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The curious case of Liz Truss

Written By: - Date published: 6:57 am, January 17th, 2023 - 34 comments
Categories: Austerity, Brexit, Financial markets, uk politics - Tags: , , , , ,

Originally published on Nick Kelly’s blog The premiership of Liz Truss will be remembered for many years to come. She will be remembered as being the shortest-serving former UK prime minister (for now), resigning after seven weeks. It will be remembered that only two days after going to Balmoral to meet the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II passed away having served 70 years on the throne, making Truss her 15th and final PM. People will also remember the Truss premiership for plunging already bad Conservative Party polling numbers down to record lows, giving the opposition Labour Party an unprecedented 30% lead. But the main thing her seven weeks as Prime Minister will be remembered for – destroying the longstanding myth that the Conservative Party are good at managing the economy.

As outlined in a post earlier this year in a global economic crisis, governments, in the short term at least, are limited in what they can do to remedy the situation. However, the one thing governments can certainly do is not make the situation worse. In this Liz Truss and former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng failed spectacularly.

The now infamous ‘mini budget’ or “Growth Plan” of 23 September 2022 caused the pound to hit an all-time low against the US dollar, and force the Bank of England to intervene to prevent chaotic drops in gilts prices from stinging pension funds and threatening financial stability. How on did the UK’s natural party of government, the party of sound money and fiscal responsibility manage to get it all so badly wrong? And so quickly?

Since 2008, as pointed out in my last blog post, right-of-centre governments have stepped back from full Thatcherite free market policies due to the fact that these policies directly resulted in the crisis of the last decade. Whilst free market and trickle-down economics may no longer be electorally viable, there remain many true believers in the small government crusade.

The decline and fall of Boris Johnson as PM was entirely of his own making and had been on the cards for some time. During the period, the disquiet within the Conservative Party was not so much over “Party-Gate” but the increase in taxes, namely National Insurance, to keep their manifesto commitment to fund social care, a policy area where previous governments have failed to grasp the nettle. Tory Party members were furious that a Conservative Government had raised taxes, and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak was in their eyes to blame. Enter Liz Truss.

Truss, on becoming Foreign Secretary in early 2022, began doing these strange photos where she was imitating former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This Thatcher cosplay was matched by sound-bite rhetoric about free markets and individualism. This really played to the home crowd with supporters in the Tory Party claiming “in Liz we Truss.”

Warnings from former Chancellor Sunak that the programme announced by Liz Truss when running for leader would make the economic situation worse were ignored by the party membership. In Liz they Trussed, in early September she became Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.

A decade before coming to power, a group of right-leaning Tory MPs authored a book titled Britannia Unchained, a treatise, arguing that Britain should adopt a different and radical approach to business and economics or risk “an inevitable slide into mediocrity.” These MPs belonged to the Conservative Party ‘Free Enterprise’ group and included Liz Truss and the person a decade later she was to appoint as Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

In a later attempt to shift the blame to former Prime Minister Liz Truss for what happened, claiming he warned her the government were moving too fast. Kwarteng has not yet apologised for his mini budget on 23 September or the catastrophic fallout. In fact, his frustration seems more with the fact that Truss ended up sacking him, not long before being forced to resign herself. The truth is, the throwing caution to the wind approach of slashing taxes, removing restrictions on banker bonuses, and slashing other regulations such as IR35 were all consistent with what he and Truss had argued in Britannia Unchained a decade earlier. And these ideas found favour with the Conservative Party membership – with the idealised view of Thatcher’s vision of small government, deregulation and low taxation. For the general public, this was not so much ‘Britannia Unchained’ as ‘Libertarians Unhinged.’

Where this mini-budget really hit the rocks, especially with the financial markets, was the unfunded tax cuts and spending increases. The Tories, having implemented austerity policies during their first term in office with the Lib Dems, found out the hard way that underfunding the Police or the NHS was simply not an option. The 2017 election where they lost their overall majority, and Corbyn’s Labour had an unexpected surge in support largely due to increased turnout by young voters, was largely due to an anti-austerity backlash. In Kwarteng’s mini-budget, the solution was that the government borrow to pay for tax cuts and spending increases. The former Chancellor argued that cutting taxes and red tape this would stimulate economic growth meaning the government would soon be able to repay the debt.

Many were surprised to see financial markets react to a right-wing Tory budget in this way. Threats of capital withdrawal and other measures are not uncommon when centre-left governments try to implement their agenda. Yet here we had a right-wing budget and the market responded badly. One issue was that Truss and Kwarteng completely ignored the Office for Budget Responsibility before preparing the mini-budget. This office was set up by former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, in response to his claims that Labour had acted financially irresponsibly when in power. This office was designed to be a check and balance for the left, yet it was the right who fell foul of it. One of Britain’s key selling points is that is a rules-based economy. By not consulting the OBR before the mini-budget, Truss and Kwarteng damaged Britain’s brand.

