Messages for the Left

Written By: - Date published: 6:59 am, August 6th, 2017 - 106 comments
Categories: benefits, class, class war, election 2017, feminism, greens, jacinda ardern, labour, Left, Metiria Turei, welfare - Tags: , ,

This Guest Post is from The Standard commenter and occasional guest author Kōrero Pono.

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Everyone is acting like Metiria committed the crime of the century, both her accusers and defenders. I know that most of her defenders believe they need to bow down to the sensibilities of the law and believe they need to be seen to not condone supposed ‘fraud’ (either benefit or electoral) but seriously buying into the bullshit narrative of the right (and the supposed left – aka Labour) simply reinforces the position of those who’d like nothing more than to continue living under a corrupt right wing government.

Those supporting Metiria need to reinforce the message that Metiria was trying to highlight when she outed herself. That we live in a country that massively disadvantages beneficiaries and low wage workers. Many are forced to live on less than subsistence levels of income. When faced with the proposition of seeing their children go hungry people make decisions that they should not have to make. Those decisions include not paying bills, power company hoppers, resorting to loan sharks, selling their possessions, borrowing from family and friends, prostituting themselves, staying in abusive relationships, telling lies to get assistance, going to food banks and subjecting themselves to unneeded ‘interventions’ and intrusive processes simply because they lack sufficient resources, and having to accept and eat food that many would consider substandard.

This list could go on and on but the point is that put in the same position I doubt there are many parents that would not do the same to ensure their children do not go hungry. We need to reinforce the message that because certain people (usually women and children) are massively disadvantaged the system criminalises them when they do what they have to do to survive. A significant number of beneficiaries and low waged workers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The narrative continues to demonise the poor (bad parent, bludger, criminal, vulnerable children, lazy, useless) and individualise the problems created by unjust and punitive policies and a less than adequate welfare system.

If the information I am reading regarding Ardern’s stance is true, then I am disappointed at her lack of steel. She should, at the very least have defended the position that Metiria found herself in back in the 90s and highlighted the disadvantage faced by women and children every day, forcing many into making decisions that may well criminalise them. Instead Ardern bends to the dominant narrative, a narrative that primarily punishes women and does little to support her supposed feminist principles. This type of hypocrisy reinforces my disappointment in Labour because it suggests that we are simply going to get more of the same from them and let’s face it, Labour (along with National) have done very little over 30 plus years to alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable in this country, and if they (Labour) cannot even stand up for their supposed coalition partner, then more fool them because those missing million and those wavering between Labour and Greens will continue as they have done and that may mean another 3 years stuck with National.

I hope I am wrong on this but if Ardern’s stance on Metiria is as has been reported in MSM, then that does not bode well for any policy announcements needed to show they are serious about tackling poverty. So far, the policy I have read does little to help those who need it most. I live in hope that they will surprise me when they start announcing their policy going forward but at this stage the Greens are the only party IMHO that have come up with any policy that will make a difference to those who need it most. I am just grateful that Metiria has sufficient life experience to know what it is like to live struggle and therefore she has the empathy and understanding to act as a strong spokesperson and advocate for our most vulnerable citizens.

106 comments on “Messages for the Left”

  1. Carolyn_nth 2

    Excellent post.

    We do need a shift in policy and narrative towards treating beneficiaries and other low income people positively and with understanding of the circumstances and contexts of their lives and struggles.

    Green Party “Mending the safety net” policy, includes:

    Increase all core benefits by 20 percent
    * Increase the amount people can earn before their benefit is cut
    * Increase the value of Working For Families for all families
    * Create a Working For Families Children’s Credit of $72 a week
    * Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits
    * Reduce the bottom tax rate from 10.5 percent to 9 percent on income under $14,000
    * Introduce a new top tax rate of 40 percent on income over $150,000 per year.
    * Raise the minimum wage to $17.75 in the first year and keep raising it until it’s 66 percent of the average wage.

    More at the link.

  2. Ad 3

    There are stuff-all more votes talking about poverty than the Greens have already got. The Greens have determined that they will secure their base 10% by being the champion of poverty. Top work.

    Any other dumb emotive speculation about what Ardern may have inferred about Turei is of no relevance to the election – other than to make Green activists stay working for that base 10% with lots of loyalty emoticons and adoration.

    The Labour Party are now free to go after 30% from their base of 25%.

    • Carolyn_nth 3.1

      It’s not just about “winning the vote”. What’s the point in winning if nothing much changes in the values of government and society, or of the kind of policies and narratives brought into being.

      The left can win well, together and in a way that forwards left wing values. Or a party can spend their time trying to win ugly – chasing power for themselves over substance, continuing to demonise those doing it tough, etc.

      • weka 3.1.1

        It wouldn’t have taken much for me to feel better about Labour, just a few clear positions on welfare even if they’ve felt the need to take a stand on MT’s admission. Still not sure if they won’t because of their bigot vote or if it’s because they really see welfare as wrong.

        I did think both JA and KD were more restrained than Labour would have been in the past, and take that as a good sign about the MoU and coalition.

        • Carolyn_nth 3.1.1.1

          because of their bigot vote or if it’s because they really see welfare as wrong

          Most likely the former.

          Journo: “Jacinda, do you have a mess for Winston?”

          JA: “Let’s have a drink”

          Journo: “and Metiria?”

          JA: “We’re not with her.” [ polite version]

          • weka 3.1.1.1.1

            I probably should should have used and/or.

            I think it was more nuanced than that, because JA did appear to express regret about MT resigning. Am off now to look for the original audio (RNZ on Friday I think?)

            • Carolyn_nth 3.1.1.1.1.1

              NZ Herald has the full press “Let’s do this” conference on 4th Aug on video [in the box down the page].

              Patrick Gower asks Ardern about Turei’s decision at about 7 mins into the video. Ardern has a prepared line on it “It’s an incredibly sad set of circumstances and I would have come to the same decision as Turei did”. She keeps repeating the same phrases, so prepared lines.

              This does not give any info on what exactly Grant Roberston said to the Green Party earlier in the day – that for me is where the real political positioning and strategic action/pressure happened – behind the scenes.

