Tuesday 12 June 2018

What They Do In The Shadows: Winston Saves Labour From Itself.

They Want It Darker: Peters knows exactly what is going on in the minds of the dark, rock-solid mass of National Party voters – there was a time when he stood in the shadows with them. Aware that Laura Norder was getting ready to let loose one of her full-throated screams, Peters moved swiftly to save Labour from itself. Andrew Little will just have to wait.

THANK GOD FOR WINSTON PETERS! The decision of the NZ First Party to torpedo the Labour Party justice minister’s proposal to scrap the “Three Strikes” legislation came in the very nick of time. Andrew Little may be a good man, and Sir Peter Gluckman a powerful advocate for evidence-based decision-making, but neither of them would appear to possess Peters’ gut instinct for what is – and is not – possible politically.

The leader of NZ First is looking at the dark and rock-solid mass of National Party support ranged against the Labour-NZF-Green government, and he is drawing some pretty gloomy conclusions.

The first and most obvious of these is that the Nats smell blood. At both the parliamentary and grass-roots level of the National “movement” (for want of a better description) the frequently voiced opinion whatever else this government may do it is most unlikely to win a second term is rapidly solidifying into a right-wing conviction.

The second is that Jacinda’s “stardust” only works on the “woke”. If you’re young and following the right people on Twitter and Instagram; if you’re middle-class and well-credentialed; if you’re a working couple living in your own home and raising a young family; well then, Jacinda’s bloody marvellous. In the grim ghettoes of deprivation and despair, however, Labour’s promises of kindness and transformation have yet to evoke a measurable political response.

Peters knows exactly what that means in electoral terms. Labour is failing to grow its vote out of anything other than the support bases of its own partners. The non-voting poor and marginalised – who should be their target – have yet to hear anything from Jacinda and her team compelling enough to distract them from the grim business of day-to-day survival.

For a few magical moments in 2017, Metiria Turei caused a number of them to lift up their heads – just in time to witness her brutal political destruction. But who’s giving hope to beneficiaries and the working-poor in 2018? Certainly not Carmel Sepuloni!

The third – and the gloomiest – conclusion Peters is likely to have drawn is that this is not an era of political sunshine. He is old enough to remember the early 1960s when, for a few brief years, both here in New Zealand and around the Western World, there was a public willingness to embrace social policies founded in compassion, bolstered by science and delivered by political parties temporarily freed from the encumbering baggage of traditional conservatism.

Full-employment and steadily rising living-standards had emptied communities of the fears and anxieties to which, throughout history, they had been prey. The sunshine of empathy shone into places usually cast in the shade of envy and prejudice. To an electorally significant number of citizens the world seemed to be getting better and better and they were willing to vote for politicians who promised to make it better still. Social-democracy and progressive liberalism made common cause against all manner of social evils: prisons built to punish not rehabilitate; birching and flogging; the death penalty.

Peters is also old enough to remember the Third Labour Government and how its sunniest ministers – the most outstanding of which was the Justice Minister, Dr Martyn Findlay – attempted to press ahead with ever more liberal and progressive reforms. He’d remember, too, the souring of the New Zealand electorate in the wake of the hugely inflationary oil-shocks and Kirk’s tragic death.

Peters will recall how fear and anxiety returned to the nation’s communities as unemployment rose and living-standards began to fall. Watching all this, that much younger Winston Peters observed how easily National’s leader, Rob Muldoon, turned it all to his advantage. How traditional conservatism – momentarily outshone – once again cast its pall over the electorate. How Dr Martyn Findlay and his liberal reforms were unceremoniously cast aside - along with the rest of the Labour Government.

Peters knows exactly what is going on in the minds of that dark, rock-solid mass of National Party voters – there was a time when he stood in the shadows with them. Aware that Laura Norder was getting ready to let loose one of her full-throated screams, Peters moved swiftly to save Labour from itself. Andrew Little will just have to wait.

A version of this essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 12 June 2018.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

Winston might have saved Labour from itself, but Labour has done a piss poor job of selling its ideas. As I said in a previous post, there are certain areas where we pretty much know what works. The justice system is one of them. And yet we continue to get our ideas from – it seems to me – the US justice system which is a creaking failure – albeit very successful in being punitive. At least someone had the sense to put the "egregiously unjust" or whatever clause in that three strikes legislation which thank Christ means that it affects very few people. But let's hope three strikes doesn't mean that Labour abandons other needed reforms. Because reforming justice is well overdue. The problem is that good old Laura is a great stick to beat people with. Which is why I think they should get off their collective arse and start selling the ideas. They might be able to overcome the usual conservative knee-jerk reaction with some real facts. I'd say they should send people over to Scandinavia to see what works, but we already know. Still, if they gave a few National MPs perk trips over there it might put them in a better mood. And if they came back and said it didn't work, it's such obvious bullshit they'd be laughed at.

pat said...

Or.....Labour have purposefully provided NZFirst with positive publicity to its increasingly uncertain base support at little or no cost to its own....thereby seeking to avoid that which was warned about by all and sundry post coalition formation...the withering of minor party support.

Winston knows well,as should we all, that the next election is an endless range of possibilities away

greywarbler said...

Your opinion piece today Chrs, matches with a Radionz news item today. The news about a violent man who cannot control himself and injures women taking away their confident, safe and happy freedom of movement is an example of why 3 strikes has value. It should stay, and for some, become permanent jail control. Fortunately there are not a large number of men (mainly) who would need this restraint on their lives.

It may be that a controlled farm could house certain inmates with certain constraints if they could achieve control leading to a near-normal life, perhaps with some family visits and work, hobbies, friendship, co-operative and intentional living.

But note that supervision when released is referred to as necessary by the Judge, as a rider on the sentence. This stupid system is supposed to be fair to the person and to society. I suggest it is neither. It sets ordinary citizens, who embrace a civil society, as goats of prey to see whether the beast has learned to behave nicely. And the most likely goats to be attacked will be female ones.

This is from Radionz news:
Taga David Keepa Adams appeared at the High Court in Auckland today after admitting charges including kidnapping and aggravated wounding.
The Crown asked Justice Whata to impose a sentence of preventive detention.
The judge said the psychiatric reports on Adams' risk to the community were gloomy reading.
But he said Adams' risk to the community could be dealt with by a lengthy sentence and supervision orders when he was eventually released.


It is sad that Adams has had such a bad start. The reports from child development experts say that some milestones missed cannot be learned later, and some responses hard-wired cannot be lost. Every move that affects criminality should prompt a move to see that parents and children are getting the background help that they want and their needs are met by group action, such as parenting workshops with weekend learning holidays, and medical and educational help. Parenting made enjoyable with breaks and rewards would soon cut criminality in half, with a downward trend.

Love our parents, who would love being parents and love their children who would enjoy their childhood, and the goodwill would circle and spread. At present the nasty, dismissive, degrading approach is resulting in the dismal statistics we have. The RW don't see parents and children, they see statistics and financial cost and a burden to the Treasury and the country; just skewed, dried-up humanity welcoming AI!

The 3-strikes law must be very definite about violence and disgusting psychological behaviour which brings criminals within its aegis. People have expressed concerned that it threatens to include too wide a group of bad behaviours which do not warrant its severity. But it has good value, and correctly limited, will prevent sick predatory humans from hurting and destroying multiple others. Some people just can't be trusted to not pursue a life of recidivism at a serious level.

Ordinary citizens need to be able to trust government to make fair laws, not unduly harsh on a perpetrator, and not unduly permissive either, so that public authority shows proper care and consideration for the vulnerable citizens.

Victor said...


I'm not sure which is worse for the Labour-led government; being momentarily type-cast as a bunch of soft-on-crime unworldly liberals OR, perhaps more permanently, as a dysfunctional alliance, in which a party currently scoring below the 5% mark, calls the shots.

I suspect the latter. If I'm right, Winston has made the wrong call.

More generally, this government seems to me to be neither poised to storm the barricades of privilege and misrule nor (financial policy notwithstanding) simply aiming to re-entrench neo-liberalism and/or the status quo.

Instead, to the extent that it has a game plan, it seems to be one of incremental, research-based reconstruction, perhaps, potentially, on a radical scale.

What I haven't yet worked out is how this theoretically admirable approach meshes with our three year electoral cycle.

Like the cheese ads used to say, "good things take time".

But can I think (financial policy apart) of a better approach? Unfortunately, no!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Winston, for once I am grateful. People would have been raped and murdered by these crims, who often have hundreds of violent convictions. Winston is dead politically, anyhow, this won't save him or his bedfellows.


Kat said...

Winston Peters our real authentic Maori/Scottish representative. Our soon to be Prime Minister....well bloody good. What a wonderful combo we have in such a young talented PM Jacinda Ardern and Winston our most experienced parliamentarian of all time. Winston Peters will deliver, and he will do it with grace and style, and not just as an "acting PM" but as a senior guiding hand. The days ahead are great political history in the making, and for the positive. No wonder the National opposition are squirming.

AB said...

National MPs already know that 3 strikes doesn't work. They don't need to go to Scandinavia to find out.
Yet they will vociferously advocate something they know doesn't work, because they don't care about the justice system and they don't care about hurting people who are not 'their' people. They want power because they want to implement their economic agenda and that trumps everything else. The National Party is a machine for protecting economic privilege.

Nick J said...

I'm pleased Grey that you see three strikes as a non political matter and focus upon that very necessary need to protect society from individuals. Yes it is also very complex and the system regularly acts in a foolish manner.

Well said.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"National MPs .......privilege."

All this I know. I don't think I said anything to the contrary TBH. Just that they would look stupid if they'd seen it working and claimed it didn't when they came back. I'm certainly not naïve enough to believe they would come back all enthused and tell everyone they changed their minds. Though again, there might be a couple of honest ones in there somewhere.

greywarbler said...

Aren't people good at getting the boot in where there is some doubt about how to improve something! Winston says taihoa and that's reasonable. We don't want another hand-washing Labour foray, like Herod abandoning authority and decision-making over NZ to the rabble with the loudest voice.

Andrew has the respect of lefties, but the left can't be relied on to adopt the best and most efficacious policies. After Labour's infiltration by the free-more, neo-lib economic class we know they can be captured by seductive theories. When Labour connived with Treasury we lost practical, far-seeing, moral policies that were 90% effective; the maximum to be expected at any time. The theories put forward work best when the constraints caused by including the needs of the average low to middle income workers are set aside, and there is a direct line from this to rising prison numbers also, to further neglect people's needs with punitive responses, and increasing incarceration.

Why throw out the old and scruffy without checking it for usefulness, and applying R&M where needed. I'm not in favour of the Knight in Shining Armour's sparkling new version of whatever because it's so PC, good, appealing, efficient, and with significant cost savings!! I am into recycling good usable material where feasible, and if not feasible at present, working out how to utilise it effectively with the system overhauled.

I think that 3-strikes should keep the chronic, serious lawbreakers, the violent, unscrupulous and amoral even those guilty of constant robbery and fraud preying on society, kept under supervision and control for life. This would affect the worst offenders only who had not already been deemed unfit to remain in society, and be under secure supervision in a prison, not sent home where they would model their own dissolute approach to life.

The rest of the offenders in gaol for short terms should be subject to philosophical discussion (which they would never have experienced or participated in to any depth); a feature should be made of how the word gaol can be altered to read goal, and that prisoners can alter themselves to form one that is achievable for them. They can learn some new skill to utilise their time in prison, have to work for small pay to assist the prison probably growing vegetables, and not be expected to be perfect in future but be trying to step away from their propensities, and become good role models.

That will heighten input into prisoners' habilitation, and soon lower numbers in gaol, especially if the bail laws are revised; this talked over in workshops with the sensible sentencing trust, those vocal barriers to improvement in 'Corrections'.

Going for the low-hanging fruit in an emotional, immediate gratification way is not going to leave us with the best policies but just results in ticked boxes that are of importance for selfie evaluations.

jh said...

Andrew Little may be a good man, and Sir Peter Gluckman a powerful advocate for evidence-based decision-making, but neither of them would appear to possess Peters’ gut instinct for what is – and is not – possible politically.
My theory is that people are turned off "political management" and want real people. That could have explained Jacinda Adern, but I was thinking Donald trump and Kim Ung (something)? The analysts play chess whereas Trump is Godfather and they have a different code. What do you think Chris?

Bonzo said...

I have no problem on exploring prison reform towards a Scandinavian style rehabilitation focused system but the Scandinavians also have life sentences, forms of preventive detention and means to keep recidivist violent and sexual offenders off the streets.

Not everybody is able to be rehabilitated. For the worst 5% all you can do is incarcerate them, wait for the testosterone levels to drop and watch them age out of it or die.

Little is still hopeful of NZ First's eventual support. This is inexcusably politically stupid from Labour. He's handed National a cudgel and dared them to club him with it. Naturally they'll be only too happy to oblige.

The Coalition can either repeal three strikes or have a shot at a second term... but not both.

Anonymous said...

Ever read the book Badlands? Very revealing re how NZ crime is apologised for and crims hugged by govt pollies.


peteswriteplace said...

Three strikes has never worked and won't. But it is not important that Labour couldn't get rid of it.There has only been one person who has reached the third level. I don't believe in it, just sentence people to what they deserve. If that isn't tough enough, then increase sentences. It is possible to keep the most rotten of eggs away for ever. Andrew Little has some reform to take care of. NZF would be advised to support him. Labour could survive without them. Labour has other policies in health and education that need taking care of. Labour will get a second term, National is too politically damaged to get re-elected in 2020. Labour had a single term in 1972-75 because of the death of Norm Kirk and the Opec oil shock.

Anonymous said...

>>Not everybody is able to be rehabilitated. For the worst 5% all you can do is incarcerate >>them, wait for the testosterone levels to drop and watch them age out of it or die.

A shame that's not how Three Strikes actually works.

A Third Strike is maximum penalty, without parole, unless the judge considers the lack of parole manifestly unjust (which they always do). So seven years for the inmate who pinches a guard's bottom - he'd have received exactly the same sentence for basically raping her. Potentially life in prison without parole for someone committing manslaughter (not murder).

The obvious problem - one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

David Stone said...

Well said Greywarbler @13.32
There seems to be a cavalier attitude to the safety of our womenfolk , almost as if they don't matter as much as the chance of rehabilitating a savage animal.
I'm not so sure about the three stripes though , though I don't feel strongly about it, but I believe in our judges. This legislation seeks to take part of their job out of their hands, and I think they probably know their job better than anyone else.
Having said that though their job is to adjudicate the law not to make it up as they go along , so if society thinks sentences should be harsher for some offences their judgements should reflect that, but across the board. Some judgements do seem inexplicably lenient in relation to the impact on the victim though. It is a thought though that with prevention being the focus rather than punishment, that only violent crimes or abuse of children should incur incarceration , and other crimes dealt with differently.

jh said...

National was NZ First. When the revolutionaries of the 60's took control Labour became the first globalist party. The media controlled the narrative. National followed when they became hooked on "real estate riches". Nationalists are now the enemy to be kept out of the political system. That's what Paul Spoonley's Internet Hate Speech forum was about.