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Is it better to deliver in Government or better to shine?

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, December 14th, 2019 - 180 comments
Categories: Dirty Politics, elections, International, jacinda ardern, Politics, uk politics, uncategorized - Tags:

Let’s frame this in leftie terms: can you get in, do grunty policy moves, and stay popular?

With the United Kingdom loss by Labour to the Conservatives to a healthy majority, it’s worth asking whether all the manifesto idealism was worth it. It seriously didn’t work against a charismatic Conservative leader who had very little policy.

It’s good for us to ask this question in New Zealand because we have a tremendously smart Prime Minister, who retains staggeringly high popularity. Her leadership in crisis is exemplary. But despite all kinds of policy goal ambition, her government hasn’t made much difference to anything. Prices, child poverty, traffic, inequality, you name it.

(For detail on how we got to this point in wealth distribution in New Zealand, I’d recommend Max Rashbrook’s excellent book “Wealth and New Zealand”)

The centre-left gets into power and achieve long lasting good stuff, on balance. For example, Prime Minister Helen Clark was never particularly charismatic and pretty unpopular by her second term, but made some strong and long-lasting moves to the structure of how we operate as a society.

Let’s turn to highlights of the government led by Prime Minister Helen Clark:

  • Created Kiwibank
  • Created the New Zealand Superannuation Fund
  • Created Kiwisaver
  • Renationalised the rail network, and bought a majority stake in Air New Zealand
  • Smashed the telecoms effective monopoly with local loop unbundlingIncreased the top tax rate to 39%.
  • Established the Supreme Court
  • Increased the minimum wage
  • Introduced Working For Families funding support
  • Free Trade Agreement with China and others
  • All sorts of rights legislation for gay marriage, prostitution, and de facto settlements
  • Generated a New Zealand-based honours system
  • Formed our last National Park, Rakiura Stewart Island

Helen Clark was no revolutionary but her government has a track record of doing stuff that changed us permanently and for good.

So far, apart from dealing well with crises, this 2017 government made promises but has executed really poorly in most areas lefties care about. Certainly nothing compared to the track record of Helen Clark’s government in its first term.

Ardern’s government is more left-leaning in policy than that of Helen Clark. Ardern’s government is in a handful of left-leaning democratic states anywhere. It’s up there with Finland’s coalition of centre-left, left and green parties. It’s certainly up there with leftie governments in Portugal, Spain, Denmark and Sweden who are supported at least informally by the radical left.

Which brings me to Tony Blair. Tony Blair is the last time Labour was in government in the United Kingdom parliament. He was at least as popular as Ardern is now in his first and second terms.

Tony Blair is the electoral sweet spot for UK Labour in the past 50 years.

Left-centrists like Blair and Clark get in power and they do good things. Just some of the good things Blair led:

  • Established the minimum wage, and benchmarked it with a commission
  • Devolved government for Scotland and Wales
  • Brokered the good Friday agreement and peace in Northern Island
  • Passed the Freedom of Information Act, and the Human Rights Act
  • Made the Bank of England independent of politics
  • Legislated civil partnerships
  • Big progress in reducing child poverty
  • Huge investment in education
  • 25% increase in real terms funding for the National Health Service –taking it to a record high with customer satisfaction, and shortest-ever waiting lists
  • Longest period of uninterrupted growth in UK history
  • Lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, and lowest inflation
  • Lowest public debt in decades
  • Banned fox hunting
  • Positive and constructive relationship with the European Union
  • Increased the median income, and one of the very few to hold inequality still.

So lefties, what is better?

180 comments on “Is it better to deliver in Government or better to shine? ”

  1. Stuart Munro. 1

    I'm not sure that it's a true dichotomy – I'd've classified Clark as Blairite.

    Government, to do a credible job, needs to fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run.

    Once it starts telling people it cannot deliver in their realm of greatest concern, that is interpreted as a choice not to deliver in that sphere, and they shed support.

    The power of a principled policy position like kindness is that it promises to address all concerns, as soon as it may. As long as significant efforts to deliver are evident, delay may be tolerated.

  2. pat 2

    "Let’s frame this in leftie terms:"

    Whose 'leftie' terms?

    • Siobhan 2.1

      Blairite Leftie's ?? I don't know, there's some strange claims to Leftie view points floating around the Standard these days.

      • pat 2.1.1

        and yet the 'Blairite Lefties" claim the title as much as any other 'left' group…..hence the question

        • McFlock

          And they achieved more left policy implementation than most other self-identifying "left" groups in the last 40 years.

          As listed in the post.

          • adam

            "self-identifying left" – you make me laugh Mcflock. Bugger the dead in Iraq, who cares about the cementation of neo-liberalism , austerity, the violent management of working people, or that the poor and dispossessed no longer bother voting becasue the so call self-identifying left hang them out to dry.

            As long as there was a 'left' in power. Bugger me you if it's not b.s about incrementalism, it's clutching at straws like they are cheap pearls.

            At least be honest – the liberal left has given up on social democracy. This election proves that, and only that. They would rather have the prat like johnstone in power than a social democrate. Sad tire cretins that they are.

            • McFlock

              While you weep for the dead, you'd have had to weep for a fuckload more dead if the tories had been in constant rule since 1978.

              I get that you're one sanctified, certified, superleft visionary dude. It's just that for all their faults, the Blairites achieved a lot more positive change in the world than your approach ever will.

          • pat

            you miss the point….its not a pissing contest about whos done most….it is the fact that as long as 'the left' is fractured it wont be in a position to succeed

            If we pursue a diverse and multi cultural society why be surprised when our politics is also diverse and multi cultural?

            Our broad based parties of old were build in a time of homogenous and culturally restricted society and reflected that…..the genie isnt going back in the bottle, except perhaps at gunpoint

            • McFlock

              Talk to Adam about fractures.

              But the post is actually about whether it's better to be pure and achieve nothing, or moderate and achieve something.

              If voters aren't going to vote for you, you'll never be in a position to do anything. It's that simple.

              • pat

                your still missing it…it isnt 'pure' OR 'moderate', its commonality of purpose and sold well, but as explained it is unlikely,

                The reactions, recriminations and finger pointing only confirm how unlikely it is

                • McFlock

                  Except that the source of much recrimination is actually about whether "moderates" even count as "left", if you read some of the commenters.

                  We can't stop the infighting unless we address the causes and positions on the infighting. Because from the (for want of a better term) "far left" position, moderates aren't "left", therefore attacking moderates isn't infighting at all.

                  • Stuart Munro.

                    I'm not sure your characterisation, of the Left going after the moderates, holds water. I saw lots of undisciplined public critique of Corbyn from Blairites, and relatively little punishment for their outrageous disloyalty.

                    You might compare our Standard moderates with the likes of sometime columnist Quin – the former are entitled to their views and add to the debate – the latter ran his mouth off to the detriment of the Left. Corbyn's Blairites are more like Quin than our moderates.

                    • McFlock

                      Going with that characterisation (simply to illustrate my point about the left infighting, rather than getting into a discussion about Corbyn specifically), the moderate-lefts attacking Corbyn were attacking someone on the left, and counted themselves as left. But the further-left attacking the moderate-left often seem to have the perspective that they are the only left-wing people in the argument.

              • Adrian

                Absolutely spot on McFlock.

  3. James 3

    Her leadership in crisis is exemplary. But despite all kinds of policy goal ambition, her government hasn’t made much difference to anything. Prices, child poverty, traffic, inequality, you name it.

    sums her up very well. And this is why National still polls higher than labour and why the labour vote (in polls) is falling.

    people need delivery- and she just can’t deliver it.

    she’s all hugs and HUGE promises that she can’t deliver. Remember getting rid of homelessness in 4 weeks and kiwibuild ? She will be held to account for lies like that come election time.

    • Formerly Ross 3.1

      Hmmm just like John Key was punished severely for his lie that he wouldn't increase GST? James will no doubt tell us there was a good reason he backflipped on that…

    • Cinny 3.2

      James, our PM has delivered so much more than policy.

      Could you imagine any other party leader handling the two devastating tragedies that sadly came to pass this year with anymore genuine compassion and understanding?

      Edit… I know many on low incomes and those raising children who are ever so grateful for what has happened thus far. Sometimes it’s not all about what you or I can get out of it, it’s about what helps other people. A me, me, me outlook solves none of the worlds issues.

      • James 3.2.1

        James, our PM has delivered so much more than policy.

        Pity she didn’t deliver on her HUGE promises.

        • Cinny

          Our PM has delivered for the children of NZ, those that are unable to vote and rely on adults to be their voices.

          Your priorities may be different James.

