Peak NZ Liberal

Written By: - Date published: 9:13 am, December 23rd, 2023 - 69 comments
Categories: climate change, Deep stuff, Environment, health, jacinda ardern, labour, maori party, national, science, water - Tags:

Progressive-minded Kiwis after the 2023 election are in the throes of a rude awakening.

Despite Chris Hipkins remaining at its head in its worst thrashing since 2014 and Greens and Maori Party making gains, unity across progressive forces at the end of 2023 shows no sign of life.

Working class and Maori voters turned away from Labour. In liberal cities like Dunedin and Wellington and western and central Auckland, voters were in open revolt against progressive policies and their representatives.

Labour spent six years seeking to form institutions that would endure beyond any change of government, in a pattern implemented by Clark, Cullen and Anderton from the 1999-2008 government. This was their way of cementing in liberal ideas and progressive intent into the foundations of all future governments.

The new National-led government is however quickly turning many of those new institutions into ash.

It is not uncommon now to blame wokeness for the poor electoral result. The pursuit of progressive causes based on human rights such as transsexual rights, indigenous language and culture promotion, and water quality allocation rights (amongst others) are the usual mixture of “wokeness” that many turned against. It’s not coherent and nor is there a Christmas dinner answer to it.

Why citizens reacted so swiftly against Prime Minister Ardern when her government essentially underwrote the entire economy and saved thousands of lives in the course of two years cannot be explained by sexism or any other ‘ism’ alone.

But we can look back even now and see Labour-Greens 2017-2023 as a high sharp point of liberal effort. That era we will never see again.

Among the many crises New Zealand has endured since 2008’s GFC, COVID was the crisis with the widest societal interventions, deepest legislative and martial controls upon our behaviour, and most expensive tax subsidies for businesses up and down the country. They worked.

So it appeared to stand to reason that we needed stronger public institutions to deal with the next mess coming down the pipe.

But crisis also removed the weird idea of an ‘Overton window, whatever that was. Crisis, instead of opening the possibilities of reform, has instead made most of us more grumpy, more conservative, more retrograde in what we will accept in any power resting within the state. I suspect it’s because New Zealand has just had one damn deep crisis after another that we are no longer coherent about what we will accept as a civic bargain between state power and state service provision to get us out of crisis.

Our common pact with the state has weakened. In response, Labour sought to amalgamate public sector entities that had been splintered and corporatised in the 1980s and 1990s into new more robust state institutions.

Polytechs had previously been allowed to grow within conditions of higher unemployment and high unskilled labour imports, but were withering fast, so Labour sought to strengthen them once and for all. They nearly made it.

Water entities and local governments had previously been allowed to charge or meter any kind of water with little requirement for anticipating population or water demand growth. The legislation was finally put in place to help water entities raise debt and plan with water entities for that future. They nearly made it.

Health entities were on the verge of amalgamating into a centralised system that might eventually resolve the gross health service inequality that had built up over two decades of regionalised service levels. They were also geared up to focus service provision on Maori as far and away the sickest sector of the population. Parts of that may yet survive.

In field after field of government service provision, from 2017 Labour pressed ahead building new institutions that could withstand the test of time and withstand future more conservative governments. It was reversing the splitting and metastasising of government entities following the imposition of New Public Management into pure policy agencies and corporatised delivery agencies, in turn bringing back a measure of direct Ministerial democratic accountability.

After all, large and lumpy public service institutions had served New Zealand well in its high modernist form between the 1930s and 1980s, from housing to education to transport to telecommunications to rail to airlines. Why wouldn’t institutional reaggregation work again?

But what we missed was the high liberal turn from within. From the late 1990s inside each of those dozens and dozens of smaller entities both public and para-public (ie service provision trusts), specific internal cultures formed that were exceedingly righteous in the defence of their existence; each generated policy efforts more liberal than the other, each encouraging enclaves of liberal practice from nouns to language programmes, gender equality promotion to bicycling. That’s a quarter of a century of cultural formation within Wellington and its branches in Auckland and the regions. Public sector liberal culture was in many senses stronger than any change of government (perhaps until this one).

