Saturday 20 March 2010

Outrageous Choices

Waitakere Woman: To take the seat of Waitakere off Paula Bennett, Labour needed to select someone who could match her in street cred' and shit talk. (Think Outrageous Fortune meets Erin Brocovitch.) Carmel Sepuloni, bless her, just aint that gal.

UNBELIEVABLE! The Labour Party has just offered the NZ electorate further proof (if any more was needed) of its accelerating political infirmity.

It has just selected Carmel Sepuloni as it Waitakere candidate.

In making this decision it has not only chosen wrongly, but it has also dealt what may prove to be a fatal blow to the career of one of its more talented MPs, Phil Twyford.

"Waitakere Man/Woman" is the key to Labour’s recovery. Who is he/she?

I attempted a thumbnail sketch of the key demographic which crossed over from Labour to National at the last election in The Independent of 3 September 2009:

The voter escorting National to its First Term Ball turned out to be the sort of bloke who spends Saturday afternoon knocking-back a few beers on the deck he’d built himself, and Saturday evening watching footy with his mates on the massive flat-screen plasma-TV he’s still paying-off.

His missus works part-time to help out with the mortgage, and to keep their school-age offspring in cell-phones and computer games.

National’s partner – let’s call him Waitakere Man – has a trade certificate that earns him much more than most university degrees. He’s nothing but contempt for "smart-arse intellectual bastards spouting politically-correct bullshit". What he owns, he’s earned – and means to keep.

"The best thing we could do for this country, apart from ditching that bitch in Wellington and making John Key prime-minister," he’d inform his drinking-buddies in the lead-up to the 2008 election "would be to police the liberals – and liberate the police."

Waitakere Man values highly those parts of the welfare state that he and his family use – like the public education and health systems – but has no time at all for "welfare bludgers".

"Get those lazy buggers off the benefit", he’s constantly telling his wife, "and the government would be able to give us a really decent tax-cut."

On racial issues he’s conflicted. Some of his best friends really are Maori – and he usually agrees with the things John Tamihere says on Radio Live. So long as the conversation stays on sport, property prices and fishing, he doesn’t really notice the colour of a bloke’s skin. It’s only when the discussion veers towards politics, and his Maori mates start teasing him about taking back the country, treaty settlement by treaty settlement, that his jaw tightens and he subsides into sullen silence. Though he didn’t say so openly at the time, he’d been thrilled by Don Brash’s Orewa Speech, and reckoned the Nats’ "Iwi-Kiwi" billboards were "bloody brilliant!"

Winning over Waitakere Man turned out to be a great "twofer" deal for the Right. To its immense satisfaction, the highly-skilled, upwardly-mobile working-class blokes who began trooping into National’s camp following the 2005 election were bringing their wives with them.

Carmel Sepuloni’s going to win back those voters?

Yeah, right.

The truly sad aspect of today’s selection is what it tells us about the paucity of talent in Labour’s ranks.

For God’s sake! Two of the four candidates standing were sitting MPs! And dear old Hamish McCracken is a bloody political studies lecturer – just the sort of bloke Waitakere Man and his missus are desperate to sit down and have a drink with at the pub.

The clear goal facing Labour in Waitakere was to choose a candidate who can beat Paula Bennett. That candidate needed to be: female, have a solid working-class background (to which, at some point, she had added a tertiary qualification) be either Pakeha or Maori (or, ideally, a mixture of both) and, most importantly, be capable of "talking shit" with the same cheeky facility as the incumbent. Think Outrageous Fortune meets Erin Brocovitch.

A healthy Labour Party would have women like that lining up for the Waitakere seat. That it has ended up selecting a candidate who would, quite frankly, have been much more usefully matched against National’s Sam Lotu-liga in Maungakiekie (where I also happen to think Labour has made a wrong choice) speaks volumes.

And none of those volumes contain very much in the way of good news.


Keeping Stock said...

Couldn't agree more Chris. It smacks of hackery from Labour; trying to get list MP's into electorate seats. It could have been worse though; they could have selected Jacinda Ardern!

Cactus Kate said...

Too good to be true Chris!!!

Unknown said...

Sorry Chris but I am a "Waitakere man" or at least live there and I think that I can comment with some understanding on the local dynamics.

If you live in and understand the area you will realise that it is not one tribe but about eight distinct tribes.

There is a good number of traditional pacifica and the children for who the traditional island way is less and less attractive.

There is the green tribe, Labour and Green activists who are deeply concerned about environmental issues and whose activity and contribution to Labour and the Greens is a disproportionate one. They are incensed at this Government, at its desire to mine conservation areas, and at the attack it has made on the protection of the Waitakere Ranges heritage area.

There is the traditional tribe, working class homeowners who are getting on in age and who generally stick to Labour. Some of them were persuaded by National's "Labour lite"campaign of 2008 to vote for Key but many of them are now scratching their heads about how they could have been persuaded to do so.

There is the superior tribe. They always believe they are better than the rest and think that voting National shows their superiority. It takes a lot to change them.

There is the beneficiary tribe. It is often hard to get them to vote because they are trying to cope with many problems but if threatened they will do so. They will not vote for a benefit basher.

There is the geriatric tribe. They used to be predictable in the way they voted but tend to be persuaded by self interest. Stephen Joyce's threat to the gold card will not have gone done well with them.

There is the ethnic tribe, primarily Chinese and Indian who network well and who respond to concepts of equality and fairness. They were sucked in last time by Law and Order issues but things have got worse under this Government and I suspect they are regretting their last choice.

And there is the self employed tribe, the "Waitakere tribe" that you talked about. They believe in fairness.

Paula Bennett has tried to create herself as a "Waitakere Woman". All that this means is that she occasionally dons leopard tights, she talks tough and she regularly eats McDonalds. I do not know why you would trust her with anything more than a local McDonalds franchise.

Westies are much brighter than that. They will see through her.

In any event Carmel is working class, female, Samoan Tongan and I am sure she can talk "shit" if by this you mean talk plainly.

Bennett has been an embarrassment to Westies. The sooner she is replaced the better.

Anonymous said...

Labour have truly shown themselves to be the party of time-serving lickspittles! And liberal capitalists to boot (and boot them we should!)

MickySavage - Twyford could have appealed strongly to all but possibly the beneficiary group and Pacifica group in Waitakere. Sepuloni is not a bad candidate, just not a good one, and certainly not good enough to dislodge an incumbent.

Chris is right about Carmel - she should have fought against Lotu-Iiga in Maungakiekie, or tried to grab Manukau East off Ross Robertson (I know that's hard, but she would have been a good fit for Otahuhu and Otara).

If Labour are to have any chance of winning the next election, they have to purge all the deadwood on the list NOW and get genuinely talented hard-working people in as new MPs. Oh, and rework their policies to meet working-class Kiwi needs. Pigs will fly...

Tanya Stebbing said...

Just what are Labour thinking? I feel sorry for Phil Twyford, he's worked so hard and waited so long. Good news for the right though, they'll hang onto Waitakere in 2011. I've had a drink with Twyford, and he comes across as intelligent and a lovely man. He would have held his own against Bennett. Glad I didn't bother turning up to hear the speeches. Phil has been let down. Tanya

Anonymous said...

Yes, fantastic news for the centre right...Paula will eat Sepuloni. She seems to have adopted "Plughead" Cosgrove as her role model in parliament... good choice! (not).

she also seems to have foregone the tradtional newbie MP's stage of trying to be bi-partisan on occasion, and jumped straight to the "standard response" nastiness of Cosgrove and

She's also a phony who claims half Tongan heritage, but has never been there, and doesnt speak the language..They might keep smiling when meeting such a person, but Pasifika people judge phonies harshly.

Anonymous said...

Micky, your comments reflect your political prejudices rather than reality.

If you are correct then you have to wonder how Paula Bennett even won the seat in 2008.

Tauhei Notts said...

I get the impression that Chris Trotter gets out and about with the Westies more than Mickeysavage does.
Chris' words resonate more with me than does the words of Mickeysavage.
Chris has repeated what I have heard at the Glenora clubrooms, Huapai pub and at the lesser known rough golf clubs.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Yeah it's corny but I just can't resist

Labour has committed electoral Seppu(ku)loony in Waitakere.

Doug said...

Who wields the power in Labour Twyford is a mate of Phil Goff’s. It seems the party has been taken over by the unions or is Helen running the Labour party from America.

Julie said...

I'm confused by your third to last paragraph Chris, as Carmel ticks all of those boxes except that she is part Pasifika rather than part Maori. What gives?

Cactus Kate said...

Does Twyford fall now under the 3 strikes law?

Chris Trotter said...

