Protesting too much

datePosted on 23:09, April 28th, 2009 by Lew

I don’t mean to post on Kiwiblog so frequently, but oh well – there’s a lot to post on.

Annette King (or the minions who write her press releases) appear to have jumped the shark, intimating that a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is behind David Farrar’s release of two of David Shearer’s old papers advocating the use of mercenaries. Ok, we know that this sort of thing happens – that some right-wing blogs are used to fly kites for politicians or parties who can’t afford to fly them themselves, and undoubtedly the same happens on the other side. But honestly, DPF does background research like this consistently and well, there’s no secret there, and when you allege this sort of thing in relation to a discrete event then you can expect to get taken to the cleaners if you don’t have the necessary documentary evidence. And, frankly, the real story here is the contents of the papers, not the circumstances of their discovery. So King looks like a weeny whinger unless she can put up, and perhaps even then.

On the other hand, it’s a bit rich for DPF to take such exception to the fine distinction between the parliamentary National party and its wider community apparatus. DPF and the KBR are highly important to National’s political strategy, and the lines between traditional media and citizen media, between internal (orthodox) and external (unorthodox) channels of political advice and communication are getting more blurred by the day. King’s press release makes the mistake of being too specific and trying to pin the issue on the official National apparatus, rather than simply being vague about it and probably having the same effect. Because ultimately, it’s no different whether National’s proxies David Farrar and Cameron Slater do the work or whether someone on the inside does it.

L

31 Responses to “Protesting too much”

  1. SPC on April 28th, 2009 at 23:22

    The mistake is to focus on the term “mercenary” – clearly Shearer supports developing an independent UN capability.

    Many times the UN is unable to act because the providers of military capability are stretched elsewhere or do not want to get involved (Somalia, Central Africa, Rwanda-Burundi) – a standing army of peacekeepers on UN pay could have made a difference.

  2. Pablo on April 28th, 2009 at 23:53

    The Shearer article is a relatively early (1998) approach to the subject of security privatization at a time when privatization of state services and de-regulation were at their ideological peak in most of the world. He certainly was not referring to “mercenaries” in the traditional sense, but instead to private security firms with professional standards of training and discipline manned by ex-professional (often elite) soldiers (in the case of Blackwater, Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces, with the NZSAS recently losing many experienced troopers to the financial inducements of such firms (where they can make US$1000 per day in conflict zones)). The agreed upon utility of these firms was that they provide non-combat and combat support services along with private security details. That was supposed to free regular soldiers to train and fight “real” wars (as opposed to peacekeeping, which is more akin to military police roles). Hence his article, which focused on the utility of such firms in UN mandated roles. Shearer reiterated this view–the utility of private security firms in UN roles–in his 2001 essay, which is set against the backdrop of various resolutions (now international mandates) advocating the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) vulnerable populations in conflict zones.

    Executive Outcomes and Sandline, with their Afrikkaner personnel, crossed over into combat roles and coup-mongering in Africa and SE Asia before and after Shearer wrote his essay, and the trend now, as Iraq demonstrates, is to blur the line between combat, combat support, intelligence-gathering and private security in strategically “dense” battle zones (although the blurring has now extended to places like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, where logging and mining firms have availed themselves of such security contractor services).

    Private security continues to be a recession-proof growth industry and will continue to be so as long as the impulse is to reduce the state provision of pubic goods (of which the monopoly of organized coercion within territorial limits used to be the defining characteristic of the modern nation-state). As long as privatization logics dominate the public discourse on state services, these purveyors of privately organized coercion will be part of the national and international security landscape. Shearer appears to have understood that fact rather earlier than most.

    Many countries, such as the US, UK and France, have allowed for a legal grey area to develop with regards to this blurring of roles precisely because it is seen as cost efficient and frees up “real” troops for other work (as well as shift legal responsibility for crimes committed by employees away from government and onto the private firms and their insurers). Shearer was not an advocate of this type of mission creep so cannot be said to be a supporter of the current operations of the likes of Blackwater, EO, etc.

    Returning to Lew’s point, Ms. King did jump the gun on this and that would indicate that an inter-party feud is shaping up over the Mt. Albert by-election. With the old leaders now mostly gone, this could be an opening salvo (sorry for the military pun) in a fight for the direction of the Labour Party in the next few years. Speculation about this can be found–where else?–over at DPFs blog in the comments on his follow up post about Ms. King’s press release.

