Democracy doesn’t belong to government…

Written By: - Date published: 11:14 am, September 1st, 2016 - 78 comments
Categories: democratic participation - Tags:

kirk:french nuclear test protest

Democracy doesn’t belong to government or Prime Ministers, it belongs to the people. We have a House of Representatives and if it’s going to represent the people it needs to know what they’re thinking and the best place to find that out is from the people themselves. You can’t determine that from public opinion polls or from political science theories or anything like that. You’ve got to go back and talk to the people and be available to them. And I think that the healthiest and strongest feature of New Zealand political life is the relative availability of people in politics to the people in the electorate.

Norman Kirk (6 January 1923 – 31 August 1974)

Inquiry documentary – Norman Kirk

h/t Karen

 

78 comments on “Democracy doesn’t belong to government…”

  1. Michael 1

    Is there any chance of the Labour MP’s reading this? Probably not.

    • Cinny 1.1

      Our local Labour MP makes himself available as to the public, he’s awesome.

      However the list nat mp living in the same electorate does not, not an office in sight for her, in fact I ear that her press etc is operated from Nicks office in the electorate closest to ours. Maybe it’s Smiths way of helping with the housing crisis lololol

      • Rodel 1.1.1

        Cinny-Our Labour MP is also awesome.Always out and about in the electorate, can and is easily approached by the people and busts a gut to help, regardless of who they voted for. Consequently gets votes from a lot of national supporters who nevertheless give their party votes to the tories. (yes they do exist outside of the UK).

        On the other hand the National list MP who contested unsuccessfully as an electoral candidate has just a cardboard/polystyrene cut-out model of self on the footpath giving a ‘friendly static wave ‘ to motorists. passing by.
        There’s a message of pathos there somewhere in the mere presence of that cut out life size model.
        It used to be a cut out model of a previous failed opponent but the nats have replaced the head.

        Apart from the static cut-out model the national list member-wannabe electorate MP just doesn’t seem to exist, hides in the shadows, doesn’t do or say anything for fear of alienating his political masters. and is seldom seen.

        To reiterate. ..Our local Labour MP is well known, well thought of and works tirelessly for every constituent regardless of political affiliation.

  2. Philj 2

    Seriously, is there any Labour politicians in NZ? If so, who are they? It isn’t obvious.

    • Chris 2.1

      We did have Hone Harawira but Labour shafted him in 2014.

      • Philj 2.1.1

        Cheers Chris,
        So Hone is the only Labour politician? Whoa… Who is the current Labour impersonating?

        • Chris 2.1.1.1

          I’m probably being a bit unfair. There is a handful of bright and honest and principled Green MPs who are most likely Labour politicians although at times it isn’t that obvious. But yes, Hone’s probably the only out there Labour politician we have at the moment, which of course means that Labour will be looking again to crush him. Did you know that Labour eats its own? Sad, but true.

  3. McFlock 3

    lol he said availability to the people in the electorate. Not jumping to the tune of the squeakiest wheel.

  4. Fustercluck 4

    It is true that in NZ we have almost unprecedented access to MPs. A call to an electorate office will get you an appointment with almost anyone not holding a ministerial warrant.

    Unfortunately, access is not influence and the political elite continue to ignore the people, seemingly with impunity.

    George Carlin, late in his life, became convinced that it would take blood in the streets (ostensibly politician’s blood) before meaningful change took place. He expressed regret over this conclusion and I find myself coming reluctantly to the same opinion.

    For the sake of my two young kids, I sincerely hope that we move past our current paradigm of government by psychopaths and find again the kind of empathetic politicians that made NZ a leader in equality, justice and political morality. I hope we move away from the plutocracies of today, avoiding the fate that Carlin believed is ahead of us all.

    Not holding my breath, though.

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    “I think that the healthiest and strongest feature of New Zealand political life is the relative availability of people in politics to the people in the electorate.” Sorry, Norm, it died.

    We, the people, have been replaced by millionaire mega-donors, focus groups, public relations experts, and the cadre of MPs who keep their party leader in control of their caucus.

