Negative political tactics make you look dull

I admire democracy – after all the alternatives are much worse. I also believe that a robust ‘loyal’ opposition is a necessary part of a healthy democracy.

But it all falls apart when an opposition chooses vindictiveness and obstruction over constructive opposition and collaboration.

Two recent examples:

The US Republican party apparently plans to add 450 amendments to a climate change bill, in order to slow it’s progress down to a crawl. This is a climate change bill – a rather relevant piece of legislation for the entire world. So why not engage in a constructive debate and work out the best solution – rather than simply opposing it?

The second case is closer to home. NZ’s Labour party just used the same tactics to obstruct and delay the passage of the Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) bill. If you happened to tune into parliament in the last few days it was a sad indictment of the system, and morever an appalling way to use the Maori language as Labour and colleagues used the language and resulting required translation to slow things down even more.

Sure Labour wants to get the bill to committee, but their petulant behaviour in this instance makes them lose face, and though they may crow about parliamentary victories, to this listener they just sounded like ignorant obstructionists.

And yes National didn’t do the ‘right thing’ by operating under urgency, and they could have accepted an offer for a fast committee pricess.

The parties have argued themselves into a corner on this one.

It’s particularly galling as clearly both sides clearly want a single Auckland council. They differ on the details, but the situation is exacerbated by the Mt Albert by-election and the adversarial tactics used by both sides.

So please – both sides – grow up and govern.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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