The Dim-Post

November 26, 2009

Opportunity Cost

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 4:29 pm

I/S looks at the strategy behind Goff’s dogwhistle:

Despite Labour’s dear wishes, the Maori Party is not going to go away. Instead, it looks likely to be a permanent feature of our political landscape. More importantly, it looks to be setting itself up as the swing bloc which makes or breaks governments. That’s certainly likely to be the case at the next election, unless the government really screws up. What this means is that if Labour wants to regain power, it will have to sit across the table from and work with the Maori Party. And that will simply be impossible if they are running on a racist platform.

I’m not convinced of the permanence of the Maori Party and I think they’d go into coalition with a nest of poisonous spiders if the funnel-web threw in a couple of crown limos and some mana-enhancing overseas trips, so I don’t think this rules out a future Labour-Maori coalition. The long term risk is that Labour will lose support – in 2008 hundreds tens of thousands of Maori voters gave their electorate votes to the Maori Party while their party vote went to Labour – but the most immediate cost is that the Maori party and National have sold out Maori with the ETS; Goff’s transparent, desperate ploy for the redneck vote means he’ll be handicapped when he tries to point this out: Sharples and Turia can simply dismiss the attacks and respond that ‘Goff’s playing the race card again.’

This is turning into a trend with Goff. Earlier in the year the government was vulnerable to criticism around welfare entitlement until Goff argued that a millionaire property owner who happened to live in John Key’s electorate should be eligible for the dole, a self-inflicted wound that precluded Labour from making any legitimate points on the subject. He’s just made an identical error with the ETS.

I really don’t see how a politician as experienced as Goff could make such an obvious mistake (or how a Labour leader could have such little confidence in the values his party is supposed to represent). But I also struggle to conceive how people as canny as John Key and Nick Smith could introduce legislation as awful as their Emissions Trading Scheme. Our political class seems desperately mediocre right now.

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30 Comments »

  1. Our political class seems desperately mediocre right now.
    Sums it all up for me – when you can’t turn to anyone for a semblance of reasonable and innovative policy it makes political engagement pretty depressing.

    Comment by garethw — November 26, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  2. They are really really smug within the Labour Party (still!), and their need to lord it over the Maori Party overrules any kind of rational analysis of the situation.

    Comment by George Darroch — November 26, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  3. All of which ignores the fact that Goff has a point.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 26, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  4. All of which ignores the fact that Goff has a point.

    Like I said in the previous post, there are a couple of good points in there; if Goff had the acumen to make them to a Maori audience then he might have had Sharples and Turia sweating. Instead he threw them in with the old Brash style dog-whistles about treaty settlements, ongoing grievance, Maori privilege and another attack on Harawira and gave the speech to an elderly white audience in Palmerston North. We can’t pretend he isn’t playing the race card just because he threw in a few decoy paragraphs.

    Comment by danylmc — November 26, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

  5. Labour only got 69,172 party votes in total from the Maori electorates in the last election (according to electionresults.govt). Not that many, but I’m sure the Green Party would love a few of them. Could it be some fiendishly clever plot to make a bit of room for prospective coaltion partners?

    It’s just as well nothing serious is happening while Goff mucks around with this race stuff. I did like his use of ‘shabby’ though.

    Comment by simonb — November 26, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  6. “Our political class seems desperately mediocre right now.”
    Well the public get the politicians they elect. Though I would not describe them as mediocre, they are just grey and usually careful.
    If NZ wanted radical politicians they would vote for them, but they tend to do radical things which upsets people.
    “I’m not convinced of the permanence of the Maori Party and I think they’d go into coalition with a nest of poisonous spiders if the funnel-web threw in a couple of crown limos and some mana-enhancing overseas trips, so I don’t think this rules out a future Labour-Maori coalition”
    Well you might not be convinced and the MP are starting to face the first strains of actually being in Govt instead of shouting from the sidelines, but if a snap election was held tomorrow they would probably win all the Maori seats.
    Bit of a cheap shot about the limos and stuff. The MP have been clear from the beginning they should always aim to be at the Cabinet table, they see it almost a treaty right, partnership and all that. Of course they are finding the realities a bit more difficult now.
    As for Labour and Goff..It is also interesting that political blogs fall for the same trap that the Press Gallery falls into, things politicians say are not always aimed at you, but a different audience.
    Goff appears to me to be dipping his toe into the maelstrom that is race politics, while trying to pretend he isn’t.
    Hey who knows it might work (poll wise). There are real risks.. ie burning off Labour support, while the people he is attempting to appeal don’t even bother listening (shades of English in the run up to 2002).

