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April 8, 2013 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Fixing Your Life (Because Ours are Written Off)

Politics – what even – I DON’T – can you fill me in?

‘Alex’ who’ prefers INTP’



My understanding is that you’re asking for a broad indicator of how to approach understanding and discussion of national politics. I’m far better versed in social politics, but perhaps if I expose my own idiocy, you’ll feel better. I’ll try not to make this a reflection of every youth winger I’ve ever met. There are obviously more than two political parties in New Zealand, but I enjoy oversimplification and thus have oversimplified. (Pro tip: if your friends mishear your chanting of FPP as FTP, don’t correct them: it’ll just get weird.)

National: Currently in power. Would like nothing more than to sell you hydro-dams at market value. Best feature: Joyce, hands down. They fuck up every now and again to surprisingly little public retribution. Generally err on the side of farmers and employers. They’re also really stoked that our exchange rate floats, but they’re not responsible for Rogernomics. Additionally, the 2012 Young Nats ball featured a giant frame for posing with the John Key. Rumour has it there was a ballroom-length cycleway to the bathrooms.

Labour: Better looking than the Nats with a worse sense of humour (isn’t that always the way?) Generally have better and more palatable ideas that unfortunately cost lots and don’t adequately incentivise Chinese investors. It seems to me that the main difference between Labour and National is this: if you see a Labour candidate that lost at the last election on a bus, they look like a passionate everyman on their way somewhere useful. If you see Paul Foster-Bell on a bus, it’s the best laugh you’ll have this side of ultrafast broadband.

Unless you just wanted some generally agreeable phrases that you really hope someone doesn’t ask you to explain? I promise these are generally agreeable.

+ “Farmers don’t need subsidies, they just need the price of land to go down.”
+ “I’m torn between wanting New Zealand to become a republic and wanting us to instate Roger Douglas as King.”
+ “The Government doesn’t have any money.”
+ “Edward Cullen was based on Michael Cullen, amirite?”
+ “I think the way they do it in [insert Scandinavian country here] would work.”

You want my real advice? Fuck all this— go do the Myers-Briggs:


I remember reacting exactly the way you are once. I long for those days when I could sit around blissfully ignorant of everything to do with politics. Not that I know any more nowadays, but my ignorance is no longer blissful because I have to pretend to care about the silly little details so I don’t seem like an idiot. I mean, come on, one party is in power until we get sick of them, and then we switch. What’s to care about?

Sadly, we live in Wellington, and the bloody Young Neighbours are everywhere (that’s Young Nats + Young Labour, two houses alike in ‘dignity’). Most of them are either Economics students who want to be Politics students, vice versa, or worse still, Law students. Half your friends will get jobs in the public sector, and the other half will be taking public money. Even our Students’ Association seems to be turning more and more into a lobby group. If the fun-loving student is to survive in times like these, then he or she will have to be smarter than the politics crowd—hey, I never said it was going to be difficult.

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure you appear to know everything about politics. The advantage of that over, say, overstating your ignorance, is that nobody will try to educate you, for fear of being ruthlessly eviscerated in a blur of rhetoric. You can spin that in a couple of ways, either by taking on an extreme and frankly ridiculous fringe viewpoint, such as veganism, or perhaps by converting your already-honed sense of
cynicism from the arts to the political sphere.

You should also keep tabs on the major scandals going on, which really isn’t that difficult around here. It involves a little reading, and thankfully very little policy analysis. Salient and websites like are useful here. If you can shoehorn anecdotes about the party leader with a memory full of holes into what would otherwise be an offensive joke about blondes, you’re set. Otherwise, just go for
the easy targets. NZ First is a good one, as is anything to do with John Banks, be it his lack of cinema experience, or his outrageous conflict of interest in contracting Talent2 for Novopay. On that note, never shy away from bashing the libertarians. I mean, their policies are no worse than anyone else’s, and they’ve got a great economic track record, but some of their ideas are just so batshit crazy that you can’t help but laugh.

When all else fails, have two or three economics terms up your sleeve to throw around. My personal favourites are: “Why don’t we just let the free market decide, eh?” and “Can’t wait for THAT to trickle down!” I may have no idea what any of that means, but that’s fine. If I’m wrong, people will just assume I’m being ironic.


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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