What "gives", Julie, is that Carmel has foregrounded her Pasifika heritage to an extent that makes her an inappropriate choice for an electorate like Waitakere.

If Labour is not very careful it will see this seat go the way of Napier and Timaru - both former strongholds for the Left which now show every sign of having switched their political allegiances permanently to the Right.

The more I see of Labour's internal politics, the more convinced I become that the Party has developed a tin-ear when it comes to pitching its message to the key constituencies it needs to win back.

Combine this with the selfish determination of the Labour women List MPs to "bags" every available seat that's going in the Auckland area (see Darien Fenton's extraordinary posting on Phil Twyford's facebook re: Northcote) and it's hard to avoid the impression that this once great party stands on the brink of terminal decline.

Chris Trotter said...

To Cactus Kate:

Sadly, I suspect your right. His enemies in the EPMU, combined with his possession of a penis (and, increasingly rarely for a Labour MP - a pair of balls) have reduced his chances of securing a solid political base to something approaching zero.

Those same handicaps also put his position on the 2011 Labour List in doubt.

Clearly, being an intelligent and compassionate human-being, with an impeccable background in the voluntary/humanitarian sector, counts for far less in Labour circles than having a few union mates and a vagina.

Peter Malcouronne said...

This farce started back with the Mt Albert by-election when Labour honchos allowed themselves to be spooked by a couple of Nationalist Bloggards. A vote for the anointed Phil Twyford was, these geeks shrieked, a vote for Judith Tizard (who was set to return on the list). Instead of ignoring them – or taking Ms Tizard out the back and humanely dispatching her if she really is that bad – Labour ran scared.

This error was compounded when they unwisely decided on a Battle of the Nubes in Auckland Central: the fragrant, decent and talented Ms Ardern up against National’s Nikki Kaye. Twyford was a reasonable fit for this seat: while he would’ve likely lost, Jacinda probably will too.

And so poor Captain Oates then tromps out to Waitakere where the Labour Party leadership, repeating their Auckland Central error, decide on the candidate they think most resembles the incumbent. You’re right they had to choose a woman: with Carter there, and that other fine Westie hero, Cunliffe of Herne Bay, in place, they couldn’t risk more dicks on the dancefloor (speaking of which, why doesn’t Cunliffe stand in Auckland Central since he lives there?)

We Westies are a tribal lot – we support our own people and we respect those (i.e. Bennett) who’ve done their time. We’re also not stupid and we’re tired of the urban liberal cabal with their "We know what's best for you" attitude to 'the proletariat' and simultaneous distaste for the same. Ask yourself these questions: how many of the various Labour contenders attended the recent AC/DC religious experiences? How many of them would wade into an all-in at Hendo Westfield ala Bennett? How many of them would even go to Hendo Westfield?

You know who Labour should’ve put up? Councillor Ewen Gilmour. Seriously. He’s a good man and a real Westie. If he wasn’t available – and Labour refused to consider a local person because that’s too sensible – then Jacinda wouldn’t have been the worst choice. Poor old Phil T. could’ve then run in Auckland Central, Hamish McCrackers could stayed on the Shore (where he’s from) and Carmel Sepuloni could’ve taken on Jacinda’s uncle in Taranaki (where she’s from).

Instead, Carmel’s gonna get caned out in Waitakere and Carter & Cunliffe will get a real tickle-up. And what ought to be a Labour stronghold will be insipid pink at best.

PS. Bang on, Tauhei.

Julie said...

So just to clarify Chris, from your response to my comment above, the main reason you think Carmel is not a good fit for Waitakere is that she openly identifies as Pasifika? You think that knocks out the fact that she ticks every other box you have listed for what the Waitakere candidate should look like?

Chris Trotter said...

No (sigh) Julie. I just don't think her face "fits" the current political physiognomy of Waitakere. As I said in the original posting, I believe her's to be a much better "fit" for a seat like Maungakiekie (or Manurewa or Manukau East, for that matter).

But why don't YOU "clarify" something for US , Julie: like the role the SFWU played in Carmel's selection? (Or do the questions only run one way in your world?)

Peter Malcouronne said...

Is she a Westie, Julie? What's her past involvement in the West Auckland community? What's her favourite West Coast beach? Does she like 'Thunderstruck' or prefer 'Back in Black'?

I just hope that Inga or Michael Jones - true Westie Pasifikans - don't fall for John Key's siren call or those seats will be lost to Labour for a generation. And that really pisses me off: for better or worse, Labour represents the (parliamentary) left and the sooner you guys start picking people who resemble your constituents (or at least can relate to them... or at least not revile them), the better. You owe it to ordinary working New Zealanders; you owe it to Holland, Savage, Semple, Kirk and the other heroes of the New Zealand left to be a vaguely functional party.

Chris Trotter said...

Amen to that, Comrade Malcouronne!

Anton Craig said...

You're probably right Chris, except there's one other variable that could tip things, which is Paula Bennett's ability to lose the seat (as opposed to someone else winning). She's not only a puppet minister with Key / English pulling her strings, but has an enormous ability to not understand her portfolio. Sure, she's got a social science BA in something, but she's a product of a bums on seats tertiary education system that's pretty much akin to opening a weet-bix packet. Combine this with her real role as Minister Cardboard Cutout and she's completely at sea - her little brain must be in a constant spin. Mr Waitakere is in lots of ways pretty dense, but he does have an uncanny knack of spotting bull-shit a mile away.

Peter Malcouronne said...

One more thing: am I the only one who finds Labour's attempts to second-guess the electorate and select 'good fits' (or else apportion 'winnable' seats to pre-ordained candidates) just a little obvious and calculated? The fact they then get things so badly wrong says little about their strategic acumen. Machiavellis they ain't.

This ought to be simple and straightforward. Instinctive. Just go for a walk through Glen Eden or Kelston or Hendo or Masai. It'll only take 10 minutes. Fifteen, tops, if - heaven forbid! - you actually talk to some local hoi polloi. Ask them what issues they care about... what their hopes and dreams are for the future. And then pick a candidate who they 'get' - and who 'gets' them.

Oh, and make sure they 'get' this:

Peter Malcouronne said...

Anton: Mr (and especially Ms) Waitakere is a lot less dense than you think.

While I think (hope) Bennett will eventually be found out, she will win Waitakere at the next election with an increased majority.

Oh, and here's one more for the faithful: (sorry, Chris, just couldn't help myself).

Anonymous said...

Don't call us dense, Anton, cause we are a very intelligent bunch, that's why we elected Paula in the first place. Yea, why is Cunners holding onto New Lynn while living among the hip Herne Bay folk, and is Twyford now another Phil-gonner? How bizarre.

Rainbow Joe.

Bearhunter said...

It's a sad truth that Labour is now so weak that it has to parachute in "celebrity" candidates for electorates that should be fertile ground for it. The party has clearly withered to such an extent that it can't find anyone local to stand in an election, which makes the constituency twice as hard to win. From my experience here and overseas, voters prefer a local candidate who understands local issues to a capetbagger who is chosen because they fit some notional mould set by head office. Are there so few Labourites in Waitakere that they have to reach out to Taranaki to find one?

Victor said...


Is the intelligent and compassionate Phil Twyford whom you are commending to my Westie mates, the same intelligent and compassionate Phil Twyford who last year suggested that us boomers are breeching "inter-generational fairness" by defending our right to a quarter-decent level of superannuation?

Most of my Westie mates are grandparents, and great ones at that. They've put up with a pile of excreta from employers, down-sizers and assorted, smart-suited, corporate hit men and women for the last quarter century. They've paid their taxes, obeyed the law, brought up their kids and done what they can to provide for their grandchildren.

And this so-called Social Democrat not only thinks they are the problem but is actually open to the suggestion that they should be electorally disadvantaged in favour of their kids' generation.

I agree Phil is a highly personable guy. So, for that matter, is John Key. I also agree that, unlike most other people in Parliament, he has a genuinely distinguished background in the NGO sector.

But fanning then flames of inter-generational hatred not only offends against all the humane and inclusive values of Social Democracy. It's also as self-defeating an intrusion into serious electoral politics as is the parading of ethnicity by some other Labour candidates.

Chris Trotter said...

Thanks, Pete, for the AC/DC links.

You know, of course, why the boys and girls at Labour Party HQ would never be seen dead at such a concert?

It's that visceral connection, the way the audience pulses to the band's own heartbeat. It's the way that throbbing pit of human-beings is so totally in sync with the music; so high on its unspoken message of unity and power.

Can Andrew Little make a working-class audience throb like that? Can Carmel?

Can anyone? You might say.

Well, yes, they could - and they did - once.

