Chris Trotter

Trotter explains why Labour has problems next year

Chris Trotter, the ever observant student of modern political history points out why Bill English may be boring but why he may also squeak into power again despite the ear to ear grins of the Labour party.

“WITH FIFTY-ONE PERCENT SUPPORT in the latest CM Research poll, the Labour Party is cruising towards the Year’s end on an enormous wave of public support. What is the secret behind Labour’s winning political formula – a formula which has so far eluded all of its competitors? To hear Helen Clark, or Michael Cullen, or Steve Maharey tell it, the story of Labour’s success is a simple one: “Under-promise and over-deliver”.

According to this theory, New Zealanders no longer believe in big promises – so don’t make any. Nor do they expect “the gummint” to do very much of anything to help them out. So, keeping those small promises, and, even more astonishing, actually doing a little bit more than you promised, leaves the voters feeling pathetically grateful.

More cynical observers point to Labour’s utter infatuation with opinion polling and focus groups. Its apparatus for taking the public pulse is state-of-the-art, and provides the political leadership with more-or-less instant feedback. Knowing how the electorate is responding to Government policy allows Clark and her ministers to remain in lock-step with public opinion. As the French revolutionary, Danton, is supposed to have remarked, seeing a throng of Parisians passing below his host’s window: “Excuse me, I am their leader – I must follow them.”   Read more »

Trotter on Bill English and Paula Bennett…it’s not what you think

Chris Trotter has an interest piece on The Daily Bog about Bill English and Paula Bennett…and it is brilliant:

Those high-drama, high-risk moments in a nation’s history, when the political adrenalin is coursing through the body politic, are precisely the moments when rushing to any sort of judgement – let alone action – is the worst possible thing politicians, journalists and political activists can do.

John Key’s resignation, for example, was just such a moment of high political drama and risk. People got excited. Adrenalin flowed. Our collective judgement was shot. All sorts of stupid mistakes – and statements – were made, and all sorts of silly stories were published and posted. What the country needed was someone to drive it around for a while and give it a chance to decompress.

Because Bill English is not some sort of Jesuit torturer just aching to draw blood with his newly acquired political instruments. Nor is Paula Bennet a whip-wielding Westie dominatrix in spiked heels and a leopard-skin corset. These two human-beings are nothing more, nor less, than National Party politicians – and by no means the worst of their breed.   Read more »

Chris Trotter on the mediocrity of Labour and Little

Chris Trotter has written what is really one big long sledge against Labour and Andrew Little…and it is spot on.

IS OUR LABOUR PARTY capable of learning anything from the US Democratic Party’s stunning electoral defeat? Andrew Little’s recent string of lacklustre media performances offer few reasons for optimism.

Donald Trump won the White House because he made politics exciting. Newshub’s Paddy Gower was in the US for the final days of the presidential campaign and interviewed Trump supporters who’d been waiting in line for 11 hours to see their champion. Eleven hours! Forgive me for being harsh, but honestly, I can’t see too many Kiwis being willing to wait in line for 11 minutes to see Andrew Little.

And that unwillingness is not entirely attributable to the Labour Leader’s complete charisma by-pass. Possessing the wit and movie-star good-looks of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, certainly wouldn’t impede Little’s political career, but it is not enough, on its own, to guarantee Labour’s electoral success.

Bernie Sanders is hardly what you’d call a matinee idol (more like the voter’s cranky old uncle) but that didn’t prevent him from electrifying huge crowds of young Americans. What lured all those millennials away from their I-Pads had nothing to do with what Sanders looked like. What made them “Feel the Bern” were the things Sanders said.

And even Justin Trudeau could not have become Canada’s PM solely on the strength of his illustrious parentage and pleasing countenance. Indeed, his Conservative Party opponents regarded his sense of political entitlement and youthful good looks as powerful negatives to be exploited.

Canadians, they argued, had no need of a pretty, upper-class dilettante with nothing more to offer them than a famous name. And if that had been all Trudeau offered Canada, then the centre-left New Democrats would have won last year’s election. What finally sealed the deal for the Canadian electorate was Trudeau’s strategic flair and the boldness of his party’s policies. These, combined with the Trudeau family’s indisputable lustre, were what gave Justin and his Liberals their historic victory.

