The Dim-Post

April 18, 2011

The blogger’s reply to the strategist

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 5:53 pm

I’ve often said that the Goff Labour Party is a ‘fight the last battle over again’ kind of outfit. Don Brash got a boost in the polls by giving a speech about race entitled ‘Nationhood’, so Goff gave a speech about race entitled ‘Nationhood’. John Key became popular after endorsing Labour’s most popular policies, and now Goff’s former strategist thinks Labour should endorse National’s policies.

My view is pretty simple. New Zealand is a centre-left country so people liked Labour’s policies. To get elected National HAD to embrace those policies, and they created a point of difference between themselves and Labour by advancing popular policies of their own: ie tax cuts, and by framing a negative narrative around the actual government (Helengrad, Nanny State etc) so that by the election people felt that when they voted National they got a really great deal. They got rid of Labour – who they no longer liked, kept their policies – which they liked, and got some nice new policies (sort of).

Pagani’s strategy – which Labour appears to be following – is to keep almost all of the members of the unpopular government the public was glad to get rid of, endorse National’s policies which are mostly horrible failures, and promote no substantial policy of their own. This has worked about as well as you’d expect it to.

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51 Comments »

  1. Well said.

    Comment by DT — April 18, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

  2. New Zealand is a centre-left country

    New Zealand is _also_ a centre-right country. Like many insular settler societies, it relies heavily on social inclusion and a web of mutual support, with strong exclusionary elements for those deemed outside this group.

    National has been able to exploit elements of the former and latter, promoting sufficient socially inclusive policy – retaining WFF and interest free student loans (both of which they loathe and intend to abolish), framing tax cuts as the friend of the common man, for example – while promoting a distrust of outsiders like criminals and “gravy train Maori”.

    Obviously, as they move to their desired policy platform, their appeal will struggle.

    Comment by George D — April 18, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  3. So catty, i love it!

    Comment by christopherbull — April 18, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

  4. To get elected National HAD to embrace those policies, and they created a point of difference between themselves and Labour by advancing popular policies of their own: ie tax cuts, and by framing a negative narrative around the actual government (Helengrad, Nanny State etc)

    Labour didn’t exactly help themselves, either, running a campaign that appeared as being more negative about the opposition than anything else (“Can YOU trust John Key?”) without telling people what was so great about Labour — and by that time people desperately needed to know what was so great about Labour. It was a patronising “Don’t change the horses mid-stream” type of campaign, and traditionally those don’t seem to work well in NZ. And really, why the hell should people pay attention to a party whose top line is “the opposition’s worse than us!”?

    Comment by MikeM — April 18, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  5. Labour is following a strategy?

    Comment by Innocent bystander — April 18, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  6. NZ is actually centre-right, if you look at the polls.

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

  7. NZ is actually centre-right, if you look at the polls. People in general are fed up with social engineering and deat, arrogant governments.

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  8. NZ is actually centre-right, if you look at the polls.

    Or you could look at election results. Before 2008, the last time there was a strong vote for National was 1990, which was a rejection of Rogernomics. 1993 and 1996 saw the “Right” outvoted, on economic policy (using the standard social/economic political compass).

    So really there’s been one election in the past forty odd years (1987) when a government or party got an endorsement for a right-wing programme, and even that’s debatable.

    Comment by sammy — April 18, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

  9. In all fairness they are following a strategy. It’s just a long term one that involves looking gormless until National start to piss people off.

    Comment by will — April 18, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  10. People in general are fed up with social engineering

    What do you mean by this, moose? What de-engineering has this popular govt done?

    Th last major social de-egineering I can remember was some legislation that said that the law would no longer discriminate in favour of certain sorts of relationships.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 18, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

  11. But National haven’t added to the social engineering agenda, the one that Labour put in place, and would have kept going, had they had the chance. He is far more hands-off when it comes to entering our living rooms and encroaching upon our lives.

    The right stands for freedom.

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  12. He, being Key, of course. The Nats must be celebrating their love-in with the nation! Charge ze glasses!

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

  13. Seems an awful lot like the freedom to be poor is ranked higher than certain other freedoms though.

    Comment by greg — April 18, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  14. “NZ is actually centre-right, if you look at the polls. People in general are fed up with social engineering and deat, arrogant governments.”

    Except that the current government is exactly as enamored with social engineering as the last one was. If you require examples of this then please cease and desist pretending you have a valid or informed opinion.

    Perhaps zombie Basil Arthur rising from his grave, flanked by nearly undead Mike Moore and the holy spirit of Mr Savage, will usher Labour into victory this year. I bet that’s what they’re hoping for.

    Comment by Dean — April 18, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

  15. Danyl has essentialy nailed it.

    Pagani’s “strategy” also relies on Goff beating Key in a head-to-head MMP campaign, as that is what MMP elections effectively have become.

