Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bribery, Corruption, and Pragmatism

I've recovered pretty much completely from the vastness of the student election bribe, and oddly found my experience of it reflected on Tim Barnett's blog today. Disbelief, followed by fine-detail combing, followed by 'well bugger me, it does seem to be as good as it sounds'. Or as Tim says:

True to form this generally somewhat cynical group did not accept it with open arms, but instead examined the fine print and looked for the trick. I can understand their disillusion with politics, so think that initial reaction was fair enough.

Yeah, that'd be it in a nutshell. There's a particular strand in the opposition to the policy (just a strand, mind, they're not all saying this) that says that students aren't doing this, that they're too silly to work out what their loan costs them or how long it takes to pay it back. Just a tip, guys: this probably isn't going to get you any support back from the people you're calling idiots.

Me personally, I HATE being bribed. It really gets my hackles up. But I'm not going to reject a policy that's, IMO, the right thing to do, just because it benefits my family. I'm also not going to reject it because it doesn't go far enough.

I'm a pragmatist, or at least I try to be. One of my little mantras is 'what do I want, what's the best way to go about getting it'. We're not going to get capped loans and universal allowance and loan write-offs all at once. That's simply too big to swallow. It's easier to get people to accept things in small doses. Likewise, I'm a fervent supporter of gay marriage, but I accept civil unions as a stepping stone.

In the spirit of pragmatism, I'll be quite interested to watch the shape of the Labour campaign from here on in, because I do wonder if they know what they're doing. They led out with what, it seems, is their biggest trump. Then they played their apprenticeship card so close to that that hardly anyone noticed. It's the kind of useful but unspectacular policy that people don't take much notice of unless it directly affects them anyway, but still... if it were me, I'd want two more big cards. One for when National's tax policy comes out, and another to close on. The polling is interesting, but infuriates me a little because it's pretty clear, I think, that this election is going to be decided by swingers and undecideds, and you have to dig to find the figures on undecideds, if they're available at all.

And I've been quietly musing on which is the biggest campaign mistake so far, Clark's fluffy makeover for the Australian Women's Weekly, or Don Brash and the stockcar. Both were fairly excrutiating: even the least-involved potential voter knows Helen's not a prom queen and Don's not an ordinary average guy.


Anonymous quentinf said...

Writing off the interest proportion of the Student Loan is an excellent idea. Certainly, it would help me pay off my loan earlier. However, I cannot help thinking that the entire thing reeks of desperate political campaigning - Call me a cynic, however, Labour was 5 to 10 percent down in the polls when it was declared.

Also, while it is definiately a move in the right direction, the real issue here is the issue of privatised education. The Loans scheme needs to be scrapped and appropriate Universal Student Allowances brought in. The Labour Party is not prepared to do that and, unfortunately niether is any of the others.

Sadly, I really feel that there are enough people (5 - 10%)who want a real democratic socialist alternative but feel as if they have no choice but to vote for the villans on offer. Unfortunately, voting for the lesser of two evils is still supporting evil. I have decided I would rather foolishly work for something that I believe in and vote for that and fail, than vote for something that I don't believe in and get it.

Like I said if 5 -10% of us who belived in genuinely left politics/party got together we could actually get people into parliament.

5:53 pm  
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