No, Little’s lack of glamour is not Labour’s problem. What’s crippling his leadership – and his party’s chances of winning next year’s election – is that neither he, nor his colleagues, seem capable of inspiring the slightest enthusiasm or excitement in the electorate.

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Trotter on journalism, such as it is

Chris Trotter has finally woken up to the abject failure of the media and to the chattering classes.

DAMN AND BLAST HILLARY CLINTON! Not just because she lost – exposing in the process the appalling political judgement of the Democratic Party. And not just because her failure has saddled the world with President Trump for at least four years. Those sins, on their own, more than merit political damnation. But there is another sin for which I would like to see Clinton blasted. The sin of exposing the vacuity of contemporary journalism and the powerlessness of the mainstream media. Because, to be perfectly honest, Clinton’s failure is my failure too.

Strong words.

Then Trotter embarks on a typical left-wing hypothesis complete with jargon that no one even knows what it means.

The story has its beginnings in the Watergate Scandal. I was just 18 when Nixon was driven from the White House by what everybody said was the investigative journalism of, among others, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and The Washington Post. For one brief shining moment journalists were hailed as heroes and journalism was portrayed as a force so powerful that not even the office of the President of the United States could prevail against it.

Forty years on, however, it is clear that Nixon’s fall owed as much to the deliberate and secretive manipulation of the news media as it did to the efforts of the courageous journalists, Woodward and Bernstein. After all, the latter’s’ key informant, the infamous “Deep Throat”, turned out to be no less a buttress of the American “Deep State” than Mark Felt, the Associate Director of the FBI.

In the movie, All the President’s Men, Deep Throat is portrayed as a reluctant but principled whistleblower from the dark heart of the Washington bureaucracy. A more probable explanation, however, is that Felt represented a Deep State faction determined to drive the mentally unstable Nixon out of the Oval Office. In 2016, it is equally probable that a highly-motivated Deep State faction, this time based in the FBI’s New York Field Office, used the news media to prevent Hillary Clinton from re-entering the White House as President.

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Trotter on the optimism of Trump

Chris Trotter has written another sensible column, this time on the potential positives of a Trump presidency:

What must never be forgotten is that Trump comes to the White House carrying less political baggage than any presidential candidate since Dwight Eisenhower. His billionaire status enables him to operate without recourse to the squalid back-room horse-trading that has turned-off so many American voters.

It’s a situation ideally suited to a successful populist leader. Having run against “The Establishment” and won, Trump now needs to demonstrate what his victory means in legislative terms. The very best way to do that is take up a position bestriding both the Democratic and Republican parties. By demanding bi-partisan support for his plans to restore American greatness he will be offering himself a win-win proposition. If the Democrats refuse to play ball, they will merely reinforce their estrangement from “Heartland America”. If the Republican Party balks at Trump’s Keynesian solutions (which, ideologically-speaking, they are bound to do) then Trump has them over a barrel – a pork barrel.   Read more »

Chris Trotter on the dopey protestors

Chris Trotter will probably be reefed from his bed in the dead of night, tarred and feathered and chained to a lamp post on Mt Eden road for his latest post, daring to queston the wisdom of protesting the Defence Industry when all those nasty pieces of war gear are currently rescuing people and assisting with relief efforts after the Kaikoura Earthquake.

[F]aced with poll results indicating that a very substantial majority of New Zealanders are positive about the rapprochement between their country and the United States, reasonable progressives would have been disinclined to organise a protest against the participation of a US destroyer in the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

That disinclination would have been vindicated entirely by the events of the past few days. Far from being seen as a symbol of American imperialism, the USS Sampson – now on its way to assist earthquake victims stranded in Kaikoura – is being welcomed by the vast majority of New Zealanders as a symbol of American friendship and solidarity.   Read more »

Has Labour lost Trotter?

It would seem that Labour has lost Chris Trotter.

I SHOULD BE at the Labour Party’s annual conference. I fully intended to attend. I’d received the usual e-mail inviting me to apply for media accreditation. But, with the deadline looming, I just couldn’t do it.

