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The Brits are smarter than us

Written By: - Date published: 9:41 am, March 11th, 2013 - 44 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, uk politics - Tags: ,

OK “smarter” is the wrong word – the Brits are more politically engaged than us. That’s just a personal opinion, having lived in both places, but it seems to be that the British are more interested and more critically engaged in their political process than we are in NZ. Perhaps it’s something to do with the longer shadow of history that they live in, a deeper media pool, or the proximity of Europe. Or perhaps I’m completely wrong of course.

Whatever, the Brits seem to have well and truly woken up with respect to their current flash, conservative, economically bungling PM:

Britons have lost faith in George Osborne’s austerity plan

Theresa May hints at leadership bid as opinion poll shows only one in five voters think cuts are working

A majority of people now believe that the government’s economic policies are hurting rather than healing the British economy, a new poll reveals, as cabinet divisions over how best to stimulate a return to growth threaten to destabilise the coalition.

With 10 days until George Osborne delivers his crucial fourth budget, an Opinium/Observer poll shows almost three times as many voters (58%) believe the austerity drive is harming the economy as those who think it is the correct medicine to restore it to health (20%).

The findings, which follow a stinging rebuke to David Cameron on Friday by the government’s own financial watchdog, will add to pressure on Osborne to change course as the UK hovers on the brink of a triple-dip recession. …

Meanwhile, a poll conducted in marginal seats by the Tory former deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, based on interviews with more than 19,000 voters in 213 constituencies, showed the Conservatives were on course to lose 93 seats to Labour if an election were held today.

We’re doing everything on a smaller scale of course, but our own version of economic austerity has held back the prospect of recovery in NZ since the Nats took over, and contributed to our current high unemployment. And yet, instead of rejecting these policies and the politicians that espouse them, our attitude seems to be that “she’ll be right”. Who was it who said that we get the government that we deserve?

44 comments on “The Brits are smarter than us ”

  1. Peter 1

    I think the difference between us and old blighty on this is the quality of the media – for sure, Britain has some poor quality papers, but it doesn’t have all poor quality papers. There is still accountability.

    • Pete 1.1

      Oh for a Guardian – NZ edition. Or a charter for TVNZ.

      • prism 1.1.1

        Or a tv public channel as before the government decided to strip the country of this powerful medium that is in every home. Television was to be the great mind opener and a great way for government to explain itself and for background information and a reflection of the sould and personality of the country.

        New Zealand began by adopting the BBC’s “public service” approach – non-commercial broadcasting which offered a diversity of programmes to “inform, educate and entertain”. This was funded by an annual licence fee (initially six pounds and 10 shillings per home).

        This is the post karol put up about tv in November 2012 http://thestandard.org.nz/public-service-broadcasting-and-politics/

        good summary –
        Politicians love to argue about television, and they have re-structured the system many times. Control of the two channels changed from the NZBS (1960) to the NZBC (1962), to TV One and TV2 (1975), to the BCNZ in 1976, and finally to TVNZ (1980). TVNZ was re-structured as a State-Owned Enterprise in 1988, then as a Crown-Owned Company in 2001.

        Until 1988 it was paired with Radio New Zealand as the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand (BCNZ).
        Approximately 90% of TVNZ’s revenue is from commercial activity (such as advertising and merchandising).[citation needed] The remainder of its funding comes from government funding agencies.

        The Labour-led government under Helen Clark from 1999 to 2008 pursued a programme of public broadcasting reforms. New Zealand’s wide-ranging adoption of neoliberal policies in the mid-1980s and 1990s had large sections of the state sector privatised.

        • Rogue Trooper

          Campbell. Live!

        • Colonial Viper

          Labour under Helen Clark helped shaped a system of left smashing TV media. Not that smart. And TV7, designed as a counterbalancing public service TV channel, was so very easily unpicked by the Tories.

    • Blue 1.2

      Exactly. NZ doesn’t really have political journalists, more like political groupies. They just follow John Key around, gushing about what he had for breakfast, what he’s wearing, what jokes he’s told and which women he thinks are hot.

      The coverage is so appalling that you have to read political blogs or you don’t know half of what is going on.

    • wobble 1.3

      And they don’t have David Shearer. Lucky buggers.

  2. bad12 2

    60 billion dollars of borrowing by the current Slippery lead National Government says that ‘austerity’ in New Zealand has not even started ‘yet’,

    The economic ‘plan’ of both Slippery and the Member from Dipton, Bill, would seem to be to balance the borrowing on a fine edge of being just sustainable as far as overall Government revenue and finances are concerned,

    Sell off the parts of assets already identified thus lowering the Governments overall ability to borrow further against perceived assets and revenue all the while keeping one eye on the electoral cycle,

    Hand the whole mess off to a future, (2014-2017), Labour-Green Government in an effort to kneecap such a Government’s ability to implement ‘it’s’ programs and/or attempt to force upon that future Government the implementation of austerity or tax rises…

  3. infused 3

    [r0b: deleted – felix is correct, you are on a ban]

    • AsleepWhileWalking 3.1

      Exactly. The level of political engagement is clearly indicated by the voting in of a National government, despite 70% of people being opposed to asset sales. Basically the majority voted for a “smiling knife” instead of checking to see if they supported the policies they were voting for.

