Friday 26 February 2016

On Government Ground: The TPPA Struggle Shifts To Parliament.

The New Battleground: As the struggle over the TPPA shifts from the streets to Parliament the political rules-of-engagement will change. If Jane Kelsey and her followers are to avoid the fate of Queen Boudicca and hers, then she must never accept a battle fought on her enemies' terms. That means reigniting the extra-parliamentary struggle. If the Anti-TPPA movement attempts to fight John Key on his own turf - it will lose.
AND SO IT BEGINS. The Government’s counter-offensive against the opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is slowly, but surely, gathering pace. It’s weight and relentless aggression will test the TPPA’s opponents’ fighting skills to the limit. Already, they have been found wanting. The massive protest demonstration of 4 February may have caught the TPPA’s protagonists off-guard, but it has not been followed-up. The pressure on the Government has eased. It is now John Key’s turn to demonstrate his power.
The best historical analogy I can think of is the Boudican Revolt of AD 60-61. Like Boudicca, the warrior queen of the Iceni tribe, Professor Jane Kelsey has been highly successful at rousing and mobilising her followers against the TPPA. Also like Boudicca, she has taken full advantage of the strategic opportunity her distracted opponents were foolish enough to give her.
The Roman Governor of Britain, Suetonius, having called in the Empire’s loans to the Iceni royal family and annexed their kingdom, added insult to injury by allowing his legionaries to first flog the loudly protesting Boudicca, and then rape her daughters. Convinced that the subjugation of the Iceni was now an accomplished fact, he carelessly led his legions West, to the island of Anglesey, where he exterminated what remained of the Druids.
Bad move.
While he was busy putting Druids to the sword and cutting down their sacred oaks, Boudicca was laying waste to the key Roman cities of Camulodunum and Londonium, and slaughtering upwards of 70,000 Romans and Romano-Britons.
Not good.
The Emperor Nero momentarily considered abandoning his new province to its murderous inhabitants. But then, at the Battle of Watling Street, his loyal Governor, Suetonius, reminded the Mediterranean World why Rome was its master.
Because, truthfully, it’s not that hard to get a lot of people all rarked-up about their beloved homeland being turned into a colony of the unbelievably powerful masters of the world. The same is true of slaughtering people by the thousand. That’s not hard, either. Especially when the legions normally dedicated to their protection are on the other side of the country putting an entire religious tradition to the sword.
It’s important to face facts. While Jane Kelsey’s crusade, like Boudicca’s rebellion, has tasted victories, these have all been won on battlefields of her own choosing. What happens when her rebels are forced to fight on their enemies’ chosen ground?
Fighting On Rome's Terms: Rigorously trained and highly disciplined, Suetonius's legionaries made short work of Boudicca's wild warriors.
In Boudicca’s case the answer was a bloody massacre. Suetonius’s two legions (roughly 10,000 men) may have been faced by upwards of 100,000 Britons, but they were undaunted. Roman legionaries were professional soldiers, highly trained and superbly disciplined. Against Rome’s well-oiled war-machine, Boudicca’s ill-disciplined warriors didn’t stand a chance. They were butchered with parade-ground precision.
John Key’s MFAT officials are no less professional than those Roman legionaries. Supported by the National Party’s most seasoned MPs, they know well how to exploit the rules of engagement of committee room and parliamentary chamber, where the TPPA conflict is now being played out.
If Professor Kelsey and the anti-TPPA “It’s Our Future” movement were able to pack the galleries and corridors of Parliament Buildings in the same way they packed Queen Street on 4 February, then they might have some hope of winning this battle. Instead, like Boudicca’s outmanoeuvred warriors, they are being driven into the saw-toothed shield-wall of the Government’s legions, where, their bravery and brilliance notwithstanding, the bureaucrats and politicians will stab them to death.
Their defeat will not be made any easier to watch by the sight of Phil Goff (and possibly David Shearer) striding across the parliamentary aisle to join National, Act and United Future in voting for the TPPA.
With the legislation giving effect to the content of the TPPA enacted in New Zealand, the hopes of its opponents will shift to the United States Congress. If President Trump, or  President Sanders, takes office on 20 January 2017, then the agreement will be a dead duck. Why, then, would President Obama not put the deal in front of his lame duck Congress for ratification? And why would those congressmen and women not, for once, oblige him?
Fighting Rome was easy. Beating Rome was not – as Boudicca discovered. Victory came only to those who fought Rome on their terms – not hers. If the anti-TPPA struggle is waged in Parliament, it will lose.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 26 February 2016.


Anonymous said...