              And Gower led the way earlier in the day, with pretty much the line Ardern would take, calling for Turei herself to stand down – basically, first pressure from Gower, then personally delivered message from Robertson, then after Turei caves to the pressure, Ardern comes in as the caring but hard nosed leader.

              Ardern needs to “do a Key”. There is no doubt that a big, courageous call on the Turei issue by Ardern would really resonate with the public and further her and Labour’s momentum.

              Obviously ruling the Greens out of Government altogether or breaking the memorandum of understanding would be stupid – but getting rid of Turei would be politically smart for Ardern.

              The only other option to stop the pain is for Turei to stand down herself.

              She is such a titan in the Green movement, there is no way the MPs could force her to go – it would have to be Turei’s own call. It would be a massive call.

              The latest findings in a Newshub investigation show she cannot be trusted and that the Greens have lost control of the story.

              As the political cliche goes, this story is not going away anytime soon. Turei is once again taking attention away from Labour for all the wrong reasons, right when it is enjoying the Jacinda effect.

              The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll says it all: 74 percent say Turei was wrong to lie to get a bigger benefit.

              And there, from Gower, before the fact, is the Labour Party rationale for the line they took.

              • weka

                I don’t have too much of a problem with what Ardern is saying there (incredibly sad circumstances but MT made the right decision). It’s the lack of any message to beneficiaries that’s the problem for me. Sure, do pragmatics politics, but am still waiting to see where Labour are going to position themselves when it comes down to it. At this stage, not looking good.

                • Carolyn_nth

                  Yes, ultimately, the policies and positions on social security are what is important. But as you say, the signs are not looking good.

                  The policies on Auckland Transport look like ones I might agree with.

                  But social security is a biggie for me. That and other public services.

              • Adrian thornton

                +1 Carolyn_nth, thanks for your comments on this, you are exactly right when you say ‘What’s the point in winning if nothing much changes in the values of government and society’.

                Adern has described herself as a pragmatic idealist…you know what, I don’t want to hear that the leader of the only party that gives us the possibility to bringing progressive change in New Zealand is prepared to compromise her ideals before they have even been challenged,
                I would have thought this is the moment that the Labour Party needed staunch idealist, who was an uncompromising proponent and fighter for a fair and equal society for all Kiwis, and not just the few.

                Sadly Ardern is no Helen Kelly that much is for sure, but then I hear she is very popular with CEO’s…
                http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11716868

                So of course there isn’t any public Labour party presence or even comment on the Foodstuffs strike,
                http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/08/union-accuses-foodstuffs-of-firing-striking-workers.html

                …or any public solidarity stands for any other workers battles for that matter, nope they sure don’t want to scare off that soft national voter.

                • Rosemary McDonald

                  “Sadly Ardern is no Helen Kelly ….”

                  And we are all the poorer….

                  It bothers me,somewha,t that NZ Labour has failed to take notice of just how close their comrades (sarc) from the UK came to winning a few months ago with their “extreme” leftie policies.

                  Oh well…

                  • red-blooded

                    Rosemary, you need to acknowledge:
                    1) The NZ situation isn’t as extreme as in the UK.
                    2) Corbyn didn’t actually win.
                    3) The Left vote here doesn’t just go to Labour. People who see Labour as too soft can vote Green and their votes aren’t wasted because of the MOU. Labour needs to gather in others. So, feel free to vote Green, but bagging Labour makes it less likely that your preferred party will actually get to play a role in government.

                    Oh well…

                    • weka

                      “People who see Labour as too soft can vote Green and their votes aren’t wasted because of the MOU.”

                      Yep, this is the thing we need to keep remembering.

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      “1) The NZ situation isn’t as extreme as in the UK.”

                      In what way are we not as extreme?

            • Siobhan 3.1.1.1.1.2

              Even Judith Collins managed to include a tone of ‘regret’ about Metiria on RNZ.
              ‘Regret’ is exactly what neoliberal centrist Parties feel about the mass of workers, life time renters, beneficiaries who are getting knee capped by this system.

              So they bring in some nice policies to soften the blow and assuage their guilt.

              Its not enough…what good is regret to the strugglers??

    • weka 3.2

      Not sure what you mean by Ardern inferring something but the problem is what she did, ie her actions. I also still haven’t found the audio but as I understand it JA just positioned Labour as not standing up for beneficiaries. That’s a problem for the people building a movement against poverty and it looks like classic post-80s Labour which basically said welfare was bad.

      There’s a decades old class war on, the Greens brought it out into the open, we’re still waiting to see which side Labour choose.

      • garibaldi 3.2.1

        I think we know which way Labour will go on this issue. Kelvin Davis wasn’t appointed deputy for nothing… it was a nod for the right.

    • francesca 3.3

      Not sure about that myself
      I think the environment votes come from the centre,blue/green etc.,and I think that pool is now at capacity,overcrowded
      Whereas the poverty votes tap in to a hitherto untapped under represented demographic
      There’s been talk about poverty in previous campaigns of course, but prior to Metiria they lacked authenticity. Metiria has heaps of that
      I voted for Labour until Roger came to town.Labour has never recanted and I have never forgiven
      Greens working for the poor and the environment gets my vote

    • spikeyboy 3.4

      The best way to win the election is for the green party to excite the missing miĺlion enough to vote. Potentially this is what Turei has done and is doing. Fighting for the center is such sleep inducing boredom that not voting is legitimate and understandable. See Janet below for the potential effect on the significant number of voters who cast their vote on an emotional rather than analytical level

  3. Janet 4

    Met recently with some long time but not often seen friends. All highly qualified women, 4 childless, 3 with children. All aged about 60.
    Coming election – all party voting Green. Metiria admired.

  4. savenz 5

    I agree with the post, but we also need a change of government – the dominant election narrative by the right (which means they win by default) as that the ‘left block’ are divided.

    About time Labour and Greens and even NZ First and the Maori parties actually think about how the National government keeps winning and the oppositions actually think about defeating National not arguing with each other who is right and fighting over swing voters on left who may not going to guarantee a change of government, instead of going after the potential 47% of voters, 17% of whom did not used to vote National in 1999, but now do, or are so disgusted with politicians in general they do not vote.

