Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Number Of The Beast: The New Zealand Left's Abiding Obsession With John Key.

The Left's Burdensome Beast: The New Zealand Left’s animosity towards John Key is curiously reminiscent of the early Christian Church’s animosity towards the Roman Emperor, Nero. Both leaders found themselves assailed by a self-righteous minority whose lurid accusations repeatedly failed to stick. To date, not even the notorious "Panama Papers" have yielded sufficient ammunition for the New Zealand Left to bring down its beastly nemesis.
 
BRINGING DOWN JOHN KEY has become an abiding obsession of the New Zealand Left. As if all of New Zealand’s problems have their origins in the actions of a single individual. As if the Prime Minister hasn’t been shaped by the people he governs every bit as much as they have been shaped by him. As if Key’s uncanny ability to extricate himself from scandal after scandal hasn’t been made possible by the electorate’s willingness to look the other way while he does it.
 
All of which suggests that the Left’s obsession with bringing down Key isn’t about the National Party Leader at all, but about its own inability to attract and hold the same level of popular support that keeps him in power. All of which raises the possibility that the Left’s real problem isn’t with Key at all – but with the democratic process itself.
 
Over the past fortnight, for example, the Left has been outraged by revelations contained in the so-called “Panama Papers”. These have been seized upon as conclusive proof of John Key’s determination to transform New Zealand into a tax haven.
 
That the New Zealand-related documents contained in the Panama Papers might be interpreted as the legal firm at the centre of the controversy, Mossack Fonseca’s,  back-handed tribute to this country’s reputation for honesty and fair-dealing does not appear to have occurred to the implacable prosecutors of the Left.
 
Similarly failing to register with them is the indisputable fact that the formation of trusts (both foreign and domestic) is a perfectly legal activity engaged in not only by dubious South American businessmen, but also by thousands of ordinary New Zealand families. The purposes of these legal instruments is much the same in both instances: to shield the assets of their beneficiaries from the fiscal and/or administrative exactions of the state.
 
That is why John Key is not about to get on his high moral horse about trusts. Not when to do so would put him offside with tens-of-thousands of his most loyal supporters!
 
The Left constantly fails to register the brute realities of living in a society driven by the neoliberal imperatives of twenty-first century capitalism. In a world where the interests of the successful individual trump everybody else’s, avoiding and/or evading tax has become an industry in its own right.
 
Whether these sovereign individuals are the heirs to old family fortunes, or the lumpenproletarian leaders of methamphetamine-distributing street gangs, makes little difference. Large piles of cash must first be sanitised, and then they must be protected. If the Panama Papers prove nothing else, it’s that law firms dedicated to providing such services are not confined to the pages of John Grisham novels!
 
It takes a touching degree of innocence, not to say naiveté, to assume that the whole nation will rise up as one against the spectacle of extremely wealthy individuals and families setting up trusts in foreign lands to avoid paying tax at home. The Left clearly does not grasp the huge number of people who, aspiring to become extremely wealthy individuals themselves, observe the depredations of the One Percent with feelings more akin to admiration than disgust.
 
The New Zealand Left’s animosity towards John Key is, thus, curiously reminiscent of the early Christian Church’s animosity towards the Roman Emperor, Nero. In both cases we are presented with a minority utterly convinced of its moral righteousness, and absolutely unwilling to compromise its principles. Unsurprisingly, such stiff-necked insistence on their own rectitude, asserted aggressively in the midst of an avaricious and morally undemanding society, not only got these groups offside with their neighbours, but also with the authorities. Finding themselves under political pressure, it is hard to blame either Nero, or John Key, for making scapegoats of their unpopular critics.
 
Not that John Key has gone so far as to transform his left-wing opponents into human torches! Like Nero, however, he has boosted his own popularity at their expense – and they hate him for it.
 
The Early Christians worked Nero’s name into their identification of the Beast of the Book of Revelation: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”
 
The New Zealand Left is equally obsessed with numbers – even if, in the case of John Key, they are the numbers hidden in the spreadsheets of the Panama Papers.
 
This essay was posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road on Tuesday, 10 May 2016.

72 comments:

peter petterson said...

Aren't you part of the Left? Why aren't you giving advice on how to get rid of Key? We know the future is in the hands of Andrew Little. If he is unsuccessful in 2017 it will be in Stuart Nash's hands. He, at present, is building up his own support base in the Hawkes Bay.

Chris Trotter said...

Not while it foolishly personalises what is both a cultural and structural problem, Peter. Not while the NZ Left continues to rely upon the most puerile kind of political analysis. Not while it demonstrates how very little it knows about - let alone understands - the motivations and behaviours of its fellow citizens.

For the Left to win it needs to know how to reach the people whose votes can make it the government. Inciting moral panic ain't the way.

Perhaps someone should research how many Labour and Green MPs have set up family trusts - and why?

Anonymous said...

Getting rid of Key shouldn't be the focus, it should be building a picture of a better future. The focus on getting rid of Key distracts the Left (and it's audience) from that vision.

As a member of the Right i know the attacks on Key and those that vote for him, hardens views against the Left more often than than prying voters away from the Right.

Vader

Anonymous said...

Its simple to me, the Labour does not understand MMP, John Key and National insiders do, so does Winston.
Both Rob Salmond and Matt McCarten have a lot to answer for Labours inability to get a boost in their polling, both can do bean counting, both can pretend personal ability, but that is it!.
Both fail in pointing and shaping out coherent policy which attracts the New Zealand mature voter.
The people who are of age but do not vote should be now drifting into Labours fold, I know South Auckland well and state they are drifting but its not to Labour politics for their betterment.
Andrew little stole the leadership by the block union vote, he only got 3 votes from caucus ,including his own vote, there is resentment still abiding and some caucus now believe he only entered into the leadership vote so that he would be awarded a safe Labour seat for his personal future.

Labours policy on the TPPA, that they are against the TPPA but if they win government benches they will retain the TPPA is an insult to the voters of New Zealand.

MMP does not allow for that sort of nonsense Messer's Little, Salmond and McCarten

Stephen Franks said...

Chris
I suspect that most NZ trusts are now not tax related. They are created to protect against liabilities that may have nothing to do with moral fault. For example they protect children from the opportunist claims of the new boyfriend to half the widow's assets. Or the family home against the litigation costs of a director liability claim - crushing irrespective of verdict, or the family business against the depredations of the prodigal child. Most relate to some extent to the disgraceful failure of our lawyers and lawmakers to confine their costs, and to preserve predictability in law, and to respect adult autonomy by restraining the urge to substitute the elite ex poste preference for what the parties choose ex ante

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Just ask David Cunliffe. He knows more about shady trusts than John Key will ever learn.

Perhaps the loons on the left might ask themselves what Middle NZ thinks of their insinuations that John Key is a tax cheat when that same John Key gives his parliamentary salary to charity. Something does not quite compute.

aberfoyle said...

Nash,please,in truth don!t no much about him,however,what i have seen of him is looking, to shifty and middle road centrist,and that is the rub of Labour!s present popularity conundrum mid field players,and only one stand out,who they the old dogs in the caucus savaged him,him being Cunliffe.Sad but true,the gormless one,Little,is nothing but a Johna,for labours election chance.Don!t be relying on Winnie,to punch up your numbers either,he will be falling back to the saftey of who has the largest amount of the votes i will go with them.

Anonymous said...

If Little had half a brain he would immediately announce that the Trust tax rate is to be reduced from 33% to 28% and go into an election as this as a key policy plank.

It's probably worth a million votes and the winning of an election.

Bizarre conspiracy theories that the mega rich are dodging tax on our doorstep won't win one vote.

Anonymous said...

Chris, Labour will not listen they are intent on throwing John Key under a bus when they should be throwing their advisers and tacticians under the bus. I watched live parliament today, Labours front bench was pathetic and cringe-worthy.
Little, King, Robertson, Twyford and Woods were humbled, humiliated in their presentation of Panama papers, health, housing and Chch rebuild. Perhaps dire polling may bring them to their senses though I would not hold my breath.
I fear a severe trouncing in 2017 unless rids itself of the self serving management team it has become.
Finally, Grant Robertson needs to shave more often and stop wearing the same shirt two days in a row, scruffiness may be okay in the pub but it is not okay in our Parliament representing HM loyal opposition.

Anonymous said...

"The Left clearly does not grasp the huge number of people who, aspiring to become extremely wealthy individuals themselves, observe the depredations of the One Percent with feelings more akin to admiration than disgust."

The persistence of this illusion is why people on the left should walk away from politics. It is a waste of time.

aberfoyle said...

Adolf.please that is a old herring,Key,only gives money to his intrests.

Recall decade or so prominent lawyer companies in Auckland being challenged about their exclusive of shore clients,all questions about tax haven even then,yes, Key and his cronies know the Panama, papers are factual, and true,as does the Labour government of that time ago day,they like Key rubbished it,but no Panama, documentation at that time to challenge their then ridicule.

jh said...

When Alan Hubbard is named in the Panama Papers it brings home how fraudsters might hide their money and real peoples lives are affected.
Tonight it is revealed that only 3% of house sales are to foreigners (on the surface). That means the enemy is a little closer to home. It is only recently that there has been a belated admission that immigration was causing problems. Who stamped on those opposing immigration? The Left, The Left and The Left.

jh said...

Immigration and house prices will end Key's reign. Banging on about them gets you kicked off Kiwiblog permanently (that's the litmus test)

Dime loves them Chinese. He loves that they made a fortune in property, he loves their cheap blow jobs...
Dimes a member of the Property Institute.

Ahhh the good life....

Kat said...

I agree with you Chris, John Key is shaped by the people he governs and the people he governs deserve what they get, which is basically a nodding salesman with a penchant for being the clown.

Its coming up to a third term choice for the people in 2017. The Left can't blame Key if the 47% plus vote him back in.



pat said...

An interesting article conflating the purposes of foreign trusts with resident family trusts, though am sure that the distinction is not universally drawn by the electorate.I am equally sure that there are elements of common motivation, although many of the later would be loathe to admit it.

It is also entirely understandable that Key is seen as the personification of all that (the oft misused term) the Left rail against given he has been promoted as the substance of the National Government these past 8 years and all successes attributed to his force of personality.

However, the cracks are beginning to show and with MMP it only requires a small percentage of those misunderstood "fellow citizens" many of whom , while partaking of the benefits of a family trust are horrified to find themselves tarred with the same brush as drug lords, arms dealers and the truly wicked.

As Winston has noted, there is a conservative branch of National support that finds Key,s brand increasingly distasteful....and while they never be able to bring themselves to vote for those damn lefties, Winston as a once true blue fellow himself is the perfect candidate to gather them up.......as long as the MMP result sees the end of this administration it can be considered a win


Ron Pol said...

Good for you Chris, whether you support one party or another, blinkered support does no good for anyone. In this week's Listener I suggested the following for Labour (& other observations in similar vein for 5 other parties):


By all means go hard on the Prime ­Minister, but spare us unsubstantiated reports of sycophants whispering breathlessly in your ear.
Here’s a secret. Not everything’s about John Key. His lawyer, who manages a regular account to pay the fees of an onshore trust, moved to a firm establishing foreign trusts and bandied his name about.
Someone should have asked, “So what”? Maybe get some advisers who don’t share your world view that all evil emanates from one source. And give one a big wet mackerel to slap you when his name is mentioned, because baseless attacks on Key weaken your arm as they strengthen his.

Nick J said...

Chris' comment at 11:16 about the Lefts puerile analysis says it all.

I might add another element to that: the dictatorship of ideological purity when confronted by alternate reality. To give an example in a cartoon by Julian Lennon a boy talks to girl...
B: Women shouldn't have opinions and gays should be hanged.
G: You sexist anti gay bigot. You must be a Republican!
B: No I'm Islamic.
G: Sorry I didn't want to appear Islamophobic!

Until the Left can examine it's contradictory standards and demands for ideological purity it will fail to attract support.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Bizarre conspiracy theories that the mega rich are dodging tax on our doorstep won't win one vote."

Well, the second half of that statement is true I guess. I think someone has just estimated that there are $12 trillion from places like Russia and China, sloshing around trying to avoid local taxes. You can pretty much guarantee some of it is here. And I just heard on the news this morning that a wealthy Canadian criminal has been using New Zealand to hide his money. So I think we can probably strike out the bizarre conspiracy theories bit.

Anonymous said...

Much as I dislike Stephen Franks' (10 May @ 14.11) politics, his assessment of the uses of trusts in NZ is quite correct.

Further, here's the reality that Labour seems more than willing to overlook:

Depending on what you read there are between 300,000 to 400,000 trusts in NZ. As family trusts these figures with children and grandchildren as beneficiaries involve - I estimate - over 1 million people of voting age.

Most trusts in NZ have assets that have been carefully built up over generations through discipline and careful planning and mostly involve a family home, perhaps a family bach, a rental property etc

Most trusts in NZ are not - as Labour would want us to belive - the preserve of the filthy mega rich looking to dodge tax. When Labour ditch this mentality, they will make a huge leap forward.

If Labour developed policy to assist family trusts, their chances are good at the 2017 election.

They won't, so Labour will lose in a landslide. Fact.

jh said...

Correction

Cracks me up how people get so riled up about immigrants. Especially them chinese.

Dime loves em – i like their food, i like their reasonably priced blow jobs, i like that they only seem to commit crimes against each other, i like that they have made me a fortune in property, i like that they built me a kick ass house.
http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/05/editorials_on_immigration.html

If you can pick any two factors that explain the present state of New Zealand, one would be Labours bold step in declaring NZ to be ethnically blind, needing more people and the use of peoples natural tendency to prefer people like themselves (ethnic nepotism) against them ("political psychopathology" - Spoonley). When one part moves the other part isn't always organised or sophisticated enough to prevent them.
The other factor began when the likes of Bob Jones started writing books and (then) the seminars by the likes of Dolf de Roos where people left with glazed over eyes. Money has all the enablers.

Anonymous said...

Chris, an excellent article. Thanks.

You are now just about the only Left commentator I respect now, because you call it as you see it. You're not always correct but at least you're honest in your views and prepared to be critical when it's needed.

My recipe for the Left:

1/ Restate your objectives (uplift the poor etc)

2/ Develop methods to achieve those objectives which are relevant to, and practical in, the 21st century.(This is where you personally need to move on, and stop dreaming of re-enacting 1960's protest marches. It's a bygone era.)

3/ Be aspirational! The 'attack dog' tactics of recent years is just driving the voters toward National and NZ First. Labour party insiders may not be aware that they are at risk of losing their base support in South Auckland as Pacific Islanders slowly climb the educational and social ladder. Intensely Christian, the nastiness of Little & Co does not sit well with them. If you lose that, you lose everything.

Andrew

Jigsaw said...

Obsolutely - right on the button Chris! I didn't vote for John Key and I find his manner just slightly irritating but so many on the left hate him with an almost religious fervour that is quite illogical. In the house most of his opponents tie themselves in knots with angry attacks an hooting from the back whereas the most successful attacks are on policy. It also helps to know what you are about as Andrew Little keeps attacking multi nationals who he says have huge turn overs-very likely but no one pays tax on turnover. Never the less he keeps doing it as if it will one day become a successful strategy. Under the present system how on earth does Labour go about dumping an unsuccessful leader? Doe it have to wait until he has done a Samson on the party?

Anonymous said...

Corruption and fraud are not the exclusive preserve of any one political movement. They are all at it. This is a blockbuster.

https://turiteadocuments.wordpress.com/turitea-wind-farm-documents/

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I see you are sticking to your two main themes. Incoherence, and turning everything round to immigration.

"Dime loves em – i like their food, i like their reasonably priced blow jobs, i like that they only seem to commit crimes against each other, i like that they have made me a fortune in property, i like that they built me a kick ass house.
http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/05/editorials_on_immigration.html"


Am I supposed to be a mind reader? Do I even care?

greywarbler said...

Nice pic of Dorian Gray, after the glamirror shattered! It's been a hard day's night was the background music when that pic of Key was taken.

I'd set up a family trust if it would be of use to my family and I thought it worthwhile. It is legitimate to try and protect what has been gathered in a lifetime to keep it going for the next generation. But since the day when a law was passed that said that corporates would be regarded as persons and have the same protections I suppose, we ordinary two-legged people haven't had much chance when the multi-legged can get to the lolly scramble so much faster.

Oh for Terry Pratchett's magical The Luggage that follows you round like a prescient dog, and its made out of Sapient Pearwood, very magical. One starts to fabulate at times like this when the machinations of the rich seem overwhelming. The few cents tax out of my miniscule interest earned on my fast disappearing credit injections in the bank are floating around in the gummint's charity chest not being spent where sorely needed, leaving the sores unheeded, while the taxes from the rich are loitering in the Cook or Cay Islands in a plain brown wrapper.

It's enough to make one cry tears of rage. The Left will get left if they keep on as presently. The Luggage will sense they have lost their magic, and go off looking for a new Master or Mistress. Perhaps we should find one for it to bond with.

Anonymous said...

I see a rat has just jumped ship from Little's office.

That is Little's 'Chief Press Secretary' or as she was probably best known as former editor of the Woman’s Weekly - Sarah Stuart.

Another failure.

No traction was achieved even in Labour-friendly media environments such as RNZ and One News.

The question is: Did Little do the right thing & show her the door? or did she see a lame duck Opposition Leader & decide he was a lost cause?

aberfoyle said...

The ALL Blacks,some team looking camera friendly,look i can do two,me i can do three,me i can do four.Sanitarium,Weetbix producers.All their minimum waged workers pay their taxes,but Sanitarium does not,it is a registerd,religious company.

Mark Hubbard said...

What Stephen Franks said. Bang on. Especially trusts against matrimonial law socialism, though I suspect most of trusts for this reason will be useless in front of a near communist judiciary; and the fact you can't expect the wishes in your Will to be followed.

Trusts are increasingly an endeavour to cling to individual volition against a progressive judiciary, but also useless for that because of that progressive judiciary.

The free West is so long evaporated into the fog of big brother statism.

Trust me. Seriously, don't panic Chris. You've well won the war.

Nick J said...

I'd invite readers to go to this article which has very interesting graphics of the Left versus Right thing over time. For the last two decades they converged to the Centre where Key rules and Labour insists on being. Now in the US they diverge. There may be a lesson here for Labour.
http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2016/05/trump-unavoidable.html

Anonymous said...

Well Chris your column certainly brought the righties out, but looks like the lefties stayed home.

As a matter of logic and strategy, we have a presidential executive, and any opposition must try to take down the prime minister, whomever he or she is. That is timeless. So the issue is not the left's obession with John Key, because the record shows the right were equally as obsessed (rightly, no pun intended) with taking down Clark - but rather how good he is at avoiding the shots and how average they are at landing them, and at choosing their battles. But anyone who thinks in a system where the average voter could only name the PM and perhaps 4 other ministers out of a whole Government, that taking out the PM won't always be a pivotal component of any strategy to regain power, is deluding themselves. And Key has left plenty of tantalising opportunities, so the Left keep trying, as they must. But he is good. Really good. And really practised. And really really well advised. So he can slip through. And as Chris correctly observes, enough folk are happy with his policies, the rich plus the aspirational out number the poor plus the caring rich. Just. It's not by much. But that vital 5-10% that is all you need to shift from one side to the other to create a landslide 2 - 3 term government, is sticky and the Nats are not giving it away lightly. So we get modest electric car incentives, we get benefit increases, we get expert teachers paid to stay as teachers but paid more etc - none of it as much as the Left would do but just enough to keep those vital 5-10% sticky, and wrapped in the most expert layer of dirty politics because policies alone are not enough. And lastly, Keynesian spending through the cycle, without which under MMP, the Nats would have only lasted one term - austerity only works in FFP jurisdictions.

That's my take.

Nick J said...

Chris let's observe a man reaching in the USA for what in NZ would once have been Labour heartland. He talks to the aspirations and fears of redundant rust belt workers. The Don. Say and judge how you will but he's got their ears.

Here in NZ what passes for the Left reminds me of an association of political theologians who judge the rest of the country on their adherence to whatever special aggreived sectoral interest they "fight" for. In demanding correctness from all and sundry they drive us away. Labour cannot continue to provide a broad church for every social justice group who prioritize their cause above that of others. Most will say it doesn't happen but the existence of a Rainbow coalition, Rogernomes in caucus and a Union block indicates otherwise. And who would vote for something trying to represent such disparate misaligned groups.

Sebbie Shaw said...

Actually last election the focus of Labour was all on "being positive" and not talking about the negative. It failed miserably.

People need to understand how MMP works more. All this focus on how Labour can't win cause they have such a small percentage in the polls and a lot of average Joes and Joannas still don't understand that it doesn't matter if Greens and/or even NZfirst can capture enough of the vote.

It's true that Labour forgot what they are. Labour stopped being left. Andrew Little is the first leader of the Labour party in a long time that seems to have a genuine and passionate interest in things like workers rights and alieviating poverty. But can we get that through to the NZ public?

Sebbie Shaw said...

Who was just thrown out of Parliment? Not Andrew Little.

Wayne Mapp said...

The biggest risk Labour now faces is being displaced by NZ First. I don't think it is probable, but it is at least now possible. Somewhat to my surprise Winston Peters is looking more Prime Ministerial than Andrew Little, and I cannot be the only person who thinks that.

As to why this is happened, here are my reasons.

The first is that Labour is not articulating very well why they are the natural alternative government, as opposed to just being the largest Opposition Party. They simply have not spent the time, at least as it seems to me, in putting together an integrated set of policies that says this is what your next Labor led government will do. Labour obviously has some alternative policies, but they are not knitted together as coherent package that that looks like a viable alternative.

Second, the concentration on union values no longer says very much to many New Zealanders. Unions now only represent 15% of the workforce. Most people find they have no need for them. Labour needs to look like it is more representative of New Zealand as it is today. They do have MPs already in there who better express the modern face of New Zealand. Sticking with Annette, as capable as she is, was a lost opportunity. From a voter appeal perspective there were better choices. Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davies among others come to mind.

There is a rise in populism across the West. NZ First is the natural repository of that, and Labour is institutionally unable to match that. Is populism the future?

And as for the focus on John Key. Well, Labour does appear to be mesmerized by him, and seem to think there must be some dodgy dealing that will bring him down. They are deluding themselves on this, and the intensity of the focus ends up highlighting Labour's deeper problems, rather than obscuring them.

Anonymous said...

RE Anon @16:57 Yes hard to know how a former 'Womens Weekly' editor fluked her way into a Opposition Leader's office as Chief Press Secretary.

It's true, another failure - a media luvvie - that was found to be out of her depth when playing with the big boys playing politics.

Let's be clear: the hair & makeup, shoes & handbags mentality Sarah Stuart brought to the Leader's office was completely meaningless.

It's a good thing she's out of the picture.

Time for Little to pick someone who can pick up on some messages that will resonate & win an election.

Anonymous said...

I don't have much time for the likes of Wayne Mapp & his politics but his last comment (12 May 08.54) is largely accurate and on the money.

It's sharp analysis that political people on the Left should read several times over.

Anonymous said...

If Sarah Stuart is 'completely meaningless' so too the 'Director of Research and Policy for the Leader of the Opposition' - Martin Taylor - must be in the same category.

The question: can you name one policy that Labour have advanced over the last 12-18 months that is a vote winner and thus resonates with the electorate.

I can't think of one policy that Taylor has advanced ie him doing his job

Little should show Taylor the door as he did Stuart.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Labour cannot continue to provide a broad church for every social justice group who prioritize their cause above that of others. "

You talk as if it's a zero-sum game. Just because others gain rights doesn't mean to say that you necessarily lose them. It's the same in the US – old white people see themselves as victims. That's why Trump is so successful.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Most people find they have no need for them."

You'll obviously never worked at the lower end of the job market Wayne. Depending on who you work for there is immense pressure not to join the union. Jesus, your knowledge of New Zealand working conditions is about the same as your knowledge of Middle East stability. Nowt as my dad would have said.

Kat said...

Re Wayne Mapp @08:54
"Winston Peters is looking more Prime Ministerial than Andrew Little"

Agree, however Winston Peters is looking and has looked more Prime Ministerial than John Key. Winston is the perfect conservative party candidate for leader. So where does that put the leadership stakes Wayne?

It does not necessarily follow that the intensity of focus on John Key highlights Labours deeper problems, rather the deeper problems of how the democratic process has been corrupted and how confused a large number of the electorate are.

It just depends on how you frame it, doesn't it Wayne.

Bushbaptist said...

Nick J. Yup, when we have a political system based on to main parties, those parties eventually merge together. They become two branches of the one party, one slightly more compassionate than the other. Tweedledee/Tweedledum politics. And it comes down to who is the most photogenic leader. The policies are almost the same just each party re-names it differently.

We see this in the USA with the Democans and the Republicrats, in the UK with the Labtors and the Torlabs, in Aust with the Lablibs and the Liblabs Ad nauseam.

For a true democracy to function properly the two main parties must be diametrically opposite in policies.

Anonymous said...

Until the Chief of staff of the Labour party (Mat McCarten) pays off his long standing tax bill then anything that Andrew Little, Grant Robertson or any other leading light of the Party contend about tax cheats, I say that will be seen by voters as pure hypothetical trifling rubbish.

MMP is discerning about hypocrisy, frippery and fact, Labour will go further down in polling stats unless they get a grip. (and fast).

Nick J said...

This populism Wayne, pleased you have noticed it. Anybody who hasn't is asleep at the wheel. It says a lot about the current rejection of the politics of those within the Beltway, Left or Right.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
Al over the western world people are done with the neoliberal establishment politics that have facilitated the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a very few . In many countries they are finding a party or individual to support that represents their dissatisfaction , but there is no political representation of that anti establishment sentiment on the political stage in New Zealand at the moment; N Z First would come closest. Until such a political entity emerges there is no way of judging the support for a social democratic common sense economic movement there might be.
Cheers David

the pigman said...

Every time a RW shill repeats the hackneyed lie that Key gives his salary to charity, it is my role to direct them to this: https://www.facebook.com/SeanPlunketRadioLive/posts/818434368208109

Stop. Telling. Porkies.

Robert said...

Neoliberalism is not actually a new idea. My Grandad attended Balliol in 1913-14 with Aldous Huxley a noted novelist and right wing thinker, whose novel 'Brave new World' was marketed as a dystopian model nightmare society of the future, but in many ways very much what the right wing Aldous Huxley regarded as a fair solution to social control of half bright beta's and the lower orders of worker drones. Essentially control and justice through hetrosexual pornography and Vanity Fair plastic perfect replicant women. Aldous Huxley thought social mobility should have finished well before 1907. Some Act members think the 1867 2nd Reform Act was a step too far and Hitler said his main purpose was to reverse certain wrong ideas of the French Revolution.
Hitlerism and Nazism isnt the same thing- although the main difference is Hitlers use of the Isreli people as a political target and designator of 2nd priority communist targets and also that Hitler and the SS largely favoured unlimited hetrosexuality and abandonment of sexual morality where most of the Army and Navy Officers favoured tight conventional standards and strict marriage.
Essentially the Nazis, Vidella, Pinochet and Milosovich( Belgrade was quite popular as a playground for US and UK diplomats in both the Tito and Milosovich era and more wide open than Weimar) have the same idea and are ulterly right wing in aiming to consolidate the rich middle class and crush and eventually restrict and phase out the male working class and a lesser proportion of females. None of them were for the ordinary people. But one could well argue that on a longer time scale and with more deception and escape routes the US, Australia and Russia since the start of the 20C are much the same idea.
Key is a PR man and a mediocre trader. He is of less policy influenece than Lange. My objection is that National no longer in any way represents the interests of the professional middle class and real business some near world standards in NZ was effectively destroyed by Kerr and Treasury in 1985. Most of all the dairy conversion strategy is purely political and wet and weak and hopeless.

Nick J said...

GS, I agree it is not a zero sum gain, why should one persons rights be traded for another? The question is how supporters of an interest view and act for the wider cause, if at all?

As far as old white guys in the US seeing themselves as victims.....well aren't they? Their jobs have been off-shored, their communities ripped apart. The same has happened to Black and Hispanic communities (often the very same towns / communities etc) and I'd posit that you would ascribe that a victim label. So if they are victims, why cant the old white guy be too? Or is this some form of inverted racist / sexist preference because "old white men" cant be victims? Maybe what Trump has picked up upon is a vacuum on the Left that only ascribes "victimhood" and hence special entitlement to women, non whites, gays etc, and then ascribes all blame to "old white men". And the Left wonders that the old white men don't vote their way.

Anonymous said...

It's about time Little cleared out his office.

For a long time now, the people he has employed haven't delivered anything tanglible.

Taylor, McCarten etc out

manfred said...

The fact that you seem to think workers have no need of a union, shows that you do not possess a full set of moderate values, Wayne Mapp.

Since the ECA, working conditions have gone down the gurgler. The 40 hour week is gone, with workers at the lower end of the job market never getting overtime pay - unless they are unionised. This is something I have direct experience of. The agricultural sector is rife with below minimum wage pay and terrible health and safety.

The National party is often capable of moderation but their views on unions equate to the view that they are something simply to be stamped out.

Yes the unions do share part of the blame with their 1970's excesses, but the pendulum has swung much to far the other way.

manfred said...