  3. g bruno on April 29th, 2009 at 12:37

    P J O’Rourke, that famous foe of Big Govt, this am on 9toNoon said words to the effect that of course he excepted the military… private armed forces could not be a good idea
    I dont know what PJO hasd said about KellogBrownRoot or Labour’s David Shearer’s (admittedly 1998 pre-GWB) proposal that the NZ & the UN should contract out wars &armed actions.

  4. Tom Semmens on April 29th, 2009 at 12:39

    David Farrar’s is the most widely read site in the Kiwi blogsphere by quite a margin, and since Hard News became more a soft mix of media, technology and family there is nothing remotely like it in terms of authority or popularity – yet – on the left.

    Harking back also to an earlier post about the KBR, they are the whole point of Farrar’s site. David Farrar acts as a laundering tool for explicit stating of dog whistles, whispering campaigns and innuendo. Cameron Slater, a close friend of Farrar’s, is the chief muck racker and filth merchant. David Farrar then launders these plants into the “respectable” blogsphere. Once the story is planted on his blog, his commentators interpret the story in exactly the way the National party wants the dog whistles, whispering campaigns and innuendo interpreted, only they don’t get hands dirty in getting it out there.

    I’ve read enough stories on TVNZ, TV3 and – especially – the NZHerald that copy almost exactly the tone of Kiwiblog posts to know that a lot of journalists “interview” kiwiblog a lot for their stories, and it isn’t to long a bow to suggest that the hate and loathing of the astroturf “opinion” in the Kiwiblog comments section also instructs them on how they should frame the debate for the wider audience.

    It is a brilliant use of Bolshevik propaganda technique by elite opinion forming via the internet – I would suggest that less than twenty people form the bulk of the comments on kiwiblog. One blogger and twenty people have managed so far to set the tone for an entire bye-election, for example.

    The left has got nothing like it. As Danyl has suggested over at the Dim-post, the sooner Labour fire their entire comms staff and get some people in who understand the role of the internet and can combat kiwiblog, the better. My suggestion for a start would be to get Russell Brown onto the payroll of some sort of Labour front think-tank.

  5. Fo on April 29th, 2009 at 12:43

    “appear to have jumped the shark”

    I noticed this phrase used a couple of times on blogs last year & on Boston Legal a few weeks ago. I actually remember seeing a re-run of the particular Happy Days episode it relates to. Has it been in common usage since then, or has it just recently been revived?

  6. Pascal's bookie on April 29th, 2009 at 13:40

    The left has got nothing like it. As Danyl has suggested over at the Dim-post, the sooner Labour fire their entire comms staff and get some people in who understand the role of the internet and can combat kiwiblog, the better. My suggestion for a start would be to get Russell Brown onto the payroll of some sort of Labour front think-tank.

    Where is robinsod anyway?

  7. barnsley Bill on April 29th, 2009 at 14:46

    With regard to the labour comms team.. They are overworked, it is little wonder they are continually getting it wrong. From strangled press releases to writing posts at the standard and filling the blogosphere with anonymous comments. As well as trying to organise letter writing campaigns.
    They need to hire more people, or borrow a few more from the unions.

  8. FletcherB on April 29th, 2009 at 15:16

    Fo: re “jumped the shark”

    Yes, the term was inspired by the Happy Days episode. I’ve seen it in common or frequent use for at least the last five years or so?

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=jumped+the+shark

  9. What would Hayek say on April 29th, 2009 at 15:57

    Whats wrong with privatisation (in general as opposed to this specific instance)?

    My take is that Labour has positioned itself ideologically against privatisation full stop due to excessive use of the word as a negative against Centre Right policies. Labour is now struggling internally with a number of people and supporters not having the same worries about privatisation. The members and supporters care about the outcomes of policies i.e. reducing inequality, improving societal equity and that this can be achieved through a variety of mechanisms including potentially in some instances privatisation.

    David Cunliffe as former Minister of health was raising the concept of using private health providers to provide elective surgery capacity enabling the freeing up of resources for public health services.

