web analytics

Signposts and weathercocks

Written By: - Date published: 12:09 pm, July 19th, 2015 - 18 comments
Categories: crosby textor, Politics, uk politics - Tags:

In her celebrated maiden speech Mhairi Black talked about Tony Benn and the inspiration that he provided her.  Benn was a true left winger who stuck to his beliefs.  He was described as one of the few United Kingdom politicians to have become more left-wing after holding ministerial office.

She referred to his famous dicta where he talked about politicians being either weathercocks or signposts.  Weathercocks changed with the prevailing wind of public opinion whereas signposts stood firm and pointed in the direction they thought our society should move in.  She expressed a clear preference for politicians who are signposts.

Her party has created quite a stir in English politics.  The inspiration provided by the SNP has led to the formation of branches throughout England.  Of course in a first past the post system this will only help the tories but you can understand the motivation and the exasperation of former Labour supporters when UK Labour has decided not to vote against the Conservative’s planned welfare cuts.

To Benn’s comment there could be added a third class of politicians, those that appear to be signposts when in fact they are weathercocks.

Recent examples from the United Kingdom and locally show how adept the Conservatives and National are at appearing to make a stand on policies that progressives support.  You get the strong impression that this is not a road to Damascus type conversion to socialism but rather a cynically targeted political tactic.  But you have to admire its apparent effectiveness.  Crosby Textor are obviously earning their fees in both countries.

A UK example is that the Conservative Government has decided to introduce a living wage.  The announcement was made at the same time that benefits were frozen but went further than what Labour had promised during the election.  The proposal will be gradually introduced and the net savings will allow a surplus to be declared in election year (where have we heard this before) but the assimilation of the language of the left is unmistakable.

We saw a similar thing happen in New Zealand with the announcement of a $25 dollar a week increase for beneficiary families with young children.  Suddenly the right can claim to be as caring as the left.  The left being too timid to do something effective about poverty means that the right can cynically out position them and claim the moral high ground.  And the media gleefully accept this framing even though the reality is that this increase is inferior to what Labour had proposed.

The problem with Labour Parties trying to inhabit the centre and refusing to fulfil their historical mandate to provide more radical solutions is that they will be easily out positioned by their conservative opponents.  And they do not have the resources to focus group the ideal position and will lose calibration competitions most of the time.  If you get the feeling that John Key is able to stare deep into New Zealand’s psyche it is because he does through the extensive use of polling and focus groups.

Labour politicians are better off being signposts.  Historically it has been the trade unions and members and activists who have meant that Labour has been able to defeat its opponents even with their far superior financial resources.  This is not going to change any time in the foreseeable future.  And they are invigorated by signposts, not weathercocks

18 comments on “Signposts and weathercocks ”

  1. BM 1

    This true left winger stuff , true mandate stuff is horse shit.

    You should be trying to run a country not a church.

    Socialist parties need to be more flexible in the modern age, not rigid and unwavering, that’s the type of thinking that gets every one slaughtered.

    • weka 1.1

      more flexible, like a weathercock perhaps?

      Interesting use of the slaughtered rhetoric given that climate change won’t give a shit about the degree to which one follows the wind. It’s not the weather on the ground that’s going to kill us.

    • Chris 1.2

      “This true left winger stuff , true mandate stuff is horse shit.”

      I think you’re getting confused. How flexible are you saying a party or government should be? So flexible that it becomes unrecognisable from its opposition? For example, Black says food banks aren’t part of our social welfare system but a symbol of its failure. In NZ food banks are accepted by government as a legitimate means for the poor to feed their kids. Social security policy is currently built around the existence of private charity. This began in the 1990s and was entrenched by Labour in the 2000s. Labour has become so “flexible” that it’s adopted the same right-wing thinking it vehemently opposed as recently as the 1990s. Is that “flexible”, or a sell out? Black’s talking about basic core values, whereas you’re using “flexible” to include abandoning core values.

      • BM 1.2.1

        What ever works, that’s my motto.

