So you're thinking of voting for the Nats? After nine years of the same old faces, you think it's time for a change?
Well, you're not alone. According to the opinion polls, there are about 350,000 people out there who are thinking what you're thinking.
But before you - the 15 per cent of the electorate contemplating a lurch to the right - throw your weight behind the 35 per cent of New Zealanders who make up National's core vote (which will then, with 50 per cent, and wielding unbridled parliamentary power, be free to govern alone for three long years), I would ask you to take a closer look at the people you will be joining.
THE COCKIES: Backbone of the nation; earners of our overseas funds; selfish; insular; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose front door looks out upon a street instead of a paddock.
These are the people who, heedless of the enormous biosecurity implications, illegally released the rabbit-killing calicivirus into New Zealand - and then laughed at the efforts of the authorities to hunt down the perpetrators.
The people who, when asked to contribute to the cost of scientific research into how we as a nation might control the amount of methane released into the atmosphere by our cows and sheep, refused point-blank to contribute, branded the levy a "Fart Tax", and got away with it.
The people who have aggressively resisted every government effort to secure legally protected rights of way across the countryside, so that all New Zealanders might enjoy the beauty of our wild open spaces, and who, once again, have got away with it.
The people whose dairy herds befoul our rivers and streams. The people who refuse to pay for the pollution they cause. The people who are bending all their powers towards securing control of our nation's water - even as they make it unfit for our children to drink or swim in.
These are the people you will be supporting when you vote National.
You will also be supporting:
THE RICH: Creators of wealth; makers of jobs; robbers of rights; bastardisers of culture; selfish; arrogant; and possessed of an indefatigable sense of moral superiority over everyone whose income is less than $100,000 per annum.
These are the people who, with the Employment Contracts Act, stripped from hundreds of thousands of working-class New Zealanders the legal rights they had enjoyed for nearly one hundred years.
The people who pocketed the accommodation supplement (kindly supplied by their political representatives) even as their tenants' children went cold and hungry, and the diseases of poverty, long banished from New Zealand society, made a deadly reappearance.
The people who begrudge every cent of tax they are asked to contribute. The people who care nothing for the cultural wealth of our nation being fairly distributed. The people who regard education principally as a means of preserving the advantages of their class. The people who think our health system wastes far too much money on all the stupid, lazy and poor people cluttering it up.
These people, too, you will be supporting when you vote National. And then there are:
THE REACTIONARIES: Defenders of the faith; upholders of decent family values; sadistic; bigoted; deranged hankerers after a world that - thankfully - has long since passed away.
The people who think prisons are the solution to the problems that fill them. The people who resent having to treat women, gays, ethnic minorities and the disabled as human beings. The people who think anyone who doesn't laugh at a racist joke is an example of "political correctness gone mad". The people who supported the Springbok Tour, thought Vietnam and Iraq were "noble causes", and opposed New Zealand becoming nuclear-free. The people who deny climate change.
Yes, these are the people you will be joining when you make the big switch. The people who have opposed every single progressive reform that New Zealand has ever undertaken - yes, every single one.
Of course, no one can stop you joining them.
It's still a free country.
But, please, before you vote, ask yourself: "Is this the company I want to keep?"
- © Fairfax NZ News