On the campaign trail in Dunedin North with Victor Billot

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Posts Tagged ‘ACT

Last stand at the OPOHO Corral

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Last night was the final election meeting in Dunedin and it went out with a bit of a bang at the always successful Opoho Church forum.

This is my last candidate review for the election season 2008 and to make a change from usual I will attempt to give each candidate credit for what I think is their strong suit.

In the interests of fairness I will not review myself, but comments are welcome.

Hilary Calvert (ACT): Hilary ended as she started with a reprise of her campaign themes and inimitable style. As always she began her speech telling the crowd they wouldn’t like what they were about to hear. My recommendation is a quick flick through “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie to fix this problem.
Once again the big themes were Government (hospitals, schools, roads etc) – it’s all bad – and students (they drink beer.)
To give her due, Hilary has been the most consistent of the candidates. No matter how unpopular, wild eyed or just plain wrong, Hilary sticks to the message. She is consistently opposed to any form of collective, social or community approach. For Hilary it’s down to the individual.

Mike Woodhouse (National): Mike has refined his patter over the campaign and has avoided problem areas for National (policy) in favour of winning hearts and minds by sheer bloody minded middle of the road blandness.
The whiff of ruling class paternalism comes through in his homilies about how he looks after “my staff” but in the main Mike has come to impressively embody the entire National Party campaign. Chameleon like, Mike is the reverse of Hilary, giving the audience what they want to hear and quickly figuring out which way the wind is blowing on any given occasion. Tonight he had some support in the form of Nick Smith MP and a pack of minders who turned up while in town. Shame they can’t vote in the local electorate.

Pete Hodgson (Labour): Pete has struggled to keep up with the form of old. The dry monotone rolls out pages of statistics, corrects audience members and occasionally bites back if contradicted. Sitting on a seven zillion vote majority, I suppose it is hard to get much enthusiasm up. However Pete is always ready with the data and plods away with scientific precision on any given topic, reducing the audience to a glazed silence in the process.

Metiria Turei (Greens): Metiria has given a strong performance in the campaign and managed to combine the social and ecological message in a way that is beyond most other Green MPs. However she continues to fudge economic questions by saying she is not an economist. I don’t accept this, any political figure in my view has to have a grasp of economic issues, and if they don’t have one, it’s time to get one.
At last tonight we managed to identify a core difference between Alliance and Greens. The Greens stand for resource taxes and the Alliance stands for progressive taxes. albeit with a small amount of crossover. In short this means the taxation system that pays for Green policies may be good for the environment but they will be bad for low income people.

Tonight’s debate was more lively than many with a better turnout. My impression about the campaign has been there is less energy and less interest from the public. Many meetings have been smaller than 2005 and the mood has been muted. Personally I think this is a bad sign for the Government, although this would probably have to be the worst time in fifteen years to be elected, given the financial outlook.

Mind you, it seems Dunedin with its left wing vibe is on a different track from our northern cousins. The Nationalists seem to have captured the wallets of the individualistic, self-obsessed middle class, and the polls may well reflect this. However, the incoming recession will soon create cracks in the current political-social scene and the next few years promises to be a very interesting time . . .

Written by Victor

November 2, 2008 at 5:58 pm