Anonymous @ 11 May 2016 at 22:16 is totally spot on.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Nick. I didn't have the time to fully explain, but of course working class white people are victims. The problem is, that they've had it so good for so long that they forget other people were victims before them, and have suffered much more than they have. And in the US there is a tendency, every time someone gains equal rights, for the white Republican base to claim that they are being discriminated against in some way. Usually because they are not allowed to discriminate against others, which they regard as I don't know "reverse discrimination"?
They tend to forget that on the whole, the country is run by and in the interests of the white middle and upper classes. Although the middle class is just beginning to see that they are being hollowed out by neoliberal policies.
The situation with whites in the US however is complicated by gun laws and religion. But you still see the same sorts of things here, every time Maori gain something the Colonel Blimp's come out of the woodwork and express their white victimhood to all and sundry.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Robert. All due respect your grandfather, but I don't think Aldous Huxley could be categorised as right-wing. Not in any conventional sense anyway. He was pacifist for a start. He wrote a novel in 1962 about an island which had a nonhierarchical government, and everyone took drugs. Would have gone down really well in the 1970s, and certainly influenced a lot of people in the 1970s if I remember rightly.

Nick J said...

Don't disagree GS. The point is immediacy. Being a victim for longer makes no difference to the newer victim. And authority loves to make victims blame one another.

Trump, Peters, populists play to this. They garner the votes and the grievances. The Left has collectively failed the numbers game which is my point. They have played to interests that don't even know they are excluding people because of their faith in terms justice of their cause. A good example I heard cited was a feminist conference where privileged white middle class feminists debated furthering their income equality. A worthy cause but one that excluded all those out of work and beneficiary sisters. The wider cause was ancillary. And that's the problem.

Anonymous said...

Chris, what great comments to your post, I don't agree with some as I also do agree with some but all together they combine to make a thoughtful read.
To me the best point made was by Bushbaptist at 15.58 12 May when he said;
"For a true democracy to function properly the two main parties must be diametrically opposite in policies".(end of quote)

Is that the fault of MMP or the fault of the main opposition party that we do not have a true democracy????.

Unknown said...


Trump, Peters, populists play to this. They garner the votes and the grievances
.......
Eg Chinese are buying 60% of the houses: "oh well move along musn't focus on ethnicity"

Anonymous said...

If only my late grandfather has set up a family trust before a) he died & b) before as a widower he re-married shortly before his death.

As a result, his 6500 acre Cental Otago sheep property was sold and his estate held in administration by a Trustee Company until his widow & two daughters died.

That took 50 odd years.

Meanwhile, 8 grandchildren look on.

Much of what Stephen Franks has wrote about previously in this post is correct.

pat said...

A most curious feature of this whole affair is that the actions charged have been denied by no one, with the possible exception of Key (who continues to deny NZ acts as a tax haven , contrary to all evidence and informed opinion).....have we as a country descended so low that the unashamed corruption of this administration is not cause for great concern?

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."
Plato

Guerilla Surgeon said...

New Zealand has always had corruption of one form or another. Partly because it's such a small country and for years the elites all knew each other, went to the same schools, did the same courses at universities et cetera. As shown in "Only Their Purpose Is Mad." Perhaps never on the same scale as the US or Britain, (just to mention two democracies.)but it's always been there, and to some extent it's always been unashamed. Just doing a favour for a mate. And to be honest, I don't think we can do a great deal about it. But once it gets yuuge :) – then we should press for action. The problem is, many people still don't think there's a great deal wrong with it.

Anonymous said...

Bad news Chris...the standard has read your piece and declared you a class traitor.

pat said...

@ GS 11.49

Agreed there always bee a level of corruption in NZ....certain connected families with the ear of politicians but would suggest it was anything but unashamed except perhaps amongst themselves...for public consumption there was to be the absolute perception of propriety...benign corruption akin to Muldoons benign dictatorship....and importantly if anything untoward was suspected heads would roll and action was taken.

But the public institutions were not then and compared to the long list of this administrations corrupt actions,( and that is only those discovered to date) ,what we witness now is magnitudes greater and is becoming entrenched. There certainly appears to be a sizable segment of NZ society who think we can play dodgy games with the big boys and somehow retain that which earned us the benefits a lack of corruption bestows in the first place.....they are fools and if that is what they desire then they should go and live somewhere like Panama....instead of fucking up our place,



jh said...

Hitchens: My brother never joined anything which could be called ‘the Right’. He remained a Marxists and an admirer of Leon Trotsky till the day he died. People who classify him as having been on the right do not understand the ways in which revolutionary Marxism has altered since the collapse of the USSR. Intelligent revolutionaries, whose main aims have always been internationalist, globalist and multicultural, now seek to pursue their aims through supranational bodies, such as the EU, and interventionist liberalism, such as that now practised by the USA.

The left in NZ is full of the likes of Christopher Hitchens. They only appeal to a minority (and falling). More of the likes of Peter Hitchen's would see off John Key.
For example Guyon Espiner and Suzzy Ferguson are trying to skewer John Key on why people are living in cars. Not once do they bring up immigration (truly pathetic).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Pat. I think the public institutions were probably less corrupt in those days if that's what you mean by your second paragraph. Certainly there was more sense of public service at the top. But again, there was always this doing a favour for a mate stuff going on – largely because of the very few degrees of separation at the top of New Zealand society.
I'm not too sure about action taken though. I don't remember much except the Marginal Lands Board affair, and that was a very mild tap on the wrist as I remember. However my memory is not what it used to be and if you can come up with some other examples, feel free to tell me. :)

Unknown said...

