Monday, 20 March 2017

Waiting for the medicine

This post is about something not normally discussed in politics in New Zealand but really should be.

Amid all the hubbub and rhetoric, all the hate and vitriol, all the policy and propaganda that makes up the normal political discourse; little time is given to discussing what we as a nation want to be, where we want to go and what ideals do we want to make the pillars of our society (as well as what ones do we wish to cast down or denigrate).

What got me thinking about this was the recent (and ongoing) issue of National deciding to raise the superannuation age from 65 to 67.

What I heard amid all of the statistical double talk coming out of the mouth of Bill English, and Treasury, was the simple and repeated phrase of "we cant afford it!"

And if you look at it from a pure numbers perspective, maybe he is right. Maybe.

Maybe we as a nation cant afford it, maybe will will just have to tighten out belts and cut costs and make savings.

Then again maybe not.

The reason I am writing this is because I reject outright any argument or position about what we as a nation wish to be which is based on numbers first and foremost and I will tell you why (or why else would I be blogging?).

First and foremost such an argument, as is being made by English and National, seems suspiciously aligned with the kind of Neo-Liberal thinking which has infected parties like National, and ACT, where the hidden agenda is always about enriching one small group at the bitter expense of all the rest.

Of course under John Key, that agenda was always carefully hidden away behind layers of careful spin and even Keys own antics served to distract from the gradual erosion of the welfare state which has been built up in Godzone over the last 100 years.

And the greatest piece of spin Key ever embarked on was his unequivocal promise to not raise the retirement age which not only neutralized populists like Winston Peters (who counts retirees, and soon to be retirees as a large chunk of his core vote base) but also poured oil on one of the most contentious issues in western politics today (that of an aging population).

So unequivocal was it that he tied it to his position as Prime minister by promising to step down if it ever went up on his watch.

And so for nearly nine years that issue was swept under the rug and anyone approaching retirement breathed a sigh of relief and went back to sleep.

Now with Key gone and English and Co slavering like vampires at the blood bank, one of the first big announcements (apart from muddying the waters around the muddy (and toxic) water issue) was that come 2040 the retirement age will go up to 47 and to announce it in a manner that seems suspiciously like pushing so far into the future that it will not factor as an issue in the coming election (even the Retirement Commission report said 2034).

But again the rational repeated by English and others again and again (and again for this and other issues) is that we simply cant afford it and here is a raft of tables, charts and graphs to show how we cant afford it.

Such an approach has been used by National before to say we don't need as many police (although that changed once things started getting out of hand and suddenly there was extra money, for the next four years at least, to get more cops back on the front line), to keep public service salaries down (although MPs get that pay rise every year adjusted for inflation and backdated regular as clockwork), to keep the minimum wage below the living wage (because keeping businesses happy is more important than people being able to live off the money they make), to sell of state housing stock, to reduce what goes to beneficiaries and to justifying almost anything done under their watch which has seen things get just that little bit harder, more expensive or difficult to achieve for the majority.

But even if English is not just an ideological puppet and we really can't afford to keep the retirement age at 65 what else as a nation cant we afford?

Can we afford to watch our nation slide into poverty or casually gaze around as significant chunks of our population (I am thinking principally about Maori here but this could apply to anyone) suffer disproportionately across a range of health and social statistics while a small minority sleep well in their beds and keep on running things for the benefit of themselves only.

Can afford to piss away the cleanliness of our water or leave our economy desperately dependent on things like tourism and dairy products?

Can we afford a parliament full of long serving (and mostly useless) politicians who have become so divorced from reality, due to their well paying positions by which they insulate themselves from the effects of their policies and decisions and allow themselves to become slaves to various bunk ideologies?

And once questions like that start they do not stop, they go on forever until madness ensues because such unfocused examination of our nation and its direction atomizes the issues down to a series of fragments which sometimes fit into the bigger puzzle but often get swept away in the next batch of change that politics and the media spews on us and always leaves us coming up short so that we eventually throw our hands in the air and decide to leave it to the "experts" or (shudder) the politicians.

But whats not being usually discussed or questioned is the bigger picture to which all these fragments contribute; that of "what kind of nation do we want to be"?

Listen to a parliamentary debate, read the paper, watch the TV news or just engage in a vaguely political discussion and see how quickly the dialog get swamped in the details while the guiding principles get ignored.

Many people mock the US of A for having a document like the Constitution which sets out clear ideals to which they as nation want to aspire to but which currently seem to be slipping form their grasp but at least they have something to which they can say they are basing their society on, what doe we have in New Zealand?

For one we have the Treaty of Waitangi, but that in and of itself does not seem to be enough to keep us on course as the debate has not always been one which parties can agree on or which clearly sets out goals for our future but rather sets in place the idea of two parties working together towards something greater but where that "something" has not been clearly defined.

So do we want to be a country slipping downwards in the race to the bottom or do we want to be a nation which is going to hold up certain ideas and ideals as being sacred and worth keeping?

