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Denial in Politics

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 pm, December 17th, 2016 - 33 comments
Categories: bill english, campaigning, Dirty Politics, john key, kremlinology, Politics, us politics - Tags:

There’s a lot of it around. The Democrats and their media and spook allies are in a complete lather over Putin’s supposed personal influence in the US election. Confident of victory and its spoils up till midday on election day, the Clinton team are incapable of assessing just what a debacle of a campaign they ran, still less what they need to do now.

Their grief denial stage is running so long and has become so extreme that it looks likely that any swift rebuild of an effective electoral opposition by the Democrat Party is not on the cards. They could be doomed to further irrelevance for several more stages in the US biennial electoral cycle. Contrast this with the swift and hard-hitting review instigated by Reince Priebus after the 2012 Presidential election. Those who think that Trump is a political novice not likely to last should note that the same Reince Priebus is now his Chief of Staff. Trump didn’t campaign to the formula in all respects, but he may use it to govern.

Denial in politics can take a variety of forms. When you are in the middle of a campaign that is not going well, it is all too easy to construct and cling to an unrealistic path to victory, and even more importantly to underestimate the strengths of your opponent. Labour did this in 2008; we built a  negative campaign around attacking John Key that was a mistake and did not work. As Bryan Gould has recently noted, we underestimated him to our cost.

Labour’s campaign style is still excessively negative, and not yet clearly focused. Now that Key has gone, it will be crucial that Labour does not underestimate Bill English. He has many different and arguably more admirable characteristics than his predecessor. Nobody’s fool, he has been tested in the fire and not found wanting for some time now. He does have some vulnerabilities with all his eggs in the so-called “social investment” basket, but they will need careful research and even more careful communication to be effective.



33 comments on “Denial in Politics ”

  1. English was and is capable of stupidity–double dipping. His religious thing, holds him back to a lesser lying degree than key achieved,-not completely. His lying tic is not so obvious when defending underling staff lies than defending his own lies/ cover ups. Hence we see brownlee leap in to defence mode at kaikora whilst English stayed out of the front line .Gonna see a lot of this under his and the multitude of national party advisers tutoring. He needs time to think, key could deflect at the speed of light, not so this southern person, a steady as we go man at the helm sort of angle. But not as many print columns as his departed boss, Maybe the media will concentrate more on the underlings as per kiakora??

    • Chris 1.1

      The slither of moral fibre English may have over Key will be mopped up by Bennett’s narcissism and incompetence. Without Key the nats look shallow and lost. Bill will be back to 2002 popularity levels in no time. There’s one thing that could save them at the next election, though, and that’s going into Pike River mine. Little needs to take a stand now, before English does, a proper stand with an unfaltering intention to follow through if elected.

    • lprent 1.2

      The antipathic public meeting is a weak point for him. He hasn’t had to do too many since 2002.

      However you have to remember that fronting these things are few and far between for a PM. Usually the worst is fronting reporters on the chase of a story, and the usual deflection is to get the details ready beforehand.

  2. lprent 2

    The democrats do need to get over it. But there is a real issue there as well.

    Similarly I agree about English and Labour. They need to tread carefully simply because he has different strengths to Key and they are likely to revolve around levels of trust for competence rather than trust because of likeability (which Key was eventually rapidly losing).

    What has been interesting in recent weeks has been the number of Republicans who have been coming out with information about their systems being hacked in the leadup to the US election.

    It has become increasing clear that almost regardless of what Trump would like, he is going to get the enquiry that he’d probably prefer not to have about who exactly has been doing this hacking on such a wide scale during the election campaign.

    Certainly every other open political state, including ours, is going to have to look at the same vulnerabilities. The Germans are certainly increasingly hardening their systems – especially after the US got into them so deeply a decade ago. They will just proceed off into the hitherto divorced party systems.

    About time to start testing and hardening the political party systems here. They never did look that hardened to me. Bad enough having the ethically challenged but fortunately incompetent internal arseholes like Slater and his “funder” trying to do it.

    I’d hate to think what competents could do.

    • Huginn 2.1

      Too right, LPRENT,

      Take it as given that Putin hacked the DNC because he hated Clinton and maybe thought he liked Trump.

      Also interesting is the way that the RW used facebook to monetise bullshit. Bullshit went further on the pro-Trump sites because the RW developed distribution channels to spread it around. It made money for them, and it gave them access to Google and Facebook advertising analytics that helped them identify and target the tiny group of voters they needed to get the Electoral majority.

      Putin piggy-backed on this network.

      • Conal 2.1.1

        One thing I thought remarkable was how the production of pro-Trump “fake news” was effectively outsourced to young Macedonian web entrepreneurs, who could justify backing Trump purely for the advertising revenue from Trump loyalist web “news” consumers, without even any political or ideological consideration. Trump was their man because there were Trump-loyalist eyeballs to monetise.