Instead of new institutions having a powerful policy effect upon New Zealand, the core poor policy outcomes remain and in most cases got worse in housing, education, transport, rail, health, justice, defence, wealth and economic innovation, poverty alleviation, climate change resilience, ecological degradation, and many others.

There doesn’t yet appear to be an alternative to institutional strengthening as a champion of liberal change. That’s a conceptual challenge for a future generation.

What we now see with the 2023 National coalition is a hard lesson: amalgamated institutions are not a protection against a committed small state movement.

Some institutions that have had enough time to make a difference to market dominance just haven’t done the job. Kiwibank remains tiny. NZ Superfund is still many years away from making its contribution and even then will be minor. Kiwirail is shrinking and poorly suited to a low-carbon economy as it continues to haul coal and milk powder.  Kainga Ora has essentially outsourced most of the poor to social agency partners, but over-reached as a large scale housing developer. The amalgamated defence force isn’t able to help properly even in a major local crisis. Neither ACC nor NZTA have brought the road toll down anywhere near enough. And so on.

The public media code for institutional failure is “woke”. It really doesn’t matter if they have little to do with each other. It’s impossible, as with the rise of Trumpism, to draw a causal line between long term institutional failure and finishing your email with she/they. It’s a meme posing as a portal.

Nor is there a perfect epochal alignment between peak liberal in New Zealand and peak liberal in the United States or United Kingdom. Our activist peak in the late 1980s was waaay later than their activist peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Arguably the liberal peak in the United States was between the fall of Yeltsin and 9/11. Our liberal peak was most certainly Jacinda Ardern.

As the new government burns down the institutional improvements of the Labour-Green government, it remains for those who wish to activate to join together. Particularly since no opposition party is attempting it: it’s up to us. We don’t have to wait for new theoretical groundwork to arise beyond this paradigm of public institutional failure.

In the meantime we look back over the smoking ash at Jacinda Ardern as the one champion who brought us through our greatest modern crisis, was our greatest liberal idealist and most appreciated international leader we’ve had in multiple decades, and but wonder at our once shimmering liberal peak.

69 comments on “Peak NZ Liberal ”

  1. Blazer 1

    Not sure the label as 'our greatest liberal idealist' translated into any meaningful…reform.

    She is definitely popular on the international circuit.

    Quitting ,using Key's excuse='nothing in the tank'….was very disappointing.

  2. Ad 2

    Hmmm the title was supposed to read:

    Peak NZ Liberal.

    Not sure what happened there.

  3. Robert Guyton 3

    "amalgamated institutions are not a protection against a committed small state movement."

    So we on the Left must lose in the long run.

    You say, "it's up to us" and "activate to join together"

    Can you expand on that, because it sounds like "amalgamated institutions" and we know how you rate those.

    • Ad 3.1

      It's simple cross-party activism.

      If ACT and National can do it with farmers, so can the left.

      • Robert Guyton 3.1.1

        The Right's grass-roots activists, Groundswell etc. coalesced around one issue; get rid of the Government!

        Could Lefty activists be equally focused?

        I doubt it.

        We're all over the park.

        • Ad 3.1.1.1

          What nonsense. We did one of the largest marches ever seen in 2018.

          And we're still protesting in number.

          • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1.1

            Issue-based, one-off protests, sure, but a prolonged campaign, such as Groundswell undertook in order to oust the Labour Government, is a different matter altogether. Plus, any successful 'toss out the Government" movement needs wealthy backers – how do you propose we secure those?

            • Ad 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Really? Do you think the climate change legislation came out of nowhere?

              The mass protests gave the government both mandate and courage to get the legislation designed, consulted, enacted, and enforced.

              The left is of course a grab-bag of energised sub-groups. But then so is the right. They are about as lumpen as we are.

              • Robert Guyton

                So you're promoting mass protests about … what, exactly?

