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A fighting liberal

Written By: - Date published: 2:04 pm, June 1st, 2013 - 122 comments
Categories: Politics - Tags:

New Zealand voters like strong politicians. And today Russel Norman showed he’s a strong politician – a fighting liberal. For perhaps the first time since John Key took power, someone has had the guts to stand up and blame him for the corrupt government he’s been running.

From TV3:

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the National Party-led government is arrogant and divisive and is undermining democracy with its “crony capitalism”.

In a speech to the Greens’ annual conference in Christchurch today, he gave examples of special deals for friends, citing dairy development in Canterbury, a deal to build a national convention centre and laws to limit protests against mining companies.

“John Key’s National government is arrogant and divisive, and only looking out for their mates,” said Dr Norman.

“Under National, New Zealand is a country of crony capitalism where public money and benefits are showered on those who have the ear of the relevant minister,” he said.

Thanks in part to the godawful backfiring H-fee attack on Key in 2008, the opposition has had a real fear of calling him to account like this. The consequence of this has been two-fold – Key’s popularity has been protected among those that don’t follow politics that closely, and, among those that do and see him getting away with blue murder, there’s been a sense that the opposition is simply a bit weak.

That’s a shame because, as Norman’s speech shows, progressives don’t have to be weak, rather it is vital that we fight for, and are seen to be fighting for, what’s fair and what’s just.

Indeed, there are a lot of voters that didn’t turn out in 2011, not because they weren’t offered the right policies, or because they were pissed of with progressive values, but because they didn’t see anyone fighting for them or what they believe in. We Kiwis are like that – we’ll back the underdog to the hilt. But only if that underdog shows the spirit to fight.

That’s what Russel Norman has done today, and I imagine that the Greens will gather some votes from some surprising corners because of it.

122 comments on “A fighting liberal”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    I suspect that having a “gutsy fighting spirit” is an attribute in of itself which attracts the classic Labour voter. Battlers love to see a battler in action.

    • Nordy 1.1

      Of course it’s not the first, and it won’t be the last time a left wing politician asserts the culpability of Key for the corruption and ‘for the 1%’ apprach of his government. What is new is the that the tide has turned, and therefore the message has some resonance outside the beltway.

      Couple that with some of the MSM finally getting off the NACT ‘cheerleading bandwagon’, and the time is right for this type of direct and head-on and sustained assualt on the carefully constructed myth of ‘that nice guy’ John Key.

      What I am looking forward to seeing is a planned and sustained political ‘attack’ on Key and his ministers for their deception, outright lies and continuing fiscal and managerial incompetence.

      • Can we please stop calling the political class the “beltway”? We don’t have a circle motorway around Wellington, and pundits wouldn’t live there even if we did.

        The MSM is still on the National bandwagon, they just realise they have to favour them with selective or horse-race coverage now rather than outright cheerleading

        Got to agree about a sustained attack for their various ethical violations. Painting the government as corrupt is not exactly a stretch and it’ll resonate far more than “labour and the greens are loony lefties”.

        • Rich 1.1.1.1

          +1 This is not America.

          (The other reason for not mentioning a beltway is that it might give the NACT/Fletchers axis the idea that they could pour an awful lot of money and concrete into a tunnel from Seatoun to Eastbourne).

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.2

          I use the term Beltway Labour to describe the particular kind of Labour in central Wellington who have never welded a seam, never shovelled a tonne of gravel, never been 100m underground, never required hearing protection at work, never tried to raise a family on $400/week. A Labour who is more comfortable in boardrooms and glass storied office blocks than speaking to people in a rural pub or a meeting in a provincial town.

    • IrishBill 1.2

      I suspect that having a “gutsy fighting spirit” is an attribute in of itself which attracts the classic Labour voter. Battlers love to see a battler in action.

      That’s my thought too. The worst mistake that Labour could make would be to think that they’ll win back the battlers with a culturally rightward tack.

      • Red Rosa 1.2.1

        +1

      • rosy 1.2.2

        +2

        Key stands in parliament calling Labour the devil-beast and accuses them of building a ‘far-left’ coalition while Nact is so sensibly centrist…. hah!

        It’s great to see someone call Key out on his crony, corrupt capitalism that is marginalising the democratic rights of ordinary people. Labour needs to get onboard – at least show their policies are mainstream in other democratic countries rather than simply taking the blows from Key.

        • Anne 1.2.2.1

          Labour appears to still think that ignoring the smears and ‘taking the blows’ is good politics. Did it work for them between 2005 and 2008? NO. Did it work for them between 2008 and 2011? NO. Will it work for them between 2011 and 2014? NO.

          End of story.

    • paul andersen 1.3

      yes , norman has the fighting spirit that whatshisname ,the labour leader seems to lack.

