Josie Pagani

Josie Pagani on Andrew Little’s challenges

Josie Pagani has some sound advice for Andrew Little.

I bet he doesn’t listen though, but he really needs to.

How many times have we seen shots of Labour party leaders declaring unity while standing in front of caucus members, smiling the kind of smile you produce by sucking air through your teeth?

Labour doesn’t need more protests of unity. It needs more open debate.

People used to join the Labour party for the policy fights. A contest of ideas was how you sorted  good ideas from bad. Achievements like paid parental leave and the nuclear free policy were achieved only after advocates won the argument; Unity was earned by debate, not by shutting debate down and pretending there was no diversity of opinion on these issues.

You can’t have a contest of ideas unless you accept into the fold people with a range of views, and celebrate ideological breadth. Bill Rowling and David Lange were both early sceptics of the nuclear free policy; yet today publicly arguing for a minority position within the party is mistaken for disloyalty.

So Andrew Little’s first challenge is to change this culture.

That is so true. Labour has this tug the forelock, doff the cloth cap, kneel in obeisance to the leader mentality that was beaten into them by Helen Clark and her stasi-like control of internal party debate. Those attitudes now need to be beaten out of them.

The 600,000 people who voted Labour a few months ago had nothing to do with this leadership contest. Most didn’t care because the election purported to be a contest between fifty shades of beige:  ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity for all’ as if anyone in Labour is in favour of unfairness and opportunity only for a wealthy few.

The exception was David Parker and Andrew Little differing over capital gains tax and the retirement age. Andrew Little wants to jettison Labour’s election policies on those issues. He will now have to respond to Parker’s question – if not a CGT, then what? Not forgetting the CGT is more popular in the polls than Labour right now.

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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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The Huddle at 1740

newstalkzb

It’s Monday and I’m on ZB with Larry Williams to do The Huddle with Josie Pagani again.

Our topics will be:

  • So first up we’ve got cabinet today discussing the issue of our involvement with the international military action against ISIS. Seems like we’re poised to help out in some shape or form. David Shearer doesn’t think we should commit troops to the effort. Perhaps he’d like us to hire some of those mercenary firms he is dead keen on. Meanwhile we’ve got a couple of whack jobs in our own back yard too popping up to say what a great job ISIS is doing. Read more »

Labour’s dirty politics on display

Labour’s dirty politics is on display and it involves a couple of the more nasty characters in the Labour party.

The weeping sores of Labour Party divisions following a devastating election defeat are not confined to the Wellington Beltway. Political editor Dene Mackenzie finds Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is fighting her own opposition.

In most cases, the revival of a Labour Party branch which says it has doubled its membership since August, and aims to have 100 members early next year, would be welcomed by the sitting MP.

But Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is anything but thrilled by the resurrection of the Andersons Bay-Peninsula branch in her electorate.

She says the branch was reconstituted without official approval, with the aim of undermining her bid to be re-elected.

”This is dirty tricks and dirty politics in Dunedin South,” she told the Otago Daily Times this week.

The man behind the revival, former candidate and branch organiser Tat Loo, denies the allegations.  Read more »

The Huddle at 1740

newstalkzb

It’s Monday and as usual Larry Williams has The Huddle with Jock Anderson and myself.

Our topics will be:

  • National’s cabinet reshuffle.
  • The electricity cuts in Auckland. A two sided affair, businesses take a hit – and these kind of power cuts shouldn’t be happening. BUT also there was a bit of overkill in relation to the media coverage and the term “crisis” being bandied about.

You can listen online via iHeartRadio and usual methods.

As usual I will post the audio in the morning.

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The Huddle

newstalkzb

I was on The Huddle last night.

There was a slight change this week after Josie Pagani showed her right wing credentials they have decided to get a real left winger on the show and so David Farrar made an appearance

Our topics were:

  • Labour – where did it all go so wrong and will their inquiry get to the bottom of the problem. Looking at their terms of reference in relation to this it’s like they are basically looking at EVERYTHING to do with the party in relation to the situation. But I would say that the party’s only as good as the people running it – and they might be in for a  shock when the results of the review come back. They clearly need a good clean out to rejuvenate party in the public’s eye – but they also need behind the scenes people who can come up with effective and strong policy to move them towards the middle ground and become a real opposition party again. They do actually risk becoming irrelevant and leaving the door open for either the Greens or NZ First to be the “opposition”.
  • Then we’ve got the two friends for National in parliament. They feel like faux deals as there doesn’t appear to be much in it for either Peter Dunne or David Seymour – I guess it gives National more of a buffer in the house, but what on earth is an under -secretary? Interesting though that both Dunne and Seymour are happy to roll with their votes going to National for very little relevance in the wider scheme of things.

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The Huddle at 1740

newstalkzb

It’s Monday and as usual Larry Williams has The Huddle.

There is a slight change this weeks after Josie Pagani showed her right wing credentials they have decided to get a real left winger on the show for tonight and so David Farrar will be joining us.

