‘Steven..? Grab the cat…’

 

“Red wire, blue wire…”

I’m not a big fan of shoot ’em up fillums, but this one had perhaps one of the best opening sequences I’ve seen.

Mel Gibson’s psychotic nihilistic side was seldom more in evidence.
Found myself thinking of this scene when pondering the governing arrangement talks going on between New Zealand First and the Labour and National parties this week.

Do I have any great insight? Nothing I haven’t already shared with the readers of NBR. The fact neither Labour nor National are saying anything about what their policy priorities are, and allowing Winston Peters to look like he’s setting the agenda, leads me to think we’re not going to see a deal emerge out of these talks.

 

Election 2017 – on voting

Finding my voting place? (Scratches head…)

Where was the last place I had it?

Ok, seriously… I’m currently sitting in a house deep in a mid-Auckland suburb, at the tail end of probably the most interesting campaign I can remember in 21 years in the press gallery.

And most difficult election to predict I can remember.I don’t know what the results going to be – but there is a feeling that this is very important election.

On the subject of actually a casting vote, I’m not one of those political journalists who feel I can’t or should not vote.

Voting is a sacred act. People died to give us the right to vote. They died defending that right.

There is blood on those ballots. Human nature and a wicked world being what it is, people will probably have to die to defend that right again.

Which doesn’t mean, to use that often heard, simplistic phrase, “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”.

You are always allowed to complain. That’s the whole point of democracy, or at least one of the points of democracy.

You have a say.

Voting is the tail end of that process in which you have a say. Voting essentially picks who is going to form the government for the next three years. It is mostly about picking people, not policies.

Which means you can complain all you like about policies – and the people for that matter – but if the smorgasbord of people on choice, come election day, isn’t to your liking, you’re perfectly entitled to not to vote.

And to go on complaining.

Voting is not democracy. Its a part of it, certainly, but its probably not even the most important part.

Democracy goes on in the arguments, discussions, shared annoyances, shared ideas, shared hopes and dreams, of human beings everyday.

Nor do I believe there is such a thing as a “wasted vote” if you are voting what you believe. That right, to vote what you believe, is what people fought and died for us to have.

To me, the only wasted vote is if you vote for something you don’t believe.

Finally, a more general comment about New Zealand election is this: we’re okay, I think. If you look at the options available for New Zealanders, we’re doing better than most democracies. Views may vary intensely on the qualities of the two alternative prime ministers, but from my observation, and certainly compared with certain other democracies, they’re basically decent and not at all dim people.

And whatever happens at the polls, we do, I believe, have a more economically secure base than we’ve ever had before.

There’s still a long way to go: a country of less than five million people, spread over a land mass the size of the UK or Japan a long way from anywhere else and with geological difficulties, not to mention an inconvenience strip of water across the midriff, is always going to have a high level of economic vulnerability.

But for a whole lot of reasons, the scope for reducing those vulnerabilities now is better than it ever has been in our history. I just hope that whoever forms a government after this weekend maintains a focus on reducing those vulnerabilities.

Thought for the day – on political unintended consequences

‘It was, after all, Greeks who pioneered the writing of history as what it has so largely remained, an exercise in political ironics—an intelligible story of how men’s actions produce results other than those they intended.’ – J G A Pocock

Pocock was a New Zealander. Not born here, but brought up here and the first ever head of the Canterbury University political science department.

I don’t normally link to Wikipedia, but just this once: there’s more on him here.

I came across this line in a book on the Kennedys, but it seems apt right now. Sadly and worryingly apt.

Diversion on Brexit, disclaimers, holiday reading, etc 

Kudos to whoever wrote this headline, in the Times Literary Supplement.

It also contains the most subtly double-edged disclaimers I’ve ever read, by reviewer James O’Brien about one of the authors under review: 

‘To declare an interest, we once shared desk space on the Daily Express, but he gave little indication then of possessing the powers of diplomacy and affability necessary to enjoy the trust of all the furiously warring factions within both sides of two even more furiously warring armies.’