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On party membership

Written By: - Date published: 2:19 pm, June 2nd, 2013 - 67 comments
Categories: accountability, Judith Collins, Media, Politics - Tags:

It isn’t very often that I regret not having a TV aerial. But on the odd occasion the local TV raises its head above the parapet of simple-minded mediocrity. If I want to watch it, then I wait until it shows up online – like yesterday’s The Nation.

While I was looking at Lusk’s revelation on National’s tea-party faction, I found that I’d missed this interesting piece about how party membership is validated last year. Frontpage had put it up on their site in light of Peter Dunne losing his party (lets hope he doesn’t lose track of the taxes eh!). Actual interesting investigative journalism! Such a strange thing to see on NZ TV.

What interested me in this was the lack of accountability for the money that public lavishes on political parties once they become a registered political party. It is extraordinary to me that the definition of who is a paid-up member is so lax. Not only isn’t the veracity checked, but the definition of who is a member is completely up to the party to decide. In Labour’s case this would be affiliate members. From what I have heard, National signs up anyone whose name is on a raffle ticket – even if they didn’t pay for it themselves*.

Really the electoral commission should require accountability to at the very least the level that is taken on referendums. The parties should provide current lists of voters in confidence to the electoral commission. They should sample the list against the electoral roll to at least find out if the people are voters.

But they should go further. A representative sample should be taken to find out if the paid up members are contactable given the information provided by the party and if they can confirm paying for the membership. For instance it wouldn’t be hard to pay the $2 raffle ticket required to become a National party member

But perhaps I shouldn’t worry that much. When you look through the list of registered party logo’s at the elections site (two dead on arrivals are in the front-page image), you realise that that there must be some restraints on the system. I just don’t know what they are…

BTW: the Nation’s piece on Lusk et al was pretty tame. I’m sure that the fallout from the attempt to use tea-party political tactics will continue to reverberate.

* In my repitition statements above I am merely following the example of one of our leading politicians here. Judith Collins MP, our current Minister of Justice apparently thinks that it is ok to agree with and participate in unfounded gossip. Always interesting to see a lawyer and politician being less concerned about evidence than being a stupid gossip. Mind you I’ve heard that Collins wasn’t exactly the brightest spark as a lawyer. It is this type of thing that makes our justice system the mess that we have today – just look at the colossal waste of the Operation 8 raids coming from the delusions of a few paranoid cops in Otahuhu.

67 comments on “On party membership”

  1. North 1

    It is said that to flatulate malodorously but silently in unison with the National Party cold-caller at one’s door is to become a member of the National Party. It is a secret code for the wanting of a political embrace. Whereupon one is unquestionably engaged in the fight for Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. And the cementing as an institution of the mindlessly limiting concept of TINOW. Anything else is Devil-Beast.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    From what I have heard, National signs up anyone whose name is on a raffle ticket – even if they didn’t pay for it themselves.

    This highlights one thing very clearly whether it’s true or not. We need to have an official two step process for joining a political party. The first step would be the signing of a statutory form declaring that you’ve joined the party and the second would be the record of donations to the party. The first step is essential as a donation to a party doesn’t indicate the will to join that party. The second step shows that you’re a financial member.

    As I don’t believe that any donations to political parties should be anonymous I also don’t see any reason why party membership lists shouldn’t also be public.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      I also don’t see any reason why party membership lists shouldn’t also be public.

      You have to be frakking kidding mate.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        If the donation is public then why should the membership not be?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          You need less time in a protected bubble and more time in the trenches mate.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1

            That is not a reason.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1.1

              No kidding. But you’re not living in the real world if you don’t realise the potential consequences that this information might have on people and their families.

              • TheContrarian

                Particularly when you have people like Draco who boldly asserts everyone who voted National are either stupid or psychopathic.

                That he can’t see the reason why people might not want to divulge party membership he need look no further than himself.

      • mickysavage 2.1.2

        I’m with CV. Imagine what would happen to all the public servants who were members of Labour or the Greens if their membership became public?

        Sure donations over a certain level should be public. But should everyone be forced to publicly declare their allegiance?

        I know a few Labour people who are really afraid of the repercussions for careers etc if their membership was made public.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1

          I think DTB is being dangerously naive in how NZ actually works. Ideological witch hunts and purges don’t tend to be as blatant as Stalinist USSR, but black lists are easy to draw up and you can imagine how a Labour Party member could suddenly stop getting promotions as a journalist or Treasury official.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2.1.1

            Working on that principle then all donations should be anonymous.

            Probably a compromise solution. Neither the membership nor donations are public but are declared to the Electoral Commission. The lists are under tight wraps – nobody gets to see them without a warrant. Even verification could be done via computer with only ones that don’t verify having human interaction.

            • weka 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Hmmm, NZ govt computing systems….

              • Colonial Viper

                combined with our lovely GCSB enabling legislation. Political purges just waiting to happen.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  combined with our lovely GCSB enabling legislation.

                  Which need to be repealed.

                  You do understand that this entire thread is about electoral fraud don’t you and the fact that we don’t have the systems in place to do anything about it.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    “electoral fraud”

                    uh…who is making accusations that electoral law has been broken, and by whom?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      In the first video the Alliance is specifically mentioned as probably not having the needed 500 members after it’s collapse in 2002 – there was no way to know. A party can make a statutory declaration that they have 500+ members and the Electoral Commission has no way to actually check on that.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Oh I’m all for ways for the electoral commission to check that. To me its probably been left deliberately vague to reduce the chance of blacklist compilation.

