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Comrade Hillary

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Don't vote for policies 

In one week those of us that care will play our teensy-weensy part in 'the affairs of man' by voting for a government we want. We'll get, of course, something we don't want. That's because we don't actually elect governments anymore, we merely apportion the bargaining chips.

For all my excitement at the upcoming election it is the mysterious rites post-election that will fascinate the more, because the allure of power is great, and our politicians weak. Policies, those convenient platforms upon which voters establish their support for a party, are the very things that get traded as coalition negotiations are conducted.

An example: National won't sell state assets in 'their first term'. But what if National need ACT's support to gain a majority to take to the Governor-General. What if ACT then insist that their price for such support is the selling of state assets. Hmmm. What if National do the deal, saying all the while that they really wanted to sit on their hands for 'their first term' but just had to face the realities of forming a government. Terribly sad, so sorry, not the Nat's fault etc.

Generally, any small party coallying with a bigger party will want a policy concession in order to satisfy their own constituents, which means policies will change. Of course, anyone remembering 'closing the gaps' will also realise that some policies are just fucking hard to successfully implement and/or don't get the desired result.

So, you can't really trust a party to implement the policies it takes into an election campaign, and therefore you really shouldn't vote for them on that basis. So what then can one look for in a party? Political philosophy, historical performance and the quality of candidates all come to mind.
By philosophy I mean the party's beliefs about the best approach to governing and they reason they exist at all. For example, Labour represents the working man, having been born out of the rise of industrialised labour, and Democrats for Social Credit don't like money, and so on.
We can also tally what the party has done in its history, as this could well be the shape of things to come. We could give greater weighting to more recent events than say the 15 years its been since Lockwood Smith lied and sold a generation of students into debt (or the 24 years its been since Lange unleashed Douglas and Prebble) and calculate which parties deserves less of our disdain and ill-will.
Finally, we can look at what candidates a party puts forward and who leads them. Many lawyers seem to stand for Parliament. Labour gets candidates from the union ranks, National from business and farming. Labour have an experienced leader and deputy. National are proposing a Prime Minister who has never even been in government, let alone held a ministerial portfolio.

Who's for a protest vote then? The Bill and Ben Party perhaps?


Just ask yourself in these hours of doubt Chuck Z....

Who would Chuck D vote for?

... well, in NZ that is.

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