In an ideal world we would know what we believe in, join a political party whose philosophy and principles best match those beliefs and help the party formulate policy based on them. As a consequence most of us would know who we’re voting for, and why, well in advance of an election.
But while democracy gives us all a vote, it doesn’t require us to understand what we’re doing with it so in the real world most people say they’re not even interested in politics, although most have views on policy if only in a what’s-in-it-for-me way. Many don’t know, or won’t comment on, who they are going to vote for until very close to the election – some surveys suggest as many as 20% make up their mind in the polling booth.
This is why calls such as Chris Trotter’s (not yet on-line) in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times, and this morning’s Herald editorial, for National to announce more policy will be ignored.
National has policy and it will announce it before the election – to do otherwise would enable opponents to say, “you can’t trust them”. But while Governments have to have let us know what’s in their Budgets and their policy programme, one of the few advantages of being in Opposition is that you can keep your policy under wraps until it suits you to announce it.
Revealing all now might please commentators and other parties but there is no need for National to announce much policy yet when, if surveys are to be believed, nearly half the country doesn’t even realise there will be an election this year.