        At the same time, I’ve seen a lot of “liberal” Democrats make the mistake of thinking that the Macedonians were the driving force there, when actually they were just bright young things responding to a market signal. The real driver there was not the Macedonians, and actually not even Trump himself, but the level of crazy disillusion in the US electorate, who had rejected the false narratives of the mainstream media and were instead latching on to whatever alternative false narratives were available in the marketplace of ideas.

        What is behind that ideological crisis in the US population? It’s not a random increase in craziness. Neither is it due to Trump’s or Putin’s mesmeric powers; it’s the product of the economic and social crises that have struck the US in recent years, throwing millions of people out of work, throwing millions of people out of their homes, and raising inequality to levels not seen for a century, possibly never. These crises have not been explained by the mass media: they’ve been obscured and mythologised. The government hasn’t solved those crises; the best they’ve done is paper them over. The criminals responsible haven’t been paraded in orange jumpsuits to prisons; they’ve been bailed out to the tune of a trillion dollars. It’s the establishment own failures that have brought about the critical weakness of the establishment’s ideological hegemony.

        • Huginn

          I think the Macedonians were piggy-backing on an existing network of RW sites. They got lucky.

          Jonathan Albright has done the hard work mapping out the infrastructure of bullshit. His site is well worth a visit:


          These are sites like Prison Planet and Breitbart. They generated bullshit and passed it around and every time, thus ‘generating content’. Google reached through and planted advertising on these sites. The site owner gets paid very time someone clicks onto an ad, so it incentives ed them to make more lies.

      • Xanthe 2.1.2

        NO Huginn ! Do not ” Take it as given that Putin hacked the DNC ” So far there is NO evidence of that. Perhaps you think that if enough poeple repeat that it will magically become true?

        • Andre

          Just out of curiosity, what evidence would convince you that Russia was involved?

          Tracing the spear-phishing e-mail that nabbed Podesta back to an IP address used by Russian hackers?

          Traces of Russian settings in the hidden metadata in released hacked e-mails?

          Putin caught on video going BUWAAAAH-hahahaha those stupid Dumeerikans fell for it?

        • kiwi

          was,nt a hack it,s been confirmed was a leak from inside the DNC

          OT is it true shonkey donated $NZ14m taxpayer dollars to the corrupt clinton foundation , has this anything to do with his sudden resignation?

          this foundation is still under going intensive FBI investigations for all manner of sordid crimes.

          • Psycho Milt

            was,nt a hack it,s been confirmed was a leak from inside the DNC

            Really? That would be big news and an enormous embarrassment for every US intelligence agency – funny I haven’t seen this confirmation reported.

            OT is it true shonkey donated $NZ14m taxpayer dollars to the corrupt clinton foundation , has this anything to do with his sudden resignation?

            As you’ve written it, no it isn’t true – in various ways:

            1. No, “shonkey” didn’t donate taxpayers’ dollars to the Clinton Foundation, the NZ government did. Key doesn’t have taxpayers’ money at his personal disposal.

            2. Calling it the “corrupt” Clinton Foundation assumes wrongdoing that hasn’t been shown to exist anywhere other than in the heads of the left and right’s loonier fringes.

            3. No, it won’t have anything to do with his resignation, for reasons 1 and 2 above.

            • kiwi

              thanks for your reply psycho,
              why is our government donating to this foundation?
              Assange confirmed the leak as coming from inside DNC.
              Two independend doco,s worth a look clinton cash , hilliarys america, both
              very revealing.

              Where is Eric Braverman ?
              Who was Seth Rich ?

              • It’s a leak because Julian Assange says so? That’s not “confirmed,” that’s “asserted.”

                Why is our government donating to this foundation? Well, because it’s a charity. The bit you’re interested in is why this particular charity – it’s because the charity is run by influential people, and it makes it easier for MFD staff to deal with those influential people if they represent a donor. To ideologues who’ve never been responsible for anything important, that’s corruption – to everyone else, it’s diplomacy.

  3. Huginn 3

    Clinton’s campaign a debacle? Really?

    -After 8 years of Democrat political rule, the US was ready for a change.

    -The stakes were higher this election because of the Supreme Court nominations coming up. That’s a big incentive to vote conservative.

    -Clinton is a woman. She was always swimming against the tide.

    On this alone, the Republicans should have won by a landslide. Instead they ran a divisive campaign which they won by a very narrow majority. It should have been Clark 1999; instead they ran Mullion 1981.Clinton ran an excEllen campaign

    • Huginn 3.1

      Ah, struggling with a small device.

      For the Republicans, this should have been Clark 1999. Instead they ran Muldoon 1981.