                Climate change is an existential threat and affects everyone. Poverty, housing, fresh water etc. are lesser issues and don't draw the crowds.

                Inequality, perhaps?

                Doesn't really have that "wolf at the door" feeling to it, the way climate change does.

        • Tricledrown 3.1.1.2

          Trash talk groundswell had the anti vaxx and conspiracy theorists involved with them who are generally green and further left.

          • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.2.1

            Not in Southland, they didn't.

            The drivers of the cooker groups; those who'd already rarked-up the yoga mums and the anti-1080 crew, turned their attention to the farmers and frightened them into believing they were about to lose their land to Agenda 21/30 a.k.a. Jabcinda.

            Fear is a powerful driver, and fear around loss of sovereignty for the freedom-lovers, and for the farmers, loss of private land ownership and choice (no Lefty's gonna tell ME how much fert I can spread!! was the lever used.

            • Cricklewood 3.1.1.2.1.1

              There are issues Robert, I cant speak for Southland but I can for the Taihape back country.

              Multi generational farm just passed from my uncle who is an avid and active Forest and Bird member to his son who is the same. They've retired and replanted vast amounts of the unproductive and steep parts of the farm. Lots of knowledge about the land they work. To plant crops on the rolling flats they need resource consent for the earthwork ploughing etc. Someone comes out to inspect and issues consent with set dates by which they must plow and sow etc on a faem wide basis. The council officers refuse to listen when it comes to the dates and theyre very arbitry. Given the country aspect and soils of different paddocks the work needs to take place in a quite specific order and time period so harvest over the whole farm can be done in one go. This sort of knowledge is disgarded and the reponse has been if you cant plough and sow in this prescribed time window its not a suitable crop. Its actually easier to run beef cattle than to grow crops including experimenting with quinoa.

              Its something I find quite depressing it creates a huge amount of animosty and the vast majority of farmers care a great deal about their land and animals. Far more than the corperate operations that are profliferating.

              • Robert Guyton

                I do get that, Cricklewood – the "dates" issue is not just a Taihape one. I guess it's a matter of working with the consenting agency to make sure their requirements fit the location. I'm surprised the farmer-councillors haven't made it apparent to the compliance people that this needs fixing. It's not a major to adjust, imo.

  4. Pat 4

    Look at your list and ask what may be a common cause?

    The capacity/capability of the state was eroded to the point of extinction by the lack of willingness to tax those with the wherewithal to furnish it.

    That capability/capacity will take decades to rebuild, even assuming the recognition of the cause, and we are unlikely to have the time/space to rectify the legacy.

    A little honesty may go a long way to at least forming some common purpose however.

    • Ad 4.1

      Labour raised taxes and went all-in with debt. Very little of note was produced other than temporary economic mitigation.

      The 2023 election result was terrible and a massive tax increase would only have made it even worse.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        Labour 'changed some' taxation but was ever careful not to change the basic settings.

        Your response indicates how entrenched the decades of misanalysis has become, the purpose of taxation is not (necessarily) to obtain more but to ensure that which is available produces the best result for society as a whole…..it is both a method of incentive and redistribution, but remains governed by the output/abilities of that society.

        We abandoned all semblance of that when the western world adopted the latest liberal paradigm….and we now reap what was sown.

        • Ad 4.1.1.1

          So bold to propose such a reason for taxation.

          Taxation is mainly to raise money for government expenditures. That's it. Government uses that money in its expenditure of its policies, which often have nothing to do with incentive, redistribution, or outputs.

          The reason Labour is going to continue to get such popular criticism through to Budget 2024 is because the revenue and debt it raised did so little to achieve incentive, redistribution, or output.

          There are many more reasons for the existence of taxation.

          • Pat 4.1.1.1.1

            Taxation for revenue has been unnecessary since the advent of fiat money.

            • Ad 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Go right ahead and stop paying your taxes and see what happens.

              Because what happens in actual reality as opposed to the one your head is in, is this:

              First you get a demand, then a fine, then a court issue, then your house is reposessed. Or you go to jail.