                      Its your suggestion to make party members lists public which I find very poorly considered.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Its your suggestion to make party members lists public which I find very poorly considered.

                      I moved on from that position last night.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Identical to all other computer systems in the world. The fuckups aren’t due to government but due to the processes that force the government to acquire the software from the private sector.

                • Colonial Viper

                  As long as I am commander of this Battlestar, there will be no networked computers. We paid for that lesson with our dearest blood.

                  The fuckups aren’t due to government but due to the processes that force the government to acquire the software from the private sector.

                  Sure, because we haven’t had any problems with public sector developed software and/or public servants, police officers and civilian staff etc misusing their access to databases.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Can’t think of any public sector developed software but my point was that if the government had an in house IT department that developed all the software that it needed (it has the scale to make this economic) then it’s institutional knowledge would increase and stuff up like the Novoapy fiasco would happen less often.

                    Sure, because we haven’t had any problems with public sector developed software and/or public servants, police officers and civilian staff etc misusing their access to databases.

                    It happens. The only thing that we can do is put in place procedures and security that try to prevent it from doing so.

                    Tell me, why are you so afraid of our administration (the government departments) having the necessary tools to do that administration?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Because dear sir, we’ve seen those “tools” misused and abused time and time again. Apparently to you, “it happens”.

                      But you don’t seem to think that giving the Tories (or anyone else) the ability to build political and partisan blacklists rings warning bells. Which I find bizarre given that in the USA the IRS has been found to have been targetting groups and individuals for purely political reasons. “It happens” though, right? I mean, Farrar and Slater would have no use for a public register of Labour Party members, right?

                      Seriously mate, on this matter you are 100% wrong.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Because dear sir, we’ve seen those “tools” misused and abused time and time again.

                      Yes, we have but not really all that often and we can put in place procedures to prevent such happening and serious consequences if they do.

          • mac1 2.1.2.1.2

            Draco T Bastard,
            A former MP I know from the seventies told me he was blacklisted after he lost in an election. There was no work for him locally. He survived by becoming a small farmer. He is one of the most decent men I know and was treated very shamefully by his community. On the night he lost that election, his barn was burnt.

            Maybe now you may know why putting your head above the parapet is a risky business.

            Former National MPs get on the crony list. Former Labour MPs got the blacklisting or terror treatment.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.2.1.2.1

              Thank you. DTB really has no idea of what goes on.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The real question is why isn’t this stuff going to the police and, if it is, why aren’t they doing anything about it?

                • Anne

                  1) In-house cover-ups.

                  2) In the past anyway (I’m talking 20 years ago) the police ran a mile from unlawful activity if it involved politics or politicians. They conducted the most cursory of investigations if they conducted any at all.

                  3) Targets were/are often too frightened and intimidated to take action.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    So, what do we do about these things? What needs to change so that in house cover-ups don’t happen, that the police actually investigate and that people can be assured of the needed support to take action?

                    Lets solve the problem and not complain that it’s too hard.

                • mac1

                  I don’t think that is the real question, Draco T Bastard. Not for me. The real question is whether party membership lists should be publicly available with the associated risk of persecution etc. Such has happened and will happen again. From both sides.

                  So far as I know my example would have finished with the police. The Fire Brigade would have seen to that, I am sure, but finding and proving who lit a fire in a barn on election night in a semi-rural location? A proverbial needle in a hay stack.

                  And proving that a blacklist exists? Reality check that one with people who apply for jobs or rental housing, or go for loans etc.

        • Anne 2.1.2.2

          As a former government employee who was targeted by some because of my political affiliation to the Labour Party, let me assure you DTB… mickysavage is not exaggerating. Indeed the repercussions on my personal reputation – as well as my career – were to continue for more a number of years and ended up being taken well beyond the work-place. To say it got nasty is almost an understatement.

    • Anne 2.2

      <blockquote.From what I have heard, National signs up anyone whose name is on a raffle ticket – even if they didn’t pay for it themselves.

      That is probably no exaggeration. Back in the 1970s when I first joined the Labour Party the revenue gathering process was largely dependent upon small donations gathered at public functions and door knocking campaigns. It was well known that any donation of 50c or so to the Nat. Party automatically gave them membership. There were stories about people who discovered years after having tossed a 50 cent coin National’s way (more often than not to get rid of them), they had been members of the Party all that time and they never knew it.

    • Steve Withers 2.3

      Small donations can be anonymous in so far as buying a brownie at a National party bake sale needn’t require onerous bureaucracy or authenticating one’s indentity. You don’t even have to vote for the National Party.

      You just fancied a brownie.

      • Anne 2.3.1

        The ‘small’ donations I am referring to was money directly solicited and names and addresses were requested for the purpose of supplying a receipt. The donors did not ask to be members of the National Party nor were they advised they would be become members simply by giving a small donation.

        That is – and always has been – a major difference between the two main parties. In order to become a member of the Labour Party you have to first volunteer the information that you wish to become a member, and then fill in a membership form and pay your annual subscription. A rather more open and honest process don’t you think?

