Guest Post – Clare Curran: Where angels fear to tread

A couple of weeks ago Clare Curran asked me via Twitter if she could have a guest post on Whaleoil. I told her that she could submit anything she liked and I would post it unedited, I also told her that there is no moderation at my blog so she could and probably would suffer in the comments, if she was ok with that then she could send it thorough. Fortunately for her my blog is having some issues with the database that means commenting is difficult. Fingers crossed it will be fixed soon. Here is Clare’s guest post.

Where angels fear to tread by Clare Curran

Politics is an art. It’s also a trade and a thankless grind. It takes time to learn. Some never do. It’s always about moving. Sometimes forward. Sometimes sideways or backwards. Sometimes into new dimensions. That’s the space I want to inhabit. And it’s about risk.

One of the best things about being a Kiwi is that we have a bullshit radar. One of the not so good things is that we can lack confidence in ourselves and as a nation. But we don’t like someone trying to get one over us. I like that.

You might have noticed that some of us Labour politicians have been using the bullshit word a bit lately. I think that reflects how many people feel even if they’re not prepared to “swear”.

I’d like politics to be more like that. Saying what you really think.

About 13 years ago, when I lived and worked in Australia, I had one of “those” conversations that can determine the course of your life and perhaps even history.

Louise was truly a comrade. An ex member of the CPA (Communist Party of Oz) which had withered like all extremist organisations do eventually. Both of us belonged to the ALP (Aussie Labor Party) but neither was that involved. The union movement was our thing. And we worked together at the ACTU (Aust Council of Trade Unions). Don’t hiss.

We talked about the inability of the Labor Party to get its head out of internal factional infighting and address the big policy issues of the time. It was 1998.  The Howard government dominated. The country was divided and depressed. The ALP had turned inwards. And it’s very different to the NZ Labour Party. So don’t draw parallels.

We talked about a new way of doing politics. A new way of engaging with people across the political spectrum. Finding the commonalities. Leaving to one side the historical barriers. Realising that the future was about new paradigms. And that it was possible. And necessary.

Idealistic bullshit? I dunno. I am an idealist. But I am also a realist. And I don’t like to give up.

When I walked the streets of South Dunedin in 2008 knocking on doors and talking to people about what really mattered, one of the things consistently raised was frustration about the practice of politics.

In 2011, walking those same streets, it keeps coming up. People want you to be straight with them. They don’t want to be dicked around. They don’t want to be manipulated and put into categories and “messaged”.

It doesn’t matter who you are and how your parents voted. What you think about tories, pinkos (that’s for you Whale) or whackos. People want politicians to tell it how it is. And come up with solutions. It’s not rocket science.

Who’s prepared to be most honest, and be clear about your motives.

I’m no angel. But I reckon I’m on the side of the angels.

I know we’re going to fight it out in the election battleground. But to all you Whale loyalists, I reckon in your heart of hearts you know there’s some really important stuff that has to be done in this country.

Making New Zealand a country of makers might be a start. Where our kids can grow up safely and bond to our land and our Kiwi ways. And no matter where life takes them, always see us as home.

Where they get the opportunities in life to get skilled and that there are decent jobs that pay decent money to keep them at home.

Where we’re collectively proud of ourselves. Even if we grumble. Where we can stand tall in the world. Treat each other well. And like each other. Mostly.

I think that access to technology is a great leveller. It can transform our nation, it can give people opportunities and ways out of poverty they never had before. It lets people fend for themselves. It creates new communities. It can allow us to build a nation built on our wits and skills that we can still only dream of.

We have to sort out a few things though; the infrastructure that underpins new technology, a competitive environment with incentives to develop new businesses, one that creates more Kiwi content that builds export businesses as well as being distinctively our own.

One thing we have to get right is ditching the anachronistic and monopolist laws and frameworks that threaten us being able to thrive in digital environment. I get that. It won’t all happen overnight but we need some vision in this. And some leadership.

Politics needs people with vision. We’re not a corporation. We don’t need a chief executive. We need people who have damn good ideas and the ability to put them into practice. How else do great things happen?

I want a country where it doesn’t matter where you live your kids can get the best education. Where you can start up a business in the sticks and make it work. Where our rural communities thrive again.

Where the poor kids can use their skills to develop the next start-ups, rather than the next drug deal.

A big question for us is how we can make New Zealand the most natural place for talent to thrive. I reckon you all care about that. That’s just the start.

We need to make stuff happen. Not make stuff up.

I’m a new politician. In more ways than one. It doesn’t always go down well in my party. You might think I’m a wanker. I don’t care about that. I just care about getting stuff done while I’m here.

