The Dim-Post

September 16, 2012

The muddy mouths of baboons and sows

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:14 pm

There were two big moments on Q & A this morning. The first came during the interview with John Key, when Shane Taurima asked Key if he’d sack John Banks for lying to the public, as proved by the police report released this week, and Key explained that he wouldn’t sack Banks because he hadn’t read that police report, and didn’t intend to. Based on that standard, anything short of a prison sentence is considered acceptable conduct, because the PM can simply refuse to acknowledge that they know anything about a Minister’s misdeeds.

It’s the great flaw in our MMP Parliamentary system: leaders of coalition parties are basically unaccountable, because the political cost of disciplining them and threatening the stability of the government is always greater than the cost of doing nothing.

The second amazing moment was Taurima’s interview with David Shearer, which is salient for its total lack of salience and consisted of Shearer performing a Grandpa Simpson routine, waffling and stammering about Labour’s policies, which, near as I could tell is to look at stuff, and think about stuff, and work on some other stuff.

What I learned from that is that Labour is going to have a leadership coup soon. You can’t have Shearer leading the party into a General Election. It’s absurd.

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34 Comments »

  1. I think people are being much to tough on Shearer. I thought he did ok – not brilliant, bit ok.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — September 16, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  2. Your expression when Josie Pagani was speaking (‘I think that could have been said a bit better, but what he was trying to say . . .’) was priceless.

    Comment by danylmc — September 16, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

  3. Wow, you’ve really done a 180 on the guy. So how soon is soon? And who’s next?

    Comment by Kiwi Poll Guy — September 16, 2012 @ 7:28 pm

  4. John Banks needs to resign. It’s in his own best interest.

    Who would replace Shearer? Nah, he’ll be leader in 2014. Otherwise, Labour’s chance of winning the next election will decline because of the outward display of party instability.

    Comment by Dan — September 16, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  5. I think people tend to forget what a mumbling, incoherent prat Key could be when he first became leader of national, but by the 2008 election he’d obviously honed his act enough for you to give him your vote Danyl. In my view it’s only since the last election, when he’s really had to defend the indefensible, that Key has really looked convincing trotting out shameless bullshit. His reasoning to keep Banks as a minister today is the latest example of the value of on the Job experience. Shearer just needs time.

    Comment by Rob Fox — September 16, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

  6. Its still over 2 years until the next election, longer than Key or Brash had. It can be done but it depends who. I coould actually see Shearer stepping down, I dont think he wants it that bad

    Comment by max — September 16, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  7. Well Matthew Hooton certainly supports Shearer.
    This must bring joy to Labour Party supporters.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — September 16, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

  8. Matthew Hooten – nobody is buying your support, I wish Brash was your leader still too!

    Comment by Kate — September 16, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  9. Oooh, just got around to watching the video (http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/labour-leader-david-shearer-video-5085593). It’s not brilliant is it. I haven’t seen a lot of Shearer in the last 9 months, and haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the Labour internal politics, but that was quite a poor performance. He came across as very agitated and impatient too, there is a massive difference between being incompetent and relaxed vs. being incompetent and agitated.

    In fairness, I don’t think Shearer is any worse than Goff. Where the comparison breaks down is that I think Labour were just phoning in the 2011 election so they could focus on 2014. I don’t think they will be as keen on losing this time around.

    Comment by Kiwi Poll Guy — September 16, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

  10. Adding to the total lack of salience …

    The Sunday morning politics show has always provided stories for the day’s news, especially the same channel’s evening bulletin. If there was a major story based on the TVNZ Shearer interview, I’ve missed it. Same goes for many of his other media appearances, like his live chat this week on the Herald website, or an hour on Radio Live last night.

    He says nothing, so nothing gets turned into a story, and Labour get no traction. Now, this is really basic stuff, you don’t need to be an old maestro to know how to feed the media a prepared party line (cf “Nobody owns water” from Key). But some poor hack at TVNZ will have gone through Shearer’s interview and tried to find the news angle and the soundbite, and given up. So an audience ten times greater than Q & A was lost. Labour can’t keep doing that.

    It’s not about his advisers or media trainers. Not any more. He was with Shane Taurima, not Sean Plunket or Mary Wilson. He just had to take the free hits. I can’t think of any other party leader in decades who looks so out of place in the arena. He’ll go, and soon.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 16, 2012 @ 11:30 pm

  11. Shearer is actually brilliant at public relations and at courting the media. Only a Nazi would have all his ideas and viewpoints solidified at this early stage. What will appeal to voters in 2014, when there have been more natural disasters and an even worse (or, at best, slowly recovering) financial disaster, is not the smirking assassins who exacerbated the problems, but good old quiet and stable Shearer, an average guy with an average bank balance who knows a thing or two about solving disasters from his work in the military.

    Comment by Dan — September 17, 2012 @ 1:28 am

  12. “What will appeal to voters in 2014, when there have been more natural disasters … ”

    Eeek! Were the Mayans right in theory, just a bit off with their dates?

    “… but good old quiet and stable Shearer, an average guy with an average bank balance who knows a thing or two about solving disasters from his work in the military.”

    Not sure the UN qualifies as “the military”, even though they do have black helicopters.

    Comment by Flashing Light — September 17, 2012 @ 3:10 am

  13. Hate to agree with Hooters, but I thought it was his best performance yet. Yep, not an accomplished car salesman, but that’s his greatest strength. Got the crucial asset sales message in firmly along with exchange rate and allowing schools to decide as opposed to dictatorial imposition, apologised for F&S and avoided any hint of divisive spin. Simple, graspable messages given firmly and nicely.

    Best of all showed grit. Grit, easily understandable main points, and maintained politeness and a grin in the face of provocation. Agreed: more ums and errs than Cunners, Keeley or your average middle manager, but that’s the natural by-product of grit from the underdog: proof of conviction and resonant heritage Labour behaviour to every umming and erring Joe Assembly-line and dare I say even Cocky out there. A very welcome oasis in an increasingly rejected desert of greasy, defensive spin.

    Comment by ak — September 17, 2012 @ 8:28 am

  14. Grit and appeal to Joe Assembly-line may need some upgrading to take out 2014 but at least he has stemmed the tide of idiotic behaviour from his team.

    Comment by merv — September 17, 2012 @ 8:42 am

  15. Lol. His missionary work. Someone like that is bound to be more appealing heading forward.

    Well, we’ve got active earthquakes and active volcanos and hailstorms and tsunamis occurring practically everywhere, so the butterfly effect of what’s happened already is that at the least there will be a few more of them.

    As for the Mayans being correct, they are in the sense that a certain date at the end of December this year signifies the dawning of a new age. This indicates there will be a spiritual awakening, preceded by a huge amount of earthly decay.

    Comment by Dan — September 17, 2012 @ 9:54 am

  16. Based on that standard, anything short of a prison sentence is considered acceptable conduct

    Key has been perfectly consistent ever since the beginning of Banks’ election-funding imbroglio, promising to eject Banks from cabinet if and when he loses his position in parliament because a court has convicted him.

    Comment by herr doktor bimler — September 17, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  17. So Shearer has the support of Matthew Hooton and a dude that thinks we are about to spiritually awaken into the dawning of a new age.

    How could he lose?

    Comment by richdrich — September 17, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  18. Labour seem to be relying on natural attrition to win the election. It might work. Risky strategy, though. My own hopes are pinned on the other leftist parties soaking up enough of the vacuum created by Labour’s fight to take votes off National. To that end, Shearer being extremely uninteresting is actually helpful. There is a danger of small right wing parties doing some of the growing, though. NZF and conservatives could easily grow a little, and in a close run election they will be able to hold off any leftist agenda if they sit at the balance of power.

    MMP has actually been a very conservative system, in the end. The right have not been able to push their agenda very far or fast, nor have the left. Which is pretty good in good times, when decisive action is not really needed. I don’t think we are in such times. It is only going to take one genuinely charismatic leader to make a concerted shove and this country will lurch left or right really fast. It’s a strange consequence of non-linear dynamical systems, that when they appear the most stable is usually just before they change the most rapidly. “Stability creates instability”. You can see why on any graph that has multiple strange attractors – the graph spirals slowly in towards an attractor, and to outward appearances, this means that the dimensions it is rotating around are coming into some kind of equilibrium. But no, suddenly, at a completely unpredictable time, the whole thing lurches wildly off in a different direction.

    Whatever group thinks that they finally have this country under control, that the powerlessness of the disaffected groups is reaching some kind of constant limit that leaves them in some kind of tight little cycle of slightly-left to slightly-right neoliberalism, are completely wrong. Disaffected people become extremely unpredictable. They could vote in massive droves if a sufficiently motivating purpose arises. Or they could start taking other kinds of action, because the political system excludes them. The more stable NZ seems at the moment, the more afraid for it I become.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 17, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  19. It’s a strange consequence of non-linear dynamical systems, that when they appear the most stable is usually just before they change the most rapidly…But no, suddenly, at a completely unpredictable time, the whole thing lurches wildly off in a different direction.

    I think this is generally called ‘The benefit of hindsight’.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 17, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  20. >I think this is generally called ‘The benefit of hindsight’.

