Friday, 29 November 2013

How to put the Con in Conservative ....

Colin Craig's supporters are baying for Chris Trotter's blood because Trotter criticised him. One chap in a letter to The Press even described Trotter's comments as verging on 'hate speech'.  I wonder if that person felt the same about Al Nisbett's racist cartoons?

So, what does the perpetually smiling Mr Craig stand for?  The superstructure may have been painted to resemble moderate conservatism but the base is that of the far Right.   I think the Keyster has told Craig how to walk the electoral tightrope - to persuade the far Right (for whom National is too soft) to vote for him but without ending up looking like the New Zealand Taliban which might scare mainstream National voters, and give the opposition some great ammunition.  

National will do an Epsom to ensure Craig gets an electoral seat and the magic 5%; the Greens and Labour won't do a deal to avoid splitting the vote and voila! we will have another 3 years of neo-liberalism. Just what the oil industry ordered.

No doubt the Craigster is as much an opportunist as one would expect and will have sorted himself a cabinet position.The poor schmucks who vote him in won't realise they've been hoodwinked and used as electoral cannon fodder until it's too late and, tragic though it is, some won't ever realise it. 

So how is Craig conning the increasingly impoverished Kiwi working class? What's he promising them?

Will he:

Raise the ludicrously low minimum wage? No, because that would be 'a cost to businesses and lead to job losses'.   (Of course sensible people know this is not necessarily the case because government could help small businesses, promote buy local, stop the export of capital, enforce tax laws etc and big business could easily cut its massive management costs, reduce shareholder dividends etc. But the monetarist mantra is that raising wages makes business less profitable  - which actually proves the Marxist theory of surplus value. Ironic or what?)

Remove income tax and leave only GST? No, that's too complicated.

Raise the tax threshold? Yes, and to a whopping $25000 - which would mean part-time low paid workers and all those living on superannuation only would pay no tax, and those on the minimum wage working a 40 hour week would pay almost no tax. 

If the tax threshold is raised - what would he cut to make the savings necessitated by the reduction in tax revenue?  My answers:

Police? No, can't cut the police because they're necessary for crowd control and most of them vote National.

Prisons? No, can't cut prisons because they're also necessary, otherwise why have police? Some of Sheriff Joe's ideas to save costs might be tempting, but if prisons are privatised and big business is permitted to use prison labour as they do in the USA, they can't make the conditions too tough or the prisoners won't be able to work as hard.  Tricking the tax payer into subsidising big business is just too good a joke - it ranks up there with the one about wealth trickling down.

Military? No, can't cut the defence force because they might be needed to back up the police.

Civil Service and local government? Can't cut the top levels because they mostly vote National but there's bound to be some slack identified in the front line services and there's definitely scope for some creativity - e.g.  chain gangs for road works, plant and animal pest control. Get the spin guys onto that one John.

Education? Now that's definitely a contender. Increase class sizes, remove all 'unnecessary' elements of the curriculum in working class schools, give free rein to charter schools, lower the school leaving age, reduce teacher holidays - plenty of scope. It's bound to increase the prison population and thereby the pool of publicly subsidised forced labour - so what's not to like about that? And who needs an educated working class anyway?

Income support?  Yes, that seems like a popular area for cuts but .....

Can't cut invalid benefits too much because sick, disabled beggars on the streets isn't a good look for a first-world country.

Can't cut the rest home subsidy because that would affect all the rich National voting people who own or have shares in rest homes, and a lot of wrinklies vote National.

Can't cut the housing subsidy because landlords charge rents that low paid workers can't afford, and we have to keep wages down to keep profits up - so the housing subsidy is actually a subsidy for landlords and employers. 

Can't cut support for families as too many right wingers like that one, leastways not unless we give them more tax cuts.

CAN cut unemployment benefit because the spin doctors have done such a good job in persuading the target audience that it's only useless lazy work shy (brown) people who don't have jobs. In fact they've done such a good job spinning this I reckon they could bring back the workhouse and there'd be people who'd argue it was too soft.

Raise the retirement age? Hmm. That'd be unpopular with the working class but it's very likely because it won't affect most of those who vote National. Besides, it's a hoot, give them a tax break and make them pay for it themselves by working an extra 2 or 3 years before an impoverished retirement and  hopefully they'll die before they get to it or too far into it, thus saving on the rest home subsidy. Win win! And as jokes go - it's right up there with the private use of prison labour and trickle down wealth.

So, there's not all that much scope but there is the big diversion- Craig's favoured child - the binding citizen initiated referendum. CIR = People Power!

On the CP website someone asked the question - "would the Conservative Party honour the results of previous referenda, in which the vast majority of NZer's rejected Govt. legislation, such as the homosexual law reform, civil union bill, same sex marriage legislation, the anti-smacking bill, and the decision to keep the number of MP's at about 120?  Would our party be bold enough to reverse such iniquitous legislation imposed against the majority voice?" 

Interesting what's included in the list of 'iniquitous legislation', given the first three were not subject to a CIR. A curious omission was prostitution law reform - but maybe the writer approves of that. It's also interesting that CIRs were regarded by the Royal Commission on the Electoral System 1986 as  'blunt and crude devices... that  blur the lines of accountability and responsibility of Government.'  I guess that's why the Ranting Right like them so much. Look at the parties and organisations which have supported CIRs - ACT, NZ First, Family First NZ, Sensible Sentencing Trust,  Kiwi Party and now the Conservative Part - it's Amygdala Central. Even the Maxim Institute doesn't want them to be binding.

Craig's answer was a classic tightrope walk - he promised to honour the outcome of referenda but as CIRs currently are not legally binding, that's pretty meaningless and there's no way he'd be able to force through legislative changes.

Any working class Kiwi who thinks that Colin Craig gives a rodent's fart about them, is deluded. And that's my final word on the subject - for now at least.

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