In terms of politics I am a bit of a swinger, perhaps some would say a male flibbertigibbet.
I wish I was a hard believer in political dogma of the right or left but I am not. It would make election days much easier for me and probably hundreds of thousands like me. But no, I like to see what I am going to get for three years.
Over the years I have usually been very happy with my choice for MP of my district, whichever political stripe and whether or not that person is actually part of a government. I know I have chosen the best person for the job I want done.
Sometimes this can go wrong and a pup is sold to a gullible electorate. The big party political machines are usually very careful when appointing candidates but the odd outlier can creep in occasionally.
Last election our little part of New Zealand had two women standing for Labour and National, both highly educated, both successful in life, one middle-aged and the other not long out of university. I do not know these women personally but in small electorates people talk and others listen. Both had their supporters, people whose views I respect, and they had their detractors, normal in any political campaign.
I made my choice, going for the older woman, experienced in life and in business and with a strong whakapapa to local Iwi, an important factor for many people in my area. She is well-known so I assumed she would have great networks. The other candidate, a local woman also, through no fault of her own but simply because of her youth, maybe with not the same ability to influence in the community.
The preceding MP in our electorate, a successful and very popular politician, was retiring after many years at the helm. He was a man with a common touch, sometimes, to his credit, a bit out of step with his own party but he stuck up for our electorate, had a high profile in the press and locally, got a bit done, became a Minister for a while and is an engaging and interesting chap currently enjoying his exit from national politics.
I have slowly become disappointed at my selection. I know it is tough being a backbench MP in opposition but this does not stop an MP having a high profile in his or her own bailiwick. Our MP has been very much missing in action since 2017, writing the odd column in our local rag, maybe opening an event or two, but otherwise near-on invisible. All I know about her since her election is that she is pro-life and against liberalising cannabis laws, both subjects not for here today.
Her recent criticism of the government's efforts to fight Covid-19 is interesting just right now. She may be following the handbook of her leader. Kick the government while it is too distracted to play politics during a national pandemic. I will give her the kudos of at least having some sort of opinion, making her electorate pay attention and attract reaction and comment from both sides of the political centre.
To be balanced in my opinion, I am hoping that she hides her light behind a bushel. She may be very vocal and active on select committees. Politics is a cruel game and if this is the case, unless her electorate knows what she is getting up to in Wellington, she may not make the grade in September. She is up against a candidate, the same one who stood for Labour in 2017, three years older and wiser, now with her own networks, whose leader is the most popular, charismatic Prime Minister probably since Mickey Savage, the little Aussie who changed our country forever in the 1930s.
These are not normal times in terms of party politics. It is about personalities and leadership skills right now. National is right to hold the government to account after the recent budget and the lack of detail provided by Grant Robertson in terms of spending the billions. National is hanging its hopes on that fact that the government has achieved little in housing, health and infrastructure despite making huge promises upon election.
Covid-19 will continue to be a huge factor in politics for the coming few months before we go to the polls. How people will vote will depend on how the government continues to manage the economic recovery, including getting promised large projects actually started.
I am still undecided about who I will vote for in September. I remain to be convinced to give our current MP another run or to go with a younger, perhaps more visible candidate who will have the energy, enthusiasm and passion of youth on her side.