NZ was a country that enshrined a strong egalitarian streak which shone through in all manner of ways from being the first country to give women the vote; to affordable state housing; to a social welfare system which worked (not to mention things like ACC); to how we used to regulate alcohol and gambling (with most of the profits generated going back to the community) to all manner of systems, rules and laws which make us (although for how much longer?) a country which is seen as one of the least corrupt in the world and a host of other little things which made New Zealand what it was and is.

And behind all those things was a serious and robust discussion about what we as a nation wanted (not what we could afford) and how we could achieve that. Its no accident that the egalitarian (and yes socialist) ideals which helped build or nation were articulated broadly across all spectrum of New Zealand because if we wanted it, we found a way to afford it.

Some might say that such ideals without sound consideration of the costs is madness and they are right in the small sense that reality must always be considered but not as the primary or only determinant of our direction because that way leads to a group of "nice" people sitting around a table deciding what to do with their countries surplus population.

And I am sure that tucked away in dark corner of the National party (probably copied from ACT) is a "nice" Treasury style power point about how democracy is too damn expensive and we should just scrap it so we can balance the budget and grow the economy 4.3% in the next four quarters.

Democracy, freedom and a just and equitable society don't come cheap, they cost, and sometimes they cost a lot more than the budget says we can afford but once you sell them off or privatize them its very hard to get them back and the balance sheet might look better but everything else wont as it is easy to glance around the world today at nations where such things as egalitarianism, just laws and a free society are not in abundance and grok how unappealing those nations appear when compared to those which do make those things a priority.

So when Bill English says "we cant afford it" what he is really saying is "I* don't want to pay for it" that reflects a societal view which is moving away from a nation built for all and governed by principles greater than the balance sheet and one just for those individuals able to grab what they can at the expense of anyone else (and consequences be dammed!).

Lets have a discussion. Lets ask ourselves what kind of New Zealand we want to be. Lets divorce it from the politics of the left and right and decide if we want to be a Nation which people are flocking to or one which people are fleeing from because right now Aotearoa is still an appealing place where people do flock to (from creepy US Billionaires buying citizenship to Syrian refugees fleeing the war zone that their nation has become), but for how much longer?

Of course all I have just written sounds like the kind of idealistic rot which you would expect from someone with their head in the clouds, someone divorced from reality, just thinking pie in the sky and all I need is a solid does of reality to wake me up but you would be wrong.

John Ralston Sual (my favorite philosopher) in his book On Equilibrium listed the five qualities most important for an effective society and economics is not among those things (although he does note rationality which could be considered the seed of economic thought).

What he lists as qualities or virtues which are important to a healthy society are common sense; ethics; imagination; intuition; memory and reason and that these are of equal and universal value for a society if it is not to be captured by one, or a few qualities (or their dark disciples) that have morphed into dangerous ideologies (and their respective ideologues).

And that is why the whole manner of the superannuation announcement sits rather badly with me.

Its not about bashing National or supporting Labour. Its about the fact that Bill English has made a choice which reflects one single consideration or quality and where all others have been ignored and where the manner of the announcement, when viewed inline with Nationals broader goals and direction, indicates that the figures, graphs and tables being touted as the basis for Nationals argument is really just buttressing an ideological position that needs justification rather than Bill English thinking about the actual well being of New Zealand as a whole.

So yes lets discuss the superannuation situation but lets also discuss the direction that we want to take as a Nation (and the values related to that direction) and lets also keep in mind that facts graphs, tables and charts as the basis of forecasts for the future are subject to the same kind of factors and considerations that Thomas Malthus failed to account for in 1789 when he predicted that the world would be overpopulated and starving in short order (by ignoring improvements in food production and other things which killed his prediction that population growth would outstrip food production).

So my question to you is whats the cost of an egalitarian and just society, and do you want to live in one?

*-As well as his political party and its backers.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

KP Repost: I may be bad but I feel good! – John Key and the mystery of the National Party

This was my second ever post on KP and a direct response to my first where some people had accused me of shilling for National by pointing out the issues in Labour.

As for the post itself not much has changed except one teeny tiny thing: John Key is no longer PM.

Of course I am being facetious as a lot has changed in some ways and in others nothing has changed.

Obviously Key leaving is a a big thing and the fact that he left out of the blue shows that even with victory in sight in 2017 it was not enough for him to stay. So he went and National almost immediately lurched to the Right as soon as summer recess was over.

The things that have not changed are those minions he left behind. 

English is back on the throne for now and all the rest now sit around the cabinet table and pretend its the same as it was when Johnny Boy was calling the shots but its not.

Between when I first posted this and now we have also had the Serco/Fight Club Scandal, The MPI scandal, The Panama Papers scandal, The SFO investigation into corruption in CERA scandal (didn't her about that one: Google is your friend), Clean water issues, Superannuation and a whole lot more of other niggles which are going to come back to haunt National come election day.

The two most pertinent points in this post are a) Who will swing the club that all Nationals bad behavior has given to the opposition; and b) the levels of public indifference and apathy which were mollified by Key for so long which are now starting to show signs of coming to the boil.