    The world narrative on neoliberalism and globalism has changed and as such it is the left blocks election to lose. IN 1999 National were defeated with only 30% of vote. They are due for this election result again,

    if Labour, Greens and NZ First can hold it together and not start scraping with each other instead of concentrating of the legacy of the National parties 9 year rule and take back the 17% or more of voters who in 1999 did not vote for them.

    • Craig H 5.1

      National keep winning in part because they destroyed the vote of the other centre-right parties and at least some people like to vote for “winners”. Labour hasn’t gone out of their way to do that, and nor should they. I suspect if we actually get an election where the biggest party doesn’t form a government, it will start to change the mindset. Also, the core Green vote is much larger than the core ACT vote…

      Annoyingly, the dominant media narrative is that National are the biggest party and therefore the natural party of government, which shows that the media have some work to do to remember that it’s about total blocs, not individual parties.

  5. red-blooded 6

    You’re impressed by the Greens. Great; vote for them and promote them actively. If you want them to have a realistic chance at a role in government, though, stop bagging Labour. It doesn’t take much nous to realise that Labour needs to boost its vote and that if they do that only by taking back the support that’s recently shifted to the Greens, nobody wins (or at least nobody that people here want to win).

    People here see Turei’s past actions within a context of poverty and a harsh culture that doesn’t give real support to beneficiaries trying to lift themselves and their children out of it. I share that viewpoint, but plenty of people don’t and their votes count too. Ardern has to be realistic and tactical if she wants a chance to actually make some change in this country.

    • Carolyn_nth 6.1

      So Labour and the Greens need to work together, thus don’t bag Labour, but it’s OK do diss Turei and/or the Greens?

      • red-blooded 6.1.1

        Who’s done that? I sure didn’t hear anyone dissing Turei or the Greens when this was discussed by Ardern. And what have I said that you would interpret that way?

        • Carolyn_nth 6.1.1.1

          You and Labour/Ardern did in a subtle kind of way:

          I share that viewpoint, but plenty of people don’t and their votes count too. Ardern has to be realistic and tactical if she wants a chance to actually make some change in this country.

          It was not necessary to cut Metira lose. And starting by colluding with the bennie-bashing anti-Turei narrative does not bode well for them making any substantial and necessary changes to our social security system, and the narratives that support such changes.

          • red-blooded 6.1.1.1.1

            “You and Labour/Ardern did in a subtle kind of way:”

            So subtle as to be imaginary… Note, “I SHARE that viewpoint”.

            Let’s get real about this situation, though. Turei and her party will have thought long and hard about the likely effects of her declaration before she decided to make it. There were always going to be both positive and negative reactions – that was surely obvious – and it was presumably a matter of balancing these up and thinking of the overall effects in the short, medium and long terms. She/they had to consider effects on beneficiaries (the people she was championing), on the Green Party, on the broader coalition of the Left (obviously including whether this was going to be an overall vote winner or loser, and therefore whether it was going to make it more or less likely that there would be a government that gave the Greens input into social policy and allowed them to address the needs of beneficiaries, amongst their other concerns) and on herself.

            It was always predictable that she would face investigation by WINZ and demands to repay money. That must have been foreseen and seen as outweighed by the wider and longer-term positives.

            In the short term (and very possibly the long term) there’s been a boost of support for the Greens. The issues of benefit levels and how we treat beneficiaries has been given prominence in the election – tick. To get the long-term positives that are desired, though, there has to actually be a change to a Left-aligned government. Like it or not, that means that in the medium term, there are some negatives for Turei. It wouldn’t be seen as reasonable by the wider electorate (as opposed to people who are already committed Left voters) to have someone campaigning to lead a Ministry they were under active investigation by. It’s a clear conflict of interest. Think of how we’ve reacted to some of Trump more outlandish appointments (think climate change denier Scott Pruitt as Minister for Environmental Protection Agency) – well, we’d be giving the right that kind of stick to beat us with throughout the election campaign and beyond.

            If we want to make actual change (benefitting the major stakeholders in all of this – beneficiaries), we need to win the election. In order to win the election, more people need to be convinced to vote Labour or Green. I personally see Metiria Turei as a bloody good woman (side note, I used to teach her daughter and have admired her as a person and politician for a long time) but I also see that there wasn’t a lot of choice in this situation for Labour. Hopefully, in the long term, Metiria can come back from this. Presumably, she’ll be required to pay back some money. NZers have accepted politicians coming back to positions of prominence after being stood down or standing down for various reasons in the past. She’s still going to be a co-leader of the Greens and she’ll still have an input into policy, if we manage to change the government.

            Sorry for the long comment, but it’s a complicated situation and I think we need to consider all the angles.

            • Carolyn_nth 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Labour did have a choice. They could just have left Turei and the Greens to make their own decisions, without putting pressure on the Greens, or making a comment that reinforced the negative narrative about beneficiaries.

              And they could have made comments about the circumstances where beneficiaries struggle with limited and punitive choices.

              • red-blooded

                Carolyn, I think you’re ignoring most of my comment. I also challenge you to supply a link to comments from Ardern/Labour “that reinforced negative stereotypes about beneficiaries”. Maybe you’ve seen something that I haven’t, but the press conference I watched simply had Ardern responding to direct questions from reporters, and she repeatedly said that Turei had made a decision in circumstances that were “incredibly sad”, and that she supported that decision. She was very careful to be respectful of Turei. Ditto in previous interviews – eg Garner; she said she hadn’t been in that situation so wasn’t going to sit there and be judgemental. Perhaps you’re reacting to her comment that when you’re lawmakers you can’t condone lawbreaking – you can share your story from your past but you can’t condone it. I guess you could argue that she could have used that moment to make the case for beneficiaries who are struggling, but she too had to be careful – she didn’t want to condemn but as a parliamentarian she also couldn’t afford to be seen as condoning law breaking. It was a bit of a tightrope. Did she get the balance exactly right? Maybe not, in your eyes, but I still don’t see any reinforcing of negative stereotypes.

    • weka 6.2

      I wouldn’t see the post as bagging Labour so much as pointing to the need to be honest about what is happening.

