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Everything is waffle

Written By: - Date published: 1:40 pm, March 8th, 2011 - 153 comments
Categories: labour, Politics - Tags:

QoT guest post

There isn’t just one hard truth to NZ politics at the moment. The second is equally unpopular with people, but if it doesn’t offer a clear way forward it at least suggests a fixable problem. At the same time, it’s not the kind of thing Labour/the Left want to have bandied about too publicly in an election year.

Everything Labour does is waffle.

No, seriously, everything.

Where my previous post argued that NACT are motivated by a clear and demonstrated drive to financially benefit themselves and their class and keep the true “middle New Zealand” distracted by shiny, often illusory toys (beneficiary bashing, north-of-$50 tax cuts), this one poses more of a question I wish I didn’t suspect the answer to:

What the fuck is Labour doing except waffling?

Waffling, swaying, flip-flopping, whatever today’s pop-propaganda term is, from one statement to the next, one lukewarm denunciation to the next, since the 2008 defeat Labour has basically been a yacht captained by people who figured hey, it was their turn so they might as well have a go, desperately seeking the right current to sail them into Getting Elected Harbour and getting caught on the treacherous reefs of No1curr and Fuck You’re Uninspiring every single time.

Everything is waffle. Waffle doesn’t win elections.

A first pre-emptive rebuttal: Key/National did not waffle their way into victory in 2008. They made explicit, just-qualified-enough statements which set them firmly and believably (to the middle-voting public) in the role of Just Like Labour Only Without The Sense You’re Being Put On The Naughty Spot.

But what the fuck does Labour stand for at this point?

Waffle. Whatever the headless chickens and soccer-fan octopi in the strategy team think is a winner this week.

What month is it? Are we panicking about the loss of the “centre” vote and rehashing really obviously-going-to-backfire Brash/Orewa dogwhistles? Hmm, fuck, that didn’t go so well (hint for Labour strategists: when Idiot/Savant is telling you you’re fucking hypocrites, be worried). Best throw some “I can’t believe it’s not a real leftwing policy” bones to the fanbase! A fanbase who, possibly in serious need of some reassurance that the Apocalypse had not in fact left them in a better-treed version of Transmetropolitan, thought “fuck yes! A real turnaround!”

Nup. Waffle.

‘Cause you see, “the many, not the few” involves such fantastically leftwing setpieces as “listen to the stories about gang members ripping off WINZ, those fucking bludgers!” and “young offenders need intervention and literacy skills AND a kick in the pants, am I right, holla at your boy Garth McVicar!”

But some celebrated nevertheless, right until the rightwing research unit bots said “Oy, bitches, how’s 1985 treatin’ ya?” and silence descended, because not all the pretty speeches in the world from Goff count for shit until he utterly disowns that Rogernomics crap. Prediction: never going to happen.*

January 2011. Election year, baby. And someone gets it through HQ’s hivemind that maybe being a bit fucking bold could be a good idea! Let’s do it! Let’s face down those NACT bastards with their relentless “the left doesn’t understand how the economy works” meme and release completely uncosted tax policy! How could this go wrong???

Oops, even one of the staunchest left bloggers in the country came to the conclusion: waffle.

Which is not to mention that whole not condemning Paul Henry’s vile fucking racism thing – can’t upset the white underclass since we’ve thrown those nasty identity politics types under the bus (oh wait, but the Big Gay Out’s on this weekend!). Or the neverending quest to try to turn a stern, serious, career politican into his affable, smarmy, shallow opponent (because of course the only way to defeat an opponent is to become him … wait, what?). And let’s not forget that this isn’t just a Goff problem when suddenly Annette King tooooootally wants to help out those poor people who incidentally Labour royally fucked by defending a discriminatory policy tooth and nail.

Not just waffle. PowerWaffle.

To put it bluntly, fellow lefties: we are in an election year with a main-left-party leader who thinks the appropriate response to “I told my mate Tony Veitch that Liz Hurley’s a hottie” is “I think she’s hot too butIlovemywifebecauseI’mabetterfamilymanthanyou.”

You thought we were fucked before?

We are so fucking fucked.


*I’m like Ken Ring, only I admit I make shit up off the top of my head and act smug when I’m correct anyway.


153 comments on “Everything is waffle”

  1. just saying 1

    Yes. Sadly.
    And they won’t learn.
    There are some really good people in Labour….
    But yeah. “We are so fucking fucked”

  2. infused 2

    i like waffles.

    • vidiot 2.1

      You do ? So do I.. do you prefer them with Maple syrup & Cream or ?

      • infused 2.1.1

        Maple syrup!

        • higherstandard

          You’ll all get fat and die.

          • QoT

            It’s so sad you let our culture’s myths about food/fat/health get in the way of enjoying life, hs.

            • higherstandard

              It’s even sadder that even the mere mention of fat drives you into a righteous outrage, almost pavlovian.

              • QoT

                … Yep, that comment of mine is totally screaming “righteous outrage”.

                Couldn’t be that I’m honestly sad how many people refuse to acknowledge that food is tasty and we need it to live thanks to our cultural obsession with thinness (and conflation of thinness with “health” and not-eating.)

                • higherstandard

                  Come on, you are well known as the most “fat” sensitive blogger in the known universe.

                  i also love food and we certainly need it to live. I don’t believe in gluttony and eating ourselves into an early grave though.

                  • QoT

                    HS, we’ve had this discussion before (glad to see you were paying attention!)

                    The number of people literally “gluttonously” “eating themselves to death” is so ridiculously tiny it’s not worth consideration, much less the faux-panic it engenders.

                    Unfortunately it’s just really obvious you have no interest in serious conversation on this topic given you’re now pretending you were talking about previous actions on my part instead of the very mild comment you chose to label “righteous outrage” (not that there’s anything wrong with righteous outrage, especially against a society which literally destroys people’s health by spinning lies about what constitutes “healthy” behaviour.)

                    • higherstandard

                      Cardiovascular disease is still the leading contributor to morbidity and mortality in NZ and there is no denying that on a population basis obesity is a risk factor for a number of diseases including coronary heart diease, stroke and diabetes.

                    • QoT

                      It’s perfectly deniable when the vast majority of “studies” about the Dangers Of Obesity are funded by the weightloss industry, or have massive methodological flaws (boy, those statistics sure are convincing when they assume all obese people’s deaths, even in car accidents, are “obesity-related”!)

                      Not to mention that correlation still isn’t causation. Wait, no, you’re right, obviously ice cream causes murder and goldfish give you HIV.

                    • higherstandard

                      Umm no the majority of studies relating to the health risks associated with obesity are not funded by the weightloss industry, neither do they have methodological flaws.

                      Amongst the medical profession it’s accepted fact that obesity is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and when added to conditions suck as hypertension, hyperinsulinaemia, Type II diabetes, high LDL etc, it becomes of more concern.

                      I’ve provided myriad links to peer reviewed journals and double blind placebo controlled studies previously, to argue against obesity being a health issue is as silly as denying the links between smoking and lung cancer.

                  • QoT

                    Also, it’s not “”fat” sensitive”. I’m fat. And sensitive. And neither of those things tells you anything about my health.

  3. JonL 3

    Labour are not going to win this election with their current pack of “policies”
    I don’t think they have a fucking clue! – wafflers playing at politics with policies that are as inspiring and focussed as last months cabbage soup, to most voters. In fact, do they actually have any policies that aren’t knee jerk reactions to nactionals excesses…
    Which means the country’s really fucked!
    Which means I’m not moving home any time soon ..at least I can earn a living where I am!

    • lefty 3.1

      Labour went too far in the 1980’s. Despite the best efforts of some fine people, the build up of pustulant capitalist privilige, economic depravity and wilfull moral blindness in the culture of the modern labour party since then is too great for it ever to be able to develop a decent theoretical, moral or ethical framework again.