        If you buy a brownie because you fancied a brownie you are not ‘giving’ a donation so you don’t require a receipt.

    • TheContrarian 2.4

      “As I don’t believe that any donations to political parties should be anonymous I also don’t see any reason why party membership lists shouldn’t also be public”

      Because people like you judge others on their political beliefs.

      • Suitably Clueless 2.4.1

        I think that all donations should be handled and distributed by the electoral commission. If you believe strongly enough in one party, you will still make the donation. I just think that worldwide, politicians just cannot be trusted. So, in this respect, party membership should be free and voluntary. That is my 2 shekels on the subject.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.4.2

        I may call them idiots but I won’t actually harm them. What MS, Anne, mac1 and CV are talking about is actual harm.

  3. just saying 3

    Having recently requested notification of the times and places of local branch meetings, which I was told occur monthly, and received nothing, I’ve come the the conclusion that party membership is simply a revenue gathering exercise and participation of riff-raff like me is not desired.

    In the week or so since my request, I have however had two requests for more money.

    I’d tell them to shove their poxy party, but there is an off-chance that I may, some day, be able to use my membership to vote for a different management team, an opportunity I would take pleasure in using.

    • What electorate are you in JS?

      • just saying 3.1.1

        After what happened to CV, I’m a bit cagey about too many details.
        Since when were electorate meetings by invitation only? I did tell them that all the local members should be notified about the meetings. Too radical?

    • Jenny Kirk 3.2

      Get hold of whoever is the chair, or secretary (phone/email the Labour Party HO office for this if necessary) and ask when the next Labour Electorate Committee (LEC) is being held. Some are held monthly, some two-monthly. Any financial member of the Labour Party is entitled to go along to an LEC meeting, and (with approval from the chairperson) is able to speak/ask questions.

      Unfortunately, there has been a trend lately where LECs only need hold four business meetings a year – this has happened in Whangarei – so we never know when the LEC is meeting officially, and the other meetings are for planning strategy, discussions and are often held on Sundays or other days when its difficult to get to them. Every so often we get informed when a real LEC meeting is being held.
      We should have one in June, but I’m not holding my breath !

      • just saying 3.2.1

        They did tell me when they are held (monthly). It’s where and at what time that seems to be the secret part. They said they would let me and the other local members know. Still waiting….

        Let’s face it – the new democratic membership input into policy – not happening.

        • Jenny Kirk 3.2.1.1

          To Just Saying : get onto them again. Get a definite time/date/place out of them about the next LEC meeting.

          Either they’re slack, or they’re very busy, or they are the sort of people who like to keep things to themselves in a tight little circle.

          If you still can’t find out – get onto Labour HO. ph 04 384 7649 email nzlpho@labour.org.nz and ask who is the regional representative for your area – get their contact details – and ask this person
          to find out for you.

          • just saying 3.2.1.1.1

            Thanks Jenny,
            Yes I’m sure I could hunt them down, and prise myself into the ‘official’ meetings, but I don’t want to. You shouldn’t need to have the hide of a rhinocerous to participate in a truly democratic process.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.2

        These changes have been made to further weaken the strength and cohesion of LECs/branches.

        It makes it easier for Wellington to hand pick officer positions on an LEC, influence how votes are cast at Conference, parachute in Wellington-sympathetic candidates etc.

  4. Tigger 4

    Collins should watch out for gossip and such affairs…oh did I say affair? Wonder what I meant…

  5. Really the electoral commission should require accountability to at the very least the level that is taken on referendums. The parties should provide current lists of voters in confidence to the electoral commission. They should sample the list against the electoral roll to at least find out if the people are voters.

    Why? You don’t have to be an enrolled voter to be a “current financial member” for the purposes of registering a political party. Here’s the definition from the Electoral Act 1993, s.3:

    in relation to a political party, means a member of the party—
    (a) whose membership of the party resulted from an application made by the member to join the party; and
    (b) who is, under the party’s rules, subject to an obligation to pay to the party a membership fee—
    (i) on becoming a member; and
    (ii) then at specified intervals of not more than 3 years; and
    (c) who has paid to the party every membership fee that has for the time being become payable by the member in accordance with those rules.

    • Yep and what about 15, 16 and 17 year olds?

    • lprent 5.2

      Good point. Kids and non-residents.

      But are the rules are broad enough that you can “vote the graveyard”?

      Looking at this section, then probably yes. If I bought a raffle ticket for $2 (the membership fee) from National (wrote down my name and address for a basket or goodies to “apply”). I become a paid up member.

      If they did what Mana do and have the max 3 year interval… Then hey, I could die the day afterward and still be on the membership books for National in 3 years time.

      In fact with these rules having a rule that says “pay when you can” could keep me on the books forever because even from the grave I’d just be incurring the obligation.

      Of course it’d be possible for someone else to pay $2 every 3 years. You could imagine that someone like Alan Gibbs could carry the Act party for decades with a dead membership for decades.

      Incidentally what would stop a shelf company from becoming a member?

      • In fact with these rules having a rule that says “pay when you can” could keep me on the books forever because even from the grave I’d just be incurring the obligation.

        No … paragraph (c) … “who has paid to the party every membership fee that has for the time being become payable by the member in accordance with those rules.”

