The Dim-Post

March 19, 2012

The paranoid style in left-wing New Zealand politics

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:15 am

One of the odd things about Labour’s leadership battle is that David Cunliffe – Harvard graduate and business consultant – was seen as the left-wing candidate, while Shearer – international humanitarian and aid-worker – was regarded with suspicion by the Labour rank and file as as possible right-wing stealth candidate.

The ‘Shearer-the-stealth-candidate’ hypothesis has flared up again in the wake of his speech last week, and the subject’s being knocked around on Twitter, Public Address System, The Standard, Trotter etc. The main charges against Shearer are his reluctance to articulate traditional Labour values, his habit of copying Key’s rhetoric (he keeps repeating National’s ‘brighter future’ campaign slogan in addition to insisting that he’s not ideological but only interested in ‘what works’, viz Key). His speech gave a shout-out to a right-wing Finnish politician called Esko Aho – Gordon Campbell points out that Aho was an inspiration to Roger Douglas – adopted the standard right-wing talking points about the education system, faulting failing schools and bad teachers. And his office is briefing journalists that he’ll scrap Labour’s policy to extend Working for Families to beneficiaries.

I think the talk of education reform is about the influence of market-research on contemporary politics, rather than evidence of a right-wing agenda. Labour has figured out what National discovered four years ago: if you tell middle-class swing voters that their schools and teachers might fail their children and deprive them of the ability to succeed in life, they’ll fall to their knees and beg to vote for a political party that will prevent such an unthinkable disaster from occurring. So we’re now in the completely ridiculous position where both major parties are implementing or promising ‘radical reform’ to ‘fix’ one of the best performing school systems in the entire world. (At least Shearer wants to copy Finland, which does actually have a better school system than us, while the Nats are taking their inspiration from the US and UK, who we outperform by a huge margin.)

Repealing WFF to Beneficiaries is a no-brainer. It’s supposed to be about addressing child poverty, but to do that you have to get elected, and you can’t do that if your policy offends the three-quarters of a million WFF recipients in paid employment who like to think that they’re receiving a ‘working tax-credit’, not a benefit.

Shearer’s talk about Finland and the Aho government is less easily dismissed. Maybe it’s about creating a contrast with poll-driven John Key, if Shearer gives the impression that he’ll do what’s right and ‘fix the country’ rather than constantly run for re-election. Gordon Campbell has a substantive take on this, but I think that Shearer just sounds naive. What kind of significant reform can you introduce in three years that won’t just be rolled back by National in their next term, which will just be another bout of high-end tax cuts, lowering real median wages, worsening employment conditions, gutting the public service and privitisation? The best thing any left-wing government can do for New Zealand and its long-term economic growth is to stay in government for a looong time, thus keeping National out. Any effective policies they implement during that time is simply icing on the cake.

But lets say Shearer is a right-wing stealth candidate, planning to implement a radical right-wing agenda once in government. How could that possibly work? He’s going to have to rely on the Green Party – at a minimum – to pass his budgets. The Greens are obsessed with the problem of how to go into government and not suffer the grim fate of all the other coalition partners under MMP. If they think they’re propping up a Lange-Douglas style Labour they’ll withdraw confidence and supply faster than you can say ‘So will Winston Peters.’

I think the Fourth Labour government is at the heart of these fears about Shearer. Key can talk about being ‘non ideological’, ‘whatever works’, etc – but all of his policies are standard, right-wing ideology (none of which show any signs of working, as yet). Right-wing voters are confident it’s just rhetoric because they’ve never been betrayed by their own party to the degree that Labour supporters were by Douglas and Lange. So Key can move to the center and promise to maintain Labour policies like WFF, and still remain wildly popular with his own base. But when a Labour leader like Shearer tries to occupy the political center his own base gets panicked: it suggests the nightmare scenario of history repeating itself.

(Just to set down my own views on positioning yet again: Labour doesn’t need to move to the center, because Labour is the center. All they need to do is talk about their own values and articulate policy that matters to people (I don’t understand why they don’t talk about the labour market and low wages) and demonstrate that they’re competent and trustworthy. There are – literally – hundreds of thousands of voters who used to support Labour and currently don’t vote. They seem like a better group to target than trying to win right-wing votes off National, and you can win them without scaring the hell out of your own activists, who you reply on for fund-raising and campaigning.)