Wearing a media pass around my neck this year would have felt hypocritical – inauthentic. Labour conferences have never been just another journalistic assignment for me. Ever since I cast my first vote (more than 40 years ago now, God help me!) Labour’s cause has been my cause. Regardless of whether I was attending as a delegate, or a journalist, Labour conferences mattered.

It’s why I worked so hard to get to them. As the only political organisation in New Zealand with a realistic prospect of actually improving the lives of working people, the internal life of the Labour Party has, for me, always been a matter of huge significance.

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Trotter thinks Labour wants to lose Hutt South

On the weekend Labour HQ overrode the wishes of their electorate and selected Virginia Anderson over popular local identity Campbell Barry. He reminisces about the days he was earnestly campaigning for Jim Anderton’s New Labour Party.

Canvassing Dunedin’s working-class streets I was taken to task on doorstep-after-doorstep by a succession of narrow-eyed matrons as suspicious of my rounded middle-class vowels as they were contemptuous of the NLPs affirmative action policy.

“I don’t agree with quotas”, I was told over and over again. “You should pick the best person for the job.” With impressive prescience, these hard-bitten mothers and grandmothers demanded to know what the NLP would do “if your quota isn’t filled and you’ve got to choose between a really good man and an unsuitable woman? Are you really going to tell the best man to bugger off? Because if you are – then you needn’t bother coming around here asking for my vote.”

While Virginia Anderson is a good Labour candidate the party has made a mistake in Hutt South, and Chris Trotter thinks so too and for those same reasons he learned on the doorsteps of Dunedin.   Read more »

Even Trotter is using a photo of Little looking spastic


WHY, OH WHY didn’t Andrew Little keep his mouth shut? Or, when asked by a journalist to respond to the political observations of his party’s former leader, just stick to the time-honoured current leader’s script?

“I’ve enormous respect for the wisdom of Helen Clark. Her record of winning three elections on the trot speaks for itself. Her political observations are informed by the experience and achievement of many years. Only a fool wouldn’t listen very carefully to her advice.”

If that wasn’t sufficient, then Clark’s remark about Labour needing to “command the centre” should simply have been endorsed. Something along the lines of:

“She’s quite right about that. When questioned, the overwhelming majority of people position themselves between the extremes of left and right. And if you don’t secure the votes of a very big chunk of these centrist voters, then your party’s chances of being elected to govern are next to zero.”

A statement of the bleeding-bloody-obvious, of course, but sometimes the bleeding-bloody obvious is what people need to hear. It reassures them that you, and the party you lead, are in tune with their own general view of the world. Nobody gets to become Prime Minister by making voters feel that the Leader of the Opposition is out-of-tune with their general view of the world.

And yet, that’s exactly what Little did. He described Clark’s bog-standard pol-sci observation – that, to win, his party must “command the centre ground” – as “pretty hollow”.

Pretty hollow!

Yeah, Angry Andy really doesn’t do surprise questions very well.   Read more »

Chris Trotter on Sue Bradford’s latest organisation of angry upset commies

Chris Trotter isn’t at all enthused by Sue Bradford’s latest escapade…the form of a left-wing “think tank”. Oh I know…hard left people actually pretending to think…it’s almost too much to bear.

Is it too soon to pronounce judgement upon ESRA? Economic & Social Research Aotearoa has only just been launched. So, surely, we should give it a little time to show us what it can do? Except that we already know what ESRA will do, because we already know what ESRA is. ESRA is a Far-Left “think tank” whose contribution to the formulation and implementation of broadly acceptable progressive policies will range from negligible to nil.

Unfair? I don’t think so.

If I were to show you the first fragile leaves of a lemon sapling, and ask whether or not you wanted a lemon tree in your garden, I very much doubt that you would say: “Oh, let’s not be hasty. That might not be a lemon tree after all. Or, if it is a lemon tree, it might prove to be one of a very special kind – one that does not bear sour fruit.” More likely your answer would depend on how you feel about lemons.

If you like lemon trees, and lemons, you’d say: “Oh, by all means, let it grow.” If you don’t like lemons, you’d tell me to pull it out.

Well I don’t like lemons. At least, I don’t like lemon trees that take up space and consume resources I would much rather allocate to other plants.

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