    • Sacha 3.3

      Remember getting rid of homelessness in 4 weeks… ?

      No. Do enlighten us with a link.

    • McFlock 3.4

      Labour has friends.

      National do not.

    • KJT 3.5

      Wonder why National gets votes.

      They effectively delivered, nothing.

      There one achievement, apart from comprehensively fucking health, infrastructure and education, was the first welfare rise in years.

      Their economic record was absolutely dismal, even by right wing measures, requiring 500k extra people and two natural disasters worth, of insurance payout stimulus, to keep it barely ticking over.

      Only lies and disinformation explains their appeal.


  4. Descendant Of Smith 4

    To me the key here is benefit rates. Previous Royal Commissions and the WEAG have all said benefit rates should be lifted. (In my view back to parity with NZS).

    If that had been done straight away people would have got used to it, the difference such a change would have made would have had time to start making a difference before an election came along, and so on.

    By not doing it it remains a festering and debateable election issue that continues to divide rich and poor.

    It makes the talk about looking after the most vulnerable look insincere, it continues to allow the authoritarian politicians and public servants to continue to blame the poor for being poor, it means the poor resort to benefit fraud and other "crime" to survive which reinforces the authoritarian nature of the public servants – see you can't trust the people – and continues to politicise the most vulnerable.

    In some respects the left seems to have a toxic relationship with the poor and vulnerable – it's like without them we might not exist so we should help them just enough to make a difference but not enough to have them disappear. We'll put lots of money to the fixing end but not enough at the preventative end.

    Despite most of the reasons people are poor are structural and high level (low benefits rates being consciously structural) most of the solutions on the right and left seem aimed at fixing the individual.

    Agencies too are captured by the individual solution – many exist purely to deal with that issue. It's a massive sector with political affiliation on both the left and the right. Amongst all the kind words and good hearts are people making a living off the most vulnerable. The increasing rise of the church incomes from the vulnerable should remind us of the dependency of the churches on poor houses and homes for unmarried mothers. Currently it's the homeless from whom their revenue stream is lifting.

    Millionaires, iwi, churches, new and old agencies, left and right. All in bed together. The poor and vulnerable are but a means of making money.

  5. Formerly Ross 5

    Helen Clark was PM for 9 years, while Ardern has been PM for two. So the comparison is off right from the outset.

    • James 5.1

      Jacinda will never make 9 years.

    • Incognito 5.2

      In politics, all comparisons are wrong, but some are useful – they’d better called “analogies” IMO. Historical determinists would have (and be) nothing without them. In fact, some make ‘careers’ largely based on forced comparisons that substitute for deep analysis and thinking. Interestingly, these can attract quite a following and even turn the practitioners into somewhat of media darlings.

  6. Descendant Of Smith 6

    True to some extent but nor did Helen Clark have a WEAG report in her first term recommending strongly to lift benefit rates. She however also refused to do so only restoring the Richardson cuts to NZS.

    This government too is in the process of removing the ability of NZS underage spouses saying they will now have to apply for a benefit. This will reduce the income of those who have a non-working spouse whether through illness or choice by about $140-00 per week until they themselves reach NZS age at a time where it is increasingly difficult to manage and rents continue to climb. Hardly a sense of helping reduce poverty and hardship there. Most of the people I know in that situation have been supporting their unwell spouse on one income for many, many years. They have no savings, no Kiwi saver, are mainly renting. They have worked through an era where the tax relief for people with non-working spouses and for life insurance had been removed and many were restructured into lower paying jobs in their 50's. Others if not unwell spent many of their peak working years raising children with disabilities. Many in the last twenty years have ended up raising their grandchildren. There seem to be assumptions that everyone about to come onto NZS has had the opportunity to have two incomes, be in Kiwi Saver and so on. This might be true for the salaried public servants making these policies – it's certainly not true for many, many of the working class.

    Probably the perverted view of the middle class public servant that the underage spouse is likely to be a 22 year old Asian bride holds sway.

    It is an incredibly regressive policy – just as lifting the NZS age was. Yep it saved money but it also meant a large chunk of the population had to live from 60 to 65 on a benefit on a hell of a lot less money. This change achieves the same end.

    Poverty … is a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilisation. It is the lot of man – it is the source of wealth, since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.

    Patrick Colquhoun 1806

    • KJT 6.1

      Exactly. My wife like many others, was unable to work, caring for a family member. Now she cares for our grand daughter, because my daughter and partner earn too little to pay childcare.

      Of course with unemployment levels as they are, and the long absence from the work force, she has no show of getting a job. Her extensive qualifications are too old to have any value.

      Effectively most people in our situation will now have to delay retirement, in our case until 70. Which is probably not to bad for us. I can go back to one of the less physical jobs I have qualified for. If. I don't also run into the very common, age discrimination, and my health, holds up.

      Plenty of others who will simply see their retirement income, drop.

      Neo-liberal meanness, is still a feature of this Government.

  7. Formerly Ross 7

    I can think of several things this Government has done:

    Established a Criminal Cases Review Commission (quite a big deal considering that retired judge Sir Thomas Thorp, and many others with a stake in the justice system, had for many years articulated the need for such a body).

    Introduced a Families Package, which includes paid parental leave being extended to 22 weeks in July 2019 and to 26 weeks by July 2020, Best Start payments for babies, while the elderly are getting Winter Energy Payments.

    An increase to the minimum wage – between April 2014 and April 2017, the minimum wage increased by 50c an hour each year. In April 2019, the minimum wage went up by $1.20 an hour – the biggest increase ever. By April 2021, it will be $20 an hour.

    The Pike River Recovery Agency was set up following the last Government’s lack of action. The deaths of 29 men is worth more than just rhetoric.

    Established a Royal Commission into the historical abuse of children in state care.

    Banned non-resident foreigners from buying residential properties (except new builds) in NZ.

    Repairing hospital buildings which the previous Government underfunded (see https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/103995706/budget-2018-brings-hope-for-beleaguered-middlemore-hospital-dhb-chairman-says)

    And there’s more…


    It goes without saying that the Government wouldn’t have achieved any of the above if it were in Opposition.

  8. Cinny 8

    A government that delivers is a government that shines.

    A charismatic leader is a bonus and mos def a secret weapon, how lucky we are heart

    Am hopeful UK Labor will find one for next time. TBH I found Corbyn boring, and tended to tune out. Where as with bojo he's a liar and a dork, but, he is engaging.

    In this day in age of social media everything is different, everything.

    Speaking of which, simon sure isn't shining again today, once again he's been absolutely slammed on twitter, this time it’s while trying to cash in on bojo. Hilarious!


    • Incognito 8.1

      Like National, the Conservatives have been clear about what they stand for and against and understand voters want politicians to be dismissive and get things sold.


      • Cinny 8.1.1

        Yesah the tories want to get things sold alright, just like the power companies here and possibly the NHS over there.

  9. Formerly Ross 9

    Here's the PM telling us about the Government's achievements. It would be interesting to see what Simon would say his achievements have been.

  10. Adrian Thornton 10

    The facts are easy to see for yourself….to see the real legacy of Clark just get into your car and have a little drive around the motel strip of your town…notice that they probably all have 'no vacancy' signs and in fact those signs never come down..because all those motels are full of homeless people, yep just one of the great legacies of Clark/Key govts, fuck them both and fuck that war mongering prick Blair while your at it.

    Now excuse me while I go and throw up after reading that revolting apology for the liberal third way disaster that has resulted in the outright racist who is Trump, and now Johnson…

    • The Al1en 10.1

      Nice picture half way down the page of this article of Corbyn, Blair and Foot in 1983.

      Interesting how two were unelectable, and one went on to win three elections.



      • Interesting how one is a war criminal….and as corrupt than any Tory scumbag you can name, but I guess that wouldn't matter to people like you and Advantage who put power before principles…which is hardly surprising as it has become clear to everyone that your ideology has far more in common with the Tories/National than it does with the progressive Left.

        "Blair is in a class of his own, of course, raking in £20m a year from banks and autocratic governments; but he is followed closely by dozens of New Labour ministers who moved out of government into lucrative corporate jobs, often for firms hustling for contracts from their former departments"


        "Chilcot Report destroys Tony Blair's legacy for pushing Britain into Iraq War without evidence or a plan"

        The inquiry blasted the PM's dossier and "wholly inadequate" planning as he paved the way for war despite being told it could encourage terrorism


        • The Al1en

          And despite all that he got two super landslide election victories and then won a third term, whereas the other couple of losers, despite any good intentions, won f all apart from the rejection of the UK voters.