    It’s a sorry excuse for a political system. We, the people, have to change it. It ain’t going to happen quietly.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      We, the people, have been replaced by millionaire mega-donors, focus groups, public relations experts, and the cadre of MPs who keep their party leader in control of their caucus.

      QFT

      And which is why I say we need to set policies via referenda. Our political system is corrupt (exactly as it was designed to be) and the only way we have of removing that corruption is through removing the power from a small group of people.

      • Scott 5.1.1

        Policy via referendum is not without substantial issues.

        For instance, what if the first questions of the rank were “Should we abolish all trade unions” or “Should Winston Peters be banned from standing for election” or maybe “Should we stop the tax-payer funding of the The Royal New Zealand Ballet”… We may get more than 50% answering yes to each of those.

        Referenda are fine, but we should save them for suitable issues not every issue, and even then I think we need to have a significant majority in order to let them force a change.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          A good use of referenda is to shitcan BS legislation that Parliament has pushed through.

          • Scott 5.1.1.1.1

            The one I was most disappointed at being ignored was when we quite clearly said we wanted to reduce the number of MPs. They’ll never do that of their own accord.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2

          For instance, what if the first questions of the rank were “Should we abolish all trade unions” or “Should Winston Peters be banned from standing for election” or maybe “Should we stop the tax-payer funding of the The Royal New Zealand Ballet”… We may get more than 50% answering yes to each of those.

          Don’t ask those questions first.

          You start off with asking questions about rights/responsibilities and you make those supreme law that can’t be overturned without those answers being overturned and the questions asked again.

          Do that and those questions you’re so worried about don’t even get a look in as they wouldn’t pass those basic human rights that everyone agrees with.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.2.1

            Constitutional issues? Oh well in that case the first referendum will ask whether people want to keep te tiriti as the founding document 🙄

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2.1.1

              No, as I said, the first questions are about human rights.

              After all, we’re talking about a process from what we have now to a new system. You don’t just plonk the new system in place and hope it works.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                No, as I said, the first question is the one that goes “hey treaty partner, do you fancy basing laws on what’s popular and easy to spell?”

                • yep – if the foundation is shit, it all falls down.

                  I think we need to spend a lot more time understanding exactly what the problem is that referendum are going to fix – not sure we really have a clear idea of that so any proposed solutions are minor mental masturbation’s until we know.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  So, what you’re saying is that you’re determined to implement a system that fails?

                  As for Te Tiriti – it needs to be renegotiated. We cannot go on as two nations in one land as it simply doesn’t work. Especially when the Treaty was based upon England’s failed capitalist system.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    It needs to be honoured first. Otherwise “renegotiating” it might prove a little more problematic than strictly necessary.

          • Scott 5.1.1.2.2

            So you reduce the call for government by referendum to the truly big topics, and seek some form of entrenchment of the outcome? That is more or less what I said about when I wrote:

            “Referenda are fine, but we should save them for suitable issues not every issue, and even then I think we need to have a significant majority in order to let them force a change”

            I think we may actually agree, it is just that your first comment was too sweeping.

            I do have an issue with entrenched constitutions. Sure they have benefits, but they are hard to adapt as the passing of time can demand. Just look at the US and the meaning given to the second amendment. But I guess that is a completely different topic.

          • Michael 5.1.1.2.3

            “For instance, what if the first questions of the rank were “Should we abolish all trade unions” or “Should Winston Peters be banned from standing for election” or maybe “Should we stop the tax-payer funding of the The Royal New Zealand Ballet”… We may get more than 50% answering yes to each of those.”
            “Don’t ask those questions first.”

            Why not? I reckon the last two questions are bloody good ones and I’d vote yes to them both. As for the first question, give the Unions a year to convince people they’re worth having then have the referendum. If they can’t make their case, they’re not worth having.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1.2.3.1

              The freedoms of speech and expression are not subjects to let right wingers make decisions about. You hate unions too much to support basic human rights.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.2.3.2

              Because most of those questions are rights questions and so we need to ask about rights first and what people think their rights should and shouldn’t be and what people think their responsibilities towards others and society are.

