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Fear and loathing in Aotearoa

Written By: - Date published: 8:47 am, September 18th, 2017 - 54 comments
Categories: bill english, election 2017, Environment, farming, farming, jacinda ardern, national, Politics, same old national, sustainability - Tags: ,

This has been a strange election campaign, unlike any I can think of.

Four weeks ago it was meant to be a walk in the park for National.  A coronation of Prime Minister Bill English as he swept all aside.  And Labour in disarray.

But National has been hopelessly derailed by events and shown how incapable it is of adjusting quickly to changing circumstances.  As soon as Jacindamania hit National had no idea what to do.

We are now at the stage where the polls suggest that the levels of Labour’s and National’s support are close.

And instead of Winston being king maker no matter what suddenly the prospect of a Labour Green coalition is no longer a pipe dream.

So how has National responded?

Really bad.  I cannot believe how bad they are campaigning.

They have forgotten every lesson that John Key taught.  The need to triangulate, and appear like you are actually human.  To reach out and have selfies with drag queens, to make sure you have MPs who belong to the different ethnic communities in electable list positions, to talk about the underclass and imply that you are going to be just like Labour but you will also offer a tax cut.

This was John Key’s National Party.  Damned hard to beat and damaging to our future but more through neglect and incompetence than 1990s style Ruthenasian deliberate infliction of harm.

But post Key the problem for National is that it is no longer capable of running a competent campaign.  Especially when things change quickly, then National is hopeless.  Its compass is formed by polling and focus groups and when it does not have the chance to work out what it should be saying or doing it is at a real loss.

National seems to now have three campaign lines.  The first is to attack Labour’s financial competence and hope that enough of the population do not appreciate that all the experts are right and National is telling a pile of porkies.

The second is to reach out to the base, basically farmers.  I don’t know why.  This is a completely defensive move.  Spreading shyte about how much Labour’s water tax will cost farmers is both a lie but also rather irrelevant.  They have the farmer vote.  They should bank it and move on.

They should instead be reaching out to ethnic groups and liberal urbanists in the hope that they will persuade enough to stick to pale blue.

And the ethnic strategy may backfire big time.  National needs about 42% to maintain most of their ethnic MPs although at that figure National’s Philippine candidate Paulo Garcia will not make it.  And as the vote sinks, and I am sure it will, they start losing ethnic candidates.  If they get down to about 36% then Alfred Ngaro goes and their ethnic MPs are all gone.

The third line, currently related to the second,  is to basically make shit up.  And this is what happened yesterday.

Simon Wilson put this claim through the sniff test.

But what is National saying to its rural support base? It’s not just that Labour is a tax and spend party, or that Labour’s water tax will cripple good honest farmers. Bill English told the nation on TVNZ’s Q&A yesterday morning that the consequence of the water policies of the “opposition parties” was to “slaughter the dairy herd”. He then said, “The next thing they’ll be talking about: depopulate the cities, because they cause water pollution too.”

This, by the way, was shortly after he’d denied he was leading a campaign of lies and scaremongering. Whatever happened to Honest Bill?

For the record, Labour’s policy on the size of the dairy herd is the same as National’s: both say we’re probably reaching capacity, but decline to say there are too many cows. Both believe the future of dairy lies in increased productivity, not growth in stock numbers. (To compare all the party policies on water and everything else, check out our Policy tool.)

The Greens’ policy is different. They want to reduce the herd by 30-35%, using financial incentives that are set out in policy, over a period of 30 years. As any farmer will tell you, that does not mean a single cow has to be taken out and shot.

And the water tax? Labour wants to put a tax on water to pay for restoring the quality of waterways. Bill English on RNZ last week described it as “a $50,000 or $100,000 tax”, and Steven Joyce has used those figures too. Are they right? Some fact checkers have looked at the claim by using averages across the dairy sector, but Dairy NZ says there is a more accurate way to do it. So let’s use its figures.

Dairy NZ says there are 2000 dairy farms using irrigation. Most of them are in the South Island and are much larger than the average NZ dairy farm. According to Dairy NZ, Labour’s water tax would cost those farms an average $45,000 per year. Close to the low end of English’s range, but nothing like the $100,000 he also mentioned. There are 10,000 more dairy farms in New Zealand that do not use irrigation. Dairy NZ says they would pay $240 a year.

