Monday, December 11, 2006

Kiwistan - politically left and geographically right

The Weekend Australian Financial Review (December 2-3, 2006) includes an interesting analysis by Brian Toohey on the fall of former New Zealand Opposition Leader Don Brash.

Toohey provides a glimpse of some of the e-mails, strategy papers and copies of speeches (apparently written by a newspaper columnist) that were part of a secret strategy to ensure Brash didn’t look too “hard right” to Kiwi voters.

This included ensuring no publicity was given to a meeting between Brash and US official Richard Armitage in June 2004 lest Kiwi media dog Brash about his support for the disastrous 2003 US invasion of Iraq by the Coalition of the Killing.

Toohey makes frequent mention of left activist Nicky Hager’s book The Hollow Men. Brash sought a court injunction to stop publication of the book, which he claimed revealed details of confidential consultations with constituents.

Toohey also mentions Brash’s period at the Reserve Bank, which included the disastrous use of relying on the monetary conditions index (MCI) which led to Kiwistani interest rates going through the roof during the Asian financial crisis.

Perhaps most disastrous was revelations that Brash hid his knowledge that members of the fundamentalist Exclusive Brethren Church had spent more than $1 million on political advertising directly favouring the Nationals.

In Australia, the ALP was (under Kim Beazley) trying to out-Howard John Howard by pushing itself to the Right on so many issues. Yet in New Zealand, an openly conservative party was too scared to appear to right wing for fear of offending middle-of-the-road voters. Geographically, we may be to the left of the Kiwis, but certainly not politically.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006