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The hills are alive …

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, June 27th, 2016 - 96 comments
Categories: International, uk politics - Tags:

Over at Salon, Andrew O’Hehir views Brexit and Trump as a similar threat and a similar opportunity.

So if I squinted my eyes, swung my arms around and sang “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music” and bathed myself in sunny optimism, I use this kind of moment to take myself back to how I felt when the airplanes smashed into the twin towers: has this opened a crack in the world?

We know where the world actually went after those aircraft struck, and there’s ample opportunity for the world to do the same this time. To rage and to let that rage hold forth.

But. Let’s turn the page.

Brexit could be the clarion call to democratic reflexiveness that starts to reverse the gradual decline in voting participation in both the U.K. and the U.S.

It would take graceful, generous politicians who could embrace multiple raging opinions and chart courses of local and citizen-scale access to power to do it. Really well-funded and long term democratic revival.

Not just leftie tent revivals like Sanders or bogan boilovers like Trump and Farage. It would need, I don’t know how, to appeal to the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the city and the country. Like MMP did here.

It’s sounding harder the more I write sentences on it. But there’s been no closer moment than this for a while.

Brexit could be a moment to stop talking about economics, and stop talking about life as money. To be citizens. Where, if you wanted to, you could read a draft policy and send your vote to your EU MP, and bind them to the majority of that collective view. If you were interested. And of course, to tell those MPs that they were stupid and would be fired, if they ever tried to regulate the curve of a banana again.

Brexit could become the code for revival of a positive regionalism, which renegotiates the balance between internal sovereignty and international bloc power. I’ve never understood the need for individual EU nations to have their own standing armed forces when they have increasingly one international foreign policy. The remaining E.U. really could become a United States. There’s little doubt that the remaining E.U. will tighten its borders to itself and become more its own singular organism. The E.U., and Britain, must use this moment as positively as possible.

The E.U. could reflect not on its failures, but on its original impulses and original purpose. One task was to suppress the kinds of nationalism that had pretty much wrecked it for a century beforehand. But stability is just inadequate. The people want and need more. In my family, there’s a family of four who are moving from Turin to Auckland next month because there are simply no opportunities there any more. The E.U. could do worse than be a common wealth of redistribution, and recall what kind of plan made Europe great again after World War Two.

Perversely, this requires statesmen, and stateswomen. Not demagogues, low-rent populists, plan-free politicians, and professional black hats. Not sad little ‘Buy Britain’ programmes or other regionalist knee-jerks. Something of worth that lasts for citizens.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, and after 9/11, much of the world had the opportunity to chart an entirely new compact across dozens of nations at once. It didn’t. Brexit is of course far smaller a moment than either of those. But it’s a crack in the world. It can be opened, for good. Some simply like to revel in the chaos. Others, as we are seeing on the left in Spain at the moment, simply don’t have the maturity to work together, and prefer to retreat into self-identity politics.

Andrew O’Hehir of course believes that Hillary Clinton is precisely the wrong person to take advantage of such a post-Sanders and anti-Trump dynamic. One in his words that “now stands facing the incoming tide, like King Canute in a teal pantsuit”. Andrew is due a lesson in political leadership.

It will come down to a matter of historical luck, because the moment that has opened a crack in the world, can only be guided into a reality if there are leaders who can hold those fearsome cliffs apart to let something light and fresh air come in. That is rare, and damn hard.

I wish it so.

96 comments on “The hills are alive … ”

  1. weka 1

    “Brexit could be a moment to stop talking about economics, and stop talking about life as money.”

    Indeed. Pity you didn’t do that then eh?

    The kind of pan national uber state you are talking about can never happen without individual countries ie the citizens you refer to, having a sense of engagement with their own local democracy. As long as pro remain advocates keep ignoring the fact the such civil discontent in the UK happened under EU, the resistance will continue. That’s all about the money. Let’s get together so long as the enfranchised people are doing ok.

    The example of European immigration to Auckland because a family wants better opportunities is an astounding piece of ironic hubris.

    • Ad 1.1

      My hills positively moo with four-legged pieces of astounding ironic hubris.
      But knock yourself out explaining.

      Maybe provide a thought for those in the EU.

      • weka 1.1.1

        Explaining what? Your hubris? The irony? The reasons you can’t debate the actual points? I’d rather not look to closely at that thanks.

        “Maybe provide a thought for those in the EU.”

        I did. The Brits are still part of the EU. Having read your post I suspect you mean provide a thought for the people who might now lose some privilege if they have to take into account the disenfranchised (of whatever nation).

        • Ad

          The Brits have made their position clear: they are leaving the EU. The sooner they are consequential to their decisions, the better it is for the whole world.

          I don’t have to be pro-Remain any more. It’s done.

          It’s a great opportunity for the EU to reform itself with better democratic engagement.

          The EU won’t have the same operational structure out of this, and therein lies the opportunity, however they choose it. Plenty of options for improvement.

          • Richardrawshark

            The EU, which lets face it consists of Belgium and Germany one running it one the banker, overruling laws, quota’s and the self governance of the nations under her. Already bursting with dissent in Greece, Spain for austerity as well as many other countries to think it will remain stable is wishful, possible, but so is the implosion that will see this as a failed experiment.

            Imagine if the Asian countries including Aus and NZ formed a economic union, then later we form a government in Singapore too run it all, then elect politicians from each of those countries, and add and add, and layers of bullshit, whilst paying those in our own country who get overruled by Singapore.

            How long do you think any of that will carry on for.?

            • Colonial Viper

              Those with comfy offices and comfy pay cheques within this system will try and carry it on for as long as possible.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    The same power elite are still in charge in Europe, and they still have the same agenda, as before the BREXIT vote.

    And giving more say and more power to the little people is not part of their plan.

    In fact what the BREXIT vote has told them is that the little people still have far too much say in the affairs of government.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1


    • aerobubble 2.2

      Never has so much bollocks been talked about by so few to so many.

      Distill it down, all we know for sure, is that the UK voted against a free trading block and most leave voters weren’t feeling the love, mostly money not sausage specs.

      If this were a company, it would be like small shareholders had the numbers to force cheap executives off the most lucrative bonus recouping plans contract by dumping the biggest contract. Trump and NAFTA.

      But, this is not about me, well yeah it is, its all about which minority shareholder i want to attach my message to, and use the event for my own ends. It was a win for fascism, nationalism, socialism, etc.

      Now for more facts. UK was never entirely in. UK pound. This would be bad for EU had it been a EU dollar nation. Poland ignoring rule of law, rise of rightwing govts not wanting to share the migrant load, German treatment of Greece, the list of good asons to not associate are there.

      But this is about me, and about how i see things. Denial has given way to negioations. Its now obvious contagion is a real possibility, no not more eu nations splitting, no more voter where’s my dividend, free trade is supposed to make the majority wealthier. The populous is saying do your job stupid, deliver or we wont do free trade.
      And no not deliver in turns of some stat ingrowth, or productivity, or likely future trade, no they mean better for all of us.

      Take smoke alarms, why are our politicians so lazy, if the Ozzies mandate smoke alarms are wired in to the mains…. why if we believe in free trade we have not immediately normalized this health and safety practice.

      Thisis all about politics. Of the conservstive party, wanting to win alone and not being divided and needing to promising a vote. Of the Labour party wanting an uprising without being blamed for it, well done corbyn. Its all about the elite turning from denial about he economic mess thatcherism has wrought, into trying to negioate that thatcheism is not only dead, not only hopelessly wrong, but now embraced by the majority who now feel that if it dont work for us shut the eu mine down sack the workers and build our own fiscal elite (as we will need far more uk burearcrats thst we ever had eu ones).

      So what does it mean. Well uk will keep free trade with eu, go the way of norway, the eu will restructure shenigan and we will all wonder whether it was worth it either way, leave or not. For NZ there now is the fear of exiting TPP, it aint working, if you lazy politicians, lazy media, lazy wealthy want greater freerade we want our social dividends and trains auckand to hamiktion and no not one station buty three.

      • Ad 2.2.1

        Norwayis definitely a model to explore deeply here.
        I might have a go at another post, once this settles a little in the next six months.

        • Hanswurst

          The public noises from within the German government have pointed to little enthusiasm for offering Britain too many concessions on leaving. Specifically in reference to Norway and Switzerland, the suggestion was that Britain would have to accept in their entirety the terms of trade as applied to European states, and that that would be unlikely. It pays to remember that, while Europe will be keen to keep good trade relations with the UK, Europe is also concerned at which other states might also be inclined to follow the UK out if the terms look too attractive.

