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Mythbustin’: Waitakere Man

Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, March 15th, 2012 - 54 comments
Categories: jobs, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

Chris Trotter invented the myth of the so-called ‘Waitakere Man’, the former Labour voter who has set up his own business and now doesn’t vote Labour because he thinks it doesn’t get what people like him need – he fumes over DPB mums while trying to do his GST payments at the dinner table in the evening. It assumes Labour has lost voters because we’re all contractors or in roles where we could be contractors, and don’t need their union-based labour policies and benefit system but want simpler rules for small business. No factory or retail workers in this model.

It’s been picked up by the Paganis – they don’t see any harm in casualisation because they imagine it being just like their contracting roles which give them flexibility they value and the focus of their politics is winning back Waitakere Man’ – but I was pretty surprised to see Gordon Campbell repeat this line too. I guess that shows the pervasiveness of myth, and the tendency for people to believe that they are normal – all these pundits are contractors or self-employed, so they start to think everyone is.

But it’s not true. Self-employment isn’t growing. It’s shrinking proportionally.

Guess Labour’s pundits will have to look elsewhere to explain why the party has lost 300,000 votes in six years.

*(PS. If you haven’t read Campbell’s interview of Shearer yet, you should. I don’t know what to say about it. It’s just a disaster)

54 comments on “Mythbustin’: Waitakere Man ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Chris may have conflated memes with actual numbers of Waitakere men. I know a couple of blokes and their sharp tounged gals saying stuff like–( bloody ‘dpb slappers’ while we work our butts off…) that behave exactly as Eddie describes, but only a couple. Maybe the builders, lawnmowers and the rest are quite mobile and their views are passed around society more regulalry than their true level of support.

    But to paraphrase an old saying, ideas and subjective thinking can become a material force, a force for instance that does not vote. Not voting meant that thousands of minimum wage workers missed out on a $2 an hour wage increase that could have helped purchase more text allocation or skinny jeans. The societal disconnect is getting serious when even increased commodity fetishism & networking opportunities are not enough to tempt young to vote.

    The niches rule today I reckon and are bloody difficult to sensibly analyse yet alone reach and organise. Though people in action on the streets and networking like in the POAL dispute is a good start towards engaging people rather than another press release.

    • muzza 1.1

      “The niches rule today I reckon” – What the niches really represent is the selfish, self absorbed attitudes, and which makes up a large part of what maquerades as society!

      The other large part have simply swtiched off. They may or may not re-enaged, if they ever were at a time when their perceieved standard of living is impacted!

      • Rusty Shackleford 1.1.1

        One thing I can never understand is why the left advocate for tax increases when the right are in power. Why would you want to give more cash to people you hate, knowing full well they won’t spend it on stuff you love?

        • McFlock

          Because the right spend even more money by increasing government debt, so we end up paying the value of the tax increases back, plus interest.

        • lprent

          It is called deficits. National seems to hold some daft economic ideas (rather like yours) that make wildly optimistic assumptions about ‘rational economic behaviour’ about taxes and how fast they can ‘cut the state spending’. When it turns out that neither is correct we have structural deficits.

          People given large tax cuts don’t invest it wisely and therefore don’t boost the economy. It is a lot easier to talk about cutting government spending than it is to actually achieve. Usually cutting somewhere causes a cost that is much large the the savings.

          We’re seeing the usual National fuckups as they pursue the path of ideological stupidity as they refuse to see what everyone else can – it isn’t working. They keep hoping that pursuing the same stupid course as they did in 1980, 1992, and 2011 will be different this time. It isn’t and it won’t be.

          Next time Labour gets in, they have to spend excessive amounts of time simply slowing down the rate of runaway debt before eventually reducing the spendthrift debt that National has generated. You just know that the mindless morons will get back in and wind up doing it again…

          • Colonial Viper

            It takes Labour 6 years to undo the damage that National renders in just 3. Its always harder to build than it is to disassemble.

            This is why the Left in NZ will always, over time, lose ground.

            • Rusty Shackleford

              So, that’s the meme now. Noted.

