As the general election draws near, Parliament has become not so much a battleground of competing ideas but a cesspit of scandal, personal attacks and squabbling.
IS IT COINCIDENTAL that as the general election draws closer, parliamentary political debate, such as it is, has descended into scandal, name-calling, personality clashes and general squabbling?
With little to differentiate the parliamentary parties in terms of policy, the political class are seemingly engaged in a game of parliamentary one-upmanship with arguments about who has been leaking what to who about such things as a minister's extramarital affair and an opposition MP sending unsavoury photos to young women via social media. The descent into the gratuitous and the unseemly has been eagerly devoured by a corporate media obsessed with capturing the Gotcha! moment and with clickbait.
The last few days have provided yet more evidence of just how unrepresentative our representative democracy is. The joke is on us when the politicians tell us they are working for us, because out in the real world more and more folk are being pressed down into the dirt by the iron heel of capitalism. While Winston Peters 'outs' (under parliamentary privilege) a National Party staffer who he claims is the person who leaked details of his superannuation and ACT MP David Seymour accuses him of a 'disgraceful use of Parliament', the queues continue to lengthen at the food banks and schools are reporting that more and more children are arriving at school each morning having had nothing to eat.
is it little wonder that some 750,000 folk no longer want anything to do with system that consistently fails to defend their interests? This week's parliamentary hi-jinks certainly would of convinced few to return to the polling booths in September. It will have only confirmed for most that our so-called representatives are distant and unaccountable. At a time of global pandemic and the New Zealand economy in a tailspin, the politicians have proved they ain't up to the job.
Elections have been captured by neoliberalism crushing real choice, and ultimately leading to the sort of nonsense we've seen this week. Unfortunately the Labour-aligned left is still devoted to tribal politics and have actually been arguing that Jacinda Ardern has acted more ethically than Judith Collins. Seriously.
But there is a increasing recognition that our representative democracy has failed and it would be nice to think that more people will conclude that the drive for a more just social order is inextricably linked to truly democratising our political system. In the United States that has led to the movement for a political revolution led by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. We could do with something similar here because, in the end, radical economic transformation must go hand in hand with radical political transformation. Time to get rid of the clowns.