The Dim-Post

January 30, 2014

Dark days

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:38 am

The period from 2008 to 2011 was a horrible time for the New Zealand left. The Goff led-Labour party stumbled from one bafflingly stupid blunder to another (Remember the time they published their confidential donor list on the internet? Remember when Goff died his hair orange before a big speech? Remember Chris Carter’s coup?) interrupting them only to jump on Labour’s Red Alert website and demand to know when the New Zealand public was going to ‘wake-up’ and put them back into government. The public sent them what seemed like a very clear message: that they didn’t want incompetent fools running their country and Labour received its worst election result ever.

Jump forwards to 2014. This week started out well for Labour. Big policy launch on Monday. National were cautiously dismissive of the ‘BestStart’ policy, then went nuts on Tuesday presumably after seeing the overnight polling figures. ‘Labour’s policy was too expensive! The country couldn’t afford it! Besides, National was already doing it! Except for the stuff they weren’t, which they might! Hey, everyone: how about a referendum on the flag????’

They should have held back on the flag thing. By yesterday it was apparent that there was a huge error in the policy as Cunliffe announced it in his speech. Via TV3:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has admitted he got a key detail wrong when announcing his $60-a-week baby bonus policy.

Mr Cunliffe said in a speech on Monday that 59,000 families would get the bonus for a full year, but the actual number is closer to half that.

The baby bonus debate hit question time today with all the focus on that key line in his State of the Nation speech.

The fine print reveals 26,000 parents will be ineligible for six months because they get paid parental leave. This means only 33,000 will get it for the full year.

TV3 political editor Patrick Gower thinks this was done intentionally to mislead the public. Maybe, I guess, but political parties don’t really work like that. What’s far more likely is that the people who designed the policy didn’t write the speech, the speech-writer didn’t fully understand the policy and there was no process in place to fact-check it before the leader delivered it.

Then there’s the Facebook thing. Labour’s revenue spokesman popped up and told TV3’s Tova O’Brien – one of the best political reporters in the country, based on her ability to get politicians to say moronic things live on camera – that a Labour government might ban Facebook.

The phenomenon of online multi-national corporations undercutting domestic businesses and wiping them out because domestic companies pay tax and Facebook, Apple, Amazon etc don’t is a huge problem facing governments around the world, but if little old New Zealand tries to address it unilaterally we’ll just be the stupid little country that banned Facebook. Labour took a day to reverse their position.

It all seems horribly familiar: Labour making stupid statements and clumsy mistakes, and National catching them out and flaying them alive for it. People just aren’t going to vote for that no matter how awesome their policies seem.
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68 Comments »

  1. I notice one major change for Labour. In the past when these mistakes occurred the left were unanimous in their belief that all fault lay at the feet of those old school neo liberal, right wing wankers, Shearer and Goff. I notice that it is now the office staff (speech writers, policy analysts) who are getting the boot put in.
    It is interesting that the raison d’etre of the ABC’ers has become clearer since Cunliffe has had the reins. It is not just that he is a smarmy twat, he is also not anywhere near as good as he thinks he is and they had obviously experienced this first hand previously.

    Comment by King Kong — January 30, 2014 @ 9:51 am

  2. Where as this time it is the fault of the Media (read yesterday’s Standard) if fact what we need is the Government (Labour/Green etc) in control
    My thoughts, maybe it is true Labour couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery
    The good news Best Start is only going to cost half as much or did they stuff up those figures as well!

    Comment by Raymond A Francis — January 30, 2014 @ 10:14 am

  3. So Labour’s mistake is to claim that their policy is more generous than it really will be, and National’s win is to offer nothing at all instead?

