Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Brash move exposes Rogernomics revival

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Under the David Lange government, Roger Douglas, right, introduced sell-offs. File Photo / NZ Herald
Under the David Lange government, Roger Douglas, right, introduced sell-offs. File Photo / NZ Herald

This week, the ideological right declared war against the rest of us.

The motivations behind Don Brash's coup are to finish the mad Rogernomics experiment on this country that started in 1984.

Brash and his cronies put the hapless Rodney Hide out of his misery.

The Act ragtags have been a dysfunctional bunch of nuts for some time, so in some ways Brash could argue he has done us all a favour.

I just about drove off the road on Thursday when twinkletoes Hide led the radio news saying one of the things he was most proud of was delivering a sound centre-right government.

Good grief. Act and his caucus were an embarrassment and made us look like a narco-republic.

However, Brash and his allies' behaviour do give us a clue to their culture.

Twice we've had Brash, backed by corporate interests, demand the leadership of a party from an incumbent - first National under Bill English and second Act under Hide.

No squeamishness about process or democracy - hand over your party or we will destroy you. The same way I'm sure they'd run the country if they got a chance.

It's the same tactics Roger Douglas and his goons used when they captured the 1984 Labour Government. At least this time these guys will have to win a public mandate for their policies.

We've been spoiled by Helen Clark and John Key. Their greyness has made us politically lazy. That will change.

Brash is already hitting this government because of the $300-a-week per household they borrow just to keep things afloat. Simplistically it's a good soundbite. But their real agenda is to soften us up to feel we can't go on with this debt.

The solution, according to our new right-wing friends, is to sell off our assets and cut public services. But you'll notice Brash is vague about the details about what assets to sell.

Power companies? Water? Roads? What public services would they cut? Hospitals? Schools? Rescue workers? Police? How about superannuation? Brash goes very vague when quizzed on specifics.

The whole scenario is bogus because there was no need to borrow money if we hadn't recently cut taxes for the rich. They weren't even asking for it. What idiot would cut his or her household income and replace it by taking out a loan?

Brash and his new buddy Key will have a lot of explaining to do before the election. I can't wait.

This week will go down in history as the week when two new parties were launched on opposite sides of politics. Both are uncompromising.

Funnily enough, I respect both Hone Harawira and Brash. They say what they think. They believe what they say. They have a firm vision of the future and are prepared to put themselves on the line.

Each has a vision. The Act Party believes that all good comes from individuals meeting their own needs. The Mana party alternative believes good comes from individuals meeting the needs of others. A clear right-left divide.

You don't have to guess what side I'm on.

Brash's coup this week puts the future of this country firmly on the line. You have a clear choice.

Do we roll over like most of us did under Rogernomics and let the right corporatise our country? Or do we join with those who will fight? Like him or not, I'm with Hone. Unlike most politicians, I trust him in my foxhole.

Pick your sides. The contest of ideas begins.

* Matt McCarten is on the interim working group behind setting up the new Mana party.

- Herald on Sunday

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