And these two factors are inextricably linked as public apathy remains a factor as long as the opposition is seen as not being willing (or able) to swing the club against the shambling Zombie that National has reverted back to.

And if you want to see what the future of National is without Key go read Nicky Hagar's - The Hollow Men to get an idea of whats around the corner, as Nationals sudden right wing lurch is starting to reveal.

So If Labour is a party devoid of any real personality and seemingly unable to gather momentum, even when it needs to, for the 2017 election then National is a party full of grotesque personalities which are toxic to the party and its survival but who, like all good parasites, will kill the host before they cease doing what they do.

Key's mana still sustains English and Co but not for long, the cracks are already starting to show and rot within is oozing out as the family friendly centrist glamour that Key draped over party is now fading and the ugly beasts and creepy minds that infest it are starting to be, once again like in 1999, be revealed.
I got bagged last week by some who knew me and read my post about Andrew Little and Labour as I appeared to them (and not all of them would fit into the mold of Left or Liberal) as a closet or crypto sympathizer for National and John Key and all they stand for.

This of course would be far from the truth, as on the political spectrum, I consider myself a fascist anarchist and in no way supportive of National. But as I said last week I am no fan of Labour but some took my last post as a clear vote for the Senor Key and Co. So to keep the karmic balance this post will peel away the blue on National corpse and see what lies underneath (I was planning to write about the security services in NZ but c’est la vie).

The difference between my analysis of Labour and National is that while my focus on Labour was on the failures of the party over the failures of individuals, National is the opposite it’s the failures of individuals that dominates the party and has done so for over a decade now.

To start John Key has been very successful as a politician, so successful in fact that it would be easier to call National the “John Key Party” than refer to them as National. But Keys success as Politician has come at a cost, to both himself and the John Key Party.

Firstly Keys success as politician does not translate well into actual leadership, legacy or being remembered as PM. The multitude of screw ups, gaffs, scandals, dodgy behavior, greedy and corrupt behavior by Keys minions is legion which shows that despite his high polling he has been unable to keep his employees from running amok when his eyes are not directly on them.

This is because that Key has his own version of the Fuhrerprinzip (leadership principle) in play here. He may not have started out as the dictator of National but as the success of the party rests entirely on his ongoing popularity it’s become his show and his show only and much like other dictators Key keeps those under him busy squabbling for power so that they don’t have time to unite against him or do too much damage.

Unfortunately political golems that comprise the party, such as the reptilian Judith Collins, failed Wagnerian/Faustian Jerry Brownlee and power hungry Steven Joyce, feature regularly in the press but rarely for good reasons.

Collins misdeeds are numerous and not even worth mentioning here except that it’s clear that Key brought her back into cabinet after the scandal of Dirty Politics and who she was dining with in China under the old adage of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. The smiling assassin wants to see the blade coming and by keeping Collins on a short leash and continuing to utilize her attack dog qualities he keeps her occupied and not with no further time to plot his overthrow, as had been rumored.

Brownlee also has been a useful tool to Key as flak catcher for the growing disquiet around the Christchurch Rebuild (nepotism, shoddy work practices and questionable dealings) but Brownlee is really known for little but his escapades in the media where he tried to start a war with Finland, Flouted Civil Aviation Authority rules and has demonstrated that his mouth is not connected to his brain. Also his placement as Minister of Defense, while seeming important, is actually a demotion to a backwater government department as a way of keeping him busy and out of trouble (much in the same vein that Murray Mcully’s appointment to the Foreign Affairs kept him out of the way by keeping him out of the country as much as possible) with all those “important” meetings overseas.

Meanwhile Steven Joyce oversaw his Frankenstein creation of MBIE (among other misdeeds), cobbling together disparate ministries and sections of government into an unholy (and unworkable) creation, staffed at senior levels with barely competent DCEs and then jammed into a chicken coop of a building complete with opulent surrounds at taxpayer expense. It was a power grab pure and simple and much in the vein of the SS in Germany capturing police and security functions under the banner of “centralization” but it’s become a bloated sagging beast with a toxic work culture and extremely high union membership.

But it’s not only the senior ministers that have appeared in the media as creatures that you’d rather not sit next to on the bus. Arron Gilmore will be forever remembered as for his arrogant outburst regarding who he was in regards to his membership in the John Key Party and current troubles with Todd Barclay’s staff show that the newer members of the party won’t be lax when it comes to acting like they are to the manor born.

And these are just examples that I am pulling off the top of my head. There are so many more that it does seem at times that the New Zealand political press are running a concerted campaign to discredit the Senor Key Party by publishing only the bad news but the truth is that the behavior of the members of the party has long been grossly out of touch with expected standards of decency and behavior. The short lived political career of Pansy Wong springs to mind or the highly inappropriate behavior of Maurice Williamson in calling the police when a rich “friend” was in trouble for are just a few more that freely spring to mind.

But there is a method to my madness in cataloging these examples of nether-spawn here and it’s to place the popularity of Key in clear contrast to the Party (and its dismal inhabitants) he fronts.

