Thursday 2 June 2016

Unconvinced: Why Chris Trotter Is So Sceptical About The Labour-Green “Understanding”.

Not Now And Not This Way: The Labour and Green parties have announced their new “Understanding” far too soon; without preparing the electorate or priming the news media; without securing real and valuable gains for both partners; without carefully gauging the reaction of both their members and their voters; and without having straightforward answers to journalists’ straightforward (and entirely predictable) questions.
AS SO OFTEN HAPPENS when I appear on Paul Henry’s morning show, a host of lefties have devoted the rest of the day to disowning me. Underpinning their criticism is a strongly held belief that anyone billed as “left-wing” has a duty to stick up for Team Red – no matter what. Independent critical analysis is not considered helpful. Whenever someone like Paul Henry asks someone from the Left for their opinion, the only acceptable response, apparently, is: “Hooray for our side!”
But whatever else I may be, I am not a cheerleader. If I believe the Labour and Green parties have announced their new “Understanding” far too soon; without preparing the electorate or priming the news media; without securing real and valuable gains for both partners; without carefully gauging the reaction of both their members and their voters; and without having straightforward answers to journalists’ straightforward (and entirely predictable) questions; then I reserve the right to speak bluntly and critically about these deficiencies.
I further think that it is especially important to give voice to my misgivings if the deficiencies I’ve observed suggest a host of even bigger problems behind the scenes.
For months now there has been much discussion “inside the beltway” of Labour’s deep-seated financial difficulties. The slightest suggestion that a person might harbour left-wing sympathies has been enough to earn them a deluge of begging e-mails from Andrew Little and other Labour politicians. People make a joke of it, but those who know something about political fundraising are only too aware that these are the tactics of desperation.
It gets worse. Just last week the veteran political journalist, Richard Harman, writing on his “Politik” blog, suggested that Labour’s membership might now be less than the Greens. If true (and Richard is no slouch when it comes to acquiring “usually reliable” sources) that would indicate a total of, at most, 5,000. Some have gone so far as to say that if the number of affiliated trade union members is subtracted from that total, then there may actually be fewer than 2,000 paid-up ordinary members in the whole party.
This is the kind of information that a political analyst draws upon when confronted with an event like yesterday’s announcement. And so, because I cannot pretend to be unaware of Labour’s difficulties, I will not characterise Labour’s decision to strengthen its relationship with the Greens as anything other than a desperate concession of organisational and electoral weakness. Indeed, were I a member of the Labour Caucus, I would be demanding to read the fine print of this new “Red-Green Alliance”.
Even were Labour coming at this from a position of strength, I would be doubtful of its efficacy. The historian in me reacts badly when people cite the example of 1998 – when Labour and the Alliance finally decided to end their civil war. The punishment meted out to both parties by the voters in 1996 had transformed the theoretical arguments in favour of reconciliation into objective psephological fact. Both Jim Anderton and Helen Clark knew they had to respond to the wishes of their core constituencies, and they did so with tremendous theatricality. In their superbly choreographed television embrace, centre-left voters saw the beginning of the end of Jenny Shipley’s turncoat government. Clark, quoting Dickens’ A Tale of two Cities, called it “The Spring of Hope”.
The skill with which the coming together of Labour and the Alliance was communicated to the electorate spoke volumes about the readiness of both parties for the rigors of office. The gimcrack quality of yesterday’s (31/5/16) announcement: a hastily cobbled together presser in the old Legislative Chamber; likewise had a story to tell.
It is the story of an exhausted and impecunious political organisation. A party stumbling towards its 100th anniversary in desperate need of support – any support. It is also the story of a younger and much more vital party desperate for its chance to exercise real power, and absolutely determined that it will not, once again, be robbed of its chance at the eleventh hour.
Such is my understanding of the Labour-Green “Understanding”.
Those who think they’ve witnessed a marriage made in electoral heaven – should think again.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 1 June 2016.


peteswriteplace said...

I think Chris is a Tory in drag.

rob campbell said...

You may be right Chris. The parties to the relationship seem to have been backing away from committment faster than The Bachelor.

Chris Trotter said...

Thank you, Peter, for demonstrating my point so succinctly.

What we are presented with at the very top of this thread is ad hominem insult. Peter has made no attempt to grapple with the argument presented, let alone mount one of his own. All we have is the sort of knee-jerk, know-nothing partisanship that renders any improvement in Labour's fortunes impossible.

Nothing would please me more than the announcement of a strong Red-Green Coalition. Unfortunately this "understanding" is neither strong - nor a coalition.

jh said...

Both parties are made for each other representing the extremes of political correctness and supra national interests.

Jim Rose said...

Tactical voting in electorate simply reduces the number of labour list MPs. Unless there is an overhang, there is no net gain in the size of the labour caucus.

The greens run electoral candidates because it is important to their party vote. The fact that they do it seems to be revealed preference that it makes a difference.

The last Green MP always seems to get in on specials, so the greens need every vote they can get including by getting a profile through an electorate candidate.

The whole alliance forgets that Labour and the Greens are competing for the party vote.

There has not been a Labour Party anywhere that has done well from aligning with the greens because it loses votes among its traditional socially conservative base.

J bloggs said...

