Politics is about perception

Richie Hardcore & Jacinda Ardern May 2015

Barry Soper writes: quote.

If politics is about perception, the perception is that the country’s going to hell in a trade union hand basket.

Parliament’s bear pit was on fire yesterday with the booming Gerry Brownlee lambasting the Government for returning New Zealand to cloth cap control by the unions with Air New Zealand engineers threatening to down tools for three days from December 21 (the strike threat was?removed late last night).

National riled the Government saying there are now more strikes than there have been since Jacinda Ardern was at primary school.

Ardern spat back that there’s currently more on offer on the teachers’ bargaining table than there had been during National’s entire nine years in office.

It’s true when Ardern was at primary school 30 years ago the trade union movement was all powerful and battling a government that made the recent changes to workplace law look like a Sunday school picnic.

The Lange Government was hands-on with the unions with Rogergnome Richard Prebble literally sitting up all night on occasion with the Federation of Labour’s President Jim Knox trying to sort out an industrial dispute, like the Cook Strait ferries going on strike again on the eve of holidays. end quote.

Here we are again… or at least, here we almost were. I can’t help thinking that Air New Zealand, understanding the enormous damage strikes at Christmas were going to do to its reputation, must have given in on a number of issues. That the problem may have gone away for now, but it has not gone away forever. quote.

Now the muscle is again being flexed and if Labour’s feeling flustered, it’s got itself to blame.

Changes to the way the party selected its leader was taken away from its MPs six years ago and handed over to the party’s membership and its trade union affiliates who have 20 per cent of the vote, with caucus getting 40 and the rest going to paid-up card carriers.

Ardern wasn’t selected under that system because the MPs are allowed to change a leader themselves within three months of an election. end quote.

Maybe not, but it does show how much control the unions have over Labour nowadays if they have so much influence over the choice of leader. It says everything really. Welcome back to the 1970s… a place where none of us really want to go.

Strikes are not the only perception problem faced by this government though. Winston can be as smart-mouthed in the house as he likes, but the truth is that the prime minister is being damaged by a perception that she is looking after her friends. First of all, there are all the crony postings – Michael Cullen heading the Tax Working Group, Pete Hodgson as chairman of the Dunedin hospital rebuild and Annette King as High Commissioner to Australia. That is all bad enough. Now we have the debacle of Derek Handley, who was clearly put forward for a post at the behest of the prime minister, and the Karel Sroubek case, where it appears that at least some of those who campaigned on his behalf were personal friends of either Clarke or Jacinda. Even one of my reasonably hard-leftie friends has admitted this will do her damage; those same friends, a year ago, thought?that she could do no wrong.

It is death by a thousand cuts, of course, but the things that damage her most of all are the promises that she made during her election campaign. This was going to be the most ?open and transparent government?… and already, it is anything but open and transparent. The other thing that is doing her terrible damage is the fact that she has claimed that she doesn’t lie… but it is now obvious that she lies all the time.

Her government has given a perception of incompetence. From Kiwibuild to ridiculous immigration decisions, to ministers splashing taxpayers’ money around, this government looks like a bunch of cowboys. A bunch of cowboys naive enough to think they can give their friends jobs in high places and believe that no one will question it.

This government has a perception problem all right. It looks to be taking us back to the 1970s, but that is not their only perception problem. Incompetence and corruption are on the list as well.