On the night before the General Election of 1938 a crowd as large - or larger than - the crowd on your YouTube clip, followed Jack Lee up K-Road and into the Auckland Domain. Fifty-to-seventy thousand men and women - a huge percentage of the Auckland working-class - turned out to show the bosses that, in spite of their best efforts to destroy the Labour Government, ordinary New Zealanders were the masters now.

Labour's heart beat in sync with the people it represented in 1938 - securing for Labour the most emphatic electoral mandate (55 percent of the popular vote) in this country's history.

If Jack Lee had played lead guitar, he'd have sounded just like Angus Young.

Chris Trotter said...

But perhaps I misjudge the boys and girls at Labour Party HQ.

They certainly seem to have mastered "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap".

Julie said...

Chris, why do you think I had anything at all to do with the selection process in Waitakere? I didn't. You can ask me about the SFWU's role all you like but I don't know anything more than any other outsider with some connections, such as yourself, so it's weird that you would even bother to ask me. Quite baffled by your combative response to a couple of pretty straight forward questions on my part.

I don't know why Carmel didn't contest Maungakiekie. My guess would be because Carol Beaumont had run there in 2008 and it would be much harder to win the selection against her than in a seat with no incumbent candidate, given Lynne Pillay had stood down. Clearly if you want to win selection for a safe seat it is easier to do that where there is a bit of a vaccuum than where there is not, and this would hold true for Manukau East and Manurewa too.

Frankly I was surprised Carmel won the Waitakere selection. Strategically I think she was the best fit for the seat (and obviously we disagree on that) of the four possibles, however I had expected the race to be between Hamish and Phil.

Malchop (hope you don't mind me harking back to those days) I couldn't answer any of those Westie questions for any of the four contenders for the selection. I haven't claimed that Carmel is a Westie. My impression is that of the four contenders the only actual Westie was Ann Pala (sp?) - Phil and Hamish are both from the North Shore, while Carmel has recently lived in Wesley but I understand was from the 'Naki prior to that.

I'm just trying to work out precisely why Chris objects so to Carmel's selection. He's clarified now that he thinks she is a better fit for other seats in the Auckland region. That may well be the case, but none of those other seats has a total vacancy for the Labour candidacy, so I can understand Carmel's decision to contest where she thought she had a good chance. Who knows, if she loses in Waitakere maybe she'll build to take on Manurewa or Manukau East in the future?

Anton Craig said...

Anonymous and Peter M - what I said was "Mr Waitakere is in lots of ways pretty dense, but he does have an uncanny knack of spotting bull-shit a mile away". Firstly, it must be obvious that comments this can only be huge generalisations, in the same way Chis Trotter's are. Nobody could truly say that they could be aimed at every individual living in Waitakere. The "in lots of ways" is a response to a general view of the world Trotter has described which is unfortunately alive and kicking all over NZ. These views, toward treaty settlements, beneficiaries or anything else that's perceived to "threaten" the right of hard working NZer's to "get ahead" I say are of those who mightn't have thought too deeply about these issues. The corollary of "in lots of ways" are the other activities Mr and Ms Waitakere / Aotearoa seem very good at: working hard, making a ton of money and enjoying the rewards. Nobody could call someone who left school at 14 and ended up running companies and with few a million in the bank "dense". I know a number of people in this category and their business acumen is as sharp as you'll see anywhere. So Anonymous, if you left school at 14 and have worked your way to having a bank balance you never need to check you certainly must have something going on behind the eyes. I'm also sure that you can spot (some) bull-shit a mile away, save Paula Bennett. But if you think we shouldn't, to paraphrase David Lange in his valedictory speech, "look after those who can't quite cut it, then I must say that "in lots of ways" you remain a little bit dense.

Unknown said...

Peter M, said with passion but the situation is not as simple as you state. There are a whole lot of different groups in Waitakere and to win the seat you have to reach out to them.

National did well last time because it reached out to ethnic groups. When you looked at its list from 30 to 40 it looked like Labours. And Key sounded like a Labour lite PM so people trusted him.

This year that trust has started to evaporate at an alarming rate. The economy is getting worse, unemployment is soaring and no one seems to be in control.

These national issues are going to be of major signficance at the next election.

There will also be two local issues where Carmel will be ideally placed.

The super city fiasco will be rolling by then. The West has been the most energised in the Auckland region on this issue and it will hurt.

And conservation is a biggie. National's attempt to undermine protection of the Waitakere Ranges heritage area will mean there will be a ready suppy of activists.

The selection process is much more complex than some of you have stated. It was a close thing with any one of three able to get up for it.

Chris Trotter said...

Mickey, that's just my point. Phil Twyford has, through a lot of very hard work, made ordinary Aucklanders begin to sit up and take notice of the SuperCity issue.

What message - precisely - were the clever selectors intending to send to those same Aucklanders when they very publicly slapped their spokesperson for Auckland Issues in the face?

As for a tight selection: well, suffice to say it all turned (as it has so often in the past) on the EPMU's fatal inability to be on anybody's side but their own.

Anonymous said...

I cant resist the urge to ask mickeysavage what world is he living in? I feel a complaint to the Commerce Commision coming up because all of those incompetant polling companies must be getting it so wrong for nearly 18 months now.According to Micky everyone has already worked out that the Govt is dreadful and that John Key cant be trusted.Labour can only start moving ahead properly when its supporters take a large dose of reality.Mickey unfortunately is still in la la land

Anonymous said...

Chris, perhaps you would care to elaborate on your wild accusations about union involvement in this selection? I was intimately involved, Yet I have no idea what on earth you are on about. You mention two unions who you appear to feel were responsible for Carmel's selection, yet one was backing Phil Twyford and the other had no position. You obviously don't have the full picture. I can't help you with that. But I would love to know what you think actually happenned because I bet it's a cracking yarn.

Chris Trotter said...

Well, Anonymous, if you were willing to give us your real name we would be in a position to test your assertion that you were "intimately involved".

But, since you aren't, we can't.

As for my "wild accusations", well, let's take them in turn.

First, I asked Julie about the SFWU's role in the Waitakere selection. (NOTE: Asking a question is not quite the same thing as making "wild accusations".)

I did this under the misapprehension that Julie still worked for the SFWU. I have since learned that she has moved on to the NZEI - which is not affiliated to the Labour Party.

My bad. Apologies to all.

I have subsequently been informed that the SFWU was - as you say - among the overwhelming majority of affiliated unions which gave their backing to Phil Twyford. (So, you see, there WAS "union involvement".)

The EPMU, however, presents us a very different picture.

You, yourself, admit that in the Waitakere contest the EPMU (officially) had "no position".

Very cute.

But, in a close selection contest with multiple candidates (as this was) having "no position" is tantamount to taking sides.

Because, while you may not actually vote AGAINST a particular candidate, by simply refusing to vote FOR him you can ensure his defeat just as effectively.

I may not have been as "intimately involved" as you were, comrade, but I am reliably informed that this is exactly what the EPMU did.

And, I suspect Labour will end up paying an unnecessarily high price for Andrew Little's union's policy of "neutrality".

Phil Twyford certainly is.

Anonymous said...

You make it sound like wasn't an election? It was democracy folks, dirty or otherwise. Unions pulling strings is nothing new and just because Twyford thought he had SFWU stitched up (ah, folks, those members have brains and a right to vote which ever way they like as unfortunate as that is...) The candidate was voted in by the Waitakere electorate present. You make it sound like it was forced on them...There is NOTHING as annoying as watching the white boys whine... And the gall to sling mud at someone who was voted in because she is Pasifika and what??? She should stick to South Auckland? Everything that is wrong with the Labour Party just got posted here and Chris Trotter if you are left, it is some of other hemisphere. God help the left-wing, because it just fell off the mothership.

Chris Trotter said...

Well, yes, it was democracy (with all the opportunity for heroic idealism and dirty dealing that the term entails).

But if you think "union involvement" involved heated discussion regarding the merits of each candidate by workers enrolled in Labour Party cells in factories, shops and offices throughout the Waitakere electorate, then think again.

What Phil probably had was the support of paid union officials and maybe (and I repeat "maybe") a majority of the elected officials (i.e. the unions' executive committees).

The most democratically active group involved in the selection - the local members - gave Phil a plurality. Sadly, it wasn't enough.

Anonymous said...

ummm i think you'll find the locals were quite supportive of Hamish actually Chris. Hamish has actually been living in the area and working hard with the local LEC. And since it was an STV vote, if they supported Hamish first they'd go for Carmel second (going on the type of activists that supported Hamish). Also many of the SFWU delegates with a floor vote on the day were PI women. Perhaps they heard something they liked from Carmel. I don’t think you have as much an idea about what goes on inside the Labour party as you think you do.