Of course, lots of other farmers irrigate too. But they don’t use anything like the quantity of water required by the South Island’s new industrial-scale dairy farms. Those farms exist only because of irrigation, and despite environmental programmes to mitigate the damage, they are degrading the waterways. That’s just fact. Is it unreasonable that they should help pay for more concerted action to clean up those waterways?

Wilson also notes this:

It’s revealing in many ways that Bill English thinks it’s okay to get farmers enraged at Labour and the Greens. One is that he appears to believe his reputation for integrity is unassailable. Another is that his party knows slander works, and they’re not above using it. We knew that already, most recently thanks to Steven Joyce and the so-called $11 billion hole in Labour’s budget. That was a fiction English himself would have taken part in creating and which he continues to promote – he did so on that same Q&A programme.

A third thing to note is that English is clearly not trying to win urban liberal votes. He’s already got all of those he’s going to get, on the basis of other policies. He’s going hard after the rural and provincial votes – not people thinking about voting Labour or Greens, but the NZ First supporters.

And a fourth thing, the scariest thing, is that if English thinks it’s OK to insinuate that Labour is going to start slaughtering cows on national television, what are he and his colleagues telling people when there are no cameras present?

If you took English’s comments at face value Labour will be basically like the Pol Pot Regime except mean to cows as well. Bill English has well and truly jumped the shark on this occasion.

Back in the day John Key at least pretended that he was ambitious for New Zealand. Bill English is John Key without the PR. It is time for a new leadership to take over the leadership of the country.

54 comments on “Fear and loathing in Aotearoa”

  1. tracey 1

    Makes me wonder if their polling indicated some loss in rural areas.

    Most frightening to me is amidst all these lies and lies and lies they maintain a minimum of 40% of intending voters.

    Do these 40% teach their kids to lie whenever and where they can? I doubt it and yet… the same group who constantly prattle about personal responsibility and consequences. Just not for them and tgeirs?

  2. Shows really that the vacuous selfish simple minded idiot key was really the heart and soul not to mention the guts of the gnats. Sad.

  3. Cinny 3

    So many lies… here is another porker via paula bennett from this morning…

    “Ms Bennett, an ex-beneficiary and former Minister for Social Development, said under National, New Zealand has “got the lowest number on welfare that we have seen for generations”.

    This isn’t true. According to the Ministry for Social Development, in June this year there were 276,331 working age people receiving a main benefit – but there were only 268,972 in 2008, at the end of Labour’s nine years in Government.”

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/election/2017/09/gap-between-rich-and-poor-still-wide-because-of-the-quakes-paula-bennett.html

    • tracey 3.1

      And that is not including those for whom the system became so torurous they stopped trying for benefits. Like ACCs back defaul positikn is decline and then see if the person will fight it.

      At one stage the District Court was overturning ovef 45% of ACC decisions. And that is only the people with the energy or money to fight

      By 2015 the Govts solution? Was to get rid of the District Court as arbiter

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11485289

      They backed down last year but their intent was clear.
      http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/313783/govt-to-accept-changes-to-acc-appeals-system

      ” Over the six years of the study, ACC turned down over 600,000 claims, but only 40,000 people disputed their decisions and applied for a review. Around 25,000 independent review hearings were held and 4000 appeals were lodged in the district court against review decisions.

      The main reason claimants gave for not appealing was cost, followed by lacking the energy, motivation or resilience. ” http://m.nzdoctor.co.nz//news-detail.aspx?n=67678
      In the same article

      ” From being a commission, there to assist the claimant and the court and facilitate people getting back to work if possible, ACC has become a corporation which considers itself an adversarial party to a full-scale legal dispute acting in the interest of its shareholders, the researchers say.

      Claimants struggle to find legal representation

      While claimants struggle to find legal representation and are generally  unable to pay for it since their income has dropped due to an inability to work after their accident, there is a well-developed market for representation for ACC, the researchers say.

      Furthermore, there is indication that new medico-legal firms and existing corporate firms are seeking to secure retainers with ACC.

      This leaves claimants in the position of having to represent themselves against the “leviathan” which has been gaining new skills, insights and precedents with each new case.

      “As ACC was always one party, they potentially have a significant advantage in litigation strategy, gaining precedents and all of the other advantages of repeat litigants identified in literature.

      “ACC is the quintessential repeat player. It has had and anticipates repeat litigation, it has low stakes in the outcome of any one case, but has the resources to pursue long-term interest…” 

      The result is a low success rate for claimants. “

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    Bill’s “slaughter the dairy herd” is straight from David Farrar who tested the phrase over several years on Kiwiblog, each time having his arse handed to him when he did but plugging away with it regardless. He knows and Bill knows it’s tripe, and they must be pretty desperate to be dragging it out now into the light of day and flogging it.

  5. Peter 5

    Don’t underestimate the power of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt

    • David Mac 5.1

      It’s an energy that is countered by our search for a guiding light.

    • mac1 5.2

      Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt at General Elections- aka FUDGE.

      National’s motto seem to be “Let’s Fudge It.”

      • David Mac 5.2.1

        It’s an unavoidable flaw in our system that all political parties must wrestle with. What will win votes versus What will be fabulous for NZ. I think an appealing aspect of the Greens is their tendency to aim for the ‘fabulous for NZ’ end of the scale.

      • Anne 5.2.2

        Yes. I call it ‘if all else fails muddy the waters’ strategy. And unfortunately it works. That is in part the fault of a dumbed down education system which has produced two generations of political imbeciles who have no knowledge of… or sense of civic duty.

        Selfishness and meanness has become the ‘de jour of the day’. In other words, the old ‘I’m alright Jack to hell with everyone else’ mentality is now widespread.

        Hate to be a party pooper but there’s no guarantee it won’t work again just like it did in 2008, 2011 and 2014.

  6. mosa 6

    What ever happened to ” Honest Bill ” ?

    That was an invention by the media and Crosby- Textor to try to sell him to the general population as some sort of god who could run a sucessful economy and be PM at the same time.

    Sound familar ?

    It just shows how a lot of people in this country live in an alternative reality where truth and real facts dont exist and they believe their own propaganda and we should do the same.

    The problem is these people control our country and our lives.

    Meanwhile real life and its consequences keep grinding on for the rest of us.

    • tracey 6.1

      It is like they dont remember the 900 a week rort… and every lie before and after.

    • Bearded Git 6.2

      Steve Braunias destroyed Bill in the Herald at the weekend:

      “Armed with a notebook and a stethoscope, I went looking for signs of life in Bill English during three days on the campaign trail this week. It was hard work. He was vague, foggy….as National’s new leader, English has looked smaller, hard to see, kind of wispy……… And then he was led inside the school, and traipsed from one science classroom to the next, making excruciating conversation everywhere he went.”

  7. Pat 7

    “This was John Key’s National Party. Damned hard to beat and damaging to our future but more through neglect and incompetence than 1990s style Ruthenasian deliberate infliction of harm.”

    Not at all….exactly the same philosophy is at play and even some of the same players (Bill for one)…just a different presentation, a lot more spin but the same goal.

    http://werewolf.co.nz/2017/08/bill-english-the-forgotten-history/

    • tracey 7.1

      Bill was painted as boring and sensible for so long he couldnt make the transition to hollow sound piece. But you have to admit he has tried

  8. Pete 8

    Preying on fear and promoting loathing are genuine tactics focused on the type of people in our country. There are many who are small-minded, timid and cowering waiting to be manipulated.

    Many want to be dominated and Crusher and Paula are the heavies for that. Steven is their one for the ‘smarts’, Bill for his Deep South honesty and openness with Gerry there, the perfect example that you can be whatever you want despite your lack of ability.

  9. The second is to reach out to the base, basically farmers. I don’t know why. This is a completely defensive move. Spreading shyte about how much Labour’s water tax will cost farmers is both a lie but also rather irrelevant. They have the farmer vote. They should bank it and move on.

    Which is really rather silly:

    1. Farmers are a declining share of the population with fewer and fewer people even remotely involved in it
    2. Many people are looking at farmers and questioning why they’re allowed to get away with the shit that they do

    End result would be that they’re more likely to lose votes going this way.

    And a fourth thing, the scariest thing, is that if English thinks it’s OK to insinuate that Labour is going to start slaughtering cows on national television, what are he and his colleagues telling people when there are no cameras present?