          • Ad

            It would also be tempting for the EU to actively recruit and attract UK companies to shift and domicile over there, with targeted tax and regulation breaks. Frankfurt and Amsterdam could regain something of their old banking and insurance prominence.

            Not that I wish the UK to be hollowed out. But the EU, and the major multinationals within it, can now view the UK as a competitor, and act accordingly.

            The UK for its part will need to tread a fine line not to spark such indirect economic retaliation. After all, they are no longer a gateway to Europe and have lost a massive English speaking comparative advantage.

    • Siobhan 2.3

      “Our John” has already learnt the hard way about not giving The People a voice through referendums.
      One thing you have to give the Right and the Power elites is that they learn from their mistakes. After the discontent of the 70’s they worked hard to demolish investigative journalism, now they’re realising they need to do a better job of keeping the peasants out of the Polling Booth.

      • Greg 2.3.1

        Well, the kiwi youth have Max Keys music video to buy, and golly gosh at he has a new girlfriend.
        And is free boarder travel through Europe that safe, from New Years eve parties in German cities, running the gauntlet hand groping and pickpockets, while the police stood by and did nothing, Brussels airport security, Paris night life, Sweden sure sounds safe for a women to be alone.

        most political news is really constrained around TV sound bites,
        without much substance, but it sounds good, doesnt it.

        Any change wont come through political will, but total collapse and rebuild.
        And this includes the debt ridden, money printing, economic system that has failed.

    • Richardrawshark 2.4

      Well stupid them to travel the road and down the path that leads CV.

      But then the tin hat joker in me would say that’s what the 20b in defence spending is for.

    • Hanswurst 2.5

      In fact what the BREXIT vote has told them is that the little people still have far too much say in the affairs of government.

      That’s not what I’ve heard Sigmar Gabriel (leader of the German SPD) saying over the last couple of days. He talked of, “A Europe in which the cititens are sovereign, and in which it isn’t the financial markets that determine our lives.” He talked of “less lobbying” and of citizens’ “active involvement”. The SPD is very much representative of the “power elite” in Germany, in the same way as Labour is in NZ. Of course, Gabriel, being the leader of a junior coalition partner, can afford to make noises without consequences in ways that Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been comparatively reticent over the last few days, can’t.

      However, the fact is that Germany is looking across its borders at the radical Right in its ascendancy in Hungary, Poland and, increasingly, Austria. Closer to home, Germany also has anti-immigrant groups like Pegida and pressures from the populist right, especially Alternative für Deutschland, which is in favour of the devolution of European functions towards nation states. Then, of course, there is also the Front National in France. In order for the establishment not to lose much of the agenda to these right-wing pressures, it may very well have to make concessions towards greater popular involvement in European decisions.

      It isn’t very useful to look at the courses of action up until now as a blueprint for how things will continue, since the situations in Greece and the Middle East have pushed the aforementioned groups and their programmes front and centre in Germany. Over the last couple of years, there has been much talk of what is to be done about the rise of the xenophobic and anti-European Right, and Brexit is a strong catalyst for some sort of reform. It is, of course, possible, that the German and French political establishment will simply see this as an opportunity to force its own people to accept paying greater subsidies to the less wealthy states, and feel itself forced to get tough on immigration (over the last few days, reference has been made to doing “something” about high unemployment in the less wealthy European states, and to adopting a more “orderly” policy on the admission of refugees), but these are clearly not the only considerations being discussed within the “power elite”.

      In short, it may well be that power ends up being consolidated, rather than distributed, in the wake of Brexit, but your statement reads like the simplistic analysis of someone a long way away who simply says “power elite is as power elite does”, and leaves it at that.

      • Ad 2.5.1

        Great to hear informed comment from Germany on this. Cheers.

      • Colonial Viper 2.5.2

        Hanwurst. Sigmar Gabriel is a politician. He’s not an unelected Eurocrat. The Eurocrats know that these politicians have to say the right things for the voters sake.