Anonymous said...

"the local members - gave Phil a plurality"

The only people who know who won that vote were the 5 people on the selection panel. They are sworn to secrecy. I therefore very much doubt that you were "reliably informed" on that. Given that Phil's nominee for the meeting's rep on the panel was defeated, it seems highly unlikely that he could have won any subsequent ballots.

Chris Trotter said...

Was that the local membership at large - or the members of the local LEC, that's Labour Electorate Committee for the uninitiated - who were "quite supportive" of Hamish?

And didn't Hamish move into Waitakere with the express purpose of getting his foot in the door first - selection wise?

And are you telling us that the PI delegates from the SFWU voted AGAINST their Union's recommendation? If so, that would be VERY democratic - wouldn't it, Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

I see Mallard has a smart arse post re this over at Red Alert (or Carmel, rather). Talk about rubbing it in to poor old Phil. No wonder Labour is on a down-hills slope. They seem to be anti-male, anti-white and anti-sensible. National must be laughing their blue heads off, especially tough wee Paula.

Rainbow Joe!

Anonymous said...

Imagine Labour electing anyone from a working class, non-tertiary, family background? Nope, I couldn't either. Maybe the old Labour party, but not this current social-engineering mob. Average Joe doesn't and can't get anywhere with Labour these days, except as a volunteer.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Faaaaaark... this is silly. Anonymous poster(s) - why don't you just choose someone with an authentic connection to the area? It's not that hard. I'm assuming, here, you don't want to see Paula Bennett hose home, and Inga and the Iceman walk away with whatever seat they choose to stand in.

Frankly, this is a deranged decision by a party staggeringly out of touch with middle/working class New Zealand. Though you'd never guess it reading the delusional triumphalism on Red Alert: they really seem to think they're gonna win this.

I'm prepared to put my money where my mouth is: if Ms Sepuloni wins Waitakere, I'll donate a hundred bucks to West Auckland Hospice and - cos I must really be out of touch - another hundred to the Early Holden Club of Auckland.

Any takers?

Chris Trotter said...

Thanks so much, Anonymouses, this is all going to make a wonderful article!

Unknown said...


I am a taker.

You post suggesting that AC/DC is the music of choice in West Auckland is way, way wide of the mark. Try Fat Freddies Drop or Te Vaka. Pop along to the Titirangi Festival of Music and see what they are playing.

Inga and the Iceman will get some electorate votes. But the PIs will at the same time give Labour their party vote. For the nats this is actually a bad result and Labour will be happy with this.

Carmel is actually a human, an intelligent compassionate human. She will do fine.

Paula will need to rely on the list. When she travels overseas in October on a ministerial paid leave locals will look at this and shake their heads.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Incidentally, is it mischievous to admit another reason you'd like to see Carmel win is to see how long 'local lad' Hamish McCrackers sticks around if she does?

Peter Malcouronne said...

Micky Joe,

You're on! You can get in touch with me via Chris Trotsky: he'll give you my contact details.

I must say, here, that this is a win-win for me. If I'm wrong - and I'm confident I won't be - then I'll hardly be unhappy: if Waitakere returns to the 'socialists', then the country will almost certainly have followed (and some worthy organisations will've received my hard-earned). It is a sound hedge: I employ the same strategy when I (sometimes) bet on the Boks to beat the All Blacks.

Nope, I don't know Carmel at all: I've never met her, never heard her speak and so I'll take your word re: her character, compassion and intelligence (though noting her Red Alert blogpost didn't inspire confidence). I should also point out that I'm a big fan of her homeland: I've been a TSB customer since 1995. So why do I oppose her candidacy? Well... because I'm generally opposed to carve-ups and carpetbaggery and most Westies take a dim view of the same. BTW, I think you underestimate the incumbent: assuming the country keeps travelling along as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if she increased her majority.

Lastly, I hope you're not suggesting we Acca-Dacca fans are hoity-toity types incapable of appreciating lower-brow music. For the record, I'll be at the Tit. Festival: they use my Titirangi PO Box for their correspondence and my stepbrother, Dave Parker, is one of the organisers. Can I put a plug in, here, for his ukelele band The Nukes - they're genius!

Now if only I could get them to play this...

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter. Because sometimes there is excellent talent that needs to be fostered from elsewhere. And actually from what you have described of west auckland even living there doesn't help you to understand it so perhaps someone coming in fresh isn't such a stupid idea. And since when has Phil been the saviour of the male working class? That is just odd beyond comprehension.Trotter, as I said an STV if SFWU had to vote for Phil they still have to rank the other candidates. If the was split between Hamish and Phil...Carmel could have come through the middle.

Julie said...

Thanks for the apology on the SFWU stuff Chris - I haven't worked there for over five years and wasn't involved in the political stuff when I did (wasn't an organiser so no patch of members to mobilise).

I'm curious that the opposition to Carmel's selection seems to largely be boiling down now to she's not a local. The other two contenders being seriously discussed, Hamish and Phil, aren't locals either. So who would have been a good local pick? (Mr Malchop, I'm particularly interested in your view as a Westie)

(Genuine question, not rhetorical btw)

Peter Malcouronne said...

Anonymous 9.32am,

If you go back to my first comments on this, you'll see I wasn't exactly championing poor Phil (good and talented man though he is). Neither was Chris, incidentally: I think he suggested the ideal Waitakere candidate at this time would be a woman. I'll make the point again: Labour's best chance of unseating a popular sitting MP with strong ties to her community is to... choose someone with strong ties to this community. It's not that difficult is it?

From the links below, I clicked through to a site called 'The Standard'. It appears to be a Labour Party or at least Labour-affiliated site and, if the number of comments and posts is any guide, pretty popular.

A poster, one Tammy Cooper, describes the Waitakere selection as a fight between two list MPs "and a popular local favourit son". Eh? As far as I can tell, the only real local in this was the hapless Ann Pala.

But if you want to know why Labour's turning off Westie voters in numbers, then read the rest of the post and the comments:

"Even though she was born a ‘Naki girl, if you ever get to spend some time with Carmel you soon discover she’s a natural Westie," says Tammy.

Oh. "So she can drink cider, vomit and snog a bloke all at the same time?" replies Rich.

One of the things you guys have to stop are the ad hominem attacks on Bennett who you cast as some intellectually-deficient dupe. A puppet. A moron. While I completely disagree with her politics, her rags-to-riches tale nevertheless resonates with many of her constituents. Attack her - or, worse, mock her - and you're demonstrating your contempt for the people who voted for her. Westies have a finely-tuned condescension radar.

And, yup, I agree sometimes that you should be prepared to foster "excellent talent" from elsewhere. It'd be a nonsense if you had to prove your allegiance to AC/DC or whatever to gain a nomination in this seat. But I think the locals are likely to look more favourably on a candidate with some real connection with the area and its people. No one likes carpetbaggers.

Is Carmel really excellent talent? Micky Joe certainly thinks so and I hope he's right. But from the outside, it does seem like the Labour hierarchy is approaching the next election in a cynical, calculated and defensive manner. So. You've got a young hottie in Auckland Central have ya? Hey, our hottie's hotter! And our battling solo Mum in West Auckland is more "down to Earth, more authentic, more genuine" than yours.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Julie (and I haven't heard that Malchop moniker in a while :-)

I think the paucity of decent local contenders is indicative of the trouble Labour's in and its disconnection with the grassroots. I suggested Councillor Gilmour and I wasn't being facetious: he's a good man and far more than a mere bogan. But I fear he's too original, too dangerous - too much his own man - to ever get anywhere within modern Labour.

By the same token - and I'm just gonna stick with fantasy-celeb candidates - Robyn Malcolm or even Jan Hellreigel. And, no, it's not for stereotypical leopard-skin skirt reasons: they're both got impeccable Green credentials and would play well to the hippies in the hills.

I'm not entirely sure where the boundaries fall in the Westie seats, but this Inga/Iceman axis is potentially catastrophic for Labour. Imagine Michael Jones up against the Liege of Herne Bay in New Lynn? I know where my money would go (are you tempted Micky Joe?)

Of course, the cyclical nature of politics - and the recent bubbling-to-the-surface of National evil (yeah, let's kill lots of whales and mine Great Barrier) - means that Labour will eventually reclaim the West, no matter how incompetent and out of touch they are. The pity is that may take a decade or even more.

But the tragedy would be if Trotsky's proved right: that is, that these seats become naturally blue, a bit like Timaru.

Chris Trotter said...

Hi Julie. Peter will obviously answer for himself, but I think you're reading this argument the wrong way if you think its simply a debate about "locals vs carpetbaggers".

