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Who to vote for?

  • September 19th, 2014

A friend who is a new resident (who in my opinion should not have the vote, it should be only for citizens, not residents) asked me this morning who to vote for.

I could not go into the detail in this post because she would have been baffled by it, but it reminded me to answer similar requests from others.

First, I’ve never ruled out voting Green or Labour if they present the best leaders for the times. Russel Norman impresses. But his party remains much more red than green.

The current left includes a dire collection united by a shared psychological problem. Many seem impelled into politics to deal with personal demons. They are consumed by envy, conspiracy suspicion, and a need to project onto others their own lack of trustworthiness. It can generate extraordinary drive. But when folk of that character dominate their party it becomes unsuitable for democratic government. They can’t inspire, so instead they try to unite people behind them by finding enemy after enemy.

 So I want to vote so as to maximise the chances of continued government by people who welcome change and build opportunity with people as they are, not as they think they can make them.

The candidates are National, ACT and the Conservatives.  United Future might have made the cut on disposition, but there is no prospect of more than Dunne coming from that party, and his blocking of Amy Adams’ chances of proper reform of the RMA, and his conduct over the leak of confidential material to Andrea Vance rule him out.

 The Maori Party is the only positive race-based party, but we can’t vote for it. 

 John Key has more than deserved a return to power. National less so – with capitulation to bad policy in areas like health and safety, commercial regulation and appointment to powerful positions.  Still, I expect long term outcomes for New Zealand to be better under people of the kind who build the current right, despite their lack of principled analysis.

But our besetting problem is that the natural anchor for the right, among the social conservatives, has for two generations been in the hands of a man who gets their votes then sells them for personal baubles or satisfaction. Winston Peters is their brilliant hope and spokesman, but after gathering their votes each election he conducts an auction that disregards their natural allies on the right.

 As a consequence National has had to spend far more time trawling in left wing territory for tenuous support.

 So I’d dearly love to see the Conservative Party become the new home for Winston’s conservatives. Accordingly I’m still undecided. If the Conservatives could make it over the line, I think that next election they would cement their position. They’d have good MPs, and Colin Craig would either improve, or be managed into the more stable and sensible pattern where a niche or conviction party is not the personal reflection of its leader. The advantages of non-presidential leadership have been shown to great advantage by the Greens and the Maori Party.

ACT was destroyed by Richard Prebble’s view that shared leadership was silly, and the consequent hitching of all their prospects to Rodney Hide’s image. This time though ACT would bring us one, and possibly two potentially outstanding MPs. I’ll be very sorry if they are not both there.

But the real prize remains getting the Conservatives there for strategic reasons, even if you’d never vote for them again. In any event they would represent views that ought to be debated, not suppressed by elite consensus in our Parliament, just as it is good that Green views are expressed.

So what is the advice?

Don’t vote Green or Labour this election. 

Maximise the chances over the next couple of elections that Labour and the Greens attract and promote more people who are normal. We badly need an opposition that is intelligent and not ‘religious’ or tribal. Labour needs more like Shane Jones’, Damian O’Connor, Trevor Mallard, probably Nash in Napier.

Sadly too many Labour and Greens define themselves by who they hate. Their focus shifts as targets present themselves. They create labels (sexist, agist, racist, homophobe, warmonger etc) to vilify their target groups and to minimise the risk of challenge. Their endless range of ‘enemies” includes Christians (excluding  the effete heretic  leaders of dying mainstream denominations), white men, aging white men, employers, John Key, the United States, the police, the RSA, serving military men (but not dead ones to whom they pretend mawkish respect), principals and teachers who demand high standards and welcome performance measurement, male doctors with authority, sports jocks, the Sensible Sentencing Trust, private schools, private hospitals, big employers (other than the state) dairy farmers, car owners and anyone who does not pretend to love rail commuting, truck operators, scientists who examine dogma ( like climate change, or river quality studies, or GE research) country music musicians (with a few fashionable exceptions) accountants, economists (esp Treasury whose secondee to Labour was rejected), private broadcasting, especially radio talk-back hosts, beauty contestants, retirement village and retirement home operators, land developers, commercial property owners, fishing industry employers, mining businesses, oil explorers, self employed contractors and others who buck union rule, 

 There are normal people  in those parties who are not envious and judgmental and anxious to make more rules for everyone. They share our inheritance of reasonable trust in each other, and optimism for the future, and eagerness for change and development. But while they are marginalised, do not vote Labour or Green. 

Sideline them again until they can exclude more of the unhappy ones who  impose their struggles with their personal demons on our public life.


  • Rosie
  • September 19th, 2014
  • 12:45 pm

Stephen, you do not have to be on the Maori Roll to vote for the Maori Party. Te Ururoa Flavell clearly stated that in the minor leaders party debate.

  • Lindsay
  • September 19th, 2014
  • 2:23 pm

“I want to vote so as to maximise the chances of continued government by people who welcome change and build opportunity with people as they are”

…so long as they are NZ citizens.

  • Brendan
  • September 19th, 2014
  • 2:34 pm

An excellent analysis Stephen.

If you really want to become depressed, take a look at the Green’s candidate profiles and see how many you can find that have ever accomplished anything in life, other than completing a formal qualification.

How many have worked in those hated industries you mentioned in your post? How many have employed staff, served customers, managed profit and loss, overcome adversity or risked anything in order to create wealth for themselves and others?

As long as Labour remains obsessed with quota’s and gender, it will continue to bypass most New Zealanders whose interests lie elsewhere. Probably not a bad thing. Polling in the mid 20’s they can hardly be considered a mainstream party any more.

We do very much need a successful party to the right of National however.

  • Roger Strong
  • September 19th, 2014
  • 7:44 pm

I especially liked it where you said that they define themselves by whom they hate…wish I had thought of writing that. They also really aren’t much interested in the real world but define their objectives by the socialist paradise they just know that they can create…next time. If pressed they will concede that the socialist paradise hasn’t worked yet but it will the next time they try-if it follows their own special brand of socialism.

  • Stephen
  • September 21st, 2014
  • 5:10 pm

Rosie – I should have made that clear.

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