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What should National do?

Written By: - Date published: 2:20 pm, October 14th, 2010 - 36 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, labour, national - Tags:

We get some great stuff going on in the comments here. Often I think I should pull comments up as guest posts, this time I’ve actually got a round to it! A couple of days ago fatty despairingly questioned what Labour stood for, and how they could distance themselves from National. An excellent reply from regular commenter Colonial Viper is below. What more can we add? And, my challenge to the right wingers, can you come up with a similarly broad, coherent and principled summary of what you think National stands for? What should National do? — r0b

Colonial Viper | 12 October 2010 at 9:04 pm

OK, I’ll bite. Your question is – what should Labour do?

Stand for what they believe in and do not give an inch on their values.

Don’t be afraid of taking wealth generation very seriously – as well as wealth redistribution.

Talk about fairness, opportunity for all and social justice as critical issues facing us.

Be determined to reduce social and economic inequality in the country. Reconnect in a serious way with workers: the 3/4 of NZ’ers who between them only hold 1/4 (and declining) of the country’s wealth.

Move back to a very strongly progressive tax system and ensure that it removes all impetus for asset bubble speculation.

Reconnect with and revitalise the union movement as an underlying engine of the productive, innovative economy.

Create the conditions to bring about a real living wage for all. Reduce the % of the economy that the finance and banking sector represents in favour of home grown advanced productive enterprise.

Dramatically increase the productivity per NZ worker, and ensure that worker gets a fair share of the returns.

Draw a line in the sand that anything over 3% unemployment is not just undesirable but unacceptable, economically and societally.

Reduce public and private reliance on debt created bank money. Ensure that social capital is valued just as much as financial capital.

Throw GDP out as our main measure of economic activity and replace it with GNP per capita as well as other measures.

Create expectations and supports so that every able person can contribute their utmost to society – whether it be through paid employment or in other ways – while those not able to work are well protected and cared for.

Support the weak, the vulnerable, the disenfranchised in society to the greatest extent possible and give them ways to fully participate in the society that they are members of.

Protect the sovereignty and pride of our country, its people and its economy.

Demonstrate why NZ has always held its head high in pride of place in the international community.

Establish civics education for all, re-energise public broadcasting in the true sense of the term, while enforcing the highest standards of impartiality, analysis and reporting in the news media.

Give young New Zealanders every reason to stay and strive to create successful, happy lives in this country, instead of Australia.

Shall I go on, I can if you want.

36 comments on “What should National do? ”

  1. Bright Red 1

    as long as they’re in power, National’s supporters are happy for them to keep doing nothing.

    National’s reason for exisitng is to keep labour out of ofice.

  2. nzfp 2

    Nice CV,
    I don’t see any reason by National shouldn’t be striving for these goals either. They’re clear – well defined and achievale.

    Captcha:such – such a shame they (NAct) don’t.

  3. Establish civics education for all, re-energise public broadcasting in the true sense of the term, while enforcing the highest standards of impartiality, analysis and reporting in the news media.

    And the award for most Orwellian euphamisms in a single sentence goes to . . .

    • Bright Red 3.1

      What’s wrong with civics education, real public broadcasting, and better standards in reporting?

      I can’t imagine you think that we have good reporting now. It’s almost uniformly, uninformed, unserious, and uncurious.

      Except for the Missus, naturally, she’s just super-duper and didn’t bark and roll over like a happy puppy for Key at all on that Afghanistan trip.

    • felix 3.2

      Looks like a pretty straight sentence to me Danyl, but I’m not always the most thorough reader.

      Care to show us where the Orwellian euphamisms are hiding?

      • Richard 3.2.1

        The point is that the sentence can mean absolutely anything, and yet also means nothing.

        You could do practically anything including “teaching school children that the PM is a god” and “lynching journalists who insult the PM” and claim that what you were doing was covered by that sentence.

        That’s the beauty/point of Orwellian euphamisms. They can be construed to mean anything.

        • Ari

          Would you prefer we said “teach democratic values and how to get involved in the political process more thoroughly at school”? How about “provide an alternative to private broadcasters?”

          The only thing Orwellian about New Zealand at the moment is CERRA.

      • Care to show us where the Orwellian euphamisms are hiding?

        1. ‘Civics education for all’. How’s that going to work? You’re going to force people to attend civics evening classes? And what values are taught in these civics classes? Who decides? ‘Civics education for all’ sounds an awful lot like ‘compulsory political propaganda for all’.

        2. ‘enforcing the highest standards of impartiality, analysis and reporting in the news media’. Once again, who decides? Currently every time a Labour MP gets caught breaking the law or acting unethically we hear a huge wail of outrage from Labour and it’s supporters complaining about the terrible journalism they’re being subjected to, so a government enforcing ‘high standards of reporting’ could also look like a government that heavily censors or prohibits negative reporting about itself.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Currently every time a Labour MP gets caught breaking the law or acting unethically we hear a huge wail of outrage from Labour and it’s supporters complaining about the terrible journalism they’re being subjected to,


          But on that note, we certainly don’t see NACT held up to the same standards by the MSM as Labour. What did Richard Worth do again to get fired?