    TBH I really don’t think this is going to hurt Labour. Even half a bribe is half a bribe more than National is giving, and to a demographic that is much less tapped out than the old farts who vote for the main parties. I just see a smart move, and maybe a poor execution. But really, this is like 3 days in. Who can really say how it’s going to be perceived. In 9 months it will just be part of the shopping list Labour is offering, and voters might look at it and see a compassionate and sensible policy. If they even care about policy.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 30, 2014 @ 10:19 am

  4. The phenomenon of online multi-national corporations undercutting domestic businesses and wiping them out because domestic companies pay tax and Facebook, Apple, Amazon etc don’t is a huge problem

    I don’t think the payment of tax is the root of the “problem” and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure there is a problem at all.
    If there is a case to be made for Facebook and the like undercutting local businesses (hey, remember ‘Oldfriends’?) then it’s pretty much all the result of volume discounting and lower pricing, which has an upside for consumers that deserves to be recognised.

    Comment by Phil — January 30, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  5. Jesus Danyl, I know you like to portray yourself as non-partisan, but seeing you propagate the whole “Labour wants to ban Facebook!” meme (copyright David P Farrar, 2014) is a bit much.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2014 @ 10:39 am

  6. I know you like to portray yourself as non-partisan, but seeing you propagate the whole “Labour wants to ban Facebook!” meme

    I’m pretty partisan. Also, you can click on the link and see Clark telling O’Brien that, regarding Facebook: ‘The Government should always have in its back pocket the ability to ban websites.’

    Comment by danylmc — January 30, 2014 @ 10:50 am

  7. Oh, come on, kalvarnsen! The Labour finance spokesperson actually did say that! On camera! You can’t paint it any differently. Then Cunliffe took a full day to say “No no, we would never do that”, which makes it look even more like the different factions within Labour don’t talk to each other.

    Comment by David in Christchurch — January 30, 2014 @ 10:50 am

  8. What do you expect from people that don’t know the difference between turnover and profit?

    Comment by Nick — January 30, 2014 @ 10:55 am

  9. i do wish gower would stick to reporting things he knows not things he thinks or things he just plain invents.

    Comment by framu — January 30, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  10. ‘The Government should always have in its back pocket the ability to ban websites.’

    Danyl, are you saying that websites cannot be shut down? Websites, like anything else, can be shut down or banned…

    By the way, I see that Whale’s blog has been done for the last two days…the world hasn’t come to an end.

    Comment by Ross — January 30, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  11. seeing you propagate the whole “Labour wants to ban Facebook!” meme (copyright David P Farrar, 2014) is a bit much.

    Are you suggesting that Farrar controls what members of Labour’s shadow cabinet say now? I guess that would explain a lot.

    Comment by Milla — January 30, 2014 @ 11:07 am

  12. Danyl, are you saying that websites cannot be shut down? Websites, like anything else, can be shut down or banned…

    What?

    I notice one major change for Labour. In the past when these mistakes occurred the left were unanimous in their belief that all fault lay at the feet of those old school neo liberal, right wing wankers, Shearer and Goff. I notice that it is now the office staff (speech writers, policy analysts) who are getting the boot put in.

    I’m not putting the boot into the staff. Staff write policies and speeches and MPs sign off on them. Ardern and Moroney should have picked up this mistake. And maybe Labour should stop liquidating senior staff whenever they change leaders so they get to retain some institutional knowledge in their party?

    Comment by danylmc — January 30, 2014 @ 11:12 am

  13. COMMENCEMENT
    For families receiving Paid Parental Leave, entitlement to the Best Start Payment will commence at the end of the household’s time using Paid Parental Leave. This will be after 26 weeks in most cases, once the duration of Paid Parental Leave has also been extended as part of the Best Start package
    In other cases, Best Start Payment will commence from the week of the child’s birth.

    Yes, I can see how you might be confused by this crystal-clear exposition of Labour’s policy. :)

    Comment by Ross — January 30, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  14. Yes, I can see how you might be confused by this crystal-clear exposition of Labour’s policy.

    If Cunliffe had said the same thing and not something different accompanied by leaflets that repeated the mistake they’d be sitting pretty.

    Comment by danylmc — January 30, 2014 @ 11:26 am

  15. if your explaining your losing

    Comment by WH — January 30, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  16. if your explaining your losing

    Nah. Successful politicians are constantly explaining. If you fuck up, try to spin your way out and your lines too absurd to believe, THEN you’re ‘losing.’

    Comment by danylmc — January 30, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  17. On the plus side the focus on Best Start being “misunderstood” does mean that Best Start gets talked about a great deal more than otherwise. An ill wind that……

    Comment by xianmac — January 30, 2014 @ 11:56 am

  18. Institutionally Labour is a person who can’t write but who is also ignorant of the fact that he can’t write. You know, he’s that guy who says “what do you think of my article/post/chapter” and when you politely say “um, it needs work” he looks at you like you just stabbed his puppy to death. Because he is unable to see that his article/post/chapter is a piece of shit. It’s not just that he’s a bad writer; he’s a writer so bad that he does not know the difference between bad writing and good writing.

    That’s Labour.

    Labour can not communicate. It does not know the difference between sensible effective communication and nonsensical ineffective communication. When you politely say “hey, that press conference/interview/facebook post wasn’t handled well”, well you’re just a puppet of the right-wing PR machine, probably on the Crosby Textor payroll.

    There’s a laugh-a-minute subject for you, Crosby Textor. Labour hates that outfit. Hates them so much. And the reason is simple: Crosby Textor is a campaign-strategy consultancy firm. It is good at communication. That’s its business. And since Labour does not know the difference between good communication and bad communication, Crosby Textor’s effectiveness is a total mystery. Labour can’t understand with this slick well-paid organisation is so effective in the service of its clients, because in Labour’s eyes there is no difference between what Crosby Textor does and what the Labour comms team does. Labour is ignorant of the fact that it is not as good as Crosby Textor. And that makes Labour crazy. It’s hilarious to watch.

    Labour doesn’t understand that having the Leader say something different from what the policy actually is might be a big deal. Labour doesn’t understand that getting the press pamphlets and web infographics right is important. Labour doesn’t understand that having the Leader make his big speech on a Monday, on the Auckland Anniversary public holiday, on the Australia Day Australian public holiday, on the day of the Grammy’s with Lorde up for two big awards, might not be good timing. Labour doesn’t understand that having David Clark come out and accuse Facebook of being a paedophile network that should be shut down ON THE MORNING AFTER THE LEADER’S BIG SPEECH might have a negative impact.

    Labour doesn’t realise that these things are bad until after they happen because it’s only after they happen that someone says to Labour “hey, that wasn’t handled well”. Then Labour acts like you stabbed its puppy.

    Of course this isn’t to say that there aren’t effective communicators within the Labour comms team, it’s Labour the organisation that has the problem. As Danyl mentioned above the fact that the senior comms staff get sacked after every leadership change might have something to do with it.

    Comment by @simongarlick — January 30, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

  19. It is ironic John Key is suggesting anyone is trying to mislead, given he has mislead the media and voters since November 2008 when his May 1991 statement to the Serious Fraud Office surfaced under Labour’s (media dubbed) ‘H-Bomb’.

    He told media then he had not mislead the public in anyway and that his ’91 statement was true and correct.

    Not one journalist investigated Pete Hodgson concerns of perjury, given Key and ex Bankers Trust CEO, now CEO of New Zealand Super Fund, Gavin Walker, had spoken at length of Key’s ‘lucrative relationship’ (for the firm) with Andrew Krieger of BT’s parent branch in New York.

    Key himself telling media he recalled receiving a phone call from Krieger when he (Key) first started with BT in Auckland.

    Funny, Krieger left Bankers Trust in February 1988, and the currency markets altogether by June, some six months before the date Key told investigators that he had started with Bankers Trust.

    That is the ‘H-Bomb’ folks. A Prime Minister who lied to the Serious Fraud Office to protect someone who was involved in fraudulent foreign exchange transactions. Some 55,000 Equiticorp shareholders were ripped off over $400 million, $60 odd million in fictitious forex transactions.

    But never mind, he’s going to give us a referendum on the flag, so no harm, no foul aye?

    http://politicallycorrected.webs.com/

    Comment by PoliticallyCorrectedNZ — January 30, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

  20. > Labour can not communicate.

    Yet you’re able to understand what they’re trying to say. Communication is a two way process.

    Comment by Ross — January 30, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  21. NZ Labour (fuck yeah) comin’ again to communicate the motherfuckin’ day yeah

    Labour leader David Cunliffe has taken responsibility for wording in his speech that claimed more parents would receive his planned $60 baby bonus than would actually get it.

    “The buck stops with me,” he said today, after yesterday saying he did not pen the line promising that “for 59,000 families with newborn babies, they will all receive a Best Start investment of $60 per week, for the first year of their child’s life”.

    It turned out that about 25,000 people a year on paid parental leave, worth up to $488 a week, would not receive the payment at the same time.

    Cunliffe hit another snag today when he could not explain the details of his policy on extending antenatal checks.
    ..
    Asked whether free antenatal classes was a new policy, Cunliffe said “free antenatal classes have been to some extent available”.

    “What we are being very clear about is that we will have them for all expectant mums,” he said.

    Labour would increase the target for 10-weeks checks to ensuring 80 per cent of mothers would get them.

    Asked again whether antenatal classes were free to all mothers now, he said: “Not in every case, but I will have to check on the details.”

    He said his advice was that it was not generally freely available to everyone, but he could not say who would miss out.

    Pressed on his knowledge of policy detail, he said: “When was the last time you asked John Key a question to five decimal places?”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9667593/Cunliffe-takes-rap-but-fumbles-again

    Comment by @simongarlick — January 30, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

  22. “… “When was the last time you asked John Key a question to five decimal places..?”

    Indeed. No wonder the mainstream media pack love Whaleoil. Bullies tend to to recognise like. Fawn to Key, gang up on the other guy. Cunliffe’s response reflects a deep frustration with all the pro-Key sycophants of our broadcast media on the left.

    Increasingly I think that when Labour wins in November, a bit of what will be highly un-democratic payback will be in order.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 30, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  23. Oh for anyone surprised at Danyl’s attacks on Labour – His wife works for the Greens, he has coffee with Matthew Hooton, and he voted for Key. As far as Labour is concerned, he is the constantly chipping smart-arse at the back of the room in the meeting.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 30, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

  24. @simongarlick – while i like your team america reference im not sure what your problem is there

    party leader owns mistake of underling – check (thats good isnt it? – a damn sight better than key when someone below him fumbles)
    party leader honest about not knowing everything, states that he has to check details before commenting further – check

    the only possible complaint i can see is that labour should have known the answer regarding antenatal classes – but maybe explaining the specifics doesnt fit into a soundbyte media landscape? explaining is losing and all that

    ok – labour have been historiclly pretty useless at comms – but then so have the nats in the past. Key makes all sorts of mangled and vague statements – and hes the PM!

    Comment by framu — January 30, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

  25. There are three things that David Cunliffe needs to be the country’s greatest expert on right now, and those are:

    1. NZ’s current parental leave scheme
    2. NZ’s current antenatal care scheme
    3. Exactly how his new policy relates to 1 and 2.

    You know what David Cunliffe needs to not happen this week? Being caught out with an answer of “I dunno” by the news media when questioned about those three things.

    Comment by @simongarlick — January 30, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

  26. “I don’t think the payment of tax is the root of the “problem” and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure there is a problem at all.”

    I think what gets me about this Facebook thing is that even Labour seems to be claiming that it made only $790,000 from(?) New Zealand in 2012. I know that’s a lot of money for an average individual person, but surely there are much bigger examples of tax avoidance — probably orders of magnitude bigger — which Labour could make an example of should it want to. You could only hire 2 or 3 excessively overpriced executives with $790,000. Or is the claim that Facebook is actually somehow pulling hundreds of millions from New Zealand through something like a double-Irish arrangement, and that $790,000 is only the face of it?

    Also, what happened to setting clear tax laws to make whatever it is they don’t like illegal, and then prosecuting companies according to those laws for breaking them?

    Comment by izogi — January 30, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  27. “Increasingly I think that when Labour wins in November, a bit of what will be highly un-democratic payback will be in order.”

    And when I get home, my daddy is going to beat up your daddy!

    Comment by Adze — January 30, 2014 @ 6:07 pm

  28. @Sanc: I’m aware of all that, but as a Green supporter he is nominally committed to a Labour-led government.