        • lprent 5.2.1.1

          That was what I was pointing out. Write the rules so that there is no requirement to pay in a timely manner. After all a rule that requires payment within 20 years is still a rule..

          • Andrew Geddis 5.2.1.1.1

            Don’t think that would work.

            When para. (b) says that a member must be subject to “an obligation to pay to the party a membership fee … at specified intervals of not more than 3 years”, I would interpret this to mean the requirement is to actually pay the money over to the party at least once every three years. Then para. (c) says you ain’t a current financial member unless you actually have done so.

            I’m pretty confident a court would read this the same way (i.e. the purpose of the definition is to make sure that once every electoral cycle, members must take the positive step of renewing their membership (complete with putting some financial skin in the game)).

  6. Furrball 6

    In regards to the New Zealand Labour Party, how much of this sounds familiar?:

    “Graf wrote his report in time for the 2011 Labour party conference. However, while some senior officials have seen it, the report has not been widely circulated. It contained four key conclusions. First, there was a need to deal with what Graf describes as the party’s “bureaucratic rather than a relational culture”. A new member coming into their first meeting should expect more than bureaucracy and hierarchy. They should be welcomed into a group that offered trusted, working relationships and interesting political discussions.

    Second, the party had to stop treating members as drones rather than leaders. Many of the party members Graf visited in the regions seemed to think that if there were genuine leaders in the party, they were all in London. Most orders came from the capital. It was in London that the leaflets were designed, the timetables set and the marching orders given.

    Thirdly, the party was too closed: Labour gatherings were often suspicious of outsiders, particularly people who were Labour sympathisers but not prepared to be members. It seemed hard for newcomers to break in.

    Finally, the party offered little inspiration to its members. Graf blew open a complacent consensus that branch meetings had to be boring. He could see that they could offer more, and dared them to be so: “We grow up and get meaning from relationships … politics should provide that.”

    Perhaps the most radical of Graf’s proposals was his call for open primaries, meaning that Labour’s candidate would be selected by the area’s population as a whole, rather than just its members. Although Graf was only suggesting a trial in volunteer constituencies, he met active resistance: “Not everyone was willing to open up the party … I spoke to one person who said, ‘But if we allow in a lot of people and give them the vote, who knows what they’ll do?’ I thought, ‘Well, if you want to stitch up everything, maybe that’s why you’re losing so badly …'”

    A second proposal was for community membership, which would allow voluntary associations to join as collectives. They would get one vote per institution, and they’d have responsibility for bringing their members into the party. People who were members of the institution but not individual party members would then have a way of engaging with the party.

    Another idea was establishing a supporters’ network, which would provide individuals with a way of engaging with the party if they didn’t want to become full-blown members. Supporters might be asked to pay a small amount of money, and that would entitle them to vote in Labour selections; or they could be asked to pay nothing but have some say over the party’s manifesto.

    According to Graf, Miliband was engaged with all of these suggestions, but massive obstacles remain. The theme of “vested interests” is a favourite of Miliband’s, but he tends to be better at challenging them in policy than within his party. Many people with power – from those in head office to the chairs and secretaries of local branches – want things to stay the same. Some Labour members think it is all very well having local, issue-based campaigns and discussions to get to know each other and build relationships, but this takes time away from an old model that still has merit: knocking on doors and getting out the vote, delivering leaflets and checking which way residents are voting. However, Graf believes it is not the case that these models clash: “The party that just says ‘vote for me’ isn’t worth very much.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/21/arnie-graf-labour-party-miliband

    For more, Google ‘Arnie Graf’. In the future, successful political organisations will have to put some thought into this, as younger generations are less likely to be inspired to action by collective organising by committee:

    “The young are less likely than their elders to consider themselves part of any particular religion, less likely to join a political party or a trade union and, according to the long-running British Social Attitudes survey (BSA), less likely to have a “high or very high opinion” of the armed forces. As far as they are concerned, people have a right to express themselves by what they consume and how they choose to live.”

    http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21578666-britains-youth-are-not-just-more-liberal-their-elders-they-are-also-more-liberal-any

    Collectivism in the statist sense is dying and it won’t come around again unless in times of genuine national or international emergency. Parties of the left in the Anglosphere have been struggling with this since the 80s. And if you think that British youth are substantially different to Kiwi youth, then to be honest, you’re part of the problem.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Thank you for this. Te Mana organisers. Please pay attention.

      • Furrball 6.1.1

        Scoffing, contempt and mockery aside, within the wreckage of the Lusk papers there are some small germs of truth in that New Zealand politics sometimes does appear to be amateur. And this, I believe, is a cultural issue.

        Money aside, it’s my contention that one of the reason why the National Party is relatively successful is that it can leverage the practices of business and marketing with less internal cultural conflict, than parties of the left. Despite my sympathies with the aims of the left, tired old Trotskyite posing is just a doomed circle-jerk of ever-decreasing proportions. These days, the lens of oppressor vs. oppressed just isn’t going to be enough to build and sustain mass membership, and more importantly, enthusiasm.

