Thought of the day – on conservatism. How it should be.

‘Now, the disposition to be conservative in respect of politics reflects a quite different view of the activity of governing. The man of this disposition understands it to be the business of a government not to inflame passion and give it new objects to feed upon, but to inject into the activities of already too passionate men an ingredient of moderation; to restrain, to deflate, to pacify and to reconcile; not to stoke the fires of desire, but to damp them down. And all this, not because passion is vice and moderation virtue, but because moderation is indispensable if passionate men are to escape being locked in an encounter of mutual frustration.’

– Michael Oakeshott, from ‘On Being Conservative’. An important reminder for true conservatives, in today’s environment.

Just what conservatism is meant to be – an approach to political management and government which is focused on the calm solution of the inevitable difficulties and tensions of life – not of deliberately inflaming those difficulties and tensions for short term political advantage.

‘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 – from good ol’ Hunter S.

‘The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy—then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.’

– Hunter S Thompson.

Talking on the wireless again

Matthew Hooton is visiting the Americas,  I gather from the Twitter, to make a close study of the current nervous breakdown convulsing the United States’ body politic.

Personally, I rekkin Prozac is at the heart of the problem. Around 15% of Americans are on some form of anti-depressant and I think they’ve been overdosing.

Lescreen-shot-2016-12-28-at-3-45-28-pmad pipes were blamed for the fall of the Roman Empire. The elites all got lead poisoning and went bonkers, started making their horses into zodiacs, masturbating while the city burned, that sort of thing.

In centuries to come, I suspect, historians will recall anti-depressants had a similar role in the collapse of the American hegemony. Certainly, according to legend, the water supply over there is full of the stuff.

All that is by way of aside.

The immediate issue is that Matthew’s departure to the heart, and spleen, of the 21st Century Roman Empire has left a gap in National Radio’s programming.

So it was that late last week, from deep within the labyrinth of Radio New Zealand House , the call rang out, ‘Send for Hosking NO NOT THAT ONE.’

Anyway, I shall be on Nine to Noon this morning, shortly after 11am, discussing the state of the political world.

If anyone wants to hear me more regularly, I’m at NBR Radio here.

UPDATE: you can hear the audio here. http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201821190/political-commentators-stephen-mills-and-rob-hosking

 

‘Sister Europe’ -and Brexit

Can’t muster much m0re than bewilderment and concern on this. I could see the appeal of the vote to leave – in fact I thought the Brits would vote to leave, and was rash enough to post this on the Twitter before the vote. 

It seemed to me that if the polls were that close the Brexit-eers would get over the line – that there would be a similar ‘shy Tory’ effect seen in the UK polls at their last general election. 

I don’t like the appeal to naked racism the Brexiteers engaged in.  I think you could make an economic and political argument for exit without going there – in fact I think the case for leaving, if this were a more normal time globally, is stronger than Remain, without raising the flag of xenophobia or racism.. 

But the timing of this is all wrong.  This is going to be destabilising at a time not just the UK but the world economy doesn’t need any more destabilising influences. 

If I’d been in the UK, I’d have voted remain for that reason. It would have been a reluctant vote, a very reluctant one. 

Anyway, here’s the Psychedelic Furs’ “Sister Europe”.  Seems apt. 

Buy a car and watch it rust

Sister see them fall to dust

They fall around

In another crowded room

Paint me like the shirt I’m in

Honestly