    Labour as a party looks like it is unravelling the great internal left/right agreement with the departure of Clark and Cullen who each used to be the heads of the left/right factions internally. A period of soul searching by labour maybe needed to reconcile within itself what it is about and where it is going. In the absence of this labour is probably gifting National an easy run to the next election.

    I note Lew did a post on “where to for labour from here” which was a good read, possibly it needs a follow up.

  10. Pascal's bookie on April 29th, 2009 at 19:31

    So Hayek, you reckon National will resolve it’s own privatisation debate before the next election? Seems to me it’s more prominent thar.

    Sure, the debate there isn’t really ideological, but based around the political reality that ‘privatisation’ is about as popular with swing voters as Mexican getaways.

    What specific members and supporters within Labour are keen on privatisation BTW? Got any names? I just ask, because it seems like speculation based on not very much.

  11. reid on April 29th, 2009 at 20:57

    The left has got nothing like it. As Danyl has suggested over at the Dim-post, the sooner Labour fire their entire comms staff and get some people in who understand the role of the internet and can combat kiwiblog, the better. My suggestion for a start would be to get Russell Brown onto the payroll of some sort of Labour front think-tank.

    I think it’s wrong to imagine that the popularity and influence has to do with anything other than content.

    It resonates with people because the allegations have substance.

    The left I think understand propaganda techniques very well but unless your message delivers substance even after people subject it to further investigation, your message won’t get resonance. DPF is hardly ever challenged on facts let alone defeated, this despite the fact that many left-wing bloggers would sacrifice their left testicle for the privilage.

    That’s why he’s popular.

    So Hayek, you reckon National will resolve it’s own privatisation debate before the next election? Seems to me it’s more prominent thar.

    IMO they’ve already decided and I think they’ll be privatising quite a lot if they get a second term. Personally I think that’s a good thing.

  12. What would Hayek say on April 29th, 2009 at 21:20

    PB – National has happily positioned itself as centrist and has room to sel or buy assets as it deems fit for meeting meeting policy outcomes. You may see some asset sales in the next term or the term after, it will depend on Nationals view of what the electorate will allow, noting some of that is shaped by how well the economy is performing, and some about the outcome national is able to articulate to the public.

    On labour – well you had Trevor Mallard closing down schools in the first term – thats equal to privatisation (a closure is a sale by another name), as Minister for SOE’s he allowed Meridian to sell a large chunk of there Australian assets, again a sale is a sale. Cunliffe as I mentioned was moving to allow increased private sector health care, again privatisation/sale by another name. There has also been allowing Landcorp to buy and sale various assets during the three terms of the labour government. Then there is the government funds, in particular the cullen fund, which every day as an investment vehicle buys and sells equities. And lastly there was the sale of the central wellington gas network. Again a sale is a sale/privatisation. We could also throw in free trade agreements, because if you going to hold an ideologically consistent line the those should be opposed also. I’ll stop there as those are all matters of public record.

    Care to continue the debate about privatisation and waste more energy, or care to actually consider just what should be the policies of a centre left party (presumably labour, but could be someone else if they don’t perform) that achieve the centre left outcomes?

    You’ve probably made a mistake and assumed that I’m not a labour support – Hayek the economist was an economic and social liberal. So I tend to lean towards good policy that is evidenced based in the first instance, failing that logically consistent and seeking to improve the lives of all people.

  13. SPC on April 29th, 2009 at 23:56

    I think it’s wrong to imagine that the popularity and influence has to do with anything other than content.

    It resonates with people because the allegations have substance.

    They probably think it’s our version of Fox News. They welcome the fact that it’s partisan, it’s the news as they want to hear it.

    The left I think understand propaganda techniques very well but unless your message delivers substance even after people subject it to further investigation, your message won’t get resonance. DPF is hardly ever challenged on facts let alone defeated, this despite the fact that many left-wing bloggers would sacrifice their left testicle for the privilage.

    DPF does not participate in the comments on his threads, he’s above it all (nor would he have the time, even if he were so inclined). So no one knows, if he is some champion debater.

    That’s why he’s popular.

    The DPF line is that Super should be “means tested” (age level raised and increased by the CPI and not linked to net average wages as well as per Shipley?) and Kiwi Saver merged with the Cullen Fund (ending government contributions).

