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National’s blitzkrieg

Written By: - Date published: 3:15 pm, March 16th, 2009 - 43 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags:

john-200The government’s first hundred days are up and they’ve decided that this signals the start to a multi-pronged political offensive. They are now moving rapidly to make a slew of legislative and policy changes that were either not announced or mentioned only briefly before the election. The Herald has noticed too, writing: “the Key Government has lately turned to topics it did not want to say much about before the vote”.

Prison privatisation, slashing ACC, cuts in ministries’ funding, abandoning climate change policies, cutting funding for public transport, undermining New Zealand superannuation, weakening the RMA, removing the bioethics council, and politicising aid are things National didn’t want to talk about before it got elected because it knew they are unpopular. Now it has power it is moving quickly to put them in place.

National’s calculation is that if it can ram through a range of changes while it is still popular there won’t be time for a backlash and the opposition will be spread too thin to effectively counter. National is also counting on the notion that if it can these changes through early in its term they will have time to bed in and public opposition to them will dissipate.

It’s classic blitzkrieg, complete with distractions like cycleways and the re-institution of knighthoods that draw away the media’s attention. Meanwhile the deepest attacks slip under the radar, like the increasing politicisation of the public service (Nick Smith’s select committee hijacking, the sacking of Ross Wilson, the attack on Barry Mathews, gagging boards and CEOs, banned words).

What are the next targets? My picks are workers’ rights, the Electricity Commission, and the SOEs. Already, they’re setting up for an argument that the SOEs ‘need’ to be privatised, or at least part-privatised, by demanding higher dividends. Kate Wilkinson popped up the day before the Jobs Summit to remind business that even though it was off the agenda for the summit National was ready to take an axe to employment rights.

Before we even know what is happening National will have made sweeping changes across the board. At least, that’s what they’re hoping. The question is how we respond.

43 comments on “National’s blitzkrieg”

  1. grumpy 1

    That’s more like it! A bit of action.

    This thing of politicians actually getting off their butts and doing what they promised should catch on. At least there are no hidden agendas like the last Labour lot.

    • BLiP 1.1

      Yes, of course, how forgetful we’ve been.

      Who could fail to remember the TV ads about removing workers rights for the first 90 days of employment; or those fancy pamphlets explaining the rationale of putting pies, chips, and coke back into school tuck shops; or those sprawling billboards about the funding arrangements for the provision of public transport within regions; and what about the radio ads in relation to the loosening of the foreign investments and immigration regulations.

      A secret agenda? Ha!

  2. Ianmac 2

    It seems strange that Mr Brownlie is demanding explanations for the increase in pwer prices at the same time that Mr Powers is demanding explanations from further up the chain as to why the SOE is not producing a greater profit/dividend.
    Oh. Must be a good reason to privatise!

    • DeeDub 2.1

      Yes, and isn’t it flabergasting that NO journalist has managed to pick up on this yet?

  3. John 3

    Sounds great. I always hoped the Nats would have a secret agenda. Bring it on!

  4. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 4

    On a whole looks good to me.

    After 20 odd years of soft cock government we have a party that sees that NZ needs to change it’s ways. They have not broken any promises and with the mess Labour left they are dealing with it by slashing funds to feel good waste of time departments.

    And, you bleat on about Workers rights, at least under National more workers will keep their jobs, this is better than having rights & no job.

  5. Rex Widerstrom 5

    Well one way to respond might be to concentrate on fighting the things that matter, like any dimunition of workers’ rights and further privatisation of state assets, and stop fussing about a perfectly reasonable (albeit utterly ham-fisted) attempt to get rid of a woefully incompetent CEO and a Minister turning up at a Select Committee (when in fact they should all be made to turn up, as occurs at Senate hearings in Australia and the US, and commonly in the UK).

    And certainly not blaming National for the manipulation of language by those in power, which has been going on for decades.

    • Quoth the Raven 5.1

      He didn’t just turn up he turned up on behalf of the new CEO (well Smith hadn’t actually done legally things so he wasn’t) and proceeded to answer questions put to White. This new paragon of competence to replace the other CEO was fucking about on a bicycle at the time. One would think with a new job you’d actually turn up on the first day.

    • BLiP 5.2

      Maintaining a vigilant watch on the indolent MSM media is also important. We’ve had both Armstrong and C Espiner here squealing about the treatment being handed out to them so – tighten the screws, I say!

      How about a weekly “media matters” post?

  6. jimbo 6

    Adding to Rex’s comment, another way to respond might to be to avoid the “manipulation of language” that seems to characterize opposition to National’s every action.