              • McFlock

                Actually, I’d go so far as to say that in nine years Labour failed to make back even a quarter of the ground that national gained in the 1990s.
                Basically, until Labour stop just saying how proud they are of Savage and Kirk the left will always lose ground. If they learn the lessons of Savage and Kirk and actually go full-tilt at reforms, they can reframe the social concepts we have in this nation for the next thirty years – just like Savage did, Kirk had a good shot, and the tories (including douglas) have left us with the carrion-culture we have at the moment. 

  2. ChrisH 2

    Good point about “builders, lawnmowers and the rest [who are] quite mobile.” Add taxi drivers. All to be taken with a grain of salt in other words.

  3. just saying 3

    By the by, does anyone still doubt that John Pagani is one of Shearer’s “advisers”?

    Maybe as one of those joyful contractors 😀

  4. Hobbes 4

    In what way do you reckon the Campbell interview a disaster? I haven’t really read it in detail so will have to take another look I guess.

  5. RobertM 5

    New Zealand more than any other advanced Western society has lost site of jobs or employment is to add productively to productivity or the citizens choice and leisure , pleasure options. Jobs that are a net cost to the economy, because the costs in resources, environmental damage and disruption are greater than anything they produce are not desirable. Jobs for the sake of working, social control or the idea that its desirable to have people working for their own good are a nonsense. There is compelling evidence that makework for least talented DPBs increase the womens stress, waste her time and don’t help anybody. In some ways the NZ benefit system remains remarkably generous and in some ways the DPB type benefits are quite different from other state benefits in all nations. Australia is generous and open to single mothers on a benefit and now harsh on other types of beneficiary.
    As someone who has full Vic Uni Wgtn stage 3 Economics and four degrees my view is the current economic problem in New Zealand is very great overemployment and if the economy was running efficiently at current economic and legal settings unemployment levels would be about 25% as in Greece or Spain. My judgement is that there is scope for greatly increasing employment in the urban tourist lesuire, bar, recreation, nightlife, cafe industries in the 4 main centres if zoning laws were changed and community and suburban groups ability to restrict development and licensing and zoning laws was restricted. In Chrsitchurch left wing pressure and zoning restrictions due to political and local interests will greatly restrict the possibility of promoting the tourism development. Tourism is also damaged by failure to adopt more exclusionary policies such as closing tough spillover bars in the Auckland CBD and K Road areas. In Christchurch the Henderson SOL complex of bars only partly worked because packs of boorish 20ish youths made drinking any of those bars or clubs unpleasant for everbody after 11.30pm -due do social factors unique to Christchurch. While I dislike police and street surveillance cameras and Wellington was vastly better in the past without them it is obvious such polices are no longer sustainable in Wellington because considerable areas of the Golden Mile, Cambridge Tce and Newtown are now far too dangerous without cameras and probably more dangerous than the Auckland CBD. In all NZ cities combinations of restrictive Zoning and fail to restrict the packs of young drunken 20ish males probably largely white and working working class is the real problem more than racial or any student problem in the areas that are potentially attractive to tourists.

    • Adrian 5.2

      It is patently obvious that one of those four degrees could not possibly be English, although you should have pushed on and got your Masters in Applied Gibberish.

    • Fortran 5.3

      Maybe it is not to do with the hours of work, but what is put into those hours which is paramount.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.4

      My judgement is that there is scope for greatly increasing employment in the urban tourist lesuire, bar, recreation, nightlife, cafe industries in the 4 main centres if zoning laws were changed and community and suburban groups ability to restrict development and licensing and zoning laws was restricted.

      Ah, a libertarian expressing his philosophy of oppression.

  6. Olwyn 6

    This Waitakere Man concept has been pretty quick to shift ground. As I remember it he began life as Labour’s natural constituency, neglected in favour of identity politics and urban liberals, who was pissed off and insulted by the anti-smacking legislation. He has morphed since then into the contract guy who considers himself a small businessman and rejects the unions. While Trotter trotted him out as an example of people who he thought were being neglected by Labour, he has since become a concept used to bait Labour in the direction of irrelevancy, and as an excuse when Labour itself is tempted in that direction. Next thing he’ll be looking for a few shares in Mighty River Power, to see him over in his old age.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Of course WM was never Maori or even female unless of course in Trotters enlightened words

      “highly-skilled, upwardly-mobile working-class blokes who began trooping into National’s camp following the 2005 election were bringing their wives with them”
      Bringing their wives with them ? Who really thinks like that AND claims to be a commentator from the left.

