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Key loses his “Centre”, Herald spins right, Smith on the ropes

Written By: - Date published: 11:31 am, September 25th, 2013 - 35 comments
Categories: Conservation, david cunliffe, greens, housing, john key, labour, MMP, poverty, spin - Tags:

Cunliffe’s Labour is center left, moderate one working for the many struggling Kiwis doing it tough in as opposed to Key’s cronyist, corporate-backed, radically “neoliberal”, government that disdains democracy and changes laws to suit the wealthy international elites.

The NAct supporting right are looking a little shaky, a little scared and have lost their Key-fronted smugness, in the face of the rise of Cunliffe in the public sphere.

David-Cunliffe-launch3 pasifika

With the positive publicity of the Labour leader race, and Cunliffe’s well-considered and balanced caucus reshuffle, and the failed launch of the right wing smear campaign, John Key and the NZ Herald is using some subtle, and not so subtle spin, that positions Key’s government as a solidly Kiwi “centre right” one, while spinning Cunliffe’s Labour (and Greens) as the alien, “far left” enemy, trying to steal a victory from the rightful front runners.

Key Loses his “Centre”

John Key is still trying to spin that a Labour-Green government, would be “far left”.  [Mike Treen spells out the difference between Cunliffe’s moderate social democracy and Treen’s socialism]

Cunliffe already had a good response to that bit of fiction, saying:

No one can disagree with the objective of ensuring all children live in dry, warm homes …

Nat supporting, Herald columnist, Audrey Young cannot deny the stats – especially as she works within the MSM that pays close attention to each blip and often short lived glitches in the too frequent political polls.

But she goes, uncritically, with Key’s fairly consistent “far left” spin line.

“Labour have had extensive coverage over the past six weeks as they’ve gone through their change of leadership. The polls move around a lot and I’ve always thought that the election in 2014 will be very tight. This poll indicates that.”

He said closer to the election, people would start to look at the possible coalition options.
“Voters will start to look at what sort of Government they want to lead us beyond 2014.

What we do know with Labour is it will be a Government that will have to be formed with the Greens and given the public statements of David Cunliffe, it’s going to be very much a far left Government on offer versus a centre-right government that has led New Zealand over the last five years.”

Yeah right:  A “centre right” government that is privatising core state assets; has consistently bashed beneficiaries, leaving many struggling to survive on meagre incomes or find places to live; one that has consistently undermined workers’ rights; one that damages the resources that is the basis of the country’s survival and well-being; one that has changed laws, and installed polices, for their cronies in Sky City, Warner Brothers. … and on it goes.

Showing the uncertainties and concerns about his slip in support, and in contradiction of Key’s fairly lengthy statement about the positive Labour-Green poll result, Key is reported, by Young, as saying:

…  he did not really have much to say about Mr Cunliffe’s result in the first full poll under is leadership.

Down the bottom of the article, giving it less credence than the more highly positioned statements by Key, Young summarises the opposition perspective. She frames it with a statement that spins Key’s government as solid and stable:

National has faced fewer controversies in recent months than it did at the start of the year, but the Opposition has been accusing it of “crony capitalism” over issues such as the $30 million payment to Pacific Aluminium Smelter, possible help for Chorus through internet pricing and the SkyCity convention centre deal.

National has passed the GCSB legislation, faced uproar over limits to snapper catches, and has made progress on its next part-sale of state-owned energy company Meridian.

The NZ Herald editorial Spins to the Right: following the latest Poll Result.

A subtle way of trying to undermine the oppositions legitimate criticisms of the government. This morning’s NZ Herald editorial shows the extent of their fears that their favoured National government will be booted out in next year’s election.  The editorial headline positions Labour boldly as the enemy at the gate of the hopes of the NZ people, shamelessly playing to hopes of an Americas Cup win:

Editorial: Labour does an Oracle in latest poll

For the first time in almost five years the Labour Party is “back in the game”, as they are saying of Oracle. A climb of nearly seven points in our poll today is not only a remarkable gain, it has come at the expense of National rather than Labour’s ally, the Greens.

