What the recent elections tell us about British society

Written By: - Date published: 11:31 pm, May 17th, 2021 - 35 comments
Categories: Brexit, electoral systems, First Past the Post, Jeremy Corbyn, leadership, local government, uk politics - Tags: , , , , , ,

Originally posted on Nick Kelly’s Blog

In a nation that has suffered over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, one may be somewhat taken aback to see the latest YouGov Poll where The Conservative Party enjoy a 15% lead over the Labour Opposition. 17 months after the Conservatives won the 2019 General Election, it would be easy to conclude that the Government are still enjoying the support they gained during this campaign. The last year and a half have been anything but normal with a pandemic creating the greatest social and economic crisis in decades. As we are still living through this crisis it is too soon to really understand what the long-term consequences of it will be, however, the recent elections in the UK do highlight some important trends and issues.

After the 2018 council elections in England I made the following observation in a blog post:

The downside to Party Political council elections is that the media interest is primarily what the impact of local council elections on national politics. This has included projections for how many seats each party would get in the House of Commons based on these results, despite the fact that not all councils were up for re-election. More importantly, while some will be voting on party lines, many others are likely to vote on local issues. Someones vote in council elections may not reflect how they would vote in a general election.

English Council Elections – 5 May 2018

It remains true that too much emphasis is made on how local election results may translate to voting intentions in a general election. Many people when they vote, are doing so based on the performance or lack thereof of their local councillors or mayors. However, many do use these elections as a chance to send a message based on the performance of party leaders nationally. And in 2021, the gains made by the Conservative Party, in particular, Labour losing their majority on councils like Durham were part of a national trend.

Of course, there were not just council elections being held on Thursday 6 May, but also the Scottish and Welsh assembly elections and the Hartlepool by-election.

Elections 2021: Guide to 'Super Thursday' as Britain heads to the polls - LBC

Voting took place across the UK on Thursday 6 May 2021 for council elections, the Hartlepool by-election and the Scottish and Welsh Assembly elections.

Hartlepool saw the Conservatives win in a constituency Labour had held for 57 years. The official response from Starmer’s leadership team was that Labour was still suffering from the result in 2019 where the Party had lost its ‘Red Wall’ seats and implied that the fault lay with the previous leader Jeremy Corbyn. Labour held Hartlepool in both the 2017 and 2019 general elections, and in 2017 Labour’s majority actually increased. Two major factors at play in Hartlepool were a) voter turnout falling to 42% whereas in 2019 turnout was 57.9% and b) in 2019 the combined Conservative Party and Brexit Party votes were ahead of Labour meaning in 2021 much of that Brexit Party vote went Conservative.

Another problem for Labour, and one which highlights the current poor decisions being made by Labour’s current leadership, was the decision to select former Stockton South MP Paul Williams, from a shortlist of one, as their candidate. Williams, a vocal remainer was an odd choice for a constituency where support for Brexit was high. Williams was also forced to apologise early on in the campaign for an inappropriate tweet sent a few years earlier. When running for Labour Leader Kier Starmer tweeted that Labour needed to be “more democratic” in the way it selected candidates and should end “impositions” from the national leadership. Yet Paul Williams was ‘imposed’ and voters responded accordingly.

The current success of the Conservative Party is certainly in part due to the vaccine rollout. Unlike the expensive Track and Trace system that did not deliver, the NHS has rolled out a successful COVID-19 vaccination programme, which has significantly reduced transmission and hospitalisation of this virus. Added to this has been the British media gleefully highlighting the problems the EU have had rolling out the vaccine, confirming to those who voted Brexit in 2016 and/or the Tories in 2019 that getting out of the EU was the right thing to do. Despite the pandemic, the Government made a point of delivering the promise to “get Brexit done.” Whilst this has not helped political stability in Northern Ireland it keeps a promise made in 2019 which plays well with a strong section of English voters.

The re-election of the Scottish Nationalist Party, despite the recent controversy over Alex Salmond, will have disappointed those opposed to Scottish Independence. Any thoughts that Scottish Labour’s new leader Anas Sarwar would improve the fortunes for the party, that once dominated in Scotland, were dashed with the party coming third and only holding marginal seats like Dumbarton due to tactical voting by Tory and Lib Dem voters to stop an independence candidate winning. The media, particularly in England, and the Westminster establishment make much of the claim that having failed to win an outright majority there is no mandate for another independence referendum. This says more about the ignorance of the political and media establishment within the London bubble than about Scottish nationalism. The proportional voting system Scotland uses makes a party getting an outright majority highly unlikely. That the SNP were one seat shy of this is impressive. Further, the Scottish Greens also ran on a pro-independence platform, meaning there is a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament. Independence is still far from certain in Scotland, but as I wrote after the 2019 general election the calls for independence have and will continue to get louder.

The results were not all bad for the opposition Labour Party on 6 May. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was elected with 67.3% of the vote to the Tories 19.6%. Andy ran on a progressive platform of improving buses and public transport in the city. He also has been given the nickname ‘King of the North’ after standing up to the Government in late 2020 calling for greater support for the region during the lockdown. In Wales, Labour was re-elected with their leader Mark Drakeford claiming the Welsh Governments response to COVID-19 helped them stay in power. In London, Labour retained control of the Greater London Authority and Mayor Sadiq Khan was reelected. Khan’s majority was small than his 2016 result, with many voters dissatisfied with his handling of transport issues in the city.

The picture these results paint is one where the Conservatives won largely as it was their voters who had greater motivation to vote. Those satisfied with or at least more forgiving of the Governments response to COVID-19 were more likely to go to the ballot box and vote Tory. The polling data shows the combined support of opposition party’s to be greater than the Tories, but under a First Past the Post electoral system this helps the Tories. The current poll shows the Green Party, which currently has one MP in the House of Commons, enjoying 8% support. An increase in the Green vote to this sort of number will likely split the progressive vote in marginal constituencies and help the Tories. By contrast, the Conservatives no longer face serious competition on the right having mopped up the Brexit Party/UKIP support. Further, despite performing fairly poorly in Scotland and Wales, the Conservatives remain the dominant Party in England where the vast majority of UK voters live. As an English nationalist party, the Tories are able to motivate enough people in England to keep voting for them and retain power.

The COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity for oppositions parties, in particular the Labour Party, to have made gains. Although a small-c conservative country, the governments handling of the crisis has upset many. Yet a combination of voter disengagement and competition with the Greens and Lib Dems has meant Labour continues to perform poorly, except in areas of the country where the party has local leaders who are prepared to step up. My next blog post will turn once again to the UK Labour Party to understand why 18 months after the 2019 election defeat the party is slipping backwards in terms of support nationally.

35 comments on “What the recent elections tell us about British society ”

  1. Tricledrown 1

    It's been divided and conquered ever since Thatcher .Now with Brexit another massive upheaval will do a lot of economic damage especially as the EU tariffs ,Travel difficulties,The Irish border,Scotish independence,etc will cause huge economic damage as well as social upheaval.

    It will take years to unravel. The Tories are desperately pumping £billions of pounds into think big projects ,muldoon style to keep voters happy. Car manufacturers,aerospace contractors ,fishing,farming,finance(the biggest sector already a good percentage have left London for Brussels and Germany) are going to take years if not decades to recover if they do at all.massive labour shortages are already happening as EU citizens are leaving in droves.

  2. Ad 2

    After its 10% GDP collapse in 2020, Britain is on track for the strongest economic growth since the second world war.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/may/15/the-fear-that-haunts-markets-is-inflation-coming-back

    Everyone's been saving like a bastard, and with their second jab the masks come off and they go for it. Labour have had their chance at the ballot box when things were tough and when political choices were in flux. Didn’t work.

    There aren't a lot of good attack lines for Labour that can best simple national relief and rebuild generating wholesale consumer confidence.

    • Tricledrown 2.1

      It's very easy to show growth off the back of decline.We had that type of growth back in the 1990's in NZ we had percentage growth under Richardson and Birch but when you look at the volume of growth it stagnated for 30 years.

      This sugar hit immediate growth is caused by the UK having to stockpile/warehouse its supply chain and the massive capital injection by the Tory 's to counter the long term damage the know is coming. Honda,Nissan ,Jaguar Rover,Mini, the aerospace Airbus parts supply.All will struggle to import parts and export having to pay tariffs and ditch just in time cost saving for manufacturers .Labour shortages will compound these hurdles as well.

      The London finance sector one of the largest in the world has bleed many of the largest head office to the EU.

      Plus the sugar hit coming out of lockdown .

      Scotland wanting to rejoin the EU after seeking independence the Irish border threatening to reopening the old wounds of the troubles,Northern Island and Wales also seeking independence is a huge wave of bad news for the UK economy.

      The Tories after decades of austerity are pumping £100's of billions in a Keynesian effort to keep the UK afloat against all the damage caused by Brexit.

      • Ad 2.1.1

        Sure it ain't politically fair. Playing for time hoping for social chaos and economic decline hasn't worked so far and isn't likely to.

        The countries fast into vaccines and fast out of trouble are rewarding their masters irrespective of traditional party allegiance.

        • Tricledrown 2.1.1.1

          Englands North the rust belt of England were wooed by Brexit a former Labour stronghold was fed up with eastern Europeans coming in working harder for less wages.

          But when you look beyond the headlines now Eastern Europeans are leaving the UK .You would think local unemployed would take up those jobs but less youth are participating in the workforce .

          Then look at the longterm economic UK stats the UK had been in decline for the previous 2 years 2019 and 2020 and the sugar hit now looks good but the UK is still well down on what it was 2 years ago.

