2022: Trump’s year?

A year on from the Capitol riot which celebrated Joe Biden’s victory in the US electoral college, a lot has changed.

Then again, perhaps not so much.

So if you are keen to understand why half of America doesn’t fully share the orthodox media position you might ponder the concept of “sophisticated state failure” in the words of Holman W. Jenkins Jr writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading “2022: Trump’s year?”

Boris: holding out till Christmas

We said a few days ago that British PM, Boris Johnson, still looked to be the indispensable man.

It’s hard to tell if subsequent events are qualifying or confirming that.

Two examples.

First, Lord Frost, Minister of State and the government’s EU strategist resigned citing the general drift of policy, most recently towards Covid authoritarianism.

Continue reading “Boris: holding out till Christmas”

Boris: Bad reaction to Omicron

British politics is proving a fine laboratory for times of transition.

Boris Johnson’s enemies are exultant at his latest woes: a crushing by-election defeat and a parliamentary vote in which he endured the biggest Conservative party rebellion since – well since the Brexit horrors a few years ago under his predecessor Theresa May.

But oddly enough, it looks like he might keep on standing.

Continue reading “Boris: Bad reaction to Omicron”

Luxon is advised to take the Nats back to founding principles – and promise a government that is not divisive

The National  caucus,  suddenly,  seemed transformed.  Whereas under  Judith Collins  it  had been split into warring factions, under  Christopher Luxon (at first blush) it  is  presenting  a  united front. Those   factions quickly  fell   into   step, adopting   Luxon’s  new-page philosophy.

But  has  the Ardern  government much  to  fear?  After all, Labour has a  leader who  dominates  the  centre  ground of  NZ politics, who succeeded in pulling across  400,000  voters to the party just  a  year  ago, and  who  still  draws  crowds  wherever  she  goes, (albeit now  with  some protesters, too).

National’s new  leader,  by comparison,  has  had  only a  year  in Parliament and  his  talents  have  remained,  some  would  say,  hidden   largely  from the public view.

Yet  some  clues   have emerged   as  the  party  undergoes   what  has been  labelled  the  “re-set”, even  if  Luxon’s opponents revelled  in his   early  stumbles   in  the  House. Continue reading “Luxon is advised to take the Nats back to founding principles – and promise a government that is not divisive”

Righting the Nats may require pitching to voters in the centre – but that need not mean dumping free-enterprise principles

 

National’s   new  leadership   team had  no  need  to  worry  that, as  they stepped  into  office and into campaigning to replace the Ardern government at the next election, they  would suffer  from a shortage of  advice.  Wherever  they looked   they  could  see mountains  of  it.  

There  was  this  kind (from  a  newspaper  columnist) :

“ In short, new National leader Chris Luxon will likely have to come up with policies and strategies to tackle immediate economic headwinds in five areas: a slow economic bounceback, immigration, a slowing China, tourism, and inflation.”

Or this  kind  (from former National Prime  Minister  Jim  Bolger) who said a “disappointing”  National  has  to  reimagine capitalism because   social  inequality is  pushing  countries to  revolution.

Bolger said the dominant global economic model was dividing society.

“Some are getting obscenely rich and others are going to food kitchens.”  Bolger said Labour was not seriously addressing social inequality.”

Parliamentary veteran Winston Peters, once a National Party deputy leader and MP before forming NZ First,  weighed in. What is  needed, most importantly, is a real vision for NZ, he opined from his (somewhat lonely these days) pulpit.

The Dominion-Post  was  at  its most  omniscient:  NZ  needs  Luxon  to  right   the  Nats.

And  to  make  it  plain exactly  where  it  stood,  the  next  days’ edition  carried  as  a  lead  story the  revelation that

“.. soaring  prices  mean new  National  Party  leader  Christopher Luxon  is  effectively  earning about $90,000  a  week  in capita; gains  from his 7 properties which give him the biggest property portfolio of  any  sitting  MP”.

Point of  Order  resists  the  temptation   to  join  the throng in  offering  advice to the  new  leaders.  But we wonder  whether  Chris Luxon and Nicola Willis are  as convinced  as  the  would-be  advisers appear to  be  that the original  principles  of  the  National Party are  so  shop-worn   they  should be discarded.

It  is  true,  of  course,  that  Labour  has  long departed  from the  principles  on which  it  was  founded (remember   the  “socialisation  of  the means  of production, distribution   and  exchange”)  which it  found both unpopular  and, more  to  the point,  unworkable.

That  doesn’t  mean to say that  some  people don’t believe this system   is  superior  to capitalism.  Yet  it  was  clear  that,  in  an  imperfect  world, most  people  given   the  choice  in the days  when Communist Russia espoused the Leninist philosophy preferred  to  live   in the  West.  The Iron Curtain was designed to keep Soviet-bloc people in, not to keep the capitalists out.

Returning to  modern-day NZ, the  question is  about how to win the  middle  ground  in NZ  politics, which – thanks to Geoffrey  Palmer’s  adoption  of the MMP electoral system – a party must do to win  enough seats to govern at general elections.)  National may well be tempted to at least take a hard look at its original  founding principles  of free-market  capitalism  in a property owning democracy.

