Politics

How close are Labour and the PPTA?

Very close.

ACT’s Free Press column explains:

Not Labour
Labour have asked more parliamentary questions about Partnership Schools than any other education topic this year.  Despite the fact that Partnership Schools are getting exceptional results for disadvantaged children.  Savage and Fraser were giants who built Labour to give the disadvantaged a fair go.  Today’s Labour are more interested in their PPTA supporters.

Wholly Owned Subsidiary
Last Wednesday Labour’s education spokesperson asked a question on Partnership Schools.  After the primary question, which is published before question time, questioners try to surprise the Minister with supplementary questions.  Labour’s whole line of questioning was revealed in a PPTA press release that came out minutes after he asked his questions.

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Chris Trotter’s politically incoherent rant about Greece

Chris Trotter can usually be relied on to give a sensible opinion on most political matters, though occasionally he loses himself in an orgy of self congratulation when it appears someone can claim “Capitalism doesn’t Work”.

Chris’ delusions about capitalism and the Greek Crisis have come to a head with a piece where he welcomes the bludging Greek ratbags voting not to pay their debts.

He usually gets the diagnosis right, but doesn’t always get the treatment right.

THE UNFOLDING CRISIS in Greece has stripped Neoliberalism of its protective disguise and the world is recoiling from its ugliness. In normal circumstances the true purposes of the world’s neoliberal elites are masked by their use of opaque economic jargon. In the case of Greece, however, the social science of economics has been turned against them by some of its most impressive exponents. Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman have told the world that what is being done to Greece has nothing to do with economics, and everything to do with politics. A whole country is being driven to the wall in a desperate bid to destroy its left-wing government. Neoliberalism simply cannot allow the Greek Prime Minister’s, Alexis Tsipras’s, powerful lessons in democracy to go unpunished. If his Syriza Party is allowed to defeat austerity in Greece, what is there to prevent Podemos from defeating it in Spain? Or Sinn Fein in Ireland?

Yes Chris, it is all to do with politics, although those from the Austrian or Chicago schools of economics might disagree with well known left-wingers and Keynsians, Stigliz and Krugman. The politics is pretty easy to understand, especially if you take a step back from the ideology of a looney left Greek government who says “We won’t pay you”.

Germany’s 72-year-old Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble, has clearly been unable to cope with his 54-year-old Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis. Everything about the free-wheeling Greek economics professor offends the unyielding German ideologue. Varoufakis has been unsparing in his criticism of Germany’s inability to grasp the necessity for Greek debt relief (which even the IMF now acknowledges). It’s an act of insubordination which Schauble and his colleagues are resolutely determined to punish. So unchallenged has neoliberalism’s ideological hegemony been since the collapse of Soviet-style socialism that it finds itself unable to adequately respond to Varoufakis’s neo-Keynesian populist critiques. Their greatest fear is that, like the little boy in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, the Greek Finance Minister will draw the world’s attention to the fact that the neoliberal German Emperor is wearing no clothes.  Read more »

Taxpayers’ Union points out troughers flaws in their promotion of Sugar Taxes

The Taxpayers’ Union is questioning the media and their use of proven troughers to promote their agenda of introducing a sugar tax.

The Taxpayers’ Union is urging caution on continued claims that Mexico’s sugar tax resulted in decreased sales of sugary drinks. Today’s Herald on Sunday published an opinion piece by Niki Bezzant, which cites a study by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health suggesting that sales dropped by between six and twelve percent as a result of the Mexican sugar tax. This echoes claims made last week by a group of Auckland University public health academics, including Dr Gerhard Sundborn and Boyd Swinburn, campaigning for the introduction of a sugar tax.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“Repetition of the same sound bite doesn’t make it true. The study was funded by a pro-sugar tax campaign group and is based on surveying Mexican consumers on their expressed preferences. The real sales data shows that despite what people tell researchers, the Mexican sugar tax caused a drop of consumption of only 0.2% which as since bounced back.”

“Academics are supposed to promote informed public debate. Instead, there appears to be a group at Auckland University running an activist political campaign based on misinformation and bias. The study they are pointing to isn’t published or even peer reviewed. It was launched as part of a campaign and relies on what people say they do, not what they actually do. These campaigners are choosing to ignore the sales data which is clear. Volumes are now back to the same as before the tax, with people paying more while the Government is raking in the cash.”   Read more »

Can we learn from Colorado on teen pregnancy?

Colorado has made astonishing in-roads into dealing with teen pregnancy.

Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest ever real-life experiments with long-acting birth control. If teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years, state officials asked, would those women choose them?

They did in a big way, and the results were startling. The birthrate for teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

“Our demographer came into my office with a chart and said, ‘Greta, look at this, we’ve never seen this before,’ ” said Greta Klingler, the family planning supervisor for the public health department. “The numbers were plummeting.”

The changes were particularly pronounced in the poorest areas of the state, places like Walsenburg, a small city in Southern Colorado where jobs are scarce and unplanned births come often to the young. Hope Martinez, a 20-year-old nursing home receptionist here, recently had a small rod implanted under the skin of her upper arm to prevent pregnancy for three years. She has big plans — to marry, to move West, and to become a dental hygienist.

“I don’t want any babies for a while,” she said.

More young women are making that choice. In 2009, half of all first births to women in the poorest areas of the state happened before they turned 21. By 2014, half of first births did not occur until they had turned 24, a difference that advocates say gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.

“If we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest things we could do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to,” said Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. She argues in her 2014 book, “Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage,” that single parenthood is a principal driver of inequality and long-acting birth control a powerful tool to prevent it.

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Why do the Unions have so much sway over Labour?

The Unions have a reputation for controlling Labour, and with some good reason. Six affiliated unions get 20% of the Labour Leadership vote, so you would think that they are also the Labour Party’s biggest donors.

The problem with this is it is not supported by the facts. Since 1996 union donations have been a little over 11% of Labour’s total declarable donations.

In most years the unions don’t give anything to Labour, who must only ask unions for money in election year.

Total Donations Union Donations Union Donation %
1996  $65,327.00  $- 0%
1997  $280,000.00  $- 0%
1998  $20,055.90  $- 0%
1999  $1,115,375.00  $80,000.00 7.17%
2000  $35,000.00  $- 0.0%
2001  $107,525.00  $- 0.0%
2002  $671,719.00  $70,000.00 10.42%
2003  $54,000.00  $- 0.0%
2004  $369,951.00  $- 0.0%
2005  $930,977.04  $140,000.00 15.04%
2006  $140,988.04  $20,000.00 14.19%
2007  $1,030,446.39  $- 0.0%
2008  $422,917.00  $117,500.00 27.78%
2009  $10,063.00  $- 0.0%
2010  $56,720.00  $- 0.0%
2011  $225,200.00  $105,200.00 46.71%
2012  $430,259.33  $- 0.0%
2013  $-  $-
2014  $251,000.00  $162,000.00 64.54%
Total  $6,217,523.70  $694,700.00 11.17%

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Quote of the Day

From Judith Collins and her transcript from the Chisholm Inquiry:

Ms Collins previously said she was “disappointed” at Mr Feeley over the champagne story, which came to light in September 2011.

She told the inquiry his actions were a “disaster” because they emerged two days before an important PR release on crime statistics.

“My crime stats, I say with absolutely no modesty whatsoever, were the best crime stats we had ever had. It was a really, really good news story.

“It was my shining glory, so the last thing we needed was leaks out of the Serious Fraud Office talking about champagne being used that wasn’t actually owned by the person who was using it. It was a disaster.” 

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What Labour needs to do to win in 2017

The reason I read widely about UK politics is that is tends to give us insights into our own political parties.

This is especially true about the Labour party, and the similarities between the UK and New Zealand are striking.

Labour lost the last elections in the UK and NZ with almost identical policies and style. So when commentators look through the entrails and make observations about UK Labour they apply as much to them as they do to NZ Labour.

John Reid, Labour’s former Home Secretary, writes at the Guardian about how Labour can regain government.

Less than two months on from one of the worst election defeats in my lifetime, the Labour party finds itself in the middle of a protracted leadership contest, debating its next move over the course of a long, hot summer.

There are those in the party who have argued that Labour simply needs a different leader, but that the politics, plans and policies of the past five years will be enough to get us over the line in 2020 – with a little tweaking, of course.

