The points raised in the National Party’s latest attack attempting to discredit Winston Peters show how far away agrarianism and localism is from the ideology of the 21st century National Party, writes Bennett Morgan.
National’s latest attack ad, posted on social media by National’s Youth Division without authorisation by campaign director Steven Joyce not only smacks of desperation, it paints a grim future for the National Party. A future where attack ads, which the current National Party administration, to their credit, use very rarely (they’re more in to the behind the scenes smear campaigns), are a common occurrence.
Steven Joyce says the Young Nats overstepped the mark with their attack ad on Peters, which attacked the man and the career; and not the policy. It appeared to claim the 37 year-long public service career was one built on self-obsession.
I worry for the future of the National Party. I have never supported them, nor do I think I ever will. But when they are in government, it would be nice to see an alternative to a Labour government which isn’t detestable, snobby, greasy and out-of-touch.
The National Party has not always been this way. Through a modern lens their economic policy of the 50s, 60s and 70s was a mixture of nationalisation and economic conservatism. Today these ideologies are better matched with New Zealand First and even Labour. But whilst senior figures in the National Party would still praise the premiership of Robert Muldoon as one of courage, patriotism and ‘can do’ economics, the youth wing of the National Party is less kind.
I can tell you right now, I have had more than one Young Nat tell me “Muldoonism was as close as this country ever got to communism”. If that is not a sign the future of the National Party is staring at a future of Far-right economics, to the point where it meets the radical ACT Party on the spectrum, then what is?
All too often John Key, now that he’s in his later years as Prime Minister, is compared to Rob Muldoon. To hold that point of view is to live in a reality of blissful ignorance. Economically Muldoon and Key couldn’t be further apart. Muldoon fought hard against the selling and privatization of public assets – Key sells them to the highest bidder.
Oh, and Muldoon could probably hammer a nail.
But this attack ad from the Young Nats, an Auckland-centric administration, appears to target those voting in the Northland by-election. That makes me laugh. What this shows from the Young Nats is just how far removed from rural life they are. To suggest that the rural voters of the Northland electorate actually care about the issues raised in this attack ad shows the very reason National can’t get ahead in this campaign. After seven years of neglect, soaring unemployment and poverty, and next to no attention to rural infrastructure, rural people have had enough. They want politicians to pay attention to them, not to themselves. National fails at this test time and time again.
The neglect is irritating. The National Party which once championed the provinces cares for them not, and would rather attack people like Winston Peters who have seen this neglect, and actually want to change it.