        • RedLogix

          What you fail to understand Adrian is that politics is not a hobby. Us centre left voices have been saying for years that while you are perfectly free to hold to whatever radical views you like … if you cannot form a broad alliances and present an electable choice to the people … then all your fine idealism amounts to nothing of use.

          That's a tough reality to face, and until the left starts asking itself 'what are we doing wrong' … instead of reflexively looking to shift the blame for bad results elsewhere … then we will keep on losing.

          • Siobhan

            Putting aside Corbyns loss for one moment..

            ..do you not see that the Centre Left are going backwards generally..the few Western Centre Left leaders still in power are only holding on by the skin of their teeth..in the case of NZ Labour they required the support of NZ First to govern.

            Meantime in these same western countries inequality, housing poverty, food poverty, job insecurity, the collapse of infrastructure and woefully inadequate attempts to deal with climate change are all on the up, and at an ever increasing rate..

            It would seem that a lack of 'fine idealism' may not exactly be the answer.

            .the centre left may well pat itself on the back for knee capping the likes of Corbyn and Bernie..but then they can hardly cry foul when Trump and Johnson (and I bet you..Biden) take us all to Hell in a handbasket..

            • RedLogix

              Again I have no problem with anyone's idealism. All the problems you list are real and well known to everyone here at TS. Hell I've written on them all at some time in the past decade.

              But the brute reality is that pretty much no major democratic nation in the west has elected a radical left wing govt in over 50 years. Presenting that agenda to the electorate is now a proven recipe for losing power and achieving nothing. Making an ideological martyr out of yourself may perversely feel good, but in political terms the people you purport to care about end up just being screwed over yet again.

              The only left wing politicians who've gotten anything done in decades are centre-left figures like the despised Blair, Obama, Clinton and Clark. All of whom get denounced by radicals as centrist sellout technocrats. The broad left is notorious for eating it's own, breaking up into bitter little cliques and forming Mexican firing squads.This factor alone ensures huge swaths of ordinary people will not be inspired to vote for us. (The right are just as factional, but they generally have the discipline not to let it show in public.)

              More than anything else it was Corbyn's inability to form a broad stable alliance that doomed his leadership to indecision and infighting. Do you really want more of the same?

              • Bill

                Presenting that agenda to the electorate is now a proven recipe for losing power and achieving nothing.

                Pop media acted as a conduit for what agenda that IRA loving, Hamas hugging, anti-Semite and all round terrorist loving Corbyn the Putin puppet was presenting to the public again?

                edit. Because they didn’t see them coming, the SNP presented and delivered on an agenda that included reversing NHS privatisation, free aged care, free university education etc. (Within a liberal economic framework imposed by London and Europe). Can’t think how many years the SNP have been in office off the top of my head. 3 election cycles? More?

                • RedLogix

                  And I'd not quibble with this Bill. There is a clear sense in which your argument aligns with mine … while the SNP have a strong left wing policy agenda, they have put a nationalistic, dare I say, centrist face to it.

                  Corbyn's problem, while I've every sense that he's a decent man I'd love to have dinner with, is there is no doubt his long record in politics is indelibly linked to a 'smash capitalism' agenda. Whatever the UKLP's policy position he was always going to be the wrong face to front it because the vast majority of western voters will never trust that someone who wants to upend their entire economic system.

                  • KJT

                    That may have been the manufactured perception, but Corbyn's policies were a long way from being as, "left" as postwar Britain. Or even Keith Holyoak, and a whole string of Governments, National and Labour, in New Zealand.

                    Note. the Greens have been successful in getting a lot of policy change, without even being in Government.
                    Whereas the Māori party with National, got nowhere.

                    • RedLogix

                      There are two polar modes of looking at this; one is that Corbyn's downfall was purely his own doing, the other that it was all the fault of his mendacious enemies. Reality is that it was a complex mix of the two that from this distance neither of us can definitely unravel.

                    • KJT

                      Certainly had enough enemies. Even the faux left Guardian was trying to nobble him. Not to mention the rightish part of his own party.

                      Who needs the conservatives as enemies when your own side is out to get you?

                • KJT


                  The simple fact is that the sheer amount of lies, mid information, propaganda and character assassination's directed at even moderate left figures like Corbyn, becomes overwhelming.

                  An article counted that 88% of the Tory public statements were verifiable, lies. An example National has been following for some time.

              • SPC

                It's simpler than that the class of people in caucus did not want to be beholden to Labour Party members in the selection of their leader.

                If the choice was not in accord with that of caucus they were going to undermine whoever that was. It's not as if we have a lack of knowledge of this.

                Our own National caucus still cling to their power and privilege and refuse to adopt the membership vote method – even though the Tories have.

                • RedLogix

                  I can't discount that factor away to zero SPC, but look at the internecine chaos within the Conservative Party these past few years and then contemplate the magnitude of their win.

                • KJT

                  Have to select on whether they are worth two Indians or one Chinese.

                  Voting doesn't do that.

                  Labor is very reluctant to let the membership choose, also.

          • Descendant Of Smith

            I'd also argue strongly that in this case they did campaign on reducing poverty and reforming the welfare system.

            They then won and got into power.

            Then then commissioned WEAG which recommended increasing benefit rates.

            Seems to me they have had a very clear public mandate to do so.

            • KJT

              They did. And as we have seen, even an ex National MP, Wayn, has no philosophical objection to increasing disability and sickness.

              So. Where is Labour?

          • A.Ziffel

            Case in point – Momentum.

            Their response to criticism – "'Eff off & join the Tories" was heard by the working class only too well.


  11. Descendant Of Smith 11

    It's a reflection of how far right we have moved (and I would also argue how far white) that when Adrian says look around you at the effects on real people as to the actual real outcomes of the policies that successive governments have implemented since 1985 – that he is perceived as radical.

    Politics is a hobby as far as the current crop of governments is concerned. It's the hobby of mainly older white working class class who have succumbed to the notion that they are middle class when in fact if they lost their jobs tomorrow they would be in the shit and a hobby to the wealthy who exploit that group by castigating the poor as there through their own lack of effort.

    For people like Adrian I suspect politics is not a hobby because of the real impacts it has on the people around him. The poor in the motels is but one symptom of this.

    When you talk about presenting an electable choice to the people you are in part talking about an electable choice to a white thinking we're middle class population. A population who is about to die off and be replaced by a young disenfranchised Maori population. One who we need to start treating better and with more respect and investing in if overall communities are to thrive.

    It's the idealism that will drive that change in thinking alongside the demographic changes occurring. The fact that not enough people are listening won't be solved by continuing to cater and espouse the views of the centre.

    Ironically many of those working at the coalface I've found get this coming change more than the political elite – they were kids at school as the white flight took place and see the world as more Maori than not.

    That's the reality we have to face and until the left start lifting those generations out of poverty, investing in second chance education in those communities, ensuring they have decent and stable housing and jobs to go to then the losing belongs to the communities. The politicians are seen as not giving a toss.

    This is the heart of the question posed at the outset. If ain't making a difference for the people in Adrian's community then it ain’t making a difference.

    Hint: This isn’t compassion this is is white, moralising based power and control.


    • Incognito 11.1

      Can you explain why you think “this is is [sic] white, moralising based power and control”? I assume it’s about the food delivery trials.

      • greywarshark 11.1.1

        I think that it refers to what I think has become a common SWD meme that Maori are inherently needy, that they are dissolute and of 'low moral fibre' and unable to cope with life on a moral basis and be good role-models for their children, or bring their children up to be fine, upstanding, drug-free, self-sustaining humans. I think the lack of decent employment for school leavers is a great problem. A steady job, not one they have to create each day ringing round random employers, and a supportive SWD woul cut out the white, moralising based power and control” referred to.

        And DoS, note that the Maori and Pacific elite are following the same pattern of class and income-based distaste as the pakeha, for the strugglers and the hopeless (hopefuly temporarily) at the low point of the social ladder.

    • greywarshark 11.2

      I'll mention again this book I've borrowed from the library Robert D Putnam – Our Kids – The American Dream in Crisis. This I think is about what you are saying DOS.

      He looks as Atlanta which has had black mayors for yonks. It has developed a racially mixed upper-class neighbourhood and in another area the most deprived black neighbourhood imagined.

      And he talks about the deficits for the poor and their marginalisation and how they can't bring their babies up to develop to their potential at each age milestone. And so every generation struggles.

      And in NZ a good living older person doesn't believe in bettering yourself with extra education to add to skills for instance nursing. Nothing wrong with being a factory worker. It's reverse classism. Everything is a struggle but will work out eventually, you just have to keep going. And there is something about female children not needing much tertiary education I think. An excellent family with housing and jobs, but sets its face against aspiring to gain skills away from their norm which has been also discouraged by National shutting down entry to polytechnics etc. and cutting night school education. The broad education, the enquiring mind, the adult retraining – it must be paid by the individual and benefits them only is the mean thinking of RWs who aren't in the political business to run a good country for all NZs.

