Moderation in all things, even elections


While Todd Barclay and Labour’s interens have sparked some life into election year politics, here’s hoping we learn from overseas and scandal isn’t the dominate theme of Election 2017

The case for moderation is getting stronger by the day. We’re hearing now that it’s less than 100 days until the election, and until last week and the Todd Barclay story it had been a quiet build-up so far, with hardly any hype, let alone genuine interest in politics.

Then came Barclay. But just as Labour felt the natural buoyacny that comes with an issue that turns negative attention on an opponent, they came up with a distraction of their own. That negative spotlight turned back on their own party, with news of the shabby treatment of their imported volunteers.

It’s not that there has been no political news about, but rather than most of our news has been low key. Moderates tend to be low key – it goes with the territory. That doesn’t make it wrong. New Zealand is not without issues; hopefully in the next couple of months they will rise up and be debated. 

I would hate to see happening here the oxygen sapping high key carry-ons that have carried off sensible debate in Britain and the United States. There we see extreme views fuelling media coverage.

The tragic news from the London tower fire put a new, sombre tone on news from the UK. The anger we are seeing from the people caught up in this appalling disaster is genuine. Given the way things are unfolding, it’s hard to see how the public inquiry will not come up with some shattering conclusions. It is likely officialdom approved the highly inflammable cladding panels that so exacerbated the fire. The residents are demanding accountability, and fair enough.

It’s a housing issue; not about whether there are enough houses but whether the houses there are safe.

That disaster had followed two shocking terrorist attacks – in Manchester and at London Bridge. Again, questions will be asked of officialdom. One terrorist known to have radical views and on a ‘watch-list’ had recently returned from a visit to Libya where he apparently met very suspicious groups. Despite that, he was still able to carry out his atrocity. There has to be a big question mark over the value of more powers for security agencies and their watch-lists if these events go on happening.

It is becoming obvious that the polls, at least in some parts of the world, are getting it wrong. Leads in polls can be mirages; they should not be taken for granted. The Todd Barclay saga will not help National; but the volunteers scandal will have taken any wind it generated out of Labour’s sails.

The Tories went into the election campaign with a huge lead in the polls. There always is some tightening during a campaign, but far from the expected increased majority when the campaign started, Theresa May ended up hanging on by the skin of her teeth and floundering. 

According to the polls, Brexit would lose, even if by the slimmest of margins. It won. 

And while the situation was getting tighter in America, Hillary Clinton was still expected to win sufficient states to carry the Electoral College. She lost.

One of the leaders of the Brexit movement was the very unattractive Nigel Farange. Farange’s major issue was anti-immigration. He was also a high-profile supporter of Donald Trump and shared a lot of Trump’s views. 

During his campaign, Trump raged against immigrants. He described climate change as a hoax conjured up by China to damage the US economy. His support base is deeply and enthusiastically fundamentalist, religiously speaking. He called his political opponent “Crooked Hillary”. His main primary opponent was “Lying Ted”. Wild accusations flew about like confetti; they still do. I would hate to see any of that here. 

Unfortunately being sensible and moderate doesn’t catch the imagination, but they are far better views to have in charge of the country than the extremism of the Trumps and Faranges.

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