There must be a special school for budding politicians, out of sight in the Wairarapa hills, where Party affiliation is no bar to entrance. All that is required is determination, dedication, and the ability to stand in front of a mirror for hours every day practicing the specialised language and robotic delivery of political Esperanto.
This morning I turned on the radio to be pummelled by one of the specialists in this field, Amy Adams, responding to the budget. Amy is, by the peculiar reasoning of media experts, an accomplished politician and a potential prime minister. I should add, I use her example merely by chance. She is but one in a Beehive full of clones produced in that secretive Wairarapa enclave.
Amy rewarded her teachers this morning with a brisk, utterly confident authority that is likely to win her a place on the walls of her illustrious Alma mater. To Amy, everything about the budget was wrong. No doubt about it, everything.
I think we need another school, where intelligence is not driven out of students and even a modicum of balance and (don’t laugh) political ethics, is squeezed into the curriculum. But there are no such grey areas in the Wairarapa system, which focusses on speech: repetitive, wooden phrasing, dropped like deadening drumbeats designed to be the last thing you hear before falling asleep.
A hundred years ago, before radio and television studios, when politicians stood on soap-boxes in front of crowds, the current crop of Wairarapa graduates would have perished. The audience would have laughed, jeered, dozed off or drifted off after hearing such deadening, predictable droning. And our woefully inadequate aspirants, on realising they were alone, would have slunk home crying.
Did I say the only criteria for admission to the Wairarapa school of eloquent speakers was dedication? Sorry, a degree in law and business studies is also necessary. As we have seen with the embarrassing Kiwi Build exercise, people with knowledge and experience in engineering, building, surveying, anyone in fact who has ever had tools in their hands, a measuring tape or has a modicum of practical knowledge about the world, need not apply.
And the budget? While the opposition screamed incompetence at the government allowing confidential information to be filched, and the media warned the public had been distracted, the public rolled its eyes at the posturing of these two leftovers of the four estates of power.
And what of the ‘wellbeing’ budget? Well, it was a start. Understood? Don’t forget there are still a lot of politicians and media people yet to come to grips with MMP.