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A step-by-step approach does not take us to the top

A step-by-step approach does not take us to the top


There are lessons to be learned from British politics, writes Harry Love.

The Thirty Six Steps, a heartbreaking new yarn aimed at 12-year-olds, is it reality or is it fiction? And how would you tell the difference?

The author, who may have once dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot, is going to save us all from the kind of lax management we've become accustomed to by checking off a milestone every day until we get to 100. It's arithmetic for you. It’s about setting a goal and achieving it.

On the face of it, but not so much, this childish enthusiasm is something our Prime Minister shares with that formidable defender of the Tory faith, Boris Johnson. They both smile a lot and neither of them seems really sure what's happening or was happening around them.

Mr. Johnson is now a historical artifact and no one is suggesting that Mr. Luxon is going to be removed by his cabinet. But it seems the two-tailed dog never really knows who is moving what.

The consequence of this is that our government, although nominally dominated by a conservative party, is pulled and pushed towards more radical policy areas by its two supporting parties. When it comes to public service, the slow starvation of the Key era is being replaced by a radical demolition and potential unleashing of the private sector. The extent of the latter will no doubt be decided by Shane Jones and David Seymour, who will inform Mr Luxon in due course.

The parallels with British politics are not exact, but they are close enough to be instructive. There appears to be a similar dynamic within the British Conservative Party to that between New Zealand's governing parties.

One of the main differences is that with our thin political institutions, things happen much more quickly here. We do not have an Upper House to at least curb the enthusiasm of a parliamentary majority. The MMP is our way of modifying the excesses of the major parties without hindrance.

The political situation, not to mention the economic and social situation, in the United Kingdom is currently depressing. After decades of deterioration from cut-off public services and over-reliance on foreign investment, the Thames has returned to being the sewer it was before reaching a peak of relative purity in the 1980s.

Public services, particularly the NHS, once a world-leading health service, are in disrepair and their carcasses eaten away by international investment firms. Poverty is the worst in Europe. The British Prime Minister, on his knees, begs the Indian owners of the country's last steelworks not to close it. Moving to the other knee, he asks the French owners of the last railway construction company to please wait a little while we think about something.

So what could we expect in a few years, when MM. Will Jones and Seymour continue on their path unhindered? The Fast Track Approvals Bill looks a lot like a more comprehensive version of the UK's VIP fast track for PPE procurement during the Covid crisis, which helped generate millions of pounds of corrupt profiteering and comfortable chords.

And starry-eyed ultra-liberalism is likely to cause lasting damage to the social fabric and exacerbate the inequalities that currently plague us.

Weak and often bizarre leadership has brought the British Conservative Party to the brink of annihilation in the upcoming election:

Kier Starmers' Labor Party appears invincible.

However, after proposing policies that could remedy the dysfunctions I have outlined, he returns, to great dismay, to watered-down elements of the status quo. Develop the economy and everything will be fine. If this remains the case, a great victory could turn into an unmanageable victory; a failure of leadership.

If it turns out, as seems likely, that the context of our next elections is characterized by widespread instability and that the opposition has a good chance of winning, we must ensure that it is led appropriately.

Unfortunately, this is not the case at the moment. Chris Hipkins has demonstrated similar characteristics to his British counterpart so far.

Indeed, better, or at least more secure, than the government we have, but is it enough to take the lead, throw off the shackles of our 1980s heritage and retain the initiative over its likely supporting parties?

Harry Love is the former president of the Castle St Labor branch and a former parliamentary candidate for the New Labor Party.




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