Pushing at an open door

Written By: - Date published: 10:17 pm, November 17th, 2012 - 60 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

Back in the early 90s the first party conference I went to was very nearly my last. Intransigent foes who used the mic to assault each other was my introduction to the Labour party ‘working’ with each other. It wasn’t pleasant. Nor was it particularly productive. Over the years this dropped into the kind of stratified coldwar and eventually into a kind of rigid formal dance. And I viewed the remit floor as being just boring and largely meaningless. All the volunteering that I did was outside it.

Now I’ll confess that amongst my reasons why I decided to go to this party conference on a media pass was that I could avoid splatter if war broke out again. There are two interest groups in the conference. One is the caucus/beltway. The other is an irritated and frustrated membership and affliates who’ve been feeling increasingly less involved with the party. This second group includes many amongst our authors and commentators.

Damn was I ever wrong about the splatter. And there were a couple of obvious ways to see change happen today.

Firstly the remit hall was full. The delegates were flogging chairs from the journos1. There were people I’d last seen at Young Labour’s summer schools as teens turning up after a hiatus as thirty-somethings (I’m getting too old).

Secondly, there was a single card count. A distinguishing feature of Labour conferences is that when they get down to having card counts on remits and amendments then you know that something is being bitterly fought or very tight.

Most votes are done on voice2 or they are done with a show of hands. Usually the yea or nay is clear. But card counts3 can be called for. Usually what it means is that it is quite tight on a count and one of the other side wants to be absolutely sure that it was that actual card votes that carried it.

When you get a succession of card votes then there is some kind of war for the soul of the party. Now that is what I saw in the early 90’s and I was rather expecting it to happen today. After all over the years more and more control in the party had accreted from the party members into caucus. It has steadily become a more and more frustrating issue for party activists to deal with. The caucus is quite naturally inward looking, incestuous, and far far too concerned with seemingly trivial issues that have bugger all to do with running a decent campaign on the ground.

But war didn’t break out today. This is the healthiest that I have ever seen a conference – ever. And I include the congress in 1999 when we knew we were about to hammer the Nat’s out of the Beehive.

The single card vote was on the most sticky and debated point; the trigger percentage of caucus that a leader had to get after an election to not go to a leadership election with members and affiliates. It started out as a mere third when sent out for discussion. It came back as 45% or 50% (voted down almost without stopping), or to go to 60%. This required a card vote to get accepted.

The issue was essentially that after an election that had been lost or even won, 40% of the caucus could trigger a leadership vote amongst the members and affiliates (“the tail wagging the dog”). The alternate view was that if the caucus had 40% of it’s members so disgruntled that they would petition against incumbent then the party should get involved in making the decision about how to fix the problem.

The card vote resulted in 264 for the 60% requirement and 237 against – really close

After that, the pattern was set and the delegates and MP’s settled down to make the maze of amendments workable. It was clear what the delegates wanted and there really wasn’t any point in dogged resistance.

Now this may have some implications in the short and longer terms with leadership. But it is does appears to be pretty clear in principle. If caucus can’t agree who to support as leader, then it will go to the party and the caucus to vote on. You can guarantee that the outcome with the vote weightings of the caucus 40%, the membership 40% and affiliates 20% is not going to be simple. The party won’t reward people that are perceived to be stirring up trouble nor incumbent leaders who let things get to the state that 40% of the caucus petition to have them removed.

I’d expect that any effective party leader will try to make sure that their most effective MP’s are fully and gainfully employed. Which is what the party and affiliates will want as well. And any MP(s) and their supporters wanting to have a shot at leader will have to be effective. These are the things that party members and affliates will look at.

All MP’s apart from the deranged will probably prefer to keep the dispute away from the party vote because they might not like the judgement passed on them. Getting any resolution in a caucus that has less than 40% malcontents is going to be a whole lot safer than whatever the party metes out.

