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‘Maori’ Category

  1. Lefter 80 ~ Things fall apart …

    February 18, 2016 by emweb

    The centre cannot hold … this country (and, OK, many others to be sure) has developed into a fight for the centre over the last few decades in a race to who can be the most mediocre. Awesome, right? Fighting for the centre? I mean, once it was a battle to drag the country, then the rest of the world, into a future in which women were allowed to take an equal role in society, workers had rights as well as their exploiters, in which all people were cared for … we had the 40 hour week, the first real Welfare State, New Zealand mandated and ensured minority representation in parliament, at least for Māori… I do dare say it: all that made New Zealand a great nation was firmly on the left.

    And now the hardest fought battle is for the centre.

    And yes, John Key has won that battle. Repeatedly.

    But the world is changing and the centre is no longer holding. The battle for power in the United States may devolve to Trump on the far, crazy right and Sanders very distinctly on the left. In Britain, avowedly left-wing Corbyn took the top job in the Labour Party, much to the chagrin of the Labour Party’s ‘leadership’. What is the appeal? Both are not scared to say they’re left, for a start. Something both Labour Parties have found difficult for decades.

    Neither are centrist.

    That’s what you get after years of battling for the centre. Over here, Labour ‘likes’ Sanders but is worried by Corbyn, who has created a groundswell of voter support and who has already been responsible for a massive rise in grass roots Labour Party membership. NZ Labour’s attitude here reflects connections to Labour UK’s leadership more than anything else. We bought Tony Blair’s popularity contest off the back of our own terrible neo-liberal dalliance and we’ve been stuck there since, despite John Key doing it so much better.

    Of course, Labour here could actually grow some convictions and come from a similar stance to Sanders and Corbyn. Actually, you don’t even need to grow some – just resuscitate the ones the party was founded on.

    Remember those?

    Too scary? Then you really don’t deserve votes.

    Because National is currently staggering, Labour – what are you going to do? Never before has ennui so dogged this party of the moneyed and the glib. Key catastrophically mishandled Waitangi Day, then got booed at the League. That would have been unthinkable even a few months ago. Meanwhile, up north where the running-scared Key should have been, Stephen Joyce went from looking like an imperturbable manager to just another suited dickhead thanks to a very deftly-pitched toy penis.

    The ‘new flag’ looks awful – want proof? Even many National MPs think that. John Key’s personal vanity project to foist his corporate conservative logo onto the nation’s masthead is faltering badly, meaning they have to turn up the heat to bring even their own people in line. Once again, this would have been unthinkable a short time ago, when National’s caucus was as tight as Judith Collins’ pursed lips. Meanwhile people like me, who have long hated the Union Jack being part of ‘our’ flag long after England turned its back on New Zealand (a process which has accelerated recently, with punitive measures against Kiwis who want to work and live there) finds myself about to vote to keep the damn thing, both to spite John Key and because, frankly, the alternative sucks and the process to come to this design sucks more.

    Two million dollars was promised to ameliorate emergency housing months ago and … surprise! Not a cent has been spent. Meanwhile, 27 million has been squandered on the ‘new’ flag. How much of that has been spent? How many people made tidy profits from that process while other kids go hungry and while people have to live in cars, garages and on the street?

    State house evictions have accelerated. And concurrently, National has cut funding for mental health in Canterbury coz – who cares? Clearly not the National Government, which has failed to rebuild the city, failed the traumatised citizens of quake-ridden Christchurch and clearly couldn’t actually give a shit apart from keeping its insurance cronies sweet and crowing about a little building work – much of which has been mishandled.

    As for dairy, are we crying foul yet? We should be – how have all the eggs in that basket actually worked out for this short sighted ‘governance’?

    Gareth Hughes absolutely skewered Key in a speech in Parliament in an excoriating and painfully-accurate dissection of our Prime Minister’s current state of affairs … oh for someone like Lange in Labour who could do this so well! Now it’s the Greens we have to turn to for in-depth socio-cultural commentary.

    Meanwhile, National has its Trump in waiting, in the form of Judith Collins champing at the bit to muscle in and erect her police state. Her alternative is ‘bite the hand that feeds’ Bennett.

    Who has Labour got?

    This is your chance. Like never before.


  2. Lefter 75 ~ Labour leader options

    October 20, 2014 by emweb

    What a mess. OK, this is how I see it: Cunliffe stepped aside, thank the lords, but that actually doesn’t solve much. Cunliffe had union support and he endorsed Little and, sure enough, Little now has that union support. Who else likes Little? He hardly made any impact as Labour Party President. Labour needed reform, and either there were simply no efforts made to undertake reform, or Little was singularly unsuccessful at it. Neither is very good on his CV. So apart from throwing out most of Labour’s policies, many of which were very sound if very not well sold, it’s hardly a platform for a resounding Labour future.

    Little now looks like a de facto Cunliffe representative, but he represents the union movement which still holds power in Labour if almost nowhere else (more’s the pity, but that’s just a fact of life). This is a dysfunctional facet of Labour’s leadership process.

    Nanaia Mahuta’s candidacy surprised everyone. She’s a Cunliffe supporter too, so this actually could spike the Little campaign a bit, and Mahuta might actually gain some headway amongst Maori voters. Maori supported Labour strongly in the last election. But it would be very presumptuous to assume Mahuta would have the support of Pacifica voters, and both groups are as prone to factionalism as the rest of Labour’s current interest groups and caucus. On the good side, Mahuta is not a white middle class man, but her record is not exactly breathtaking and her running obfuscates Cunliffe’s almost undoubted string-pullings.

    But maybe that’s a good thing, as no one expected (or expects) Cunliffe to go quietly – least of all David Cunliffe and his supporters.

    Then we have Grant Robertson. I can’t help thinking he’s a very clever bloke with all his heart – and all his brain – in the right place, and he certainly has a fantastic running mate in Jacinda Adern. This combo may appeal to young sophisticated urban voters, but might do little to assuage the somewhat more jaundiced and moribund views of most of the rest of Labour’s electorate. I would love this combo to lead Labour … but I wonder if it’s time yet. It might be for me, it might not be for Labour’s more usual supporters.

    Finally we have David Parker. In a way, like Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe et al, Parker also represents ‘Old Labour’. But in Parker’s case, is this a bad thing? He has a clear mind, he speaks and understands economics, which is National’s (perceived, anyway) strong point, and he can be coached to show well in interviews etc (but Parker already proved he’s made great strides by his performance in the TV debate versus Bill English). Parker wrote some very sound policies which would have worked to better New Zealand, and they will work if Labour were to win an election. Parker has a good team behind him, he has few enemies in caucus (apart from Cunliffe, perhaps, and his diminished band of stalwarts) and, perhaps most importantly, Parker doesn’t use dirty tactics. David Parker is morally courageous, and everyone who has met him (including me) knows he’s a nice guy who thinks deeply and genuinely listens.

    Since Parker is quite progressive, the line from Old Labour to New Labour would be more of a redefinition than an umbilical cut if he were to win. The first job Parker would have is to reunify the party, which basically means addressing every single faction and demanding – then getting – compromise to progress towards a goal that they – and we – can all believe in. Parker’s mana and charisma would rise with each success in this task.

    This all comes back to the clear messaging around a position we can understand easily, as I have been banging on about for years.

    But none of this is impossible … for whoever wins. I say good luck to David Parker’s aspirations, and to his toil ahead: and may Grant Robertson and Jacinda Adern somehow fit into all this if it’s Parker who wins!


  3. Lefter 74 ~ Ashamed.

    September 21, 2014 by emweb

    The results are in. Not so much that the left was defeated as the floor was wiped with them.

    How does that make me feel?

    Ashamed.

    Ashamed that so many New Zealanders have so emphatically supported a regime that cares virtually nothing for their New Zealand countrymen with little: low incomes, poor housing, substandard diets and healthcare, little access to education. Cynically, New Zealanders voted in droves – again – for the former currency trader, trusting him despite considerable evidence that he has been deeply involved in misleading New Zealanders (he’d only step down if it was ‘proven’), involved in dirty politicking, involved in character assassination.

    Voted in droves for a party that has no plans for the next three years apart from ‘business as usual’. That ‘usual’ business has been the creation of a whole new class: the Working Poor; bolstering the economic reliance on primary industries beyond everything else, and despite the dramatic recent falls in dairy prices; making it easier for the wealthy to gain ever more wealth while further victimising those desperate for work while taking away their rights; further victimising those struggling on diminishing benefits; making it harder for anyone but the rich to benefit from full tertiary educations; selling off our assets in land and farms and selling off our sovereignty by cuddling up to the TPPA; selling State Houses out from under people’s feet so developers can make fortunes off what used to be Government land built and maintained for the benefit of its peoples.

    To me, the most telling image of the election was Hone Harawira’s distraught expression in a draughty hall up north. The chairs were white plastic; little kids were running around. Then, National’s election HQ on the Auckland waterfront: well-dressed people, descended on the city from Remuera Heights, holding champagne flutes. Self-congratulatory young men with tailored hair, women wearing Zambezi or worse, happily dining on some flash meat I’d never even heard of, basking in their privilege.

    Well done you. How smug you must feel.

    However, the blame can’t be laid only at the feet of the voting population …

    Labour, what the fuck?! I’ve been saying all this for years in these blogs now. If ever there was a time to redesign your party, philosophy, structure – everything –that time is now.

    Actually, that time was a decade ago, but it’s even more needed now.

    Because I was shocked that Helen Clark disappeared off to the UN without even starting to set up a decent evolution in her absence, or the beginnings of a succession plan. I had admired her greatly until three years before. That’s when I started thinking more critically of Labour, because Labour only just won that previous election, but didn’t seem to notice how its support had ebbed, didn’t seem to be mindful of it. Labour’s incumbents seemed oblivious to wanting to do anything about it. It was like they weren’t taking it seriously.

    Now, after six years in opposition, Labour still hasn’t addressed the fundamental issues of what the party means to New Zealand in the 21st Century. It has pole position to do this:

    What is Left?

    How can the Left benefit New Zealand?

    How can Labour encapsulate those benefits so that people can clearly understand them?

    Instead, we get a bellicose Cunliffe yelling that he’s going to lead us into the next election. From where I’m standing, that sounds like the Charge of the Light Brigade – straight down the valley into the fire of the assembled artillery.

    I wasn’t the only one on the left who shuddered, I’m sure.

    Helen Clark polled just under 35% when she stepped down. Goff went down to just under 28%, and moved aside for David Shearer. And Shearer polled at 35% before stepping aside.

    Mr Cunliffe, you said the only poll that mattered was Election Day.

    That poll put you and your party at 24.8%, David … 24.8! Even areas that voted Labour candidates in with healthy majorities were giving their Party Votes to National. How in hell do you work out anyone going ‘Shearer – tick. National – tick’?!

    The future of Labour, if it’s anywhere, is not with David Cunliffe. It’s with Jacinda Adern, Grant Robertson, Stuart Nash who did so well in Napier, and with Kelvin Davis and with other under-50s. You Labour over -50s owe it to New Zealand decency to help guide these people into dominant roles, and to help guide the party not the future. You have, so far, let us down.

    A party I admired would be fostering people like these, not pretending they don’t exist and/or easing them inexorably down the list.

    Labour, it’s time to fundamentally sort out your shit: Philosophy – left-wing and progressive, because National has won the Centrist ground – and look where it’s taking us.

    Structure.

    Messaging.

    Media relationships.

    I keep using this phrase and it’s boring even me. But it’s still true: none of this is rocket science … so why in hell can’t you do it?

    Meanwhile, those of the left need to be talking, engaging, demonstrating and collaborating. This is what I charge us with – or we may as well all just leave now.


  4. Lefter 71 ~ Dot-con

    July 17, 2014 by emweb

    There’s an election coming up. Once again, National is polling strongly, Labour has yet to make real headway, and the Greens (and Labour, for that matter) have what percentages they do retain threatened by the Internet Mana party. This new hybrid party will only do any real good in the current socio-political scene by appealing to those who would vote National, but if anything, having Laila Harré as head of The Internet Party and teaming it with Mana makes them look left wing, rather than as a party typical National supporters might swing to. The only real impact this unnatural hybrid can make is to energise the overly large sector of the young adult demographic that doesn’t actually vote. This is also, of course, the most attractive sector (and the only place for any real traction) for the Greens and Labour too, to increase their vote. So once again, this new party conglomeration is actually more threatening to the left than it is to the right, despite the stated intentions of Kim Dotcom and his oft-quoted deep (and justified) dislike of John Key.

    Even this is a marker for the left – it’s an attractive position to those who already dislike National and Key, while being unattractive to those who do like Key. Internet-Mana is unlikely to sway anyone from the right while simultaeniously adding to the fragmentation of the left.

    So, thanks a lot.

    Of course, philosophically, Kim Dotcom belongs on the right – after all, he’s a laissez faire trader who made millions from selling other people’s intellectual property illegally. At heart, he belongs with Act.

    Meanwhile, what does National actually stand for? As we have seen repeatedly, it’s a party run by the rich. Almost every week for the last year we’ve had our faces rubbed in the directorships, landholdings, property portfolios, company and international trade interests and the personal wealth of ministers in National. We also often see that John Key is once again holidaying in his luxury pad in Hawaii – he has another at that rich people’s preserve at Omaha north of Auckland.
    So who do you think these people instinctively serve? Not ordinary New Zealanders.

    Let me be clear, here: nobody ever gets rich from just doing good. Meanwhile that vast pool of people that has little is where wealth actually comes from. They buy stuff. It doesn’t actually matter how little they can afford, as long as you can get them to buy something they don’t need, you’re onto a winner. And when they run out of money completely and end up out on the street, so what? Social services have been cut to make the current account deficit look better. It’s good PR.

    If a large proportion of this struggling market doesn’t vote at all, National couldn’t be happier.

    And if you think National has anyone at all in the party with a good heart, look who they need as their allies. You’d have to be pretty blinkered to think Act was a party you’d want to go into coalition with. Its leader was found guilty of fraud, its founding philosopher sounds like a fizzing right-wing nutcase and it’s new leaders are, frankly, both naive and hilarious. And if the blank-eyed ravings of Colin Craig and his personal Conservative Party doesn’t make you feel odd in the stomach, well, vote National. Because these are the only viable partner options for National, although the vestige of the Māori Party might still be around. For the fact remains that National has been slowly dismantling Māori ever since the party made the mistake of its pact with Key.

    National needs to be as popular as possible – it wants and needs to govern with a full majority. Then it can finish destroying New Zealand’s egalitarian society and welfare state all by itself.

    The only hope for New Zealand is that National doesn’t make it.


  5. Lefter 70 ~ The country should be rousing about housing

    May 16, 2014 by emweb

    Are you pleased with the budget? It does nothing to counter the crazy rise of house prices, most notably in Auckland. It does nothing to make more houses affordable, though at least National has been putting some thinking into the issue. What National’s plan amounts to is to allow in immigrants at the current rate (which is escalating) despite evidence that immigration is one of the primary factors in pushing up house prices, while also keeping the pressure on house availability, which is constrained. Why? Because rich people own houses, and they stand to gain from this. Meanwhile, National is changing the rules for state housing: a state house used to be for life, in a contract signed with the Crown. The contract changed a few years ago, to be with the government, and went to a three-year term … except nobody ever saw one of these contracts. Certainly, nobody was told about these contracts – not even the tenants of state houses.

    Glen Innes and other poor Auckland suburbs are currently having their state houses moved off, to make the land available to developers. This is the other part of National’s brilliant plan. Contrary to the Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan, which aims to keep Auckland within its bounds and make it denser, National’s brilliant idea is to scrape the state houses off their sites, getting rid of the tenants in the process. Fifteen families in Glen Innes got their marching orders last week – 90 days to get out. This process, largely kept out of the papers, allows developers to build those godawful suburbs you see everywhere. Simultaneously, National intends opening up land on the verges of Auckland to developers. In other words, so Auckland can sprawl more.

    If you think Auckland has problems with traffic congestion and a pretty crap public transport system, it’s because of that very sprawl. At least the council is trying to deal with this, by improving public transport and trying to institute denser housing developments. This is why the council is at odds with National – letting Auckland sprawl more only suits one group. You guessed it: the rich. They get to make huge profits from the houses and land. And yes, the rich vote National (or worse). The greedy always want more – with National, they get it.

    National working for the average New Zealander? Not bloody likely. Your government is evicting poor families to add to Auckland’s problems by contributing to sprawl for the benefit of one of the lower forms of life: property developers.


  6. Left 64 ~ Labour leadership: where’s Jacinda?

    August 23, 2013 by emweb

    I feel I have to weigh in on Labour’s leadership. Everybody else is. Do you judge people by their faces? There’s a theory that by around 30, your life experience etches itself on your face so it more truly reflects your personality. Look happy or calm, that’s because you have been happy or calm a lot and so on.

    Andrew Little looks a bit bitter, don’t you think? Grant Roberts looks like a baby. Cunliffe looks like a Cheshire cat, sure, but not like negative experiences have dictated his life – while Shane Jones somehow looks defeated already.

    But of this somewhat unsatisfying foursome, Jones would be my pick if he made a run (I don’t expect him to). He’s savvy, clever, quick and a good debater.

    Jones would help get Maori back on side and a lot of men, anyway, would forgive him the porn thing. The stupid thing there, sorry to say, was that Jones used his ministerial credit card to purchase porn in a hotel – not the porn itself. Under the surface, that’s what many guys would actually think, since the figures of men actually looking at porn is  high, and just not generally admitted to. So it’s disingenuous (if awful) for many men to castigate Jones for looking at porn.

    But using that credit card showed an incredible naivety or, worse perhaps, simple lack of thought, and that’s a worry – attention to detail was Helen Clark’s big strength. I don’t think he has that – or at least, he didn’t. Has he now?

    The likely winner is Cunliffe. Grant may have the numbers outside caucus, but it’s caucus that brought Shearer down. Cunliffe has caucus support, he’s  smart and he’s combative – he would certainly take the fight to Key, which Key might be anxious about (not a bad  thing). But Cunliffe has a mean streak and he’s made dedicated enemies because of it.

    Some people reckon Grant could get the numbers to trump Cunliffe, but the problem is I don’t think he’d get the vote of the country come election time unless Grant really ups his game and looks much more decisive in front of the camera. He needs to develop some gravitas.

    Yes, Grant is gay. This is hardly insurmountable. The CEO of Apple is gay and he’s widely perceived as effective, decisive and at the top of his game.

    Being gay is ever more tolerated in New Zealand (thank goodness). It’s not a bad thing at all as far as many women are concerned, and even for NZ blokes most will admit the onus is on effective leadership, however perceptions around sexuality may make them feel. The church isn’t exactly on side with Labour anyway, thanks to all the advances for gay rights championed by Labour – and this means the most challenging sector of Labour’s traditional base for a gay leader is South Auckland Polynesians, who are already feeling alienated.

    With smart handling, none of this is impassable – but currently Grant, to my eyes anyway, simply doesn’t look ready.

    But I wish Jacinda Adern would put her hat in the ring. Jacinda’s name is already being mentioned by people, including in the media, as a contender for leadership. Sure, many would say she’s not ready (I think she is –many people just aren’t ready for her). My point is, if Adern goes for leadership now, it puts the party, Labour supporters and the country on notice that she’s a future contender for leadership. Adern is not that far past 30, she’s already incredibly accomplished, smart and successful, and she already has enviable international experience. And Adern is assured and erudite in front of the camera.

    If she does put her hat in the ring, she will draw some support. She probably won’t win – but it puts the country on notice she’s a possible future leader. Which I think is a really good thing, to give many people hope for a revived Labour that can be relevant for people under (and over!) 50.

    If Cunliffe wins, he might keep Adern at arm’s length as a possible rival, but is that such a bad thing? He’s 20- years older. She’s going to outlast him anyway, one way or another. Or he might, if he’s as clever as people say he is, keep her close, to help him engage with younger voters. Either way is not so bad, I reckon.

    And if Grant wins (I’d be most keen on him upping his game and winning) he would probably keep Jacinda Adern close anyway. He’s smart, she’s smart. Their ages are fairly close and they’d make a wonderful combo, along with other young and effective Labour MPs. The party would really appear infused with fresh blood, which it desperately needs. The blood’s there, it’s just mostly invisible. Move into the light…

    The other thing like about Jacinda is that she’s not scared of the Greens. Shearer couldn’t seem to take them seriously and Goff treated them as irrelevant even when they had become clearly relevant. And Adern and Turei, now that’s a power combo!

    Problem is, at the end of the day, Labour still doesn’t seem to know what it’s about. And if Labour doesn’t, nobody else does.

    Whoever wins, I still want to know what Labour actually represents. Succinctly and clearly. Please!


  7. Lefter 63 ~ the Key to failure

    July 1, 2013 by emweb

    It’s a salient feature of New Zealand politics that personalities – and personal issues – soon overtake actual politics. Depressingly, this fact doesn’t seem limited to New Zealand but let’s not go there (Australia’s Labor pains have been embarrassing as well as divisive). Regardless, as John Key’s incipient nastiness increasingly emerges, so does a little desperation. They are, of course, related.

    The National Party has been gambling on increasing it’s majority to it can govern alone, so has been steadily eroding and emasculating the Māori Party. Actively or not, it has also presided over the decline and fall of United.

    Meanwhile, National has been implementing it’s standard Tory-style policies of privatisation and of further elevating the elevated classes (of which Key is a salient member, having clawed his way to wealth via the immoral and counterproductive route of currency trading). Everything is up for privatisation. Mines, transport, primary industries sure – that’s standard stuff for the right. It doesn’t work, but that’s hardly the point. The point is that when you privatise, the wealthy make more money, and then when it fails, the burden is carried by the rest of the population, then baled out by government using the tax money paid by what’s left of the besieged middle class. And since the very rich pay bugger-all tax and have loads of money, it doesn’t effect them. It’s actually another oppressive measure disguised as ‘economic necessity’ that further erodes the middle class while doing no good whatsoever to the underclass.

    But privatising education, and even enquiries into domestic abuse? That strikes me as a new plateau of disdainful cynicism. Fortunately the Glenn inquiry is collapsing under its own weight, making National look as bad as, oh, say an underhand deal with a casino. Which in itself is an unspoken poverty and stupidity tax.

    Anyway, as the Maori Party grinds itself into an impossible position, and Dunn reaps the rewards of his own lack of a clear position (which has, till now, always allowed him to deal with anyone who’ll have him), National needs to pull some dramatic moves to ensure it can win the next election.

    Hence the u-turn (an apt metaphor) on Auckland’s transport woes. This is quite a desperate act, but it acknowledges the power of Auckland. Previously the government was diametrically opposed to the left-leaning council helmed by Len Brown. The mayor must applaud the shift, because he gets what he wants, but it also puts him in the invidious position of being in bed with Key. Let’s just wait and see how this all pans out. Personally, I think Len Brown is just a populist jerk who enjoys the limelight, but I guess the jury is out till the next local election.

    However, the real worry is that Key’s ploy may just work. Aucklanders are rightly pissed off at the sorry state of transport, and it’s expensive to fix, but it has to be done. If Key looks like he’s behind it, it will bring back his wavering middle supporters.

    Meanwhile, in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election, Labour retained its majority but the most important fact is that, while Mana (avowedly left-wing) trumped the Maori Party, together they got more votes than Labour. The by-election was both a triumph for the left and a clear signal of where NZ Maori sympathies still lie.

    Can you see the two Māori parties coalescing? I can’t. If Pita Sharples sorts himself out and steps down and Tariana Turia also goes,  Tu Ururoa Flavell takes the (co-?) helm. He still needs to sort out his differences with Harawira, which may not be possible. If anything, the two Māori-focused have become more opposed philosophically: one of collaborationist versus one embracing resurgence of the distinctive Māori culture. An accord between the two Māori-representative parties would make them a force to be reckoned with once again, but it may also be a blind alley. There’s a distinct place in our culture for the political and cultural values of Hone Harawera’s party, but the Māori Party’s aims have become far from distinct. And it’s hard for lap dogs to change their ways.

    Mana  leans more towards Labour (which has been, of course, traditionally more affiliated to Māori, and which has certainly done Māori a lot more good over the decades than National). National will  have to move to shore up the Māori Party’s position – and this will go down like a cup of cold sick with many of its remaining supporters and make them look even worse. Key’s only option is to try and further demonise Mana.

    So wait and see what Key does in this space.

    But does Labour deserve our support? My own support is never available unconditionally. Labour has done some unforgivable things in the past, including the Foreshore and Seabed act that created the completely unnecessary rift between the left and Maori in the first place. And there were lots of personal issues involved in that process as well.

