Western politics sink to a new low as New Zealand looks to 2020


In just over 2 weeks one of the most turbulent decades in generations around the world will come to an end. A decade of wars, filthy geopolitics and greed. A decade in which Western politics both in New Zealand and abroad sank to what might well be an all time low. But as we here look to 2020 and the up coming election, the world is taking stock of the massive victory of Boris Johnson and nervously starting to think about what impeachment could – or could not – mean for that former “arsenal of democracy”, the United States a year from its own election.

In New Zealand scandals and alleged scandals rocked the 2008 election (N.Z. First allegations over donations); 2011 election (the tea tape); 2014 election (Dirty Politics). Whilst much gratitude and respect has been shown towards incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over her handling of the Christchurch mosque shootings and more recently the lethal eruption of White Island, the A.C.T. and National parties will attack her economic record, her perceived softness on crime and gangs.

As New Zealand looks towards 2020 there are a number of potentially dirty elements that may come into play in terms of politicking and outside influences. The gun lobby, angered as it is by the change in the gun laws following the Christchurch mosque attacks will be likely to try to undermine Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, depicting her as anti-freedom and a Communist. The oil and gas lobby will be active in trying to portray the Government that Ms Ardern leads as anti-business, tree hugging greenies.

But compared with the firestorm likely to engulf the American political spectrum over the next 11 months, ours might not even be a beach bonfire. There are certainly worse political spectacles than the triennial New Zealand political mud slinging competition. The constant fundraising, the hugely partisan media, the degrading personal attacks and the outside influences are just a few things that the American politicians deserving – or not – of (re)election, must contend with.

Before then though, given the nature of the fallout from Boris Johnson’s massive victory in the U.K. elections, it seems probable that the constituent parts of the United Kingdom – Wales exempt – may have a go at breaking up the union. It just might be that we are seeing the first birth pangs of the U.K.’s dissolution into separate nations. Despite Mr Johnson’s call for unity, Scottish nationalism has enjoyed an almighty rev up in the past few days with the Scottish National Party taking 47 of the 59 seats in Scotland. Meanwhile Ireland, facing the prospect of a hard border with the United Kingdom may feel compelled to demand an independence vote with a view to merging with the Republic of Ireland.

But before even that happens, if Mr Johnson’s promise to be all done on Brexit by 31 January 2020 succeeds, Britain will be out of the European Union by the end of January. Then, with Scotland dominated by a party that explicitly wanted to stay in the E.U., and Ireland fearful of a hard border and a return of “The Troubles”, the disintegration of the United Kingdom and an deeper loathing, might get underway.

Watching on from two relatively small islands in the South Pacific might not be a bad thing after all.

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