..too often in Parliament the debate is all about scoring points and attacking political opponents.In the atmosphere which exists at 1 Bowen St the political game and how it is played becomes all important.
It is exemplified in how political leaders are judged. Most leaders are not judged on the substance of what they say but how they say it.
Perversely for politicians honesty and openness to new ideas are often weaknesses to be exploited by their political opponents.
Think of Labour leader Andrew Little’s recent musings about superannuation. He quickly abandoned any suggestion he might be open to new thinking.
Sticking to a consistent line is all important even if it is not in the long-term interests of the very voters politicians represent.
And being truthful will often get politicians into difficulty.
This is not to say politicians are all liars as regularly portrayed in the news media. But the political system does not encourage truthfulness.
Nor is the news media free of blame. Politics is too often reported as sport where winning or losing is the most important aspect. The tactics of the teams – read parties – are analysed – but the substance of the debate often overlooked.
Reporters love to catch out politicians on a lie. Yet when they are truthful they are more often than not depicted as naive in the news media.
Politicians cannot win either way. Lie and be lampooned. Tell the truth and be ridiculed by not just the media but by your political opponents and often your own side as well – for being politically inept.
It is an approach to politics which does not necessarily promote reasoned debate.
To be fair it is not solely a New Zealand problem. All western countries indulge in the same political shenanigans – more often then not exacerbated by the influence of political strategists and marketers and the overwhelming use of public relations puffery.
No wonder voter participation – particularly among young voters – is on the wane.