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58 Comments »

  1. “…if you tell middle-class swing voters…”

    I would like to hear what people here think this group is made up of. To me, the “middle class’ is that fraction of the population properly described as the petty bourgeoisie, engaged in either superintendary or lower/middle management roles or self employed by employing little if any waged labour. However, I suspect that most New Zealanders have an idea that the middle class that encompasses everyone afflicted by what is best described as Aspirational Delusion Syndrome” (The tendency to form one’s current political opinions by the yardstick of one’s desired economic status). This “middle class” is much bigger, and was bested summed up the other day by Scott Hamilton as the class “…distinguished by the fact that they don’t identify as belonging to a class. Unlike the bourgeoisie, which is intensely organised and class conscious, and the working class, which has its own organisations and historical consciousness, the middle class is made of folks convinced of their social and intellectual independence…”

    To me, this definition is important, because on it hinges important questions of emphasis in our political discourse. So I would really, really like to know how many of these mythical creatures (middle class swing voters) there actually are. Is there any research? Using my definition of the middle class, simple income models would lead to suspect the influence of “middle class swing voters” is well out of proportion to their actual numbers. Are we dealing with a group whose numbers means it’s opinion has massive electoral clout at the ballot box, or are we simply seeing total policy capture by a class whose main power is that basically controls the levers of our media discourse and infests our focus groups?

    If the latter is this case, then as a left winger the solution is obvious – smash the grip held on the media agenda by the middle class and then move the debate rapidly to the left.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 19, 2012 @ 8:24 am

  2. “Labour doesn’t need to move to the center, because Labour is the center”
    Can you take over the Labour party and run it? Because I would vote for a Labour Party that wasn’t interested in shifting their position on the spectrum to suit market research.

    Comment by alex — March 19, 2012 @ 8:31 am

  3. I find all of this Chicken Little panic over Labour ‘moving to the right’ rather amusing. No policy has been set out, just a wee bit vague vision has been established. What is stoking the fires is basically the interpretation of a single speech by a series of commentators. There are still many speeches etc to go, I’ll reserve my judgment until then

    Comment by Brad Gibbons — March 19, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  4. The concept you raise of paranoia applies equally to all ideologies (political parties). This strugle back to center, follows the struggle towards left, due to the increasing relevance of green politics.

    Comment by Todd — March 19, 2012 @ 9:36 am

  5. I think you analysis that Labour is the political centre is wrong, the evidence to date indicates National has been better at positioning itself to the political centre. Now we may not agree with the average New Zealander, but ignoring their perspective of the world means being an opposition party more often than not.

    Post WW2 govt’s
    National 1949 -1957
    Labour 1957-1960
    National 1960 -1972
    Labour 1972 – 1975
    National 1975 – 1984
    Labour 1984 -1990
    National 1990 – 1999
    Labour 1999 – 2008
    National 2008 – present

    Even if you include the war years (Labour) the evidence of history is that National has been able to form a government more often then Labour. Even allowing for issue of electoral boundaries and proportional representation, its still clear that the centre more often than not has been where National has positioned itself.

    Does this matter to your hypothesis of paranois in the left. Well since most of the commentariat that you reference is from the marginal ends of the labour spectrum, your possibly right but for the wrong reasons.

    Comment by WH — March 19, 2012 @ 9:39 am

  6. “Because I would vote for a Labour Party that wasn’t interested in shifting their position on the spectrum to suit market research”

    I still probably wouldn’t vote for them but I hope they find their principles. And their {political} balls.

    Comment by nommopilot — March 19, 2012 @ 9:57 am

  7. I have a theory about how the Left and Right have a different view of how politics works that predisposes Left wing politics towards paranoia (it’s based on very braod generalisations and of course the Right is not immune to paranoia, but anyway…)

    One basic premise of Right wing ideology is that of the Autonomous Indivdual. For better or worse the individual makes independent, rational decisions.

    For the Left, on the other hand, the individual is always at the mercy of external agents – history, society, the media etc.

    So the Left get caught up not so much with what peoples’ opinions are but what (nefarious, generally) forces made them think that way whereas the Right see it as a pragmatic battle for the individuals support.

