Colour Coded

For your convenience.

Did you know that the French epitome of elegant, monsieurly attire, the cravat, actually was a clothing item borrowed from a 17th century military unit called the Croats. It was no more nor less than a piece of cloth worn around the neck in a colour that identified on whose behalf they were fighting this fine morning. Colour has, since then, been the way to identify political allegiance.

In England the Magna Carta of 1066 established their a feudal system whereby the Monarch had a number of noblemen advisors to assist with the creation of laws of the land. Effectively a parliament. A bunch of toffs who never did a hard days work in their lives poncing around in purple and crimson cloaks. The colour of royalty and religious hierarchy has always been purple or crimson red, something to do with the myth (presumably) that aristocratic blood (the blood of those descended from the gods) has a slight bluey tinge to it.

The system appeared to work quite well in Europe until the French peasants, at the end of the 18th century, started chopping the heads off the nobility as an expression of their displeasure with the monarchial system. That caused a bit of concern amongst the nobility of Britain and so they started releasing a bit of pressure by having parliament introduce reforms designed to ease the plight of the poor and the workers who, in those days, were one and the same. Give them a little more say in the running of things so as to hopefully keep their heads attached to their neck. Before the end of the 19th century the working classes were starting to get some real representation and a Scottish independent MP, James Hardie, wee Jamie to his mates, formed the Independent Labour Party and he became the first Labour MP in Britain. Things took off a bit after the Russian Revolution in 1917 scared the nobility of Britain a bit further and in 1924 Britain had its first Labour Government.

And so it came to pass that the noble purple was divided into it’s two primary colours of blue and red. I have no evidence that the two political groups rationalised it thus, in fact I doubt they did, but the fates control these things anyway, we are just along for the ride and you can’t argue with the colour codes. The workers took on the colour of the blood of the working man and the tories took on the tinge of blue that turns common blood to noble blood.

Red&GreenYou know where I am going with this don’t you? Yes that most disturbing of political engagements that took place this week between Andrew Little (wee andy?) and his political fiancée Metiria Turei.

Has any political marriage been any more awkwardly staged since Helen and Peter?

Do you Andrew, take this woman….

But in the weirdest bit of the pre-nup, the engagement only lasts until the eve of the wedding (I mean election); after that it will be a question of who is most desperate to consummate the relationship and what will they pay to do so. And just to get even weirder, wee Andy said this was ‘not a monogamous agreement’. Is this a variation of that other reality TV show ‘married at first sight’? This is because the stated #1 goal of the arrangement is simply to remove National from government. Where was the positive, united policy platform that would make the lives of the average Kiwi a lot happier? That is what we needed to hear. Not just that they would combine resources to get rid of the government. They can see from all polls that, while we would always be keen for a better deal, the majority of Kiwis are not desperate to get rid of the government at all costs. A reasonable number are solid supporters, another reasonable number think better the devil we know. And what does ‘sharing resources’ mean? I don’t think the treasury box of either party is overflowing. Will they share computer-hacked gossip which was their failed strategy last time? We don’t want to hear that. We did not need computer hacking to tell us politicians from both sides of the house are not always telling the truth. We worked that out a long time ago, and hacking someone’s computer to tell us the opposition is dishonest is hardly the action that gives them the right to the moral high-ground. We know there is no such thing as moral high ground when it comes to politics so just tell us, what does this merger of Red and Green mean for us in policy?

So lets get the old colour wheel out and see what the fates have in store for us this time.
brown stuff

Yep, mix red and green colours and, as any artist will tell you, it merges into the brown stuff (mud). We know where the Labour ‘red’ came from but why did these self-appointed earth guardians choose green? As we know from satellite images, planet earth is blue not green. Possibly the rationale is that the colour green represents the vegetation that grows on the planet and that fundamentally, the greens are a vegan party (if that’s not an oxymoron).

Red and Green are at polar opposite ends of the colour spectrum and an analysis of their core political policies confirms that. Labour has a foundation cornerstone in  mining; it was from the coal mines of the South Island west coast that the NZ Labour Party was formed, protecting the livelihoods of the miners. This search for energy sources saw the industry extend into off shore drilling for oil. The Greens have a foundation cornerstone in opposing mining for coal and minerals and drilling for oil. Their stated policy is to import wind turbines, ignoring the mining of rare earth elements involved in that technology, to replace locally sourced energy. I don’t know what the agreed common policy between the reds and greens will be but I suspect it will be as clear as mud and will fail to appeal to the core of either political movement. If Labour throw the mining industry under the political bus, they undermine their foundation, then what is next? The factory workers who make the milk powder for export as the Greens oppose the dairy industry? The employment to construct the Transmission Gully motorway that the Greens opposed? Where do you stop when increasing environmental considerations make it hard for an average Kiwi worker to earn a living? And if the Greens concede environmental protection for the sake of employment how can they say they are true to the mandate of their members and supporters. It is a lose/ lose.

NZ FirstThe greatest risk, if the mud colour fails to appeal to the swinging voter, is that their vote will go into the colour black, the political void within which matter (or anything of substance) simply disappears. The Andrew & Metiria engagement will be called off and the only one grinning on the wedding night will be Winston. Then when he has consumed sufficient easy-prey votes to fill his mandate, he will hibernate again for a couple more years and re-emerge in time for the next election to see what other idiot things have happened in politics that he can prey on.

To my mind the obvious strategy staring labour in the face, rather than sleeping with the enemy, would be to redefine the battleground. They have lost the “middle New Zealand” voter and, frankly, National are boxing far too cleverly to concede it. So Labour need to redefine the battle ground; redefine the target market. Instead of a political landscape of hard-core left, far right and middle New Zealand definitions, redefine the voter population into three categories of: Capitalist, Working and Beneficiary. Capitalists are those who let money earn more money, Workers are those who work for a living, whether as an employer or employee, and Beneficiaries are those who rely on social charity for survival. Political correctness, highlighted in WINZ euphemistically referring to beneficiaries as clients, has totally failed to reverse or even contain the increase in poverty so let’s start to call it what it is if we are ever to start to reverse the poverty trend.

But the first priority is to build the productivity base of workers and the self-employed who establish small businesses. As the airlines say, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can be any help to others. Nearly a million people in New Zealand are either self-employed or work in a small business with fewer than 20 employees. Add their partners to the political population and that is a voter majority by a country mile. A worker party that understood and focused policies on this sector would capture the largest single group in the voting population and would build the economic base upon which a solid social welfare system and increased public service infrastructure of health and education can be funded. And through its growth, this focus would actually reduce the demand on social welfare services in the unemployment sector. But they won’t work that out in the Labour party Think Tank. They are, in essence, just toothless politicians. It has always been such since the feudal system was replaced by a sham lower house of parliament. Give their elected delegates a few perks while the bureaucrats make all the policies and the capitalists make all the money. My Gran was a devoted Labour Party supporter with leanings towards the Marxist end of the spectrum but even she said that the cynical version of the British Labour party’s anthem, The Red Flag, that she believed to be the sad truth was “the working class can kiss my arse, I’ve got a boss’s job at last.”  Give a working man a suit and he turns into a suit.

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