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The United States mid term Elections

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, November 9th, 2014 - 86 comments
Categories: us politics - Tags: ,

The US mid term elections were held this week and the general consensus amongst the main stream media is that the Democrats and in particular Barack Obama were humiliated. In the senate the Republicans gained seven seats and two further seats are still in play. They have a clear majority. In Congress the Republicans reinforced an existing majority. Obama faces two years where he has no control over either house.

I feel a bit sorry for him because he has been blamed for the result. He is not the only left leader in the world (in the very broadest sense of the term) to be facing pressure. In the United Kingdom Ed Milliband is under some pressure and elsewhere in the western world progressives are also struggling. There is this tension between playing the political game and winning support by triangulating issues and keeping support with the base and energising ordinary people with the promise of real change. It is clearly difficult if not impossible to do both.

What happened in the US? The reports are that young and latinos did not vote. This problem also occurred in the 2010 mid term elections. Maybe the Democrats will always struggle if there is not a presidential election happening at the same time to energise turnout. And maybe leaders need to deliver on the hope and change that Obama promised.

The impression I have is that Obama has struggled at both edges of his support. The right were attacking him for Obamacare which I think is a wonderful policy. When senior Republicans suggest that he is responsible for the appearance of Ebola in the United States you realise that things have turned really weird. And the opposition to doing anything about climate change suggests to me a level of belligerence and stupidity that cannot be matched and that is deeply damaging to humanity’s future interests.

The news is not all bad. Five US states had votes on whether or not there should be an increase in the minimum wage. Each proposal passed convincingly. These were not necessarily liberal states either. The results were Alaska (69:31), Arkansas (66:34), Illinois (67:33), Nebraska (59:41), and South Dakota (55:45). Three of these states returned Republican senators. Those basic decent policies can win every time no matter what is happening at a political level.

Ad submitted a guest post that expressed things far more eloquently than I could. Here it is …

The scale of the recent defeat by the U.S. Democrats resonates with the pounding Labour and Labor took in NZ and Australian elections this year. It’s rare to see parallel scales of defeat, common failings, and common lessons. Reviews months ahead becomes mere exercises in nostalgia.
Neither Labour, Labor, nor Democrats had a coherent set of policies, none were sold well, and all three political leaders were competent but quick to compromise. Resultant NZ government, federal Australian government, and U.S. Senate and Representative houses are shaping up as far more conservative than we’ve seen for decades. Across the western world we’re shut out, and it’s cold out here.

This is despite core policies associated with the losers working well and being remarkably popular. Obamacare has performed well. As has Kiwisaver. Nor was there lack of support for policies to campaign on. New Zealand’s public resoundingly opposed asset sales, and supported the Capital Gains Tax. U.S. state by state support for minimum wage increases was massive, even in staunchly conservative states.

Obama has two months and two years to govern, but his track record of egregious compromise has damaged any future legacy he might have and damaged his party such that by 2016 Republicans could well run all three governmental layers. Labour’s incoherence to the public remains such that National could run both New Zealand and Auckland within a single party by 2016. Did I mention the cold?

Looking back on Gough Whitlam, LBJ, or Clark, we can see that truly pathbreaking strides in Australia, the U.S., or New Zealand are highly concentrated in a few brief windows of overwhelming progressive dominance. We now also know that lasting progress depends on building on those foundations, and protecting them from erosion until the next opportunity for advancement presents itself. Through bold and quickly enacted policy, millions of lives were changed for the better.

At some point the left (broadly) will win again. We need a coalition primed for an uncompromising agenda push. The legacy of that first successful term will ensure the left’s revival for years afterward, and will spur us on to form a further clearly communicated and uncompromising policy enacted within that first window after election. After that, fate’s doors close hard. Democrats, Labour and Labour are all of us dealing with the aftermath of corrosive and sustained compromise, and that’s right across most aspiring progressive/left/social democratic parties in the world.

Voters have told the Democrats, Labour and Labor that we need no more fantasies that compromise will win the public back to our causes. What commenters see as over-defined or prescriptive, the public will read as clear and principled. We need more of clear and principled. It will win the public and it will win the media, and it will win the next term after that. That does not need to be confused with radical. We simply need to be uncompromising and clear, both to gain electoral power, and to sustain it once more. We’ll all be learning that for a while, out here in the cold.

86 comments on “The United States mid term Elections ”

  1. BM 1

    At some point the left (broadly) will win again. We need a coalition primed for an uncompromising agenda push. The legacy of that first successful term will ensure the left’s revival for years afterward, and will spur us on to form a further clearly communicated and uncompromising policy enacted within that first window after election.

    That paragraph is the reason the left won’t be elected for a very long time.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Thanks for your advice BM.

      I presume you would prefer Labour to go back to the good old days where Rogernomics reigned supreme.

      • BM 1.1.1

        No, but I certainly don’t want radical change when the left get elected, massive change is bad for the country.

        For me that’s one of the reason Key has been so successful, he came in after nine years of Helen Clark and was smart enough to realize that labour had been in government because the voters liked some of their policies.
        National was labour light and for a very good reason.

        What he’s done is gradually pull NZ from the left to a more right wing mindset and he’s done it in a way where people have barely noticed, so it’s now become the norm for most people.

        Any radical change you guys propose will flow directly against mainstream NZ and your new left wing government will be lucky to survive a term.

        • Ad 1.1.1.1

          There are plenty of times the New Zealand public have voted for a clear and strong change in policy direction. You know that if you passed Year 11 Social Studies. And they will again, if a good majority of them believe it is warranted.

          • BM 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes, when governments have basically destroyed themselves.

            Unless National implodes and Key goes mad I don’t think radical change is what the people will really want.

            I think this is one of the major hurdles that the left face, all the left parties are full to the brim with old activists who’s thinking is out there on the fringe and completely disconnected from the mainstream voter.

            • Ad 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Being in power for its own sake is the preserve of the conservative end of politics.

              Being in power to change things is the natural impulse of the Left.

              Clearly you missed some of the subtext of the post above:

              In politics it doesn’t matter if you get in for three terms, or one term.
              In politics, for the left, it matters if you can look back and show real progress.

              -Whitlam “exploded”. And did more for reforming Australia than 6 terms of the Liberals.
              – LBJ “exploded”. And did more for reforming the U.S. progressively than anyone before him since Roosevelt.
              – Clark’s best days, even, were over once the ideological propulsion of the Alliance “exploded”.
              – Big Norm “exploded” by dying. But he’s still the bellwether of NZ’s international idealism.
              etc. etc. Which is my point about third form social studies.

              Cunliffe forgot that lesson. Clark in her third term had forgotten it. Obama never understood it.

              It’s simply time the Left understood that bold policy with no compromise is the only way to get the voter public’s respect back.

              • chris73

                I really hope you’re advising Labour because that’s the surest way to get National re-elected

                • Ad

                  The evidence from many elections in both NZ’s past, in the US, and in Britain, proves you wrong.

                  • chris73

                    It was also believed governments lost popularity yet National got more votes this time round also it was believed a political party would never govern alone in MMP yet again National came within a smidgeon of making it happen

                    The people of NZ do not want bold policy with no compromise, NZ wants left of center or right of center

                    • Ad

                      National will remain dominant until there is a real and compelling political reason to put someone else in. There is no motivation from the public to replace one beige bunch with another.

                    • chris73

                      There is no motivation from the public to replace one beige bunch with another.

                      – If that were true National wouldn’t have gotten elected, all Labour has to do is show NZ they’re united, know their policies and will only pull NZ to left of center not NZ as it was in the 70s

                      They do that they’ll get elected

                    • felix

                      “it was believed a political party would never govern alone in MMP yet again National came within a smidgeon of making it happen”

                      Another way of saying that is that according to you guys, National won the best win ever like the massive winners they are, and yet they still can’t govern alone.

                    • National has probably lost popularity among the general public, but has massively motivated its base, and has the support of the soft vote as they do not perceive Labour as a united party, and therefore do not perceive them as a credible government.

            • Tom Jackson 1.1.1.1.1.2

              The problem with this is that the mainstream voter is now tending towards crazy idiocy.

              When senior Republicans suggest that he is responsible for the appearance of Ebola in the United States you realise that things have turned really weird. And the opposition to doing anything about climate change suggests to me a level of belligerence and stupidity that cannot be matched and that is deeply damaging to humanity’s future interests.

              If parties can get elected saying stuff like that, then we’re truly through the looking glass, and left wing parties could promise the most sober, reality-based policies imaginable and still not get elected.

              • Ad

                What I think you are heading towards is the trick of a Left populism.
                It’s a hard trick to pull off, and there’s plenty of US party films about it (e.g. Bob Roberts, Mr Smith Goes to Washington), but it has been done (e.g. the Chilean “No” campaign against Pinochet’s referendum).

                Bob Harvey’s bell jar illustrations nearly got there.

                I see theming and packing as a neglected Leftie skill, but quite different to the lessons of the current electoral year.

                • If it’s just going to be duping people through populism, then there’s no point keeping democracy other than to keep people feeling as if they are in control.

            • Murray Rawshark 1.1.1.1.1.3

              Key is already mad with power. He thinks he is above morality and law. We all have feet of clay, but I think in his case the clay goes up to the armpits. Once people turn, his fall will be rapid. They’ll be more bitter than a husband who finds his wife has been unfaithful with the boss who just fired him.

        • chris73 1.1.1.2

          +100 BM

    • The reason that the left doesn’t win in the US is the Koch Bros.
      And that is why the Democrats have to compete for big money to win.
      95% of successful elections spend the most money.
      The game is not only rigged, the game is entertainment.
      Note the interview with Robert Kennedy Jnr on the Keiser Report
      http://rt.com/shows/keiser-report/203427-episode-max-keiser-677/
      Like NZ the majority supports left of centre economics.
      Politics however is owned by the ruling class.
      Capitalist democracy is a myth.
      Workers democracy is the answer.

  2. Ad 2

    BM you need to demonstrate knowledge of why Left-type governments are almost always different to Right-type governments. It will help you when commenting on this site.

  3. Bill 3

    And again…(I mean, fuck, I’m almost boring myself with this constant repetition of the bleeding obvious)… Miliband’s Labour, that is not a million miles away from NZ Labour, struggles to compete with the Tories in a UK context, but is arguably about to disappear where it’s pitted against a genuine social democratic left (The SNP in Scotland).

    And…again. The SNP won an absolute majority in an MMP environment on a turnout of around 50% before any independence referendum was on the table and are presently the third largest party in the UK on membership numbers (80 000+ members from a population base similar to NZs ).

    The parliamentary left tanking has nothing to do with either a non-sympathetic media or low voter turnout; the parliamentary left is doing crap because it’s crap.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1

      Give them time and the SNP will be crap too !