    I tend to think both these (admitedly overly generalised views get things wrong. People are not at the mercy of nefarious forces and people do not necessarily make rational decisions.

    Now, how did those on the Left and Right get to have such different opinions? Was it a matter of nefarious forces or individual, rational choice.

    Comment by NeilM — March 19, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  8. I’m not quite sure what your point is, WH – or what you think John Key has in common with Sid Holland or Keith Holyoake. The “political centre” (a construct of which I am highly sceptical) shifts over time as political discourses shift: so you could fairly argue that the Fifth Labour Government was in many ways a lot more right-wing economically than most of the National governments that preceded it. I’d tend to agree that historically National has been better than Labour at creating a broad coalition of interests, but what that has to do with the political position of Labour today I have no idea.

    I’m not very enchanted with the idea of political parties chasing the middle ground (surely that’s what we have Peter Dunne for?). The real challenge is to *create* the “political centre” by shifting the terms of political discourse – something that no government in this country has really succeded in doing, I’d argue, since the early-1990s.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — March 19, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  9. I might argue that since voters began to suspect that Muldoon was not the sober wonk they once thought he was, Labour has held the centre except on two occasions: (i) when voters realised that Douglas was not the sober wonk they once thought he was (handing National the centre until the country came down with Ruthanasia), and (ii) the Key era. (On the other hand, National have been much better at forming governments with 30-something percent of the vote.) Every politician has a shelf life, and Key’s grip on the centre will weaken, though whether it’ll weaken enough by 2014 is anyone’s guess.

    Comment by bradluen — March 19, 2012 @ 10:59 am

  10. One basic premise of Right wing ideology is that of the Autonomous Indivdual. For better or worse the individual makes independent, rational decisions.

    This is a bit of a myth. People tend to make emotional decision and sugar coat them with rational analysis.
    Partisan delusion is universal, irrespective of your political stripes.

    Now, how did those on the Left and Right get to have such different opinions? Was it a matter of nefarious forces or individual, rational choice.

    Initially a belief/ethical structure created by conditioning, later tempered with personal experience.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 19, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  11. In a sense the centre left is always doing itself out of a job. We now have liberal abortion laws so why vote Labour if there’s no threat to that?

    Once the rainbow coalition scored some major victories during the Clark govt then that energy would naturally disipate as people moved on to get pre-occupied with their retirement property investments and what a GCT might do for that.

    Comment by NeilM — March 19, 2012 @ 11:05 am

  12. This is a bit of a myth.

    agreed, but a myth that doesn’t predispose towards paranoia as much as the opposite myth – that people are at the mercy of external agents.

    Comment by NeilM — March 19, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  13. Perhaps what weighs the most on Shearer’s conscience is that Labour voters stayed home for the 2011 election, and as a consequence Labour copped an old fashioned thrashing. Commentators can speculate as to why this occurred but essentially the main reason was that Labour pre election was to far left and had drifted to the margins.
    Shearer is attempting to right the ship by positioning Labour more to the centre where the votes are and this strategy will be the one that will deliver more votes to Labour 2014-15.

    Comment by Kevin — March 19, 2012 @ 11:35 am

  14. WH, for 2 of those elections you list, National was in power thanks only to the way votes were concentrated under FPP.

    Comment by Me Too — March 19, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  15. It depends how you define left and right. But in this survey

    http://www.umr.co.nz/Reports/What_makes_NZers_happy_Feb-12.pdf

    (slide 9)
    more NZers identify with left than right. That’s all Labour needs to do – articulate these values in a strong consistent way. And then get out the vote.

    Left: govts should provide social services and intervene to moderate the impacts of free markets and there should be a progressive tax system
    Right: as small a govt as possible, free markets work best, govt interventions usually fail, taxes should be flat.

    Comment by Me Too — March 19, 2012 @ 11:42 am

  16. Gawd what a laff.

    Moron’s actually that dopey they think that there is something to discuss in terms of left and right in NZ.

    NZ is a Communist/ Marxist country. EOS.

    You’ve won. It’s a one party totalitarian Marxist swamp with virtually no significant differences between Labour and National.

    You made it that way. Hooray for you. Well done. And what a success you have to observe.