The editorial gives a fairly factual outline of the poll result, but goes on, at length, to undermine its significance. One of the main ways it does this is to revert to the old, First Past the Post mentality: saying that the people will only support a government formed by the party that wins the largest share of the vote in the election:

Instinct tells politicians the public would not respect a government formed by those that finished a distant second and third at the election, though their combined seats outnumbered the winner’s.


Every election New Zealand has held under MMP has awarded power to the party first past the post. The next election is unlikely to be an exception. Leaders of the main parties know a government needs more than a paper majority, it needs what Helen Clark called moral authority. That comes from winning.

After a long period when the MSM consistently reported any election contest would be between the possibility of a National-led or Labour-Green government, the fear-driven NZ Herald editorial has pulled this old anachronism out of the rubble of its attic.

Nick Smith on the (DOC-Ruataniwha Dam) Ropes

Meanwhile, the main weak point currently int he Key government machine, is Nick Smith, struggling to retain any credibility over the management of the Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Ruataniwha Dam, water quality issue.  The charge is that Smith ignored DOC advice on the concerns about water quality, in supporting the Dam submission.  Labour’s Ruth Dyson is skeptical.

“It is clear Mr Smith interfered in this process and put a stop to the Department of Conservation doing the job it was set up to do.”

As is Russel Norman.


Adam Bennett, NZ Herald, yesterday afternoon:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith faced further pressure today over his role in how a Department of Conservation DOC report about the project was watered down.

Dr Smith faced parliamentary questions on the matter from the Greens and Labour and Labour Leader David Cunliffe told reporters this morning there was “more to come” on the issue.

Last week it emerged that DOC prepared a 34-page draft report setting out its concerns about the way the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council planned to manage water quality issues arising from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

However, senior Department of Conservation (DOC) managers instead submitted to the board of inquiry considering the project a much shorter document – just two paragraphs – which did not deal with those concerns.

Dr Smith has denied having influence over the changes to the submission and says he was unaware of the draft version until last week.

NickSmith forked tongue


Labour-Green (Mana) –  inclusive, stable, sustainable and livable New Zealand for all.

people b4 profit


[Update] Credit where it’s due. The Herald writers aren’t unrelentingly anti-Labour/Green.  It’s more the on-balance slant towards the right, especially as seen in editorials headline editing.

Fran O’Sullivan, too often a Key cheerleader, has a more positive column about Cunliffe and Labour today.

35 comments on “Key loses his “Centre”, Herald spins right, Smith on the ropes”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    So its an attack on democracy again- By the Herald

    No matter that National would have the smallest bloc of seats, lets apply a quota to their result , so they become the government anyway.

    As usual , The Herald has problems with democracy when it doesnt suit the vested interests they represent

  2. risildowgtn 2

    I been waiting for a real LEFT govt for decades

    I expected one in 84 but alas we got a class A asshole tory right wing LETS sell it to our mates, Traitors to this country one instead… so my vote went elsewhere ever since

    Douglas needs to have his Sir ( as if I would ever refer to him as a SIR be more like *you a**hole) removed for what he did to this country…

    We have to fight this bullshit at every turn….. and so we shall

  3. Rogue Trooper 3

    the next Americas’ Cup Race: Sudden Death.

  4. BrucetheMoose 4

    When His Weaselness reinstated Smith, he partly justified his doing so, by claiming Smith was “refreshing” in terms of management. Obviously Key’s perception of refreshing is somewhat different from others. Smith is about as refreshing a week old used damp tea towel. Also rather dirty by the looks of it

  5. Tracey 5

    surely vance’s annoyance with the email debacle wouldnt make her a natural mouthpiece for National?

  6. McFlock 6

    I’m hoping for a late-order collapse of nact ministers, nicely timed for the election. Maybe one or two criminal charges, as well :)

  7. Wayne 7


    Surely you are confusing what each of the political players are saying, with the position of the reporters.

