Tuesday 26 November 2013

Builder Baker

I'm not quite sure what to make of this election billboard in Christchurch East.

Candidates in the Christchurch East by-election:
Matthew Doocey comes closest to being an academic as he's working towards getting a doctorate while working as a CDHB manager. But it would be a pretty big stretch to call him an academic. [Update: same holds for Poto, see above.] Unless anybody with book learning (as opposed to Book learning) counts. iPredict says National has a 24% chance of winning the by-election; Williams has a 76% chance. 

None of the minor party candidates, according to the betting markets, have any chance of taking the seats. We then should read most of their positioning as building the party vote for the next general election. The Conservatives are placing themselves as the party for those who disdain academics. There's probably a reasonable market there. But boy would it be sad if we ever traded a party on the right that grounded itself in Hayek and Friedman for one that seems more likely to send the academics out to join the shearing gangs.

Update: James Dann comments here, noting other billboards contrasting, effectively, trades versus suits. That's at least a totally fair comparison for Christchurch East. And pro-trades would, and should, resonate really well in Christchurch. "Just let the tradesmen start building and get the darned suits out of the way" - not nuts at all. Their identity politics play isn't a bad one. But the anti-academic flavour puts me off.

Update2: Alternative reading: this is all just part of the trades/suits framing, with anybody who doesn't work with his or her hands being counted as an academic. Not quite the standard definition, but not an unpopular one.


  1. Dunno if Act is grounded in Hayek or Friedman anymore. Their election sign in that photo is about 3 strikes...

  2. It would have been surprising if they'd had a Hayek campaign sign.

  3. If you ever voted, they might have done it to get yours :)

  4. I don't vote. But I'd consider doing it were there a Hayek billboard.