Fewer bureaucrats

Written By: - Date published: 3:20 pm, September 5th, 2008 - 36 comments
Categories: election 2008, national, polls, slippery - Tags:

OK. They were laughably bad before but now they don’t even have the grammar correct.

If you can count it, you use fewer: less water, fewer litres of water; less bureaucracy, fewer bureaucrats. Simple. This from the bunch promising to magically raise education standards?

Wait though – since when did National have a policy to reduce the number of ‘bureaucrats’? Isn’t the policy a cap at present numbers (worth 50 cents a week in tax cuts)? And haven’t they actually announced policies, like the new prison and the $1.5 billion in corporate welfare for Telecom, that will require hundreds, if not thousands, more public servants to implement?

Of course, the number of doctors and nurses is actually up significantly since 1999 because the Labour-led Governments have spent billions more on staff and paid more. That spending has been constantly criticised by the Right. So where are they going to get more doctors and nurses from? 08wire suggests the doctor stork or osmosis. I doubt National has thought that deeply about it.

36 comments on “Fewer bureaucrats”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    More World War I cemeteries?

  2. Lew 2

    As a declared grammar totalitarian, this has improved my daycycle immensely. I think we’ll see much merriment made of this.

    And therein lies the barb. This can’t be an error. Ad agencies and PR companies of the calibre employed by political parties in election year don’t let this sort of thing slip by – they pay former journalists and copy editors big bucks to defect to the dark side, and put them to work crafting just these sorts of messages. I think they’re pitching for a little bit of Sarah Palin-style backlash against the know-it-all beltway elites on the government benches, and their hot-air-blowing stooges in the librul edjucated media, ourselves included, who’ll take the piss out of people using `less’ instead of `fewer’ when most simply wouldn’t see the problem. Woe betide the party who makes the electorate feel dumb – but well, National sure ain’t in much danger of doing that.

    Aww, look, now I’ve gone all conspiratorial.

    L

  3. Tane 3

    Lew, having seen the calibre of their billboards, I’m not sure they’re that smart.

  4. Janet 4

    Nurses have fought very hard in recent years to increase their wages and conditions. Since 2000 they have first had to unite under a MECA agreement across DHBs which meant turning around the divisive policies of the 90s. Then they had to fight for two major pay rises, which included seeking parity with other occupation groups such as police and teachers. There are still shortages as there is a global shortage of health professionals, but without these advances the situation would be even more dire. And which party fought against the nurses forming a MECA, and then opposed their efforts to improve wages and conditions? – National of course. Specifically, Judith Collins who clearly told the campaigning nurses at one meeting that National did not and would not support pay rises for nurses.

    So how are they planning to get more doctors and nurses now?

  5. Lew 5

    Tane: But that’s just what they want you to think!

    L

  6. Lew, I’m not sure they make tinfoil hats big enogh to fit over your hair.

    But it is an incredible error. Hard to believe it could be accidental but it also stretches crediblity to think they would do something so elaborate and risky as to purposely put a grammar error in a billboard to elicit mocking and then turn that into ‘us vs the elitists’. Occam’s razor suggests mistake.

  7. Lew 7

    SP: Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m only half serious (having a Travellerev moment, between this and Nick Smith), but these are strange times in which we live.

    L

  8. insider 8

    This is advertising not an English test. I think it is deliberate the whole contrast between ‘more and less’.

    Sadly less is is becoming commonly accepted so, in an advertising sense, it makes sense to use it. It is slightly punchier than fewer.

    It does have overtones of those Escher screen prints with the birds.

    Can’t see that blue text on blue background is a wise design. That said they look a lot crisper when I saw a photo in the paper. Perhaps they don’t repro as well online.

  9. Dom 9

    Wow, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. But magically it has!

    Another problem – these billboards just don’t have a cohesive theme or look. The blue is too wishy washy to tie them together and the background designs are lost once the sun hits them. And does the logo look even smaller than it did in the first two?