    Think about that for a second.

    That’s why Goff rode a Harley, got a stupid walk, dyed his hair etc.

    Very sad.

    Comment by Gooner — April 18, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  16. Moose, I’m asking you what this ‘social engineering’ is. What does it mean?

    Key voted in favour of the law discriminating in favour of certain sorts of relationships. Wouldn’t that be voting in favour of ‘social engineering’?

    This government has put a lot of taxes on tobacco, they have banned cellphones in cars, and threatened to crush people’s cars in they drive around in circles. They have said that the state can take dna samples from people who have not been convicted, and that items of clothing some people find intimidating can be banned. They’ve said that we should all be saving more and spending less, and adjusted the tax rates to try and make us. They’ve decreed that little children must conform to some ill defined standard. They criticise those who question the police, even while police officers face charges relating to the crushed testicle of a private citizen.

    Labour, I’ll grant you, didn’t squash a standard that said lightbulbs should be more efficient, so It’s probably a wash.

    But go on, tell me what “social engineering’ means.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 18, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  17. Pascal’s bookie, I’n talking about the unmandated social reforms, that under Clark, Labour brought in. Decriminalising prositution, civil unions, the smacking law, light bulbs, showers, the EFA, for starters, the downsizing of our military. All of it unpopular, all of it not voted on by the wider public, and re the smacking bill, public opinion totally ignored. Key implicit in that one, too, even more so. Turncoats.

    That is social engineering in my books!

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  18. Moose railed against:

    “Decriminalising prositution” – an increase in personal freedom

    “civil unions” – another increase in personal freedom

    “the downsizing of our military” – actually Helen Clark’s government dramatically increased military spending

    Comment by Kahikatea — April 18, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  19. Civil unions were mandated. The Labour Party manifesto in both 1999 and 2002 included a promise of legislating for civil unions.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 18, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  20. And all of it subject to the electorate at the following election; and Labour won three in a row.

    Comment by Gooner — April 18, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  21. the downsizing of our military

    Not at all true. Labour invested very heavily in the armed forces, buying the Airforce three new types of helicopters, new 757s, and a very substantial upgrades to the C130 and P3 Orion. The Navy got the Canterbury and two new classes of ship. The Army got LAVs and a number of significant weapons upgrades. All of these were expensive and capital intensive. Add to this the support they were given for recruitment, and the operational support given to their Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, and you can easily say that they are in a better position than they were in the late 1990s.

    Not that I endorse these, but you don’t get to make shit up.

    Comment by George D — April 18, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

  22. That is social engineering in my books!

    The spin doctors won this one.

    Comment by George D — April 18, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

  23. Pagani has gone off again, lambasting all you as insincere trolls.

    Havin a laff are we?

    Comment by George D — April 18, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

  24. From his latest post: “No, Labour should not endorse National Policy”

    From the previous one: “They’re waiting for Labour to demonstrate it genuinely understands their needs – and that means endorsing more of what National is doing”

    Beginning to see why he thinks Obama has been so successful

    Comment by gazzaj — April 18, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  25. As someone living in Chch I would have been very pleased to have Labour opposing the CERA legislation, thanks Mr Pagani. I would really like the Party to actually stand for something other than being re-elected.

    Comment by Philoff — April 18, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  26. Pagani’s blog reminds me of an old medical joke: The operation was a a success, but unfortunately the patient died.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 18, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

  27. …ahem, without the two “a a”, obviously. I’m sure that he must feel utterly justified in the technically correct nature of his advice. If the polls are at fault, it is reality that must be adjusted, not the theory. The same, I feel, is felt by many Labour party MPs, and judging by my contact with their researchers and activists, they do indeed feel the same too. Or else it’s “the media’s” fault. I’m sure there must be some rule along the line’s of Murphy’s Law, something to the effect that “the greater the catastrophe, the more it is likely to be interpreted by those responsible as confirmation that their original doctrines were not put into practice with enough rectitude.” Prime evidence: Rogernomics.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 18, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  28. Legalising prostitution is just encouraging seedy behaviour, is it not. Just ask the residents in the various suburbs who now have to live with it, many steetcorners now a K Road scene. Civilised NZ or moral deay? Basketcase NZ, where deviant behaviour is postively encouraged. The NZ politicians of yesteryear will be double-spinning in their graves. Oh, the howls of derision..!

