In the last post I wrote here (yes, this is the link to it), I briefly recapped the year that has just been, wild and wacky 2011. This post is the sequel, the guestimates of what will happen in 2012, based on planned and probable events and extrapolations from 2011. With even the rise of the sun not being entirely certain, I will reinforce that this is only speculation from a weird kid who watches King of the Hill, don't even think of taking this very seriously.
Labour - Last Year's Losers
They are in rebuild and repair mode, they've been beaten badly by the voters in the 2011 general election, with the cherry on top being the loss of Waitakere to Paula Bennett at the last minute. Labour needs to do something about their brand, image, policies, outlook, organization, and strategy. Something big. I maintain that the best offense is a good defense, that they need to prove themselves as worthy opposition before thinking they will make worthy government. In the usual swing between National and Labour, leftist parties like Labour win when the economy is working well, and people turn their attention to service provision and social inequalities.
Their plan of attack will need be economically minded though, with the recession and deficit still burning issues in New Zealand, with the appearance of being fiscally strong and responsible crucial to purporting wealth redistribution and government services. Experience in the private sector is the best way to do this. Their desire to connect back with the 'Waitakare Man' should be through empathizing with the average worker who is employed in the private sector, and probably worried about their job security and budgeting their income. Shearer picking David Parker for finance is a step in that direction, the man has told me personally that he is a capitalist, and his work in a law firm and other businesses shows he can do the job.
National - How to Build A Brighter Future
They won the election, and congratulations to them, they deserved it. National was the most inspiring party in the 2011 election, promising the security New Zealanders want in tough times, and rosy plans for better infrastructure and other services. They did alright in the first time by not stuffing anything up, the second term will be about them proving they can do that and more, by moving the country further forward rather than preventing it from sliding back. People demand more from the government in the second term, after extending their trust to them, they want to see if their government can do more.
All the promises sound great, but what we want to see now is a clear plan and the results that ensue. We want to see headlines telling us how many new jobs have been created, how the government debt is shrinking at an acceptable pace, how infrastructure such as new roads are being built and then are working efficiently. With high public expectation, seeing results will be crucial; good results will see National soar to unprecedented popularity, bad results will see David Shearer the next prime minister at the next election. There is a difference between debt and deficit, spending and revenue need to be balanced to clear deficit in order to pay off debt.
To ACT, Or Not To ACT
The fate of the party depends on a lot of interesting stuff happening now. It is no secret John Banks does not embrace all of ACT's values, but so far he is proving he can live up to nearly all of ACT policy. There's plenty he agrees on, and as long as he can stick to those issues, the ACT message is being continued. Disagreements on social issues such as alcohol reform, drug reform, and gay marriage are ones ACT people hope he doesn't get hung up on. From working with him on the Epsom '11 campaign, he's committed to our economic policy, and he's capable of pushing this under the ACT banner.
As for leadership, policy, and organization; Don Brash's departure leaves plenty of opportunity and risk in naming his successor. ACT is prone to pragmatism versus romanticism debates over promoting libertarian values, my personal view is to favor pragmatism to earn back votes, with the key to stay on message but to also be relevant to the current economic situation. The growing feeling within some in the party is also that economic and social issues are not mutually exclusive, and some party faithful are hoping to see a drive for social liberalism led by the next leader. Since ACT performs best in opposition, it may be worth slightly distancing ACT from National to maintain uniqueness as a brand and earn back votes.
A Green Thorn In the Side
Russel Norman and Metiria Turei led the Green Party to an outstanding election result in 2011, largely by siphoning votes from Labour by appearing more relevant and responsible. Most of their success, really, can be attributed to locking their crazies like Catherine Delahunty in a cage, and ridding themselves of controversial Keith Locke and Nandor Tanzcos. They should be hated by Labour for taking a large share of votes that would have been theirs otherwise, while parties like National and ACT already hate the Greens for being opposed to all their plans. The Greens will likely be the thorn in everyone's side, stealing attention from Labour and screeching "NOOO!!!" at every utterance from National and ACT. This term with 14 seats, the Greens will be a very large thorn, in which public support can go in one of two ways. Either the public are disillusioned by their inability to allow the government to get anything done, or the public will be very supportive of how strong they are in in standing up to the government. Russel Norman has ruled out coalition with National, but hasn't ruled out working with National. Time will tell…
The headline says it all really, there is no party other than Winston. His performance in parliament will decide the fate of the party, where like the Greens, it all depends on whether people think he's a dick or a hero for the shit that comes out of his mouth. He will plague question time with pathetic comment, being in the way of every party to put himself first. People do got for this behavior under the impression that it "keeps the government honest." His style of bullshit in government will be judged with that criteria, and he'll be "gone by lunchtime" if his meddling doesn't live up to that standard. Oh, and still waiting for that $158k...
Other Interesting Shit
Since the last post (again, link) was a big list of stuff that happened in 2012, I'll also cover a few bits from that in another list to speculate on 2012.
- Asset flogging: Mighty River Power is first on the block, this will need to go very smoothly and quietly to work, any hiccups in asset sales will cause a huge uproar and probably riots outside John Key's house in Parnell.
- Social issues won't be solved any time soon. More headlines tends to see more money thrown at issues. Not long until there are more social workers than lawyers, as no party has a plan to tackle issues such as alcoholism and child abuse. Money doesn't solve them, real help does.
- The Alcohol Reform Bill is a topic big enough that I'll need heaps of posts covering it. The passion and burning desire to push it through is fading though, with news headlines no longer fueling it and pressuring politicians, the debate will need to be made in the public. A lot of time, money, and effort has been invested in the bill though, and it's not going to magically go away.
- Debt will remain one of the big issues for a long time, private debt far exceeds public debt, so this issue has a plenty of time left.
- The economy is still fragile, and world stability depends on the stability of big players such as the United States, PRC, and the European Union.
- Especially with the December shakes, the Canterbury earthquakes will remain a big issue in New Zealand, and the recovery very contentious. So far, it is the third most expensive natural disaster ever, and more aftershocks have it gunning for second place.
- The XXX Olympiad, or 2012 Summer Olympics in London should be fun. If New Zealand wins heaps of stuff, the country will feel good and John Key will look good. Will be a bit of a downbuzz after having the Rugby World Cup here, but pubs will be pretty fun nonetheless.
- The United States presidential election is expected in November, the race will be interesting as always.
- Her Majesty the Queen will have her Diamond Jubilee in February. I'm a monarchist, and will be celebrating this. Monarchy may well become a debate again, but support will probably remain strong with the media saying good things about her celebrations.
- The DPRK (North Korea) will have another dictator. Expect nothing new.
- Nerds think mobile phones will have quad-core processors. No idea why making a phone that doesn't drop calls isn't the next priority.
- The Mayans have a calendar that says the world will end in December. If it's anything like that movie, it sure will be. My money on the cause of the apocalypse will still be on Rick Perry becoming president. (Watch this video for the LOLs)
I'm a terrible optimist, so I'm sure 2012 will be a blast! Get the popcorn out and we'll see what interesting stuff comes in the new year.