  12. greywarshark 12

    Would it be a good thing for the left to do to adjust the ideas of what prison is for? Bad re-offenders be kept in longer and go through heavy counselling and education sessions and then post-release housing and job aftercare. That would cut down on costly justice interaction for further re-offending.

    And the really bad ones – keep them in reasonable but secure lock-up conditons. This story below makes me sick and we hear it often. Our prison siystem is not there for the satisfaction of the preachy and to administer punishment to offenders. That attitude does little good and is costing us billions of largely wasted money.

    Herlund, who has 107 convictions, admitted two charges of sexual connection with a young person and doing an indecent act.

    The court heard how Herlund sexually abused one of the girls when she was 13 years old. The abuse went on for three years.


    And if the person was judged to be mentally incapable at the time, or had some other ameliorating circumstance would make no difference to the lifetime sentence, just the level of security in the confining institution.

  13. Wayne 13

    Since my comment yesterday helped initiate this item, it seems appropriate to comment.

    I know a lot of people who comment on this site want a very left wing government. That Clark, and now Jacinda are seen as way too moderate.

    It seems that many commenters see New Zealand as being some sort of dystopian wasteland of poverty for the many and a cornucopia of riches for just a few. I suggest that you need to get out more, or even just became more knowledgable about economic and social statistics.

    For instance for the last 8 years (basically from the end of the GFC in 2011) wages have increased in real terms every year. Living standards for just about everyone have increased. That is evident in the ever increasing level of retail sales in just about every category. New car sales are at record levels. Just drive around the whole of north west Auckland, which is the home of around 800,000 people (it is not all just wealthy Devonport and Takapuna). It is blindingly obvious that people are substantially more affluent than 10 years ago. I have several relatives in west Auckland so I know that area quite well.

    Yes, there is a problem with affordable housing. But that doesn't require a socialist revolution to fix it. Probably more in the way of home start grants and loan guarantee for 3% finance would make quite a difference for getting young families into homes.

    The north west is very much the home of the self employed tradespeople, often employing two or three people. The house and commercial building business of the last few years have pretty much guaranteed good levels of work. It is no accident that the Ford Ranger double cab ute is New Zealand's largest selling new vehicle.

    Recently I was in Gisborne, and it was obvious that there is substantial economic growth and lots of jobs. Literally a logging truck to the port every minute (we were staying opposite the port). Most operated by owner drivers (mostly Maori men in their 30's and 40's) all clearly working hard and striving to get ahead. Their rigs must be at least $500,000, no doubt under finance. But over generations this has been a pathway to economic self sufficiency for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.

    Some of my wider family have done this. University education is not a feature of my extended family. Out of 35 cousins, only myself and two others went to university. Independent contracting in the trades, and forestry has been the path of most, one of whom was killed in a logging accident a few years ago. They all know what hard work looks like and they know the dangers of workplaces where safety has not necessarily been uppermost.

    Many have voted Labour, but they don't want socialism. They want a fair go, and access to decent schools and hospitals. They don't want the government running their lives. They want to get ahead economically. So no CGT or excessive taxes.

    So Helen Clark and Jacinda have suited them quite well. Both of these Labour PM's, as a result of their family backgrounds, know this aspect of New Zealand only too well. Yes, they were and are progressive, but that is very different to being socialist.

    I would have thought the UK election has a stark lesson (actually a reaffirmation of the lesson) for the left. That the pathway to electoral success for the Left is to be moderate left. Not to sound like a revolution is in the offing. The reality is that the last century in western democracies has no encouragement for hard core democratic socialists. Instead it is the social democrats who have prospered in electoral terms. Ardern, Blair, Clark, Hawke, Lange and Trudeau. Not Corbyn, Cunliffe or Foote.

    • Stuart Munro. 13.1

      The lesson you're trying to have the Left learn from Corbyn's defeat is entirely self- serving, as might be expected of a dyed-in-the-wool exponent of the self-serving party.

      There are many possible lessons from the defeat, including that tolerating disloyal centrists is counterproductive, that letting a tired party with a useless leader focus an election on an external issue is begging for defeat, and that slanderous allegations of racism must be pursued through the courts, but of course you're avoiding them.

      Shouldn't you be in Afghanistan picking up unexploded ordnance?

    • weka 13.2

      Hi Wayne,

      For instance for the last 8 years (basically from the end of the GFC in 2011) wages have increased in real terms every year. Living standards for just about everyone have increased. That is evident in the ever increasing level of retail sales in just about every category. New car sales are at record levels.

      What you seem to be missing there is that benefits didn't rise proportionally in that time. And rents rose in far greater proportion. So yes, there can be improvements for the middle and working classes, but that doesn't account for what is happening to the underclass. They don't have this free cash to spend on retail purchases.

      In that sense perhaps it would help for you to get out more and spend time with those that are at the coalface instead of those that are doing moderately well in terms of improvements. Or, you could look at the stats on homelessness, food poverty, and WINZ grants.

      Yes, there is a problem with affordable housing. But that doesn't require a socialist revolution to fix it. Probably more in the way of home start grants and loan guarantee for 3% finance would make quite a difference for getting young families into homes.

      We do need better home start schemes, but there is no getting around that rents rose hugely in the past decades and benefits didn't. Unless you are suggesting that benefits be brought up to a living wage, how on earth are people supposed to afford an acceptable standard of living? Or is the argument that the underclass are collateral damage but we should focus on the gains for the lower middle classes?

      • weka 13.2.1

        The biggest obstacle for the left atm is that the land owning class have been told for decades that comfort in retirement is dependent on paying off their mortgage and making capital gains (that, and that there is free money to be made to bolster their lifestyle). They have a conflict of interest between their own needs and the needs of wider society, which is a dilemma for people that want to vote left.

        • Psycho Milt

          It's the same cleft stick as with AGW response: how do you successfully pitch to voters changes that will leave them less well off than they would be otherwise? With AGW, the best thing for society would be if we stopped living cushy lifestyles based on a fossil-fuel goldrush and externalising environmental costs onto future generations, and with housing the best thing for society would be if residential property stopped being a cash cow for the well-off, but few voters will deliberately vote against their own self-interest. I don't see a successful way out of it.

          • weka

            I think CC is easier because in time people will see self interest and climate action align. Our chance lies in waking people up to that sooner rather than later. Also, we can power down and still live relatively good lives, and lots of alt folk have been preparing for and demonstrating that. With housing, I can't see the replacement. People either are willing to give up capital gains so poor people can afford housing it they're not. I fear you are right, there is no way out of that other than a hard crash.

      • Wayne 13.2.2

        A difficult challenge. Sucessive government (Labour and National) have always been of the view that there needs to be a clear gap between being on welfare payments and employment wages. Though it is not obvious why that would apply to benefits where there is no or limited ability to work. But it should apply to unemployment benefits.

        The last two budgets have made some difference to this issue, but I can't see Labour fully implementing the recommendations of the Working Group, which would just about eliminate any difference between core benefit levels and employment.

        So I don't have an easy answer to this. I would note that State Housing is supposed to be the option for housing security for those permanently on the benefit or in long term low paid jobs. It has always been the case that some people are never going to buy a home. I do note that Labour is doing a pretty good job in building new state houses. They may have failed on Kiwibuild, but they seem to be succeeding on state housing.

        • Sacha

          Though it is not obvious why that would apply to benefits where there is no or limited ability to work.

          The fact that it still does shows the policy is driven by ideology rather than prudence, across multiple govts. Disabled people are inconvenient.

          The number of working families accessing income support payments and foodbanks also shows the gap between benefits and wages has been shrinking in the other direction. Getting away from a low wage economy will require different answers than cutting taxes on the wealthy and subsidising wages and accommodation via the state.

    • pat 13.3

      "I would have thought the UK election has a stark lesson (actually a reaffirmation of the lesson) for the left. That the pathway to electoral success for the Left is to be moderate left."

      A well pushed barrow…must be the 3rd time since yesterday…unfortunately for the majority of those who voted yesterday there was only one policy that counted and as Weka pointed out those policies you (naturally oppose) are indeed majorly supported…policy dosnt decide elections and is of even less interest to those disengaged….but giving the metaohorical! yep that matters

      • KJT 13.3.1

        If the pathway to electoral success, is being less socialist, why the hell is National, right now, pretending to be more socialist, than Labour.