      • Rhinocrates 1.3.1

        The facepalm would cause a concussion. Shearer/Robertson are terrified of losing the “soft” NACT vote by saying anything indistinguishable from what they think they want to hear, but is even more terrified of attracting eight hundred thousand roof painters. My flabber is ghasted – or would be, because ennui has taken over.

      • xtasy 1.3.2

        Exactly, and the media now tend to speak to Norman first, when there are issues to be addressed, for which they want the opposition’s opinion and position.

        Shearer is rather bland and dull in front of the cameras, which does not help his struggle with speaking coherently and decisively.

  2. I am ABSOLUTELY opposed to corrupt CRONY CAPITALISM!

    A very good speech Russel Norman. Well done.

    ‘Shonky’ John Key, ex-Wall St banker (STILL a shareholder in the Bank Of America), is clearly working in the interests of overseas investors – his bank$ter and corporate mates.

    WAKE UP Kiwis!

    Protecting our democracy from crony capitalism – speech by Dr Russel Norman at AGM Green Party 2013

    http://www.greens.org.nz/speeches/protecting-our-democracy-crony-capitalism-speech-dr-russel-norman-agm-green-party-2013?fb_action_ids=615659575113405&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption/anti-privatisation’ campaigner

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

    • TheContrarian 2.1

      GOOD FOR YOU PENNY! WHY DON’T YOU TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK?!

      • Paul 2.1.1

        Ridiculous her if you see fit, but Penny can claim be thing that I doubt few enough NZers can do at present.
        She cares enough of the plight of many vulnerable and impoverished peels to do and say something.
        You remind me of a school bully, who tries to shut down opinion by mocking the person brave enough to say anything.
        Before you continue to behave in such a manner, please tell us all what you do to make a better world for such people.

        • TheContrarian 2.1.1.1

          I’m not mocking Penny for her beliefs, I am making light of her proclivity towards SHOUTING CAPS!

          • Paul 2.1.1.1.1

            So you would agree that NZ needs more folk like Penny?

            • TheContrarian 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Not really, she’s rather hysterical in my opinion.

              • She certainly has her style, but she’s got the right idea on most things.

              • prism

                Te Contrarian
                You remind me of a saying I’ve got on on my frig. The time for sensible discussion has passed, now is the time for senseless bickering.

                Penny knows that it’s important to step out of our comfortable she’ll-be-right persona and get into active discussion followed by intelligent, strategic action. WARNING- some people may find that her capitals and dedication offend. She doesn’t but puts me to shame.

                • weka

                  “The time for sensible discussion has passed, now is the time for senseless bickering.”

                  Priceless. THANKS prism.

              • paul andersen

                if you dont like the use of caps, STAND FURTHER BACK FROM THE SCREEN.

          • paul andersen 2.1.1.1.2

            if you dont like the use of caps, STAND FURTHER BACK FROM THE SCREEN.

            • QoT 2.1.1.1.2.1

              How exactly would that work?

              And a word to the wise: lprent really, really hates people getting shouty and capslocky.

            • tamati 2.1.1.1.2.2

              This is how I feel about all capitals people!

        • Jimmie 2.1.1.2

          Can you rephrase your post in simple english? Was hard understand very to…..

  3. DS 3

    The Greens aren’t liberal (at least not economically). ACT, back in the days before they were taken over by social conservatives, were liberal. Liberal means pro-free market, pro-autonomous individual; as such, it’s a right-wing position.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      Yawn. Liberal just means pro-liberty. A ‘free’ market doesn’t necessarily make for a more free population.

      • DS 3.1.1

        I’m hardly a supporter of the free market. I’m just pointing out that Liberalism, as an ideology, is right-wing free-market and socially tolerant. It should not be used as a synonym for Left, even though Left-wingers are often socially Liberal.

        • Pascal's bookie 3.1.1.1

          Yep, and I’m disagreeing with that.

          Everyone is a variety of liberal these days, they differ in means. People who don’t think free markets increase freedom and oppose then for that reason, are still Liberals.

          There is a reason Classical Liberals are called that. Modern liberalism draws from Rawls and others, and says that in order to increase net liberty you need things like, for example, wealth redistribution, access to education and heathcare and all those other things.

        • Actually the greens do support markets that are freer than they are currently, if being free means being fair to the individuals as well. The problem with so-called “free market agreements” is that they are either between countries that are already wealthy if they are relatively fair, or they exempt many key markets or are selectively used to pressure wages downwards. That’s not getting into several key assumptions of “free market theory” that are violated by countries or political movements claiming to believe in free trade- such as completely open borders for immigration.

          There’s often the assumption that because we on the left oppose perverse incentives in the market that we actually believe in command economies or other rubbish strawperson theories. Speaking for myself at least, I feel that when there is no socioeconomic cost to free economic behaviour, it’s fine for the government to butt out until such a cost emerges. The problem is that we’ve let such behaviour run entirely rampant and there’s so much of it to stamp out that the government isn’t seen as a fair broker if it digs too deeply into any one area.

