Effective political communication

Written By: - Date published: 9:13 pm, May 26th, 2015 - 61 comments
Categories: blogs, brand key, broadcasting, election 2017, internet, journalism, Media, The Standard, tv, twitter - Tags:

Richard Harman concluded his presentation to the recent Fabian “Destination Next Progressive Majority” event by quoting the noted political scientist Bob Chapman’s remark that he had “reluctantly come to the conclusion that it was far more important for a political party to have a communication strategy than an economic policy.” I’m inclined to agree.

You can read Harman’s paper here or listen to the podcast here. Harman is an independent and experienced political journalist who has recently set up a political website called Politik.

Other points he made were:

Governments usually change when either one or both of two conditions were met — The first when there is economic insecurity generally signalled by falling growth and growing unemployment and the second when there is insecurity about a party’s leadership generally indicated by a change of Leader. To a greater or lesser extent both of those conditions clearly existed in 1975, 1984, 1990 and 1999. That leaves us with two changes of Government which were more complex 1972 — and 2008.
The 1972 election did include a change of leader — Jack Marshall for
Keith Holyoake — and the economy was beset by inflation the overriding theme of that campaign was something else; it was about an electorate convinced that a Government had run out of answers and was tired and that electorate aspired to more. It was pretty similar in 2008 — the Clark Government looked weary; there were few new faces at the top and there had been internal discipline issues.
Looking at 2017 he observed:
First, though clearly the economy is coming off the boil, growth is still expected at 3% this year. Secondly, such is the discipline with the National caucus that any instability there is highly unlikely. So the next question is whether the Government will look tired, and possibly more remote from ordinary Kiwis in 2017. That is possible and that’s maybe the first lesson that can be learned from the Northland by-election; that some of the Team Key gloss is starting to wear off among the public, if not the caucus..
There is a discontent, albeit unfocussed and ill-defined in parts of provincial New Zealand which resembles the forces which drove the rise of Social Credit in the 60s and 70s…When people feel left out and ignored by metropolitan politicians they seek their own  answers.
But we shouldn’t expect that to work automatically in the Opposition’s favour.
People need to feel a connection to politicians which transcends policy or debate and comes down to emotion and gut feeling. People clearly want their politicians to be “one of them”. John Key understands this and he has a shopping list of voters’ needs — a job, a house, a safe community, accessible healthcare and a good education. His insistence that his Cabinet and Caucus stick to those priorities is at the heart of his success with voters.
Then he got on to political communication…
We are undergoing the most substantial change in the media industry that we have seen for at least 200 — more probably 400 — years. The change is overwhelming, comprehensive and advancing at a break neck speed. Simply the change has at its heart the empowerment by technology of the individual to select what media they want to consume and when they want to consume it. At an industry level the change has been to lower the barriers to entry and this provokes the fragmentation of the industry.
What this means for political journalism and therefore political communication is that
the old structures and certainties are gone. What it means for consumers is that they now have a multitude of choices — and they are exercising them, dividing themselves up into smaller and smaller media niche markets.
Even the Standard got a mention…
The Press Gallery still exists but having returned to the Gallery after an absence of
nearly 20 years it is clearly a different place — getting to grips with 24 hour media
and constantly searching for the next tweet rather than the real story.
Group think prevails.
Few journalists there have time to do much more than process press releases or tweet the latest sound bite. In the meantime it is the tweeters and bloggers who are having their time in the sun. They cannot be ignored. Not because of their aggregate audiences but because they are setting the agenda. Unpalatable as many people find Whaleoil – or David Farrar – or, dare I say it, much of what is on The Standard — the under resourced so-called mainstream media is following them and looking for leads.
For the next campaign…
the party that wins through this clutter is likely to be one that has such a single overpowering message that it overpowers everything else. Trying to fight the next election with policy detail will doom a party to getting lost in the new media maze. That doesn’t mean that a party should not have a manifesto and above all very clearly stand for something. It must. And nothing disrupts any communication more than if the audience believe you haven’t got anything to say.
But the time to talk policy is well before the next election, probably even before election year. You have to build trust and as Rachel Hunter famously said it won’t happen  overnight.
I know Labour loves long tortuous policy debates — but if you want to be taken seriously you can’t keep putting out press releases about the Auckland housing crisis unless you offer an alternative solution.
The challenge is that in presenting your core beliefs and values to voters you do so in such a way that voters believe that you fundamentally share their beliefs, values and aspirations. You have got to be seen to be not just on their side but be “one of them” as well.
He had some good ideas about how to do this – precise and frequent polling, simple and consistent messaging, a thorough understanding of political symbolism and metaphor, identifying with the Kiwi battler by understanding what interests them. He suggests watching the ads in the TV news to understand their audience and their language – “the voters Michael Cullen talks about who voted for Clark and now vote Key.”
You need to get to know them–to take them and their passions and quirks seriously, and you need above all to walk with them in your communications.
Finally and interestingly – door-knocking to listen and learn. Plenty of food for thought there – one can only say its certainly needed.