    It is perfectly proper for reporters to report what the politicians are saying, in fact that is their job. In contrast it would not be appropriate for a reporter to say “John Key said Labour is far left, but John Key is wrong”. That is the role of the opinion writers, who in my view are giving David Cunliffe a pretty good run.

    And in any event John Key is actually saying a Labour Green coalition would be far left.

    And there are clearly a wide range of views as to whether David Cunliffe will end the “neoliberal experiment.” Clearly that is the hope of Chris Trotter and others, but as you know, in my view they will be disappointed.

    Sure, a David Cunliffe led govt will do different things to a John Key govt, otherwise what would be the point of elections. And DC will have different language, to a much greater extent than Helen Clark.

    But that is a very different thing to rolling back virtually all of the economic reforms since 1984. And as I have posted before, it is actually quite impossible to do that in a modern trading nation emeshed in a web of FTA’s and with a continuing requirement to borrow on international markets..

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      It is perfectly proper for reporters to report what the politicians are saying, in fact that is their job. In contrast it would not be appropriate for a reporter to say “John Key said Labour is far left, but John Key is wrong”. That is the role of the opinion writers

      It’s not the job of reporters to simply uncritically repeat what they have been told.

      That’s not a form of “journalism” that I am familiar with, more a form of “PR”.

      Journalism would be “John Key said that Labour is far left, but when questioned further, refused to elaborate on what basis he made that comparison.”

    • karol 7.2

      Wayne, sometimes it’s in the way it’s reported, as I tried to point out. News reports are rarely neutral. The most deceptive approach is to claim to be neutral, but slip in some innuendos and ways of reporting that suggest a preferred reading of the report. I do think a true fourth estate should not take at face value the press releases of any political party. They should aim to report critically, showing up errors, diversions, inaccuracies and contradictions.

      There should also be more diversity of positions in the MSM, upfront, in their reports on such things.

      The confusion between critising Cunliffe, Labour and Cunliffe led Labour-Green government is there in Key’s comments and the way they are reported. Key is definitely using it to smear Cunliffe as far left. There is slippage on that in the extracts I have quoted from Young’s article.

      I have hopes that Cunlifffe will lead the government in a new direction, but I also expect that extreme pressure will be applied by the media and the right, to shift him towards the right/centre.

      • Murray Olsen 7.2.1

        I liked the approach taken in Brazil. None of the media groups pretend to be objective. They are completely open about their biases and their support for particular parties. Funnily enough, they still tend to be more truthful and objective than the Murdoch or Packer companies.

    • Tracey 7.3

      Remind me Wayne, which of NZ’s FTA’s have you been against?

    • Tracey 7.4

      Interesting analysis into how National views and frames the role of the media. Regurgitate Press releases essentially.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.5

      And as I have posted before, it is actually quite impossible to do that in a modern trading nation emeshed in a web of FTA’s and with a continuing requirement to borrow on international markets..

      And as I’ve told you – it’s not impossible at all. Just need a government that will ram through reforms the same way that the 4th labour government did. Contrary to what the economists and other RWNJS believe we are not dependent upon trade. What we are dependent upon is using our resources sustainably and neo-liberalism actually prevents that as it drives us to dig up more and more of those limited resources and sell them the end result of which will leave us poorer.

  8. Populuxe1 8

    I’m confused, karol. You have consistantly stated that Labour isn’t left enough for your tatses, but now you seem to be giving support to Cunliffe’s “centre-left” (but really third way neoliberal) posturing. And yet despite all of Cunliffe’s promise, he has appointed David Parker as his Deputy Leader. That’s not presenting a united party front as it is embracing TPPA and selected asset sales.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      You gotta go with the best deal you have on the table mate.

      • Populuxe1 8.1.1

        No, I really can’t support anything to do with David Parker or any neoliberal. That’s the direction that induced me to leave Labour in the first place. Every second thing out of Parker’s mouth as business spokesperson just seemed to offer Labour a way of saving face while following through with National’s asset sales and the TPPA – and now he’s deputy leader!