              Once we do that we’ll find that we can’t ban most of those things.

              The only exception would be supporting The Royal New Zealand Ballet and I’m pretty sure that most people would do that as well. Pay to go see them live but have it so that they’re broadcast live on air at the same time. People actually do like art and will support it when they get to see it.

        • AmaKiwi 5.1.1.3

          In the last 2 years the Swiss have had binding citizens initiated referendums on

          minimum wage
          health insurance
          inheritance tax
          reproductive medicine
          varsity scholarships
          railway financing
          purchase of new military aircraft
          taxing benefits
          restrictions on paedophiles
          capping immigration

          Would you call those trivial issues?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.2

        Do you think the forces that are brought to bear in order to distort elections will not be targeted at referenda?

        • The lost sheep 5.1.2.1

          Of course they will.
          People themselves are the corrupting force, not the specific systems that they put in place.
          Therefore the first referendum should ask the question ‘Do you agree we should change human nature?’.
          But it would be a waste of time.
          Human nature would ensure that forces would be brought to bear to distort the result in favour of the corrupt status quo.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.1.1

            What a load of bollocks.

            Most people aren’t actually corrupt and do tend to work for the betterment of all of society.

            • The lost sheep 5.1.2.1.1.1

              And some people are completely selfish and only work for what’s best for them. There are saints and there are sinners and every shade of bastard and angel between them.
              And then there is the interplay between those differing characters and Belief, Education, Culture, and Individual Life experience.

              So put any range of Human individuals together into a society and ask them to agree on common rules of engagement, and what are you going to get? Something ‘pure and unanimous’, or something ‘utterly corrupt’, or ‘something in between’?

              Something you yourself agree with completely, or not so much? Mmmm?

              Something exactly like what you find outside your door this morning I reckon Draco. Humanity, in all it’s deeply flawed but glorious diversity creativity and energy. Personally I love it.

              • Draco T Bastard

                And some people are completely selfish and only work for what’s best for them.

                The mistake you make is in believing that those selfish arseholes make up the majority of the human race when research and studies have shown that they make up a minority.

                And then there is the interplay between those differing characters and Belief, Education, Culture, and Individual Life experience.

                Yep, quite aware of that as well. Still, the majority of people aren’t actually selfish.

                This is actually quite important because people can learn and will do – especially when the results are a direct result of their decisions that they can’t hide from as they can do when they vote National now.

            • The lost sheep 5.1.2.1.1.2

              P.S. The biggest delusion of an ideologue is the belief that if everyone was completely free to act, their actions would naturally conform exactly to the ideologues own ideals.

              That’s a delusion on a truly epic scale.

              • Stuart Munro

                Yup – which is why the neo-libs are going to prison.

                Most people don’t look on the theft of public assets as human nature.

              • Draco T Bastard

                And that describes RWNJs, such as yourself, perfectly. They fully expect everyone else to be just as selfish and greedy as themselves.

        • AmaKiwi 5.1.2.2

          @ One Anonymous Bloke

          “Do you think the forces that are brought to bear in order to distort elections will not be targeted at referenda?”

          One of the first binding referendums I would like to see is tight restrictions on campaign contributions. Obviously the Swiss have already dealt with this.

      • Psycho Milt 5.1.3

        …we need to set policies via referenda.

        Oh, sure. Do you know why women’s suffrage wasn’t achieved in Switzerland until 1971? It was because that’s the kind of governance you get from referenda-driven policies.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.3.1

          And if their first question was on voting that applied to everyone then they would have been the first because nobody would have voted to say that they should be able to vote.

          And then there’s the simple fact that we’re not in that position any more. We really have learned quite a bit over the last few decades.

        • KJT 5.1.3.2

          And. It would have happened a lot sooner in New Zealand with a binding referendum.

          So!

