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Theorising the Labour leadership selection

Written By: - Date published: 11:55 am, December 16th, 2011 - 78 comments
Categories: accountability, labour, Politics - Tags:

We have great expectations of our members of parliament. They are there to represent our views as citizens of New Zealand, as members of our own little town or big city, perhaps as women or liberals or environmentalists. To manage those expectations our politicians are members of political parties to provide signposts of their main values. We presume that if we vote National we will get members of parliament that advocate for smaller governments and big business; Labour will aim for collective action and market regulation; the Greens will prioritise our lakes, land and skies.

Our assumptions however, of how members of parliament will reach their decisions, differ and this shapes how we judge their performance. Judgement is what I was considering when reflecting on the Labour leadership selection process. Many people have been discussing and evaluating the decisions of the Labour caucus on this blog. I was interested to reflect on the philosophical assumptions that underlie the judgements members may have made about their caucus representatives.

British philosopher Edmund Burke termed two different modes of viewing representation as the trustee and delegate models.

Under a delegate model we see politicians as purely a mouthpiece for us as citizens. Accordingly they should reflect the views of their constituents and keep their own perspectives on the sidelines. In a modern setting this could mean running polls in the electorate before voting on an issue or gaining a mandate on all policies prior to election. If you consider this view of how politicians should act it seems pretty untenable. Within a community it’s going to be impossible to get full agreement from all voters so naturally many will feel let down no matter the decision. It would also be incredibly expensive to canvass substantive opinions on all issues that politicians have to vote on and it’s a pipe dream to imagine you can gain a mandate for all policies in your election campaign. It would also be pretty restrictive to government progress if politicians weren’t able to act/react to the fluidity of governing because they hadn’t gained a mandate for each decision. Still, there are many people out there who view politics in this way. “Politicians never do what I want” they complain, “We should have binding referenda for everything!”

The trustee model characterises politicians as people who have been elected to represent the best interests of their community but this could be what people need not what they want. This perspective views politicians as having more time to research and consider the issue at hand as well as life experience or specialist expertise that will aid their decision. If you view representation through a trustee lens you trust your politician to use their judgement on issues and believe they have an edge on the common person to make the right decision (whether it’s because they are immersed in information via their job or because of the skills/qualifications they hold).

So I’ve been thinking a bit about these two perspectives in the wake of the Labour leadership selection.

I think the expectations we have of our parliamentarians and the nature of the relationship is slightly different with party members than with voters. There is perhaps more of a requirement for a delegate model in this relationship as politicians depend on their members to get them selected, to fundraise or donate and to campaign and ultimately get elected. While we have many excellent members in the Labour caucus I don’t think any of them imagine they would be members of parliament without the volunteers that work to get them there. There is perhaps the presumption that MPs ‘owe’ it to their members to consult them and to try and reflect their views. This expectation is obviously more applicable to decisions made within the party as members of the Parliamentary wing of Labour than to all their votes in the House.

I think some of the anger and upset I’ve seen on this blog and others over the Labour leadership is because many members are holding to a delegate model of how their MPs should act and feel betrayed if they perceive the caucus haven’t acted accordingly. This is understandable if members had the mistaken view that the leadership road show was opening up a delegate relationship with the caucus but I think most Party communication was clear that MPs had the final say.

Ultimately, I prescribe to a trustee view of the relationship in this instance. I put my trust in our 34-member caucus to make the right decisions for our party primarily because this is what has been asked of them. Our constitution asks them to act as trustees not as delegates. Therefore it asks them to use their insights, on the job experience and qualifications to decide what the party needs in a leader. We were asked to express our opinions on the leadership but now we must trust they have made the right decision.

I think theoretically this is actually the best way for the Party’s decision making around parliamentary leadership to be structured. The caucus is in the best position to judge the character of leadership contenders and to assess their ability to work in the desired role. We also are supporting them as parliamentarians because we believe they have particular skills that make them worthy of their roll and part of that roll is selecting the person that will lead them. We cannot trumpet their skills with the selection and campaign process but then dismiss them when it comes to the leadership decision. Lastly I am not a fan of majority or popular opinion always being the right decision. This caution of ‘mob rule’ is why there are checks and balances in the US political system, why countries aren’t run purely on referenda and why we have voted to support MMP over FPP.

If you are philosophically opposed to this mode of governance then I would be interested to hear your reasoning. It seems relevant in light of the upcoming review* of the Labour Party constitution to get these expectations clear in our minds.


* Clarification: The upcoming review is organisational rather than constitutional.  See Moira Coatsworth’s speech earlier this year. There is an expectation of a constitutional review afterwards because the constitution and organisational structures are so intertwined.  lprent

78 comments on “Theorising the Labour leadership selection”

  1. Ant 1

    There is so much wrong with this post it’s not funny.

    Ultimately, I prescribe to a trustee view of the relationship in this instance. I put my trust in our 34-member caucus to make the right decisions for our party primarily because this is what has been asked of them. Our constitution asks them to act as trustees not as delegates. Therefore it asks them to use their insights, on the job experience and qualifications to decide what the party needs in a leader. We were asked to express our opinions on the leadership but now we must trust they have made the right decision.

    Oh dear.

    • The Voice of Reason 1.1

      Best you say what you think is wrong with it then, Ant, and put up some alternatives. From my perspective, the post does an excellent job of explaining the difference between the two models of representation and why that analysis is apt in light of the Labour party leadership change. 
      Pointy has correctly identified an issue that many supporters struggle with; the difference between the wider membership role and that of the paid reps. Or, to put it another way, what we expect from our MP’s versus what we should expect from our MP’s.

      • lprent 1.1.1

        It gets even more ambiguous than that. Consider this….

        MP’s are elected and paid for by the voters. It is pretty easy to argue that they are actually largely responsible to the voters. So how are they responsible to members?

        Members are members of a party that is in theory made up of branches. The branches have the ability to send policy remits through regional conferences, policy committees, to a national conference to become party policy that binds the parliamentary MP’s..

        Now I’ve never bothered to put in a remit because I looked at the procedures and what was involved long ago.

        Now I haven’t seen what I’d consider to be a working branch in a while. Mostly they can’t make the minimum attendances, and I pretty much stopped attending them a decade ago because all they did was chew up time. But lets ignore that reality intrusion.

        What remits do go through the system and survive filtering and eventually get passed are as far as I can tell are simply ignored by the parliamentary team. As far as I can see the parliamentarians make most of the policy up based on focus groups and polling. Now someone show me a contrary example in say the last 15 years?

        But assume I am right. So what is the role of members?

        Well they don’t contribute that much to the nation-wide party finances from what I remember of the last set of accounts I saw. They are good for the local electorate campaign costs – the $20k max per electorate. They are useful for candidates for campaigns for leaflets, hoardings, canvassing etc.

        Someone here the other day said that members were just viewed as being MP fan clubs. That statement has been weighing heavily on my mind… It sounds about right. The question in my mind after seeing the number of dysfunctional electorates around is that correct? But it pretty much explains the attitudes of the MP’s – especially the ones high on the list or list only ones.

        The operational review had better start by looking at what is the purpose of members?

        Update: I forgot selection!

  2. Pointy 2

    Hi Ant

    You are welcome to engage on the ideas raise in the post and indeed I’d like to hear some other options for viewing the relationship. Sanctimonious crap isn’t welcome so come up with something other than ‘Oh dear’ or bugger off.


    • lprent 2.1

      Hi Pointy, I added the clarification at the end of the post because otherwise I’d be be correcting people forever. What Moira actually said in May was 

      As your president I will ensure we have a strong 21st century party organisation.   We need to be relevant and engaging to people in the 21st century. This means a bigger and more open Labour Party that attracts more thinkers and activists who are committed to our values and to responding to the great issues of our time. It means a party that drives political and social change towards a strong sustainable and just society.

      I am committed to us reviewing our organisation and rebuilding. Your advice on what our 21st century Labour party needs to be will be critical to this. After the election we will complete an organisational review. Chris Flatt and I are determined that this will inform a 3 year programme of rebuilding and strengthening our party.

      Some organisational priorities are very clear. Building sustained fundraising is one. We now have operational budgets running consistently within budget but we need long term fundraising for our campaigns. (This afternoon we are talking to you about our campaign fundraising this year and how you can help.)

      Another priority is enhancing communication and involvement. Like most voluntary organisations our members and supporters are our strength and we need to work together in ways that recognises this –communicating more effectively through a range of media and empowering our members to act locally. We are also strengthening our ties with sister parties including the Australian Labor Party. This weekend we welcome Tegan Gilchrist, Matt Burne and Sandy Rippingale from the ALP and we thank them for their solidarity and support.

      Ongoing renewal of very skilled men and women to serve in parliament is most important.  This means we will work systematically over the next three years to attract, develop and support a diverse pool of skilled women and men who aspire to be MPs. This is particularly important for candidates with potential who do not have strong regions or sectors behind them. The women’s leadership conference held last year was an example of a systematic effective strategy to attract and support a particular group of candidates.

      It cannot come soon enough for me, and I rather suspect may be coming too late. I’m finding it very difficult to raise any enthusiasm for it. Why?

      Well I didn’t really notice too much of the renewal coming through in the list. Offhand I’m struggling to see many new Labour MP’s actually in parliament (Carmel and… who?). I also couldn’t even find any information about the organisational review online apart from inside this speech, a post Mike Smith did here, and a few mentions in leadership candidates speeches.

      I get the impression that we will be two thirds of the way towards the election before anything happens which is far too late. I feel that membership ideas will just disappear down a blackhole as per normal because it is something that should be being discussed now in the LEC’s but there is bugger all information about scope, procedure, options, or anything else – not even in my e-mail box. That is the fastest way I know to get badly thought out and quite ignorable suggestions is to do everything without time to ponder and discuss. It all sounds like yet another Wellington only jackup.

      I’m just damn well cynical. I don’t expect MP’s to be delegates. However I also don’t expect them to be so incestuous that they appear to listen to each other and their wellington flunkies more than their members. Which is what they appear to do.

      I’m not interested in being viewed a member of a MP’s fanclub. That wasn’t why I got involved in

      • rocky 2.1.1

        I like this comment. I guess that means I’m as cynical as you are 🙁

      • Fieldwest 2.1.2

        Agree. I’m too very cynical now. I don’t expect MPs to be so insightful that can make all correct decisions for memebers.

        • Pointy

          I agree too. And actually in the post I say in this specific instance that is the power the constitution affords the caucus (to pick the leadership) and that I think it’s probably the right division of responsibility. But I have also said in the comments that I would be happy to hear arguments to the contrary and be convinced otherwise.

          There is no where that I have said, or even contemplated, that the caucus should make decisions on everything for us as members. 


    • Ant 2.2

      I have some pretty big problems with putting trust in people just because it is their job to be trusted. Who are they accountable to if their decision making or insights are deemed flawed? It’s no longer purely the electorate due to the party list under MMP. The party, and by this I mean its members, should form an additional level of accountability to those who are supposed to represent us.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        Frankly I think the idea that an MP’s job is to “represent” is ludicrous – which is probably why so many people agree with it. We elect them to govern.

        • Ant

          We elect them for both reasons. If they fail to represent their constituency then generally they don’t get elected and don’t govern.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            I don’t see how they can but fail to represent their communities. Take climate policy, for example. We need our government to do the right thing, but if they do they won’t be returned. The notion of “representation” is partly to blame for this.

            OAB’s democratic model has a civil service that proposes viable evidence-based policies, and a parliament that gets to choose which version is adopted, with no other alternatives to be considered.
            Or something! Probably be a bloody disaster but…

            • Ant

              Yeah definite headache to address, there are issues like climate change which are in the greater good, but how do you get a mechanism to address these without leaving open the door to abuse?

              I sometimes wonder if a constitution that can be amended by a citizen’s quorum would be the answer on the big issues. They could make the decisions based on presentations of reliable evidence without the fear of losing their livelyhood that a politician has, I wonder if this would let them make the hard decisions?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                In the specific example of climate change, I think it’s quite clear that most would prefer to sacrifice the future than risk their “livelihood”, but even if that were not the case, I have spent the last three years reading almost everything published by Real Climate, and I’m still nowhere near competent to judge good policy.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    The (relatively recent) historical context is that when caucus goes off too far from the party and its membership, bad things happen.

    A lot of Labour Party members remember this all too well, and it likely colours some responses.

    An organisational review with no constitutional review. I guess that means the membership won’t be voting on future leadership changes quite yet.

  4. Olwyn 4

    I will reply because these things have been very much on my mind in the past few days. Firstly, someone becomes a trustee in relation to a truster, or a group of trusters, as in payee-payer, etc. And that, for me is where the issue lies. The delegate model would require members that are more fully informed than is possible; I accept that. The parliamentary party, however, has in my eyes behaved in a way that has done little to inspire trust on the part of the members.

    One suspects, for instance, that the “meet the candidates” event essentially combined a membership drive with a PR stunt, and that the members were “listened to”far less than they were led to expect. After all, the broad direction of the party would seem to me to involve a consensus between members and representatives, even if the the way in which that cashes out involves the members trusting the representatives. Then there were the media releases designed to undercut the candidate that appealed to many members, and who seemed to accord with the direction the members hoped the party would take: the affirmation of the so-called ABC club, for instance, and the fudging of numbers, so as to signal where to vote if you were still undecided. Finally, there was the choosing of two relatively inexperienced people, at a time when financial catastrophe threatens and a snap election could be called before the term is up.

    There is something quite sad too about Labour MP’s and right wing propagandists high-fiving each other while the members console themselves. On the two times I have met David Shearer I thought he seemed an OK guy. But after this performance my eye is still too jaundiced to see him in such a way that I can join in the general rejoicing. Does that answer your question?

    • Pointy 4.1

      Hi Olwyn

      I think I largely agree with you and perhaps that is why I’ve turned to something theoretical to try to nut out how I’m feeling. As there is obviously some doubt from the way I’ve presented myself I was a clear Cunliffe supporter and let caucus know. I agree with many of the concerns you’ve raised about the process and the spectrum of the political voices that seemed to influence it.

      I guess what I’m trying to do is look forwards and say ok ‘what are my expectations of caucus’, ‘what can I reasonably ask of them’ ‘would I want the whole party to have a say on the leadership anymore than caucus?’. My knee-jerk reaction last week was very pro members having the vote for leadership but then I guess I started to think about the differences between the president and the parliamentary leader etc and that led me to this piece.

      I think I would also be happy to be led to different conclusions!!


      • Olwyn 4.1.1

        I think the trust issue is the important one, which can perhaps be bolstered by constitutional clarity (I have to admit that I am not knowledgeable about such matters). Where the members have the say, trust is open to failing in the other direction. Labour is probably too big to be subverted by its membership, but one can imagine the Greens getting flooded by blue-greens who want to keep the conservation bit and drop the social bit, and voting accordingly between elections (say after a defeat), when its MPs have been voted in on other grounds. Trust and genuine connection are needed, though it is difficult to see how you would legislate such things. I guess there are three parts: the caucus, the members and the voting public, and how they fit together. In a healthy party, the members are more than fans, and in many ways form an important interface between caucus and the voting public. They create the enthusiasm that others want to be a part of, the bit that may prove to be a missing link in the recent selection of a leader. Unless they are able to win back the members’ trust.

  5. Southern Labourite 5

    G’day I’m a member of the Labour party.

    The two key principles of democracy are:
    # People have the right to a controlling influence over public decisions and decision-makers. This is the principle of popular control
    # People be treated with equal respect and as of equal worth in the context of such decisions. This is the principle of political equality.
    Source: Human Rights Commission http://www.hrc.co.nz/report/chapters/chapter06/democratic01.html#ide1

    The trustee model does not follow these principles.

    Cacucus has their own experiences and this is invaluable. But this doesn’t mean they’re in the best posistion to judge the character of leadership contenders. As an example from the Christchurch earthquake, it is hard to see the cracks outside the house when the inside looks spick and span. If they want to inform members of who they think should be the leader then they could tell their members. They can support leaders in their campaign to be leader.

    There maybe MPs that say members should not know what happens in Caucus. I don’t agree with that. Openness, accountability and transparency are cleanders that ensure our MPs are not corrupt by power. This didn’t happen in the 80’s. Majority opinion isn’t always right, but neither is minor opinion.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Pointy 5.1

      Southern Laboruite,

      We are a representative democracy. That is why we elect people to represent us and we all have an equal right to vote those representatives in. Under a representative democracy the trustee model fits just fine. If we had a direct democracy then that would be a different story…but we don’t.

      The caucus is a different matter and their relationship with the party is governed by the constitution.

      • Southern Labourite 5.1.1

        Hi Pointy,

        Of course the practicalities of direct democracy don’t make it so viable. But what makes you think the trustee model fits just fine? We still don’t get to elect our leader under the current model. That is not representative democracy in that regard.

        The caucus is a very important matter Pointy in regards to democracy as well as leadership. I challenge you to think about who the caucus and constitution are meant to serve.

        Regards, Southern Labourite.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          “what makes you think the trustee model fits just fine?”

          Who said it “fits just fine”? I think it’s the worst possible fit apart from all the other ones.

          • Ari

            So you think a caucus vote is better than a vote including all members? Why?

            I trust members a lot more than I do the caucus.

  6. Blue 6

    It’s not really about ‘trustee vs delegate’ Pointy. It’s about asking 34 people who have their own interests at stake to make the decision.

    Bottom line is, the party leader controls the porfolio allocation and rankings.

    Maybe we’d all like to think that all MPs are selfless creatures who will do what’s best for the greater good even if it significantly disadvantages them personally, but that’s a bit optimistic.

    People have egos, and they do let them get in the way.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      “People have egos, and they do let them get in the way.”

      This is also true of science, and it is worth remembering that science works in spite of the humanity of scientists. We can learn a lot from the adversarial aggression that is peer-review, especially in the context of evidence based policy.

      • newsense 6.1.1

        yeh to me this trustee model comes across a bit like an economic decision making theory.

        I remember some one in the education profession telling that those in charge of professional courses were not trusted to define what to teach because they had an interest or something like that. Agency theory or something?? bit of a vague recollection sorry.

        I find it difficult in this case to allow for a behavioural model of the trusted policitian with the best information making the best decision for the electorate. Surely self interest does get heavily heavily involved, though I have heard depending on who they supported that both sides were terrible because they were self interested!

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          You missed the point. You can’t trust people, period; we’re all biased. You have to figure out a way to balance competing biases so as to allow evidence and remove anecdotes or advocacy. I appreciate that this will leave the National Party with no policy at all, but fuck them.

  7. Who would ‘trust’ Edmund Burke, the man who condemned the French Revolution and disqualified himself from the bourgeois parliamentary democracy?

    Trust is fine when you are a member of the ruling class and trust your parliamentary representatives to protect your private property. Occasionally a coup is necessary but that is a mere circulation of elites. (Montesquieu to Michels)

    When you are a member of the working class you cannot trust your parliamentary delegates not to be bought off by those who own and control the means of production and exercise the power of the state. (Marx to Gramsci)

    Thus a healthy distrust is the midwife of revolution. (Fukuyama to Fukushima)

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    It would also be incredibly expensive to canvass substantive opinions…

    Not any more. As one example we have Surveymonkey. Sure, when it comes down to actual voting we need to be able to verify the people voting but even that’s not hard and is reasonably secure. Doing so also gets rid of the “Politicians never do what I want” as everyone will be able to see the result. Not always getting what you want is part of the democratic process.

    It would also be pretty restrictive to government progress if politicians weren’t able to act/react to the fluidity of governing because they hadn’t gained a mandate for each decision.

    But they would have that mandate. In an emergency they could pass legislation and then come to us about it and we could validate their actions or tell them to go back to the drawing board. Under normal conditions they should be coming to us anyway – in fact, they do but select committee process is very limited.

    If you view representation through a trustee lens you trust your politician to use their judgement…

    Ah, the old Authoritarian, leader knows best view.

    This caution of ‘mob rule’ is why there are checks and balances in the US political system…

    The US constitution was written to produce a US aristocracy. It didn’t quite pan out how the Founding Fathers wanted it to as everyone else wanted democracy. Of course, now that the corporates and the 0.1% have total control of the government anyway they got what they wanted – it just took a bit longer. Considering that most people are decent people and are reasonably well educated now the mob rule scaremongering should be thrown out as the BS that it is.

    From what I’m seeing coming out of the Labour party since the new leader took over Labour is heading even more to the right. Why are they doing this? Because the MPs are not listening to their members but to themselves. ATM, I’ll be surprised if they have 20% of the vote next election.

    • Pointy 8.1

      Draco, I don’t think you can advocate surveymonkey as a way to canvass voter opinion without alienating a whole section of society who are already alienated enough.

      As for the strawman authoritarian argument…we have many ways to curb those that govern with the most obvious being a vote. With a population that could be barely bothered to do that I find it hard to imagine they would engage enough on each policy issue to have a valid response either. Hence why we have representatives in the first place.

      Again, as I’ve said, the Labour caucus’ relationship with the party is a different matter.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        I don’t think you can advocate surveymonkey as a way to canvass voter opinion without alienating a whole section of society who are already alienated enough.

        SurveyMonkey was an example of a way to do so, ie, online and electronically.

        As for the strawman authoritarian argument…

        So decades of research is a straw-man argument?

        With a population that could be barely bothered to do that [vote]…

        Have you considered that people can’t be bothered to vote because the political parties aren’t talking or listening to them. People are being alienated from politics and, IMO, it’s the authoritarian mindset that’s doing it.

        Again, as I’ve said, the Labour caucus’ relationship with the party is a different matter.

        No, it’s not. The Labour caucus is, IMO, not listening to the party’s members.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          Exactly DTB I agree with all your points here. The truth is many Labour MPs told their LECs that they were going to vote a certain way after consulting with them clearly they didn’t do as they said as we got the inexperience and poorly performing ( based on Member Meetings and TV presentation) Shearer.

          Pointy argues that the member’s have put the MPs up for their skills and we have to trust that they know best, past experience ( Douglas, Prebble) shows thats a fallacy. Also I suspect after such a poor electoral performance many members are seriously evaluating just how good our MPS are because clearly they are not that good, and with regards to the leadership vote members cant trust them.
          I honestly believe we ( Labour ) would be better to trust the collective wisdom of the membership with regards to future leaders than the current model in which MP’s vote in their vested own self interest.

          If we are to continue as a Party ( which is getting smaller) members have to have more direct say and MPs have to be held accountable ( no secrete voting) every card carrying members vote should be worth the same in my view regardless of what position you hold in the Party.

          The whole I know best stuff because of my position is total crap and is used to hide total self interest.

          • Pointy

            Ok, so how are you going to argue for that change? I think the vested self-interest thing also plays out amongst the membership although members don’t necessarily have as much to lose in the parliamentary leadership battle. I just don’t see it as being a line to promote change ‘we don’t trust you as MPs because you’re all just self-serving unlike us members’. 

            I think the whole ‘we can’t trust politicians because their selfish wankers’ thing is also crap. There needs to be a balance. 

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    I’m neither a LP member nor a voter so I won’t say anything beyond the following question:

    Who does the parliamentary caucus represent? LP members, or LP voters?

    • The Voice of Reason 9.1

      Both, bookie. And one more, as well. MP’s have a responsibility to party, voters and caucus. All 3 stakeholders have the ability to endorse or sanction the MP by voting him or her in or out.

    • lprent 9.2

      Yep that is the real question….

      I suspect that the best way to make that clear is to force a contested selection in every electorate including that of sitting MP’s and making sure that at least a few of them result in sitting MP’s not getting selected each election cycle. Probably help with the renewal as well.

      Remove the current list selection process and make it something like a STV process without regional divisions or any favouritism for sitting MP’s. After all the list is meant to reflect the party right?

      Both of those would probably concentrate MP’s and members minds a lot

      • Colonial Viper 9.2.1

        I suspect that the best way to make that clear is to force a contested selection in every electorate including that of sitting MP’s and making sure that at least a few of them result in sitting MP’s not getting selected each election cycle. Probably help with the renewal as well.

        Wow you are cruel and unusual. Not saying that I disagree, mind you.

        • Pointy

          Not a bad idea Lynn!

          • lprent

            Well if we are having an organisational review, then I think that the organisation of MP’s should be in the mix as well. It isn’t even part of the constitution, although embedding it there would be useful.

        • lprent

          I think that members are taken far too much for granted. But I’m also concerned about MP’s getting too embedded in the Wellington beltway matrix.

          I was digging through some material looking at new Labour MP’s per election. The turnover is far too low.

          Perhaps we should look at a term limit for MP’s as well – say 3 elections and then they have to take one off. That’d encourage them to keep their external skills sharpened as well. It’d also make the selections more interesting with ex-MP’s wanting to get back in.

      • Pundit X 9.2.2

        Its a little like a labour movement groundhog day for me watched all of this debate taking place in the eighties in the UK Labour Party although even then it was far more democratic. Even at that point a member could indeed move a resolution at ward level and wind up seeing it composited into policy at annual conference which I did. Problem was the MP’s ignored conference policy. Selection and reselection of MP’s along with the enfranchisement of the membership in electing the leader and deputy brought about significant change for party members but Labour remained out in the cold electorally throughout the Thatcher years. Along came Blair who introduced reforms which separated the party from effective policy making and did away with mandatory reselection of MP’s. The election of the leader and deputy is still done by electoral college which includes the membership the affiliated organisations and the MP’s themselves. A UK labour leader can at least claim a mandate.

        Labour does have a mountain to climb here. The party is as I have said a fan club for MP’s and exists to provide them with job security. Fine if you don’t mind being National lite (the direction Shearer will almost certainly take the party) and are comfortable with paying lip service to heroes of the past: Savage; Kirk. But the judgement of caucus is now and has been for a long time fatally flawed and inspite of all the talk of renewal the party is circling the drain.

        Then there are the Greens a modern, democratic and inclusive party that involves the membership. They certainly won’t be waiting for Shearer to get his act together but siezing the initiative. Its likely for the forseeable future they will become the opposition party. If I hadn’t left Labour in despair six months ago and joined the Greens I certainly would have now. I think Team Shearer is about to throw the car in reverse.

    • Carol 9.3

      Who does the parliamentary caucus represent? LP members, or LP voters?

      And how much much does the current Labour Party confuse engaging with the voters with engaging with the media?

  10. Very good post Pointy, interesting.

    Whatever type of representation is used it comes down to the how well informed the people involved are and how reasoned their decisions are. From what I have seen of the recent Labour leadership process I think I’d rely more on caucus to come up with the best decision, despite their personal interests.

    I’m very interested in delegate versus trustee. I think in practice we need to rely mostly on trustee but we do need a better balance with some level of delegation, our referendum options are to limited, too slow and too expensive.

    I’m establishing a trial exploring how all constituents (not just party members) can have more input into our political process while avoiding bogging it down with too much.

    Time will tell how much involvement people will actually want, there tends to be a moaning apathy prevalent. But if a better balance with more constituent involvement can be established then it should encourage more engagement between people and politicians.

  11. Uturn 11

    “Under a delegate model we see politicians as purely a mouthpiece for us as citizens. Accordingly they should reflect the views of their constituents and keep their own perspectives on the sidelines.”

    In a consultative environment it doesn’t mean that at all, in fact, it would be silly to exclude representatives from a consultative process. How is the party to communicate with the people if the reps are not present or engaged? To suggest a purely theoretical delegate model is possible in our existing style of politics is not a genuine proposition.

    “In a modern setting this could mean running polls in the electorate before voting on an issue or gaining a mandate on all policies prior to election. If you consider this view of how politicians should act it seems pretty untenable.”

    That’d be a clumsy way of doing it, but far from untenable. You’re not exploring the idea, just saying what could be the most backward or theoretically pure application to forward your point of view.

    “Within a community it’s going to be impossible to get full agreement from all voters so naturally many will feel let down no matter the decision.”

    This is not necessarily the case with true consultation, unlike the stuff we just saw in the Labour Party leadership “consultation”. Or even local body council “consultation”. When small groups discuss the issue, they understand the issue and are more likely to explore options, or worse case, chose the lesser of the evils. See OWS movement for current evidence of this process – not a pollie or party in sight. How did those dumb people do it, eh?

    “It would also be incredibly expensive to canvass substantive opinions on all issues that politicians have to vote on and it’s a pipe dream to imagine you can gain a mandate for all policies in your election campaign.”

    Expensive, no, not if a modern civilian version of a political commissar office or similar existed already. Organisational skill needed? Yes. Failing that, if you have a local hall, park or venue, you have a cheap meeting house. Auckland was once divided on boroughs and county councils. It hasn’t always been a super city. The idea that large and centralised is better democracy than scattered local groups simply isn’t true. If it were, then MMP would fail. While politics will always attract flaws in decision making, better forms of representation cannot be ruled out simply because they are not tidy. Every time someone discards another facet of true democracy for tidy hierarchy and ease of rule for the party, the people suffer. What your argument denies is that a system could be put in place to support better representation. Just bloody well come out and say you support Labour’s latest decision and help me to help myself not waste my fudgin’ lunchtime!

    “It would also be pretty restrictive to government progress if politicians weren’t able to act/react to the fluidity of governing because they hadn’t gained a mandate for each decision.”

    This needs expansion. Is your “fluidity” the same as John key’s “dinnemic” environment? Are you saying a government has no obligations to its people – that overseas influence must always come first? That a nation cannot be protected in any way?

    “Still, there are many people out there who view politics in this way. “Politicians never do what I want” they complain, “We should have binding referenda for everything!”

    Then it is up to the party to engage the people on their terms, not on the party’s terms. Talk to the freekin’ people for godssake. Discuss things, instead of trying to screw them and build your own career!

    What I’m getting most from your post is that politics should be for politicians; people are too busy being good consuming school fish to consider their future, and should be kept that way. Well, have a look at voter turnout this time round and see where that attitude ends up. Ruling would be easy if there were no people to rule. Inspect your attitudes and you’ll see that centre left is really just Right and it won’t come as such a surprise that Labour were so easily infiltrated by Prebble and Douglas et. al. .

    • Pointy 11.1

      Thanks for your substantive comment. 

      You have critiqued my description of the theory as not reflecting the modern reality. That’s because I was outlining the basic principles of the theory not discussing how the theory plays out/could be re-worked/is irrelevant to modern situations. I like that you have presented ways that people/voters are consulted but ultimately that is still a trustee model, isn’t it? Part of a politicians job is to gather all the information available which definitely includes consulting their members, stakeholders, communities etc. But, and it’s a big but, the expectation is that they will assess all the information to hand and decide. Or do you really believe the process is one where pure agreement on all consulted must be reached and then voted on accordingly?

      As for attacking the use of the word fluid I think you are reading what you want to read. 

      Lastly I would love a direct democracy. That isn’t really what the post is about. If we could get citizens to vote in general elections at levels consistently higher that 78% that would be heavenly. If anyone would turn up to vote in local body elections I would die of happiness. I advocate participation in all levels of democracy including questioning the democracy itself.

      So back to the issue at hand. What should we expect from the Labour caucus? Why? 

  12. Uturn 12

    “As for attacking the use of the word fluid I think you are reading what you want to read.”

    Then define your understanding of it. I cannot of the top of my head think of a situation where the unavoidable slow machinations of central government are somehow so agile in reality that they could react to “fluid” anything. So define “fluid” for me.

    “…but ultimately that is still a trustee model, isn’t it? Part of a politicians job is to gather all the information available which definitely includes consulting their members, stakeholders, communities etc. But, and it’s a big but, the expectation is that they will assess all the information to hand and decide.”

    Your post moves the default setting of trustee model right out to closed-doors decision making by the party, letting people in as a nice afterthought. I say the delegate model can be practically expanded to include some trustee features – to meet modern realistic operational demands – without ever risking the closed-doors of purely theoretical trustee modelling. The implication of the “big but” of considering all information to hand and then deciding, is that it is largely undesirable and too hard. This is not the attitude of a party that is focussed on improved systems of democracy.

    “Or do you really believe the process is one where pure agreement on all consulted must be reached and then voted on accordingly?”

    As explained, if true consultation takes place, unanimous agreement is not possible, expected – or desirable. Any party needs healthy desenters to encourage prudent self-awareness in the party.

    “Lastly I would love a direct democracy. That isn’t really what the post is about.”

    So tell us all what the post is about. I think it is you wholeheartedly support your party and you found a reason to match – evidenced by your question of expectation from the current Labour leadership. If my manner seems terse, it’s because I’ve read so many multi-post revelations of the flippin’ obvious from many an intransient poster that could be circumvented by a simple two line statement that’s it’s driving me nuts. If you find it offensive, I apologise. Don’t let it influence your decision to award any further contributions to this site.

    “What should we expect from the Labour caucus? Why?”

    We cannot expect anything while there is little to no engagement with or communication with the average voter. We’d just be projecting sweet nothings onto disembodied words and figureheads. They do not care what I or anyone on this site thinks because there is a major power imbalance in the theoretical relationship until around 2014. We cannot change that from here and we cannot begin the process unless Labour starts it. My wish is that they make up their friggin’ minds as to who they represent: workers, or aspirant classes. Once that happens, which model they use to engage the voter will be clear.

  13. Pointy 13

    Uturn, I don’t believe it is possible for a party to ask for a mandate before they are elected on every piece of policy that they will need to enact or every law they will need to pass. This is why I’ve used the word fluid to describe the contextual factors that people have to govern . National didn’t predict the Chch earthquake for instance. Or the Peter Jackson’s employment law problems. What part of this is contentious to you? 

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Uturn, I don’t believe it is possible for a party to ask for a mandate before they are elected on every piece of policy that they will need to enact or every law they will need to pass.

      Not every piece of policy. Just very major decisions. Like leadership selection.

      BTW Peter Jackson’s employment law problems were contrived and planned in coordination with National. The only people surprised there were the workers, unions and the public.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 13.2

      “Peter Jackson’s employment law problems.” There weren’t any. Except for the exploited workers. And they got shafted, and now they have to pay for their own vaseline.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.3

      What part of this is contentious to you?

      The fact that the MPs just changed the law without consulting with the people of NZ.

      • Pointy 13.3.1

        So you think they need a mandate prior to governing or that they must go back to the people for each decision? Your issue seems to be with representative democracy not with me suggesting two ways to view representation. 

        • Draco T Bastard

          So you think they need a mandate prior to governing or that they must go back to the people for each decision?

          Not each decision but each policy change. Note also that no single party has a mandate. It could be said that a government has a mandate if several parties that belong to that government or even just parliament were elected on similar policies. If they’re looking at changing policy that they weren’t elected on then they should go back to the people for a referendum.

          Your issue seems to be with representative democracy not with me suggesting two ways to view representation.

          You gave two options:
          1.) Where the MPs did as they chose
          2.) Where the MPs actually discussed things with the voters/party members and then did what the majority of them wanted which may or may not be what the MP would choose.

          Obviously I’m in favour of the second.

          • Pointy

            So you didn’t support Civil Unions or the repeal of section 59 of the crimes act then? Neither of them would have passed if politicians had gone to their individual constituencies and been bound by their views. Indeed I think Jackie Blue voted in support of the repeal of section 59 under the first reading but the death threats got her a bit down (along with the majority of her voters objecting) so she ceased to support the bill. 

            • Draco T Bastard

              So you didn’t support Civil Unions or the repeal of section 59 of the crimes act then?

              Where do you get that idea from? Just because it’s likely that they wouldn’t have passed a referendum doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t support that change and keep pressing for it.

              The s59 referendum is an example of needing rules about clarity for referendums. That question was designed to get the response that it did.

              Neither of them would have passed if politicians had gone to their individual constituencies and been bound by their views.

              They may not have passed at that time but would have done so eventually.

              • Pointy

                Rule by referendum is a really bad idea but that is a whole other post in it’s self. You’ll find that the only parties that call for constant referenda are right-wing populist parties of the vain of Le Pen and Pauline Hanson.

                Is that what you actually think is warranted in order to make representative democracy work? You have no faith in politicians to make decisions on our behalf at all? That’s fine if it is but that difference is greater than the difference between the two models I’ve described (even in the simplistic terms you’ve paraphrased them in). 

                • Referenda are good for a limited number of issues, like electoral reform.

                  Otherwise I think the best approach is for ‘the people’ to make themselves better informed and to do more to lobby their representatives. Polls or referenda could be used to add weight to the lobbying. The more compelling the argument the more likely it will work.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    1) You said referenda have limited uses.
                    2) Then you said: but most of the time its better for people to lobby their representatives instead…
                    3) …Perhaps using referenda to add weight.

                    WTF Pete G.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Rule by referendum is a really bad idea but that is a whole other post in it’s self.

                  Only according to the authoritarians who don’t want the system, which rewards them so handsomely, changed.

                  You’ll find that the only parties that call for constant referenda…

                  ZOMG, I’ve morphed into a right-wing hate group and didn’t even notice :O

                  You may not have noticed but over the last 40 odd years the right have taken the language of the left and subverted it. If they’re calling for referendums then it’s because they think that they can control the message and thus how people vote. Considering how much the MSM is biased in favour of the right they have a fairly good reason to believe that as well.

                  I’m for giving people the actual information rather than spin.

                  You have no faith in politicians to make decisions on our behalf at all?

                  Did I say that? hmmm, nope. I actually expect them to make decisions on a day to day basis (I expect to see those decisions as well) but when it comes to policy changes I expect to be consulted.

                  • Pointy

                    Draco, I think someone may have mistakenly told you your points are more valid if you deliver them with snarky enthusiasm. They’re not.

                    Referenda aren’t a democratic magic bullet. They even more prone to being subverted by lobby groups than most other political decision making. They definitely have their place for citizens to have their say on major constitutional changes or to provide a government with a clear mandate on a contentious issue. But as a constant toll for governance they are majorly flawed. I’m happy to haul you out some proper references but I get the feeling you don’t really care what I say. What ever it is is wrong or ‘authoritarian’. If you actually want to discuss DIRECT democracy that is another issue entirely and one where citizens are directly involved in policy decision making at all levels at all times. A very worthy system but quite different from rule by referenda.

                    As for ‘policy changes’ I don’t think I’ve talked about those as explicit ‘changes’ but rather referenced events when policy has to be designed to suit the circumstances. The general manifesto of a party should let you know what their values are but, as I’ve said repeatedly, you can’t cover every event in your pre-election manifesto. 

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Referenda aren’t a democratic magic bullet.

                      Never said they were but they’re a hell of a lot better than the MPs doing what they want and not listening to the people.

                      I’m happy to haul you out some proper references but I get the feeling you don’t really care what I say.

                      I’m quite aware of some of the downfalls – California constantly voting to lower taxes and going deeper and deeper into debt is one example. Most of them seem to be in the US where Atlas Shrugged was a best seller and they’re constantly told that lowering taxes on the rich will improve tax returns even though it’s obvious that that doesn’t happen.

                      Oh, wait, that shit happens under representative governments as well.

                      Good education and reporting of facts by the MSM is required rather than continual reporting of myth from the Business Roundtable. Would help if the economists had a theory based in reality rather than delusion as well.

                      I’d prefer direct democracy – still thinking on how to work it though. We need the administration that government represents so how do you hold government departments accountable in a non-hierarchical system?

                      …as I’ve said repeatedly, you can’t cover every event in your pre-election manifesto.

                      And as I said the government can make a law change that wasn’t in their manifesto and then go back to the public to get it validated.

  14. Pointy 14

    Hi CV yep…Draco seemed to be talking about voters not members of a party. And yes I know all about Peter Jackson’s ‘issues’ with NZ employment law, perhaps a little tongue in cheek. 

  15. strategos 15

    A progressive alternative to Obama ?

    Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/12/15/at-last-a-progressive-alternative-to-obama/?utm_source=rss&utm_medi

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Ronald Reagan would be a progressive alternative to Obama.

      • The Voice of Reason 15.1.1

        Steady on, old chap!

      • strategos 15.1.2

        Some would argue that the financial rot set in under Reagan with the ‘Star Wars’ initiative threatening to bankrupt the USA.

        • Sam

          Well it did result in the probable bankrupting the USSR?Eastern Europe and all it stood for.
          Thus the fall of Communism was triggered by Reagan talking about “star wars”, not actually implementing it at the time.

  16. dancerwaitakere 16

    Theorising the reform needed within the party is easy.

    The Labour Party was established with the premise that it is the party of the people, by the people, for the people.

    So it goes like this.

    Once Card. One Vote.

    Every member of the Labour Party gets their card that entitles them to vote on the Leadership (President and Parliamentary), the Party List and the Policy. Simple.

    Reform the Labour Party so that after almost a century the party is finally accessible.

    • Blue 16.1

      This year’s leadership contest was compared to the US primaries. Unlike those, however, the rank and file of the party did not get to actually vote.

      How hard would it have been to have ballot boxes at the door after one of those meetings, and everyone in the room could cast a vote for either Shearer or Cunliffe?

      Instead the contenders went around the country to those meetings and tried their best to win over the party members, which was totally pointless because only the 34 MPs got to vote.

      Now we have a dissatisfied activist base who don’t agree with the decision. It will be interesting to see what that means for the party.

  17. Anne 17

    Now we have a dissatisfied activist base who don’t agree with the decision. It will be interesting to see what that means for the party

    It means there is going to be dissension and probably some rebellion in the ranks. For example, I see Stuff is reporting that Shearer has offered Cunliffe a place on the front bench but it’s at the lower ranking end. Ahead of him are 2008 first termers who, while they may have political potential, are not deserving or ready for such high ranking at this point in their careers. I read that as petty mindedness on Shearer’s part, and shows just how low some of Cunliffe’s detractors were – and still are – prepared to go.

    In the two weeks leading up to the vote Shearer claimed time and again he had not thought about the portfolio distribution, nor had he discussed it with anyone. That was a lie. It is obvious the Finance portfolio has been promised to Parker – the price Shearer had to pay to get Parker to step down and have his supporters line up behind Shearer. Lets face it, had that deal not been struck then Cunliffe would be the Labour Party leader today.

    The ‘membership base’ were taken for a ride and I predicted as much right at the start of the process.

    Yeah I know… I’m a very modest person. 😎

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      Shearer has offered Cunliffe a place on the front bench but it’s at the lower ranking end. Ahead of him are 2008 first termers who, while they may have political potential, are not deserving or ready for such high ranking at this point

      This is a very big risk that this caucus is playing.

      It sends a number of wrong messages to the party members, including the importance of meritocracy vs political patronage. And if the vote againt Cunliffe was indeed along the lines of 19/15 or 20/14, then whoever holds the current balance of power in caucus appears willing to explicitly show disregard to a large number of colleagues.

      Of course, Cunliffe may actually end up being offered a no. 3 or no. 4 spot, what would the MSM know.

      • Anne 17.1.1

        Of course, Cunliffe may actually end up being offered a no. 3 or no. 4 spot, what would the MSM know.

        As you know someone is leaking like a sieve to the MSM and the consensus of opinion is that it is Trevor Mallard. Some of the info. has been (suspiciously) incorrect I’ve been told, so you may be right CV. Anyway, if Parker is able to negotiate a deal then I’m sure Cunliffe is equal to a similar task. He must know where a few skeletons are buried.

        • Colonial Viper

          All in all, my taste for this kind of politics is seriously waning.

          Storm clouds are not just gathering on the horizon, the first warning spatters have struck the windshield. This country must be ready.

    • Sam 17.2

      But if Cunliffe is now in the process of publicly “spitting the dummy” before any announcement on
      jobs by Shearer, isn’t Shearer justified in dropping Cunliffe down the rankings or ignoring him altogether?

      • The Voice of Reason 17.2.1

        He’s not publicly spitting the dummy at all, Sam. There is just a lot of vacuous speculation about what is going on (cf Anne above and ad nauseum), and no actual facts. Shearer will pick a team around him based on his own judgement as to their individual qualities. Cunliffe will be offered a post and he can either accept or decline. I hope he accepts, whatever the ranking, because he has some real talent and Labour needs all the firepower it can muster.

        • Colonial Viper

          Don’t you normally put the most capable heaviest firepower towards the top end of the front bench? Let’s see if it happens.

    • Sam 17.3

      Now we hear that well before the election, Phil Goff was talking to David Shearer about taking over the leadership. This means then that Phil Goff had already given up on his leadership before the election. How poor was that.

  18. Colonial Viper 18

    Bernie Sanders rocks – Millionaires must pay their fair share; Citizens United decision must be overturned (Corporations are not people and should not have constitutional rights)

    Bloody hell the US is a mess. Good on Sanders. I wish there were a dozen of him in the US Congress.

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    Both my parents are pretty handy – and they seem to have the right tools for most jobs in the garage and they know how to fix practically anything. A similar story could be told about their generation’s experience in the workforce – being a generalist was not unusual and ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • A “coincidence”
    When it was revealed that NZ First had tried to enrich itself from public office via the Provoncial Growth Fund, the Prime Minister assured us that everything was OK as Shane Jones, the Minister responsible for the fund, had recused himself. Except it seems that that recusal came very late ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day
    Today is a Member's Day, and probably the last one of the year. After the marathon of the End of Life Choice Act, most of the bills up for debate today are uncontentious. First up is the second reading of Chlöe Swarbrick's Election Access Fund Bill. This will be followed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Worse than I thought
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has reported back on the government's odious and tyrannical control orders bill. As expected, the fraudulent select committee process has made no significant changes (partly because they couldn't agree, but mostly because it was a stitch-up from the start, with no intention of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • The cannabis bill and the referendum
    Yesterday, the government released its draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which will be put to a non-binding referendum at the next election. I'm not a drug policy expert, but Russell Brown is, and he thinks its pretty good. And pretty obviously, it will be a massive improvement on the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Hard News: The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill: pretty good so far
    As you're probably aware, the draft bill outlining the proposed legal cannabis regime to be put to a referendum late next year was published yesterday, and has already attracted a flurry of comment. It's notable that a good deal of the comment is about proposals that aren't actually new.A minimum ...
    7 days ago
  • Climate Change: Alignment
    One of the big problems in New Zealand climate change policy is the government working at cross-purposes with itself. It wants to reduce fossil fuel use, but encourages oil and gas exploration. It wants to reduce transport emissions, but then builds enormous new roads. The problem could be avoided if ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • How climate change will affect food production and security
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz According to the United Nations, food shortages are a threat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    7 days ago
  • More bad faith
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Banning foreign money from our elections
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Reforming the Education Acts
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Bite-sized learning
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • “Not The Labour Party We Once Knew.”
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    1 week ago
  • Marxist versus liberal methodology on transgender ideology/identity politics
    While much of the NZ left has transitioned to postmodern and identity politics in relation to transgender ideology, there are some very good articles about that deploy Marxist methodology in relation to this subject.  The one below is from the British marxist group Counterfire and appeared on their site here ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Book review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Loosening the purse strings
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: How to get there
    Writing in Stuff, Joel MacManus looks at what we need to do to meet the Zero Carbon Act's targets. The core of it:1. Convert 85 per cent of vehicles on the road to electric. 2. Eliminate fossil fuels from all industrial heating up to 300 degrees Celsius. 3. Double our ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • anti-vaxxers in a measles epidemic: so many ways to be untruthful
    “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa over the past twenty-four hours. “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    1 week ago
  • Is Youth Vaping a Problem in New Zealand?
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • In pursuit of “Freedom and Democracy”: Forever Wars in “America’s backyard”.
    “America the Beautiful!”, staunch defender of democracy, freedom and… a whole lot of despotic tyrants that play nice with what is called “the Washington Consensus.” America is indeed capable of immense good, but like any Nation, and most assuredly any aspirant to the mantle of Empire, great, immense evil. All ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • November ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: The beginner’s guide to blogging I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is ...
    1 week ago
  • Whodunnit? Finding the mystery 1080 testing lab
    1080 is used to control pests in NZ. Its use is contested by a noisy few. A new report claims high levels of 1080 in rats washed up on a beach. Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa (F&F) won’t name the laboratory that did their testing. It has sparked a hunt ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • Authoritarian Friends, Democratic Enemies.
    What Kind Of Empire? The thing for Kiwis to decide is what kind of empire they want to belong to. The kind that, while offering its own citizens democratic rights, demands absolute obedience from its “friends”? Or, the kind that, while authoritarian at home, takes a relaxed attitude to the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Boris Johnson Goes Down
    It hasn't been a good week for the Conservatives, pollwise.  All major recent polls are showing their lead shrinking.Comparing each pollster's current (between 29/11 and 22/11) and previous most recent poll.Com Res - Conservative lead down 3 points.You Gov - Conservative lead down 1 point.Kantar - Conservative lead down 4 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Interesting
    Within quick succession, Countdown maths wizard and twitterer Rachel Riley, alleged comedian David Baddiel and prominent lawyer Andrew Julius have all expressed very similar opinions / ideas:
    These #3billboards are going round London today, organised by ex-Labour people, horrified by what their party has become. Their principles haven’t changed, they’re ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Damn the Polls
    So, there have been a bunch of bad polls out for Labour, and even the Leftie's friend, Survation, have recently given the Conservatives a rip-snorting 11% lead.  You Gov's much vaunted MRP poll - which pretty much nailed the result in 2015 - is currently predicting a comfortable majority for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Europe declares an emergency
    The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to declare a climate emergency:The European parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency” as it urged all EU countries to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The vote came as scientists warned that the world may have already crossed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Bi-Partisan Commitment To X-ing “P”.
    Pure Fear: Worse than Heroin, this drug’s addictive power was terrifying. People under its influence didn’t drift off to Elysium. Nor did it persuade inadequate individuals that they could conquer the world. No, this drug – pure crystal methamphetamine, “P” for short – unlocked the gates of Hell itself. It ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Advice about measles: when ignorance is definitely not a virtue
    As the rate of measles infection, and of deaths, continues to climb in Samoa, antivaccination activists infectious disease proponents seem intent on doubling down on their claims about vaccination. (Check pretty much any news-media FB post about measles & you’ll see exactly what I mean.) Unfortunately, some of them have ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    2 weeks ago
  • Samoa’s devastating measles epidemic – why and how bad?
    Samoa are experiencing a devastating measles epidemic. It is possible that 2-3% of the population will ultimately be infected by the time it is over. Hopefully the mass immunisation campaign currently under way can mitigate some of this, for many it is too late. The first question many people ask ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • “It’s basic rights we are defending”: the Meghan Murphy interview
    Meghan Murphy is a Canadian writer and journalist She runs the Feminist Current website which she founded in 2012.  She was a keynote speaker for the Feminism2020 conference in Wellington this month. When Massey University cancelled the original venue booking Feminism2020 was hosted in Parliament by MP David Seymour. Meghan ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • A week of protests in Colombia
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    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Anti-neutrinos–When you are your own opposite
    Around a million billion pass through you each second, almost all originating from our sun, but few of them are likely to interact with you enroute. I was reading in a physics magazine earlier in the week about the nature of neutrinos. These are extremely numerous elementary particles, but only ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • Exoplanets, life, and the danger of a single study
    By Pallab Ghosh There’s value in covering new research advances, even when the underlying science is unsettled. But there are also risks. The recent announcement that scientists discovered water on the planet K2-18b, 110 light years away, prompted a media swoon. News stories, including a piece written by me, billed ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • The Intersex Continuum
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    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Leaving us with the bill
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • How much does flying contribute to climate change?
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz How much does our use of air travel contribute to the ...
    SciBlogsBy Shaun Hendy
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The task before us
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Among my favourite asteroids: (2309) Mr. Spock
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    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Measles deaths and antivax misinformation
    Today the death toll from measles in Samoa rose to 32. All but four of the dead were less than 5 years old. Absolutely terrible, heartbreaking, news. That statistic alone should be enough to give the lie to the common claim by antivaccination activists plague enthusiasts that “measles is a ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    2 weeks ago
  • Colombia: the state murder of Dilan Cruz
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh It is late here in Bogotá, almost 11.30pm on Monday the 25th of November as I write this. The day began full of hope with yet more massive marches throughout the country, a mix of the International Day of Non-Violence Against Women and the National Strike. ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Anti-fluoride propagandists appear not to read the articles they promote
    Anti-fluoride activists are rubbing their hands in glee over what they claim is “yet another study” showing fluoride harms the brains of children. But their promotion relies on IQ relationships which the paper’s authors acknowledge disappearing when outliers or other factors are considered. And they completely ignore other relationships ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The rise and collapse of classical political economy
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    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Among my favourite asteroids: (2472) Bradman
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    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Some cheap soundbites i thought up while reading about the underwhelming Conservative manifesto
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    2 weeks ago
  • Measles vaccination required to travel to islands and Phillipines
    The Ministry of Health has announced that “people under the age of 50 travelling from New Zealand to Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji” are now on the list of national priorities for MMR vaccination. Given the outbreaks of measles in Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji, the Ministry of Health is ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    2 weeks ago
  • Giving the finger to Beijing
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Colombia’s national strike
    Text and photos by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On Friday 22nd of November a curfew came into effect and troops were deployed on the streets, here in Bogota. It was the first time since September 1977 that a curfew had been imposed on the city. The decision was a cynical pre-planned ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

