Outflanking Labour on the left

Written By: - Date published: 2:08 pm, May 23rd, 2015 - 154 comments
Categories: leadership, Left - Tags: , ,

I’m seeing right wingers run the line “outflanking Labour on the left” quite a bit (just coincidence I’m sure).

We used to call it “swallowing dead rats”.

We used to call it “losing the argument”.

Please by all means National keep moving left. It’s shifting the political center to the left. Capital gains tax is OK now. Raising benefits is Ok now. The left is winning from opposition. Please keep outflanking us!

154 comments on “Outflanking Labour on the left ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Well put.

    As the dust settles a few themes are appearing.

    National agrees that child poverty is an urgent issue but it has delayed implementation of measures until April next year.

    National hates doing anything that lets us provide for our future.

    National lied about “no new taxes”.

    National is underfunding health and education.

    National is doing nothing about our future and has a series of band aids being applied to urgent political issues.

    • weka 1.1

      National will help but in a punitive controlling way. It doesn’t trust the people of NZ to do the best things to improve their lot given the right opportunities (I assume because National work from the greedy, out for ones-self meme rather than the there is enough for everyone meme).

    • Ben 1.2

      You forgot to add: National is doing a good job of balancing the money available to them in a tight global economy.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        tight? The global economy is screwed but what about the massive injections of central bank liquidity and quantitative easing? Its letting English borrow at a rapid rate.

      • Pat 1.2.2

        7 deficits in a row is a good job?….then 9 surpluses must be the stuff of Gods then

    • Wynston 1.3

      “National is underfunding health and education.”

      And Conservation!

      • AmaKiwi 1.3.1

        and the environment
        and state housing
        and climate change
        and retirement planning
        and obesity reduction

        and . . . the list goes on and on

  2. The Murphey 2

    The current political system will do as little as it possibly can to provide for the future because the owners of the political framework do you not ‘us’ as part of that future

    ‘Us’ is not part of the present so you can forget about the future if you are not prepared to fight for it

    • Heather Grimwood 2.1

      Or maybe they are actually intelligent enough to realize ( reinforced by the shock of hearing soundly informed participants at the week’s meetings throughout the country) that there IS no future if climate change isn’t tackled pronto….let alone of course the ever-increasing impossibility of making ends meet.

  3. Policy Parrot 3

    This the Postponed Budget:

    Postponed Surplus
    Postponed Benefit Hikes
    Postponed ACC Levy Cuts
    Postponed Prosperity

    Bill may as well have had a chalkboard with a photo of Budget 2015 – with a sash plastered over it – postponed till 2016.

    National in government is rapidly approaching the CPSU in terms of its propaganda for a grand future, “on the cusp of something special” – and its likelihood of delivery.

  4. Charles 4

    Politics 101 test.

    NB: Anything less than perfect score will render voting impossible. You have roughly two years to complete this test. Do not confer with your friends.

    1) Johnny has to pay a tax. His accountant tells him he can recoup the cost of the tax by other perfectly legal means. Will Johnny be better or worse off?

    2) Jenny’s Dad gives her five bux. He then tells Jenny she must pay to travel to a local market. The travel will cost twenty bux. Has Jenny experienced an increase or loss in her overall income?

    3) The National Car Paint Company paints a car blue. They tell everyone that it’s not a car, it’s a fence. No one has painted a fence for 43 years. Some sales people for the Red Fence Paint Company come along and say, “Hey what’s this new red fence paint you’re using – looks great!”. Should the Red Fence Paint company expect their sales to increase soon?

    4) A town wants to have a community event, but can’t agree which side of the road to hold the event. The right side of the road is heavily shaded and very cold, because of the many buildings. The left side is open space, but it’s a long walk to the public toilets. They agree that if they rename the right side of the road to be the left side, the sun will warm the event faster. Should they wear extra clothing on the day of the event?

    • Wensleydale 4.1

      Heh, heh. That was brilliant.

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 4.2

      3) The National Car Paint Company paints a car blue. They tell everyone that it’s not a car, it’s a fence. No one has painted a fence for 43 years. Some sales people for the Red Fence Paint Company come along and say, “Hey what’s this new red fence paint you’re using – looks great!”. Should the Red Fence Paint company expect their sales to increase soon?

      No cause the Red Fence Paint Company is simply an empty shell company and carries little stock. They rely on a bunch of loyal old customers to give them enough cash-flow to stay in existence but find it difficult to attract new business.

      Their competitors are well aware of this and every now and then piss themselves laughing by selling a RFCP product as if it’s their own.

  5. b waghorn 5

    National is proving the saying
    ” the fool does in the end what the wise man worked out in the beginning”

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    With its Budget, National has made it plain to all how far Labour has moved to the centre and how much unoccupied room Labour has discarded on the Left in doing so. Nationals strategists have cunningly decided to grab that space for themselves, leaving Labour political-economically marooned in no man’s land.

    What will Labour do now? Perhaps Labour will launch proposals for bettering what beneficiaries are being offered in the NAT Budget? Or possibly more likely, Labour will start a discussion on new innovative ways in which NZ Super might be withheld.

    NB anyone see any suggestions yet from Labour that they will look after beneficiaries better than National has done in this Budget? That Labour will broaden the scope or magnitude of National’s base benefits lift? Nah didn’t think so.

    • weka 6.1

      Fortunately Labour aren’t the only party on the left eg the Greens have solid policy on both addressing poverty and specifically for beneficiaries.

      I still don’t see this as a left wing budget and am finding it weird that some on the left are arguing that it is.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        its not a left wing budget. But National has given beneficiaries the first real base benefits increase in 30 years. And done so in a deficit year. More than Labour could stomach doing for beneficiaries in 9 long years of surpluses.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          yep, so how are they paying for it, and why now? (and it’s not beneficiaries, it’s some beneficiaries). Your faith in National is pretty interesting I have to say.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1

            I have more faith in the National Party consistently delivering for their voting core than I have in Labour doing the same, if I can put it that way.

            • John Shears 6.1.1.1.1.1

              CV You just have.