    He advocated this way before the “recession” – not needing economic necessity (cited by such as Richard Long of the faux News lite mainstream media to justify long held National agendas) to advocate for greater tax cuts financed by reducing government involvement in providing for the peoples economic security.

    The problem with Kiwiblogs “dog whistle politics” is that all the trial balloons are on record when National cites economic necessity as the grounds to implement the kites flown on Kiwiblog.

    DPF is not a populist (social liberalism is not mainstream in his own party) in the matter of policy, but an advocate for the right – which is why he throws bones out to excite his “movement”. The purpose of this is to maintain traffic volume to justify “state highway” (public media commentator status) internet rankings.

    (for the same reason – Republican tramp cleavage and crossed legs in skirts are on Fox News).

  14. jcuknz on April 30th, 2009 at 09:15

    With all the problems there seems to be in getting countries to provide peacekeeping foces I can see that this makes the idea of an UN defence force rather attractive. We then come to the next problem of providing the finance for it … which is another UNO problem with countries not meeting their commitments. Yet another problem I see is where will the money above paying the troops be spent. Without the military expenditure several countries would collapse even further than they are with the reccession.

  15. Lew on April 30th, 2009 at 09:37

    Tom Semmens, I think you’re spot on with this analysis.

    WWHS,

    I note Lew did a post on “where to for labour from here” which was a good read, possibly it needs a follow up.

    The questions I raised in it are still unanswered, because Labour doesn’t seem to have yet got around to to branding (or relaunching) themselves – Goff/King has been very much a continuation with a few specific policy backdowns. I suppose that’s a decision of a sort. I’m picking that they’re waiting for a circuit-breaker – an opportunity of some sort. Supercity might be that opportunity.

    reid,

    I think it’s wrong to imagine that the popularity and influence has to do with anything other than content.

    I think you’re relying on a convenient definition of “content”. For much of the KBR, as the electorate, the medium is the message, which is to say, it’s very difficult to distinguish the information and facts and such from their vehicle. Content is certainly a factor, but what content you accept and what you reject is usually a function of framing and packaging, not of the content itself.

    It resonates with people because the allegations have substance.

    These (bolded) are an ordered pair of variables, but not in the way you frame them; resonance is required for the substance to matter. In the general case, in order for a story to make publication and make people care it must resonate; in order for it to persist it must have substance. In order for a story to be really strong, both conditions are helpful but only the former is strictly necessary. The former permits the latter to have influence. The case in point here is Bernard Madoff – people have been saying for years that he was running a scam, and it turns out that their evidence and analysis was right all along – but nobody ever took the slightest notice of it until the credit crisis, because it didn’t resonate.

    The left I think understand propaganda techniques very well but unless your message delivers substance even after people subject it to further investigation, your message won’t get resonance.

    The counter to this is the character assassination of Helen Clark – enough people said or implied she was a lesbian that the smear stuck and had significant impact upon her political career. The assertion resonated despite there being not a shred of substance to it.

    DPF is hardly ever challenged on facts let alone defeated, this despite the fact that many left-wing bloggers would sacrifice their left testicle for the privilage.

    This is quite right, and Labour look like damned fools when they try to attack him but can’t get their details straight.

    SPC,

    The problem with Kiwiblogs “dog whistle politics” is that all the trial balloons are on record when National cites economic necessity as the grounds to implement the kites flown on Kiwiblog.

    This doesn’t seem to me to be a problem for National – perhaps the opposition need to work on making it a problem? And, no – you can’t just argue “the voters are idiots”, as Chris Trotter does in his recent column about Forrest Gump; take that pompously paternalistic line and you’ve already lost.

    L

  16. SPC on April 30th, 2009 at 15:32

    Labour can point out all they like what is going on – but they have to be reported in the mainstream media (the problem the Greens face is that their voice has no mainstream media presence) doing so and even then the public have to be prepared to listen.

    For a period of time after an election, the public is as unwilling to hear that the government they gave mandate to is wrong about policy (it’s a matter of voter pride), just as those who made money on the property or stock market did not want to hear that this was not sustainable or that the policies which led to their temporary and transient gain in wealth had to change.