My suspicion is that this has been driven, from the labour side at least, by Matt McCarten, not Andrew Little. I do not believe that it is in the best interests of labour in any way,shape or form.

Anonymous said...

If they both make it to the Treasury benches, this is the likely scenerio:

As a power-starved 'junior partner' the Greens will hold Labour to ransom.

When the greens don't get the key portfolios they want and when things go askew in the cabinet room, they will turn on each other ie Green v Labour.

Disciplne is one thing; the prospect and retention of power quite another.

Accordingly, Key will constantly say on the election trail:

It's a stable National government that you know versus a white ant leftist coalition who will jack up your tax and spend like drunken sailors.

Better the deveil you know etc

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Let me just say this first. Blah blah immigration blah blah immigration blah blah immigration. Now JH and all the various anonymous posters don't have to say another damn thing – we can use our imaginations.

Having said that, a couple of points. Firstly I wouldn't dream of condemning anyone for going on the Paul Henry show. Largely because I wouldn't know, because I'd wouldn't dream of watching the Paul Henry show. The man is one of two vindictive, spiteful, right-wing bastards who pretend to be reporters.

A labour green alliance may well be a good thing. I can't see it to some extent, because the greens are mostly very, very middle-class people – but then so is labour these days. In some policy areas though they are actually to the left of labour. So it might be okay. Some of the green spokespeople seem to have a more intimate knowledge of politics and economics than many in the labour caucus.

However, you run into the obstacle of Winston – an immovable object? I notice he didn't answer the question about him joining a coalition with the Greens put to him the other day on national radio. In spite of the fact that years ago he said he wouldn't even dream of it. He seemed to be denying even that. Our own Donald Trump :).

Anonymous said...

Chris, rest assured you are loved by many on the Left for your consistently independent critical analysis and your failure to wave pom poms willy nilly. Keep it up. Someone has to.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure this strategy is going to be much use in unseating the gnats if it only lasts till election day.
For example:
Party A and party B have a MoU.
A person is a party A supporter and lives in an electorate where it would be prudent to vote for party B, but party B has given no assurance it will support party A once in power. Why would said person give party B preference over their preferred party? They are just as likely not to vote at all.

Anthon said...

Chris, firstly I agree with your comments re the unhelpful 'analysis' from Peter. If we cant critique these decisions, we have no business being anywhere near the treasury benches.

That said, I am more optimistic about the proposal than yourself: if only because I have now attended several meetings of core Labour voters who all appear pleased that they do know about the strategic alliance so early. It means we have plenty of time to test the waters/ kick the tyres and see how it will work in practice.

Take the case of the upcoming Local Body Elections. Can the two parties now work together in places where in the past both have run candidates who effectively canceled each other out and so handed a council seat to the Right? Or will we resort to old patterns; insisting that the other gives away all so we can receive? I see this as a great chance to answer this and other even more compelling arguments (policies/ platforms, etc). And in the main, so do others I have spoken to.

Anonymous said...

How ever this Greens/Labour 'marriage' turns out, we should look broadly at the decline of Labour over the last few decades.

One of the problems is quality of candidates and the stanglehold of unions.

Many years ago I was a Labour party member and was working for a time in Invercargill.

Mark Peck was the MP. If there ever was a template of how to balls-up what should have been a safe seat it was in the form of Peck.

I witnessed Peck shouting at and berating LEC members. Asking them aggressively to donate to his electoral campaign. I found him to be effectively brain-dead. He wasn't accoss the issues and he didn't have an opinion on anything in particular.

At a branch dinner that I attended, his speech included some off-colour humour and early teen smut that left people staring at their plates.

Peck was an uneducated loser of the highest order.

Peck is the kind of loser that, by his performance, has placed the Labour corpse in its coffin.

His electoral agent, was no better, another pointless unionist who had no idea about parliamentary process.

To their credit the National party wouldn't tolerate this kind of individual and to a large extent that's why they are the government.

Enough said.

Anonymous said...

I watched that segment of the Paul Henry show and I agree with every word that you have written about this 'understanding'.
The only agreement in the 'understanding' is that Grant Robertson will be Finance Minister if they succeed government benches. That's all, nothing else!
Winston has labelled it 'crap' which is profound inasmuch that the polls tell us that Winston is the likely Kingmaker in 2017.
Statements from both sides that we will discuss in the future, this, that and the other does not inspire confidence in me and in addition to all the other bollocks being spoken, we now have after the grand announcement: 'James Shaw "we could still do a coalition with National????????, 'Annette King "we will probably have two tax policies?????????, 'Metiria Turei " we can reach agreement on cabinet seats before the election!!!, Andrew Little " no we can't that will all be done after the election!!!!!!!!!!!.
It looks to me that the 'understanding' is a major "misunderstanding".

Why should I vote for that load of frippery????????????????????????????,

Well done Chris, stick to your principle's and script.

manfred said...

I have never met anyone who is has as much conviction for the cause of democratic socialism than Chris Trotter. Chris doesn't just sloganeer and get grumpy about the Tories, he has devoted his life to delving into the history of the struggle in order to seek out the truth about what makes human society tick. The theoretical vigour of his analyses are always on point. His grasp of the values and principles of the international movement for the dignity of the democratic populace is firm as the land on which we stand. You only have to take the time to read Chris's writing on the Tory enemy to hear where he stands - and those chapters and articles are far more damning of that enemy than the vast majority of the shallow slogans I hear from too many of my comrades. Anyone who says Chris is a Tory in drag is either a political illiterate or is too lazy to open a tab.