        Here’s some quotes from Tony Alexander’s reports from the BNZ on how NZ is viewed from offshore. It’s about the culture of business in NZ, but you can map the organisational elements onto political parties:

        • Too focussed on rules and regulations rather than relationships
        • Low in business acumen
        • Unemotive and lacking hunger

        http://tonyalexander.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Our-Deficiencies-Summarised.pdf

        Some of the best thinking on membership and participation comes from the third sector — the voluntary and community sector — where the aims of social justice are met with professionalism in areas such as marketing, communications and fundraising.

        When was the last time someone, anyone, said to you that they were proud to be a member of the Labour Party, to associate themselves with the brand, in a way that people would be proud to associate themselves with a charity, a sports organisation, an environmental cause, a community group etc.?

        • karol 6.1.1.1

          The rise of the professionalisation of politics came with the 1980s+ “neoliberal” revolution, and works against left wing values. The NZ left/;labour movement doesn’t need more professionalisation, it needs less. It DOES need to be well-organised, but not along market principles.

          Professional politics is a a top down game organised on managerial terms. The whole notion of political parties as “brand” is taking from the business world’s marketing approach. It puts superficial gloss, over heart felt values, and things that have real meaning to the people on low incomes, most in need of a political voice. This professionalisation has led to increasing political disengagement by those with least power and the lowest incomes.

          The left needs more grass roots organisation and the politics of conviction.

          • Furrball 6.1.1.1.1

            Professional politics can and is practised in different ways and the way the third sector generally works can provide models for community engagement that the left can learn from. It’s not axiomatic that it works against left-wing values.

            After all, all a brand really is, is a reputation. And what marketing does in a political context, is to communicate that reputation and those values in a succint manner and engage with stakeholders, whether they’re supporters and/or voters. I completely agree with you about grass-roots organisation, but in an increasingly atomised world, the importance of relationship-building is crucial to building and maintaining participation.

            My general point is that Labour parties in the UK and NZ (I don’t know enough about Australia) seem to be suffering from top-down, command and control and bureaucratic processes which, in this day and age, will tend to work against turn out. Conviction is not enough in itself, communicating that conviction and more importantly, enabling people to feel that they’re part of something larger with a sense of purpose and involvement, is at the core of community organising.

            • karol 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Furrball@ 1.55pm My general point is that Labour parties in the UK and NZ (I don’t know enough about Australia) seem to be suffering from top-down, command and control and bureaucratic processes which, in this day and age, will tend to work against turn out

              It is always important to communicate one’s message clearly to the target audience, I agree. I’m not a member of the Labour Party (or any party). I think political disengagement these days is far wider than issues of party membership.

              I think we are both looking towards the same aim, but coming at it from different directions. NGOs make a valuable contribution to the community, and there are things that can be learned from them. however, they are not the same as political parties, organisations and networks.

              in spite of your desire for the left to be more politically engaged with the flax roots, your posts still takes a very top-down approach. And you use a lot of management/business speak that has permeated the political and NGO sphere since the 1980s.

              Left wing/labour movement politics gain their strength from “the people”. Business-speak and methods are not the way to re-engage them, IMO. The managers need to let go of some control and allow space for the voices “from below” – sometimes chaotic, diverse, sometimes contradictory, but motivated and spoken with conviction.

              it’s the people, it’s the people, it’s the people.

              • Furrball

                I don’t want to get into a narrow and prescriptive policing of language, because that smacks of a copout – denying ideas because of how they’re phrased. You use the tools, words, that come to you and reflect your experiences and background and I’m happy to accept people’s arguments at face value, instead of insisting that their arguments come from a specific sphere of society.

                Political parties aren’t that different to the voluntary sector. Although community organisations tend to be specialists, they face the same issues: fundraising, recruitment, communication, media liaison and so on. Most importantly, they rely on enthusiasm and motivation which is where we agree, especially when it comes to disengagement from the political process. These same issues arise in many areas of business, which is why many of these concepts are adaptable for political movements, provided they’re implemented in an appropriate way.

                I think Robert Putnam’s ‘Bowling Alone’ is a seminal work when it comes to an understanding of how the anglosphere relates to group organising these days. It’s not enough to merely say ‘it’s the people’ when people think and behave in very different ways than they did 60 years.

                Anyway, good to chat with you. It’s felt interesting and constructive. Cheers.

    • Furrball 6.2

      Final post in this thread and I’m sorry for the UK articles, but given the decline in turnout in the last NZ general election, these trends have a habit of washing up in NZ sooner or later:

      “According to the Hansard Society’s 2010 audit of political engagement, 54% of people said they were certain to vote in a general election; now that stands at 41%. The recent election for police commissioners saw a dismal 15% turnout. Politics professor Matthew Flinders of Sheffield University says this “democratic drift” is because “the old rules do not appear to suit the new game, and yet the … old rules still apply”. So what exactly is this new game? According to the Hansard Society, civic engagement – “direct democracy” – is healthy. The public are far from apathetic. Last week, for instance, it was announced that trade union membership had increased for the first time in years, up by 59,000 to 6.5m. Far from its 13m peak, but lessons are being learned. “We have to let go,” says TUC national organiser Carl Roper. “We have to work with members, not tell them what to do.”