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  29. Yes, that’s right: outlaw it and it will GO AWAY, and nobody will be victimised because it isn’t happening, and if it is, it’s WRONG. Actually, the law has nothing to do with morality, nor should it. The whole point of legalisation was to allow regulation, no more or less. To assume that the criminalisation of prostitution somehow made people behave better contrary to their instincts, contrary to thousands of years of recorded history, reflects… no, I don’t think “naivete” is quite enough… well, how are the unicorns and butterflies in that wonderful flowery meadow? I really want to know.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 18, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

  30. When it was illegal, at least our kids didn’t have to live with it outside their local shops. Legalising stuff doesn’t make it right, and worse, the wider electorate was never even polled. What a surprise. (of course, referendums are ignored, anyway)…So let’s just all do what we want, no matter what…that’s really enlightened…

    Comment by Moose — April 18, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

  31. No, legalising prostitution was about enabling prostitutes to be safer, be it from physical violence or sexual diseases. That it’s a seedy way to earn a living is neither here nor there.

    Comment by Ataahua — April 18, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

  32. “When it was illegal, at least our kids didn’t have to live with it outside their local shops.” Really, you believe that? Oh dear. Perhaps there are fairies along with those butterflies and unicorns. Perhaps you’d like to consider the conditions that drove women into illegal prostitution and the dangers – often deadly ones – that they faced because there was no way they could be acknowledged as even remotely human before legalisation and so there could be no regulatory oversight or investigation of very real rapes, abuse and the proliferation of sexual disease because any complaint would invite prosecution, without any attempt whatsoever to deal with their real threats. Thus far you haven’t condemned the clients of prostitutes overtly instead of the prostitutes themselves, so I’ll grant you the benefit of the doubt for a while at least.

    “Legalising stuff doesn’t make it right” Who said that? The surest sign of obsession is when someone starts answering their own unspoken rhetorical questions.

    “So let’s just all do what we want, no matter what…that’s really enlightened…”

    Again, if it is a moral issue, what has the law got to do with it? Morality, as far as I understand Christian doctrine, has to do with being faced with the opportunity to do wrong and choosing to do good. Law is compulsory by its nature, hence amoral. If you speak of the general social good, then you must consider the good of those driven into prostitution, unless you think that those who are are unworthy of concern.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 19, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  33. Damn, no edit function. I hate writing in first draft – all my grammatical errors are on show!

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 19, 2011 @ 12:05 am

  34. Hmm, in Moose’s’s’s’ (apostrophes” are tricky) world, prior to decriminalising prostitution there were no red light districts anywhere in NZ. Not one of those giant titty-and-sparkle-encrusted signs ever graced K Rd, Vivienne st or anywhere else. Nor did Rainton Hastie (sp?) ever exist. Nor did any schoolkid ever queue on the GINORMOUS BUS STOP on both sides of K Rd where it spans the motorway. You know, SMACK IN THE MIDDLE of the seedy bit.

    There are no gods – religion is a mental illness. Betcha Moose is a sufferer.

    Comment by terry — April 19, 2011 @ 12:49 am

  35. “When it was illegal, at least our kids didn’t have to live with it outside their local shops. Legalising stuff doesn’t make it right, and worse, the wider electorate was never even polled.”

    Huh? If prostitution is illegal then it’s blocking the freedom of two consenting adults to exchange a service for an agreed amount of money and be afforded proper legal oversight for the transaction. To say this is somehow wrong or that it’s “more free” for it to be illegal is a moral argument, and if you’re trying to impose your morals onto other people then surely you’re no different or better than what you claim the Labour-led government to have been.

    Comment by MikeM — April 19, 2011 @ 1:31 am

  36. I would really like the Party to actually stand for something other than being re-elected.

    Yeah, that’s the problem I believe.

    Pagini seems to think (or at least wants us to think he does) that politics is a game you play in order to get elected.

    Whereas it is the opposite; getting elected is a game you play in order to do something. As I see it, either Labour really is hollow and devoid of policy apart from “being elected”, or it does have something it wants to do. But it wants to keep that something secret from the electorate. Either way, I’ll never vote for a Labour like this. They are just the same kind of scum that National is.

    Comment by Richard — April 19, 2011 @ 6:20 am

  37. Pagani clearly doesn’t know this blog or its blogger – he says Dim-Post voted Green last time. Oh dear.

    Comment by Dotty — April 19, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  38. Trouble is, the left don’t like morality, and often see religion as a sickness, because it suits them to. I still stick by my mantra that Labour are social engineers first and foremost, and they don’t ask the electorate before making major societial changes, such as civil unions or the legalising of prostitution, because they know the majority answer would be a resounding and definate no. Therefore the changes are unmandated and undemocratic.

    How Godless this country has become. You all really like the high crime, high suicide, high child abuse rates, high rates of violent incidents, high boozing, etc, result?

    Go figure. Never can figure out the Left. Madness. Don’t blame me for the aprostophes, it’s my second hard keyboard! Have a nice day.

