How the right kill social democracy

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, October 12th, 2010 - 52 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, International, spin - Tags:

The following article published in Canada’s Globe and Mail details how big business and the establishment “killed” the social democratic government of Ontario in 1990. It’s short and worth reading its entirety.

The article summarises the lengths to which the right will go to subvert the democratic will of people who believe in a fairer society. And therein lie some incredibly important lessons we must always remember. I try to tease out some of these lessons from this case study below. But make sure you read the whole article!

Ontario’s NDP (New Democratic Party) government was elected government of Ontario on 1st October 1990.

within months Mr. Rae’s government faced an unrelenting, brutal four-year onslaught that was unprecedented in Canadian history.
The attacks came from all sides. It is no exaggeration to say hysterical fear-mongering and sabotage was the order of the day. Launched within the very first year of the new government, the attackers included every manner of business big and small, both Canadian and American-owned, almost all private media, the police (especially in Toronto), landlords and lobbying/government relations firms. Their goal was clear, and they had the money and power to achieve it.

Lesson 1) Money and power are against you. Don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise.

The tactics were not necessarily subtle. Though the Soviet Union was ignominiously imploding, right-wing columnists such as Diane Francis and Barbara Amiel actually resorted to old-fashioned red baiting, smearing the government as “red” or “communist.” And after the new finance minister’s very first meeting with the banking community , a bank vice-president told him, in the presence of an aide: “Nice speech, Mr. Minister, but we’re going to kill you.” And they did.

Lesson 2) Don’t sit there and take the smear attacks. Fight back, and fight back hard. Don’t let the bastards get the better of you.

NDP government decision-makers, while innocent about so much, at least understood that the corporate world was not given to bluffing. Time after time they responded to the endless corporate blackmail by compromising on policies and commitments. In this way, they alienated many of their own followers but without ever appeasing business interests. They never could.

Lesson 3) Don’t bow to threats with compromise. Remember who voted you in and the platform you were voted in on. Stand strong.

Some business protests bordered on the disloyal. Hysterical landlords took out an ad in The Wall Street Journal warning Americans not to invest in “leftist Ontario.” Others demanded the complete repudiation by the government of its most cherished legislation, as when several coalitions of powerful business interests, managed by government relations firms such as Hill & Knowlton, demanded the NDP scrap its entire plan to amend the Labour Relations Act. This was the kind of class warfare Lenin might have admired, especially since the government had already withdrawn many of its intended changes in order to meet business criticism.

Lesson 4) Seriously. Don’t compromise.

Perhaps the most chilling and underestimated of the government’s enemies were the Toronto police, whose actions at times bordered dangerously on virtual insubordination against the civilian authorities. Here too certain newspapers and radio commentators repeatedly and deliberately inflamed angry officers against the government. Most successful was the Sun’s ongoing, systematic campaign to drive a wedge between the government and the Toronto police force, sometimes with the collusion of the police themselves.

Lesson 5) The private media are not and never will be your friend. Get your friends to help sideline and undermine the particularly nasty pro-business media.

There are a world of studies yet to be written about the Ontario NDP’s difficult and controversial years in office, none more important than the nature of the saboteurs who organized their very own Ontario coup. This includes much of the business community, government relations firms, the media and the police. There are lessons to learn here about the limits of left-wing politics in Canada. None of them are encouraging if you are a left-winger.

I suggest you read the whole article to get a better picture of just how hard it is to want to change society for the fairer. The story is insightful and intriguing.

In New Zealand we are up against the same forces. But if we learn the right lessons we can avoid the same fate.

Don’t falter, don’t compromise, and stand tall for the people who elected you. There’s a job to be done.

52 comments on “How the right kill social democracy”

  1. RedLogix 1

    “Time after time they responded to the endless corporate blackmail by compromising on policies and commitments. In this way, they alienated many of their own followers but without ever appeasing business interests. They never could.”

    Absolutely a lesson Labour needs to learn. If you give an inch to the bullying bastards they will keep on taking, and taking.