        Look at almost all, their recently announced policies. All about how they reckon they will deliver, health, welfare, community safety and infrastructure better. Even, "tough on crime" is social spending, of a sort. Mostly lies, as usual, but it shows where they think the path to electoral success, is.

        Both parties, before every election, pretend to be more socialist than they are, to get votes. Obviously they know more than the fence sitters, with focus groups and research

        • pat

          Glad you said "pretend"…theres an easy measure of how socialist a government is likely to be and thats tax to GDP…..NZ currently running at around 33% whereas the Scandinavian countries run around 50%….Wayne has frequently stated on here over the years he sees an ideal target as 25% which is slightly lower than the US.

          Theres a sad truth about the desire to reduce taxation , if you abdicate responsibility to the market you are willing to allow some of your citizens to fail (with little or no support) for like the US health system the market only exists for those with the ability to pay (good luck NHS)….is it right that citizenship depends on bank balance?….low tax regimes say 'yes'.

          Then theres the question of 'who' pays the tax….and the answer must be those who can

          • Wayne


            I an pretty sure that I said that the was a view among some in National (the more ring wing National members) that 25% (percentage of GDP that is the govt share) should be the goal. That was not me. I thought 30% was much better. Anything much lower than 30% meant not enough for social and other government spending.

            Over the last 9 years of National, 30% was about where it settled, maybe slightly less.

            Basically the current govt is just a little above 30%.

            There seems to be a bit of a consensus in New Zealand on the 30% figure (a bit above or a bit below).

            I certainly can't see NZ going to 40% as the govt share of GDP as is common among European nations. It would imply an increase in govt spending of $30 billion per year, with taxes increasing across all levels by about 30% to p[ay for it. There is no political or community will for anything remotely like that.

            • pat

              "There is no political or community will for anything remotely like that."

              That is the argument…there is much community will for the benefits of it, and politicians are not leaders they are (slow) followers.

              The frustration expressed by many is the inability of the parties of the left to make a compelling case and/or having the courage to get ahead of the electorate.

              As to your denial of advocating a lower tax take I trust my memory and am sure someone with more access and inclination could find the posts

            • KJT

              I think if extra taxes went on the wealthy, housing speculators, ex politicians and capital gains tax dodgers, instead of moderately paid workers and consumption taxes on the poor, there would be rather a lot of enthusiasm for extra taxes.

              After all 80% supported CGT, before the right wing propaganda campaign against it, started.

              The fact that the Neo-liberal unfortunate experiment is going to be so costly to reverse, is in, itself an indictment on those who did it.

              Personally I would have been better off, paying a little more tax, than paying the extra medical and power bills from privatization and managerialism, and buying endless cans of baked beans, for my basement dwellers, that WINZ, forgot.

              The USA are finally realising that the cost of single payer healthcare is much less, overall, than their privatised system, just as New Zealanders are well aware of the cost of privatisation, added to their power bills.

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                This government has ruled that out.

                The alternative government from National has ruled that our as well.

                So it's best to just erase that idea from your political imagination rather than hoping for it.

                • KJT


                  Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Labour and, National when next in power, extend the “bright line test” which is going to do almost the same thing.
                  Even my right wing mates thought Labour was stupid to abandon CGT. But then they are real businesspeople. Not capital gains tax dodgers!

                  • Ad

                    To me abandoning tax reform is the weakest and most groveling move of this government.

                    Robertson has gone the easy way out and just decided to put it all on debt. Which in itself is a weak decision compounded from the tax decision.

                  • Incognito

                    The PM should have called a snap election to get the mandate (or not) for getting CGT over the line, is that it?

                    • KJT

                      None of the senior members of Labour supported the case for CGT. Letting the rabid right and self styled "moderates" own the conversation.

                      An example of sheer political gutlessness. Probably influenced by all the CGT dodging MP's they meet every day.

                      Made even worse, by the fact that most of the CGT dodgers that would have been finally effected never vote for Labour, anyway.

                      Taking it off the table altogether may please the right wing media, but isn’t going to gain votes.

                    • Incognito []

                      The story I heard was that Government didn’t have the numbers to get it over the line. I also remember people saying that they (?) should have tried harder and showed lack of leadership. I think it would have been good to implement a CGT but they made it too complicated with too many exceptions to try to please (or not upset) everyone, which meant, in practice, doing nothing and stick with status quo. Perhaps it was political cowardice and gutless but losing CGT needed and needs to be balanced against all the other things this Government is trying to achieve. Even as a ‘fanatical purist and perfectionist’ and a ‘proud mascara-wearing member of Weka’s little club of losers’, I see little point in committing political suicide over a relatively minor issue such as CGT.

                    • KJT

                      Except it is far from minor.

                      Shifting from income and consumption taxes, to wealth and speculation taxes, is an essential part of shifting back to a society that looks after people.

                      Finding the money for welfare, health, education and infrastructure, to rebuild after 35 years of cynical vandalism, just became an order of magnitude, less possible.

                    • Incognito []

                      In the greater scheme of things, I think CGT is relatively minor. The TWG made other recommendations too. Is it worth risking the stability of the CoL Government for?

                      Where does the “order of magnitude” come from?

          • KJT

            It is blatantly obvious that successful countries have a State contribution to infrastructure and their citizens of at least 50%. To prevent the dysfunctions caused by market failure.

            The reduction to 30%, in New Zealand, has been accompanied by poverty, mis allocation of capital, environmental degradation, infrastructure run down and failing support systems. No amount of extra cars and flat screen TV's are going to cover the ultimate costs of failing, 40% of our people,

    • Descendant Of Smith 13.4

      "They don't want the government running their lives. "

      You were part of a government that introduced running young peoples lives with "managing" their benefit money and that said to sole parents "you now have social obligations" and "work test obligations" and if you don't do these things then no benefit for you. You moralised the benefit system to change the entitlements of women who had children while on benefit to no longer get a sole parent benefit as if they were four year old naughty children. You attacked a politician who was honest about how she and many other poor people cope with poverty by manipulating the benefit system instead of accepting that there are deliberate structural inequalities built into it.

      Your party you so love now wants to do a Judith Collins "double down" on this power and control.


      Why was it Wayne that under National the culture at WINZ was described as "toxic".

      No the people you are talking about don't want the government running their lives but they do want the government running poor peoples lives. And of course by poor people we predominantly mean Maori.

      The food bag suggestion is just another continuation of such a control approach. Just like we have followed the US and the UK of putting the poor into motels we go down the path of controlling their lives and cutting them off for non-compliance. No doubt food stamps will be the next discussion point.

      You're so disingenuous when you say shit like "they don't want government running their lives" – you introduced more running your lives stuff on the poor than any government in NZ history.

      • Descendant Of Smith 13.4.1

        I notice Wayne you came back but didn't address the issue of running poor peoples lives.

    • Anne 13.5

      You had me nodding my head until the last sentence. Why did you include David Cunliffe? He wasn't a democratic socialist in my book. His background and current employment suggest to me he was a social democrat with an emphasis on the social as in poverty and lack of opportunities for the underdogs.

      • Wayne 13.5.1


        I was in two minds about including Cunliffe. I agree he doesn't (both pre and post politics) seem to be any kind of socialist). I did include him because he was the closest New Zealand example to a socialist leader, since there has never been anyone comparable to Corbyn leading the New Zealand Labour Party

        In the 2014 election Cunliffe did use a lot of socialist rhetoric. Also in his pitch to party members when seeking the leadership. It seemed to bounce against him in the election campaign. Perhaps because it scared voters or because it didn't seem authentic.

        • KJT

          " home start grants and loan guarantee for 3% finance would make quite a difference for getting young families into homes"

          Geez Wayne. Always knew you were a closet socialist.

    • Brigid 13.6

      " home start grants and loan guarantee for 3% finance would make quite a difference for getting young families into homes.", which served you well, and which I would say is socialism in practise, especially if the loans are funded by the reserve bank as they were for your first home loan.

      Wayne it's not your tradesmen cousins who could be taxed more than they are now, it's you. Of course they don't want to be taxed at a greater rate when they see those on your income are in the same tax bracket.

      I fear though, you wont have read any of the replies to your post, as I believe you just dump and run. You have no interest in our opinions.

    • Incognito 13.7

      Thank you for that considered comment but I couldn’t help noticing a few internal inconsistencies if not self-contradictions.

      You talk about “working hard and striving to get ahead” as “a pathway to economic self sufficiency” [sic]. However, you and your extended family reject socialism as unnecessary and unwanted.

      Many have voted Labour, but they don't want socialism. They want a fair go, and access to decent schools and hospitals. They don't want the government running their lives. They want to get ahead economically. So no CGT or excessive taxes.