      She’s left the Democrats with a broad, united base; a gift to whoever succeeds her in 2020, but also in 2018. A boomer doing the right thing.

      Clinton ran an excellent campaign.

      • Nick 3.1.1

        Clinton ran a terrible campaign…..she lost (against Trump !!).

        She would have lost to Sanders if the DNC was playing nice.

        Instead Dems are another version of the Republicans, beholden to Wall St, etc

      • adam 3.1.2

        Do you understand the word denial Huginn? It would appear not by your post, not only did the democrat’s lose the presidential race, they got wiped in all the other elections as well.

        The h.r.c campaign was bloody awful, she failed in the democratic primaries, and slept walked through the presidential. This looking for a scapegoat anywhere but themselves, is making them look stupid.

        Mind you many left wing parties are looking fifthly at the moment, that happens when you to take corporate money. You start sounding like, and acting like, the Tory scum who pay you.

  4. The Democrats and their media and spook allies are in a complete lather over Putin’s supposed personal influence in the US election.

    Well, there is a reason for that, given that Putin almost certainly did set his cyber warfare crews to work on it, and the success that they had. Not least, the concern will be about how vulnerable to this kind of attack it’s shown the US to be, especially since China is also putting a lot of effort into developing capability in this kind of warfare. Even if the Democrats had won anyway they and the intelligence services would be shitting themselves over what this means for US security and how they can respond to it.

    • Xanthe 4.1

      Thats right syko just keep on repeating it and it will become true always works always has always will

    • Nick 4.2

      A UK ex Ambassador said that he was given the emails by Dem insiders and he passed them on to Wikileaks……not the Russians.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2.1

        Too many unknown unknowns* swirling around that chap to take him at face value. He may be telling the truth. He may not.

        *see his Wikipedia entry…

    • Anne 4.3

      Putin almost certainly did set his cyber warfare crews to work on it, and the success that they had. Not least, the concern will be about how vulnerable to this kind of attack it’s shown the US to be, especially since China is also putting a lot of effort into developing capability in this kind of warfare.

      The world was warned years ago that cyber-warfare was just around the corner so it comes as no surprise that Russia hacked into both the Democrat and Republican communication systems. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either very selective with their reading material or living in denial. And, as lprent pointed out, America did it to Germany about 10 years ago, although they didn’t use the information gained to discredit the government. And the latest? Russia is probably planning to do a hack job of some sort on the Germans – election this coming year. Putin doesn’t like Angela Merkel I suppose, who also happens to be a woman.

      I expect NZ is equally vulnerable to this type of warfare (as part of a wider region of attack) so it should come as no surprise our intelligence services’ budgets have been markedly increasing in recent times. We’re in a different world now folks. We either keep up with it or we go under.


  5. gsays 5

    Too right there is a lot of denial gong on.

    The gist of the post, I thought, was English as PM, and how labour (the left), need to campaign.

    So what happens? We get squabbling over our opinions,on stuff we don’t KNOW, just what we THINK is right.

    Fwiw I think the major failing will be the lack of a vision of an alternative govt.
    Eg pike river. Listening to little speak to the families and supporters at parliament it was full of qualifiers. IF elected, get a REPORT, IF report says safe, then enter mine.
    Why not already have report and state we will move heaven and earth to enter mine.
    Where is language re framing pike river. Corporate homicide, manslaughter, negligence, culpable, blood money etc etc.

    It will be the lack of a bold, well articulated alternative that sees the Tories reelected.

  6. NZ Groover 6

    Big up’s to you Mike. I think you may finally be getting it. Labour’s inability to make headway in the polls, Brexit, Trump. You’re not quite there, but definitely a lot closer than most on this site.

  7. Brendon Harre 7

    Hillary campaigned on a status quo message when the public mood was the status quo is not working for most people. That is why she failed to get out the vote. National will have the same problem. We have already seen it Mt Roskill.

  8. Brendon Harre 8

    Hillary campaigned on a status quo message when the public mood was the status quo is not working for most people. That is why she failed to get out the vote. National will have the same problem. We have already seen it Mt Roskill.

    • Mike Smith 8.1

      Hillary Clinton represented the Washington/Wall Street establishment. She lost the election in the rust belt which was previously Democratic heartland and was taken for granted as shown by the fact that she didn’t think it necessary to visit Wisconsin.
      I don’t think it would be wise for Labour to rely on the National Party failing to get out the vote here based on electorate dynamics in a by-election.

  9. Xanthe 9

    The reason hillary clinton lost is the same reason (based on the extent of denial demonstrated here) that lab/grn will lose in 2017, identity politics. the majority are sick of it. Either they vote right or they dont vote. Sad really

  10. joe90 10

    identity politics. the majority are sick of it

    Yes, fascist thugs have always been sick of identity politics civil rights.

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