              So you'll find that your government will demand that you pay your taxes in the fiat money it issues.

              • Pat

                Of course they will….it is the Governments form of control (understanding that some do not pay the required tax with impunity)….allow wholesale neglect to pay tax and the currency suffers, but not for the reasons you appear to understand.

                The Government can issue currency through the RBNZ at anytime should it so choose…..why do they not?

                • Belladonna

                  The Government can issue currency through the RBNZ at anytime should it so choose…..why do they not?

                  The obvious answer would be Inflation.

                  Governments which arbitrarily print money tend to end up with economies that tank.

                  I'd rather live in NZ than Venezuela.

                  • Pat

                    Ultimately, but even more than inflation the loss of acceptance of the issued currency (a la Argentina)….the worst thing for autonomy of any society is to lose the control (limited though it may be) of its medium of exchange.

                    And that applies both externally and internally….exceedingly difficult to govern without that ability….the only tool left is (essentially) violence.

                    • Pat

                      And as an aside….the acceptance of a medium of exchange requires majority buy in…..another reason why democracy is so important.

                  • Blazer

                    So does Q.E produce inflation?

                    And Venezuela has the biggest oil reserves in the world.They want to control them for their own benefit.Foreign oil coys do not like this.Venezuela is now trying to deal with sanctions.

                    Apparantly the president of Venezuela according to the U.S is someone called Guaido..unelected and has no legitimacy.

                  • Grey Area

                    There is an alternative view: Modern monetary theory.

                    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/201852897/there-s-no-such-thing-as-fair-austerity

                    "Prof Mitchell says it’s perfectly possible for governments to release money into the economy and spend without this being inflationary – so long as the economy is able to absorb the demand created by that fiscal influx.

                    “Any spending in the economy, whether it’s government or non-government, will cause inflation if it outstrips the capacity of the economy to respond in production.

                    “If spending growth is commensurate and proportional with the capacity of economy to produce and uses resources productively there won’t be inflation.”

                    • Belladonna

                      Perhaps you could give a real life example of a country which is actually putting this theory into practice – without wrecking their economy.

                    • Grey Area []

                      Just because no-one has been brave enough to try it (as far as I know) doesn't mean it wouldn't or couldn't work. We are told there is no alternative to current neoliberal economics because it suits those in control for people to believe that.

                    • Grey Area

                      I've only had a quick read but here's a US critique of MMT:

                      https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/4/16/18251646/modern-monetary-theory-new-moment-explained

                      As a side point this caught my eye: "The rise of MMT could allow Democrats to embrace the de facto fiscal policy of Republican presidents, who tend to explode the deficit to finance pet initiatives like tax cuts and defence spending, leaving Democrats to clean up afterward. MMT could be Democrats’ way of saying, “We don’t want to be suckers anymore.”

                      Sounded familiar.

                  • Blazer

                    No one is suggesting Venezuela is a 'poster child'.

                    Does Q.E produce inflation?

                    What effect do U.S(and satellites)sanctions have on an economy,say like Cuba…or Venezuela?

                    • Quite right, Blazer.

                      Cuba and Venezuela have successful economies, but of the wrong sort – the sort that puts people before profits.

                      So the US imposes sanctions, and the two economies in question begin to tank.

                      Then – oh look, socialism never works!

                      Hypocrites!

          • Ghostwhowalks 4.1.1.1.2

            Talking points from Luxon , Willis and Bishop doesnt make them true . Nor does Luxons pre election promise to be the infrastructure PM and cancel the Three Waters and Cook St ferry infrastructure programs….yes I know reading the Herald every day makes their claims seem 'real'

            National raised Gross Debt ( the amount that is paid back) from $20 bill in 2009 to $90 bill in 2017 without a murmur …or much to show for it , except some tax cuts and higher GST.

            many departmental budgets were frozen for a large block of those years , including Police.

  5. DS 5

    Couldn't care less about liberalism.