Cutting taxes at a time of high inflation is not a terribly smart move as it will drive up inflation further. Borrowing money to cut taxes and increase spending is what the Government in Greece did prior to the 2008 financial crash, with devastating consequences. Add both of these to a world economy struggling in the wake of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is no surprise that the markets reacted as they did.

Within days, Truss was forced to sack Kwarteng and announce a U-turn on the mini-budget, to much tormenting that “the lady is for turning” with reference to Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote. Within 44 days of becoming Prime Minister, Truss announced her resignation, having days earlier replaced her friend Kwazi Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor and almost all measures in the mini-budget had to be reversed.

It was would easy to blame Truss and Kwarteng for this specular failure. Many have cited her shocking performances in the media as why ultimately she resigned and question how someone got to the highest level of public office when so clearly unable to perform. Leadership qualities play a significant role, and in modern politics media presentation is critical. But this was not a problem of style and presentation alone, as abysmal as this was under the Truss premiership.

The initial reaction to the Mini Budget in September was very positive from many in the Conservative Party and their cheerleaders in the tabloid media.

For Tory Party members and Daily Mail readers, this was the budget they had been waiting for. Far from being a surprise, the mini-budget was implementing not just the promises of Truss’s leadership campaign, but the wishes of many rank-and-file Conservatives. After enduring Sunak’s National Insurance increase the free market wing of the party finally had their way, at last, a true Tory budget. Never mind Britannia Unchained, this was Conservative Party unleashed.

The ‘get Brexit done/anti-Jeremy Corbyn’ coalition that won the Conservatives the 2019 election now finds itself in tatters. Not only were so-called red wall voters from the North East of England put off by the return of trickle-down economics, but polls show that large swaths of traditionally Conservative voting south of England were also in despair. Within the Conservative Party, those who still subscribed to Edmund Burke’s view that no “generation should be arrogant enough as to only think of themselves” and that borrowing for tax cuts would harm future generations, found themselves in the minority. In fact, the enduring influence of one-nation conservatism made popular by Benjamin Disraeli, of pragmatism and paternalism was replaced with an unwavering belief in small government and the market.

That Conservative MPs managed to avoid another membership ballot and Rishi Sunak replacing Liz Trus is the topic of the next blog post. Needless to say Conservative MPs, many from Constituencies once considered save tory, are now terrified by recent polls. Allowing the party membership a say risked a further dose of trickle-down right-wing economics, making the Tories unelectable for a long time. It was the party members who supported Truss, while in the first round, only 50 backed Truss for leader, though other candidates who had MP backing early on also espoused not dissimilar economic views.

Some who supported Truss may now have reflected on what happened and perhaps realise that these policies not only do not work, but electorally they are poison. But many on the right will blame it on Truss, her leadership style and the speed with which she tried to implement the reforms. In many ways, the fact that the mini-budget changes were done quickly and communicated poorly was a good thing, as it meant these policies were reversed quickly. A more media-savvy and gradual implementation would have done more harm in the long term. It is no accident that since 2008, free market trickle-down economics has been out of fashion. The Truss premiership has been a timely reminder that these policies do not work and should not be tried again.

34 comments on “The curious case of Liz Truss ”

  1. Tony Veitch 1

    there remain many true believers in the small government crusade.

    Christopher Luxon and David Seymour, to name two local examples.

    Plus all exploiters of other (bottom-feeders) people both here and elsewhere.

    Small government means few regulations and lax enforcement – an exploiters wet dream.

    • Bearded Git 1.1

      With the Granny Herald doing a passable imitation of the Daily Mail.

      • tc 1.1.1

        Stuff must be feeling left out but with Damien grant, brook Sabin, Pagani, Dunne, prebble etc I'm sure they'll be competitive in this election year of spin.

        • Mike the Lefty 1.1.1.1

          While the election campaign is running Stuff will probably be running critically important stories about which politicians own poodles, and how difficult it is to look after your poodle when you are a busy politician.

    • Gosman 1.2

      Liz Truss didn't support small government. She was going to impose a price cap on energy payments that would have cost 150 billion pounds. She promised NOT to cut government spending.

      https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/12/uk-pm-truss-says-she-will-not-cut-public-spending-to-fund-tax-cuts.html

    • tinderdry6 1.3

      I am deeply suspicious of 'big government'. It seems to me the larger a share of GDP is consumed by the public sector, the less efficient it becomes. And there are a number of studies that support that view.

      "Small government means few regulations and lax enforcement – an exploiters wet dream."

      Do you have any evidence for this?

      • Tony Veitch 1.3.1

        Just off the top of my head – leaky house debacle of the 1990s (Nat government).

        Pike River mining disaster, courtesy of Nat governments.

        RSA workers exploited by unscrupulous horticulturalists.

        I'm sure a 5 minute Google search will confirm all of the above, and others.

        • tinderdry6 1.3.1.1

          There are a number of problems with your response.

          Leaky home crisis:

          1. The leaky homes crisis incorporated houses built before the 1991 Building Act, some as early as 1988. The causes of these are well documented here, and happened prior to the 1991 Act,

          2. The 1991 Act introduced a system of self regulation that relied heavily on Council issued and monitored building consents. The leaky homes crisis was a failure of government implementation as much as regulation.

          Pike River

          The regulations governing the operation of Pike River date to 1992, but the drift wasn't constructed until 2007. A closer look at the disaster shows just how culpable government departments were, along with poor company management and an overly compliant union.

          The Pike River mine permit was approved by the Ministry of Economic Development in 1997.

          Some quotes:

          "MED approved the issue of Pike’s mining permit in 1997. Its focus was the economic benefits to New Zealand. MED did not fully apply the criteria set out in its coal policy programme, which included requirements to check the experience of the applicant and its proposed mining methods, and to ensure that these represented good mining practice. In terms of the coal programme, health and safety, which is intrinsic to good mining practice, was not MED’s concern. MED did not consult DOL so no one looked at the health and safety implications of the proposed mine."

          And:

          "Because Pike was assumed to be a ‘best practice’ and ‘compliant’ employer the inspectors adopted a low-level compliance approach. This proved ineffective, as was most evident regarding the need to provide two emergency exits from the mine. In mid-2009 the main ventilation shaft was designated the second means of egress out of the mine. To use it involved a 110m ladder climb that was physically exhausting in normal conditions, but probably impossible in an emergency. In April 2010 an inspector told the mine manager that the shaft, although technically compliant, was not a suitable emergency escapeway. In August DOL advised Pike by letter that a new egress was required ‘as soon as possible’.[8] In November 2010 Pike said a new egress would be established by mid-2011. DOL considered this unsatisfactory, but took no further action before the explosion."

          This is a failure of government oversight. Not exactly inspiring examples in favour of bigger government.

        • Thinker 1.3.1.2

          How quickly Tinderdry forgets the mobilisation of the public sector from the first covid crisis.

          The private sector would be just finalising their alliances and submitting their RFPs about now…

          • tinderdry6 1.3.1.2.1

            Ah but I'm not arguing against public services, per se. In fact, I am a supporter of a mixed economy with government intervention, particularly in long term planning and in regulating the excesses of the market. However, my argument, supported by studies I referred to, is simply that "the larger a share of GDP is consumed by the public sector, the less efficient it becomes."

      • Drowsy M. Kram 1.3.2

        "Small government means few regulations and lax enforcement – an exploiters wet dream."

        Do you have any evidence for this?

        Just an opinion (we all have 'em): You'd have to be a fool not to 'follow the money.'

        Small government costs

        The SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] during the Bush II administration operated on a bare bones budget and was staffed by incompetent bureaucrats and political hacks. As a result, Wall Street collapsed and the stock market crashed because of weak regulations and lax enforcement of rules.

        Does a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street by President Bush ring a bell? Of course, this was followed by an $800 billion stimulus by President Obama that saved the economy from falling into a deep depression. Both actions increased the national debt considerably.

        • tinderdry6 1.3.2.1

          "…and was staffed by incompetent bureaucrats and political hacks."

          There's your problem. Not small government. Incompetent bureaucrats and political hacks inhabit governments of all sizes. Unfortunately.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 1.3.2.1.1

            There's your problem.

            There's our problem – that and selective quoting wink

            The SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] during the Bush II administration operated on a bare bones budget and was staffed by incompetent bureaucrats and political hacks.

            We see what we wanr to see – what serves our interests. Follow the money.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenSecrets

            • tinderdry6 1.3.2.1.1.1

              So were the subsequent problems caused by the bare bones budget or the incompetent bureaucrats and political hacks?

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Would be a bit of both, don't you think – that small government "bare bones budget" could have contributed to the staffing issues, imho.

                Might have been other forces at work to ensure the SEC was staffed by “incompetent bureaucrats and political hacks” – it was the Bush II presidency.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Securities_and_Exchange_Commission#Commission_members

                • tinderdry6

                  "that small government "bare bones budget" could have contributed to the staffing issues, imho."

                  Perhaps the expression 'bare bones' simply means lean and efficient. Perhaps it means considering a lesson we learn in the private sector that by employing the best people, you actually often require less people.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Perhaps the expression 'bare bones' simply means lean and efficient.

                    Another lesson we might learn is that when an opinion piece is titled "Small government costs", the expression "bare bones budget" simply doesn’t mean what you want it to mean – context, my dear boy, context.

