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March, 2009

  1. Lefter 11 ~ don’t lose Mt Albert!

    March 29, 2009 by emweb

    Mt Albert is a marginal seat because Labour may let the seat slip from its grasp. You would think the Labour stronghold of Mt Albert is anything but marginal. It has been Helen Clark’s seat for years and even though Labour completely collapsed in the last election, Helen Clark held the seat with a strong majority and seems to have maintained the affections of the electorate.

    Great. But if Labour screws this up and lets National get it, Labour’s collapse will be perceived as even more profound.

    It annoyed the crap out of me that Labour fought that last election so badly. Letting National call all the shots just made the conservatives look stronger. Labour was complacent and ineffective in its approach. It was blindingly obvious there was a fight to be had – blindingly obvious to all but those running Labour’s campaign, anyway. In effect.

    Since Labour only just squeaked in at the 2005 election, the party should have realised the impact on any subsequent poll. Refusing to campaign on the considerable achievements of the Labour government over its tenure was, to my mind, plain stupid. Warm fuzzies were called for, the steady hand on the tiller, the fireside chat approach. Instead we got a cynical Cullen carping from the sidelines and party-wide floundering with the recession clearly looming.

    Labour pandered to National’s calling of the shots once again. National’s stupid call for ‘change’ and appeal to personal greed cleverly catering directly to the more facile political sensibilities (or complete lack thereof) of New Zealanders.

    So now we have a bizarre situation where Labour seems unsure how to play out a campaign for the plum seat of Mt Albert because of the Judith Tizard problem. That being, she let a safe seat slip from her grasp largely because she was widely perceived as ineffectual. Worse, she let her place be taken by a put-up job from National; Nicki Kaye is hardly a real politician.

    But if Phil Twyford runs for the Mt Albert seat, Tizard could be in again, this time on the list, which would please no one but her.

    This raises several issues: if Phil Goff stepped up and told Tizard where to get off, and let the poor woman retire with any dignity she has left, Phil Twyford should run for Mt Albert – and Labour should pull out all the stops to win it.

    But why should Phil Twyford run for Mt Albert?

    Because he lives there. It’s already his electorate and he wishes to represent his people. This is both admirable and understandable.

    Twyford has a stellar record and he should be supported within the party. Instead, it seems some hidebound Labourites could see him as a threat, but it’s time all that small-mindedness was ruthlessly dispensed with. Twyford taking, effectively, Helen Clark’s mantle in Mt Albert would be a clear message to the country that Labour isn’t finished, that there’s new blood and that Labour does, in fact, have a bigger vision. (Does it?)

    Anyone politicking away for themselves within Labour now – you’re doing the wrong thing. New Zealand needs Labour back. We need a strong Labour. We need a Labour Party profound in its own values.

    Helen Clark is another factor in all this. She may be a friend of Tizard’s but Clark knows perfectly well what should be done in this case. Clark has been keeping her head down and has now scored a great job she is perfect for. Excellent. I’m happy for her and I think she has the potential to do great good.

    But it’s almost palpable that National can hardly wait till Clark is out of the country. They’re right to be impatient. She seems to be the only prominent figure inside Labour with a clear vision. So I wish she’d deploy it before she disappears.

    My message to you, Ms Clark, is: you’ve had a break. Now do the right thing for the party you led so well. Advise the right people. Set up a Labour win in Mt Albert. Get the Tizard problem dealt with – even if it means Goff gets told to pull his blinkers off.

    Hard decisions have to be made. For God’s sake, someone has to make them. It’s time to move on.

    If you don’t sort this out, you are onto the final series of nails in the coffin. Put those damn hammers away! If Labour falls any further apart … we’re screwed.

  2. Lefter 10 ~ a good war

    March 19, 2009 by emweb

    I threatened last post to tell you how New Zealand can prosper through this recession, so here goes. We just need a war.

    Now, this is what I think will happen: instead of NZ trying to trade its way out of this recession, Prime Minister John Key will just follow his experience. Which means he’ll borrow to raise money while pursuing a right-wing agenda of making the lower classes poorer while rewarding his wealthy Pakeha cronies with more access to that wealth. They’ll use that borrowed money to cheaply buy the property and businesses of those driven to the wall. But inevitably, NZ will not be able to pay the borrowings back, leaving Labour to get the country back into the black when they eventually get back in and to resurrect our social services, ACC etc. As usual.

    National’s efforts will expand an increasingly desperate unemployed sector which will work for less and less money and under more onerous conditions. In turn, National will attempt to disenfranchise the unions (or what’s left of them) to maintain the ‘competitive’ employment situation in National’s favour.

    But National is already using this recession as an excuse to push its agenda much faster than planned (National meant originally to get through the first term before doing most of this – but the world recession means this suspension is no longer necessary).

    But National’s efforts are all wrong, They will only benefit a very few New Zealanders – rich people like John Key. (And have you noticed how rich Kiwis tend to move offshore? That’s because once you’ve shit in your own nest, you want a new nest far away from the smell.)