    Social democracy, or (god forbid) democratic socialism is the reason the New Zealand Labour Party exists.

  6. SPC 6

    In what sense do you use the word liberal?

    Is it international capital on high – world market free trade ?

    Arguably the liberal peak in the United States was between the fall of Yeltsin and 9/11

    Sort of, China into the WTO etc.

    But domestically, there was a GOP dominated Congress – with Gingrich as Speaker, thus term limit welfare and faith based providers and all that entailed prior to 9/11 which then escalated to the next level (as per community policing networks).

    And you also use liberal in reference to progressive wokeness within the public service while it was being placed into subordinated service to a neo-liberal economic and political order (corporatised government greenwashing). And then with an attempt to bring a restoration of a centralised capability.

    Maybe one should separate out progressive liberalism as a partner of neo-liberalism and social democratic government capability.

    After all, this three headed hydra confabulation in power is at war with both. It's tolerance for wokeness gone with the attempt to restore government capability. Using a conservative backlash against pro Maori policy to war against social democratic government.

    That is not a surprise, we are at the crossroads as a culture, inequality is reaching the level at which democracy is being destabilised. The resort to popular fascism precedes the end of democracy. A democracy can survive half the people not owning their own homes, if home ownership is increasing, but not what is going on now. The National Party is all in with landlords so we know they have chosen the prosperity religion cult, and that requires an order of rule over the people.

    PS There has never been a Labour Green government in this country. And the prospect of one working with TPM is one feared by baby boomers raised in an assimilationist pavlova paradise. Our Brexit vote was 2023. The people of the UK now regret their decision.

    • Ad 6.1

      Maybe one should separate out progressive liberalism as a partner of neo-liberalism and social democratic government capability.

      I contemplated a definition of liberal in its form of human and humane as per the UN charters that in turn gave rise to all national human rights charters, and liberal in its economic form as in neo, but preferred readers to have sufficient sense to hold a working difference in their heads between the two without going down a tiring etymological wormhole.

      No, they are not causally or necessarily politically related (unless you want to write that post).

      • SPC 6.1.1

        If you mean peak liberal left, say so. Given social democratic left and progressive liberal, do not have the same meaning. One will find progressive liberals in the political centre and among libertarians.

        The social conservative aspect of the GOP these days and this government, marginalises more than the social democratic left.

        The Democratic Party and Labour have the option of a focus on social democratic advocacy or a defence of classical human rights based democratic liberalism or both.

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    Long blog posts are too often the digital equivalent of analogue days “yesterdays paper” the sausage or fish & chip wrapper…which is perhaps why a number of us here seem to prefer pithier comments.

    ADVANTAGE’s piece basically skates over the prime issue–we live in a class society in a time of climate disaster. Direct action on a class left basis is what is needed. Te Pāti Māori gave a masterclass with their day of action and many more of us need to provided leadership by example.

    • Ad 7.1

      Long blog posts are for people who think with a longer sentence than a bumper sticker.

      Is there still a capacity for "direct action on a class left basis"?

      The strongest direct action we've see recently was the occupation of Parliament grounds. Very happy to see what the left's equivalent would look like.

      It would be something similar to the Howl of a Protest or the 2018 mass marches that engaged about 7% of the entire population. Let's check in another 6 months and see if we have something to put our shoulder towards.

      • SPC 7.1.1

        The legacy of this march, the volume of postal votes in 2020.

        https://time.com/womens-march-2018-photos/

        Global warming.

        The conservation estate and the health of waterways.

        Affordable and available housing.

        MW as a LW and Fair Pay Industry Awards.

        Access to a doctor and a dentist.

        Social justice for the poor, child poverty, those with disability sickness on the ACC dime.

        The UN Declaration of Human Rights said stuff about this.

        Article 25
        Everyone has the right to a decent standard of living, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and social services.

        https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/universal-declaration-of-human-rights/

      • Tiger Mountain 7.1.2

        I appreciate you made some effort to write your post, it just comes across as rather defeatist and accepting of orthodoxy. NZ is a post colonial country with a lot of dark conservatives and reactionaries. As in the USA however, a demographic change is coming and already happening with new chances for organising and challenging capital and finance capital. This goes beyond Parliamentary politics.

