I'm loving this "Duelling Banjos" thing me and Bomber have got going on at the moment - he writes a piece castigating NZF for imminent existential failure due to Cons, I write a refutation setting out why we'll be back. He writes a subsequent piece claiming that now due to no Cons, a vote for NZF is effectively a vote for National ... well, you'd better believe I'm writing back :P
Alright, so let's look at what's gone on here. Last week, Bomber claimed that the imminent rise of the Conservative Party would do irreparable harm to NZF's vote (on grounds that we're allegedly similar enough to be directly trading votes), but only provided Murray McCully was prepared to stand aside in East Coast Bays and ensure that no Con votes were wasted.
More recently, however, the Conservatives decided to do something breathtakingly principled/stupid and announce that Binding Referendums were their one and only bottom line for post-election negotiations. Apart from causing me to wonder whether Labour was desperate enough for a go in office to announce a sudden manifesto commitment in this area, the main impact of this announcement has been to cause National to drop Craig faster than they did Claudette Hauiti. As I argued last week, there's very little point in seizing and agglomerating all the political power in one's own slimy, money-encrusted fingers, if you're then going to parcel it back out into the hands of the ordinary voting public by way of empowered referendums.
So there go the Conservatives. (and Bomber's line about Cons realizing all they can do is damage our vote is ominous - no doubt more than a few pale blue religious weirdos will be eagerly looking forward to doing exactly that)
None of this, however, means that a vote for NZF is a vote for anyone other than NZF.
New Zealand First have set out a list of bottom lines which must be met by any party seeking to work with us in a post-election arrangement.
We are committed to beginning the process of #Renationalizing those assets stolen by the Nats.
We are dedicated to protecting and maintaining the age of state superannuation at 65.
We believe resolutely in a unitary nationalism that does not discriminate on the basis of race in government programs.
And we will establish a sovereign wealth tool called KiwiFund to invest in our own nation and help ensure the affordability of super at 65.
As was said last week, Labour's already theoretically open to three out of these four bottom lines; and given how wildly unpopular with its own working class theoretical stalwarts it's going to be, I can easily see them subtly deciding to ditch their idea of raising the retirement age to 67. National, by contrast, has been pouring cold water on our bottom lines. Sure, they're down with keeping the age of retirement where it is; but can you really believe they'd *actually* be prepared to help us renationalize those assets they've spent the last three years hoicking off? If you do, then I've got some shares in Solid Energy to sell you :P
So let's cut to the chase. On September 20th, a vote for some parties is indeed a vote for some other parties. In the rotten boroughs of Epsom and Ohariu-Belmont, ticking the Yellow or Purple political dignity eater will definitely be a vote for National. If you're in East Coast Bays, a vote for Pale Blue is effectively a vote for Darker Blue, albiet one the Deep Blue C's (as in, C with a few asterixes after it, not C for Conservative); and depending upon whom you listen to, a party vote Green is either a vote for a more principled adjunct to the Labour Party, or a more principled band of independents prepared to spurn their entanglement with Labour to protect the environment. Oh, and a vote for MANA is a vote for the Internet Party, and vice versa - neither of which is ever, under any circumstances, a vote for John Key. And I'm pretty sure we're all very well aware of what you get if you vote for the Maori Party.
But when it comes to the Black and Silver ... I remember Winston once telling me that NZF was akin to Sinn Fein - which, apart from being a nationalist political party, translates as "Ourselves Alone". In concert with the people of New Zealand, that's pretty much how we operate. We will support good policy, oppose bad policy, and keep the bastards honest ... no matter which side of the aisle they happen to be occupying.
So when you head into the booth on polling day in late September intent on ticking New Zealand First, you can be confident of a few things:
That NZ First is committed to seeing through policies that are good for the country, regardless (or possibly because) of how much this annoys the National Party.
That a vote for NZ First is just that - a vote for NZ First - and, because we're not stitched up into a pre-election deal with either side, you can be confident that you are not voting by proxy for either National or Labour. Our highly successful record operating on the cross-benches from 2011-2014 helps to substantiate this; and if the Greens are still capable of being perceived as an "independent" force in Kiwi politics despite their 3-year enhanced "memorandum of understanding" with the National Party ... there's no reason why NZF, after three years of conspicuously *not* having such an understanding with National, can't be perceived as "independent", too.
You can also be confident that a vote for NZ First is a vote for those four key bottom lines - #Renationalization, #KeepIt65, #OneLaw and #KiwiFund.
Because with all this excitement and political flower arranging going on, it's easy to forget that the most important coalition in our politics is the coalition our political parties and politicians *must* make with the People of New Zealand. And that requires adequate signalling to the electorate - not just of whom one intends to work with, but what one intends to accomplish.
At least New Zealand First has been patently transparent about what we are absolutely going to seek from other parties, and perfectly open about our intention to brow-beat the entire House with a stick on issues like #Renationalization or keeping the pension age 65.
We can hardly be accused of a lack of transparency about that, even as some commentators persist in willfully misunderstanding our stance as indicating a preference of one "side" over the other. The only "side" we prefer is the people of New Zealand, and we're getting mighty tired of various people suggesting otherwise.
Particularly when these people are apparently Matthew Hooton, given that Hooton is assumedly *just* clever enough to work out that he can attempt to kill off NZF for good by convincing the electorate we'd sleepwalk straight into the arms of National post-election.
So let's be clear. Your vote for New Zealand First puts *you* and *your* interests *first*.
Not the National Party's, the Labour Party's, the Green Party's, or Kim DotCom's.
Ours, and Ours Alone. Like the Sinn Fein guys said.
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