            • marty mars 6.1.1.1.1.2

              Interesting point – is it really as simple as the left haven’t had a coherent message that resonates with the swinger voters.

              • weka

                I don’t think so. I think the non-vote is just as important, and we don’t really get what to do about that.

                • Yes good point – so many reasons why people don’t vote…

                  • Matthew Hooton

                    What are 16 of them?

                  • What're a next?

                    Tony Benn said two reasons, fear and despondency.
                    Both suit National’s style perfectly so they can continue to build their Monaco aka Auckland, and plenty of slaves living over the borders in NZ to service their needs, job done

            • Philip Ferguson 6.1.1.1.1.3

              I thought Viper’s comments were perfectly reasonable. It’s not that they have believe in National; it’s that they don’t have faith in Labour. And why would they?

              Can anyone here who supports Labour explain why three Labour governments didn’t increase benefits?

              I don’t think anyone on the left has said this is a “left-wing” budget. It’s a middle-of-the-road social-democratic budget.

              It’s simply a comment on how far to the right Labour is on economic policy that Key-English have outflanked them to the left, in the sense of producing a more social-democraic style budget than either the 4th or 5th Labour governments.

              For instance, Helen Clark had nine years of surpluses in which to reverse the Richardson benefit cuts and didn’t.

              I’m totally opposed to National, but I’m bemused that Labour members/supporters are so hacked off about this budget when it’s an improvement on anything Labour has produced in the *15 years* of the 4th and 5th Labour governments.

              It just looks like some folks are engaging in vulgar anti-National Party sniping when what they should be doing is reflecting on why Labour couldn’t even offer the miserable improvements that Key-English are to low-income earners such as beneficiaries.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                I thought Viper’s comments were perfectly reasonable. It’s not that they believe in National; it’s that they don’t have faith in Labour.

                BOOOOOM

              • b waghorn

                What you people that are piling onto the knock shit out labour gaggle are are forgetting, is the level of sophistication that the nats are reaching with there dirty tricks campaign s in the lead up to the last three elections.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Yeah well if unpaid part time amateur The Standard commentators like us have figured it out, maybe Labour can too.

            • rhinocrates 6.1.1.1.1.4

              While Crosby-Textor smell strongly of sulphur, to give the Devil his due, there’s no denying that they’re a professional outfit with extensive resources, a strong database and excellent analytical ability.

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11608589/Lynton-Crosby-the-so-called-experts-have-lost-touch-with-ordinary-people.html

              Through them, National is able to show the qualities ascribed to Key – “excellent antennae and no compass”. Ideologues like Screechy McHooton are right about one thing – it’s not a neoliberal purist right party of his dreams, it’s a party of pandering and cronyism. As such, it knows what its core is and how to serve them with a few well-played concessions that may be of little substance, but are calculated to look good to the voters. It’s a party that exists to do favours and make deals.

              Labour on the other hand doesn’t know who it stands for, but it does know who it’s scared to be seen with (roof-painting beneficiaries and so on). Paralysed by craven cowardice and indiscipline, of course it gets outflanked.

        • Maui 6.1.1.2

          Isn’t the idea of Keynesian economics to save money when you’re in surplus, and when the economy is in crisis (say in 2008/09) you increase spending then to kickstart the economy, wouldn’t that have been the time to bump up all the benefit payments?

          • Naturesong 6.1.1.2.1

            And the perfect time to upskill.

            I still cannot for the life of me understand why National didn’t ramp up all the building trades apprenticeship incentives after the Christchurch earthquake.
            It would have soaked up a ton of youth unemployment, and we’d have hundreds more New Zealand tradespeople working through the rebuild now. Total no-brainer, and they missed it.

            Of all the mistakes this govt. has made, I reckon it’s the Chch rebuild for which they’ll long be remembered.

            • Maui 6.1.1.2.1.1

              Agree with that, if they had that up and running quickly too they could have sorted out the accommodation crisis. Have the apprentices building small, transportable, low impact, buildings on mass that could be moved around the city, and learning their trade at the same time.

              Instead they ignored most of the community input and the appointed architect Athfield about how they could sort out transport issues. Then they ripped down most of the heritage buildings, built a fuck off Convention Centre and let the developers have carte blanche on new urban sprawl. Truly visionary.

              • weka

                +1, 2. But you know, where’s the profit in that? Hard to believe that National are really so stupid, so I’d pick they knew what they were doing. It’s really not about the good of the people or the country, it’s about extractively mining NZ society while they still can.

                • Craig H

                  It’s no accident that National receives big donations from property developers and real estate firms…

                  • felix

                    Ron Mark tried to point out in parliament yesterday that quite a few National MPs have shareholding in property development companies.

                • Jones

                  One company… Fletchers

          • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.2.2

            The problem with Keynesianism is it’s hard work – choosing properly among the many possibilities competing for the stimulatory dollar. Neo-liberalism is much easier, it requires neither talent nor energy.

    • b waghorn 6.2

      You’re forgetting that labour were going to give $60 to every child under three

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        Ah yes Best Start, thanks. Thats the kind of universal benefit I like the looks of.

      • Philip Ferguson 6.2.2

        yet they had nine years in government from 1999-2008 and Clark wouldn’t even reverse Ruth Richardson’s benefit cuts.

        Promises in opposition don’t really mean much.

        Show us the money Labour.

    • Heather Grimwood 6.3

      Seems to me that Labour can now concentrate on proving its other constant leftwing concerns as the budget’s so-called leftwing measures ( I call them a beginning to decent humanitarianism, and probably only happened through political necessity) need no huge emphasis now…only the tinkering factor of increasing them.

      • Colonial Viper 6.3.1

        IMO Labour needs a bit more pushing left via the application of “political necessity” on them as well.

  7. Descendant Of Sssmith 7

    Here was Labour’s response in budget 2004 when they mentioned National slashing benefits.

    “National’s approach to that was to slash benefits and throw families into poverty.

    Labour’s approach is to make work pay by lifting the incomes of working families. ”

    See Labour’s response was to criticise National and then leave the benefit rates as they were. What’s different right now?

