Tuesday 13 October 2015

Rejecting The TPP Could Help Labour Win In 2017.

Deploying All Of His Persuasive Powers: Andrew Little faces an enormous challenge in persuading Middle New Zealand that the very limited gains of the  Trans-Pacific Partnership aren't worth the loss of control over their nation's economic future. The political winds are shifting. US Presidential contender, Hilary Clinton, has come out against the TPP, forced to change her position by the massive rejection, worldwide, of economies run not for people but for powerful business interests.
LABOUR’S STANCE on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could end up determining the outcome of the 2017 General Election. If Andrew Little aligns his party with the other parliamentary opponents of the TPP – the Greens and NZ First – then the legislation giving effect to the agreement will barely scrape through the House of Representatives. Such open and substantial parliamentary opposition will clear the way for Andrew Little to lead an anti-TPP coalition into electoral battle in 2017. If, however, Labour ends up supporting the TPP, then it will be a fractured and fractious Opposition that takes the field against John Key in two years’ time.
With Labour firmly opposed, the National-led Government’s best outcome would see the TPP’s enabling legislation passed by a margin of three votes. But if, as seems likely, the Maori Party acknowledges the rising anti-TPP sentiment within Maoridom, by either abstaining or voting against the bill, then the nearest thing to a TPP ratification process that New Zealanders are going to get will be carried by just one vote – Peter Dunne’s.
Nobody in the pro-TPP camp wants that to happen. A Parliament split down the middle (61:60) presents the public with a powerful symbol of discord, disagreement and dissent. A one-vote (or even a three vote) majority says: “This isn’t over. This matter will be decided at the ballot box.”
Such a prospect is a far cry from the cosy bipartisanship which, since the early 1980s, has characterised the free-trade debate in New Zealand. It was the Labour-leader, Bill Rowling, who, in 1982, over-ruled the doubters in his party and swung Labour’s support behind Rob Muldoon’s proposed Closer Economic Relationship Agreement (CER) with Australia. The subsequent 33 years of bipartisan unity on free trade has effectively marginalised all those individuals and groups cautious about eliminating border protections. Understandably, the restoration of bipartisanship is currently the pro-TPP camp’s No. 1 priority.
What the Right fears the most is two years of rising political temperatures and sharpened social antagonisms, during which the controversial content of the TPP supplies the Government’s opponents with all the ammunition they need to bring down the National-led coalition of right-wing political parties.
Over the next few weeks the New Zealand people should, therefore, be on the alert for two full-on political campaigns. The first will be a government-funded PR campaign designed to sell the alleged benefits of the TPP to as many Kiwis as possible. The second will involve dozens (if not scores) of journalists, businesspeople and academics doing their level best to persuade Labour to return to the bipartisan fold.
There will be those in Labour’s parliamentary caucus who will find it difficult not to echo the content of both campaigns. For the former trade minister, Phil Goff, in particular, it will be nearly impossible to take any other position. He is, after all, the man who negotiated the 2008 China/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. Nor is he alone. The right-wing political commentator and PR maven, Matthew Hooton, has speculated that as many as half-a-dozen Labour MPs could end up crossing-the-floor to vote in favour of the TPP.
Labour should not, however, allow itself to be spooked by such scare tactics. The political winds are shifting, and the last thing Labour wants to be caught defending is the TPP. And that’s because the deal to which the Government has formally committed New Zealanders is not a trade deal in the way our FTA with the Chinese is a trade deal.
The Nobel Prize-winner for Economics, Joseph Stiglitz, has this to say about the TPP: “You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for ‘free trade’. The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies.”
If Labour truly believes it’s going to enhance its chances of winning the 2017 election by swinging-in behind the “country’s most powerful business lobbies”, then it’s in for an unpleasant surprise. Those shifting political winds that have caused US Presidential contender, Hilary Clinton, to come out against the TPP, are driven by the massive rejection, worldwide, of economies run not for people but for powerful businesses.
With Labour, the Greens and NZ First allied against the TPP (and around what other issue could these three parties credibly campaign as a government-in-waiting?) the National Party and its allies will find themselves campaigning for an agreement which, as more and more of its detailed provisions are analysed and explained, becomes less and less defensible.
The 2017 election, if Labour, the Greens and NZ First box clever, can thus become a contest between competing visions. The TPP’s vision of an economy that’s managed for powerful business interests; and the progressive Opposition’s vision of an economy that works for people.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 13 October 2015.


David Stone said...

