The Eye of the Fish

September 14, 2014

Election 2014

There’s an election coming up, and while lots of people are talking about Housing, hardly anyone is talking about architecture, or the built environment. The trickle-down economics of a $5 tax cut per week in 3 years time seem so banal to me that they are being rightly ignored by the media. Instead, we are being treated to a mindless interplay of “who has the best sound bite” game, and “who can talk the loudest over the top of the other”. I’m convinced that the “leaders debates” have only proved the opposite – that neither of these smarmy honkies have the required gravitas to lead this fine country of ours. Key: just Shut Up, Sit Down, and Listen. Cunliffe: Don’t play the “if you can’t beat them, join them” game as it is down right demeaning. Listening to these two grown men spouting figures at each other on Tv1 or Tv3 the other night, with wildly different statistics, left room to only think one thing “one of you, perhaps both of you, is lying through your teeth”.

But there is a hope. There is, amazingly enough, someone who understands more than a little about architecture standing in the election this year. That’s not a common thing – indeed, it almost never happens. We have a government and an opposition full of people who have all the worst attributes to be running a country. An ex-foreign-exchange currency dealer. An ex-woodwork-teacher. An ex-radio-talk-show-owner. Several failed lawyers. Even more people that were school teachers, or really crap real estate agents. From the rural, blue-voting electorates, they’re all either ex-farmers, or ex-farm-machinery salespeople. Does being proficient at handling the udders of numerous old cows really qualify you for a job in politics? Or being adept at rounding up sheep, steering them in the direction you want, so they can be slaughtered and made into cat flood? Perhaps, sadly, it does. Democracy really is the worst possible system – but unfortunately, still better than the other systems on offer.

Surely, in a government that plans for the future, there would be some people who had studied planning? Or in a government that looks after our health, there would be some qualified medics? Or in a government that plans to design and build a new economy, and guarantee everyone a rung on the housing ladder, there would be someone skilled and experienced in architecture?

Well, there is. Standing in one of the Wellington Electoral seats, for the Conservative Party no less, is architect Bruce Welsh. Admittedly, there is little chance that he would ever get into Parliament, given that the Conservative Party is fairly unlikely to get a single seat, let alone a whole tranche of them – as well as the fact that he is not even on their Conservative List, and so would have to get in on sheer power of good looks and personality alone, winning the Electoral vote over the incumbent. If the local MP is Annette King or Grant Robertson, then I rate his chances of pulling that coup off as low. Low to minuscule. As small as a very small thing indeed, resident in Smallville.

But good on him for putting his hand up. Given that architects, if they are any good, tend to stay being architects, and not disappear into jobs selling photocopiers (which probably pay more, to be honest), then there is a certain statement being implied by Welsh about his proposed move into politics. Undoubtedly, he must be feeling that something must be done about something – hopefully that is to do with affordable architecture, rather than the veracity of the reports of man landing on the moon. I think there is little doubt that his party leader, Craig Colon, is a complete fruit loop, and I would prefer that sane New Zealanders give him and his party an appropriately wide berth. It’s the thin end of the wedge of religious infiltration – the last thing this country needs is bible-bashers like those that have stilted the USA. Nor do we need koran-thumpers arising like ISIL. Religion has no place in a democracy.

It is curious though, living in the inner city, behind the armour of a pamphlet-proof security door. There are no banners in the inner city. No placards on people’s balconies. No moustaches drawn on campaign posters, because there are no posters. Not one. Here, in the Inner City, the most politically active part of Wellington, there is no sign of Politics. I no longer read the newspaper, since the day a couple of weeks ago that the DomPost devoted its entire front page to the story of a cat that slept in 2 different beds. You lost a subscriber that day – if I want to read stories about cats, I have the internet. I still have a television, but as it now is set to blank out all adverts, I see nothing there either. I have, honestly, not had a single political pamphlet delivered to my home (due to only the authorized postie being able to post mail in my slot) and therefore know nothing at all about any of the candidates on offer.

Imagine my surprise then, the other day, to receive a letter from the squeaky orange plastic bloke, telling me that I had a choice of candidates, including someone from the Social Credit Party! Honestly, I thought they had died a death in the 1970s along with Bruce Beetham and his crimpelene trousers. Have they really been limping along in the background, putting candidates forward for the elections since then? They have a list of 35 people on “the List” which is 3 more than Internet Mana, and even they are unlikely to be sitting anywhere inside the beehive. Other anomalies: the United Future Party has a List of 11 stalwart souls, despite knowing that the elected membership of UFP has never been more than 1. Similarly, Brendan Horan proudly leads the List for the NZ Independent Coalition – they/him, like UFP, will be extremely lucky to even get one seat.

What is the point of it all? Why does anyone put their name forward to be an MP, apart from the subsidized air travel? What is the point of Brendan Horan standing, let alone another 9 others in his “coalition” party? Has Dunne had his day, done his time, down the track, given that the Labour candidate is out-polling him on Stuff? Given that ACT is headed for oblivion, with 41 people on the List, and yet only one lone Pom, the wacky Jamie Whyte on the likely list via the whacked out cynics in Epsom – really, what is the point in putting your name down as person number 41 on the ACT list? Or position 40, 39, or, to be honest, even position 2? (Kenneth Wang, in case you’re interested, which I doubt very much if you are – or if we will see Mr Wang on the benches).

