Mike Hosking: Progressive politics in New Zealand is on borrowed time


New Zealand and its government is either an ideological outlier or on the verge of catching up with the rest of the world.

Progressive politics is dying. Tony Blair, by far the British Labour Party’s most successful leader, wrote last week that his party in essence is so woke and so hopelessly out of touch, your average working-class Brit wouldn’t touch them with a barge poll.

Across a swathe of local body elections and most notably in the Hartlepool byelection, the Tories made further gains on the gains they’d already made last year in the 2019 national elections.

He talked of the voter-repellent approach to culture, gender, race and identity. Sound familiar?

We have a government that has enraged the unions, got up the noses of mum and dad investors by changing tax rules on housing, and seemingly sided with Māori and its self determination in a way they forgot to mention when they were asking for our vote last September.

Like Britain’s Labour Party, it’s hard to work out who they actually represent now. They’re running a race-come-socialist-redistribution agenda, shrouded to an extent under the cloak of a Covid response.

They are not the party of Lange or Clark, the Budget today will see further expenditure on things that don’t produce more, make us more productive or pay off the debt, they are taking money they don’t have, and throwing it at social issues for, so far, less than no return.

Blair says progressives cling to old-fashioned economic messages and have fundamentally misunderstood the political implications of technological change.

We must in this country remember why we are here, and why Labour to this point is popular.

They didn’t win the 2017 election, they came a distant second, but got lucky when the grumpy old bloke who held the balance of power couldn’t bring himself to forgive National.

The next election result, history will show, was entirely Covid related.

The border was closed, we didn’t die, we were driven by an irrational fear instilled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Ashley Bloomfield.

By 2023, presuming Covid is behind us, our attention will be back to things of old and the myriad shambles this government has created, or failed to deliver on, will actually be front and centre and judgement day will arrive.

Matthew Goodwin, a professor of Politics at the University of Kent has calculated the centre-left vote in various parts of Europe.

It’s at its lowest level in Britain since 1935, lowest in Austria since 1911, lowest in Germany since 1932, lowest in Sweden since 1908.

It’s at its lowest ever in Italy, France and the Netherlands, second-lowest on record in Finland … there is a pattern there.

Blair cautions against the Biden victory, and he’s right … like Labour’s win here, it’s an aberration, exceptional circumstances created it.

Biden already faces trouble around his welfare programme, as various states cancel Federal handouts given they can’t fill the myriad jobs being advertised because the welfare is a better offer.

Eight million jobs advertised … 260,000 jobs filled are your latest statistics.

A similar pattern is emerging here, Seek last week showed us that we have record job ads, and yet every man and his dog is screaming for talent.

The Government is hell bent on not letting enough skills into the country and Kris Faafoi has inexplicably told us that immigration will never return to what it was, despite having irrefutable proof these past few months that if you don’t let migrants in, apples rot and millions are lost.

Elsewhere in the economy, minimum wages are up and, as last week’s CPI numbers showed, the price of restaurant and takeaway food increased at its highest rate in a decade. You increase costs, they get passed on, that creates inflation, to counter inflation. You put interest rates up, and yet we can’t do that because we don’t have the growth to back it .. that’s socialism, a complete lack of understanding of basic economics.

By the middle of or late next year, a lot of this will have dawned on enough New Zealanders for Labour’s demise to be underway. Under Clark it took until the third term, but the Clark government was vastly more experienced and better at what they did.

This current lot have been spectacularly lucky with a pandemic, judged on their merits in normal times, it would be over already.

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work.

We’ll get there, next year or election. If we don’t, I’m off to Australia.

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