  • Final steps for racing industry reform
    Racing Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Racing Industry Bill in parliament today. This is the second of two Bills that have been introduced this year to revitalise New Zealand’s racing industry. “Our domestic racing industry has been in serious decline.  The Government is committed to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Funding to promote New Zealand Sign Language initiatives
    Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni, is pleased to announce that $291,321 is to be awarded to national and local community initiatives to maintain and promote the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). “New Zealand is one of the few countries  in the world where Sign Language is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • How New Zealand defines and recognises veterans
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has announced today the Coalition Government’s initial response to work completed by the independent statutory body, the Veterans’ Advisory Board. “When Professor Ron Paterson completed his review of the Veterans’ Support Act in 2018, he made a number of recommendations, including one which I referred ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Government to fund lion’s share of Ohakea water scheme
    The Government will fund the bulk of the cost of a rural water supply for the Ohakea community affected by PFAS contamination, Environment Minister David Parker announced today at a meeting of local residents. This new water scheme will provide a reliable and clean source of drinking water to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Prime Minister statement on White Island eruption
    I have had the opportunity to be briefed on the details of the volcanic eruption of Whakaari/White Island, off the coast of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.  The eruption happened at 2.11pm today.  It continues to be an evolving situation.  We know that there were a number of tourists ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Govt funds $100k for weather-hit communities
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare have today confirmed initial Government support of $100,000 for communities affected by the severe weather that swept across the South Island and lower North Island over the weekend. The contribution will be made to Mayoral relief funds across the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Death of NZ High Commissioner to Cook Islands
    New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tessa Temata, died in Palmerston North over the weekend, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today. Ms Temata, 52, had recently returned to New Zealand for medical treatment. "On behalf of the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we extend ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Wellington rail upgrade full steam ahead
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today announced construction is underway on Wellington commuter rail upgrades which will mean more frequent services and fewer breakdowns. The upgrades include converting the Trentham to Upper Hutt single track section to a double track, with a new signalling system, upgraded stations and level crossings, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Defence Climate Change Implementation Plan released
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw have announced the release of a Defence Climate Change Implementation Work Plan, titled Responding to the Climate Crisis: An Implementation Plan.  The plan sets out a series of recommendations based on the 2018 New Zealand Defence Assessment, The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Govt releases funding to support South Canterbury
    A medium-scale adverse event has been declared for the South Canterbury district, which will see up to $50,000 in funding made available to support farming communities which have been significantly affected by recent heavy rain and flooding in the area, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Two weeks of solid rain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Speech at launch of Rethinking Plastics Report
    Thank you Professor Juliet Gerrard and your team for the comprehensive and extremely helpful report and recommendations. Thank you too to all the stakeholders and interested parties who have contributed ideas and thinking to it. “Making best practice, standard practice” is a great framework for change and the action plan ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt pledges next steps on plastic waste
    The Government will phase out more single-use plastics following the success of its single-use plastic bag ban earlier this year and the release today of a pivotal report for dealing with waste. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealandreport, released by her Chief Science Advisor ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • International student enrolments grow in universities and the regions
    International education continues to thrive as the Government focuses on quality over quantity, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. The tuition revenue from international education increased to $1.16 billion last year with the average tuition fee per student increasing by $960. The total number of international students enrolled in New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Speech to Government Economics Network 2019 Conference
    I want to talk about one of the most pressing issues in our national life: the housing crisis and the poor performance of our cities. The argument I want to make to you is that generations of urban land use policy have lacked a decent grounding in economics. The consequences ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • DHB leadership renewed and strengthened
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says new appointments to DHBs represent a significant changing of the guard, with 13 new chairs including four Māori chairs. Today 76 appointments have been announced to complement elected board members, as well as eight elected members appointed as either chair or deputy chair.  Four ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tabuteau to advance New Zealand’s trade and political interests with European partners
    Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Fletcher Tabuteau, is travelling to Germany, Poland, Austria, and Spain next week to bolster New Zealand’s political and trade relationships in Europe. While in Spain, Mr Tabuteau will represent New Zealand at the 14th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Madrid. “New Zealand strongly supports ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Kris Faafoi
    “I’ve spoken to Minister Faafoi, who has apologised for his poor handling of this issue,” Jacinda Ardern said. “I have confidence in Kris as a hardworking and effective Minister, but this should have been dealt with in a much clearer manner, and I’ve made my views on that very clear ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tonga-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Forum
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters met with Tongan Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa in Wellington today. The pair signed a Statement of Partnership setting out joint priorities for cooperation out to 2023.  “We welcomed Prime Minister Tu'i'onetoa on his first visit to New Zealand as Prime Minister. Tonga ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Shooting in Kurow
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash says his sympathies are with the family of a man who died after being shot by Police in Kurow. “Initial reports are that Police were called by a family member to help the man who was threatening to harm himself,” Mr Nash says. “However ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government delivers funding boost for ethnic communities
    Ethnic communities will be able to plan and deliver more community initiatives thanks to an increase in Government funding, Minister for Ethnic Communities Hon Jenny Salesa said today. “Ensuring Aotearoa New Zealand is a place we can all be proud to call home has been a key priority of our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt supports Southland farmers in sustainability
    Healthier waterways, better productivity and farmer wellbeing are front and centre in a new project involving more than 1000 Southland farmers and growers. Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor today announced that the Thriving Southland Change and Innovation Project is the first region-wide extension programme supported by the $229 million Sustainable ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Flood of support for Top of the South catchment
    Work to look after nature and restore freshwater quality in Te Hoiere/Pelorus River catchment is getting a significant boost, thanks to new Government funding support Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage announced in Canvastown today. “Every New Zealander should be able to swim in their local river without getting sick, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Eight Queen’s Counsel appointed under new criterion
    Eight Queen’s Counsel have been appointed under a process that includes the new criterion of a commitment to improving access to justice, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. “The new criterion was included this year. It emphasises that excellence and leadership in the profession can be seen through a wider, community ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Major expansion for Wellington’s Onslow College
    Onslow College in Wellington will get 20 new classrooms for more than 400 students, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. The much-needed investment will relieve growth pressure the school has been experiencing for some time. Seven existing classrooms which have deteriorated over time will also be replaced, bringing the total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Talented young Kiwis awarded PM’s Scholarships to Asia and Latin America
    More than 250 young New Zealanders will add international experience to their education, thanks to the latest Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia (PMSA) and Latin America (PMSLA), Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This round of scholarships supports 252 recent graduates or current students to undertake study, research or internships ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government to improve competitiveness and transparency in the retail fuel market
    Consumers will benefit from a more competitive, transparent retail fuel market as a result of changes the Government will be making in response to the findings of the Commerce Commission’s study of the fuel sector. “We accept the Commission’s findings and, as the Prime Minister has said, we’re ready to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More cancer medicines for more people
    Five new cancer medicines have now been funded this year, meaning thousands of people have more treatment options PHARMAC has today announced that it has approved two new medicines for funding – fulvestrant for breast cancer and olaparib for ovarian cancer. This follows earlier decisions on advanced lung cancer treatment alectinib, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government acts to sort out electoral ‘coin toss’ problem
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ to Join IMO Convention to Reduce Ship Emissions
    New Zealand will sign up to new international maritime regulations to reduce ship emissions and lift air quality around ports and harbours, Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today. Subject to completion of the Parliamentary treaty examination process, New Zealand will sign up to Annex VI of MARPOL, an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Bill to empower urban development projects
    New legislation to transform our urban areas and create sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities will tomorrow be introduced to Parliament, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said. “The Urban Development Bill gives Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities the tools it needs to partner with councils, communities, mana whenua and private developers to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Early Learning Action Plan to kickstart long term change
    Today’s launch of He taonga te Tamaiti: Every child a taonga: The Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029 provides the foundation for long-lasting changes to early learning, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.   “Early learning will be one of the Government’s top education priorities going into 2020,” Chris Hipkins said.   ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Climate change lens on major Government decisions
    Major decisions made by the Government will now be considered under a climate change lens, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. “Cabinet routinely considers the effects of its decisions on human rights, the Treaty of Waitangi, rural communities, the disability community, and gender – now climate change will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Tertiary Education Commission Board announced
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced the appointment of Māori education specialist Dr Wayne Ngata and Business NZ head Kirk Hope to the Board of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). Dr Alastair MacCormick has been reappointed for another term. “Wayne Ngata, Kirk Hope and Alastair MacCormick bring a great deal ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Next phase of Pike River recovery underway in time for Christmas
    The next phase of the Pike River Re-entry project is underway, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little says. “Fresh air will be pumped into the Pike River Mine drift this week, following acceptance of the plan for re-entry beyond the 170m barrier by New Zealand’s independent health and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Insurance contracts to become easier to understand and fairer for consumers
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