Why is National so desperate to win Northland – even at the cost of making themselves look like fools – when they can stitch up Peter Dunne’s vote and pass pretty much everything? Here’s my totally unsubstantiated theory. When they talked to Dunne after the election his price for confidence and supply was a nice diplomatic posting somewhere at the end of the term. Which means (a) The government would lose its majority sometime in 2017 and need either New Zealand First or the Maori Party to pass legislation and (b) Dunne would retire as an MP and the rotten borough of Ohariu would become a normal electorate seat, which is a net loss for National.
David Fisher has a column about the timing of his latest Snowden story in light of the Prime Miinister’s allegations that it was calculated to coincide with his trip to South Korea.
Chris Trotter writes about ‘post-modern’ politics in Russia and New Zealand and advances a theory I’ve heard from a few people now, that National’s messaging is deliberately confusing; that by disorientating the public with self-contradictory ideas and arguments they’re practising a form of ‘avant-garde’ politics, with the result that the public turn off and stop listening to negative news stories about the government, repulsed by the incomprehensibility of it all.
It’s a fun theory. And it’s true that most of what comes out of the Beehive at the moment makes literally no sense (today they’re solving the housing crisis by selling state houses to property developers because it’s ‘what the public wants’). But I think it’s because this government speaks the language of advertising rather than avant-garde art. An ad for Coke or laundry detergent makes no sense on a rational level. (The product is consumed by sedentary fat people – why are they showing slender beautiful people playing beach volleyball?) But, like ads, National’s communications products are (a) data driven based on extensive research and (b) aren’t targeted at people who pay close attention and subject them to reasoned analysis. They’re pitched at an emotive non-rational level for people who are half-listening while driving, or half-watching the news while they get the kids ready for bed. The logical integrity of the arguments don’t matter because they’re just delivery mechanisms for key phrases that by-pass logic and trigger emotional reactions to political events.