    @Danyl: I’m pretty sure he meant that merely in the sense that the government has the power to censor websites which break the law. Labour no more “plans” to ban Facebook because they concede this point than it “plans” to imprison John Key because they believe the government has the power to send lawbreakers to jail.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2014 @ 6:27 pm

  29. I’m pretty sure he meant that merely in the sense that the government has the power to censor websites which break the law.

    Leaving aside the glaring question of “How, exactly?”, think of it like this. Suppose Obama is interviewed about Putin being uncooperative over Syria, and he says “the government should always have in its back pocket the ability to mount nuclear strikes on Russia.” It’s a perfectly true statement, but would it prompt in the listener a feeling of confidence that Obama has both the wisdom and the diplomatic skills to deal with the situation, or would it prompt the listener to spray a mouthful of whatever he’s drinking across the room and splutter “What the fuck?”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — January 30, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

  30. @Psycho: Even so, don’t you think that morphing that statement into “Obama is going to nuke Syria” is, at beast, twisting the facts, and that when it’s done in pursuit of a political agenda, it’s not something that deserves to be magnified?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

  31. Here’s the thing – the narrative in many plays, not least this blog, has been that the Labour leader (first Goff, then Shearer, and now Cunliffe) is, as a person, a bumbling incompetent who is hopelessly inadequate at the task of communicating with the public. We’ve been promised, first with Shearer, then with Cunliffe, that all that is needed is a new leader with a deft grasp of media management and communication skills, and Labour will be sitting pretty.

    But instead once again we have the “the Labour leader is an inept oaf” narrative coming up, and I’m sure before long many commentators, again, not least this blog, will be saying that we need a new Labour leader. We’ll be told that, hey, no matter how bad Grant Robertson or Shane Jones or Louise Wall or whoever is, zhe will not be doing daft things like promising to ban Facebook! And then, perhaps three years down the road, we’ll be hearing about another issue rather like this one, and soon enough people will be telling us that Labour just needs to ditch the dud they’ve got leading them, and everything will be OK…

    And so on ad infinitum.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2014 @ 7:45 pm

  32. this is good for Phil Goff

    Comment by andy (the other one) — January 30, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

  33. Kalvarnsen, it’s not a media narrative so much as an accurate reporting of the fact that Labour, and its current leader (whoever that might be at any given time), keep making monumentally stupid stuff-ups. The media hype and sensationalise things, sure, but they wouldn’t be having anywhere near as much luck if Labour weren’t handing them the raw material on a platter.

    My own politics broadly align with Labour’s, and I would love to be a Labour supporter; however the party has spent the last seven years demonstrating nothing so much as their own incompetence, which makes deciding who to vote for a difficult and distressing experience. I don’t relish seeing Labour torn apart by the media, but I’m under no illusions as to who is to blame for the savaging.

    Comment by Milla — January 30, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

  34. Sadly gotta agree. Labour look incompetent, can’t count, don’t understand their own policy, one thing they actually have control of. Early days but stumbling out of the starting block leaves a bad impression.
    Bugger. Hope its a wake-up call.

    Comment by rob — January 30, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

  35. I agree about the Facebook thing – it’s very sad. I was just commenting to a friend “I haven’t seen a single Labour MP say anything crazy on or about social media for ages – not since the Christchurch East by-election. Shows how much of a tighter ship Cunliffe is running.” and then suddenly, BOOM, one day after a major policy announcement on children a Labour MP comes out and says he wants to ban Facebook. Why? WHY?

    On the other hand, from the perspective of a parent of young children or the prospective parent of young children (presumably the target of the policy) I don’t really think Cunliffe’s mistake matters that much.

    Because what you get right now as a working Mum is 14 weeks at $488/week (or less if you earn less than that). Then after that you get WFF which isn’t a lot – for example, if your household earns $50 K/year you get $80/week. I assume it abates as your income rises.

    So under Labour’s new policy you would get $488/week for 26 weeks – which means you are MASSIVELY better off than you currently are. Then after that you get either $60/week or WFF (it’s not clear to me whether you can get both at the same time).

    Either way, everybody still gains because if you’re eligible for WFF and that means you don’t get the baby bonus you’ve still got a lot more in paid parental leave. If you’re a beneficiary and/or if you earn too much to get WFF you still get the $60/week payment. Presumably that might mean the most to beneficiaries because they will have the least cash.

    So, in short, I don’t think most people will care about the fine details. What matters is that they would be substantially better off under this policy than the current situation.

    In terms of access to antenatal classes – from a users perspective, it seems complicated. There is a certain number of free places in each area but then there are also classes you can pay for. For example, if you want to do a class on a Saturday you might have to pay, whereas you can get a free place on a week night but only if you don’t care too much which week night. Having said that, Cunliffee should have had a figure like “xx% of first-time mothers don’t currently access antenatal care – we want to lift that figure in whatever way we can. Making all classes absolutely free removes a potential barrier.”

    Comment by Amy — January 30, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

  36. also would it have been too hard for Cunliffe’s advisors to do some research and tell him what percentage of mothers are currently paying for classes? i assume that Ministry of Health is collecting these figures because they subsidise the free classes…

    Comment by Amy — January 30, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

  37. @Milla: Ironically I am not and probably never will be a Labour supporter, my politics are considerably too extremist for them. I don’t enjoy apologising for them! But I think that this is not an issue of Labour being incompetent, or at least, not notably more incompetent than any other large political party. The idea that these kinds of inconsequential faux pases tell us something fundamental about the way Labour will govern is ridiculous. National made these kinds of silly mistakes for nine years in opposition, but it didn’t translate into massively incompetent government. (Autocratic, contemptuous and dismissive, yes, but incompetent, no).

    I mean, I’m quite glad in a way that Danyl mentioned that whole Labour IT breach “scandal”, because it’s a prime example of this. It’s a silly mistake, but it isn’t useful to voters, and most people have forgotten all about it. I’d actually assumed Danyl had too! But two years down the line, I don’t think it plays any part in people’s assessment of whether or not Labour will be a good government.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2014 @ 9:52 pm

  38. Doesn’t affect the worthiness of the Better Start policy, Amy, but it does affect Labour’s credibility as a governing party. It was a mistake that led to the leader of the party significantly misrepresenting a major policy plank. Correctly describing your policies is very important for seeming competent.

    Comment by Milla — January 30, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

  39. @Psycho: Leaving aside the glaring question of “How, exactly?”

    Oh I dunno, maybe something like this.

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-10/29/21-pirate-sites-block

    Comment by Ross — January 30, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

  40. Milla – I get the competency issue and that’s why I’d prefer it if Labour MPs didn’t run around saying random shit like “we’re going to ban Facebook.” But Cunliffe’s “big mistake” – I just think it’s a beltway issue and nobody outside that cares. The average NZer got the message – Labour would give young parents more money. They care about kids. That’s a good thing.

    Comment by Amy — January 30, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

  41. > National made these kinds of silly mistakes for nine years in opposition

    Quite correct, and voters voted for them anyway. Some commenters are getting a little carried away. Though to be fair they tend to be on Kiwiblog…

    Comment by Ross — January 30, 2014 @ 10:09 pm

  42. > I’d prefer it if Labour MPs didn’t run around saying random shit like “we’re going to ban Facebook.”

    Yeah nah I don’t think any Labour MPs have said that.

    Comment by Ross — January 30, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

  43. Yeah nah I don’t think any Labour MPs have said that.

    David Clark said he thought it was important that they had that in their back pocket if they felt Facebook wasn’t playing fair on the tax front, and was very definite that they needed to maintain (and I quote) “a credible threat”. So yeah, he did say that. It was in the conditional, rather than the definite sense, but he still said it.

    Comment by Milla — January 30, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

  44. @Milla: They didn’t specifically mention Facebook, or that they would ban for tax reasons. They just said the government should be able to ban websites if it feels it’s necessary. Its a beatup.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 30, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

  45. @Kalvarnsen: weren’t the comments uttered during a conversation about big multinational websites not paying appropriate levels of tax in countries in which they operate? I could research this myself, I guess, but it’s getting up to bedtime and I’m pretty sure my memory hasn’t failed me. However, happy to be set right if I have, in fact, been deceived by the media.