        But also know that the German Government is a prime driver behind subjecting the Greek people to absolute financial market destruction, undermining the sovereignty of the Greek Government, and crushing activism by the Greek people with naked threats to the Greek banking and financial system.

        but your statement reads like the simplistic analysis of someone a long way away who simply says “power elite is as power elite does”, and leaves it at that.

        I hope I have now added the detail that you required.

        • Hanswurst

          Your reply doesn’t really add much to what I said myself, actually. I pointed out fairly early in my post that Gabriel was part of the “power elite”, and that he can make noise without delivering. Stating that he is not an “unelected Eurocrat” is completely irrelevant. Firstly, the German government has a huge amount of influence (as you state pretty clearly later in your comment); secondly, the government of the European Union is a mixture of appointed, directly and indirectly elected representatives, so the sweeping label of “unelected Eurocrat” is just empty rhetoric.

          What you don’t seem to understand about my post is that the internal pressures are very possibly forcing the “power elite” to adopt another tack in ways that weren’t so apparent when the Greece crisis was at its acutest from the point of view of the European leadership. Your essential framing, that the “power elite” will screw us over, just like they have every time previously, is misguided. The “power elite” will try to shore up profits and economic ascendancy for the richer states. Whether they screw the populace over to a greater or lesser extent than before is merely a flow-on from that.

          The problem is that the establishment parties have already lost control of the political narrative to a degree that has them worried, mostly to the populist Right. You are right in the sense that the “power elite” is hardly in favour of increased democratic participation, but it is one concession that they will consider, rather than further ceding the lack of direct democratic levers in the EU to the radical Right as a stick to beat the establishment parties with. Increased democratic participation would expose them to the risk of losing the narrative further (either to the Right or to the Left), but they would bank on the media establishment helping their framing – and experience suggests that they would probably be right. Bottom line: They see themselves forced to engage in some sort of reform; whether that is cosmetic or more sweeping is unclear, but they may very well feel forced to offer greater democratic participation in the running of Europe.

          I’m not saying that Europe is likely to become a grass-roots democracy because of Brexit (after all, it’s a chiefly economic co-operation between sovereign states with their own elected governments). What I am saying is that firing off a couple of sentences about a generic “power elite” seems rather uninformed and ineffectual.

          • Ad

            Cheers Hanswurst, do keep us posted on the kinds of democratic reform you see being proposed, from the perspective of inside the EU.

            • Hanswurst

              No problem. I’m not actually that clued up on it, I just don’t like reading generic plus ça change arguments when I can observe attitudes actually changing. As your post seems to agree, the net result even of much more momentous events than Brexit does tend to be a fairly swift return to business as usual – and in that respect, I tend towards thinking that CV’s predictions will largely bear to be true. However, it informs nobody of anything simply to say “those in power will continue to be in power and do the same stuff”. I could write exactly that every day on here, be right, be smug about being right, and essentially contribute nothing.

              • Colonial Viper

                Just reminding people what the lay of the land is. How you include that into your personal calculations for action, I cannot assess.

                • Hanswurst

                  Reminding people that power elites will hang on to power is a bit like reminding people that bears’ locality of choice in case of defaecation will continue to be the forest.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    True. Yet, I keep reading comments which inherently support the sovereignty undermining transnational structures which are of the elite, set up by the elite, for the purposes of the elite; as well as comments which inherently support the senile, disconnected political class who have proven again to have no understanding of anything except their own PR.

                    So it appears that although people intellectually know about bears, and about woods, they do not appear to believe that the park’s Beware of Bears signs apply to them.

          • Colonial Viper

            The “power elite” is a phrase used by Derrick Jensen, Chris Hedges and others.

            It describes perfectly the class of people I am talking about.

            And they are people, I make no mistake, people with frailties and wants and needs. But they’re also the ones willing to throw millions under the wheel if it suits their purposes, and they have the power to do so.

            Chris Hedges writes more about them here:


          • Colonial Viper

            The “power elite” is a phrase used by Derrick Jensen, Chris Hedges and others.

            It describes perfectly the class of people I am talking about.

            And they are people, I make no mistake, people with frailties and wants and needs. But they’re also the ones willing to throw millions under the wheel if it suits their purposes, and they have the power to do so.