    As for the ETS comments. National didn’t introduce an ETS they had one on the books when they came in. They could get rid of it all together with the support of ACT or ammend it with the support of another party.

    They chose a deal with the Maori Party, I think one of the tragedies of recent months is that despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the ETS that in fact National and Labour were really close to a compromise over the design and they failed to achieve it.
    I suppose that might class as mediocre politics

    Comment by Ian Llewellyn — November 26, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  7. Danyl your comment here is just not true. He doesn’t ‘dog whistle’ about Treaty settlements. He says: “I believe that the Treaty settlement process is vitally necessary to address the real grievances of the past and to remedy them so we can move forward as a country.”

    On grievance he says, “If you can never settle Treaty grievances, there can never be healing, and you keep alive a grievance from one age into another. We must address grievance, but we must not sustain it.”

    Those are unobjectionable statements. I can’t find a single statement about maori privilege. he criticises the way one particular deal favours one group. That is not about maori privilege. “Race is a red herring in this deal” It is criticising that it is privileged at all and that they only get away with it because it’s a deal with the Maori Party.

    The attack on Harawira is mild and contextual. And to attack him for speaking to an ‘elderly white audience’ is bigoted on your part. They are as much citizens as anyone else. I hope politicians will always speak to groups of elderly white New Zealanders, and everyone else, and their views will always be important. Jesus, it’s the substance of their views that matters, not their age and race. How can you make this statement, and accuse Goff of playing the race card?

    It’s hysterical to say that this speech is a dog whistle. There is nothing at all about special privilege or ‘one law for all.’

    What it sounds like is that you make criticism of cynical deals with the Maori Party into the same thing as criticising Maori. That makes yours an outrageous, patronising and politically bankrupt view – unless I am missing some point in your criticism of Goff’s speech.

    Comment by cowpat — November 26, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  8. Goff the accidental PM is obviously trying to knife the Maori Party again (for the temerity of ditching Labours tokenism of the past 50 years) and is trying to associate National with Broracracy troughing (naturally Labour are sqeaky clean on that front).

    Why? Goff is attempting use the race based seats as a wedge with which to divide working & middle class white New Zealanders and drag back some of the middle spectrum voters to the cosy bosom of good ole Labour.

    So quite literally Goff is playing the race card.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 12:54 am

  9. And of course Goff is hoping to fracture the MP and allow some Labour friendly factions to creep into positions of power.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 1:04 am

  10. We can’t pretend he isn’t playing the race card just because he threw in a few decoy paragraphs.

    I’d phrase it more like “we can’t pretend he’s wrong about this just because he talked about Maori to Winston Peters’ fan base.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 27, 2009 @ 4:59 am

  11. It’s hysterical to say that this speech is a dog whistle.

    I think you’re very naive – can you find a single media outlet that hasn’t interpreted it that way? I have no problem with Goff criticising the ETS deal, but why confuse that issue with Harawira, the foreshore and seabed and the treaty settlements? And why give the speech in a region and to a demographic that we all know responds well to race politics? Goff isn’t stupid, he knew the reaction this speech would get.

    Comment by danylmc — November 27, 2009 @ 5:04 am

  12. If NZ wanted radical politicians they would vote for them, but they tend to do radical things which upsets people.

    I don’t actually want radical politicians – I am a pretty conservative guy. I want government politicians that don’t pass doomed legislation like Smith’s ETS, and I want an opposition leader who can critique a terrible bill on it’s own lack of merit instead of going off on a populist tangent about race.

    Comment by danylmc — November 27, 2009 @ 6:21 am

  13. Hear hear Danyl.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 6:25 am

  14. Yeah Danyl you can’t give a single offensive statement in that speech – not a single example of him using ‘one law for all’ language. Instead – you keep attacking the elderly white audience. I would have thought the reason he gave a speech to a Grey Power audience is that the only audience you get for a speech in the middle of a weekday is either elderly or a business audience. Saying that old people are “a demographic that we all know responds well to race politics” makes you, not Goff, a pretty disgusting bigot.

    And as for ‘why doesn’t he attack ETS?’…it’s not hard to find multiple examples of where he’s attacked the Muldoonist subisidies:

    “Either New Zealand polluters will pay – or the New Zealand taxpayer.” Here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0909/S00290.htm

    “the impact of what he is changing will be to double the taxpayer’s subsidy to Rio Tinto from $1 billion to $2 billion by 2030″
    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/d/7/5/49HansQ_20090916_00000002-2-Emissions-Trading-Scheme-Cost-of-Changes.htm

    “The Government estimated this subsidy to cost $400 million a year, but Mr Goff believed it would be far greater.”
    http://www.guide2.co.nz/politics/news/ets-changes-lower-energy-cost-increase-pollution-subsidy/11/10997

    Basically, nothing you have said about this speech stacks up.