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      exactly. If you were a beneficiary, you were (are) politically untouchable to Labour. Reminds me of Ed Miliband’s limestone engraved epitaph. UK Labour to provide “higher living standards for WORKING families.” (emphasis mine)

      Says it all.

  8. Facetious 8

    The problem with the NZ Left remains the same for almost a decade: after Helen Clark, an outstanding and decisive politician, no one has been able to fill her shoes. The people who followed her have been found wanting and unable to communicate the Party’s message. Andrew Little is another one of those failed “leaders”.

    A new charismatic Party leader is required. Now.

  9. Bill 9

    Labour hasn’t been outflanked on the left.

    Labour has been encircled in the centre, and pretty soon are going to be as useful as fish out of water; nowt but tucker.

    • do we care?

      If what you say is the case then what do the greater left do – is there anything we CAN do.

      • Maui 9.1.1

        Hope that John retires before 2017…

      • Bill 9.1.2

        Find an issue that demands wide-ranging public engagement and discussion. Then get it out there.

        How far you think parliamentary politics would shift left in response to a proper public discussion on AGW for example?

        • Colonial Rawshark 9.1.2.1

          Find an issue that demands wide-ranging public engagement and discussion. Then get it out there.

          Means testing Super would apply. Oh, not what you meant? 😈

        • marty mars 9.1.2.2

          I know. Our greatest challenge and we are fiddling away – I wish there was that discussion.

          • Bill 9.1.2.2.1

            The Greens could make the discussion happen. But, so far, they promulgate this idea that 2 degrees is possible and kind of endorse trading carbon units.

            If they did find their way to be bold, then the obvious and widespread concerns people have about AGW in spite of the issue being buried by major media, running in conjunction with the disillusion felt by many towards Labour…

            • weka 9.1.2.2.1.1

              I think the bold has to come from the community first. The GP can’t risk losing votes at the next election. The more support they get and the more citizens take matters into their own hands re AGW activism, the more likely it is that the GP can do what is needed and then create the kind of public movement you are talking about.

              • Bill

                All they have to do is kick-start the conversation. All that takes is for them to be honest. Having done that, they can take part in the discussion, but they don’t get to build any public movement any more than the SNP got to build a public movement around the referendum. What they can do, like the SNP did, is gain political momentum from an engaged and learning populace.

                As far as losing votes goes, that’s the dull fear that has ‘everyone’ shuffling to the ‘radical centre’ and proposing 5/8ths of fuck all across the board.

                As it stands, the Greens are essentially a middle class cult that will never, ever grow beyond 10 – 15%. SO they should be bold. Nothing to lose. A lot to gain.

                • weka

                  With all due respect, I think they know what will work for them better than you. You think there aren’t many people in the GP aware of the situation re AGW? Those people who now have decades of political experience and institutional knowledge about what works in the NZ political scene?

                  The radical centre shit is Labour’s problem, not the GP’s. They’ve worked really hard to get where they are and they’re not going to risk that unless left wing voters and activists get behind them. Every election there have been barriers to moving forward. You say they have nothing to lose, but the political reality is they could lose MPs in parliament and if that happens they also lose momentum and more of their ability to create change.

                  “What they can do, like the SNP did, is gain political momentum from an engaged and learning populace.”

                  Except the huge, critical difference is there is no England here. Your ideas about change are good, but IMO have to be translated into the NZ context. Might be good if you put your money where you mouth is so to speak, and do the things that are likely to encourage a shift in the GP. Calling them a middle class cult is not a step in the right direction, not least because its inaccurate and just creates more confusion on the left about what the GP actually do.

                  • Bill

                    Sod the respect. Whatever the Greens have been doing, it hasn’t worked. Precious few working class people are ever going to vote for them in the context of the current political environment. Whether it’s a nice thing to contemplate or not, they really are essentially a middle class cult. They could change that quite easily by kick-starting the long overdue and necessary change in NZs political environment.

                    You’re missing my point on the SNP by the way. I’ll put it another way. The Greens can no more build a movement than The Mana Party could have built a movement. All political parties can do is ride movements and secure advantages from shifts within the political environment.

                    That said, political parties can act as the trigger. The Greens could do it by being truthful about AGW. Further, since they tout themselves as a party concerned with the environment, it could be argued that they are obliged to cut their erstwhile crap on AGW (eg 2 degrees is possible) and call all the spades spades in order to get the discussion started.

                    • Maui

                      The Greens are having the climate discussion, it’s one of their core topics on their facebook page from what I’ve seen. They’ve said they’re making it a priority this year with the Paris talks at the end of the year.

                      Unfortunately with the coverage they get I think they can only increase awareness so far.. We usually just see them responding to Government actions around child poverty, corruption, etc.

                      Actually I think they could push it more, but I think they’re scared to. Would it turn more of the populace off the greens? Probably, and reinforce all those stereotypes that the Greens are crazy and don’t grasp the economy.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Dammit the Greens are still lost in the woods. Dealing with energy and resource depletion has to be the strategy, it is far more solid and concrete, you can build a comprehensive economic strategy on it, not this esoteric invisible fancy sciency “climate change.”

                    • weka

                      “Sod the respect”

                      Sure, I can do that. What you are presenting tonight is pie in the sky stuff unless you can come up with actual real world ways of your ideas happening. The ‘Greens’ in this instance are an organisation of hundreds of people. Please explain how your idea could be implemented.

                      Then explain why you discount the risk and what evidence you have that your idea would work in the way you claim. If you can’t do those things, then you’re arguing abstracts divorced from reality. Nothing wrong with the vision, but no matter how brilliant it might seem it won’t wash unless you can explain how it would work.

                      In the meantime, I’m still putting the challenge out there for left wing activists to get behind the only party in NZ that has a chance of being in govt and is not only willing to do something about CC but has been leading the way on that for decades. It’s ignorant in the extreme to think the GP haven’t been successful and it wipes from history all the incredibly hard work they done for years to get themselves and NZ in exactly the position you are talking about, momentum from an engaged and learning population. They’ve been central to changing understanding about the environment, including AGW, for decades.