    Afterwards, yes. Beforehand it’s usually ignored, which contributes to appearance of stability.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 17, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  21. That follows the logic of ‘Everything is alright till it’s not’.
    What I was getting at is that, outside of mathematical theory, the attractors don’t tend to be identified until ex post facto.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 17, 2012 @ 11:44 am

  22. “MMP has actually been a very conservative system, in the end. ”
    With the continuation of WFF, the ban on smacking, the ETS, please define “conservative”.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — September 17, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

  23. He’s done that in the next sentence.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 17, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  24. >With the continuation of WFF, the ban on smacking, the ETS, please define “conservative”.

    Sure – a system that changes very slowly. WFF is a tax break, that one party brought in, and the other kept. It’s hardly radical. The smacking ban sounds radical until in the details we see that it doesn’t ban smacking, it just makes it harder to defend an extremely bad case of it, which was pretty hard in the first case. Has there been a single conviction yet? Has anyone even been taken to trial? I’m pretty damned sure that smacking hasn’t stopped. The ETS, in line with accords with most of the rest of the planet, has taken forever to be implemented. Things just don’t change very fast down in this little country any more. Legislation means that the Reserve Bank can only make tiny little moves for the economy. We have a tiny military, such that a scrap with Fiji would be no sure thing, so we can’t make huge impacts with military interventions.

    It’s interesting, considering that we have no constitution, just how checked and balanced our system is.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 17, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  25. >What I was getting at is that, outside of mathematical theory, the attractors don’t tend to be identified until ex post facto.

    Yes, it’s very hard to make practical use of the theory, it doesn’t make nice tidy predictions that can be used to make tidy graphs of trends, that can be know what will be the case at what time. OTOH, the theories that do make nice tidy predictions are only good until that critical moment when they are completely wrong (and for chaotic systems they don’t seem to be much good before that point either). I think I prefer the theory that can at least explain why it is that things can be got so wrong.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 17, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

  26. Ben, it’s entirely arguable your argument is defied by current moves against democracy in Canterbury, and an incremental move designed to reshape the entire education system.

    Comment by George D — September 17, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  27. Smacking ones children was previously lawful.

    It is now criminal.

    This is a ban.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — September 17, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  28. It’s not a flaw in MMP. It’s flaw in John Key’s ethical standards. If voters tolerate it then it is a secondary failure on the part of voters, too. I’m more or less done with contantly letting ignorant, apathetic voters off the hook for the obvious consequences of their failures to do their job properly. Democracy fails when voters are dumb and lazy…and this situation is typical. Key calculates he doesn’t have to show a high ethical standard because his voters have demonstrated they don’t really care. This is a signal that Kiwi society is – broadly speaking – corrupt (by omission or commission hardly matters). Like Key…..they don’t want to know.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — September 17, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  29. “consisted of Shearer performing a Grandpa Simpson routine, waffling and stammering about Labour’s policies”. Shearer squandered the opportunity. So what’s the point of having such a dithering Leader of the Opposition? Seems like Labour didn’t want a repeat of the F&S debacle over water rights, so they passed the poisoned chalice to Nact. Cunning or gutless?

    Comment by Scintilla — September 17, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

  30. >This is a ban.

    Sure. But it’s hardly radical change when nothing has so far come of it.

    >Ben, it’s entirely arguable your argument is defied by current moves against democracy in Canterbury, and an incremental move designed to reshape the entire education system.

    Perhaps, it’s a question of degree. It’s unknowable how things might have been if we had the other system. The education reforms when I was a schoolboy seemed to go at considerably faster pace. They’d as say they were stopping free tertiary education and do it that year. Reforming all schools so that they ran with boards of trustees was done very rapidly. Canterbury? Not sure, I don’t have a yardstick for what NZ governments do under those circumstances.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — September 17, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  31. Steve

    I actually support the current political system, especially the three year government term. But I have to wonder, since most first term governments in NZ are re-elected, because, as you pointed out the voters (generally) don’t really care and a lot of the time they don’t even care to vote, if it wouldn’t be wise to support the Conservative Party’s view that the government term should be increased to four years.

    Not saying that I want this particular government to be in for another year; just saying that more people will probably vote and more people will probably take a harder look at politics and carefully consider who they vote for. I mean, at the moment there’s 30,000 pot heads out there who vote for a party based on one single policy.

    Comment by Dan — September 17, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  32. I’m still expecting a National win in 2014, followed by a Green-led government in 2017, if we still have meaningful elections by then.

    Comment by richdrich — September 17, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

  33. only if national oust Key and appoint a National equivalent of Shearer, ie, someone that many people thought Key would be in 2008, more into central policies than left or right

    Comment by Dan — September 17, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  34. …>I think this is generally called ‘The benefit of hindsight’.

    Afterwards, yes. Beforehand it’s usually ignored, which contributes to appearance of stability.

    Lol

    My theory is that today would be perfect had yesterday been better than it was.

    Comment by NeilM — September 18, 2012 @ 7:48 am


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