    Comment by Moose — April 19, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  39. There are no gods – religion is a mental illness. Betcha Moose is a sufferer.

    A freindly word of advice, Terry: You are not Richard Dawkins.

    He can almost get away with that line because he’s a talented writer. I am left with the impression that you, on the other hand, are a massive douche nozzle.

    Comment by Phil — April 19, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  40. “Trouble is, the left don’t like morality”

    A lazy caricature. “The left”, whatever you think it might be are not the Borg. There are many viewpoints on faith and morality on “the left”.

    “I still stick by my mantra”

    A mantra is a continually repeated phrase intended to created a stillness beyond consciousness in the mind of the chanter. In other words, “La la la, I can’t hear you! Don’t confuse me with facts and reasoning. La la la, I can’t hear you! Don’t…” etc.

    “Social engineers”

    Interesting. If the “left” try to allow people to make their own choices, it’s “social engineering”, but if the “right” explicitly try to restrict and control people’s behaviour and even their love lives, it’s not. Please don’t try to explain unless you want to be ridiculed.

    The legislation to which you refer was in any case supported in many cases by those on the “right”, libertarians and conservatives, when the lawmaking was opened to conscience votes. But why let facts cast ripples across the still pond of your meditation?

    “Therefore the changes are unmandated and undemocratic.”

    You really don’t understand the principle of representative democracy, do you? Burke (a conservative) has some nice words on the importance of representatives not being swayed by polls (something Phil Goff could consider), but in following their own principles. A person who does not assert their own principles does not deserve the trust of the electorate.

    “You all really like the high crime…”

    Yes, because I’m evil and it makes me laugh as I twirl my cape and twist my already twisted moustache. Get real. Overall crime rates have dropped, except in the cases of family violence, which is generally ascribed to improved reporting. In your rose- (or sepia-) tinted Godly utopia of the past it was swept under the carpet. You claim that civil unions create a high suicide rate is odious in the extreme, as young gays and lesbians have a high rate of depression and attempted suicide and cite homophobia and bullying as the prime cause. The repression you advocate would make it worse, as no doubt it was in your paradise of the past.

    “Have a nice day.”

    No thank you, I’ve made other plans.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 19, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  41. …italic fail…

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 19, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  42. Guys, why are you bothering to argue with Moose? He’s not even a common-or-garden troll; he’s a moron who cannot be reasoned with. What’s that line about arguing with idiots? They bring you down to their level then beat you with experience?

    Comment by Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber — April 19, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  43. Fun?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 19, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  44. i’d picked fun. moose strikes me as the garden variety troll.

    reference

    Comment by che tibby — April 19, 2011 @ 11:27 am

  45. C’mon, it’s like kicking a puppy.

    Comment by Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber — April 19, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  46. Well, I’m very fond of cats. :)

    Comment by Rhinocrates — April 19, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  47. It’s worth noting that substantial policy of your own is, politically, the least important part of the equation. Exhibit A: the extremely effective Republican opposition in the US went into the 2010 midterms without any overarching plan of their own — they yelled plenty about the size of the deficit, but only said the bare minimum about what should be done about it. Instead they ran on “whatever Obama’s for, we’re against it”. Only after they got a House majority did they reveal their grand design. Critics on the left (and a few on the right) have been quick to point out their plan doesn’t make any sense — basically they assert that cutting government spending will result in increased investment (beyond any changes resulting from interest rate movements) and an *immediate* boom. Even I remember enough macro to know this is bollocks. It’s too early to tell how the specifics of the plan will affect Republican support, but it appears they might take a small hit.

    You do need a plan, because you want to become the government and actually do stuff. But for the purposes of getting elected, you don’t really need much of a plan.

    Comment by bradluen — April 19, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  48. I really dislike “freedom fighters” [like he who won't be named since he hasn't come here] who moan about social engineering and erosions of freedom, and then bang on about enforcing their morality on others. They never see how saying “it’s all about personal responsibility” and “less government intrusion in life”, and opposing civil unions etc are contradictory positions.

    Comment by Socrates — April 19, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  49. You may have the gender wrong. He could and is, a she.

    Comment by Moose — April 19, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  50. The moment I read the word, “Godless”, I was immediately reminded of Lewis Prothero’s televised outburst in “V For Vendetta”. And Prothero’s mention of “tea party” is darkly funny in hindsight.

    And the venerable Gordon Campbell attributes Mr Key’s teflon factor in the face of Murphy’s Law not to good policy (or lack of it) or populism, but to depression, apathy, and the absence of a charismatic Mickey Savage figure.

    Comment by DeepRed — April 19, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

  51. What is “social engineering”?

    Is it the same as “politically correct”?

    Utterly meaningless.

    Moose, fuck off, and grow up.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — April 19, 2011 @ 10:48 pm


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