Thursday 9 February 2023

A Modest Exercise In Arithmetic.

Buttering Up Labour's Electoral Base: At his post-Cabinet press briefing of Wednesday, 8 February 2023, Chris Hipkins executed a major and politically adroit course alteration which will not only steer Labour away from Treaty revisionism’ s revolutionary rocks, but also deprive National and Act of the angry political breezes that have, of late, been filling their sails.

THE DAILY BLOG’S EDITOR, appears convinced that there exists in New Zealand a great silent majority of Treaty revisionists. He seems to believe that the revolutionary interpretation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi which underpins, ideologically, both the notion of a “Treaty partnership” and “co-governance”, enjoys widespread and enthusiastic support among New Zealand voters – especially those under forty. Interestingly, the numbers presented to us in the latest Roy-Morgan poll point in precisely the opposite direction.

The poll shows National with 32 percent, Act with 13.5 percent, and NZ First with 5 percent support – a total of 50.5 percent. Labour, meanwhile, comes through with 30 percent, the Greens with 12 percent, and Te Pāti Māori with 4.5 percent – a total of 46.5 percent. On the face of it, therefore, the Great Silent Majority lines up with the parties of the Right. If asked whether Māori ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria on 6 February 1840, these New Zealanders would most likely answer “Yes, they did.” Having said that, their support for the key Treaty revisionist concepts of partnership and co-governance would be … limited.

Well, okay, but the Treaty revisionists could point out, with some justification, that 50.5 percent is hardly a ringing endorsement for the traditional reading of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. With 46.5 percent in support of the Treaty revisionists’ reading, isn’t it more accurate to say that on this matter the electorate is pretty evenly divided?

Not really.

Unlike the Greens, whose membership would, indeed, line up overwhelmingly behind Treaty revisionism, Labour’s electoral base is more likely to share a view of the Treaty’s meaning that is not wildly at odds with National’s and Act’s. Labour’s working-class voters – Māori as well as Pakeha – are considerably more likely to view the Treaty as the document that made one nation out of two peoples, each of them equal in rights and obligations, than as an enforceable contract binding two cultures together in a relationship “akin to a partnership”.

Surely, this is why Chris Hipkins has been so keen to step back from the brink of what one of this country’s foremost Treaty scholars, Dame Claudia Orange, describes as the “revolutionary changes” unleashed by Treaty revisionists like herself? Any further advance down the partnership/co-governance road and Labour risked seeing its working-class Māori and Pakeha voters peeling away from the party and moving (albeit reluctantly) to the Right.

Which is why, in his post-Cabinet press briefing of Wednesday, 8 February 2023, Hipkins executed a major and politically adroit course alteration which will not only steer Labour away from Treaty revisionism’s revolutionary rocks, but also deprive National and Act of the angry political breezes that have, of late, been filling their sails.

And it’s not just in relation to the vexed Three Waters project that Hipkins has signalled a significant course-change, he has also unceremoniously thrown overboard Willie Jackson’s proposed public media merger, Grant Robertson’s social insurance scheme, and Kiri Allan’s hate speech legislation. It’s a veritable Night-of-the-Long Knives for the pet projects of Labour’s wokesters.

Announcing a $1.50 increase in the Minimum Wage to $22.70 per hour was the new Labour Leader’s pièce de résistance. Nothing could better signal Labour’s return to its political roots – a movement dedicated to the welfare and uplift of ordinary working-class New Zealanders. For these voters, Hipkins’ turn away from wokeism will have been the “bread” of this afternoon’s briefing, but his announcement of a new $22.70 per hour Minimum Wage was, unquestionably, the butter.

Nor is it likely, that Hipkins’ turning away from Treaty revisionism will cost him all that many votes among New Zealanders under forty. Those who have given themselves, body and soul, to the revolutionary politics of partnership and co-governance are more likely than not to vote either Green or Te Pāti Māori. Rather than angst about the Treaty, younger voters will now be asking themselves: “If Chippy’s willing to raise the Minimum Wage by $1.50 per hour, might he not also be willing to freeze rents and raise the taxes of the wealthy?”

That’s a good question. Because, in terms of political arithmetic, such “bread and butter” moves, precisely because they are so very far from being woke, are bound to subtract even more votes from National and Act, and add them to Labour’s growing electoral tally.

