Gathan Beaga

the things that really matter

Here in New Zealand there’s an election next weekend.

And last night I spent twenty minutes on the phone to a pollster. I thought I’d go with the flow for a bit and see if I could figure out on whose behalf the poll was being taken. And for a while, at least two thirds of the time, it was all pretty much impartial. Towards the end though, the questions got rather more pointed, and my guess is that pollster’s clients were the Labour Party.

This was a little disappointing, as my ego preferred that my opinions be reported in aggregate in a large media outlet rather than be pored over by the backroom political gnomes.

So I’ll spill here instead. I know no-one wants to hear what my views are, but I don’t care. It’s my website.

I’m probably a natural centre-left voter, quite happy with the idea of income redistribution through taxation. It seems to work OK in New Zealand at the moment: very few people starve or lack for housing. I think of it as a social obligation that people more well off should lend assistance to those less fortunate than themselves, and a structure to do this based on the state is the best way to achieve this assistance. I also believe that provision of free education and health services are a responsibility of the state.

So I’m not so keen on the centre-right National Party, despite their large tax cut policy that would enrich our family by several thousand dollars per year. I can’t help suspecting that the money has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere would be health, education and welfare.

But I’m also not so keen on the Labour Party, whose government, while efficient and (grudgingly) generally OK by my standards, seems overly arrogant and cold. They’ve been in power too long, but unfortunately the major alternatives aren’t that crash hot, to be honest.

  • ACT – right wing nutters. Nicely socially liberal, but too right-wing doctrinaire on fiscal matters. And irrelevant now anyway, as their support has defected to National.
  • New Zealand First – yeah, right. I would love to find a photo of those election posters of Winston Peters with the bizzaro pose, defaced so that a noxious plume is being emitted from his arse. (The noxious plume being his policies.)
  • United Future – religious fundamentalists in drag. Like they’d get my vote.
  • Progressives – sorry, but who?
  • Māori Party – I don’t think I’m in their target demographic. :-)

That leaves only one other serious contender for my vote: the Greens.

For me the Greens transcend the left / right thing: the environment we live in, and the preservation of it for us and our descendants, is, like their slogan suggests, one of the things that really matter. Global Warming, the coming energy crisis, decreasing biodiversity: issues like this have me really worried.

The funny thing is that I don’t necessarily agree with all of their policies, and some of their spokespeople can seem, er, rather individual. But I don’t think this matters in the big picture. For me voting Green is not necessarily an endorsement of every single policy they have, but rather a way to make sure that there’s more of a green and environmentally conscious flavour in any centre-left government that may arise after next Saturday.

That’s because of our proportional representational system: with votes like mine the Greens should hopefully get seven or so seats in Parliament and therefore become a voting bloc that any larger party needs to be aware of. And assuming the Labour Party achieve the votes they’re after, they’ll still need the Greens to form a majority in Parliament, which will hopefully mean that we’ll have a centre-left government with a green flavour that will be influencing where appropriate, without taking over.

I also think it’s interesting that in the particular electorate I live in, Wellington Central, this type of thinking appears to be relatively common. Despite it’s relative affluence (usually a marker for centre-right voting), it’s usually the highest Green polling electorate. There’s a demographic study in there somewhere.

So there you have it. My vague political views: more than you really wanted to know.

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