      Arguably what has given an extra charge is the fight to assert values that counter, for instance, the behaviour revealed in phone hacking, tax avoidance and the avarice of the 1%. On 22 June, for example, the People’s Assembly takes place in London, supported by unions, charities, individuals and new alliances on the left urging an alternative economic strategy. Preparatory meetings have attracted hundreds. Enterprises such as Citizens UK and Tessy Britton’s Social Spaces work to revive community action while 38 Degrees, with its online e-petitions on issues such the bedroom tax, has attracted 1.5 million members.”

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/02/parliamentary-politics-disengagement

      If there’s any buzz about NZ Labour, I might not be looking in the right places, but I’m not seeing it.

  7. stpat 7

    Has anyone else noticed that in the John Key interview segment of the Nation piece, at one point Key seems to be intending to justify an answer by saying he hasn’t read the papers, but I am sure he says “..I haven’t SPREAD them…..” (about 5:25). Now this could be Key’s usual dreadful diction or a Freudian slip of a phrase practiced too much

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  • A dictionary of education terms and definitions, brought to you by the let...
    Free to all TDB readers, please enjoy your very own cut-out-and-keep handy primer of terms that I predict you will need to know over the next three years… Achievement Gap (noun) Synonym for wealth gap. ACT (abstract noun) Intangible. Reported to exist in...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • A Mines Rescue brigadesman’s perspective on the Pike River Mine
    My husband and I lived in Greymouth in 2010, we were a coal mining family.  The day Pike River Mine blew up and the days following changed us profoundly, as it did for so many.  This is a Mines Rescue...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • The Left Triumphant! A Counterfactual History of the Last Twelve Months.
    DID IT REALLY HAVE TO END LIKE THIS? Reading through the commentary threads of the left-wing blogs it is impossible to not feel the anger; the sense of betrayal; the impression of having had something vital ripped from their grasp;...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • GUEST BLOG – Myles Thomas: The media won it!
    Make no mistake, John Key is a clever communicator – reasonable, authoritative and relaxed – but without the media he wouldn’t be PM. Depending on your viewpoint, New Zealand’s news media are either a bunch of Grey Lynn lefties or...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • Not Learning Lessons Past: the West’s Response to IS
    In an earlier posting Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, I noted that the first lesson of conflict learned by Robert McNamara was “understand your adversary”. If we have honourable objectives, our first and most important weapon is empathy. In the Vietnam War,...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Dr Jarrod Gilbert – Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my ...
    In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • SPECIAL FEATURE: Stuart Nash – Red To The Rescue?
    SPECIAL FEATURE by Selwyn Manning. IF THE ELECTION RESULT which was dished out to Labour was not enough to incite an immediate leadership primary, then the caucus’ refusal to recognise David Cunliffe as the leader should cement it. Now is...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • Has the one party state crackdown begun already? Left wing NZ activist grou...
    Well known left wing activist social media group, ‘John Key Has Left Down NZ’ has been shut down on Facebook. At 11.40pm last night, Facebook, without any warning shut the group down siting a breach of terms of service as...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • Why Cunliffe should probably just let Nash & Robertson win
    We have to face some very unpalatable home truths. If you are a left wing political person, best you put your vote now to the Green Party, although you’ll have to do that all the while the Greens frantically tell you...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • The graceless win of Kelvin Davis
    The graceless win of Cameron Slater’s mate in the North, Kelvin Davis is difficult to swallow. Here Cameron Slater’s mate in the North is shitting on Hone Harawira by calling Hone all steam, no hangi as Kelvin rubs his ganged up win into...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • So Labour shifted too far to the left?
    So Labour shifted too far to the left?   Here’s the ill-judged view of Josie Pagani in the Pundit “Labour must change”: “At the last election I made myself a heretic when I wrote a column mentioning how unpopular the...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • Uncomplicated Loyalties: Why Cunliffe and the Labour Left Cannot Win
    THE STORY of David Cunliffe’s leadership of the Labour Party has been one of missed opportunities and unforced errors. That he was the only choice available to those who wanted to rid the Labour Party of its neoliberal cuckoos is...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • So we can expect this now?
    So we can expect this now?...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Can Labour be saved? Why Whaleoil & National won and why we need a new ...
    As the shock of my optimism that NZers would recoil from the real John Key as exposed by Dirty Politics and mass surveillance duplicities wears off, I am surprised to find that the right in NZ are not content with...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Three more years (up shit creek and paddling hard)
    “If the future is not green, there is no future. If the future is not you, there is no future”. Emma Thompson’s stirring words to the climate marchers in London last Sunday are worth considering in the aftermath of the...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • One Party State
    In years to come this election will be seen as a historic turning point towards one party rule. I don`t mean this literally, absolute single party dictatorship is not in prospect. In the New Zealand context though, one party has...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • No More. The Left Falls.
    . We cannot be beaten down Because we are down already. We can only rise up and if you should beat us down, We will rise again. And again. And again… And when you tire of beating us down, We...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Hang tight everyone – Marama Davidson campaign reflection
    To the many people who had expressed their overwhelming support for me to enter Parliament this election – thank you. That the Greens held steady in a big loss for progressive politics is an achievement. We are hopeful that after...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • New flag for NZ once Key signs TPPA
    New flag for NZ once Key signs TPPA...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • Reflecting on Elections Past
    There are a number of past elections that can give the left in New Zealand guidance and hope. Two major points though. Major parties require leaders who can bridge the political divide through strength of personality, vision of what it...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – The Reptile Room