    But sure, we can move on. I’ve said it before: Labour is nowhere near left wing enough for me but I’d rather live under Labour (and/or the Greens) than anyone else.

    But Labour with who at the top? Shearer is on notice, apparently. I think he’s a nice bloke. So? In the spin when he was running for Labour’s top job, we heard he ‘stood up to warlords’ in African climes. There’s little evidence of that mettle back here in New Zealand. And he’s still getting really basic things completely wrong.

    News bytes, David. I paraphrase but fairly recently, John Key accused the Labour Green joint announcements as wacky evidence of the extreme left.

    This is the kind of thing National supporters will gleefully seize on and brandish at every opportunity. So what do we get in return?

    Shearer said ‘that’s just a line’. Blah.

    So National supporters can yell at me ‘wacky extreme left’ (quite truthfully) and I get … Nothing. I know this kind of thing is rubbish, but it’s important rubbish – especially in the age of instant social media.

    It  reminds me of my criticisms of Phil Goff. I conceded he may have been a very intelligent and worthwhile leader (and indeed, he proved this in his vigorous, if frighteningly solo, election campaign) but wrote that his advisors patently needed firing.

    It seems they haven’t lost their jobs.

    Increasingly, the next election looks like National’s to lose. But I’d rather have it Labour, Greens and Mana’s to win.


  8. Lefter 59 ~ The promise of 2013

    January 24, 2013 by emweb

    What do you think National will do this year? Let me lay a few predictions on you, cynical as they might first seem.

    Strangely, New Zealand’s unemployment figures keep going up but there are less people on the benefit. This has actually been delivered as some kind of government success, but apply logic. With unemployment rising, there are more people in need, for sure.

    So where are they? Some gave up and moved to Australia, where they now have diminished civil rights and no access to social welfare or medical treatment. Even though their taxes go into Australian government coffers. There’s a National Party success right there. And there are other ways of fudging the benefit figures.

    But you haven’t seen anything yet – wait till they get to work on the sickness benefit. Our ‘government’ (is that what you call it?) reckons the sickness benefit is some kind of rort in order to get a more money. In some cases this may well be true – the majority, though, of people on sickness are victims in genuine need, getting a little more while they cope with illness, medication and all sorts of other stresses.

    Meanwhile, far flung schools are getting teachers who have only had six weeks training. Six weeks training!

    To this government, people in far flung communities mean little. They’re marginal already, so why not marginalise them further? Who cares? (We all should. This is utterly unconscionable in a modern society.) Rich people live in cities and send they’re children to private schools. The wealthy land owners and farmers in the country use boarding schools, as they always have done. Every one else … well, they simply don’t matter.

    Key will continue to dismantle state housing. Labour may have set out on this path a couple of decades ago (with Helen Clark as Minister of Housing), but getting National in on the coat tails has been a disaster. The main bugbear seems to be that poor people have been housed on prime real estate, or at least real estate that has become prime, thanks to spiralling out-of-control and inequitable house prices that … rich people profit from. Poor people are supposed to be hidden in South and West Auckland, Porirua, Wainuiomata etc. Michael Joseph Savage should be spinning in his grave. He’s probably generating untapped power in his mausoleum right now.

    Meanwhile, our houses continue to get more expensive thanks to the failure to introduce – or even entertain – a Capitol Gains Tax. Why? Capitol Gains Tax is an equitable measure. It would mitigate the greed of the class that … supports and votes National. So it doesn’t have a chance. But you knew that, right?

    The gap between rich and poor is being widened on purpose. If you’re not rich, National has no reason to care about you. If that wasn’t obvious to you before, it sure will be soon. And those with money and power can buy the votes of the poor either quite directly, or simply by hiring PR gurus who specialise in wool-over-eyes.

    Key will make way for Joyce, who will be next National Prime Minister, since Key is getting bored even though it’s harder work than he thought. Mr Fixit is sure as hell going to fix you, soon, if you are poor and marginalised already or heading that way. Joyce has more leverage than ever, in the latest cabinet reshuffle. He’s dangerous because he’s been the power behind the grinning Key’s throne – and Key’s election campaigns – for a while already. He’s most likely the person responsible for the gentle, slow destruction of the Maori Party, which Flavell must have figured out, unlike the patsies currently running that doomed show.

    By the way, do you think Joyce will fix Nova Pay for teachers? That’s not really what he’s there for. Nova Pay can’t go belly up as then we’ll find out what it’s actually cost us. Mark my words – Joyce will make it work so we don’t find out too soon what an actual expensive mess it’s been, so as not to spoil National’s election chances. That’s why Hekia Parata has been kept on – she knows too much. Can you think of any other reason she’s still there? She’s a walking disaster. Meanwhile, virtually off-the-radar ministers have been summarily dismissed. But at least Joyce might make it work. If National wins the next election, Joyce will be our fuhrer.

    Meanwhile, the economy won’t grow. No jobs are are being – or have been – created. More middle class people will be forced into the margins.

    But for the lower class, things are, and will continue to be,  so much worse.

    Have a great year.


  9. Lefter 54 ~ John’s Struggle in National’s war on (the) poverty (stricken)

    May 16, 2012 by emweb

     

    National is steadily increasing pressure on the poor. National doesn’t like the poor, although there’s nothing like a bit of desperation to drive wages down. National likes that well enough, with instant dismissal at the drop of a hat and the unions ruined. You get far more money out of people by exploiting them than working with them. Paying peanuts to make more profit out of the workforce is considered ‘good economics’ when society is considered just a primary resource for greed enablement by the sort of people who support parties like National and worse.

    But beneficiaries have got to an embarrassingly high ratio, even for this government. You can recategorise some of them so the figure looks lower, but it doesn’t really deal with the numbers of sufferers I mean ingrates.

    There are two approaches to this problem, essentially. A humanist government takes the approach of job creation, but that’s challenging and requires investments of time, energy, intellect, compassion and money.

    Of those, this government only has time, being mid-term and all. Besides, a right-leaning regime would rather the problem just disappeared – and if that requires punitive action, so be it.

    Announcing a board to create ‘welfare reform’ is bad enough in itself, since we already have a ministry in place for that full of highly trained and well paid people who specialise, and have experience in, the New Zealand welfare situation. But no. National has decided to create a demonstrably right-wing board run by paladin Paula Rebstock to do it. That’s verging on monstrous.

    Apart from the waste of dropping NZ$1.1 million on this when we are supposed to be minding our pennies and already have budgeted-for experts in place, it’s clearly a way of pushing through unpalatable reforms that the government wants initiated while keeping the impetus at arm’s length. Nothing like a well paid scapegoat when it all turns to shit.

    Rebstock is the idiot who advocated getting women back to work once their babies were 14 weeks old! Clearly, this is not a person with an ounce of empathy. Perfect to do Paula Bennett’s dirty work.

    This board, apart from the seriously questionable (if she actually answered questions) Rebstock is composed of insurance and business types so it can focus on projecting risk and any long-term potential deficit for this government.

    Rrrright … now I can see where we are headed. OK.

    I know I normally dispense advice on left-style social change and policy, but I can offer my services to National here, as there are very clear precedents to draw from and besides, it’s obvious National likes hiring outsiders to do its dirty work.

    OK, so here’s my advice. The first step is always to stigmatise beneficiaries a lot more. Muldoon did this with solo mums, so there’s already precedent even here in good ole New Zealand, but we can draw on international precedents too. New Zealand has a long history of implementing other people’s mistakes, after all.

    So I suggest requiring anyone on a benefit to wear a black triangle in public so every one can see who they are. You know, you’re in a café having lunch I mean a work meeting and one of these blemishes on society is spending your grudgingly-paid tax dollars on a coffee. The gall! How dare they? With their black triangle on, everyone can see who they are, and you can enjoy the support of your peers when you tell them off.

    That’s if they get served at all, of course.

    It’s been done before, also as a way out of a financial crisis – so you can give the concept a foreign name, too. We can use ‘Arbeitsschue’. It’s a German word with a nice, sophisticated historical ring to it, although it just means ‘work shy’.

    Because work makes you free.

    And there’s lots more advice John Key would clearly endorse, so he doesn’t actually need to hire me at all.

    It’s all in Mein Kampf, John. If you can actually read words that aren’t on spreadsheets or stock tickers, of course.

    Maybe get Paula to read it out to you. She’d enjoy that.