A sum which, after today, looks set to re-configure the Great Silent Majority of New Zealand voters in the Left’s favour.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 8 February 2023.


Brendan McNeill said...

The problem for the New PM is that he was a senior member of a Cabinet that debataed and signed off on those policies he has now dropped or deferred until after the election. He is as closely linked to their folly as the former PM he has replaced.

It will be interesting to see if he fronts up to any public town hall meetings. Luxon encountered some of the anger that still remains in a nation that was locked down, mandated and otherwise bullied by this Government, all apparently for our own good. It seems as far as this Goverment is concerned the only sentient beings in this country reside in the behive.

Luxon, although not responsible for these policies never the less agreed with them. Let's see how the PM who was minister in charge of the Covid-19 response fairs should he put himself in front of the public.

If the Mayor of Auckland can apologise for his mistakes, perhaps it's something the new PM can attempt?

Ramesh Nair said...

There appear to be two sets of 'Great Silent Majorities' in NZ politics, not overlapping, but one sequestered within the other. The less well-known, or even more silent GSM are, of course, Asian NZers, who comprise around 16% of the national population and 28% of Auckland's. What I find bemusing is that the 3 Great Chrisses of NZ politics : Hipkins, Trotter, and Luxon, only '737 Max' appears to expend any effort in paying attention, albeit not much, to the Asian voter. This is a big problem for the NZ left, and its commentariat. For instance, if one scans Simon 'My Social Conscience Is Better Than Your Social Conscience' Wilson's multi-page articles in the Keyaurastan Herald, one may note that he writes nouns such as 'electric vehicle' and 'public transport' at a 100 : 1 ratio compared to nouns such as 'Asian', 'Chinese', or 'Indian'. Simon Wilson also writes 'Mana Whenua' or 'Iwi' about 100 times more frequently than 'Asian' in his articles on Auckland, even though the population of Auckland in the 2018 census was 28% Asian, 16% PI, and 11% Maori.

My point here is that when coalition governments are decided by 1% point increments in total party votes, the 28% of Auckland who is Asian, and the 16% of NZ that is Asian is the biggest of the silent majority blocs. When I asked numerous Asians before the local body elections who they would vote for as mayor, I was astounded that every Asian I asked told me they would vote for Wayne Brown [ even known Asian Labour voters ], save for 3 woke Asians I know who are in the arts world. When Chris Trotter and Simon Wilson wrote that Wayne Brown had a singular focus on the voters who actually vote, that was a proxy way of stating that Wayne Brown courted the electorates such as Epsom, Orakei, Botany, and the North Shore ones where Asians are highly concentrated. And it is these party votes that the right needs to form a majority. But nobody in the NZ journalistic commentariat actually bothers to write explicitly about what these 28% of Asian Aucklanders want to see in a government. I can tell you directly one thing almost every Asian wants : it is less overt White Postcolonial Guilt that bends 'affirmative action' selection policies in ways that hurt Asian people, not least in educational selection.

The Barron said...

I am disappointed to see a writer usually robust in the discipline of history use the phrase "Treaty revisionist concepts of partnership and co-governance". To suggest revisionist history is to profess a previously accepted and standardized history. This is not possible with the Treaty of Waitangi. Those from academic History disciplines have never agreed on what the offer and acceptance was at Waitangi, let alone developments before and after. Maori holders of matauranga have generationally advocated their history. Legal analyzers have debated the substance and motives. Judge Eddie Jury has referred to the Treaty as a living document, revision cannot be put upon something that is by its very nature developing.

Lord Normanby's 1839 'Instructions to Hobson' recognized the independent nationality of New Zealand and Maori property rights. The 1877 'Wi Parata' case has Prendergast and Richmond decided that the Treaty was a simple nullity partly because they decided Maori too barbaric to enter into such treaties , and no body politic existed. David V. Williams notes in his "A simple Nullity? The Wi Parata case in New Zealand Law and History" [2012] that the judges "are unitizing natural law jus gentium terminology" and while pronouncing the simple nullity, also emphasized "the duty of government to act as 'supreme protector of aboriginal rights' obligation akin to a fiduciary duty that imposed on the Crown in its partnership with Maori, and for the Crown's duty of active protection of Maori interests. These are core elements of modern Treaty of Waitangi jurisprudence on the principals of the Treaty."

