Friday 29 March 2019

Now And Then.

Extraordinary Leadership: Jacinda Ardern sails serenely above the fray: resplendent in her all-conquering empathy and internationally feted for her heart-stopping hymns of peace and love. Were an election scheduled, then she and her party would be utterly invincible.

IT’S A RACE NOW between a transcendent Labour Party and a National Party determined to get back in the game. For the moment, at least, the winds of fortune are at Labour’s back. Jacinda Ardern sails serenely above the fray: resplendent in her all-conquering empathy and internationally feted for her heart-stopping hymns of peace and love. Were an election scheduled, then she and her party would be utterly invincible. Unfortunately, for Labour and its leader, the next scheduled general election is still 18 months away.

And that is Labour’s biggest problem. In 18 months the bright, poignant images of late-March 2019 will have faded. Five hundred ordinary suns will have bleached out all but the most solid outlines of the Christchurch Mosque Shootings. Other priorities will intrude – as other priorities always do. Life is a series of special moments imperfectly recalled. And politics is a kind of life.

National’s best hope of getting back in the game is to craft its conduct around the sad but irrefutable truth that powerful emotions cannot be sustained indefinitely. Eventually the electorate’s momentarily numbed hip-pocket nerve will reassert itself. It would be a wonderful thing if “They Are Us” proved to be a more durable slogan than “What’s In It For Me?” National’s election strategists no doubt privately agree – but they’re not counting on it.

What they are counting on, however, is that the Christchurch Mosque Shootings have holed the pocket battleship NZ First below the waterline. In eighteen months it will have long since slipped below the waves. The tried and tested political themes that have lifted the NZ First Party and its leader back into electoral contention: Anti-Maori, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Muslim; have been rendered electorally toxic.

What else could Winston Peters have been contemplating so deeply in Istanbul? He is much too astute a politician to have missed the brute fact that the Christchurch Shooter, in addition to slaying his Muslim victims, has also killed any chance of NZ First mounting a right-wing populist comeback.

That leaves Labour with only one potential coalition partner – the Greens. And therein lies Jacinda’s other big problem.

Unless there is a pretty firm laying-on-of-hands within the Greens’ caucus – and soon – there is a better-than-even chance that in 18 months’ time the Greens’ own eco-socialist sloop will have joined NZ First at the bottom of the sea.

It is becoming ominously clear that the “strategy” of bifurcating the Green Party’s image between its calm and responsible Ministers Outside Cabinet (James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage) and its “woke” firebrands (Marama Davidson, Golriz Ghahraman) is on the point of sending the whole crew to the bottom.

The Greens would not be the only progressive political organisation to have allowed itself to be steered into the wild waters of Maori sovereignty and revolutionary leftism. Who now remembers that formerly highly-reputable overseas aid organisation, Corso? Or the Unemployed Workers’ Rights Union? When hitch-hikers are encouraged to take over the driving, the destination of the original passengers is apt to change.

A radical environmental party committed to making climate change the nuclear-free moment of this generation is one thing; but a party dedicated to challenging the white supremacist assumptions of New Zealand’s settler state, is another.

In 2002, the Alliance Party cast aside the moderation and pragmatism of its leader, Jim Anderton, and invited the New Zealand electorate to carry its socialist agenda into Parliament. The voters responded by giving the Alliance 1.27 percent of the Party Vote.

Labour can no more afford to remain indifferent to what is happening to its left in 2019 and 2020 that it could in 2002.

The arithmetic of MPP is as brutal as it is simple. If the 2020 General Election is reduced to a straightforward scrap between Labour and National: a battle fought without the distractions of minor parties; then the most likely outcome is a National victory. Labour’s vote, minus 7 percent (NZ First + Greens) will, almost certainly, leave it with a smaller share of the Party Vote than National.

That wouldn’t be the outcome if the general election was held now. Even without the support of NZ First and the Greens, the Labour Party of late-March 2019 would carry all before it.

But, New Zealanders now know how long a fortnight can be in politics.

Eighteen months is agonisingly longer.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 29 March 2019.


Frank Black said...