        • Stuart Munro 1.2.1.1

          So why pretend to theoretical positions, like an objection to socialism?

          I like things that work too.

          Things unlike $101 billion in debt failed governments like this one.

          Bill English needs to get with this century and dump his ‘Chicago boy’ cultist mates. They never did anything for Chile, where most of them went to prison. Where they belong.

          • BM 1.2.1.1.1

            There’s some parts of socialism I like, there’s some parts of capitalism I like.

            If I was forced to pick one system though, I’d prefer capitalism, socialism is a bit too rigid and churchy for me.

            • Chris 1.2.1.1.1.1

              The two aren’t mutually exclusive. And you can dispense with the churchy bits of both, especially capitalism’s, which is the churchiest of them all.

          • Chris 1.2.1.1.2

            The Chicago boy cultists have dumped themselves. But of course that means nothing to inferiority complexed New Zealand.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    The Tory ‘living wage’ has some strange conditions:

    “….Tories as the party of working people by declaring that the living wage will be introduced from next April at a rate of £7.20 an hour for people over the age of 25.”
    They have just rebranded the minimum wag as a ‘living wage’ when its no such thing

    Its unbelievable, over 25 is the new step from youth to adult. In reality there would be hardly anyone over 25 that would get any significant increase. AS its obvious its designed to work that way.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      I agree.

      This is a PR marketing proposal rather than something designed to properly address a problem. It gives them the ability they can claim they are doing something and shows up Labour.

    • Olwyn 2.2

      With both this and NZ’s rise in benefits next year, the PR target is the wavering middle class, not the recipients of what is meant to look like largesse. In both cases, a lot of what is given, if not all of it, will be whittled away by the loss of government income supports, like the housing supplement, etc. Moreover, it allows them to effectively say, “We are at liberty to do these things because we are prudent managers and the market likes us…unlike Labour, who can’t be trusted so must answer for every cent.”

  3. Ad 3

    If you like Tony Benn, go to the source through his sensatinal biographical film “Will and Testament”.

    This film, like Loach’s “The Spirit of ’45”, paints a canvas of the great nation-building era after World War 2. But this time it’s personal to one great and powerful Minister. It’s The West Wing for Socialists, but in real life.

    You have everything to fear of National taking more of Labour’s policy ideas, and implementing just enough of them to cauterise any new oppositional muscle. By October it will happen in The Auckland real estate market, because Smith will I believe amend the RMA to specifically ensure that the Unitary Plan has even less right of appeal than now, and no ability for Council to hold it up. They want it passed by the local elections next year.

    When Key knows they are vulnerable, he always counter-strikes.

    It’s the Opposition’s job to come up with new campaigns, particular.y where the Government is doing nothing either legislatively or in policy. Labour is the sufficient policy shop for National.

  4. Olwyn 4

    I think the big question is how many signposts pointing left will be chopped down before enough remain standing to make a difference. The British LP looks to be following a pattern much like the one we have followed over the past few years. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/jeremy-corbyn-labour-mps-are-plotting-a-coup-against-the-potential-leader-if-he-is-elected-10399272.html People are fed up with lukewarm leftist parties, while huge efforts are being put into thwarting alternative models – the SNP has done extraordinarily well to get as far as it has under the circumstances. I am confident that the fight back has begun, but I am not sure how long it will take for it to make a significant dent. The British Labour MPs who are plotting the overthrow of Corbyn are setting themselves up to be nothing more than understudies, to be brought on stage in the event of a mad or disastrously incompetent Tory.

    • The Other Mike 4.1

      Agreed. Look at the traction Bernie Sanders is gaining in the US with his “socialist” policies.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      That is an interesting article and shows how removed some MPs are from the activists. Fancy planning to sabotage the democratic choice of the party.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    And they do not have the resources to focus group the ideal position and will lose calibration competitions most of the time.