          • gypsy 2.1.1.1.1

            The UK economy was not in decline in 2019. This graph shows that for Q4 2019, GDP was in fact at a peak after a sustained period of growth from Q2 2009.

            GDP then declined sharply in Q1 and Q2 2020, with the recovery beginning in Q3.

            That total GDP is below where it was at the end of 2019 is almost certainly the result of Covid, not Brexit. The UK economy looks to be well on track to recover to pre Covid levels in the not too distant future.

            • Tricledrown 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Gypsy you are interpreting the figures poorly a 5% increase in gdp off the back of a 20% decline it will take 3 to 4 years for the UK economy to get back to the same volume of economic output as 2019 when their economy was already struggling due to Brexit uncertainty.

              Given most economies are having an initial rebound from pent up spending followed by a slowing down.Plus the eye watering debt levels the UK is in a similar situation to Italy.

              • Nic the NZer

                Gypsy is entirely correct, UK GDP peaks in Q4 2019. The massive decline predicted in Brexit scenario forecasts simply never materialized.

              • ghostwhowalksnz

                " 5% increase in gdp off the back of a 20% decline it will take 3 to 4 years for the UK economy to get back.."

                A lot of GDP these days is about 'spending' not necessarily about production.

                The spending side bounces back faster than people think as theres a fair slice of the population that spends it all – because they have to or they 'want' to.

                Tricycle , you over exaggerating the border issues with the EU, fogetting its the 'food standards' that cause the most issues and the UK is a net importer of food from Ireland, France, Netherlands, and Denmark especially. from EU its £30 bill imports and £12 bill exports UK is welcome to move its food imports to other countries and avoid EU protectionism…maybe even NZ !

                As the french fishermen found out the Brits can make high art form of petty rules when it suits. It will come around to bite badly along with the vacuous threat to cut of power to the Channel Islands.

                T

                • Tricledrown

                  Yet British fisherman can't sell fresh fish into their biggest market because delays at the border spoil the fish.

                  Boris sold fisherman down the drain the headlines read.

              • gypsy

                What Nic says.

                Plus – if you look at the GDP in $ terms, at Q4 2019 is was UK544,733. By Q2 2020 it was UK426,197, a drop of UK118,536 or 22%.

                By Q4 2020 the GDP was UK504,742, just 7% below the 2019 equivalent.

                By my maths, that means that 15/22nds or 68% of the fall in GDP had already been recovered in 2020.

        • greywarshark 2.1.1.2

          Good on you Ad for being cheery. But the Tories have gone after the cherries, there is a short term rush, but that's all it is. The English have swallowed the propaganda from the top. Margaret Thatcher was supposed to show modernity and women moving up. She was aspirational for university women, the middle class, and appeared supremely confident. That's all the upper class need to be in England, will the lower income people unite and fight?

          I think not, they get immersed in celebrity culture and coloured tv. Some have never got over the wonder of seeing a version of themselves on Coronation Street. We are likely to be the same; phlegmatic is the word.

    • Tricledrown 2.2

      Looking at the UK economy closer they suffered a 19% decline in GDP.. in 2020.Govt debt now up up to 100% relative to GDP.

      Under Tory control for more than 10 years govt debt has increased every year they have been in power.

      • Ad 2.2.1

        Voters aren't looking closely and Labour haven't encouraged them to.

      • Nic the NZer 2.2.2

        Taking on debt, supplementing national income and supporting the economy are what you do as a government when your economy enters recession. Since the UK controls the money it borrows, what your criticizing is sensible economic policy with basically no downside.

        • greywarshark 2.2.2.1

          Forced to be sensible are they in the UK? Yippee. I wonder how long that will last when they move back to normal wheee-ling and dealing. I like the Dilbert cartoon character – on a book I've got he holds up a sign saying 'This Way to Piles of Money' and the other characters walk towards it, eyes glazed, and fall over a cliff.

        • Tricledrown 2.2.2.2

          Nic the NZer but when debt levels get to high and you are borrowing to pay back borrowing you end up with a Greek tragedy or like Japan Italy etc especially if inflation takes off.

          When debt levels are so high and you are paying for those borrowings the cost of servicing those debt's takes away govt's ability to stimulate the economy .If another economic shock occurs most likely in the worlds current situation the UK will end up in an even worse situation like Japan which has so much govt debt it can't stimulate anymore.

          Printing money is the better option but Boris and the Tories are servants slaves of the profiteering banks.

          • Nic the NZer 2.2.2.2.1

            That is not really a correct analysis.

            Japan has had about 20 years of consistent real economic growth and low unemployment. There is no clear basis for your assessment that it is an economic failure, other than the substantial govt debt (a lot of which the Japanese govt owes to itself anyway). The govt there typically borrows at low or even negative interest rates.

            Greece is different. It uses a foreign currency the Euro, and so is beholden to the ECB to allow it to conduct its economic policy in deficit. Because this is not going to work at present with the pandemic the deficit and debt rules have been suspended at least temporarily. Unfortunately the ECB and EU setup these fiscal rules where Greece was forced to run domestic austerity in order to keep functioning in the Euro and this was very bad politically. Also since about 2012 the ECB has been buying Greek govt debt to keep the interest rates there down so default and grexit didn't happen.

            The UK however is more like Japan. The govt runs the BofE and don't need to implement austerity to stay on side with them. If the treasury wants money to fund its budget it just makes the BofE clear its payments.

            As for your assessment that Japan can't stimulate, well your mistaking effect for ability. Monetary policy is not very effective anywhere at stimulating inflation, even NZ where the RBNZ has barely hit the floor of its target inflation band recently. Thats why the govt goes to fiscal policy on each recession, because thats what works. Japan, the UK and NZ can all conduct whatever fiscal policy they want at all times, and Greece can free of debt and deficit ratios at least at the present time.

            Finally QE is just a way to involve the financial markets while the central bank funds a govt deficit. They could just give treasury an overdraft (the UK one is called the ways and means account) but many countries don't do it that way.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 2.2.2.2.2

            "the UK will end up in an even worse situation like Japan which has so much govt debt it can't stimulate anymore."

            That didnt stop them last year during the pandemic, their real problem was finding anything left to build as infrastructure as they have built anything and everything already. They were 240% GDP debt ratio before and now its over 250%…. its only money

            Hello Olympics and RWC before them often in pre-existing stadiums and facilities.

      • gypsy 2.2.3

        "Under Tory control for more than 10 years govt debt has increased every year they have been in power."

        Not so.

        Last 5 years:

        2015 80.2% x GDP.

        2016 79.8%

        2017 82.5%

        2018 82.1%

        2019 80.4%

        It could be argued that prior to Covid, the debt to GDP ratio was declining.

        • greywarshark 2.2.3.1

          Is that all there is that is important top know about how people are doing in a country? Debt to GDP ratio, what about other markers health, education. full-time work, decent housing and so on.?

        • Tricledrown 2.2.3.2

          Adding £50 billion a year to debt on average every year. On a declining economy with anemic declining gdp growth over the last five years growth at less than the inflation rate.

          Productivity declining the only bright spot was prior to the pandemic was participation in the work force but against stagnant wages.

          The OECD looked at the unemployment rate in the UK and found successive govt's both Labour and the Conservatives were getting better at judging the figures and the true rate was 13% plus.

          • Nic the NZer 2.2.3.2.1

            Your saying you should be able to declare what UK unemployment and GDP actually is, because the OECD said so?

            Does this have anything to do with official sources repeatedly disproving your assertions.

          • gypsy 2.2.3.2.2

            I wasn't making a detailed analysis of the UK economy, just responding to your comment that "under Tory control for more than 10 years govt debt has increased every year they have been in power". Given that measuring debt as a % of GDP is fairly standard economics, I respectfully don't agree with you.

            As to the condition of the condition of the UK economy more broadly, this was written by Bank of England economist, Andy Haldane. I'm nowhere near bold enough to forecast economic activity under current conditions, but he seems to have a fairly bullish outlook.

    • Nic the NZer 2.3

      http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=47492

      From memory this discusses specifically the piece you linked Ad. The title is 'The inflation mania is growing – but manias are manias".

      • greywarshark 2.3.1

        mania

        /ˈmeɪnɪə/ noun: mania

        1. mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions, and overactivity.

        The propensity goes back to Ancient Greece. 'from Greek mania "madness, frenzy; enthusiasm, inspired frenzy; mad passion, fury," related to mainesthai "to rage, go mad," mantis "seer," menos "passion, spirit," all of uncertain origin, perhaps from …'

  3. RosieLee 3

    The fact that Labour is in total disarray doesn't help. They really need to get their shit together.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      First they have to recognise it for what it is, then do some actual physical work and get it 'shovel-ready' and carry out pilot schemes before introducing their latest flights of fancy taught by female and male wizards at the Unseen University.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2

      " Labour is in total disarray doesn't help"

      Just a media catch phrase. Theres a version of the same thing which the media use about the Democrats in US too.

      Johnson and his ministers are total shambles and they actually are governing, people peel off from their minor roles inside the government who show this happening. It could be the 1930s 'disarray' all over again. ( not that its a special time, just well written about)

      • RosieLee 3.2.1

        Not totally a media catchphrase. Witness the Corbyn leadership shambles, the so-called antisemitism shambles, the current leadership woes.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2.1.1

          And the Tories havent had an omni-shambles over 'leadership' for 4 years at least?

          Its just political class making noises which the ordinary people mostly ignore, which the 'semitism' row was a prime example.