My argument actually hinges on the political strategy required to win back those former Labour voters - mostly members of the aspirational working-class - who crossed over (and remain attached) to National following the 2005 election.

It is my opinion that Carmel will not do that (an opinion considerably strengthened by her posting on "Red Alert").

It's very hard to put my finger on a single and precise reason why, because political "fit" involves a whole host of attributes and subliminal "cues".

It's about the "look" of a candidate, their political diction, whether or not they elicit feelings of warmth and familiarity from the voter, and most importantly, whether the voters believe a candidate has both the will and the wit to effectively represent them and fight for their interests.

I believe such a person is much more likely to be found within a political community (such as an electorate) than without it - but there have been many exceptions: Winston Peters, Helen Clark, Jim Anderton and John Key, for example.

Had I been required to choose between the four candidates on offer last weekend in Waitakere, my vote would have gone to Phil - not because he was at all like "Waitakere Man", but because "Waitakere Man" would've at least seen him as an effective MP.

And that's Labour's most pressing problem right now. More-and-more it is being forced to offer voters precisely this sort of "least worst" choice.

Or, in the case of the Waitakere seat, not even that.

Peter Malcouronne said...


My opposition is more visceral than Chris's finely-argued post (above): I believe Labour's selections in several seats are reactive and arrogant.

Carpetbaggery... the frenzied carve-up of supposedly 'winnable' seats, the "this is ma patch" petulance demonstrated by Ms Fenton on Phil T's facebook page yesterday... is unfortunate for several reasons.

Perhaps the most unfortunate is this: it underscores the Labour Party's weakness. A strong organisation would have healthy, robust local chapters that'd truly reflect the communities they come from. When the time came, you'd trust the locals to choose the best woman (or man) for the job. And you'd also have faith that individual party members would set aside their personal ambitions for the greater good. For the cause.

I don't see that in modern Labour. There are a few genuine talents (the Jacindas, the Phil Ts, the Grant Robertsons etc), but an awful lot of dead wood. People perhaps better suited to a support role (maybe even to mail-outs) are taking over this once great party. Their personal vanity and conceit is ensuring a decade of Tory rule.

And that really - sorry Chris - fucks me off.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Oh. Meant to say, Chris is bang on with his "least worst" call. My first vote saw me forced to vote for Ralph Maxwell FFS - for the party of Roger Douglas. And most of my votes, subsequently, have been against the Tories, rather than for anything.

Come on Labour - offer us something. Stir our imaginations, capture our hearts.

You'll have our loyalty forever.

Anonymous said...

With the sudden announcement on Welfare reform, maybe the playing field is level, after all. Paula has just pulled up the ladder behind her, the ladder that she got to climb. And as for Key, he benefited from a free tertiary education, to say the least. Brass rings for them, tin horns for the rest of us.

Tim Watkin said...

Pete, I'm wary of your confident wagers. From memory you still owe me a few bob from your certainty that South Africa would succumb to civil war before the end of the '90s!
I'm only being mischievous old fella. I take your point, and indeed Chris's that this selection hardly sings of a connected party or one overflowing with talent. And the maltreatment of Twyford and his abilities suggests some pretty poor management by the party.
But I'm wary of the way you and Chris are generalising about the West. While I concede Pete that you know that patch far better than I (and indeed Chris), might your view be skewed by the West Auckland of your childhood and peers? I'm tempted by mickysavage's more nuanced view of the area (a vast one at that) and its range of faces. Not all are AC/DC fans and Holden v Ford types. That feels like a stereotype rather than hard demographic research.
Hey, I could be wrong. But one thing I know is that New Lynn ain't what it was when you were growing up; it's not even what it was when I lived out there. It's new New Zealand. So I'm wondering how the rest of the west is changing.
Finally, while I agree that Labour could do with a few more faces that look like a few more Labour voters, let's not forget that Clark won three terms, and she don't look like the people you're describing.
I'm wary of the 'Labour ain't what it was in the old days when it was run by real men, before the women and gays took over' line. You know one Labour MP who did go to one of the AC/DC rallies of the faithful? Grant Roberston.

Chris Trotter said...

I'll leave you to Peter, Tim. He'll enjoy it more.

Matt said...

The Labour party has no idea, and its not asking the right people.

I was born, raised, and live in the west. I'm a blue collar worker in the paint industry. I hold mostly left-wing values and have always voted for the Left. I believe an enlightened society is one that values people and the environment above money and material possessions. I believe that those with the greatest means and greatest incomes should pay the most taxes, and that taxes should be used to ensure provision of public assets and services and to ensure a clean environment. Tax money should also be used to look after people in our society who are unable to look after themselves and need the support of the community at large. The Welfare State is one the greatest achievements in New Zealand history. It helped raise thousands of people out of subsistence and misery, and into health and opportunity. It should be defended unflinchingly against those with an interest in seeing it gutted or dismantled.

I was dismayed at the last election to see so many people just like me - my friends, neighbours, customers, and colleagues voting for a National Government. Tradesmen, school teachers, labourers, office workers, all deserting Labour for National. The party of bosses and moneymen, landowners and farmers, the party of old, intolerant white men afraid of change. I'm sure some of my fellow voters didn't really know what they were actually voting for. But all of them felt the same.

Labour no longer represented the values of "aspirational", "average people like them". Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. The National party PR people, and their chums in the corporate media, convinced us we were overtaxed by a liberal intelligentsia drunk on its own power. They told us that Helen Clark had no real world experience outside politics. She'd never been a worker or even a mother, and she didn't understand us.

New Zealand, and our way of life, was in peril under her rule. She was telling us what to do, how to raise our children, and at one stage even trying to tell us what kind of shower we could have. Her government was out of touch, and had to go.

The right wing appealed to the lowest common denominator, and pandered to our fears and prejudices. Coupled with the fact that most New Zealanders are tolerant but conservative at best, there was no way Labour was going to win a 4th term. To think otherwise you had to either be in denial or totally deluded.

For the Labour party to come back from where it finds itself today, it will need to change tack completely and get real. It needs to convince people once again that it stands for them, their family, and common sense values. To protect us and our country from exploitation at the hands of vested interests, and to give us
hope for a better future.

I've never heard of Carmel Sepuloni. To me and thousands more in Waitakere shes just some list MP. I don't know her and can't comment on her abilities or credentials. But she has an uphill battle at the next election against a high profile incumbent in Paula Bennett. She is not from the area, and has no history of advocacy for Waitakere. There is simply not enough time before the next election for her to raise her profile and challenge Paula Bennett on a personal level.

Thus I am confident to say, barring a monumental error of policy or judgement between now and the next election, Paula Bennett and the National led Government will be re-elected.

Labour still has a lot of work to do.....

Bearhunter said...

Well said Matt, I couldn't agree more. However, I'm sure Labour central (if they read it) will simply assume as usual that they know better, an attitude that will condemn them to the Opposition benches for quite some time.

Victor said...

After Bennett's lack-lustre performance on Close Up last night, she should be easily beatable by any candidate capable of:

a) answering a question

b) possessing an iota of individuality

c) showing the slightest bit of human warmth

The problem is not Bennett but the current appeal of National as a brand and its command of the discourse in which the issues facing this country are discussed.

Labour will get nowhere until it is brave enough to question the "there is no alternative" neo-liberal consensus, to hold the rich person's media to account for its right-wing bias and to advocate the morality and practical good sense inherent in Social Democracy.

Candidates who over-insist on the relevance of their ethnicity, gender or sexual preferences merely divide the community of the not-very-well-off. The same goes for those who, like Phil Twyford, dabble in ageism.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Mr Watkin. Tim. Sultan!

It's tempting to answer yours by referring you to Matt's percipient post (above), but such laziness ill-behoves the Westie yeoman. Besides, we live in a confessional age, which means I must inflict more of the Malcouronne personal narrative on the good readers of Bowalley Road. Read on!

I am well aware of the diversity of West Auckland: I served 10 years in Glen Eden, 10 in Green Bay, five in Cornwallis, as well as stints in New Lynn, Glendene, Kelston, Hendo and Tit. I am unfamiliar with Ranui.

And so I know we Westies wear more (and very often less) than black t-shirts and leopard-skin skirts; that we love Bob Marley as much as we love Malcolm & Angus; that Holden v Ford is important, yes, but many of us are happy driving round in a Corolla.

Some (personal) examples of the heterogeneity of the West: my Minister father set up Auckland's first Samoan language fellowship at Glen Eden Methodist Church; I've played golf (such a dreary game) with hauled-up-by-their-bootstraps corporate men who look out over the city from Scenic Drive redoubts and moan about taxes; I've broken bread with Cornwallisian hippies who sing Rudolf Steiner ditties over dinner and then run off for nude swims (hippies, incidentally, who don't mind Fat Frederick's, but absolutely WORSHIP AC/DC).