                    This is an impressive crowd. The haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base. – Bush II (in waiting)

                    • Incognito

                      We all know that only private schools, for example, hire only the best teachers because they can best teach bigger and more classes than the mediocre ones who work at public schools teaching boring mediocre kids of mediocre parents with mediocre jobs – often in the public sector, of course – living in mediocre houses in average suburbs. Only the best are good enough to rise to the top of success, which is the lesson they teach & learn so well at private schools and in the private sector, if you are good enough to get a foot in the door, that is – having contacts aka relationships is just a lucky coincidence. In fact, this absurd yet addictively compelling (self-)belief and that you are someone special, with all the self-righteous entitlement associated with it, is almost a requirement for a successful career in the private sector. \sarc

    • Thinker 1.4

      Small government ought to come with fewer MPs. But, you never see National or ACT pushing for that.

      • tinderdry6 1.4.1

        Totally agree. In fact fewer MP's would be a good idea even if we didn't agree on the size of government overall!

      • Gosman 1.4.2

        You are mistaking Parliament for Government. They are too different things. You can have smaller Government with either a smaller or larger Parliament but on balance Parliamentary oversight on government is a good thing and therefore you want sufficient MP's to do that.

  2. Gosman 2

    Again you misunderstand the cause of the failure of Liz Truss's policies. The issue was not the cutting of taxes or regulations. It was that these were also accompanied by increased government spending. The Market's rejected such a fiscally irresponsible approach and the UK government suddenly had to pay higher rates on it's borrowing.

    She could either have raised taxes to fund her spending committments OR cut spending to afford to give a tax cut but she couldn't do both. She tried to and paid the price.

    • bwaghorn 2.1

      So the person that he right-wing of the UK thought was their best and brightest, was economically illiterate?

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        This is a good article from the Right leaning Spectator magazine about here policies written just before she resigned.

        "This is all a fatal combination of miscalculation and hubris. Truss and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng clearly thought the markets would speak their language and fund their tax cuts. They thought their confrontational attitude towards the UK’s financial institutions would go down a treat. They were wrong on both counts – but these were bad assumptions. Having spent my twenties working tirelessly to promote the nuances of free-enterprise, growth-maximising policies, I am horrified and infuriated to see the words ‘Growth Plan’ plastered across a economic plan that paid less lip service to fiscal discipline than a Gordon Brown Budget."

        https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/truss-is-hurting-the-free-market-cause/

    • Nic the NZer 2.2

      Lol. How much did guilt yields rise? Who actually pulled the plug on the Truss govt?

      • Gosman 2.2.1

        The markets killed the plug on her time as Prime Minister.

        "They say power corrupts. I think perhaps it gives you amnesia, because there was a time, not too long ago, when Truss was well versed in free-market policy and seemed to understand economic reality – that the markets don’t respond like an audience at Tory conference. Markets need – we all need – to know that there is a plan. For her to blame the caustic market reaction to her borrow-and-spend mini-Budget on left-wing whingeing is simply to be in denial."

        https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/truss-is-hurting-the-free-market-cause/

        • Nic the NZer 2.2.1.1

          Such violence to the kings english. I'm sure the UK population will be assured that the markets can get a new PM when ever they choose.

    • adam 2.3

      Good to see you arguing for the same shit show to happen here Gossy. Like the spin, impressive.

      At least you’re consistent.

      ACT a nightmare in the making – our economy is going to fall over if these muppets get their ideological shitfuckery into government.

      • Gosman 2.3.1

        We've already established that what did it in for Liz Truss was the fact she was fiscally irresponsible and that led to the Markets to reject her via ditching government debt and the Pound. ACT is not fiscally irresponsible because it is going to cut wasteful government spending alongside tax cuts.

        • Incognito 2.3.1.1

          It is very irresponsible to have a repeal razor gang starting a bonfire of regulations and cuts to the public sector that is there for (almost) everyone whilst proclaiming that it is pretty much guaranteed aka promised that the market will come to the rescue and do a better job. For the mythical market saviours and Knights of the Round Business Table to ride into town they will remove as many obstacles & objections and make the ride as easy & smooth (and pretty legal) as they can to pave the way with the heads of the great unwashed as cobblestones. The ones who pay no or very little net tax and have no or very little net wealth (e.g., assets) won’t be any better off and most likely worse off. Who are they again??

          • Gosman 2.3.1.1.1

            Why would cutting the Ministries of Women and Culture cause any issues?

            • Incognito 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Are you giving us the heads up on what ACT will be cutting when given the chance? It is always good to hear this from an insider and a reliable source such as you.

              What “issues” are you referring to? Life or death issues? Economic collapse issues? What criteria do you use to determine if it is an "issue"?

              I have no idea how you’d cut Culture out of the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage and can only assume ACT and you will cut the whole lot because you deem it ‘wasteful’. Does this mean we won’t see David again on DWTS?

              As to cutting the Ministry of Women, do you think the job is done or that it is done close enough?

              For example:

              In 2022, the national gender pay gap – the gap between men’s and women’s median hourly pay – was 9.2 percent.

              https://women.govt.nz/gpg

              Are you a woman, Gosman, or a sealion?

              Would cutting your commenting privileges here cause any issues for you?