  17. Lew on April 30th, 2009 at 15:49

    SPC,

    Labour can point out all they like what is going on – but they have to be reported in the mainstream media (the problem the Greens face is that their voice has no mainstream media presence) doing so and even then the public have to be prepared to listen.

    This is the ‘teh evil corporate meedias are against us’ argument, only marginally more credible than the one I cautioned against above. No use in whingeing about it: successful political movements use media systems to their advantage, rather than allowing themselves to be used by the media.

    For a period of time after an election, the public is as unwilling to hear that the government they gave mandate to is wrong about policy (it’s a matter of voter pride), just as those who made money on the property or stock market did not want to hear that this was not sustainable or that the policies which led to their temporary and transient gain in wealth had to change.

    And this is a form of the ‘the proles don’t know what’s good for them’ argument, though it is a point well-made by reference to post-purchase rationalisation, and on that basis I concede it is a factor – but only within the limited time constraint you note.

    L

  18. SPC on April 30th, 2009 at 16:26

    A little cynical?

  19. SPC on April 30th, 2009 at 16:28

    successful political movements use media systems to their advantage, rather than allowing themselves to be used by the media.

    And unsuccessful ones don’t get the access to become one – there’s a hole in the bucket, a hole.

    Which is of course why minority parties remain minortiy parties and why only former main party electorate MP’s could lead and form independent parties (even the Greens came from the Alliance).

    Labour has no such excuse of course, but even they are for 6 months to a year after an election reliant on the incumbent government making a major stuff up to gain any voice in the mainstream media (that said let’s note the media were the major opposition to Labour in 2000 when they demanded nothing from Labour not their manifesto and also asked for Labour to give up some of their election promises for the sake of “good government” – like an unamended ECA).

  20. Lew on April 30th, 2009 at 16:43

    SPC,

    A little cynical?

    Yes and no.

    And unsuccessful ones don’t get the access to become one – there’s a hole in the bucket, a hole.

    Yes. The definition of a party which fails to force itself into the media agenda is `unsuccessful’.

    Which is of course why minority parties remain minortiy parties

    No, it’s why unsuccessful minor parties (I don’t think you really mean minority parties, do you?) remain unsuccessful minor parties. Examples of successful minor parties: māori party, ACT.

    and why only former main party electorate MP’s could lead and form independent parties (even the Greens came from the Alliance).

    Yes, having an existing profile is important, but it’s not a sufficient condition for success, just one factor among many. Examples of parties which have failed despite high-profile candidates or members: NZ First, Kiwi Party; Destiny Party.

    Labour has no such excuse of course, but even they are for 6 months to a year after an election reliant on the incumbent government making a major stuff up to gain any voice in the mainstream media

    This is the “Phil in” argument to which I am finding myself more strongly drawn. Honestly, if Labour can’t use the credit crisis to relaunch themselves to become a credible force to contest the 2011 election, they don’t deserve to be in government. Someone else should eat their lunch. Not that there are any realistic alternatives.

    L

  21. SPC on April 30th, 2009 at 17:04

    I would hardly categorise NZFirst as an unsuccessful minor party – given its time in government coalition (and it nearly surpassed Labour in 1996) – it has possibly achieved more of its policy goals than all the other minor parties combined since MMP.

    The only other party which could seriously challenge that would be the Alliance (the changes it influenced in the 1990-1993 period and through Anderton beyond).

    ACT nearly made an impact in 2005, but their man Don Brash lost the election.

    The MP has only been a success at the electoral level, at the policy level, it’s been a disaster. They could up like United’s Dunne, being there is all they will have for their time on the hill. Perhaps they see the mana of being there (and achieving nothing for their people, as a way to gain Pakeha acceptance for their place at the table) as an end in itself?

    PS Having a former electorate MP lead the minor party does seem to be a prerequsitie for success as no other has done it (except Greens via the Alliance of Anderton) – you might suggest it is no guarantee – but that may speak to the lower level of standing that Kiwi Party and Destiny leaders had in the major parties.

  22. Pascal's bookie on April 30th, 2009 at 18:49

    hayek, sorry if I came across as a bit brash. But I must confess as to being a bit baffled by your reply.

    I see now that you were using a very broad definition for privatisation. Which is of course fine, as long as people understand what you mean by the term when you use it.

