New Zealand Turns Right

New Zealand’s National Party is on its way to victory and forming a government after more than half a decade of chaos and misrule. Labour suffered a massive rejection by the voters, ending the tenure of a party that was mostly ruled by a Kiwi version of Hillary Clinton without the insatiable bloodthirst, the global progressive icon Jacinda Ardern. She dropped out as a captain from a sinking ship just in time to take a fellowship at Harvard and lecture the U.N. on why censorship is important: a lesson she internalized and practiced during her quasi-authoritarian Covid-era tenure as prime minister. 

It is somewhat difficult to explain how New Zealand politics worked in the last decade, but also, they haven’t been much different from the rest of the Anglosphere’s. It is the same story since the end of the last National government. A “New Left” party has focused on the classic priorities: fancy social issues like climate change and LGBT rights, importing toxic race politics into Māori-white relations, ignoring punitive justice and law and order on the streets in the name of reformative justice, and completely coopting working-class grievances about inflation, higher rent, and living cost. Add to that some of the strongest and mindlessly authoritarian Covid lockdowns of the entire Anglosphere. 

Some of the issues that we see around us in the U.S. (and the U.K.) were visible first in New Zealand, a country of very similar social dynamics that is often unduly ignored. During my final days in New Zealand almost a decade back, there were glimpses of a parallel and fraying order: a drunk Māori male racially abusing a white female metro conductor in Auckland after he refused to show a ticket to her; rampant crimes in parts of Rotorua and Christchurch; a Sikh Indian gentleman huffing about racism in a conference where a Fijian Indian Labour leader rightly noted that New Zealand is a western country with an English-style legal system that should be respected by all foreigners, including Indians; Indian and Fijian weekend local newspapers and radio channels in Auckland avoiding tax and immigration laws by hiring underpaid and overworked foreigners and students; gangs of hooligans grabbing goodies from stalls during the Diwali Festival in Auckland with no fear of retribution from the indifferent police force; homeless drug addicts squatting and bothering business-owners and European backpacking gap-year students alike in Auckland and Dunedin. 

Thousands of small cuts, but you get the idea. 

All that came to a boiling point. Ardern, of course, has no political talent other than her ability to drum up massive support among the urban and college-educated. She knew what to say in front of the camera. The hyper-coddled Gaia-worshipping college kids with unrequited mommy issues craved it. The old working class, loyal like a battered wife, voted for this Labour party out of class solidarity. It was bound to end someday. And it did. 

That is not to say that the National Party is any better. In fact, going by the Boris Johnson and Donald Trump tenures, it might as well be a wasted opportunity of a deep reform and restructure of New Zealand society. I hesitate to sound like a pessimist, but it is not a question of Ardern’s authoritarianism but a lack of authority on the right. Both Trump and Johnson had a similar mandate. They failed to use it. While the structure of the U.S. allows for another Trump, Britain lost the historic realignment under Boris, who locked down his country and focused all his attention on Mariupol rather than Mansfield. 

The National Party has a chance not to repeat Boris or Trump. Chris Trotter writes, “Like their European and American counterparts, the New Zealand working-class has completed its historical journey from Left to Right. And it ain’t going back.” 

I am not so sure. Just look at the English Midlands. 

But it is an opportunity for the Nationals to lose now.

Originally found on American Conservative. Read More

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