      Courage is out of the question for Labour nowadays – unless it is the faux bravery of getting tough on crime, sending troops off to assist in the bombing of babies in the likes of Afghanistan, or other populist attacks on the weak or disadvantaged.

      I grieve for the many decent people who cling to the illusion that redemption is ever possible for this party, for despite their best intentions they are becoming part of the problem.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Weren’t we getting a gutsy new Left party sometime soon?

  5. vidiot 5

    Anyone going to play the ‘Blue Waffle’ card ?

  6. tsmithfield 6

    I don’t really get it either.

    Goff seems to be taking some strange and contradictory positions lately. For instance, on one hand he was arguing about Mondayising Anzac and Waitangi days. Then he quibbles about a public holiday for us poor Cantabs who could do with a break. What gives with that?

    He is having a go at Brownlee about heritage buildings. Fair enough taking a position on principle. However, the argument to knock over dubious buildings is certainly one that resonates, especially here in Canterbury. From what I have heard on talk-back radio etc there doesn’t seem to be much support for the heritage argument, except for iconic buildings. So, I am not sure he is on to much of a vote-winner here, even though he might be taking a principled position.

    Then he is attacking the foreshore/seabed legislation. It seems weird that he would do this because he is really aiming his appeal at the red-necks, not his natural constituency anyway, and Hawawira, of course. Aligning himself with Hawawira is really going to turn mainstream voters on. Not. At the same time, he is alienating the Maori Party and reminding Maori of how Labour back-stabbed them last time. Considering he might need the MP next time around, its probably not the wisest move.

    • You are really good at spinning TS. Had lessons from Crosby Textor?

      How about a link to show what Goff said about the proposed holiday?

      • tsmithfield 6.1.1

        Other than the fact that I heard him talking about it on the news, here is a link to an interview by Corin Dann. His preamble refers to Goff taking that stance, though he doesn’t seem to cover it in the interview. I take “national memorial” to be refering to the earthquake memorial day.

        Corin: Well is the political harmony in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch quake coming to an end, with Labour and the government starting to disagree over things such as a national memorial and some of those controversial comments about heritage buildings by Gerry Brownlee. Here to talk about those issues as well as near record high petrol prices and that Botany bi-election, which has just about been forgotten, is Labour Leader, Phil Goff. Good morning Mr Goff.

        However, it is probably enough to demonstrate that Goff was quibbling about the holiday.

        Also, DPF quotes a NZPA article where Goff isn’t too happy about the holiday.

        • mickysavage

          The only phrase that I can see that reports what Goff said is “I’m not persuaded, however, that a day’s holiday is the best way of doing that.”

          He was not quibbling, he explicitly said this in the context of working out how best to commemorate the loss of life in Christchurch with respect.

          His statement on heritage protection was not contradicted with any other stance that he has taken, nor is it strange to want to protect heritage.

          He is criticising the Takutai Moana bill for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that its handling is an affront to our constitution.

          Your examples do not back up your proposition. No doubt as you did yesterday you will wish to argue continuously around the head of a pin.

          • tsmithfield

            I am not really arguing the merits of what he is saying. More the way what he is saying is likely to be perceived by the constituency. In that respect, I don’t really think he is getting his message through when it comes to what is conveyed through sound-bites on the evening news.

            • bbfloyd

              i have to hand it to you ts. for someone with such a shallow, 2 dimensional worldview, you sure are persistant. pointless, but reliable.

            • QoT

              It’s fucking weird to agree with you, ts. I personally can’t fucking stand the lowest-common-denominator, fuck-the-facts-let’s-have-a-live-cross media we have, but they’re the media we have, and if Goff for all his experience couldn’t figure out how they would spin anything other than full unequivocal support for a holiday … well what the fuck is he doing?

              Not to forget that this is the same political Opposition (counting you too, Greens) who voted in favour of installing Brownlee as Lord High Generalissimo because they were afraid of being tarred with the You Don’t Love Christchurch brush.

              • On the public holiday issue I think the ‘memorial day’ is far too soon. Feb 22, 2012 would be far better. Time to construct some memorial, to know the names of the dead, to affirm hope without living amongst aftershocks.

                They want 100,000 people in Hagley Park at a time when some people haven’t had certainty about the identities of the dead; when tens of thousands of people in Christchurch don’t have water, power and sewerage (great ‘holiday’ they’ll have); at a time when many residents and schoolchildren have dispersed to the four winds (will those in Wanaka, Nelson and Westport also have the ‘holiday’?).

                I can imagine that many well-meaning people from the unaffected suburbs will drive in for the occasion. Think about it for a moment – won’t they need some portaloos? (Wonder where they’ll come from?). Won’t the organisation require the attention of council staff, police and other service workers? Nothing better for them to do?

                The timing is appalling. Some of us are only just getting back to work and some schools have only just got up and running. The last thing we need is everything being closed down for another day. Once again, an announcement from on high that shows no appreciation of the reality being lived by those most affected by this disaster. We are not yet in the space for a ‘memorial day’ (is the day to be annual and in perpetuity like other memorial days?).

                It smells like an event for celebrity grieving and for the rest of the country. It smells of political opportunism. I’ve just heard Parker genuflecting (or was it salivating) at the prospect of having Prince William come along to the event. Hope John brings his barbie.

                Anti-spam: ridiculous – couldn’t have said it better.

                • Jim Nald

                  And the sharemarket guy will be keeping media hot with fundraising.

                  Dear People,
                  Reject political opportunism and entertainment.
                  Demand government.

                • neoleftie

                  sorry for the next statement ( i was one for drove in some haste to find someone dear who was in the chch CBD that day)
                  I totally agree…this should be a national day of mourning at a much later stage not two mere weeks after the tragedy. The cynic in me suggest politics and a distraction.
                  We should never forget this tragedy and the loss of lives and all the poor people who had to rely on the community for food for so long…week go on and we still have no coherant plan apart from mis informed statement, sound bites and now redirection from the real hard issues…We are in a national and global crisis and smiley just keeps smiling and fumbly bubly old waffler needs to unleash the team soon…we are craving leadership

          • TightyRighty

            Ah the waffle, i love it mickey. How is goff not quibbling? he isn’t making his mind up and seems to have a bob each way as to whether or not new zealanders need legislation for extra public holidays?

            still, cheerlead away. you know the true fans are the ones supporting a team, regardless of current form or future possibilities.

            Taking the sport analogy further, wouldn’t a change in coach, even at the 11th hour before the political championship match of new zealand, maybe provide impetuous to the labour parties attempt to take home the trophy? or is no one willing to stand up and be the fall guy in the inevitable defeat against the crusaders of the political game, with their own Robbie Deans, National and John Key?

            Edit: And did I mention how gobsmacked i was that a post on the standard pretty much says exactly the same, with more waffle of course, as several posts on whaleoil?

    • Alwyn 6.2

      I think that Phil’s policy positions come from one simple premise.
      Whatever John Key proposes I will oppose.
      Whatever John Key opposes I will support.
      I really don’t think that he, or anyone around him, has any idea what to do.
      The current old guard of the labour party are simply sitting there like possums in the glare of the headlights.

  7. Bored 7

    Quite frankly, the whole Labour performance is an insult to waffles. I have said it before that Goff has to go and will keep saying it.

    There is a lot of pain out there in the poorer areas of NZ and Labour just can’t tap into it. They just do the sort of “let them eat waffles” act, and make a play for the middle ground Marie Antoinette who votes for Key anyway. There is no greater demonstration of how far Labour has come from its roots than to see how little traction it has with the unemployed and working poor.

