Eva Bradley: Election playground for big kids


It has been a long time since I've had my pigtails pulled, or been punched in the stomach by a boy I liked after stealing his soccer ball. No one has run off and told my mum when I used a word I shouldn't have recently, and I haven't had to make up lies about my big brother to save my own hide for absolutely ages.

That's why I quite like elections. The juvenile sniping, the exaggerated tittle-tattling, the side-swipes, the low-blows, the character assassinations and the promises for prosperity that have about as much substance as playing make-believe at the bottom of the garden all remind me of the best moments of being a kid.

It doesn't take a well-versed political analyst to observe that electioneering is two parts acting like a 10-year-old to one part leading the nation.

I'll confess to being in that category of voters who is a little too preoccupied running a small business, paying a mortgage and juggling one-too-many of life's balls to be as fully informed about policy before next week's election as I could and should be.

But I read the odd newspaper, I watch the news and I wait to find out which party is offering what.

And I wait. And wait. And wait.

Trying to sift out real policy from the chaff of personal politics, media stunts and undignified character assassinations is like looking for a needle at a haystack world convention.

I'm not especially interested in what John Key may or may not have said to John Banks over the teacups on that tape recorder, unless it has something to do with what National is actually proposing to do for me and my country should they be elected on the last Saturday of this month.

If Phil Goff spent even a fraction of the time he spends trying to tarnish the ever-rising star of his "key" opponent on promoting his own policies, I might actually have a clear idea about what message the Labour Party is trying to push.

For those of us who have grown up and stepped out of the sandpit, watching a bunch of adults continually trying to hit below the belt does not inspire confidence in the people we are supposed to trust to run our country.

It is obvious to even the most naive and ill-informed voter that rival parties will slam each and every one of their opponent's election promises not on the basis of content but simply because they were suggested by the other team.

When Phil Goff was building his reputation as New Zealand's most experienced state-asset seller, we were led to believe the strategy was slick.

Now that John Key wants to do the same thing, it is of course the most evil political move since Hitler first raised his right arm.

And politicians wonder why they struggle so hard to win our trust, let alone our vote.

To a humble observer, a Joe Public voter, it seems that winning the game is more important to those in the race than the game itself.

If I could find a party which exclusively campaigned on its own platform instead of indulging in playground politics, I suspect I would give them my vote.

Whenever I got in a fight with my siblings, Mum always said the same thing: "Why can't you kids just grow up?"

It's a simple message the would-be leaders of our nation would do well to listen to.Eva Bradley is an award-winning columnist.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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