 

61 comments on “Effective political communication ”

  1. Bill 1

    That disconnect, as written,between ‘us’ (the Labour Party) and ‘them’ (the voters) is all he needed to say. To suggest that Labour then find ways to pretend to one of ‘them’ is just another symptom of the problem rather than a solution.

    Labour is out of touch precisely because it isn’t one of us and has (as far as I’m aware) none of us within its parliamentary ranks. I believe they’re in a reverse situation of the truism that runs “You can take the boy from the slums, but you can’t take the slum from the boy”.

    And just as the boy from the slums can mimic all the right behaviours and make all the right noises and yet still fail to convince those he’s attempting to fit in with, so it is for Labour and its MPs with regards being ‘just like us’. We ain’t consumers to be sold to and we don’t generally appreciate ‘try-hards’.

    I don’t think there is any kind of solution within the parameters of how politics is happening in NZ at the moment. All we’re going to wind up with is a NZ version of the US’s donkey and the elephant.

    • miravox 1.1

      “Labour is out of touch precisely because it isn’t one of us and has (as far as I’m aware) none of us within its parliamentary ranks.”

      ^^^This. Maybe there are some, but certainly not enough… or not enough who remember they are us.

      I very much appreciate this post and your previous one Mike Smith. I’ve been thinking for awhile that it’s not the policy. Policy has an important place in modifying people’s opinions (as National’s polling is obviously picking up), especially when the media grabs hold of it. However, as both posts stress – this is not what makes a connection with the voters who are ‘us’.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1

        ^^^This. Maybe there are some, but certainly not enough… or not enough who remember they are us.

        Is there anyone in the Labour caucus who is a qualified tradesperson? Sparky, builder, plumber? Or in the mines? Or in the forests? Or run a farm? Or anyone who has spent more than a year or two or a student summer holiday as a labourer?

        • mark Unsworth 1.1.1.1

          No is the simple answer CR .Most had tradespeople as parents and some passed through farms,forests and freezing works while studying but thats it .Government workers,media ,trade unions and parliament make up the vast majority of their backgrounds.To be fair however there are hardly any of the older traditional craft workers in parliament anymore .We have 2 engineers and a carpenter and a few farmers and thats it .

    • Molly 1.2

      All this recommendation shows is that there is no faith in informed voters making credible, considered choices.

      Voters in this are still considered a consumer of political parties, and those parties are approached as a brand. From a platform that often discusses the manipulation of people into consumers – it is both interesting and frustrating that the conversation rarely moves from this approach.

      As Bill and others (including myself) have mentioned, the Scottish voting public created their own rejuvenation of locally informed politically aware voters. Non-partisan, finding agreement/disagreement within their own communities.

      What exactly is the service that is provided from any of the parties on the left?

      For me, I don’t want a repeat of National’s slick “poll and policy” game. That is what will be provided by a Crosby/Textor approach.

      The bank account of deposits of pre Rogernomics is almost completely been withdrawn. This move would completely wipe it out.

    • Scintilla 1.3

      Labour could take some tips from This guy

  2. peterlepaysan 2

    simple solution. hire crosby textor.

    • Puckish Rogue 2.1

      Not that simple, the Labour party would first have to listen and then implement the advice

    • T Chris 2.2

      Losing the it is all down to them attitude would help

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        Nah, people also point to the National Party’s deliberate strategy of lowering the tone so as to increase the non-vote.

        Sorry, you can’t put the cat back in Simon Lusk’s fat mouth.

        • Colonial Rawshark 2.2.1.1

          Nah, people also point to the National Party’s deliberate strategy of lowering the tone so as to increase the non-vote.

          Turn out was up last year on 2011. Did Labour come out better?