    The current economic mess is going to go from tepid to stone cold very quickly as oil prices rise and credit runs out. The middle classes who vote for Nact will be looking for certainty in an uncertain world and will go for whoever offers it regardless of at whose expense this is gained. They will soon be the ex middle class, and they won’t recognize or accept that they are the same as the poorer classes. It’s a recipe Labour cannot win unless they stand for something; it will gravitate towards extreme right wing populism in the absence of a cogent alternative. Labour fails us all.

    • pollywog 7.1

      the new H-1 party is gonna make it hard for the current left to refudiate any claims they may have for speaking on behalf of the disillusioned

      i mean, you’d be a fool to misunderestimate the dissatisfaction young, poor and ethnic people have with the major parties

      mark my worms !!!

  8. Pete 8

    The current old guard of the labour party are simply sitting there like possums in the glare of the headlights.

    Sadly that’s pretty much how it looks to about 70% of people, plus a good few more who tick the red box regardless. And that old guard keep turning Goff to face the glare.

    It’s not too late for Goff to reinvent himself, going all the way is a real long shot but at least recovering half way would set things up much better for next term. But he seems to have regressed and is stuck under the spell of an theoretical old Labour ghost that comes across as bad political theatre.

  9. mikesh 9

    I agree with JonL and Alwyn. Labour doesn’t really know what to do. That the left has lost its way, though, seems to be a world wide problem. They just don’t seem able to free themselves from neoliberalism.

  10. Ron 10

    Has somebody said this?
    I think Do have a pussum in the headlights thing going on but we’re on a hiding to nothing (I say “we” – I mean “the Left”).
    Whatever Goff says ends up being either spun to death by Espiner, Garner et al or is just seen as “radical” because the mainstream orthodoxy is currently so pro-Tory. And I think Labour’s PR just isn’t up to it. Even if we had that PR, Espiner et al would just point to the PR to undermine the message.

    I STILL have conversations with people in which I explain clearly how Key stole millions from NZers in the eighties, how corrupt his lot are, the inadequacies of current policy, the lies told by espiner and Garner et al. I STILL get – “well at least he’s not that bloody Helen Clarke”. At the moment – unless we get a VERY good PR company on board – we can not6 beat that. It will take another term, some real, horrible pain – and the short memory of voters to get through that wall.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    The other problem for Labour is that the earthquake has taken the ground out from under them.

    For instance:
    The economy is performing poorly under National.

    The earthquake has fucked the economy. Not our fault.

    Asset sales are wrong.

    We need to sell assets to pay for the earthquake.

    Don’t cut the size of the public sector.

    We need to make cuts to pay for the earthquake.

    We need to raise taxes to pay for the earthquake.

    Typical Labour tax and spend again. Why raise taxes when we can sell assets and cut government spending?

    We can do it better.

    Its not wise to change captains in the middle of a storm.

    • Bright Red 11.1

      Apparently, an incumbent government has a 91% chance of losing after a major disaster.

      so, that kind of screws up your scenarios.

      Obviously, there’s a rallying around leadership moment right after a disaster, it got Parker back in after the first quake, but that doesn’t continue forever. In fact, it’s past already. People actually demand that leadership fixes problems after disaster, and National has an awful track record on that (as you’re acknowledging by saying that National’s ‘advantages’ are all spin, not the chance to gain gratitude by successfully leading the rebuild).

      • mcflock 11.1.1

        I would really love if that were true – what’s your 91% source?

      • neoleftie 11.1.2

        how about this – whats the percentage of govt that lose when the have no cash, had two recession in their term and a huge natural disaster.
        Goffie can waffle a bit and wait for the growing tide of resentment to build and then lets have a campaign with blood on the ground

    • Kaplan 11.2

      Are you comfortable with the fact that national are going to use a natural disaster to help win an election?

      • Bob Stanforth 11.2.1

        Surely that’s your assumption? Spurious at best I would have thought, but you may have evidence, other than hearsay.

        • Colonial Viper

          That’ so sweetly naive of you Bob!

          You know, thinking that the biggest single crisis event in NZ history for decades won’t be part of the campaign calculus for all political parties this year.

          • Bob Stanforth

            Thats isnt what you said. Helping win an election is WAY different from campaign calculus. The former is pathetic arm waving, the latter pragmatic leadership. Do keep up.

        • Pascal's bookie

          tsmithfield’s assumption, if you look.

  12. the sprout 12

    But what the fuck does Labour stand for at this point? Waffle

    agreed. sadly.

    what’s to lose by rolling Goff now?

    certain defeat with him as leader vs. the outside chance of a new leader inspiring at least some hope

    • Lanthanide 12.1

      Didn’t pan out hugely well for Gillard, and she had incumbency on her side.

    • fermionic_interference 12.2

      God you think Annette will have a chance???? nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      yuck that woman belongs in the nact camp mostly for as QoT says above she was one of the incompetent ministers that lost/turned so many voters away from Labour when they were in power
      anecdotal and personal opinion I know but damn it she was/is arrogant conceited annoying and basically a labour version of bennett.

      captcha: tooth: The tooth the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

      ps congrats to QoT on another probably (unfortunately) accurate post
      Thanks for the realistic reading

      • just saying 12.2.1

        ..”basically a labour version of bennett”…

        Inclined to agree, not as bad, but well on the way.

  13. What an outstandingly good post. So good I really have nothing much to add other than this banal fanboi comment 😀

    You’ve got it in one, QoT. I particularly liked this line:

    Just Like Labour Only Without The Sense You’re Being Put On The Naughty Spot

    That so perfecttly captures that “we know best” sniffy attitude that permeated the Clark Ministry, and how (and why) Key won on the strength of being “not Helen”.

    Step 1 to rehabilitation is admitting you were at fault, but Labour aren’t even there yet. Saint Helen is still revered. Yes, she did lost of good stuff (moreso earlier in her reign than later). And yes, there is still a large cohort of people who will, for some inexplicable reason, tear up at the thought that she stopped to visit quake victims and did absolutely nothing.

    But it’s no good steadfastly defending a PM and a government that was soundly voted out of office after people had had a gutsful of the “naughty corner”.

    Nor is it any use putting a bit of slap on the same people who were so on the nose then and wheeling them out to wait till “it’s our turn again”.

    I see people suggesting the answer is to roll Goff. And replace him with who exactly? A discredited hack, or an ambitious greenhorn?

    Goff could make a decent fist of the leadership, but he needs to start seizing it by the throat and making it his. And getting some decent talent on board, both as candidates and as advisors.

  14. Ms M 14

    Doomsayers do my head in. Goff already knows he is been hobbled in the media and repeatedly raises it with them. However this is election year and the media can’t help but turn their cameras on him and rightly, fears of the right are coming to fruition; people who are seeing, and hearing Phil Goff are left thinking for a leader, he may just be a viable alternative to the village idiot Key and his band of merry hollowmen.

    I have heard time and time again of people who previously having written Goff off, hear him speaking, actually take the time to listen and they are liking what they are hearing. Like this example from a caller to Radio Live last Friday with Willie, JT and Phill Goff:

    Caller (to Phil): I was also wanting to tell you that for the first time I watched Parliament on Parliament TV and you were giving a resume of the Government’s performance and I think between you and the Greens, yours was the most impressive, and that suprised me actually, I wasn’t expecting that from you.

    The comments were glowing on Goff’s Facebook page after his Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement speech last month, in contrast Key’s speech barely raised a ripple.

    My suggestion is left supporters need to stop self sabotaging and spooking the horses.

    A little faith in someone goes a long way.


    • QoT 14.1

      A little faith in someone goes a long way.

      Faith has to be in something, M.

      A point I didn’t really get into in my post is the fact that I do feel sorry for Labour. Of course as lefties we have gut instinct, faith, that a leftwing government is better for the people of New Zealand. But there has to be something concrete to vote for.