        • NZ Labour could be driven by ordinary members not Fraser House, they need to publicly retire Rogernomics and make a grovelling apology to the country, while clearly stating a tax the wealthy programme
        • NZCTU needs to replace Mr Who? (Wagstaff) with a class left fighter, State Sector unions would have been aghast at that prospect, but might wake up when they face thousands of sackings. Affiliates should encourage “wildcat” strikes and industrial action outside the legal realm of Bargaining Process Agreements and all the legalistic rest. The ruling class are attacking us–we should not play by their rules.
        • Greens should drop the dual leadership model and give Ms Swarbrick an open chance for 2026.
        • Community organisation will be the big requirement to keep people together with practical support, and reduce alienation.

  8. Thinker 8

    I think you're looking at the situation from the wrong angle, although it would take a formal survey to really know the answer for sure.

    I don't think it was what the now-previous government had done, necessarily, but what it had not done.

    You've conveniently bundled a lot of stuff into the "wokeness" label, so I'll continue that and say that while some people, maybe a lot of people, objected to that, I don't think it was by any means enough people to create the turnaround we've seen.

    Instead, I think it was that the wokeness wasn't really accompanied by basic improvements to people's lives that made a difference to them. People are a lot happier to see the lives of others improve when their own lives have improved.

    What we had was a covid crisis, that alienated the conspiracy theorists, but most people accepted the need for. Globally, that helped create a downturn in economies, partly as the world paid for "Quantitative Easing" (another word for printing lots of money) and the retail bubble that came from nearly two years of some kind of lockdown.

    The government responded by doing the woke things for (let's call them) minorities. Pushing Te Reo, enhancing rainbow rights and awareness, etc. But, for people who don't connect with any of those minority groups, nothing happened. Nurses, for example, saw the government hit out at them by trying to outlaw a remedy to their pay inequity, just after it had called on them to do what it took to get us through the covid crisis. And, there are probably other examples, or at least people who saw no benefit from Labour's six years in office.

    I think that's why Luxon was able to, with one hand, get support for the idea of "six years of nothing" and, with the other hand, offering things like tax cuts that caught people's attention.

    So, I don't think the left should be shy of reintroducing those woke ideas again. In fact, there will probably be many who saw ‘woke’ change in their own lives, who voted for change and who are starting to wish they hadn't. But, to get elected in 2026, the left needs to offer hope to mainstream voters, like jobs, security, education, health.

    Further, as an earlier article alluded to, the gap between rich and poor is not only getting bigger, but the rich component is shrinking. We used to talk about the top 10%, now it's the top 1% and the botttom 99%. What does that really mean? It means that 99 people out of every 100 feel worse off, or no better off, than before.

    I don't think the right won this election, I think the left lost it. That's not all bad news, because with the right attitude (excuse the semantics) it can win the next one.

    • gsays 8.1

      I agree with most of what you have written.

      One thing I would point out that, I think, a lot of folk gloss over is "What we had was a covid crisis, that alienated the conspiracy theorists, but most people accepted the need for."

      While it did alienate conspiracy theorists, it alienated a whole lot of others too. Middle of the road, vanilla folk who had never questioned the government's decisions let alone got motivated to act. Essentially the message from the state was 'Trust us, we trust pfizer.'

      As you point out, there were several reasons for the election result and ^ this one is bigger than most give credit for.

      • Robert Guyton 8.1.1

        And yet the "cooker" vote was tiny, even when Winston's top-up is added in.

        Liz Gunn's "missing 2 million" is a fiction, a delusion – is she still in hiding, I wonder?

        • gsays 8.1.1.1

          And there you go, demonstrating my point with "..the cooker vote was tiny.."

          • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1.1

            It really was. Tiny. You may be saying that the "…middle of the road, vanilla folk…" abandoned Labour in response to their misgivings about the Covid management, but I think you're dreaming! Perhaps you have some reason for making that claim; if so, I'd like to hear it.

            In any case, who would those vanilla folk vote for instead: National? ACT? Can't see it. If they did, they need their heads read 🙂

            • gsays 8.1.1.1.1.1

              "Perhaps you have some reason for making that claim; if so, I'd like to hear it."

              I didn't vote Labour because of their adherence to this failed neo-liberal way of doing things.

              I didn't vote Labour because they think its OK to pay a benefit to working people (WFF).

              I didn't vote Labour because of a lack of succession plan and a lack of desire to spend some of that political capital, made manifest by the 2020 election result. Must appease the centrist voters.

              I didn't vote Labour because they kept running 'Key level' record migration at the same time as saying they were in it for the renters and in it for the workers. At the mention of renters they have kept the $1.4B taxpayer subsidy to landlords a'la the Accommodation Supplement.

              I didn't vote Labour because of the way Little handled the nurses during their protracted pay round and pay parity settlements.

              There are a couple of other things (feral ill discipline from senior MPs, the 'socialist' MP that didn't have a handle on his share portfolio, then the Captains Call) but the icing on the cake was getting mandated out of a job, then having to get a jab to keep my relationship intact.

              Besides that point, the 'cookers', the 'fruit loops' are us. To quote a recent PM.

              Anyhoo, aroha to you and yours Robert. May yr garden be plentiful.

  9. Pat 9

    "I don't think the right won this election, I think the left lost it. That's not all bad news, because with the right attitude it can win the next one."

    A lot to agree with in that post, but would edit the posted quote to "….because with the right vision (understanding) it can win the next one."

  10. tsmithfield 10

    I think what we are seeing at the moment is the pendulum effect where an extreme swing in one direction is followed by an equally strong swing in the opposite direction. On that basis, I expect the current government to be extremely conservative and for many voters to like it, for awhile, anyway.

    • Blazer 10.1

      So what was this swing to extremely conservative from…extremely???

      • Belladonna 10.1.1

        I'd suggest extremely Ardern.
        The 2020 election result was, in my opinion, a validation of her personal handling of the initial Covid crisis.

        No one (regardless of their ability) could remain at that level of popularity.

  11. Rolling-on-Gravel 11

    We have to organise for an humanistic vision of our society based in a shared economic eco-consciousness and a distribution of resources that is striving towards accessibility in all its senses and equity in an universal manner.

    This in effect, means that we must include all sections of humanity possible for a happier way of doing things and to become part of a society that we can be proud of.

    Against austerity, for humanity.

    Against stinginess, for generousness.

    Against callousness, for warmth.

    We need that at the flaxroots.

    Merry holidays and happy new year! Meri Kirihimete!

    • gsays 11.1

      I tautoko yr comment.

      The key to achieving what you list is coming up with a framing, a motivation for those of us with more to make do with less. A fairer cutting up of the pie.

      This isn't a small ask. I spent the day recently with two self employed middle aged blokes (fishing). One of them was majorly impacted by Gabrielle in Hawkes Bay. 1200mm of water through his house, workshop etc.

      In one breath they were talking about the high rate and amount of taxes they pay (while still waiting for EQC to decide on his future) and in the next, describing how the fuel, bait and fishing gear gets written off as business expenses.

      • Incognito 11.1.1

        Essentially the message from the state was ‘Trust us, we trust pfizer.’

        That’s such a poor mischaracterisation that it could’ve come straight from a conspiracist. It describes it like a simple (and stupid) transaction of ignorant people buying ‘party drugs’ at a large festival without knowing the nature, quantity (dose), and effects (desired & undesired) of the pills or whatever because ‘a friend of a friend’ recommended the supplier. At least put some effort into describing the inter-linked processes (scientific, regulatory, and international) and the very many safeguards that Medsafe and MoH put into place.