          And as Pascal’s Bookie points out, classical liberalism doesn’t own the word liberal any more, and theories of social equity have begun to dominate the thought space in that area now that we have some very highly developed countries that don’t just have to worry about economic issues.

    • Dan1 3.2

      Liberal has two almost opposite meanings:
      As from my computer dictionary!
      1. open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values: they have more liberal views toward marriage and divorce than some people. (ie as applied to Norman above)
      2. favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms: liberal citizenship laws.
      3. (in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform: a liberal democratic state. (ie less government interference: Liberterians, Tea Party, Act Party, some of the national Party).

      I have always felt reasonably liberal on most issues but to be compared to the Liberal Party in Australia or Lindsay Perigo in NZ, I am at the other end of the spectrum!

    • IrishBill 3.3

      Don’t be pedantic. Anyway “Fighting Social Democrat” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

      • Dan1 3.3.1

        Irish, I am in agreement! I was responding to DS. Good speech by Norman. Whenever I talk to Labour MPs, my comment is to front foot things; get some policy out there; don’t keep the powder dry until later.
        Turei and Norman are very positive front people. There are none of the shifty eyes of Key and English.

        • IrishBill 3.3.1.1

          Sorry I was replying to DS.

          • North 3.3.1.1.1

            It’s in the area of “contranym” as I just found out via Google. One word with two virtually opposite meanings. It’s been that way at latest since the sociopathic crooks Douglas and Prebble.

            Worries me that while ShonKey Python to his advanatge talks a “broad church” we find ourselves having to argue about a dual usage for Christ’s Sake.

            Surely we know where we’re at, don’t we ?

        • muzza 3.3.1.2

          There are none of the shifty eyes of Key and English.

          That would be due to, the lack of track record, as only being MP’s, and co-leaders.

          Very easy to make big noises, when you’re not in a position to do anything other than, make big noises!

          Unless you’re David Shearer, who can’t even manage to make any noise at all, that doesn’t leave him sounding/appearing like an oxygen thief, playing politician!

          • Paul 3.3.1.2.1

            Yup, can’t imagine Shearer making a speech anything like that.
            In either content or with the same integrity and passion.

            • Colonial Viper 3.3.1.2.1.1

              And furthermore, I think that Norman would not have simply read that pre-prepared speech out, he would have written significant chunks of it himself.

    • weka 3.4

      The Greens aren’t liberal (at least not economically). ACT, back in the days before they were taken over by social conservatives, were liberal. Liberal means pro-free market, pro-autonomous individual; as such, it’s a right-wing position.

      In NZ, traditionally, the word liberal has belonged to the left eg I grew up in a (white, middle class,) liberal family ie one that was progressive in a way associated with left wing (not conservative) politics eg homosexual law reform, reproductive rights etc.

      ‘Liberal’ in the US means what you think it means.

      As far as I can tell this is why in NZ the likes of Perigo use the term ‘libertarian’ rather than liberal.

      When I read Irish Bill’s title, it didn’t even occur to me that he meant libertarian.

      • DS 3.4.1

        The US uses Liberal as a synonym for Left. We don’t, except possibly in matters of social policy.

      • tamati 3.4.2

        Homosexual law reform and reproductive rights aren’t really a domain of the “left”.

        • Pascal's bookie 3.4.2.1

          Apart from the fact that on both issues in every modern democratic country you care to name, the left and right will line up along similar lines. It must be one hell of a coincidence.

          • tamati 3.4.2.1.1

            David Cameron supports gay marriage and Julia Gillard opposes it, which one is from the left and which one is from the right?

            It’s probably easiest to define those who support gay marriage as “the future” and those who oppose it as “the pre-dead”. The old left-right paradigm is pretty antique these days!

            • Pascal's bookie 3.4.2.1.1.1

              left and right are notoriously hard to define, but extraordinarily well understood and widely used. It’s a bit of a paradox for sure, but people know what is meant, and are pretty consistent about them. They are useful terms.

              I find that people who claim they are old hat and whinge about it are outliers who don’t quite fit in with how the left and right break down in their own polity. That’s fine. But it’s mostly bad luck for them.

              On Cameron and Gillard, true, but also irrelevant.

              Both leaders are in trouble for a start. More telling is looking back through history, ( as recent or as far back as you like), and see how the left and right voted on bills, or where the activists come from on each side of the issue, and what happens in comment sections on left and right wing blogs on those issues.

              No bother even checking really eh?

              • pollywog

                Haven’t quite figured the whole left right out thing yet.

                I think i swing around a bit but not even sure of that…

                • Colonial Viper

                  The whole left/right scale is a bit of a one dimensional description approaching the point of over simplified uselessness.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    Thing is though, it’s used a lot. That’s the definition of useful.

                    People know what it means even if it’s really hard to articulate what’s going on.

                    There’s no point in doing it (and I suspect you’ll agree) but I’d wager that if you went out with a long list of policies and asked a large number of people to say whether each policy was left or right wing, you’d get a pretty high consistency around the way each policy was scored.