      • QoT 6.1.1

        Someone who thinks feminists only pursue abortion reform because we want to undermine the Left, and Pakeha liberals who support Maori sovereignty are, literally, “race traitors”.

        • McFlock

          QoT, please answer me one question – why oh why did feminists destroy the Labour Party left in the early 1980s? Waitakere men like Trotter really need to know…

          • QoT

            Our disgusting hormones made us do it, I confess! We were aided by the men we had in thrall due to our practice of dark vaginomancy, and basically it all came down to a victory for the Right => destruction of trade barriers => cheap shoes.

            • McFlock

              Thankyou – as weak but honest males, we just needed to know why.

            • mickysavage

              Cheap shoes?  

              So you mean that I went through a decade of torment so that the cost of your high heels was competitive?

              • QoT

                I’m sorry! I can’t help it if I’m just a feeble girl compelled by my girl-brain to enjoy footwear, no matter the cost! Just because we secretly rule the world by sowing discord among the Left doesn’t mean we’re not actually silly, flighty little creatures.

                • lprent

                  But is that shoe addiction something you can be trained out of? Aversion therapy perhaps?.

                  I will gladly donate a pair of my carefully preserved* holy size 12 trainers (with optional socks) if it would help the Trotter’s Waitakere man stay left.

                  * ok so I always forget to throw them out. But they do keep the vermin away from my office. No ants there…

          • mickysavage

            He he

            It wasn’t the feminists.  The fish and chip brigade were all male … 

            • QoT

              The fish and chips were merely a distraction. It’s all in the feminist manifesto, which we have cunningly indoctrinated you all with through cliche: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, for example.

  7. John Pagani 7

    Actually you’re a liar and a coward. Neither of us have ever said something that approximates I “don’t see any harm in casualisation because [I] imagine it being just like [my] contracting roles which give them flexibility [I] value and the focus of [my] politics is winning back Waitakere Man.”

    You made that up.

    Doing it anonymously, of course, because you’re a coward.

    [lprent: Of course neither of you said that. And Eddie never said that either of you did. If it had happened, then he would have quoted it.

    It is and was expressed as an opinion based on what has been said here about casualisation, here, here, here and probably other places as well.

    I’d have to say that Josie makes a much stronger argument for her view than you just did – since as usual you didn’t bother addressing the argument before attacking the the person making it.

    Attacking someone for their opinion on the basis of the “anonymity” is quite simply stupid. It simply doesn’t matter if the person is doing it under a pseudonym or under their own name, the legal remedies are exactly the same. You go through the site either via e-mail to myself or Mike or through lawyers.

    But as you are quite aware, opinion isn’t exactly covered by any legal avenue. So instead you resorted to a personal attack. Attacking on the basis of “anonymous” slander or the like merely brings me into the picture because I have to look to see if facts have been abused and if we should be doing anything about it. In this case not.

    However, on this site personal attacks on authors simply aren’t permitted. You’ve done it before. And I’m getting really tired of you acting like a petulant whining idiot around the nets. You are a newbie with an exaggerated sense of your own importance who is trying to impose your own opinion about how the nets should run.

    You notice that all of this is done under my own name? Are you going to call me a liar and and coward as well – you puffed up pontificating network illiterate dickhead? That too is an opinion. You really need to look at the distinction between opinion and distortion of facts. Otherwise you’re unlikely to survive around net based social media for any length of time. It isn’t journalism and quite simply we don’t need you…

    Fuckoff and don’t come back until you’ve learnt something about how the nets actually operate. Your ideas about how the net should operate are just shallow and meaningless to anyone who has observed how net have actually operated over the last 30 years.

    Permanent ban for being quite quite stupid. ]

    • Chill out John. Are you denying every single aspect of the statement or only one or two parts of it?

    • rosy 7.2

      I dunno, John. I thought it a reasonable paraphrasing of this bit on Josie’s FB And It still annoys me that she could conflate the two issues of 1. the choice of flexible working hours to suit family commitments and 2. an enforced cut in full-time hours and employment conditions.

