Some words from the field of public discourse, Aotearoa New Zealand.
Of all the people on Earth, a small proportion become known for leading obviously political lives. Most have more sense, as it is a sure way to make enemies – and who needs that? Quite right.
But of those who do, I assume most are like me, and have made the decision on at least two assumptions for promoting ethical values and goals in public service: 1. politics is what they would be good at, as a use of skills and talents; and 2. politics would be a good thing to do, as a use of time.
It is important to know and admit when one has been wrong about anything. It is important to know when to stop; with a speaking of truth, a telling of personal story..
A wave of popular consciousness and revulsion, at the effects of rampant hinterland dairy farm conversion, had Christchurch educated and determined for change in 2007. Of four environmental candidates then elected to Environment Canterbury Regional Council (Ecan), I was one of two with the Save Our Water campaign:
We were put there to haul back corruption – of Canterbury’s natural environment, and of politics enabling it.
We had an effect, because the National-ACT government elected in 2008 had us sacked in April 2010, themselves defrauding rate-payers and democracy with trumped-up charges. For example, the consent-processing rate had already been remedied – to deal with the irrigation flood of demand – well before commissioners were even decided for. This was evidenced in the Wyatt Creech Report, which saw no grounds for intervention. So why did National take drastic action? – To cover up farmer crime, for their core constituency.
On top of consent breaches – seen and unseen – was the illegal voting. When conflicts of interest over water-use cost recovery were identified, on Canterbury Public Issues Forum, it ruffled feathers and set wheels in motion that saw four farmer-councillors barred from voting on such matters by the Auditor-General, late 2009. A few months later, imposed commissioners replaced democracy at Ecan – indefinitely – by National dictate.
Things learned from this exercise:
1. Pillage, plunder and cover-up is the Kiwi way. Whether iwi from iwi or pakeha from maori, going back thousands of years, all will rip off any (thing not nailed down). It is ‘human nature’ (not), that civilisation struggles to transcend with egalitarian justice, moral values and organised sharing (and these got stripped from ECan).
2. New Zealand politics – like any – are an expression of ‘1’ above: a filthy business, unworthy of gentle souls. Does this apply universally? Pretty much.
3. The biggest eye-opener is the dearth of political support for actually being honest. You would think exposing crooked privilege would be popular, at least amongst ‘representatives’. Not the case. They have proven all too ready to line up with National, one way or the other, to advance their standing in disguising irrigation sector crime. Politicians appeal to bent Kiwi nature quite openly:
- Labour‘s chime, that “the commissioners are doing a good job”, hides their angling to get more of the elected positions next time around – and the outright corruption of their role model, Cabinet doyen David Caygill, privately profiting from the extinguishing of Canterbury democracy. They just want more of this themselves, personally.
- Labour mimics, the Greens also took the position that it was better not to expose farm sector dishonesty – many being from there after all – and offered no solidarity for whistle-blowing. The Greens, like Labour, run an electoral escalator brand for careerists, who shed moral principle and manipulate outcomes to get on board.
- Would Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party be interested in contrasting legitimate political struggle against government corruption, with integrity and community values as benchmark standards? Not on your nelly. They are playing Key on his own terms, with Key’s own power stratagems and big business guile. No backing there.
- Which just leaves MANA, if not New Zealand First, who superficially fight abuse of corporate power. Within both there are good people, for principle and redress of social imbalance. But if flax-root battles and representation cannot rise with support to put them on the hustings, then the same material illness blights these parties too. And all could be lost.*
I have met quite a few New Zealand politicians. Not one has ever said to me “you did the right thing” exposing dishonest politicians; I am not one of them.
So is there an end to politics? There is at least one:
So that those who overestimate their ability and importance have a way to finally wise up.
There may also be an evolutionary end to politics. For that we can more than hope. And be ready to move on.
* “mood of exuberance and anticipation.. Internet Mana has one commodity the other parties on the left struggle to provide in convincing fashion to those at the bottom of the heap. That commodity is hope” – John Armstrong: A raw energy Dotcom’s millions could never buy, NZ Herald, 21 July 2014
The rise of the Internet/Mana phenomenon, The Daily Blog, 23 July 2014
The Voice of a Nation: Insiders 2014 poll left-leaning blog results, 2 August 2014
Harawira still confident of deal, Radio New Zealand, 6 August 2014
VIDEO: Dotcom riles crowd up into Key-hating frenzy “The talk back is 99% against Dotcom”, RadioLIVE, 7 August 2014
Harre defends publishing of anti-Key campaign party video “The Internet-Mana Coalition is defending its decision to publish a video showing hundreds of students chanting expletives against the Prime Minister John Key”, Radio New Zealand, 8 August 2014
What share of the party vote will the Internet Mana Party win at the next General Election (10c/1%)? ipredict contract VOTE.2014.INTMANA – 3.8%, 8 Aug; 4.174%, 20 August 2014;
Dirty Politics – How attack politics is poisoning New Zealand’s political environment, Nicky Hager book, released 13 August 2014
Election 2014: Internet Mana – Hone Harawira & Laila Harre “Interview with Internet Mana leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Laila Harre with NewstalkZB host Rachel Smalley, New Zealand Herald columnists Fran O’Sullivan and Toby Manhire, and Herald political editor Audrey Young” & Election 2014: Highlights – Internet Mana – Hone Harawira & Laila Harre 14 August 2014
Internet Mana climbing, on 2.5% poll average, mid August 2014 – Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election, 2014, Wikipedia