      I think we all want a fair go and access to decent schools and hospitals and when you ask, nobody wants to be told how to live their lives. But that’s not what socialism is or is about.

      Where does the money come from to pay for those decent schools and hospitals? Are you suggesting we halve the Defense budget?

      CGT only affects the rental economy, the people who want to get ahead through unproductive profits at the expense of others. Many might not realise it but getting ahead in the current socio-economic system means it generally is at the expense of others.

      Obviously, some have invested heavily into their future. Unfortunately, to get ahead for them generally means looking after Number One and competing against others to free themselves (and their families) from the financial burden and straightjackets as fast as possible.

      More often than not, this is when and where they encounter regulatory hurdles and bureaucratic red tape. No wonder this creates anti-State and anti-authority sentiments and people are quite happy to cut corners be it legal, moral, or with health & safety, which leads to inevitable counter-measures, of course.

      It never seems to occur to these people that another way to economic self-sufficiency and self-determination is to collaborate and unite forces; it is all relative anyway.

      When CC will start to hit harder, people will realise that we are all in the same boat together and that we have to band together for survival and prosperity, whatever that will look like. In times of crisis people do this naturally and instinctively; in pre-crisis times or so-called inter-regnums they tend to do the opposite. This, to me, seems contradictory and counter-intuitive.

      Whatever defines as The Left does not seem to be able to formulate viable answers or policies to go forward. But here we are, discussing misunderstood and misinterpreted terms like socialism and ‘hard left’, et cetera, and we remain stuck in status quo. People are satisficed with this until they are offered a better alternative, a more plausible and convincing (appealing) framework with corresponding narrative, or until shit hits the fan, whichever one comes first. Any guesses?

    • Formerly Ross 13.8

      Many have voted Labour, but they don't want socialism. They want a fair go, and access to decent schools and hospitals. They don't want the government running their lives.

      Where does that bee in your bonnett wrt to socialism come from, Wayne? Socialism is all about fairness and access to services. I suspect you're thinking about communism. Of course there is quite a big difference between socialism and communism.

      It might suprise you but John Key had socialist tendencies (sort of). Socialism is capitalism's best friend.



      • Wayne 13.8.1

        I am using socialist in contrast to social democracy.

        Social democracy essentially operates within the capitalist system. There might be higher taxes for higher incomes (but nothing that looks confiscatory) but it does not seek to supplant capitalism, only regulate it. Helen Clark's government was a social democrat government, as is the current government (possibly even less than the Clark government). I would say John Key had some social democracy tendencies. So do I.

        I recall a Cabinet discussion on tax rates in 2010. The initial recommendation was for a top tax rate of 30%. I argued against that (initially I was the only one who did so), saying 30% would look unfair and that the top rate should be 33%. The matter was settled after some debate when John Key said 33% would be both fairer and more politically saleable. Up till then he had simply listened to the argument but his body language showed instantly that he was uncomfortable about the 30% option.

        Socialism, at least as I understand it in the context of modern democracies, involves widescale nationalisation and hefty taxes. The sort of thing that Corbyn was proposing.

        • KJT

          Socialism is looking after people.

          It is not incompatible with a market economy. New Zealand until the 80's, managed it rather well. The Scandinavian countries, as well as Western Europe still do.

          In fact no successful country has succeeded without a large dose of socialism. The USA, at the height of their power, had a 90% tax on millionaires. Now they borrow from the Communists, to keep their economy going.

          The worlds largest socially funded enterprise is the US military. Which, apart from it's baleful effect on the rest of the world mops up US unemployment and redistributes wealth to the poor communities, the grunts come from.

          Western Anglo Saxon Governments are resiling from looking after people. The UK , will be the first to die as a society.


          40% of New Zealanders, as working poor and on inadequate benefits, are no longer part of our society. This will over time, without drastic changes, become 60, 70 then 80%. Our society will no longer function. Just like the UK and USA we are imitating.

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            I'm old enough to remember that the strongest socialist government we had since WW2 was a full-throated command-and-control, high-tax, high-spending, high-protectionist, and high-self-sufficiency government. They had monopolies on everything and controlled prices. This left only discounts this highly socialist government because it was run by National, and the leader was Robert Muldoon.

            And New Zealand was a fucking miserable place to live.

            • KJT


              I was there. As an apprentice, I could afford to go ski-ing, tramping and sailing.

              My low income parents could feed house and educate all of us. Due to previous Governments also, of course.

              Muldoon reckoned he knew all the jobless by name, there were so few. He may have been correct.

              It may have been miserable for university educated pretentious twats.

              Muldoon did a lot wrong, and I didn't like him much, but he was the last Prime Minister with a vision of prosperity, for all New Zealanders. Not just the comfortable upper middle class.

              • Ad

                Inequality was low, house ownership was high, and the cost of living was low.

                Plenty on Rob's Mob loved him for it.

                But it was not a free country.

                I'd be interested in a post you put up defending Rob Muldoon.

                • KJT

                  “Not a free country”. Bull.

                  Search, surveillance laws and political repression is worse, now. Just ask Nicky Hagar..

                  A lot freer for the bottom 40% than it is now. They had enough money to have a life.

                  A "free country" seems to be a code word, for free to get rich, by ripping other people off

                  And. I'm not going to defend Muldoon. Didn't like him at the time. It is a pity that Kirk died and Muldoon got in over Rowling, who was a decent man.

        • Formerly Ross

          I would say John Key had some social democracy tendencies. So do I.

          With respect, I think you're being semantic.

          Socialism, at least as I understand it in the context of modern democracies, involves widescale nationalisation and hefty taxes.

          Well, that is your impression of socialism. Socialist governments may indeed use higher tax rates so they can provide for the less well-off. I don't find that frightening. I would note that the last government was not averse to raising taxes. For example, after promising not to raise GST, National did exactly that.

          There are quite a few State owned companies in NZ. You’ll need to explain why that scares you.


          • KJT

            National is happy to raise taxes on the lower income earners. 16 new taxes and a GST, rise, wasn't it?

            • Wayne

              The GST switch was entirely tax neutral. That is a tax cut to income taxes and the increase in GST. All income tax rates were reduced and Working for Families was also increased. That is why no one complained at the time, since no-one was worse off.

              I presume the 16 taxes are the annual tobacco tax and petrol taxes.

              • KJT

                The switch to GST wasn't neutral as it benefited higher income earners, and impacted mostly on people who had to spend almost all their income.

                But. You knew that.

          • KJT

            New Zealanders are very well aware, that their high power bills are the result of privatization, of power companies.

            Where executives and shareholders make millions, putting our power bills up, while pretending to compete.

            The majority against similar privatization, in future, was pretty obvious. The Key Government had to back off on further fire sales, including ACC.

            • Wayne

              The Key government had no plans to privatise ACC. A conscious decision was made by National while in opposition (around 2004) not to repeat the 1998 to 1999 ACC changes.

            • Poission

              New Zealanders are very well aware, that their high power bills are the result of privatization, of power companies.

              Where executives and shareholders make millions, putting our power bills up, while pretending to compete.

              Under the existing regime,they want to increase charges to the least well off under the auspices of CC regulation

              Power companies consider solar “disruptive”, and plan to change their pricing to make solar uneconomic for most consumers. That is what is behind the proposal to remove the Low Fixed Charge pricing – 30 cents per day (plus GST) now enjoyed by well over half today’s householders. They want to move progressively towards $2.00 per day, with Government supporting any householders put into hardship. This plan has been accepted by the Electricity Price Review team


  14. Dennis Frank 14

    Presenting a dichotomy between promise & delivery doesn't get us very far. Shine?? You mean sell an alternative that sparkles? Isn't that why Labour made Jacinda leader?

    Anyway, better to frame it in terms of an electoral contract. The people shift the centre of political gravity a few points to the left, we get a centre-left govt. We judge them on how they deliver expected results. If sufficient, then re-election of same. No political prescription applies – due to MMP/coalition – so we are left with a tenuous feel-good factor that creates the outcome.

    Authenticity comes from consensus politics and only a fool would discount how this govt's performance has been sufficiently authentic to satisfy voters who matter. That said, I agree that delivery has been underwhelming at times, so the jury is still out. Not really a leftie, I can only answer your final question by evading the zero-sum frame you present. Both/and logic applies. Shine by presenting a better alternative to National – one that both left & centre can feel good about.