            Chris Hedges, who has written entire books about the power elite, writes more about them here:

            Power elites, blinded by hubris, intoxicated by absolute power, unable to set limits on their exploitation of the underclass, propelled to expand empire beyond its capacity to sustain itself, addicted to hedonism, spectacle and wealth, surrounded by half-witted courtiers—Alan Greenspan, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks and others—who tell them what they want to hear, and enveloped by a false sense of security because of their ability to employ massive state violence, are the last to know their privileged world is imploding.


            • Hanswurst

              The thing is, though, that in this specific case, there are specific people who do appear to be aware that the systems that they had in place are imploding, so I don’t really see the point in discussing it with you when all you are offering is generic descriptions.

              • Colonial Viper

                I’m not an EU expert. I can only view what is happening from 35,000 feet.

                If you want to discount the motives and priorities of the power elite as a class in what is happening in the EU, and instead focus on specific people or organisations, that is your choice, but I would find such an approach lacking necessary context.

                It is also important to consider how the US manipulates the EU for its own ends.

                • Hanswurst

                  Straw-manning massively there. I have not discounted the influence of the US, nor have I denied that the ruling classes will hang on to power.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I apologise, I continue to state the obvious, and I suspect in a rather boring way. I will try to snap out of it.

  3. roy cartland 3

    No rich person should ever be in charge of public policy again. They have proven, over and over, that they simply aren’t able to represent the common person. How could they? A rich person, by definition, makes their money from not working for it. From owning something (that should probably be publicly owned) which others then pay them too much for. An industry. A website. Some land. A song or an idea for godssake!

    Until we understand that a rental economy is inherently against our interests, and get back OUR property, we’re flogging a dead duck.

    • Greg 3.1

      Tories, and National is a Tory government, have privatized the commons for private profit for the elite, while socializing the debt, sold common held assets which raise prices and still expect taxpayers to fund development, look at electricity.
      They did this in England to land used by the peasantry, when the elite wanted to graze their sheep.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      No rich person should ever be in charge of public policy again. They have proven, over and over, that they simply aren’t able to represent the common person.

      What they’ve proven, over and over again, is that we cannot afford the rich.

      The solution is obvious – we need to get rid of the rich.

      • jcuknz 3.2.1

        “OFF with their heads” Draco 🙂
        The French did it and look where it got them.

        • Draco T Bastard

          No, just legislate them out of existence. Make it impossible to be rich.

          That was the problem with the French solution – they still allowed the rich exist afterwards with the inevitable rise of exact same problems. Same thing happened after the British Revolution which installed capitalism as the new medium of control of the masses.

          • Richardrawshark

            No, you make being rich irrelevant, not glorified as a life goal constantly by media and newspapers and the materialist messages they brainwash people with.

            control the message and it’s truth content.

            Deep down every single person wants to hear the truth not Murdock’s sick take on it.

      • Greg 3.2.2

        how many doctors, engineers, tradespeople do they educate?

        I recall seeing a slogan Eat the Rich, eww, feed them to the crocs maybe,
        would that be classed as animal cruelty?

  4. Sabine 4

    Does Brexit present us with the opportunity to create a better world?


    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Unfortunately I see this as another milestone in the current trajectory of our civilisation.

      • Sabine 4.1.1

        what ever CV. What ever.

      • jcuknz 4.1.2

        Milestone or Millstone ?

        • Colonial Viper


          • Greg

            Well Dr Who would say its a fixed point in time he cant change,
            dont we just live in interesting times…it sure aint depressing,

            still want a moon base,
            the 2 trillion dollars lost n the share market would have built one,

            • Colonial Viper

              Pretty sure that the Pentagon had up to two trillion dollars unaccounted for (and that’s in 2001 USD)…maybe they already built a secret one up there

    • BM 4.2

      I think it does.

      The EU was set up to create peace and closer economic ties within Europe, not create some huge bureaucratic big brother that intrudes into all aspects of European life.

      The EU needs to be pared back to the absolute minimum, hopefully Brexit will be the trigger for that.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        For some elites the EEC was not enough. They wanted more power and more control over individual sovereign governments in order to enact their pro-globalist agenda.

    • roy cartland 4.3

      Why not? Why isn’t everything that happens an opportunity to create a better world? Such defeatist talk is unhelpful at best, sorry Sabine.