                      There’s nothing wrong with being middle class nor being a middle class party (to the extent that is even true of the GP). It’s the middle classes that have the resources to change the agenda on CC. It’s FPP thinking to believe that the GP should be all things to every man, or somehow bridge the middle/working/underclass divides. That’s not their job. Their job is to function according to their core values and to advance policy in the basis of that. In the current situation, with the clusterfuck that is Labour, they’re the only viable option for something to change. I’d like to know why people like yourself wouldn’t get behind them. What is there to lose?

                    • weka

                      “You’re missing my point on the SNP by the way. I’ll put it another way. The Greens can no more build a movement than The Mana Party could have built a movement. All political parties can do is ride movements and secure advantages from shifts within the political environment.”

                      No, I got that, I just wasn’t responding to it. I was responding to the idea that the things that worked in Scotland would work here.

                      “That said, political parties can act as the trigger. The Greens could do it by being truthful about AGW. Further, since they tout themselves as a party concerned with the environment, it could be argued that they are obliged to cut their erstwhile crap on AGW (eg 2 degrees is possible) and call all the spades spades in order to get the discussion started.”

                      So join the party and put the issues to them. Be one of the people that leads the way on this. There is that functional, well resourced organisation already committed to CC, get in there and make the changes you are talking about. I’m not saying this because I think the GP are fantastic, I’m saying it because they’re basically the only option left.

                      (hopefully the members will choose James Shaw as the male co-leader on the weekend. His priority is CC).

                      You’re misusing the term cult.

                    • weka

                      “Dammit the Greens are still lost in the woods. Dealing with energy and resource depletion has to be the strategy, it is far more solid and concrete, you can build a comprehensive economic strategy on it, not this esoteric invisible fancy sciency “climate change.”

                      Good grief, that’s just out and out contraryness. Go and read GP policy and then come back and tell me which NZ political party is facing the future better than they are.

                    • weka

                      “Actually I think they could push it more, but I think they’re scared to. Would it turn more of the populace off the greens? Probably, and reinforce all those stereotypes that the Greens are crazy and don’t grasp the economy.”

                      yes, they have to tread a fine line. If they go hard over the next two years and then lose MPs in 2017, they become less influential.

                      I think we will see them pushing more, because we’re at a tipping point with awareness of how serious the situation is. They can’t do it on their own though.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Good grief, that’s just out and out contraryness. Go and read GP policy and then come back and tell me which NZ political party is facing the future better than they are.

                      IIRC, on this count I scored the NATS at 2/10, LAB at 3/10 and GR at 3.5/10 of what this nation requires.

                      Whoppeee for the Greens.

                      I think we will see them pushing more, because we’re at a tipping point with awareness of how serious the situation is.

                      Sure, the tipping point will be about 5s after Wylie Coyote runs off over the edge of the cliff top at speed, and finally starts crashing to Earth even as his legs are still running. Atack is right of course, its all painfully too late.

                    • Bill

                      Weka, all I’m saying, and all the Green party has to do, is cut the crap and be honest about AGW.

                      As of now, they are talking about the possibility of 2 degrees. That’s dishonest when stacked against even a cursory glance at the scientific literature.

                      As of now,they endorse the notion of carbon capture and storage helping to save our sorry arses. That’s Doctor Strangelove technology and can’t be relied on in any sane, rational analysis of AGW.

                      As of now, they tout the idea that we can transition to some low carbon future and enjoy prosperity off the back of it. That’s deeply dishonest in light of the fact – a fact no-one has countered btw – that our economy and the scientifically necessary cuts to CO2 emissions are incompatible.

                      We, this society, desperately needs the conversation to be had. The Greens have the platform – the access to major media – to force the beginnings of that conversation.

                    • Tracey

                      National and Labour have both used a lot of time, enery and in Nats case, money, making people think they need to be scared of the Greens or dismissing them as mentally unstable. THAT is very hard to counter… with a docile press and yet they are remaining a voice notwithstanding attacks from Brethren style to Key-style to Cunliffe preferring NZF.

                    • weka

                      Bill,

                      Weka, all I’m saying, and all the Green party has to do, is cut the crap and be honest about AGW.

                      As of now, they are talking about the possibility of 2 degrees. That’s dishonest when stacked against even a cursory glance at the scientific literature.

                      As of now,they endorse the notion of carbon capture and storage helping to save our sorry arses. That’s Doctor Strangelove technology and can’t be relied on in any sane, rational analysis of AGW.

                      As of now, they tout the idea that we can transition to some low carbon future and enjoy prosperity off the back of it. That’s deeply dishonest in light of the fact – a fact no-one has countered btw – that our economy and the scientifically necessary cuts to CO2 emissions are incompatible.

                      We, this society, desperately needs the conversation to be had. The Greens have the platform – the access to major media – to force the beginnings of that conversation.

                      Well I agree that the conversation desperately needs to be had. And the GP might be the ones to do it, but no-one has been able to say how. How would you get hundreds of people to change policy and direction like that?

                      Do you have a citation for the carbon capture and storage thing? I started looking through policy and only found something about sequestration via agriculture.

      • weka 9.1.3

        What I’ve been thinking today (esp in the light of Little’s blunder yesterday) is that all the left lefties who didn’t last time, now vote Green. And join the party if you are a party joiner. You don’t have to agree with everything they do, but they’re at least heading in the right direction and are set for the next shift up. They’re competent, and clear about their policy and what they want to see happen. We’re out of time, and there’s been enough people on the left not voting Green but who could, so now’s the time to make a difference.

        At the very least the GP will pull NZ left again. But they also stand a chance of being in govt in the next 3 or 6 years and having direct influence on policy. I’m not suggesting this as a panacea, but instead it’s one really easy thing that could be done.

        If anyone disagrees with that, I’d be interested to hear the rationale.

        • marty mars 9.1.3.1

          That is bold and your argument is sound – I will think about this idea. Thanks and good post!

        • Descendant Of Sssmith 9.1.3.2

          I know quite a few people who like myself voted Greens or Mana last election instead of Labour.

          I certainly don’t see anything Labour is doing bringing them back.

          Others chose note to vote – there’s some great opportunity for Greens to target the disillusioned non-voter as well.