          Atlees government ,who didnt vote for the establishment of Isreal at the UN in 1948, would be classed as 'anti-semetic' now under new definitions which class criticism of Israel as hate speech.

  4. Dottie 5

    Wake up lethargic Brits,

    self harm is sad, get to the polls in future.

  5. greywarshark 6

    Recent news about the UK The nurses there are getting a 1% pay rise from the NHS. The NZ Invercargill nurse who looked after Boorish Johnson feels their work has been praised but not valued in a way that compensates them for their efforts, she is on a contract out of the country. Hope it turns out well for her.

    NHS pay rise: How much will staff be paid? – BBC News

    https://www.bbc.com › news 9/03/2021 — Health unions have criticised the 1% pay proposal and one – representing nurses – is calling for a 12.5% increase instead. How is pay decided?

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    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why we shouldn’t buy new planes for the PM
    Its not often that one has to agree with Judith Collins, but yes, it would indeed cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” (at least) to buy replacement aircraft to fly the Prime Minister on his overseas missions of diplomacy and trade. And yes, the public might well regard that spending ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    5 days ago
  • The Stadium Debate – What About the Transport Options?
    A few weeks ago, Auckland Council took another step in the long-running stadium saga, narrowing its shortlist down to two options for which they will now seek feasibility studies. The recommendation to move forward with a feasibility study was carried twenty to one by the council’s Governing Body for the ...
    5 days ago
  • Bernard’s mid-winter pick ‘n’ mix for Thursday, June 20
    Social Development Minister Louise Upston has defended the Government’s decision to save money by dumping a programme which tops up the pay of disabled workers. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: It has emerged the National-ACT-NZ First Government decided to cut wages for disabled workers from the minimum wage to $2 an hour ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Where the power really resides in Wellington
    The new Chief Executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) yesterday gave a Select Committee a brutally frank outline of the department’s role as the agency right at the centre of power in Wellington. Ben King, formerly a deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    5 days ago
  • Climate Adam: Why we're still losing the fight against Methane
    This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any). Carbon dioxide is the main culprit behind climate change. But in second place is methane: a greenhouse gas stronger than CO2, ...
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: More ETS failure
    A few weeks ago, I blogged about the (then) upcoming ETS auction, raising the prospect of it failing, leaving the government with a messy budget hole. The auction was today, and indeed, it failed. In fact, it was such a failure that no-one even bothered to bid. Its easy to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The Return of Jacinda.
    Oh, take me, take me, take meTo the dreamer's ballI'll be right on time and I'll dress so fineYou're gonna love me when you see meI won't have to worryTake me, take mePromise not to wake me'Til it's morningIt's all been trueEarly morning yesterday, well before dawn, doom-scrolling.Not intentionally, that’s ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • How good is the interim NW busway?
    This is a guest post by Pshem Kowalczyk, a long-time follower of the blog. With great fanfare, just over six months ago (on 12 November 2023), AT launched its interim busway for the NorthWest region, with the new WX express service at the heart of the changes. I live ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    6 days ago
  • Consumer confidence collapses after Budget, in contrast with rest of world
    The first widespread survey of consumers and voters since the Budget on May 30 shows a collapse in confidence. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The belt-tightening and tax-cutting Budget delivered on May 30 has not delivered the boost to confidence in the economy the National-ACT-NZ First Government might have ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The end for the Air Force 757s
    The Air Force 757 that broke down with the Prime Minister on board in Port Moresby on Sunday is considered so unreliable that it carries a substantial stock of spare parts when it travels overseas. And the plane also carries an Air Force maintenance team on board ready to make ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • At a glance – Was 1934 the hottest year on record?
    On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a ...
    6 days ago
  • It's not New Zealand they've never heard of, it's him
    Sometimes you’ll just be so dog-tired, you can only keep yourself awake with a short stab of self-inflicted pain.A quick bite of the lip, for instance.Maybe a slight bite on the tongue or a dig of the nails.But what if you’re needing something a bit more painful?The solution is as ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • Some “scrutiny” II
    Last month I blogged about the Ministry of Justice's Open Government Partnership commitment to strengthen scrutiny of Official Information Act exemption clauses in legislation", and how their existing efforts did not give much reason for confidence. As part of that, I mentioned that I had asked the Ministry for its ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why the Biden “peace plan” for Gaza is doomed
    After months and months of blocking every attempt by the UN and everyone else to achieve a Gaza ceasefire, US President Joe Biden is now marketing his own three-stage “peace plan” to end the conflict. Like every other contribution by the US since October 7, the Biden initiative is hobbled ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    7 days ago
  • Raised crossings: hearing the voice of vulnerable pedestrians
    This is a guest post by Vivian Naylor, who is the Barrier Free Advisor and Educator at CCS Disability Action, Northern Region, the largest disability support and advocacy organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand. She also advises on AT’s Public Transport and Capital Projects Accessibility Groups. Vivian has been advocating and ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    7 days ago
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane
    So kiss me and smile for meTell me that you'll wait for meHold me like you'll never let me go'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet planeDon't know when I'll be back againOh babe, I hate to go“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • Bernard's mid-winter pick 'n' mix for Tuesday, June 18
    The election promises of ‘better economic management’ are now ringing hollow, as NZ appears to be falling into a deeper recession, while other economies are turning the corner. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The economy and the housing market are slumping back into a deep recession this winter, contrasting ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • Scrutiny week off to rocky start
    Parliament’s new “Scrutiny” process, which is supposed to allow Select Committees to interrogate Ministers and officials in much more depth, has got off to a rocky start. Yesterday was the first day of “Scrutiny Week” which is supposed to see the Government grilled on how it spends taxpayers’ money and ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    7 days ago
  • The choice could not be more stark’: How Trump and Biden compare on climate change
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Barbara Grady Illustration by Samantha Harrington. Photo credits: Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, European Space Agency. In an empty wind-swept field in Richmond, California, next to the county landfill, a company called RavenSr has plotted out land and won ...
    1 week ago
  • Differentiating between democracy and republic
    Although NZ readers may not be that interested in the subject and in lieu of US Fathers Day missives (not celebrated in NZ), I thought I would lay out some brief thoughts on a political subject being debated in the … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's mid-winter pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 17
    TL;DR: Chris Bishop talks up the use of value capture, congestion charging, PPPs, water meters, tolling and rebating GST on building materials to councils to ramp up infrastructure investment in the absence of the Government simply borrowing more to provide the capital.Meanwhile, Christopher Luxon wants to double the number of ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • You do have the power to change things
    When I was invited to come aboard and help with Greater Auckland a few months ago (thanks to Patrick!), it was suggested it might be a good idea to write some sort of autobiographical post by way of an introduction. This post isn’t quite that – although I’m sure I’lll ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    1 week ago
  • Turning Away – Who Cares If We Don't?
    On the turning awayFrom the pale and downtroddenAnd the words they say which we won't understandDon't accept that, what's happeningIs just a case of other's sufferingOr you'll find that you're joining inThe turning awayToday’s guest kōrero is from Author Catherine Lea. So without further ado, over to Catherine…I’m so honoured ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Dissecting Tickled
    Hi,Tickled was one of the craziest things that ever happened to me (and I feel like a lot of crazy things have happened to me).So ahead of the Webworm popup and Tickled screening in New Zealand on July 13, I thought I’d write about how we made that film and ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand Webworm Popup + Tickled!
    Hi,I’m doing a Webworm merch popup followed by a Tickled screening in Auckland, New Zealand on July 13th — and I’d love you to come. I got the urge to do this while writing this Webworm piece breaking down how we made Tickled, and talking to all the people who ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • What China wants from NZ business
    One simple statistic said it all: China Premier Li Qiang asked Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell what percentage of the company’s overall sales were made in China. “Thirty per cent,” said Hurrell. In other words, New Zealand’s largest company is more or less dependent on the Chinese market. But Hurrell is ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Review: The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison (1922)
    One occasionally runs into the question of what J.R.R. Tolkien would have thought of George R.R. Martin. For years, I had a go-to online answer: we could use a stand-in. Tolkien’s thoughts on E.R. Eddison – that he appreciated the invented world, but thought the invented names were silly, and ...
    1 week ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24
    A listing of 35 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 9, 2024 thru Sat, June 15, 2024. Story of the week A glance at this week's inventory of what experts tell us is extreme weather mayhem juiced by ...
    1 week ago
  • Sunday Morning Chat
    After a busy week it’s a good day to relax. Clear blues skies here in Tamaki Makaurau, very peaceful but for my dogs sleeping heavily. In the absence of a full newsletter I thought I’d send out a brief update and share a couple of posts that popped up in ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • The Book of Henry
    Now in the land of Angus beef and the mighty ABsWhere the steaks were juicy and the rivers did run foulIt would often be said,This meal is terrible,andNo, for real this is legit the worst thing I've ever eatenBut this was an thing said only to others at the table,not ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Fact Brief – Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from the Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Is ocean acidification from human ...
    1 week ago
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