Simon Cohen said...

Very succinctly put Chris.My worry is as a Green Supporter that this alliance seem to be indicative of a split in the Green Party leadership.On one hand Metiria is saying there will be no accommodation with National and then I hear James saying he would not rule it out.And James looked distinctly uncomfortable at the announcement.
I can't see any advantages to the Greens in this.Electorate seats [if there is an accommodation]are useless because it just lessens your list seats.
And does Metiria think that the Greens are going to attract any more votes because they are so closely allied to Labour.I can't see it.
Labour needs to attract more votes in the centre and leave the left to the Greens if they wish to improve their position
And as for Peter Petterson's comment.Words fail me.That sort of mindless comment seems to me to be pretty indicative of a number of Labour Party supporters these days.

Pog said...

If Helen Clark hadn't shafted Jeanette Fitzsimmons and Rod Donald, she'd would have been able to enact more meaningful change than she did. A more strategic and planned out Greens and Labour alliance is long overdue.

Anonymous said...

1. I guess it pays the bills but you shouldn't have anything to do with Paul Henry.
2. You are an excellent commentator and historian, and you often make me change my opinion on political matters.
3. I feel like you have disappeared down a rabbit hole rather on your distaste for the current Labour Party. No matter what they do, you pick it apart and find the negatives. Which is fine because I need you to do that for me so that I don't get fooled by my own emotional responses. However, a bit of emotion can be a good thing as well and I 'feel' like this is a good move from Labour/Greens. I want to see a united front from the left that is determined to get rid of National and puts up a coordinated fight to do that. I want to hear a solid, coordinated alternative narrative to the shit I've had to put up with for the last eight years. Labour/Greens have taken step 1 in that process and that pleases me. I understand all the potential problems and reservations but, couldn't we just be optimists for one moment and envisage it working? Perhaps, Chirs, you have been submerged in the minutiae of politics too long and need to come up for a breath of fresh air. Maybe, just maybe, this MOU could be the beginning of something good.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"As a power-starved 'junior partner' the Greens will hold Labour to ransom.
When the greens don't get the key portfolios they want and when things go askew in the cabinet room, they will turn on each other ie Green v Labour."

Yes of course, that happens all the time in coalition governments doesn't it?/Sarc

Anonymous said...

GS, you need to keep taking your meds, no-one posted anything about immigration before your post, so what the F are you on about?.
Winston is not Donald Trump, Trump was in short trousers when Winston was in parliament.
Paul Henry is not stupid so that is why he would never have you on his show.

I sincerely believe that Winston is telling the truth to the NZ public when he says he does not know who he would form government with until after the election. In the meantime he is having a fun time with the MSM, pundits, blogs, the Green and Labour political parties and a guy called GS, on good authority I understand that he falls asleep most nights laughing.

greywarbler said...

Gosh Chris I don't know what to think. I agree that it is easy to fall into emotionalism and the people who regard politics like a sporting game where you have to cheer for them and wear their scarf, get really upset when some reality check is applied. But it is important when the life-changing possibilities of the response of politicians to the rigours of coping with the polity are to be understood.

What can Labour do better? I hope it's a start to a good working relationship. Maybe Labour has now admitted to itself that it's not queen, and not even a down-on-its-uppers aristocracy any more, certainly not fit to walk in Parnell's shoes, the first labour activist in NZ that I remember, and he was Irish I think. The best thing they can do is draw in their leading grass roots people, and have a visioning meeting with the leading Greens and work out plans on how to move forward together.

They have to stop nitpicking as many on the left, particularly Labour so-called supporters, seem to excel at and work together. And that remark itself is a bit suspect. But so many take pieces out of each other if the required level of purity is not achieved, or there is some cool analysis that is regarded as a put down.

I remember studying the background of the French elections when Le Pen nearly got in, there were about 16 splinter left parties, say about 4 on the Right side. What Labour and the Greens have started, let no man or woman (with good heart) put asunder. You have voiced your fears Chris,
with concern as well as objectivity. If they are wise, both Parties will be alert to how they can build a good policy vehicle, and take note of the hints and ticks they get.

One hint is connected to the Dale Carnegie approach on how to get other people to like you. Basic stuff, but we tend to forget it and now when they are reaching out to the electorate is the time to renew acquaintance with these methods for selling the Parties honestly and effectively. (The quote posits self-centered people have great difficulties. I don't think that applies to making money or gaining personal power, but would to creating genuine trust relationships. Voters would respond to a real interest in their ideas and hopes, and if the two Parties first adopt the approach with each other, then talk face to face enthusiastically and energised, I think they would release a wave of enthusiasm that has been checked for decades.

Become genuinely interested in other people
Alfred Adler, the famous Viennese psychologist, wrote a book entitled What Life Should mean to You. In that book he says:
“It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others.
It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”

- See more at:

Anonymous said...