And I don’t care if you disagree with me as long as you listen, and debate the real issues. And not the person.

 

 


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  • We need to make stuff hap­pen. Not make stuff up.

    Then you need to talk to Trevor, Pete and Chris. If Labour thinks it will win the election by using the most tenuous of links to smear the PM, the party faces a long time in opposition.

  • Clare, I don’t intend this to be a fisking of your post, but I will address several of your points and close with a summary.

    You say: “Politics is … about moving… into new dimensions. That’s the space I want to inhabit. And it’s about risk.” I would argue the future for the Labour Party in New Zealand lies not in moving ‘forward’ or into ‘new dimensions’, but backward. Back to the Labour Party that gave Roger Douglas to New Zealand. Before your party was simple a ‘gaggle of gays and self-serving unionists’. Your team has failed to land a single hit on the weak and posturing John Key in the past 3 years, because it is bereft of ideas. Key and his gaggle of empty suits have completely owned what has traditionally been your territory. Your party has allowed this to occur, and New Zealand has lurched even further to the left as a result.

    “One of the best things about being a Kiwi is that we have a bullshit radar. One of the not so good things is that we can lack confidence in ourselves and as a nation. But we don’t like someone trying to get one over us. I like that.” If kiwis really, truly had a bullshit radar the Labour party would never have won the 2005 election, Don Brash would be Prime Minister, the public service would never have doubled in size and we would not have led the world into the 2008 recession.

    “Louise was truly a comrade. An ex member of the CPA (Communist Party of Oz) which had withered like all extremist organisations do eventually. Both of us belonged to the ALP (Aussie Labor Party) but neither was that involved. The union movement was our thing. And we worked together at the ACTU (Aust Council of Trade Unions). Don’t hiss.” You should know better than this. I know you’re smarter than this. The CPA has not ‘withered’. In fact they currently occupy the Prime Ministership, in the form of Julia Gillard. Additionally, there is no correlation between the ALP and any party in New Zealand politics. The ALP stands a mile to the right of ACT on many issues, and would be considered ‘extreme right’ in New Zealand. That notwithstanding, Julia Gillard is now broadly recognised as the worst Prime Minister in Australia’s long history of shoddy PMs, and is not long for this (political) world. I do agree the ALP is being ripped apart by factional in-fighting.

    “We talked about a new way of doing politics. A new way of engaging with people across the political spectrum. Finding the commonalities. Leaving to one side the historical barriers. Realising that the future was about new paradigms. And that it was possible. And necessary.” In this single paragraph, you reveal a complete lack of understanding of your political opponents. There can be no ‘reaching across the aisle’. We are not just dissimilar, we are completely ideologically opposed. Your way is the politics of envy, attempting to ensure everyone has equal outcomes. The guarantees a meeting at the bottom; the lowest common denominator. Our way is the way of enterprise, of excellence, of recognising that industry, hard work and entrepreneurship should be rewarded. That there are those who, whether by hard work or great luck or wonderful intelligence, deserve to have wealth unimaginable. Our way leads to growth and prosperity. Yours leads to poverty, misery and the piles of skulls of 200 million dead.

    “When I walked the streets of South Dunedin in 2008 knocking on doors and talking to people about what really mattered, one of the things consistently raised was frustration about the practice of politics.” That would be the disgusting tactics of Mallard and Hodgson then, would it? And the shameful abuse of urgency by the leftist Key administration?

    “It doesn’t matter who you are and how your parents voted. What you think about tories, pinkos (that’s for you Whale) or whackos. People want politicians to tell it how it is. And come up with solutions. It’s not rocket science.” If that was true, Don Brash would be the next Prime Minister of New Zealand with sufficient votes for ACT to govern in its own right. He stands alone among current party leaders as a man of principle and integrity.

    “I’m no angel. But I reckon I’m on the side of the angels.” So, that’d be angels called Stalin, Pol Pot, Guevarra , Mugabe, Clark would it?

    “I know we’re going to fight it out in the election battle­ground. But to all you Whale loyalists, I reckon in your heart of hearts you know there’s some really important stuff that has to be done in this country.” Which is why if John Key is not the worst Prime Minister New Zealand has ever had, he is surely the most disappointing.

    “Where we’re collectively proud of ourselves. Even if we grumble. Where we can stand tall in the world. Treat each other well. And like each other. Mostly.” Utter and abject nonsense. There are no poppies so tall as those who come from New Zealand. What we should be doing is elevating not slow-witted sportspersons, but our incredible stable of scientists, business-people and entrepreneurs. They are those poor children should look at and say ‘I want to be like that’. Poor people should hate being poor (I know I did). They should be encouraged to work hard and make something of themselves, not through artificial floors such as a minimum wage or bullshit do-nothing university or tech courses that teach them nothing productive. And certainly they should not be encouraged to languish on welfare through making welfare dependency more profitable than working (as in many cases it is today).