    And that’s, IMO, partially due to traditional Labour Parties becoming centrist as well. They went to the corporate funding model and dropped the mass party model. A mass party has a huge financial source in it’s membership whereas a corporate funded party has only what the corporations are willing to give and that’s just not enough to fund a labour party as business will always fund the right-wing more.

  6. Alister Barry 6

    I also noticed that the Conservative Party in the UK was about to start claiming it represented “working people”, or perhaps they will use the word “workers”. This will particularly be used when making a distinction between “workers” and those on social welfare. Nice move Crosby Textor.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    The other strength of a mass party is that it gives more feedback. Labour wouldn’t need to poll as much if it practised more direct democracy.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • New visitor attraction to boost tourism
    The opening of the first major new tourism attraction since the global outbreak of COVID-19 closed borders to international travellers will provide a welcome boost to visitor numbers in our largest city, says Tourism Minister Stuart Nash. Mr Nash has this afternoon taken part in the official opening ceremony of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Govt moves on drug checking to keep young New Zealanders safer this summer
    The Government will pass time limited legislation to give legal certainty to drug checking services, so they can carry out their work to keep New Zealanders safer this summer at festivals without fear of prosecution, Health Minister Andrew Little says. Next year the Government will develop and consult on regulations ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Public Service Commissioner reappointed
    Minister for the Public Service Chris Hipkins announced today that Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes CNZM has been reappointed for three years. The Public Service Commissioner is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. “Mr Hughes’ reappointment reflects the need for strong leadership and continuity to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Pōwhiri marks the start of a critical year for APEC
    New Zealand kicked off its APEC host year today, with a pōwhiri taking place on Wellington’s waterfront with local iwi Te Atiawa, and a number of Government ministers welcoming representatives from the other 20 APEC economies. “APEC is a hugely important international event, and New Zealand is hosting amidst the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Speech at APEC 21 Opening Pōwhiri
    9am, Tuesday 1 DecemberTe Whare Waka o Pōneke, Wellington Central He Mihi Kei aku rangatira no ngātapito e whā o te ao huri noa, tātou e huihui mai nei. Tēnā rā kōutou katoa. He tangiapakura ki ngā tini aituā kei waenganui i a tātou, ka tangi tonu te ngākau ki ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Government extends business debt relief to October 2021
    To assist with the ongoing economic recovery from COVID-19, rules allowing affected businesses to put their debt on hold have been extended by 10 months. “New Zealand’s economy is recovering better than we expected, but the impacts of the pandemic are far-reaching and some businesses need continued support to keep ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Bill introduced to support workers with 10 days sick leave
    The Government is delivering on a key commitment by introducing a Bill to Parliament to expand sick leave entitlements from five days to ten days a year, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. “COVID-19 has shown how important it is to stay at home when people are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Progress on pay equity for DHB staff
    Today’s initial agreement between DHBs and the PSA on pay equity for clerical and administration staff is an important step toward better, fairer pay for this crucial and largely female workforce, Health Minister Andrew Little says. If ratified, the agreement between the Public Service Association and the country’s 20 District ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Iconic Milford Track officially reopens
    One of New Zealand’s premier hikes and a cornerstone of the Te Anau community, the Milford Track has officially reopened, “From today, hikers booked on the popular Great Walk will be able to complete the walk end-to-end for the first time since early February,” Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Support for farmers beefed up ahead of La Niña
    Further funding for feed support services and new animal welfare coordinators will help farmers who continue to feel the effects of an extended drought, says Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor. “In March this year, I classified the drought in the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chathams ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Next steps for Christchurch Hospital campus redevelopment
    Canterbury DHB will be better placed to respond to future demand for services and continue to deliver high quality care, with the next stage of the campus redevelopment programme confirmed, Health Minister Andrew Little says. The Government has approved $154 million in funding for the construction of a third tower ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Five Power Defence Arrangements Defence Ministers’ Joint Statement
    The Defence Ministers from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and United Kingdom reaffirmed their nations’ continued commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), and commended the achievements over the past 49 years as the FPDA moves towards its 50th Anniversary in 2021.  The Ministers recognised the FPDA’s significant role ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding protects health of Hawke’s Bay waterways