        • Clockie 3.4.2.2

          I think you’ll find that certainly in NZ and I suspect other western countries also it has been certain pockets of the left that have championed those causes until they became politically acceptable across a broader reach of the spectrum.

        • When the right wing starts believing in social liberty again they can start arguing that women’s and queer rights aren’t a left wing issue. Until then the onus is on those right-wingers who do believe in personal rights do have to bear the burden of overcoming that stereotype and of convincing their friends that rights for everyone are the way to go.

    • TheContrarian 3.5

      That’s classical-liberalism

    • paul andersen 3.6

      rubbish, liberals get very anal and uptight and abandon the free market when property values are threatened.

  4. Phaedrus 4

    I suspect the Greens will attract significant proportion of the non-voters in 2011, the ones who stayed home because they didn’t see Labour as a viable alternative to National. I’d also suggest that the country has been waiting for this speech, although it was probably Labour that they were waiting for. This may be the pivotal point leading to the eventual eclipse of Labour as the main opposition party, replaced by the Greens, who know what they stand for and are not afraid to articulate this.

    As a long term Labour member I must say that my vision is developing an increasingly green tinge and I suspect that this will intensify. The pity is that there are some very talented Labour MPs, but the Labour string pullers seem to have little idea of how to use their talents, and how to stake out a solid and definite position, e.g. Labour believes in….. and these are our policies to bring this about.

    However, as was the case under Phil Goff, I really don’t know what Labour believes. It’s time they took a leaf from Norman’s book and spoke from the heart with passion, not just peddling stuff that policy analysts believe will negate National.

    The Greens are defining the battleground with speeches like this, and with the NZ Power policy (surely Labour will have seen the positive outcomes from taking this definite stand), and the effect of this is clear – National has been forced to pull out the 2013 version of the dancing cossacks and devil beasts, as they have no other answer, once ideological catch phrases are negated.

    • Anne 4.1

      As a long term Labour member I must say that my vision is developing an increasingly green tinge and I suspect that this will intensify. The pity is that there are some very talented Labour MPs, but the Labour string pullers seem to have little idea of how to use their talents, and how to stake out a solid and definite position…

      Never a truer word hath been spoke.

      When you try to get this message across to your local LEC and find yourself (effectively) told to shut up and stop complaining then it becomes hard to raise any enthusiasm.

    • xtasy 4.2

      “The pity is that there are some very talented Labour MPs, but the Labour string pullers seem to have little idea of how to use their talents, and how to stake out a solid and definite position, e.g. Labour believes in….. and these are our policies to bring this about.”

      Yes, right, but I think it is not so much that the string pullers do not have any idea of how to use the talents of those Labour MPs you refer to, rather it seems they want to keep them on a leash, so they do not get too much profile and traction by being outspoken.

      The old guard have the problem of still seeing themselves too much as ex ministers, as office holders who worked with the business and other sectors, and they are too mindful of upsetting those, as they perceive them as important and powerful.

      Also I have the impression that Jacinda Ardern for instance is not allowed to speak as freely about social policy issues as she may like to.

      Under the last Labour led government certain policies were introduced to put more pressures on sole parents, sickness and invalid’s beneficiaries, to make more efforts to return to work. That was of course not as strong a push as the Nats are now applying, but it was dressed up in nice words like wanting to “support” and “assist”.

      Also they abolished the Special Benefit, and replaced it with the capped Temporary Additional Support, which leaves many in situations they cannot survive on.

      Labour’s old guard have their hands dirty in some affairs, and if younger ones like Ardern speak up and criticise the present government too firmly, this could back-fire on Labour, that is what they fear.

      The present Principal Health Advisor for MSD, Dr David Bratt, a rather right-wing kind of person, who compares benefit dependence to drug dependence, he was also appointed under a Labour government minister by the way!

      So it is refreshing to hear Norman hold a very good speech and call a spade a spade. Do not expect Shearer or even Robertson to come up any time soon with such strong words as Russell Norman used today.

  5. Paul 5

    That’s why National are so scared of the Greens..hence the devil beast language

    • xtasy 5.1

      At the end of the TV3 news at 06 pm today (just before 07 pm) the newsreader announced, that John Key had phoned in during their broadcast, to tell them what his position was.

      Yes, indeed, the Prime Minister calling into leading media news, in reaction to them broadcasting bits about Norman’s speech at the Christchurch conference of the Green Party, that is a clear sign that he is damned worried and furious!

  6. Paul 6

    “Well we’ve got news for SkyCity: unlike other political parties we didn’t take your campaign donations and we didn’t go to your corporate box at the rugby; your tools of crony capitalism don’t work with us because we work for the people of New Zealand and if the people of New Zealand tell us to turn off the tap on your blood money, then we bloody well will.”
    Wonderful.