What does this mean for the short term? Up until February nothing much. In February, it wouldn’t surprise me a leadership petition caused the party vote. It wouldn’t surprise me if it did not. But keep your membership up to date especially in the early part of next year. If anything falters in caucus and there is a disaffected rump there, then the party will need to sort the MP’s out. It is something that I’m sure the MP’s really don’t want to see happen. Not to mention that it will interfere with the political buildup for the next election.

Of course I’m pretty sure that the mainstream won’t spin it in quite that way. Mass actions and political feedback systems don’t make for as simplistic and as easily understood a story as the epic personal conflict of two protagonists to fill those endless minutes (or some other Randian rubbish).

Long term, with the other things that Moira and Tim, the NZ Council, and the policy council were starting to put through today, Labour are looking at a improved party to work with at the next election. It isn’t going to have everything done. But it does look more hopeful to me than it did a few days ago.

1. BTW delegates – that is a bad bad thing to do. You’re wanting them to write nice things about Labour and you steal their seat?

2. Or there is some idiot who thinks that a loud shout fools anyone.

3. The card is your name tag and permission to be at the conference, and also has the number of votes you can wield. The latter is a bit like hit points in games. So you will see delegates carrying around cards with nothing (non voting members), the more common “1” (delegate), and a few barbarians from very far far away carrying “4” on a large card that almost hangs to the loincloth……. ummm ok that last bit was a joke in poor taste about the south island delegates in Auckland  😈

60 comments on “Pushing at an open door”

  1. Sounds positive , cheers LP 🙂

    • Dr Terry 1.1

      It could hardly fail to be more positive than it looked a few days ago!! Your enthusiasm is encouraging. Thus far, excellent! Nevertheless, it is not all over yet. I would suggest waiting a bit to see how it all “all shakes down”. But I do not want to be a spoilsport and dampen your spirits. As they say, “So far, so good”!

      • PlanetOrphan 1.1.1

        True Dr Terry, it aint over until etc, but it sounds like the spirit of the people @ the conference is harmonious and the public really needed too see that. 🙂

  2. Fisiani 2

    17/11/12 The day the suicide pill was swallowed. New Zealand will never elect a Socialist party. It was an open door ,,,, to oblivion. My commiserations.

    • Jim Nald - Once Was National 2.1

      No need to post your diary entries here.

      But if you are implicitly asking for help, you can post your address or phone details, and an ambulance can be called out.

      Trust you will recover from the eventful day of 17/11/12.

    • dancerwaitakere 2.2

      I really do not understand what deluded world you are living in.

    • gobsmacked 2.3

      Fisiani has spent the whole evening on “dump and distract” duty. Poor thing.

      It’s incapable of entering a debate, it’s just feeling very alarmed at the prospect for the Nacts now. And probably envious too. What kind of active involvement could Fisi ever have in the John Key Fan Club, except the obligatory sycophantic laughter at the embarrassing jokes?

    • Draco T Bastard 2.4

      And the reason why National had to pretend to be Labour in 2008 and why John Banks said that if he told people his policies he would never get voted in?

      I’ll give you a hint: It’s because the majority of people don’t actually like right-wing policies.

    • fustercluck 2.5

      Hey Fisiani,

      We have a Socialist government in office…but the society it serves is the economic elite and the principles it follows is socializing risk and privatizing profit.

      A Socialist government that serves the other 99% of society is a mathematical certainty, especially if a party can demonstrate a capacity to practice meaningful democracy which is exactly what happened at the conference.

      Take your TINA attitude and go back to wallowing at the country club!

    • starlight 2.6

      Fisani,I can feel your tears from here, cry me a river fisi, are you feeling the power leaving
      the right wing in politics ?

    • KJT 2.7

      “New Zealanders are socialists at heart”. John Key.

      • rosy 2.7.1

        “New Zealanders are socialists at heart”. John Key.

        I don’t think he liked that we are/were… and he’s spent the last 10 years trying to change that. With the Labour party compromisers on neo-liberalism unwittingly aiding the process.