          • weka 9.1.3.2.1

            There’s a barrier to the Greens picking up much of the non-vote and I’m not sure what it is. They certainly try hard enough and are successful with their other campaign strategies so it’s a tricky one.

            What I am proposing isn’t simply voting for another left wing party instead of Labour, I’m suggesting that lefties get behind the GP specifically and really support them because they have actual left wing policies and are in a position to do something about it. They’ve worked long and hard and it’s time to see what they can bring to the table.

            So that means not voting Mana or IP or another party that might arise before 2017. Give the Greens a chance to really do something.

            It’s possible that if the GP vote lifts and has an obvious increase in left wing and/or activist support, there will be momentum that will start to pick up some of the non-vote too. Research shows that a lot of people would like to vote Green but on election day don’t. If the pan left shifted behind them and supported them we might see that change. The stronger they are the more they can do and the more chance we have for moving left.

            • Colonial Rawshark 9.1.3.2.1.1

              There’s a barrier to the Greens picking up much of the non-vote and I’m not sure what it is. They certainly try hard enough and are successful with their other campaign strategies so it’s a tricky one.

              Culturally, the Greens are not seen as having much in common with ordinary Kiwis.

              It’s the famous “who would you like to hang out with, drink a beer and have a bbq?” question. John Key, Andrew Little or Metiria T
              urei (or Russel Norman?)

              I mean, not only would hardly any Kiwis think of the Green MPs, we all know that it’s simply awkward trying to have a beer and a BBQ with people who don’t eat meat and don’t drink*

              *yep

              • felix

                Putting aside the question of whether you know if Metiria drinks or eats meat, if it has really come to that as how we choose our government then why even bother with politics at all? It’s over.

                • weka

                  Agreed. It’s also the myth of the ordinary NZer, as if NZ is made up mostly of people that are the same. That’s not been my experience.

                  Interestingly, when I’ve lived in one of the most conservative places in NZ, where people would consider themselves ordinary NZers, it’s not whether I eat meat or not that’s been important, it’s how I’ve related with other people esp those that are different than me.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    you asked the question why the Greens have hit their electoral heads on the Green ceiling. I’ve told you. Whether or not you personally think its relevant and valid is entirely beside the point. Also, at the risk of spelling it out, it doesn’t matter whether or not Metiria actually drinks alcohol or eats meat, or not. It is the cultural impression which counts.

                    • weka

                      I didn’t ask that, I don’t believe that GP have hit a ceiling, and while I appreciate people have theories about that I don’t see the evidence yet. Also, I’m not convinced you know where the GP are trying to increase their vote. Your ideas about the common man always come across as too stereotypical to be real. Yes we can talk in broad terms about any party and who votes for them, but do you understand where the GP actually gets its votes from? Got a more nuanced analysis than ‘middle class cult’?

              • weka

                “Culturally, the Greens are not seen as having much in common with ordinary Kiwis.”

                That’s possibly true, and I’m not sure how much is perception and how much reality. However I think you miss the point about the GP (as do many). You can’t advance the kind of policies the GP does and be populist in the way you are suggesting. There is nothing wrong with that. The GP want change, and are pretty effective at it. If they can get into government then even better, but the main thing is to change NZ so we do the things that need to be done. This idea that they should move away from their core so that ‘ordinary NZers’ vote for them is a losing strategy. All that does for them is take CC off the agenda. Or a UBI. Or degrowth. The strategies you are talking about are what Labour should be doing, and then they should be pairing up with the GP to give the broadest representation of the left possible.

                I think all of that is a red herring. At this point in time the Greens don’t need the votes of the vast swathe of ordindary NZ in the way you imply. They need the votes of people that are ready to change, and in the absence of a functional Labour party they need the votes and energy of the politically active left. Once they grow some more, they will have more capacity to effect change, and that will flow on to the general public (the engaged and learning public that Bill is talking about). But again, they can’t do this on their own. People need to step up.

                • felix

                  +1

                  “This idea that they should move away from their core so that ‘ordinary NZers’ vote for them is a losing strategy. All that does for them is take CC off the agenda. Or a UBI. Or degrowth.”

                  Yep, which is exactly why the concerned right are so very keen on it.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    Nah, I’m betting the Right are quite happy with where the Greens heads have been at the last few years. Stuck around the 10% mark and keeping Labour off balance on the left.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  I think all of that is a red herring. At this point in time the Greens don’t need the votes of the vast swathe of ordindary NZ in the way you imply.

                  I mean seriously, WTF, I did not imply anything of the sort.

                  And if it is a “red herring” then YOU are the one who raised it. I don’t give a rats ass about Green voter strategy, if you scan above it was YOU who remarked that the Greens had hit their heads on a ceiling and were unable to connect to non-voters. And I agree with you. Now if you sincerely don’t think it important that the Greens connect with the non-vote, then you needn’t have raised it. I certainly did not raise it.

                  If the Greens have their core policies and core messages right and they are happy with how it’s working for them, then they are very welcome to stick with what they are doing. I just think that Climate Change is the wrong message; energy and resource depletion is where it is at to construct a coherant economic vision. But no skin off my nose if the Greens stay as they are.

                  • Maui

                    Campaigning on climate change is the winner, it’s just the general public is.. not asleep to it, but dozing. Some major event happens and the Greens support could double overnight.

                    You get less buy in with the resource depletion argument and you could argue the Greens have been doing it for ages already – protecting native habitats/conservation issues, clean water, clean power.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      well I tend to disagree that it’s a “winner” strategy but this discussion can play out over time

                    • Bill

                      Hey CV, the independence referendum was not a winning strategy either. Then the conversation was had and…

              • Tracey

                can you describe what is in your head when you write “ordinary kiwi”. What does that person look like?

            • Tracey 9.1.3.2.1.2

              Me too, but due to the fear mongering and mental illness labelling (looney) of the Greens by NACT and Labour defaulting to NZF, a few I know from left and right, at the last minute succumbed to the memes and voted National on the day believing it was economically safer. The liar prevailed due to the natural comfort of the status quo.

              It is VERY hard to survive when the 2 big parties put resource and energy and money into bagging you. And yet, they still got 10% of the vote.