Key is the Golden Boy, popular in the polls and able to appear in public during daylight hours. But the shadow he casts is long and dark and it’s in the darkness that things grow and thrive, things which cannot go into the light lest they die from exposure.

This is a tale of horror and dark deeds, of human sacrifice and blood, of a pact with demons, a deal with the devil.

Our tale begins in 1999, after nine years in government (and the last three at the behest of Winston Peters) Jenny Shipley (now being sued as a former director of Mainzeal) steered the party onto the rocks of Defeat and Helen Clark led Labour into power. Nationals performance in 1999 was dismal but was nothing to the beating it got in 2002 (20%; it’s lowest ever election result and a nadir even lower than anything achieved by Labour at the polls).

Then several strange things happened but to sum it up simply the party was taken over/bought out in aggressive coup by right-wing interests fronted by Don Brash and the Business Roundtable (Now known as the New Zealand Initiative in an attempt to re-brand its tarnished image). Bill English (possibly the last real link to National of the past times) was sacrificed publicly and painfully on the altar of political convenience and John Key entered the party (or if rumors are to be believed he was aggressively recruited due to his wealth and connections).

Weather Brash had sold his soul to get the leadership or was a patsy may never be known but it’s around this time that the remaining country elements of the party were being cleared out and put off to pasture (no pun intended). Dark words and incantations had been whispered and evil things summoned and now the life that flowed through the party was no human blood but a mix of money, religion and spin.

Shortly after Brash self-destructed in an orgy of greasy stories about his sex life and revelations from Nicky Hagar’s Hollow Men showed that the party was not only beholden to larger business interests but also rapidly becoming a vehicle for money and religion in ways that mirror the strange nexus of religion and power in US evangelicals. Stepping into the breach in 2006 at this time was John Key and the party’s fortunes mysteriously began to rise (to be fair Brash’s infamous Orewa speech had helped to raise the party’s fortunes but his own personal culpability was still poison to the party).

And rise they have but only in relation to Keys personal popularity and when he falls the party will fall with him.

By listing only some of the stains found on the scaly carcass of the party it’s clear that the John Key Party is not only wholly corrupt but incapable of behaving in any manner that requires honesty, decency or integrity and that without the magic of John Key National would have either self-destructed (ala Labour with endless power struggles and coup attempts) or faded into electoral irrelevance by now.

So what’s the plan in the post Key environment for the misanthropes of National? Which of the shambling horrors currently prowling the halls of the Beehive would the average Kiwi voter go for?

The first (and only) name that springs to my mind is Simon Powers. He was being groomed for the role by being chief whip and had the looks, and ability to speak without putting his foot in his mouth but Powers left after two terms (perhaps sensing the poison in the chalice being offered to him) for greener pastures (Run Simon, run!).

Other than that it’s difficult if not impossible to imagine anyone of the current crop of National MPs now sitting at the top level being able to either lead the party without its descending into a hellish power struggle or elicit any positive reaction in the polls to the grotesque suggestion that they may be likable or have any human feelings (or perhaps are even human). Further with the junior ranks either imploding due to swollen hubris or simply because so many National MPs (like Labour’s middle and bottom tiers) are just seat fillers, cautious drones taking their nice salary and doing little for their electorates, no voter in their right mind would be ticking their name on the ballot form either.

A clear example of this hideous electoral dislocation is Winston Peter’s astounding win in the Northland by-election. In what was supposed to be a safe National seat (until Mike Sabine was found to be under investigation by the Police for Assault in another instance of reprehensible behavior) Winston took his traveling medicine show out on the hustings and reaped the spoils of Nationals arrogance and terrible treatment of the electorate.

And if your still reading at this point you may be getting the picture. National is a party that is on life support and that life support is John Key. As soon as he leaves or no longer has the magic touch in the polls the party will be a shambling corpse, an undead husk full of nothing but vile waste and human maggots.

No one is going to vote for Judith Collins, Jerry Brownlee or any of the others grim specters as leader or as PM and the desperate reliance on dirty tricks and heavily manufactured (official and unofficial) spin has left the party desperately hyping and protecting its one and only political life line, John Key.

But zombie parties do not die, they have to be killed and the question is who will do the killing? Vernon Small pointed out in today’s media that John Keys current position in the wake of Panama Papers (the usual Key safe, clean and neat statements) is effectively “handing a cudgel” to the opposition. But who will swing it? Who has the strength?

The Greens and NZ First most certainly have the will but not the strength to really kill National. Labour has the strength but is unable to get its house in order and remains timidly cowering in the corner (in the tradition of many classic horror movies) paralyzed with fear while the beast runs amok among other victims.

Possibly in combination could these three, like some sort of political transforming robot, combine their powers to take out National but that is unlikely (an issue to be explored at a later date) and the odds that come November 2017 we will either see John Key lead his party into a fourth term or a Coalition Government with Labour, NZ First and the Greens in uneasy coexistence are high.

If National is defeated in 2017 then it’s the end of Key, he won’t hang around and will go off to reap the rewards promised by his backers way back in 2002. If National makes a fourth term then all bets are off and Key will rule as long as his popularity lasts.

And that is the final key (no pun intended) to the puzzle, his popularity. As Phil F pointed out in the comments to my last post (and is echoed by the folks over at Redline Blog), a large section of the New Zealand electorate has been docile and passive in the face of the Machiavellian antics of Key and Co.

Voter apathy in the wake of endless scandals by the National party and John Key means that where acts which would have people out in the streets or at least an uproar in other countries have been met with large doses of indifference and ignorance, which are fuel for the polling engine that drives Team Key. Part of the blame lies with the mainstream media but the other with the general public themselves (again fodder for future posts) and it’s rapidly becomes a chicken or egg argument in determining which causes which.

So to end what has again been a long post (I do apologize for the length) it’s worth summing things up. National is a dead party walking as soon as it no longer has John key to prop it up (be it in person or popularity); it’s filled with corrupt individuals and backed by larger business interest for said interests. Its policy is a mild brand of conservatism, watered down to enable it to hold the middle ground and engineered in-line with failed and discredited Neo-liberal principles.

This is a party fighting a holding action to enable those who currently benefit from 30 years of rapacious public policy to consolidate their gains and maintain their lifestyles. The fact that National is literally rotting away before the nations eyes and lead by a necromancer king has yet to generate the fear and loathing that it should in this climate of change shows that we are either under Keys spell or things will remain as they are until history does the job for us and removes the horror for us.

In times like this a heroine or hero is required, or the peoples will must be manifest, both of which have their dangers but it’s clear that the beehive is now more akin to Dracula’s castle looming over the peasant village below and at nights dark and monstrous shapes can be seen  in the windows.

Who will be that Hero?

Original post here. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Elections 2017: Auckland political debate shows you cant seperate the politicians from the politics.

I watched the election debate at Auckland University last night in a semi drunken state because I was expecting a relatively sedate back and forth as the first major meet of this election between parties did not sound like it was going to be a big thing, so a  few quiet beers would help ease the process along.

Seems I was wrong.

As election debates go it was not bad, we had some high drama, a few laughs and dashes of pathos and for nearly two hours I was increasingly drawn in by the thrill I always get from watching politicians interact in front of a an audience (seems I remain a political junkie through and through).

But it was also soon clear that sticking a range of MPs, from across the political spectrum, into a room full of youthful university students, and with Patrick Gower as MC had all the danger of watching those same politicians attempt to perform a complicated and dangerous circus trapeze act together (in some political version of Circus of the Stars); flying through the air without the benefit of a net, hoping to link hands at the crucial moment to avoid screaming earthward and going SPLAT!

First up Patrick Gower, who despite some blatant plays for the young university crowd (by calling them "special"), made the point that people needed to get out and vote but should have stopped there because when he started to reveal that he was stalking them on Facebook and Snapchat and summed it up that "NZ did not need to be made great" as it was great already it got sort of creepy. In fact he was so direct in tone and delivery  that it sounded like he was running for office (drawing the comment from the crowd of "start a party!").

The cast of characters for the evening was as such:

Chris Bishop - National
Chris Hipkins - Labour
David Seymour - ACT
Marama Fox - Maori
Hone Harawira - Mana
James Shaw - Greens
Fletcher Tabuteau - NZ First

Absent - Peter Dunne from United Future (apparently too busy doing "paperwork") and outside protesting at not being invited - TOP supporters.

Next were the one minute intros and all seemed cordial and relaxed, a few jokes here and there (following on from Gower's humorous lead) and I noted that David Seymour seemed to have been working out as he positively bulged out of his suit looking like he may be on steroids or suffering from bad tailoring.

None of the opening statements were any indication of what was to come but I was soon reminded that MPs are seasoned debaters and speak at (or at least attend) debates in the House all the time so it was interesting to see them quickly fall into established patterns and behaviors as they got up to speak.

Then came the first topical question: Do you and your party support Donald trump and would you work with them if you got into government?

Tabuteau was paradigmatic by indicating that any government had to work with the president of the US, Shaw said no because he "could not support misogyny, racism and nationalism" (the first two I get but the third?) which drew lots of cheers but was always going to go down well with the young university crowd.

Harawira compared Trump to Hitler (although his actual phrase was "Nazi bastards"); Fox supported Hone but managed to get a dig in at National and Key in the process but "agreed to disagree" as a way of  acknowledging the inevitability of the situation. Seymour disagreed on mostly economic grounds but again had to succumb to the political realities. Hipkins on the other hand went of the rails almost immediately by showing his ignorance of how the US electoral college works and just ranted.

Bishop said National would and drew the first real barb from Hipkins (knocking National of the time for not standing up to the US over nuclear visits) only to draw a counter barb from Seymour (who noted that many of the original founders of ACT were from the 84 Labour govt).

So far so good but like any good play by Shakespeare the seeds of tragedy were being sown as we watched.