    She's not a girl who misses muchDo do do do do do, oh yeahShe's well-acquainted with the touch of the velvet handLike a lizard on a window paneI wouldn’t associate ACT with warmth, other than a certain fabled, notoriously hot, destination where surely they’re heading and many would like them ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Still doing a good 20
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Coalition of the Unwilling?
    What does Budget 2024 tell us about the current government? Muddle on?Coalition governments are not new. About 50 percent of the time since the first MMP election, there has been a minority government, usually with allied parties holding ministerial portfolios outside cabinets. For 10 percent of the time there was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Of red flags and warning signs in comments on social media
    Somewhat surprisingly for what is regarded as a network of professionals, climate science misinformation is getting shared on LinkedIn, joining other channels where this is happening. Several of our recent posts published on LinkedIn have attracted the ire of various commenters who apparently are in denial about human-caused climate change. Based ...
    1 week ago
  • All good, still
    1. On what subject is Paul Henry even remotely worth giving the time of day?a. The state of our nationb. The state of the ACT partyc. How to freak out potential buyers of your gin palace by baking the remains of your deceased parent into its fittings2. Now that New ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    2 weeks ago
  • The looting is the point
    Last time National was in power, they looted the state, privatising public assets and signing hugely wasteful public-private partnership (PPP) contracts which saw foreign consortiums provide substandard infrastructure while gouging us for profits. You only have to look at the ongoing fiasco of Transmission Gully to see how it was ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Illusion of Power: How Local Government Bureaucrats Overawe Democratically-Elected Councillors..
    The Democratic Façade Of Local Government: Our district and city councillors are democratically elected to govern their communities on one very strict condition – that they never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to do so.A DISINTEGRATION OF LOYALTIES on the Wellington City Council has left Mayor Tory Whanau without a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Lowlights & Bright Spots
    I can feel the lowlights coming over meI can feel the lowlights, from the state I’m inI can see the light now even thought it’s dimA little glow on the horizonAnother week of lowlights from our government, with the odd bright spot and a glow on the horizon. The light ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago
  • Weekly Roundup 14-June-2024
    Another week, another roundup of things that caught our eye on our favourite topics of transport, housing and how to make cities a little bit greater. This Week in Greater Auckland On Monday, Connor wrote about Kāinga Ora’s role as an urban development agency Tuesday’s guest post by ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    2 weeks ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 14
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s moves this week to take farming out of the ETS and encourage more mining and oil and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate policy axed in broad daylight, while taxpayer liabilities grow in the dark
    In 2019, Shane Jones addressed the “50 Shades of Green” protest at Parliament: Now he is part of a government giving those farmers a pass on becoming part of the ETS, as well as threatening to lock in offshore oil exploration and mining for decades. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Here’s the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Rage Bait!
    Hi,Today’s newsletter is all about how easy it is to get sucked into “rage bait” online, and how easy it is to get played.But first I wanted to share something that elicited the exact opposite of rage in me — something that made me feel incredibly proud, whilst also making ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    2 weeks ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Friday, June 14
    Seymour said lower speed limits “drained the joy from life as people were forced to follow rules they knew made no sense.” File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Friday, June 14 were:The National/ACT/NZ First ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Friendly but frank talks with China Premier
    It sounded like the best word to describe yesterday’s talks between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and his heavyweight delegation of Ministers and officials and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and New Zealand Ministers and officials was “frank.” But it was the kind of frankness that friends can indulge in. It ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2024
    Open access notables Wildfire smoke impacts lake ecosystems, Farruggia et al., Global Change Biology: We introduce the concept of the lake smoke-day, or the number of days any given lake is exposed to smoke in any given fire season, and quantify the total lake smoke-day exposure in North America from 2019 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live
    Photo by Mathias Elle on UnsplashIt’s that new day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for our chat about the week’s news with special guests:5.00 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Geoffrey Miller: China’s message to New Zealand – don’t put it all at risk
    Don’t put it all at risk. That’s likely to be the take-home message for New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in his meetings with Li Qiang, the Chinese Premier. Li’s visit to Wellington this week is the highest-ranking visit by a Chinese official since 2017. The trip down under – ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    2 weeks ago
  • The Real Thing
    I know the feelingIt is the real thingThe essence of the soulThe perfect momentThat golden momentI know you feel it tooI know the feelingIt is the real thingYou can't refuse the embraceNo?Sometimes we face the things we most dislike. A phobia or fear that must be confronted so it doesn’t ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago

  • Transformative investment in cancer treatments and more new medicines
    The coalition Government is delivering up to 26 cancer treatments as part of an overall package of up to 54 more new medicines, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti and Associate Health Minister David Seymour announced today. “Pharmac estimates that around 175,000 people will benefit from the additional treatments in just ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • More support for drought-affected communities
    The coalition Government is providing more financial support to drought-stricken farmers and growers in many parts of the country to help with essential living costs. “Rural Assistance Payments have been made available in 38 districts affected by dry conditions to help eligible farmers and growers whose income has taken a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Job seekers to report on progress after six months from today
    A new requirement for people on Jobseeker Support benefits to meet with MSD after six months to assess how their job search is going gets underway today. About 20,000 Jobseeker beneficiaries with full-time work obligations are expected to attend MSD’s new ‘Work check-in’ seminars over the next 12 months, Social ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • New cops means more Police on the beat
    The decision to deploy more Police on the beat in Auckland CBD has been welcomed by Police Minister Mark Mitchell and Associate Police Minister Casey Costello. Starting from 1 July, an additional 21 police officers will be redeployed in Auckland City, bringing the total number of beat police in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government takes action to address youth crime
    The Government is introducing a new declaration for young offenders to ensure they face tougher consequences and are better supported to turn their lives around, Children’s Minister Karen Chhour announced today. The establishment of a Young Serious Offender declaration delivers on a coalition Government commitment and supports the Government’s target ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Reserve Bank chair reappointed
    Professor Neil Quigley has been reappointed as Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Board for a further term of two years, until 30 June 2026.  “Professor Quigley has played a key role in establishing the new Board after the commencement of the new RBNZ Act on 1 July ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • School attendance increases
    School attendance data released today shows an increase in the number of students regularly attending school to 61.7 per cent in term one. This compares to 59.5 per cent in term one last year and 53.6 per cent in term four. “It is encouraging to see more children getting to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Record investment in public transport services
    The Government has announced a record 41 per cent increase in indicative funding for public transport services and operations, and confirmed the rollout of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS) that will enable contactless debit and credit card payments starting this year in Auckland, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“This Government is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • GDP data shows need to strengthen and grow the economy
    GDP figures for the March quarter reinforce the importance of restoring fiscal discipline to public spending and driving more economic growth, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  Data released today by Stats NZ shows GDP has risen 0.2 per cent for the quarter to March.   “While today’s data is technically in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Women continue to make up over 50 per cent on public sector boards
    Women’s representation on public sector boards and committees has reached 50 per cent or above for the fourth consecutive year, with women holding 53.9 per cent of public sector board roles, Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston says. “This is a fantastic achievement, but the work is not done. To ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government supporting Māori business success
    The Coalition Government is supporting Māori to boost development and the Māori economy through investment in projects that benefit the regions, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka say. “As the Regional Development Minister, I am focused on supporting Māori to succeed. The Provincial Growth Fund ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Better solutions for earthquake-prone buildings
    Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk has announced that the review into better managing the risks of earthquake-prone buildings has commenced. “The terms of reference published today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring we get the balance right between public safety and costs to building owners,” Mr Penk says.  “The Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Prime Minister wraps up visit to Japan
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has just finished a successful three-day visit to Japan, where he strengthened political relationships and boosted business links. Mr Luxon’s visit culminated in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio followed by a state dinner. “It was important for me to meet Prime Minister Kishida in person ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Major business deals signed on PM’s Japan trip
    Significant business deals have been closed during the visit of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to Japan this week, including in the areas of space, renewable energy and investment.  “Commercial deals like this demonstrate that we don’t just export high-quality agricultural products to Japan, but also our world-class technology, expertise, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Strategic Security speech, Tokyo
    Minasan, konnichiwa, kia ora and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and thank you to our friends at the Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies and NEC for making this event possible today.  It gives me great pleasure to be here today, speaking with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline worth over $120 billion
    The National Infrastructure Pipeline, which provides a national view of current or planned infrastructure projects, from roads, to water infrastructure, to schools, and more, has climbed above $120 billion, Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop says. “Our Government is investing a record amount in modern infrastructure that Kiwis can rely on as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Making it easier to build infrastructure
    The Government is modernising the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information Chris Penk announced today. An independent panel will undertake an eight-week review of the Act and advise on common sense changes to enable large scale public works to be built faster and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ enhances North Korea sanctions monitoring
    New Zealand will enhance its defence contributions to monitoring violations of sanctions against North Korea, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced today.  The enhancement will see the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) increase its contributions to North Korea sanctions monitoring, operating out of Japan. “This increase reflects the importance New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference
    Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be with you all today before we wrap up Day One of the annual Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference. Thank you to the organisers and sponsors of this conference, for the chance to talk to you about the upcoming health and safety consultation. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Ōtaki to north of Levin alliance agreements signed
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed an important milestone for the Ōtaki to north of Levin Road of National Significance (RoNS), following the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) signing interim alliance agreements with two design and construction teams who will develop and ultimately build the new expressway.“The Government’s priority for transport ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Improvements to stopping Digital Child Exploitation
    The Department of Internal Affairs [Department] is making a significant upgrade to their Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material, says Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden.  “The Department will incorporate the up-to-date lists of websites hosting child sexual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New vaccine research aims to combat prevalent bovine disease
    A vaccine to prevent an infectious disease that costs New Zealand cattle farmers more than $190 million each year could radically improve the health of our cows and boost on-farm productivity, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard says. The Ministry for Primary Industries is backing a project that aims to develop ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Making it easier to build granny flats
    The Government has today announced that it is making it easier for people to build granny flats, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop say. “Making it easier to build granny flats will make it more affordable for families to live the way that suits them ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
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