      A party whose direction is based solely on “do the opposite of National” combined with “make Phil more like Key” plus “try to figure out what’s popular at the moment and do that” with no solid ideological foundation (what else do you expect with a leader who would be lying if he actually publicly renounced neoliberalism) could be worse than fucking useless in government.

      Add to that, a party who seem to have learnt nothing of why the public rejected them last election simply cannot be trusted to do better.

      I want policy. I want a direction. I want to know what the hell I’m getting if I [for a change] vote Labour.

      If it is “spooking the horses” to consider that we don’t have any of that, maybe the horses need to be fucking spooked before they trot over a cliff.

      • Pascal's bookie 14.1.1

        But there has to be something concrete to vote for.

        This. Political parties are policy delivery devices. That’s all they are good for.

        All the rhetoric, politics and faith stuff is important, but it’s important solely because the rhetoric and ‘politics’ have to give one enough ‘faith’ that the party will deliver the sort of policy one is after. If their rhetoric doesn’t give one solid reasons to base that faith on, then one kids oneself.

        If people lose sight of that, then they will get shat on, every single fucking time. And they will deserve to be. Giving a party that faith, on trust, or historical memory, or anything else, is a mug’s game.

        If people vote for a party expecting it to deliver on something when the party has given them no real reason for that expectation, then that party will take their vote and deliver policy to the marginal voters whose votes they actually had to earn.

        That’s why all the little signals and hints are important.

        When a party gives a hint that they might be seeking the votes of people that you disagree with, then you can either speak up and let that party know that they will not be getting your vote in that case, or you can’t complain when they fail to deliver the policy you want.

        • QoT

          Giving a party that faith, on trust, or historical memory, or anything else, is a mug’s game.

          Absolutely this.

  15. Fisiani 15

    Great post. Very accurate. Goff will be waffling all the way till he walks off the plank on Nov 27th.

    • QoT 15.1

      Thanks Fisiani. Can I assume you also agree with my previous post, that everything is a lie? ‘Cause that’s the trap, unfortunately. Either my analysis of both NACT and Labour are good solid posts, or neither are.

      It’s a wonderful thing to see the predictability of human behaviour given form in your comment: to take one post in a series out of that context because this is the one you like.

      • Pete 15.1.1

        Either my analysis of both NACT and Labour are good solid posts, or neither are.

        Why? One makes sense and is highly credible, the other wasn’t.

        Blaming the waffle problem on the media is ignoring the real problem. It is difficult for anyone to get the message they want expressed accurately by the media, anyone who has been interviewed and sees the end result understands this. This isn’t specific to one leaning or the other – as both sides claim.

        • QoT

          Because I didn’t get any extra qualifications in between writing the posts? Because it’s really fucking fascinating how suddenly the same types who were abusing me for saying NACT are only in it for themselves are suddenly highly praising of my analysis when I’m laying into Labour? Seriously, the day Fisiani is saying “great post” to anything written by me is a day the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of The Standard’s rightwing commentariat is well and truly established.

  16. I have not debated the post itself to this stage but will make this comment.

    The post suggests that Labour is failing to get its message across to the media and that it has no coherent plan.

    Firstly I despair about the media. It concentrates on the banal rather than on real issues. Getting a coherent message across is not easy.

    As for Labour’ policies I can assure everyone that they are being constructed as we speak. There are a bevvy of policy committees developing policy for the election and these will be announced in due course. Economic policy has been quite advanced but has been trashed by the change in financial circumstances that the earthquake has caused.

    There have already been some hints at what is likely.

    Opposition parties never announce these until the election campaign itself. The good ideas get pinched or it gives sufficient time for the Government to work out how to counter them. National did have a number of quite small specific policies that were not announced until well in the campaign.

    So all that I can say is be patient.

    If you want to see the party’s thinking try blog.labour.org.nz. There is a lot of good stuff there.

    At the last election Labour had 71 different policy documents …

    • QoT 16.1

      Um, just a first quibble, ms: I don’t criticise the media. I don’t think Labour has any kind of coherent message to convey to the media in the first place.

      And I’m sorry to be blunt, but we’re two months into an election year and policy is still be fucking developed, and we’re still meant to sit here patiently like good children until Mummy and Daddy say we can have dessert?

      I don’t want fucking hints. I want a leftwing party with a direction and a soul and a purpose and not 71, 171 or 271 wordy fucking policy documents are going to provide that.

      Mind you, I suppose it’s a bit hard formulating policy when you have no fucking idea what you want to actually achieve …

      • TightyRighty 16.1.1

        Sorry, need to have a quibble here QoT, Labour has a coherent policy of incoherence, the “Tim Groser” play we call it.

        Also, Mummy is away in New York. Daddy knows where the dessert is and what it is and hasn’t been known in the past to let the kids down when it comes to desert and when to have it. I think it’s just that dessert is that ice cream thats been at the back of the freezer for the last two years that has formed the crust and lost all it’s sweetness.

        • QoT

          HC wasn’t exactly “maternal”, TR. But then who’d bother trying in a Parliament shared with Jeanette Fitzsimons, the awesome nana of the nation.

          • TightyRighty

            Not in the Judy kind of way, but she definitely new more of what was good for us than Janette. I had a sweet spot for Janette, so naive and incoherent. I haven’t developed it for Phil yet, he needs to go grey gracefully maybe

            • prism

              TR Oh how patronising about Jeanette Fitzsimons. She was definitely not naive and incoherent, but a principled warrior for the things that need to be considered and implemented.

              • TightyRighty

                principled certainly, but you left out “she” before need”ed” in that last sentence.

                going xxx LP “cumming” for capcha?

                [lprent: 🙂 I will fix that… ]

                • QoT

                  Perfectly good English surname. Just don’t take up high school teaching and you’ll be fine …

                • neleftie

                  so we resort to spelling corrections to sound superior…gosh i love small minded supporters of the elites. Some of our best politician came from less educated backgrounds and displayed both compassion, common sence and the inate ability to provide a measure of control over their appointed departments or ministries.

      • Pete 16.1.2

        It’s not just poliwaffle that’s the problem, it’s the invisible government-in-waiting. Good people are very bit as important as good policies, fresh faces are as important as fresh ideas. Labour looked tired by the last election and got dealt with accordingly. They don’t seem to have woken up yet.

        • neleftie

          Sorry pete – they were tired of the spin and being spun…these were good common people serving the common people not this lapdog elites crap we have now…blind wags to a failed ideology…

      • the sprout 16.1.3

        exactly QoT.

        how many times have i heard to be patient, that the Labour leadership have it under control and will soon release the Master Plan, only to find yet again there is no plan, no direction, just wet farts, disarray and delusion.

        it’s a disgrace.

        • prism

          Alwyn – ‘Labour sitting like possums in the glare of headlights’. Perfect description of what’s happening so far. Oh please can there be some strengthening medicine handed out on big spoons, or maybe laxatives.

        • neleftie

          what was WWF, ECE 20 hours free, kiwi bank, cullen fund…the list goes one.
          A fair and equalitable distribution of wealth – what more could the average common person want in a good decent society

      • mickysavage 16.1.4

        Hi QoT. I do not necessarily disagree with you and I think that you have sparked a good debate. But I think there is a difference between the current reality of politics and what you think should happen.

        Firstly most of the contributors to this debate are people who no matter what are going to vote Labour, Green or the legendary new left party if they get themselves organised. They will not change who the next Government is going to be. The others are trolls who are enthusiastically engaging in this debate but will not change their vote but I do appreciate that they take part.

        Policy is highly advanced and will appear at the best possible time. Lefties are right to expect coherent developed policy and not policy on the hoof but the immediacy of the media cycle means that carefully developed policy will not always appear.