    • William 5.2

      Norm Kirk’s home phone number was reputedly listed in the phone book.
      My personal anecdote of Kirk when he was PM was standing beside him at the urinal in the public toilet at Hamilton Airport. Just a nod of acknowledgement, no DPS officers in attendance, no scurrying off to the VIP lounge with it’s private facilities.

      ” Sorry, Norm, it died.”

      Yes, but it could live again. I’m thinking of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK traveling by train and bicycle, Andrew Little sometimes uses the Wgton buses.

      • Paul Campbell 5.2.1

        to be fair Corbyn’s probably perfectly safe in the streets, it’s in parliament he needs the DPS detail

  6. save nz 6

    Speaking of democracy…. we are witnessing the end of it… When Dotcom is guilty but Bill Liu/William Yan 10th most wanted man in China, pays a $43m and is a big donor to the the National party and all the charges vanish.

    Maaate, the message seems to be, keep quiet about Banks dodgy donations and just pop a few mill into the National party donations. That’s how modern democracy seems to be working.

    Liveblogging the livestream: the Kim Dotcom appeal

    Toby Manhire
    “I’m not saying the legal chronicles of Kim Dotcom are descending to Kafkaesque levels, it’s just that here’s a passage from Franz Kafka’s The Trial:

    The faces that surrounded him! Tiny black eyes darted about, cheeks drooped like those of drunken men, the long beards were stiff and scraggly.

    And here’s a grab from the livestream:”

    http://thespinoff.co.nz/featured/31-08-2016/liveblogging-the-livestream-the-kim-dotcom-appeal/

    P.s If the courts can’t even get a lifestream working, can they really understand the intricacies of the Internet. Remember the NZ Internet expert judge had to ‘step down’ and a new one popped up who ruled to send Dotcom off without any legal precedent to the US to go to trial there, not NZ his country of residence. Sounds more like public rendition, US style to control the Internet. But hey, that’s how neoliberalism is working. Maybe one day, the judge will annoy some corporation in the US, and they can then extradite the judge to the US to face charges due to this handy precedent they are trying to set in NZ.

    • Scott 6.1

      The live streaming is the work of Dotcom and his mates, not the Court. If problems in it illustrate a lack of knowledge about the internet, you’re attributing that to Dotcom.

      • save nz 6.1.1

        @Scott, not according to the article…” I can’t make out what he’s saying in any detail because the audio is obviously being channeled through the serpentine plumbing system of the High Court.”

        • Scott 6.1.1.1

          Maybe it is a bit of both. I understood the Court said okay on the basis that Dotcom organised it all (and other conditions such as a 20 minute delay and eventual deletion).

          The report I saw said “Dotcom, who has hired a cameraman to film the hearing, hailed the streaming as a victory for open justice.”

          http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/livestream-kim-dotcoms-extradition-case-2016083116

          The quote you give seems like someone’s supposition. Can you link it for me?

          • Tarquin 6.1.1.1.1

            Apparently it’s on facebook. A mate of mine gave it a try, lawyers arguing and terrible sound quality. Gave up after five minutes.

            • Scott 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Probably much the same if you were there in person – sleep inducing.

              • save nz

                Yep, only a few people’s lives at stake, and the precedent set for this type of very bizarre extradition. Apparently US companies like Apple don’t even have to pay tax in most parts of the EU and most other places, but when US companies feel they are not getting every penny they feel they are entitled to, they get the local government to spy on people (and after that you might as well say their is no chance of believing any information and getting a fair trial for the victim) and extradite them to the US.

                Hopefully if Dotcom is extradited, the EU can extradite all the Apple executive team to await trial in Germany for tax evasion. After all, fair is fair.