Critics  may  argue (as   Bolger  does) that some  people  are  becoming  obscenely rich  and  others  are  going to food  kitchens, but  one  may also look to  the  farming  industry as  it  has evolved  in  NZ  for another example  of the operation of  the free enterprise  system.  It  is  proving  not only  to be the backbone of  the  NZ  economy, but  it is a virtual saviour in  terms  of  export earnings  as  Covid-19 renders  others  like the tourist industry  almost  impotent in  terms  of earning  overseas exchange.

And  now  there  is  evolving an equally  successful outcome   for the  capitalist structure to farming  in  the  hi-tech  industry. As   Southland-born Peter  Beck, founder of the spectacularly successful RocketLab, said this week:

“Right now  the tech  sector in NZ  is  raging…I have a lot to do with the venture capital, it’s  the  best I’ve  ever  seen it and  funding a  lot  of  startups. And  I have to  say that the  quality  and  quantity of  startups  now  is the  best I’ve  ever  seen  it”.    

It’s  no surprise  that “obscenely rich” individuals like  Peter  Beck are backers of new  hi-tech  ventures — this  is  what  capitalists  do — and  they  encourage  others  to  do  the  same. The  theory  is  that  it is  better  to  aim at lifting  all boats.   

Point  of  Order suspects  that’s what  Luxon and  Willis want  to  do.

There is an alternative to Trump. It looks like this

Wolfgang Munchau is a favourite European political commentator.  You have to love a guy who ran the argument that Germany and Britain should team up to run the European Union.

Naturally you’d like to know his views on the new German governing coalition, which has just published its 178-page policy agreement.

The most interesting thing about the coalition is that it brings together the enviro-statist Green party with the right-liberal Free Democrats, who, as Munchau says can’t stand the sight of each other”.

Continue reading “There is an alternative to Trump. It looks like this”

Global blues for good government

As the National party wrangles over Judith Collins’ replacement, they might take a crumb of comfort from the fact that a few of their corresponding centre-right political parties are also living dangerously.

Boris Johnson’s leadership of the Conservatives is being savaged by colleagues as Britain’s living standards sag (and poll ratings with it).  But at least he is in office, with a healthy parliamentary majority.

Continue reading “Global blues for good government”

Boris: right idea, wrong execution

A week ago we wrote about the British PM’s move to check an out-of-control Parliamentary watchdog.  It ended in a populist revolt and he sacrificed a former minister, Owen Paterson, to the mob.

This seems to have worked as well for him as it did for Charles II.  One of his Tory predecessors, Sir John Major, broke the first rule of party loyalty by branding the government “politically corrupt”.  And the opposition started baying for the head of former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox because, as a backbench MP, he had also worked as a barrister and had committed such heinous offences as missing the deadline to register his earnings.  

Continue reading “Boris: right idea, wrong execution”

Seymour becomes a star in the poll dance – but let’s see a spotlight on the hard policy ACT has choreographed

ACT  leader  David Seymour  seems  to  think  he is  dancing  with the  stars  once more. Whether  he’s  in  step  with the  music is somewhat uncertain.

At  any  rate, he’s boldly  putting  it  about:

“We can  win in 2023.”

Point  of  Order has  received from  him a  note  on  how the latest  polls   are  trending in  which he  asserts the gap between the Government and the Opposition is closing.

He  cites the  latest Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll,   in  which  ACT is steady on 16%, while Labour is down 6 points to 39%.

“In the last 12 months, National has regained its election night polling and we have doubled our support.Two months ago, the gap between the centre-left and centre-right was 19 points. It’s now just 6.

“In the most important barometer of the mood of the country, more New Zealanders now believe the country is heading in the wrong direction than the right direction”. Continue reading “Seymour becomes a star in the poll dance – but let’s see a spotlight on the hard policy ACT has choreographed”

Polls bring Labour back to earth while a warning is sounded about the need to brace for next economic crisis

So how  is  the  political landscape looking as the country  inches  slowly  towards   the goal  of  being 90%  vaccinated against Covid-19?

The  government  which  just 12  months   ago  was  blissfully floating beyond electoral threat somewhere  in the  political stratosphere  has  come  back  to  earth with something  of  a thud.

But National,  still  apparently  without  the  capacity  to  strike  the  wavelength  to  reach the  public  as  it  did in its  heyday, has   yet to find  its  old  mojo.  By  comparison, ACT  has been  flexing   a  new kind of   muscularity, without  suggesting  it has  yet  the  ability to  land  a  killer  punch

Meanwhile  a group  of  top  economists  is  warning   that  the  seeds  of  the  next   economic  crisis  have  been  sown. The steps taken by countries, including New Zealand, to counter the economic impact of Covid-19 have masked and in some cases exacerbated the risks.

“The Covid-19 financial support package has kept Kiwis off of the dole queue and saved many businesses from bankruptcy,” report co-author Bryce Wilkinson​ said.

“However, the government should promptly repay those debts in order to be prepared for the next financial shock. Failing to prepare now for the next financial crisis could destroy New Zealanders’ nest eggs and threaten their livelihoods.” Continue reading “Polls bring Labour back to earth while a warning is sounded about the need to brace for next economic crisis”