    • Treetop 6.1

      More to come tomorrow from Turei. Both Green Party Co – leaders are intelligent.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    Hmmm any chance Norman’s speech was filmed and will make it to Youtube?

  8. North 8

    Norman’s speech excites in me boyhood memories of winter nights around the kitchen table in a freezing timber village in the South Waikato. In the morning the remaining contents of the teapot frozen. Warm as toast from the wood range, regaled late into the night with maternal grandmother’s and mother’s personal accounts of ’51, protests in the Domain, my uncle beaten up by two detectives outside the Station Hotel and kicked all the way to Customs Street, Basham the bastard horse-mounted cop from Onehunga batoning skulls in Myer’s Park, the Upper Queen Street Chinese greengrocer taking the bloodied in the front door administering a tot and hustling them out the back door, the Depression.

    The philosophical instruction was never direct but it was there alright. The dignity and pride and power of the working class.

    To hell with the smiling scabs and the careerist traitors and back to the future ! As I type this I look to the panel on the right of my monitor which recommends me to NZ On Screen – In a Land of Plenty – Someone Else’s Country – Patu ! – Bastion Point the Untold Story.

    WTF’s gone wrong ? We’ve been heisted and it looks like we don’t even care.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Oh, there are those of us who care, a great deal.

    • Clockie 8.2

      “WTF’s gone wrong ? We’ve been heisted and it looks like we don’t even care.”

      ++1. Couldn’t agree more. (Nearly) all of us (there are always class traitors) who were brought up in working class families can relate stories similar to the ones you’ve just told. They informed our political consciousness as we grew up and learned a thing or two ourselves. I’ve tried to pass on some of that heritage to my kids but I fear too many people have failed to do so as they have become “aspirational” or succeeded and left behind those who didn’t succeed. It’s a pity the same battles have to be fought repeatedly by successive generations. Weak people fail to remember that the “price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

      • prism 8.2.1

        Weak people – I feel that’s a bit harsh. What many of us haven’t understood is that social gains are not secure and stable, but can be withdrawn. I thought we were in upward progress, and never imagined the old slave-trading mentality could take over again. Basically the idea that profit is everything and to ensure that ordinary people are treated fairly is dangerous and anti-trade and will undermine the economy.

        What we need to understand is that understanding politics and taking part in the discussion daily and not leaving it to others except once each three years is essential. It should be talked about over the dinner table or the knees in front of tv instead of sport. Our children need to learn how to manage their democracy so it remains viable and fair, and that certainty of future progress towards reasonable living standards is not guaranteed.

        • Colonial Viper 8.2.1.1

          There is a new wrinkle to the tales to be told as well – resource and energy depletion is acting as an increasing drag on the world economy. The 20th century was a story of ever cheaper and ever more plentiful physical resources. That time is over. Practical skills, ability to get along and work together with people, to stay fit and healthy: these are the best ways to stay ahead of this curve.

          • prism 8.2.1.1.1

            CV +1

            • Jenny 8.2.1.1.1.1

              CV +2

              • AmaKiwi

                CV: “Practical skills, ability to get along and work together with people, to stay fit and healthy: these are the best ways to stay ahead of this curve.”

                No, CV. We’ll join the Yanks in their holy crusade to scavenge the last remnants.

                In six days God created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day we bulldozed it.

                • Colonial Viper

                  We should be careful lest we are the ones who end up scavenged and carrion…

        • uke 8.2.1.2

          I also think “weak people” is a bit harsh. But one of the lessons of the last 25 years is surely that we must learn to remember better.

          Where has the collective memory of NZ Depression experiences gone? As far as I know there are a grand total of two NZ non-fiction history books on the Depression (both by Tony Simpson). Compare this with the endless stream of NZ war books.

          Cultivating NZ’s working-class and trade union history will make people stronger in the task of resisting neoliberalism and right-wing authoritarianism.

          • karol 8.2.1.2.1

            John A Lee wrote about the 20s and 30s in NZ.

            • uke 8.2.1.2.1.1

              Lee’s “Simple on a soapbox” and “The Scrim-Lee papers”, if that’s what you are referring to, are both good. But strictly speaking they’re more about Lee’s political career than the Depression.

              His novels – “Children of the poor”, “Delinquent Days” and “The Hunted” – are vivid pictures of pre-welfare state NZ. But who reads them these days? How many people under 30 even know who John A. Lee was? To really function as collective memory, such material needs to be adapted and updated for new generations, talked about, kept alive.

              Chris Trotter does this occasionally with his column – but who else?

              • karol

                Um…. The Standard posts of the original Standard pages from 1938?

                • uke

                  Yes, indeed. That is good to see and I thank The Standard for this. Also the Labour history Project and Auckland Labour History Group (thanks aspasia).

                  But I would still contend that the Left is suffering a major collective memory loss. Political and social ommentary on presentday NZ society usually refers to the past only in the most general ways.