        The people who will change the Government are the legendary swinging voters, people who did not vote for Helen because of lightbulbs. I have met many of them. They are decent family people who work hard and do not have the time or inclination to educate themselves about the intricacies of politics, let alone take part in the debate. They prefer watching Outrageous Fortune to going out to a political meeting at night. To get them to engage in an intellectual debate about policy is really difficult.

        Political discourse is for better or worse designed to appeal to them.

        Labour’s message is confusing as is National’s. The problem with current technology is that nearly every spoken and every written word is recorded and made available. They are uttered without reference to the detail of previously uttered words and confusion on both sides is inevitable.

        And the state of the parties should be commented on. Labour has by far the most active dedicated members of all the parties. But the days of mass membership and hordes of union activists have gone. National has over the past couple of decades very effectively severely hurt the trade union membership.

        Labour now is comprised of the sons and daughters of the working class, University educated and with a decidedly intellectual approach to issues. The working class find it hard to relate to us. Some of the working class have been peeled off by the racism of Winston Peters and by the “politics of aspiration” that the nats engage in.

        National is no longer a mass membership party. They will get good numbers to a social event and many cheques written but they do not get activists working on the ground any more. They probably spent twice as much money as Labour on the Botany by election but could not compete in terms of the quality of the campaign.

        As for what Labour wants to achieve that is simple, at least as far as members are concerned. Full employment, respect for the environment and a minimum quality of life for everyone.

        Finally I have a great deal of sympathy for Phil Goff. He took over at the worst possible time and has stuck to his job. He has worked tirelessly, kept the caucus together and had to watch as the John Key love in has continued.

        Right now we have Labour in a reasonable position in relation to the polls, the caucus and party are united and Key’s teflon is visibly peeling away. The party has the chance of making this Government the first one term National Government in history.

        I hear your concern but I think that Labour is in as good a position as it could hope to be in.

        Sorry this is a a bit long but the subject deserves it.

        • QoT

          Micky, I don’t feel like you’re actually listening to what I’m saying.

          Lefties are right to expect coherent developed policy and not policy on the hoof but the immediacy of the media cycle means that carefully developed policy will not always appear.

          To be blunt, fuck policy. I do not fucking expect “carefully developed policy”, I expect a mission, a goal, an ideology.

          I do not want Annette King saying “we totally care about poor children and we’ll release policy on that later, honest, but in the mean time we totes also have to remember some beneficiaries are filthy fucking bludgers”. I do not want Phil Goff jumping up and down to let people know he’d totally fucking bone Liz Hurley.

          I want to know what the Labour Party fucking stands for. Does the Labour party care about students? Is the Labour Party committed to a living wage for all? Will the Labour Party reject the notion that defending the rights of homosexual people to marry is a “distraction”?

          I can’t sincerely answer any of those fucking questions, in March of a fucking election year. And you don’t think Labour could be in a better position? Boy, we’re even more fucked than I thought.

          • mickysavage

            Well Qot

            I want to know what the Labour Party fucking stands for. Does the Labour party care about students?

            Of course. Labour always increases the budget for education. Early Childhood Education anyone? Interest free student loans? The party membership would prefer that students actually received a grant, rather than have to borrow money to receive tertiary education.

            Is the Labour Party committed to a living wage for all?

            Labour put up the minimum wage more than any other government during the last term. It continues to support trade union activity which will improve the plight of workers.

            Will the Labour Party reject the notion that defending the rights of homosexual people to marry is a “distraction”?

            At considerable political damage last term Labour brought in civil unions. Its history is marked by continuous recognition of the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. Homosexual law reform anyone? Anti discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation? Are you really questioning Labour’s commitment in this area?

            • QoT

              I think you just proved my point, micky. So … you can’t categorically state “Labour supports the right of gay people to marry”, you say “well we gave you civil unions! Shut up!” and you can’t categorically state “Labour is committed to a living wage for all”, you say “we’ve put up the minimum wage lots in the past! And we support unions, which is convenient since they support us right back!” and you can’t say “Labour cares about students”, you say “we’ve done stuff historically for students! And the party membership totally support some stuff!”

              All of which is a far cry from anything I can have faith in. Just, sorry to say, more waffle.

              • you can’t categorically state “Labour supports the right of gay people to marry”

                No I can’t. In terms of the importance of things I would rather make sure that the kids of Otara received a decent education first. Marriage is a traditional religious concept that I have engaged in but I was somewhat ambiguous about. Allowing gay people to marry is way, way down my list of priorities.

                As for the rest of my comments I believe that past behaviour is the most important indicator of future activity. I prefer behaviour to words to decide on what expectation I should have.

                • QoT

                  So Labour is incapable of finding multiple things important simultaneously?

                  Bit of a clue to take to your next meeting – telling women, LGBT folk and other marginalized groups to sit down and shut up while you deal with The Important Things is just possibly a reason plenty of the progressive left didn’t show up to vote in 2008.

                  Also, telling people to judge Labour based on previous behaviour is just a ridiculous invitation for big bruv to start putting bold tags around the word “retrospectively”.

        • Colonial Viper

          As for what Labour wants to achieve that is simple, at least as far as members are concerned. Full employment, respect for the environment and a minimum quality of life for everyone.

          Now, here is the test. When you say full employment do you actually mean 100% workforce participation, or do you mean the usual neo-liberal concept of NAIRU, which often means unemployment in the 3%-4% range. A massive level of unemployment which would have seen NZ governments chucked out in the 1950’s and 1960’s.


          Now if you can answer that for me, that would tell me rather a lot about Labour’s economic ideology.

          • QoT

            And is that “minimum quality of life” to be achieved by progressive policies advocating equality and providing a liveable minimum wage for all …

            Or by “incentivising” people into work ,because paid work has magical life-improving properties, by denying them social benefits in order to bribe the middle classes?

            Plenty of social ideology to be defined right there.

          • neoleftie

            Four years ago it was 3-5% based on complex treasure figures that was accepted by the labour employment minister at that time. Little bit unfair to consign 3% of the potental wotk force to the scrapheap.

          • mickysavage


            The party was really happy when unemployment went below 4%. At that level you are getting close to “churn” where people between jobs are the only unemployed.

            Honestly, I do not know why the party should be criticised for this? In this particular area the performance was superb.

            Some dialogue from Life of Brian seems appropriate:

            Reg: But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
            PFJ Member: Brought peace?

        • neleftie

          micky nicely said

      • Green Tea 16.1.5

        “I want a leftwing party with a direction and a soul and a purpose and not 71, 171 or 271 wordy fucking policy documents are going to provide that.”

        You need to look outside parliament.

        • QoT

          Unfortunately I have a personal preference that my vote go to a party with a chance of affecting government policy within Parliament. Other people don’t and I have in the past absolutely defended their right to do so – and I would have hoped that after 2008 Labour started asking why enough people voted for small left parties that it made the difference between their victory and their loss.

          • Green Tea

            Makes a very strong case for a “None of the above” option on the voting form!

            • Rex Widerstrom

              And for independents. And for getting rid of MMP, which stacks a party with MPs beholden only to the leadership (in the broad sense) and thus by nature followers, not leaders themselves.

              • Colonial Viper

                Well, why not get rid of most List MPs and replace them with electorate MP’s, but still keep a system of proportional representation?

                Yes we need many more smaller parties and independents in Parliament.

                • Yep, keeping proportional representation is a must, I agree. But so is accountability to a defined electorate… it’s simply too hard to gauge and respond to the will of 2.4 million people, and provide the perfect excuse for hubris. MPs need to feel that when they’re walking down the main street of a town, the people they pass are the people they represent.