    • Poor Fisiani will never win the Labour leadership now ….

  3. Very perceptive Lprent and by far the most sophisticated and accurate description of what happened today. 

  4. gobsmacked 4

    Thanks for your work today LP – and to all the others who provided a running commentary. Great insights into the procedings as they unfolded.

    There’s been nothing like it in the MSM. No surprise there. (Still, bloggers eh? Paging Gavin Ellis …)

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      The MSM are still trying to spin it like there was a coup on. The poor deluded souls that they are have to get their jollies from inventing stuff that didn’t happen.

  5. prism 5

    Hey something really positive to counteract against the Israeli-Palestine travesty running again.

    • lprent 5.1

      I saw comments about that. But this opening of the party is something I have waited decades to see happen.

      So callously, tell me if they go nuclear.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    If caucus can’t agree who to support ass leader

    Not sure what you are trying to imply here 😛

  7. fabregas4 7

    So will all members get a vote if circumstances work that way? Is this a reason to finally sign up for the party?

    • lprent 7.1

      Yes. Requires caucus to not be working effectively to go to a party vote.

      By the sound of what Tim Barnett was saying, it will be a postal ballot to members, and I’d guess that affiliates will do the same. Weighting of the votes is 40% to members, 20% to affiliates, and 40% to caucus.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Put another way, in this system each Labour MP’s vote is worth several hundred times more than the vote of an ordinary member.

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          Yes. But think it through. The “Leader” is actually the leader of the parliamentary caucus. Their primary role is to lead the caucus in parliament, just as the party president leads the NZ council and the members. Caucus needs to be confident in the skills of their leader and they are the best judge of that – so they get the most weight in the decision.

          The party is there when caucus get themselves in a knot or a new leader is required by caucus.

  8. irascible 8

    Thanks LPrent your anaylsis concurs with the impressions and understanding of the conference I an attending. It was obvious that the reporters had written their stories before the remits were presented. The news reports were a mash up of clips taken at different times and at different points in the remits debate to give the impression of conspiratorial discussions taking place.
    I agree with your interpretation of the post election processes that the reforms would create.

  9. LynW 9

    Sounds very encouraging Lynn, especially knowing you are speaking from experience and an historical perspective. It is a relief to hear hope and a positive message in your summary of events. 🙂

    • lprent 9.1

      Well I was damn surprised.

      Between work, moving, running this space, and just a certain level of reprioritisation post heart attack I haven’t kept a good eye on what has been happening with the review. Not to mention that I am usually far more into ‘do’ than remits. It is pretty clear that the delegates are liking this.

      What has been put up in front of conference has been workable or been made to work. For instance a remit saying that women should be 50% of the officers of the LEC was not because there are only 3 required officers – chair, secretary, and treasurer. But an explicit clause allowing the formation of executive committees, which every LEC I have been involved in has had for years anyway, makes that easy.

      Definitely the most can-do conference I have seen. They even got though most of the substantive remit in the book.

      • karol 9.1.1

        I am pleased to see the attention to the gender issues ( I blogged on it just before the conference started because I see it as important).  

        There was a speech – I think from Judy McGregor? – on the gendering of politics.  Do you know if the speech will be put online?

        • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1

          Do you know if the speech will be put online?

          Here

          • karol 9.1.1.1.1

            Thanks, DTB.  I watched the vid, and like a lot of it, and I am really glad Labour is addressing this issue.

            With my poor Internet connection at the moment, I couldn’t understand everything McGregor said.  I will probably blog on it later in the week when the dust settles around some of the other issues raised by the conference.

            My main criticisms are similar to ones I made a little while ago on the policy remits thread:  what about low income women, and the bennie-bashing that is strongly targeted at women, especially single mothers? The gender policies targeted by J McG are  1) amount of women Labour MPs 2) the gender pay gap.  These are very important, but it’s still looking quite middle-class in focus.