    If you’ve fracked up. make it plain and take it on the chin on your own terms, otherwise if you’ve got a sound defense….never ever let them frame the debate by backing down.

    You may get them off your back temporarily, but all you’ve really achieved is to set up your next defeat.

  2. Bill 2

    From the linked article…”Time after time they (NPD Government) responded to the endless corporate blackmail by compromising on policies and commitments. In this way, they alienated many of their own followers but without ever appeasing business interests. They never could.”

    From Chris Hedges’ latest column How Democracy Dies Lessons From a Master “Our gutless liberal class placates the enemies of democracy, hoping desperately to remain part of the ruling elite, rather than resist. And, in many ways, liberals, because they serve as a cover for these corporate extremists, are our greatest traitors.”

    And from Monbiot’s latest column The Values of Everything “So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.”

    There’s really not anything worthwhile I can add.

    edit. Oops. Sorry Red, Would have simply put the two links as a follow on to your comment if I’d noticed your quote.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      As you say, what can we add to Monbiot and Hedges there. Especially when Monbiot says:

      Common Cause proposes a simple remedy: that we stop seeking to bury our values and instead explain and champion them. Progressive campaigners, it suggests, should help to foster an understanding of the psychology which informs political change and show how it has been manipulated. They should also come together to challenge forces – particularly the advertising industry – which make us insecure and selfish.

      It’s where Helen Clark’s innate rural conservatism was her undoing. Those of us who saw past the distortions and filterings of the media knew that her heart lay in the right place; yet she held back from making her motivations and values plain to us all. And given that fully half of New Zealanders cannot see why Paul Henry had to go…you can sort of empathise with her reasons.

      And it’s why, despite all the distracting nonsenses of the fundamentalists, religion is still the pivot around which everything else revolves. The sane and sincere worship of God not only instills a sense of proportion and humility, but is the most potent means of inculcating and buttressing those ‘intrinsic values’ Monbiot is pointing to.

      • Michael Foxglove 2.1.1

        I think you make a fair point Redlogix, but I don’t think Helen Clark can take too much blame for being conservative when illustrating her vision for New Zealand. You’ve got to remember that we’d just suffered for fifteen years under Rogernomics and I’m sure she felt NZers had had enough radical change for a while.

        I agree with your point, but I think her conservatism was right for the time, because it recreated trust in the left and in government. But Clark has left the next Labour Government in the position to be able to achieve something truly great.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1.1

          Not having a majority in the House might have had something to do with it. Its only been 2 years but everybody forgets the “Labour Party” share of the votes was only about 40% over 9 years and in MMP that gave other parties 60%

          The numbers for the NDP were 37% of the vote but 74 out of 130 seats ( they previously had 19)

        • RedLogix 2.1.1.2

          That makes sense Michael, and certainly in the first term or so HC did ride an enormous tide of goodwill, but like John Key’s smile, that alone was never going to be enough to trigger real transformation.

          At some point HC’s reticence to openly put her values on the line, left a vacuum for the right and their moneyed allies, to write their own dark version framed in faux-fascist terms such as ‘Helengrad’ and ‘Nanny State’.

          Look at the insane Herald headlines screaming ‘Attack on Democracy’ in relation to Labour’s fairly innocuous EFA (and barely changed by National).. ..yet when National completely usurps Parliamentary and Court constitutional powers with CERRA, the response is a few mild finger wags and the odd tut-tut.

          • Michael Foxglove 2.1.1.2.1

            You make a good point Redlogix. In that third term there definitely was space to move things on, and fill that horrendous gap that the Herald and co filled.

            • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Labour badly needed a major make over, and the launch of a new visionary agenda and playbook in 2007/2008. But I guess thats what time in opposition is for.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Think I said something like that on this site (I’d search but I’m feeling lazy). I said that HC should step aside for someone with a greater vision as she didn’t seem to have one. The same can be said ATM of Goff – he’s just not communicating a stirring vision of the future that Labour will try to bring about.

                ‘A man does not have himself killed for a halfpence a day of for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify him.’