My thoughts are that while Ardern may be unassailable, her party certainly isn't.
In fact, if she started her own party or leapt ship to another (TOP?) she would take a lot of that popularity with her.
Now what would be an interesting scenario

peteswriteplace said...

And what must be done soothsayer? A knighthood and overseas posting coming for Winnie if NZ First goes beneath the waves. What now for the Greens? They need a safe electoral seat to build their future round. How about Nelson? Just get rid of Nick Smith and make climate change an issue there?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

If because she could always call an early general election as Muldoon did? If that's still allowed. Probably work out better for Ardern than Muldoon as well.

Anonymous said...

"...the white supremacist assumptions of New Zealand’s settler state..." that generalisations's quite unworthy of you, Chris. All very easy for history revisionists to criticise exceptions from the comfort of todays civilisation however I challenge them to name a contemporary (early 1800's) settlement process that overall was more enlightened in it's intentions & considerate of first nations rights than NZ. They should also consider what the alternatives could have been.

Kat said...

Unfortunately you are correct. A fair proportion of NZ voters are that fickle that they would shoot themselves in both feet and elect a National govt. Can't see it happening in 2020, but then who knows in this world.

Dave Kennedy said...

"It is becoming ominously clear that the “strategy” of bifurcating the Green Party’s image between its calm and responsible Ministers Outside Cabinet (James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage) and its “woke” firebrands (Marama Davidson, Golriz Ghahraman) is on the point of sending the whole crew to the bottom."

Chris, I struggle to understand where your philosophical political home now resides. It wasn't that long ago when you were singing the praises of "woke" firebrand Metiria Turei and her stand supporting the plight of beneficiaries. You even promoted a national movement to rise up in support of her. Now you are implying that the Greens would be better to have it's image solidly behind "calm and responsible" and stick with environmentalism. Surely you recognise that for the Green Party to survive it is important that it can prove its self to be a good-faith partner in government and its Ministers are safe hands, while also being true to its progressive values.

However, the Green Party is committed to progressive change and outside the constrained Ministerial roles it is essential that our "firebrand" MPs continue to challenge and question the status quo. For progressive and informed voters this should not split the image but demonstrate the importance of the dual roles that you should also be celebrating. In the US the real hope for many Democratic supporters are the senators like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who are pushing the Green New Deal. The New Zealand Green Party promoted its own Green New Deal in 2009 and if it was embraced at that time New Zealand would be lauded as a progressive nation that fully understands the social and environmental challenges most developed nations share.

This is a new era and when I marched with our local students demanding action on climate change I was aware that the same students also have more highly developed social consciences than previous generations. Marama, Golriz, Gareth and Chloe connect directly with a good % of the younger generation and the future of New Zealand. The Green Party is more closely connected to those who will be New Zealand's future and we should support and celebrate that fact. .

Michael Joseph Savage enacted a Green new Deal for his time and his Government was full of that era's woke firebrands (Peter Fraser, Mabel Howard, Bob Semple). Savage was an empathetic man and a unifier, Jacinda Ardern has similar leadership qualities. Your support of Anderton is misguided, he had an autocratic leadership style and the disintegration of Alliance was largely because of this than any socialist agenda. I believe people didn't support Alliance because of apparent disunity rather than the policies. In the 1999 election the combined votes of Alliance and the Greens (after leaving) was almost 13%.

The Green Party is not a "hitchhiker", the Party and its voters are part owners of the car and its maintenance and direction should not be determined by only one of the two largest shareholders. That is not real democracy and you shouldn't be promoting it. If we are to have any real future we need to drive our nation's car using all the gears and have the support of knowledgeable navigators and mechanics. Your post supports telling other passengers and experts in the car that they have no voice and the car should stay in the slow lane and not move out of 2nd gear.

pat said...

First race at all.

First thoughts are usually the best.

Plugger said...

With another 18 months to go before the next election, the impression is that Jacinda won the war but she will lose the peace.

John Hurley said...

I'm not sure Jacinda is as popular as you say. Her rhetoric comes at a cost to the majority ethnic group.

My father remarried in strange circumstances and I'm weighing up the costs benefits. I did note my step mother had a colour tv however. I see Muslims immigrating to "the old country"; I don't see vice versa.