    I stress, at the outset, that I’ve got nothing against reptiles. Some of my best friends are reptiles. Some say I am one, but I’m not really. I just emulate that ability to sit, stationary for hours in court, eyes...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • The success of right-wing counter messaging in the election
    One of the reasons National won the election was due to its success in counter messaging – and the way so many media commentators ran with th the right-wing spin. Here are some examples. Dirty Politics The original message was...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • Submissions sought on herbicide for weed control in maize
    The Environmental Protection Authority is calling for submissions on a herbicide to improve broadleaf weed control in maize. The substance CADET contains 100g fluthiacet-methyl in the form of an emulsifiable concentrate and would contain a new active ingredient...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Jesse Mulligan Lives Below Poverty Line
    Jesse Mulligan Lives Below Poverty Line TV personality Jesse Mulligan will live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line this October in order to raise awareness of sex trafficking. Mulligan will survive on $2.25 for his food from October...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Narratives from the 2014 Election: What do we learn?
    Narratives from the 2014 Election: What do we learn? - Sue Bradford, Russell Brown & Kirk Serpes discuss....
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Voices from Oceania to speak out on climate change
    Voices from Oceania to speak out on climate change at launch of Pacific environment report...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Changes to Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre messages
    The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management advises that while changes to Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre messages come into effect from today (Wednesday 1 October), the Ministry has been, and remains, the authoritative voice for tsunami...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Police remove banner at Statoil Offices in Wellington
    Oil Free Wellington hung a banner at 9:30 this morning at the Statoil office headquarters in Wellington as the Petroleum Summit opened in Auckland. The banner, which read 'Statoil out of Northland: Stop Deep Sea Oil', has now been removed...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Mixed massages raise concerns
    Mixed massages raise concerns for Te Taumata Kaumatua Ngapuhi nui tonu, and Te Wakaminenga O nga Hapu Ngapuhi....
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Union Slams Port Boss’s Pay Rise
    The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) says Lyttelton Port CEO Peter Davie’s 18% wage rise, taking his pay packet to $1.24m, is unjustified and inflammatory. ‘Lyttelton port has an appalling health and safety record, with three deaths on...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Prisons expert Ron Nikkel to speak in Auckland October 15
    Prison Fellowship NZ and JustSpeak have the privilege of hosting the former president of Prison Fellowship International, Ron Nikkel....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Hundreds of educators protest IES in Rotorua
    Four hundred educators from around the country took their opposition to the Government's controversial Investing in Educational Success policy to the public today....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Crime drops by 3.2 % in the 2013 / 2014 financial year
    Criminal offences dropped by 3.2 % in the last financial year according to figures released today through Statistics New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Narratives from the 2014 Election: what do we learn?
    I would like to invite you to a Fabians Reflection on "Dirty Politics, Dotcom and Labour’s worst result" with Colin James, Keith Ng, Stephanie Rodgers and Richard Harman. They will provide a debrief of analysis and lessons from the 2014...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Oil Free Wellington drops banner from Statoil headquarters
    Today members of Oil Free Wellington have targeted the offices of Statoil, by attaching a banner reading 'Statoil out of Northland: Stop Deep Sea Oil' to the entrance of Vodafone on the Quay Midland Park, where Statoil's New Zealand office...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Media Statement from Karen Price
    “After a period of intense media attention and scrutiny of our family, I set up and used an anonymous Twitter account over the weekend and made a number of comments that I deeply regret....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Greenpeace disrupts Simon Bridges’ speech to oil industry
    Greenpeace activists have disrupted the opening speech by Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges at the Petroleum Summit in Auckland this morning....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • New Zealand Red Cross Responds to Drought in Tonga
    New Zealand Red Cross has sent an aid worker and two desalination units, to turn seawater into safe drinking water in the drought-hit Ha’apai islands of Tonga....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Can you ever tell if an email is real or forged?
    Computer industry veteran Brian Eardley-Wilmot warns that we should never take claims about stolen emails at face value....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • NZ MPs to attend the ASPG Annual Conference in Sydney
    New Zealand MPs to attend the Australasian Study of Parliament Group Annual Conference in Sydney...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Independent Maori seats still needed in Parliament
    “He’s got to be joking!” is the reaction of the president of the Maori Party, Rangimarie Naida Glavish to a call by a former Labour Minister of Maori Affairs, Dover Samuels, for debate by Maori on whether the Maori electorates...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Support for Democratic Rights in Hong Kong
    Rallies supporting the rights for universal suffrage will take place all over New Zealand today and tomorrow...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Trout Mass-Poisoned in New Zealand
    Trout Mass-Poisoned in New Zealand The Graf Boys New Zealand has some of the best trout fishing in the world! Every year thousands of international visitors wade pristine rivers in search of the freshwater game fish....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • New Zealand’s 2014 Hottest Vegetarians Crowned
    With winter gone things are heating up, and things just got even hotter with the crowning of New Zealand’s hottest vegetarians, says animal advocacy group SAFE. Marking World Vegetarian Day, 1st October, director James Napier Robertson and actor...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • A day to remember our duty to look after our senior citizens
    Human Rights Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says International Day of the Older Person (1 October) is a United Nations day to celebrate our senior citizens, but also acknowledge the need to protect our kaumatua, or older people from abuse and...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Clear data needed on impact of benefit sanctions on children