                • save nz

                  Apparently moving money around is ok, because it is a US company…. betcha no criminal charges will ever to given to lobbying companies CEO’s…

                  “Apple set up their sales operations in Europe in such a way that customers were contractually buying products from Apple Sales International in Ireland rather than from the shops that physically sold the products to customers. In this way Apple recorded all sales, and the profits stemming from these sales, directly in Ireland.
                  So far, so Bono. But then came this:
                  Under the agreed method, most profits were internally allocated away from Ireland to a “head office” within Apple Sales International. This “head office” was not based in any country and did not have any employees or own premises. Its activities consisted solely of occasional board meetings. Only a fraction of the profits of Apple Sales International were allocated to its Irish branch and subject to tax in Ireland. The remaining vast majority of profits were allocated to the “head office”, where they remained untaxed.
                  Wowee. First you say its all OK because we’re routing everything to Ireland and paying tax there, but then the profits vanish into a virtual ‘head office’ that’s situated nowhere, or only in cyberspace. This kind of thing makes Kim Dotcom – even in the worst incarnations dreamed up by the US – look like a total piker. Google achieves similar low tax outcomes as Apple, as explained here.
                  Amazon also paid ridiculously low levels of tax in the United Kingdom last year – it took in 5.3 billion pounds sterling from British online shoppers last year but recorded profits of only 34.4 million pounds and paid only 11.9 million pounds in tax. Starbucks has been coming under flak in the UK for recording similar tax outcomes.”

                  http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2016/09/01/gordon-campbell-on-apples-unpaid-tax-issues/

                • Scott

                  Sadly, Apple has not evaded any tax. It has minimised its tax liability in a legal way. It is shameful that it is allowed to happen, but the primary blame for that rests on the Government of Ireland.

                  As for Dotcom, he should have gone to the US and cleared his name (if innocent) years ago instead of wasting our money on sideshows here and trying to pervert our political system to ensure that he was not extradited.

                  • JonL

                    “As for Dotcom, he should have gone to the US and cleared his name (if innocent) years ago instead ”

                    How naive are you?

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Rubbish – he wasn’t in the US or subject to its laws.

                    Dotcom is a victim of John Key’s desire to ingratiate himself with the FBI. Just one more reason that Key must go to prison.

                    • McFlock

                      What I fucking love about the KDC case is that what he did isn’t even a crime in NZ. But it is (sort of) in the US. So the yanks reckon that him shifting his profits from his (legal in NZ) activities is money laundering and providing the upload service was racketeering, and that’s what they’re trying to extradite him on.

                    • Stuart Munro

                      Well the government has wasted the stupendous cost of the court process. Copyright’s a civil matter – no extradition for civil cases.

                      Epic fail.

                  • save nz

                    @Scott – tax evasion seems to be a crime according to the EU, which is why they want a few billion in unpaid taxes. But even they haven’t got to the point (we hope) of illegally spying on Apple Execs with their security forces, tracking other Apple execs from around the world to ‘encourage’ them to testify in return for lighter sentences, seizing Apple execs property before they are found guilty so they can not defend themselves and deciding to extradite the Apple Execs.

                    So what is happening to Dotcom is pretty extraordinary from a legal perspective especially as unlike Apple, he has no links to the US at all. Apple (and many other multinationals) are actually selling their wares all around Europe and paying no taxes in those countries. Dotcom never even had offices in the US to be “money laundering” there and the copywrite issues are a civil crime and Google which is a similar company has won their lawsuit saying that their business model of file sharing is legal. That is why Sony (Japanese company) lawyers did not join the US multinationals in the suit. The Dotcom case is political to make sure that US companies (who some of don’t seem to have to pay taxes around the world) wipe out their competition so they can stay on top.

                    But it has backfired because the US persecution of the Dotcom case is so dodgy in particular the illegal spying of GCSB, that even a lay person can see that is not justice. If the prosecution acted illegally how can they be trusted – it’s a personal prosecution by governments on behalf of US multinational media companies who spend big bucks lobbying the US government.

                    • Scott

                      No. The EU want money from the Irish Government (or rather say the Irish Government should demand it of Apple without any apparent legal basis for retrospectively doing so) because the Irish Government set up an unfair tax advantage to its and Apple’s (mostly Apple’s) benefit, and that came at the possible cost to other EU member states and in clear breach of EU rules.

                      It is not Apple that is said to have done wrong here, they took advantage of the wrongdoing of the Irish government.