      I don’t have too much of a problem with Labour doing being practical in their campaigning any more than I do the Greens. Had Ardern and/or Davis said anything supportive of beneficiaries or the class war then there would still have been disappointment but myself I would have taken a more pragmatic approach of yes, its Labour but at least they are moving in the right direction on this. But it’s not realistic to expect to put the elephant in the living room back in a box now that Labour have positioned themselves on class.

    • Glenn 6.3

      ” Labour needs to boost its vote and that if they do that only by taking back the support that’s recently shifted to the Greens, nobody wins (or at least nobody that people here want to win).”
      Well said Red Blooded.
      And it’s true.

      I remember Lange and co before the 84 election running around with shopping trolleys pledging that under Labour groceries would become cheaper…they were going to be the Michael Joseph Savages of the 80s.
      Then they got in and bought about a draconian system including a consumer tax that increased groceries by 10%. They had it sussed…get in first before doing the unpopular.

      Jacinda first needs to get onto the governing benches with the popular vote before she can change the system. Aligning herself with what appears to be an unpopular cause amongst voters (and the media) could be damaging. Let her get in first. Don’t expect her to tie a millstone around her neck at this stage of the race.

      • Nic the NZer 6.3.1

        ” Lange and co before the 84 election…”

        There are today still people who won’t vote for Labour as they feel very strongly they were lied to at that and the following election campaign. I don’t think that would have happened if they had delivered on their campaign promises.

        Getting in on a lie can also undermine the future of a party, and actually its un-necessary in most circumstances not to deliver on your promises.

      • Stuart Munro 6.3.2

        That’s kind of a Winston stance though.

        If you’re not committed to real change you don’t deserve to get in.

        If you rely on misleading the public “not frightening the horses” your platform is based on deceit.

        Poll worshippers are apt to discover that it erodes their support as they become demonstrably inconsistent with the principles that are expected of them.

    • Rosemary McDonald 6.4

      “People here see Turei’s past actions within a context of poverty and a harsh culture that doesn’t give real support to beneficiaries trying to lift themselves and their children out of it. I share that viewpoint, but plenty of people don’t and their votes count too. Ardern has to be realistic and tactical if she wants a chance to actually make some change in this country.”

      Fair points…but to get my vote, I need clear and unequivocal policy on the issues that matter.

      Yes, we need to change the government, but this is not going to be achieved by any one individual party. Coalitions and partnerships will need to be forged, and I for one need to see that parties who have already declared partnerships are going to be solid…and have each others backs.

      Labour want to be the dominant partner over the Greens….no? Then they need to win considerably more seats than the Greens or NZ First. Considerably.

      Oh the irony if, as a result of Metiria’s reach out to the disenfranchised and marginalised and Labour’s failure to back her up, the Green vote increases to the point that they are snapping at Labour’s heels.

      Ardern’s tactic (of wooing the votes of the conservative centre left) might just backfire.

      Yes…change the government….but show us y’all have a plan that has at least some future proofing built in.

      In other words….sort your collective shit out. 🙂

      • weka 6.4.1

        The only problem with Labour being in 25% and the Greens being on 20% is that NZ hasn’t matured enough yet in its MMP to see that there is nothing wrong with this. So that’s a problem but one of perception. The other option is that Labour and the Greens could have a true partnership.

        • dukeofurl 6.4.1.1

          A partnership would only come after a fruitful period of working together.
          For various reasons during the Clark government, they werent.

          They were in the Alliance before 99 but opted out and werent part of the new government from 1999. They won both a seat and were over the 5% and labour-Alliance were a few seats short of majority.

          Im not sure why but a missed opportunity. My memory says they didnt want to be in government but may be wrong

          • weka 6.4.1.1.1

            I’d have to look it up too but my memory says they left the Alliance because of internal problems in that coalition and the Greens could see they weren’t going make much headway on their own policies and priorities.

            • dukeofurl 6.4.1.1.1.1

              Sure. I wasnt so interested in why they left the alliance, but they then did succeed on their own terms( 7 seats) AND then didnt join the Labour -Alliance government in 1999.

          • Carolyn_nth 6.4.1.1.2

            Actually, my memory is that Clark moved to stifle the Alliance Party.

            Clark’s government started with a fairly strong left wing agenda – closing the gaps, etc. They gradually succumbed to pressure from the mainstream to be more centrist and less left.

            I don’t think the powers-that-still-be in Labour want a small aligned party that has any strong left wing influence. Ardern’s Labour is looking to start out already capitulating to mainstream and reactionary narratives, and distancing themselves from, possibly even putting firmly in secondary place, a party further to the left. Not a good sign.

      • Korero Pono 6.4.2

        Rosemary McDonald, + 100 my sentiments exactly and I do not think it is unfair to think the scenario you presented is unreasonable. The missing million could make a huge difference this election, forget the naysayers expressing concern that Greens will take votes from Labour and vice versa, not when there’s a whole untapped potential just waiting for a party they think worth voting for. Metiria has copped a lot of flak but she has also garnered a lot of support along the way.

        • Carolyn_nth 6.4.2.1

          And that support for Turei and a change in our social security system and values as a society is very important to the future of the NZ left – it’s something that needs to be nurtured and developed.

  6. The best analysis of the stupidity of this particular bit of dirty politics I have read comes from Andrew Geddis

    Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

    Having set out the evidence for the prosecution, let me try and wind things back a notch. First up, although her actions were an offence, a 23-year-old student doing the same thing today almost certainly would not be prosecuted for it. In 2005, for instance, some joker who openly bragged to the media about deliberately enrolling his dog to vote simply was required to apologise to the electoral authorities for making them look bad.

    And there is zero chance that Turei herself will be prosecuted for this particular historic action. Under a provision of the Crimes Act in place at the time, offending such as hers had a 10-year limitation period applied to it. Only if the Attorney General authorises a prosecution can one now occur – and this authorisation will never be given (even if asked for).

    [Edit: As per comment below, the offence was a summary one, so the time limit on prosecution actually is six months after its commission … .]

    That then leaves the question of how much moral or political opprobrium to level at Turei for her actions. Well, I guess that depends how harshly you want to judge a late-40s person for the fun-at-the-time-but-dumb-in-hindsight mistakes made in their early 20s.