        • gsays 11.1.1.1

          "That’s such a poor mischaracterisation that it could’ve come straight from a conspiracist."

          "At least put some effort into describing…"

          I really don't see the need to make the effort so long as "cooker" "fruit loops" etc are part of the local vernacular.

    • Robert Guyton 12.1

      "Where is the initiative on the left? Where do the energised radicals go when the schools get sold and Landcorp broken up? The intellectual cupboard is looking bare."

      The Taxpayers Union and the NZ Initiative are well-resourced (moneyed) outfits.

      • bwaghorn 12.1.1

        I'm guessing but union's and universities are the lefts allies probably why the right does everything it can to destroy them.

        • Robert Guyton 12.1.1.1

          Sure but neither are "initiatives" – purpose-built think-tanks/activators with the demolition of "the other wing" in mind.

    • SPC 12.2

      This is comedy gold

      Currently, the agenda is being set by the extremists, by the Greens, Te Pāti Māori and a cohort of incoherent dilettantes who mistake social-media engagement for policy development.

      The Taxpayer Union and NZ Initiative are the extremists, and what policy development? They simply opposed what Labour government did and want a return to the economics for the few of the 1990's sold with the nostalgia for the (less Maori visibility) culture for the 50's-70's + Asian worker migration (Don Brash 2005 reprise).

      All he meant to say – we have seen off the left wing changes made since 2017 and we do not want Labour returning with anything left wing, certainly not more left wing.

      They want someone influenced by the Alan Gibbs ilk to be part of Labour policy development – thus deliver us a new Douglas to bury the Labour Party once and for all as a vehicle for an alternative to neo-liberalism.

  12. nukefacts 13

    I think you are mistaken. Labeen wasn't by any stretch 'liberal' – just look at their authoritarian approach to the following key issues:

    – supporting the terrible Albert Park protest, complete with punching out a 70 year old woman, then the next day gaslighting the nation saying it was 'all trans love'. For the first time in my life I voted against Labeen precisely because of that protest, and how they choose to spin it in contravention of the facts, plus the following issues:

    – chronic inability to deliver anything e.g. $2 billion wasted on mental health with no outcomes, and focus instead on centralisation of everything including health, polytechnics, 3/5 waters etc, while burning incredible amounts of money and achieving no outcomes

    – truly appalling declines in education standards, and having to watch these enacted at my kids' schools where, once again, actual educational outcomes were actively worked against in favour of teaching marxist bullshit (critical race theory), 'Mauri' pushed in to science (a total unscientific falsehood), and gaslighting parents when they complain about poor teaching

    – un-democratic changes to society by privileging Maori initiatives over everything else e.g. Matauranga Maori in science, pushing a false view of the treaty onto the population (Maori didn't cede sovereignty), pushing every facet of society to become 'treaty partners' e.g. to continue as a licensed real estate practitioner you have to do a course on the treaty

    – forcing massive immigration onto NZ including incredibly poorly skilled and criminal immigrants, just to juice GDP numbers, again, just like Key did in the waning years of his administration

    These are not the actions of a liberal party, quite the opposite.

    • Ad 13.1

      Oh they were plenty liberal, they just weren't particularly effective in some areas.

      Honestly one person getting punched in a protest is the epitome of liberal: illiberal would have been just banning the entire protest, and they were going to get damned either way. Most major protest movements in this country have had massive punch-ups and major injury and usually a few deaths.

      No doubt they wasted a lot of money, but all of the reforms needed time to take effect. Which they ran out of.

      Not quite sure what critical race theory is in New Zealand. But probably I'd just suggest you read Belich on the New Zealand Wars. I bet you know more Western cowboys and indians history from movies than you do our own.

      We really are all Treaty partners. Maori health agencies did my first 2 jabs. It's not a cataclysm to acknowledge Maori are better at some things than the rest.

      Labour restricted immigration for most of a term, and businesses screamed that the settings were reversed. Wages went up to a level they should have been at for a decade. We still haven't reached 4% unemployed so seriously stop complaining.

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