Thus we came to the hard questions for each individual party. Gower seemed to be in his element as talk show host but it was at this point that I started to get a funny feeling in my stomach as Gower relentlessly kept on at the kind of questions he would never be able to ask elsewhere but was clearly keen to ask here, in front of the university crowd and was playing hardball (so to speak) by not taking evasive remarks for an answer.

The questions were the kind of thing everyone talks about but no one actually says to MPs because when asking a  MP why their party or leader is so useless, deadbeat or doom-struck the response will often offend (or even hurt- but more on that later).

 First question for National: Why is Bill English so boring?

Short answer: Bishop seemed sure that Kiwis would back a "bit of boring" in the coming election.

Gowers next question to Hipkins drew a few shocked gasps from the audience and smiles from both Bishop and Seymore: Why is Andrew Little the leader of Labour and not Jacinda?

And this is where it started to go off the rails, Hipkins could not answer the question and simply waffled away about democracy to no avail. I could almost see his brain running from left to right like an animal trapped in a cage while his eyes were those of something frozen in the glare of oncoming headlights.

Gower then went on to hit David Seymour with the comment that he was the leader of ACT "and that's it", Ouch!

It was a comment that Seymour could also not answer and the snide interjections from various MPs showed that the friendly mood of the speakers was slowly changing  (as Gower's remarks started to draw out their natural political hostilities and rivalries) and his rambling non-answer did not help things.

He was eventually shut down by Gower who went on to ask Fox why Maori kept on "propping up National". Fox's answer was blather about the treaty, "compromise", shearing, Bill English and a plug for Hone Harawira. In short no real answer and specially when she highlighted the desperate plight of most Maori but seemed oblivious t the fact that her party may have had a hand in such a state developing by "compromising" with National in past governments.

So Gower went to ask Harawira what he was going to do to get back into Parliament? Harawira talked about mana (not Mana) not being in parliament and that he was the man to bring it back but again it was a question that could not be given any satisfaction and Gower, almost skipping around in excitement now, moved on to his next victim (James Shaw).

Gower asked Shaw about working with NZ First, and to his credit Shaw was able to be both sincere to Fletcher Tabeteau, to plug for any future ZN First/Greens cooperation in the future and throw in a bit of shade on Tabeteau in one short succinct answer. Well done James.

Then it was Fletcher's turn to "imagine a world without Winston" and could not do it so he laid it on thick and fast which drew hysterical chuckles from the audience and more ad libbing from Fletcher and a backhand comment from Fox about Winston being the "ultimate politician".

About this time (on my second beer) I reached for a pen and paper and started making notes sensing that the ride was really getting started.

So as I was scribbling away came the penultimate question, from Gower, you can ever ask a politician (the ultimate is "did you have sex with that person?") as Gower turned to cannabis use and started asking the assorted MPS if they had ever partook of the sweet leaf.

I wont say who said what and leave you to figure it out for yourself (or just watch the video) but the answers were revealing and showed that maybe cannabis use is not such an issue anymore (or then again maybe it is: watch and find out).

What was slightly harder to answer was what to actually do about it (legalize it, decriminalize or stay the same) and its here that most MPs could not actually say one of those three words without Gower hounding them to actually say it and it also revealed a wide range of party (and supporter) positions on the issue and how deep the issue can be with references to P, alcohol and past personal circumstances.

Gower then switched to game show host by having a quick fire question round on "did the MPs personally support euthanasia"?

And like Neo dodging bullets none of them could give a simple answer, all of them dodged that bullet. Top points for Harawira doing it Maori but to be fair it was a tough question and giving answers in context showed, like the previous cannabis question, that it probably needed it.

Best part was Seymour getting a big round of applause for his answer which was probably the most succinct of the lot. Amazingly all of them were basically the same on this issue and that shows that on matters which rise above politics (like the environment) its not hard to get a strong degree of consensus form all parties.

But the feel good friendliness ended immediately with the next question (superannuation) and I can only believe that Gower had structured his questions and their order so to derive the most drama from the proceedings.

Bishop, in attempting to convince the crowd that they would not "get screwed" by National, drew a crowd of boos and the debate immediately shifted back to the kind of in-the-house antics parliament is known for with the MPs lobbing stats, past histories and catcalls like trench bombs at one another.

The tones of voice went up and the fingers started to get pointed and Gower was clearly egging the behavior on by quickly switching between MPs to allow for grandstanding worthy of any business day in the House (and showing why political houses usually have speakers to moderate debate and keep things from getting too fired up too fast).

Worst offender who was Marama Fox who brought in the anecdotes and decided to ignore the stats from Statistics NZ while saying that the Maori Party will still support National if they made the next government. It was simple head in the sand behavior and cut to the core of why the Maori Party polls so badly even among Maori.

I was by now onto my third beer (happily drunk) and thoroughly enjoying the proceedings with the camera rapidly switching back and forth, in tight shots which gave the effect of watching the ball at a tennis game ping between players, only that this was not singles or doubles but a sextet of players all flailing away madly at the ball.