        • Carol

          Well Australia has civics education as part of the school curriculum:


          And the Aus Government site has quite a bit about what is included in civics education, as for instance this:

          Curriculum Resources for Schools 1998-2004
          Discovering Democracy Kits (1998 distribution)

          Kits were provided to all primary and secondary schools throughout Australia. The primary kit included books of teaching and learning units for both middle primary students and upper primary students, and the secondary kits included books of teaching and learning units for both lower secondary students and middle secondary students.

          The learning units for each level are built around four themes:

          * Who Rules?
          * Laws and Rights
          * The Australian Nation
          * Citizens and Public Life.

          • Jeremy Harris

            Surely Civics education is easy to figure out…

            How our system of government works
            What our rights are
            NZ values: Enterprise, hardwork, thrift

            • Danyl Mclauchlan

              Well Australia has civics education as part of the school curriculum:

              And in New Zealand we have social studies, which covers the same material. But the OP didn’t say ‘let’s have social studies in schools like we do already’, it said ‘Establish civics education for all.’

              • Carol

                Well, I think CV’s initial post above was a summary of what could be done in a range of areas. So I understood him to be pointing to areas where things could be done to improve the critical engagement with politics and related issues by more of the population.

                And I agree that civics education, and a MSM that operates less on commercial prinicipals and more on providing a means for people to learn about, and critically examine what is ACTUALLY going on in the world (eg of power, politics and democracy) are areas where policies could be developed to address this.

              • Colonial Viper

                Danyl, I’m not concerned under what name or subject heading a comprehensive and practical civics education is delivered, just that it is delivered.

                As for your questions around ‘how to enforce?’ and ‘who decides?’ they are excellent questions for consideration – once we have agreed that there is powerful rationale for a comprehensive and practical civics education for all, and once we agree that a healthy democracy can only exist when the highest standards and practices in its news media are adhered to.

                There is no need to jump to considering detailed implementation straight away.

        • felix

          Sorry Danyl I must be incredibly naive and / or stupid. I assumed that “civics education for all” meant, you know, for “all” as they pass through the education system.

          You’re probably right though, it’s most likely to be code for “herd them into camps”. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. Jeremy Harris 4

    I’m sure I’d be described as right wing, economically and socially liberal at least…

    So what does National stand for..?

    – Fulfilling their born to rule desires
    – Authoritarianism
    – Practicing socialism – just not as much
    – Corporate welfare
    – Paying lip service to freedom and personal responsibility
    – Power

    CV’s desires sound nice, they pull at the heart strings and while the post is heavy on goals it’s light on details…

    It isn’t described how the goals can be achieved without the overt use of force, without creating imbalances in the economy, without creating flight of wealth overseas, without running foul of international trade agreements which are the drivers of wealth, etc, etc… If you ask him for a follow up post on how then we can have a real discussion…

    Anyone who thinks you can regulate a solution for every economic and social problem wasn’t paying attention in history class when they talked about Muldoon…

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      It isn’t described how the goals can be achieved without the overt use of force,…

      That would probably require a doctoral thesis rather than a blog post.

      Anyone who thinks you can regulate a solution for every economic and social problem…

      Not every solution, just broad categories. As we’ve seen, limited regulation is a lot worse than over regulation. Every time we have limited regulation – the economy collapses.

  5. Great list CV – but there are a number of things on that list that in the current environment are outside the reach of the government except in a most limited sense.

    – Realigning the percentage of gross profit allocated to wages/entrepreneurism as to encourage a living wage. I am not optimistic about the future for wage/salary progression under the current model. This is by far the biggest problem we face as a nation and solving it would ameliorate many other problems.

    Wage controls? Government wage top-ups (WFF expanded?) Return to national bargaining? Industry specific minimum/regulated wages? Mandatory overtime/graveyard penal rates?

    Unfortunately, some of these would cause blowback – but it would be overhyped far more than would ever eventuate.

    • Olwyn 5.1

      I am very much in favour of a living wage in the form of wages over WFF. While top-ups are better than nothing, they degrade real wages conceptually into a form of pocket money for being a good adult and going to work, rather than allowing one to genuinely provide for one’s living by working. Furthermore, they rob people of luck – get a minor wage rise and you find yourself in debt to the tax department. Greater non-taxable amounts for the parents of families is a better idea than WFF.

    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      Realigning the percentage of gross profit allocated to wages/entrepreneurism as to encourage a living wage.

      This is indeed difficult to do under a model where only half a dozen people might be responsible for setting the entire payroll budget for a 2000 person organisation. We have seen time and again that senior and executive management will always reward themselves first and foremost, sometimes while saying baldly to the rank and file that there is no money for their raises.

