A list of political things I don’t know about going into the election year.
National and the Economy
The plan is working! According to Bill English the high economic growth in the September quarter and the optimistic growth projections for next year are proof that National’s ‘plan’ is working. Apparently the plan was for Christchurch to fall down and generate a surge in business activity putting it back up again, and for a drought to hit North Island farming in the first two quarters of 2013, leading to growth during the recovery phase. Great thinking Bill!
Various economists have been predicting a huge economic boom ever since Key et al got elected, so next year could be the stopped-clock moment when they’re actually right. So: will our economy grow? And, if so, will the benefits of the growth be distributed and pay off for National during the election? Or are all the dire-warnings from left-wing politicians about structural inequality in the economy accurate? If so then economic growth will simply lead to higher interest rates with wage-stagnation, which will hurt National.
The National government’s biggest strategic advantage for the last six years has been the Labour Party and the fact that they seem less like a party and more like a rabble of wildly self-ambitious politically inept political-science graduates and, simultaneously, pretty much the last people you could trust to run the country. Can they rally behind David Cunliffe? Can Cunliffe avoid the endless series of gaffes that crippled Goff and Shearer? His first few months haven’t been very inspiring. Maybe he’s playing some sort of Obama like-Jedi long game, getting things set up for the start of the year? Maybe?
Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?
The big unanswered question of 2013 – for me – was: who were the other 88 individuals who the GCSB spied on illegally? We can’t be told, apparently, because it might compromise ongoing operations. But, unlike Kim Dotcom, who is the only one we know about and who was only being investigated for copyright infringement, the others were all terrible, dangerous people involved in building weapons of mass-destruction. At least, that’s what the Prime Minister told us. But were they? Or were some of them journalists, environmentalists, politicians or anti-TPP activists? And, if they were, will that information be leaked during the run-up to the election?