Others have argued that moving to the left, in response to a Tory government that managed to achieve the difficult feat of gaining an overall majority, is the right response. That the “false consciousness” of modern working people will somehow disappear as the scales fall from their eyes.

Neither of these approaches will work. Neither recognises the sheer scale of the challenge Labour faces. Both have been tried, and tried, and failed and failed.

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Auckland Council officials squabbling like children

The left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing at Auckland a Council. It’s so typical you’d have got a low return from the TAB.

What a bunch of clowns!

Two Auckland Council bodies are at loggerheads over whether 20ha of land at Hobsonville Pt should be used for housing or a film studio.

Five consultant firms have been hired during the dispute, which arose when Ateed, the council’s economic development arm, made a late pitch to turn some of the council-owned land into a film studio campus.

Auckland Council Property Ltd says it has a masterplan for the site and work can start immediately on 80 of the 441 houses and apartments, of which up to 15 per cent would be in the affordable category.

The masterplan will recoup $36 million spent to date on the land and provide a tidy $34 million profit for ratepayers, says ACPL in a report going to the Auckland development committee today.

An analysis of the Ateed proposal by CBRE property consultants for ACPL said the film studio would get the land for free for about 20 years and the council would be $24 million worse off in cash terms.

Ateed, which has used three consultants to fight its corner, said a film studio campus on 10ha of the land would provide 435 jobs annually and generate $483 million to the Auckland economy over 25 years.

The other 10ha would be used to build 315 homes.    Read more »

Will Greece be the last gasp of Marxist delusion?

The left wing are all enamoured that the dodgy Greek socialists flipped the bird at the EU.

They think this is cool and even Chris Trotter rolled out the “death of neo-liberalism” epithets.

It’s hogwash of course…neo-liberalism didn’t sink Greece, dodgy socialists drunk on other people’s money and lazy to boot sunk Greece.

Janet Daly explains in words even simple-minded socialists can understand.

Which of these do you find more repugnant: an autocratic European Union which is no longer bothering to conceal its intention to displace an elected government, or a shambolic clique of Left-wing fantasists who are propelling a country – and its hapless population – into economic ruin and political chaos?

It’s a tough call, isn’t it? Whatever happens in the Greek referendum on Sunday, it will not be the end of this pantomime. In fact, it is intended not to be the end, in spite of the Greek prime minister’s bizarre assertion last week that he could guarantee a deal would be made with the country’s creditors within 48 hours of a “no” vote – when, in fact, a “no” vote would effectively guarantee the impossibility of making such a deal since the answer “no” is a rejection of meaningful concessions to the creditors.

There is no point any longer in trying to make sense of this. It has gone beyond sense. It is now incomprehensible in the strict technical meaning of the word. The “options” available are all catastrophic and delusional in varying degrees and combinations, and nobody is actually going to get to choose between them anyway – at least, nobody in Greece. To the extent that they have had any involvement – or culpability – in this matter, the Greek people must come to terms with the consequences of electing Russell Brand to head their government. Voters do have some responsibility for the choices that they make. That is what distinguishes mature democracy from the students’ union. But given the price that they are paying for that moment of mad frivolity, it seems harsh to condemn, especially as the prospect of fiscal rationality had already been ruined by the fecklessness of previous governments and external forces beyond their control.

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Understanding Labour’s Donations

Fat Tony

Looking back at the donation returns for the Labour Party since the beginning of the MMP era, you can see why Labour have been dead set useless since Clark left and Mike “Fat Tony” Williams stopped shaking down donors.

Since Fat Tony jacked it in Labour have scarcely raised any donations worth mentioning, and have basically being surviving on dodgy use of Parliamentary Services budget and taxing MPs.

Different disclosure rules over time mean that different rules mean different amounts need to be disclosed but overall this has little effect on the donation totals.

The important thing to note is that Fat Tony pulled in a lot of money in 1999, 2002, 2005 and being as cunning as a shit house rat managed to shake down people in 2007 before the Election Finance Act came into play. 2008 proved to be a bit harder for Fat Tony, but he still managed a decent total.   Read more »