              I donated to Labour in the 2008 campaign out of desperation cos I didn’t want Key as our PM, didn’t trust him…

              Since then my donations are to the Green Party. Last year and this I have increased them.

              Bill – why isn’t Labour being honest about climate change? Are you thinking Greens be the extremist and then the LP can come in to the left of where Nats are and look like the moderate? Genuine question, not snarky.

        • Stuart Munro 9.1.3.3

          People don’t regret voting Green – some do regret voting Labour. I reckon an SNP drive through is perfectly possible in NZ – if a party is in sync with the public will. All the data on declining social participation suggests a failure of traditional forms of representation to engage meaningfully.

          I’d say the temporary popularity of United Future and of NZ First were public experiments like the UK Lib Dems. The public consider these experiments unsuccessful and deserted all three parties – but they’re still looking for a better choice. It could’ve been Mana/IP, but this time it was not.

          Properly timed Sabin revelations might well have produced a very different result. It’s a great help if you want to launch a ‘pig-f**ker’ attack on another party if they do in fact f**k pigs.

          • Colonial Rawshark 9.1.3.3.1

            +100

            Precisely my thoughts too. And the corollary to your SNP parallel – it is NZ Labour who are absolutely in the most precarious position, and they don’t even know it.

            • Stuart Munro 9.1.3.3.1.1

              Thanks – I think that National are also vulnerable to the same kind of thing – you might not concur with my take on Bill English as an inept faux technocrat, but many traditional Gnats can’t be very impressed with this persistently poor performance. NZ can and must do better.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                English is an actual real technocrat, not a faux one 😉

                • Stuart Munro

                  Show me the growth.

                  I spent quite a bit of time with Lee Kie Hong – they guy who rebuilt Korea’s economy. He was a real technocrat – Bill … not so much.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    The most obvious marker is reactivity.

                    The new community movement in Korea was designed to increase economic activity and lift standards of living.

                    Bill English’s response to the housing crisis by contrast is late, slow and comparatively ineffective. It was never an integral part of his economic policy – and yet housing is a major component of his dodgy growth numbers.

                    Imagine what might have been achieved had he designed a housing program for economic ends – as Savage did, as Lee Kuan Yew did, as most Asian technocrats have.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      We got the anglo-saxon neoliberal disease. The Asian nations were smarter. At least, for a time.

          • weka 9.1.3.3.2

            It’s certainly an ineresting idea, and Bill has been putting this forward for while. But no-one has of yet suggest how it could happen.

            “if a party is in sync with the public will.”

            Which party? And what public will? I don’t see this collective will, but am happy to have it explained to me.

            • Naturesong 9.1.3.3.2.1

              “I don’t see this collective will, but am happy to have it explained to me.”

              It’s explained to you every day in newspapers, on seven sharp and on talkback radio around the country.

              Oh, it’s also manufactured. The public democratic space for these conversations is literally drowning in paid PR.

              • weka

                Yeah, I don’t think that’s what was meant though (and all those examples are manufactured or manipulated)

            • Bill 9.1.3.3.2.2

              But no-one has of yet suggest how it could happen.

              Well, that’s not quite accurate. I’ve proposed the ‘how’ a few times.

              We know that ‘the will’ of people can only be known..or becomes realised… off the back of wide-ranging and inclusive conversation. We know that in Scotland that came about through the referendum that, importantly, the SNP was forced to call when it unexpectedly found itself the majority party in Holyrood. At the time of the Holyrood win, independence was only favoured by about 30%…a more or less historical constant. In other words, the timing was hardly great. But the conversation was had and now the Scottish electorate is ‘alive’.

              In NZ, there is no referendum on independence. I suspect that the Treaty settlement process has more or less, and as intended, neutered any potential change coming from within Maoridom.

              But there is AGW. I can’t sit on a major TV programme and call time on the establishment’s shit on AGW. Well, I could, but it would have no effect. The Greens on the other hand can. And they can continually lob grenades at the establishment’s apathy on the matter and demand the conversation gets under way.

              Any focuses other than AGW? I’m all ears. Any other catalyst, apart from The Greens? I’m listening.

              Unfortunately, I suspect the Greens will continue to be timid and safe, unable to wrench themselves away from their intention to appear ‘reasonable’ and ‘safe’ in the eyes of the establishment that they really ought to be railing against.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                We know that in Scotland that came about through the referendum that, importantly, the SNP was forced to call when it unexpectedly found itself the majority party in Holyrood. At the time of the Holyrood win, independence was only favoured by about 30%…a more or less historical constant.

                The timing is important here; I thought the SNP had turned around and started publicly favouring the idea of a popular referendum BEFORE (and as part of) the campaign strategy leading up to that major Holyrood win.

                • Bill

                  It has always been in their election manifestos. If it isn’t in their manifesto for next year’s Holyrood election, it will be the first time that it hasn’t been there.

                  Got to remember that the Scottish voting system was designed to never deliver a majority government. The SNP were as much caught out by their win as anyone else and their hand was subsequently forced on the matter of a referendum.

              • Molly

                I agree with you Bill.

                The Scottish referendum campaign got many who were previously disengaged, uninformed and unaware of politics in localised political discussions. That surge of energy and engagement had a noticeable effect on the recent elections.

                If the same approach was taken in NZ to promote political discussions across the political spectrum, what do you think would happen?

                A strong of degree trust in the values of informed voters is necessary.

                But the consequence is a proportion of the voting public who are aware of the issues that are faced by whatever government is in power, and the ability for those voters to reliably ascertain the nuances of promoted policy: whether they are going to be effective long-term, or whether they are a political PR stunt.

                Another added benefit is a large group of voters defining what they believe is important in a consensus manner, allowing those political parties who play the game, to know exactly how to direct their policies.

                Are there any political grassroots movements in NZ, that can promote political discussions at community level on a non-partisan basis?

                • Bill

                  If the same approach was taken in NZ to promote political discussions across the political spectrum, what do you think would happen?

                  I think what would result would be that the current inertia from government with regards AGW would no longer be tolerated. I also think the current situation where AGW is buried or trivialised by media would become untenable.