    Comment by cowpat — November 27, 2009 @ 6:56 am

  15. I’d phrase it more like “we can’t pretend he’s wrong about this just because he talked about Maori to Winston Peters’ fan base.”

    PsychoMilt: Let’s just see whether we’re going to get an encore performance at Waitangi and Ratana next year; or whether he’s going to be equally rabid about the “dirty backroom deals” at the next Fonterra or Federrated Farmers conference. You know, since the biggest polluters in town are still dairy farmers.

    But I guess dog-whistling doesn’t work when your targets are not only in the room, but have a full and immediate right of reply.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — November 27, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  16. “Hear hear Danyl.”

    Way to go expat! Good to see a tory showing some spine and condemning Brash’s appalling Orewa speech.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — November 27, 2009 @ 7:22 am

  17. Let’s just see whether we’re going to get an encore performance at Waitangi and Ratana next year…

    The fact that he’s got a point doesn’t necessarily also mean he has either political nous or the courage of his convictions – I’m picking “No.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 27, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  18. Guy, try to keep up with the other children and stay on topic.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 7:47 am

  19. National’s shabby, racist deal with the Maori Party has created an opening, and all Goff is doing is leading his cavalry into it. If the government stand open to the accusation of race based politics then that is the fault of John Key, not Phil Goff.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 27, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  20. Cavalry a la King, Chauvel, Mallard & Company riding into little bighorn

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 8:29 am

  21. Hey, not my fault if you’re shit at pattern recognition expat.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — November 27, 2009 @ 8:58 am

  22. Our political class seems desperately mediocre right now

    It’s time for a revolution, Brothers and Sisters.

    Danyl can lead the party, we’ll all act Ministerial, and our policy platforms will be Ihimaera’s of the longest and most epic (ambitious?) comment threads from the DimPost.

    Comment by Phil — November 27, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  23. Thanks Guy, I’ll take that on board and try to keep up with you.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  24. I find all your comments and hand-wringing about ‘race cards’ and ‘race politics’ hilarious, frankly.

    None of you commenters (and you Danyl) seem to acknowledge that the very existence of a “Maori” party in the first place is the biggest and most offensive example of the genre. That and the existence of “Maori” seats reserved for one race. This is the true ‘race politics’ here.

    Comment by Dave Mann — November 27, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  25. Like this?

    The speech is stomach churning in its saccharin 1950’s PC references to Pakeha and Maori, in case you haven’t looked lately the ethinic makeup of NZ is rapidly changing and has been for some time (enough time for even Goff and Labour to have noticed) #1, #2.

    David Lange and Norman Kirk belong to a time long past, now is the time for looking forward instead of the neo-socialists interminable fetish with recreating an imagined socialist golden era that includes somehow changing the past by paying Maori a never ending social dividend.

    # 1

    http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Browse%20for%20stats/NationalEthnicPopulationProjections/MR06-26/NationalEthnicPopulationProjections06-26MR.ashx

    #2

    http://wdmzpub01.stats.govt.nz/wds/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportName=Population%20Estimates/Estimated%20National%20Ethnic%20Population%20by%20Age%20and%20Sex%20at%2030%20June%201996,%202001%20and%202006

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 1:28 am

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  26. Compare these quotes from Brash’s Orewa speech and Goff’s one yesterday.

    Can anyone spot a difference?

    Comment by toad — November 27, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  27. Nice nonpartisan source there Toad.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  28. Deeply dishonest, toad.

    Brash talked about a “government-funded culture of welfare dependency”, a “dangerous drift towards racial separatism in New Zealand.” He said “we find ourselves now, at the beginning of the 21st century, still locked into 19th century arguments.”

    He said “The Treaty did not create a partnership” .

    He said: “We fly Maori elders around the world to lift tapu and expel evil spirits from New Zealand embassies; we allow courts to become entangled in hearings about the risks to taniwha of a new road or building; we refuse to undertake potentially life-saving earthworks on Mount Ruapehu lest we interfere with the spirit of the mountain; and we allow our environment law to be turned into an opportunistic farce by allowing metaphysical and spiritual considerations to be taken into account in the decision process. It is a farce that could all too quickly turn to tragedy.”

    If you are attempting to claim Goff said anything of the sort, you are simply lying.

    Comment by cowpat — November 27, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  29. Cowpat is correct, Goff didn’t make that much sense.

    Comment by expat — November 27, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  30. Nice one expat!!! :-)

    Comment by Dave Mann — November 27, 2009 @ 11:33 am


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