            Also, I wonder about some of the things McGregor said about contemporary communications: did she really say “bilious blogging” @2.67 mins, or did I not hear it correctly? 

            • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1.1.1

              You heard right.

              • karol

                Thanks, CV.  Sheesh. And it got a cheer, too.  Or were they thinking of the sites Lynn mentions below?

                Well, I will put together a post on the gender speech and remit – in a couple of days when (hopefully) the wider party issues have calmed down.  The communications aspect will be part of it.

            • lprent 9.1.1.1.1.2

              Think whaleoil or trademe forums or even the sewer when gender hits politics.

              But it has actually been improving throughout the local blogosphere over the last 5 years.

  10. karol 10

    Lynn: Of course I’m pretty sure that the mainstream won’t spin it in quite that way. Mass actions and political feedback systems don’t make for as simplistic and as easily understood a story as the epic personal conflict of two protagonists to fill those endless minutes (or some other Randian rubbish).

      Exactly.  None of the reports I’ve seen give as in-depth a report on yesterday’s proceedings and implications as Lynn above.

    And like a dog with a bone, they are all continuing to follow their epic tale of conflict between Cunliffe and Shearer, with many proclaiming Key the winner of no matter who is leader of Labour next year.  It was the immediate response of TV one and TV3’s 6pm news last night.

    And this morning’s papers merely elaborate on that theme.In their 2-dimensional Hollywood version of the conference, most tend to take the side  of Team Shearer and smear both the party members and Cunliffe.

    Even Matt McCarten takes this view.  He starts off arguing against the current perception that political leaders should have:

    speechifying eloquence of David Lange or the intimate television connection of Prime Minister John Key.

    He also says (quite wrongly) that the contest between Cunliffe and Shearer is not about political differences, but media performance. He argues that Shearer may not be good at either of those but he’s got relevant experience from his time at the UN.   Then, contradicting himself, McCarten attacks Cunliffe for being too obvious in his media management: i.e. not so good at it, but for different reasons than Shearer – Cunliffe pretends to be for the blue collar classes, but is really very middleclass.

    The other main Stuff and NZ Herald columnists,  don’t seem to have Lynn’s long and up-close experience of the Labour party.  They proclaim yesterday’s conflicts to be as bad as the 1990s. 

    Vernon Small:

    after an impassioned debate that exposed a bitterly divided party. It was the most extraordinary internecine political warfare since Rogernomics split the party in the 1980s, all played out on the conference floor.

    In general the left, the unions and the north – let’s call it the Cunliffe camp – heavily backed the 40 per cent trigger with Wellington, the right and most MPs backing a simple majority that would have given embattled Shearer much greater protection.

    He proclaims it as all good news for John Key. Small fails to understand the significance for the party members, who he denigrates:

    Because in the end this was not just about a new constitution to make the party more open and democratic. It was also about the Cunliffe camp’s revenge for being ignored after last year’s primary race when the caucus installed Shearer as leader.

    And Shearer’s backers senior party members tried to be more mature:

    Senior MPs Trevor Mallard and David Parker tried to steer them that way but they were simply not listening.

    More along the same lines from Armstrong:

    Delegates were so blinded and so intoxicated by the prospect of securing a say in the election of future leaders that they did not think through the consequences and have ended up undermining the current one – quite possibly fatally.

    And similar stuff, though a little less obviously slanted, from Claire Trevett. Interesting though, they she exposes the fact that a line being pushed by Armstrong and Small, actually came from Team Shearer: i.e. that Shearer’s best response would be to push for a leadership vote now, secure his position.

    That puts Shearer’s leadership on much more precarious ground, and last night sources indicated the leader could move to bring matters to a head by forcing a vote, rather than letting it fester over summer.

    Trevett also started compiling a list of MPs for each of the two (presumed) contenders in a leadership contest.

    • lprent 10.1

      I presume that they mean a caucus vote.