    As for left and right…

    No one, among the dullbrains who are left here, has any idea of the difference, because there is just no right to make that comparison with.

    Comment by Redbaiter — March 19, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  17. NZ is a Communist/ Marxist country. EOS.

    How so?

    Comment by danylmc — March 19, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  18. redbaiter what is it like to have schizophrenia

    Comment by Trouble Man — March 19, 2012 @ 11:55 am

  19. Oh, I’m looking forward to this….

    Comment by Gregor W — March 19, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  20. Whats the point of a left wing Govt? All over the Western world there are now right wing or centrist Govts because pretty much all the traditional agenda of the left has been enacted. The poor and unemployed get benefits, the elderly get Super, there are strong labour and safety laws, gays have equal rights, minorities are recognised and have equal rights and there are powerful environmental laws.

    You might argue for more benefits or more rights, but then you are offering more than the median wage worker is prepared to pay and arguably giving more to minorities than he gets.

    The left recognised this dilemma 30 years ago and started concentrating on the margins of society and social policy.. and got that through as well, so where to from now? About all thats left to do is quit with the ideology and simply become great managers of the economy.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 19, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  21. If NZ is fully communist, shouldn’t redbaiter be in some kind of gulag.

    Maybe he lives in (insert shitty suburb here) and thinks that he actually is?

    Comment by Rich d'Rich (@rich_d_rich) — March 19, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  22. Neil M, I think the delusions at the extreme ends of the spectrum (left and right) actually end up manifesting themselves in alarmingly specific and similar ways. Richard Hofstadter’s seminal essay- where danyl cribs this post title from- touched on how the extreme right of the US, by the early 60s, particularly wings such as the John Birch Society, had manifested a grand conspiracy where *external forces* were attacking the *individual* everywhere (some of them vaguely explicable, the vast majority of them…not so much). You would only need to hear a few minutes of Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh to get an idea of how this works today. So I guess the extreme ends take different routes to reach the same conclusion. On the left size, it would be the forces of darkness against the collective power of the good.

    http://karws.gso.uri.edu/jfk/conspiracy_theory/the_paranoid_mentality/the_paranoid_style.html

    Fortunately, NZ doesn’t really seem to get the extremes at either end of the spectrum- or at least not as much.

    Comment by matthewlittlewood — March 19, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

  23. NZ is a Communist/ Marxist country. EOS.

    In about the same sense that Pakistan is a Christian country – there are a few around, but if they’re smart they don’t make a big thing out of it.

    Of course, if you were to become delusional enough to define “Christian” to include firm belief that there is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet, then sure, Pakistan is totally a Christian country. This is the sense in which Redbaiter finds NZ to be communist.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 19, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

  24. “Fortunately, NZ doesn’t really seem to get the extremes at either end of the spectrum- or at least not as much.”

    This is funny on a thread where Redbaiter has just weighed in…

    maybe NZ has them “not as much” but more likely we just hear from them not as much because we don’t read those kind of blogs… I certainly try not to

    Comment by nommopilot — March 19, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

  25. @danyl “Right-wing voters are confident it’s just rhetoric because they’ve never been betrayed by their own party to the degree that Labour supporters were by Douglas and Lange.”

    Well, that’s hard to be sure about, really. You could say that Muldoon betrayed the right wing, but that didn’t make him especially unpopular with it.

    @sanctuary I’m not sure that your definition of middle class really does work out at all. You don’t seem to include housewives in it at all, as if it is impossible to be a middle class housewife. You define the class entirely around the paid work it does, rather than the income it enjoys. I personally know quite a few tradies, who do nothing more than sell their labour, who are exactly what I would call comfortably middle class. And many other people who are none of “superintendary or lower/middle management roles or self employed by employing little if any waged labour”. In any organisation, given a hierarchy, the very bottom tier almost always has at least half, and more likely a lot more of the actual people in the organization. Yet with average incomes these people can easily enjoy average lifestyles. A port worker I know personally is very much in the middle class – owns two properties, has plenty of spare money, lives in most ways exactly like a lot of people I know who are middle management, and a damned sight better than some of them.

    So there are a lot of the kind of people you seem to be implying don’t exist, and there’s no reason they can’t form a big part of the swing vote. The tradies I mentioned before have in many cases vote both Labour and National at different times.