                Napoleon Bonaparte

                The same is true of people and politics.

                • Bill

                  Let’s try this again.

                  There is no vision from the mainstream left because… “Our gutless liberal class placates the enemies of democracy, hoping desperately to remain part of the ruling elite, rather than resist.”

                  True of Clark. True of Goff. And Brown too? Although I’d love to be proven wrong, I don’t really expect to be, but am willing to give ascribe a question mark in the short term.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    To speak of vision you need brass ones. I agree, ATM, the left doesn’t seem to have them.

                    • Bill

                      No need for ‘brass ones.’ A heart and a pair of eyes suffice. You don’t even need much intelligence to know right from wrong. We sense it.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      But we need to actually say it and that means not being afraid of ridicule. Also, you should probably have quoted this piece:

                      Ed Miliband appears to understands this need. He told the Labour conference that he “wants to change our society so that it values community and family, not just work” and “wants to change our foreign policy so that it’s always based on values, not just alliances … We must shed old thinking and stand up for those who believe there is more to life than the bottom line.”(5) But there’s a paradox here, which means that we cannot rely on politicians to drive these changes. Those who succeed in politics are, by definition, people who prioritise extrinsic values. Their ambition must supplant peace of mind, family life, friendship – even brotherly love.

                      The people at the top of Labour need to change and that, again, takes an inner strength.

                      And probably this piece:

                      Few people are all-extrinsic or all-intrinsic. Our social identity is formed by a mixture of values. But psychological tests in nearly 70 countries show that values cluster together in remarkably consistent patterns. Those who strongly value financial success, for example, have less empathy, stronger manipulative tendencies, a stronger attraction to hierarchy and inequality, stronger prejudices towards strangers and less concern about human rights and the environment.

                      The people on the right of the political spectrum are predominantly of this latter highlighted description. This has been shown time and time again in sociological studies which relates to my Lesson 6 and to fight that psychopathy requires that inner strength as well because they sure as hell, which is where they’re going and taking us with them, ain’t going to take it lying down (although they will, most definitely, be lying).

                  • handle

                    Just watch. Even if they do not get all their projects through, Len Brown and Penny Hulse will show up how insipid and rudderless Labour have become by comparison.

                    The Greens have been coming up with coherent progressive policy. It can be done, but Labour must get fogies like Hodgson away from strategy and give their fresh blood like Ardern, Robertson and Chauvel room to shine.

            • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1.2.1.2

              That 3rd term :
              Oh yes when the parliamentary agenda was controlled by Winston Peters and Peter Dunne who had 7 and 3 seats respectively ( most of the time)
              AS well being in opposition for 9 years tempers the zeal a bit- ask Bill English

  3. Absolutely – if you remember back to 2000 and the aftermath of the Winter of Discontent – this was an opportunity lost.

    To rip off Sorkin: “Were the demons were shouting down the better angels” in the 5th Labour Government?

    Too often, yes.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Lesson 5) The private media are not and never will be your friend. Get your friends to help sideline and undermine the particularly nasty pro-business media.

    Lesson 5a) Put in a law that any newspaper and their parent corporation will be shut down, without compensation, if found to be lying.

    Lesson 6) The political right are anti-democratic, fascist and will use any means necessary to maintain their control of everyone else.

    • Michael Foxglove 4.1

      You’re spot on with your sixth lesson Draco. It’s critical that our parties of the left learn that the machinery of the right will gear up and do whatever it can to suppress anything that threatens their riches. Their spot in society is supreme and they will not just give it up.

      A perfect example is ACT’s shameful alliance with the Sensible Sentencing Trust. The party compromised the few values of fairness it had in order to advance the interests of the wealthy. It happens time and time again, and we should never expect a right-wing government and its business mates to let any form of fairness get in the way of their money.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        and we should never expect a right-wing government and its business mates to let any form of fairness get in the way of them taking our money.

        FIFY

        • KJT 4.1.1.1

          As you say, we will never get real change in the interests of ordinary people as politicians are by nature extrinsic people.