      Now, should residential property prices plummet the way they did in the UK then we will see some serious political engagement. Until then it’s back to sleep for the masses.

      • prism 3.1.1

        I was just reading the National Party history page and was reminded of the electorate rejecting Nordmeyer and Labour losing. I always heard that it was an objection to a tobacco tax and/or perhaps of some drinking control. Point is – the rational part of the brain is often not to the fore and particularly when deciding which political team to cheer for.

        • Colonial Viper

          Not only is the rational brain not to the fore (haha an in joke for the neuro types) it is definitely secondary in most peoples day to day decision making.

          The documentary “The Century of the Self” details this out very clearly, and how the marketing and PR types grabbed hold of this idea with both hands in the first part of the 20th century.

        • Dr Terry

          How often is “brain” involved at all? Selfish interests predominate.

    • felixviperhttp://thestandard.org.nz/the-brits-are-smarter-than-us/#comment-602283 3.2

      Hey infused you were banned yesterday for, how do you guys put it? Oh yeah, for having a different opinion and showing up how stupid all the lefties really are, that’s it. http://thestandard.org.nz/its-real-when-an-all-black-does-it/#comment-602094

  4. Bill 4

    The difference as I see it is simply that in the UK there are political alternatives on offer. The UK Labour Party are soft, though far from the squishy mess that’s the NZ Labour Party. And then there are those further alternatives in some places – such as voting for independence or having a decidedly Social Democratic party in power (ie, the SNP in Scotland)

  5. Matthew 5

    When will we have this poll in NZ papers i wonder.

  6. Wayne 6

    We don’t really have an “austerity plan” like the British. So by and large social entitlements have pretty much stayed the same. Sure there are some work testing obligations, but in my view are quite moderate.

    So the British situation is quite different, and New Zealand voters know that. And to AsleepWhile
    Walking, it is a bit of a pattern on this site to insult the voters because they did not vote in the way you wanted. But in fact people had three years of living with a John Key government, so they knew what it was like. And that is how they formed their voting intentions.

    • fenderviper 6.1

      Yes and the cunning Key put on an image of backing down in the face of negative public opinion to his plans, until the foolish voter returned him to office and found out he was deadly serious about flogging off power companies despite the huge public objection.

      • Wayne 6.1.1

        As if this was a secret?

        National was up front on this issue in the 2011 campaign, and Labour made it the centrepoint of their campaign. So the voters knew that it was a serious plan, but still voted for the Nats, (well 47% did but that was almost twice as much as any other party).

        I am tempted to repeat Michael Cullen’s quote, but I won’t, but you get the point.

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    Yet you support Labour’s version of austerity – cuts to Superannuation entitlements?

  8. Daveo 8

    The Brits aren’t any smarter than us, they just have a more effective Labour opposition than us.

    • Red Rosa 8.1


    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 8.2

      They have also experienced some pretty violent rioting 4 years ago, which were blamed on economic inequality. I’m guessing the Brits are pretty nervous about the social consequences of austerity. NZers just seem to think more prisons will solve the problem.

      • Rogue Trooper 8.2.1

        Yep to both points; geusey

      • Dr Terry 8.2.2

        Too many New Zealanders do not “think” at all, they simply follow blind prejudices – especially anything that appeals to self-interest.

    • Enough is Enough 8.3

      I agree Daveo

      I do not think the New Zealand version of Labour is too different from its British cousin. Both largely believe in the status quo neo liberal system, albeit with a slightly friendly softer ‘left’ touch.

      New Zealand and Britian both have similar thieving Tory corrupt mad men in charge as well.

      The difference is one country has an articulate fresh faced opposition leader with vision and charisma, the other has some strange dude who struggles to work out what the hell he believes and is known by those who should be supporting his as Mumblefuck.

      • Hami Shearlie 8.3.1

        Unfortunately, this is true. The ABC crowd saw to that. What on earth were they sniffing just before they voted??

  9. Rich 9

    Possibly the 1% are happier with the prospect of a Labour government in the UK than our wealthy are with a Labour/Green coalition here. Blair/Brown wasn’t much less right wing than the Coalition, and it’s doubtful Ed Milliband would be either. So the rich can happily give Labour some slack in the knowledge they won’t do anything harmful (and will happily fall into the prepared elephant traps like a Tobin tax).

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 9.1

      Actually I’d say the opposite. Voters in NZ look at Shearer and Key and think the latter is just a more charismatic and competent right wing equivalent than the former. In Britain who actually have a policy choice!

  10. Rich 10

    Your ajax editor is borked, BTW (Chrome)

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    We’re doing everything on a smaller scale of course, but our own version of economic austerity has held back the prospect of recovery in NZ since the Nats took over, and contributed to our current high unemployment.