    That would be when the full on lying comes in.

    • Sans Cle 9.1

      This was posted in OM yesterday, but it’s worth reposting. Desperate pollution from a minority of dairy farmers. Links in the “Read more” section are also worth a read.

    • tracey 9.2

      The media are wetting themselves with hyperbolic headlines for a few hundred farmers and supporters.

      The local Fed Farmer said it wasnt a political rally but a way to set the record straight. Yeah Right. Not hard to see what Bill and the Nats have been doing by stirring up the farmers. Of course Bills brother is former Fed Farmers person. I am sure that is a coincidence

  10. ianmac 10

    To repeat Micky’s link to the National Business Review which I thought was a National magazine, it is a must read Transcript.
    https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/english-raises-prospect-slaughtered-cows-depopulated-cities-ck-207780#comments

    I cannot believe that Honest Bill can splurge such rubbish. Thankyou Corin for making it possible, and weird that the Q&A panel skirted the English interview and drilled in on the others instead.
    Note that the comments below NBR were also not happy with the English line.

    • tc 10.1

      “…weird that the Q&A panel skirted the English interview and drilled in on the others instead…”

      Not wierd just proves how owned they are giving Blinglish a free pass on fear mongering and lying rather than calling him the BS/not having a plan/their track record/etc.

      Pollys are as honest as the system lets them be and that’s why NACT lie their asses off as the system allows them to as we’ve no independant/public media to call it out for the BS it is.

  11. Bearded Git 11

    Not sure if it was ever going to be “a walk in the park” for the Nats. Labour and the Greens were polling 39% (which probably means 40) and it was only ever going to take a shift of 8% to win the election for the Left, and with Bill in charge of the Nats, Little may have done this.

    Jacinda certainly has. It is the crowds she is getting (like Sanders and Corbyn) that shows the shift. Unlike Sanders and Corbyn however, Jacinda is lucky that she has a fair electoral system on her side.

    If they had MMP in the UK Corbyn would be PM now.

    I agree with the post, it is a very odd thing about Bill’s campaign that he is spending so much time shoring up his rural base when they will vote for him anyway.

  12. Keith 12

    It’s a vile campaign by National, one of lies and ugliness and one that English fully subscribes to in his absolute desperation to avoid electoral defeat twice in his life,

    Whatever integrity English once appeared to have has been burned to cinders but if he wins, it’s job done.

    This government is not only tired but one that has led with blatant dishonesty from the get go. Incompetence maybe, but a deliberate direction to feather the nests of those in and close to the Party and in that they have caused great harm. And I genuinely believe the public service is on its bended knees right now and more dysfunctional than ever, directly thanks to National.

    I wonder if the real Bill English tries in vain at night to wash the filth off that has crawled inside his skin to win at all costs, or his current iteration the genuine article?

    • tracey 12.1

      What integrity did he have? He sat at the right hand of Key. He paid lawyers and accountants to rort 900 a week from us. He was there in 02 and 05 when the Bretheren were plotting…

  13. Ad 13

    Joyce, English and National are playing the right game at the right time.
    And they are stealing the momentum back.

    Labour need to be just as dark if they are to gain power.
    Like getting their own proxies to march in the streets.

    This isn’t the happy-sparkle-pony week.

    This is the negative week.

    • tracey 13.1

      Yeah we know you revere Machieavelli Ad.

      • Ad 13.1.1

        Just waiting for the Green-orchestrated counter-protest to the Morrinsville one.
        No? Never thought to do that? With Greenpeace and Forest and bird on tap?

        Clearly too hard to think about winning. Best to leave that to fate and making sure ideals don’t get dirty in the actual week that it counts.

        • Union city greens 13.1.1.1

          What about a labour organised protest?
          After all, environmentalism and clean rivers is also a nuclear generational moment, isn’t it?
          Or is action on that a ‘borrowed’ ideal too far when heartland votes are up for grabs?

          • Ad 13.1.1.1.1

            Definitely.
            That would be great.
            No point complaining about proxy-protests this week.

            You either fight right back or you are likely to lose.

            • Union city greens 13.1.1.1.1.1

              Great! Just get out and work then.

              • Ad

                I have been “getting out and working” for the Labour Party since 1999. And have been doing so for this one as well.