    I’m not entirely sure where the “working class” fit in, though. This would actually seem to the be the illusory class. I know that Marx defined them as the people who bring nothing to work but their hands (and presumably their minds to operate their hands with), but it’s a little bit hard to reconcile that accountants and lawyers and doctors are often in this boat. They turn up, do their work, get paid, and go home.

    There’s other classes which is quite huge in NZ, those who don’t work for money. I mentioned housewives before, do they fit? The unemployed certainly do, but there’s also students, who we have in massive numbers. They aren’t “technically” unemployed. Do they belong to a class at all? What about pensioners? What class are they?

    I’m not sure how helpful class is any more for deciding about how people vote.

    @Kevin “Commentators can speculate as to why this occurred but essentially the main reason was that Labour pre election was to far left and had drifted to the margins.”

    That’s your speculation :-). It’s possible that another alternative is that NZ is becoming more divided, and that the center is hollowing out. Labour hovered near the center, as does National, but a lot of people felt no party had their interests at heart, and didn’t vote. Perhaps these were to the left of Labour, but not Greenies, found Mana too new, and wouldn’t vote Winston, because of his racism?

    @JC I think there’s truth in your point. Key battles between left and right were won long ago, which is probably why Sanctuary’s analysis sounds so damned dated.

    So the differences between left and right are far less stark than the rhetoric, because both rhetorics are based around positions that are finished. Which is not to say that there is NO difference between what is offered. Clearly there is a big difference between the vision of National, and the vision of the Green party for how things will go for some people. And quite minor differences between Labour and National could magnify hugely for some people – CGT, for instance, will cost property investors quite a lot of money. A super savings scheme, if actually followed for a few decades could mean the virtual end of universal pensions, which could make a huge difference to other things that can be funded.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 19, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  26. Saying the left has won because we have welfare is like saying the right has won because the government doesn’t set the price of potatoes.

    The current divide between left and centre-left is not so much one of ideology as one of budgeting. Both left and centre-left agree that we should end child poverty and that it’s the government’s responsibility to do so, but the left are (in general) willing to spend money on the problem, while the centre-left will mumble something about the deficit before shouting “Education!” repeatedly.

    Comment by bradluen — March 19, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

  27. “How so?”

    The frog in the slowly warming pot. You don’t see it Danny, because you’re in the pot. (and loving it)

    I visit NZ on occasions from various bases overseas. I observe from an objective viewpoint.

    The extent that socialism has messed with the minds of NZers is glaringly apparent. Even those who profess themselves to be “right wingers” are steeped in deep red.

    As I said above. You have won. Turned what was once a great little country full of intelligent well educated independent and resourceful people into a decrepit and inwardly collapsing crime ridden violence prone racist and one party basket case state.

    Congratulations.

    Comment by Redbaiter — March 19, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

  28. @26,

    There’s the conundrum right there. Do you want to educate the poor or just pay more benefits? Arguably you cant do both because you have to create incentives to learn.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 19, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  29. Again, good analysis, Danyl.

    Note to Comrade Redbaiter; once NZ becomes a People’s Republic, you will be sent of to a Gulag on the Coromandel, set in beachfront surroundings;staffed by beautiful women (or hunky guys, if you’re That Way inclined); and as much food and liquor as you can pour down your throat.

    So, take that!! That’ll learn ya! *pokes out tongue*

    Comment by Frank Macskasy — March 19, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  30. who do nothing more than sell their labour, who are exactly what I would call comfortably middle class

    It’s often the case that ‘middle class’ is shorthand for those who have sufficient income to cover their basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, movement) comfortably, and then a relatively large portion of their income left over for discretionary spending. Those New Zealand considers lower class are either those who struggle to cover at least one of those needs, or those who cover those needs adequately but do not have discretionary income left after doing so.

    This of course is entirely different to the way in which Marx and his stricter adherents use the term, because they are deriving from 19th century social situations – in which it was next to impossible to rise above basic needs as an employee, because labour did not have (or produce) enough value.

    There’s nothing wrong with using either term (although there are frequently problems with the anachronistic associations made by adherents the latter), but it helps to be clear about what the assumptions are. If we use the former (access to discretionary income) then the political positioning of various political actors become much easier to understand.

    Comment by George D — March 19, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  31. “Turned what was once a great little country full of intelligent well educated independent and resourceful people…..”

    Didn’t everyone work for the govt. back then too?

    Comment by Chris Bull — March 19, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  32. do you think it is rad to have alcoholism redbaiter :(

    Comment by Trouble Man — March 19, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  33. FWIW, I think that Mr Baiter’s reasoning is essentialist – that is, if communists have a set of characteristics, including endothermy, for example, then those characteristics are the essence, the sine qua non of communism. If another enity is also endothermic, then its warm-bloodedness is also indicative of communism. Leonid Brezhnev called himself a communist and had warm blood; ducks also have warm blood and therefore ducks are communists (the only question is whether Leonid Brezhnev laid eggs). There are no degrees between absolute states or any other system of categorisation (mammal versus bird for example), only the sole binary – communist or anticommunist. Hence, even those on the right, if they have one tiny little red spot on their hands, will the multitudinous seas incarnadine.

    We can play that game with other labels, such as “class traitor”.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — March 19, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  34. “Labour doesn’t need to move to the center, because Labour is the center”

    Cough cough *bullshit* cough cough

    Comment by merv — March 19, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  35. You commies and your pathetic, witless and eternal attempts at ridicule are so fucking boring.

    Smug insular group think fuckwits.

    Always just the same old same old unchallenging crap, and past your use by dates a decade ago.

    What a basket case country.

    Comment by Redbaiter — March 19, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

  36. “I visit NZ on occasions from various bases overseas. I observe from an objective viewpoint.”

    That being so, where are these bastions of non-socialism/communism that provide such a glaring counterpoint to our present failed state?

    “Turned what was once a great little country full of intelligent well educated independent and resourceful people into a decrepit and inwardly collapsing crime ridden violence prone racist and one party basket case state.”

    Could you provide us with the exact years when New Zealand was like this?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 19, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  37. redbaiter do you think that swears and incoherent ravings are the hallmarks of a good argument :(

    Comment by Trouble Man — March 19, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  38. “past your use by dates a decade ago”

    …says the guy who flys the battle flag of a bunch of 19th century folk who committed treason in defence of slavery.

    But c’mon. Enlighten us. What is conservatism. What would a right wing country look like in the erly 21st century?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 19, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  39. Well, it would fuckin’ get down on it’s fuckin’ knees to God, that’s for sure, you liberal cocksucker. (s’okay Redbaiter, I answered for you.)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 19, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  40. I think you’re giving the Greens too much credit, Danyl. They would happily support a right-leaning Labour government as long as it provided them substantial policy concessions in the areas that address their core policy concerns (transport, climate change, conservation).

    Also… “What kind of significant reform can you introduce in three years?”

    I think part of running for office, at least as Labour or National, is that you need to project the image that you’re not just going to be a one-term government*. So if you present plans that would take two terms or more to implement, that’s probably a slight plus.

    *And odds are on that you’ll be correct in doing so – since Michael Savage there’s been only two one-term governments.

    Comment by Hugh — March 19, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  41. “Well, that’s hard to be sure about, really. You could say that Muldoon betrayed the right wing, but that didn’t make him especially unpopular with it.”

    He’s extremely unpopular within it now, though – moreso than Lange is within the left.

    Comment by Hugh — March 19, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  42. >He’s extremely unpopular within it now, though – moreso than Lange is within the left.

    Funny. They really loved him, once.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — March 19, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  43. The ‘Shearer-the-stealth-candidate’ hypothesis has flared up again in the wake of his speech last week, and the subject’s being knocked around on Twitter, Public Address System, The Standard, Trotter etc.

    Hasn’t it just. I seem to have inadvertently added to it with a comment about seeing Shearer and Farrar in the same room recently. Didn’t seem to help that Cunliffe was actually there too …

    Comment by Russell Brown — March 19, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  44. 38.Well, it would fuckin’ get down on it’s fuckin’ knees to God, that’s for sure, you liberal cocksucker.

    mmmmmm, godcock, nom nom.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 19, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  45. @Ben: That’s largely because the right was pushed rightward by the Lange/Douglas reforms and finds anything but the most tentative state intervention in prices and wages to be heresy. A lot of them describe Muldoon as a leftist, now.

