The art of being a politician

The National party is a broad church. It has over time absorbed ACT party ideas and their people and to a certain extent Christian conservative people and ideas. It goes all across the spectrum to include liberal elite areas of politics like climate change and green politics.

People who go to church are over 5% of the population but Christian based parties in New Zealand have only ever managed to get between 3-5%. In other words, the majority of Christians say “yeah nah” to a Christian based party because politics is about more than faith-based parties and generally is about 3 things.

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Security

Christian parties tend to be top-heavy on issues at the margins hence their lack of support. There are more Christians in New Zealand than there are Green voters but no one wants a Christian party, but the Green party keeps getting re-elected, think about that for a minute.

Greens can afford to be at the margins and involved in labelling and tribalism but the National party and Labour party cannot afford to do that.

Think about Labour between 2008-2017. For four leaders in a row, they were highly tribal, abusive of anyone who voted National, derisive of John Key, used nicknames and labelling and lost three elections in a row.

Along came Jacinda who talked about being inclusive and nice and said “let’s do this” (whatever this was). It softened Labours edges and they gained an additional 10% which allowed them to be in a position to form a government.

When Labour was nasty it was easy for people to not vote Labour. National didn’t lose too many votes because of it but the stay at home voter with the advent of Jacinda now had a reason to vote for Labour again. By dialling back the tribalism Labour was able to gain the treasury benches.

In order to govern a political party must command a significant minority of the electorate 35-45% to have a major influence and therefore must attract a broad spectrum of support. People at the fringes or who are single issue agenda pushers can safely be ignored.

The vast majority of people in New Zealand subscribe to a view that Jack’s as good as his master and good old fashioned Kiwi fair play. That’s why we don’t tolerate bludgers and people ‘taking the piss.’

Barking at every passing car is a sure fire way of sidelining your party. We saw Labour do it under John Keys’ government where they opposed everything and sought attention seeking positions without any forethought about what would happen when they became the government. This is what drove stupid policies like Kiwibuild, the Chinky names policy & numerous other issues that were raised that are now biting the current government on the bottom.

It is all well and good while in opposition to criticise the government but at some point, you are going to have to govern and provide solutions to the things you were moaning about.

Take the gun issue for example. Yes, the government is doing silly and somewhat egregious things BUT National’s best policy in this regard is to keep a low profile and let the government make these mistakes. What they shouldn’t do is what Chris Bishop has been doing which backfired on him in a recent meeting. He was chasing the passing car of gun rights and got slaughtered.

We do not have gun rights in New Zealand we only have property rights. Without a constitution, we have no right to bear arms.

There are high emotions involved at the moment in this debate and sensible politicians will take a considered approach. Pandering to the extremes of any lobby group whether they are Green or the Gun lobby or the Christian right is dealing at the margins. Most reasonable people, ie core voters do not agree with those on the margins.

In order to win power, National has to appeal to the centre and to both the left and right of centre. It is far better to let other politicians grandstand on the left and right margins.

Ultimately a politician has to show principles that they stand by. It is better to stand for something than to die for nothing. All too often under MMP politicians have taken the gluten-free, hypoallergenic, low fat, tasteless, skinny, brown bread option which pleases no one but offends no one either.

You can’t make everybody happy so you have to pick some people to upset. For example, there are 250,000 gun owners but there are only 7000 e-category gun owners. When faced with the disaster of Christchurch someone or something has to be blamed. No politician wants to be seen to have blood on their hands.

No one yet has held Jacinda Ardern accountable for the gun changes she pushed through just one year ago. Perhaps this will be examined in the Christchurch Royal commission enquiry. Could this be the reason why she is so insistent on doing something now to repair the damage that she did?

People, (voters) want the government to do something. Something has to be lost so it is wise to choose the option that affects the smallest number of voters possible. The reality is that the majority of gun owners don’t have e-cat guns.