                • Union city greens

                  Looking forward to the invite to attend your labour party sponsored Morrinsville rebuttal.

                  • Ad

                    Nope-it’s up to the Labour Party itself to figure out something with its proxies.

                    • Union city greens

                      Practice what you preach? Crack on. Put me down for a +6

                    • mickysavage

                      USG I don’t think you are getting the gist of Ad’s comments.

                    • Union city greens

                      Like the recent ones where he’s been telling the greens to get out and work, I got the meaning of his post @13.1.1 just fine.

                      It seems he doesn’t really have an answer to a dose of his own medicine.

            • Anne 13.1.1.1.1.2

              You either fight right back or you are likely to lose.

              Absolutely. The relentless positivity goes only so far. I noted Ardern’s response to the farmers’ protest was so low key it almost didn’t exist. That will be interpreted as weakness and give others the impetus to also take her down over the next few days.

              Come on Jacinda and team. If you want to be the govt. you have to give as good as you get.

              • Incognito

                There are many ways of ‘fighting’ back. A ‘macho male’ approach is the aggressive confrontational attack. Another way is to deflect or putting the other off-balance (as in martial arts), e.g. by taking their arguments one or more steps further than they are willing to go (reductio ad absurdum). It all depends on your goal, the situation, and what suits you best on how you best deal with your ‘adversary’.

        • Muttonbird 13.1.1.2

          Bit hard for ordinary working people. These farmers have such a cushy life they can take a whole day off to protest against a better New Zealand. They can do this because of the cheap labour they’ve got Nats to import for them from the Philippines.

          • Ad 13.1.1.2.1

            That’s just weak-ass excuses. And saying that farmers have “a cushy life” is the kind of dumb dismissiveness that the right use against the left. The Greens can figure that one out. In televisual terms, you don’t get more “ordinary working people” imagery than small-town Morrinsville. Arderrn is now having to defend-defend-defend with 4 days to go.

            • Muttonbird 13.1.1.2.1.1

              Listen to yourself. All doom and gloom now, when 2 weeks ago you were saying it was all over and Labour had won. With you being so close to the heart of Labour campaigning and being ‘so good’ at strategy, why hasn’t Andrew Kirton and the rest taken your suggestion of a march down Queen Street seriously?

              Also, if you think the farmers of Morrinsville are ordinary people in the context of today’s New Zealand then you are more out of touch than I thought. They are among the elite of New Zealand right now.

              • Ad

                The election has changed. Tactics need to change. You’ve seen it from Labour, National, and the Greens. It’s not unusual when it’s this tight.

                Labour need to think and act out of this one fast i.e. hours not days. Not enough to rely on one farmer with a dumb poster to make them look dumb on tv. Labour need to respond with more than Ardern – who placed per personal credibility on her Morrisonville origins.

  14. Tanz 14

    He is simply stating the unvarnished truth, as is Labourite Brian Edwards, re tax.

    • In Vino 14.1

      Tanz, on this website you are making Ad look bad.
      And Edwards seems to have wandered some way from the left.

  15. Michael Shanahan 15

    For a working person with no kids National’s tax cut policy signals where they are at. The combination of removing the Independent Earner Tax Credit and the upward shift in the $14000 threshold leaves me (earning $43,000 a year) with an extra $1 a week. Or anyone earning up to $48,000.
    Someone in my circumstances but earning $52000 a year or more gets $20 a week extra

    I love how this was reported on NewsHub in May, presumably just regurgitating Joyce’s press release.

    “Budget 2017: Tax changes to benefit every working Kiwi…
    Tax thresholds change from $14,000 to $22,000 and from $48,000 to $52,000
    Those in the $22,000 bracket will get a $10.77 tax reduction a week, those on $52,000 will get $20.38
    Independent Earner Tax Credit has been scrapped, those claiming it will be fully compensated”
    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/05/budget-2017-tax-changes-to-benefit-every-working-kiwi.html

    • Pat 15.1

      those are the sort of examples labour should be highlighting eveytime they are interviewed….lets talk about tax (cuts) that isn’t (arnt).

  16. John Stone 16

    Why is the family home exempt fro Capital Gains Tax? It will cost a lot enforcing it and favors the wealthy?

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