Husband well-meaningly brought home a book from the library entitled "How to win an election". (Join the National Party, I immediately thought, but as that is never going to happen I better see what this book has to say.)
It is written in the UK context so the FPP scenario, not quite the reality of being in a minority party where one individual can fill more than one role. For instance Paul Richards, the author, identifies the nine "tribes" involved in an election; voters, candidates, pollsters, policy wonks, activists, spin doctors, journalists, pundits and fixers. In the broadest sense, at least 5 or 6 of these can apply to me.
But I was most interested in what he had to say about candidates and although it is depressing it only confirms what I believe.
"Modern politics is a tough, unfair, exhausting and grubby pursuit....the pressures are enormous, the hours exhausting, the reward little and the thanks non-existent. The incidence of divorce, alcohol abuse and mental illness is high...if you put yourself forward for an election, the first thing to disappear is your private life...if your political career rises above the very lowest of the rungs on the ladder, the truth will out.....It was Aristotle who suggested that democracy would only work if everyone who wanted to stand for office was immediately disqualified, and maybe he had a point."
Which is exactly the point I made when I briefly addressed the audience at our national conference earlier this year. I don't want to be an MP. We should be suspicious of people who so desperately do. I am only running because I have no choice. Someone has to control the control freaks. Someone has to try and neutralise the nannies, the regulators and social engineers. As I seem unable to shut up about how much bad ideas have hurt this country, I also seem to be duty bound to take it a step further.
But I confess to being a very poor specimen by this book's standards;
"In an election the candidate is the lynchpin. They must be unfailingly cheerful. They must never lose their tempers, or raise their voices...never tired or grumpy....never let their feelings show. Candidates must possess super-human reserves of happiness, energy, gratitude, interest in others and gregariousness."
Unfortunately, the day I stop being angry is the day I stop doing this. But I add the proviso that the day I lose my sense of humour is also the day everyone else should tell me to stop doing it.
You gotta laugh. The Lefties go on about not sending money offshore but they look the other way when it comes to gambling. Government keeps a firm grip on gambling here whereas in Australia there is a good look in for private bookmakers.
Still Centrebet is government-owned which begs the question, why doesn't our TAB run a book on the NZ election?
I imagine that Clark would be pretty unhappy with headlines like "TAB odds plummet on Labour victory."
If you want to put a bet on Clark losing the next election, you can't do it here.
But if you are happy sending your money to Australia, you can get $1-30 on her losing at the moment. It's not bad money really. And the Aussies must love taking it off us. They aren't afraid to bet on their own elections but we are. What a joke.
The Department of Internal Affairs seems to have morphed into Department of Policing Child Pornography. Here's yet another press release from them today celebrating a successful prosecution. Do they do anything else? I checked out their recent press releases and found that 10 of the last 14 have been about this particular subject.
So I went back to the same months in 2004 and found quite a different emphasis or variation of press releases.
The department increasingly seems to be the morals police. And I don't really understand why this department is responsible for what is surely a matter of law and order?
Toddlers who turn their noses up at spicy food from overseas could be branded racists by a Government-sponsored agency.
The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.
This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.
Here is a potential minefield. Police are considering whether to charge a heavily pregnant woman for drinking a good deal of alcohol.
There is no law I am aware of that they can use. But it wouldn't surprise me if government doesn't some time soon try to introduce one because there is a big and probably growing problem here. If a woman cannot look after her baby in the womb what chance she will outside of it?
But how would one draft and enforce such a law. The most dangerous time for ingestion of alcohol is in the first trimester when the foetus is forming. During this period many people are unaware they are pregnant so certainly nobody else would know. In which case could people be prosecuted retrospectively?
Then there would be a great deal of arguing over safe levels of consumption. One glass of wine is a different story to one carton.
Can you imagine the kind of 'narking' , with or without genuine cause, that would go on?
What would the punishment be? Earlier this week Work and Income admitted they cannot force beneficiaries to undergo treatment for alcoholism. I suppose the courts can, but on pain of what? Certainly not losing one's benefit. And yes I am picking that many of these sorts of cases would involve beneficiaries. The threat of losing or not getting back custody of imminent birth child and any other children? Unfortunately the damage is already done. And that's what really worries me.
I forsee a future where adoption will once again become a more popular and acceptable option for unwanted (this one is) children but many will be starting life with significant health and developmental problems due to being carried by mothers who have high and daily intake of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. In which case these potential mothers should be financially incentivised to use long-term contraceptives, injections or implants or, if they already have children and are happy to, have an immediate tubal ligation. There are youngish mothers who would be happy to be free from pregnancy risk but medical wisdom says rationed operations should go to older women. Wrong.
Prevention can work. More laws and futile attempts to police them will not.
Rodney Hide spoke to the ACT Wellington conference at the weekend. He can say it for me;
There's no difference in policy between National and Labour. But if we keep doing the same old thing, we will keep getting the same old result. It doesn't matter who's administering the policy; it's the policy that counts first and foremost. It's policies that will determine our standard of living in the future, and determine whether New Zealanders choose to return to New Zealand or stay away. Labour's policies are bad for our country, bad for Kiwi families, and they will be equally bad policies under a National-led Government....
... John Key's aim is to win votes off Helen Clark. He will stick to her policies but be a new, fresh face.
It's clearly working: National is riding high in the polls. National's "no policy" policy is good for National – but it's bad for the country. National is providing no debate about the country's direction, what our goals should be, and what we need to achieve them. That job has been left to ACT.
ACT has plenty of policy – but is low in the polls. Let's hope that's not a lesson for politics in the future.
So far, National has released 16 policies. The latest is a commitment from John Key to re-arrange and re-prioritise sports funding. Now, I'm sure SPARC could do with its funding re-arranged and re-prioritised - but it's not the most pressing problem confronting the country. It's not going to change the opportunities and standard of living for New Zealanders – unless you're a SPARC staffer. It's not going to lift our country's performance or bring our kids home faster.
Yet our next Prime Minister devoted an entire speech to it. We're heading into the election with no policy debate or policy difference between the two old Parties.
Ahh. More results of the 'compassionate' society or what Russel Norman would inaccurately describe as Mickey Savage's applied christianity. Over 5,000 people on benefits because they are drug dependent. Bear in mind there will be many, many more people also on benefits for this reason but it is not listed as the primary cause. They might appear under depression for instance.
In earlier times, before we were a 'compassionate' society, when benefits were available but strictly monitored, such rules applied.
Rule (3) (dispensed with after 1965); Applicant must be of good moral character and sober habits
Rule (2) (dispensed with after 1969); That incapacity for work was not self-induced or in anyway brought about with a view to qualifying for an invalid's benefit.
By the way, in 1965 there was a grand total of 8,744 people on an invalid or sickness benefit.
Now I am no wowser. I like a drink as much as the next person. But I am totally opposed to the idea that one person is forced by the state to pay for his neighbour's over-indulgence. Fine if he wants to but that's not what's happening here.
Lindsay Mitchell has been researching and commenting on welfare since 2001. Many of her articles have been published in mainstream media and she has appeared on radio,tv and before select committees discussing issues relating to welfare. Lindsay is also an artist who works under commission and exhibits at Wellington, New Zealand, galleries.