I would argue all law and history are going to be affected by the hegemony in which it is developed and in that which it is received. However, suggesting local polling somehow should be the basis of interpretation of international law, common law or customary practice is absurd as the idea of a 'traditional reading of Te Tiriti o Waitangi'

The te reo naming of the document, the makes it even harder to comprehend as it surely is imposing a so-called traditional understanding of the reo document which most rangatira signed. Such a tradition did not exist amongst non-Maori historians until 1972 when The NZ Journal of History published Ruth Ross' 'Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Texts and Translations', described by Professor Keith Sinclair as one of the ‘most important’ articles submitted to the journal.

Terms such as revisionist and traditional don't belong with treaty analysis. You have good historical interpretation or bad. You have sound jurisprudence or bad. All can be contextualized. Even by a counter-revolutionary.

David George said...

‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change’
‘The Leopard’, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

I can certainly understand the motivation Chippy. How about no.
What the hell were you and your mad mates thinking?

LittleKeith said...

As much as I genuinely enjoy the TDB's political insight into party politics and it is on the money at times, and John Minto's articles on housing that laid it bear just how intentionally bad Labour has been with public housing, a lot of the opinions are the way the Green Party think, which are about as realistic as what goes on the other side of the looking glass on full strength mushrooms. On the treaty the TDB is plain wrong. People simply try to get on in life with cards they're dealt yet the never ending treaty demands don't want to get on with anything or anyone.

The hidden agenda of co-governance has undermined Labour given it only emphasises the never ending ratcheting effect of the treaty industry in the shadows. Academics rush off to find new meaning in the treaty no matter how ridiculous backed by some in an activist judiciary.

Clearly the Maori caucus tail that wagged the Labour dog under Ardern convinced her that only Maori can address any shortcomings that are never their fault. Not satisfied with Whanau Ora we need a separate health system for those who are Maori, much like many other separate government funded agencies for their people that exist now but the public are unaware of. Having seen one in action, the racial profiling and attitudes to non maori are appalling . Next I assume is a separate education system, then justice system and one can only guess a process of land management that sees Maori receive payment for perceived wrongs from households, businesses and public owned spaces.

I don't know when Labour morphed into an urban liberal party but it lost me a couple of years back partly because of this. Add to that the promises under Ardern were simply made up, on the hoof, with no understanding on how to deliver them, then the incessant lock downs and mismanagement of Covid '21, then 3 Waters, all backgrounded by an era of lawlessness I've never seen the likes of before.

So far Hipkins has done little to convince me he's not from that same student politician mould as his predecessor. Still, his best asset by far is the unappealing Luxon but I wouldn't underestimate ACT. Their take on the treaty is very appealing. The next couple of months will tell us whether co-governance is simply on hold or binned or if Labour can be trusted again!

Basil Brush said...

How sincerely is Labour now questioning the wisdom and constitutional safety of New Treatyism and co-governance? Have they merely parked it until after the election or is it off the table altogether?

Does Hipkins believe that a cosy fireside chat with the electorate will suffice to legitimise co-governance's ethnocratic agenda, or will he commit to full, genuinely penetrating engagement with Kiwis on what the treaty actually said (not what it is subsequently said to have said)? In any such engagement, will Labour uncouple today's euphoric interpretations of the treaty from consideration of co-governance as a model for our future constitutional arrangements?

Right now, Hipkins can demonstrate Labour's sincerity by (1) signalling a critical review of the Waitangi Tribunal's highly partisan monopoly on treaty interpretation; (2) calling an immediate halt to the many in camera negotiations with iwi over public policy and practice, and (3) winding back the public sector's increasingly exclusionary partnerships with iwi. Or, of the last, extending these partnerships to include non-Māori as equals.

So, among other things, we would expect to see the Treaty Framework for Public Media abandoned in favour of funding arrangements which safeguard journalism's duties to determining the truth. We would expect to see abandoned the imminent agreement (currently awaiting the Crown's signature) which would guarantee iwi co-governance (not just partnership) in the conservation sector. We would expect to see Labour straining towards mechanisms by which Māori and non-Māori have fair, equal voices in public affairs without the need to violate democratic principles.

Gary Peters said...

So "Bomber" bonbs yet again 😎