Greens counter Peters with welcoming immigration policy - See more at:

Chalk and cheese
Let me say clearly now: the housing crisis is not the fault of recent migrants; the unemployment rate is not the fault of recent migrants; and asylum seekers are not a threat to us.

Government policies blamed for house prices: Governments own Savings Working Group

Migration matters for house prices

The Greens are more likely to be holding Open Borders banners.

Dennis Frank said...

Chris, your appraisal of this MoU has merit. Don't be discouraged by cretins. Blogosphere culture seems a refuge for the simple-minded, eh?

That said, my reading of the above 14 comments wasn't a waste of time as other respondents made worthy points. I'd been feeling this move coming for about a year, so it just confirmed my apprehension. Feels appropriate, since Aotearoa needs unity on the left currently.

Politically it may not work: the next poll will give us a provisional verdict on that. If there's no shift in the middle it will test the resolve of those who negotiated the detente. It will indicate that swing-voters are insufficiently impressed and have decided to wait & see if the collaboration will become substantive.

Reading reviews of "Seize the time" (Bobby Seale), I realised timing was the key to political intervention (so I never needed to read the book) and halfway thro the electoral cycle is a suitable time to reframe the expectations of the electorate. Green voters would have been better served if the GP had abandoned the leftist parliamentary alignment last year, but I suppose there is a faint chance that the old horse ain't really dead & will suddenly leap up & canter to the finish line. It was me that persuaded the GP to adopt it at our conference in '91 (due to leading environmentalists joining the Nats & my opposition to closet-fascism). I've been neither left nor right since 1971.

Russel Norman conducted a straw poll at our summer policy conference last year and the 60 or so people in that meeting gave us a show of hands that was two to one in favour of the authentic traditional greenies: neither left nor right. Leftist greenies have been able to retain control of the GP since the mid-nineties. The situation reflects the original schism in the Values Party back in the '70s. Everyone's congenital reluctance to define the political left & right perpetuate our state of total cluelessness in all directions as far as the eye can see.

You reckon Bernie Sanders isn't an establishment politician? Check out the account of his power plays in Vermont when he first became mayor of Burlington. I found it recently in a surprisingly good biography of the anarchist turned social ecologist, Murray Bookchin (Ak library, search Biehl, 2015). As for Trump, he's been a pillar of the capitalist establishment in NYC for as long as most folk can remember. Conning the media into reframing him as the anti-establishment candidate was a successful ploy due to most media pros being shallow retards. People keep saying nowadays that perception is reality. That's only true if you can't tell the difference. But perceptions can alter it, and the shapeshifting of a shaman restructures the collective consciousness of the tribe. The leftist MoU is a ploy of this kind - it remains to be seen how adept those involved are at effecting the mass reframe Aotearoa needs!

pat said...

you may be correct about the motives and the sloppiness post commitment however regardless of that it was required and provided focus to the goal.... given the problems you outline was not making this public commitment a better option?

Nick J said...

Nicely reasoned Manfred. I concur fully.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Manfred. I'm a rightie, but I always value Chris's articles (and Brian Edwards', too, when he can be bothered). Anyone who can construct a logical and evidence-based argument is worth listening too. Echo chambers are the real enemy of both left and right.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"GS, you need to keep taking your meds, no-one posted anything about immigration before your post, so what the F are you on about?."

What the fuck am I on about? Do you not read? Every time a topic comes up someone like you turns it round to immigration. I was sort of pre-empting this, because a lot of it makes no sense anyway. I can't believe you're so ignorant, unless you've only just arrived on this site, which is difficult to tell because you don't actually use a permanent username.
Your ignorance is also shown by the fact that you don't know that Donald Trump and Winston Peters were born within a year of each other. So if the Donald was in short trousers when Winston first entered Parliament, in 1975 he was suffering from arrested development. So forgive me if I take with a pinch of salt the rest of your bullshit. :)

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
For membership to be anywhere around that level must mean that electoral and polling support must be almost entirely dependant on inertia. People with a general social democratic basic background and aspiration but little enthusiasm for or confidence the political organisation that used long ago to represent them.
I think that the Greens should have preserved their independence and identity but without Russle Norman perhaps they no longer have a separate identity. If he was still there they would be steadily reeling in labour's support base. By joining up at this juncture , just as before in coalition , they will loose their relevance and the combined support for both together will dwindle to what labour draws on its own with most of the loss coming out ov the Green's support.... Let's hope most of it goes to NZ first rather than the nats but most of it will probably just stay home .
Cheers David

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" As for Trump, he's been a pillar of the capitalist establishment in NYC for as long as most folk can remember. "
I would argue that Trump has never been a member of the capitalist establishment. His business practices are a little extreme even for them. Plus, according to many pundits he has consistently lost money. They claim that if he had put the money that his father gave him in a bank account at the time, he would be richer now than he is – having invested it unwisely. And four bankruptcies? Even if you can excuse them by explaining that he uses it as a business practice, so he can get out of failed businesses leaving other people to take a bath.
I also think that the business establishment and the US likes to be a lot more low-profile than Trump is. Can't see the Koch brothers running a TV show for instance. :)

Chris Trotter said...

To: GS & JH.

If you two can't discuss immigration issues without resort to ad hominem attacks, then I'll be forced to intervene.