  3. tWiggle 3

    This Led By Donkeys clip is a good backgrounder on the input of economic think-tanks to the disastrous economic strategy of Liz Truss's government.

    https://youtu.be/IRDLIOME47c

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    A couple of weeks ago, after NCEA results came out, my son’s enrolment at Auckland Uni for this year was confirmed - he is doing a BSc majoring in Statistics. Well that is the plan now, who knows what will take his interest once he starts.I spent a bit of ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    3 days ago
  • Weekly Roundup 03-February-2023
    Kia ora. What a week! We hope you’ve all come through last weekend’s extreme weather event relatively dry and safe. Header image: stormwater ponds at Hobsonville Point. Image via Twitter. The week in Greater Auckland There’s been a storm of information and debate since the worst of the flooding ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    3 days ago
  • A New Day, a New Cease & Desist
    Hi,At 4.43pm yesterday it arrived — a cease and desist letter from the guy I mentioned in my last newsletter. I’d written an article about “WEWE”, a global multi-level marketing scam making in-roads into New Zealand. MLMs are terrible for many of the same reasons megachurches are terrible, and I ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    3 days ago
  • Blowing Off The Froth: Why Chris Hipkins Must Ditch Three Waters.
    Time To Call A Halt: Chris Hipkins knows that iwi leaders possess the means to make life very difficult for his government. Notwithstanding their objections, however, the Prime Minister’s direction of travel – already clearly signalled by his very public demotion of Nanaia Mahuta – must be confirmed by an emphatic ...
    3 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #5 2023
    Open access notables Via PNAS, Ceylan, Anderson & Wood present a paper squarely in the center of the Skeptical Science wheelhouse:  Sharing of misinformation is habitual, not just lazy or biased. The signficance statement is obvious catnip: Misinformation is a worldwide concern carrying socioeconomic and political consequences. What drives ...
    4 days ago
  • Universities that punish reading – even of books from their own libraries
    Mark White from the Left free speech organisation Plebity looks at the disturbing trend of ‘book burning’ on US campuses In the abstract, people mostly agree that book banning is a bad thing. The Nazis did us the favor of being very clear about it and literally burning books, but ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Hipkins has a chance to show he is more effective in getting results  than Ardern in his Canberra t...
      Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has undergone a stern baptisim of fire in his first week in his new job, but it doesn’t get any easier. Next week, he has a vital meeting  in Canberra with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, where he has to establish ...
    Point of OrderBy tutere44
    4 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on extending the fuel/public transport subsidies
    As PM Chris Hipkins says, it’s a “no brainer” to extend the fuel tax cut, half price public subsidy and the cut to the road user levy until mid-year. A no braoner if the prime purpose is to ease the burden on people struggling to cope with the cost of ...
    4 days ago
  • U-turn on fuel taxes could pump up poll support for Hipkins and Co but the poor – perhaps – won...
    Buzz from the Beehive Cost-of-living pressures loomed large in Beehive announcements over the past 24 hours. The PM was obviously keen to announce further measures to keep those costs in check and demonstrate he means business when he talks of focusing his government on bread-and-butter issues. His statement was headed ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
    4 days ago
  • Mike’s Cracked Record
    Poor Mike Hosking. He has revealed himself in his most recent diatribe to be one of those public figures who is defined, not by who he is, but by who he isn’t, or at least not by what he is for, but by what he is against. Jacinda’s departure has ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: Chris Hipkins hires a lobbyist to run the Beehive
    New Zealand is the second least corrupt country on earth according to the latest Corruption Perception Index published yesterday by Transparency International. But how much does this reflect reality? The problem with being continually feted for world-leading political integrity – which the Beehive and government departments love to boast about ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • Pick o’ the links: Brown vs Fish; Brown vs everyone
    TLDR: Including my pick of the news and other links in my checks around the news sites since 4am. Paying subscribers can see them all below the fold.In Aotearoa’s political economyBrown vs Fish Read more ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Pick o’ the links: Brown vs Fish; Brown vs everyone
    TLDR: Including my pick of the news and other links in my checks around the news sites since 4am. Paying subscribers can see them all below the fold.In Aotearoa’s political economyBrown vs Fish Read more ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Dawn Chorus: Classic middle class welfare to win 'Ford Ranger Man'
    In other countries, the target-rich cohorts of swinging voters are given labels such as Mondeo Man’, ‘White Van Man,’ ‘Soccer Moms’ and ‘Little Aussie Battlers.’ Here, the easiest shorthand is ‘Ford Ranger Man’as seen here parked outside a Herne Bay restaurant, inbetween two SUVs. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Dawn Chorus: Classic middle class welfare to win 'Ford Ranger Man'
    In other countries, the target-rich cohorts of swinging voters are given labels such as Mondeo Man’, ‘White Van Man,’ ‘Soccer Moms’ and ‘Little Aussie Battlers.’ Here, the easiest shorthand is ‘Ford Ranger Man’as seen here parked outside a Herne Bay restaurant, inbetween two SUVs. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Government confirms a light rail rethink possible
    Transport Minister and now also Minister for Auckland, Michael Wood has confirmed that the light rail project is part of the government’s policy refocus. Wood said the light rail project was under review as part of a ministerial refocus on key Government projects. “We are undertaking a stocktake about how ...
    4 days ago
  • Why Nicola Willis is door-knocking in Johnsonville