      Wait till Salmond goes to Westminister and has to be Labours poodle in government.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        You’re aware of that poll taken after Lamont’s resignation that indicated 50+ SNP mps voted into Westminster from Scotland against 4 or 5 Labour mps? Now sure, that poll was a one off at a particular time. But regardless, how or why would SNP mps in Westminster be Labour poodles? That assertion makes no sense.

        And of course the SNP will be crap too. All parliamentary parties go through a cycle that includes a dull conservative phase where they betray their roots. The trick is in being resurgent as opposed to dead.

        • Colonial Rawshark 3.1.1.1

          But regardless, how or why would SNP mps in Westminster be Labour poodles? That assertion makes no sense.

          Because in traditional Labour’s way of thinking (both here and in the UK), all “minor” left wing parties have to be subservient to Labour, as it Labour the “natural home” of the political left. Or some such.

  4. hoom 4

    To categorise Obama as Left really does a disservice to the term Left.

    Similarly to categorise the Republicans as Conservative is a disservice to real Conservatives.
    Neo-con are not Conservatives, they are very radical which is the opposite of Conservative.

    The problem with Obama is that he was the big Hope for Change from the creeping further & further Corporate Right Neo-Con crap.
    Yet he either was really a Neo-Con in hiding or has been utterly captured by them.

    The Change that Obama has brought is a restart of the Cold War & a whole heap of new small wars rather than the peace he promised & won Nobel prize for.
    Domestically corporate neo-cons are even more powerful, the Billionaires far richer, the poor even more poor, freedoms eroded & the criminals who caused the GFC unpunished.

    And thats the ‘good guy’ so who are you going to vote for in protest?

    • Ad 4.1

      Agreed, but each country has a different sliding scale from left to right.

      Even taking that into account, there are common lessons to be drawn right at this historical moment.

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1

        The “sliding scale” metaphor is good, but neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party is worth supporting with even a single dollar or minute of time. Supporting a less far right party to get in, in order to prevent a more far right party getting in, is a waste of time and energy.

        And either consciously or unconsciously knowing that, that’s why the commoners stay at home.

        • Ad 4.1.1.1

          You may feel differently if you lived there.
          There aren’t any easy choices – in fact they are getting narrower and harder.

          • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1.1.1

            In the US there is the choice of supporting independent or Green Party candidates, but those options are rendered totally invisible and impotent by the corporate MSM. The Democratic Party will go so far as to attack and cut down truly progressive independent candidates like Ralph Nader, because they show up the Democratic Party for who they really are.

  5. Michael 5

    The US Democrats also have voter turnout and gerrymandering to deal with. For example, in the 2010 House elections, only 40.9% of people turned out. (A majority of the rich turn out and the poor don’t.) And the Democrats actually won the popular vote, however the Republicans took a majority in the House due to gerrymandering and FPTP.
    And let’s not forget that $3.7 billion was spent, with a lot of it by corporations, on the 2014 elections. (!) And guess who has the most money to spend? The right.

    • joe90 5.1

      Same old.

      Propane Jane ‏@docrocktex26

      This is what 2.8 million extremists making decisions for a state of 28 million ppl looks like. Fucking insane. #TXGov

    • Ad 5.2

      Other than further redistricting (which is now entrenched through recent Supreme Court decisions), what do you think would concisely increase voter turnout?

      • ghostwhowalksnz 5.2.1

        changing to a sat election date. A lot of people are at work on a Tuesday.

        • Colonial Rawshark 5.2.1.1

          Nobody in power or with money wants to increase election turnouts. The aim is to decrease voter turnout. Ensuring large numbers of people were disenfranchised was a primary goal of the “Founding Fathers.”

    • Colonial Rawshark 5.3

      And guess who has the most money to spend? The right.

      The Democrats are also Right wing, and since Clinton gave in to banking and corporate interests, Democratic fund raising is often neck and neck with the Republicans.

      • Ad 5.3.1

        Every nations political spectrum shifts over time – ours sure has and is.

        • Colonial Rawshark 5.3.1.1

          I prefer the physics approach to spectra. If you’ve moved out of infra-red into the blue end of the spectrum, then you’re blue, and not infra-red any more.

      • Michael 5.3.2

        That’s true, although there are factions in the Democrats.

        There’s the “centrist” Democrats (which are on the right in actuality i.e. Clinton), and the “Progressive Caucus”, which are decent social democrats with an actual left agenda. (For example, Elizabeth Warren).

        Here’s a very good conversation between Elizabeth Warren and Thomas Pikkety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tMXA9slQo4 – Elizabeth is the de facto leader of the Progressive faction, and many Democrats want to see her run in 2016.

        There was another video (I forget where), where she addressed unions, and she had the union members standing on their seats clapping! There is a credible left faction in the Democratic party, but it only controls about 1/3 of the party which isn’t a lot.

  6. Ad 6

    There is no motivation from the public to replace one beige bunch with another.

    – If that were true National wouldn’t have gotten elected, all Labour has to do is show NZ they’re united, know their policies and will only pull NZ to left of center not NZ as it was in the 70s

    They do that they’ll get elected

    (sorry run out of Reply function)

    Unity is the political baby-steps to political success.
    Labour in NZ have to achieve, in order:
    – Unity, then
    – Bold Policy, then
    – Passion, then
    – Funding, then
    – New Candidates, then
    – Campaign Platform

    I am not trying in the post above to roll out the entire renewal platform for Labour here.
    What I am showing is a few common lessons to the Left right now, and right across many other democracies.

    • chris73 6.1

      You do know that what you’ve said is far more demoralizing to left wing supporters then anything I could come up with

      For Labour (especially) Unity is a herculean task by itself but add in funding and a campaign platform…

      • Ad 6.1.1

        As I point out above, this is about the worst electoral year the global left has had in multiple decades. The task is still the task.

        • Colonial Rawshark 6.1.1.1

          And what if both the organisation and the organisational culture is not fit for purpose? Those steps you have listed are merely the ABCs of winning (excuse the pun) but Labour struggles to even put two ticks on its election signs, let alone anything more complex.

          • Ad 6.1.1.1.1

            Either:
            Refuse to learn lessons and retreat from political activism, realising that Labour will continue without us

            Or:
            Start your own, knowing the risks are high and likely rewards v small

            Or:
            Reform from within.

            Which comes closer for you?

  7. barry 7

    I think there is not much equivalence between what happened in America to whathappened in NZ/Australia. Obama is not really left he just looks like that compared to the crazies that captured the Republican party.

    It looks like the Republicans have tamed the tea party a little bit so that they are not so scary, but really the story of these midterms is the low turnout. Basically Democrat supporters couldn’t see any reason to bother voting this time.

  8. TheContrarian 8

    Say hello to one of the new GOP lawmakers:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/anti-gay-gordon-klingenschmitt-elected-colorado-house

    John Key is positively angelic by comparison. The USA is, by no small measure, fucked.

  9. Chooky 9

    From the American horses’ (commentators’) mouths on the mid term Elections

    http://rt.com/shows/crosstalk/202943-obama-elections-us-government/

    “What is widely deemed as a resounding victory for the GOP and humiliating personal defeat for Barack Obama, this cycle of mid-term elections leave the Republicans in charge of legislative branch of government. Will this change anything in Washington?”

    CrossTalking with Don DeBar, Daniel Faraci and Stephen Yates.

  10. joe90 10

    Eisenhower called it.

    .

    The voters who put Barack Obama in office expected some big changes. From the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act, candidate Obama was a defender of civil liberties and privacy, promising a dramatically different approach from his predecessor.

    But six years into his administration, the Obama version of national security looks almost indistinguishable from the one he inherited. Guantanamo Bay remains open. The NSA has, if anything, become more aggressive in monitoring Americans. Drone strikes have escalated. Most recently it was reported that the same president who won a Nobel Prize in part for promoting nuclear disarmament is spending up to $1 trillion modernizing and revitalizing America’s nuclear weapons.

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/10/18/vote-all-you-want-the-secret-government-won-change/jVSkXrENQlu8vNcBfMn9sL/story.html

    .

    The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion.

    http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state/

  11. Murray Rawshark 11

    “Looking back on Gough Whitlam, LBJ, or Clark, we can see that truly pathbreaking strides in Australia, the U.S., or New Zealand are highly concentrated in a few brief windows of overwhelming progressive dominance.”

    WTF? The Clark government entrenched a lot of the main ideas of Rogernomics and made them respectable. It did very little to even roll back the absurdities of Douglas and Richardson. Goff closed schools. WFF meant that a line was drawn down the middle of the working class, with beneficiaries forever defined as somehow less worthy. WFF also meant that employers got to keep more of the profits, as the taxpayer topped up wages. Helen also ran such a tight ship with everything centred on her, that the remaining non-entities (with few exceptions) didn’t have a clue what to do once she’d gone.

    LBJ did a fair bit domestically, but will always suffer from what Kennedy leaving him with Vietnam. His influence on Latin America was also far from benign. I don’t think either of these two can be compared with Gough Whitlam.

    • DS 11.1

      Helen Clark was Labour’s Keith Holyoake: a long-serving pragmatist who basically governed within an overarching consensus (in Holyoake’s case it was the social-democratic consensus, in Clark’s case it was neoliberal). Certainly, both were electorally successful, but neither transformed (or even sought to transform) the country they governed.

      • Ad 11.1.1

        Note I specifically focussed on Clark’s first term and attributed its strength to the Alliance-Labour coalition agreement. Once the Alliance collapsed, so did the force and conviction of the government.

      • Murray Rawshark 11.1.2

        Yep. I spoke with her briefly in 1985 and she was of the view then that a government was powerless to change very much. She was hardly going to be a crusader with that attitude.

  12. boyonlaptop 12

    “New Zealand’s public resoundingly opposed asset sales, and supported the Capital Gains Tax.

    We need a coalition primed for an uncompromising agenda push.”

    So I am glad to hear you’ll be ranking Little last then? Considering he wants to scrap CGT and NZ Power?

    • Ad 12.1

      How do you draw the conclusion that this post favours any Labour leadership candidate?
      Or are you simply seeking to derail the post?

      • boyonlaptop 12.1.1

        Because the author is a staffer of David Cunliffe and has been supportive of Little on other posts on here? Plus I don’t see how this derails the post at all when the post explicitly mentions the NZLP.

        • Ad 12.1.1.1

          Neither writer has been a “staffer”.

          I don’t favour any candidate.

          The post isn’t about the leadership contest. There are other posts on that.

          It is about common lessons from common international movements.

    • bruhaha 12.2

      Scrap NZ Power? Really? Stop making stuff up. I’m amazed at how many of Grant Robertson’s supporters are now targeting Little with smears. I’ve heard it in the real world in the last few days as well as on social media.

      It has been a really clean race up until now. I’m starting to wonder if Robertson’s team is feeling like victory is slipping away and have decided to start playing dirty. I really hope not. We need unity after all of this.

      • boyonlaptop 12.2.1

        “Little signalled a major shift in direction if he won the leadership, including the likely ditching of unpopular policies such as raising the pension age.

        At a press conference today, the former union boss also signalled a rethink of a capital gains tax, power reforms and free doctor visits for over-65s.”
        http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10597711/Andrew-Little-confirms-Labour-leadership-bid

        Not making anything up, wish I was.

        Totally agree we need unity after this and will happily support Little for PM in 2017 should he win but lets not whitewash over some pretty nasty dog-whistle politics. Little himself has definitely presented himself well thus far but unfortunately the same can’t be said for a minority of his/Cunliffe supporters.

        • bruhaha 12.2.1.1

          Little has said he wants all the policy reviewed. You’re spinning. It’s unpleasant and I don’t believe you will support Little if he wins.

          With this claim and the false claim Mickey Savage is a Cunliffe staffer you’ve shown a distinct lack of good faith twice in one comment thread. That doesn’t engender any trust in you at all when it comes to unity.

          • boyonlaptop 12.2.1.1.1

            Oh that’s completely disingenuous to suggest he doesn’t want the CGT or NZ power scrapped. It’s exactly the same language Cunliffe used about reviewing the GST on fruit and vegetables as well as the tax free threshold when he ran. He’s used the same language in referring to NZ Power as he has to the CGT which he referred to yesterday “enough to stop people even considering what we have to say any more.” The CGT is a progressive well thought out concept and Little all but suggesting it is the reason Labour isn’t in government is narrow-minded and concerning.

            Sorry, he worked for Cunliffe in establishing a trust for the leadership election and was actively involved in Cunliffe’s campaign for the leadership. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all but he has worked for Cunliffe and as I’ve said has frequently defended Little on here to suggest that the leadership race isn’t relevant to this piece is ludicrous.

  13. Sable 13

    Interesting article but I think you will find the real problem is Obama looks more like a Republican than a Democrat. Guantanamo Bay was to be closed, the Patriot Act given its marching orders and the general warmongering and cruelty of the Bush years abolished.

    This has not happened. Indeed drone strikes have increased and Obama has instigated more global conflict/antagonism (some of them-Russia and China potentially very serious) than his predecessor.

    Its the same issue we have in NZ and the same issue in the UK. The divide of philosophy between the so called left and right of politics has blurred leaving people disillusioned and disgusted with the whole process.

    • Ad 13.1

      It’s indeed pretty easy to confuse left-right spectrums from one country to the next.

      The job’s harder since almost all left parties worldwide post Berlin Wall have got softer, and with far less principle against which to evaluate them.

      But Labour, Labor and the Democrats remain the default option as dominant party against conservative parties. They remain united by what they are against.

      Of course, that’s a further part of the problem, but there’s only so much one can address in one post.

      For a more thorough exploration of the above, have a good go at Tony Judt, “Ill Fares the Land”. Pretty fantastic.

      • Colonial Rawshark 13.1.1

        But Labour, Labor and the Democrats remain the default option as dominant party against conservative parties. They remain united by what they are against.

        Whose default though? Ever shrinking numbers, by the sounds of it. Ed Milliband has got a bullseye on his forehead now; his senior caucus members want him gone, just months before a general election.

        In the final analysis it’s not our job to prop up dead political establishments who no longer represent the interests of the mass of people; it’s our job to torpedo them.

        • Ad 13.1.1.1

          From the poll out today by UMR, Labour is the default opposition.
          Not saying its socialism, just the default opposition to Natiobal.

  14. Brian Biggins 14

    Who do the voters get their political messages from? The MSM. The NZ MSM is confirmed as supporting right wing political parties/government. Witness the MSM attacks during Clarks reign for pathetic reasons such as signed paintings, eco-light bulbs, smacking (Nanny state), but complete silence or cheerleading on issues that will negatively influence NZ now, and in the future, such as asset sales, external deficit blowout, cooking the stats, dirty politics…the list goes on. If the messenger is allowed to continue with the propaganda, I believe the left have a big problem.

  15. Brutus Iscariot 15

    It’s laughable to suggest that the Democrats are a progressive party, or that Obama is a progressive President. Both major parties are controlled by business interests and beholden to the deep state.

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    At this early stage, the Omicron variant seems to be more infectious, and more able to bypass the protection offered by vaccines and by the antibodies generated by previous infection. The fact that it is being spread around the globe by travellers who were all presumably fully immunised and had ...
    4 hours ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 29 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Dr Kevin Moore, Associate Professor in Psychology & Tourism, Lincoln University: “For me, the big advantage of NZ Politics Daily is the breadth of opinion and sources it gathers. Together. There is always a mix of news reporting, news analysis, opinion pieces and blog posts. That breadth ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 hours ago
  • National is still very much the same Party even without Collins leading it… that’s the real issu...
    Judith Collins regarded Thatcher as “a personal hero” of hers. But like her hero though, it took the UK Conservative Party and their ideological counterparts here to get rid of both of them, from the inside. There’s a sort of bizarre symmetry to that really. Both were rather messy ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    17 hours ago
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #48
    Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, November 21, 2021 through Sat, November 27, 2021 The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: To Breed or Not to Breed?, The Vaccine for Fake News, Ten ways to confront the climate ...
    18 hours ago
  • A professor without honour in his own country
    Michael Corballis just three months before his death appeared in an interview on the Hui with Mihirangi Forbes. She made no effort to conceal her disdain for his defence of science and proceeded to lecture him on not knowing enough about mātauranga Maori to comment on it and accused him ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    18 hours ago
  • Businessman – and Political Novice
    The drums are beating – see Heather Du Plessis-Allan in today’s Herald – for Christopher Luxon’s bid to become National’s new (and latest) leader. It is conceded that he is a political tyro but – such is National’s current plight – it is suggested that he is a risk worth ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 day ago
  • No, Elizabeth Stuart Would Not Have Stopped the English Civil War (Probably)
    As you might have noticed, A Phuulish Fellow is a fairly eclectic blog. Even an organic one. I have my interests, and write about them as the fit takes me. And sometimes I stumble across an article I feel the need to comment on. Today, I ran across a ...
    2 days ago
  • Rumour Has It: A Númenórean Character List?
    Today we have another Amazon rumour on our hands. And for a change, it is not coming out of Fellowship of Fans. No, instead we have the following tweet doing the rounds, ostensibly listing (mostly) Númenórean characters and their code names. It’s an interesting leak, if true. And that’s ...
    3 days ago
  • Covid as Warriors
    The book I am currently working on – tentative title ‘In Open Seas’ – looks at the current and future New Zealand. One chapter describes the policy towards Covid using the trope of warfare. It covers an important period in our history but show how policy evolves and why, as ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19: the B.1.1.529 variant – what do we know?
    There’s a lot of news about a new variant originally reported in southern Africa. Early signs have prompted calls for immediate precautionary blocks on travel from the region to restrict its spread. The WHO has called an emergency conference on this variant. Here’s a round-up of what we know so ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    3 days ago
  • National Party board denies it unanimously agreed to Collins’ Faustian bargain with Satan
    Sources close to party president Peter Goodfellow say he was totally blindsided by Collins’ claims he was party to this particular satanic ritual. National Party president Peter Goodfellow is today issuing a strong denial on behalf of the party’s board, saying they did not, at any point, agree to the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • The cost of optimism
    Yesterday the National Party imploded in a messy knife-fight that cost it its leader and probably one of the contenders. So naturally, the government has taken the opportunity to do a dump of its pandemic advice, including the Cabinet papers on its controversial decisions to repeatedly lower the Auckland alert ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on National’s less than stellar choices
    Amid all the jostling in the National caucus ranks, spare a thought for Andrew Bayly. Who? Well might you ask. Plucked from obscurity by Judith Collin, elevated from number 18 to number 3 in the caucus rankings and given the Finance portfolio – a role in which he has been ...
    3 days ago
  • Are New Zealand’s universities doing enough to define the limits of academic freedom?
    Matheson Russell, University of Auckland   The news last week that University of Auckland public health researcher Simon Thornley was retracting a co-authored paper about supposed vaccination risks during pregnancy raised deeper questions about the limits of academic freedom. Thornley’s own head of department had called for the paper to ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 26 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Jean Drage, Political scientist specialist in local government: “With 78 local authorities and central government currently intent on reform, local government is a challenging area of research to keep on top of. Thank goodness for Bryce’s NZ’s Politics Daily. It is a gem, especially as it also ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    3 days ago
  • Josh Van Veen: Bridges is not the one
    Simon Bridges failed to bluff Judith Collins out of the leadership. A campaign to rehabilitate his image began shortly after the election and culminated in the publication of a memoir in August. There were persistent rumours of a deal with rival Christopher Luxon and MPs from the ‘liberal’ wing of ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    3 days ago
  • Smokefree cars – an important step towards protecting children from the hazards of smoking
    Richard Edwards, Jude Ball, Janet Hoek, George Thomson, Nick Wilson*  On November 28 new legislation to protect children from smoking and vaping in cars will come into force. This blog sets out the background and rationale for the new law, and discusses implementation, evaluation and the next steps to protect ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    3 days ago
  • Judith's Last Stand.
    Going Out With All Guns Blazing: Why didn’t Judith Collins stick with the strategy that had kept her, National’s most improbable of leaders, in power for more than a year? One might just as well ask why Rob Muldoon (that other unforgiving right-wing populist National Party leader) got drunk and ...
    3 days ago
  • Act’s Precarious Ascendancy.
    On The Lookout: It is easy to imagine how closely Seymour has been watching the National Opposition for the slightest sign of a Clark figure emerging. A respected politician, who enjoys broad support across the party and, much more importantly, who impresses the ordinary centre-right voter as having what it ...
    3 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #47, 2021
    104 articles by 574 contributing authors Physical science of climate change, effects Delayed impacts of Arctic sea-ice loss on Eurasian severe cold winters Jang et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 10.1029/2021jd035286 Observations of climate change, effects Divergent responses of terrestrial carbon use efficiency to climate variation from 2000 ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour’s Eyes Wide Shut To “Unruly Tenants”.
    Not Seeing The Problem: They say there are none so blind as those who will not see. And, right now, Kāinga Ora is studiously not looking. It is clear to everyone that the Minister responsible, Poto Williams, has (like so many of her colleagues) been entirely captured by her officials. ...
    3 days ago
  • Is the mob coming for Charles Darwin?
    Richard Dawkins recently noted the giants of the past are being sanctimoniously judged by nonentities of the present whose only qualification is still being alive to do so. How will the future judge our own time when we are not around? Peter Franklin from Unherd examines whether the woke can ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Blowing a Hole in Your Own Wall: Idiotic Tampering with MIQ
