Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Politics is as much about 'perception' as it is about real policy!

Yes there are power-brokers behind every Government, be it the shady military/industrial forces as in the politics of the USA, or the Communist party officials in China and ‘big business’ in New Zealand, but there is also the part, the major part, that ‘perception’ plays to support the myth that the public has the real say, especially where an election process based on ‘universal suffrage’ comes into play. The last six years in New Zealand have been dominated by one man, the one leading the National Party. He has won two successive elections, many would say because he has captured the minds of the ordinary New Zealanders who have bothered to vote. He has projected an image that somehow manages to connect with enough NZers to garner the seats in parliament he needs to continue his regime. Many of his supporters, including large numbers of people contributing posts on FB have been part of this process and along with the Media in general, have been drawn into his web of support. He has been able to maintain his position simply because he has projected an image that attracts enough people to vote for his party and thereby keep his hold on power. It seems that no matter what the issue, or his responses to various accusations; no matter how low he appears to go in some peoples’ eyes, the mud has not stuck. The perception that he connects with ordinary NZers has been his main appeal to those who vote for him. That he ‘turns off’ a significant number of NZers, allowing them to pullback from voting is just one more ‘peg in a hole’ that pushes him over the line each election. So far this allusion had served him well, in that enough NZers have held him high. This is an unpalatable morsel for those who oppose him to digest. The perception that PM Key is the ‘man’ to lead NZ has carried him over the line, leaving the opposition to fragment and turn on itself several times. Perceptions change over time and when they do, it is often dramatic. Since Nicky Hager released his book, ‘Dirty Politics,’ the discussion around PM Key has taken a new direction. Sure, he survived yet another challenge, but he seeds of doubt were sown. That perception of ‘a leader in control,’ has been severely tarnished. Even reporters who could see no wrong in the PM have started to question him in a different and more strident manner. I was extremely surprised to see one of the hosts on ‘Seven Sharp’ actually starting to take it to Key the other night. An influential journalist (John Armstrong) writing in the Herald, a newspaper well known for its support of the National-led Government, has launched into a series of damaging attacks on Key. These changes do not happen unless there has been a major shift in perception, at many levels. Are we seeing this groundswell of support for the PM finally starting to dissipate? I believe we are and the process is going to accelerate as his colleagues begin to make the link between their own political survival and the need to cut their support for Key. Watch over the next months as prominent members of the National Party being to pull back, leaving their leader more exposed. Once the public perception changes, the message will be clear---‘it is time to go Mr Key!’ That leaves of course the question—who will fill his shoes? Many of the ‘wannabe feet’ also have the taint of foot odour!’ For Labour’s part, the new leader, Andrew Little, has already signalled his intention to take the battle right to My Key and the National Party. If he manages to sort out issues around policy, he is well placed to bring about a revival in that once great Party’s perception with the public of NZ. WE are in for exciting times in NZ. Hopefully the needs of most NZers will be served and not just those of a narrow sector at the top of the pile!