                      If no government offered these tax advantages in seeking a comparative advantage over other states, there would be no such havens for the likes of Apple to exploit.

                      As to Dotcom. The sooner we are rid of him the better.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      It is not Apple that is said to have done wrong here, they took advantage of the wrongdoing of the Irish government.

                      Meh, takes two to tango. Not only that Apple PUSHED the Irish government to make these changes. Actively paid LOBBYISTS to get the laws written that they wanted.

                      Apple used this arrangement to also take advantage of a hundred countries tax payers around the world.

                      You forgot that part.

                      If no government offered these tax advantages in seeking a comparative advantage over other states, there would be no such havens for the likes of Apple to exploit.

                      An excellent line for forgiving corporate malfaesence while at the same time the excusing the very highly paid men and women sitting on corporate boards for taking actions which damage the very customers they profit from.

                      Gutless corporate apologism in action.

                    • Leftie

                      Heaps of +1’s Stuart Munro, McFlock and Save NZ.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      But hey, that’s how neoliberalism is working.

      That’s how dictatorial and oppressive societies have worked since time immemorial.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    The job of today’s MPs isn’t to listen to ordinary people, it is to protect the status quo machine from the unrealistic ignorance, stupidity and redneckness of the ordinary people, while they collect on lush Kiwi Saver schemes and commercial property rents from the tax payer.

  8. Scott 8

    It is a lovely sentiment from Big Norm, but maybe a bit lost in time.

    I would hope that politicians (particularly those in the government of the time) would be quite busy. If they want to rely primarily on polls and focus groups to gauge the views of the general public then I have no issue with that.

    Well conducted polling is also likely to be more accurate than a small sample size of people that seek out or bump into the politician (or those that tweet or comment on places like this). Nice sentiment, but simply not accurate in today’s context, if it ever was.

    What I do agree with is that in terms of availability, both to the public and via the media, we are very lucky here (still). I heard that Clinton is yet to do a press conference during the election where the press get to ask her questions. I cannot imagine that here.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Well conducted polling is also likely to be more accurate than a small sample size of people that seek out or bump into the politician (or those that tweet or comment on places like this). Nice sentiment, but simply not accurate in today’s context, if it ever was.

      you can’t have a conversation with a poll, you can’t understand peoples lives with a poll, and you can’t look a voter in the eye and face up to personal criticism with a poll.

      Polls turn people into numbers. A very neoliberal concept.

      So you may think politics by polling is OK, but that’s because you didn’t identify those rather severe shortcomings.

      • Scott 8.1.1

        Sure polling is not perfect. But time does not allow perfection. Polling is however far more accurate at gauging public opinion than meeting one person, or 20, or 200, that pop into your office or come up to speak to you at the shops.

        It is the “understanding” at a deeper level that you mean I guess polling misses, and I agree. That is why I expect most parties also do focus groups. That is better in some ways as you’re not speaking to a self-selected audience, so the deeper understanding you might get is more representative of a cross-section the community at large.

        The minute you rely solely on people you meet, or who come to see you, you invite self-selection. Echo chambers. The opinions you’re getting no longer reflect the public generally, just those you meet or who want to talk to you. Facebook and twitter are much the same if not worse. It all risks politicians misunderstanding the views of a small, self-selected subset of the community as being the view of the public generally, and heading down dead end paths.

        • rhinocrates 8.1.1.1

          Sadly, the essential purpose of polling nowadays is not to find what people want, but market research to find out how to sell shit to them as ambrosia.

          • tom 8.1.1.1.1

            ‘Sadly, the essential purpose of polling nowadays is not to find what people want, but market research to find out how to sell shit to them as ambrosia.’

            Absolutely agree, was going to point this out, polling especially that done by farrar for nats etc is not trying to figure out what kiwi’s think, but only how to spin an issue so kiwis will agree with it, and how to put that to kiwi’s so they respond to what the nats want. It is the absolute opposite from democracy it is polling to figure out how to propagandise the nation in a way they can be sure kiwi’s will respond to.