    “I think that access to technology is a great leveller. It can transform our nation, it can give people opportunities and ways out of poverty they never had before. It lets people fend for themselves. It creates new communities. It can allow us to build a nation built on our wits and skills that we can still only dream of…We have to sort out a few things though; the infrastructure that underpins new technology, a competitive environment with incentives to develop new businesses, one that creates more Kiwi content that builds export businesses as well as being distinc­tively our own…One thing we have to get right is ditching the anachronistic and monopolist laws and frameworks that threaten us being able to thrive in digital environment. I get that. It won’t all happen overnight but we need some vision in this. And some leadership.” There are some good ideas in here Clare, even if very little detail. Fact is, traditionally politicians in New Zealand have believed it is the role of government to ‘create’ jobs and wealth. This is yet another difference between your side and us Conservatives. We believe government has no ability to create wealth. All it can do is steal from the productive and give to the unproductive. Create jobs by creating ever more bureaucracy. Which gets in the way of the creation of real jobs and real wealth. The truth is the best thing government can do to foster jobs and wealth is to get the fuck out of the way. That means repealing destructive legislation like the Resource Management Act. And it means closing down harmful bureaucracies like those whose function is to lobby government (the Ministries of Social Engineering, Economic Development, Maori Affairs, Women’s Affairs, NIWA, etc. and anything ending with ‘Commission’). I note, by the way, your team proposes doing exactly the opposite of this by creating at least one more government department should a miracle occur and it win the Treasury benches in November.

    “Politics needs people with vision. We’re not a corporation. We don’t need a chief executive. We need people who have damn good ideas and the ability to put them into practice. How else do great things happen?” Actually, this is possibly the most bullshit-laden paragraph in your entire post. Government’s job is to defend our borders and ensure those who seek to do harm to others are punished appropriately. Anything else is outside its core competency. Politics does not need people with vision. Business needs people with vision. Politics needs a competent manager at the top. One who will manage the tax take (this means reducing it as much as possible) and will stay the hell out of the way of the people with real vision; those who invent new stuff, those who export New Zealand’s incredible inventions to the world.

    “I want a country where it doesn’t matter where you live your kids can get the best education. Where you can start up a business in the sticks and make it work. Where our rural communities thrive again.” Again, bullshit. Not everyone needs the ‘best’ education. For many, it would be sufficient if they leave school with a working knowledge of the 3 Rs (instead of the socialist pap they’re indoctrinated with today). Not everyone needs a university degree, especially bullshit ones like ‘political science’. And if you want our rural communities to thrive again, the best thing you can do is repeal the two pieces of legislation that are destroying rural communities; the Resource Management Act and the Emissions Trading Scam.

    “Where the poor kids can use their skills to develop the next start-ups, rather than the next drug deal.” OK, so let’s get tough on drugs. Forget about banning over-the-counter cold and flu medicine. Howzabout inspecting 1 in 3 shipping containers instead of 1 in 50? There is nothing now stopping ‘poor kids’ from developing the next start-up. I know, I have pulled myself up. The key is to stop them from languishing on welfare for years on end. We need to make them hungry. To hate being poor so much they put their brains to work instead of destroying them with drugs.

    In closing I don’t think you’re a wanker Clare. You’re just wrong. You are not on the side of the angels, unless it was angels that destroyed 200 million lives in the 20th century. You cannot, and never will, create what you euphemistically call ‘equality’. People are inherently unequal. The cream does tend to rise to the top, while the sludge sinks to the bottom. Artificially tilting the playing field to make it appear as though cream and sludge are equal is a delusional way to look at the world. The best you can ever accomplish is to force the cream down so it rests at the bottom with the sludge.

    The fact is, when your team was last in power you managed to squander a decade of unequalled prosperity. Instead of stimulating genuine growth by cutting taxes and getting out of the way of industry, your side massively increased the size of the bureaucracy, whose role by definition is to usurp the role of private aspects of society (be it industry or parenting).

    Like I said, if you really want Labour to be relevant again you’ll get rid of the deadwood. Retire Goff, King, Mallard and Hodgson. Take the party back to its Douglas, Shirley, Caygill and Prebble days. Work with Prime Minister Brash to lift New Zealand from the depths of depression. Force National further to the left by stealing a march on the right. It’s the only way to stem the flow of talent out of our once-great little country. The only way to stop the slide off the bottom of the OECD charts and into third-world status.

