Island Life by David Slack


Good luck, Jim.

Mission Impossible always began the same way. Jim Phelps would slip into a phone booth, sneak behind a vending machine or shut himself in an elevator, and unearth the tape player secreted thereabouts. The recorded message would give him his instructions, and always there was the same abandonment at the end: Should you or any of your team etc... this tape will self destruct in five seconds. Good luck Jim. What an elaborate performance things were before we had broadband.

Getting those instructions looked like such fun; a Christmas present every week, and every week a fresh surprise. I imagine it must be much the same for John Key and his caucus. First, David Farrar and the the rest of the rumpelstiltskenites on the phones gather the survey data. How do the voters feel about the budget? Tax cuts? Nuclear Power? Export incentives? Compulsory employer contributions to Kiwisaver? It all goes into pie charts, graphs and spreadsheets. Next, if Kiwiblogblog is to be believed, the pollsters just have to step across to the the next desk at National Party HQ to hand the data to the strategy people and/or Kevin Taylor. I imagine it is compiled into some kind of handy dossier with an executive summary, at which point it is ready for John Key to be briefed about the policies for which he and the National Party will be standing.

I can understand how a principled Christchurch lawyer who came into the National Party on the basis that she felt an affinity with its avowed values ( see in particular: Individual freedom and choice, Personal responsibility,  Competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement, and Limited government) might well find this a little irregular. I can certainly see how as the party’s designated spokesperson on Industrial relations, she might, upon being asked about the party’s position on compulsory employer contributions to Kiwisaver, have felt confident enough to declare that the party did not believe in compulsion. As someone doubtless familiar with political history, she would well know that indeed her party did not. Whether it does not, is of course in the hands of the pollsters and the focus groups.

I say to Kate Wilkinson: do not give up the good fight. These are dark days for your party but surely, one day before we all pass from this earth, it may yet recover its enthusiasm for the primacy of the individual, the sanctity of money, the freedom of Business to roam green fields at will, unfettered by the RMA, political correctness and and mile upon mile of red tape. Just today, a baby may have been born who will one day grow to be a politician who cleaves to such a posture of ideological purity and steadfastness. In the meantime, there’s always the brooding Bill English.

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