                  Are there any political grassroots movements in NZ, that can promote political discussions at community level on a non-partisan basis?

                  None that I’m aware of.

                  Dragging up the illustrative Scottish example again – many grassroots/political entities form when the conversation is being had. I think people forget or overlook the fact that the ‘Yes’ contingent of the referendum debate was incredibly diverse and much broader than anything represented by the SNP. My point is that it’s okay for a partisan political party to begin the conversation. The conversation will then take on a life and vitality of its own and spawn all manner of off-shoots.

                  • Molly

                    Agree again Bill.

                    My personal discovery of “The Standard” online has led to more informed political discussion with my partner and household in the last few years.

                    This discussion has grown to my circle of friends and family, my partner’s workplace and other acquaintances. It has not been without contention, but these are people that already have relationships and so, take the time and effort to express themselves with care. People who were previously loathe to talk politics, are now joining in protests and bringing up the topic in conversations. You become more adept at this, the more that you practise.

                    And it is telling, the points of agreement over the political spectrum from those who are informed: Effective dealing with transition from fossil fuels, high quality and accessible education and healthcare, different ideas on housing as a social imperative.

                    NZers by and large still think they live in an egalitarian society. They think that somewhere, something is getting done by somebody. When they find out that this is not the case, they demand better.

            • Stuart Munro 9.1.3.3.2.3

              The process is similar to falling in love.

              When a party makes a good but unexpected call on an issue (response is lower if it is expected), voters gain confidence in that party. Multiple instances can confirm the response, and when these are sufficiently numerous, the confidence shifts from a rational response to actions to an affective response to the voter’s internal construct of the party. At this point the voter decides the party is manifestly excellent in all respects – or in the negative case, as many here feel about the current incumbents, that they are vicious devil beasts of low intelligence and insanitary habits.

              Labour consistently throws up disenchanting neo-liberal or gender political anomalies which interfere with this process. SNP completed the process, but now must work to retain the confidence.

  10. felix 10

    Anthony, I admire your positive take on this.

    I tend to think it’s more a case of the political centre having been shifted so far to the right that anything short of literal feudalism can be painted as progressive, left-wing egalitarianism.

    • weka 10.1

      I’ve been wondering how much time and money was spent by National on how to spin this after budget day. It’s probably like shooting fish in a barrel at this point (to further Bill’s ika analogy).

      • Sacha 10.1.1

        oh, that they will have a plan for.

        and focus-grouped elements like ‘$25’ and ‘hardship’ and ‘deprivation’ and ‘work obligations’ and ‘investment’ – and ‘we are disappointed to be away from the surplus we had hoped for’, if anyone asks.

        • felix 10.1.1.1

          Ask any normal person who doesn’t take the sort of notice you and I might, and they’ll tell you that benefits have all gone up by $25.

          You and I know it only applies to a small number of beneficiaries, but that doesn’t matter. It’s just become an immediately accepted truth, like “John Key donates his salary to charity” and other such rubbish.

          • Sacha 10.1.1.1.1

            and yet opposition parties still do not seem to get the value of correcting shit to the media. #sigh

            • felix 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Yep. And most importantly, stomping on it straight away.

              • weka

                Turei had a fair crack at it yesterday (although I suspect they are distracting by the upcoming AGM and co-leader vote).

                • felix

                  But yesterday is a day too late. The public already “knew” the story by thursday afternoon/evening.

                  Outside of us freaks and geeks, there’s no such thing as a developing story.

                  • Colonial Rawshark

                    National successfully blindsided the Left. A brilliant political ambush.

                    • felix

                      It’s not that bloody brilliant CV.

                      They lied, and people believed it.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      I’m not talking about the morals of it, I’m talking about the political effectiveness of it. Which I am sure you rate as “high”, as I do.

                    • felix

                      Metiria spoke very well as she usually does, but nothing in that interview challenged the myth that benefits have all gone up $25.

                    • weka

                      I haven’t seen the vid, just read the article. Do they get Budget documents ahead of time? Because otherwise by mid afternoon on Thurs I think it’s a bit much to expect anyone to be able to comment factually on the $25 thing. National had already said $23, but if Turei came out swining on the dollar amount without being able to back it up, she runs the risk of making big mistakes. After a day and a half of talking about it, we’re still not clear in the blogosphere.

                      You probably have a better sense of the MSM coverage though, I only go look at it when I have to.

                    • felix

                      Perhaps I’m not being clear. The $25pw is only for beneficiaries with children.

                      And it doesn’t kick in until April 2016.

                      But the accepted story is that ALL benefits go up 25 bucks a week NOW.

                      The details people are arguing about all come under the umbrella of this great false narrative that has been accepted by the media, the public, and apparently the opposition.

                    • weka

                      ah ok, I get you know. And yes, I agree.

      • felix 10.1.2

        It’s all a bit fishy, for sure.

    • r0b 10.2

      I like to look on the bright side felix!

  11. Sirenia 11

    Maybe they will bring back the family benefit. Labour should have that as a policy and then National will pinch it. After all national super is universal so why not a family benefit?

  12. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 12

    R0b,

    I thought this was the most evil right wing government in the history of NZ politics. I thought they were governing for their rich mates. I thought they were selling us out to America.

    Is this all now untrue? Are they really, as others have been saying since 2008, quite moderate?

    Instructions please. I have a dinner party with lefties tonight so need advice urgently.

    • felix 12.1

      Moderate = Haven’t actually shot any peasants for sport yet.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 12.1.1

        Actually, that’ll play well to the crowd I’m with tonight.

    • alwyn 12.2

      “I have a dinner party with lefties tonight so need advice urgently”

      Make sure that your host tastes every item on your plate before you start eating. You can’t be too careful you know.

    • r0b 12.3

      I thought this was the most evil right wing government in the history of NZ politics.

      I don’t recall saying such a thing,

      I thought they were governing for their rich mates.

      Absolutely.

      I thought they were selling us out to America.

      Trying to but it’s all going a bit pear shaped.

      Is this all now untrue?

      As above.

      Are they really, as others have been saying since 2008, quite moderate?