Hi Chris
You will have found morning report profoundly uninspiring .
Cheers D J S

Tiger Mountain said...

amidst the many “issues de jour” TPP sticks out like the proverbial as the only one capable of potentially uniting the three parliamentary opposition parties

from faithful 500 or even 200 beginnings, to the 10,000 marching in Auckland at “TPPA–Walk Away” this has been a slow burner which has given people’s thinking time to catch up with events for once, and the indefatigable Jane Kelsey and Wikileaks have certainly played their part too, I knew when I saw local Westies with cardboard home made signs busing down Gt North Rd to “town” that a shift was occurring

if Labour can’t pick up on this they really are moribund, the LP at the very least has to ‘kick for touch’ and wait for US Congress to ratify or not, Hooton and the RNZ presenter on Monday were adamant Labour not ‘wait and see’ which is precisely why they must be proactive and reject the TPP

Unknown said...

Labour needs to smell the winds of change: the "extreme centre" has passed its use by date. To vote for the TPPA will condemn Labour as unviable for a chunk of the electorate that they need to reconnect with. There are economic storm clouds gathering, by the next election Labour could win simply because the status quo is failing. The danger in that is that they merely gather the tiller and steer the same course toward the reef. Now is the time to chart an alternate course that firmly rejects the neo-lib concensus, that consigns the Clark Key years to the dustbin of history.

Chris Trotter said...

Indeed I did, David: profoundly uninspiring and deeply disappointing.

Tiger Mountain said...

Goff, King, Nash, Shearer, Robertson, Little meet Groser–Labour capitulates

quite frankly NZ Labour seems stuffed, run still–when it counts–by caucus Rogernomes; little wonder so many good people felt compelled to form new parties and groups since 1984

and further proof that the deafening silence from Labour’s new president and other seniors on the Corbyn election indicates where they stand

pat said...

too late it would seem.....after listening to Little this morning there would appear to be zero chance Labour will follow your advice Chris.....the best we can hope for, I suspect ,is that the US will fail to ratify...and i wont hold my breath waiting for that to happen

Andrew Nichols said...

quite frankly NZ Labour seems stuffed, run still–when it counts–by caucus Rogernomes; little wonder so many good people felt compelled to form new parties and groups since 1984

Yes- Why vote National Lite when you can vote for the real thing.
Labour will decline to a sad rump within a couple of elections. The question is - where if anywhere will that vote go? Indications from other similar democracies show that they just give up - no longer believing any alternative is possible, fooled into not voting for the likes of the Greens who could make a difference by a ferociously hostile msm.

greywarbler said...

I challenge Labour pollies who still have some fire in their bellies, and the desire to serve the people well, and not to, the barbarians taking over our country, to act in ways that demonstrate it.

One thing they can do is get ordered out of Parliament when their vote is not needed. Keep asking questions, repeat them when not answered, criticise the Speaker if he isn't doing anything like his job. Start being feisty instead of well-bred. (If not they are countenancing the bread being taken out of people's mouths.) Or else they are just wooses mouthing sentimental phrases about poverty and children and health and so on because they are part of the politician's book of prayer. We don't want rote phrases from Labour like a bunch of Uriah Heeps.

Each one of them has to attack the present policies. And have viable, sensible ones to set against the Gnats - not promising pie in the sky but pointing out that is a hope for the future, and for the present we will do this and that (may be announce a co-ordinating program with Local Councils which can draw up lists of jobs they would like done to fulfil their environmental standards, tourism services, roadside clearing etc.)

Have something solid people can look to as well as ones requiring pots of money like house building. Could have teams of bennies learning how to do house maintenance and getting onto any remaining Housing NZ jobs. I would be keen to set up work teams and have a league table with points for completion of jobs satisfactorily, starting with simple things where there is no trouble they can get into and also rating the work practices and reliability of each team member, shifting them to higher-rated teams as they become more skilled. Also there would be extra money on top of the benefit, and transport pick up. The money would increase as the good points multiplied. Offer something to work for and cut out the stagnation and deterioration from joyless, hopeless existing. Get going now Labour, or lose all credibility.

Incidentally a Nobel prize has just been awarded to a Scottish economist who looked at people's behaviour changes when their are improvements in their lives.
A British-born Princeton professor, Angus Deaton, has won the Nobel prize in economics for his work charting global developments in health, wellbeing and inequality....
“By linking detailed individual choices and aggregate outcomes, his research has helped transform the fields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics.”...

His work complements studies by Thomas Piketty and Sir Tony Atkinson, who was also in the running for the prize, that focus on wealth and income inequality, by examining patterns of consumer spending to illustrate growing inequality in health and wellbeing...
In a recent interview he criticised the trend for the world’s richest people to divorce themselves from government control by living inside gated communities and buying their own healthcare and police protection.