    Treating the electoral system’s rules as a bit of a joke (she was in a political party called “McGillicuddy Serious”, for crying out loud) seems to me to be pretty much at the lower end of that stupid shit scale. It certainly ranks below “got pissed but drove home anyway” – a crime I’m pretty sure many of our current MPs committed in their youth, but you can bet will never ‘fess up to.

    I’d also add that I think virtually all of her critics on this, if I could be bothered digging into their past would have far more severe boondongles on their record. From Farrar to Hoskings. Indeed especially those two.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      The point is, regardless of it’s stupidity, the butterfly has been badly bent if not quite broken.

      The DP crew have been perfecting their methods for over a decade now. From their relentless undermining of Helen Clark onward, they’ve had a claw in slicing down Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe, Little and now Turei.

      It’s dark, dirty and crude … but it works. And it will keep happening until we find a way to effectively counter it. And I’m just not Machiavellian enough to have any useful suggestions.

      • Ed 7.1.1

        There is a solution once power has been achieved.

        • dukeofurl 7.1.1.1

          Enver Hoxha couldnt have put it better !

        • lprent 7.1.1.2

          Not really.

          The DP crew at the kiwiblog sewer (and Whaleoil was just a minority nutter site) were actually much more effective between 2002 and 2008 than than they were afterwards.

          There isn’t any real way to shut them and their sleazeball feeders in the National party and government PR machine down without stifling robust debate about politics and government. They used to do the same thing with journos. However the journos used to be just more discriminating and aware of their role as media.

          The only thing that does seem to work is to do relentless transparency on them. Nicky Hager did a pretty good start and certainly the public have become much more aware of the issue over time. But really what is cutting them off at the knees is the slow proliferation of social media commentary with alternate viewpoints. While people can still live in a bubble of the like-minded, it is a lot harder to convince people who grow up in this data saturated environment to do so. That seems to be the realm mostly of the older media users.

      • lprent 7.1.2

        Nicky Hager seems to have woken up a lot of the journos (I exclude the moronic ranting fuckwits like Mike Hoskings and some of the radio shock jocks from this of course).

        They’re seldom blinding repeating those “ground-level” insights as if they are gospel any more.

      • Rosemary McDonald 7.1.3

        “It’s dark, dirty and crude …”

        Yep, Farrars Ferals certainly seem to exemplify all that should be purged in a free and democratic society that embraces humanity and basic human rights.

        What I don’t understand is how Farrar not only gets away with hosting such a stinking cesspit of un moderated and mostly anonymised hate speech….but has enough approval from MSM to get a regular guest spot on our National broadcaster.

        A cynical person might deduce that access to funding is predicated on giving such as him and his mates (thinking Hooten and Boag) airtime.

        And I’ve been thinking of old Machiavelli a lot over the past week or so too.

    • Adrian Thornton 7.2

      That was a good piece of analysis, thanks.
      I thought it was an extremely bad move from the Greens not to come straight out of the box fighting and trying to at lest partially control the narrative, her being in the McGillicuddy Serious Party was a great angle for them to help defuse the tension, but not giving a press statement until later in the day sunk her..tactically very shoddy.

  7. AsleepWhileWalking 8

    FFS it was to vote for Mcgillicuddy Serious.

    Apparently none of the people demanding crucifixion of MT have ever been young enough to take a joke.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      I know … and there lies a deep irony perhaps only an SMP supporter might appreciate. Who knew this would perhaps be the only political significance of a party founded entirely as a joke?

    • dukeofurl 8.2

      Thats because its taken in the context of the benefit overpayments and where she was living at the time.
      You have to remember that politicians in the publics eyes rank near the bottom along with used car salesmen ( they are almost always men).

      • Carolyn_nth 8.2.1

        And yet, Bill English and his housing rort?

        • dukeofurl 8.2.1.1

          Now hes PM !

          he certainly played with his family trust setup to make it fit withing what he saw where ‘the rules’, but was pinged anyway as his legal advice was too narrow ( and telling him what he wanted to hear). Key then announced the old rules were out, there was no more reimbursement of rental, but a fixed payment to cover ‘living costs’ but no sort of check on the spending.

  8. If the information I am reading regarding Ardern’s stance is true, then I am disappointed at her lack of steel. She should, at the very least have defended the position that Metiria found herself in back in the 90s…

    That certainly would have made us happy, along with everyone else in the fairly small minority of the population that could be called left-wing. Unfortunately, for there to be a Labour/Green government to dish out these ministerial portfolios, Labour has to appeal to a lot of people who aren’t left-wing, have never been on a benefit, never been poor, don’t consider themselves ever likely to be poor and have plenty of judginess to spare for beneficiaries who are struggling to get by. Its leadership knows that and has made the appropriate call.

    It may annoy us on the left that Labour is shoring up its bigot vote, but we have to suck it up if we’re serious about winning. Let the Greens own this.

    In terms of what that means in government, cast your mind back to charter schools. According to National, undermining the public education system was forced on it due to the awesome negotiating strength and powerful leverage of its coalition partner ACT’s single MP. National got to implement charter schools but still have plausible deniability with voters who value the public education system. Sometimes it’s handy to have a coalition partner.

    • Carolyn_nth 9.1

      Sometimes it’s handy to have a coalition partner.

      Indeed – but which coalition partner will have most influence on Labour? NZ First or the GP?

      • Yeah, that’s a problem. The right within Labour looks to be in the ascendancy again and much of the caucus is time-serving dead wood that won’t do anything about it. That right faction will prefer coalition with Peters, even though a Labour/Peters coalition could be guaranteed to be a scandal-ridden clusterfuck that sees them thrown out after three years.

        Still, I think Ardern’s done the right thing. The more that Labour pulls back its more conservative ex-supporters from NZ First, the less likely a Labour/NZ First government becomes. Likewise, the more Labour frees up the Greens to go hard for the left vote, the stronger the Greens become in any resulting coalition.

  9. David Mac 10

    Jacinda backing MT to the hilt will provide reassurance for those dependent on a benefit but is poor election winning strategy. We may well see closer alignment post election. Labour wooing those that support MT and are voting Green is counter-productive for both parties’ vote.

    jacinda’s theme of relentless optimism has broad appeal. Rather than directly siding with MT I think Labour will win more votes by developing policy that sits alongside and compliments the Green’s policy whilst stoking their Relentless Optimism theme and adhering to Labour’s traditional support for workers.

