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Just put it away

Written By: - Date published: 2:24 pm, September 13th, 2009 - 30 comments
Categories: economy, health, labour, Social issues - Tags:

I know this free condoms idea is just a remit, not Labour Party policy, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that the right has used to drive a wedge between Labour and it’s working-class base. It is a liberal idea that conservatives on the left and right will be repelled by and it creates the impression Labour is still focused on social engineering at a time when the focus must be on the economy.

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea but the place for such decisions is surely with Pharmac. All associating Labour with such a policy does is give ammunition to the Farrar/Hooton/McCroskie-branch of the right.

The Kiwiblog Right have followed in the very successful model of the American Right. They do not want to argue economic issues because the populace rejects rightwing economics. Instead, they want to fight the ‘culture wars’ by dogwhistling social conservatives. Given an opening, they will obviously try to make these kind of policies defining aspects of Labour in minds: ‘Do you want a government that’s true to traditional Kiwi values or a government that gives out free condoms to your teenager?’

It’s a fight that Labour can only lose. So they shouldn’t be buying into it.

Take Barack Obama. He has recentred the American political debate on economic fundamentals and equitable redistribution of wealth (eg health reform). He has refused, largely, to be drawn into the culture wars. That’s what Labour needs to do. Concentrate on the economics – jobs, wages, the divide between rich and poor, public services – where the people are with you. Not liberal (and relatively trivial) social issues where they are not.

Don’t get drawn into the battle your enemy wants t0 fight. Rather, fight to your strengths.

30 comments on “Just put it away”

  1. Reconnecting with NZ via the Poofter Group. Keep it up, you will get used to opposition.

    How much is this initiative going to cost the poor raped taxpayer of NZ?

    • George D 1.1

      Ah, casual homophobia. Don’t support them gays, cause New Zealanders don’t like them.

      Never mind also that condoms are used by anyone with a penis, and the large majority of those are not gay men.

  2. Scott 2

    Agreed. The timing is unfortunate, when Labour is trying to convince voters it’s moving away from the “nanny state” social engineering of the past.

    Which is a pity, because the idea may be a good one. It’s just not the right time politically.

  3. jabba 3

    why not include ribbed and flavoured variaties?

  4. Ianmac 4

    Of course they could use it to say a resounding strategic NO. Not our policy. Remit fails. Imagine how Bill and all the other Catholics would respond, if it became policy.

  5. burt 5

    Don’t get drawn into the battle your enemy wants t0 fight. Rather, fight to your strengths.

    So no change of any fight then ?

  6. gobsmacked 6

    We really do have Alice in Wonderland media in NZ.

    An item on the conference agenda is beaten up into a headline – even though it’s not policy, and the party is not in government.

    Meanwhile Judith Collins today slams the Dunedin rioters as “spoilt white kids”. That’s a Cabinet Minister speaking. So the media ignore it.

    Now, imagine that wasn’t a Cabinet Minister’s phrase, but a Maori activist instead … cue beat-up and blather. “U iz rascist!!!111”

    Make headlines if you’re not in power. Get a free pass if you are. Go figure.

    • burt 6.1


      It’s the way it has basically been forever. Change the names of the players in you comment here and it could have been something DPF posted over the last few years.

      However I’m not saying you are wrong as I actually agree the MSM are pretty hopeless.

    • Ari 6.2

      It got straight on the news on three. You’re probably just watching the wrong news 😛

      • gobsmacked 6.2.1

        I’m afraid that’s not correct, Ari.

        The story is on the 3 news website, because Collins used the word “white” (and spoilt, little, rich) in an interview on Radio Live.

        But the interview was not used in the TV news bulletin.

        My point is not that Collins should be pilloried for the adjective, but to contrast with the reaction if – for example – Tariana Turia or Shane Jones or some “Maori radical” said the same thing.

        Sometimes the media knees are ready to jerk, and the beat-up begins. Sometimes not. It’s worth asking why, I think.

  7. jabba 7

    Burt, you are correct re picking the picks you want and Labour do create stupid fights, don’t blame the media, they need to sell papers or viewing time. Don’t forget also, that there are left and right media.
    re the racist comment .. from the tv images I have seen, most are stupid white guys, and girls.
    We constantly highlight crimes/bad behaviour of our brown friends so we must out the idiots that are so called white. I look forward to the day we refer to bad New Zealanders as New Zealanders.

  8. jabba 8

    and what a shame .. I grew up in Wanganui and I NEVER EVER encountered racisim .. in fact my Maori mates were looked up to.
    I was about 20 something when I 1st saw racist comments and that was in Whangarei .. lots of tension there even way back then, not much has changed and to be honest, I don’t think it will, not in the short term anyway.

  9. Bill 9

    “Take Barack Obama. He has recentred the American political debate on economic fundamentals and equitable redistribution of wealth (eg health reform). He has refused, largely, to be drawn into the culture wars”

    That’s really funny in a not so ha-ha way. Another way to see it is that Barack has abandoned and betrayed every constituency that (stupidly) believed in him and has simply dropped his arrogant pants to reveal the big corporate cock he is.

    Long piece here on his acquiescence/ silence on racism and why racism is very much a question of economics.

    But Labour on condoms? If only the mothers of all these careerists had insisted……..

  10. pete 10

    Be careful with that one one rule for all is apparently racist in the extreme.