        Also, not sure why the system seems intent on accusing me of being a spambot, but it’s bouncing me even when I fill out it’s little box correctly.

        • Tracey

          Either parker is being used to dupe conservatives into thinking a new cullen is on the way and then he wont be cullen-esque OR the neo liberal experiement isnt over.

          Either option doesn’t sit well with me and for now I am still in the Green camp.

          It’s doing the spambot to me too populuxe1 and sending me to different articles than the ones I am clicking on.

        • lprent

          I don’t know either. Not my part of the system..

          Depending on which system you hit it is either akismet at wordpress or the system at cloudflare. Both have a peek at various stages at people accessing the system. If it is when you’re leaving comments then it will be akismet with conditional captcha doing the prompt.

          They are pretty good at reducing spam getting through. But they do have about 2-3% false positives – usually on the same people 😈

        • Rogue Trooper

          no surprises policy. :)

        • Sean Carroll

          Smash the neoliberal agenda? Yes, you can roll it back…. but first, you have to want to. Can’t see this corrupted Labour Caucus doing anything but get and maintain the benches, I fear. Eg Will they renationalise the energy companies? No way, which leaves them still in private hands and the ‘regulatory body’ ready for dismantling next time. They will do nothing to dismantle the key features of the odious reforms since 1984.

    • karol 8.2

      There may be some inconsistency in my comments about Cunliffe over time, because I am still forming my views as Cunliffe’s leadership evolves.

      I have been clear many times, that Cunliffe is a moderate – more moderate than me. I vote for him as an electorate MP, and give the Greens my party vote.

      I have hopes Cunliffe may lead Labour back to its core values, but I wait to be finally convinced. I want him to lead the government next year. But I also want the Greens and Mana there to voice more of my core left values.

      And what CV said @ 4.01pm

    • Tracey 8.3

      couldnt karol be writing a critique or analysis of cunnliffe’s apparent positioning without actually endorsing it?

  9. Rich 9

    It’s more the on-balance slant towards the right, especially as seen in editorials headline editing

    It’s also about a pervading narrative that supports the authoritarian right’s analysis of the country being divided into “hard-working keewees” represented by National and an amorphous other who should be hated and feared by all right thinking people.

    a government needs more than a paper majority, it needs what Helen Clark called moral authority

    No, it needs 61 MPs (barring abstentions) willing to vote for them on a confidence motion. If National (with the connivance of their G-G) tried to hang on to power with 60 or less MPs, I’m confident Labour/Green/Mana would vote them down. If they then tried to subvert democracy and try for another election, well, Government House is made of wood.

  10. Daveosaurus 10

    Instinct tells politicians the public would not respect a government formed by those that finished a distant second and third at the election, though their combined seats outnumbered the winner’s.

    Quick, somebody tell Tony Abbott the news…

  11. finbar 11

    Cunliffe, has shifted from his Red Sea Socialist rhetoric to, we are a Democratic Socialist Party.

    You could view from that rhetoric, that he has shifted from his recent hustings Red Sea rhetoric to one of moving in the direction under his governess of being more Democratic Liberal than Democratic Socialist,(understanding socialist in its true meaning).So i would assume what we are going to be seeing, if he gets the treasury benches more largesse for Health Education and Welfare than at present.He has said that they are going to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour,and in no way will they get out of that promise.He has also said that they are going to be looking at the employment laws, how much leeway and power he gives back to the unions is still unknown,my guess not to much, maybe stronger legislation around favouring collective bargaining.We will have to wait and see.Then of course there is the other main issues of affordable power, home ownership and our state assets,again a wait and see.One thing is for sure they will be a more friendly government to the people than this present lot of Corporate Bandits.

  12. Aotearoean 12

    The pending retirement of the National Party member for Napier reminded me of a quote from one of James Baxter poems about ;; as chickens as the buzzard pounces”

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