Kiss her you fool! Andrew Little, Labour and the TPPA

datePosted on 07:50, March 31st, 2016 by E.A.

Thanks to Pablo and the crew for letting me post here and apologies for the length. All opinions are entirely mine and my controllers. :)

Around Waitangi day this year it appeared if Labour had final nailed its colors to the mast in terms of where it stood with the TPPA by stating that it would not sign the TPPA if it were in government*. This was swiftly corrected the following day by Andrew Little stating that while Labour opposed several aspects of the deal it would not pull out of it.

Also at this time several Labour MPs (Phil Goff and David Shearer) broke ranks and came out in support of the TPPA. Goff was allowed to do this (under the pretext of his previously being trade minister) while Shearer was not and subsequently censured for his actions.

In the months leading up to Waitangi day as the TPPA furor built to a head and was then sideswiped by the flag debate both concerned members of the electorate and political press were wondering aloud where exactly the party stood in the issue. More than one commentator had pondered where Labour really lay on the issue and how its failure to make clear its position was hurting the party not to mention that it was losing a golden opportunity to get some traction in the polls on an issue which seemed well suited to a low polling party desperate to climb out of the opinion funk into which it had sunk.

To be fair, Labour and Little have clarified their position after Waitangi and made it clear that while Labour is the “party of free trade” they oppose the aspects of the TPPA which infringe on the sovereignty of the Government to make law in NZ without being beholden to offshore and corporate interests. Some of these had been echoed on the parties own website previously but a party website is hardly the forum to get the message out and its message in the public space on the issue had either been low key or just not getting any traction in the media due to statements lacking substance when compared to the rhetorical bedrock of the Greens and NZ first.

All of this makes sense in a spin doctor sort of way but there is an eerie disquiet around the party and its future in the face of the coming general election, its leadership issues, fall in standing in parliament, ongoing poor polling, the lingering stench of distrust that stretches all the way back to 1984 and the current inability of the party to clearly establish its position as the leader of the opposition.

To be clear, if National wins the 2017 election it will be the first time since Keith Holyoake that any party will govern for 12 years straight and at this time the election is Nationals to loose not Labours to win.

Despite the rising tides of sex toys, mud and vitriol being thrown and dumped on National MPs, John Key remains high in the polling as preferred Prime Minister and the party has based its electoral strategy on playing the PM personality card as strong as possible; going so far as to have Keys grinning mug on all electoral candidates billboards as if it was him and not the actual candidate that people were voting for, which of course was the strategy all along.

Nationals brain trust, despite its inability to stop living in the 90’s, was shrewd enough to realize that no one was going to vote for either the aging party hacks; which have infested the party like a persistent fungus and have dragged the party down time and again in various scandals and corrupt activities; or the flock of pimply faced geeks turgidly swollen with their own arrogance and self-importance without a clear and direct linkage to its one ace in the hole: John Key and his high polling popularity.

This has been Nationals game since Key took over in 2007 and is the only game the party now knows how to play. It’s been fantastically successful for both Key and the party and brought them back from the brink of political oblivion after the Brash Coup and religious/money infiltration in the early 2000s but its success is tied directly to Key’s popularity and the day his polling fails to make the nut is the day that the seat of power is up for grabs.

And this is the problem for both Little and Labour. It became clear after Helen Clark left for greener pastures that leadership in the Labour was not in abundance. As the cavalcade of neutered Clarkites came and went in succession before Little took the job clearly illustrated.

First in the wake of Helen there was the ever smiling Phil Goff, like some grinning Labour doppelganger to Nationals Lockwood Smith, Goff and his ever present smile led the party into the post Clark world and lost the 2011 election due both to his own inability to fight Key on popularity but also due to that ever present factor in New Zealand politics: third term arrogance. Labour after nine years in power had done what many third term governments do, simply forgotten how things work and acted like pompous douche bags (to be fair under Clark it was probably toe the line or get the cut and tuck but none the less) and their loss in 08 was echoed again in 2011.

Then the knives came out and in scenes familiar to those who were watching NZ politics in the late 80’s, the pretenders to the throne made their plays.

Next there was David Shearer, touted as Mr International he failed to make his mark on the electorate and his “sense” of his colleagues was ill judged as less than a year after getting the job the rumours were already swirling about leadership challenges and before he could celebrate the second anniversary of being in the role, and with an election approaching, he was deposed and another David stepped up.

