Thursday, August 27, 2009

Smacking and Maori Seats; National Hubris!

Man Oh Man I am stunned at John Key and National after the smacking legislation was pulled out of the ballot at parliament yesterday. Here was a chance to do something really good. The new legislation seeks to define smacking, what is appropriate, what is not? I think it is a great idea. This is where the philosophical debate lies. What is violence toward a child? When is a smack legitimate, if it ever is? Etc. Yet with utter contempt John Key simply wrote it off. I am stunned at his attitude.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, he throws contempt on NZ. He shows he is no better as a leader than Helen Clark, who despite her many strengths, imposed her social liberalism on NZ despite NZ not liking it. It is to a large degree middle NZ's fault; we sit passively in our lazo-boys and girls and watch TV and do not get involved. We are apathetic and passive. Yet, I am certain NZ is not happy. They are not happy with legalised prostitution. They are uncomfortable about the number of abortions, homosexual relationships, de facto relationships and civil unions. They struggle with what NZ is becoming, caught up in it, not sure what to do, and living with it. They don't say it out loud, but they are restless and deep down, in many cases, unhappy. They do need to get active. Well, actually, in this case they have, telling the Government that they don't want this legislation as it stands.

Yet John Key can simply say, there will be no change. Why? Because John knows best! Rubbish! This is a disgrace John Key. You do not know better, and you are being politically naiive.

I believe you are being idealistic and unrealistic about Maori seats in the Auckland council as well. For sure, ideally we will have no race favoured as we forge our identity into our history. That is ahead of us at some point. However, we will never get there unless we move with grace, partnership and good sense. Pakeha NZ of which I am a part are too impatient on this. We need to be prepared to walk the long walk in hui with Maori, doing all we can to right wrongs, helping them to raise themselves up. Middle NZ won't help on this one. But I suspect Maori are going to make his life very uncomfortable. So, he started off so well, embracing the Maoris, the right wing NZer. Yet now he is alienating people at pace. Why? It seems to me, because of a certain arrogance and political naiivity.

I suspect he believes he needs to be a strong leader. Helen was and she killed of a string of National Party leaders who were, as Muldoon said of Rowling, shivers looking for spine to sliver up (or words to that effect). But a good leader thinks carefully and does not simply ignore people, especially when 87% of NZers believe something. They read situations carefully, and sometimes shift positions (carefully), make adjustments etc. This was one such time John. You missed it.

I am deeply perturbed at the loss of genuine democratic process. Sure, the Referendum was not a great question, but it got the point across. Here was a chance to seek to refine the legislation with clear definitions. It was not going back to the old, it was a middle ground. John, you missed it. As I have said in previous blogs, it is looking like you won't be PM for as long as I thought. Mind you, the lack of an alternative is obvious. Phil Goff is hardly going to worry you. But don't think NZ is happy John. Some will be, most definitely aren't.

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