    National’s ads last election were superb. Divisive, vile, but brilliant. These are…bland. Sort of like their leader.

  10. Vanilla Eis 10

    Dom +1

  11. Tane 11

    Good to see Grant Robertson gets it.

    “Recently National candidates in Wellington have been tying themselves in knots trying to explain their party’s position on public services, and have claimed that there will not be job losses. Yet today we see the message National wants the rest of the country to hear is that there will be less (or should that be fewer?) public servants. They can’t have it both ways”.

  12. monkey-boy 12

    Still not getting it are you? They aren’t designed to withstand the kind of analysis you are used to using. They are designed to dogwhistle to the undecided voter.

  13. Tane 13

    MB, I get that. I just think they’re crap in every way imaginable.

  14. bill brown 14

    Shouldn’t it be:

    More “family values” +, more creationism +

    Less evolution

  15. Dom 15

    At a glance it looks like an ad for Southern Cross. Or Shortland Street. Maybe it’ll make undecided voters watch TV2 at 7pm on weeknights…

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    It’s another road safety ad? Bloody nanny-state National party.

  17. Paul Williams 17

    “Recently National candidates in Wellington have been tying themselves in knots trying to explain their party’s position on public services, and have claimed that there will not be job losses. Yet today we see the message National wants the rest of the country to hear is that there will be less (or should that be fewer?) public servants. They can’t have it both ways’.

    He’s a clever chap, indeed.

  18. Tim 18

    Janet – a very good point. Wasn’t National complaining vociferously about the doctors’ strikes last year? Although to be fair Helen Kelly was too. I also seem to remember a similar comment from Wayne Mapp I think about the SFWU – Spotless lockout being about “filling union coffers” rather than pay rises for low paid workers.

    Do you think some of those youths who got into trouble instead of training wrote this billboard?

  19. Edosan 19

    Something of a death related theme seems to be pervading these billboards. First I thought they were going to bomb my loved ones if I didn’t wave goodbye to higher taxes, now all I see are rows of crosses staring at me.

    The National Party scares me.

  20. Matthew Pilott 20

    Edosan – don’t you see? It’s part of National and John Key’s promise to run a positive and ambitious campaign.

    The crosses do, at a visceral level seem to be a reminder that our health system isn’t perfect, I wonder if that’s accidental. Doubtful. Positive and ambitious indeed.

    I don’t see crosses as happy “plus” signs of National’s promise to fund more doctos and nurses, somehow.

  21. Edosan 21

    I didn’t pick up the happy plus signs at all. All i got was a subliminal warning.

    If they want to make me feel positive with that billboard, then i can say that this campaign *is* very ambitious.

  22. But it is an incredible error. Hard to believe it could be accidental but it also stretches crediblity to think they would do something so elaborate and risky as to purposely put a grammar error in a billboard to elicit mocking and then turn that into ‘us vs the elitists’. Occam’s razor suggests mistake.

    Careful there: if “purposely” is a word at all, it’s one of those words that gets anointed purely to make people feel better. Try “deliberately”.

    But … wow. I saw this above the fold and thought it must be from the new National billboard generator site. Big effin’ deal, I thought.

    But this is an actual billboard? With text that someone paid money for?

    Good grief.

  23. schrodigerscat 23

    The white cross is of course the central element of the Swiss flag. This must be related to mssrs Fay and Richwhite and the Alinghi thingy.

    Could also be eyes on a Chucky doll though.

  24. Janet 24

    As part of this new policy I look forward to the National Party announcing re-training courses for the Ministry of Health and DHB ‘bureaucrats’ such as

    ‘Heart surgery for contract relationship managers in six easy lessons.’

    Which will mean we will also have to have

    ‘Contract relationship management in your spare time for heart surgeons’

    (and basic literacy testing for National Party ‘bureaucrats’ ie those in Keys’ office paid by the taxpayer who must be signing off these ads)

  25. Sarah 25

    I think they’re brilliant. You don’t need to use your imagination all of the time. Just get the point across. You guys will moan about anything that even hints the colour blue.