(One last comment on these great heroes: I've only come round to AC/DC in the past decade or so, being more of a breakdance/rap man in my youth... indeed AC/DC aficionados punched my head in at high school when I wrote "West Street Mob Rulz" on a classroom blackboard).

I digress. My point, here? Not all Westies would be comfortable as extras in that marvellous documentary 'Outrageous Fortune'. Some of us prefer white singlets to black 'Jakes'. Some of us, indeed, read books. I've even heard rumours that there's a woman in Wood Bay who listens to Nerd (National) Radio (!). Even if the latter's fictitious slander – and I personally believe it to be – Micky Joe's point stands up: the West is made up of many sub-tribes.

It is, as you note, Tim, the face of new New Zealand. And there's an awful lot to like about that.

But if we're being truthful, there are elements of the new New Zealand that we lefties probably wish were different. Trotsky's characterisation of Waitakere Man (and Woman) is closer to the mark than you realise: many Westies are practical, no-nonsense, no bullshit types, sure, but they also want bigger flat-screens, better cars, a jetski, maybe even a boat one day. A bach – a humble little six-beddie like Key's at Omaha – remains the ultimate dream.

These Westies are not as 'progressive' as I'd like them to be: they're not revolutionary and not especially environmentally-minded (I'm sorry to say this, but there are as many 'Confiscation By Stealth' billboarders in the foothills as hippies). I wish 'my' people were less materialistic sometimes, less superficially 'aspirational'. I recognise how readily some of them would identify with 'Rob's Mob' and that troubles me. But, hey, that's the reality on the ground. Which leaves the New Zealand liberal-left with two options: either it writes off Waitakere Man and his mates as 'bogans', or it tries to engage them. Listen to them. Hell, maybe even learns to like them.

Peter Malcouronne said...

(continued... forgive my verbosity)

There's only one sensible option electorally. And that means the sneering and condescension has to stop. That means you try to understand why many Westies like speedway, and why they want to troop out to the Springs a dozen nights a year, just as they've been doing since 1927. It means you heed their discomfit over 'Nanny state' and 'social engineering' and try and explain things better, rather than just dismissing them as rednecks. Cretins. Morons. And that means you must actually spend time with them (astounding as that might sound).

You can start off just by wandering around Hendo, Westcity, where, in 2008, the hordes of little brown kids running around with their "Vote Bennett" balloons told me Labour was doomed. Try talking to some ordinary Joes: indeed it was here in late '08 that I talked to a plumber named Joe (truthfully!) who told me he'd voted for Labour all his life, but it was now time for a change.

"Why?" I asked (a little sneeringly, it has to be said). "A change to what?"

And so he went on to tell me, as Matt so eloquently states in the post above, that he was sick of being talked down to, sick of being told what to do and how to live. Moreover, he – and his mates – were incensed at Helen Clark's "lies".

"Really? And what lies were these?"

"She lied about that painting she didn't paint and she sold out those poor fuckin' bastards on that motorcade".

C'mon I found myself saying – these are trivial, inconsequential things. Well, no. Westies are very much men and women of their word: they also place a high value on loyalty – loyalty to your mates and to your workers. In Joe's opinion, Clark had hung those loyal cops out to dry and that was unforgiveable. As unimportant as this all was to the chattering classes, it was the gamebreaker for him.

On the subject of H. Clark, my cat would've defeated the utterly discredited Shipley administration in '99 and would've beat up the unelectable Don Brash in '05 by more than the couple of points she managed. Clark’s greatest triumph was, of course, in 2002 and I fear this election is an alarming portent for Labour.

The party's base of 30-35 per cent relies heavily on the continued support of poor whites, Pasifikans and Maori (I'm gonna generously suggest, here, that urban liberals constitute perhaps one/tenth of the electorate). Labour's already managed to drop most of the Maori seats in five years and their Pasifikan support would likely halve if Inga & the Iceman campaigned seriously for the Nats. That just leaves the poor honkies who, as I've maintained in my posts, many Labour Party people just don't get.

While National’s colossal fuck-ups of the past couple of days give me hope that the Doomsday Scenario (under 30 per cent) may yet be avoided, I'd love, for once, to be able to vote for someone, rather than against someone else.

And, now, Tim, Peter the Deadline-Meeter must do some real work!


Peter Malcouronne said...

(and still he bangs on!)

PS. Deadlines, schmeadlines! I'm not at all surprised to hear Grant Robertson paid homage at the Caketin. He's a fine man: a loyal soldier. But while I - and Trotsky, too - are sentimental fellows, I don't think either of us are saying that the Labour Party must be led by either coalminers or meatworkers to be 'real'. Moreover, I dislike the inference that we're homophobes, not least for the fact that "some of my best friends are gay" (irony intended). I'd just like to see Labour choose candidates that genuinely have a connection to the people they aspire to represent. Carve-ups and camel-trading is unseemly and I can't see how it gains the party votes.

PPS. Yes. That bet. It's true – I did foresee a Zimbabwean scenario that, thankfully, has yet to eventuate (though 25,000 murders a year was pretty good going). Having recently seen the otherwise disgraceful South African propaganda film, Invictus, I have to say it provides the strongest evidence I’ve seen for the ‘Great Man’ theory of history: that is, if it wasn’t for Mandela, things would’ve unravelled very quickly. But enough excuses. I forget what was at stake, but would dinner at a fine Hendo veggo restaurant be sufficient payment? I’d offer to take you out for a drink afterwards but West Auckland, bizarrely (and not wishing to get into the whole Trusts debate), has pretty crap pubs.

Tiger Mountain said...

Posters feel Labour head office has misread the West. I have spent a bit of time there over the years too, Mollers Barn, Westward Ho, Potters Wheel, Various Vineyards, Henderson Valley Rd (all decades back), lived in Green Bay, have friends to this day with huge US car collections and towing businesses. Was there last week.

I am sorry but things have deteriorated politically there as elsewhere in the last 20 years. The ‘tribal’ element is often about people relating more strongly to their commodity fetishism and aspirational individualism than their political and community best interests. Some academics invoke ‘false conciousness’, maybe. It is far from condescension however to claim that people preoccupied with making ends meet or Ford vs Holden and who get their politics from Kiwi Blog, Trade Me community board and the msm, are suffering from knowledge deficit.

Paula Shipley-Bennett as local MP is exhibit a for my contention.

Trev Mallard on Red Alert said yesterday when Labour is elected that any mining companies in schedule 4 areas would be sent packing “without compensation” prompting alarm from the righties and accusasions of Chavez style tactics. It is decisive measures such as this that might regain some support. The battle for the centre has been lost.
One wonders though how many urban liberals would like to forgo their nanny state WFF ‘benefit’? keeping WFF was certainly one of National’s tactical successes.
If Telcos and power generation were SOE-ised too perhaps Peter’s cat could be called into service once more.

Victor said...

Oh Come On Peter!

If you think that Helen Clark's oversights (for that is what they surely were) were signs of wanton dishonesty, what do you make of Tony Blair on the subject of Saddam's WMDs?

Closer to home, what do you make of: "We're in a mess because of the gross over-spending of the Clark-Cullen government", "Cutting public spending is necessary to get the economy right", "We can catch up with Australia", "Just like Australia, we are rich in minerals" etc. etc.?

And what about that great Neo-Liberal catch all: "There is No Alternative"?

This is one of the least honest governments that it has ever been my misfortune to live under.
They got into office on the back of lies and innuendos and that's how they're governing.

If voters can't see through it, that's because of the same trivialising, sycophantic media that constantly undermined the Labour government.

I'm not a left wing radical and I wouldn't have believed any of this could happen in a well-educated democracy if I hadn't lived through it. But is has and I do.

Victor said...


I've re-read your post. I agree about the sell-out of the motorcade guys. It's stupid of me to call that an oversight. But I stand by the rest of my argument

Anonymous said...

In Joe's opinion, Clark had hung those loyal cops out to dry and that was unforgiveable. that was the gamebreaker? "Disloyalty"? To cops?. From good 'ole HQ-vs-XA piss chuggin' spliff tokin' cop-slaggin' Joe?

Gis a break, Peter. Oh sure, he said it, but you both knew he was selling a run big-end as piston-slap.

By the way, how's his missus? Yeah, the current one - things getting a bit iffy lately you say? Funny that, been a bit of that around lately, ever since, oh, ever since Helen started fading from the news. Not so many lesbian bitch texts to put him in a good mood I guess.