    It’s racist because of two hidden assumptions lurking behind the phrase:

    * that the “one rule” will be Pakeha law.
    * that current laws are not being applied in a racist manner.

    (disclaimer: I’m not accusing you of racism. Just pointing out that that particular phrase is read as racist by the left for good reason)

  11. Guess what.

    The Condom idea occupied three lines in a 62 page policy document.

    Some seem to be beating up on the Labour Party because it did not censor these three lines from the document. We should have been sensitive that wingnuts and christians will beat up on us for having these three lines.

    With respect I disagree. The Labour Party is a party of ideas and we should be free to allow our members to raise these ideas for discussion.

    PS it is not policy. Christians can relax, for now.

    • Ari 11.1

      I honestly think censoring good ideas because you’re worried about wingnuts crying “nanny state” is a bad idea. Better to work on the image by developing policy that makes people feel “freer” than National’s.

      • Tigger 11.1.1

        I was in the session that discussed the remit. It warranted about 30 seconds of discussion. Instead the key discussion was around electoral reform. But I turned to a friend and said ‘this is the sort of thing the press will scream about’.

  12. Jasper 12

    What amused me is that this policy was both Rainbow AND health policy. Not only would it mean that a $12 pack of durex would be reduced to around $3, but the incidences of morning after pill issuances, unwanted pregnancy abortions, and the long term effect of reducing dependents on welfare, and STDs would be vastly reduced.

    So… $12 pack of tui, or $3 for a pack of condoms? Why not both.

    captcha: thinking

    yes. only restricted to the left.

  13. mike 13

    I think Labour should call for an independant inquiry into wether to include ribbed and flavoured condom variaties – that’ll bring back the blue collar battlers….

    • Galeandra 13.1

      Too excited, Michelle. You’re blowing this issue up out of all proportion. Nudge nudge.

    • Mike I think it is “whether” …

    • Lanthanide 13.3

      Having received many different types of free condoms from the sexual health clinic for free, they described it as “try as many different types out as you can, until you find one that you like – that way you’ll be more likely to use them”. I don’t know how you can argue against that and somehow dismiss “ribbed and flavoured condom varieties” as being completely superfluous and therefore money should not be spent on them.

  14. Sarah 14

    The Iran Ministry of Health gives our free condoms in schools and advocates birth control. And in New Zealand we’re worried about conservatives not liking this policy. What a messed up world.

  15. Pete 15

    Guess what.

    That’s what the media and your political opponents will do.

    And that’s why you dont allow silly ideas that show many in the party haven’t moved on from the ideas that lost them an election, piss all over your parade when you are the new leader trying to show that these people dont pull the levers anymore.

    Surely the seasoned political opperators, that I hope Labour still have, would have recognised how a silly, albeit small, remit would become the focus of the media story. That’s what the media will do – especially when you have framed the event as some sort of PC policy bonfire/appology session.

    Politics 101 – Fail

    • So we should ban the discussion of all new ideas because it may upset extremists who mostly do not support us anyway?

      I have this really bad feeling about any party applying censorship to its members’ ideas because of the pursuit of power.

      The next thing that will happen is that a party will be elected after making no significant promises and then implement a series of idiot right wing ideas for which it does not have a mandate.

      Oh wait, this is happening right now.

      Is this what you call good politics?

      • Pete 15.1.1

        No, I’m not saying we should ban the discussion of new ideas just politically unpalatable ones that will see Labour out for another couple of terms

        I’m saying that if the leadership and strategists choose to frame the conference message as one of repudiating the ideas that sunk you last time, then you don’t let anything contradictory to that message become the take away message of the conference.

        That is achieved in several ways

        Firstly, you do your initial policy thinking in private, discuss the worthiness of the ideas amongst yourselves, do basic costings and critically how the idea can be sold to the public. If you don’t think the public can be convinced into thinking that it’s a good idea and needed in order to solve a problem, that’s probably because it isn’t a good idea or it’s a policy looking for a problem to solve. In doing this work you will be prepared if and when you release it publically for the inevitable media and opposition criticism and have arguments to support your policy.

        Secondly, as party leader you send a message to the activists that naff ideas are no longer what the Labour Party is looking for and suggest they instead put their energy into formulating ideas that address the most pressing problems as perceived by the public, thus making the party electable again.

        Thirdly, you reinforce this message by telling those senior MP’s running these policy group discussions that again they should only bother on putting forth remits from these groups that they think the public want and need to improve their lives.

        By all means discuss ideas, formulate policy, but do it in private so you don’t get ridiculed when some half baked idea goes off and detracts from what the conference’s main aim was. But try and formulate ideas that might make Labour electable here’s a big hint – with that rather large recession destroying the livelihoods of many low-income families you might want to start there, instead of condoms for kids and bikes for gay policemen etc etc.

        That’s what I call good politics.

        Or in the words of Malcolm Tucker from the Thick of It:
        ‘Julius Nicholson is a hugely respected advisor. He now has a wide ranging brief and his blue-sky vision and helicopter-thinking will enable this government to go, in his own phrase, beyond delivery and beyond that’. That’s the line, ok? And if he does stick his baldie head round your door and comes up with some stupid idea about policemen’s helmets should be yellow or let’s set up a department to count the moon, just treat him like someone with Helzheimer’s disease, you know? Just say ‘yes, that’s lovely, that’s good, we must talk about that later’, ok?

  16. graham 16

    to pete you are right but thank god for ruth dyson

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