    What we actually need is a war.

    Now, don’t dismiss my war plan as crazy. It really isn’t. Apart from all the killing, maiming, violence and destruction, anyway.

    Wars have got countries out of bad economic conditions before. New Zealand was already leaving the Great Depression behind in the 1930s but it still entered World War Two as a semi-industrialised nation with about half horse-driven agriculture. It emerged as an industrialised nation with a virtually 100% mechanised agri-sector.

    Dare I mention Germany? Hitler used mechanisation and mass arming to pull Germany out of its terrible Depression-era situation in the 1930s. There are many other examples.

    We could declare war on someone, of course – say on the island nation of Fe’ausi. They wouldn’t put up much of a fight, and I’m sure NZ’s military leaders could spin things out so nothing actually happens …  particularly since that nation is imaginary. But that’s hardly necessary.

    The salient fact of a war is what it does to the economy, and what it does to the population.

    What it does to the economy is, it requires the government to spend all its resources on its country – producing food, clothing and industrial output solely for the country’s citizens to get them through this crisis.

    What it does to the population is, while it internalises the economy, it externalises people’s concerns. In other words, the population looks outside New Zealand for threats instead of inside. The people unify against this threat, so they work together, sacrifice and make common cause for the common good. They help each other and do the hard yards.

    People will head out into the fields to grow food at fair prices for New Zealanders, undertake training to help us create goods for New Zealanders and for overseas revenue, and employers (some, anyway) will stop ripping off their workers for their own pockets. But if they don’t, they can be publicly pilloried.

    But don’t worry – we don’t need an actual war to achieve New Zealand’s salvation. President Kennedy, for instance, used warlike rhetoric to instigate the Peace Corp, established by Executive Order in 1961. The purpose of the Peace Corps was “to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.” It sounds like a war, doesn’t it? The raising of a regiment or militia for overseas service. I met some of these guys in Bangladesh in the 1960s and they were fantastic.

    New Zealand needs to declare war on this recession. It needs to raise a corps of New Zealanders working for New Zealanders to get us out of this financial strife.

    But until then, I predict Key and his bigots are going to try and run New Zealand into the ground. They might succeed. Then they’ll move out and live in their offshore palaces.

  3. Lefter 9 ~ so, you’ve lost your job?

    March 8, 2009 by emweb

    I’m an early adopter – I got my recession nearly two years ago. I was made redundant, not due to the recession, but due to management stupidity and intransigence in the face of long-term and clear evidence that there were problems with the section I was in charge of. But that’s another story.

    Now I still often only earn a half of what I used to earn, but we (my family and I) have managed to hold on. Best of all, I am much happier, as I always disliked working for a sexist, myopic fool. (Now I’m self-employed – the only fool I have to work for is me, and I’m much easier to put up with.)

    I may not be the best advisor in the world, but here’s what really helped me:

    1/ Get fit. Many jobs preclude you from keeping yourself in shape. Now you may not have much, but you do have time. Getting fit and keeping fit keeps you positive and flexible, both mentally and physically.

    As a sports coach in my spare time, I’ve noticed it’s the fitter players who can take the knocks. It’s the same for you. Get fit – even walking a circuit of your neighbourhood will lift your spirits and may remind you what a great place we live in. And don’t slow down for the hills – get your lung and heart rates up a bit. And make it a routine, rain or shine. And smile at people – smiling lifts your spirits.

    2/ Go through your grocery bill with a highlighter, swiping everything that costs, say, over $10. Think about how much you need those things. Cut out those that you don’t need or are obviously bad for your health (but don’t omit all treats).

    3/ Hang on to what land you have, if you can. Its value will come back – and it may be all you have.

    4/ Don’t burn your bridges. New Zealand is tiny. It doesn’t matter where you end up, someone will know someone who knows you. If you did bad things, they will catch up, so either put them right or stop doing them. You need all the support you can get.

    5/ Rebuild your networks – in your family, in your neighbourhood and with former colleagues and classmates (for example, complete the free sign-up to

    6/ Stop moaning. People are more inclined to assist positive people.

    7/ Get some work. Regular low-paid work is much better than no high-paid work, and you can eat.

    8/ Become ‘virtually visible’: that means people need to be able to find you online. That means joining, for example, Plaxo ( LinkedIn (, business-oriented networking sites people use to locate and contact people for work and work related things. They’re both totally free to join and they can both lead to better connections and opportunity.

    You can write your profile once; you don’t need to visit and update every day (it’s not FaceBook or Bebo). Make sure you’re clear about what you can do and what you’d like to do.

    9/ Cut down or discard your weekly debts.

    10/ Hey, at least we live in New Zealand. Plant some seeds in your garden or some pots. You can even get these free from friends and neighbours. There’s nothing like some fresh basil, at the very least, to top that budget meal.

    Next post, I will tell New Zealand how to prosper through this recession. I’ve worked it all out and it’s actually easy and very doable, and it’s not even unprecedented.