This was NZ politics at its best/worst with the party positions and policy getting mixed up in a cavalcade of accusations and vitriol and Gower pouring fuel on the fire by clearly letting his own bias infect comments by trying to use the argument that an individual should be penalized for their wealth come retirement despite any taxes they will have paid over their lives.

And he was clearly not finished, yanking the chains of the debaters further by shifting quickly into giving each MP one minute to come up with a solution to the Housing Hernia.

Bishop said there would be no "magic wand" solutions for lowering rents but only in the medium to long term and "could not promise" anything concrete. Chris Hipkins brought out Labours 10,000 houses a year and foreign speculators positions but also could not guarantee any drop in rents.

So then David Seymour stepped up to bat, said no, ignored the issue and then plugged his Facebook page and said nothing concrete. Marama Fox blamed Auckland city council as well as past Labour and National governments and seemed to be going somewhere with her argument for a moment but instead wandered off into the too hard basket for any real solution to the problem, started waffling and again had to be shut down by Gower.

Then Hone Harawira stood up and said that the housing crisis was "simple to solve" but that "these bastards" (indicating Bishop, Hipkins and Seymour) "did not have the guts to do anything about it". His solution was to make any new immigrants to the city buy a new home, which to my mind seemed like a good idea. He then fired off on speculation (like Fox had done) while talking over various interjections from those "bastards".

It was pure Hone and I agreed with him but the interjections from the bastards continued and Chris Bishop then fired off the shot which then set the angry off in Hone like a red rag to a bull (by noting law passed in Parliament to ensure MPs attended a certain number of days in the House due to Harawira's ongoing absences when he was last a MP) and I was suddenly watching smack talk on Friday night wrestling with swear words, personal insults and Chris Bishop and Hone rapidly heading towards blows given the tone and body language being displayed.

It was ugly, it was personal and it was clear that Gower had let things get well out of hand (something he later admitted) and while Bishop had fired the final shot it was also Hone's fault with his "those bastards" comment earlier which had helped preempt the spat.

James Shaw in trying to help keep things on a even keel made the comment that he knew it was a crisis when "rich white kids" could not get a house and inadvertently identified the demographic he comes from and is playing to. In the end his comments added little to dealing with the issue.

Fletcher on the other hand said what is probably the clearest statement of the night by saying that Chris Bishops knock on Hone for making it a race issue was insulting and that the actual race of the speculators was irrelevant, as that did not affect the actual speculation going on gaining cheers for shutting Bishop down and pointing out Nationals hypocrisy on the issue (showing that National has an immigration policy which needs open and high levels of immigration).

Gower, sensing that he had to keep things tight or he would have a real fistfight on his hands quickly tried to warp things up by asking the question: what would party X have to make life easier for students?

Bishop and Hipkins gave predictable replies, Seymour drew plenty of boos by saying he would put interest back on to student loans and then attacked university students as "privileged"; Marama Fox had some good suggestions but whats the point because she will likely never be in a position to enact them so they sounded good but added little.

Hone then got up an apologized for his previous outburst (perhaps realizing that he had killed any chance of 99% of the audience ever voting for him or Mana) but had little further to add at this point so made Obama hands and echoed Foxes comment about free education for all. James Shaw could not stop the feel goods from happening by making more empty promises and taking up time but adding nothing else.

Finally Fletcher got up and, clearly frustrated as often being the last person to be given a chance to speak and then pressured by Gower to hurry up when others got to waffle said what he said and sat back down, like the others it meant nothing.

Gower then ended by asking a question about Nazis, did it matter what kind of Nazis, no it did not and nor did the answers.

And that was it, one hour and 50 minutes long, although it seemed longer and probably would have been if Gower had not cut it short. I was five beers in by that point, drunk and my handwriting had descended to illegible scrawls on the paper followed by way to many punctuation marks.

On performance I felt that each MP tended to reflect their party and parties positions no matter how hard they tried to be themselves and it says a lot when a room of semi random MPs echo both the party line and often consciously seem to be modeling their behavior on that of their leader (the exception here being Seymour as he is the leader).

Chris Bishop was trying to be all Key when it came to facts and broad appeals to the populace but clearly did not have the personal appeal to carry it off, he tried but when under fire from Hone he could no longer channel John Key (as Key would have smiled and dealt the riposte without breaking a beat) and went feral fast.

Chris Hipkins seemed, like the Labour party, unable to fire emotionally or intellectually beyond a certain level and never really impacted with the crowd, it was all pre-planned slogans and phrases and nothing about him seemed to be actually him and in the end was a cautious echo of an echo of Andrew Little.

David Seymour, for all his faults did well, he could speak and make an argument and did not shy away from making point or stating his position but ACT has such a legacy and baggage that it will repel all but the true faithful once they know what the party really stands for.

Marama Fox said a lot and often had to be corralled to stop talking but for all of that she said little and its clear that she might mean well but she is out of her depth when placed on the spot and reverted to political blather like all the rest. Worse is that she clearly could not defend the Maori Party working with National and that really hurt her.

Hone Harawira says it like it is and for that I respect him but his inability to keep his temper in check I cant condone. He is explosive and his temper and tone might go down in some nation where fist fights are part of parliament and politics but undercuts all that he actually says here because his solutions for the Housing hernia were immediate and practical solutions which makes its a double shame that he cant just not act like an angry douche.

James Shaw remains a political lightweight, he can says some nice sounding things but like the Greens he is untested and his moral stance sounds like he will knee jerk when faced with a political reality, or worse, fold and compromise in the most gratuitous manner. He seemed to be the face of the new Greens and I do not like what I see.

Fletcher Tabuteau was clearly channeling Winston Peters but he was also the best speaker on the night, he spoke well, took positions and made no apologies (like Winston) but he was also able to be enough of his own man to say what he thought and could keep an argument short and on topic.

Partick Gower started the debate with a few jokes and played to the crowd but clearly had no idea where it was going and his lax moderation was primarily why things got so nasty towards the end, and this is a guy who has been around politics and political debates in the House, what did he think the speaker is there for?

Had it been a fistfight it would have been Gowers fault for having contentious questions, worded to be as divisive and sensational as possible and then not keeping the participants from teeing off on each other. Also he let his own bias creep in at times and that weakened his position as moderator and by the time Chris Bishop and Hone Harawira were one insult away from a bout of biffo he was powerless to stop it.

In short the MPs and Gower reverted to type we all know and loath and gave the debate all the drama of any normal day in the House when the speaker has gone to sleep and the kids start squabbling over the crayons.

By the time it was over I was drunk, hungry and disappointed. The main issues of the day were so divisive that it showed that no cross party solution is going to happen, and that like US politics and elsewhere, political parties will work to serve their own personal interests first and voters and the general populace be damned.

What this means for the coming election is clear though.

If you thought that the kind of political experiences that have rocked the US and UK were not going to go down here in NZ in September then you have another thing coming. Issues like housing, and now superannuation, are flags to rally around but also barometers of how disaffected the electorate are.

Sure the current crop of barometers on the night were mostly students but it was the MPs which showed that not even really pressing issues can bring them together and instead they regurgitate the party line.

And yes they can all form a general consensus on issues like drugs and euthanasia but the bigger and more pressing problems showed that politics and political blather will cripple them before they even start getting the seating arranged around the meeting table.

Finally I was surprised at the lack of media coverage of the event or reportage on how this lot behaved with the only one article I could find from the NZ Herald and that did not even mention the angry incident (maybe they were trying to be discreet) or the failure of Gower to keep it clean (so WTF Stuff?).

Just goes to show that you cant separate the politics from the politician.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

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

This was my first post on KP, just over a year ago, my how times flies.

Overall some of the names have changed (Goff has gone off to be mayor of Auckland, Shearer back to the UN and Key into political retirement) some have stayed the same (Andrew Little) and some have risen (Jacinda Ardern and Willie Jackson) but the sentiment and analysis here is still solid (I think).

Also the TTPA is off the cards but that was only ever just one area of the bigger picture (where’s Waldo?)

Its clear that after a year the position of Little and Labour has hardly changed at all and inaction is still the name of the game as it took Jacinda's easy win in Mt Albert to enable Little to build up the nerve to unseat Annette King, and that says a lot about how they get things done in Labour.

So with Key gone and English making a hash of things Labour now has a fighting chance but that ol indecisiveness remains and I think it’s going to dog Little all the way till polling day because if it’s been a year and he still can’t get it up then Viagra won’t help now unless it’s in racehorse sized doses.

The only noticeable change in Little over the last 12 months has been to take his glasses off; no new policy of any real sort, no clear action or direction coming out of his mouth and overall I think the audience’s opinion of him as not the man (or at least the personality) for the job has hardened from wavering to definite and that's bad for him. 

Look how easily the press and the public (mostly the press) jumped onto Jacinda and started tooting their horns for her but can’t seem to have the same enthusiasm for Little. Some of that is because parts of Labour are not fans of him but still, what a bummer for Andrew.

So we are one year closer to election day and Little has done very little in that time, the election is still Nationals to loose (although if English keeps on as he has been that will definitely change) and my recommendations for Little to take a page out of the Norman Kirk/David Lange playbook remain my recommendations (Andrew there is still time but it’s getting very late).

English will make it easier for Labour now that Key is gone but that by itself will not be enough and Little still needs to call the plays here or its defeat come September as Little cant bank on Winston coming into bat for him just because of the Super thing, all it will take is National to recant on that and Winston will be back sitting at the bargaining table while Little will be underneath begging for scraps and leftovers like some mangy, worm ridden, dog.

Most of the comments I got on this were positive except for people not liking my neutering comments about Labours manhood in the wake of Clark. Seems that was the sore point, hmmmmmmmm.

Around Waitangi day this year it appeared if Labour had final nailed its colours 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 furore 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 party’s 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 candidate’s 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 mould 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.

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.

  Original post from KP here.