Saturday, 5 July 2014

Party Politics and Pig Wrestling

As you're probably aware if you've read anything beyond the name of this blog, I'm a lefty. I do union stuff. I voted Scottish Socialist once. I'm a member of the Green party and I've marched up and down Queen Street (once both on the same day!) for various issues like fairer pay, better conditions, and the right for New Zealanders not to be spied on.

I am left-wing because I have a strong sense of social justice and I believe in things like free universal healthcare, education and a benefits system that takes care of everyone in my society. I vote for parties that promise action on climate change, poverty and tackling social ills. I am in a comfortably well-paid job yet I would rather be taxed more in order to see those further down the ladder get the help they need.

For some people, identifying with a political party or ideology suggests that you become absolutely incapable of seeing the good in any other party whose ideals do not match your own. It doesn't help when the opposition stand for the most part for everything you're against, and actively seem to hate everybody who isn't them.

However, I personally will stand and applaud any politician, regardless of stripe, who has a flash of common sense and says something I agree with. Maurice Williamson's much-youtubed "Gay rainbow" speech at the final reading of the Marriage Equality Bill? Loved it, almost as much as National's Chris Auchinvole's less bombastic but equally poignant and funny speech (please have a listen, it's a thing of beauty). Incidentally, Auchinvole was on the select committee when I gave my oral submission on the bill and I found him to be sensitive to the submitters, thoughtful in his questions and a credit to the political process.When Nick Smith dropped the Fjordland monorail project, I actually punched the air with joy. I'd have bought the man a pint.

But when the Justice minister disregards a major report on domestic violence's findings, then takes a selfie at a fight night and tweets about how none of the men there are "ashamed to be men", it's hard to like. When the PM describes the groundbreaking speech on DV by the leader of the opposition as "silly", it's difficult to see that party as fighting for my interests. When the education minister supports charter schools, larger class sizes and more testing, it's a challenge to think of the opposition as anything more than complete bastards.

However, despite their best efforts I shall continue to try to focus on policies not personalities, and politics not parties, because otherwise I'm just failing to take the advice of George Bernard Shaw: "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

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