    • Saarbo 2.3

      No, Hire Richard Harman, this all makes sense to me, certainly the best analysis Ive seen.

  3. rhinocrates 3

    It was said – I forget who by – at the time of Labour’s collapse in the wake of Rogernomics, “the phone’s off the hook”. It’s an apt parallel, I think. They can say they have all the best policies and that everyone will get a pony and the sun will shine every day and John Key’s the Anti-Hendrix, but nobody’s going to pick up the phone. I suppose nowadays the analogy might be with spam.

    The fact is that nobody’s going to bother going to look at a website to wade through policy unless something makes them want to.

  4. rhinocrates 4

    I’ve mentioned it before, but IIRC, Labour policies were received very well by the public in isolation. The Labour brand was not. It was not merely that people had negative opinions about them, it was that they were not taken seriously and the policies were not firmly linked with that brand.

    Re Crosby-Textor, there’s this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11608589/Lynton-Crosby-the-so-called-experts-have-lost-touch-with-ordinary-people.html

    And this via the Dimpost:

    Also this, a TED talk on campaigning in the digital age, FYI:

  5. Michael 5

    I agree 100%. There isn’t a policy issue, it’s a communication and branding issue. National probably has less popular policy than Labour in isolation, but the Brand Key and brand of National in general is very strong and appealing.

  6. b waghorn 6

    I get at least 1 email a week from labour for a petition (not sure how as I’m not a member) but they could be doing a survey/poll feely cheaply that way .

    • ianmac 6.1

      Yes.
      “What are you afraid of that this Government will do/has done?
      What do you like least about National?”
      The catch is that such questions need to be directed to the middle floating voter. No point asking died in the wool types.

      • b waghorn 6.1.1

        I don’t know about having negative questions I was more thinking finding out peoples views on hot topics and also what they think could improve this country. Maybe do some polling around what people want around government transparency and electoral fund raising.

  7. ianmac 7

    The Lynton Crosby talk I thought was good sound advice. But it seemed to me to be for a public face. What he does not really tell is the fierce negative publicity spewed out during the elections. This is the task of Farrar who focus groups/polls to find what people fear most and then the machine pokes and prods the wound to spread the fear. And it works. Can the Left do it too? Ethical?

    • Colonial Rawshark 7.1

      The right wing own the communications infrastructure so they can use those tactics very effectively. They can get their message and framing out there, 100% reliably, 100% as they want it presented, not twisted or distorted or made fun of. The Left cannot.

      • rhinocrates 7.1.1

        CT has a vast database and integrates it well. They take a very professional and pragmatic approach.

        I particularly … ah, not “admire” but appreciate the virtuosity of National’s revelation of welfare changes in the latest budget.

        I was reminded of Helen Clark’s maxim of under-promise and over-deliver. Of course Labour can’t deliver in government right now, but it can prime anticipation instead of dithering and then it can market its ideas like products people will buy, not like suicide notes.

        Of course National’s changes were a fraud – not due to take effect for a year, giving with one hand and taking with the other, but the point is National at once appeared to be helping the poor, caught Labour off-guard and highlighted the fact that Labour had nothing to offer beneficiaries except slanderous stories about bludgers painting their roofs. It was very clever political theatre. Illusion, but effective politics.

        As part of a communications strategy, Labour could learn a lot from that. It had sleight of hand, co-ordination and speed.

        Watching squat, lazy Robertson blithering in the chamber about “The Pony Tail Puller of Parnell” was in contrast facepalm material. It wasn’t anywhere near as catchy as he thought it was (alliteration, not sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and the title is far too long to stick as a nickname) – and it was irrelevant. Sexual harassment is a serious issue and this reduced it to a trivial taunt.

        The debacle over gender reassignment, compounded by Little’s bizarre quip in the house further highlights Labour’s tin ear. So reporters went to Nash and Mumblefuck for stupid remarks. That’s because they are dependable for one thing: saying stupid things for the sake of their egos (when they can be understood, that is). Message to Labour MPs: not everyone can be a comedian, it takes talent and hard work like any other job. Don’t insult real comedians by being a bad one and best of all, keep your mouth shut if you don’t know. Reporters have very refined idiot-detectors.

        While it’s a bit old now, I could not believe that Hipkins could be so stupid a couple of years ago to say in front of a camera that Labour’s real enemies were within. That was unbelievably idiotic and this buffoon is being groomed for cabinet?! “Hi!”, he might have said, “we’re a hopeless mess wrapped up in our own problems and we don’t care about you!”

