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Heart you too, John

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, August 15th, 2009 - 38 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

In former journalist John Armstrong’s piece today, he also writes:

“a frustration and impatience towards National still displayed by some of the shriller Labour-aligned blogs, which find fault with anything and everything the Key Government does while expecting their breathless critiques to somehow bring forward its demise”

Aww, you noticed 😀

Seriously though, John. Any substantive critique or just empty attacks because you don’t like hearing robust criticisms of your mate Key?

Here’s what we’ve criticised National for this week:

  • taking away sports funding from poor kids to give to rich kids
  • reinstating knighthoods
  • making false attacks on Labour’s economic record, rather than trying to fix the economy
  • failing to set an emissions reduction target that matches the science
  • the ‘competition has failed, more competition is the answer!’ power review
  • Bennett’s attack on our rights
  • not doing anything about unemployment
  • Not inviting workers to a conference on workplace safety
  • deploying the SAS while clearly being ignorant of the situation in Afghanistan
  • their ideologically driven privatisation agenda (re Auckland airport)
  • poor design of the home insulation programme
  • Ripping off the taxpayer with their accommodation rort
  • Beneficiary bashing

Were any of these criticisms baseless or gratuitous? Should we not have made this criticisms because they’re not going to move the polls? 

This is a left-wing blog, we’re going to disagree with the ideas and policies of a right-wing government quite a bit because we are espousing opposite views (incidentally of 30 posts, only 20 were anti-National and one agreed with English).

Passionate? Yes. Forceful? Yes. But our posts are substantive, they’re issues focused (in stark contrast to your writing, John), and they are grounded both in data and in ideology. We welcome people who want to come and debate against our arguments.

If you can’t come up with any real rebuttals of our arguments, John, and resort to bitching instead, then I feel a bit sorry for you.

38 comments on “Heart you too, John ”

  1. IrishBill 1

    To be fair to John he’s probably a little upset about the number of times the Standard has pointed out clear flaws of logic in his work.

    We’re also not supposed to be rude to the gallery, it’s one of the unwritten rules that they must be sucked up to at all costs. That’s why Farrar never criticises them and it’s also the likely reason so many of them have got used to saying any old shit that’s in their heads and assuming it’s true.

  2. Peter Martin 2

    *laff* Fair call.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Ow, that has got to hurt.

      AntiSpam: relationship – NACT probably need to consider theirs

  3. Bill 4

    On “deploying the SAS while clearly being ignorant of the situation in Afghanistan”

    “A law that lets Afghan husbands starve their wives if they refuse to obey their sexual demands has been quietly slipped into effect”…..”Nato countries threatened to withdraw their troops unless the legislation was drastically rewritten”…”it has since been “gazetted”, effectively making it law.”


    What’s the SAS presence in aid of again?

    • If you think this war’s about liberating these people from that absurdity, think again. It’s not a simple good vs evil equation.

      Read more of the Independent and you may gain a more comprehensive understanding.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Yeah, yeah. I know it’s not black hat white hat stuff. But that’s the way the NZ government tries to portray it…evil Taliban blah, blah, blah….anyway. They essentially back that nice guy Karzai.

    • BLiP 4.2

      US corporate hegemony.

      Get with the programme – since when did National Inc give one single flying fuck about the plight of Muslim women? Try peddling that tripe over on Kiwibog if you want an idea of how National Inc’s heartland feel about Muslim women. They even hate New Zealand women. Crazy.

      • Bill 4.2.1

        ffs. Seems folks is getting the wrong end of the stick with regards to my comment above.

        Propaganda for domestic consumption in other countries partaking in the occupation = b/s about how their concern for women’s rights might lead to a withdrawal. In other words, they are trying to portray themselves as good guys who have standards when it comes to who they will support (They don’t. We know this. But the Independent’s pieces come on top of rising public doubt because of rising death rates…100 UK troops this year = need to respond and make out your the guy in the white hat.)

        Meanwhile NZ jumps in to fight the good fight with both feet. And the propaganda behind fighting of the good fight in a NZ context merely amounts to fighting on the same side as Karzai ’cause he’s unquestioningly a good guy.

  4. Ianmac 5

    To be fair John Armstrong is one of the old school and it might take a while for him to understand the implications of blogs like this. Still he must read them for inspiration?

  5. Lew 6

    I commend Danyl’s take on this all to the virtual house.