    By all means voice your opposition to policies you don’t like, but “Blitzkreig” is simply not the right word here – emotive, exaggerated and unnecessary. You are attempting to channel a time and a place that is totally removed from what National is doing in NZ. The continued hyperbole lessens your argument.

    • gingercrush 6.1

      At least Tane isn’t using terms such as “pack rape” in his post. The post itself is what I would have expected to be written and actually wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be so I’m quite surprised. Though the RMA changes were expressed many times during the election. And I don’t believe its position on ACC and Prison were too quiet.

      And I really don’t think Key undermined Super Annuation.

      I’m most surprised there was no mention of the first two weeks in Parliament when National pushed numerous legislation through the house in a way we haven’t seen. The fact there was just one question time during that time was also unprecedented.

    • Tane 6.2

      Thanks all the same jimbo, but I won’t be taking my advice from those on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

      ‘Blizkrieg’ means a quick offensive designed to dazzle your opponents and rout them before they can even respond. Literally, ‘lightning war’. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not trying to Godwin here.

      • lprent 6.2.1

        From memory it was coined to describe, along with stormtroopers, the tactics used in the final large offensives by the Germans (operation Michael). They used the temporary numeric superiority after the Russians withdrew from the war to concentrate troops and to do faster attacks.

        From vague memory I think that that particular term was used post-war by people analyzing the use of shock-troops with Armour. Hitler just used an existing term and doesn’t look like he really understood the concept when he started over-riding the military.

        But military history is irrelevant here…

        • QoT

          A term describing a tactic invented by British strategists, even.

          • SHG

            I thought it was invented by Zhukov against the Japanese in 1939?

          • QoT


            Anyway, @SHG, after conferring with the military history buff in my household, apparently Zhukov’s tactics weren’t actually blitzkrieg, and the tactics that were adopted by the Germans and called “blitzkrieg” were invented by two Brits, Fuller and Liddell-Hart.

  7. IrishBill 7

    You’re problem is Tane, that you are dealing with people who can’t differentiate between Germans and Nazis. I’m sure some of them also think they can see Russia from their front door.

  8. jimbo 8

    I wasn’t offering “advice” because it’s obvious I’d get the response you gave. You chose a particular word to get a particular emotive response from your reader. The problem with that approach is that many people simply tune out – the spin-doctoring makes people think the underlying arguments don’t stand up on their own.

    I reckon devoting a bit more time to policy and a bit less time to clever word-smithing might actually help proper consideration of the issues.

    I’m happy to say that view is absolutely unrelated to where I sit on the political spectrum, but you can take or leave it as you choose.

  9. jimbo 9

    IrishBill – strange thing to say, Champ. (However, it’s pretty much guaranteed here that someone will imply you’re stupid within two or three posts of publishing a “non-Standard” comment.)

    I can certainly differentiate between Germans and Nazis. I know what blitzkrieg” means. In a post that includes terminology like “multi-pronged political offensive”, “deepest attacks”. “take the axe” etc., I think the language used (and that word in particular) is hyperbolic bvllshit.

    Are you, on the other hand, wholly incapable of picking up nuance in language?

  10. jimbo 10


    Seriously? Accused of trolling for that? You’ve peppered your post with militarized language to exaggerate the actions of the new government as if they’re unprecedented and part of some secret agenda. You’re now claiming all the language was a coincidence or unintentional?

    There’s a difference between using words like “blitzkreig” etc. in a sporting context, where it cannot be misinterpreted, and using it when referring to a right-wing government you dislike.

    If you can’t see the difference, that’s your problem not mine.

    • Tane 10.1

      I think you’re seeing things that aren’t there. It may not be the case, but right-wingers often nitpick on minor, irrelevant points to detract from the main point of the post. This looks like a classic example.

      If you’re being genuine then thanks for the advice, but I trust most people to read the posts in context and not get themselves all wound up over nothing.

    • lprent 10.2

      Face it, you have read too many war comics and not enough military history…


  11. IrishBill 11

    No jimbo, that’s your problem not Tane’s. And call me “champ” or any other smarmy loaded term again and I will ban you for a month. I guess that means I do understand the nuances of language.

  12. jimbo 12

    Lynn – again, attacking me and my intelligence instead of what I’m saying. Weak. Is there ANY rightwinger in the world you don’t regard as a fool?