    A lack of data on benefit sanctions means there is no way of knowing whether welfare reform is helping or harming children, says Child Poverty Action Group....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • The socialist alternative to austerity and war
    Public meeting: After the New Zealand election—the socialist alternative to austerity and war By Tom Peters 29 September 2014...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • New recruits to boost border protection
    Twenty six new recruits began an intensive nine-week training course in Auckland today that will see them graduate as Customs officers in time for the busy summer season....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Dwindling Mallard population shows up ‘pest’ myth
    The pro hunting organisation Fish & Game is researching the causes of the decline of the mallard duck population, upset at the prospect of fewer ducks to kill....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Support for Democratic Rights in Hong Kong
    New Zealanders in Auckland will gather on Wednesday to support the rights for universal suffrage in Hong Kong....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Campbell Live Exclusive Interview with David Cunliffe
    David Cunliffe resigned as leader of the Labour party on Saturday; but he still wants the top job....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Action needed on cycling safety
    “Clearly we aren't doing enough to protect the 1.5 million New Zealanders who ride bikes,” said Mr Morgan....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • World Rivers Day Passes Without A Whimper
    Sunday 28 September was World Rivers Day to celebrate clean, flowing rivers and caring about them. But a recreation-conservation advocacy the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) says the day seems to have slipped by without...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • The Kiwifruit Claim: Q&A
    1. Who is running The Kiwifruit Claim? The Kiwifruit Claim was founded by kiwifruit growers representing well in excess of 10% of the industry. 2. Why are you running this claim? The introduction of Psa into New Zealand had devastating...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Fed Farmers Need to Be Weaned
    The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Federated Farmers to make a firm commitment to reject any future Government funding, after it was revealed that the lobby group had received over $200,000 of payments in recent years....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Children paying the price for charter school stitch up
    New Zealand children will be paying a high price for a one-seat deal between ACT and National, with an expansion of the beleaguered charter school system says education union NZEI Te Riu Roa....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Hikoi From North Reaches Oil Conference Tomorrow
    Today: The Hikoi opposing Statoil plans for seismic testing and deep sea oil drilling has marched through Dargaville and later be welcomed to Piringatahi Marae, West Harbour,Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Communities Still Count
    The efforts of many organisations to influence the electorate and the political parties they voted for in the lead up to the 2014 Election is over. The voting public has spoken and provided a strong endorsement to the centre-right National...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Eleven social enterprises get ready to take off
    Eleven teams from across the country will take part in the Launchpad, Ākina’s programme to get social enterprise ideas off the ground....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • An open letter to the Prime Minister
    in which Transparency International New Zealand asks the Prime Minister to ensure integrity underpins all work he leads "in the best interests of all New Zealanders"...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Paula Bennett ‘great work’ acknowledged – McVicar
    “Paula Bennett, as Minister of Social Development, has contributed significantly in lowering our crime rate and preventing further victims.” - McVicar...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Key’s Restraint in Propping up ACT Welcomed
    The Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming the announcement that ACT MP David Seymour will not be appointed as a Minister....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Only Concession is from the Taxpayer
    Responding to the confidence and supply agreement reached between John Key and Peter Dunne’s United Future Party, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says:...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • A Tent for Any Tenant
    AUT students and Salvation Army Manukau Community Ministries team up to raise awareness, as South Auckland’s housing situation moves from crisis to collapse...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Cycle Safety Panel Draft Report Seeks Comments
    The Cycle Safety Panel Draft Report and Recommendations was published on 25th September 2014 and the panel are inviting comments. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds, the organisation campaigning for consistent speed limits outside schools, is encouraged...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Labour’s Review – Terms of Reference Agreed
    Labour's Review - Terms of Reference Agreed Following a meeting of its ruling New Zealand Council yesterday, Labour has released the terms of reference for the comprehensive review initiated following its 2014 election result. The review will comprise three...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • The final countdown for Kiwi smokers
    There are just two days left until many smokers stubb out their cigarettes for the last time and embark on Stoptober – New Zealand’s first national quit-smoking month....
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • “In A Democracy People Win And People Lose”
    “In A Democracy People Win And People Lose” – Chris Hipkins Labour Senior Whip I would say to all of the caucus and all of the members let's actually hear the arguments from the people who want to be leader,...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Campaign to make Murder of Unborn ”Safe and Legal”
    The IPPF have launched an international campaign through its 161 affiliates including the New Zealand Family Planning Association [NZFPA] to make the murder of the unborn safe and legal and accepted as a human right. This is an acceleration of...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Grant Robertson Labour leader hopeful on TVNZ Q+A
    “Look I think what we need to be is relevant, clear and consistent with New Zealanders about the Labour Party's values,” said Labour leader hopeful Grant Robertson on TVNZ’s Q+A programme....
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Labour Needs to Get House in Order Before Deciding Leader
    Ex Labour party leader and possible repeat contender David Shearer says the Labour Party is going about the post-election period in the wrong way....
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Hate merchants at it again with smear tactics
    “It’s disappointing to see the hate merchants at it again with yet another attempt to smear and silence a health professional who’s doing research they disagree with,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
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