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.