It's not rocket science, Peter, remember Tech one: it's always the basics. Spark, fuel, compression, timing.

And spark and compression are given, with the news owned by tories.

Fuel's an interesting one, heard of peak oil? Jews, crips, chinks, catholics, poofs, commies (wee bit left), mowries (nearly fired up in 05, but timing out a full stroke) - all gone or going, Peter.

Nope, what got the old blue flame snorting in '07-08 was the tin-arse barn-find of a hidden cache of Misogeny 73 from the '50s or '60s: looked a north-of-fifty picture rattling over the line with it's shiny new $50m shellac - but hasn't done much since.

Great nostalgia rush, these old rods, but it never lasts - and the lack of performance eventually grates. That and the constant tinkering and tuning.

And where's the new fuel going to come from? They're on the last of the Bennie-zine right now. Can't keep running on one forever.


Anonymous said...

There is enough bullshit stereotyping, closet racism and white victimhood here to fill your average Tea Party gathering.

And it's not just the commenters.

- Bagger

Chris Trotter said...

Bullshit? Stereotyping? Closet Racism? White Victimhood? You're right Bagger - and isn't it shocking! I mean, it's not as if any of these attitudes are strongly represented in the electorate.

It amazes me that these wretched people just can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that everybody who matters in Waitakere thinks exactly like we do.

Why, oh why, are they so blind?

Sob. Sniffle. Sigh.

Sara said...

Off the subject of Westies, I see in the news another attempt is being made by overseas interests to buy up large amounts of our farm land. I am seeing a great deal of opposition to this idea on the net- New Zealanders feel passionately about the land.

I go over to Red Alert and there is is nothing about this issue at all. Labour should be all over this but they are strangely quiet.The sale of our land to overseas interests is the sale of our future as a country.

It just seems that the people in Labour are so caught up in petty issues they are completely missing the big picture.

I would have thought an issue like this could draw a big dividing line between National and Labour. Labour need to come out and say that they will tighten rules on overseas ownership if they get into power, and farmland sold under National to foreign interests will be confiscated by an incoming Labour government. They need to say that National might be prepared to sell off NZ to the highest bidder, but Labour represents the interests of NZ citizens and will keep NZ for NZers.

Why won't Labour stand up for us? It makes me so angry.

Chris Trotter said...

It makes me angry, too, Sara.

Labour's fetish for "Free" Trade and Foreign Direct Investment - a hangover from the days of Rogernomics - will become an increasingly problematic road-block to electoral recovery as the months go by.

Because both manifestations of the Neoliberal Order are bound to increase in political salience as the 2011 General Election draws nigh.

What Labour desperately needs are two or three "rebels in the ranks" around whom rank-and-file opposition can cohere to fight what the late Bill Sutch called "Takeover New Zealand".

Anonymous said...

Yep, literally selling off the whanau silver and the farm now. Even Joe the plumber might get that. Get hysterical Phil.

Victor said...

Five inter-related phenomena are taking place in our economy at present:

1. A new emphasis on the extraction and exploitation of natural resources

2. Decreasing concern over the environmental consequences thereof

3. A downplaying of our "Clean Green" brand and of the significance of environmentally-sensitive markets

4. The sell-off of farmland to foreign owners, apparently from a country with shockingly poor records of food safety and animal welfare

5. Corporatisation of the body politic

It may be that there's not much life left in "Clean, Green" because of the air miles issue and because our performance always fell short of our image.

But it's absurd to jump from "100% Pure" to filling Southland with Lignite slag heaps reminiscent of the former East Germany or to farms pumping out ever lower quality foodstuffs.

Is this a direction in which New Zealanders really want to go? If not, there's a complex of quite tangible issues here around which opposition to the National Party can be built.

Sara said...

I googled Bill Sutch (sadly my knowledge of NZ politics only goes back around 25 years). Clearly a prescient man who worked in the best interests of the NZ people.

Through my search I also discovered we still have a CAFCA (Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa). Their analysis of the decisions made by the Overseas Investment Office makes interesting reading. It seems that Overseas Investment Office has been freely allowing the sale of productive land to overseas interests.

This is a hot issue in the comments section over at Stuff and their poll is running 82% against the sale of our farms to overseas interests. What I didn't know until this morning (and I'm sure most people don't know) is that the sale of our farmland to foreign countries is an everyday event.I'm sure people would like to know just how lax the rules are around farm sales etc.

There must be many votes in this issue. A rebel within the ranks of Labour who was prepared to run with this issue could do very well for themselves.

I have serious doubts about the intellectual grunt of many of the Labour politicians though. I watched with dismay as Annette King scored an own goal on the news last night. Bandstanding on the Attorney General report on the proposed welfare reforms only guaranteed that the widows benefit etc will be the next to go.

Labour at the moment seem to be regularly on the wrong side of public opinion. Going into part time work when your child is 6 would seem quite reasonable to most people- it is the norm now for women to re-enter the workforce after taking a break to have a child.

Labour need to pick their issues much more carefully otherwise they just look foolish and then people refuse to listen to them on any issue.

Peter Malcouronne said...

Victor. I agree Helen Clark's 'oversights' are of less import than, say, Tony Blair and his WMDs, but then I'm one of the already converted. What matters, in a democracy, is what our 'less enlightened' comrades think.

Hard as it may be for 'the enlightened' to appreciate, a great number of ordinary Kiwis bought the Crosby/Textor 'It's time for a change' mantra, hook, line etc. Many of them loathed Clark.

While I thought their hatred was disproportionate to Clark's 'crimes' - and disliked the sexist tone that frequently clouded their critique - they weren't always wrong. Consider, for instance, the selling-out of the cops - and then imagine how Key might've handled it.

A smile and a wave (of course) and then: "I'm sorry about this. I knew we were going faster than we should've: my people were doing all they could to get me to my flight. These officers are extremely skilled men and women and I can assure you the public was not placed at risk: nevertheless I think it's important that we all follow the same rules. Even if it means missing watching us whip the Aussies (smile)... It won't happen again."

Key's repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to shrug the shoulders and say sorry when he's fucked up, something that seemed beyond Clark. Which, sadly, ensured her minor fuck-ups became major (while missing an opportunity to endear herself to the electorate with a dash of humility and self-deprecation).

Now I'm not suggesting - as Anonymous 11.00pm seems to infer - that you sacrifice all principle on the populist pyre. That you countenance appalling redneckery, racism etc just because there are votes in it. Not at all. But you have to understand where these people - and I'm talking here of half the country - are coming from.

Why did the Crosby/Textor attack lines find such willing ears? Why do ordinary battlers get so worked up about paintings, motorcades and showerheads? Why do so many working-class people, as Matt alludes to in his post, side with the party of bosses, farmers and exploiters?

Above all, why do the New Zealand proletariat not see things as clearly as us, their wise, enlightened "right-on" vanguard? Why won't THEY listen to us?

My argument - and I think Chris's too - is that the modern Labour Party is seriously out of step with its base. It's not presenting a credible, principled alternative: it's just as reactive, spin-driven and short-termist as the Tories (witness the imbecilic 'Axe the Tax' campaign: is Labour really gonna abolish the tax they introduced?).

While the full nastiness of National's agenda is, thankfully, starting to materialise, I'd love to vote for something, rather than to thwart something worse. I'll knock on a hundred doors, write 1000 letters, deliver 10,000 more for a party that represents me and my people. And listens TO us.

Yes, to us, the humble Westie that Anonymous 11.00pm despises. But I shall return to Anon in a moment.

Victor, I can get very depressed at the gullibility of the electorate, the betrayal of the 'New Zealand dream', the complicity of corporate-controlled media (even as a sometime journo, I've been staggered at the obsequience of our newspaper op-ed writers re: mining/whaling/welfare... these editorials read as if they're written by the same hand). I wish some of the more "aspirational" Westies were more community-minded. I wish some had a better attitude to non-human species. I wish some were a little less ready to rip up orchards and plant leaky, Legoland faux-pillared monstrosities in their place.

But do I let this demoralise me, perhaps withdraw to the hills, ditch the TV, grow my veggies and live as a hermit with a small carbon-footprint? It's tempting.

But, no, that's not the social democratic way. We're outward-looking, forward-thinking idealists who see a world of possibilities. A world far too precious to leave to the Tories.

Sara said...

Victor- I don't believe this is where NZ wants to go. From comments I have read today there are probably as many voters on the right as on the left who want NZ to remain clean and green and in NZ ownership.

Labour seems to be in a terminal state and National are only interested in making their rich friends richer. I have no faith in the existing political parties.