There were no back handers paid in the tourist industry until the Taiwanese started coming (over 20 years ago).

Anonymous said...

Greed is good..........vote national for more tax cuts......

Sigh!

jh said...

I agree that john key's success is about avariciousness. You hear it from little people on the up and up (tradesman, Auckland home owning millionaire) John Key is the Patron Saint of the "Prop-i-tey People".
But it isn't just that that holds the "left" back. The "left" represent a whole lot of ideas that ordinary people want no part of eg: 1. a supra national state 2. identity politics 3. rape culture 4.population doesn't matter redistribution does 5. family size doesn't matter; redistribution does 6. banning the penis.

Key romps in because the left are the only show in town or (as someone put it) "NZ First has no infrastructure", whereas the "left" tends to have all the infrastructure of the "public service". I happen to think that there are good counter arguments to many of the ideas emanating from "the left" and they are based on population ecology, resource limitations, evolutionary psychology ("just so stories" to those on the left).

jh said...

I was looking at the NZ First website. I imagine I join NZ First and I'm part of a team charged with designing monetary policy or (say) foreign policy. In I go to the cave with Freda and Bill and Harry and out it comes and goes up on the website as a fait accompli.
I think we ought to do better than that. Policy should be open to discussion with the wider public and be presented intact with relevant discussion. In otherwords all the machinations of the decision making process (arguments and counter arguments) should be there to see and parties should have professional help. Also an organism can't function without a nervous system: it shouldn't be left to Mitre10 to sponsor the TV program which pimps policy (one way or the other).
Likewise we need an independant body to judge the media for bias. It isn't good enough to have (eg) a producer of a current affairs program who says things like "And Katharine, I take from your comments you disagreed with the panellists and side more with the blogger. All good. But I can tell you without a doubt that you'd struggle to find an expert with a deeper understanding of immigration than Paul Spoonley. And while I don't entirely agree with Shamubeel on this, if you know anything about him you'll know it's preposterous to suggest he's not on top of the data and analysis on this. He eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Disagree all you like, but don't be under any illusion that those men aren't amongst the best read in the country on this matter (and have given it the most thought).
http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/shamubeel-is-right-get-x-real-about-immigration

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Not once do they bring up immigration (truly pathetic)."
And yet you seem to be able to do it even when it's not remotely connected to what people are discussing. Even more pathetic and not at all clever.

jh said...

Guerilla Surgeon said...
And yet you seem to be able to do it even when it's not remotely connected to what people are discussing.
......
So you don't think there is a connection between Key, "the left's" failure to score points against Key and "the left's" views on immigration? As I pointed out "RNZ" are discussing the housing crisis but ignore immigration and that is a mirror of the way Labour and the Greens behave (fighting with one hand behind their back).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"......
So you don't think there is a connection between Key, "the left's" failure to score points against Key and "the left's" views on immigration? As I pointed out "RNZ" are discussing the housing crisis but ignore immigration and that is a mirror of the way Labour and the Greens behave (fighting with one hand behind their back)."

It doesn't matter. You don't talk about anything else. We could be talking about anything here. Muldoon's mistresses, the man on the moon, you'd still turn around to fucking immigration. I mean, if you confined it to conversations where there was a connection maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but you find a connection to everything. So how am I supposed to figure out the ones where there is a genuine connection and the ones where you are just being an arse? Perhaps you could let me know the ones where there is a genuine connection so that I can actually read them and ignore the rest?

pat said...

GS...your deciphering powers do you proud (note to self..proof read before hitting enter)

The "doing a favour for a mate" can hardly be compared to what we have witnessed under this administration...the list is extensive, from Sky City to Saudi sheep farms (I note McCully was required to resign last time he acted improperly)

There can be a number of explanations as to why things have deteriorated so markedly and I wonder if the slow demise of the Fourth Estate (and the fragmentation of information sources) is not pre-eminent....you may recall a time when, if a Minister (prime or not) was interviewed s/he was expected to have the facts and figures at his/her fingertips and if s/he didn't the interviewer did....and the interviewee was left in no doubt that such a failure was evidence of incompetence....irrespective of what hat s/he wore.

In any case I am sure that anyone wth recollection of how public figures were held to account in the not so distant past must share my disbelief at what the electorate appears willing to accept in this so called age of information.

Nick J said...

So GS explain this. On the news tonight it was stated that immigration in the last year was 65,000. That is the need to find two Timarus or a Palmerston North. In British terms its nearly one million immigrants.
Where are the jobs and houses coming from? What effect does this have on rental availability and affordability? Were we ever consulted? Are you per capita any better off? Have you noticed any strain on services and infrastructure?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The heading is "The New Zealand Left's obsession with John Key." And as I have said before, I'm not a great fan of immigration at the level we have at the moment. But the heading is, "The New Zealand Left's obsession with John Key." – And that's what we should be discussing. Jesus Christ, you must be a real delight at dinner parties.