    Comment by Hugh — March 19, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  46. Well, it would fuckin’ get down on it’s fuckin’ knees to God, that’s for sure, you liberal cocksucker. (s’okay Redbaiter, I answered for you.)

    I don’t think He would be terribly impressed by that sort of language …

    Comment by Russell Brown — March 19, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  47. She.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 19, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  48. I observe from an objective viewpoint.

    You sir, are as objective as a Westboro Baptist in a gay nightclub.

    Comment by The Green Blazer — March 19, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

  49. …says the guy who flys the battle flag of a bunch of 19th century folk who committed treason in defence of slavery.

    Notice he has lost that in the last few days, seems the commie group think here is getting to him. I think the stifling communism has forced change in bedwetters avatar.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — March 19, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  50. I think the stifling communism has forced change in bedwetters avatar.

    A clear example cultural marxism in action. “See, it does get in!”

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 19, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

  51. “All they need to do is talk about their own values and articulate policy that matters to people (I don’t understand why they don’t talk about the labour market and low wages)…”

    I don’t really know why you think governments can control markets to the extent where they influence wages. Minimum wages, yes but large scale industries that make up the economy are all in private hands. Governments, despite their rhetoric, don’t have much control over their economies. They can regulate here and there and spend or tax in certain areas but we are talking about a country that is part of a globalised market economy. Negative events overseas are going to have an impact here in NZ some way or another. You seem to want Labour to talk about its values like it’s still that social democratic party of the past (Phil Goff did actually make lots of references past values and it did him no good).
    Redbaiter is right in one aspect: “virtually no significant differences between Labour and National”. Looking for principles or a difference in ideology in our political system is looking for something that died 30 decades ago.

    Comment by K2 — March 19, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  52. 50.“All they need to do is talk about their own values and articulate policy that matters to people (I don’t understand why they don’t talk about the labour market and low wages)…”

    I don’t really know why you think governments can control markets to the extent where they influence wages. Minimum wages, yes but large scale industries that make up the economy are all in private hands. Governments, despite their rhetoric, don’t have much control over their economies. They can regulate here and there and spend or tax in certain areas but we are talking about a country that is part of a globalised market economy. Negative events overseas are going to have an impact here in NZ some way or another. You seem to want Labour to talk about its values like it’s still that social democratic party of the past (Phil Goff did actually make lots of references past values and it did him no good).
    Redbaiter is right in one aspect: “virtually no significant differences between Labour and National”. Looking for principles or a difference in ideology in our political system is looking for something that died 3 decades ago.

    Comment by K2 — March 19, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  53. Did anyone else note that Redbaiter has multiple offshore bases from which he decamps to inflict himself periodically on NZ?

    Sounds a bit Dr. Robotnik.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 19, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  54. Why the hell did all those non voters not vote?

    Answer that question properly, you will see a new fair society.

    Keep up the current claptrap from the Nats and forelock tugging Labour serfs and we are heading into an unpleasant future.

    In a democracy non voters matter, actually.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — March 19, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  55. Did anyone else note that Redbaiter has multiple offshore bases from which he decamps to inflict himself periodically on NZ?

    No, I only noticed that he appears to have crawled in here to die, which is rather sweet of Danyl.
    No more yibbling about limpdicks, no more bowsprit boner proudly pointing to a Palin presidency.

    Comment by Joe W — March 19, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

  56. Redbaiter is living proof of Poe’s Law.

    And Matt McCarten, of all people, doesn’t buy into the Shearer-the-Infiltrator theory.

    Comment by deepred — March 20, 2012 @ 1:53 am

  57. @Sanctuary

    “Petty bourgeoisie”

    Heh, good one.

    Comment by Progger — March 20, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  58. @42: yes; when I was six.

    @54: because they suspect that the alternatives are all as bad as each other, and don’t know which one to choose. See @52 on how much power governments have, for one reason to suspect this.

    @54 (again): do you want to start an Abstain party with me, which will always abstain, for the purposes of giving them practice, so they can decide whether to keep voting for us next cycle?

    Comment by James C. — March 28, 2012 @ 8:55 pm


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