    • gaskranken

      Nice lengthy analysis GG. Nice break-down, incisive, and the very reason why I will always enjoy whale watching:)

      • Cheers gas. I gotta say, it was bloody frustrating having to wait 2 days to post the comment. I was tempted to post it at the blogsite on which I have posting privileges, but am glad I didn’t.

        Incidentally, I like your more direct approach: are you gonna follow the money or stick to your ideals? Whaddaya do?

  • gaskranken

    Ahhh basking in the glow of the idealist Clare. There you are all rosy cheeked, fresh faced and eager to bring new ideas to the table. A yearning desire to change the world for the better, to have a Clearer world even.

    And then as you enthusiastically climb the ladder of power and you have to toe the party line, and you get more jaundiced, cynical and easily threatened when told you could find yourself back down the ladder, infact you find yourself thinking like this:
    one of the things con­sis­tently raised was the frus­tra­tion of prac­ticing of politics.

    So whaddya do Clare, make a stand or take the cash?

    We still don’t want to be dicked around. We don’t want to be manip­u­lated and put into cat­e­gories and “messaged” thanks very much but I would like to know your thoughts on Operation 8.

  • Doc

    “Where our kids can grow up safely and bond to our land and our Kiwi ways. And no mat­ter where life takes them, always see us as home.”

    Well Clare, great rhetoric but this one statement gets me fucking steaming under the collar.
    How can you sit there and say that when you (and your motley crew of meddling academics) put it in place where we, as parents, have to sign for it to be OK for our child to go on a school camp yet the school councillor can take our daughter to go and get an abortion and we won’t be informed?

    This one act by your “party for the people” has turned me off ever supporting Labour. You and your crew make me sick.

    • Doc

      Damn, was reading from the bottom up and WO next post…oh well.
      Anyway Clare, as the father of a 2yo little girl and another child on the way, I can’t believe the lengths that the last Labour Govt went to to insinuate itself in peoples private lives.

  • tl;dr

  • overthehill

    I am. Just. Glad that Clare writes. In Soundbites rather than sentences.

    Because it makes everything easier.
    To read.

    For those who. Can’t understand. Paragraphs and complex. Syntax.

  • whafe

    My question is: Clare are you going to come and post some comments back in regard to your post?

    This will show us loads…… I dont actually think you can nor will

    • gaskranken

      Yeah good point whafe, where is she now, at a taxpayer funded function at the wimmins ministry perhaps?

      • whafe

        Well close, she is Twittering me….. Have to say, those Pinko’s Twitter up a storm, literally….

  • whafe

    Heather Roy lays it out far better: http://www.roy.org.nz/diary/economic-simulation

  • So I guess Clare’s just like all the other lefties then … only wants to speak into an echo chamber and can’t cope with opinions other than her own? Typical commie, I guess. Ah well at least if she read our comments she will have received an education.

  • Anonymous

    In principle what you say could resonate. However after the 9 years of a Labour government, I don’t trust the Labour Party, Clare.

    Because what those 9 years demonstrated to me was that the path the Labour Party was going to take to achieve its goals was to make small numbers of people like me pay the salaries of people to make stuff, even if it was stuff no-one wanted.

    Was WFF the right way to improve the lot of lower income families? I don’t believe so, but I might have been sympathetic to it if I could see that it was going to those in real need. It started with ads showing people in a nice new house with loads of technology texting each other across the room to come for dinner. That doesn’t resonate. That families on over $100,000pa get WFF doesn’t resonate.

    Was the EFA the right way to address shonky donation behaviour? Abslutely not. It was simply aiming to suppress the expression of views the Labour Party didn’t approve of. That was the most fascist piece of legislation I have ever seen come from a NZ government.

    Was the ETS the right way to deal with pressing environmental matters that NZ faces? I don’t think so. Water quality and usage is the number one environmental challenge facing this country and it’s getting nowhere near the traction and money that is being spent on emissions that contribute barely a percentage point globally.

    Was interest free student loans the right way to encourage further learning? Maybe. But having no requirement to pay it when leaving the country, and no reason (interest bearing) to pay it if you stay was just monumentally stupid. In addition you could use this free money to study absolute crap, and end up just as unemployable as when you started.

    I could go on, but I won’t. And all this that Labour focused on was to be paid for by more and more taxes on fewer and fewer people. Kiwi’s do have a bullshit radar. And for me at least, that radar was screaming alerts at me for at least 4 of those 9 years.

    I’m taking the opportunity here, Clare, becuase Trevor has banned me permanently from Red Alert for a single post that he didn’t like some 6 or 8 months ago. That just reinforced the lack of trust.

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