The anti TPPA movement in NZ lost the war when Labour declared that they were against the TPPA but would not leave the TPPA if they were elected.
They deserted to the enemy hoping no one would notice their treachery.
They are still hoping that will be the situation, and get elected.
The Green's position has become unclear, why ???.

National's offensive is to expose and embarrass them.

Chris, a very good piece and I agree with your conclusion.

Anonymous said...

This is deluded.
Kelsey's only success has been in preaching to her leftist friends.
Kelsey is opposed to free trade for ideological reasons.
Why someone who has worked in Academic Law for 40 years is an authority on Free trade is beyond me.
She opposed the free trade deal to China - the one the Labour govt negotiated , the one that delivered far greater returns than predicted , the one that wasn't widely protested by the left , the one that is very similar to the TPPA.
So to be fair, she is consistent.

The TPPA has wide support across the political spectrum. Clark. Goff. Easton.
Public opinion and polling shows that most NZers support it.

The protest marchers were a vocal minority from the left, not a broad cross section.
It's hard to believe they weren't motivated by anything but anti-Key, anti-National, anti-US sentiment.

John said...

What started as media reports on the protest, ended up as reports on mainstream media (Radio NZ, TV3 and others) about how few protestors knew anything about the TPPA.

The protestors shot themselves in the foot, with their own ignorance.

To be fair, many were just parroting the empty fear-mongering of Kelsey. History shows she continually makes preditions that are proven to be totally and utterly wrong.

Like scoffing at the forecasts that the China FTA could ever increase our exports by as much as $300m per year (the increase is now 2600% more than that at $8000 million per year).

Or telling us the TPP would mean tobacco companies would be suing NZ.

Or telling us that pharmac would be destroyed.

Numerous ex Labour leaders support it, Labour won't cancel it, not even the Greens say they'd pull out.

Instead of listening to the nonsense from the doomsayers and fear-mongerers, New Zealand should be celebrating this deal.

Anonymous said...

"Why someone who has worked in Academic Law for 40 years is an authority on Free trade is beyond me."

Ms Kelsey may or may not be an authority on "free trade" as such. However free trade agreements are probably something she is likely to be an authority on.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Anonymous@8:08

You are quite wrong on the question of public opinion, Anonymous. The last reputable poll on the TPPA was conducted by Reid Research Ltd for TV3 and released on 20 November 2015. It showed 52 percent opposed, 34 percent in favour, and 14 percent Don't Know.

Your "wide spectrum" actually comprises only those already convinced of the beneficence of globalisation. It is actually a consensus of elites - not peoples. If the victims of globalisation were polled, then the answer would be very different.

John said...

Most people now see the China FTA as massively successful, but before it was signed, the fear-mongers campaign led to some polls where more people were against it than for it.

The protests of Feb 4th, rather than generating public support for their cause likely did the exact opposite, when the public saw that the protestors knew very little about what they were protesting about.

TV3 "The TPPA protests were deeply ill-informed "

Radio NZ "TPP protests show confusion over deal"

Chris Trotter said...

To: John.

Your arguments in favour of the TPPA, and against its opponents, are such a hodge-podge of ad hominem abuse, non sequiturs, and failures of logic that it's difficult to know where to begin.

In the interests of brevity, I will simply state the following:

Professor Jane Kelsey is an internationally recognised legal expert in the field of trade agreements.

The disadvantages of the NZ-China FTA remain - in spite of the surge in bi-lateral trade. Interestingly, the surge in trade between China and those countries with which it had not signed a trade agreement was even greater than the increase in its trade with New Zealand.

There is simply no evidence for your assertion that public opinion was shifted one way or the other by the 4 February protest. Until we have some hard data, your speculation is just that - speculation.

That most people are ill-informed about the TPPA (and that includes its supporters) is the result of the Government's insistence on keeping its negotiation secret. Closely questioned, people like yourself would, almost certainly, display as much ignorance of the TPPA's content as some of those interviewed at the 4 February protest demonstrations. Most lay persons rely on the opinions of trusted individuals and/or institutions when it comes to taking a position on complex matters of public policy - I'm guessing that you do the same.

In summary, John, your comments reflect the views of a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of the Government's position who is only too willing to deploy the attack-lines he has picked up from the TPPA's promoters.

In other words: not someone to be taken too seriously.

markus/swordfish said...

You beat me to it, Chris. I was about to reply to Anon myself. A few weeks ago, I set out the poll numbers on public attitudes towards the TPPA at my blog: sub-zero politics. (

Anyway, on the broader front, the obvious strategy for Kelsey and the anti-TPPA protesters would seem to be the kind of pincer movement executed so successfully by the Athenian general Miltiades at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.

But needless to say, first of all, they'll need to anticipate with as much precision as possible their enemy's likely plan of action. As always, they should expect Key's hired thugs - Joyce, McCully and Brownlee - to be hanging around the Beehive's 5th Floor Elevators with knuckle-dusters, sledgehammers and bad intent. That's just routine, anyway - they do it on a regular basis to intimidate passing journos, occasionally carving their initials into an unlucky sub-editor's posterior. But with the expected attack from Kelsey's rebel forces after their Long March from the revolutionary stronghold of Auckland down through the Pukekohe Mountain Country, the Waikato Badlands, and crocodile-infested mangrove swamps of the Lower Rangitikei Delta, the Tory Imperial Guard will probably try to beef up the loyalist forces by corralling in Coleman, Woodhouse, Bennett and possibly Maggie Barry (the latter, of course, fairly well known for her repertoire of highly unusual torture methods - the Ling Chi method, the old Nordic "Blood Eagle" punishment, Madagascar water torture, standing up in Parliament and talking bollocks, the mustard and dung armpit punishment used so effectively by the Ottoman Turks and so on).

So the manoeuvre for Kelsey to consider is to have a couple of infantry regiments storming the Beehive's Main marble Foyer. As far as Key and his lieutenants are aware, this is the main thrust of the rebel forces. But in fact they're just a decoy. At the very moment Joyce, McCully and Brownlie think they've won the day, permitting themselves a few smug little grins and the occasional guffaw, Kelsey has these weaker central forces adopt a strategic retreat, while reinforcing the cavalry regiments in the wings - one squad bursting through the Banqueting Hall, another charging up through Bellamy's, another in a mad rush up the Bowen Street tunnel, with yet another abseiling down through the Main Foyer's highly expensive translucent glass ceiling with sabres clasped between clenched teeth, ultimately driving Key and his hired henchmen into a full-on panicky retreat, with Joyce and Brownlee turning in on themselves and getting into an acrimonious fist-fight after insults are hurled in all directions.

Hence, a quite ingenious pincer movement finally has the vile sausage-sucking Tory Hun on the run.

The denouement ?: Kelsey and a couple of her most trusted rebel lieutenants storm Key's 9th floor Beehive office, Key - knowing he's lost the day and bereft of all hope - jumps from the 9th floor balcony, but not before shouting a defiant "Damn You, Kelsey !!! DAMN YOU TO HELL !!!"

Tiger Mountain said...

with the Mfat “Roadshows” coming up there will be ample opportunity for further demos and action

the two small councils–Waiheke and Hutt that have become TPPA Free Zones have given a lead reminiscent of the No Nukes 80s, they have been derided by some, but it should be remembered that the turgid tradespeak of the TPPA has its guts directly transplanted from GATT, MIA, NAFTA and so on from the recent past

it is interesting to note the different nature of many of the comments to Chris articles here that are “syndicated” to The Daily Blog, TBD readers are generally pithy thumbs up or thumbs down (Chris Trotter is not seen as an extreme lefty there it can be revealed),

but here at “home”–Bowalley Road, the place seems well stocked with ponderous Wellingtonians and members of the Hayek/Friedman/Thatcher admiration society

the “anonymous” commenters are real pests imo, how dare one of them address the writer as “Trotter”, please substitute “Tossus Maximus” for all those that refuse to use a handle or name

John said...

Chris says
"Professor Jane Kelsey is an internationally recognised legal expert in the field of trade agreements."

So why does she get it so wrong, so often?

Chris says
"Interestingly, the surge in trade between China and those countries with which it had not signed a trade agreement was even greater than the increase in its trade with New Zealand."

You say most of the countries in the world (those that don't have a trade agreement with China) all had a higher increase than New Zealand. But over that time NZ had more than an 800% increase in export growth, and a 500% increase in total exports - during a time when Chinas total imports have increased by just 25%.

Since our trade agreement world exports to China have gone up 25%, but New Zealands have gone up 500% - TWENTY TIMES MORE more than the average of all other countries. But you make the claim everyone else has gone up MORE than us. That's absurd.

I suspect that's just a nonsense claim you've made up off the top of your head with zero evidence , but if you have any evidence, I'd love to see it.

Chris says
"There is simply no evidence for your assertion that public opinion was shifted one way or the other by the 4 February protest. Until we have some hard data, your speculation is just that - speculation."

Wrong again. TV3 says...

"TPPA increases National support – poll "

Chris Trotter said...

Well, John, if you're going to accuse me of making stuff up, I think it's probably time for you to take a break from Bowalley Road. For how long? Oooh, let's say for a month.