        More recently, as spokescreature on education, he had an intern (it wasn’t written by him because it wasn’t in crayon) put out a press release that said children were at an “impressionist phase.” That’s jolly good, I thought, I like Renoir – now are they going to move on to Cubism or Dada?

        It’s a small mistake, but someone whose job is to project a confident grasp of education, its symptomatically sloppy and shows indiscipline and laziness.

        What they need is self-awareness (knowing when you look like a fool), a clear ranking in their minds of country first, party second, ego distant third (well, I can dream). Consistent focus on policy (and if policy is unclear, STFU!) and to stop thinking like jobsworths eg: “Huh, I have a press release, it’s on the website, why don’t you read it?”, to which the obvious answer is, “Why should I?”

        Back to CT and their resources. OK, they’re big, rich and expensive and Labour can’t afford them, but surely there must be some hungry, dynamic young graduates in media and communications out there? They’ll need someone to polish their presentations and language for new media, they’ll need someone who understands networking and marketing (not Curran!). I spent years in the comms field and I know that there’s a Hell of a lot of young, talented people out there looking for work, ready to work for peanuts and eager to make names for themselves. Labour should make it clear that it’s looking for them.

        • RedLogix 7.1.1.1

          Straight onto my “Comment of the Year” short-list !!

        • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1.2

          The point made by some else was that Labour can engage these strategic specialists – but will they listen to them. Probably not.

        • Karen 7.1.1.3

          +1
          Excellent post, particularly your last 2 paragraphs.

  8. Peter 8

    ….. all to true ……. most voters want to believe in the person in charge, which alleviates them from having to consider what are complex issues. If they feel that Mr Key is the best choice he will keep winning.

  9. Scottie 9

    Molly voters do make clear considered choices and they voted National. If the Labour Party don’t offer what voters want then get used to being in opposition because at the moment they are just relying on the government to cock up rather than providing credible solutions. Get policy out there and don’t wait till Election year. Don’t rely on scandal to win an election because it won’t. All the focus on dirty politics cost labour the chance to get its policies out there. Mikes post is spot on.

  10. Coffee Connoisseur 10

    Coupled with a vision future that people can believe in and buy into (not in the monetary sense.
    At the moment I reckon that most people see Labour as National lite but with higher taxes. For most who are struggling this isn’t a proposition they feel they can afford.

    I keep saying this and I will say it again. Right now you have working and middle class (who really are working class now) voting National and essentially voting for Right wing ideaology that redistributes wealth away from them to the shareholder class.
    Labour need to start putting the message of wealth redistribution and what that means as a comparison between themselves and National.

    They need to communicate it as Left vs Right wealth redistribution and explain the difference. Most people don’t get this.

    If it is put to them regularly and backed up with how National has done this since they have been in power this time around.
    Things such as
    Corporate Welfare- (Sky City, Hollywood, Rio Tinto, Paying to set up a Saudi Billionaires farm in the middle of the desert.
    Watering down of Labour Laws – zero hour contracts.
    Housing Policy that favours wealthy overseas investors at the expense of both current and future generations of Kiwis.

  11. Mike Smith 11

    I don’t think it’s a case of imitating C/T – more of understanding what they do, good and bad, then working out one’s own strategy. I’m much clearer about their communication strategy than I am about ours. That’s why I think Harman’s observations are helpful..

  12. The lost sheep 12

    “Simply the change has at its heart the empowerment by technology of the individual to select what media they want to consume and when they want to consume it…..
    What it means for consumers is that they now have a multitude of choices — and they are exercising them, dividing themselves up into smaller and smaller media niche markets.”

    Exactly.
    Can we now once and for all bury the various bullshit theories that the MSM is restricting peoples access to information and that explains why people aren’t voting for The left?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      Yeah, all that stuff demonstrating clear bias in media reports is just boring old research backed by facts after all, and relative audience size is such a dull topic.

      • The lost sheep 12.1.1

        Please note the post states…
        “We are undergoing the most substantial change in the media industry that we have seen for at least 200 — more probably 400 — years. The change is overwhelming, comprehensive and advancing at a break neck speed.”

        Can you then cite me any research that indicates MSM bias was a significant factor in voting patterns for the 2014 election?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1.1.1

          How interesting that you think peer-reviewed work gets published so quickly.