Please try to stay on topic.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well, I guess I did call someone ignorant – though to be fair anyone who doesn't know that Winston and Donald are about the same age...... and to be even fairer Chris you did say you would crackdown on these constant off topic references to immigration. To be even fairerer, I haven't seen JH being ad hominem towards me on this post. Unless he's posting as anonymous somehow. Anyway – your site your rules.

Anonymous said...

GS, you don't need a pinch of salt, you need your meds.

Please stay on topic , Chris write a sensitive and brave post, to grow stronger we need discussion without fear or favour.

Michael Smythe said...

The people's flag is red and green,
Heralds living wage and rivers clean,
To corporate bullies we will not be sold,
Rabid right is looking mean and cold,
Divisive ways have got to go,
Collaboration is the way to grow
Though fat-cats flinch and cynics sneer,
The red-green flag’ll fly high here.

Unknown said...

Left -right- Green -Labour don't really help us make our choices which should start primaril with paradigms:
1.NZ has reached peak potential in the sense that it is developed. This is best expressed by Michael Reddell and Sir Paul Callaghan. You can expand tourism but that is benefiting those at the top while creating low paid jobs down below and ruining the quality of life for New Zealanders.
Adding more people creates a larger economy but lower average incomes
see Super diversity myth

2. New Zealand better off with a larger population. Shamabeel Eaqub, Spoonley, Poot and progressives generally ("send migrant engineers to the regions"). Diversity Dividend. National's policy is population increase (with tacit approval from Labour and Greens) to achieve "agglomeration benefits" (and enrich the banking, realestate and construction sectors).

3. World is overpopulated. Developed countries have reached potential. People spread from poor over populated to wealthier countries. This will increase to size of the economy but lower GDP per capita.

4. People come from poor to "rich" countries and are absorbed increase the "wealth" -UN, Economist.

5. Intellectual bureaucrats should rule society. The lower classes shouldn't have a say (except via questionnaires from Auckland University) eg EU

6. People should have more say like (e.g) Switzerland.

7. The ultimate resource is the human mind (all things are possible).

8. No they aren't; the human economy is a subset of the worlds echo system

Parties just represent power: a power struggle then self-selection resulting in false pretenses and limited policy choice. There is no transparency: "I'm National I represent "The Nation" (when really I'm all for selling out New zealanders and rebranding anyone who wants to come here as a "new New Zealander")

greywarbler said...

David Stone
By joining up at this juncture , just as before in coalition , they will loose their relevance and the combined support for both together will dwindle to what labour draws on its own with most of the loss coming out ov the Green's support...

I don't agree. The pressure has to go on now leading up to the next election, not in a might, might not, in the future, when we have mitred the corners properly, coy way. People wanted some movement from the left. They have got it, there is opportunity to go together and make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

If winning the election was just about finding the right moves for a Party to make, they would have sussed it before now. That thing about fools expecting something different, from doing the same things repeatedly applies.

If it doesn't work it will be that they didn't seize the moment and get the message over, or some skullduggery from the right. Voters who think, hardly know what to think, after watching the past performance. will be sceptical at first and will be encouraged in that by media RW toadies so face to face may be the only way. Back to more of the old fashioned hustings.

Anonymous said...

Mark Peck was the MP. If there ever was a template of how to balls-up what should have been a safe seat it was in the form of Peck.

Invercargill a safe Labour seat? Take a look at the history:

Apart from 1972-1975, the Peck era was the only time Invercargill has gone Labour since the Second World War. And he won four times.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Er... No sooner do I get told off for ad hominem attacks, then you allow someone to say yet again that I need my med's? Is that not ad hominem? Or am I missing something? That someone I might say had the nerve to tell me to stick to the fucking topic. If all you anonymi stuck to the topic I wouldn't need quite so many med's.

Unknown said...

The death of Labour is not a sad thing, in its early days MJS came from the Red Feds didn't he?
Truly a radical socialist the party had fire and brimstone and did great things for the common people of NZ.
The New Deal in the US was nothing compared to what we did, a proud tradition of looking after each other an egalitarian legacy.
There seems no relation between the Labour party now and then. The Greens are occupying Labour's space and are inheritors of their legacy, if not nearly as inspiring.
What's in a name really?

Dennis Frank said...

Conventional wisdom in politics is that voters will trust a government with expertise in large-scale economic management, so the best way to provide that assurance to voters is to choose someone with such professional experience to be minister of finance. The Labour/Greens MoU press conference informed the media & the whole country that they had agreed someone with no such expertise is their choice for that position. The guy has no track record or experience of that nature at all!

Have they decided that the conventional political wisdom no longer applies? Or do they reckon that voters will be so thrilled with the prospect of leftist unity that it doesn't matter who runs the economy?

Re Trump, yeah GS, good points, but the guy is back up to $8 billion according to himself. Even Blankfein, top dog at Goldman Sachs, only just made it to $1 billion recently, and Goldman is often described nowadays as `rulers of the world'. It's his ongoing ability to make the deals I was getting at: the collegial relations with the other parties in each deal mean they see him as key player and he's got dozens of companies operating successfully at any one time regardless of the few that crash & burn. Voters are suckers: they are so naive they even believe campaign promises! So he fronts as rabid outsider to capture the Ted Cruz rednecks & Tea-partiers, then moves to the center to eliminate that Clinton woman who used to be a Goldwater girl, back when Goldwater was the candidate the Republican right ran against that well-known liberal, Richard Nixon... :)

Dennis Frank said...