Assuming your manners have been mended by the end of March, you might try again then.


Anonymous said...

The fact that the government has decided to road-show the agreed TPPA is an indication of some worry in government about the matter, or am I wrong ?.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Kelsey is our version of Elizabeth Warren. They actually know stuff. When engaged in direct debate with those in favour of the various agreements, they make them look silly. You've only got to cast your mind back to the Minister saying all free trade agreements are negotiated in secrecy. Off the top of her head she came up with quite a number that worked. I'd love to have their babies :).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Buggery – that should be "quite a number that weren't". If I can be bothered I shall bin the comment and write it again. But if not that's what I meant.

greywarbler said...

It is time-wasting to get deflected from the main point of contention like watching television fiction instead of conning the information about current events and where they lead.

But the Brit story of the 0040's is fascinating. What efforts, what strategies, what Shakespearean dramas (ever read Titus Andronicus?).
For a respite from our own pathetic vicious circle of naive, unready citizenry facing professional plunderers, here is a link.

greywarbler said...

Tiger Mountain
Your comment was a breath of fresh air, over the self indulgent whisky or beer fumes from the unknowns and anonymi here. How can anyone have any respect for people who think their opinion important and yet don't deign to identify themselves in some simple way? Why don't they go mud wrestling, or whatever more expensive pastime they indulge in. Though I guess that protecting their economic patch is primary. Because protecting that is their raison d'etre. TPPA is seen as bringing us closer to where the big money is that they plan to get their hands on.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how much we got out of the Chinese FTA it was wrong in principle as it obliged our workers to compete disadvantageously with underpaid and exploited Chinese workers. Even someone as right wing as Bob Jones (in his NZ Party days)recognized that.

jh said...

The massive protest demonstration of 4 February may have caught the TPPA’s protagonists off-guard, but it has not been followed-up.
The protest was a failure because it couldn't express any clear slogan and that is because you can't support the free movement of people over borders (which the left largely do) while being opposed to agreements between capitalist corporations. In other words you have no nationalistic base to argue from.

greywarbler said...

@Swordfish - such an amusing and sardonic look at the current political exercises, it's a pleasure to come here for the best bad news about the country from Chris and cohort. And with the belief that when there is good news of any sort, it will be revealed for our delectation, and explained as well. And we all join solemnly in this project I am sure by committing that we will pass on anything good we know (asap) individually, and jointly.

Chris Trotter said...

I'm not sure all of the Left does support the free movement of peoples, jh. Indeed, among the most successful of social-democratic nations, Denmark, is positively hostile to the concept. I'd hazard a decent bet that a great many left-wing Kiwis are not wholeheartedly behind the present level of immigration - let alone Mai Chen's "super-diversity" meme!

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
If immigration is so beneficial Greece must be looking at a bonanza. What are they complaining about ?; and what's wrong with the Baltic states?
Cheers D J S

Nick J said...

Chris, I have been trying to get to the bottom of this superdiversity meme, what why who and how? A column critique please.

Anonymous said...

Just a small look at globalisation power blocks as that is what I see this all being about China and North America for us they are are most influential trading partners by far and Australia
Here we have 4million people clutching at straws as international corporate system is involved a major reorganisation where key elements of the future of the planet in this pacific rim are being forced to do something about a failing system
What is needed is not a TPPA but a political recognition of the survival all the trading nations as sovereign states that have the right to reject this TPPA at any time in their own political processes and how in political terms that the sovereignty of those nations to survive this cannot be decided by 600 odd of the most powerful international corporation under the guise of this TPPA BEING DEMOCRATIC
It is akin to what China does the communist party doing all the controlling
NZ had for 10 years after WW2 was little america our british influence had been severely reduced by the war, america had all the money and power and really when Britain joined the EU Australia and NZ were already states of US in all but sovereign declaration .The point being that our political system failed to recognise that westminster was dead
Now we have this cloak and dagger system of govt where the kiwi born ambassadors of it have created this ruling class like Key and co who are puppets of this international govt system which has no countries just markets controlled by blueprints of the most powerful ie why China and the US can virtually do what they like with this country (John Keys song Want to see me do my thing Pull my string)
The old notion of small countries having sovereignty is going fast and no one but the inhabitants of those countries is paying for its loss which will be the end result of this TPPA run and controlled by puppets in a more subtle way than they did in South America.
The fire siren has just gone off you would think by now the blitz would be over its just starting Tppa style. Make fun of that John

Anonymous said...

And in saying what I just said doesn't give any PM of this country the right to act as a defacto president you need to change the system of govt to have a President.