    • Karen 4.4

      +1 Sabine

    • aerobubble 4.5

      I mean really, did they think a country that has rejected the EU because immigrants is going to reopen the doors to kiwis, really. Those that were fedup will the UK being full of people. No, the anti free trade lobby won. BUt dint worry we got Mana to grab the policy and turn it into shit that nobody wants to touch, just need a rich prick to fund Hone.

  5. b waghorn 5

    Winston Peters steeped into the local section of the crack on henry this a m ,I’m just not sure whether it was fresh air he was blowing or some musty old stuff from a nonexistent bygone era.

  6. vto 6



  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    The remaining E.U. really could become a United States.

    Don’t really see that working to be honest. The place is too large and needs the flexibility that having national currencies would provide. This is the lesson from the PIIGS. They needed to default and let their currency value drop but the rest of the EU wouldn’t let that happen.

    • Ad 7.1

      Definitely worth a reflection on the optimum scale for the EU, and that will happen of course. But then, who would have thought that the US would have worked as well as it has? Or Canada?

      There’s going to be a whole new field of study open up on the optimum set of binding arrangements for co-operation between states; CER being a good case here.

      Sabine in another post quotes Goethe to great effect on this.

    • Greg 7.2

      Breaking up didnt work well for Yugoslavia, where there deep rooted ethinic devide ended in conflict and genocide.

      • Ad 7.2.1

        It’s Jocks against the Geordies once more!

        Ah but wait, all the Scottish clans and all the Counties should be able to break away as well.

        Lichtenstein and Andorra are such models for Ely, Wrexham, and Bogsnorkel.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hi Ad, you may wish to enforce your ideal of government over the wishes of the people who are to be governed.

          But there’s a name for that approach, and its not “democracy”.

          • Ad

            I really have no clue what the idea form of government should be. The world hasn’t figured out the ideal arrangement yet either. I’ll be bound it’d be quite cocky of you to propose one, but knock yourself out.

            But this isn’t the moment, no matter how powerful the instinct, to look for causes.

            The bigger stuff at stake is the potential decline of an entire liberal world view that has been going since at least post-World War 1. And yes, it’s quite easy to discern that aaway from neoliberalism and monetarism and any other form of extremist capitalism.

            What we need to be doing more of is debating the right kind of governing arrangement. Guaranteed the EU will be thinking precisely in terms of renewal of governance structures, membership, the challenges of immigration …. etc ….

            Somewhere in there is a challenge about the use of democracy and the role of actual citizens. Both about redefining the role of multi-state pacts, and of citizens’ relationship to them.

            Of course, all the left and right in the UK can do is thinking about licking their own balls for a while. We should expect them to have their heads buried deep in there, lolling around, for a couple of years at least.

    • Richardrawshark 7.3

      Nothing like a name change.


  8. Greg 8

    Does the Left have an identity crisis, its why its fracturing, Feminism will work for everyone, wont it.

    • Ad 8.1

      This is far bigger than new definitions of ‘the left’. This is about the binds of macro-states and their place in the world. If you want to join the ritual disembowelling crowd, they’re over on the other posts.

      • Greg 8.1.1

        Its always framed by the right/Tories and Left socialism, I’m just pointing out they ignor Feminism, the second most powerful lobby group in the political arena.
        The politics of fear is a constant message of the Left being a bogeyman. The Left is now an isolated, marginalized force, the only thing in common it has is old age.
        Hence does Labour have an identity crises, and who does it want to represent.

      • Greg 8.1.2

        Well if I’m confused at age 53 of what Labour is or isnt, and I voted Helen into Government, and voted her out, so what then for youth membership of the Labour party.
        The only political organisation in universities nowadays is factions of feminism,
        although, not Germaine Greer in the British ones.

        • Ad

          This isn’t the post for your issues about feminism.

          Run along now to Open Mike with that.

          • Greg

            I like feminism, its liberated me, i just dont compete well,

            we’re talking about what the Labour party is, or isnt,

            at least in New Zealand the opposition Labour party struck a blow for every worker, single and married,
            by the National part conceding to banning Zero Hour Employment Contracts.

        • Richardrawshark

          You voted her out! @ Grrrrrr

          Why man? Seriously why?

          • In Vino

            Be patient Rk… I remember taking great pleasure in voting for David Lange against Muldoon. That was a greater disaster. I never voted for Labour again – they have not yet made themselves worthy. I will continue to vote Green or even Te Mana for party vote until Labour show some real social conscience. So I never gave my party vote to Helen Clarke either.