    Policy to sit alongside Green policy that creates clear and easily accessed pathways for those that are dependent on a benefit to become self supporting and raise their living standards via paid work. eg: Career training for Mothers with a full service crèche attached to the institution. Policy with appeal to those that used to vote Labour.

    The job for the next few months is not about locking in pay rises and improved conditions for beneficiaries. We’ve got something else to do first before we can even table that matter. The better the job the MOU makes of the election, the better the future for beneficiaries is looking.

    • Carolyn_nth 10.1

      I’m less optimistic about a Labour-led government giving some traction to policies and platforms from the Green Party.

      I feel they will look to NZ First to mute the influence of the Greens. But a lot depends on the relative numbers of MPs gained by each party.

      • David Mac 10.1.1

        Hi Carolyn, I don’t think Labour will need to look to NZ first. NZ First will be making their will known all by themselves.

        It’s neat to entertain the dream outcome, Lab/Green with enough seats to be boss. The reality is, it’s probably going to take Winston.

        But!!! The Lab/Green show of hands will be a strong majority. With regards beneficiaries specifically, I believe they have an advocate in Jacinda. She has held the relevant shadow portfolio for some years now. She has spent years fielding letters and emails, visiting families, researching etc. It would be a cold heart that was intimately involved and not arriving at: ‘We need to do more to help these people.’

        Given her integrity and her job for the last few years, I think it’s safe to assume that those doing it tough have a friend in Jacinda.

  10. weka 11

    People still struggling with James Shaw, he just unequivocally backed Turei on Q and A this morning, and he pushed the message that Turei’s story is about the terrible way that beneficiaries have been treated for so long.

    • Carolyn_nth 11.1

      Excellent! That’s what is needed.

      • weka 11.1.1

        I was impressed and I already like him and think he’s an asset. I also thought he stood by MT on Friday in the press conference. He’s looking tired though, politics shouldn’t be this hard.

        • Carolyn_nth 11.1.1.1

          I guess elections can be tough.

        • David Mac 11.1.1.2

          I agree Weka, I think his position has had a positive effect on people beyond the Green Party. Staunch loyalty in the face of adversity – an all weather friend, it has universal appeal.

        • Adrian Thornton 11.1.1.3

          “politics shouldn’t be this hard.”

          Yes it should, we need to see a lot more open space between the Left and the Right…this is a battle for the future of our children, our communities and country and it is about time politicians got into the trenches, that is why I admire Turei, we all know exactly what side she is on now, which is something that can’t be said for that many ‘left’ politicians in NZ.

          Good to hear Shaw standing in solidarity with her, and so he should.

          • weka 11.1.1.3.1

            When you make politics this hard you end up with a skewed section of society in parliament. Basically the ones that can handle the macho. That actively excludes many important voices, not to mention the affect on gender, ethnicity etc.

            • Adrian thornton 11.1.1.3.1.1

              I disagree with that, Corbyn and the progressive left in the UK had to fight for their very political existence in this year leading up to the UK election, this has absolutely nothing to do with being macho, and it is everything to do with being strong and steadfast on where where your political values and principles lay, and letting the media, the opposition and the public know that these lines cannot be crossed.

              I mean, sure in an ideal world politics shouldn’t be this hard, but it isn’t an ideal world today, and today, right now we are losing, and losing badly, in my view, this is the time to fight, if not now, then when?

              And I wouldn’t have thought this is the time to be describing yourself as a ‘pragmatic idealist’, no, what we need is a staunch idealist, now more than ever.

              • weka

                We’re talking about different things. I’m not saying don’t work hard when you have to. I’m saying the system brutalises people and that that is bad for the country.

                I value co-operation and relationships over power grabs.

    • Good on James. Back your friends, especially when they’re facing Righteous Wrath.

      • weka 11.2.1

        “Back your friends”

        Deep in the kaupapa that one. Another example of why so many pundits don’t understand the Greens.

        • garibaldi 11.2.1.1

          There was a guy on mediawatch this morning talking about polls. He said this last year has blown their accuracy out of the water because of huge volatility in the electorate eg Jeremy Corbyn. Why am I mentioning this? Because I think we will take a dip in the polls for now, but only temporarily so long as our policies get out there. There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge before 23/9.
          Imo the Greens are the only Left party worth supporting. Kia kaha Greens.

      • red-blooded 11.2.2

        Please note that he said pretty much exactly what I did at 6.1.1.1 (above):
        – That they’d weighed the risks and the advantages before going public;
        – That they’d decided that the advantages, in terms of policy cut-through and publicity, outweighed the possible negative consequences;
        – That Turei knew there’d be negative outcomes for her, personally, and was prepared to face up to those;
        – That they’d weighed things up and come to their own decision about the Cabinet issue independent of (and prior to) any message from Labour. He said that the phone call from Labour made no impact at all on the decision.
        – He also reinforced my point about proper behaviour when being investigated – ie, stand down from Ministerial position. He said this was the equivalent to what they’d expect from any other politician in parliament.

        He was also very positive about the working relationship between Labour and the Greens. He also backed what I and a few others have been saying about Labour needing to draw back voters who’ve drifted away in recent years, expanding the pool of Lab/Green voters, not just competing with the Greens for those already voting Left. He was absolutely uncritical of Ardern (in fact, he was very supportive, saying fairness is one of her central values).

        Basically, I think Shaw answered a lot of the criticism that’s been flying about on this site recently.

    • KJT 11.3

      Shaw was impressive. What we should have got from Adern.

      To many bloody fence sitters in Labour. Hope they get splinters in their butt.
      Trying to please everyone means you please no one.

      Doesn’t give me much hope that Labour will change much.

      Anyone who wants a Government “for the many, not the few” needs to vote Green.

      And where the fuck does Labour get off telling the Greens who they can put forward for cabinet, or not. Imagine if the Greens said Kelvin Davis should not be a Minister.

      • red-blooded 11.3.1

        Actually, KJT, in a coalition, both parties have an input into the formation of Cabinet and, like it or not, the larger party does have more say. That’s how it works. Besides, the Greens say they’d already decided that it wasn’t tenable to put Turei forward as a minister. Are you choosing to disbelieve them?