“We should not be concerned with others’ good fortune if it brings no harm to us. The mistake is to apply the principle to only one dimension of wellbeing – money – and ignore other dimensions, such as the ability to participate in a democratic society, to be well educated, to be healthy and not to be the victim of others’ search for enrichment,” he said.

Chris Trotter said...

With the heaviest of hearts, Pat, I am forced to agree with you.

Don Robertson said...

Clinton and Labour will be anti-TPP right up until their elections. If they win, what a pity it is too late to do anything about it. I'm sure we'll be deafened by the sound of their hearts breaking.

BTW - how many people heard the 'experts' on Radio New Zealand talking about how the extension of copyright will benefit artists. One example used was that Dave Dobbyn will get royalties from Footrot Flats for longer. None of them seemed to understand the copyright is being extended from 50 years AFTER THE AUTHOR HAS DIED to 70 years after the author has died. Be a great benefit to Dobbyn's descendants, but won't improve is personal position a whole lot.

If they can't get a simple basic fact like that right, how are they going to explain the rest of it?

chinook said...

I HAD hoped that your piece about the dark state would be proven wring, and that Labour would grow some balls and stand up for NZ not the corporations. Obviously the dark State got to them. Or Aunty Helen. I am appalled. I guess like thousands of others I WON'T be voting for Labour again. 1984 has not been forgotten by many of us.

chinook said...

Like thousands of others I will NOT trust Labour with my vote again. Your piece about the deep state was right on the button. I am appalled by the Labour Party's lack of balls.

Olwyn said...

There is a deeper problem than the TPPA, and that is they way in which NZ has been governed since 2008. The term "New Zealand" now refers only to the wealthy and the section of the middle class whose interests accord with theirs. Paula Rebstock's $2,000 a day for her insights into herding the destitute and their children offers a telling snapshot. This is the state of affairs that the TPPA locks in. The Australian left are less exercised about the agreement than we are, even though they don't like it, because they still half believe their government will go some way toward protecting their interests within its framework. Given that the costs of not being in the agreement may be greater than the benefits of being in it, and the costs of actually leaving it greater still, Andrew Little may be right in choosing to defy the agreement's demands rather than oppose it per se. But only if his defiance goes far enough to take up the fight for those who are currently excluded from consideration.

greywarbler said...

Remember this picture of Andrew Little, at the height of his powers and with hair that looks real. A little time at the top of the political tree he will be grey and age considerably. And part of the stress is the gap between rhetoric and reality. We think we live still in a democracy and decry the deterioration. But we live in a still democracy, one that is moribund, comatose.

The pollies saw that we had reached peak democracy when they wound David Lange up, ate him up, spat him out. They then proceeded to follow the new line, that the object of states is to get the community together to build assets, and then the rich dethrone democracy and divide up the spoils in a timely fashion, all the while promising jam tomorrow.
They hold onto an impossible outcome as a heady slogan and measure of success in their endeavours, and keep tweeking it so that it will be almost there, not possible this year because....

That is why we are so confused about Labour. They drank the Kool-aid ages ago and now are just zombies acting within the general meme. Call
most pollies Jawas and you wouldn't be far off. (Jawas are from Star Wars and are the thieving recyclers and pick-pockets.) It could become the in thing to have Jawa parties. You arrive wrapped in a dark cloak and then whip it off and voila there's your Dorian Gray self underneath, the player that IS YOU!
(Jawas are meter-tall humanoids completely hidden behind rough, hand-woven robes. Their faces are concealed within the dark folds)

Bushbaptist said...

I agree Greywarbler. We do need such work programmes that improve the skills of the un-employed. I have suggested in the past that the Govt. sets up a planting scheme for both native and exotic forests using un-employed youngies from the cities. It will get them away from the distractions of city life and instill good work ethics and a healthy lifestyle. The benefit would long-term for NZ but it creates good short-term economic sense. The money to do this and your option too could be just printed (not by a private Reserve either) and as the returns come back in the money is written-off (destroyed). That way it doesn't contribute to inflation.

This has been used in the past with much success. That was how we got all the major highways, railways, state houses, footpaths etc. All done with created money but first the creation of money should be returned to the Treasury not the minions of private bankers. A friend once remarked to me that there are only two entities currently that can create something out of nothing -- God and Bankers!!