              • aspasia

                Who else? The Trade Union History Project and the Auckland Labour History Group.
                Support & enquiries for the Auckland group can go to pgsimpkin@slingshot.co.nz.

                Next event in Auckland:
                Friday 14 June, 2013 12:00-3:00pm WG808, L8, Sir Paul Reeves building
                AUT University, Mayoral Drive, Auckland City.

                Speakers include:
                Gay Simpkin, B&LHG Associate and Auckland Labour History Group secretary
                The ALHG Oral History Project

                Dr Joce Jesson
                Auckland Labour History Group,The Strike, 1912: Recording and Remembering, Creating Popular Culture?

                RSVP to work.research@aut.ac.nz .There is no charge for this event. Attendees must rsvp by 9am, 12 June for catering purposes

          • AmaKiwi 8.2.1.2.2

            “Where has the collective memory of NZ Depression experiences gone?”

            or the memory of the 2007-2009 crash? Banks and governments didn’t change anything, which is why the global economy is again on the edge of the cliff.

      • North 8.2.2

        Fucking eloquent there Clockie !

        • Clockie 8.2.2.1

          I try. :) Seriously, I know I don’t have all the answers, but I was born in the late 50’s and spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid. They were all born before 1910 (the oldest in 1901) and went through the hard years that John A Lee wrote about. *

          They were not very talkative people but when they spoke it was to good effect. In a very few, rare phrases I would get a picture of the kind of privation, oppression, humiliation and anger they and their class of people experienced right through until things started to improve with the early programmes of the first Labour Government. It was quite something to see these normally quiet people getting briefly passionate and animated with blazing eyes as they told personal anecdotes to illustrate a political point.

          They would occasionally remind me and anyone else who was listening to always remember that battles which had been fought and won could always be lost and that the boss class would always try to remove the rights and conditions that the Labour movement had wrested from them.

          It’s been interesting watching their descendants and how they’ve turned out over the decades. Some are strong and determined and know how the world turns and remember what the oldies said and pass it on to their kids, others a bit venal, out for themselves and satisfied that “anyone can succeed like them if they try” and others who think that it’s all easy peasy and nothing to worry about as long as the All Blacks are winning, until suddenly something goes wrong and someone’s sick or loses a job or has a disabled kid who can’t foot it in the world…

          *Wikipedia: Lee..wrote his first novel, Children of the Poor — the book was largely autobiographical, and was a considerable success. The book argued that poverty generated crime and vice, and that only a socialist program could solve society’s problems.

          Norm Kirk spoke and wrote along exactly the same lines about the people and the conditions they lived with in his home turf of Woolston in Chch.

          One of the functions of the Labour Party, through people like Lee and Kirk and Lange, was to act as an institutional memory for the working class but sadly, they have really ceased to do that for at least a generation now in my humble opinion.

          I guess I’ll get attacked for saying that but frankly, fuck it..

          • Rhinocrates 8.2.2.1.1

            No, I’m glad that you said it. A child of the 60s myself, I remember Norman Kirk and David Lange, and remember that Bill Rowling was a good man. They were Labour. ABC is not.

  9. Lefty 9

    Capitalism is always about governments looking after their cronies (otherwise known as the ruling class).
    The difference between this capitalist government and some of the previous ones is they are more overt about it.
    There is an almost refreshing honesty about how this government openly administers the system for benefit of their friends and takes an ax to any group, law, tradition or process that impedes this.
    Politics in this country are largely about what group of capitalists will have their people in government.
    Helen had her favourite little capitalists.
    And Russel is constantly reminding us the Greens have their own favoured group of green growth capitalists whom they would favour if they had the power to do so.

    • Matt 9.1

      As Bill Maher said about Democrats vs. Republicans, they’re all in bed with special interests, but the Republicans are in bed with somewhat scarier ones.

    • weka 9.2

      “And Russel is constantly reminding us the Greens have their own favoured group of green growth capitalists whom they would favour if they had the power to do so.”

      Citation needed. And make sure it shows that Norman would give preference to his mates and colleagues over other people with the same green qualifications.

      Sure, any party in parliament in NZ at this time has to support capitalism. But there is a difference between crony capitalism and capitalism that at least allows conventional democracy. It’s scarey that some on the left can’t see that.

      • Colonial Viper 9.2.1

        The “Green Growth” meme needs to be shown for what it is – false hope for the middle classes and unsustainable on a finite planet.

        Year on year % growth simply cannot be maintained on a limited resource base, even if you greenwash it. The growth we need now needs to be in terms of qualitative improvement of peoples lives, not quantitative increase in production and consumption.

  10. karol 10

    Excellent speech. I’ve never been that keen on Norman. He’s a bit too centrist for my liking. But good on him for calling National out for it’s anti-democratic, crony capitalist ways. Norman is my idea of a liberal – basically for individual rights and a fair go for all, not very radical left.