          Democracy means “by the people for the people”. Not by a minority of 120 politicians.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    John Key kicked off today with the ‘wallet shut’ on Auckland rail and now ‘potato’ Auckland Councillor Jami-lee Ross has weighed in saying that 3 councillors with Maori heritage are enough and negate the need for assigned local iwi seats. Is that enough preliminary evidence for the theorists amongst you that the right have not said “oh well Banksie lost”, but are in fact going to attempt to aggressively undermine the new Auckland council?

    Get active and support those that can be supported in the Council and Boards in the real world beyond your keyboards.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    Time to see the Left fight fight fight for the many against the few in an unrelenting and unforgiving way. As Michael Moore might say – this is not the time for us to sing kumbaya around the camp fire while big money and big media work tirelessly against the people.

  7. prism 7

    The left government would have to watch that it kept its eye on the pragmatic as well as the idealistic. If the vision is properly thought out and costed and is intended for long as well as short term progress then it is a matter of constantly explaining it to the electorate as in the ‘broken record’ method. This is where you keep repeating the same message, and don’t stray into side issues.

    It is no use the left being as rigid and unyielding in their minds and approaches as the right wing opposition. Their prime task is to achieve good for the ordinary citizen not to go into battle with the right, do or die. The left have to be smarter than that because they have so many different concerns, the right are stronger because of their one-eyed focus on money, getting profits whether properly earned or not, and are united in that goal as a self-interested group.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      As Act have proven, not really all that united. They’re just as likely to stab each other in the back as anyone else. We have to guard each others back and point out the knife in NACTs hands.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Yes, the Left have to focus on generating money as well, or shall we more broadly say generating ‘wealth’. Because a society can accumulate social and environmental capital just as well as financial capital. No good having a tonne of financial capital if you are poverty stricken in social and environmental capital.

      So generating wealth of all kinds, and ensuring that it is fairly distributed/redistributed are definitely pragmatic, hands on concerns. Always worth remembering that the facilities, services and benefits that we want our citizens to have are not going to pay for or organise themselves.

      And the idealists play a perfect role in ensuring that the pragmatists strive as hard as possible to reach as close to the ideal as possible. This is where the Democrats in the US are about to take a pounding. Compromise upon compromise upon compromise, and no one is thanking them for any of it.

  8. “Don’t give in, don’t back down, don’t compromise” is all very well if you’re talking about it as a stance purely againt corporate interests and political opponents.

    But unless political parties are going to return to the days of publishing detailed multi-page manifestoes outlining their complete policy platforms (and even then, I’d say this still applies) don’t stop listening to the people.

    They might not want what you’re foisting upon them, no matter how well intentioned it may be. But they’re your bosses, and it’s their country.

    As the last would-be despot found, dismissing people who feel passionately about something as “haters and wreckers” and contemptuously meeting a sheep rather than their leaders is a sure road to well-deserved political oblivion.

    • Michael Foxglove 8.1

      It’s not about dismissing communities Rex. It’s about standing up for them and the platform they elected you on.

      And while it may well be true that parties of the right don’t publish detailed manifestos (note John Key’s one pagers on everything from Labour Relations to Education), from what I saw from the Greens and Labour last election there was a great deal of thought and depth.

    • RedLogix 8.2

      Sorry but exactly WHO are you going to listen to? The half of New Zealanders who still think “Paul Henry was only saying out loud what we’re afraid to say”?

      Vague waffling about ‘fairness and justice’ that can be twisted to mean anything you want it to is a transparent dodge that most folk instinctively see through. At some point you have to say, “this is what we believe in and why”, explain what you plan on doing and the why you want people to get in behind and back you. Show them a picture of where you will lead them…and ask them to get in behind and back the vision with unity and energy.

      It’s called leadership.

      • prism 8.2.1

        Seems to me leadership is a word that might be banned, similar to the term ‘Dear Leader’ which I was told not to use but keeps cropping up because it is a handy throw-away comment. Leadership means different things to different sectors – when you hear it from a businessman you get the idea that he is hoping the government will assert leadership by announcing lower taxes, 90 day trials, no overtime and hopefully carte blanche.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    Rex, quite right, in a democracy, the people own the Government and must be listened to.