                  Multi member STV has some appeal, though I’m open to suggestions. As I’ve said before, the idea of sitting down with my fellow NZers (or at least such of them as are interested) and inventing a uniquely NZ solution (drawing on overseas models so as not to waste time entirely reinventing the wheel) would be my personal ideal.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    I’m not overly attached to electorate mps, don’t see that they are, in proactice, any more or less beholden to the party than list ones, but…

                    If we are going to have them how about redefining what an electorate is. The old ‘geographical community’ is pretty stupid in the modern era, with seats actually containing many different competing communities of differing shared interests. It’s a shambles. They are geographical because it is assumed that people who live close to each other overwhelmingly share interests. Just not true. Most local interest matters are dealt with at the local level, or should be. National elections are about national issues, so the relevant communities should be national ones.

                    So why not have, as we do with the Maori electoral role, options for what electorate you want to be in. Perhaps you might want to be in the electrate defined by family type, and sign on to elect a mp for ‘young families’ or ‘single’ or ‘retired empty nester’. Perhaps you want to be represnted by an mp representing the ‘immigrant’ community of interest.

                    • What an interesting idea PB.

                      I think it is a real problem that parliament is so hopelessly unrepresentative of most New Zealanders. Maybe we could keep, say, ten broad geographical electorates, and othewise voters could choose to be represented by an ‘interst’ electorate. For example: small business, low paid, young family, pacifika, retired….

                      This would kind of assume a greater degree of decentralisation, with council’s having more power in geographical communities, which could be a good thing, but best of all, voters could be members of a whole lot of constituencies that represent their broader needs (though they’d only be able to vote for one at a time).

                      There must be a way to avoid the entire community being “represented” overwhelmingly by well-off, professionals/business people.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      you got it.

                      An ‘MP for small business- northern’ (ACT) should be more beholden to small business than an ‘MP for Botany (ACT) will ever be.

                      If we make the seats multi member stv or similar, you then get the possiblity for cross party caucases to form, with the MPs representing young families, or rural voters or whatever, becoming seperate parliamentary blocks, inside and outside of govt, lobbying the various ministers.

                      The logistics would be tricky, but I the more I think about it the more I like it.

                    • lprent

                      I don’t think much of geographic areas as being representative electing bodies. Even when there were about 25,000 people in the pre MMP electorates there was so much variation within the electorates, especially the inner urban electorates, that it was bloody difficult to see how a MP could possibly represent them all. In practice they usually didn’t, and the degree that they didn’t depended on the level of the gerrymander in an electorate.

                      Paradoxically, the larger geographical electorates under MMP has forced electorates to be more representative in their representation in my opinion. They are a awfully lot harder to gerrymander because small numbers of people who actually vote can’t be piled into an electorate to outweigh larger numbers of more erratic voters. Quite simply a electorate MP can get pushed in by the party hierarchy when they enter an electorate. However an electorate MP has to wind up working with the communities in their electorate far more than they ever did. Ignoring sections of the voters is just a way to steadily reduce your majorities and it happens pretty fast in the electoral cycles these days.

                    • My thinking was leading me in the same direction as you, Pb, but then I thought:

                      a) too radical a package of change first up. Get back to a representative system first via the abolition of List MPs, then start talking about who our MPs should be representing… but this idea is esciting and just the sort of “let’s invent a NZ solution and not just adopt someone else’s” thinking I’m talking about; and

                      b) the one problem I can see – and can’t think my way round at this point – is how thinly we slice it. Does the MP for Small Business (northern) have to try to represent businesses in Northland and Auckland, who (I imagine) have as many differences as they do commonalities? ANd how do we define “business”… can a one person outfit working from home join the “business” roll? And what about if they also want representation as a married father of ten? And so on…

                      But as I said, in principle it’s an idea I think has incredible potential… maybe a guest post so we can refine it further, as we’re running out of nesting room here!

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      I agree that there are all sorts of technical issues, probably fatal.

                      That said however:

                      On a), you would lose me from the reform because I really really don’t like purely ‘electorate mp’ based systems. 🙂

                      I hear your arguments against list mps, but don’t share your dislike of them. For me, list mps are representing the people that voted for the party.

                      The thing I like about list systems is that they bring the parties explicitly into the electoral system. The parties exist, and will continue to exist, so I think the system should reflect that.

                      The way I see it, in non-list systems, we have a fiction that candidates will represent the electorate. We have another fiction that voters will vote for the candidate they think is best. In fact, mps will toe the party line in parliament far more often than not, and they do so because most voters choose their vote based on party affiliation. ie they want an MP to be a party hack more often than not. Sad, but I think, true. The list system brings all that muckiness out into the open.

                      on b) I agree that the slicing problem is hard. Who gets to decide what the communities of interest are is the big one of course.

                      Beyond that though I think their should be solutions.

                      Does the MP for Small Business (northern) have to try to represent businesses in Northland and Auckland, who (I imagine) have as many differences as they do commonalities?

                      Perhaps each electorate would be geographically national, with the number of mps representing that electorate being determined by the number of people who sign on to it’s roll. The fact that young families from southland will have real differences with YF’s from Auckland, just means they will vote differently. The same problem occurs in any electorate. The advantage is that the electors are self selecting into the electorate. This necessarily means that they share a commonality. All electors have decided that ‘this is the community I belong to’. I don’t know if I’m that concerned about how stringent we should be in applying tests

                      ANd how do we define “business”… can a one person outfit working from home join the “business” roll?

                      I don’t know if I’m that concerned about how stringent we should be in applying tests. It could be a problem. But OTOH, if that’s the community you feel you want representation in the who’s to say you shouldn’t? If a whole bunch of low wage urban poor sign on to the ‘small business roll’ in some sort of attempt at shenanigans, then they are not on the ‘working poor roll’ which would lose that electorate some seats. There may not be a ‘win’ there for them.

                      And what about if they also want representation as a married father of ten?

                      I think you should have to take your pick of which electorate you want to be part of. Just as with the Maori option, you takes your pick and that’s that, with a regular option to switch.

                • M

                  ‘Well, why not get rid of most List MPs and replace them with electorate MP’s, but still keep a system of proportional representation?’

                  CV, this view mirrors my own.

                  Also as the media is so one-eyed in favour of Teflon Boy, Labour and in particular Goff need to do what Labour did in 1935 to get elected – they need to campaigning remorselessly in every damn community hall in the country.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    need to do what Labour did in 1935 to get elected – they need to campaigning remorselessly in every damn community hall in the country.

                    Yeah this is a damn good idea.

                    PS – 1935 haha you don’t come across as that old 😛

        • neoleftie

          that i agree with- give me something to beleive in

          • just saying

            reply to Rex W and pascal’s bookie at 4.16 .

            I was thinking that way too PB. Voters could choose whichever “electorate” they liked. Maybe some caring well-off would vote low-wage to boost that representation, or maybe, having elderly olds might motivate some to vote for a “retired” candidate.

            What would be more important from my point of view, would be that the representatives really were, or had, for some significant amount of time, actually been low-wage, small-business owners…etc. The idea would be to have a genuinely representative parliament. Maybe this could get people more actively involved in politics, maybe make it all a bit more real?

            And maybe two ‘half’ votes would be possible.

            • QoT

              The immediate problem I have with the idea, js, comes down to intersectionality. Are we going to force young unemployed Maori women to pick which part of their identity they’re going to vote with – for the low-income electorate or the women’s electorate or the Maori electorate or the young adults electorate? Or between the low-income Maori electorate and the young women electorate? Direct democracy might work out more convenient …

              • Pascal's bookie

                At the moment we force everyone to vote in a near-as-dammit meaningless geographic electorate and pretend that that electorate is an actual ‘community of interest’.

                I don’t think that choosing an electorate would be choosing an identity, it’s just choosing what electorate based ‘community of interest’ you want to be in for the next election or two. That doesn’t mean you are not in other communities as well, any more than choosing to be on the Maori roll says you are denying other aspects of your identity.

                Also, you can still have your list vote, and you can vote identity within your electorate. Electorate races would probably be tailored towards the specific communities. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them becoming intra-party races to a large extent. Liberals vs Marxists. Conservatives vs Even more conservatives. This would be a way of formalising and getting explicit representation for groups and communities that are the moment squashed by the homogeneity of big party politics.

            • Carol

              I like having a mix of a party vote and an electorate vote. I think there’s a place still for electorate representatives, especially as we are moving towards more expensive transport that will probably tie more people to locality. it also means there is someone in each locality that people can meet face-to-face when necessary.

              I think 2 votes are good because we only have one house of government. Aussie has one House for electorate reps & one for state representatives. That’s 2 houses tied to geographic locality, which is a bit excessive, I think.

              Surely the party votes in NZ are most tied to communities of interest? I don’t just relate to one community I relate to many more than I relate to everyone in my locality eg, I have interests related to being a lesbian, to being a woman, to my family, to my age and health (though I disagree with many people my age on politics), to some aspects of the area I live in, to social justice and more equality etc, etc.

              In the end I choose a party and candidate that comes closest. Having 2 votes means I can vote according to more than 1 of my areas of interest.

              Edit: Yes, QOT, I was thinking of intersectionality.

    • just saying 16.2

      Good left wing ideas are not going to be “pinched” by NACT. That’s one of the advantages of having actual differences between the major parties. Is there a major ideological divide between National and Labour or not?

      Unless Labour’s much vaunted policies are nothing more than a bunch of bribes to attract the vote of the ever-diminishing middle-class, there should be no fear on that score.

      If Labour did return to it’s roots you can guarantee the media would cover it. Hell it would be radical. And sure there would be criticism and ridicule, but Labour would get heard, and there’s this thing called ‘the mere exposure effect’…..


      • QoT 16.2.1

        Amen, js. New rule: if National steals your policies, they don’t get to be called leftwing policies. If they’re just “good ideas”, I don’t much give a toss who implements them.

        • Colonial Viper

          Good left wing ideas are not going to be “pinched” by NACT.

          This is quite true.

          If they’re just “good ideas”, I don’t much give a toss who implements them.

          This is quite true too.


  17. chris73 17

    A good post with interesting points unfortunately it won’t be listened to by anyone that matters

    (Still at least Spud doesn’t come on here)

    • TightyRighty 17.1

      He’s like candyman and winnie, say his name three times. Spud, spu….

      Better than candleja…

      • chris73 17.1.1

        I’m not sure he’d be able to handle this site…

        • lprent

          Well I would be forced to add code to automatically remove smiley faces from selected handles. The question is what would be left?


  18. neoleftie 18

    if one studies the makeup of the party vote matrics i.e vote influencers and identifiers its quite clear that electrorate cant be classified as simple left or right any more for a large proportion of the voter potential. The centre ‘double peak’ voter block is expanding and shifts upwards, downwards left and to the right based on usually self centered issues. The Right and Left Core voter is basically locked in due to inherant reason that decide there voting decision i.e wealth or voting habit.
    The ‘new’ electorate vote matrix is both complex, dynamic and simply not based on the polarised traditional definitions of a class base vote of the left or right.

    waffle waffle is basically say nothing dont offend anyone or give ammo to the enemy; tories or the MSM.
    The left block needs to appeal to a very wide range of voters esp the ‘switch and swing’ voters of a every expanding centre.
    Better to sit pretty and quiet i.e waffle than have the attack dogs spin a misstep into voter detraction and lessen the chance of traction with voters nearer election month.
    So if it take Goff and crew to just waffle waffle side step, test the electrorate wind and we get some meaningful resonance with voters near the election day by ‘grand slamming’ the Tories then so be it.
    Those of us who put their trust in labour will do their bit and do the hard yards but i for one state that those who support the left block parties “do their concerted best and dont muddy or dilute the chance at getting solid resonance with the public”
    After all if the tories get any kind of mandate and they are back in when the economy is stabilsed then good bye state assets, good bye ‘welfare state’ in all it’s good functions.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Your analysis may be largely correct but following that recipe means that all Labour will be is a centrist party with a little bit of a social democratic history following it around.

      That’s pretty weak at the knees.

      The other thing to consider is that the middle class in NZ is not “expanding”. It is being squeezed and squeezed hard.

      The core problem you have identified is that a large block of voters no longer get (or perhaps care) about the merits of a full fledged social democracy.

      • neoleftie 18.1.1

        take the last fifteen years labour, bye the bye, has been quite orthodox based on a range of policy adoption. centre of left and swaying more and more with the moving centre. The whole damn vote matrix is moving away from extreme left and mid left tradition defintions. Sure we have had some radicalised pet projects that has moved societal change in some positve long term direction, Sure we have nice safe social democratic policy implemations, standard stock globaly really – almost prescribed measures – giddeons has a little to say on the matter but nothing really on a marco economic level to in a profound enlightened manner that place our country on the path of a more fairly wealth based distributive economic system.
        This is the key – everything is about the economic system – everything else is simple tinkering with the cash rake. That is why the Tories must not win and get a mandate, they will achieve or create the sitiuation for their pathway and the left block will be left to play with the cash when or of they get a turn.

  19. More accurate than the everything is a lie post I think. Labour has serious communication issues. They do great work developing detailed policy but a poor job doing the all important writing of the 8 words or less which tells the public about it.

    • neoleftie 19.1

      maybe cause policy is complex and labour need a engaged literate voter to connect to unfortunately they are mostly of the red / green variety as opposed to the red /pink/ very light blue ones in large percentages of course.

      • Rob Carr 19.1.1

        Yes policy is complex but the place to explain it is not in the media. In the media you need to master communicating the direction and principles you are putting in place and that should not be complex.

      • Colonial Viper 19.1.2

        Politics is not about policy, its about values and vision. And its about changing society to be a better place for people to live in and work in.

        The idea that politics is primarily about policy means that you lose 75% of the audience from the start.

        • neoleftie

          thats the whole point – a connected grassroot mass that understands policy direction of the party is the only solution to achieve a fair and equalitable system.

          • Colonial Viper

            I view it as almost exactly the opposite way around.

            Connecting with a grassroots mass which values Labour’s tenets of fairness and equality is the only way to politically achieve the policy solutions required.

            • neoleftie

              CV but without an educated and aligned grassroot mass ‘catch all party’ then you simple get the rise as we have today of an elite party based on a very small power structure.
              Tell me what labour stands for and i’ll counter with the common 0perceptions in the electorate. I want a labour party that has a strong influencial grassroot stucture that is connected to the wider community, one that has an impact on policy direction. What we have is the rise of buearacracy and party elitism where populism and sound bites are everything.

          • Rob Carr

            The only way to have a grassroots mass with that in detailed knowledge is to actually have them be party members. Even at the highest point of membership for the major parties they did not have a high enough number of members to make a real impact on elections just from how those people vote.

            • Colonial Viper

              Bear in mind that the maximum levels of party membership (and union membership) in NZ occurred before the introduction of MMP.

        • Nick C

          You’re making some pretty interesting concessions about democracy here CV. It’s not about who has the best policies but who has the ability to communicate ‘vision’ (read spin doctors). Seems like a rather arbitrary way to decide who distributes much of the resourses in our society to me.

          Ever heard of public choice theory?

          • Rob

            It shouldn’t be surprising that communicating clearly is one of the more important factors in an election.