    A joint Government and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council project will invest $4.2 million to protect local waterways, enhance biodiversity and employ local people, Environment Minister David Parker announced today.   Over two years, the Hāpara Takatū Jobs for Nature project will fence 195km of private land to exclude stock from vulnerable ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Year border exception for seasonal workers in the horticulture and wine industries
    2000 additional RSE workers to enter New Zealand early next year employers must pay these workers at least $22.10 an hour employers will cover costs of managed isolation for the RSE workers RSE workers will be paid the equivalent of 30 hours work a week while in isolation From January ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government increases support for New Zealanders to work in seasonal jobs
    The Government is offering further financial support for unemployed New Zealanders to take on seasonal work. These new incentives include: Up to $200 per week for accommodation costs $1000 incentive payment for workers who complete jobs of six weeks or longer increasing wet weather payments when people can’t work to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government receives Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mos...
    Minister for Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti has today received the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques, and will table it in Parliament on Tuesday December 8. “I know this will have been a challenging process for whānau, survivors and witnesses of the terrorist attack ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand Government to declare a climate emergency
    The Government will declare a climate emergency next week, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said today.                                       “We are in the midst of a climate crisis that will impact on nearly every ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Call for urgent action on Pacific conservation
    A declaration on the urgency of the global biodiversity crisis and the need for immediate, transformative action in the Pacific was agreed at a pan-Pacific conference today. The 10th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas is taking place this week across the Pacific.  Minister of Conservation Kiritapu ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Speech from the throne
    E aku hoa i te ara o te whai, Kia kotahi tā tātou takahi i te kō, ko tōku whiwhi kei tō koutou tautoko mai. Ko tāku ki a koutou, hei whakapiki manawa mōku. He horomata rangatira te mahi, e rite ai te whiwhinga a te ringatuku, me te ringakape ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Keynote address to Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand conference
    Speech to the CAANZ conference - November 19, 2020 Thank you, Greg, (Greg Haddon, MC) for the welcome. I’d like to acknowledge John Cuthbertson from CAANZ, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue Naomi Ferguson, former fellow MP and former Minister of Revenue, Peter Dunne, other guest speakers and CAANZ members. I ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Expert independent advisory group appointed to strengthen the future of Māori broadcasting
    A panel of seven experts are adding their support to help shape the future of Māori broadcasting, Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson has announced today. “Today I will meet with some of the most experienced Māori broadcasters, commentators and practitioners in the field. They have practical insights on the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government to review housing settings
    New Zealand’s stronger-than-expected economic performance has flowed through to housing demand, so the Government will review housing settings to improve access to the market, the Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “Our focus is on improving access to the housing market for first home buyers and ensuring house price growth ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Crown accounts reflect Govt’s careful economic management
    The better-than-expected Crown accounts released today show the Government’s careful management of the COVID-19 health crisis was the right approach to support the economy. As expected, the Crown accounts for the year to June 2020 show the operating balance before gains and losses, or OBEGAL, was in deficit. However that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Community launch marks next step in addressing racism in education
    The launch of Te Hurihanganui in Porirua today is another important milestone in the work needed to address racism in the education system and improve outcomes for Māori learners and their whānau, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis says. Budget 2019 included $42 million over three years to put Te Hurihanganui ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to consider recommendations on DNA use in criminal investigations
    The Minister of Justice has received the Law Commission’s recommending changes to the law governing the way DNA is used in criminal investigations. The report, called The Use of DNA in Criminal Investigations – Te Whahamahi I te Ira Tangata I ngā Mātai Taihara, recommends new legislation to address how ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to Wakatū Nelson regional hui on trade
    First, I want to express my thanks to Te Taumata for this hui and for all the fantastic work you are doing for Māori in the trade space. In the short time that you’ve been operating you’ve already contributed an enormous amount to the conversation, and developed impressive networks.  I ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to Primary Industries Summit
    Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about the significant contribution the food and fibres sector makes to New Zealand and how this Government is supporting that effort. I’d like to start by acknowledging our co-Chairs, Terry Copeland and Mavis Mullins, my colleague, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Fast track referrals will speed up recovery and boost jobs and home building
    The Government is taking action to increase jobs, speed up the economic recovery and build houses by putting three more projects through its fast track approval process. “It’s great to see that the fast-track consenting process is working. Today we have referred a mix of potential projects that, if approved, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Papakāinga provides critically needed homes in Hastings
    A papakāinga opened today by the Minister for Māori Development the Hon Willie Jackson will provide whānau with much needed affordable rental homes in Hastings. The four home papakāinga in Waiōhiki is the first project to be completed under the ‘Hastings Place Based’ initiative. This initiative is a Government, Hastings ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand ready to host APEC virtually
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took over the leadership of APEC earlier today, when she joined leaders from the 21 APEC economies virtually for the forum’s final 2020 meeting. “We look forward to hosting a fully virtual APEC 2021 next year. While this isn’t an in-person meeting, it will be one ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Revival of Māori Horticulturists
    The rapid revival of Māori horticulture was unmistakeable at this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy Awards, with 2020 marking the first time this iconic Māori farming event was dedicated to horticulture enterprises. Congratulating finalists at the Awards, Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said growing large-scale māra kai is part of Māori DNA. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Emergency benefit to help temporary visa holders
    From 1 December, people on temporary work, student or visitor visas who can’t return home and or support themselves may get an Emergency Benefit from the Ministry of Social Development, Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced today. Previously, temporary visa holders in hardship because of COVID-19 have had ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • School sustainability projects to help boost regional economies
    Forty one schools from the Far North to Southland will receive funding for projects that will reduce schools’ emissions and save them money, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This is the second round of the Sustainability Contestable Fund, and work will begin immediately. The first round announced in April ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Farmer-led projects to improve water health in Canterbury and Otago
    More than $6 million will be spent on helping farmers improve the health of rivers, wetlands, and habitat biodiversity in Canterbury and Otago, as well as improving long-term land management practices, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. Four farmer-led catchment group Jobs for Nature projects have between allocated between $176,000 and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tupu Aotearoa continues expansion to Pacific communities in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman & Northl...
    Pacific communities in Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman and Northland will benefit from the expansion of the Tupu Aotearoa programme announced today by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio. The programme provides sustainable employment and education pathways and will be delivered in partnership with three providers in Northland and two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New primary school and classrooms for 1,200 students in South Island
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins unveiled major school building projects across the South Island during a visit to Waimea College in Nelson today. It’s part of the Government’s latest investment of $164 million to build new classrooms and upgrade schools around the country. “Investments like this gives the construction industry certainty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister of Māori Development pays tribute to Rudy Taylor
      Today the Minister of Māori Development, alongside other Government Ministers and MP’s said their final farewells to Nga Puhi Leader Rudy Taylor.  “Rudy dedicated his life to the betterment of Māori, and his strong approach was always from the ground up, grassroots, sincere and unfaltering”  “Over the past few ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister to attend APEC Leaders’ Summit
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and associated events virtually today and tomorrow. “In a world where we cannot travel due to COVID-19, continuing close collaboration with our regional partners is key to accelerating New Zealand’s economic recovery,” Jacinda Ardern said. “There is wide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to Infrastructure NZ Symposium
    Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou and thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. This is a critical time for New Zealand as we respond to the damage wreaked by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that investment in our economic recovery is well thought through, and makes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pike River 10 Year Anniversary Commemorative Service
    Tēnei te mihi ki a tātau katoa e huihui nei i tēnei rā Ki a koutou ngā whānau o te hunga kua riro i kōnei – he mihi aroha ki a koutou Ki te hapori whānui – tēnā koutou Ki ngā tāngata whenua – tēnā koutou Ki ngā mate, e ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago