Chris Trotter

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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Trotter on Phillip Smith and the wombles who enabled his escape

Chris Trotter will probably be getting hate emails from the caring and sharing leftwing who think nothing of attacking people for voicing an opinion that differs from theirs, but rush arms outstretched to give sociopaths like Phillip Smith a good hug and a cuddle after he was raised bottle fed not breast fed causing his sociopathic marauding through society.

Trotter is a truth speaker…this is what he has to say about Phillip Smith and those who enabled his escape:

THE BUREAUCRATIC STUFF-UP that sped Phillip Smith/Traynor on his way to Chile, Brazil, and from there, thankfully, into the handcuffs of the Brazilian Federal Police, has exposed one of the most perilous fault lines in New Zealand society.

On one side of the fault line stand the experts and professionals. On the other, ordinary New Zealanders: the laity.

In the modern meritocracy New Zealand believes itself to be, expertise and professionalism are supposed to trump the layperson’s “instincts”, “gut feelings” and “common sense”.

Like the priests and the pastors they have largely superseded, experts and professionals lay claim to specialist knowledge of the world. Their mastery of the modern, “scientific”, method of explaining the universe means that, all other things being equal, the judgement of the expert and the professional is supposed take precedence over the traditional prejudices and ignorant superstitions of “ordinary people”.

But, Phillip Smith/Traynor’s scandalous escape from custody will, almost certainly, turn out to have been facilitated by the judgements of the experts and professionals employed by, or contracted to, the Department of Corrections. Indeed, it is already pretty clear that had the advice of those ordinary New Zealanders caught up in the multiple tragedies of Smith’s offending been heeded, he would never have escaped from custody.

The people who Trotter is referring to are the likes of Kim Workman and other crim hugging weirdos.

Real people think a bit differently.

Ordinary people recoil in horror and disgust from the criminal acts for which Phillip Smith/Traynor was convicted.

Their instinctive response is the same as that of any social animal confronted with a deadly threat to the survival of its young: kill it if you can, or, if that proves impossible, drive it from your midst.

The gut-feeling of non-expert, non-professional New Zealanders is that the likes of Phillip Smith/Traynor are irretrievably evil. As killers, abusers, manipulators and deceivers they must never, ever, be believed or trusted.

The common sense of ordinary Kiwis tells them that, if the possibility of judicial error requires them to rule out the hangman’s noose, then murderers and paedophiles should simply be locked up forever.

What part of “predatory child abuser” and “vicious murderer” do the Department of Corrections’ experts and professionals not understand?

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Trotter asks if Labour really can be rebuilt

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Chris Trotter wonders whether Labour can put its troubles behind them and start to recover relevancy with the voting public.

THE CHAIRS in the final meeting venue have been stacked away. All that expensive signage, commissioned for the benefit of the television cameras, no longer has a purpose. For the second time in just 14 months, Labour’s Leadership Contest is all over bar the voting.

The contrast between the road-show just concluded and what was, effectively, the David Cunliffe Coronation Tour of 2013 could hardly be starker. Then, it was the rank-and-files’ and the affiliates’ moment to deliver a very emphatic one-fingered message to a caucus it had grown to despise – and they delivered it with both hands. This time, it’s been the Labour Caucus’s Victory Tour.

In both 2012 and 2013, Labour’s MPs had warned the party’s members and affiliates that Cunliffe was unacceptable – but they refused to listen. Now they know what happens when a leader lacks the fulsome support of his caucus colleagues. No one’s saying it out loud, but the most important single feature of this year’s leadership contest is David Cunliffe’s absence. No matter which of the four grey eminences emerges from the complicated processes of preferential voting as Labour’s new leader – Caucus has won.

Yes, they will have slayed the Cunliffe dragon…sort of…for one of the contenders has cut a secret deal to help rehabilitate the man with the brain as big as a planet. Trotter thinks that had Cunliffe stood things may have been a bit different.

Had Cunliffe’s name been on the ballot paper, he would, almost certainly, have triumphed again. I don’t think it’s stretching the truth to say that among Labour’s staunchest supporters – Maori and Pasifika – the Member for New Lynn is loved. When informed that their champion had withdrawn from the race, a hall packed with Maori and Pasifika trade union delegates audibly groaned and tears flowed. Only when told that Nanaia Mahuta had entered the fray did their spirits noisily recover.

But, no matter how strong the loyalty shown to Cunliffe by the true believers who give Labour two ticks, it was made abundantly clear to the party membership just how ugly things would get if he insisted, once again, on soliciting their support.

The embittered David Shearer may have led the charge, but every political journalist in the country knew that his acidic tongue was just the poisoned point of a much larger spear. Shearer’s mission was to demonstrate to the rank-and-file and affiliates that the longer Cunliffe persisted in his fantasy of continuing to lead the party the worse things would get. They had to know that Caucus was perfectly willing to destroy the Labour Party in order to save it.

Rather than unleash a no-holds-barred civil war at every level of his Party; one from which it would likely not recover; Cunliffe bowed to the inevitable and withdrew from the contest.

From that point on, the outcome of the 2014 Leadership Contest ceased to matter very much.     Read more »

Labour’s institutional dysfunction

Danyl McLauchlan is one of the few on the left wing that I can respect.

His observations when he isn’t being silly or writing bad satire are usually spot on.

He has taken the time to discuss the Labour party and what he sees as their impending collapse.

I don’t know if Labour is a dying party. Looks like to to me, but there’s still time to turn things around. I do think there’s an important difference between National in 2002 and the Labour Party in 2014. After their 2002 election loss National realised that it faced an existential crisis and took drastic action. They bought Steven Joyce in to review the party, underwent a huge reorganisation and then united behind their subsequent leaders, Brash and Key. The sense I get from Labour is that they don’t have anything to worry about because hey, National was in big trouble a few years ago and now look at them go! Sure, Labour aren’t doing great right now but it’s just history; it’s political cycles. You gotta ride it out and wait until the tide washes you back into government again. There was a nice example of this from former Labour President Mike Williams on the Nine to Noon political segment last week. Williams announced that the leader of the Labour leadership contest will probably be the Prime Minister in 2017 because four term governments are rare. Forget all that hard work of somehow beating John Key, which Labour has no idea how to do, or even reforming the party. Fate will just return them to power, somehow, because that’s what sometimes happened in the past.

I don’t think Key and National see themselves as being circumscribed by fate, and that they should just resign themselves to losing in 2017. I think they’ve built a fearsome political behemoth that dominates New Zealand’s political landscape and which they hope will endure for a long, long time, even after Key finally retires in his fifth term (or whenever).  Labour dying is not a worst-case scenario for the New Zealand left. Labour hanging around, slowly dwindling, occupying the political space of the center-left but not winning an election for another twenty years is the real and highly plausible doomsday scenario. I don’t know how much of National’s strength is an accident of Labour’s current weakness, but I do know that the new Labour leaders job will be reforming their party, and not beating Key. That’s not even an option for Labour until they somehow transform themselves into a modern professional political party, and figure out who they are and what they stand for.

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