Enter David Cunliffe, and then exit David Cunliffe. At no point was his position ever secured and his mark on the party was to lead it to a hideous beating at the polls in 2014. A beating that almost broke the party in the public’s eyes and gave both the Greens and NZ-First a shot of vitamins; making them more credible parties (by giving them room to grow) and helping to set up the Greens eventual usurping the role as moral leader of the opposition and Winston’s win in Northland (although it was Little’s age comment about Peters that seemed to really rile the electorate).

The key theme in all three of these “leaders” was the depressing air of abject impotence about them and all the reek of failure by men who truly know they are not worth the crown but will stake a claim none the less.

Then came Andrew Little, obviously hoping that the “three times a charm” magic of Clark would be bestowed upon him as it had her, after the dingbats antics of Palmer and Moore had been allowed to soil the top floor (and in Palmers case the balcony with his teenage saxophone solos) of the Beehive with their greedy dreams of power. Just as Shearer and Cunliffe had done their dash now it was time for the “real leader” to step up.

So the question that has yet to be answered is this. Is Little going to lead the party in the manner of Helen Clark or Norman Kirk or will he simper away and eventually be rolled by others with more ambition than him?

Up to this point; under Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe; Labour has tried to fight Key on his turf and at his game; ie personal popularity, the cult of personality and in the mold of US style leadership campaigning rather than promoting a broad social vision or attempting to energize the electorate, which were catalysts for both labour under Kirk and Lange.

And this is where the obtuse responses to things like the TPPA are going to hurt Labour. It’s not the issue itself in many cases that counts but a clear and unambiguous position to whatever the issue is which shows the party as a genuine party of the opposition and not a craven bunch of eunuchs waiting to see which way the wind is blowing before taking a position. In these areas NZ First and the Greens have consistently taken up the slack left but Labours tepidity by clearly stating their position on an issue.

In recent weeks there have been signs that someone has realized that ‘boring = stupid’, as the release of ‘10 big ideas’ about the future of work has shown. It’s not just a step in the right direction but an also indication that there is nothing to lose by floating out ideas, concepts or plans which are not just new and interesting but clearly in opposition to the staid, boring, innately conservative and business as usual approach that is the hallmark of the National government (in fact it’s all National knows but that’s a discussion for another time). Whoever is behind this approach clearly is not a victim of Clark’s neutering.

But is this Little’s doing? Is he behind this? In his time in the role, just over a year now, it’s clear that Andrew Little does not want to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors but it’s also clear that his current mode of politics is simply to play it safe, close the doors and wait for the Government to make a mistake, a wholly reactionary approach to politics and not one that is likely to endear itself to the electorate, nor one that will reap any serious dividends while the Teflon on Key is still in effect and the innately conservative approach of his party does not offer up many opportunities to strike. And even when opportunities have presented themselves (such as the TPPA, Serco, refugees or even things like the Canterbury Rebuild) Little has played it safe and stuck with comments which do little to give any indication that he would have done different or actually shows any passion on any issue.

In part this is because of the process by how Little came into the top job in the Labour party and how the cabal of professional politicians, which occupy much of the upper ranks of the party, don’t want him, never wanted him and would happily see him out and replaced by one of their own.

To start, the rise of Andrew Little to leader of the party came through the strange electoral mechanics of the Labour party itself (40% caucus, 40% party and 20% union). The close race between Andrew Little and Grant Robertson showed that when it came down to the wire it was the 20% of the union vote which gave Little the job and not any hearty support from those he sits in cabinet with.

Relics of the Clark years like Goff, Dyson, Mallard, Shearer, Cunliffe, Cosgrove, King and Parker show there is a core of hardened professional politicos who have less to do with representing their electorate and more with ensuring they remain in paid employment as their options outside the safe confines of politics are dim (for those thinking I’m picking on Labour here don’t worry National is in a worse state with its dead wood but again that’s for another day and they at least have the magic of John Key to keep them in their day jobs).

It’s safe to say that not all of these long term politicians are fans of Andrew Little in his role as leader, a fair few didn’t vote for him or want him there (Grant Robertson swept the caucus and the party votes in the leadership election and it was only the vote spread for the other candidates in the first round (Parker and Mahuta) and the 20% union vote which allowed Little to pull ahead in the second and third rounds).

