Politics can be a confusing arena for an impressionable and idealistic young person to be thrown into. It is all the more so as our educational standards begin to take a dive and the dumbing down of the general population becomes more universal.
This poses a problem for parliamentary parties in terms of the induction of new members into the house. It has recently come to my attention (through a leak in the parliamentary plumbing) that a new easy to follow guide in the form of a glossary of terms has been commissioned at considerable taxpayer expense to assist with this process.
At great personal risk of having my GCSB file expand to the point where they need to build a new annex to the ‘persons of interest repository’ I am going to share some extracts from that manual with you. To keep it simple (in keeping with this whole dumbing down policy), I have chosen to disclose only the first half of this glossary at this point in time.
For all intents and purposes it is the ABC of NZ politics.
A is for amnesia. This is the correct default position to adopt when asked about something you did or said that could have the potential to uncover your true motives or actions. It is useful for deflecting uncomfortable questions from annoying opposition members and avoiding public gaffes when being interviewed by the press. An example would be receiving a large donation from an influential person and then forgetting who they are to avoid being linked with anything in their life that might harm your career.
B is for brighter future or bullshit. The two are interchangeable as far as their meaning goes, but always take care to use the ‘bf’ version to avoid letting any furry felines out of any bags. For example you paint a dazzling picture of how the future might be and then flood the market with press releases designed to give the impression it is actually happening. Print enough press rereleases and eventually the silent (as in brain-dead) majority will believe you.
C is for corruption and cronyism. The two go together like a horse and carriage in politics. You will seldom find one without the other. They are an important side to politics (as in knowing what side your bread is buttered on). Neophyte members need to remember they are both pronounced the same; that is silently. A good example is letting a coalition partner off some misdemeanour in order to secure his vote for a key policy item.
D is for deception. This is not to be confused with the desk that sits out front in many offices. Rather it is a skill you will have to learn as a new MP if you haven’t already mastered it on the campaign trail. Put simply it usually means putting forward something that appears to give the people what they want but surreptitiously inserting caveats to ensure you won’t have to deliver. A good example would be holding a referendum at great expense to the voters but failing to remind them that you are not required to take any notice of their opinions.
E is for expenses. Expenses are your God-given entitlement now that you are an MP. They are not a trivial matter and should be padded out as creatively as possible throughout your term. You should always be on the lookout for new ways to include as many of your day to day expenses as possible under this category and obtain the greatest possible benefit to yourself from this free source of finance. Tip: seek out loyalty schemes such as Flybuys and Airpoints in order to maximise your benefits.
F is for fraud. This is something of a moving feast and its precise definition is sometimes hard to pin down. Suffice to say it is something that is carried out by beneficiaries, company directors that don’t vote for your party and members of the opposition.
G is for gravy train. This is what you are now on and if you want to stay on it you must learn not to rock the (gravy) boat. Strict adherence to the party line will stand you in good stead here. Remember to let your conscience be your guide. For clarification, your conscience is also known as the party whip.
H is for hypocrisy. No this has nothing to do with medicine. It is another of those traits you will see in the opposition. It has no relation whatsoever to Ministers in your own Government who milked the state benefits to educate themselves while raising a child and then took those benefits away from those who followed in their wake. That situation is called adapting to a changing environment.
I is for interest (as in conflict of). Again this is something members of the opposition regularly have. Shoulder-tapping old friends for top Civil Service jobs is not conflict of interest as opponents might suggest. It is known as networking to fill important vacancies by saving the taxpayer the cost of interviewing unsuitable people who don’t possess the correct political ‘understanding’.
J is for just is (as opposed to justice). This is an important one. You are not in parliament to bring justice and fair play to the nation; that is the function of the free market. Hence you are here to see that it ‘just is’ with as little blatant interference from government as possible. All interference is to be strictly covert and covered up by refusals of Official Information requests on the grounds of national security or personal privacy.
K is for kiss my arse. This is another of the unspoken terms you will have to learn the meaning of. It simply means, “I have been elected to Parliament and now I will do what I want and all you voters can get stuffed because it will be at least three years before you can chuck me out. In the meantime I will ride my gravy train all the way to the end of the line.
L is for lobbyists. These are also known as political advisors. They are those nice well educated people who spend most of their time hanging around the offices of Ministers of the Crown. You will have little to do with them until you are made a member of the Cabinet. Then you will get to know what obliging, intelligent and helpful people these are. They can help you develop your policy while maintaining a continuous stream of extra benefits for yourself.
M is for mess. This is what the opposition made of the economy during their last term of office. It is also a description of every piece of legislation they passed that is not in keeping with your party’s policy. It is also a useful descriptor for any new policy initiatives the opposition might care to present that oppose your own.
I intend to present the last half of this revealing document next week by which time I hope to have completely covered the meta-data trail that leads from my ‘mole’ to me.
In the meantime, be careful out there. I know I’ll have to be.