    Let me break it down. You guys are intelligent with a lot of good things to say in opposition to the current Govt. However, in my humble opinion (admittedly from someone at the other end of the political spectrum), it belittles your argument to continually layer on top the emotive and exaggerated language. You want to win back the middle ground? Stop treating us like idiots…

    I do not believe for a second that Tane’s repeated use of emotive, forceful language (including “blitzkrieg” in the title) was a coincidence or a mistake. However, I believe it’s “advertising” language rather than “analysis” language.

    Yes, it’s a different point from the central topic of the post. But it’s a totally reasonable point and certainly not worth a bunch of chumps telling me I’m illiterate, ignorant of history or trying to invoke Godwin’s law.

    • Tane 12.1

      Yes, the title’s a metaphor for a military maneuver. A metaphor I extended into the piece. And?

      • jimbo 12.1.1

        and… I think it’s out of place. I think it’s as helpful as indiscriminate use of Russian metaphors for left-wing actions in terms of helping genuine understanding of issues.

        When you guys see someone write about “Helen Klark” or “c*mmies”, what’s your immediate reaction? Well it works both ways.

        Small point, admittedly. Not one I really felt the need to post multiple times on (and I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the barrage of abuse and accusations of troll-ery I received as a result).

        • Tane

          It’s not comparable. Blitzkrieg is hardly a controversial term, and it refers to a military tactic, not a political system. I’d suggest you harden up and quit your moaning.

  13. jimbo 13

    Fine Irish. You keep implying that I’m stupid whenever you like, then when you don’t like the response that comes back, have a good cry about it and ban me.


  14. IrishBill 14

    I didn’t make any statement about your intelligence. Stop sulking and act like a man.

  15. jimbo 15

    Irish –

    See, on Kiwiblog the frothing righties come out and call you a d1ckhead to your face. Here, you wrap your insults up in an admittedly more clever way, but they’re still insults. Don’t act all surprised and offended when you occasionally get called out.

    If you’re telling me that your comment at 5:06 (“can’t differentiate between Russia and Nazis” and (in effect) “dumb as Sarah Palin”) wasn’t directed at me – the only person who’d made the point about “blitzkrieg” being OTT – then I apologise for calling you “Champ”. You’re correct, I was being intentionally smarmy.

    • IrishBill 15.1

      It was a broad swipe at the right in general. To be honest I didn’t even pay enough attention to realise you were the only one running the argument. I’ll accept your apology and offer you my apology for favouring the quick glib comment over a properly engaged argument in exchange. Fair enough?

  16. They’ve already taken an ax to workers rights with the fire at will act. I suspect they’ll go further with laws to allow freeloading thereby weakening unions.

  17. Doug 17

    And while Rome burns all Labour can do is go on a Holiday Retreat to the West Coast, Funny that.

    • Quoth the Raven 17.1

      As opposed to a holiday in Hawaii.
      And it’s a caucas meeting not a holiday anyway.

  18. infused 18

    Dress it up however you like Raven. I’m banned, blah blah and I agree with jimbo hence why I am banned. The language used here over the last few weeks really is pathetic. Hence why I think there is less actual discussion. Hence my post calling irish an idiot.

    • Quoth the Raven 18.1

      I don’t even know what you’re talking about have not read much of the above thread. I’m just replying to Doug’s facetious little comment.

    • IrishBill 18.2

      You weren’t banned for agreeing with jimbo, you were banned for trying to tell us what to post. Go serve your ban with some dignity instead of whining like a child.

  19. SHG 19

    Before we even know what is happening National will have made sweeping changes across the board.

    This may come as something of a shock, but that’s why we voted them in to power. To make sweeping changes across the board.

    • QoT 19.1

      One assumes, however, that you wanted these changes to make sense, and to be made for rational, logical and transparent reasons?

      Please correct me if I’m overestimating the sense of National voters.

  20. craig 20

    Is Jimbo for real?

    National and Key said in their campaign that they would not cut the public service and that reductions would be done through attrition.

    Any suggestion from Labour that National had a hidden agenda was denied and put down to scare mongering.

    Nationals rhetoric was around improving Education standards and employing 400 new Nurses.
    I questioned National MPs publicly on both these issues and they had no idea how they would improve education standards, they had no idea were or when the 400 position were needed or even where the 400 figure came from.

    For any one to try and defend the the proposed changes to Acc, Prisions,RMA,Emissions trading scheme, Research and development fund as decisive and positive for the country would be ideologically blind.

    National are good at one thing though, creating unemployment.

    They will stuff this economy quicker than George Bush would go to war!

  21. infused 21

    I was not whining at all. Just pointing out the reason for why I said what I said.

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