    It’s really not a choice between austerity and deficit spending but about about fixing the banking system by taking the ability to create money off them and put it squarely with the government. It’s not a silver bullet but until we do do that then we’ll keep having these recessions that leave the rich richer as they get bailed out by the government and the poor paying for it.

  12. Tiresias 12

    I think it relevant that at the time of the 2010 election many people who would have been appalled at the prospect of an unrestrained Conservative but were not all that happy with Labour either. Hence they voted Lib-Dem in the belief they would go into coalition with Labour and keep them ‘honest’ – a belief Nick Clegg did much to foster.

    After the election Labour and the Lib-Dems had 315 seats between them and 52% of the popular vote as against the Tories 306 seats and 36% of the vote, but Clegg chose to go into coalition with the Tories and has subsequently simply enabled the Tories’ agenda and betrayed a great many Lib-Dem committments on the way.

    Hence I think – in fact I know from contacts I still have in the UK – that the sense of anger against the system goes very deep. It’s an anger felt at politicians and parties who are no-longer recogniseable in any meaningful frame – you go to the polls to vote Labour or Lib-Dem – or even Conservative – but what you get even from the politicans and parties you voted for has no resemblence to what you thought you were voting for.

    Sure the same phenomenon is in New Zealand among folk who follow blogs like this – but unlike the UK the great unwashed don’t have the same sense of betrayal and distrust because, let’s be honest, the chickens have not come home to roost yet in NZ as they have in the UK. Here for most people the standard of living has been propped up by the high exchange rate. In the UK the pips are squeaking and the bankers visibly awarding themselves massive bonuses for destroying the economy.

    The same phenomenon can be seen in Greece and Italy where voters have abandoned the traditional parties in droves. Unfortunately in the UK the main beneficiary of voter disillusion has been UKIP, which is right of the Tories. In Greece it is the ultra-Right-Wing Golden Dawn and in Italy it is a anti-everything comedian. So I don’t think there is much comfort for the Left in it.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      A system dominated by political party structures enforcing tow-the-line behaviour is going to be by nature highly undemocratic.

      It dampens widespread discussion and makes raising alternative or unconventional points of view far more difficult.

    • Rich 12.2

      British politics divides on regional lines.

      Labour is moribund in the rural and suburban south, the Tories are the same in the North, Scotland and Wales. The Lib Dems are (were?) thus the second party in much of the country and hence pick up much of the not-Labour or not-Conservative vote (remember it’s FPP).

  13. johnm 14

    The artist taxi driver.
    Yankee Cameron’s corruption:

    The Crime of the Century;PFI Libor and the NHS


    John Yankee won’t be far behind.

  14. johnm 15

    David Cameron and Nick Clegg are feedin the Zombie Bankers


  15. johnm 16

    “UK government lays out agenda for National Health Service privatisation”
    This is a disaster for ordinary british people.

    “Plans for the wholesale privatisation of the National Health Service (NHS) were laid bare in statutory regulations published by the Department of Health.”

    “More than 1,000 NHS doctors wrote to the Daily Telegraph condemning the proposed secondary legislation “to force virtually every part of the English NHS to be opened up to the private sector to bid for its contracts.”

    “To focus on the assertion that the government has broken its previous undertakings is self-serving when it comes to all those who did not stand against and mobilise opposition to the Health and Social Care Act. The raison d’être for the Act was the final dismantling of the NHS as a system of universal, state-provided health care, free at the point of use. ”

    “Nicholson was the chief executive of the Strategic Health Authority responsible for the Mid Staffs NHS Trust, during the period in which up to 1,200 patients are estimated to have died as a result of the poor care they received at Stafford hospital. A public inquiry established that many died as the result of negligence, with patients left without pain relief, food and drinks, going unwashed for weeks at a time and left in soiled conditions for hours.”


    The artist taxi driver may be in your face but he’s talking the truth.

  16. johnm 17

    “The Brits are smarter than us”. Truth is “The Brits are more desperate than us”. I don’t want to see that desperation ever in New Zealand. I truly believe the John Yankee agenda may well make us as desperate as the brits in due course. He’s a total neoliberal, market mad, privatisation freak aided and abbetted by the selfish well orf sector of this land. God help us.
    Here’s a kiwi interviewing Gerald Celente 🙂 enjoy! http://www.trendsresearch.com/SubscriberArea/gerald-celente-the-vinny-eastwood-show-march-7-2013

  17. Shaz 18

    We are not as well served by the media as the UK. George Osborne is under pressure for many reasons but one of them is the insistent coverage of new research which shows that the effect of $1.00 of government cuts is that between $1.20 and $1.90 is taken out of the wider economy. This is from the IMF’s October 2012 report which has done research to recalculate of the impacts of cuts in government spending previously estimated as a 0.50c reduction on average. I’d be interested to know if any news media here have covered this. I’ve not seen it but the same will doubtless apply here


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