  26. Razorlight 26

    I agree Sarah.

    Who of you thought the 2005 ad and billboard campaign was clever. The majority of you still laugh at them yet they were without doubt very effective in the campaign.

    All an effective billboard needs is a simple, to the point message. These billboards deliver that simple message. The correct use of the Queens language does not really matter if that message is delivered.

  27. RedLogix 27

    And of course with fewer ‘bureaucrats’, the actual doctors and nurses simply get to spend even more of their time doing paper work than they do now…. and less time looking after patients.

    People love beating up on the bureaucracy, but rarely do they think of the alternative without them. It’s the same class of thinking that says, “I hate getting speeding tickets, lets get rid of the cops.”.

  28. Razorlight 28

    RedLogix

    It is more about getting rid of the work that bureaucrats do. Filling out form after form and having 3 meetings a day to discuss when to employ a consultant about advising the DHB about how to reduce the amount of time consultants need to spend in meetings.

    This is what is meant by getting rid of bureaucrats. It is streamlining the whole operation and skimming off the work that did not need to be done in the first place.

  29. It may be that National’s billboard lack imagination, but I note they seem to have the entire NZ political blogosphere talking about them…

    Steve, your doctor numbers are misleading. Your figures posted on 31st March are total numbers of doctors registered. What these figures don’t tell you is that a substantial number of these doctors registered here are either working part time or are working in Australia as locums. The Hospitals have massive shortages and trotting out your lovely graphs is not going to change that.

    [from memory, they’re active doctors and as we’re looking at change over time unless a higher proportion of registered doctors in nz are now working overseas than was the case in the past then the trend is still correct, but maybe you could provide a better metric. And I’m not arguing that more doctors wouldn’t be great, I’m arguing we are getting more doctors already. SP]

  30. Pascal's bookie 30

    It may be that National’s billboard lack imagination, but I note they seem to have the entire NZ political blogosphere talking about whether or not they suck on purpose.

    Fixed.

  31. Anita 31

    Sarah,

    I think they’re brilliant. You don’t need to use your imagination all of the time. Just get the point across.

    Ok, so committed National voters (like you) get the point, and committed-not-National voters (like many other people here) say they’re bollocks.

    Neither of those groups actually matter.

    The question is what the reaction of uncommitted or soft voters is.

    My hunch (feel free to have a different one) is that they billboards are too visually and message weak – people who don’t already care simply won’t notice them or pay attention to them. They fade into the wash of car, radio, supermarket and bank billboards. One of the reasons the Ansell billboards worked so well last time was that they stood out. These risk being background noise.

  32. Lew 32

    Anita: As I watched some TV programme last night which was sponsored by Bond+Bond, I reflected upon the fact that the background to the latest billboard (blue with white +es) was similar to the Bond+Bond colours (blue with light blue +es, if I recall).

    L

  33. Anita 33

    Lew,

    You tricked me into looking at the Bond+Bond website: it hurt my eyes!! 😉 Who in their right mind would use that particular blue without at least some fading, let alone a dirty lime 🙁

    But yes, plenty of similarities, including pages with “>>Locate” on them and fake handwriting. I wonder if they used the same firm. It is much more memorable (and hideous) that the Nat billboards tho.

  34. Lew 34

    Anita: There’s scope for mashup billboards, here. The Nat billboards with some of the B+B slogans, like:

    Wave goodbye to higher taxes. Instant gratification available now!

    Get them into training. Perfect for rockstars!

    I might mock some up when I get back from the beach.

    L

  35. Anita 35

    Lew,

    Get them into training. Perfect for rockstars!

    Hee! 🙂

  36. Pascal's bookie 36

    There’s scope for mashup billboards, here.

    heh

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