future was about new paradigms. And that it was possible. And necessary.

Idealistic bullshit? I dunno. I am an idealist. But I am also a realist. And I don?t like to give up.

When I walked the streets of South Dunedin in 2008 knocking on doors and talking to people about what really mattered, one of the things consistently raised was frustration about the practice of politics.

In 2011, walking those same streets, it keeps coming up. People want you to be straight with them. They don?t want to be dicked around. They don?t want to be manipulated and put into categories and ?messaged?.

It doesn?t matter who you are and how your parents voted. What you think about tories, pinkos (that?s for you Whale) or whackos. People want politicians to tell it how it is. And come up with solutions. It?s not rocket science.

Who?s prepared to be most honest, and be clear about your motives.

I?m no angel. But I reckon I?m on the side of the angels.

I know we?re going to fight it out in the election battleground. But to all you Whale loyalists, I reckon in your heart of hearts you know there?s some really important stuff that has to be done in this country.

Making New Zealand a country of makers might be a start. Where our kids can grow up safely and bond to our land and our Kiwi ways. And no matter where life takes them, always see us as home.

Where they get the opportunities in life to get skilled and that there are decent jobs that pay decent money to keep them at home.

Where we?re collectively proud of ourselves. Even if we grumble. Where we can stand tall in the world. Treat each other well. And like each other. Mostly.

I think that access to technology is a great leveller. It can transform our nation, it can give people opportunities and ways out of poverty they never had before. It lets people fend for themselves. It creates new communities. It can allow us to build a nation built on our wits and skills that we can still only dream of.

We have to sort out a few things though; the infrastructure that underpins new technology, a competitive environment with incentives to develop new businesses, one that creates more Kiwi content that builds export businesses as well as being distinctively our own.

One thing we have to get right is ditching the anachronistic and monopolist laws and frameworks that threaten us being able to thrive in digital environment. I get that. It won?t all happen overnight but we need some vision in this. And some leadership.

Politics needs people with vision. We?re not a corporation. We don?t need a chief executive. We need people who have damn good ideas and the ability to put them into practice. How else do great things happen?

I want a country where it doesn?t matter where you live your kids can get the best education. Where you can start up a business in the sticks and make it work. Where our rural communities thrive again.

Where the poor kids can use their skills to develop the next start-ups, rather than the next drug deal.

A big question for us is how we can make New Zealand the most natural place for talent to thrive. I reckon you all care about that. That?s just the start.

We need to make stuff happen. Not make stuff up.

I?m a new politician. In more ways than one. It doesn?t always go down well in my party. You might think I?m a wanker. I don?t care about that. I just care about getting stuff done while I?m here.

And I don?t care if you disagree with me as long as you listen, and debate the real issues. And not the person.