Our panel takes the National Party election engine apart---and diagnoses a machine in full reverse thrust
The National government has no more than a 50-50 chance now of winning the pending general election. This has come as a surprise and most of all to the National Party which is scrambling around its faithful to put together an 11th hour war chest to avert what many of its adherents are beginning to suspect is the inevitable. How did it all come to this? It seems only yesterday that the National government would go on and on and on….There was the almost monarchical transfer of power, the abdication of King John and the accession of the crown prince, now King William. What could go wrong? Simple. The National government’s formula of being all things to all people started to lose compression. Then this loss of impetus became obvious. The MSC Newswire panel now takes apart, disassembles, National’s election machine, the one supposed to drive it into power again. This reveals that the engine is sputtering just because so much National government policy is influenced by a category that does not vote for it. We now present in this exploded voting component presentation analysis the self-destructive path that the National Party insists on following, the one that favours those who do not vote for it, at the expense of its own voting blocs. This component bloc analysis is on an ascending order of sector significance.
Category 1: The IntelligentsiaThis is the sector which most preoccupies the National Party, yet which delivers it the least quantity of votes. We are talking here of the broad picture of social “science” centred on universities. This sector has the ability to make the National Party feel unfashionable. So the National Party constantly seeks the approval of this vote-arrid sector, often to the detriment of its own conservative base.
An example was when under the persuasion of the university lobby the National government university-ised crucial artisan and technical vocations. This had to be unpicked by Jim Anderton MP, he of the far left, and the trade apprenticeship courses re-instated and revved up.
This one-sided infatuation between the National Party and the intelligentsia elites continues still in several forms now in the run-up to the pending general election.
For example, the National government is paralysed in the matter of articulating in any clear fashion at all, the doctrines of global educational bodies, themselves university based, to the effect that money invested in early education delivers a value far in excess of the money invested in later education.
2. Administrative ClassThis is the category once described as white collar. They slog away doggedly keeping the nation on its course. We are talking here of those who work for institutions such as banks, insurance companies, utilities, and of course the government itself. This bloc has a problem. They are not very exciting and in this mediatic age this counts for a great deal. National governments take this sector pretty much for granted. What this category wants more than anything is stability.
Again, we find the National government in its preoccupation with the flashy and the fashionable elites quite unable to make the obvious gesture to this solid sector.
This should be to the effect that National governments personify stability and the once-much quoted “steady as she goes” way of politics.
National must make it clear to this sector that it recognises it – and will not be subjecting it to any sudden changes of the social engineering variety and which will de-stabilise it.
3. Self employedNew Zealand First’s Winston Peters MP has singled out this sector for special attention – and no wonder. National government’s treat this sector with a disdain bordering on snobbery. It refuses to acknowledge the immense contribution of this sector which generates in three dimensional and practical terms the prosperity of the country. We are talking here of people such as owner-drivers, plumbers, electricians, builders, butchers, bakers. Also, and this is not widely understood, IT people.
These solid, dependable types once again tend to be rather unexciting and so once more we find the National Party taking them pretty much for granted, or did so, until Mr Peters singled them out for his special attention.
One of the problems of this sector is that in expanding, or “growing” their businesses, they need to employ staff, and in doing so run the risk of incurring the immense distraction, not to say cost, of a disaffected employee and the litigation that they can invoke.
The National Party should clearly set out its record in streamlining hiring/firing and state unreservedly that it intends to introduce further such work place measures.
4. FarmersNational governments over the past 30 years have found it increasingly hard to adjust around this sector due to pervasive dairy farming, and more recently and to a much lesser extent, bio-farming.
As a voting bloc it has lost its significance to the National Party. Worse still, the National Party has let this show.
Who outside the sector can instantly recall for example the name of the Minister of Agriculture or the relevant departmental permanent heads?
This weakness too has been identified by New Zealand First’s Winston Peters who has cast himself as the true champion of this once clearly defined and identified backbone of the National Party.
Mr Peters has correctly drawn the conclusion that the National government’s constant compromising with the unproductive but noisy ideological factions has driven farmers to distraction, and thus alienationThis is quite simply the most cruel and the most dangerous cut that Mr Peters has ever delivered to the National Party of which he was once a loyalist.
How exactly does the National government explain why it has been so pliant with these ideologues, who have no intention of casting a vote in its direction in any shape or form?
Even at this late stage the National government must embark upon a strident, very noisy, old style tub-thumping campaign to remind its once key constituency of the way in which it has held firm in the face of so much ideological fear-mongering.
Two of these self-induced panics worth signalling might be Food Miles and the animal respiration/global warming syndrome.
5. The Professionals.This is the class from which National members of Parliament tend themselves to be recruited from. We are talking here of accountants, lawyers, company directors, medical doctors. The traditional boss class in other words. The National government badly needs to re-vitalise this base. The reason is that it is precisely this voter category that is now restless. It continues to vote National, certainly. But it will hedge.
This will take the form of tossing its spare vote to one of the other parties which however dotty it nonetheless views as being forthright, and thus decisive.
This category is in the business of making clear-cut decisions and across a wide swathe. It is becoming increasingly disaffected by the National government’s failure to do the same thing.
6. The TradersThis is the vocational category that loves the National Party and from which the National government will draw its largest single occupational vote haul. This sector is made up of those in occupations not particularly admired by the rest of the working population on the grounds that practitioners are amply rewarded for a minimal contribution to society, a contribution that in the view of many even has an entirely negative impact.
This is why the National Party in or out of office prefers to put some distance between it and this voter category, the only one it can truly rely upon in this pending general election.
We are talking here of course about real estate agents, property “investors” and the money dealers of various descriptions.
The reason they support National is that the National Party prefers to leave them alone in their counting rooms.
Even so, in the sea-change that has gripped politics in the Western world since the beginning of the last year, even this group cannot be relied upon to deliver its vote unprompted.
It is exactly for the benefit of this somewhat unloved category that the National government can deliver a daring policy. More importantly still, it can clearly state the reason for putting it forward. There is another benefit. It will not cost anyone a single cent.
The National government can announce that it will not introduce a capital gains tax. Ever.
Reason A. It is unenforceable and will merely create a wave of unproductive work for Category 2 and Category 5.
Reason B. Countries which have a capital gains tax, which means most OECD countries, have had far worse property bubbles than has had New Zealand.
Ireland is one such example. Britain and the United States are two others.