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The National government’s divided society

Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, June 2nd, 2013 - 14 comments
Categories: class war, democracy under attack, grant robertson, greens, human rights, jobs, john key, labour, national/act government, poverty, russel norman, slippery, unemployment - Tags: ,

Fairfax Ipsos pollster, Duncan Stuart, is surprised to have discovered evidence of a highly divided NZ: divided by income inequalities and political allegiance.  It’s surprising that the pollster is surprised by this, but perhaps this shows where his political allegiance lies.  As many on this site know, many on the left in NZ have been aware of these divisions for a long time.  Russel Norman’s speech yesterday was outstanding in the way it directly challenged the anti-democratic cronyism of John Key’s government.  This government has increased the division that already existed as the result of decades of the “neoliberal” scam.

As reported by Vernon Small on Stuff today (in an article in need of a proof read):

Almost of Kiwis are affected by unemployment, but National supporters are far less likely than other voters to have someone out of work in their inner circle of friends and family.

The data, collected as part of the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, has emerged as a key fault line in society and between the Government and the opposition.

It is reported that the poll shows 21% of respondents knew unemployed people.  57% of Pacific and Maori people knew several people who are unemployed, and 67% of people in these groups knew one or two people out of work.

As well as showing up a country divided by gaps in wealth and income, the poll exposed a related political division in the country. Small reports,

The figures showed New Zealanders occupied quite different strata aligned with political views.

However, National voters were also the most confident that the current Government would make a better fist of reducing unemployment than the opposition.

Asked if the main opposition parties would do a better job of reducing unemployment, 34 per cent of those surveyed said yes and 31 per cent said no.

Maori and Pacific people had the strongest expectation the opposition could improve things – 55 per cent and 59 per cent respectively.

Not surprisingly, those backing Labour (66 per cent), Green (62 per cent) and NZ First (46 per cent) felt a change of Government would help, against just 7.7 per cent of National voters.

Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg said the poll showed the impact of unemployment was far greater than the official statistics suggest.

Among the “precariat” there is a high amount of underemployment, as well as alternating periods of employment and unemployment.  This is masked in the way Key and Bill English talk up the official employment statistics ,and their cronyist “job creating” deals.

But Stuart said one surprise finding in the data was that those with unemployed in their social circle – who might have been expected to back the SkyCity deal because it would create jobs – were less in favour of the deal than others.

“This suggests [Labour leader David] Shearer or [Prime Minister John] Key won’t be able to dress up any old policy mutton and justify it on the ‘it’s all about job creation’ plank.”

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson said the survey showed National voters could too easily live in a bubble and were buying the Government’s rhetoric.

The country needed a more hands-on approach, “pulling all the levers big and small” including monetary policy, a capital gains tax and skills training. And he said that jobs would be a priority election battleground for Labour.

A centrepiece of its policy is likely to be an idea borrowed from Denmark to keep people who lose their jobs in the workforce through a type of “employment guarantee” scheme.

The article then goes on to provide examples of individuals and a community (living examples of the “precariat”), showing how unemployment, and underemployment are life-sapping and far from being a ‘life-style’ choice for idle bludgers.


With Russel’s speech yesterday, and the blockupy demonstrations against the bankster-benefiting, poverty-inducing, inegalitarian austerity measures in Europe, perhaps a change is finally coming. Let’s hope it’s not just another false spring and that more people are starting to notice of, and stand up to, the divided world brought about by the callous and individualism of the “neoliberal” revolution.


14 comments on “The National government’s divided society”

  1. Olwyn 1

    I think you have a typo in your final paragraph – “egalitarian austerity measures.” Yes, if people do wake up to what is happening and do make their presence felt it should hopefully push the putative left further to the actual left. I too took cautious hope from Norman’s speech.

    • karol 1.1

      Thanks, Olwyn,. Fixed. The browser’s auto-spell check red lines “inegalitarian”. I clicked on it for “fix” without looking too closely at the result.

      And agree on the “cautious hope” response.

    • JK 1.2

      Me too – cautious hope, and a wake-up call to Labour …… maybe. And Labour pigs might fly ?

      • Mary 1.2.1

        Labour’s silence is treachery. They don’t deserve to be the opposition let alone the government. I’ve reached a point where I’m completely sickened by the sight of anything Labour. Even if a Labour MP happens to say something I think is vaguely accurate I cannot take them seriously because I cannot get over what Labour currently represents. Key and his mates are destroying NZ and Shearer and his mates are letting it happen. For this Shearer and Labour must never be forgiven.

  2. Jimmie 2

    Chicken or the egg?

    This poll more likely reflects the long held reality that poor and unemployed folks vote left and middle class and self employed folks vote right.

    And as is often the case that birds of a feather flock together it is fairly obvious that labour/green voters would associate with other folks of a similar social standing to themselves.