The Labour leader articulated the key point on The Nation just now: the electorate wants "a viable alternative". I can't remember the last time a leftist political leader in any western country proved that they are capable of getting their head around the crux of an issue, so maybe a sign of an emerging genuine improvement in leftist political performance. I'm even more sceptical than you, Chris, because I've been awaiting such a trend for 45 years.

Little and Turei were resolute in never answering any question the presenter asked. They think reframing the topic is clever. They don't get that such deviance makes them look like robots with a defective linguistic response program. If you want to participate in a conversation on national television, best to present as human and treat both questioner and audience with respect rather than contempt. All those expensive media training sessions haven't worked. Shoulda gone to Brian Edwards.

Chris Trotter said...

A fair point GS!

Henceforth any snide references to medication will result in the entire comment being deleted.

A little sensitivity and courtesy goes a long way, people.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Conventional wisdom in politics is that voters will trust a government with expertise in large-scale economic management, so the best way to provide that assurance to voters is to choose someone with such professional experience to be minister of finance. "

Hmmmm. I think I'd like a citation before I took that with anything but a grain of salt. Or even meds. I really don't see most voters checking out the minister of finance and voting on that basis. Might be wrong, so perhaps you could tell us where you got that idea from.
I think I've said before, that New Zealand elections are cyclical. And I think this counts for more than people's perceptions of economic management. I mean middle-class people do go on and on about economic management, but I suspect that most of them wouldn't vote Labour no matter who was put in charge of finance. I also suspect that at least half the country couldn't tell you who the minister of finance was. So if anything, it would only work at the margins. Which may well be enough who knows.

I also wonder about Trump. His refusal to releases tax returns suggests that he is not really as rich as he claims. Not to mention that he seems to be I think, under investigation for the business practices at Trump "University". I'd like to see the result of that at some stage. Some of the people who support Trump claim that it's his business experience which attracts them. But leaving aside the fact that he's been bankrupt four times – deliberately – and the fact that running a business doesn't have a great deal to do with running a country, I think it's more the fact that there is a certain group of white people that feels it's being left behind and reduced to the status of brown or black people. I think at least a few polls have shown that racism is a yuuge influence on Trump supporters.
So actually, I think the American election is going to be far more interesting than ours.:)

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Little and Turei were resolute in never answering any question the presenter asked. They think reframing the topic is clever."

I'm sorry, but they all do this. Winston Peters is the expert at doing just that. In fact radio New Zealand used him as their prime example of how politicians avoid answering questions by this method. Though one would never describe Winston as sounding like a robot. :)
While we are on this topic, is it just me or is there a really high proportion of ministers who when rung up by radio New Zealand, refuse to comment? It seems to be increasing. I guess (and it's only a guess) that this is a result of media training, because from what I remember "no comment" is regarded as better than putting your foot in your mouth. But it does leave rather a sour taste in mine.

mikesh said...

Despite the fact that Little and Turei had already made it clear that there would be areas where they would "agree to differ", and despite fact that there was a clause in the MoU allowing that, Lisa Owen persted in asking Turei if the Greens were happy to go in with a party that advocated offshore mining. What a bloody dill. No wonder Little and Turei sounded evasive at times.

Unknown said...

When people talk about the public trusting an administration with proven economic expertise I am reminded of the Savings Working Group Report

Clearly, there are serious questions to be asked about New Zealand’s economic policy and how we got into this mess. Why was it not better designed and managed, and more focussed, coordinated and strategic? Did the electorate simply get what it voted for, without realising what was really happening, or have New Zealanders not been well served over the years?

greywarbler said...

That sounded like an old-fashioned display of pride and determination from the left Michael Smythe. I like it, we need more of the spirit you have expressed.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Hmmm. Maybe I was wrong about Trump supporters. Perhaps it's just down to simple bigotry after all.

Pinky said...

Not really in disagreement with you Chris. I do think some sort of coalition is essential (ie. as distinct from whether this one was flagged, ground laid properly and so forth points you make) because the media report a two horse race with National at near 50% and Labour at 30% or less, permanently through time, as if it is still first past the post. Goebbels would be proud. I'm an educated person but after hearing it 000s of times you look around and marvel that nearly 70% more of the people around support National than Labour. Yet the reality is the Left and Right blocks have been permanently close. This weight of expectations and a false reality is used to crush and keep the left down. Through quirk of fate or history the right hasn't divided in two like this. So one way or the other, I see an essential building block as presenting - in marketing - a Left block as a block to make people realise an alternative government is a much closer possibility than they are ever allowed to think. Through that hope and possibility, comes the potential for a change of Government. Not least, as we saw last election, if they don't present themselves actively as a united coordinated Left block, then they wake up to the Nats portraying them as an uncoordinated and disunited Left block rowing a boat in different directions. So they have no choice in my opinion, the issue is simply the execution, which I think we can agree on, could have been better.

Anonymous said...