      In order for workers to get more of a fair share, answers probably include a combination of stronger unions, higher productive value generated per employee, more employer competition for skilled and capable workers, a more progressive tax system.

      A scenario which would begin, in some ways, to look more like Australia.

      • Jeremy Harris 5.2.1

        @Olwyn a negative income tax avoids that problem…

        @CV, you forgot co-ops and not for profit corporations…

        • Colonial Viper

          Actually you are right. Any organisational structure which gives its constituents more say will be helpful.

          • Jeremy Harris

            Actually you are right.

            I’m off to the tattoo parlour with that quote… I might just retire from the blog game…

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.2

        In order for workers to get more of a fair share,…

        Actually, the workers just need to be able to see the books and have a say on what the administration is paid.

  6. freedom 6

    There are a thousand different reasons that could be argued for and against every item on the list.
    The only reason that a single item would fail is a lack of will, everything else can be resolved no matter how many of the Elite scream of social armageddon

  7. Brokenback 7

    What should National do?


  8. Colonial Viper 8

    My first guest post! Thank you all for commenting on my opinions, and thanks r0b for putting this up.

    Although the individual points I made can certainly be debated more deeply and fleshed out – I did write it very much in a precis style of – ‘this is what Labour should do’. And I meant both party and caucus.

    Jeremy noted that the points I raise pull at the heart strings. And so they should. Because it is a compassionate and strong vision of New Zealand’s future, and a kind of politics which really seeks to engage with all.

    I strongly believe that we need many many people to ‘geddit’, both what the issues are and what we can accomplish together with mass effort, not just in their heads, but also in their hearts.

  9. Oh come by Yar
    What a load of crap, sorry but this article is an unforfilable wish list, it might as well have been written by a bunch of rich kindergarten kids contemplating their next acquisition/toy.
    Life is not and from now on about full employment for a start, it will never be about ‘democracy’ that went out the window years ago, from now on it is might is right, as the Iraqis can testify.
    New Zealand only has land and relatively clean air and water, this can’t be taken away, but it could be taken over … think about that as ‘we’ borrow another $240 mill this week .. what is the collateral? I guess we have more than ice and moss to offer the world)
    We are now entering the world of nature, she doesn’t take prisoners, humanity is going to fast find out that living without millions of years of ancient energy, is bloody hard, especially with maybe a population exceeding carrying capacity by 13 out of every 14 people.
    What should any politician do ??
    Hold a public meeting every Saturday morning, to discuss the issues we all face as a community, because united we stand devid……..
    There are going to be one party/group of people in New Zealand …. the hungry one, the sooner we start to accept that life as we know it is over, including 97% employment (yeah right) the faster ‘we’ can make alternative planes.
    And without an informed and cooperative community we are screwed. Not sure if the people are desperate enough yet… they would rather follow the above cloud cuckoo thinking.
    Apologies to Colonial

  10. Jim MacDonald 10

    Mmm, that’s a good list to remind and refocus the Left.

  11. As for your questions around ‘how to enforce?’ and ‘who decides?’ they are excellent questions for consideration – once we have agreed that there is powerful rationale for a comprehensive and practical civics education for all, and once we agree that a healthy democracy can only exist when the highest standards and practices in its news media are adhered to.

    There is no need to jump to considering detailed implementation straight away.

    Let me put it like this:

    Let’s say Labour gets voted in and in implements these things. History shows that Labour never stays in very long – most of the time New Zealand is governed by the National Party. Are you happy to set up government institutions that enforce standards in the media, or teach political values in schools or ‘for all’ knowing that most of the time the values and standards will be set by the National Party?

    I don’t really think civics education is that important, beyond what we currently have in the social studies curriculum. If you really wanted to make a difference in peoples lives I’d teach them how to cook cheap, nutritious meals and how to practise financial literacy – two skills that would make a huge material difference to someone’s quality of life, as opposed to political indoctrination which is worthless on a day to day basis.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      …most of the time New Zealand is governed by the National Party.

      That was true under the undemocratic FPP system. It’s proving the other way under MMP. This is because most people vote left. Always have done, always will do.

      I don’t really think civics education is that important, beyond what we currently have in the social studies curriculum.

      Depends on what’s being taught. When I did Social Studies all those years ago I certainly wasn’t taught about politics and how democracy in NZ works.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1


        Generally, the minor parties that reached 5% of the popular vote can be interpreted as more anti-National than anti-Labour, meaning that, under MMP, for most of those elections the left bloc would have been significantly larger than the right bloc.

        National is not the natural party of government and never has been. The left is.

  12. Jim MacDonald 12

    Mmm yummy … teach how to cook cheap nutritious meals for the tummy … and that’s a good list, CV, for the Left to feed the mind and nourish the soul


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