    • AmaKiwi 10.1

      If Key “retires”, can you imagine Shearer or Robertson taking on Judith Collins?

      Squashed like ants.

      Go Russel, spokesperson for those of us in opposition.

    • Jenny 10.2

      Hi Karol, will there any debate at the AGM on the wisdom or not of whether the Green Party should go into coalition with Labour.

      Which way will the Green Party go?

      I see that Russel Norman, as reported by Andrea Vance says that he has no bottom lines for post-election negotiations. Does this mean that the Green Party could give up their opposition to mining the Denniston Plateau, and Deep Sea Oil drilling, possibly even fracking to get cabinet positions?

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8743975/Norman-Greens-can-govern-with-Labour

      • Jenny 10.2.1

        Climate Change the elephant in the room. I wonder if Meteria Turei will let the dreaded two words escape her lips today.

    • Clockie 10.3

      Is it fair to expect either Norman or the Greens to be “very radical left”? I don’t think the party has ever claimed an orientation of being more than mildly centre left, although obviously they have sometimes attracted individuals (eg Sue Bradford) who would be well to the left of the official party ideology and most of the rank and file membership. The fact that she failed to win a leadership position spoke volumes in my opinion. They are a progressive party which believes in practical solutions to issues of social justice. In the meantime that’s good enough for me given the limited options available. The Wikipedia article gives a good breakdown on what the Greens are about and as someone who currently supports them I found nothing in that definition that surprised me or raised any concerns.

  11. prism 11

    I thought that Russel sounded strong, firm and on the mark with no feeling that he was just nit picking or fault finding. Refreshing.

  12. Jimmie 12

    The main point from Norman’s speech today is the perception that we now have a ‘leader of the opposition’ and a ‘ghost leader of the opposition’ – and I would say that Norman is looking a lot more alive and kicking compared to Shearer struggling to stay relevant and secure in his position.

    I would say the outcome from this weekend’s conference will be that the Nat’s will retain their current support in the polls but Labour will lose support to the Greens.

    This speech today was as much about robbing Labour of its relevance as it was about attacking John Key.

    Back in April at the joint release of the NZ Power policy a message was sent to the voting public that at long last they could look at L&G as equal partners in Parliament. (John Armstrong’s Siamese twins?)

    However Norman is trying to get a leg in front from this conference – position the Greens as the strong attacking party while Shearer’s Labour waffles around in the background. (And hopefully an extra boost in the polls)

    How will Labour respond?

    • Rhinocrates 12.1

      The problem is, perhaps, that a lot of people still only perceive the Greens as viable as secondary coalition partners with Labour, so while Labour is so hopeless, they don’t look worth the gamble either.

      Russel and Metiria are doing a damned good job nonetheless, not terrified of focus groups.

  13. Saarbo 13

    More from Norman’s speech today:

    “We’ve got news for SkyCity: unlike other political parties we didn’t take your campaign donations and we didn’t go to your corporate box at the rugby.

    “Your tools of crony capitalism don’t work with us … and if the people of New Zealand tell us to turn off the tap on your blood money, then we bloody well will.”

    Norman is in a league of his own, Key started his 2014 campaign with “The Devil Beast” bull shit and Norman has just cleverly rubbed Keys imbecilic crap right back in his face.

    I’m picking that the Greens will lift significantly on the 247k votes that they got in 2011…Go Greens.

  14. Yes 14

    Oh come on guys this is a snippet of the speech. He said John keys was like Muldoon. FFS Russel didn’t come to new Zealand until 1997. What would he know!

    Russell will continue to attack labours voting base. When are you going to wake up to what he is doing!

    All i am trying to do Is seriously wane you. Why do you give the greens so much space on here when you are the voice of labour!

  15. gnomic 15

    Good on yer Ruzza! Anyone who calls out the smirking or latterly scowling weasel for the undesirable he is deserves approbation. Needs to be more of it, as without the Teflon weasel factor what have the Nats got? English, a proven electoral loser. Brownlee, seems he needs a minder just to pop out for lunch in Newmarket. Why would that be? The Crusher. Please, spare us. Paula the puppet? Pass the sick bag. And what’s the message? Roads and more roads, all on borrowed money. Sprawl, more suburban sprawl. Ratepayers subsidise developers to throw up more shoddy housing over good agricultural land. And let’s gut the conservation estate with mining, rather contrary to the tourism brief. Unless tourism is to consist of shipments of ‘high value’ consumers of casino and brothel services. As it might well do in a third world county.

    It is rather sad that the working class have lost any awareness of the struggles of the past. Martin Eden, where are you now?

    The crux of the issue: there is not going to be a reversion to the years of eternal growth, for any number of reasons. Therefore the Labour Party needs to get a new plot, or become irrelevant, at best just another flavour of the neo-liberal conspiracy. I’m afraid that when I hear David Parker say that the last fiscally irresponsible government in New Zealand was under Muldoon, I despair of Labour. As well as being ideologically destitute, it’s factually incorrect The Clark government was irresponsible in its electoral bribes, and as for this current shower, is there still capital punishment for treason, betrayal of the people of the nation?