Our topics will be:

  • Labour – where did it all go so wrong and will their inquiry get to the bottom of the problem. Looking at their terms of reference in relation to this it’s like they are basically looking at EVERYTHING to do with the party in relation to the situation. But I would say that the party’s only as good as the people running it – and they might be in for a  shock when the results of the review come back. They clearly need a good clean out to rejuvenate party in the public’s eye – but they also need behind the scenes people who can come up with effective and strong policy to move them towards the middle ground and become a real opposition party again. They do actually risk becoming irrelevant and leaving the door open for either the Greens or NZ First to be the “opposition”.
  • Then we’ve got the two friends for National in parliament. They feel like faux deals as there doesn’t appear to be much in it for either Peter Dunne or David Seymour – I guess it gives National more of a buffer in the house, but what on earth is an under -secretary? Interesting though that both Dunne and Seymour are happy to roll with their votes going to National for very little relevance in the wider scheme of things.

You can listen online via iHeartRadio and usual methods.

As usual i will post the audio in the morning.

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Cat fight: Pagani vs St John

Josie Pagani and Susan St John are having a donnybrook over the direction of the Labour party and poverty.

One is an activist and member of the party the other is a lofty academic more attune with lecturing people.

My money is on the activist.

Susan St John accuses me of “visionless pro-work rhetoric” for writing in my blog about Labour’s position on extending the Working For Families tax credit to families not in work.

I’m not sure if Susan St John thinks it would be more visionary to be ‘anti-work’. I’m proud to support the core Labour value of work. The best way out of poverty is a well-paid job. The Labour movement is founded on the entitlement of working people to dignity through work and security when we can’t.

Those of us who have been in and around families needing benefits to live on have experienced the cycle of getting work, getting off the benefit and then getting back into it again. Work is the central security in our lives.

There will always be many who can’t work (or, often, could work but should not have to, such as many mothers of young children and many sick and disabled individuals among others.) Being ‘pro-work’ does not mean giving up on them or failing to represent them.

But my point was that you win the argument about doing more to help families on benefits if you can win the trust of those who are only two pay checks away from being on a benefit themselves.

Susan St John’s position implies the only way to help beneficiaries is by extending the in-work tax credit to beneficiaries. Yet we know that policy is unpopular.

So why don’t we get support to reduce child poverty and inequality? She implies the in-work tax credit for beneficiaries is unpopular because of the way it is framed. Others often say it is because voters don’t care about child poverty and inequality. I disagree.

Most New Zealanders really do care about child poverty. They understand the significance of increasing cash payments to beneficiaries. They’re not sceptical about the goal – they are sceptical about the in-work tax credit being the right tool to use.

It is revealing that, in an extensive quote from my previous column she left out this one:

Only when we do that job properly (representing working people) do we win the trust of people to increase benefit levels; because another Labour principle is compassion.”

Yet that is the main point I was making: we lost trust. We have to ask why.

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Realists and Dreamers, why Labour is screwed

The Labour party is in dreadful trouble.

The problem they have is a large amount of their supporters think they have nothing to be ashamed of, that they should keep on keeping on doing what voters have rejected for 3 elections now.

Looks at the attitudes of Len Richard’s, the man who famously attacked a protestor with a megaphone.

More than a decade of dirty politics aimed at demonising and destabilising the Labour Party by well-organised and well-funded opponents have taken their toll. The opinion polls reflect the public mood deliberately created by the spin doctors of the right, and the very poor election results for Labour over the last three elections reflect the polls.

They can’t have it both ways.For years the left wing said the blogosphere was irrelevant, especially me…now we are responsible for the demise of the Labour party.

Deluded is a kind word for people like Len Richards. Dinosaurs is appropriate.

Suggesting Labour lurch further to the left when more than 60% of the voters voted centre right is serious delusion.   Read more »

Armstrong on Labour’s little shop of horrors

John Armstrong examines why it is that Labour is so out of touch.

Is brand “Labour” depreciating so rapidly in electoral value that the party’s long-term future is now in serious jeopardy? This week’s hostilities both outside and inside the Labour caucus weren’t just about the post-election future of David Cunliffe or, to be exact, the lack thereof.

It was another exchange of volleys from Labour’s parliamentary wing fired in the direction of the wider party’s left faction, who take very strong exception to the caucus pressuring Cunliffe to give up the leadership.

But Labour’s really serious underlying problems run a lot deeper than that. A decade or so ago, Labour was still seemingly indestructible. Over preceding years, Labour regularly suffered from mass desertion by voters and was consequently written off, only to recover Phoenix-like within a relatively short period of time, such was the two-party monopoly under a first-past-the-post electoral system.

Labour’s present parlous state is unprecedented, however. Much has been made of last Saturday’s capture by the party of a paltry 24.7 per cent of the party vote as being Labour’s worst result since 1922.

Indeed, that is the case. But it’s only half the story. In 1922, Labour was a new political movement on the way up, not a tiring one with distinct signs of being on the way down.

Labour have forgotten their brand.

Josie Pagani regularly points out that Labour used to support the working voter.

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Now it seems they support the luvvies, the indigent and the criminal classes.

Labour ever more resembles a classic 1950s-style department store selling a broad range of general merchandise, but not stocking the specialist goods its declining number of customers actually want to buy.

In trying to satisfy everyone, the store is pleasing no one. Shoppers are instead getting what they want from smaller, more flexible competitors enjoying a deregulated market.

To make matters worse, the store’s staff keep ordering outdated or hard-to-sell items liked by only a few very elderly browsers and people from ethnic groups. Meanwhile, faulty market research has the store’s management targeting a clientele which no longer exists.

Yet, another far more modern department store across the road is raking in the cash like never before. That is because John Key and National know what their market likes. Labour believes in supplying goods that its customers ought to like for their own good – and is then surprised when they reject them.

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