          Speaking of quick publications what about that Donghua Liu, eh.

          • The lost sheep 12.1.1.1.1

            Are you aware of any such research work in progress OAB?

            Or any other credible (factual non partisan) allegations of a significant MSM bias in 2014 NZ voting patterns?

            Are you aware of any credible research that showed media bias was a significant factor in the result of the 2011 result?

            And you will be aware of this benchmark Stanford University study?
            http://pcl.stanford.edu/research/2009/iyengar-redmedia-bluemedia.pdf

            In short, the fact is that in the technological age every type of political bias that exists has a media outlet, and voters can and do access any of it they wish.

            There is no credible evidence that media bias has determined or even significantly influenced the outcome of any NZ election.

            • The lost sheep 12.1.1.1.1.1

              There is no credible evidence then.

              Now that red herring has been cleared up we can divert all the time that used to be wasted on it into discussing the real reasons the Left is failing to attract voter support.

              It’s a slow process, but we will eventually get our heads out of those clouds of dogma and bigotry and back down to the cold hard dirt of reality.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                😆

                Get some patience, and you won’t look like such an ass.

                Yes, I’m aware of evidence of media bias in 2011. Victoria University Press published Prof. Claire Robinson’s study in 2013.

                I suggest you direct your “facts” about the effect of media bias in elections at the National Party, so they can stop spending so much time with Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk.

                Meanwhile, pull your head in.

                • The lost sheep

                  You will be aware of the extremely limited scope of that article, and the conclusions it draws OAB.

                  It presents no factual evidence at all of a linkage between the limited data on visual images Dr Robinson considered and the outcome of the election.
                  Dr Robinson does not make the claim this was the finding for this research or any other research.
                  She did note that many studies had confirmed that written coverage tended to show no consistent bias, and her findings do mirror the general trends of variation in bias as noted in the Stanford University study…
                  Dr Robinson said both leaders received much more positive and neutral coverage than negative coverage from all four papers, but the Herald and Herald on Sunday were generally more positive in their treatment of Mr Key, while the Dominion Post and Sunday Star-Times were kinder to Mr Goff.

                  There was a similar article written on the 2008 election…
                  http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2010/03/key-to-victory-media-coverage-of-the-2008-nz-election.html
                  Once again, this makes no claim of electorally significant bias.

                  That you are reduced to quoting such an insubstantial piece of evidence for the claim media bias has had any effect on our elections is the proof there no such evidence.

                  It’s just a bullshit covered straw that you and many others here cling to, rather than face up to the fact that Left Wing parties are genuinely losing the support of well informed citizen voters.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    There were two parts to your original assertion. I have addressed the first one – that there is no evidence of media bias.

                    Your second self-defined hurdle is an interesting one. Perhaps you can suggest a way that the effect of media bias on election results can be measured, before demanding others provide proof.

                    As I said, if you’re correct, the National Party will be relieved you have solved the problem, and they no longer need to spend so much time and energy concocting the news.

                    If they’re picking up your calls, that is 😆

    • Brillo 12.2

      “Can we now once and for all bury the various bullshit theories that the MSM is restricting peoples access to information and that explains why people aren’t voting for The left”

      Not in my neighbourhood you can’t.

      During last year’s election campaign both local giveaway newspapers declined to publish any letters or press releases from the Labour candidate, while running photos and non-stories glorifying the waste of space that is the sitting Nat MP.

      Couldn’t have been more explicit.

      • The lost sheep 12.2.1

        What are your local papers?, and what is your evidence that they declined to publish any material from the Labour candidate?

        Can you show a linkage between the alleged bias and voting patterns?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 12.2.1.1

          Let’s turn this string of conceited and frankly querulous assertions around shall we.

          If someone had evidence that media bias affects election results, what would that evidence look like?

          How about “December hits coin”? Might it look a teensy bit like that?

          • The lost sheep 12.2.1.1.1

            I can ‘imagine’ what the evidence would look like OAB.

            Call me anal, but I would actually like to ‘see’ that an ‘imaginary’ ‘evidence’ has some counterpart in ‘reality’ before I accept it as a ‘fact’.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 12.2.1.1.1.1

              I don’t care what you can imagine. I asked you a direct question: what would the evidence look like: you say there’s none. What would falsify your hypothesis?

              The energy exerted to lessen the amount of time between an OIA release and a John Armstrong column?

