Chris Trotter

The good, the bad and the ugly from Chris Trotter

Chris Trotter can be an excellent commentator when he doesn’t let his propensity for some histrionics get in the way.

Yesterday he wrote a post at Martyn Martin Bradbury’s hate speech blog about the Campbell Live issue that has the left wing luvvies all exercised.

The thing about a good puppet show is that you either can’t see, or are artfully distracted from seeing, the strings. It’s when the strings themselves become more interesting than the puppets they’re attached to, that it’s time to get worried.

And that time has come – which is why as I sat there in Ika (formerly the Neapolitan eatery Sarracino, formerly the chapel of Tongue’s the undertakers!) watching present and former MPs, trade unionists, left- and right-wing journalists, all shaking hands and exchanging gossip, the setting slowly morphed into the Kit-Kat Club from Bob Fosse’s classic movie, Cabaret.

And up there on the stage, playing the role made famous by Joel Grey was our emcee, Wallace Chapman. And the floor-show, Ika’s Cabaret Band, if you will, were (from right to left) Fran O’Sullivan, Bill Ralston, Simon Wilson and Phoebe Fletcher.

Together, they discussed and dissected the decision to hang the sword of Damocles above the marvellous Mr Campbell’s current-affairs half-hour. All good stuff, and the punters lapped it up (along with their whole gurnards and snappers, expertly seasoned, and kept warm with the most fashionable vegetables).

Oh how nice, lefties and Dirty Media practitioners all enjoying a convivial atmosphere.    Read more »

Trotter on Nash and the Greens

Finally a Labour MP that doesn’t want to do dumb stuff that doesn’t get people elected.

This means he will probably get a good hiding at the next Labour caucus meeting, and sent away on sensitivity training.

But Chris Trotter nails it:

IF THE GREENS want a glimpse of their future with Labour, then they should listen to Stuart Nash.

Speaking yesterday (31/3/15) at the big oil exploration industry conference at Sky City, Labour’s energy spokesperson warned his audience that the tiny minority who opposed oil drilling was “always in our ear”. What’s more, he said, “they’re very media savvy”.    Read more »

Trotter on the effects of Northland on Labour and National

Chris Trotter has always been a keen observer of Winston Peters and in his blog he comments on what the victory in Northland means for Labour and for National.

To hold Northland will NZ First be required to veer to the Right – thereby alienating the thousands of Labour supporters whose votes provided the foundation for Mr Peters’ upset win?

Will the National Government, looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, begin to re-position itself as NZ First’s future coalition partner?

How will Mr Peters’ Northland victory influence Labour’s political positioning – especially its relationship with the Greens?

Good questions which Trotter goes some way to explaining.

Labour, if it is wise, will seize the opportunity provided by Mr Peters’ victory to put even more distance between itself and the Greens. In his continuing effort to “re-connect” Labour with its traditional constituencies, Andrew Little must already have marked the numerous ideological affinities that draw non-National provincial voters towards one another. These are conservative people, whose personal morals and political values often place them at odds with the more “progressive” voters of metropolitan New Zealand.

The extent to which Labour’s Northland voters defected to Mr Peters indicates that, at the very least, the NZ First leader’s political values presented no insurmountable barrier to Labour’s people following their own leader’s tactical advice. Indeed, just about all the insurmountable barriers to the re-connections Labour must make if it is to regain the status of a “40 percent party” have been raised in the cities – not the provinces.

Even in the cities these obstacles persist. Labour’s traditional urban working-class supporters have more in common with their provincial brothers and sisters than many Labour Party activists are willing to admit.

Shunting-off their social revolutionaries to the Greens might decimate the ranks of Labour’s membership, but it could, equally, swell the ranks of those willing to vote for the party in 2017. Shorn of its radical fringe, Labour not only becomes a much more comfortable fit for NZ First – but also for working-class New Zealanders generally.

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Trotter on Little sleight of the Greens

Chris Trotter writes at The Daily Blog:

In the current political climate, Little is acutely aware that Labour’s close association with the Greens is a big political loser. Too many people who would like to vote Labour are declining to do so because they fear the influence of the Greens within what all the polls tell them would be a coalition government of the centre-left. It is one of the reasons why so many Labour supporters split their votes. They are happy to give their electorate vote to the Labour candidate, so long as, by party-voting National, they can keep the Greens out of government.

Clearly, by so publicly mistreating the Greens, Little hopes to convince potential Labour voters that his party is no longer willing to be lumped-in with Green “extremism”. His message is clear: in any future coalition government the Greens will serve on Labour’s terms – or not at all.   Read more »

Trotter is onto it with the loss of Russel Norman

Chris Trotter thinks the bloodless coup within the Greens is a move to push the Green party towards the right.

I think he is right…and as usual wrong at the same time.

RUSSEL NORMAN’S DECISION to step down as the Greens co-leader reflects the party’s longstanding determination to reposition itself rightward. For eight years Norman’s personal energy and political discipline succeeded in turning aside the pleas of a clear majority of the Greens’ membership to break the party out of its left-wing ghetto. Only by exploiting to the full his party’s consensus-based decision-making processes was Norman able to keep the Greens anchored firmly on the left of New Zealand politics.

For eight years Norman strove to fashion a Green Party manifesto that was not only compatible with the Labour Party’s policy platform but would, to a remarkable degree, serve as its inspiration. His astonishing and largely successful mission to master the challenges of contemporary economics; an effort which allowed him to participate in policy debates with an authority sadly lacking in his predecessors, and to drag Labour along in his wake, is probably the most impressive achievement of his leadership.

It was this ability to render the Greens’ left-wing policies economically intelligible that allowed Norman to spike the guns of the Greens’ very sizeable “moderate” (for want of a better description) faction. The latter had demonstrated its power by installing Metiria Turei as co-leader – rather than the overtly left-wing Sue Bradford – following Jeanette Fitzsimons’ retirement in 2008. Had the rules made it possible, this same faction would have radically repositioned the Greens as an ideologically agnostic environmentalist party of the political centre; one capable of forming a coalition with either of the main political parties.

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Trotter gets a bit wonky with his thinking

Chris Trotter looks at Winston Peters and at John Key.

It’s a good article but gets some things dreadfully wrong.

The successful populist politician’s response will always echo that of Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, one of the leaders of the February Revolution of 1848 in France: “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

To carry off this leading-by-following trick, the populist politician requires both a vigilant eye and an unusually sensitive ear. In present-day New Zealand, for example, only a blind, deaf and extremely dumb populist would assume that to stay behind the rage he has only to hurl abuse at John Key’s government. All he would demonstrate by such tactics is how thoroughly he has missed the fact that John Key is, himself, an extremely accomplished populist leader. What’s more, John Key, unlike Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, has no need to go running after the crowds. Thanks to his pollster, David Farrar, and focus-group supremo, Mark Textor, the Prime Minister knows exactly where the people are going. That’s why he’s so often to be found parked there, waiting for them to arrive.

David Farrar is probably New Zealand’s best pollster…he keeps John Key and Steven Joyce focussed.

Though the article is wrong and shows it clearly in this statement.

Mr Key’s Cabinet’s slavish adherence to neoliberal ideology has meant that economic and social policies that could have really assisted the “average Kiwi” are consistently ruled out of contention

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Agreeing with Chris Trotter about online voting

There are plenty of fools out there who think that electronic voting is nirvana, that it will engage the yoof to vote and increase participation in our democracy.

I disagree, and so does Chris Trotter. Electronic voting won’t deliver what proponents say it will, in fact it is likely to increase distrust in the voting process.

There are already conspiracy theorists out there who think John Key rigs ballot boxes, imagine if there was electronic voting, you’d ahve accusations of Merril Lynch funding the software company from the time of John Key’s involvement and therefore the process must be corrupt.

DEREK HANDLEY bubbles over with faith in the future. As a precocious inductee to the Silicon Alley Hall of Fame, he is blazingly confident that capitalism, information technology and the entrepreneurial spirit are never going to encounter a challenge they cannot rise to – or overcome.

Like the failure of close to half of New Zealand citizens aged under 30 to engage in the electoral process.

On this subject Mr Handley is typically forthright:

“Everybody under 30 has grown up with the internet and mobile devices to do practically everything online yet they still can’t vote online. [This has resulted] in an entire generation being pushed to the sidelines of democracy not because they don’t care, but because it hasn’t kept up with them.”

Setting aside Mr Handley’s bubbly confidence in all things “online”, this is utter tosh. An “entire generation” has not been “pushed to the sidelines of democracy”, they have ambled there entirely of their own accord. Not only do they not “care” about democracy, but an alarming number of them would also struggle to tell you what it is.

In my opinion Derek Handley is a jumped up pretentious tosspot. My dearly departed grandfather once commented (ok it was a lot) that empty vessels make the most noise. This is Derek Handley.

Trotter is dead right about the dead set useless yoof who let themselves become disengaged in democracy.

Far from democracy failing to keep up with the needs of the younger generation, one out of every two New Zealanders under 30 has failed conspicuously to keep up with the most fundamental facts of political life.

The most important of these is that politics (and elections) are activities to be participated in collectively – not individually. The moment this central fact of political life is forgotten, the logic of participation collapses in on itself.

A recent article by Fairfax journalists Paul Easton and Simon Day vividly illustrates what happens when the prospect of casting a vote is viewed through an individualistic, as opposed to a collectivist, lens.

Asked why he didn’t vote, Johnny, aged 20, and described simply as “dad”, declared:

“I didn’t see the point. My life is good as it is. I don’t like John Key, but I thought he was going to get in anyway so I didn’t vote. I would vote if it meant getting stuff I was keen for.”

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Chris Trotter sends a warning to Little Angry Andy

Chris Trotter thinks that Andrew Little has had a great week.

We disagreed as we shared a short conversation in the offices of Radio Live yesterday, but I have just read his column where he sends a veiled a warning to Andrew Little.

The message to the man he defeated by a single percentage point could not be clearer.

Little expects a lot more from his future Finance Minister than the standard neoliberal commitment to keeping the books in the black. He will not be judging the worth of Labour’s economic policies by the level of praise emanating from the business community. For Little, looking after the One Percent’s funds cannot be Labour’s first priority. The critical challenge confronting Labour’s next Finance Minister will be funding the changes so desperately needed by the other Ninety-Nine Percent.

In other words: how does Labour make sure that a rising tide of economic growth lifts more than just the luxury yachts?

Little has strongly hinted that the answer to that question does not lie in the introduction of a Capital Gains Tax, or raising the age of eligibility for superannuation from 65 to 67. New policies, based on the electorate’s most urgent needs, is what Little has asked for, and his promise to review the Shadow Cabinet’s performance in 12 months’ time strongly suggests that he means to get them. Little’s colleagues would be wise to assume that his threshold for failure is set a lot lower than his predecessors’.  Read more »

Trotter on John Key’s history lesson

Chris Trotter isn’t taking the lefty stance of mocking John Key’s version of history after the stupid Waitangi Tribunal decision.

THE PRIME MINISTER, John Key, has been much mocked over the past week for his claim that New Zealand was settled peacefully. Hoots of derision have echoed through the Twittersphere from those who profess to know their New Zealand history a great deal better than the Prime Minister.

Are they right? Is Mr Key wrong?

It might help to place the Prime Minister’s comments in context. His remarks followed the Waitangi Tribunal finding that the tribal chieftains of the far-North did not cede sovereignty to the British Crown when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840.

This finding is considerably more controversial than anything the Prime Minister decided to offer by way of commentary. The Auckland-based historian, Paul Moon, has already derided the Tribunal’s historical conclusions, and his intervention is unlikely to be the last.

The tribunal’s decision will likely be ignored.

A crucial element of the settled view is that the Maori chieftains who signed the Treaty, many of whom had enjoyed long and mutually beneficial relationships with the Europeans who had taken up residence in New Zealand since Cook’s exploratory voyages of the late eighteenth century, knew exactly what they were agreeing to at Waitangi on 6 February 1840.

Captain William Hobson was guaranteeing them the inviolability of their traditional territories and the safety of their people. In the light of what had befallen the iwi and hapu of Niu Tirani (New Zealand) between 1769 and 1840, the existential value of these guarantees is readily appreciated.

The indigenous population of these islands at the time of first European contact is estimated at 100,000. Between 1800 and 1830 as many as 30,000 Maori were killed and/or driven from their traditional lands by enemy iwi and hapu armed with the devastating military technology of the Pakeha. The protection of Queen Victoria (symbolising the world’s most powerful nation) was what they needed. Hobson offered it. The chiefs grabbed it with both hands.    Read more »

Russell Brown thinks Little is a disaster

Pots, pans and pannier bags blogger Russell Brown rarely, if ever these days, writes about politics.

He has broken habit by writing about Labour’s just completed leadership election.

Unusually for him it is brief, he’s normally a big fan of the tl;dr post.

I’ll be brief (it’s 5am where I am and have to catch a plane) but the Labour’s leadership result and the means by which it was achieved both seem disastrous for the party and for the prospects of the centre-left.

Little didn’t win the support of the party or the caucus, he loses his electorate more badly every time he contests it, and he’s vowing to dump all the intellectual capital built up by David Parker. I can’t see any good thing about this.

Am I missing something?

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