Saturday, November 12, 2011

Epsom’s bitter cup of tea

The New Zealand news media was all-abuzz when National Party leader John Key sat down and had a cup of tea with ex-Auckland Mayor John Banks, who is now the neoconservative Act Party’s candidate in Epsom. This was, the media declared, an indication of a tacit endorsement of National Party voters giving their electorate vote to Banks in order to keep Act in Parliament.

That’s nonsense—nothing but Act Party spin, and some media pundits’ wet dreams.

Key, who lives in the Epsom electorate (even though he’s the MP for the Helensville electorate…), said that he would not personally vote for Banks because, as leader of the party, he’d vote for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith. He also said that he wouldn’t tell New Zealand voters how to vote—even though, as a candidate for political office, that’s precisely what he does every single day.

This is the best of both worlds for Key. If John Banks wins, it will be seen and reported as being only because Key and National gave Banks, defeated ex-National Party leader, and now leader of the Act Party, Don Brash, as well as their current political vehicle, the Act Party, a lifeline. If Banks loses, Key can claim he never really tried to help Act, anyway, so his prestige won’t be on the line. It’s a pretty sweet deal, really.

Well, sweet for Key, bitter for Epsom’s National Party voters, who have to decide whether to vote for the man twice dumped as Mayor of Auckland, a man known for being racist, homophobic and sexist, and in so doing, putting the truly vile Don Brash in a position of power, or should they should stick with their own principles and vote for the National's Paul Goldsmith? Even John Key described Brash as an extremist—and yet he's angling to get him into Parliament?

For Labour and Green voters, it’s a clear no-brainer: They would be absolutely insane to vote for anyone other than National’s Paul Goldsmith. If John Banks loses Epsom, Act is gone from Parliament—a worthy goal in itself. But if Banks and Brash are critical for National to form government, then National’s “partial” asset sales will be gone: Together, John Key and Don Brash, National and Act, will sell off the lot. Neither Labour nor the Greens want assets sold and one of the best ways to ensure that doesn’t happen is to make sure Act loses Epsom. So, if I lived in Epsom, I’d vote for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith. It’s the only rational choice for any centre/left voter.

John Key seems to be preparing for the great John Key/Don Brash fire sale of New Zealand assets or, at least, it sure looks that way: I’ve counted at least three different things on which John Key has promised to spend the money he’d get for selling off New Zealand’s assets.

And as for Banks, well, a leopard seldom changes its spots. I saw one rightwing apologist claiming that since Banks supposedly had a gay chief of staff, that therefore meant he wasn’t homophobic. It doesn’t work like that and, in fact, sounds like the “some of my best friends are…” defence: Empty and self-serving. His racism is still current, as can be seen in the clip above. The man should never be allowed back in Parliament.

It’s disgusting that John Key would even consider a deal to get the gruesome twosome of John Banks and Don Brash into Parliament, but the right is calling that a “strategic vote”. Fine, then if it’s good enough for the right, it has to be good enough for the centre and left, too: Paul Goldsmith must be elected MP for Epsom.

No comments: