In these trying times for conservatives it is worth noting a small gleam of light in the South Pacific. New Zealand's far-left Labour government, led by the boot-faced anti-American ex-student radical Helen Clark, has been kicked out of office after nine destructive years.
With its national security taken care of by the U.S. and Australia, New Zealand under successive Labour administrations has felt itself free to abolish the combat arm of its Air Force, reduce its Navy (despite being a uniquely isolated island state in the middle of a vast ocean) to bathtub size, ban U.S. naval ship visits on the grounds that the U.S. Navy won't say whether its ships have nuclear weapons or not, and generally wallow in political correctness. The political disasters of left-liberalism which have been seen elsewhere, and which will almost certainly be seen a great deal more in the U.S. now, were acted out in New Zealand with painstaking faithfulness.
In 2004 a completely unnecessary quarrel was picked with, of all countries, Israel, the government apparently believing that Israeli spies were operating there (they were in fact probably taking part in an anti-terrorist surveillance operation, which New Zealand might well have been grateful for and in any event would have done well to have turned a blind eye to).
After various intemperate denunciations of Israel by Clark and bans on travel to New Zealand by Israeli officials, there was an outbreak of anti-Jewish incidents and Jewish graves in Wellington were vandalized. David Zwartz, a leader in the Jewish community in New Zealand and Israeli Honorary Consul, said: "There is a direct connection between the very strong expressions against Israel and people here feeling they can take it out on Jews. It seems to me Israel-bashing one day, Jew-bashing the next day."
Again repeating a pattern familiar with the Gramscian left in other parts of the world, multiples of millions of dollars were paid to Maori tribal bureaucracies, much of which was used for political indoctrination while little if any reached mainstream Maoris.
Naturally, despite defense spending having been cut to the point of nonviability, there was a high-tax regime and, for the size of the economy, a huge deficit. The tough-minded (some say too tough-minded) economic reformer Roger Douglas was sidelined early on. Economic populism without even a fig leaf of responsibility included raising the minimum wage six times in six years. In an attempt to sew up the student vote, interest on student loans was abolished, first for those currently studying, then for all borrowers living in New Zealand and for education in general. Apparently the Clark government learned nothing at all (or possibly learned all too much) from the example of the Whitlam Labor government in Australia, which had attempted similar pseudo-Peronist populism between 1972 and 1973 and had succeeded in bringing the economy to its knees.
Despite all the ideological socialism, hospitals in New Zealand were so inadequate their corridors were filled with beds that could not be fitted into wards, some patients had to be sent to Australia, and people died while on the waiting lists for operations.
The school curriculum was taken over in the interests of propaganda. Among other classic Nanny State legislation, parents were prohibited from smacking children. According to an unofficial estimate, there was a poverty level of 20%. A series of petty scandals suggested certain members of the government considered themselves above the law. In short, New Zealand was reduced to a classic and exemplary authoritarian socialist/left-liberal mess.
ANYWAY, in last Saturday's elections, the New Zealand Labour Party managed just 34% of the vote. Not only Labour but the smaller left-wing parties including Labour's ally, the eco-nut/Marxist Greens, were savaged at the polling booths.
New Zealand has a complicated and obscure voting system (for example, four parliamentary seats are reserved for Maoris, despite the fact few pure-blood Maoris still exist). It is difficult or impossible for any party to govern in its own right, but this time the result was decisive. Labour was reduced to its hard core of seats and what Clarkism stood for was rejected.
Whether the incoming National Government will have the will or courage to make the radical political and social changes needed, and for which it has been given a clear mandate, is another matter, especially since the Nationals have lost their tough-minded former leader Don Brash.
The incoming prime minister, John Key, does not look as if he stands for anything in particular. His 2002 statement that "some form of orientation towards privatization in health, education and superannuation makes sense" falls a good deal short of being a ringing endorsement of free enterprise, though he and the Nationals do seem a good deal more pro-American. With 59 seats out of 122 they too will have to govern in coalition and the shape of this has not yet been settled, although they can already count on the five seats of the allied ACT Party.
Al Jazeera, which has taken some interest in the election, quotes Clark's Labour Party as accusing Key's Nationals of both stealing its policies and of having a hidden right-wing agenda. One can only hope that the latter charge at least is true. From a geopolitical perspective, one of the most hopeful probabilities is that defense co-operation and integration with Australia will now increase and New Zealand will pay more of its way, strengthening the Anglosphere's defense anchor in the South Pacific.
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