    I thought you were saying that there is within Labour now, people that are looking at Labour’s position on privatisation, (by which I thought you meant something like the sale of SOE’s), and questioning whether the current position against should be looked at and perhaps revised. Maybe there is, I don’t know, so that’s why I asked.

    In reply, I found out that you meant something much broader by privatisation, and as I said that’s ok, a simple misunderstanding on my part.

    But you go on to list as examples of people that are looking at adjusting Labour’s postion, things done by the last labour government. It would seem to me that Labour is actually quite comfortable with the things the last government did. So if those things are examples of the discussion within labour that you were talking about, then it’s hard to see how labour could have ‘positioned itself ideologically against privatisation.’ If you catch my drift.

  23. Ari on April 30th, 2009 at 19:52

    Not that there are any realistic alternatives.

    This is the “go big or go home argument” ;) Seriously though, you can complain either about a lack of options or about the viability of the options available convincingly, but complaining about both at once suggests you’re only going to support the biggest party anyway and thus are not interested in more options.

  24. Lew on April 30th, 2009 at 22:03

    Ari,

    This is the “go big or go home argument” ;) Seriously though, you can complain either about a lack of options or about the viability of the options available convincingly, but complaining about both at once suggests you’re only going to support the biggest party anyway and thus are not interested in more options.

    I’m not really talking about my electoral preferences – I’m suggesting that if they fail to adequately mobilise, Labour will leave the field clear for another party. The final remark was that there don’t seem to be any others*, which is a shame, because they could do with a fierce bit of competition to snap them out of the post-road downs with which they seem to be afflicted.

    L

    * Yeah, there’s the Green party, which is making significant inroads as `the real party of labour’, but I think Dr Cullen is right: until they shed their castigatory tone, they’re their own worst enemies.

  25. Pascal's bookie on April 30th, 2009 at 22:36

    * Yeah, there’s the Green party, which is making significant inroads as `the real party of labour’, but I think Dr Cullen is right: until they shed their castigatory tone, they’re their own worst enemies.

    I’m also a bit confused by the current message that they are the ‘real left’, yet also beyond ‘left and right’ and ‘independent enough to work with National’.

    Seems to me that if The Greens are to the left of Labour, as policy would seem to suggest, then they should be more opposed to National than Labour is. N and L are competing for the swinging centre, the Greens can take votes off Labour’s left flank. Looks like more fertile ground than National’s.

    That could actually help Labour win those centrists, (not that the greens should care). If Labour can get some of those swingers back though, it’s all on for the Greens esp if they have taken some of Labour’s left wingers. Nobody knows what NZFst mob will do, but NZF is over, and Dunne is irrelevant. Labour has no options now but the Greens and the mP. That’s it.

    I don’t get why the Greens aren’t aiming for Labour’s left flank, running on the recession, the RMA, AGW, Afghanistan, all of that. All protesty type stuff that can be used to paint National as right wing, not centrist.

    But trying to win the apocryphal blue greens by punching Labour and reinforcing the National are MMP maestros meme? I just don’t get it.

    And JFTR, seeing I know folks are understandably tetchy, I’ve voted Green both more often and more recently than Labour, I’m not saying the Greens owe Labour anything or anything like that, I’m just saying I don’t get the strategy.

  26. SPC on April 30th, 2009 at 23:32

    There has been a right wing push to suggest that real Greens would not be ideologically left or right in the old partisan sense – and the only way the Green Party could prove they were real Greens was to abandon any connection with those on the left and give up any “economic security/sustainable society” social policy.

    All while claiming there were blue “greens” amongst their right wing ideology parties.

    That and advice to the Greens that they had to work with both left and right to achieve anything.

    The only part of that which the Green Party seems to accept is the third part.

    The media has made much of the National spin and mirrors show of centrism in their co-operation with Greens (essentially just a means to backdown from their rejection of the Labour-Green package on home energy efficiency) but has been more quiet on Green criticism of National government policy and the alternative offered.