      As right wing governments go I guess they are relatively moderate, but that still means they don’t give a damn about the poor, the environment, or long term planning, and that irks me. What they’re mainly concerned about is being in power. And they’re prepared to swallow any number of dead rats to stay there. Which is what the post is about.

      Instructions please. I have a dinner party with lefties tonight so need advice urgently.

      Take a nice bottle of wine. Try not to behave like an arse, and try to talk about things other than yourself. Offer to help with the washing up. You’re welcome.

      • felix 12.3.1

        😀 😀 😀

      • lprent 12.3.2

        Try not to behave like an arse…

        Hey r0b, I think this is a bit harsh as it is probably unachievable (I have had years to observe him).

        He might be more successful if you gave him a more achievable goal like “don’t act like a gormless fool”? Leave the arse issues until later

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 12.3.2.1

          Get invited many places yourself, Lprent? With that charm and wit I’m guessing not so much.

    • Realblue 12.4

      Instructions please. I have a dinner party with lefties tonight so need advice urgently.
      Wear something with no pockets.

  13. sabine 13

    all this pissing around is just that, pissing around.

    in 2017 we will have another election.
    Labour by then could have cleaned up its act, and if they did not then they will loose.

    everything that national does until election night 2017 is theirs.

    If in three years time, NZ is not better off, National will have a hard time. No matter what. Bill English looks grey, washed out and frankly over it. John Key looks and behaves as if he was over it. Nick Smith can’t give a fuck. Judith Collins is greasin the circuit. i dont think that they will hold together till 2017. I really don’t

    No one on the street is speaking well of the budget. $ 25 for some, but not many if any, but only starting 1. April 2016 – Aprils Fool lolz 🙂 , Tax cuts in 2017…..Mega lolz. People are not making it now. And that what they have missed….the what about now?

    Cracks are appearing. National going to the left…..Lolz also.

    • Colonial Rawshark 13.1

      in 2017 we will have another election.
      Labour by then could have cleaned up its act, and if they did not then they will loose.

      We’ll know by late 2015/early 2016 if Labour is in any shape to win. At the moment I am calling advantage National.

  14. Vagabundo 14

    It really does feel like a reverse of impact of Reagan and Thatcher on political rhetoric in the west. I hope it lasts.

  15. Lloyd 15

    Basic problem for Labour is to sell equity.

    Until ‘the average New Zealander’ recognises that taxing the richest thousand or so New Zealanders really heavily and giving that money to the poorest in the economy is the economically rational way towards a balanced economy then the right will keep winning elections and fucking up the economy, the environment and the chances for our children to live in an equitable society. Labour will not be able to convince ‘the average New Zealander’ that equity is the central issue until everyone in the party believes in it too.

    • Colonial Rawshark 15.1

      Labour doesn’t believe in equity. It can sometimes mouth the words though.

      You can see this in how it restored the $20/wk cut to superannuitants, but couldn’t bring itself to do the same for beneficiaries who were actually on much much less than NZ super and hence actually needed that money more.

      It does sincerely believe in orthodox economics and monetary policy, as well as free markets (with some light curbs and regulation). Any good?

      • keyman 15.1.1

        welcome to team key iam glad you seen the light only john key can lead new Zealand and national are the rightful rulers of new Zealand welcome aboard the key juggernaut

  16. Reddelusion 16

    Sabine you need to get out of your one way street, obviously a very narrow street at that based on your perspective, also a street of yellow bricks and full of fantasies

  17. Reddelusion 17

    ACT is the winner from last weeks lefties budget, albeit Jk is well aware of this, setting the ground for 2017

  18. Mike the Savage One 18

    In all honesty, I think we cannot say that National is outflanking Labour “on the left”. What the Nats have delivered with the Budget is actually something that is a continuum from the draconian reforms that took effect with the amendment of the Social Security Act 1964, through implementing the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act 2013.

    The 25 dollars increase for parents on benefits is not quite what it seems, given abatements and so that will take effect, and besides of that there is more to consider.

    We should not be surprised about the new work test obligations for parents and their partner/spouse with young kids on benefit support. I mean the new rule to take effect next year, from 01 April, that they need to look for work once the youngest child is only 3 years old.

    Looking at the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act, the following was part of it:

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2013/0013/latest/DLM4750160.html

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1964/0136/latest/DLM4807663.html#DLM4807663

    New section 60RA:
    “(3) A person to whom this section applies has the following social obligations:

    “(a) to take all reasonable steps to ensure that every dependent child aged 3 years or more but less than 5 years and who is not enrolled at and regularly attending a registered school (as defined in section 2(1) of the Education Act 1989) is—
    “(i) enrolled in a recognised early childhood education programme (as defined in section 60RAB(1)); and…”

    It appears it was already then considered – as a future option – to also bring in the expectation for such parents to seek work once a child is put into child care, which was part of new social obligations, affecting children aged 3 to 5. As we know after 5 years of age most kids have to go to school anyway. I suspect that the Nats did already then think, that further down the line they will expect parents with kids on benefits to go and work from then on, not just once the child would turn 5 years.

    Bear in mind also the policy they brought in, for additional, earlier work test obligations, if a parent on a benefit has another child. After the child turns one they already place certain work test obligations on such a parent:
    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/benefit-changes/additional-child.html

    Looking at this kind of stuff, how “left” is that? Or would anybody here dare to claim that Labour also supports this now? In reality the Nats have increased work expecations, yet again, also for 20 hours plus a week, all geared to get people OFF benefits.

    If Labour want to appear innovative and smart, they should start talking to people that depend on benefits, and not just seek photo ops by visiting the odd budgeting service or so, to have something nice written up for their website or the MSM. They should consider getting rid of “Work and Income NZ” (what an idiot name for a social security agency, it spells out “work” and “income”, saying nothing about sick, injured, disabled or sole parents).

    Instead they should introduce a smartly designed UBI and a completely new approach, getting rid of massive bureaucracy, and have a new agency provide truly socially targeted top up support for parents with childcare responsibilities, for sick and disabled, for students. Perhaps now is the time to redefine what social policy means for Labour and “the left” in New Zealand?

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