            Also agree referendum is the best form of democracy, but it is totally reliant on people having access to all the relevant info and that info being presented in a fair and balanced way, which is the main problem, as per the above comment, so if we went that route, which i think we should, it would have to be in conjunction with a proper public broadcaster, and possibly some other mechanism to make sure people are voting based on facts not propaganda/spin

        • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.2

          Helen Clark used to knock on every door in her electorate, personally.

          I guess the modern MP doesn’t even have a bloody electorate so yeah maybe they should just read the numbers.

          • Red Hand 8.1.1.2.1

            Mr Clark said there was always a special spark in his oldest daughter’s eyes.

            “From the moment I clapped eyes on her lying in a cot in the hospital ward, and saw her piercing blue eyes staring back at me I knew we were in for an interesting ride, as it has proved to be.”

          • Scott 8.1.1.2.2

            So did David Seymour. So what?

            She did it for publicity, just marketing, electioneering. If you think she then had an in depth discussion with each who answered to understand there opinion on key topics you are wrong. If you think that those that were not fans of hers did more than say a polite hello and goodbye you are wrong.

            If that is how she gauged the general public’s opinion on issues then it is no wonder she ended up presiding over the light bulb regulations.

            Look, she was actually quite good. I was a fan of hers as PM. But I’m sure they did proper research as well as palm slapping.

            • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.2.2.1

              She did it for publicity, just marketing, electioneering. If you think she then had an in depth discussion with each who answered to understand there opinion on key topics you are wrong. If you think that those that were not fans of hers did more than say a polite hello and goodbye you are wrong.

              Wow, the cynicism from you here. How many streets did you accompany her on her neighbourhood canvassing that you know all this?

              • Scott

                I’m not saying that door knocking is not a good thing to do, but if she relied on that as a method of gauging the public’s opinion on issues (which is what my comment was about) then I have greatly overestimated her.

                If Kirk said “You can’t determine [what people think] from public opinion polls or from political science theories or anything like that. You’ve got to go back and talk to the people and be available to them” then he may have been right in his time, but he is certainly wrong a modern context.

                Edit: Did you ever ask her what she hoped to achieve by door knocking? You may call it cynicism, I call it realism.

        • s y d 8.1.1.3

          Yanis Varoufakis has it covered, the importance of being amongst the people you purport to represent….

          “My final confession is of a highly personal nature: I know that I run the risk of, surreptitiously, lessening the sadness from ditching any hope of replacing capitalism in my lifetime by indulging a feeling of having become agreeable to the circles of polite society. The sense of self-satisfaction from being feted by the high and mighty did begin, on occasion, to creep up on me. And what a non-radical, ugly, corruptive and corrosive sense it was.

          My personal nadir came at an airport. Some moneyed outfit had invited me to give a keynote speech on the European crisis and had forked out the ludicrous sum necessary to buy me a first-class ticket. On my way back home, tired and with several flights under my belt, I was making my way past the long queue of economy passengers, to get to my gate. Suddenly I noticed, with horror, how easy it was for my mind to be infected with the sense that I was entitled to bypass the hoi polloi. I realised how readily I could forget that which my leftwing mind had always known: that nothing succeeds in reproducing itself better than a false sense of entitlement.”

          • Scott 8.1.1.3.1

            Nice story. I note that what he did not do was to get in line and check in at the main counter.

            When politicians “get among the people” that is normally (not always) among self-selecting groups. Put it this way. I’m not a fan of Winston Peters. If I saw him in the street I might nod or smile or both, more likely neither, but I would not stop and talk to him let alone tell him my thoughts on current issues. Those that do will tend to be either whingers, or his supporters (or both). Same if he knocked on my door, I’d say thanks for calling bye but I cannot chat, good luck, see you later – I’d treat him the same as the morons that knock.

            He is not going to get a representative feel for the general public opinion. He is mostly getting an echo chamber of back slapping, interspersed with invective that is easily dismissed for what it is.