      …but I’ve spent my political life as a working mum, calling for more flexibility. And flexibility has to work both ways. Sad that by the time MUNZ accepted this (why did it take them so long?)…

      About Waitakere Man – do you disagree that your focus at the last election campaign was winning back the so-called ‘Waitakere Man’?

      • Te Reo Putake 7.2.1

        Rosy, I wouldn’t presume to speak for John, but your premise is wrong for the simple reason that John was not involved in the last campaign, except as support for Josie in her crack at winning Rangitikei. The campaign manager was Trevor Mallard, as I recall. The two of them are not BFF’s either, despite the rumours, but I’ve no doubt they both want to see the return of a Labour led Government ASAP!

        • just saying

          Hi TRP,

          I take it you no longer contend that Pagani is not on the parliamentary Labour Party payroll?

          I guess it would be difficult to prove that Pagani was involved in Goff’s campaign in a paid capacity, as many have suggested, after he apparently left to pursue his own business. He seems to have ‘moved back in’ rather seamlessly. When do you think that happened?

          • Te Reo Putake

            “I take it you no longer contend that Pagani is not on the parliamentary Labour Party payroll?”
            Well, leaving aside the tortured double negative, JS, my understanding is still the same. Pagani was not involved in the election campaign after being sidelined in early 2011. Which is what I have said all along. If he is back on the payroll of either Labour or Parliamentary Services, that’s fine be me and, astonishing though it may seem, I wasn’t consulted about it, so I have no idea when it might have happened.
            It doesn’t change the accuracy of my earlier statements, which remain as true today as they were when I made them.

            • just saying

              So he wasn’t on the payroll a couple of weeks ago, which is what you stated at that time (quite firmly as I recall)?

              • Te Reo Putake

                You recall wrong, js.

                • just saying

                  Love the search engine. Remember this exchange TRP:

                  Putake 12.1
                  24 February 2012 at 12:53 pm

                  Er, can I politely say rubbish, Craig? There is no brains trust as you describe, and as best as I can work out, the concept is a deliberate lie engendered by people not actually in Labour. My understanding is that Goff cut Pagani adrift a year ago, and Mallard supported that move. Mallard confirmed a few days ago that he has no significant contact with Pagani, though I suppose they bump into each other at fundraisers and are no doubt civil to each other.

                  just saying 12.1.1
                  24 February 2012 at 1:13 pm

                  My understanding is that Goff cut Pagani adrift a year ago, and Mallard supported that move. Mallard confirmed a few days ago that he has no significant contact with Pagani,..

                  I’m interested. Link or source please?
                  Te Reo Putake
                  24 February 2012 at 2:09 pm

                  Source? Close enough to the horse’s mouth to smell the oats, JS!

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    What’s your point? That quote is me writing about the situation a year ago, not a fortnight ago. Wanna hit ‘search’ again?

                    • just saying

                      Sorry, forgot to add the beginning of that interchange, the post preceding the first from my previous search engine trawl shows the discussion was about whether Pagani was one of Shearer’s advisors., as you see:

                      Craig Glen Eden 12
                      24 February 2012 at 12:42 pm

                      Labour got the wrong David that’s for sure. Shearer is a novice politically backed by the brains trust of pagani,mallard,goff, so don’t except anything different from them than we got for the last three years. As for shearers strategy of touring the country it didn’t work for goff did it? The sooner Shearer goes the better.sadly by the time this labour oppositions sorts out it’s shit the assets will be gone.

        • rosy

          Hence the question.

          • Te Reo Putake

            Hence the reply!

            • rosy

              Sorry, I was annoyed and in a hurry. I should have asked if he has expressed support the premise of ‘Waitakere Man’ as a focus for Labour.

    • Blighty 7.3

      jesus. a Labour staffer coming online and speaking like that? Hope you got Nash’s permission.

