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In the hands of Labour’s ideologues

Opinion Piece
Clive Bibby

A comment piece on Stuff last weekend written by Steve Elers of Massey University's School of Communications includes some interesting observations of the Prime Minister's character. I would recommend it to anybody who is concerned about the prospects for this nation as we try to reassert ourselves post Covid-19.

Elers attempts (successfully in my opinion) to establish a link between the ideological beliefs that formed the basis of the Prime Minister's former career, pre-parliamentary politics, and those that drive her as leader of this country.

He suggests it is impossible for “the leopard to change its spots” and that the positions she held on most issues and advocated for pre-2008 would most likely be the same today.

Consequently, Elers argues that when you research the statements from her time as leader of The International Union of Socialist Youth, you will find an indication of the sort of country she and her colleagues would like us to become as we emerge from this current nightmare.

And, delving into the possibilities available to her government at a time when she is granted extraordinary powers to do whatever is necessary in these unfamiliar times, it all becomes a bit scary. Why do I say that? Simple really, and at the same time rather ironic!

One of the reasons we have been able to navigate the lockdown so successfully in this country, compared to most others, is because we have as our Prime Minister a person with extraordinary communication skills.

Heaven knows what difficulties we might have encountered if that had not been the case. The messages have been clear and sensitively delivered. Well done Prime Minister — on that score alone we are in your debt.

However, as we change from a country under siege to one trying to establish a new direction, the requirements as a leader change dramatically. It is quite possible that our current Prime Minister has exhausted her bag of tricks, leaving us in the hands of the other ideologues in her party who are more than willing to oversee our immediate future.

That, according to Elers, is the worry and I for one (as you might have expected) totally agree with him.

Not only are we in danger of emerging from this period of martial law looking like a patient recovering from a massive bout of plastic surgery — that shows us as a markedly different model than we were just months ago — but the new appendages (Budget measures) we are carrying are not always designed to help the body corporate operate as needed; rather, as you would expect in election year, they are more politically acceptable.

In other words, the Government has no idea or is unprepared or unwilling to be more deliberate in deciding where the emphasis for this spending bonanza should be directed.

Instead, it has used the opportunity to change the whole character of this nation from one that has served us well for at least the past 150 years to one that is ideologically driven, in sympathy with its current coalition partners.

While you can't blame them for grabbing the opportunity to restructure our society, it is rather dishonest to impose this dogma — which is foreign to most Kiwis — on an unsuspecting public when we are so vulnerable and at a time when we have to accept the medicine irrespective of whether it is good for us.

Wouldn't it have been better to take their ideas to the electorate in September and taken their chances? But that would have taken guts — not a visible characteristic of this Government.