The wrapper around the Sunday Times this morning says it all “Time to get moving. Labour’s historic landslide means the hard work has just begun”.
…and so say all of us.
I’m not sure whether its just me. But the past election campaign hasn’t been about ideas much. It’s been about smiles, selfies and bullying. I joined the Labour Party 44 years ago and resigned nearly 3 years ago, because of policies. During this election the only policies seemed to come from the smaller parties. The parties in the middle seemed to promote Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber.
The election seemed to promote the importance of the selfie. I liked this:
As I have written before, this is the first election since 1978 that I have not been energetically engaged in. Normally I sit exhausted on the couch watching the election results. I felt a strange sense of detachment this time. As I watched the evening evolve, the magnitude of Labour’s victory scares the hell out of me.
Parliament is a weird place. It’s not somewhere which ever appealed to me to be part of as an MP. I have worked for politicians as a volunteer; and for Government Departments as a paid employee. I remember “Yes Minister” being described as being viewed as a comedy by the public; as a documentary by the bureaucracy; and as a tragedy by Cabinet Ministers.
Yet, democracy is a fundamental element in our society. I haven’t ever met somebody who entered Parliament with anything but good intentions. The tragedy is that the place somehow transforms people’s minds, and their behaviour. I think what appeals to people about Jacinda Ardern is that she seems to rise above the hectoring, and downright nasty behaviour.
However, this morning Max Rashbrooke wrote:
Ardern now has to work out how on earth she will reduce inequality, all the while holding back the tidal wave of poverty represented by the newly jobless, without the extra revenue she needs for the task. The prime minister may have unparalleled popularity, but that huge majority may not be much use to her.
The challenge for the incoming Government is how to embrace radical change, which will be promoted by the Green wing of the Labour movement. At the same time taking the voters of this country with them on the path toward the sorts of change which future generations, and the planet requires. Jacinda will be more than capable of this, but only if she sets aside her inbuilt natural caution.
I was quietly reflecting on how the new parliamentarians, of all colours, are there because of those who went before them. It was good to see, on the superb RNZ coverage last night, both Jim Bulger (briefly knighted on the screen by a young person on the team who didn’t realise Jim is a republican) and Helen Clark, also a republican, who both spoke about Winston Peters. Without Winnie, Jacinda would not have been in the place she was last night. The Labour Party could have been the ones licking their wounds. Winnie wasn’t even mentioned by Jacinda in her otherwise brilliant address last night which was a mistake. The role of Jim Bulger, and the Helen Clark, is to remind the current team that they stand on the ground prepared by those who went before them. Their task now is to prepare the ground for those who are to follow.
Other politicians I remembered last night were Janette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald. These two were leaders in NZ having our MMP electoral system. Both dead, unfortunately, but leaders in something which is now taken for granted. It’s the task for the next group of leaders to stand up and promote appropriate modern reforms, just as Janette and Rod did. I really like Sue Bradford but I thought her argument on RNZ on Sunday morning, that the Greens should stand aside and become an opposition party shows that she ain’t got past being a demonstrator. It’s time, Sue, to stack the placards in the back shed and roll up the sleeves and get on with reform. The Greens must be invited right into the middle, as must the Maori Party, and hold key roles.
I will conclude these notes by referring to a powerful piece about the place of democracy, and those we leave behind, by Nadine Anne Hura. She speaks about her brother’s recent suicide and his detachment from our society. It’s easy for those of us who are engaged to go and vote. For those who society by- passes it’s a question of “why should I?”.
Our task as the engaged is to empower the voiceless. To provide a pathway to engagement. To sit and listen and show we care. Here are a couple of quotes in the article which is below:
Moana Jackson says that the history of colonisation damages the soul because it makes us lose faith in ourselves – “faith in our right to once again govern ourselves, to determine our own destinies, and to tell our own stories”.
In the mornings I cling to Moana’s words and try to be less hard-arsed. The reason I quit drinking is because I needed to believe that the future will be different to the past. I vote for those coming after me, as much as those who have gone. Silence can be so loud, but like Moana says, so long as we have our stories and continue to tell them in our own words, we can break the silence and reclaim our faith in ourselves. More powerful than parliament, more enduring than colonial governments, perhaps poetry can lift us from darkness?