      It’d take at least a month for the NZ council and the head office to set up everything for a postal ballot to members. Remember they haven’t done anything like it before. Probably more like two months. But if it were a month then members will get them just before Xmas when they are a whole lot less likely to be home. It is one way of getting grumpy members I would guess.

      Not to mention the affiliates have to set up their own procedures.

      I suppose that an early caucus vote would work. But the party vote will be about feb at the earliest. Delivered with the membership renewal reminders in Jan would probably be an excellent incentive

  11. KhandallaMan 11

    The Labour members did what what their branches and LECs told them to do yesterday: they took the party back from the Caucus.  
    The Caucus should now get “on story” with the membership and stop patronising them. 
    To win the next election the Caucus needs to change its attitude: if they think yesterday was an aberration they will only perpetuate their woes.
    If they acknowledge that NZ Labour is now the most democratic and open in NZ and fully embrace that; we will have created a fantastic new mass party. 
    Roll on change.

     

  12. geoff 12

    What the hell is Andrew Little doing??? He’s going to fuck off a lot of people if he keeps this up.

    • Benghazi 12.1

      Doing deals with Mallard/King is what he’s been doing. He will have been promised a safe seat somewhere….

      I’m hoping his common sense will come to the fore. It should have been a shock to him yesterday to see that he could not deliver King/Mallard the affiliate vote. Neither could Tollich and neither could Helen Kelly. Now what have they promised Kelly??

  13. marsman 13

    Thank you LPrent. Breathing easier with hope in the air.

  14. just saying 14

    Has anyone asked Grant Robertson whether he will rule out a future leadership challenge?

    I was impressed by his speech, and it came across to me as being his own opening gambit in the contest. He laid ‘great and glorious’ Shearer loyalty stuff on with a trowel, but with much greater finesse than Cunliffe has been able to muster. I find Robertson much more likable than Cunliffe, and felt that he skilfully reached out to the left, particularly the much maligned online-left, in some carefully chosen phrases.

    But for me, his actions as a right-wing management man belie much of the content of that speech.

    The fact that at least one member of the leadership team can write a terrific speech, yet Shearer is scripted mangled cliches padded out with meanngless twaddle so dull it would bore a battery hen, proves there is some degree of sabotage going on within the ABC cabal.

    I wonder if the possibility that Shearer’s unpopularity amongst the flaxroots of the party, and the left in general, might bear any relationship to his politics, will ever be mentioned in the mainstream media. Or the fact that the only people he demonstrates real passion and committment to stand up to, to sneer contemptuously at, and to rule completely beyond the pale, is us.

    • KhandallaMan 14.1

      +1 j s 
      Robertson should be asked many many questions. 

      Cunliffe is not the cause of the current concerns.  Roberson n’mates set the scene for these tensions.  They were so ffffing clever in how they took control of the Wellington levers of power: yesterday was about the membership sticking it to that type of minset and behaviour. 

      All is changed.  

      • Bill 14.1.1

        I’m not so sure that “all is changed”. That 60/40 split in caucus is still far too high in my opinion. It allows the gaming and politiking within caucus to proceed more or less as before. Y’know, buy one or two people off with promises of positions within caucus and the 60% +1 position is secured – though probably not that stable.

        By the time you get to a position where 40% of caucus are disgruntled, I think it’s reasonable to argue that the horse has already bolted. A 20% theshhold would have been far, far more sensible. A 20% threshhold would have more or less killed off any ability to ‘game’ sections of caucus and would have alerted the wider party to problems – or allowed the wider party to stamp its authority and get things sorted – before they had a chance to fester.

    • Dr Terry 14.2

      I hope this is not all about who is most “likeable”. It should be about who is best prepared and able to take on leadership. Will we ever get away from “personality politics”?

      • just saying 14.2.1

        That really was “just saying” Dr Terry. I’m happy for someone unappealing to me to lead. If they move the party back to being Labour they have my support. I like loads of people I wouldn’t want near the reins of power.

