Friday, 22 July 2016

The 2017 Election will be fought over Housing

Housing - a subject that can only be avoided until you
lock yourself out at night drunk and 3 hours before work
Election years are like Christmas - we all have different ideas about when its time to start talking. Just as you might hear the odd murmur about Christmas Club or Secret Santa, there are basically two main things you begin to notice when it's time to start thinking about an election:

  1. You start seeing advertisements from political parties
  2. Both parties start arguing over a specific issue which will be central to swaying voters

And would you believe it - that has already happened! Both those boxes have been ticked in the form of this National Party advertisement promoted on Facebook:

Understand this: Every election has a theme. And I don't mean like a Christmas theme either - I mean a central issue which the parties are all expected to deal with. For our American counterparts and their election, it was Income Inequality and fighting the establishment. What else could give rise to prominent 'champions of the marginalised' like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump?

We had a theme last election too - it was Dirty Politics. Whether you acknowledge it or not, that was the theme. The problem of course, is that National didn't acknowledge it. They refused to see Dirty Politics as an issue. And by pretending it wasn't an issue, they stopped it from ever being one.

I just love this dialogue so much I have to quote it:

Reporter: Why should we believe Cameron Slater over Nicky Hager?

John Key: Because Nicky Hager's got nothing to prove it.

Reporter: But Nicky Hager's got a bunch of e-mails.

John Key: Ah well. *mumbles*.

Nothing softens a serious issue like using the tone of two old friends idly discussing the weather in Hawkes Bay. A movie about John Key would actually be very boring. He needs an epic 'I am not a crook' or 'If the Prime Minister does it, it's not illegal' moment.

Anyway, back to housing. So yes. This time, the issue is Housing, but I don't think National can continue to deny it. Generally politicians only care about something if it's big enough to sway voters, and an issue will only sway voters, (or, at the least, encourage people to actually get out and vote) if it affects enough of us us on a personal level. As horrid as the Dirty Politics revelations were, they simply didn't personally affect us enough to really care.

But we do care about the housing crisis, and National is grudgingly coming to accept that. By sending 1 billion dollars to local governments to alleviate housing pains, and then going on to advertise it through social media, National are trying to set the stage for the next election a whole year in advance - talk about time to prepare! After years of ignoring an issue until it reaches a breaking point, they really have to buckle up and plan ahead now.

But they're also doing something more clever. Sending 1 billion dollars is probably the most effective way of catching up with an issue Labour has been campaigning about for years and National have been denying for years. It doesn't matter if the government has refused to even acknowledge a housing crisis. The fact is, money talks.

And it shows - people have already bought into it. A New Zealand Herald video article published on 6th of July asks New Zealanders for their thoughts on Labour, and one 28 year old former Labour voter has 'seen the homeless on the street' and believes National are the only party that can and will solve the housing crisis.

This is despite the fact that, along with John Key personally stating that 'homeless people don't want help.' National has persistently refused to even acknowledge a housing crisis. I pulled out just a few examples for fun:

I'm a bit idealistic. I grew up watching Dr Phil, I'm afraid to admit, and you don't get much more idealistic than that. One of his Texan proverbs I enjoyed was 'You can't change what you don't acknowledge'. And I'm sorry, I just find it really hard to think National will solve this issue given they've been dragged into it kicking and screaming.

So we get it, voters are dumb. But that interview says a lot - the 1 billion dollar proposal has worked according to plan.

Of course 1 billion isn't directly going to fix the issue, but it's a darn good way of telling people 'Hey, we're obviously trying to fix it.' Because how do you make up for years of a bad image? That's a good question, because it takes a long time to earn your reputation back.

But you can always buy it for, let's say, the approximate sum of 1 billion dollars. That's an expense National are willing to take.

So the National Party, frequent critics of Labour's 'chuck some money at it' policies, are now the ones doing the money-chucking. And if you think it's just because they're trying to solve the housing crisis from the good of their hearts, well, try to read between the lines. Remember, these are politicians we're dealing with here, not a bunch of Nuns.

National can now claim to have set the stage for the 2017 election - Housing, sweeping the rug from under Labour's feet by stealing a claim which should be rightfully theirs.

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