    Then use realpolitik in the implementation. Forge the essential compromises the democratic process requires. Pragmatism breeds respect via consistent actions. You win the old numbers game via playing to the rules. Collective praxis, in which beliefs produce results via appropriate behaviour…

  15. Let’s turn to highlights of the government led by Prime Minister Helen Clark:

    Not so fast, there. For a start, if you're going to compare the achievements of the Clark government with the achievements of the Ardern government, you'd better list only the achievements of the first two years of the Clark government, which (to my memory at least) were pretty modest. You also need to take into account that you're comparing a government in which Labour were completely dominant with one in which they're nursing a fragile coalition of parties with seriously conflicting agendas. As usual, if you want to see more action, get people to vote Labour or Green so they can rule without NZ First involvement.

    • RedLogix 15.1

      Not necessarily. One has to imagine the NZ Greens learned something from the toxic mess the Australian Greens created:

      In short, the Greens prevented a leader with a mandate for a carbon price from implementing one and then forced a leader with a mandate for no carbon price into implementing one.

      And then they left her swinging in the breeze.

      Thus, in turbocharging such destabilisation and dishonesty for their own political ends, they helped usher in a landslide victory for Tony Abbott – the biggest climate sceptic ever to serve as Prime Minister. Never in Australian history has there been such a potent combination of ideology and idiocy.

      The very notion of a price on carbon has been political poison ever since and the Greens were the ones who made it toxic.


      To his credit Shaw seems to have taken a much smarter path than the purist zealots activists in his Party would have liked. As a result we have achieved useful outcomes while Australia remains deadlocked.

      In short this debacle across the Tasman is a perfect case demonstrating why it is far more important to do small achievable steps in the right direction, than insisting on great leaps of what ultimately turns out to be a destructive purity.

  16. observer 16

    Start with basic arithmetic.

    Simplistic analysis usually says "Blair, Ardern, Clark, Clinton … ". As if a name is all we need.

    But the differences are obvious. Under FPP, Blair had a huge majority in 1997, and although it was reduced over time, UK Labour maintained a clear majority in Parliament until 2010.

    Clinton and Obama had to work within a system where Republicans had – at various times – control of the legislature. Clinton was so centrist (in USA terms, i.e. rightish elsewhere) that he probably wouldn't have done much more even if the Dems had majorities, but Obama certainly pushed for more and was constantly obstructed by Congress.

    Attacking Ardern for not being "leader X who had a majority" is frankly silly. If she had a Labour-Green majority she would lead a government to the left of the current one.

    Clark had reliable left allies in the first term (until the Alliance broke up), with the Greens' support on confidence and supply. Second term she turned to Dunne, third term to Dunne and Peters.

    So the OP is really quite poor analysis. There is a clear difference between leaders who are constrained by numbers (Ardern) and those who are constrained by their own world view (Blair being the prime example).

    You know what, I'm getting really fed up with this. Why is it trotted out every other day? "Ardern not doing enough blah blah …". And it's always rebutted with the facts, as in the link above, as in the links provided all the fricking time.

    You want the most reactionary government in a generation, worse than Key, then Simon is gung-ho for that. Or you can try and make a Lab-Green government happen. Hint: not by moaning about the current one. And failing Maths 101.

  17. observer 17

    Oh, and talking about Blair without reference to the slaughter in Iraq is just "Apart from that, how did you enjoy the play Mrs Lincoln?". That's not just rewriting history, that's throwing a big bucket of whitewash all over it.

  18. weka 18

    meanwhile, left of Labour party shows what can be delivered in five years.

    • Bill 18.1

      For the sake of comparison, is there any chance of a link to Ardern's "two minutes of achievement" (or whatevs) that Sturgeon was responding to?

      edit. Sorry. Didn’t realise it had been posted further up the thread

    • Stuart Munro. 18.2

      This is clearly a progressive modern state – we should open diplomatic relations with them.

  19. Bill 19

    With the United Kingdom loss by Labour to entire media working hand in glove with National Security State actors to deliver the Conservatives to a healthy majority, it’s worth asking whether all the manifesto idealism was worth it. It seriously didn’t work against a charismatic Conservative leader who had very little policy concerted campaign of smears and untruths unleashed against the Labour Party and its leadership since 2015.

    But then again, if you think the emerging politics of the left engages with the politics of the status quo on a level playing field; that no powerful institutional actors put their rather considerable fingers on the scales – then not only might you be thinking yourself the proud new owner of a bridge, but you might think it reasonable to frame a question for discussion as per this post

  20. SPC 20

    Delivering a little bit better than the Tories is not going to get the vote out. It's under 70% in the UK.

    The moderates pushed Remain on Corbyn, he prevaricated – but the north and midlands would have also been lost if the moderates had their way and their own preferred leader.

    Posing this electoral defeat as a justification for Blairites is risible.

    A bit like claiming Alliance’s (votes and coalition partnership) work is evidence for the success of a more moderate Labour. And NZF on MW then and now. Civil unions and prostitution reform were parliamentary votes.

    As to security/foreign policy. There was Blair's support for the US ME wars vs Corbyns doubt about keeping the nuclear force. Blair's open support for Israel, vs Corbyn's preference for a just peace settlement – funny how once the left was in leadership of Labour its preference for a just peace settlement meant the party suddenly had an antisemitism problem. And how Blairites used that to undermine the lefts challenge to its natural right to governance over the working class movement – for it's own good?

    Look how well its presumption to know best for the working class – remain in the EU was dealt to by the voters in the North and Midlands.

  21. adam 21

    What we learnt from the election was that the liberal left no longer supports social democracy. And that was all we learnt.

    I've suspected this for years, that the liberal left is completely selfish and has little to no regard to the poor and dispossessed. They only care in keeping the status quo in place – rather than let working people have a fair go.

    This other shit your trying to spin Ad, is just that – spin to keep the status quo firmly in place for liberals like yourself. It's tiresome and quite condescending – but then again I've never meet a liberal lefty who wasn't a condescending prat who delighted in telling me and others how we should live/vote/do politics.

    You lot are to blame, you turned your back on the poor and dispossessed they became somthing to manage – and in turn, the poor and dispossessed just stopped voting for your awful awful governments.

    • joe90 21.1

      Or it could be that Corbyn led Labour to it's worst result in eighty years.

      But hey, George Galloway got 489 votes.


      • adam 21.1.1

        Indeed he did, and liberal leftist like you deserted him droves, believing all sorts of bat shit crazy conspiracy theories, and swallowing the pop media like crack addicts.

        • greywarshark

          The Liberal Left in NZ – is that what you call those who don't want to raise benefits but spend large sums instead on roads? Gordon Campbell at Werewolf is reviewing what we know.

          If the coalition government can’t be spurred into action by the pain of people in need, then what about the economy’s needs for short term stimulus? Raise benefit levels, and the money would be spent immediately. Rely on roading and rail projects and it will be years before the stimulus feeds on through. That’s why it should be a no-brainer to raise benefits (a) on compassionate social grounds, and (b) on rational economic grounds. Only the politics are getting in the way. (Pensioners seem to be the only beneficiaries that New Zealand First feels kindly disposed towards.) …

          (I think cross out the 'First' in the above sentence and that's a fair summary.)

          Susan St John of the Child Poverty Action Group…

          'Susan St John said she feared that by the time the government announced useful changes to the welfare system, there would be no guarantee the government would still be in power and able to deliver on its promises. "We're calling for an emergency package because it's not good enough to wait until next year and find out in the budget that there might be something that will be an election debate, and then find well, actually, it's only if Labour get back in that we're going to get anything at all." '

          Raising benefits though, offers no opportunities for corporates to access major government spending projects. Again, political expedience seems to be the enemy of good social policy.


        • KJT

          Pretty much it.

          It seems that Corbyn did get the highest total vote for Labour in decades.

          Different result under MMP, of course.

    • McFlock 21.2

      But then why did the tories do so well in the north? I can understand turning away from liberals if the neglect was as bad as your gnashing of teeth would indicate, but going to the tories who are even worse?

      • adam 21.2.1

        Scotland you mean – that went hard left.

        Did you miss that.

        • greywarshark

          There were a couple of blue areas in the North East of Scotland I think.

          Why there?

        • McFlock

          No, I meant the regions of England referred to as "the north". Particularly the northeast, where there seem to be a lot of seats that went red to blue, but none the other way around.

          The SNP has decent leadership, and I suspect the Scexit issue is now to the fore there.

          • weka

            Need to look properly at class demographics but I was under the impression that Brexit was the issue. Some of those seats the Tories won because lefties split their vote to the brexit party.

            Shocking but this isn't particularly surprising and I guess at the first referendum the liberals decided that leave was all about racism and xenophobia and bugger the class issues.

            • McFlock

              I mean, it wasn't like the brexit debate wasn't largely about some of those things…

              As for the class issues of brexit, layoffs generally start from the bottom up.