        • Leftie 8.1.1.4

          “Polling is however far more accurate at gauging public opinion than meeting one person, or 20, or 200…”

          No it’s not, and by the sounds of it, Norman Kirk didn’t believe that either. One gets the distinct impression that Norman Kirk felt that opinion polling and political scientists undermined democracy, when he said:

          “We have a House of Representatives and if it’s going to represent the people it needs to know what they’re thinking and the best place to find that out is from the people themselves. You can’t determine that from public opinion polls or from political science theories or anything like that.”

          Changes in technology have made polling less accurate/reliable.

          <a href="http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/cellphones-make-political-polling-tricky-2014070616

          Even NBR found RM, (that is sounding more like a mouthpiece for the National government these days), highly questionable and unreliable.

          Roy Morgan manager defends *that* poll

          <a href="http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/roy-morgan-manager-defends-poll

    • Gabby 8.2

      Busy? Doing what?

  9. weka 9

    Here’s what Kirk said,

    And I think that the healthiest and strongest feature of New Zealand political life is the relative availability of people in politics to the people in the electorate.

    He didn’t say the availability of politicians. He said the availability of people in politics. We can blame politicians, but as long as we insist on both dehumanising them and pushing them to be beyond human, we won’t have people in politics available to us.

    • s y d 9.1

      Clever writer…from Bowalley Rd

      IT WAS A SHORT STREET. Short and drab. There was no beauty. The corrugated ribs of the road stuck out through its thin skin of stones. Weary rows of drooping poles clutched sagging and fraying wires in blackened finger-tips. A sulking ooze lay in the bottom of the gutters.

      Smoke-grimed houses stared vacantly through the half-shut eyes of drawn shades. Here and there a small flower struggled for life, an abandoned orphan among the clods and weeds.

      The footpaths were never walked for pleasure. They led to school, to the shop; or for the lucky to work. Only for children was the road a pleasure. They played there not because they liked it, but because it was forbidden. It was not a bad street. It was not a good street. It did not lead somewhere. It led nowhere.

      It did not brood. It had no character. Instead it conformed. The people were drab. The street was drab. The people were poor. The street was poor. It was there because it had to be. It had nowhere else to go. Neither did the people. It did not inspire. It was a sponge. It soaked up hope. And at night it counted its people like a warder counts his prisoners.

      As a street it was not exceptional. There were hundreds like it. They criss-crossed and cut into unimaginative rectangles that filing cabinet of humanity – the working-class suburb. Each street garnished with the name of a duke, a poet, a land speculator of earlier times, a city father, a publican or some other nobility, bestowed in a moment of parochial statesmanship by a body that found it easier to name than number.

      It was here in such smothering, dulling and joyless circumstances the working men and their families lived.

      In these streets they begat children, acquired mortgages, landlords, illnesses, fought among themselves and with others, saw their children grow to be a mirror of themselves, and then weary of it all slipped quietly away almost unnoticed. They came into the world unknowing, when they went out they went unsung. When a house was left empty it quickly filled. The names changed, the people remained the same.

      Sons followed their fathers into industry. Daughters their mothers into matrimony. Their station in life was preordained. Time passed in weeks. Monday was for washing. Friday was pay-day – if you worked. Saturday afternoon was for the back garden or the pub. Sunday was for silence – partly because the religious liked it that way, but mainly because the thought of another week was enough to intimidate even the hardiest soul.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        No wonder Labour prefers to hobnob with the well educated champagne and corporate box set these days, who wouldn’t.

  10. mosa 10

    Norm Kirk will be spinning in his grave.
    True Democracy and the country promised by Big Norm the last real NZ Labour leader have gone, destroyed by selfish short term agendas and New Zealanders selfish greed and short term thinking.
    And trusting men like Robert Muldoon and David Lange who promised so much but only delivered pain , fear and anguish and the destruction of our country.
    And we have learnt nothing even when a millionaire banker promised a brighter future now only realising that he did not mean you and me just the good people of the top twenty percent who were already living the dream and our purpose is to keep them affluent and ever more wealthy.
    Bernie Sanders gave us hope that a visionary still exists , what a bugger he was so far away and it was not our own election.

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