Return of the Hollow Men?
In an article by ‘Karol’ in the Standard Org website, the similarities between a National orchestrated mudslinging campaign in 2005 and now are presented.
There is little doubt that the current election is taking on more of the manners that we have come to loathe of US elections and, most likely, because many of the same people appear to be involved. Designed to undermine the image of opponents rather than policies it contributes, with the tacit co-operation of the media, to a general dumbing down of politics and elections
Killing the messenger
By attacking the messengers rather than the message, the opposing party has no need to justify or even clarify their own policies. Complex issues become short sound bites of meaningless comments.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the area of poverty and inequality. On each occasion that the issue of child poverty is raised the current Government will give two sound bites to show how much they have done to assist the poor: home insulation and vaccinations against rheumatic fever. While both are admirable, even a small dig by the media would reveal (or remind us) that home insulation was a Green Party policy that the National Government accepted in return for the Greens limited support. The vaccinations may assist in reducing the number of children who suffer, but it is treating the effects not the causes of poverty.
Harm caused by a limited and superficial media
I originate from the UK, though it may not be immediately obvious in my written accent! Over there, there are a number of newspapers that are openly biased towards certain wings of the political spectrum. On pretty well any subject you have the opportunity to read contradictory views, should you choose to find it.
In New Zealand we have two main sources: The Dominion Post and NZ Herald. Both appear to have a similar right wing bias. Even stories that appear to be coming from a more left wing sympathetic angle, as a recent set of stories about rental properties, turn out to be using examples of tenants that are not so easy to empathise with.
Whether due to their apparent bias, or a less thorough level of research, our papers seem to be prepared to quickly publish mudslinging stories. In fact there is strong evidence that there may be collusion, based on an article by Frank Macskasy on the Daily Blog.
Greater harm in what is not published
We have only a few months until the elections. Granted a reasonable number of voters have decided well before it was called, who they were planning to vote for. However, there are also a substantial number of “don’t knows”, of floating voters, who have yet to nail their colours to anyone’s masts.
Every story and every article about mudslinging claims or denials are lines that should have been used to give us all the facts about what are the issues facing us and what each party plans to do for the country.
Poverty and inequality do not need to be issues actively considered by the left only. In other countries, especially Scandinavia they are often issues for cross-party effort. Even when it isn’t the parties of the right have their own policies for dealing with them. Even in New Zealand in the past, social concern was very important to National. In fact, it could easily be argued the Robert Muldoon had policies far to the left of even the Green Party of today.
This subject is too important to be diverted by politicians
The voters of NZ need to have input, and they can only do so properly if they are presented with the facts and the alternatives. They need to be able to have easy access to articles like Jennifer Darling’s piece in 2011
Dominion post (Newspaper). Fletcher, David 1952- :”We’ve been criticised for our lack of action on child poverty!” 13 April 2013. Fletcher, David, 1952- :[Digital cartoons published from 2001 onward]. Ref: DCDL-0024522. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/31985870
If we cannot get the press to raise their standards then, as an absolute minimum, all readers need to make sure that they attend any local meetings where party candidates are present and ask them “What are they going to do about our inequality and poverty”
– Nick W