    Sometime before the new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced that this year would be about “bread and butter issues”, National’s finance spokesperson Nicola Willis decided to move from Wellington Central and stand for Ohariu, which spreads across north Wellington from the central city to Johnsonville and Tawa. It’s an ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    5 days ago
  • “With great power comes great responsibility”: we’ve all heard that, but stepping up to it is ...
    They say a week is a long time in politics. For Mayor Wayne Brown, turns out 24 hours was long enough for many of us to see, quite obviously, “something isn’t right here…”. That in fact, a lot was going wrong. Very wrong indeed. Mainly because it turns ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    5 days ago
  • The escalator rises again
    One of the most effective, and successful, graphics developed by Skeptical Science is the escalator.  The escalator shows how global surface temperature anomalies vary with time, and illustrates how "contrarians" tend to cherry-pick short time intervals so as to argue that there has been no recent warming, while "realists" recognise ...
    5 days ago
  • Dusk Chorus: ‘Bread and butter’ chosen over cutting emissions
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTLDR: Here’s a quick roundup of the news today for paying subscribers on a slightly frantic, very wet, and then very warm day. In Aotearoa’s political economy today Read more ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Dusk Chorus: ‘Bread and butter’ chosen over cutting emissions
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTLDR: Here’s a quick roundup of the news today for paying subscribers on a slightly frantic, very wet, and then very warm day. In Aotearoa’s political economy today Read more ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • We never get to feel one thing at a time, us grownups
    Tomorrow we have a funeral, and thank you all of you for your very kind words and thoughts — flowers, even.Our friend Michèle messaged: we never get to feel one thing at a time, us grownups, and oh boy is that ever the truth. Tomorrow we have the funeral, and ...
    More than a fieldingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • Garrick Tremain’s view…
    ...
    Point of OrderBy poonzteam5443
    5 days ago
  • Isn't this the rainy day we're supposed to be saving up for?
    Lynn and I have just returned from a news conference where Hipkins, fresh from visiting a relief centre in Mangere, was repeatedly challenged to justify the extension of subsidies to create more climate emissions when the effects of climate change had just proved so disastrous. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Isn't this the rainy day we're supposed to be saving up for?
    Lynn and I have just returned from a news conference where Hipkins, fresh from visiting a relief centre in Mangere, was repeatedly challenged to justify the extension of subsidies to create more climate emissions when the effects of climate change had just proved so disastrous. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Much excitement as Hipkins gets down to business – but can he defeat inflation with his devotion t...
    A  new Prime Minister, a revitalised Cabinet, and possibly  revised priorities – but is the political and, importantly, economic landscape  much different? Certainly  some within the news  media  were excited by the changes which Chris Hipkins announced yesterday or – before the announcement – by the prospect of changes in ...
    Point of OrderBy tutere44
    5 days ago
  • E-bike incentives work
    Currently the government's strategy for reducing transport emissions hinges on boosting vehicle fuel-efficiency, via the clean car standard and clean car discount, and some improvements to public transport. The former has been hugely successful, and has clearly set us on the right path, but its also not enough, and will ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Hipkins’ need to strengthen focus on “bread and butter” issues suggests the Ardern team was lo...
    Buzz from the Beehive Before he announced his Cabinet yesterday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced he would be flying to Australia next week to meet that country’s Prime Minister. And before Kieran McAnulty had time to say “Three Waters” after his promotion to the Local Government portfolio, he was dishing ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
    5 days ago
  • 24,000 employed under Labour
    The quarterly labour market statistics were released this morning, showing that unemployment has risen slightly to 3.4%. There are now 99,000 people unemployed - 24,000 fewer than when Labour took office. So, I guess the Reserve Bank's plan to throw people out of work to stop wage rises "inflation", and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • February Stars.
    Another night of heavy rain, flooding, damage to homes, and people worried about where the hell all this water is going to go as we enter day twenty two of rain this year.Honestly if the government can’t sell Three Waters on the back of what has happened with storm water ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup:  Hipkins’ bread and butter reshuffle
    * Dr Bryce Edwards writes – Prime Minister Chris Hipkins continues to be the new broom in Government, re-setting his Government away from its problem areas in his Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, and trying to convince voters that Labour is focused on “bread and butter” issues. The ministers responsible for unpopular ...
    Point of OrderBy poonzteam5443
    5 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: Hipkins’ bread and butter reshuffle
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins continues to be the new broom in Government, re-setting his Government away from its problem areas in his Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, and trying to convince voters that Labour is focused on “bread and butter” issues. The ministers responsible for unpopular reforms in water and DHB centralisation ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • The Neverending Curse of MLMs
    Hi,It’s weird to me that in 2023 we still have people falling for multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs for short). There are Netflix documentaries about them, countless articles, and last year we did an Armchaired and Dangerous episode on them.Then you check a ticketing website like EventBrite and see this shit ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    5 days ago
  • Dusk Chorus: Mahuta and Little demoted