  27. What would Hayek say on May 1st, 2009 at 11:00

    Two comments

    1. The Greens – problem for the current NZ Green party is their multiple personality disorder. Its is trying to be: (a) part activist (“stick it to the man”) which appeals to Uni students and aging baby boomers reliving the 60′s;
    (b) Socialist/Marxist – Loosely linked to “sticking it to the man” generally arising from those students who did political science but never quite got past Marx to read Keynes, Mills or Smith and had a bad boss in a part time job;
    (c) Upper Middle Class indulgence buying – From the historical group of people of wealth who discover the party scene ends up being hollow and then find themselves a cause which provides their life meaning. This has actully provided society with several strong movements/NGO’s in the past, for example London Missionary Society, movement to abolosh slavery etc;
    (d) Millenialists/glass half empty society – whose basic take to life is that “the world is going to end because of _____ (insert latest newspaper headline here)”;
    (e) Actual environmentalists – broad group that covers business people, economists, engineers, biologists, journalists, physicists, nurses, fireman, your nana, neighbour down the road;

    For a party labeled “Green” the above suggests that there is at least 3 to many personalities.

    2. Back to privatisation and Pascal’s bookie – I fail to distinguish between small “p” privatisation and large “P” privatisation which is what I take from your comment. To me its a bit like people saying money is evil and when challenged on how they would arrange the world differently, you hear them say “oh we could barter goods and services” – so in essence they are saying “no change” because money is just a more convenient form of exchange. What their real problem might be is something like, unequal opportunity to participate, unequal distribution of resources, monopoly providers etc.

    Labour under Helen Clark used the meme of privatisation is evil through her term in government and therefore built an ideological straight jacket that at present has not been meaningfully revisited by labour. This results in incoherent policy articulation by the labour party as the meme continues.

    Now this is what ties back to the Mt Albert by-eletion. Labour has a candidate who does consider private providers and possibly privatisation as a way to deliver services to achieve government outcomes. However the meme pops up immediately and quashes what could otherwise be a useful idea and potentially drowns the candidate. The meme also popped up when ever Annette King mentioned PPP’s for roading.

    This is what the ideological straight jacket does, and until labour sits down and coherently articulates what privatisation it is for and against, it presents a logicl inconsistency that can be used to beat labour at every opportunity. It also robs labour of additional tools in its policy tool box. This creates the risk for labour of further electoral marginalisation through failure to present viable policy alternatives to national that the public will accept.

  28. SPC on May 1st, 2009 at 17:30

    The last post could also have been written any time between 1993 and 1999. Some in Labour might then have even feared it was true.

    But the reality today is that, those who actually believe in privatisation say they won’t do any because the public do not support it.

    In fact, as in the days of Rogernomics, National seems reliant on Labour consent/leadership to lead us on a rightward more private economy path – which is why Hooten bangs on about Shearer’s support for some privatisation of supply sources for the UN as if it offered some hope. But the reality is that there is no similarity – in fact lessening UN reliance on provision from nation states is more akin to the nation state establishing the beginnings of its own public serrvice delivery system.

  29. Alex Jesaulenko on May 1st, 2009 at 17:31

    it worked against John Kerry. Obama organised a devastating campaign by staying above the fray. It should not be hard to deal with.

  30. Ari on May 3rd, 2009 at 00:29

    * Yeah, there’s the Green party, which is making significant inroads as `the real party of labour’, but I think Dr Cullen is right: until they shed their castigatory tone, they’re their own worst enemies.

    You’re buying into media stereotypes. ;) Honestly, I’ve seen a lot more fun and optimism from the Green Party than anywhere else. Do you remember that stunt where all the Green MPs dressed up as frogs? ;)

    I’m also a bit confused by the current message that they are the ‘real left’, yet also beyond ‘left and right’ and ‘independent enough to work with National’.

    Because in practical application the Greens think both are true? *shrug*

    A party can be not completely characterised by the left-right divide while still better addressing the Left’s concerns than any other party. As much as the Greens have strands that appeal to the Centre and have elements of conservatism about them, there’s that “social justice” pillar that still works in the concerns of social leftists* into every policy- regardless of whether the whole policy can be described as leftist or not.

    *As opposed to those who merely want the government to have more of a hand in the economy. They’ll have to be content with the Labour Party.

  31. Lew on May 3rd, 2009 at 00:34

    Ari,

    You’re buying into media stereotypes. ;)

    Perhaps I am, but so is the electorate. That’s the point.

    L

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