Oh please, who said it's all about policies. Is it?
Yes they're important to those of us who need or want to know, but the majority of people I have been talking with don't particularly care about the policies of the different political parties. Probably couldn't name two or three from each of the main parties.
They have put them out there and the media would have us believe it's what we are interested in. But the views and feedback I'm receiving is that many people are more concerned about surviving and keeping their heads above water. They haven't time to analyse policies and make comparisons. They are voting for who they like and the party they feel most comfortable with.
I see interviews where party leaders must provide facts and figures. Take housing for example. National and Labour have been quizzed about the exact number of houses they're going to build in the next five to 10 years, particularly in Auckland. When the leaders hesitate to give an exact number the interviewers look smug and pleased with themselves. Gotcha. But it's not about the amount of houses that might be built. It's about working for real change in a number of areas. And housing, while critical, is just one of them. Everything in interdependent. I wish we could take the best of policies from all parties and run with those. Not likely to happen unfortunately.
I think this election is about leadership. And leaders that feel right. It's a gut thing. Trust your instincts and you will rarely be let down. I've had dealings with Bill English over the past nine years. When I tell people I like and respect him I get mixed reactions. It's interesting how people have you pigeonholed. They think they know your likes and preferences or rather they want to tell you what those should be. I don't think John Key would have had such a heady time as Prime Minister if it wasn't for English. As Prime Minister you need someone reliable you can trust to run the country while you get on with being "the face of government". I believe it was English in the back office who did the hard yards for Key. He well deserves his turn as Prime Minister. The proverbial "pair of safe hands".
Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party co-leader, is someone I trust. I have seen him in action over many years. Te Ururoa knows what injustice looks and smells like. And who continues to perpetrate it. He has worked tirelessly to lift families out of poverty and continues to encourage them to realise their potential. The party was pragmatic enough to know that in an MMP environment you have to work alongside people who may not be of your own political persuasion. Yet in some areas perhaps you would be able to work together. That is what has happened over the past nine years. The National government didn't need to invite the Maori Party to enter into a special working arrangement with them. But they did. It has been beneficial to both parties and not just for confidence and supply for the government.
The National Party, like Labour, is a mainstream party. Their core constituency is not Maori so Maori concerns will never be their priority and focus as it is for the Maori Party. The sole purpose of the Maori Party is to be a strong independent voice for Maori in Parliament. And Te Ururoa is right when he says "better to be inside the tent than whining on the outside".
I have watched English and Flavell over the years. They impress as leaders. They both have character, work ethic, intelligence, dedication to fulfilling commitments and their own values that are ingrained. They display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated. Both display workmanlike diligence - more plough horse than show pony. To me they are leaders who want to do the right thing and deliver the best results they're capable of.
So tomorrow we'll see. There'll be highs and lows with upsets we didn't anticipate. I'll go for leadership every time. Leadership that strips away the noise and clutter and just focuses on getting the job done. I see that type of leadership in English and Flavell.