    Nanaia Mahuta fell the furthest in the Cabinet reshuffle. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: PM Chris Hipkins unveiled a Cabinet this afternoon he hopes will show wavering voters that a refreshed Labour Government is focused on ‘bread and butter cost of living’ issues, rather than the unpopular, unwieldy and massively centralising ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Dusk Chorus: Mahuta and Little demoted
    Nanaia Mahuta fell the furthest in the Cabinet reshuffle. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: PM Chris Hipkins unveiled a Cabinet this afternoon he hopes will show wavering voters that a refreshed Labour Government is focused on ‘bread and butter cost of living’ issues, rather than the unpopular, unwieldy and massively centralising ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • We just need the Wayne to stop
    Shortly, the absolute state of Wayne Brown. But before that, something I wrote four years ago for the council’s own media machine. It was a day-in-the-life profile of their many and varied and quite possibly unnoticed vital services. We went all over Auckland in 48 hours for the story, the ...
    More than a fieldingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • 2023 More Reading: January (+ Old Phuul Update)
    Completed reads for January Lilith, by George MacDonald The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (poem), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge Christabel (poem), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, by Anonymous The Lay of Kraka (poem), by Anonymous 1066 and All That, by W.C. Sellar and R.J. ...
    6 days ago
  • Is Britain doomed (again)?
    Pity the poor Brits.  They just can’t catch a break. After years of reporting of lying Boris Johnson, a change to a less colourful PM in Rishi Sunak has resulted in a smooth media pivot to an end-of-empire narrative.  The New York Times, no less, amplifies suggestions that Blighty ...
    Point of OrderBy xtrdnry
    6 days ago
  • After The Deluge.
    On that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth.Genesis 6:11-12THE TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS that dumped a record-breaking amount of rain on Auckland this anniversary weekend will reoccur with ever-increasing frequency. The planet’s atmosphere is ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister of Education (who might be replaced later today) left it to his ministry to apologise for i...
    Buzz from the Beehive There has been plenty to keep the relevant Ministers busy in flood-stricken Auckland over the past day or two. But New Zealand, last time we looked, extends north of Auckland into Northland and south of the Bombay Hills all the way to the bottom of the ...
    Point of OrderBy Bob Edlin
    6 days ago
  • The other ‘big one’: How a megaflood could swamp California’s Central Valley
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters When early settlers came to the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers before the California Gold Rush, Indigenous people warned them that the Sacramento Valley could become an inland sea when great winter rains came. The storytellers described water filling the ...
    6 days ago
  • Tuesday's pick o' the links: Wayne Brown's WTF moment
    Wayne Brown managed a smile when meeting with Remuera residents, but he was grumpy about having to deal with “media drongos”. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: In my pick of the news links found in my rounds since 4am for paying subscribers below the paywall:Wayne Brown moans about the media and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Tuesday's pick o' the links: Wayne Brown's WTF moment
    Wayne Brown managed a smile when meeting with Remuera residents, but he was grumpy about having to deal with “media drongos”. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: In my pick of the news links found in my rounds since 4am for paying subscribers below the paywall:Wayne Brown moans about the media and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The gamechanger PM and polls
    Dr Bryce Edwards writes –  Last night’s opinion polls answered the big question of whether a switch of prime minister would really be a gamechanger for election year. The 1News and Newshub polls released at 6pm gave the same response: the shift from Jacinda Ardern to Chris Hipkins ...
    Point of OrderBy poonzteam5443
    6 days ago
  • Dawn Chorus: Why 2023 will be a year of indecision & delay
    Hipkins’ aim this year will be to present a ‘low target’ for those seeking to attack Labour’s policies and spending. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: Anyone dealing with Government departments and councils who wants some sort of big or long-term decision out of officials or politicians this year should brace for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Dawn Chorus: Why 2023 will be a year of indecision & delay
    Hipkins’ aim this year will be to present a ‘low target’ for those seeking to attack Labour’s policies and spending. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Getty ImagesTLDR: Anyone dealing with Government departments and councils who wants some sort of big or long-term decision out of officials or politicians this year should brace for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: The Gamechanger PM and polls
    Last night’s opinion polls answered the big question of whether a switch of prime minister would really be a gamechanger for election year. The 1News and Newshub polls released at 6pm gave the same response: the shift from Jacinda Ardern to Chris Hipkins has changed everything, and Labour is back ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • After the deluge – initial thoughts on the Auckland floods
    Over the last few years, it’s seemed like city after city around the world has become subject to extreme flooding events that have been made worse by impacts from climate change. We’ve highlighted many of them in our Weekly Roundup series. Sadly, over the last few days it’s been Auckland’s ...
    6 days ago
  • Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?
    And so the first month of the year draws to a close. It rained in Auckland on 21 out of the 31 days in January. Feels like summer never really happened this year. It’s actually hard to believe there were 10 days that it didn’t rain. Was it any better where ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Ani O’Brien: Luxon can’t afford to continue ‘small target’ politics
    A ‘small target’ strategy is not going to cut it anymore if National want to win the upcoming election. The game has changed and the game plan needs to change as well. Jacinda Ardern’s abrupt departure from the 9th floor has the potential to derail what looked to be an ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago

  • Advancing our relationship in India
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for India tomorrow as she continues to reconnect Aotearoa New Zealand to the world.  The visit will begin in New Delhi where the Foreign Minister will meet with the Vice President Hon Jagdeep Dhankar and her Indian Government counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government Northland housing investment to spark transformational change
    Over $10 million infrastructure funding to unlock housing in Whangārei The purchase of a 3.279 hectare site in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals Multiple Northland communities will benefit from multiple Government housing investments, delivering thousands of new homes for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Battle of Ohaeawai remembered
    A memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars is an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as we head towards Waitangi Day, Minister for Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis said. The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More Police deployed to the frontline
    More Police officers are being deployed to the frontline with the graduation of 54 new constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. The graduation ceremony for Recruit Wing 362 at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua was the first official event for Stuart Nash since his reappointment as Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Further support for upper North Island regions hit by significant weather
    The Government is unlocking an additional $700,000 in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island. “We’re supporting the response and recovery of Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Northland, and Bay of Plenty regions, through activating Enhanced Taskforce Green to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • The Princess Royal to visit New Zealand
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed the announcement that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will visit New Zealand this month. “Princess Anne is travelling to Aotearoa at the request of the NZ Army’s Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which she is Colonel in Chief, to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government and horticulture sector target $12b in exports by 2035
    A new Government and industry strategy launched today has its sights on growing the value of New Zealand’s horticultural production to $12 billion by 2035, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. “Our food and fibre exports are vital to New Zealand’s economic security. We’re focussed on long-term strategies that build on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Cost of living support extended for families and businesses
    25 cents per litre petrol excise duty cut extended to 30 June 2023 – reducing an average 60 litre tank of petrol by $17.25 Road User Charge discount will be re-introduced and continue through until 30 June Half price public transport fares extended to the end of June 2023 saving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More Kiwis in work as rising wages match inflation
    The strong economy has attracted more people into the workforce, with a record number of New Zealanders in paid work and wages rising to help with cost of living pressures. “The Government’s economic plan is delivering on more better-paid jobs, growing wages and creating more opportunities for more New Zealanders,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government boosts fund for Auckland flooding
    The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today. “Cabinet today agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made. Cabinet wishes to be proactive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Cabinet focused on bread and butter issues
    The new Cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new Cabinet line ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister to meet with PM Albanese
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will travel to Canberra next week for an in person meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. “The trans-Tasman relationship is New Zealand’s closest and most important, and it was crucial to me that my first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Australia,” Chris Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government makes first payment to Auckland Flooding fund
    The Government is providing establishment funding of $100,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced. “We moved quickly to make available this funding to support Aucklanders while the full extent of the damage is being assessed,” Kieran McAnulty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government steps up to assist Auckland during flooding
    As the Mayor of Auckland has announced a state of emergency, the Government, through NEMA, is able to step up support for those affected by flooding in Auckland. “I’d urge people to follow the advice of authorities and check Auckland Emergency Management for the latest information. As always, the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Poroporoaki: Titewhai Te Huia Hinewhare Harawira
    Ka papā te whatitiri, Hikohiko ana te uira, wāhi rua mai ana rā runga mai o Huruiki maunga Kua hinga te māreikura o te Nota, a Titewhai Harawira Nā reira, e te kahurangi, takoto, e moe Ka mōwai koa a Whakapara, kua uhia te Tai Tokerau e te kapua pōuri ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Enhanced Task Force Green Approved following Cyclone Hale
    Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) in response to flooding and damaged caused by Cyclone Hale in the Tairāwhiti region. Up to $500,000 will be made available to employ job seekers to support the clean-up. We are still investigating whether other parts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • General Election to be held on 14 October 2023
    The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “Announcing the election date early in the year provides New Zealanders with certainty and has become the practice of this Government and the previous one, and I believe is best practice,” Jacinda ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces resignation
    Jacinda Ardern has announced she will step down as Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party. Her resignation will take effect on the appointment of a new Prime Minister. A caucus vote to elect a new Party Leader will occur in 3 days’ time on Sunday the 22nd of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago