Whaleoil Radio Summer Series – Chris Trotter

Today I spoke with Chris Trotter for a left wing perspective on politics.

WOBH Summer Series Interviews – Chris Trotter

Link to audio file is at http://whaleoil.gotcha.co.nz/audio/WOBH-ChrisTrotter[dot]mp3

Key quotes from Chris Trotter:

Who are Labour’s thinkers?

On Jordan Carter:

“Preeminent among the thinkers in the Labour Party at the moment, is Jordan Carter, erstwhile blogger, but now the chair of Labour’s policy council, which is probably exactly the right place for him, because he is one of Labour’s great policy wonks.”

On David and Liz Craig:

“They presented at a Labour party conference on the North Shore a quite devastating slide show what was still then you know government ministers, how little labour had actually done in relation particularly to child poverty.”

On Labour’s contrition:

“I think if you had a politician who could do that convincingly, it would work supremely well, I’m not sure that any of the current labour line up is capable of saying that without just appearing as though they are just saying that.”

On Phil Goff:

“Phil’s gone through many, many incarnations, as a labour activist with long hair decrying American imperialism, to a bright eyed and bushy tailed young Roger Gnome, to apparently now the re-inventor of Labour’s social democratic principles”

“He was a long-haired activist, back in the days when long-haired activism was de rigueur on university campuses”

On public sector unions and rollbacks of entitlements in the US:

“If you can point to public sector employees whose job security is much greater, who are much more heavily unionized, have access to health care programs and good pensions, and you are looking at all these things and you are aware you’ve got no health insurance and you’ve got no pension then its easy to get resentful and that’s certainly what Republican politicians like Chris Christie in New Jersey are doing and doing extremely well.”

On Chris Christie:

“He is someone, I suspect who could say sorry and be believed, he’s that sort of politician.”

“He put the media in its place when they accused him of being confrontational, he really is one to watch.”

“The Republican party needs someone like Chris Christie, because otherwise they are stuck with Sarah Palin.”

On John Key:

“I think John Key’s position is very similar, if you look back in recent history, to the politics of Sir Keith Holyoake, and also in a strange way to the politics if not the economics of Rob Muldoon”

“He is a classic National party pragmatist”

“Makes it very clear as both Holyoake and Muldoon both did that they are not there to dismantle and destroy what New Zealnders like about their country.”

“If you are able to instill that sense of confidence in the electorate and if you bring with you a sense of economic competence and understanding, which Muldoon certainly did, less so Holyoake…..that’s something John Key has got going for him as well.”

“That’s the perfect combination in New Zealand politics it seems to me in terms of political longevity in any case, that is you do not make people afraid of you and make people trust your competence and if you’ve got that combination then you will go on and on and on like the Eveready bunny”

“I think John Key has a better grasp, its not that he does nothing, its just that he does a little bit every now and again and in a way that doesn’t frighten the horses.”

“Certainly he is in the honorable New Zealand political tradition of compassionate pragmatism, and so long as he hold to that course then he is going to be extremely difficult to beat.”

On Helen Clark:

“This is what Helen Clark always set out to do and I was surprised that she did it so badly, in fact.”

“Helen Clark took a very very powerful lesson from what happened in New Zealand to the Kirk government and in Australia to the Whitlam government, if you go tot far too fast you generate a backlash which is very very hard to withstand, and they learned that lesson, only to sort of repeat it from the right under Rogernomics which did them as a party enormous damage for a very long time.”

On Labours “Get John Key” campaign:

“Completely mistaken, did not read the man at all well”

“One suspects that they despair of finding some other way through.”

On how modern Labour can become more appealing:

“It does very well when it plays to the best, in New Zealanders, when it booths articulates and asks people to respond to the bright side rather than the dark side of the NZ way of doing things.”

“When they find someone who can articulate them, as they did with Michael Joseph Savage  as they did with Norman Kirk, as they certainly did with David Lange, then they are very hard to beat, but if those two things are lacking, if they lack someone who is able to articulate that appeal to New Zealand’s better angels, to borrow Abraham Lincoln’s famous phrase and if they aren’t driven in a sense by adverse economic winds then Labour does find it difficult historically to win.”

On Phil Goff:

“He hasn’t demonstrated to date, either the rhetorical skills necessary to make that appeal, and certainly to date he hasn’t been able to emote in a way that New Zealanders can believe.”

On Labour enticing better candidates:

[They need] “life experience which you certainly don’t get in any great breadth on the ninth floor of the beehive”

On Auckland marginal seats:

On Sam Lotu Iiga and Maugakiekie

“I think there were some important boundary changes in Maungakiekie as well which made the seat more likely to be held by someone like Sam, than not, and yes, I think Labour’s choice of Carol Beaumont made me scratch my head, because personally I would have found someone much more like Sam.”

“I think he is going to be hard to dislodge”

On Waitakere:

“I think it is more important that Labour re-captures Waitakere”

“I’m not as confident that Carmel can take down the Minister of Social Development”

On Auckland Central:

Jacinda? Is she the sort of gal who can take down Nikki Kaye? Possibly? but I’m not as confident as I’d like to be.

On the new left wing party:

“Rumours, rumours, rumours”

“Hone has got other fish to fry.”

” Bomber I know is very keen, Bomber is jumping up and down with keeness, but keeness alone doesn’t alone get you elected”

On standing for NZ First:

“Once again a lovely story”

“I’m interested in NZ First, because my strong belief is that if Winston Peters returns to parliament, John Key will leave the beehive and cease to be Prime Minister.”

Who should we be watching to replace Trotter and McCarten as principled left wing commentators?

“Martyn Bradbury is putting in a huge amount of energy and a huge amount of passion into promoting left wing causes.”


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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