GS 3 June 18.24, loved you last sentence, well done, LOL,
Thanks Chris, will abide.

Anonymous said...

The death of Labour is not a sad thing, in its early days MJS came from the Red Feds didn't he?
Truly a radical socialist the party had fire and brimstone and did great things for the common people of NZ

Actually, no. The First Labour Government (and Savage in particular) were very keen not to frighten the horses with "too much socialism". Savage's predecessor Harry Holland really was fire and brimstone, and it'd have been interesting to see how he'd have managed as PM if he hadn't had that fatal heart attack in 1933.

The most radical government in New Zealand's history wasn't the First Labour Government, or (for different reasons) the Fourth. It was the Liberal Government of the 1890s.

Bushbaptist said...

@ Dennis Frank:

Trumpy is a Con man purely and simply. I, along with many others, think that he's barely a Billionaire let alone 8 billion! He does not have dozens of successful companies running currently. He franchises his name that is all. No US bank will touch him because he owes them millions. He uis currently facing a court case over his "University."

He was the CEO of all the companies that went bust and one of them twice. He owns Trump Towers because he inherited that from Daddy. Trump Airlines -- crashed, Trump Vodka -- crashed, Trump Tacos -- crashed. The list is long and arduous. Everything he touched failed. He's an orange-painted Filmflam man with an absurd hairstyle.

Bushbaptist said...

jh said...

on Q & A Winston said that when NZ first warned about immigration the Greens called NZ First "xenophobic and racist" and that the Greens want a parallel society (Maori/ Pakeha).
This is the problem. Today we talk a lot about food and what is in it? Having agreements (blends) while concentrating on brands rather than ingredients* is fraught with problems.
The differences in views can be traced partially to environmental (Blank State) versus evolutionary theories of behavior and beliefs about human ecology/economy.

Anonymous said...

"...without securing real and valuable gains for both partners..."

Yeah, I can't see anything in this for Labour. If they are so desperate to gain any suppor then the support of a rival party is not the answer. Especially when it means a continuing of the losing of the socially conservative Labour people to Winston and National. Does anyone really think people who are voting for National will vote for Labour if it means the Greens get power? No! They are low paid labourers and their jobs are at risk from the Greens. They might not vote at all.

Labour should have done the opposite and ruled out working with the Greens if they were going to do anything to gain more support for the left wing. You get the Greens for free remember. It's Winston we need to woo pre election, and not with a contrived MOU.

Dennis Frank said...

Bushbaptist, you've nicely articulated the view I had of Trump before I did a wee bit of research. Perception/reality, huh? That view may indeed be correct, but the more one investigates reality the more one discovers dimensions to it that were not at first apparent.

That clip you linked us to on UBI reminds me that we adopted it as policy a quarter of a century ago (first in the Green Party, then the Alliance). Funny how there now seems to be a building global groundswell in support of it. Incidentally, I vaguely recall Christine Dann's History of Green Politics mentioned the Values Party having it as part of their agenda mid-'70s. [Values launched as if they were a liberal sham but perhaps three decades of left/right neoliberal govts makes them seem fairly adventurous in retrospect.]

We're seeing the extreme right agreeing with the extreme left on UBI, globally, so everyone ought to pay attention. Reminds us that the political spectrum ain't the polarity depicted by media morons, it's actually a circle that closes precisely opposite the mainstreamers...

Dennis Frank said...

Guerilla Surgeon wrote: I really don't see most voters checking out the minister of finance and voting on that basis. Might be wrong, so perhaps you could tell us where you got that idea from.

You are right, of course: voting decisions are made on many a basis - so it wasn't my intention to imply what you interpreted. The conventional wisdom I quoted comes from our cultural ambience, where it has appeared at times as a continuing thread over many years. My point could have been more effectively made with reference to swinging voters. Normally this group is around 3-5% of the electorate and they drift away from the status quo whenever the government in power seems to have lost the plot. They will not shift left currently until the left presents a positive alternative.

Looks like Labour & the leftist greenies have finally figured out that slogans, platitudes, demonising John Key & the various other infantile ploys they have been trying in recent years have failed to impress centrists. The penny may have even dropped in the heads of these people that swing-voters are centrists. They're sensible pragmatists, averse to the delusional tendencies of the political left and political right. When the equation Grant Robertson = Minister of Finance gets inserted into the minds of this crucial political group, they will go "Eek!! Does not compute! Get me outta here!!" Wouldn't it be better for leftists to reassure them and impress them, rather than freak them out??

manfred said...

Andy's a good speaker when he's on form.

Nick J said...

GS came up with a little gem with his link to Digby at Salon...a critique of Trump supporters as racists. Reading between the lines is a fine art and this article whilst damning Trump makes no attempt to identify an alternate White knight. This vacuum is of course to be filled by pure as snow Hillary one can surmise.

I dont buy it but it did say this which is truly analogous to NZ politics.
Essentially they want to recapture an America that no longer exists..........That’s what they hear when he says he will “Make America Great Again.”

Theres a big accusation of white supremacism where the dots are but putting that aside Trump has painted a picture of a future reflecting a past that his supporters remember as good, and transposed it into a believable future.