Adern is now making much of "they are us" begging the question "who are we?" and "what do we get out of the deal?". Adern is a "missionary nationalist": one who receives acolytes "on the world stage" but this usually comes by giving away concessions on behalf of the general public.

I've been listening to an expert on "The global rise of white supremacist groups". The killer is @ [5:00] and that is the normalising and mainstreaming of "white supremacist ideas".

To quote Eric Kaufmann "The liberal conceit that whites must become post ethnic cosmopolitans has past it's use-by date"

John Hurley said...

Elliot Ikilei had David Slack stumbling on TVNZ (as in piling on the words). I'm a social liberal but Ill never vote for NZ First again and Tops has combined with the Maori Party.

greywarbler said...

peter petterson
Nick Smith has a very good hold on Nelson - a lot of oldies and a very determined electorate committee always complaining about the opposition, and supporting him and his face on caravan at markets etc. He gets his image in the media in every advance that happens. He helpfully offers his rooms, actually a small hall, for meetings for the community with good parking. He advertises with a half page about his doings. He follows up any criticism, and is assiduous in keeping his well-lined seat. When he started, he bought a place, lived in one half and used the other for his rooms, so has made astute moves from the start. Comfortably stuck.

Bring in a three-term limit to ensure that a more healthy turnover applies I think.

Charles W Etherington said...

The Press today claims (probably inaccurately) that Little wants to look at adding hate speech laws here as in the UK. I was starting to like Little but this could spoil it.

That will create real trouble for Labour and the Greens. Different trouble. For the Greens, once again its far left will, with its poisonous identity politics give a green light to the far right. The latter will say snap and point out if it is banned from promoting white blood it will mean the likes of Davidson will have to stop promoting brown blood.... and shut up references to white races and ‘settlers’ being people who don't belong here as much us the anointed who have a few Maori ancestors. Because that will qualify as hate speech.

For Labour they will have to explain how new speech control laws will make people be nicer to each other, and not just increase resentment, and push opinion below the surface.
They will fail in this task I believe and lose votes.
As with a CGT, they will find the majority do not accept government expanding its control of us.

A better course would be to open debate on abolishing all reference to race and ancestry in our government and institutions, making it a private matter and irrelevant, as it is. After all we have to grow up and reject racial & cultural divisions at some point, and become just ‘the New Zealanders’ don’t we? Ultimately then, the Treaty will have to be abolished as it is racist to view some people as of a certain identity if they have say one out of 8, 16 or 32 ancestors born in the right bed. In the long term such primitive ideas as race have to go altogether.

greywarbler said...

You express the ideals which are laudable and hopefully to be realised.
Why don't we see them displayed here and now in our society? Because not enough people have been persuaded that they are worth concentrating on is the answer. The Greens have been sying these things for decades. They have a foot in the door, but it isn't a shoe-in.

Obliquely speaking, don't announce premature annunciation of Green's wishes and desires. You run the risk of spoiling NZs urgently needed policy
revision and implementation by your own badly handled political moves and attitudes that are centred on A Group in society that has been many changes for the better. Give the rest of society some thought will you? Please?

As the song goes "If you leave us now, you'll take away the very heart of me." You have to be all compromising and realpolitik now, that's an objective view about prioritising. By going slowly but surely, covering all your bases you will improve the lives in each Group who know only the Greens will pay attention. But this, at the same time as always keeping first prioritised the ameliorating moves required to cope with "Climate Change and the Death of the Pre-21st century Societies". Concentrate on that will you, I ask again. Please.

Unknown said...

Good to see that at least one group is not at all impressed by Cindy's virtue-signalling in wearing a headscarf -

The above link has an open letter to the PM from the Association quebecoise des Nord-Africains pour la laicite (Quebec North Africans for secularism Association), published on their Facebook page.
It is **extremely** blunt.
Now **those** are brave people.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Did I not put identity politics on my list? Dammit I should have. Honestly, the right have appropriated a shitload of words and made them meaningless – except for "It's something I don't like."
As if white people don't use identity politics Charles in fact we've had white identity politics for over a hundred years. Just people like you never seem to notice. Just like a fish never notices water.