    Which is why we need to work so much harder on deepening the education, perspectives and awareness of our citizens. People, after all, get the rulers that they deserve. A lazy, apathetic and unaware citizenry is going to lead to inevitably shit Government.

    • Bill 9.1

      CV. You seem to be confounding theory and reality.

      The governance structures we have (you want to call them democratic? Okay. Let’s do that just for the sake of argument.) are bought and paid for by corporate business interests. The corporate piper plays. The Government dances.

      We, the citizenry, spectate.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Am not denying that your description resembles our current state of affairs. And in the US, it describes the situation pretty much exactly.

  10. prism 10

    Ha ha dear moderator – just mentioning D L is enough to get me into moderation when I want to refer to the ban, yet I have seen two others use the term lately. Have I been noted as a recidivist who has to be monitored? Why are you picking on me?

  11. illuminatedtiger 11

    The Nats have had a go at some of this. Anyone notice how the term “PC” (and it’s incorrect usage) came to the forefront of the nations lexicon during and after Don Brash? It’s about time someone came out and gave the term a good fisking.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      Already Done. Although not specific to NZ it does report most of it’s history.
      1970/80s

      The New Left later re-appropriated the term political correctness as satirical self-criticism;

      1990s

      Widespread use of the term politically correct and its derivatives began when it was adopted as a pejorative term by the political right in the 1990s,

      • Bill 11.1.1

        Doesn’t ‘political correctness’ stem from the the craven inability of sections of the left to call a spade a spade and act accordingly? Doesn’t PC derive from the inevitable and ineffectual degeneration into niceness and ‘reasonableness’ personified by the brigades of ‘lets sit down and talk about it’ latte drinking middle class types who are incapable of dishing out a kicking to those who deserve one because ‘it’s just not civilised’? And don’t these people themselves deserve a kicking for visiting such abusive, patronising and aloof nonsense on us all?

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          ^+1

          The slaves weren’t freed in America as a result of either ‘niceness’ or ‘reasonableness’ now were they.

          • Bill 11.1.1.1.1

            When were the slaves freed again? Weren’t the terms of slavery merely shifted slightly to accommodate market prerogatives and then swollen by the inclusion of white folks and others to the ‘brave new world’ ranks of wage slavery?

            A bit like ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ was all that emancipation…out of the plantation and into the factory, the ghetto and the prison system for far too many blacks.

            But sure. Niceness and reasonableness had nothing to do with it.

        • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.2

          It does now but that’s because the psychopathic right took the term, which was being used by the left on themselves critically (i.e. using to question themselves and so to grow), and turned it into a pejorative term.

  12. AndrewK 12

    The system itself is the problem. What is of supreme importance is maintaining the institutions that ensure the wealthy minority continue with their influence on society and their self-indulgent life-styles. Regardless of who ascends to the levers of power, they have endured a vetting and conditioning process so thorough it would never let any pass who would pose even the slightest threat to the status quo.

    The establishment, whether staffed by Labour or National functionaries, exists to perpetuate itself and it perpetuates itself to the detriment of the majority, as Emma Goldman pointed out long ago, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”. The whole point of parties like the NDP or the Greens being allowed to compete in the ‘democratic’ process is to promote the illusion that voting alone may work in the interests of a practically disenfranchised majority.

    The establishment is not the government, the establishment is big business, “Government is the shadow cast on society by big business.” is how it is accurately described by John Dewey. The trouble with what is euphemistically described as ‘democracy’ in the west is the alienation of the general population from the decision making process. Decision making is subordinate to the corporate agenda -profit matters, people don’t.

    Democracy needs to be more than three seconds in a polling booth every three years. Democracy must evolve to mean that everyone participates in the decision making process in all segments of the economy- health-care, education, manufacturing, food production, transport, etc…

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      i.e. democratic socialism.