        • Carolyn_nth 11.3.1.1

          My reading is that Turei made her decision under duress, behind the scenes by Labour, and with some related media bashing.

          There’s always stuff going on in politics behind the scenes that we don’t see. We can get a hint of it from the way things are presented publicly, and from who says what and how.

          • dukeofurl 11.3.1.1.1

            Greens have thrown their own people under the bus before….. whats new ? Its only bad when Labour does it to them?

          • red-blooded 11.3.1.1.2

            “My reading is that Turei made her decision under duress, behind the scenes by Labour …”

            Maybe that’s your reading, but it’s not what she’s said and it’s not what Shaw says. They both say that she decided before there was any contact from Labour.

            Turei has been in politics for a long time. She must have known there’d be fallout. Shaw said in his interview that this had been considered and factored in, and that they still felt it was the best way to make their point. You can continue to disbelieve both co-leaders of your chosen party if you choose, but I’m choosing to see them as grown-ups who knew what they were deciding.

            And yes, Ardern did say that her team contacted Turei, but all three (Turei, Shaw, Ardern) say the decision was already made by Turei and the Greens.

            • Carolyn_nth 11.3.1.1.2.1

              The evidence also points to Labour putting pressure on Turei and the Greens – on the impact of that, we can make our own judgements. And let’s not forget Davis’ public statements against Turei, colluding with the anti-beneficiary narrative, before that decision was made.

              Both the GP and Labour saying Turei made her own decision came after excessive amounts of pressure from the press and Labour’s attempt/s at pressure, and in so doing Labour and Ardern and Davis colluded with the MSM narrative against Turei and beneficiaries.

              That much is publicly evident. My guess is that Robertson has been engaging with Gower, and leading Gower’s narrative – but we will need to wait for history to show the truth or not of that.

              • red-blooded

                So, do you honestly think that Turei was incapable of foreseeing the level of controversy and criticism she’d be stirring up? That assumption would be pretty patronising, wouldn’t it? Of course she foresaw it, and it was part of what she and the party were counting on, in terms of getting attention and cut-through.

                And, no, actually, neither the Greens nor Labour have said that the decision came after “Labour’s attempts at pressure” – they’ve both said exactly the opposite (that the decision was made before any contact from Labour). But don’t let that get in the way of your narrative, C-nth. After all, I’m sure you know more than the people directly involved!

                • Carolyn_nth

                  I have just watched James Shaw’s interview on Qu & A. yes they did expect push back against Turei’s speech. No they didn’t expect the level of vitriol and hatred of beneficiaries.

                  They also didn’t expect the amount of support they got for Turei, and for a change in approach to beneficiaries.

                  In my view, the GP were dealing with it (the positive and the negative) , until Labour put the boot in. Turei, Shaw and the GP still stand by their policies on social security.

                  yes Labour and the GP have agreed on a line they are pushing, since the decision was made by Turei. That’s the MOU (though team Jacinda didn’t set up the MOU, and I suspect it’s somewhat weakened). But it only lasts until the election is over, then all bets are off.

                  James Shaw was asked directly several times whether Turei made her decision re ministerial role, before or after the phone call to the GP by Ardern. Shaw danced around it saying it was Turei’s own decision (the line since shared by Labour and the GP). He eventually, under consistent pressure from the interviewer, said she made her own decision before Ardern’s phone call

                  And don’t let electioneering and PR spin get in the way of critically analysing the evidence.

                  But ultimately, the proof will be in how Labour treats the GP after the election, and how they treat social security and beneficiaries in their policies and practices.

                  • red-blooded

                    So, we’re agreed that he said she made the decision BEFORE the phone call? Great – enough said. He agrees with Turei’s own statement, and Ardern’s. You can “critically analyse the evidence” all you like – the only actual evidence comes from the mouths of the 3 key players, all of whom agree. But feel free to go on disbelieving them, by all means.

                    As for how Labour treats the GP – I’m going to say that I hope they get to be in a position to work that out together after the election. Of course, that’s more likely if the supporters of each party can manage to support their own without attacking the other from now until then. Something to think about, perhaps?

                    • Carolyn_nth

                      Geezus!

                      I’ve got a bridge to Aussie to sell you. That’s clearly the GP-LP line smoothing over the cracks after the event. Shaw did not sound convincing on the timing of the phone call.

                      And we are agreed then that Team Ardern also tried to put pressure on the GP and Turei to step back.

                      I’m not holding my breath for an Ardern-led LP to treat the GP well. It took a long time to get the MOU – Little’s work. Team Ardern has shown the contempt the LP caucus right wing have long had for the GP.

                      And how Ardern explained it also shows contempt for beneficiaries – many who finally saw hope in Metiria’s lead.

                      The only hope for the future of the NZ left is for the GPs to get a significant number of MPs from this election.

        • KJT 11.3.1.2

          After the election.

          If Green policies actually get some publicity, for once, it may not be Labour.

      • dukeofurl 11.3.2

        “…where the fuck does Labour get off telling the Greens who they can put forward for cabinet..”

        Its the PMs decision. When you are a minority (11% max party) you go with the rules as they are.

      • Korero Pono 11.3.3

        KJT +100

      • Psycho Milt 11.3.4

        Shaw is impressive, and between them he and Turei will appeal to a wide range of people, which is great. However, Shaw is co-leader of the Green Party – it’s his job to have Turei’s back when she’s under threat. Ardern is leader of the Labour Party, and her job is to promote Labour’s interests. Her job definitely isn’t to make Green Party supporters happy. It pays to keep that in mind when thinking about Labour’s relationship with the Greens.

        • weka 11.3.4.1

          I agree, and I think otherwise JA and KD are doing well. But there is still this thing of betrayal by class, and it’s hard to seperate that out from the pragmatics of the two parties doing their own thing but still working together.