  15. Bill 15

    Question no. 1. Who sent Patrick Gower of TV3 to go ‘dog’ David Cunliffe? The story of the Labour Conference was all around him – the Labour Party was democratising somewhat. Now, I know that leads to some possible permutations in February. But in the case of wanting to explore that angle, wouldn’t the obvious approach to have been to ask Shearer if he felt comfortable about the prospect of securing 60% +1 of caucus? And then leave it at that? The constant barraging of Cunliffe on TV3 news and the twisting of his refusal to enter into leadership questions on the grounds the conference had been about constitutional or structural matters was absolute bullshit. I believe he again said the leader had his support, but that was absolutely ignored in the news report’s ‘analysis’.

    Question no. 2. What the hell is going on with Andrew Little? I quietly ignored his ‘blogs don’t have a say’ comment on the grounds he had been somewhat ambushed with the question and gave him the benefit of the doubt on the grounds he might not have quite engaged his brain before speaking. But to argue against a democratisation of the party on the grounds it would lead to instability was and is a very fcked up position to adopt in my opinion. And so I wonder, has he been offered some promotion/position by the ABCer’s?

    Question no. 3. Can we expect a smattering of promotions to the benches of mp’s who formally didn’t vote for Shearer in an attempt to garner 60% +1 support before Feb? And would such promotions signal an attempt to overcome differences within caucus or be a cynical ploy to work caucus in Robertson’s favour while mollifying sections of the membership?

    • geoff 15.1

      Good post.

    • Benghazi 15.2

      Excellent post Bill. All I can say is that Gower is a gutter journalist – very low and just not that bright. But he’s in great company this week after Fran O’Sullivan’s lightweight nonsense and John Armstrong having a go at Cunliffe for a toothpaste smile. Come on, don’t New Zealanders deserve some better journalism than that!

      As for Little, he’s sold himself for a safe seat offered by Annette King. My guess is he wanted hers after she announces for the Wellington mayoralty. Unfortunately, its already been promised to Helen Kelly. So another safe seat elsewhere will have been offered to Little. Seats presently held by Dyson and Ross Robertsons are ripe for the plucking as no one wants to see those two sticking around after 2014. Unions you need to watch Little and Kelly and make them understand who they need to connect with and honour!

    • prism 15.3

      Bill
      “Question no. 3. Can we expect a smattering of promotions to the benches of mp’s who formally didn’t vote for Shearer…
      Did you mean formerly?

  16. pete 16

    So, The Standard has been about the Cunliffe/Shearer leadership question all week.

    But now it’s….

    “simplistic and as easily understood a story as the epic personal conflict of two protagonists to fill those endless minutes “

  17. AmaKiwi 17

    My scorecard for the conference:

    Moira Coatsworth +10
    Cunliffe + 5
    Shearer/Robertson 0
    ABC conspirators -10

    Moira managed to reunite a very angry party. It is a HUGE accomplishment. Without ever mentioning names, she allowed infuriated members to smash the ABC conspirators to the ground with speeches which allowed them to vent their fury but in the direction of constitutional changes rather than personal attacks.

    If Cunliffe quit politics tomorrow it would not change two things:

    1. Labour MP’s have been put on notice: “If the MP’s ignore the members again they will destroy the party.”
    2. Shearer and Robertson are still pathetic leaders. Labour needs more experienced hands to take on National.

    Prior to the conference I had been very critical of Moira’s “halfway measures” toward democratization. I hope she will accept my apologies. She displayed superb strategic and tactical skills. She pulled the party out of a deep dark shit hole.

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      And don’t forget the new Gen Sec, Tim Barnett. Labour is damn lucky to have him onboard.

      There were some real masterstrokes for Conference running smoothly which he was involved with. eg. having the constitutional debates in open session. Having media right there in the room reporting on speeches and voting in real time was awesome. It forced MPs and delegates to think through what they were going to say and how they were going to say it.

      Gutsy, risky call but it worked beautifully. Frakin genius.

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    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    4 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    5 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    5 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    5 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    6 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    7 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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