    (Especially amongst school leavers and uni students who tend to be both poor and left wing as they start out – or don’t – on their working lives)

    The same with middle class & self employed folks – associate with those with whom you have a lot in common – this has always been the case.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      …labour/green voters would associate with other folks of a similar social standing to themselves.

      Reality check: it’s the Right that has “low levels of contact with out-groups” (“Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes“) – it’s one of the main drivers of the prejudice and racism that typifies conservatism.

  3. North 3

    ” But Stuart said one surprise finding in the data was that those with unemployed in their social circle – who might have been expected to back the SkyCity deal because it would create jobs – were less in favour of the deal than others. ”

    Doesn’t that say it all about the attitudes of those who are not the victims ?

    The unemployed and poor must endorse or at least say nothing about whatever top-dog serving/enriching scam is served up as “job creation” by the top-dogs (ShonKey Python and SkyCity in this case). To question is temeritous and ungrateful, signifying intent to bludge off and rort we “decent folk”. At best, being charitable, it is unco-operative and careless of this nation’s interests.

    The unemployed and poor, whom by their ugly existence are an affront to we “decent folk”, are rightly suspended from full engagement in our democratic society while they insolently maintain their culpable indolence. Who the fuck do they think they are ?

    This is the corrupt attitudinal backdrop which sanitises dirty deals and crony capitalism engaged by the already filthy rich, thus hastening New Zealand’s slide into deeper and deeper inequality.

    Whom amongst the “decent folk” so opining will be entitled to clutch their pearls with horror when civil unrest combusts this country ?

    Boss Hogg Bennett-like you define your “dog”, you then defame and demonise your “dog” to all and sundry, you then kick and kick and kick your “dog”……..sooner or later.

    “We” will have only ourselves to blame.

  4. irascible 4

    It would be interesting and informative if the framing and wording of the Fairfax questions about the Casino deal and other attitude / position issues like the PowerNZ proposal put up by Shearer & Norman were designed to allow the respondents a reasoned response?

    The questions about the ethical rights or wrongs of the decisions may not have been factored into the poll and may, therefore, have produced the result being commented on.

  5. David H 5

    “Almost of Kiwis are affected by unemployment, but National supporters are far less likely than other voters to have someone out of work in their inner circle of friends and family.”

    Now my question would be.

    How many National supporters know, or have in their circle of friends, someone who has been convicted of, or is being investigated for a blue collar crime?

    • Dv 5.1

      >>How many National supporters know, or have in their circle of friends, someone who has been convicted of, or is being investigated for a blue collar crime?


      Should that not be white collar crime?

  6. Neither National or Labour are responsible for NZ’s ‘divided society’.

    NZ has always been class divided. The only time when that became less obvious was during the post-war boom. But that was an artificially extended boom in the regular flow of minor booms and major busts.

    NZ Governments have little influence over these cycles. The Liberal Govt of the 1890s settled thousands of landless on farms but at the expense of the biggest Maori land grab of all time. How’s that for class?

    Labour insulated the economy after 36 following the US New Deal, but it was the extreme regulation of the wartime economy that produced the post war boom in the US and NZ.

    We expect the NATS to push their ruling class agenda more or less openly, but Labour bears the main responsibility for NZ workers being drafted like cattle to the meat works.

    Labour does ‘treachery’ well. 1916 in midst of wartime jingoism wrote last rites for the Red Fed. Invoking of Public Safety Conservation Act during WW2. Sitting out the 51 lockout. Nordmeyer’s Black Budget. The Fourth Labour Government. Blairite Fifth Labour Government.

    What’s more to do? Shearer forming a grand coalition with Key against the ‘extreme right’ and ‘extreme left’. Crazy? What is the difference in policy between the Labour centrists and National centrists? Who gets to p on whom in the PPPs.

  7. xtasy 7

    We could certainly do with more observant, more astute, more focused, honest and better informed, as well as generally better qualified media personalities, as again, a program and interview on Q+A showed yesterday morning.

    I sense a bit of a personal bias in Jessica Mutch’s way of asking questions, and apart from that the interview she conducted with Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett was somewhat mediocre, I must say. She let Bennett “jump about” and deliver in part contradicting or no clear answers, saying one thing, then qualifying what she said in the next sentence, or even contradicting it fully in yet another sentence.

    A good interviewer would not let Paula get away with such stuff. See some excerpts – and a link to the whole interview further below:

    “JESSICA Isn’t it the role of parents, though, Minister?

    PAULA Well, there’s no doubt about it that it is, yeah. We have a very generous welfare system when you compare it internationally. We have Working for Families. We put significant amounts of money into low-income and beneficiary families. They should be able to feed their children on that. But circumstances sometimes mean they can’t, and as a consequence, we want to put the children first and make sure that they’re being fed.”

    (Really, I ask, “very generous welfare system”, well maybe costly, but not effective and not really assisting all those sufficiently that need a fair go, I’d say to that. Also where are the thousands of jobs paying a living wage to employ the unemployed, and soon those few sick and disabled that may be able to do a few hours a week?)

