I say completely predictable because many mainstream media polls failed to predict it; and much accompanying commentary in the Press was equally vague, evasive, and downright contrary, where reporting of public sentiment was concerned.
Some things in politics are very complicated. Most, however, are very simple; and the outcome of this latest British election is one of them. The singular defining issue was as clear as daylight, as was the inevitable result.
I said so myself, of course; “Boris will romp home with an 80-seat majority” was my stock reply to the disbelieving and the incredulous. Well OK, in the end he only got a majority of 78, but I can live with that. Really, I don’t know how pollsters manage to get it so wrong, so much of the time. All you have to do is go to the pub and listen to people, to get a sense of a nation’s mood. Note I say listen; maybe where too many commentators go wrong, is that they insist on talking instead.
This British poll was always about Brexit, and never about anything else. It wasn’t about the NHS, or about NATO, or Trump and the Russians, or ….. anything. Brits had decided they wanted to Brexit, and politicians responded by spending nearly three years stalling, and steering, and duckshoving, and obfuscating, and in the end the people had simply had enough. Electorates that had been Labour for more than 100 years turned blue overnight. “Get it done,” was the message. And now it seems that Boris will do just that.
Politicians in New Zealand would do well to heed these ides of December. It is the very small number of very fundamental issues that motivate voters, not the myriad irrelevant distractions that so many politicians would prefer to have as front and centre.
Bill Clinton famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
He was right, of course. It is a timeless message, crossing aeons, and philosophies, and national boundaries. People want food on the table and money in the Bank, schools for their kids, hospitals when they need them, roads that aren’t clogged, fuel and electricity that don’t cost the earth, a couple of weeks decent holiday a year, and a beer or two on Friday after work. They don’t, fundamentally, give a rat’s posterior about plastic bags, or people smuggling, or whether or not Iran is building nukes on the sly. I mean yes, those things concern people, but they don’t determine how they vote.
And Britain, post-Brexit, will be having all the above and more – I promise you, watch this space. The UK economy is about to boom. There’s a ‘Falklands Victory’ mood in England right now; defence materiel manufacturing, particularly ship building and jet fighters, are ramping up, the wind and hydrogen alternative energy sectors are beginning a massive growth phase, and every area of the British economy is looking forwards, eagerly, to a new era of going it alone without the European Union.
The next election in New Zealand will, similarly, be about the basics – and that’s why Winston and Jacinda’s Little Kingdom is going to come crashing down. 2020 in NZ isn’t going to be about euthanasia, or cannabis, or the climate rubbish, or how many refugees we’re taking from the hellhole that is most of the rest of the world.
No, it will be about the economy. It will be about business, and jobs, and whether or not tradespeople, and small business operators, and retailers, can continue to scrape a crust together. It will be about the relative confidence that people have, in the abilities of those on either side of the primary political divide, to steer the ship of New Zealand’s economy. It will be about taxes, and the regulatory environment, and stupid-to-dumb health and safety rules, and what’s on offer from the various political Tribes, where the ability to conduct business easily and profitably is concerned.
I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, right now, and state that I firmly believe this Labour Coalition will be a oneterm Government. And I say that because it’s my perception, from listening to people, that Jacindamania hasn’t proven (unsurprisingly) to be some kind of panacea for every ill that afflicts New Zealand economically. The costs of being in business in New Zealand, relative to the returns, are horrendous, and most of this is so purely because of Government – the actions, inactions, ridiculous requirements, intractable bureaucracy, and fundamentally misdirected focus of the people currently in charge, make what should be the best place in the world to live and do business, instead one of the worst.
But for the Poms, post-Brexit is set to be a Golden Age. An FTA with the US, a renewed focus on infrastructure and manufacturing, and the prospect of CANZUK and the Freedom of Movement within the Queen’s Realms, all offer big potential for Commonwealth folks to profit from Britain’s resurgency – but they offer more again to Britain herself.
Maybe a New Zealand Government that decides to put national interests ahead of irrelevant side-issues, will see a similar surge in support to that just experienced by the Conservatives in the UK.