Last election was won by National largely because there wasn’t an alternative government on offer: As noted here at the time, the opposition was more a student representative council with delusions of grandeur.
It was thought the lesson might have been learned – but as 2015 wore on, it became clear it hadn’t been, at least not by the Labour Party.
Oddly enough, the Green Party learned that lesson. Whether you like its policies or not – and this column has been critical enough of many of them – the party has been carefully, consciously, positioning itself as ready to take part in a responsible government.
The Labour Party instead is positioning itself less like an alternative government and more like a protest movement.
Matthew Hooton looks at the precarious position of Labour after their big policy launch about something we’ve all forgotten about now.
The year’s first polls are disastrous for beleaguered Labour leader Andrew Little.
According to Roy Morgan, the Labour/Green bloc is stagnant on 41.5%. Arguably worse is TVNZ’s Colmar Brunton poll which has the axis down 3% to 40%. This is not quite the Brashian 17% boost Mr Little hoped when he rose outside Auckland University last month to announce Labour’s ‘free’ tertiary education policy.
The policy was classic Revenge of the Nerds. Mr Little and his finance spokesman Grant Robertson began their careers as presidents of the New Zealand University Students’ Association in the 1980s and 1990s. Their belief has never been shaken that the taxpayer should pay all the expenses for school leavers to do arts degrees in political studies, philosophy and public policy as they did.
So confident were the big two that free education was a circuit breaker, the policy was kept secret from Labour’s porous caucus and even frontbenchers now claim privately they were kept in the dark.
Embarrassingly, Labour MPs are now rushing around campuses trying to sell the policy but those enrolling for the first time in 2016 know they are specifically excluded, with implementation planned only from 2019 and not completed until 2025, if Labour wins three elections.
If the political messaging reflected the actual policy, Labour MPs would instead be hanging around primary schools.
The socialists have lost the argument. But that hasn’t bothered them. They have simply done away with the need for one. They now pump their claptrap through their self-evident ethical superiority, their vicious ad hominem attacks and their relentless propaganda.
This astonishing feat is made possible by a legion of second-rate university hacks impressing young minds with the disabling notions that truth is relative, and logic and reason the political tools of the oppressors.
The result is seen in the mush that passes for news, the Twittersphere, and all political debate.
NBR has a list of the best and worst for 2015:
The Best candidates:
Bill English: National’s safe pair of hands finally got a (tiny) surplus in his crosshairs and is at risk of losing his unsung hero status with Stuff and Granny Herald naming him politician of the year. NBR’s Rob Hosking paid tribute to the finance minister’s droll wit, including the recent quip “Oh, it’s not disappointing: it’s just another Treasury forecast.”
Judith Collins: It was a textbook rehabilitation campaign as Kindler, Gentler Crusher kept her loose cannon instincts at bay for a year of measured, contrite and sensible media appearances and commentaries.
Tim Groser: A free trade deal with South Korea and the conclusion of the TPP – with NZ, defying expectations in some quarters, refusing to give much ground on issues like copyright and big pharma (on the flipside, there was little in the agreement for Fonterra).
John Key: Yet another year when National has cruised along at the top of the polls and the opposition has failed to land any major blows amid a stream of mini-scandals – a feat that’s more remarkable with each passing year and unprecedented deep into a third term. As a bonus, Malcolm Turnbull and the Aussie media fell in love with him. Key is already headed for the history books as one of our most successful politicians ever, but how will his policy impact be remembered? So far his government has followed the usual NZ pattern of a National government carefully managing and tweaking the reforms of the proceeding Labour government. His pet legacy project faces problems getting over the line in 2016 as pro-current flag voters ally with those disappointed with the winning alternative design. Read more »
Nathan Smith has a brilliant opinion piece at NBR on freedom of speech, but more importantly the proclivity of people, mostly the left-wing to shout down or wanting to ban those who they disagree with.
People seem split about US presidential candidate Donald Trump. His hair, sorry, his policies neatly separate the left from the right, not only in the US, but in every country pretending to care about the pre-primary silly season currently hogging the airwaves.
