Election campaigns are always painful. They are painful for the politicians as their lives, and livelihoods, are on the line. They are painful for the public who get confused about what the hell its all about. This election has been no exception.
The current Government has handled the Covid 19 challenges well and it feels that the prevailing mood is that now is not the time to change those who currently have their hands on the tiller. I would concur with that.
The Labour Party is displaying some behaviours, however, which worry me greatly. They seem to be headed down the path of centralising everything, which is worrying. I’ve always been a provincialist and have always had a deep distrust toward those who sit in the offices of Wellington. Even when I worked for them.
In the Sunday Times this morning the Editor, Tracy Watkins, wrote a very good editorial. This list could also apply to our Local Government politicians. The key messages to the new Government from her were:
Don’t be a hostage to ideology; this is not the time. Look for answers outside your inner circle and from people whose political views may not necessarily match your own. Reach out to other parties for consensus where possible.
But there are many more people out there – whether in politics, business, the public service, academia or the community – who are even smarter, more creative and have huge brains. Use them.
Deliver meaningful change: As the saying goes – if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
The pandemic has exposed many of the deep-seated problems we’ve known about for years, for instance chronic underfunding of essential infrastructure and services – like hospitals, which had so few ICU beds a level 4 lockdown was probably unavoidable. It also exposed our over reliance on immigration and mass tourism to bolster the economy, and a housing crisis so deep-seated that prices keep soaring, even in the midst of recession. These are all problems that transcend successive governments.
The lockdown unleashed a wave of longing to do things differently. People don’t want the same old solutions. They want real change. Respect that.
Understand that we are placing huge trust in you to get us through this: To repeat a well-worn cliché, we are living in uncertain times; the world we knew at the end of 2019 is gone and the shape of our future world is still being decided. Whatever you do over the next three years could decide the course of the next decade or more, and whether we come out of this in better or worse shape as a country, and as a society.
Hit the ground running: There are some tough conversations to be had and some big decisions to make. And there is no time to waste. If the economy spirals, it could lead to entrenched poverty and generational unemployment.
Keep coalition negotiations short and sweet: Voters have no patience for weeks of haggling and watching politicians’ bustle importantly past the cameras to negotiate a $1 billion here, or $2 billion there. The country needs better from our minor parties than a list of pet projects and coalition bottom lines.
I recommend that you go and read the whole Editorial. It really made me think.