  16. RedLogix 16

    My 2 cents worth:

    In truth I’ve long believed that while Labour is the proud heritage of the left; the Greens are it’s future. Within a generation, maybe even sooner, it could be Labour who is the minor party… unless it is willing to completely reform it’s internal processes.

    http://thestandard.org.nz/2c-on-the-leadership/#comment-415887

  17. xtasy 17

    Does anybody remember John Key and what the slogan for the last election was? Have you ever heard of the “Brighter Future”?

    Does anybody care to get a grip of what that may all have been about, and who was behind this, as the “Bringer of Light”, kind of the one who wanted to bring us a “brighter future”?

    Perhaps add one and one together, by looking at the interpretations below!

    There is one called “Lucifer”, who has a name and a meaning. Few may suspect it, as the government and its leader are good experts at shrouding much and using smoke and mirror tactics.

    While all are up in arms about Key using the term “Devil Beast”, who really is he himself? Is he not really that “Lucifer” known so well to people with some religious understanding?

    Indeed, the Devil may be the “shining one”, the “bringer of a brighter future” himself. Read up on the “fallen angel” and other stuff below. Have a read and join the dots together.

    You are about so have a true revelation:

    From Wikipedia:

    “Lucifer (/ˈluːsɪfər/ or /ˈljuːsɪfər/) is the King James Version rendering of the Hebrew word הֵילֵל in Isaiah 14:12. This word, transliterated hêlēl or heylel, occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible and according to the KJV-influenced Strong’s Concordance means “shining one, morning star, Lucifer”.[1] The word Lucifer is taken from the Latin Vulgate,[2] which translates הֵילֵל as lucifer,[3][4] meaning “the morning star, the planet Venus” (or, as an adjective, “light-bringing”).”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer

    Also the Latin dictionary (online:

    Lucifer – meaning:

    “morning star| day star| planet Venus; bringer of light”

    http://www.latin-dictionary.org/lucifer

  18. UpandComer 18

    Corrupt government? I love how the left considers anything that involves ‘money’ and ‘getting things done’ and ‘someone not in the Labour party’ as a formula entailing automatic corruption.

    John Key has been great because successful business people respect him, will work with him, and he isn’t afraid to cut through red tape to get benefits for NZ. Note the benefits for NZ. Not like Labour which cuts through red tape only when it is of benefit to itself, a la the electoral finance act, Mike Williams board appointments, and Taito Phillip Field, etcetera ad infinitum.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      and he isn’t afraid to cut through red tape to get benefits for NZ.

      selling out our legal protections, increasing poverty and gambling amongst struggling Aucklanders, and giving a sweet heart deal to SkyCity international shareholders.

      • rosy 18.1.1

        and he isn’t afraid to cut through red tape to get benefits for NZ.

        Shipments of produce held up at borders.

  19. Wayne (a different one) 19

    “He’s a strong gutsy politician” – Yeah Right!

    “Please give me back my flag” – wimp!

  20. tracey 20

    Maarten Wevers, the former head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet wrote the report that just absolved Perata, Foss and English. Should I be reading anything into that?

    In 2012 he was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) the first CE of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to have been recognised in this way.

    Inote he was appointed in 2004 when Clark was PM. On that basis can much be read into that position impacting the report?

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    The Government has been given a serve by New Zealand-based international trucking and logistics firm Mainfreight which says it lacks a national transport strategy, and has treated rail badly, Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The company has told shareholders it… ...
    2 days ago
  • National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at...
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 days ago
  • All options need to be put on meat sector table
    Farmers must be given every assurance that all potential risks have been considered before Silver Fern Farms opens its door to foreign equity, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The ongoing saga involving the meat sector and amalgamation has… ...
    3 days ago
  • Flag the referendum if 50% or more don’t vote
    Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “John Key has already wasted more than $8 million on his vanity project… ...
    3 days ago
  • 90,000 cars reclassified in botched ACC ratings
    New figures obtained by Labour show the ACC Minister’s botched motor vehicle levy system has resulted in 90,000 vehicles having to be reclassified so far – at a cost of $6 million, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Nikki Kaye’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer
    Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the… ...
    3 days ago
  • Meth ring under Serco’s nose
    The news that two Serco inmates have been arrested for helping to run a methamphetamine ring from prison should be the final straw and see their contract cancelled, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “National has stood by Serco despite… ...
    4 days ago
  • Ministers failing women and their own targets
    New figures showing just five Ministers have met the Government’s own reduced targets for appointing women to state sector boards is evidence National is failing Kiwi women, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The Ministry for Women’s 2015 Gender… ...
    4 days ago
  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    4 days ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    4 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    5 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    5 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    5 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    7 days ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    1 week ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    1 week ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    1 week ago

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