            We are not saying it is the only one however. Built into our idea that Labour needs to communicate better is that it needs to actually communicate what it stands for better. So long as each parties articulation of their vision is accurate then it is a far less arbitrary way to decide than on the basis of individual policies as vision will have an real effect on the long term nature of the country while policy is generally short term and may be subject to change from the realities of office.

            Spin Doctors are only a negative effect on democracy because they lie.

  20. Salsy 20

    Len Brown did not win Auckland by spouting jaw dropping policies to the media, nor did he win by trying to behave like a celebrity, or by attacking the disadvantaged. He won by being a “unifying community-led politician” with a simple message. Banks still had a chance until he took a wild gamble and revealed his true nature – its only a matter of time before Key, calculated or otherwise does the same.

  21. Adele 21

    Teenaa koe, neoleftie

    a grassroot mass that understands policy

    Surely you jest when you suggest that it is the grass / flaxroots at fault for Labour failing to capture its heart. Perhaps Labour is just a bad suitor – inept as a communicator and frigid in bed. The grass / flaxroots deserve better than the flaccid offerings so far proffered by Goff, et al.

    • neoleftie 21.1

      hello there adele
      I agree totally adele…what we need is an engaged grassroot whole and a respresentative core party elite…The maori and green party models are interesting that they give some power to the grass / flax root membership… unfortuantely power corrupts and MMP and also coalition Govts cause a dis-unity in a party due to the inherant nature of the wheeling anf dealing of said coalition govts

  22. gnomic 22

    Good post by micky s at 9:06, so good here’s an extract –

    ‘The people who will change the Government are the legendary swinging voters, people who did not vote for Helen because of lightbulbs. I have met many of them. They are decent family people who work hard and do not have the time or inclination to educate themselves about the intricacies of politics, let alone take part in the debate. They prefer watching Outrageous Fortune to going out to a political meeting at night. To get them to engage in an intellectual debate about policy is really difficult.

    Political discourse is for better or worse designed to appeal to them.’

    End quote. Yep, just about sums it up. After years of hardly ever watching TV I have found myself watching TV1 news and Sainsbury/Hosking to follow over a few months. Disturbing to think that for much of the populace that is likely the extent of their briefing on NZ politics and world events, and in many cases their attention may be divided by rearing little Dwayne and Sharlene (or Henry and Emily as it may be) simultaneously. Maybe they get a dose of Leighton Smith on the drive to work. Informed political debate just ain’t gonna happen. Just as it ever was perhaps, see Bob Harvey in a recent magazine article on running Labour campaigns back in the 70s/80s and the packaging of Kirk and Lange. It’s massaging the admass we’re looking at here, appeasing their fears and anxieties and telling them their needs will be satisfied by voting for Brand X.

    And what indeed does Labour stand for? Since capitalism is always good and indeed the best of all worlds, at the very least better than all the others that ever were tried, political contests are reduced to convincing the punters that Brand X managers have the safest hands on offer, or that just possibly as well as being the best managers they are also more caring than that nasty party. Or less interfering than the pious PC party.

    So it all comes down to what the swingers can be manipulated to think, how they can be induced to vote one way or another. Who is running the Labour Party’s ad campaign this year by the way? Are they any good?

    • Pete 22.1

      Good post. But…

      Don’t get too obsessed with PR and ad campaigns. It’s true that most voters don’t decide on political debate, they decide on rudimentary perceptions. But you have to remember that most voters have long and extensive experience watching television – and they are adept at spotting the phonies. If something doesn’t gel they change the channel. It may sometimes be based on misconceptions, but on average it is probably accurate.

      Many voters will make decisions based on character assessment, not on policies. In any case most pre-election policy statements are fluff, voters know that coalitions and political pragmatism and changing economic, social and political situations render glossy policy leaflets obsolete before the first sitting of the new parliament.

      Labour, like any party, has to have the people, personalities, to entice voters. And voters often don’t take a lot of notice of the words of the politicians, they judge whether what comes form the mouth matches the look of the face. They can spot phoniness. Key has become popular based on his genuineness, warts and all. The warts actually make him seem more believable.

      Labour have a real problem at the moment. Too often Goff seems like he is putting on an act – not an act that appeals to ordinary voters, but an act that seems to be aimed at (or directed by) some theoretical “Labour” template from last century.

      But it’s not just Goff that’s the problem. Where is the rest of Labour? Voters will judge who to choose for our next government based on what they think of the bunch putting their hands up. Sure, the leader is important, very important. But the leader has to be seen to have something credible, believable, real, to lead.

      Currently the perceptions of both the leadership and of the party are stuffing Labour. Somehow Labour has to seem like a real choice, not a caricature.

  23. michael 23

    well, when even Whaleoil is giving you SENSIBLE political advice, you know something’s wrong………

  24. sodapaper 24

    Mostly I agree with the authors sentiments but surly sectarian identity politics is not going to get the left back into government.

  25. johnm 25

    Why is Goff without fire and commitment and comes over as a waffler? Because here in NZ you have a virtual 2 HEADED ONE PARTY STATE, both of whom kiss the ar.e of the business world. So much emphasis on the middle ground. the same crap system in the U$ has ruined it for ever: Inequality is at suicidal banana republic levels led by Obanana.

  26. Bill 26

    When society has been captured by Capital and the people who are meant to represent the interests of the populace do so only insofar as those interests coincide with or can be accomodated by the interests of Capital…

    When the main party of the left remains dominated by ‘representatives’ who ushered in the dominance of Capital…

    On the one hand the Nats want to hoon off down the neo-liberal highway to Corporatesville. And on the other, Labour’s destination is also Corporatesville. But they need, given their history and the expectations engendered by that label ‘Labour’, to hitch a decrepid caravan housing nostalgia (read: false hope) for a politics centred on people.

    I look upon Labour as a driver of a closely guarded ‘Mystery Tour’, contending with a diminishing suspense of disbelief from those in the caravan that the intended destination is a good place.

    In the ‘not too distant’, the liberal left as represented by the Labour Party et al, and those associated with the institutional liberal left are going to subjected to the pitchforks and torches brigades spilling out when we hit the outskirts of town. In that future, the retrospective conclusion will be drawn that ‘the liberals’ gave us sticking plasters and platitudes when they should have been handing us big bloody sticks instead. I think it’s commonly termed as blowback.

    • neleftie 26.1

      Its called the rise of social democracy, or the third way even…utilise the market so you can tinker with mirco social policies…once the left had a dream, a vision even where the pathway took them to a economic system where true equality, opportunity and a fair distribution of wealth could be created.
      unfortunately it ended in mexico.

  27. mikesh 27

    Phil Goff has talked of “monetary reform”. But his idea of monetary reform is to get the Reserve Bank to consider other objectives , and to not just concentrate on controlling inflation. This is too timid though. He needs to repeal the Reserve Bank Act and bring the bank back under ministerial control, but I doubt whether he has the courage.

    He needs to emulate the great Harry Houdini and somehow wriggle out of the neoliberal straightjacket that everyone in politics seems to be wearing these days.

    • Colonial Viper 27.1

      Hear hear. We have to move to a non debt based currency. Why should the Government borrow a dollar from overseas with interest, when it could borrow a dollar from itself and pay 0% interest.

      Banking functions and investment banking functions should be kept completely separate.

      Other changes I suggest, which are asset reforms and not monetary reforms, and which I’ve stolen from Steve Keen (google debtdeflation)

      1) Mortgages given by banks should be limited to a multiple of how much rent that property could realistically fetch. Maybe 10x-15x

      2) Shares traded on the secondary market shall expire in life after 50 years and become valueless.

      Those two steps alone will severely limit any future asset bubbles.

  28. mikesh 28

    Phil has also signalled his intention to remove GST from basic foodstuffs. Again, this is too timid. Why not get rid of GST altogether and replace it with a transactions tax as suggested by Matt McCarten?

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