    Comment by Milla — January 30, 2014 @ 11:04 pm

  46. > was very definite that they needed to maintain (and I quote) “a credible threat”.

    Which of course is quite different from saying that “we’re going to ban Facebook”. The fact remains that the powers that be have the power to shut down websites…for whatever reason. But I’d imagine that in this case a little moral suasion will be sufficient to produce the desired result.

    Comment by Ross — January 31, 2014 @ 3:19 am

  47. The fact remains that the powers that be have the power to shut down websites…for whatever reason. But I’d imagine that in this case a little moral suasion will be sufficient to produce the desired result.

    Even if it’s the beatup that kalvarnsen claims it’s a damned effective one. For those who remember, there’s no reason to assume that the kind of beady-eyed authoritarianism that drove Tizard the lesser’s three strikes internet cutoff brainfart doesn’t continue to fester.

    Comment by Joe W — January 31, 2014 @ 4:06 am

  48. C’mon, kalvarnsen. “Facebook aren’t paying enough tax. And on a completely unrelated note, apropos of nothing, governments should have the right to ban websites.”

    A reason Labour is not going to succeed is because its supporters continue to defend its failures and refuse to be self-critical. You don’t have to agree with your detractors, but keep quiet, move on, *accept the criticism*, and learn from your mistake. Anything else holds you back and makes you look stupid.

    Comment by Justin — January 31, 2014 @ 4:52 am

  49. A reason Labour is not going to succeed

    So all those polls showing that a Labour coaltiion has a good chance of becoming the next government are wrong?

    Comment by Ross — January 31, 2014 @ 6:53 am

  50. Even if it’s the beatup that kalvarnsen claims it’s a damned effective one.

    If Labour form the next government, will you still say that? Or will you admit that voters didn’t really care, or even remember, what David Clark said about Facebook, but were well aware that they were entitled to paid parental leave and $60 per week for each newborn?

    Comment by Ross — January 31, 2014 @ 6:56 am

  51. “…So all those polls showing that a Labour coaltiion has a good chance of becoming the next government are wrong..?”

    There are plenty of the feeble minded who believe what the media tell them, and the avalanche of forensic anti-Labour bullshit this past week – when Key has been given a free pass on the outrageous casual authoritarianism of his flag referendum (We are having a referendum because he decided he wants one, where we’ll get to vote on whatever it is he personally likes) – has simply been eye watering in its bullying, its hypocrisy and its bias.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 31, 2014 @ 7:28 am

  52. voters didn’t really care, or even remember, what David Clark said about Facebook

    You’re probably right on that. Nevertheless it was a fucking stupid thing to say, just as it was a stupid move by Judith Tizard’s minders to alienate supporters in the lead-up to the 2008 election by threatening their basic rights. Whether Labour’s in power or not, ordinary potentially Labour-voting people are a hell of a lot more tech savvy in their everyday lives than condescending boil-on-the-bum-of-the-party twits like Clark give them credit for.

    Comment by Joe W — January 31, 2014 @ 8:09 am

  53. I agree with Mila on this one. I am the sort of person who should fit into the Labour supporter demographic, BUT their undemocratic (almost autocratic) tendencies have put me off. Years ago, I tried to engage with the local branch on the electoral financing issue, trying to point out how their bill was actually MORE like what was happening in the US and would actually suppress political commentary and discussions. I was told that I had been brainwashed by the right-wing blogs and that they knew best and don’t worry. WTF?!? And nothing they have done since have pulled me back. If anything, they have done the opposite. So I am left with the same conundrum as Mila: Who do I vote for?

    Comment by David in Chch — January 31, 2014 @ 8:37 am

  54. >So, in short, I don’t think most people will care about the fine details. What matters is that they would be substantially better off under this policy than the current situation.