    • insider 7.4

      Tsk Tsk. You’ll end up with a week’s ban if you say those kind things about authors

      [lprent: Why would I give a week’s ban? That is what people get as a warning when they are doing it inadvertently without being aware of the consequences. This appears to me to have been quite deliberate and probably figuring that I’d be nice (not my most prominent trait). Besides, John tends to spend more time attacking people than he does discussing issues usually under some label like ‘terrorist’. Reminds me of one of the dumber trolls. He is a waste of bandwidth. ]

      • Bored 7.4.1

        Jeez lPrent, you just made my day. Pagani so what…what I really like is the expression “waste of bandwidth”. Brilliant! Cant wait to use it with the techos tomorrow.

    • Leverett 7.5

      Permanent ban! Woah!

      I guess what they say is true.

      [lprent: Wrong context – I’m not a ‘liberal’. I’m a sysop with scant regard for lusers who waste my time (look up the terms). I’m a old veteran of the net before it was the net who knows of every stupid way that people gameplay on the forums like this and have little tolerance for it. If John wants to play those kinds of games, he can do it on other sites.

      This is all clearly signalled in our policy – which it pays people to read before they attract moderator attention. ]

      • Draco T Bastard 7.5.1

        I guess that article is over sensationalised for the benefit of the stupid people reading it.

      • Leverett 7.5.2

        Cool story, bro. You’re quite free to moderate your forums as heavy-handedly as you care – that’s not in dispute. Nobody is saying you can’t directly edit your correspondent’s posts in the manner and pull rank based on how awesome you are at the internet.

        Normal people also have “terms” however. The usual term for someone who awards a lifetime ban and multi-paragraph personal attacks (illiterate, idiot, dickhead on people who stick up for themselves and that term is “jerk”.

        [lprent: I usually do personal attacks in response to personal attacks on authors. In fact I often do personal attacks on people who I have to ban because they have just wasted my time. It discourages repeat offenses by the idiot making them. For some reason they don’t like them.

        I really can’t be bothered about your opinion, you haven’t demonstrated that your opinion is worth respecting. And you notice the great swells of support you’re getting from commentators ?

        But that is enough time wasted on a fool – read the policy. ]

        • Galeandra

          Over the top response, not excused. Call me a fool,too, but it won’t change the validity of the criticism.

          [lprent: Basically I don’t wanna be nice. It has never been one of my strong points. Fortunately the site doesn’t need nice. It requires that people trying hackneyed ploys that were old when usenet started; get educated on why it isn’t a good idea to use them here.

          If we don’t then we get the noisy but meaningless twaddle of a comments section that usenet descended into, and this site had in late 2007 and early 2008. That is where my ‘crankiness’ becomes useful. Have a look back at it in the archives

          But it is nice that someone spoke up for him or agin me. ]

          • QoT

            Far be it for me to defend lprent’s crankitude, but what “valid” criticism is that, Galeandra? The “you’re going to look like a meanie if you permaban people” criticism? Lprent clearly cares not.

            The “you’re going to scare people away” criticism? Been on the receiving end of that one, and again, it only applies if you assume some kind of genteel code of “oh I say chap, that’s a tad in excess” applies to blogs. Especially blogs run by the aforementioned cranky lprent, whose feelings on this kind of thing are pretty clear.

            Ooh, is it the “you’ll shut down discussion/you just want an echo chamber!” criticism? ‘Cause that’s basic derailing with a side order of doesn’t-understand-what-freedom-of-speech-means.

            Meanwhile, Leverett just tried to pull a “cool story, bro” put-down to a moderator of a blog on which he was commenting. I’m sure there’s some kind of “valid criticism” of people who storm into others’ houses and demand that the owners do things to their liking .. and then say “what-ev-ah, I do what I wan’!” when they have the rules explained to them.

  8. DH 8

    Eddie. Why do you think the interview with Campbell was a disaster? Certainly Shearer isn’t giving away much but I couldn’t see anything bad about it. The main impression I got was that Campbell was often trying to project his own picture of what he thinks a Labour PM should be & Shearer kept politely shrugging him off.

  9. jaymam 9

    Some years ago my brother was a tax inspector whose job was to look out for businesses who hired “contractors” who were really just like employees except that they missed out on all kinds of things such as a minimum wage, holidays etc. There was a list of contractor requirements that the IRD looked for. I’m not sure that the law re contractors has changed since then. It is quite possible that the IRD would say that contractors at the Port would be working illegally. Does anyone know?

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