And this is where it gets all Game of Thrones for Andrew Little, complete with incest, violence, sex and lashings of intrigue. He must fear the knives which are all glinting out there, just waiting for his exposed back, hidden behind friendly smiles and handshakes at the party meetings. It’s clear that this fear of making a mistake is part of the reason why he has spent the last year doing little to lead the party on the attack and plenty of time trying to consolidate his position. But again to go back to an earlier point; the coming election is Nationals to loose not Labours to win. Labour is going to need more than a spiffy training montage set to 80s synth rock to make the grade come the main event. Plucky underdog it is not!

In the short, gut based analysis of the situation it appears that Labour, like the current crop of republicans in the US, would rather harm its own chances of election rather than let “that Little bastard” have the job of PM. The only difference is Little is nowhere on Par with Trump.

But Andrew Little is also not Norman Kirk (an innately popular politician who lead Labour through two loosing elections as leader before winning the third on a combination of his own personal appeal but also by building the party up as the answer to a stagnant National under 12 years of Holyoake). Little’s popularity is low and the prospect of facing him off against a still popular Key is akin to throwing kangaroo meat into a lion enclosure. Nor does Little have the luxury of losing two elections before winning it in the third. The day after electoral defeat in 2017 is the day that he will start hearing more than one blade being sharpened.

Little can perform in the house but this is as far as any strategy of playing Key at his own game (that of popularity/personality) is going to work as in the general media he comes across as a concerned vaguely liberal uncle. Not a sandal wearing tree hugger but a quiet, responsible person who has never kicked out the jams in his entire life and who certainly would not mug for a selfie, pee in the shower or dislocate his jaw while deep throating a hot dog.

In fact while Andrew Little is certainly not a man in the mould of Norman Kirk he could take a leaf out of Kirks playbook in regards to how he and Labour won the 72 election. Kirk went in with a new platform, a new manifesto of change and better things ahead and swept the field, winning a margin of 23 seats and a mandate to make NZ anew. And this was after two previous losses to National in 69 and 66. The situation is not exactly the same but the parallels are significant.

Of course it is not so easy under MMP to pull off such a feat but the current state of Labour at this time shows no indication of even moving in this direction (its 10 steps as the noted exception). Perhaps there is a grand strategy hidden away behind closed doors, just waiting for the right moment to put it into operation. If so then it could be a long wait as politics, like romance favours the bold, not the plodding and the mood of the NZ electorate is like that of a crowd watching a romantic comedy where the male lead can’t get up the nerve to make the first move and the audience is yelling “Kiss her you fool!”.

That’s right, like having kids, there is no special time to do it and Andrew Little has a fair few seeds to sow between now and November 2017. Labour will not take any future election alone unless there is some firebrand, walking talking Jesus figure hiding away who can better Key in the selfie mugging, showering peeing and hot dog fellatio stakes (in fact the only current contender in this area for the golden hot dog would be Winston Peters, but Peters would never stoop to going down on a processed meat product). This means that while it’s not simply enough to roll out a new plan for NZ Labour also must get the Greens and NZ First to buy in as well (or more likely accept some of their policy ideas into their own intellectual portfolio).

So while the TPPA remains a missed opportunity and the flag debate is done and dusted there is still time for Little and Labour to step up their game and take it to the hoop. If they don’t Key will rule for 12 years as PM, the lizard people will finally take over and Labour may as well just give up the ghost.

Labour can’t fight Key in the personality stakes and can’t remain inert and neutral in the face of Keys capture of the middle voter NZ (all 37% of them). As I have said before now is the time for Hail Mary’s and wild new ideas. If Little has looked at the mood of many western states across the globe he may have noticed the polarization of voters and the rise of those promising a change to the squalid BS of the established order.

While Andrew Little is no Jeremy Corbin or Bernie Sanders he doesn’t have to be to win over NZ. What he needs are some new ideas, some new faces, the courage to take the issues to the electorate and the humility to not treat the required coalition partners like serfs under a feudal lord (as Labour has been known to do). Labour may lose come 2017 but they certainly won’t win playing their current style.

 

Notes:

1)       I swear I saw this article come up online on Waitangi Weekend but subsequent searches have failed to locate it since, it could have been an overeager journalist but the fact that it was followed a day later about Labours party retreat and Little allowing Goff to walk on the issue seems to me that it was something said in haste and then rapidly backed away from.

29 Responses to “Kiss her you fool! Andrew Little, Labour and the TPPA”

  1. pdogge on March 31st, 2016 at 08:30

    I have long believed the 2 essentials are catchy policy and charisma with brains. A good post , thanks and welcome to the b’sphere…

  2. Stephen J on March 31st, 2016 at 09:51

    “cavalcade of neutered Clarkites”

    “toe the line or get the cut and tuck”

    Can we do better than this? I think we can do better than this.

  3. Deborah Russell on March 31st, 2016 at 10:15

    Relics of the Clark years like Goff, Dyson, Mallard, Shearer, Cunliffe, Cosgrove, King, Parker and Twyford

    Phil Twyford was first elected in 2008, when Helen Clark left Parliament. So he’s hardly a relic of the Clark years. I’m curious as to why you included him in this line-up, ‘though I’m guessing it’s just a mistake rather than a comment on Twyford.

  4. E.A.Blair on March 31st, 2016 at 10:24

    Pdogge:

    Thanks for the praise and yes I would agree some salesmanship in Labour would not go amiss. But there is hope and I am not quite of the same mind that Vernon Small voiced about the party in today’s media.

    At least they are trying with these ideas and Keys glib remarks just reinforce the orthodoxy when events overseas show radical ideas gaining traction.

    Stephen J:

    I would be the first to admit that I was writing for effect when using phrases like those you have noted and I am happy to take suggestions for some better descriptions of the lines you have noted.

    I am interested in why you choose those two particular lines as they both relate to the Labour party and have not referred to similar material which referred to National.

    Those statements were based on my own recollections of life under Helen and how she ran things (very effectively I might add), perhaps I never saw her softer side.

  5. E.A.Blair on March 31st, 2016 at 10:26

    Deborah:

    Good spotting my deliberate mistake, hehe.

    I will be editing that name out very soon. Thanks for the correction.

  6. Stephen J on March 31st, 2016 at 10:40

    E A: I am referring to the implicit misogyny of your metaphors. Clark as castrator, masculinity as the source of power. Coming up with better ones I leave to you. Didn’t notice any parallel usage WRT Nats, or I would have mentioned them too.

  7. Andrew Geddis on March 31st, 2016 at 11:22

    Without wishing to be too much of a pedant (oh, OK … I’m a pedant), it doesn’t seem like too much to ask that you spell the name of our PM from 1999-2008 correctly. Clark, not Clarke.

  8. E.A.Blair on March 31st, 2016 at 11:23

    Stephen J:

    The Clark as castrator bit was deliberate use by me, it was a running joke/theme in Wellington at the time and a deliberate reference to her reported style of leadership.

    My apologies if it appeared misogynistic. I was attempting to paint the situation of the reported powerlessness of members of the party and how those with any ambition or ability were said to have been crushed, molded to her will or removed under her rule and the debilitating effect it had on the party when she left in terms of leadership.

    It is also noted that this is an effective tool of leaders in political situations (to paraphrase: remove all competing revolutionaries).

    In short she removed or neutralized any challenges to her leadership by removing them or depriving them of their source of power, hence the “neutered” commentary.

    Had I been referring to a male leader doing the same thing I would have used the same metaphors as I’m not sure if I had referred to male politicians having their ovaries removed would have had as much impact or made sense in the context given that the individuals I was referring to are all men.

    I would note that when I write my a post about how John Key rules/runs the national party I will consider your points although I think he is more prone to use the same methods as Hitler and others (ie divide and conquer); give the underlings little bits of power and let them fight it out while you pull their strings.

    I can assure you that I am not a misogynistic person or believe that masculinity is the source of power but a good turn of phrase is hard to resist.

    It could be argued that I had placed those words there not so much as a misogynistic gesture but rather to highlight the often subconscious fear mean have about their virility and power, how politics is often dominated by men and how effective and successful Helen was as our first female elected PM in face of such obstacles.

    Those was not my thoughts when I wrote the lines but in retrospect that would be my feeling about referring to how she ran Labour.

    None the less I will seek to use better metaphors next time. Thank you for highlighting that.

  9. E.A.Blair on March 31st, 2016 at 11:28

    Andrew:

    Not a problem, I will be fixing all typos and mistakes in spelling soon. I thought I had gotten most of them but the curses of illiteracy and innumeracy are many.

    Thanks for pointing them out.

  10. Richard on April 1st, 2016 at 10:57

    I’m not 100% sure the Sanders/Corbyn route is necessarily what the electorate will actually respond to. Cunliffe tried that route, backed by Matt McCarten, to capture “the missing million” and it failed miserably. Corbyn and company are popular with younger voters and those that have nostaligia for the past but there isn’t any guarantee that this will actually result in electoral success. Bernie almost certainly won’t be nominated and Corbyn’s chances largely depend on a long heralded collapse of the conservative party that is yet to happen, despite the rise of UKIP.

    Nostalgia is as dangerous to the left as luke warm centerist politics. We assume that our own values actually reflect the voting public and that modern politics is really about ideas and policy. That road generally leads to martyrdom.

    The only way for Labour to actually win is to be better and behave like a professional, well drilled political party that out does National in appearing more attractive and compotent to govern. That means actually raising enough money to compete and to actually have compotent staff, political strategists and better advertising and PR. The party desperately needs better relationships with people in high places and networks outside their political circles. This is not to mention the serious problems Labour has with its MP’s dicipline and ability to keep their cool in the public spotlight. They could start by appearing less angry and outraged all the time and focus more on what they do outside the house than attempting to steal the limelight during question time and debates. Andrew Little’s anger is embarrassing.

    National’s success is certainly partly down to Key’s uncanny popularity but that is partly down to a very well resourced head office that focus groups regularly and keeps the party to the script. Part of Key’s success at appealing to the middle class or “most New Zealanders” is that he really does know what they actually want and think because his party has had the finances to pay to find out… Labour needs to understand the current rules of the game and play according to them, rather than ignore them in favour nostalgia and martyrdom or complain that they are unfair.

  11. E.A.Blair on April 1st, 2016 at 11:48

    Richard:

    Your right on a number of those points which are pretty much a more accurate summary of what I am getting at in my post.

    But that’s the point I was making, Labour is just not organized in any real coherent way at this time, no plans, no ideas and no real direction.

    I would add though that while noting Sanders/Corbyn I was not necessarily meaning that Labour should go radical but that the mood of electorates in the west has shifted in the last few years.

    NZ is very conservative in its politics and while the missing million failed last time does not mean it didn’t highlight a potential source of new voters, many of whom wont be voting national if they did vote.

    Such a process as that undoubtedly takes time and is a generation thing which means that efforts now wont pay dividends until several elections down the line. At least that’s my feeling.

    That said while National has better organisation it still has issues with many of its MPS being deadwood or worse liabilities. In this case its has been Key and his popularity that made the difference.

    If both parties were faced off without recourse to popular leaders I imagine it would be a lot harder for many voters to make a choice on which to vote for.

  12. Richard on April 1st, 2016 at 16:57

    The conservatism in our politics is understandable given how much New Zealand values pragamatism, holds authority in suspicion and endured 20 years of ideological experiments between 1976-1999 and perhaps even during the Clark years. Within that environment, National has succeeded not simply due to Key but due to perception, which is true in part, that they are cautious economic managers. Without Bill English I think we would have seen far more radical right wing reform in areas like taxation and public spending. Rightly or wrongly,National is seen as a relatively risk averse economic manager while Labour is seen as less competent and less risk averse and more ideological. To the extent that English has appeared to be a competent economic manager who readily responds to his official’s advice (to his credit he actually does listen to his own ministry unlike other National ministers…) and if we exclude financial lemons like the first term tax cuts and roads of national significance, the public appears to have reason to trust this and not risk a change of government. People fear things getting worse than they wish for them to get better.

    If Labour is to win, it needs to convince the public that this is incorrect and that under their leadership people can actually be better off without the wheels falling off the car. Even though I lean far to the left of National on economic management and especially on public spending, I still don’t particuarly trust Labour in this area given their tendency to bungle policy announcements (e.g wildly inaccurate costings), to back up on key policy and a lack of confidence and coherence… This is despite the fact that have actually have some very competent economic figures within their network (i.e Michael Cullen) and even in an mp like David Parker, who despite being obtuse and some what esoteric in public discourse, is actually one of the best economic brains in parliament.

    And on the issue of public perception, will someone tell Labour’s mp’s to learn to use social media in a more professional manner? Posting articles from buzzfeed and vox probably isn’t a good look as an mp

  13. Korakys on April 1st, 2016 at 18:00

    Richard you describe a dystopia, in which politicians believe in nothing, but merely try to win the favour of the people in order to basically change nothing.

    John Key is so popular because he clearly dislikes politicians and politics in general, which is the position of the general populace.

  14. Redbaiter on April 2nd, 2016 at 01:13

    Far too long. Wrongly says Twyford was from Clark era. Spells Clark as Clarke. Writes “your” where he means “you’re”. I’d give it a D-, must try harder.

  15. Pablo on April 2nd, 2016 at 09:07

    Now now, Red. Try to be constructive. Those errors have already been acknowledged.

  16. peterlepaysan on April 2nd, 2016 at 20:36

    Welcome E.A.
    Sadly the point of your post appears to have been missed by commenters.

    Neither Labour nor Little have clearly differentiated themselves frpm National/ Key.

    Quite how this is done has not been addressed either, and (hopefully) is brought about by serious strategic thinking and not the pathetic Caucus internecine warfare that is Labours hallmark.

    OBTW those missing voters are very important for Labour success.

    Unfortunately I suspect the LP is broke.
    NZ business favours no taxes (except for roads) and gives rather a lot to the National Party.

    Farmers will do anything to fight Labour and the Greens.

    We are currently ruled by “economic jihadists”. We deserve better than sectarian nit picking.

    We certainly do not deserve a a US sock puppet as aPM.

  17. E.A on April 2nd, 2016 at 22:16

    Red:

    Sorry Red, will try harder next time.

    Peter:

    Thanks for the welcome.

    Despite my comment about the LP, I am optimistic that the cyclic nature of politics will bring about a revival in fortunes.

    Not because I am a fan of the LP, I will never vote for them no matter what but because its either that or Greens and NZ First become the opposition over the corpse of the Labour Party.

    What I always keep in mind is that about a decade or so ago National was in similar straights until Key arrived and after he goes I imagine it will be very hard to fill that gap with any of the goons that currently sit behind Key grinning like gargoyles.

    But yes, Labour needs to focus on genuine unity and not just accommodation for the sake of image. How they do that I don’t know. I would agree that the missing voters are a big part of the puzzle.

  18. Korakys on April 3rd, 2016 at 14:29

    I genuinely believe the best thing that Labour can do to advance the causes of the Left is to disband. Their image is so tainted now and they are so filled with old timers from a discredited age who cannot seem to be removed that it would help more to fell this old tree and let new shoots rise.

  19. E.A.Blair on April 4th, 2016 at 07:32

    Korkays:

    If Labour cant improve this election and actually make a genuine change then I would agree with that %100. That said, National without JK is in the same boat.

  20. Korakys on April 4th, 2016 at 17:13

    Labour, National, NZ First and National’s two dependent parties (ACT and United Future) are all terrible options. They are all focused on the past and have distinctly unimaginative economic policies.

    The Greens are only marginally better.

  21. Phil F on April 6th, 2016 at 11:45

    The problem for Little and Labour is that they are, and can only be, very, very similar to National. In fact, National is to Labour’s left on a number of important issues: increasing social welfare payments, maintaining the retirement age being two that come to mind. Also, Key was far less keen to commit NZ troops to the war with ISIS than Labour was to help invade Afghanistan in 2001. All the National MPs even voted to end zero-hours contracts.

    Fundamentally, both Labour and National are parties of capitalist management and their policies are limited by the limitations of capitalism. When capital(ism) is doing well, they can afford to spread a little of the joy; when it is not, they do the clawbacks.

    Whoever is in government seems to have the advantage. When Labour was in power, they defined the sprawling mush known as the ‘centre ground’ and National had to become Labour-lite to get elected. Since National has been in power, they have been in a position to define the mushy ‘centre ground’ and Key has done it very well.

    Keep in mind that, despite the idiocy on much of the left that Key was some kind of Rogernome who would finish off what Douglas and Richardson began, the fact is the PM that Key most admires is Holyoake and Key is very much a 21st century Holyoake. The ideal vacuous non-entity for a passive electorate that just wants someone who is socially liberal and temperamentally moderate to be in charge, look competent and say soothing things.

    Eventually, governments get exhausted. Clark won three terms and then her government got exhausted and people got sick of her head-girl carry-on and National got in; I think Key will get four terms and then National will be exhausted and people will have had enough of his hollow personality and National will lose in 2020.

    Clark’s new vanity project is getting to run the UN; Key’s vanity project was being PM, so it’s difficult to see what he will do afterwards – back to the parasitic money markets or somewhere else in politics or business?

    Over on Redline blog, we have spent a lot of time analysing Labour and also analysing New National (the urban liberal, multicultural, multiethnic party that has replaced Old National, the party of rightwing lawyers and farmers).

    Check out: https://rdln.wordpress.com/

    Phil

  22. Phil F on April 6th, 2016 at 11:53

    A quick PS.

    Speaking of Helen Clark’s new vanity project, it’s worth viewing her record: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/the-reign-of-helen-clark/

  23. Felling Labour | Redline on April 6th, 2016 at 11:59

    […] comment over on kiwipolitico by someone using the moniker […]

  24. E.A. on April 6th, 2016 at 12:06

    Phil:

    Well put and very concise. I would agree with you on those points.

    I will also pop over to Redline as well but given the depth of analysis that it sounds like your doing I will probably have little to add. I did like the “bowl cut” comment though. A nice touch.

  25. Phil F on April 6th, 2016 at 12:22

    peterlepaysan writes: “Unfortunately I suspect the LP is broke.
    NZ business favours no taxes (except for roads) and gives rather a lot to the National Party.”

    This is not really the case. In the early 2000s more corporate money went to Labour than National and I suspect this would have been the case in the 1980s too. And, at some point in the future, it will be the same again.

    However, parties don’t get most of their funding from private donations anyway. The vast majority of party funding is provided by the state. We have a bunch of para-statal (not to mention parasitical!) parties, which is another reason why National and Labour are two cheeks of the one arse, rather than having counterposed ideals, principles, policies.

    “We certainly do not deserve a a US sock puppet as aPM.”

    Actually NZ prime ministers represent the interests, primarily, of NZ capital. Sometimes its interests coincide with those of US capital, sometimes they don’t. When they do, they act in concert – for instance, Colin Powell described Clark as “a very, very, very close friend” of Washington during the Bush era. Key was certainly far more reluctant to commit NZ troops to the war on ISIS than Clark was to send troops to invade Afghanistan. This is because there is nothing much for NZ capital in this war; in the end Key did it because, as he with refreshing honesty put it, it’s part of the cost of belonging to the club. We never got that kind of honesty from Clark. She really was a hawk.

    One of the things we really seriously need in this country is a genuine left. Instead we have a fraudulent left that is essentially a bunch of petty kiwi nationalists who resent the National Party. Being anti-National is not left-wing – especially when it is usually accompanied by an incredible softness on Labour.

    Take Labour’s long-established anti-Chinese racism. If Labour was in power and the leader of the National Party was racist dog-whistling there would be outrage by the left, pickets of National, throwing of anything at hand etc. Labour does it and much of the left keeps quiet. Is that not pretty despicable? We have a left whose double standards are extraordinary – every bit as bad as the double standards of the right.

    Which means we also need a principled left. If it isn’t principled, it’s not worth having.

  26. Phil F on April 6th, 2016 at 12:30

    This will be my last comment here today, because I don’t want to hog discussion. I said National was to the left of Labour on various things. I left out one of the most important – immigration. National is far less racist/xenophobic than Labour.

    I’d never vote for either of them but, as a socialist, and if someone put a gun to my head and said ‘vote for the lesser evil or you’re dead’, I’d think seriously about National as the lesser-evil.

    Also, National are frontstabbers and Labour are backstabbers. Frontstabbers are usually preferable to backstabbers.

  27. Korakys on April 6th, 2016 at 18:09

    We need a visionary Left, with an ideology most can get behind. A party that knows where it’s going. The Greens have half an ideology, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to stretch to the economic realm, no other party has even that much.

  28. Julian Ang on April 22nd, 2016 at 21:44

    I have just read two of your posts on the perceived strengths and failings of both major parties and find them insightful and hilarious. Contrary to some pedantic comments here, I love your use of turn of phrase and play with words. It’s an opinion piece, it’s not meant to be some academic essay or some ministerial report so good on you for bringing some brevity to the proceedings. As Lady Gaga would sing “Applause … applause”. Keep up the good work, insightful comments and dash of humour …

  29. Daniel on April 26th, 2016 at 07:58

    Julian:

    Thanks for that. I do believe that a little humor goes a long way.

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