            But if that turkey voted for Key….? Good question from you.

  9. Rae 9

    All I know is, that some big organization marching into areas like Kent, forcing people to uproot their different varieties of apples to have them all plant golden delicious, is not, not, not where the left wants the world to go. We have to re-group, pull back, and form some lines of reisistance against bureaucratic pin-heads who aren’t even elected, and big business riding roughshod over the little guy.
    Being able to travel freely is not enough reward to give away other rights, including the right to earn enough money to do any travelling in the first place.

    • …some big organization marching into areas like Kent, forcing people to uproot their different varieties of apples to have them all plant golden delicious, is not, not, not where the left wants the world to go.

      Well, these days, maybe. Within my lifetime, that was exactly where much of the left wanted the world to go.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Central authority statism was, and is, a big mistake.

        • Stuart Munro

          It depends on the magnitude of the problems and the sincerity of those trying to solve them. Savage’s housing was big statist, but he wasn’t corrupt or sectarian. The result was benign or better.

          If people with real problems have to choose between a functional big state and a kaleidoscope of ineffectual interest groups, the big state wins. Europe chose not to deliver enlightened governance – it will be interesting to see if they can learn the lessons of Brexit.

          • Ad

            That’s the big conversation I haven’t see either the Left or the Right even start to have. A much more adventurous dialogue than wondering who’s going to lead the loser party in little old England.

            What is the optimum form and force of the state, in the current circumstances. The nation-state is easily too brittle a construct for the next steps in global development to be taken in any collective form.

            But what’s the form to get to “enlightened governance”?

            We won’t get tot that conversation for a while. Likely it will be clouded by the divorce terms over the next three years. But optimisiically it will form the real “Where To Next” for the EU?

            • Stuart Munro

              As far as enlightened governance goes, we don’t know with certainty how to produce happiness, but we can measure unhappiness pretty easily. Governments that set meaningful and rising minima for housing, income health and education are on the path. Governments that respond measurably to developing issues like automation or climate change could be on the right path. These are the bottom lines Europe should’ve set, together with their human rights stuff. Cross border capital freedom and cucumber straightness not so much.

              Immigration remains a big issue – I see nothing but denial online – no data that shows it is benefiting lower classes, only assertions of its desirability. Auckland house seekers would probably say it is not desirable, and I imagine that working class England is not mistaken in identifying competition for critical resources. Government no longer studies the impact meaningfully because they mean to impose reduced living standards. They’re overdue for Roy Batty’s response to Tyrel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOOrL8AsrvI

      • Rae 9.1.2

        That is authoritarianism, not necessarily is it left

  10. save nz 10

    Great post. It would be fantastic if Brexit did lead to a better society, more equality and politicians working and listening to the people again.

    I actually would like them to do the 2nd referendum, so that people who did not vote last time, take it seriously and make a decision. 2% is quite a small margin for such a large change. If they voted again, it might be a reversal outcome but still send the message as it was intended to the EU & UK bureaucrats, people first, politics second. Stability is not just dependant on ‘economics’ but also society being fair, something that has been forgotten in the last 25 years.

    • Ad 10.1

      Cheers. Plenty of doom-cult types talking about the imminent collapse of a kind of liberal world order.

      It’s a moment to build. Just build.

  11. Nic the NZer 11

    I think its necessary to begin here with a brexit response from some economists.


    Bearing that in mind, why would it be sensible for ” Brexit could be a moment to stop talking about economics, and stop talking about life as money.” Which will obviously just mean leaving the economics and their impacts on populations up to the “experts” who don’t appear to actually have their interests at heart?

    The remainder of the post appears ignorant of the history of the Eurozone which was when first proposed suggested to be a fiscal union (like the united states of europe). At the time a viable Eurozone was rejected as the fiscal union appeared unachieveable. Later Monetarist thinking overtook the economics accademy which produced the expertise described above and decided the Eurozone could work without a fiscal union (resulting in the present Eurozone mess). Calling for the Eurozone to remain until a fiscal union becomes feasible is simply asking for the suffering to carry on for decades for many countries.