    Managed Isolation/Quarantine has been a fact of life for New Zealand for eighteen months. It’s not popular – there are only so many spaces available at any given time, and the process is famously opaque – but it is the key to saving New Zealand from rampant Coronavirus. That, ...
    4 days ago
  • Now Labour wants secret trials
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • The end of a toxic leader
    If there's one thing that Judith Collins is usually good at, it's using scandalous information about other people to her advantage. Not above undermining her own political party, Collins has been known to even leak against her own fellow MPs, particularly those who posed a threat to her as the ...
    4 days ago
  • A transformative government in Germany
    Back in September Germans went to the polls, and handed the politicians a tough job, with no easy majorities for anyone. The Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Greens agreed to work together in a "traffic light" coalition, but given their political differences (its basicly ACT/Greens/Labour), expectations for real change were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Political Harakiri
    The National party must always have known that they were taking a risk when they elected Judith Collins as leader. There were, after all, good reasons why they repeatedly declined to accept her candidature when she offered herself – as she frequently did. She was always an inappropriate person to ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • Thanksgiving advice, 2021: How to deal with climate change-denying Uncle Pete
    This is a re-post from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Richard Somerville “Birds of a feather flock together,” so I am sure that nearly all of those reading this article accept the main findings of climate science. Yet many people don’t. Instead, they believe a variety of climate ...
    4 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the demotion of Simon Bridges
    So Simon Bridges has been bounced from the front bench and stripped of his shadow portfolio responsibilities for the crudely “inappropriate” comments that he allegedly made to a female colleague, Jacqui Dean – and personally apologised for – about five years ago. After years of mocking Labour for its supposed ...
    4 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 25 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Dr Rosemary Wette, Associate Professor, Applied Linguistics, University of Auckland: “I’ve been browsing regularly through NZ Politics Daily for several months now. It gives me access to a range of views on current issues (helpfully organised by topic) that I wouldn’t otherwise have time to look up, or ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • The bizarre case of the Royal Society investigating academics defending science
    The Royal Society has begun a disciplinary investigation against a group of academics. The academics were defending science and in the past would have expected support from the Royal Society. The Free Speech Union has launched a campaign to defend the academics and academic freedom. Māori professor under investigation for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Ian Powell: Unionism and nursing in New Zealand
    In the around 35 years I worked for unions (over 30 with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and earlier with the New Zealand Educational Institute) I often cogitated over the distinction between unions and unionism. They are intertwined but not inseparable. I associate unionism with collective consciousness able to ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: Today’s constitutional disgrace in Parliament
    This Government has a problem with urgency. Critics from both left and right have long complained about their lack of urgency on issues such as climate change, housing, and inequality. Likewise, in terms of the Covid response, there’s been a chorus of criticism that Labour has been complacent and sluggish ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • Vaping needs much tighter regulation as we approach Smokefree Aotearoa 2025: Two new studies
    Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek, Jennifer Summers, Driss Ait Ouakrim, Andrew Waa, Richard Edwards, Tony Blakely* Two recent studies provide new insights into the impact vaping may have on public health. The first estimates that use of modern vaping devices could be around a third as harmful to health as smoking. ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • Strange Defeat: A Guest Post By Dr. Chris Harris.
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    5 days ago
  • More than 147km – the transformative potential of the Wellington bike network plan
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 24 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Liz Brown, Senior communications advisor, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists: “The NZ Politics Daily is a fabulous resource providing a comprehensive one stop shop on what’s making news and how stories are being covered. I look forward to seeing it pop into my inbox every morning.” Anyone can sign ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Taking us for a ride
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: An industry in denial
    Over the past few years it has become clear that coal has no future in Aotearoa. Rising carbon prices, a ban on new boilers and a legislated phase-out for existing infrastructure are going to drive it out of the market. To reinforce this, the government signed up for an anti-coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The “most open and transparent government ever” again
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on farmers playing the victim, plus Chile’s right turn
    Among the farming lobby groups, the good cop/bad cop routine has been working a treat. It suits Federated Farmers to keep daylight between itself and the Groundswell movement. Month in, year out the Federation continues to engage with the government over the very same water degradation/climate change regulations that Groundswell ...
    6 days ago
  • Important People
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • Parliament, the Courts and the end of three strikes (for now)
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    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    6 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 23 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Martyn Bradbury, Editor, The Daily Blog “’NZ Politics Daily’ is one of the most important news and political resources run in New Zealand. The expert collation of opinion and news makes it an invaluable day to day resource as well as an incredible treasure for researchers in the future. ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand’s Emission Reduction Plan
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • Dissing The Farmers.
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    6 days ago
  • How will carbon pricing impact inflation?
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    7 days ago
  • (Lack of) Public Service Announcement: The National Library of New Zealand, Internet Archive, and Al...
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    7 days ago
  • Game over for the HRPP
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Chinese influence and American hate diffusion.
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    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • The Real Interests Of The Country.
    Off Message: Into the extremely fraught relationship between Town and Country, the Groundswell organisers have blundered like an Aberdeen-Angus steer in an organic vege-shop. Unreasonably proud of their rural economic virtues, and dangerously forthright in their enumeration of the cities’ political vices, these Kiwi equivalents of America’s “good ole boys” ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 22 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Minna Reid, Law student, Victoria University of Wellington “As a Uni student, staying up to date with current affairs is always important. The Daily Politics & Democracy Project by Bryce Edwards is of great service for this. It offers varying news sources I would not have found myself ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Free speech is a people’s frank confession to itself
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47
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    1 week ago
  • The F Words, by Barbara Gregorich
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • The Scourge of the Aimless Kick
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Delta Rocks Gibraltar: Lessons to be learned from Covid-19’s global resurgence.
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    1 week ago