              • The lost sheep

                Fallacy 101 OAB.
                You are making an ‘argument from ignorance’.

                There is nothing even remotely like credible evidence media bias has ever had any effect on a NZ election.
                If such a phenomenon existed, there would be such proof.

                Discerning readers can draw their own conclusion, and the rest of you can keep your heads in the sand.

                And as the last time someone tried to have the last word in a discussion with you it just about drove us all madder – I’ll leave it here.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I’m not obliged to provide evidence that media bias affects election results, because, dipshit, I haven’t made any such argument.

                  It is you, claiming conclusively that they do not, who needs to provide the proof of your assertions. Logic 101, evidence of absence and all that.

                  I am merely pointing out that if you are correct, the National Party can save a lot of money on Cameron Slater, and further, that it seems from their behaviour as though they do not agree with your interesting hypothesis.

                  Edit: spurred on by your commitment to truthiness, I’ve been idly glancing at political communications strategy research. It seems there is a whole field of study of the phenomenon you say doesn’t exist. Perhaps they can save money too.

                • From wikipedia:

                  A Massey University study released in November 2012 suggested newspaper coverage was favourable towards National and John Key. In the month leading up to the election, the big four newspapers in New Zealand – The New Zealand Herald, The Herald on Sunday, The Dominion Post and The Sunday Star-Times – printed 72 percent more photos of Key than his opponent, Phil Goff, and devoted twice as many column inches of text coverage.[53]

                  [53]: http://www.3news.co.nz/politics/election-coverage-biased-towards-key-national–study-2012112708

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    The guts of TLS’s gut feeling is that it had no effect on the election result. He reckons it very very hard indeed, so go easy on him ok? 😈

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Now, since you asked so politely, here’s what I think: I think that perhaps you could isolate media bias from all the other factors that affect the vote, with a large enough sample size and control group. All you need now is an entire population of a country willing to be experimented on.

                  Making impossible demands for proof of something you categorically deny is a bit desperate, isn’t it?

  13. rhinocrates 13

    From Mystery Men:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5I94bT23cQ&spfreload=10

    Unleashing Tornado in a Can in parliament would be good too.

  14. Tracey 14

    Politicians, imo, are communicator’s and advocates. They have staff, they can read papers (altho not the PM), and need the ability to read, digest and understand. On that basis they communicate and advocate.

    However, the people wanting to be co-male leader for the Greens were ridiculed for not knowing the exact current rate of inflation (notwithstanding none of them necessarily were putting themselves forward as Economic spokesperson)… this ridicule is not heaped upon other political party reps when they don;t know something.

  15. SHG 15

    For Labour to engage in effective political communication it first needs to know what effective political communication is. And it doesn’t.

  16. Stuart Munro 16

    If the Labour party were in sync with the people the slave ships would’ve been stopped when Helen was in power. But they’re going to sail on for ever if our scumbag MPs have their way – and Labour know they betrayed the country on this as badly as the Key junta.

    Slave ships fail our international responsibilities. They show that the NZ rule of law is optional for companies. They destroy the jobs, conditions and standards of NZ workers. And they dumb down the NZ industry by preventing it from developing and accumulating the local skill base it needs to adapt to a changing world.

    This is the kind of communication Labour conducts. Glad handing MPs cannot make up the ground they lose by gross stupidities like this.

    The Gnats have probably accumulated an even larger group of very annoyed people.

    Tell us how you’re going to make it right.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      I’d be very very interested to discover whether acts that might normally be considered piracy might be legal under a “claim of right” defence.

      • Stuart Munro 16.1.1

        Something a bit like that has often happened to Russian vessels – but they are in oversupply worldwide and wharfage charges rapidly exceeds the sale value of the boats. This was how Labour came unstuck with Karelrybflot in the Lyttleton stoush a while back – they never got paid the fines. It’s happened to India so many times they break up any Russian boat that tries it on.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1.1.1

          I’m pretty sure the Navy would be completely in the clear in boarding any boat suspected of using slave labour. What they lack are the orders they need to do so.

          However, the companies that hire the slavers have offices and chief executive officers and human resources managers and finance officers and they’re involved in the slave trade.

          So perhaps piracy is the wrong thing to aim at.

          • Stuart Munro 16.1.1.1.1

            I wouldn’t repose too much trust in our navy’s ability to board vessels. They don’t get enough practice.

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