            • KJT

              Yes. Theoretical lefties don't seem to realize the power of seeing an immigrant, of any race or color, in Northland it seems to be South African whites, walking straight into the job that would have been your unemployed sons apprenticeship.

              I can see exactly why, in the North of England, where they have never recovered from Thatcher, they jumped the shark in protest. At least, mostly they attacked the real culprits. Not the immigrants who understandably took advantage of an opportunity, but Governments that encourage excessive immigration to keep training and wages costs low for ripoff employers, and asset speculators profits, high!

              Labours base was the working class. Long abandoned.

              The comfortable, assuming it is rascism and zenophobia, driving the resentment, is condescending and insulting.

          • Instauration

            Yes, to the fore – SNP attained 45% of the vote in Scotland.

            SNP attained a larger percentage of the vote in Scotland than the Tories did in the UK. If Johnson consequently has a mandate for BREXIT – SNP has a mandate for SCEXIT

            Won the election – lost the Union ?

    • KJT 21.3

      We feel sorry for the working poor, but please don't raise my taxes, or stop my kid from going to the bleached, school, private or Grammer.

  22. Descendant Of Smith 22

    Ultimately it seems it was less about left wing policies and more about Brexit.

    "Meanwhile, it might be noted that every single one of those MPs from the Conservative and Labour parties who joined ‘The Independent Group for Change’ without calling a by-election, and otherwise used their position to campaign to remain in the EU, lost their seats."


  23. "Is it better to deliver in Government or better to shine?"

    Apologies Ad (tho' I'm not surprised you're the author), but even posing such a question shows just how far we HAVEN't come.

    It's also why I need a break from all this sort of shit from time to time.

    4 days is obviously not long enough. Btw, is democracy still in fashion these days or is there some brand I should be drinking that'll get me a bit of hip amongst Lefties in this space going forward? I must be well outside the boundaries of the Broad Church = a fcuking heathen even

    • KJT 23.1

      Ad must have sore balls by now, from sitting on the fence?

      • Ad 23.1.1

        From the depth and quality of dialogue above, I'm pretty happy with the result of the post.

        My purpose was to generate a more open debate about Corbyn et al than the wanky "left-only" commentary the previous day.

        • bwaghorn

          The fact that Corbyn had as his shadow agricultural minister a radical vegan was always enough proof that he was a fucking idiot.

          • Ad


            Comedy gold

          • Dennis Frank

            Some vegans aren't radical?? Who knew? Great news for the Nats tho: niche marketing conservative vegans to the electorate as sensible centrists gives them another option to go along with all the others that aren't working (caveat: Seymour's bubble may not subside). But yes, if Jeremy had chosen a moderate vegan the electorate may not have been so spooked…

    • greywarshark 23.2

      OwT Have a look at 24 for a reading from the New Good Book. It sounds doable; sensible and practical and we would be nearer to heaven if we adopted the homilies therein.

  24. KJT 24


    "What makes European societies — which are far, far more successful than ours — successful is that people are not battling for self-preservation, and so they are able to cooperate to better one another instead. At least not nearly so much and so lethally as we are. They are assured of survival. They therefore have resources to share with others. They don’t have to battle for the very things we take away from each other — because they simply give them to one another. That has kept them richer than us, too. The average American now lives in effective poverty — unable to afford healthcare, housing, and basic bills. They must choose. The European doesn’t have to, precisely because they invested in one another — and those investment made them richer than us."

  25. SPC 25

    Politics 101

    Labour MP's openly bag their leader to the media for a year or two. Then say to the media after the election that their constituents say that Corbyn is the reason they will not vote Labour.

    Funny thing is, the Labour vote was down in the Midlands and North where the Brexit vote was strong. And Corbyn was one of the few long term Eurosceptics in Labour.

    It seems the Blairites are intent on blaming Corbyn and leftist leadership for the fact that their pro Remain posture cost Labour some of their seats.

    The people who peddled WMD to the UK voter to justify a pro USA foreign policy, at it once again.

    The occupation of the UK will only grow stronger via the FTA with Trump – note how the USA strengthens its bullying power with each and every nation in the world by undermining the WTO multilateralism.

    • McFlock 25.1

      Corbyn didn't campaign as a "eurosceptic", unless "eurosceptic" means "sitting firmly on the fence and refusing to have a firm position on a topic that almost all other people in the country feel very strongly about".

      I believe being strongly Brexit or Remainder would have delivered more votes than the Labour dithering they actually campaigned with. On every issue or conflict the party had, including racism (party, not Corbyn), Labour dithered, ummed, and ahhhd.

      • SPC 25.1.1

        He was a well known Eurosceptic who could say with credibility he would be neutral during any referedum held under Labour.

        LD offered the strong pro Remain position – revisit 50 without even holding a referendum and lost ground.

        Labour offered a new referendum as their caucus opposed Brexit. This annoyed those who voted Labour and wanted the last referendum honoured.

        In this Labour were snookered by those in their own caucus who were using Corbyns 2017 election gains to block Brexit, but with the goal of removing Corbyn as their own leader.

        The Tories were always going to win – on honouring Brexit, getting it done etc. And Blairites were intent on reclaiming control of the Labour Party.

        • McFlock

          He was a well known Eurosceptic who could say with credibility he would be neutral during any referedum held under Labour.

          Which amounts to complete bollocks compared to everyone else's firm position.

          I don't wanna do it but I'll do it if other people want me to do it is not leadership, and looks weak and indecisive next to I know what we should do and if you vote for me I'm gonna do it.

          • SPC

            What firm position can there be in holding another referendum?

            • McFlock

              Yes, "renegotiate then referendum" was a bloody stupid policy.

              So you focus on why renegotiation is an essential thing. Show what you would go for that bojo failed to deliver. Look at the manufacturers leaving and taking their jobs. Keep personal opinions about brexit out of it: none of this seven-and-a-half out of ten bullshit. If the nation wants to leave you'll get them the best damned deal possible for the people, not just for the bankiers, and then the people will decide if they want it.

              • SPC

                The voters already knew the Labour caucus he led wanted to negotiate a retained connection to the customs union and single market (while not formally part of the EU).

                • McFlock

                  Which, if true (what pundits think "the voters" know is never completely accurate) just makes the official position even more waffle.

                  So the separation crowd see referendum on a "semibrexit", the remainers see "brexit still on the table", and everyone sees Corbyn failing to lead his caucus.

                  Meanwhile, bojo's got a clear line and all his caucus have either jumped ship or fallen into step, meaning no mixed signals.

                  • The Al1en

                    The Brexit position was labour's policy, decided at the party conference, when the remain motion was defeated.

                    Corbyn insisted the Brexit policy decided at the party’s conference in Brighton, which saw a remain-supporting motion defeated by trade unions and constituency delegates, must stand.


                    Also interested to read in that article how Corbyn made a captain's call over supporting Boris' election. Whoops.

                    • McFlock

                      Yeah, it was a stupid policy.

                      But coupled with the Brexit-based divisions in caucus and the wider party, and Corbyn's views also muddying the water, it all resulted in:

                      • a brexit policy message that was inconsistent and much more complicated than the brexit message of the tories
                      • highlighting that Corbyn did not have firm control of the party caucus

                      So a stupid policy highlighted other weaknesses in the party.

                    • The Al1en

                      It was a really stupid policy and the worst case of fence sitting indecisiveness. As I've said before, the party was split just as badly as the tories on Brexit, and Corbyn fudged where Boris didn't.

                      If, as some are saying, the party sold out the north and the midlands by backing remain (which they didn't), the carnage would have simply moved south, and the strong remain constituencies would have crumbled to the lib dems. If anyone disregarded the old heartlands it was Corbyn, thinking historical voting would see him through – He took that age old loyalty for granted.

                      In trying to have his cake and eat it, he ended up with nothing.

          • greywarshark

            Yes McFlock hits it on the nail. People were confused, Corbyn didn't give them enough information for them to be sold on one side or another. It seems a common thing that when you ask people for their ideas, they rarely have any. But give them some scenarios based on facts with likely models, they would understand and know where their interests would lie.

            In the absence of understandable explanations Labour voters looked for leadership. Corbyn was good with the hopeful sounds, but didn't back them with firm, believable policies, which had to sound doable and reliable to people who had been confabulated by Blair. His fresh and fervent politicking they found to their cost, rewarded them not with much-needed money and services, but a handful of sterile beans when given the twice-over.

            • SPC

              Yeah sure, people who voted for Brexit would have voted for Corbyn if he abandoned his personal Euroscepticism and told they were wrong.

              And despite polls showing the issue was not Labour Party economic policy, you claim it was …

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