Gareth Morgan: Cat Amongst the Political Pigeons

Gareth Morgan, the rather well-known economist and wealthy person has decided to have a go at that politics lark. Today, he announced the creation of a new political party, The Opportunities Party (TOP), with the aim of disturbing the current political discourse. It’s not exactly clear what policies the party has at the moment. Given his history of promoting environmental and economic issues, I suspect that he will campaign on reducing inequality and improving the state of the environment. Morgan has been vocal in his support for a Universal Basic Income (UBI), an idea that I feel has particular merit.

Another thing that I like so far is that TOP won’t run electorate candidates. Electorate seats are a relic of the previous FPP system and are open to rorting (usually by the National Party and its vassals) and it allows for low-quality MPs to jump the queue in the party list should their opponents split the vote (Stuart Nash and my local MP Matt Doocey spring to mind).

The media narrative is that the Green Party is susceptible to losing support to Morgan, but I am dismissive of this, as it is quite clear that Morgan has a different vision to the Greens. Morgan claims that the environmental policies of the Green Party are overshadowed by their Left-wing economic and social policies when he called for a new “blue-green” party in 2014 (concern trolling at its finest).

Morgan fails to realise that right-wing economics is incompatible with environmentally sustainable policies. Short-term thinking and growth-obsession is the exact opposite of long-term thinking and sustainability. We cannot have business as ususal and magically expect individuals and businesses to voluntarily work to minimise their environmental impacts. Some level of central planning is necessary to curb the excesses that we all tend to commit when we are left unregulated. A blue-green party is nothing more than a feel-good idea for the middle classes and above who need to feel like things are being fixed while they get to stay inside their cosy status-quo bubbles.

Morgan has made his fair share of enemies, with his pronouncements on cats (quelle horreur!) and that he appropriated the “red peak” flag (warning: NZ Herald) to the chagrin of it’s creator, Xero* staffer Aaron Dustin. Given the distaste for the flag change project (which was nothing more that a distraction for the National party’s ongoing failure to deliver effective government), I think it is unwise for TOP to be linked with the Red Peak flag. However, if Morgan can capitalise upon his celebrity and outsider status, he may well make a big splash in the election next year. Indeed some have drawn parallels with the bigoted lunatic fraudster who happens to be doing just that in the USA at the moment. However by comparison, Gareth Morgan would represent a more pleasent backlash against the establishment with the hopeful vision that TOP is promising.

*Rejected slogan idea: “Xero, because you’re too dumb to use Microsoft Excel**”

**or an open-source equivalent.

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3 thoughts on “Gareth Morgan: Cat Amongst the Political Pigeons

  1. It’s interesting how in many countries worldwide we’re currently observing major shifts in political landscapes. Not everywhere parties come and go as quickly as in NZ, but there’s clearly a global trend towards political conservatism, green parties being no exception to that.

    When compared to other emerging parties around the world, TOP still appears to be surprisingly moderate, unlike PiS (Poland), FPÖ (Austria), AfD (Germany), SVP/UDC (Switzerland), AKP (Turkey), FN (France), Republicans (US) etc. Still, for similar reasons to those mentioned in your post, I find the ‘blue-green’ ideology rather irritating and alienating. A similar movement is also in process in Germany, though, where an originally left-wing green party has developed an increasingly powerful conservative wing, which now seems to dictate the path forward: the state of Baden-Württemberg is now governed by a green-black coalition (where the German black corresponds to the NZ blue) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg_state_election,_2016], and after the federal elections in 2017 a black-green government is currently traded as one of the most likely outcomes [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_2017#Opinion_polling].

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  2. It’s interesting to note that the SPD didn’t do that well in the last Baden-Wüttemberg election. Like the NZLP, their centrist brand of social democracy doesn’t seem to inspire the electorate. It’s also alarming that the drop in CDU polling seems to have translated into a gain in support for the AFD. The amount of crowding in terms of German political parties might make it harder for a TOP-style party to establish itself in Germany. Possibly there’s an opportunity for a genuinely left-green party!

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    • I think you’re right with your analysis of the BW election.

      Germany still has ‘the Left’, which doesn’t really have a noteworthy sister party in NZ these days. Like many other socialist parties, they have a strong ecological profile as well. However, where blueish green parties are dealing with a conflict between environmentalism and economical establishment*, socialists have a similar conflict between their environmental profile and union representatives of not so environmentally friendly industries.

      * Coincidentally, the German Greens have invited Daimler (Mercedes) CEO Dieter Zetsche as keynote speaker to their national convention today!

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