As for Labour, I still reserve my opinion of Andy Little but things are not looking good. From 1984 onwards the economics of both parties are the same. Just cosmetic differences. And as I have also said before, for a true democracy to function it needs the two major parties to have policies that are diametrically opposite. Then voters have a genuine choice. Something that is lacking in modern policies.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Some guy, I think said on Salon something like "there is no free market. Only a market that is managed on behalf of one or another group in society." Labour's job used to be that it was managed on behalf of working people.

Nick J said...


Picketty, Atkinson and now Deaty have stuck their hands up to say "guilty" about the system that impoverishes the 90% and gives the most to the one percent. They document it, make comments about how self destructive the system is, but ultimately they like Keynes propose to patch up the psychopath and send him back into the fray. They get given plaudits by the hand wringing acolyte classes of the current system (the Centre) who all then pretend that the whole thing will come right so long as somebody makes a very minor change without really changing anything. Oh and they don't intend to pay for it either! It is like global warming, we all carry on using plastics, driving cars etc, it is slow motion suicide but we do insist it will be OK. That thinking reminds me of the Greens and "sustainability" coupled with cell phones and internet.

I like your likening Labour to a pile of creeping deceitful Uriah Heeps. So true.

Anonymous said...

What about the 'bottom lines'?. Treachery by charlatans. I have sympathy for your attempt to rally for Labour. Well done to you, bloody awful from Labour.

greywarbler said...

Nick J
You are clear thinking about the future and the need for great change but don't badmouth the Greens they are keeping the pressure up. It's like pulling sticking plaster off a hairy leg, fast, and you can leave another wound, slowly and surely is best but of course not too slow!

Tiger Mountain said...

considered this overnight, and noted by 7am this morning there was no comment on the main right blogs re High Court and Justice Colins finding that Minister Groser, (aided and abetted by the peoples watchdog Ombudsmans Office) had acted unlawfully in respect of TPP OIA requests,

no doubt the Crosby Textor/Nat HQ memo will arrive in due course, but it does appear the Nats have scrambled for a response for 24 hours, unlike NZ Labour who folded immediately after their bench met Mr Grosers delegation, why did Mr Little have to respond immediately rather than say “we are considering the ministers position but with the information to hand so we do not support the TPP”? Their are several answers, none of them good. Parliamentary political leaders have to stand for something and convey it simply. Labour really has come a “gutser” here as Norm Kirk might have said.

Anonymous said...

As Helen Clark said, we are mad to allow ourselves to be excluded from a trade block which involves 40% of the worlds economies and is set to expand, probably to 60% over the next decade.

Interestingly an initial liberal opponent Paul Krugman is now tentatively changing his mind on the deal which looks a lot better than many on the left initially thought.

The idea that Labour could head into an election opposing it is preposterous, only a zealot of the far left could believe such nonsense, middle NZ know which side they're bread is buttered on, and the TPP is undeniably good for middle NZ.

Andrew Little will play verbal ducks and drakes for the next month and then when the hysterical tin hat wearing members and activists have accepted the inevitable he will quietly concede, setting up the possibility of Labour winning the vital middle ground and possibly the next election.

Well done Andy, pay lip service to the nutters, you may need them to deliver pamphlets and man the phones, then quietly discard them and get on with the real work of getting power - working for middle NZ.

Chris Trotter said...

Well, Anonymous, I suppose I should commend your honesty, and thank you for setting out so clearly what the real Labour Party is up against.

Seldom have I seen the banal moral vacuity of the Labour Right expressed with more clarity.

NZLP members who still believe in your party's democratic socialist principles, take note.

We should also note, sadly, that Andrew Little has reverted to type. Namely, to his default setting of a "moderate" former trade union official, who never met a boss he didn't like, or a rank-and-file he wasn't willing to treat like little children.

David Stone said...

Hi again Chris
With the text still a secret the best guide to the future implications of this agreement for us is to watch Tim Groser's body language as he is questioned on the subject.
Cheers D J S

Anonymous said...

"banal moral vacuity of the Labour Right" vs the self indulgent Narcissism of the far left. I'm always amazed at the sanctimonious self righteousness of the hard left - you are the ultimate secular fundamentalist Chris, I'd take power with all the sacrifices needed to win it over sanctimonious snarling from the underbelly of political irrelevance any day.

If Andrew listens to you and your ilk he will be wiped out at the next election and hand 3 more years of principled opposition to the delight of the "NZLP members who still believe in your party's democratic socialist principles" these bearded tinhatted nutters who crave a Corbyn-Christ to be crucified as red redeemer.

