Willie Jackson: Key will get Trumped if he's not careful

Donald Trump (Reuters / file)
Donald Trump (Reuters / file)

OPINION: The polls continue to tell us that our Prime Minister is more popular than ever, and that it will be no contest for National to win a fourth term next year.

But after the failure of polls to predict Brexit and Trump, and the underlying disconnect I see between Government and citizens every day, I am not so sure we won't see a tight election next year.

The question is, will there be a political figure that those opposed to the Government can rally around?

Some Labour Party MPs are suffering from the same problem the US election exposed with the Democrats: they are obsessed with the politics of culture and identity rather than the real politics of jobs, income and security.

And not just jobs making coffee for tourists - real jobs so people can raise a family. Grant Robertson could not help wading into Brian Tamaki's gay quake-causing sideshow last week. You are supposed to be Labour's finance spokesperson Grant… shut up! You have a wealth of material to work with on inequality. There was no value in getting involved with that, you should have left it alone.

Have you noticed people living in cars in your area? Forget the rock-star economy nonsense. It might be better than ever for Key's mates but for the rest of us we are a low-wage economy.

And we keep making it worse by having one of the highest rates of immigration anywhere.  These immigrants are not brain surgeons or engineers filling the so-called skills shortages -  most of them end up competing for low-skilled, low-wage work, driving down wages and making it even tougher for those Kiwis already at the bottom.

It also contributes to the fiction that our economy is performing brilliantly. One of the Government's chief cheerleaders, the head of Treasury Gabriel Makhlouf, is conning us when he claims our economy has been performing brilliantly. Makhlouf says we are averaging a 2.8 percent growth rate compared to the OECD average of 1.7. But strip out the high immigration, and per capita real GDP growth isn't better than anyone else's and we haven't had ANY improvement in labour productivity in the past four years.

So we have the homeless, we have houses that only Russian and Chinese billionaires can afford, we have the Salvation Army breaking records each year for the number of food parcels it gives to needy families and we have 300 thousand of our New Zealand children living in poverty.

So what do Key and his National land-owning cronies want to do? Give everybody a tax cut. Of course the more money you earn, the more you get back. Those that desperately need it get bugger all and those at the top get more money they don't need. And when National increased GST, it was the poor who got disproportionately hit.

My message to the middle classes who support Key is WATCH OUT, because if we keep going like this it won't be long before you slide into the ranks of the desperate yourselves.

So is there a Trump-like figure looming, ready to harness the discontent bubbling just beneath the surface of New Zealand society? Who can capitalise on this underbelly of discontent? Will it be Andrew Little or Winston Peters, or can Gareth Morgan capture the mood?

Across Europe, in Britain and the US the tide has turned against laissez faire economics. Can the same thing happen here next year? For the sake of the ordinary bloke and ordinary blokes, I hope so.

Willie Jackson hosts Afternoon Talk with Ali Mau on RadioLIVE.

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