In a perfect world, I wouldn’t need to speak about Mr Trump at all. He wields no power and is unlikely to secure any despite what his supporters claim. But this is not a perfect world, and Mr Trump represents a deep problem also found in New Zealand society that’s worth discussing – as opposed to yelling.
I am not interested in Mr Trump’s ideas about forcing the Mexican government to pay for a security fence to keep illegal immigrants from stealing across the border. Neither am I interested in his attacks on the politically-correct “regressive”-left (as Muslim author Maajid Nawaz so eloquently calls the progressive left). He may as well command the sea to stop being wet.
I am not even interested in his back-of-the-envelope proposal to stop all Muslim immigration to the US. Presumably this unworkable policy precludes Muslim Americans on holiday or working overseas from re-entering the US, too. Never mind that the idea rips up the US constitution, how exactly does Mr Trump think he’ll screen for such people?
No, what concerns me is every political side in every developed country’s attempt to stifle the other’s words. Being offended isn’t a nice feeling, we can all relate to that. But it does not mean we should force other people to be silent simply to feel good. It is a direct attack on freedom of speech – the only thing that makes Western civilisation worth protecting.
More accurately, 2% of the people believe Craig, but 15% hate me so much, they want to believe Craig. It’s all a bit of a conundrum for the likes of The World’s Greatest Sysop and other leftie single brain celled organisms: when they hate Colin with a passion, and want me dead… who to support?
I knew this was coming. Readers may recall I’ve been pushing the government to deal with the Sabin issue since a little after the election.
Worse, Key slipped up this morning on TV by linking two bits of information together that were previously just speculation. Careful observers will now know exactly what kind of alleged assault Sabin is being investigated for. Read more »
Neville Gibson, editor at the NBR writes:
The assassinations of journalists and cartoonists at a satirical French newspaper will add to a wave of anti-Islamic feeling in Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have turned out in Paris, Lyons and other cities to defend freedom of speech and western democratic values against terrorism. In London, a demonstration has been held in Trafalgar Square.
The rallying call is “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) – a reference to President Kennedy’s speech at the Berlin Wall in the 1960s and to the name of the weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were invaded by three hooded gunmen at 11.30am Parisian time on Wednesday.
Let’s start with his gutlessness at not calling things for what they are.
These were not “three hooded gunmen”….they were Islamic terrorists.
Look Neville, at what they did to a wounded gendarme.
A recent online survey by NBR shows that people can’t be fooled by prissy press releases and smooth talking tosspots…we seem to know they are professional liars.
New Zealand’s public relations body, PRINZ, is sour about the result of a recent NBR subscriber poll.
In a press release, PRINZ president Bruce Fraser took a potshot at the messenger, an NBR reporter.
“President Bruce Fraser has taken issue with an NBR reporter’s view that subscribers don’t believe public relations professionals are simply balancing out media and public commentary on contentious issues,” it says. Read more »
Brendan Horan has chickened out on pursuing Winston Peters of his dodgy story about his racehorse.
Independent MP Brendan Horan says he will not pursue a complaint against Winston Peters over his alleged failure to declare his financial interest in racehorse Bellazeel.
A legal threat appears to be behind the climb-down, although Mr Horan also sites a Standing Orders issue. Mr Horan says he has been advised the NZ First leader could have a shot at him for contempt for bringing the issue to the media’s attention and then making a complaint. The independent MP is already on the backfoot after Winston Peters called in lawyers of an interview Mr Horan did with RNZ on Thursday, during which he raised new claims separate to Ballazeel.
Last week Mr Horan told NBR ONLINE he was undecided over pursuing a parliamentary complaint over why Mr Peters did not include his Bellazeel stake in his filing for the registry of MPs’ financial interests.
Sir Maarten Wevers, who oversees the registry, says he cannot look into the matter of his own account. Standing Orders require a formal complaint to be made by an MP.
In a poll of NBR member subscribers between Friday and early Monday morning, 87% of participants said he should press ahead with the complaint.
However, today Mr Horan claims that under Standing Orders he cannot go to the register because he has already made the matter public. NBR is seeking expert clarification on this issue.
None of Winston Peters public statements about the racehorse stand scrutiny.
He said the horse was put out to pasture years ago…it only started racing in 2012 and won a race earlier this year. Read more »