Cut to Andrew Little and Labour. Where is the claim to credit for and the championing of their great achievements of the Labour movement, jobs, housing, health and education, the things that made us great? In an increaingly dog eat dog world where is Labours appeal to the future past?

I see a lot of criticism of the Don (and he is not my cup of tea) but he has seized the agenda boldly with no fear of wounds for himself or his opponents. There may be a lesson for Labour in this, in the words of the immortal JR Ewing, "Watch and learn son!"

David Stone said...

@ G W I guess we'll see; But the reason I think the support for the whole is likely to be less than the support for the parts is that I think voters act in the belief that there is a distinction between the parties . The pragmatism of forming a coalition to defeat National after an election ,when it can clearly be seen that this is a necessary compromise , is going to be accepted much more readily than doing so beforehand in my opinion.
I think the movement people want to see from the left is one that unsettles the neoliberal settlement, and I see anything but that arising from this move.
Cheers D J S

jh said...

Michael Reddell on Andrew Little's interview on Q & A

But my concern about Little’s comments was more about the underlying message. Twice in the space of thirty seconds, he repeated the line that “New Zealand has always been a country dependent on bringing in skills from abroad”, stressing that he would never want to change that. It is simply a mistaken model of growth. The prosperity of any country depends primarily on some combination of the natural resources it has and, most importantly, on the skills and talents of its own people, and the institutions (political and economic) that those people nurture. That was true of the United Kingdom or Holland centuries ago, it was true of the United States century or more ago, it was true of twentieth century New Zealand, and it is true of every advanced successful country today. Of course, every country draws on ideas and technologies developed in other countries. In some cases,. immigration may even have helped the recipient country a bit – but any such gains look to be quite small – but prosperity depends mostly on a country’s own people and own institutions. The line Little is running is certainly consistent with the implicit stance of the New Zealand elite, across the main parties, but there is little or no empirical foundation for it. Indeed, it risks sounding like a cargo-cult mentality – waiting for just the right people from over the water to come and bring us prosperity. Things simply don’t work like that. It is a shame that our political leaders aren’t willing to put more faith in the skills, talents, and energies of our own people and firms, rather than (so it seems) wanting to “trade us in” for some better group of people. Countries don’t get successful by bringing in better people: rather, successful countries can afford to bring in more people, if they choose.

manfred said...

They just need to keep Andrew Little in the fucking leadership, even if the Labs lose the next election. Let him relax into the role and let the public get used to him. What Labour needs is more work on policy, to make it more foolproof and some damn cash - their policy direction is good but they need to make sure there's no holes. Half of Labour's problems are because it lacks money. If they had some cash they could employ some fucking PR consultants like normal people. This election is not about being a white knight Corbyn or Sanders, it's about fucking POLITICKING! New Zealand is doing damn well compared to the rest of the world - what is it 2 percent growth and 5-6% unemployment. Pure heaven for the frogs, Spaniards, Greeks and Italians. But let me be very clear, Anglo Tories will faithfully fuck up as much as they can, even with growth like that. It's definitely time for a change!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"They will not shift left currently until the left presents a positive alternative."

I would tend to disagree with that. I think it's more that governments lose than oppositions win. People will simply get tired of national, particularly it seems to me after various "scandals" and just shift to labour to give them a try. I mean oppositions often have the vision thing, but it doesn't necessarily get them the government benches unless the government buggers it up, and it seems to me that governments can't keep a shiny Teflon surface for more than three terms on average.

Oh God, immigration again.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

An interesting article suggesting reasons for low party membership – among other things – in Britain.

Dennis Frank said...

GS, I mostly concur, but remember it's always swing-voters that change governments, so what is decisive is any motivation that shifts them sideways from their comfortable non-alignment in the political center.

The vision thing, if conjured up by the left, will only resonate with these folk if it is authentic and compelling. Leftists spouting their revulsion with the status quo will be like water off a duck's back to them. No sign Metiria Turei gets this, but I bet James does.

We saw the effect of the scandal factor at the last election: zilch. All that righteous indignation from Nicky Hager, the dog & pony show from Kim Dotcom, couldn't disguise the lack of the smoking gun. Uncanny how the populace knew the left were trying to con them with a smoke & mirrors sham, eh?

Nah, ain't that centrists think the Nats are worthy of their support. I know, being one. We're still waiting for the left to formulate something better. What concerns me is the likelihood that habitual complacency and lack of intellect will handicap the collective effort required. For instance, the proposed left-wing thinktank. Great idea, long overdue, so where is it??

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Uncanny how the populace knew the left were trying to con them with a smoke & mirrors sham, eh?"

First of all it wasn't smoke and mirrors. Secondly 'A' scandal will do nothing, it's the steady drip, drip, drip of minor shit that creates an impression that governments are beyond their use by date. Thirdly 'being one' does not make you an expert on them. Motivations vary a lot.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Yeah, I can't see anything in this for Labour. If they are so desperate to gain any suppor then the support of a rival party is not the answer. Especially when it means a continuing of the losing of the socially conservative Labour people to Winston and National."

And a 'modest bump' in the polls for Labour.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Dammit I hit the post but my accident again. A modest bump in the polls – coming from New Zealand first. Amazing how stuff comes back to bite you in the arse. Mind you, come election time this may well bite me in the arse. :)