      • Chris 11.3.5

        Hear, hear! However, I also say let’s give Ardern a chance. We shouldn’t hold our collective breath because the left’s been disappointed so often. When the likes of Davis and probably Nash are in the fold things don’t look particularly good, but I guess we can always hope. When the Maori Party began I almost joined up. When we saw what they stood for I was glad I didn’t. When Mana formed I thought “at bloody long last”. Then I saw Hone, a man I respected and looked up to, sign a pact with the devil by agreeing to help a party into power that’s quite happy to prop up a government I thought he was hard wired to destroy. His hatred of Key and of National even made me think he knows something about the Maori Party we don’t know, but no such luck. The left’s fucked in NZ and all we can hope for at the moment is fluking a coalition that can oust the current filth, and then fight like hell to stop the bastards doing the same thing as the previous mob. Sad but fucking true.

        • Carolyn_nth 11.3.5.1

          Yep. Sue Bradford’s argument for a new left wing party is worth a read – quite long.

          We must build organisations for change that are sustainable long term and that are unafraid of taking power. This means beginning the slow, hard work of creating new institutions where nothing has existed before. As we come to truly understand the gravity and extent of the task in front of us, some of us may become a little anxious. It is easy at such a point to revert to old tactics such as entryism into social democratic parties or to sink back into the kind of small vanguard sect type party to which most of us have no intention of returning. We need to do everything we can to avoid falling yet again into these traps, especially given the unavoidable pressures an election year brings.

          (Allegedly) left wing/worker parties continuing in the first instance to chase and appease the middle class reactionary vote will not be good for the left long term. Top-down managerialist organisations, used to get power at the cost of principles, will just see them presiding over the slow decline of the organised left.

  11. Well , still voting Labour but must admit being a little bit miffed about what was allowed to happen to Metiria. Especially in light of Bill English and his deliberate rorting of the system.

    He was a senior Minister in the National party, on a large salary ( that we as taxpayers foot ) , a seasoned politician and STILL showed his sense of entitlement . With OUR MONEY. $32,000.00 was what he helped himself to , – and when challenged resisted all attempts to come clean.

    Nothing in this picture adds up. Nothing.

    It could easily have been turned right back on the Dirty Politics brigade. However, it would have clouded other issues and policy. I get that.

    I can see it has diffused the far right wings angle of attack.

    I just hope we haven’t seen the last of Metiria . I know we haven’t. And I know we haven’t seen the last of challenging the 24 years old legacy and narrative of Ruth Richardson’s ‘Mother of all Budgets’.

    That needs to be dealt with severely.

  12. adam 13

    You know what the labour party represent to me, the under current of passive aggressive bullies which make up a large proportion of NZ.

    So I’m guessing Ad will get his wish. Labour will pick up votes by being the smug, arrogant, oppressive, easily offended, lacking empathy party the left always needed.

    Anything or anybody who offers human kindness, and/or decency is a communist damn it!

    • red-blooded 13.1

      Adam, how about saving some of that anger for the people your party and mine have agreed are the actual problem? Hint – it’s not the Labour Party.

      • adam 13.1.1

        9 years, that is what labour had, 9 years to end the madness of a economic policy which has smashed the poor, and made the majority of the middle class tenuous – at best.

        And nothing, not a damn thing in their program address it, they are just saying they will manage it better.

        I’m in the game of making the life of working people better, and labour are not. Sure 25% of the voting population think they are, which I’m guessing includes you? But a majority, think the interest of labor is not severed by a party with a track record of stabbing people on the left in the back. Oh wait they did it again.

        Grow up, it’s not anger, it facing reality that national and labour parties are the same beige revolutionary foot soldiers.

        • red-blooded 13.1.1.1

          The last time Labour was in power, they:
          – raised the minimum wage by more than 5% per year, made benefit levels automatically inflation-adjusted, got rid of the oppressive work-fitness tests for people on the (newly reintroduced) sickness benefit, increased the top tax rate, renationalised ACC, removed interest on student loans, introduced the NZ Super Fund, set up Kiwisaver, set up Kiwibank, introduced income-related rents for state housing, stopped the sell-off of state houses and improved systems for allocation, bought back the rail network and a majority holding in Air NZ, increased and ring-fenced mental health funding, set up worker–friendly legislation like the health and safety and holidays acts, got rid of the Employment Contracts Act, brought in a whole lot of tax credits for families and the Working for Families scheme (and yes, I know it didn’t include beneficiaries, but it did succeed in reducing child poverty by 6%), improved early childhood funding, killed off bulk-funding of schools, reintroduced apprenticeship schemes, brought in civil unions, passed significant Treaty settlements…. I could go on.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_Labour_Government_of_New_Zealand#Economic

          Of course they weren’t perfect, but they sure as hell weren’t “stabbing people on the left in the back”. Get real.

          • adam 13.1.1.1.1

            A long list of under achievement.

            But you missed my point – deliberately?

            It’s a question of economics, as all politics is, and the core of what labour did in 9 years was manage the economy in this economic model. If you find that to hard to grasp, try this for starters.

            https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-economy

            If you think more of the same will fix any of the problems exasperated by a national government whole committed to the same economic theory, your delusional or ignorant or somthing else.

            In the real world poor people suffering, becasue the economy is stacked against them. Working people are suffering, because the economy is stacked against them.

            And the labour party does what is right for ideological purity in this beige revolution, attacks anyone who raise their voice against a broken economic model.

            So your just another hand maiden of the beige revolution red-blooded?

  13. Michael 14

    Labour confines its attention to a small, but highly significant, sliver of the electorate: the minimum necessary to attain a decisive number of seats in the House under MMP rules (about 200,000 Party Votes, IIUC). The Party’s strategists seem to identify this target group as lower-middle to middle class, metropolitan-dwelling (largely Auckland), either first home buyers or aspirants, burdened with mortgages and/or student loan debts, double income but diminishing security of future employment. Such people have been conditioned to hate the poor, especially the non-working poor, and secretly fear joining their ranks. They also pin their hopes on the gratitude of the rich: if they serve their interests, the rich might regard them as equals and let them have a share of the wealth they acquire in ever-larger chunks (see: Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the 21st Century). Labour MPs, and candidates, are drawn from the same, anxious, social class. There is no semblance of solidarity, or empathy, with the poor. This basic sociological observation is the key to understanding the Labour Party of 2017. It also explains why a “Labour-led” government will be practically indistinguishable from a National-led one.

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