I think we might need a new political party to address these issues. A party that is not associated with the left or the right but exists for issues like this and has a few non-negotiable positions when doing coalition deals ie residential property and farmland etc can only be owned by NZers.

It has been a long time since NZ had a big political upheaval but I think one is due. I don't believe people are as much in love with National as the polls suggest. It is just that there is no-one else to vote for. I suspect that huge poll lead would evaporate if a credible opposition existed.

Peter Malcouronne said...

To Anonymous - March 24, 2010 11:00PM

I must first inform Bowalley Roaders that I did not, pseudonymously, write Anon's post, nor put one of my non-foetal-alcohol-addled Westie sisters on the job. Because it's hard to imagine a post that'd better prove my point.

I'll clear up a couple of things first for our brave anonymous comrade's benefit: I'm no fan of the constabulary and indeed possess a permanently-dislocated jaw on account of a policeman's punch. Recent revelations of police brutality and misconduct, therefore, do not surprise me. But nor does the fact that a goodly number of ordinary Kiwis hold them in high regard, a fact regularly borne out in those 'Most Trusted' polls where journalists, politicians, towies and real estate agents languish near the bottom.

Second point: I'm afraid, Anon, I know fuck-all about cars. I drive a Corolla. While my brothers (who coincidentally own an HQ) have done their best to translate your motoring metaphors, I'm afraid much of your wit is lost on me. But I don't think you'd care.

Because you're not interested, Anon – in me, in Westies, in what we think or feel. You're not interested in the nuances of our arguments because, frankly, you don't think we're capable of nuance.

Let's see... we're piss-chuggin' stoners with multiple missusus. We're too thick to have heard of Peak Oil and we hate that laundry list of lepers you listed (incidentally, you left out Indians, Islanders and greenies).

Assuming this is not satirical – a dig at Grey Lynn 'fauxilism' – your comment is a masterclass in condescension. So Joe the Plumber's arguments are shit? Well let's just tell him what a dumbfuck he is and ridicule his world view (but then turn around and expect his vote). That'll work.

My American flatmate was reading this post this morning and was struck at how reminiscent this discussion is of the US Culture Wars. The disconnect between wealthy, well-educated (and let's be honest about this) smug, self-satisfied East/West Coast liberal intelligentsia, and the working-class, semi-employed, rednecked, Nascar Dad trailer trash who live elsewhere. The latter are widely derided, most enthusiastically by the kinda liberals who regard any gender/race based insult as beyond the pale. Oh, but it's fine – it's funny – to mock people on account of their class. Well. Don't be surprised if they don't like you.

And don't be surprised when they vote for whatever party you don't belong to.

Carry on like this, Anon, and you'll be giving us 10 years of the Tories. I suspect you'll be okay: you can hold court in a nice, 'edgy' cafe somewhere, but what of the workers and ordinary New Zealanders you affect to fight for? What of the Westies? I shoudln't put words in your mouth, but I can hear you saying something like: "Hey, they voted for this government so they deserve all they get. Idiots. Stoners. Redneck morons."


PS. Gotta say this mate... you've got a delightful turn of phrase. Really.
PPS. Well said, Sara and Victor 10.54am.

Victor said...


I agree whole-heartedly with you over the need for Labour to choose its issues carefully.

However, Labour's own trade deal with China places limits on what any New Zealand government can or can't do to stop Chinese business interests buying-up New Zealand farmland.

I agree that this is an issue of huge importance but it's one on which Labour is very vulnerable.

Of course, irrespective of what one thinks generically about foreign buy-outs, China's deplorable record on food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare make it the partner, we should least want to have in developing our agricultural sector or our brand.

Victor said...


Re: Lies and gullible voters etc.

I'm largely in agreement with you. Whatever her other qualities, HC lacks the grace to acknowledge error, particularly when the accusations are being fanned for tendentious reasons.

Key has that quality in buckets. But it may be connected with the fact that he doesn't really care all that much.

I don't think that the gullibility or irrationality of voters is a New Zealand specialisation. It's pretty universal, albeit with local variants. Americans, for example) notoriously love a winner. So (guess what!?!) Obama's health bill is suddenly a lot more popular now that he and Nancy have got it through the House.

Nor do I think that the likes of you and me who follow events obsessively, have long-thought-out ideological frameworks and write at length ( and in your case, very engagingly) on Chris's blog are necesarilly more intelligent than our neighbours.

I's just that we have a different cast of mind and different interests. Most people, as my wife keeps reminding me, know far more than I do about health issues; her uncle is a fantastic gardener; your brother knows more about car engines; my friend Kate knows far more about Architecture and the country is full of people who are better at making money than I (alas) will ever be.

Maybe, though, our peculiar casts of mind provide us with easier insights into what's rotten in the body politic. That doesn't make us better than anyone else. It just defines our mental specialisation.

Victor said...


I agree totally ith your American flat mate who sees similarities between current NZ attitudes and the US culture wars.

That's why, as Sara has pointed out, the issue of the Chinese buy-up of farmland could be significant, as it has the potential to cut across culture war divides.

But, Sara, I disagree with you over the need for a new party. What you're advocating sounds rather like New Zealand First. Do we really want to repeat that experience?

Sara said...


The trouble with New Zealand First as I see it is that Winston never followed through with election promises. He campaigned on asset sales and the evils of big business but then when he got into power he acted like a regular National politician. I never saw anything too much wrong with what he said on many issues. He just couldn't be taken at his word.

I think Labour is moribund. Stacked with too many visionless people who do not seem to be working in the best interests of New Zealand and seemingly now wracked with petty infighting I don't see how it can become relevant again.

It was also Labour who loosened the Overseas Investment rules - and on more than one occasion too. It is with regret I acknowledge that it is largely the actions of the last two Labour governments who have made it possible for our productive land to now be sold from under us. Strange behaviour from the party of the many and not just the few.

The last Labour government loosened the overseas investment rules and at the same time let the property bubble get bigger and bigger. The bursting of the farm property bubble and the ruin of over leveraged farmers coupled with slack overseas investment rules is enabling anyone with money to come and buy- the banks just want their money back and do not care who owns the land.

I was a big fan of Helen Clark during her reign but I am not sure now that she was as a good a leader as I thought at the time. I think it suited Labour to let the property bubble grow so that people would feel rich and then vote Labour back in again and again on the feel good factor.

Helen's own personal ambition was the driver for much of what they did I think- she wanted to be counted as one of the great (read longest serving) Prime Ministers. Power is always the ultimate corrupter.

During the years she was in power I really thought she acted only for the welfare of New Zealand, but if she really cared why did she sell us out? As a farmer's daughter you would think she would know the value of the land. And what was the point of Labour's support of the treaty settlements? Labour acknowledged the value of land to the Maori culture - and gave it back- while allowing the rest of New Zealand to be colonised by stealth by rich foreigners.

So as to the future- if the existing parties are not going to save us then in my humble opinion we need fresh leadership. And good leadership is something we need urgently if we are to retain what is left of our sovereignty.

Doug said...

You only have to look at Phil Goff’s latest goof.

Prime Minister seems to have disappeared off the political radar in the past few days.
On Wednesday – a day he usually spends in Wellington when Parliament is sitting – he flew to Hamilton for the tangi of Lady Raiha Mahuta, widow of one-time Tainui leader Sir Robert Mahuta and mother of Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta.

Labour a rudderless Ship, what more can one say.

Victor said...


I take a more benign view of HC than do you and continue to regard her as one of the two most able leaders I've lived under in the various places I've been privileged to hang my hat. The other one was Helmut Schmidt. So I'm talking big league.

But I would agree that the China trade deal may heave sealed our fate as a pawn in the resource wars of the 21st century. Moreover, we are increasingly a pawn in the hands of a new superpower, with a strong sense of nationalism and values very different to our own.

Was there an alternative? On the answer to that question will might depend our view of Clark's legacy.

Anonymous said...

Victor: "But I would agree that the China trade deal may heave sealed our fate as a pawn in the resource wars of the 21st century"

That, may be Helen Clark's legacy. From April 2008, our economy has and will be tied to to that of China. To paraphrase Mr Savage (who is probably spinning in his grave as we speak) where China goes, we will go.


Stephen said...

Too good to be true Chris!!!

Anonymous said...


Bad Bear said...

Yeah but she won though.

peterquixote said...

eat words here dude

Unknown said...

@Peter Malcouronne. Now about that bet ...

; )

If you like instead of the Early Holden Club you could change to either Titirangi Festival of Music or the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, either will do. Send me the receipt and I will do the same to the Waitakere LEC. I must admit that I made a very pleasant amount on Ipredict and Carmel and should share the love around.

Mike said...

Chris welcome to the world of politics.