    Another part:

    “JESSICA Why is that? I mean, it seems very simple, from an outside point of view. If you can’t measure poverty, how can you understand whether you’re succeeding or not? I mean, in fact this was the very first recommendation in that report. Why aren’t you considering that?

    PAULA But we do measure poverty, so it’s wrong to say we don’t. What we don’t have is one-

    JESSICA But one universal way.

    PAULA Yeah, what we don’t have is one agreed “this is what we’ll measure every year”, but actually it’s a bit more complex than that, so there’s about four or five different measurements, and we agree with them and that they are what we are measured on. So there are measurements. I just don’t think it’s a statistical argument, which is what it would very quickly turn into over a long period of time as to what that measurement should be, which actually it’s real world, on the ground-

    JESSICA In some ways, though, how can it not be a statistical argument? Because, I mean, the report is saying children in poverty – we need to reduce that in New Zealand by 30% to 40%. How can we do that or know whether your government and policies are succeeding if we can’t see the exact numbers that are getting into poverty or not?

    PAULA But we can see them. That’s my point. So you’ve got two measures-

    JESSICA But a universal measure for that.

    PAULA Well, you’ve got two measures, and they are universal. We just haven’t got one agreed one. That’s all it is. So they are measures. We can compare now-

    JESSICA But don’t you need that?

    PAULA Well, no. We can compare now to 2007 if we want to. So, projected-

    JESSICA So why not? Because, I mean, that seems really simple.

    PAULA Well, projected 240,000 children in 2007, and they say that there’s around 270,000 now. So if you take that measurement, then that’s where it lies, and it tells us exactly where we are and we’ll be able to compare that in three years and we’ll be able to compare that in another five. But that is exactly it. It’s a statistical argument. These kids need action, and I think that’s where the country’s attention should be, and that’s certainly what government should be doing. So, you know, academics and others can wring their hands and want this one measure. We’ve already got measures. We can compare ourselves. We can know where we are now compared to a few years ago and we can look back in the future and see what we’ve done. What we need is actions.”


    Yes, Paula, “what we need is action”?! I cannot wait to have you sacked, as you are truly incompetent and in the wrong job! Go back washing dishes in the take-away or whatever you once ran in Taupo!


    • i agree with yr assesments on mutch..

      ..but i went further..



      “….bennett then trots out the the key/boag-line..calling the audience to compare with 2007..(at the height of labours shameful/’look-at-us-we’re-as-big-a-bunch-of-uncaring-pricks as national!’ ignoring of the poorest..eh..?)

      ..the interviewer..mutch..once again..has neither the intelligence nor wit to call bennett on that..and to point back to when poverty actually took off..

      ..under the national govt/richardson ‘mother-of-all-budgets..when she gutted support for those most in need..”

      phillip ure..

      • xtasy 7.1.1

        Entertaining, quite fitting take on what I saw and heard, you are right! Yes, it may be funny in some ways, but it is really all so serious, and we know this.

        As for that interview, Bennett left the viewers and listeners even less informed as they may have been prior to this “interview”, saying basically nothing neither here, nor there, re what the government will do to address child and general poverty:

        “JESSICA When will we see action on that? What’s the next step now?

        PAULA Oh, look, we’ve got the Ministerial Committee on Poverty, which is made up of Bill English and Tariana Turia and numbers of us, so we’re all sort of saying, “Well, should we look a bit deeper and get some work done?” And I think we might do that over time.

        JESSICA So just to clarify, you’re saying that you’re looking into extending those tax credits for families?

        PAULA No, we’re just looking into all of the recommendations, and that is one of them.

        JESSICA But specifically on those tax credits?

        PAULA No, well, we haven’t made that decision yet, but we just haven’t completely ruled it out.

        JESSICA Great, so it’s still an option on the table for later in the year?

        PAULA Well, it’s still there, and the committee have decided that they’ll look deeper at a few other options, and that might be one of them. But that’s yet to be decided. We’ve been doing a lot of work to get us to this point, and that might be on the next tranche of work that we might decide to look at.”

        I repeat:
        “PAULA Oh, look, we’ve got the Ministerial Committee on Poverty, which is made up of Bill English and Tariana Turia and numbers of us, so we’re all sort of saying, “Well, should we look a bit deeper and get some work done?” And I think we might do that over time.”

        Yeah, wonderful, Bill English (a very “caring” man, yeah right) and “numbers of us”, and Turia who is on her way into retirement, that will really get things moving, and the Nat ones on that “committee” will all be such ones as I saw and heard on the Social Services Committee, when they heard submissions on the “Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill, I suppose. They are all lackeys supporting the bash the beneficiary agenda, for sure!

        Forget it, dear poor, you are done, left down there, hung out to dry, as the beggars for a few weet-bix (cereal briquettes) and a cup of milk for your kids at school. Do not forget to supply the spoons and bowls though, as they are not included!

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