So, sadly, the only person with any architectural knowledge at all, Mr Bruce Welsh of the Extremely Conservative Party, is unlikely to be elected into Parliament and so the Government is most likely to continue to be bereft of knowledge about things architectural. Imagine if the Canterbury Rebuild had been headed by a politician with some knowledge and gravitas, instead of merely a fat stupid bloke who used to teach form two woodwork. Imagine if there was a system where quality people at the top of their game were elected in to the system to add value to the process – instead, we have the opposite, where washed-up has-beens are elected at the end of their economic incompetence. It’s no wonder that we have such a crap Government – we get what we deserve.

There’s only one option left, to make it more farcical than it already is. Vote for Ben Uffindell and the Civilian Party, who at least are honest in their aims to be a sardonic farce.

name (required)
14 - 09 - 14

“the United Future Party has a List of 11 stalwart souls, despite knowing that the elected membership of UFP has never been more than 1”. United Future had eight (!) MPs at one point. The one at #8 was probably surprised, though.

14 - 09 - 14

name required – No!?!?!? Really ?!?!? That is truly extraordinary. When was this? Must have been in the 90s, before my time. I always thought that Peter Dunne just invented it as a front for the Peter Dunne party. I’m flabbergasted. I do apologize.

Parties come and parties go (except, it seems, for Social Credit, which is hanging in there long after its death sentence has been passed). I remember there was a Values Party once, which got amalgamated into the Alliance, which in itself then exploded / imploded and became either nothing, or the Greens. Really, truly, if UFP ever had 8 MPs, and now has one, why don’t they just call it a day, furl their flag, and go home to a well-deserved obscure retirement.

14 - 09 - 14

Nope, not the 90s. It was 2002. You don’t know Jack.

14 - 09 - 14

Correct, yes, I am in the wrong. Here’s a link which pictorially shows the twisted birth lineage of UFP:
Should you wish to read it, there is a surprisingly complex back history to UFP, which (not surprisingly) is held on Wikipedia, but is not mentioned at all on UFP’s actual website. Some stories are best kept swept under the carpet….

60 MPa
15 - 09 - 14

If memory serves, Peter Dunne charmed the worm that year and coattailed a few in, one of whom was later found to have not filled in their form correctly and had to resign.

He’s my local and I’ll be voting against him this time – due to his passing the GCSB legislation- and Labour looks next most popular. It’ll be tight, he only won by something like 1700/1800 last time

Looking forward to a billboard-free week next week

Seamonkey Madness
15 - 09 - 14

At least we don’t have Christian Heritage around anymore. And we all know what happened to its leader… brrrrrrr….

15 - 09 - 14

Julie Ann Genter is qualified as a planner- she went to Auckland University’s Planning School and did a masters there – so the field is not completely devoid. If you flick through the green party list there are bound to be few resourcemangementalists amongst them (and definitely amongst their policy thinkers). I am not too sure about the other parties (needless to say ACT is unlikely, and “ACT List Candidate” must be the most meaningless title since “Customer Support Genius”) I doubt you will find any urban planners, there are so few in NZ and they don’t go in for politics, but there might be a few urban designers floating about- they tend to be quite outspoken.

15 - 09 - 14

Indeed, Splanned, Ms Julie-Anne Genter is one of the brighter voices in Parliament. She actually knows what she is talking about, a feat unreached by many others on the back benches – and apparently she has even worked as a traffic planner at NZTA, which must have been quite a terrifying occasion for both her, and the people she worked with. I imagine that, unlike other NZTA planners, she may not have always come up with the same answer of More Cars, More Flyovers.

But the bit I find quite sad, is the contempt that National hold the Greens in. You can’t even call it a barely disguised loathing – its just out and out hatred, for everything they do and say. Yes, there is a certain holier than thou attitude which must grate – but really, many of the Greens policies have been adopted by the Nats quite happily, so a bit more respect is due. Insulating low-socio-economic homes? Tick. Lessening the effect of dairy farms by fencing off streams from cows? Tick. But sadly: use of public transport? That one just keeps getting savaged by the dicks at ACT, and so, No.

I remember having the misfortune to find the Parliamentary debate on a Building Act Amendment or some such, and the MP Andy Williams was talking. Quite extraordinary for the garbage that was coming out of his mouth. He is deservedly not coming back to Parliament this time….

21 - 09 - 14

Looking for somewhere to stick the results from the election for future reference – this seems like as good a place as any.

National Party 1,010,464 48.06 41 20 61
Labour Party 519,146 24.69 27 5 32
Green Party 210,764 10.02 0 13 13
New Zealand First Party 186,031 8.85 0 11 11
Māori Party 27,074 1.29 1 1 2
ACT New Zealand 14,510 0.69 1 0 1
United Future 4,533 0.22 1 0 1
Conservative 86,616 4.12 0 0 0
Internet MANA 26,539 1.26 0 0 0
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party 8,539 0.41 0 0 0
Ban1080 4,368 0.21 0 0 0
Democrats for Social Credit 1,609 0.08 0 0 0
The Civilian Party 906 0.04 0 0 0
NZ Independent Coalition 895 0.04 0 0 0
Focus New Zealand