    This is the underlying dynamic driving populations to vote for right wing populists. The centrist politicians in Europe are not listening and simply repeat the message on economic matters, take your medicine its good for you. People can easily see that the medicine is not working it appears to be making the economy sicker at least for them.

    • Ad 11.1

      Don’t get me wrong; I’m very happy that Basel III is doing its job.

      But there aren’t a lot of people teasing out the demcratic impulses from the economic impulses from the social/immigration ones.

      I’m sufficiently across the history of the formation of the EU, or I would not have written the post. This is definitely the right time to re-look at the extent of powers and governance arrangements of the EU. In fact there has been no better moment since the GFC nearly a decade ago.

      It was deliberately written not to over-emphasise economic factors, and concentrate on the democratic factors. Which is what I urge you to turn your mind to.

      There’s plenty on the left and right who like to reduce life to economic impulses. From that they impute causes to votes. They are wrong.

      • Nic the NZer 11.1.1

        “It was deliberately written not to over-emphasise economic factors, and concentrate on the democratic factors.”

        As you will clearly be aware the EU has a shocking record of prioratising their own economic policy decisions over and above democratic decisions. You simply can’t isolate these parts they are not separable. People have already in many EU countries rejected the economic policy thrust on them by the EU only for it to be overridden. Your discussion simply refuses to deal with this or even acknowledge its occurance.

        British voters have also rejected the obvious influence of the EU which prevents the Govt of the UK controlling its borders. You may want to ignore the basis for their decision for the purpose of this post but they have decided that having the EU meddling in their democracy is not wanted according to the reforendum result.

        Of course if you simply ignore all of the actual issues which actually come up under EU democracy then there are no issues which are presented by the EU form of democracy. But that is materially a fantasy and irrelevant.

        “In fact there has been no better moment since the GFC nearly a decade ago.”
        Thats right a decade and no action, no real sign of action either. How many years do we need to wait? And how many years until the extreme right gains power?

        • Colonial Viper

          you will clearly be aware the EU has a shocking record of prioratising their own economic policy decisions over and above democratic decisions. You simply can’t isolate these parts they are not separable. People have already in many EU countries rejected the economic policy thrust on them by the EU only for it to be overridden.

          The comfortable white collar professional classes in the top portion of earners have no idea what the hell you are rabbiting on about. (And voted REMAIN).

    • Ad 11.2

      Naturally, I would agree with Lagarde on the financial risks to the world. She said that while the banking systems have absorbed the shock to start with, there’s real risks to navigate still:

      “At this point in time, policy makers both in the UK and in Europe are holding that level of uncertainty in their hands. How they come out in the next few days is going to really drive the direction in which risk will go,” Lagarde said.

      She said policymakers and multilateral institutions needed to work cooperatively to deal with the implications of the Brexit vote, and noted that only Britain can trigger the formal divorce proceedings – European politicians cannot force their hands.

      “We have strongly encouraged to actually proceed with this transition in the most efficient, predictable way in order to reduce the level of uncertainty which will in itself determine the level of risk,” she said.

  12. nzsage 12

    The big difference with a binary referendum is that you know your vote will count.

    Most other western political voting systems are contrived and convoluted to the point where, in many cases, you know your vote is not going to make a jot of difference..so why bother?

    Until that situation is resolved, apathetic voters will thrive.

    • Ad 12.1

      Would you call our MMP system simple?

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        It wastes a lot of votes, which discourages voting.

      • Priss 12.1.2

        Of course it’s simple. If you get 10% of the party vote, you get 10% of the seats. Anyone can figure that other.

        The only way votes are “wasted” if you vote for some tiny little party that gets 50 votes. Like Act.

  13. Incognito 13

    Another good post today!

    Brexit got people all across the world talking and thinking and this can only be a good thing IMO. It appears that the critical mass is here & now to affect some real and meaningful change that wasn’t there at the time of the GFC because everybody clenched their wallets because of the “F”. To help the good cause along I suggest that we call this the GDC or Global Democracy Crisis.

    • Ad 13.1

      Cheers Incognito.
      Plus the perfect picture for the post from the editorial team.
      It’s such a good democracy opening.

  14. Priss 14

    As others have suggested, it’s time WE had a referendum on whether or not to remain/leave the TPP.

    If it’s good enough for the Brits……

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