    • ZeeBop 12.2

      Thatcher led the world in loosening finance. Why? Because the middle east started pumping oil and
      the rpices were going to get cheaper and cheaper that western economies needed more liquidity so
      that they could claim more of the business from cheap oil. As energy gets cheaper more business
      and industrial processes become viable concerns. So we saw huge stock markets.

      Now we’ve hit peak oil! High dense energy fuels are running down and starting to run out!
      This means the financial era is over, businesses where businesses would support far right
      economics because it means they would make money! This is no longer viable! Businesses
      now want consumers to come in their shops, they want to offer sustainable products, not
      because their nice, or lousy, but because that’s where the money is now. The politics have
      shifted radically to the left. Now we need economic policies to do more with the smaller
      liquidity so as to maintain the wealth that has accumlated by the elites.

      So astonishly the rich need to spend, they know that they can either spend now, and maybe
      save some of their wealth (stay very rich) or they can shutdown and lose the lot.
      So the problem is not the elite, it’s not the business classes, its convincing voters that
      yes they can have better wages, they can have better services and actually its GOOD for
      the economy that they are better SERVED by the economy, it will bail out the rich and
      the business sector while the finance sector shrinks.

  13. just saying 13

    quote: “its convincing voters that yes they can have better wages, they can have better services and actually its GOOD forthe economy that they are better SERVED by the economy”,

    This bit I agree with as an important challenge for the left. The problem is the widespread, entrenched, belief that the country would be bankrupted if we stopped pandering to the rich – that if we don’t do as we’re told, they’ll pull the plug and the country will go down the drain.

    It is a mindset that has prevailed in both major parties, and it is not being challenged, except occasionally by some of the Greens.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      just saying, you should say more of this stuff.

      • ZeeBop 13.1.1

        We will be bankrupt if we stop capitalism by leaving all the profit
        centers in the hands of a few, and the rest of the population are making
        ends meet according factory farming conditions.

  14. KJT 14

    “they’ll pull the plug and the country will go down the drain”.

    Not an irrational fear. Countries that have become “too socialist” ,read unfriendly to US business and finance have had the plug pulled.

    India and other third world countries have been denied development money until they “removed their socialist chains”. Others have simply been invaded (Guatemala and Honduras) had their Governments forcibly changed (Chile and Indonesia), life has been made difficult (Venezuela and Cuba) or US business interests have supported right wing Governments. (NZ, UK and Australia).

    Waiting to see what the US do to their own people if they become too fractious and demand real democracy and freedom.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      We don’t need their development money as we already produce enough to feed, house and clothe everybody. We can make everything that we need and if necessary do so by ignoring patents. the invasion is a little bit more difficult but we could probably hold off one of those as well if we had the necessary defense strategy and the industry to support it.

      Waiting to see what the US do to their own people if they become too fractious and demand real democracy and freedom.

      That’s fairly obvious really and we’ve already seen the beginnings of it. If the US populace gets too uppity they’re going to be detained, at the very minimum, and probably jailed and/or executed.

    • handle 14.2

      The US is being supplanted by China and the EU. What do they want from us?

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    Steven Pearlstein Doesn’t Understand Market Economies

    By contrast, trade policy was deliberately designed to put U.S. manufacturing workers in direct competition with the lowest paid workers in the world. Also, hotels, restaurant owners and other employers of low-skilled workers have no problem at all hiring undocumented workers at low wages to keep down pay in these sectors. This also is a policy decision — the government has decided not to require these employers to obey employment law.

    In short, the inequality that Pearlstein notes has nothing to do with the dictates of a market economy. It is the result of the people at the top rigging the rules to their benefit. They got the government to stack the deck in their favor and then hired people like Pearlstein to tell everyone that it was just the natural workings of the market.

    Ensuring that the poor got poorer is an effective way to remove them from the political process as they just don’t have the time to do the necessary research. This leaves them open to simplistic slogans and rhetoric that sounds good but is essentially meaningless.

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    1 day ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    2 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    3 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    3 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    4 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    5 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    6 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    6 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    7 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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