Piss and Shit Chris and Andy knows it, the TPP will be quietly forgotten and we can move on to the real vote winners of affordable housing and improvements in health, education and policing services - red meat for the rump of centrists we will need to win power and only when power is won can the real work of solid centrist policy improvements can be implemented - continuing with the great work of Helen and John, the perfect duet of centrist stability.

Loz said...

Only 5 of the 29 chapters of the Trans Pacific Partnership relate to what would normally be called trade. Referring to the pact as a Free Trade Agreement is either naive or willfully deceptive as to what the document really is.

The aim of the document is to reduce competition and protect corporate monopolies. The first chapter has been vile enough with states agreeing to prevent the sale and manufacture of generic life-saving drugs. Only those with extreme wealth will now have any hope of access to emerging medication. We know our Internet Service Providers will now act in the service of multinational corporations, not the customers who subscribe to their service. ISPs will be required to remove any digital content upon directive of corporates whom will no longer require the support of the courts. We've only had one chapter released so far and by itself, is enough to send chills down the spine.

A better insight as to what the TPP really is can be read straight from the hand of the United States Trade Representative in relation to the Investor State Dispute Settlement process (ie, the right of corporations to sue governments when impacted by legislation and judicial verdict). They state:

Before we had investment rules and ISDS international agreements, unlawful behaviour by countries that targeted foreign investors tended either to go unaddressed or escalate into conflict between countries. In fact, early in our history, the U.S. had to deploy “gunboat diplomacy,” or military intervention, to protect private American commercial interests. ISDS is a more peaceful, better way to resolve trade conflicts

In black-and-white the TPP is referred to in the context of modern "gunboat diplomacy" that will protect "private American commercial interests" without the previous need of resorting to military intervention. This new "rule of law" doesn't recognise the supremacy of our parliament or the ideological requirement of democratic law being the expression of informed consent of the governed. This shows the TPP to have more in common with colonialism than any benign concept of trade.

Allowing ourselves to be "excluded" is anything but mad and questions if Anonymous comments suggesting otherwise are simply foolish or part of a greater agenda.

Nick J said...

Hi Grey, Not badmouthing Greens, merely pointing out that they as much as the rest of us continue to talk up the need to protect the environment etc etc yet like the rest of us continue to use the products that are killing the same environment, causing global warming etc. Just like I am now typing away on the product of several barrels of crude oil on a media estimated to consume 10% of the world electricity. We are all guilty, the Greens get no exemption from guilt.

Chris Trotter said...

Well, if Anonymous@11:55 isn't the best argument for a thorough purge of the NZLP, I don't know what is.

I think it instructive to point out that his violent rhetorical style is most commonly found in the outpourings of psychopaths. It wouldn't be out of place on the pages of the NSDAP's "Der Sturmer", or the "zines" of racist American hate groups.

"Piss and Shit" indeed.

Galeandra said...

" We should also note, sadly, that Andrew Little has reverted to type. Namely, to his default setting of a "moderate" former trade union official, who never met a boss he didn't like, or a rank-and-file he wasn't willing to treat like little children."

C'mon,Chris, that's a bit of a smear insofar as it's a sweeping assertion without the grace of any evidence. It's reasonable to ask you to, at the least, take a little time to write a response defending your comment.

Galeandra said...

As for Anonymous's 11.55 vision of "continuing with the great work of Helen and John, the perfect duet of centrist stability" I'd die laughing if it wasn't so sad for the people whose daily life grind reflects this 'centrist stability'. I guess we might deem this the Age of Bandaid, with due apologies to both Geldof and Johnson & Johnson.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Fuck me "Piss and Shit" indeed. – Never trust someone who can't swear properly :-).

greywarbler said...

Time for a distraction and a smile.
This link is Rex Harrison intoning Never let a Woman in your Life from his My Fair Lady.

Just take out the word 'Woman' and put in 'Leftie', and imagine that Andrew Little is holding forth about the chorus of disagreement from the left Left, or as it might be said the old Labour Party before the days of leaky homes afflicted our House of Parliament.

Chris Trotter said...

Fair enough, Galeandra. Here's the link to a more comprehensive evaluation.



the pigman said...

"Well, if Anonymous@11:55 isn't the best argument for a thorough purge of the NZLP, I don't know what is."

Come on Chris, I'm sure you can detect when you're being "concern trolled" by a right wing blogger... the clue was here:

"continuing with the great work of Helen and John, the perfect duet of centrist stability."

No member of the NZLP believes that. No-one. These fakes an imitators are a dime a dozen in the blogosphere and part of the right-wing media strategy... interlopers. But when you call them for what they are, then you get called part of the authoritarian/thought-policing Left.

Can't win with them, so better off ignored.