Dave Kennedy said...

Greywarbler, I don't think I fully understand what you are saying. The Green Party has achieved over 17% in past polls and before Jacinda took the Labour helm we were at 15%. In 2014 many shifted away from the Greens to support Labour because of the fear that Labour's position may drop into a dangerous place. A high % of voters understand Green policy and ideals and perhaps more would do so if the MSM was more balanced. When the party was averaging around 11-14% over six years it was continually lumped into the the minor party group when it was clearly larger (most others were struggling to achieve more than 1%).

While I agree that many things could be handled better by the party, when compared to the debacles in other parties they pale in comparison. Many commentators agree that the Greens are given the 3rd degree at much lower bars than the others and the rabid attacks from Hoskings, Garner etc often border on hysterical. I don't think the Greens should bow to those privileged idiots. When Metiria made her speech about her beneficiary fraud, Chris Trotter was one of her strongest defenders. Our political system is dominated by personality cults and popularity can be transitory and irrationally based (Trump).

Smaller parties who go into government die if they cannot remain relevant and when Labour is inclined claims much of the Greens' work as its own it becomes difficult to do this. What makes the Green Party stand out from the others is its Charter and the acceptance that environmental issues don't stand alone, social and economic policy is inevitably interlinked. Foe the Party just to focus on Climate Change ignores the fact that we can make the biggest difference in shifting to more progressive economic goals and when dealing with climate change the impacts on different communities have to be considered. I believe it is naive not to take a holistic approach.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

A group of people from Qu├ębec criticised the New Zealand Prime Minister – and they are "brave"? Bugger me, I would and have quite cheerfully criticised people a lot closer than that. And I think I'm gonna add "virtues signalling" to my list as well. It's one of those things that means "somebody's done something I don't like." I.e. made a gesture of respect to a group of people who aren't "me". This is the dark underbelly of New Zealand, who can't withhold their criticism for two bloody seconds until someone has buried their dead. And if we have to talk about virtue signalling – criticising Muslims and people who respect them is virtue signalling – for neo-Nazis and racists.

greywarbler said...

Nothing brave about nitpicking about head coverings. The French have got all narrow about such things - can't wear this, can't wear that ie Christian crosses I read weren't to be worn, because wearing identifiers takes away from traditional French norms. I think they are just embarrassed about their pied noir days in Algeria I think, and they don't want to concede anything to their colonial satellites. (I make the exception about head coverings that cover the face. Just being able to be seen by your fellows, should be automatic. We don't want people evoking The Man in the Iron Mask.'

bsprout The Greens have to be extremely pragmatic, and more sensitive to people's needs and situation than the present level. My fears about this were confirmed by Minister Eugenie Sage considering that the way to reduce waste was to put up tip charges. I thought oh dear, taking the punitive way that poorer people, either in money, or in concern for environmental conditions and the need to conserve everything better, will not be helped by this.

In Nelson I foresee more tipping in the Whangamoas. If something has to be shifted fast, you haven't got much cash but there is petrol in the ute it is a solution to a problem. It's reality, not ideals, that people live by. Having lots of ideals isn't an acceptable currency at the supermarket etc. or the tip.

I am looking at definite doings, not idealistic waffling. Pragmatic idealism is what I want to see. The Greens have got us started towards coping with climate change. More is necessary, and staying in power also.
That means buttoning up about identity politics and getting some firm improvements with the Green touch under your belt.

What about raising the profile of the neglected, oppressed identity groups - poor single parents, and young unemployed. Clever Greens should be looking to make way with the disadvantaged Maori who don't have such nice manners as the better-brought-up average Green. You would earn much aroha if you encouraged them along paths allowing them to realise their strengths. And work then with their hapu getting involved together in small projects - weaving themselves into a strong kete.

And getting young Maori leaders to work with poor pakeha as well separately from Maori, until they get intrigued about tikanga and want to see what Maori have that they haven't in pakeha culture. That would be a turnaround for racial respect and harmony. Huge. And far nobler than efforts to curb the slack speech of the gutters. Women worrying about that is inward looking and neglecting the big picture of capitalist capture and climate change - the 4'C' words.

Dave Kennedy said...

The difficulty the Greens constantly have is that many have an impression of the party and its policies based on outside observations and spin from other parties and groups. Your comments are largely based on these without reference to the actual Green Policy. Remember that all election policies have been fully costed and independently reviewed and the party promoted a branch of Treasury to be formed to review the costs of different parties' campaign policies.

"What about raising the profile of the neglected, oppressed identity groups - poor single parents, and young unemployed." You clearly forget that Metiria was forced to resign by identifying with that very group. The 'C' word discussion was not policy but a forthright reaction to the stream of abuse that is directed at our female MPs who dare to stand up for the disenfranchised. I thought we are actually being highly successful in this space but overseas media recognise it more than locally. Jan Logie's bill to support those suffering from domestic abuse was a first in the world, widely lauded outside the country but barely recognised here.

Have a look at the Green website at "Our Solutions" and then critique specific policies that need tweaking.

Charles Etherington said...

Of course the right use identity politics GS. That is my point!
Identity P was defeated in the 20thC but the idiotic left has re-introduced it!

So now we have killers like Tarrant again, as a direct result of the left imposing an identity group on everyone and bozos like him thinking … ah... well what is my ethnicity? Ah.. what respect do my ancestors get? Oh.. they get spat on by the left...
Thinking with your blood, is a fatal idea, and thanks to the post-modernist left we have it back in spades! Well done.

And it gave you Trump, which is actually very funny and probably harmless fun. Let's hope so. The idiot Dems were so arrogant as well as dumb to say ‘let’s vote for Obama because he’s black. Then next let's vote for Hillary because she’s a woman. Then call their opponents deplorable white trailer trash.
So what happens? their foes say oh let's vote in a pig of a white man to stick it up their noses. Snap!
Next I expect the Dem idiots will put up a young female left socialist brown arab or some such. Then they will elect an old right socialist male white neo-arian. And then the post-modernists will have achieved their aim, which is to destroy the Enlightenment and tip us back into the Dark Ages.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Of course the right use identity politics GS. That is my point!"

You made no such point Charles absolutely none at all.

"Identity P was defeated in the 20thC but the idiotic left has re-introduced it!"
No it wasn't, and no they haven't. It was always there, it's still there – and as I said, you don't notice it as a fish doesn't notice water. If you're not going to bother reading my comments fine, but don't reply as if you have.

You have a habit of making these pronouncements – unsupported – as if they were deep philosophical truths Charles, and they're simply untrue.

FFS – it's not as if any of your post makes sense. You even contradict yourself. I'm afraid that Betteridge's law means unfortunately I don't have the time for this.

Dave Kennedy said...

Or they could elect a capable individual who just happens to be from a minority group. Obama was black but I do think he got there on merit. I don't think that Hillary being a female was her only attribute, she was possibly the most qualified potential president ever if you based it on past experience.

I agree that identity politics can be a problematic distraction but we also have to recognise that a truly representative government should reflect the people it serves and the dominance of wealthy white males has not been healthy. Also the tyranny of the majority is also problematic and sometimes an element of identification is needed and should be celebrated to address the imbalance. For example it was a huge battle for Mojo Mathers to get into parliament. She is a highly intelligent and well qualified individual (multiple quals and business owner) and one of the Greens most effective MPs and yet her deafness was continually used against her. Many women and minorities would claim that they have to work twice as hard to receive the same recognition as an older white male (research and statistics backs this up) so some deliberate action is needed to get such people elected. Once elected most prove more than capable and would make anyone wonder why they had been overlooked before. The system is intrinsically biased.

Also there is evidence to show that businesses with governing boards that have diversity in their makeup are generally more successful than those that are only white males (I say generally because the recent example of Jenny Shipley is an outlier and should be regarded as such). Deliberately having some quota for ensuring diversity is often the only way to remove glass ceilings.

Also Trump is not "harmless fun" he is a dangerous fool who provides a distraction for a whole heap of stuff going on around him (dismantling environmental protects, health provisions and creating even more educational inequity.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I agree that identity politics can be a problematic distraction"


When you figure out a way to make sure that people with different identities have exactly the same experience in the political process – let me know, you'll almost certainly have less identity politics. Until then, you're stuck with them distraction or not. And let's not forget – yet again please – the fact that all politics are to some extent identity politics. Sigh.

greywarbler said...

I have been a Green for ages. But as I come into contact with them more I find that there is a lot of concern about process and being fair and non-racist and so on. Which I agree with. I find a lack of examples of how these guidlines and precept are meant to work in practice. So i think there is confusion about meanings and reading what is in the mission statements is likely to be understood in separate individual ways that form a spectrum, not a solid conjoined linked group thinking as one.

Then there are policies. How are they going to be implemented. Greens are supposed to be the most intelligent and far-seeing - so what do they see as priorities. To lead NZ forward, remembering the backward-pulling who are a large minority. So Metiria should have offered herself as an example of new New Zealand trying to rise yet dragged back by a miserly, money-loving and people-despising group which are another large minority in our society, connected to the first one I mentioned.

In the USA poor mothers who wanted to break out of unskilled, semi-skilled poor conditions have had to prostitute themselves to afford their study and provide care for their baby. Too hard to point this out to these uncaring and critical tall poppy stompers - I agree it would be impossible But recognising the problem of the hate-talk of many in NZ about single parents would mean that Metiria would have confessed her heinous crime. Which is like that of State house tenants letting out rooms for extra money - a matter of rage and disapproval by National female pollies.

And excusing Marama and Golriz for stepping away from their responsibility of leading the Greens to a position of respect for being people who get needed projects done because they didn't like certain language is a pathetic excuse for a failure to be staunch and strong. Greens need an image of capacity and maturity, skill, effectiveness and integrity - and now, after the little excursion from reality by the Deputy Leader is is vital. We only have one chance at this stage of climate change and society deteriorating into machine-controlled beings out of Brave New World. We are descending a ladder with gradual levels, and only the thinking can conserve what we have, and keep the pace slow and nearly manageable; without the right action the steps will be a slide.

Chris's comment below is confronting. This is not a time for excuses, defensiveness, and utopian ideals. Greens have to humble themselves to some egg on the face, and 'kia kaha' to what is their present, noble, essential task.
It is becoming ominously clear that the “strategy” of bifurcating the Green Party’s image between its calm and responsible Ministers Outside Cabinet (James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage) and its “woke” firebrands (Marama Davidson, Golriz Ghahraman) is on the point of sending the whole crew to the bottom.

Charles W Etherington said...

GW: 'Greens are supposed to be the most intelligent and far-seeing'
This is an all too common delusion, along with the idea they care for people and the planet, more than others. Or that Maori are better custodians and more connected with the land... Or that the left cares about the poor more than the right. The list of self serving, self generated assumptions about political tribes is endless.
But it is just morally vain, bullshit. Pure political prejudice.
I know, because I am guilty of it too. I view my tribe, National as the solid, diverse, practical, productive, compassionate, large middle of a decent society and representative of about 60% of middle NZ. But …. that is clearly the Labour Party... too. So that cannot be right.
But I am sure it is not the Greens, nor NZF. My prejudice? Yes.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Yes Charles you're prejudiced, and I wouldn't mind it quite so much if it came without the usual dose of smugness and patronising. Although to be fair it may well be that it's not meant to be and I am assigning it to you because I only see the written word and don't get the face-to-face nuances. God Almighty though, how you could describe national as "compassionate" I just don't know. That's a bit far even for someone as prejudiced as you.

greywarbler said...

Charles Wrong Etherington
But it is just morally vain, bullshit. Pure political prejudice.

I would suggest that your comment was a perfect, or nearly, example of your whole comment, prejudiced blah blah. One of the esteemed professors of holding one's own position, putting down any others, and never allowing a humble thought that you are probably wrong about many things to enter your head. There are many other estimable commenters who publish their similar thoughts which are produced from a severe irritation with people who threaten the status quo about which you are 'pretty' happy, and you convince yourself with Churchill's quote paraphrased:

'“My opinion about society is the worst form of conviction except for all the rest.” ... Winston Churchill said, “our society is the worst form of society, except for all the others.”