    • Eddie 6.1

      This really is vintage Danyl. We’ve done plenty of criticism of the Goff-led Labour Party, in fact I’ve even been quoted in the mainstream press telling Goff to “get his shit together”. Posters here also frequently advocate policies well to the left of Labour, or criticise Labour for its gutlessness in pursuing its own objectives.

      It seems to me Danyl sees what he wants to see in the standard, and what he wants to see (much like you do Lew) is blind and uncritical partisanship – even after he’s written posts on his on blog critiquing our criticisms of Labour.

      As Daveo points out, the idea that we defended Winston Peters or predicted a Labour landslide in 2008 is ridiculous. I think it says something that for his thesis to work he has to invent facts to support his argument. That he’s had to ignore all our previous criticisms of Goff and Labour as well speaks to a certain level of intellectual dishonesty on his part.

      On the point that the broad Left should be critical of Labour’s current performance, clearly I’m in agreement. If he actually read the real standard rather than the standard in his head he’d know that.

      And if he’s concerned that not enough criticism (or, judging by his previous posts, the wrong criticism) is being levelled at Labour then he’s welcome to write a guest post here, as is anyone.

      Meanwhile I’ll continue to point out where I think the Government is wrong, and where I think the opposition could do better, as will other posters here.

  6. Rich 7

    Like I said over at the Dim Post, “I’ve seen plenty of criticism of Goff from the left, including on The Standard (who I don’t recall defending Peters or predicting a Labour landslide). As usual you seem to be unable to critique someone without misrepresnting their position in your usual smug manner.”

    Typical response from Lew though, the only person on the internet who’s possibly more smug than Danyl McLaughlin.

    • Daveo 7.1

      That’s to be expected from the likes of Lew and Danyl McLaughlin. Neither have any real experience in real world politics so come from a position of naivety, and both have the detached liberal’s sense of arrogance and smugness.

      Neither, to my knowledge, has ever done anything to actively advance the cause of the left. All they’re good for is sniping at and trying to belittling those who are actually doing something.

      Seeing as Lew’s such a pedant (he does post at Kiwipolitico after all), I wonder if he’d like to square his full endorsement of McLaughlin’s comments with the two flat out lies that form the core of his argument – firstly, that The Standard defended Winston Peters, and secondly, that The Standard predicted a landslide victory for Labour. Lew?

  7. mike 8

    “Any substantive critique or just empty attacks”

    This is the question you should be asking yourselves Ed – Any is justified criticism is too thinly dispersed between unsubstantiated smear

  8. Lew 9

    Oh, a nerve.


    My endorsement is of the argument in general, rather than the specifics. For what it’s worth I’m thrilled at the criticism you and others have leveled at Labour; but it’s frankly not enough given how damned poorly they’re doing. As I said at the Dim-Post and plenty of times before, political movements need to be constantly tested and scrutinised. Labour has, since before the election, been insulated from the consequences of its errors to an extent which has allowed it to become complacent. A lot of this was an absence of effective criticism by Labour’s base. By refusing in the name of unity to properly put in the boot, The Standard has been complicit. I was complicit, too, and not as critical as I could have been. This was, and is the fundamental problem for Labour, not details of policy or strategy. Resolve the systemic issues which result in leaders getting poor information and guidance from the electorate and the rest will solve itself – Labour has the support and the talent to do it, but they need to be properly incentivised.

    I have a great deal of time for Phil Goff as a politician and a political thinker; probably more than most of Labour’s left and the Green supporters here. But I don’t believe he is a strong enough leader for the present circumstance, and on that basis I think he should return to his areas of expertise – Foreign Affairs, Defence, Trade.

    It may be that you reckon there aren’t major problems with Labour’s performance in opposition. It may be that you endorse Labour’s strategy, which seems to be to hope National fails. It may be that you’re more patient than I am and have more faith in Labour’s internal structures. I’m not confident of any, really.

    Rich, Daveo

    Typical response from Lew though, the only person on the internet who’s possibly more smug than Danyl McLaughlin.

    That’s to be expected from the likes of Lew and Danyl McLaughlin. Neither have any real experience in real world politics so come from a position of naivety, and both have the detached liberal’s sense of arrogance and smugness.

    I’d be happy to wear the mantle of Smuggest Interwebber, but I don’t think it’s justified. Especially since what you appear to mean by ‘smug’ is ‘disagrees with me using words bigger than wheelbarrow’.

    Neither, to my knowledge, has ever done anything to actively advance the cause of the left. All they’re good for is sniping at and trying to belittling those who are actually doing something.

    Ah yes, the heady blend of ‘Not Invented Here’ syndrome and ‘don’t be a hater, man’ whingeing. Because I don’t know the secret activist handshake, or you haven’t seen me down on the picket lines, I clearly don’t know nothin’ and should just Foxtrot Romeo Oscar. This is a big chunk of the problem I mentioned above, of Labour being insulated from criticism. Labour started believing its own hype; the party membership withered and the executive got its advice from the activist base and the parliamentary corps rather than from the electorate they claimed to represent. Strong political movements take advice from everywhere, and constantly check their direction and assumptions against objective reality. Labour, it seems, were and are doing neither of these things well.

    Or do you still think Labour lost because of a scurrilous media conspiracy about them being out of touch, and not because they were actually out of touch?


    • sk 9.1

      Much the last Labour Govt did was orientated to correcting the mistakes of the 4th Labour Gov’t. The challenge is going to be recognising the ‘new’ mistakes, and orientating Labour again to gain be the natural governing party. With the JK government that will take time, but with with National’s firm ‘tacking’ to the right’, space in the centre-left will open up – sooner, rather than later.

      But equally, the debate over what was wrong with the 1999-2008 Labour Gov’t needs to happen . . .sooner rather than later

    • IrishBill 9.2

      Don’t be a twat Lew. You’ve got no idea what you’re taking about.

      • Ari 9.2.1

        1) It’s kinda sad that you’re using a piece of the female anatomy as an insult.
        2) Lew’s making perfect sense anyway, not that I particularly expect you to agree. *shrug*

      • Lew 9.2.2

        Bill, honestly, is that all you’ve got?


        • IrishBill

          Yeah, you’re both right. I was out of line and I apologise. I find the current situation as frustrating as you do Lew. But I’ve been around a while and know that there is no silver bullet. It just takes time. I think the current opposition are still figuring out what they’re doing and I don’t think they’re in a position to take advice from the outside at the moment.

          You’ve got to remember it’s a massive shift in mindset to go from 9 years of government to opposition. Imagine your workplace goes though a major downsize, your staff and their roles change and your senior management resign all at once and add to that the core function of the business changing.

          That’s effectively what happens when a long standing party loses power and I suspect they are still feeling their way through it. It’s frustrating but politics is about the long game and right now my impression is that Goff is steady as she goes until they get it figured out.

          The Greens are in a similar position but are obviously ahead of Labour in that they have not had such a large switch and they have confirmed long-term leaders with party buy-in (which is not to say Goff hasn’t got buy in but that his mandate isn’t as clear as that which has been provided to Russ and Me through the whole party voting) . That said the debate about how they behave in the new political environment is still very much alive and well within the Greens, you’re just not seeing it so much because they are not being focused on as the primary opposition.

    • Lew

      The left’s basic problem is that it is so hard on itself. Sometimes these criticisms are justified, at other times it just seems that people are having a go just because they can. The right do not have these problems. If you are born to rule then as long as you are ruling things are fine.

      Some of your criticisms are unfair. For instance “political movements need to be constantly tested and scrutinised. Labour has, since before the election, been insulated from the consequences of its errors to an extent which has allowed it to become complacent. A lot of this was an absence of effective criticism by Labour’s base. By refusing in the name of unity to properly put in the boot, The Standard has been complicit.”

      Examples please. You are possibly talking about the failure to formulate and advocate a particular position but to be frank at this stage of the electoral cycle doing so would be strategically crazy. And like it or not “fighting the good fight” and losing is something that most of us tired many years ago.

      “Resolve the systemic issues which result in leaders getting poor information and guidance from the electorate and the rest will solve itself”.

      Now I am confused. Perhaps Labour should have opposed Bradford’s anti smacking bill. Unfortunately sometimes the “guidance” from the electorate, or that part that determines elections, can result in very unprincipled decisions.

      “Strong political movements take advice from everywhere, and constantly check their direction and assumptions against objective reality. Labour, it seems, were and are doing neither of these things well.”

      Poll driven politics anyone?

    • Lew 9.4

      Bill, much more useful ; ) I don’t really agree that a large-scale political movement is ever in a position to disregard advice from outside its corps, as we’ve established.


      The left’s basic problem is that it is so hard on itself.

      I agree that it is hard on itself, but I think that this is necessary. Since the left tends to try to occupy moral and ethical high ground, working from principle rather than from realpolitik by choice, it is necessary that it hold itself to a good standard of conduct and competence.

      You are possibly talking about the failure to formulate and advocate a particular position

      I am very explicitly not talking about policy and nailing colours to the mast on specific issues I’m talking about the infrastructure of internal and external communication and agenda management and signalling to the electorate and allied parties. Without this, policy is useless. Without policy, the communication infrastructure is empty. The two need to be developed in tandem. I’m quite happy for the policy agenda to remain largely internal at present, but it is a grave mistake to keep feeding the ‘out of touch’ line by pretending there’s nothing wrong and failing to act on the very clear signals the electorate has given that the status quo is not good enough.

      Perhaps Labour should have opposed Bradford’s anti smacking bill. Unfortunately sometimes the “guidance’ from the electorate, or that part that determines elections, can result in very unprincipled decisions.

      Perhaps, if they’d wanted to retain power at any cost, they should have. But better would have been allowing the Greens to wear the political fallout of the bill; after all, it was a Green initiative. It was the keystone in a very poisonous narrative which really rang true for a lot of people. I don’t believe Labour should have opposed it, but I think they could have done much better to minimise the political harm it did to them. This is another of the problems with Labour’s being dominated by an activist base: the party thought (thinks?) of itself as the left rather than as part of a wider movement; and so we see Labour and it supporters attacking natural or potential allies like the Greens and the māori party rather than trying to maintain relationships with them, and recognising that much of what those allies are doing is influencing policy and improving the general standing of environmentalist and tangata whenua groups, demonstrating that they’re not just fringe activists, but legitimate, reasonable political actors. Diversity is strength. Labour should be the hub, not try to be the entire wheel.

      Poll driven politics anyone?

      It’s a matter of balance. Pure principle can be political poison. Pure populism certainly is. I’m not a radical; I’m an incrementalist, and I think that parties of principle need to choose their battles. Your statement that you’re sick of fighting the good fight and losing indicates you understand this. The point is that the good fight doesn’t have to be a losing fight. But it does need to be carefully managed, and Labour’s wilful ignorance of the mood of their electorate around for example, the FSA, the EFA, Winston Peters, and s59 repeal was not smart management. They might have gotten away with one or two of those things, but all four was just taking the piss.


      • IrishBill 9.4.1

        I didn’t say they were in a position where they should disregard outside advice I said they are not in a position to pay it any regard.

    • Daveo 9.5

      I’ve got no issue with criticism, Lew. My point is that you’re just another armchair critic who doesn’t have a clue what’s actually going on. You’re an outsider, a punter, an amateur, yet you act as if you’ve got the inside running. I mean mate, you just claimed that in the previous Labour government “the executive got its advice from the activist base” – really? Do you know that? Or did you just make it up because it makes you sound less of a punter?

      IB was right, you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, yet you feel able to lecture everyone else in a superior tone. That’s why your smugness grates on me.

      • Lew 9.5.1


        you’re just another armchair critic who doesn’t have a clue what’s actually going on. You’re an outsider, a punter, an amateur

        I’m an outsider, but not an amateur. Analysing political communication is what I do.

        The fact that you think someone needs to be on the inside to have anything credible to say about a given political failure is just another example. It’d be one thing if you disagreed and said ‘this is why’ (and perhaps you have your reasons), but simply discounting views from outside the tent as ‘smug’ and ‘uninformed’ is just the sort of the damfoolishness and insulation from contrary opinions that I’m talking about.

        Insider voices usually belong to those responsible for implementing and overseeing the failure; those are the people I would be least inclined to listen to right about now. Not to say that they are bad or incompetent, but that they’re not getting results. It’s at times like this that businesses call in the receivers; that sort of thing isn’t justified yet because there have been changes, to an extent at the top of the parliamentary level but more significantly at the organisational level and in the new intake and elevation of the middle ranks of MPs. But the communication is still failing and the party shows little indication of being any more in touch than they were in late 2008. If Labour doesn’t start checking its progress against objective reality – and pretty soon – that time will come. I really, really don’t want that to happen.


        • Daveo

          Clearly you don’t even have a clue what an insider is, or that one can have ‘inside’ knowledge and access while agitating for change.

          For you, it’s either ignorant armchair criticism from the outside or it’s unquestioning partisan hackery from within. Which goes to show just how naive your understanding of real world politics is.

          That’s my problem with you Lew. You’re a naive punter who lectures everyone else as if you actually know what you’re talking about. You’re a bullshit artist and it’s time you were called on it.

  9. sk 10

    John Armstrong is just anxious because he made the JK bet a while a back, and is now senses it is going against him .. . maybe not today, but he knows the trend is not good. Hence his lashing out.

    His anxiety is the one the NZ electorate will have to face with time; have we bought a lemon . .or a Sarah Palin?

  10. jarbury 11

    Chris Hipkins has an interesting response to this article: http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2009/08/15/where-to-from-here/

  11. outofbed 12

    Just been surveyed by UMR (10 min ago)
    Lots of focus on the perception of Goff in the questions
    It looks like they are on to it.
    I still think, though as experienced as Phil is, he is not the best choice for leader.
    he just doesn’t resonate with people. Unfortunately we have such a shallow coverage of politics in this country the only way to gain traction is to have some one who does come across well on TV, someone more charismatic .
    I was disgusted when the emission target was realised we had tons of coverage of
    Kiesha Castle and none of the alternative proposal from the Greens ,the third biggest party and with obvious knowledge in this area.
    So I guess replace Phil Goff with Sam Neil and problem solved

    • I think we should give Phil a chance and give him time. He is working extremely hard, he is dedicated and he is listening and adjusting. It has been said many times but I will say it again, Helen also struggled for relevance and traction until she had a very good campaign in 1996.

      Politics is all about luck and timing and there is plenty of time for Phil to make his mark.

      It is a shame the right do not subject Key to the same sort of analysis. If they did then he would be gone the first time that he failed. I am sure that this will occur in any event.

      • Ari 12.1.1

        I’m all for giving Goff a chance. Hell, if he came out swinging on the things he’s best at with real, alternative positions, that would be awesome. Goff was always great on human rights and international affairs, for instance. He’s been OK on showing a higher standard of ethics as a leader, too. I’d certainly take him over John Key, even setting aside party affiliations.

        That’s really quite a different thing, however, from saying that Labour needs a major attitude adjustment and needs to stop thinking itself of the gatekeeper of all that is leftism/progressivism in New Zealand and actually reconnect with its constituency and its potential allies. None of that is inherently tied to Goff or the old guard. It’s a pervasive attitude within the party that it gets to tell people off who are “supposed to be on its side”. That’s just silly, and not how you go about building a political majority.

  12. outofbed 13

    Unfortunately. being a hard working capable politician is somehow not enough
    look at Key I would argue that he is not hard working or particularly capable but he is the PM nonetheless and a popular one at that.

  13. BLiP 14

    I can understand Armstrong taking pot shots at the blogs because they are increasingly making him and his ilk irrelavant.

  14. Maynard J 15

    Lew, in your ‘true believers’ post Optimism Isn’t Enough, the idea of which you have followed up upon here, I responded with a comment in which I said (not verbatim) “what do you think would have happened if labour supporters, before the election, said ‘yes, we are all out of touch’.”

    Your response to that was that what I was suggesting was absurd.

    I had a bit of a laugh at you, then, to be honest, because if you think that someone giving an example of exactly what you were suggesting is absurd, then you clearly have not thought through your idea much, or given it any practical application whatsoever. Your follow up after I pointed out that it was a genuine suggestion was that it was not what you were suggesting at all.

    Now, it appears, you were taking the piss because you did not like the sound of your ideas in reality.

    You can hardly think that was an absurd idea if you think, as stated above, that “…do you still think Labour lost because of a scurrilous media conspiracy about them being out of touch, and not because they were actually out of touch?”

    So what is “to properly put in the boot” going to entail? What would it have been during the election campaign? I tried to give an example, which you mocked as absurd, and that turns out to appear to have been a fairly dishonest statement from you.

    Perhaps you are mixing up your ideas around what should have been done before the election, rather than afterwards, but you criticise people for not taking the threat of Key seriously (which in my mind is quite obviously just a strategy) when they should have, yet before the election it was absurd to admit (if you believe it was the case) that Labour was arrogant and out of touch, but that is exactly what is required after the election.

    I believe it is having such a conflicted view of what should be done and when that has led to some of these criticisms of your ideas (and you, by extension, though I am not supportive of that).

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    5 days ago
  • Speech from the throne
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    6 days ago
  • Keynote address to Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand conference
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    7 days ago
  • Government to review housing settings
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    1 week ago
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  • Speech to Primary Industries Summit
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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