  • I’ll take the masks and vaccines, thank you
    From Stuff:I don't want to be pedantic, but I'm pretty sure neither masks nor vaccines figure much in the Gospel of Saint John; nor has Jesus shown much efficacy in protecting people from anything. ...
    1 week ago
  • Hell To Pay: The alarming similarities between the Anti-Vaccination Movement and the creators of the...
    Never Let Go: If the violent prejudices of the Jim Crow South, echoing through contemporary struggles, teach us anything, it is that the defence of rationality, science and progressivism must never be allowed to falter. Those pre-modern night-riders, filled with unrelenting hate, are still out there. If the troops of ...
    1 week ago
  • A Peak Out of Auckland? + Other Covid Musings
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    1 week ago
  • Sing Song about Hard Times
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    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • A good problem to have
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the politics of anger, plus a music playlist
    Angry? Are you talkin’ to ME? Of late, the Code Red levels of resentment inspired by the government’s Covid policy almost make one hanker for the days when people could write best-selling books about New Zealanders being The Passionless People. Not anymore. A hissy fit arms race seems to be ...
    1 week ago
  • No, vaccinated people are not ‘just as infectious’ as unvaccinated people if they get COVID
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Electric cars alone won’t save the planet. We’ll need to design cities so people can walk and cy...
    Timothy Welch, University of Auckland   At the COP26 climate summit, world politicians patted themselves on their backs for coming to a last-minute agreement. Humanity now waits with bated breath to see if countries implement the commitments they made, and if those commitments help the planet. If the rest of ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Worn down by bad news? You’re not alone…
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato   Last week’s COVID protest outside parliament served as a warning that New Zealand is not immune to the kinds of anger seen overseas. As Labour Party whip Kieran McAnulty put it, “I think everyone needs to be aware that things are starting to escalate.” ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 19 November 2021
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    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Buying Back The Whenua.
    Dangerous Visionaries: Rex Connor wanted to “buy back the farm” (i.e. nationalise Australia’s mineral wealth) and ended up bringing down the government of Gough Whitlam. Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters Project is seen by many as a first step to “buying back the whenua” (repatriating Māori lands and waters). A policy which threatens the longevity of ...
    1 week ago
  • nuremberg, and history
      There’s a lot been said recently about the Nuremberg code. So what is it, and why is it popping up now? As described in this excellent NEJM article, the Code was developed over 80 years ago in August 1947, by judges involved in the “Doctors Trial” at Nuremberg. There were ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #46, 2021
    Housekeeping: New content New Research is primarily focused on reports published in "the academic literature." Thanks to a diversity of publishers, journals, editors, reviewers, researchers and institutional affiliations, such publications are statistically highly successful at approximating and reflecting our best dispassionate understanding of research topics. Any given personal agenda not ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another OIA horror-story
    NewsHub reports on another OIA horror story, a simple request for information on the supply and distribution of PPE which required the intervention of the Ombudsman to get a response. And reading the article, it seems to be the usual story of an overly-secretive agency abusing the process to hide ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Bribing for convictions
    Imagine that you've been arrested and are facing criminal charges. Now imagine that the government tries to bribe your lawyer to encourage you to plead guilty. It's obviously corrupt and a complete mockery of justice. But that's exactly what the New Zealand Government wants to do: The Criminal Process ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • New Ambassador to Russia announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Sarah Walsh as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Russia. “Aotearoa New Zealand and Russia have a long-standing relationship, engaging on a range of regional and global interests including disarmament and Antarctica issues. We also work together as members of the East ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • New Permanent Representative to the UN announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Carolyn Schwalger as Permanent Representative to the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. “Aotearoa New Zealand is a founding member of the UN and we have worked hard to ensure our stance on human rights, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Further COVID-19 economic support for Cook Islands and Fiji announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced a further package of support for the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery. “Aotearoa New Zealand remains committed to supporting our Pacific fanau and vuvale to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on their economies, and move towards long-term ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • New law will clear the air for tamariki in vehicles
    From today, it’s illegal to smoke or vape in most vehicles carrying children aged under 18 years old - whether the vehicle is moving or not. “Second-hand smoke poses an unacceptable risk to our tamariki and rangatahi,” Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We know children in vehicles ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Nine countries designated very high risk
    Nine southern African countries are being added to the very high risk countries list following public health advice around the newly discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. This afternoon, a public health risk assessment was carried out to assess the emerging evidence and any risk to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Foreign Affairs Minister concludes final stage of world trip
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today departed North America to return home to Aotearoa, concluding the last stage of her 17-day world trip. The final leg of her trip saw her visit the United States of America and Canada for a number of high-level discussions. While in Washington D.C., ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Milestone launch of Pacific Languages Unit
    Today’s official launch of the Pacific Languages Unit is a milestone for our Pacific communities, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio said. The Pacific Languages Unit brings together a new set of language supports within the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to provide advice, commission research, maintain standards, promote ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Public Health Lecture – University of Otago
    Public Health - Lessons from New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and opportunities for the future E nga mana, E nga reo,                                          E nga iwi. Tēna koutou katoa. Ka huri ki nga mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēna koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand statement on situation in Honiara, Solomon Islands
    Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply concerned by the events which have been unfolding in Honiara, Solomon Islands, since Wednesday. “New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and there are deep and enduring connections between our two countries,” Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker said. “Our engagement in Solomon ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Nailed it! Over 500 apprentices get jobs boost
    Over 500 apprentices and cadets have been placed into work across New Zealand thanks to the Government’s booming build programme, that’s both constructing public houses, and maintaining older homes. Housing Minister Megan Woods announced the milestone today at a public housing construction site in Riccarton, Christchurch. “This Government’s investment in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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