    Yup. I hate the phrase “beltway issue”, but it’s apt here. I didn’t even see the Cunliffe announcement, that isn’t how I get my news, suffering the shit TV has to offer. I just hear what the policy is. If Key has driven some more detail into it, good on him, but that doesn’t negate that it’s a promise of money to people who need it.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 31, 2014 @ 9:15 am

  55. So all those polls showing that a Labour coaltiion has a good chance of becoming the next government are wrong?

    There is a big difference between a Labour + Greens + New Zealand First + Mana achieving more than 50% of the vote and them becoming the next government. And incompetent communication would be a big reason for that difference.

    Comment by Justin — January 31, 2014 @ 9:43 am

  56. ‘… So I am left with the same conundrum as Mila: Who do I vote for?’

    @David: Well, the Greens, I’m guessing? That’s where most of the “on the left but too cool for Labour” vote hangs out these days, despite the Greens’ sporadic denials that they are a left wing party.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 31, 2014 @ 9:48 am

  57. There’s always Mana, too. So long as Harawira can hold his electorate, it’s not a “wasted” vote.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 31, 2014 @ 9:57 am

  58. Maybe we should start our own party, David in Chch. We could call it the Centre Left But Not Incompetent Autocratic Fools Convinced Of Their Own Righteousness Party. Or something snappier, up to you.

    Comment by Milla — January 31, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  59. A must read.

    http://www.recessmonkey.org.nz/2014/01/31/media-called-2014-election-already/

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 31, 2014 @ 10:50 am

  60. @ Milla

    How about the designer-clad, well housed (but don’t you bloody well mention it or I’ll call you a racist) party

    Comment by insider — January 31, 2014 @ 11:06 am

  61. Another sign that the communications team are incompetent: not a single mention of Cunliffe’s speech, the policy, or what it will achieve on Red Alert, the official Labour Party blog.

    The Leader’s big speech, outlining the policy that he thinks will win the election.

    Red Alert: “what speech? who?”

    Comment by @simongarlick — January 31, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  62. I find it interesting that so many here see the MSM as being biased against the left. Given how many on the right are convinced that they’re biased against the right (and in their favour, there are actual studies that show that journalists disproportionately lean left). The reality is that the media are lazy and unfocused, and often are rather young graduates with very limited analytical skills.

    That doesn’t make them biased, it just means that if you want to use the media as a channel to the voters (and who doesn’t) that you need media skills. You can’t have misalignments in your materials, because it’ll confuse the journalists. You can’t admit you don’t know stuff, because then the media can make that the story of the day. Or at least if you don’t know stuff, you need to fill the white space with something else, and never accuse the journalist of being biased because that immediately makes the story that you didn’t know stuff newsworthy. It’s not that hard.

    On the ban facebook, there are a few problems to me with how (some) people here are seeing this. The proposition is that these companies are (legally) paying less tax than some would like (noting that as an evil right winger I don’t really buy into the concept of a “fair” amount of tax – there’s what the law says you pay, and that’s it. There’s no concept of fair other than when initially creating the tax law). There seems to be a view that wanting them to change is somehow going to make them do so.

    But I’ve worked in corporates for many years, and I can tell you right now that no business is going to pay more tax than the law says they need to. So there’s no real prospect of arm twisting them into paying more, the only way for them to pay more is to change the law to make it a requirement for them to do so.

    Upping the ante on what was an already stupid position, Clark has then tipped into the discussion “we always reserve the right to ban websites.” There’s no way anyone can reasonably interpret that other than that Labour would like to arm twist these companies into paying more tax than the law says they have to, and part of that arm twisting is the threat to ban the website.

    That’s not how government works, nor how it should work. Because it’s implying that, instead of there being a clear law as to what you do and don’t pay, the amount you need to pay in tax will be set by whether the incumbent govt thinks you’re paying enough or not. And how they like your particularly company or industry, or perhaps even how much they like your political views. Can anyone say sovereign risk? Seriously, this is amateur hour stuff, and even the light weight journalists we have can see that and report on it.

    Comment by PaulL — January 31, 2014 @ 1:20 pm

  63. “The reality is that the media are lazy and unfocused, and often are rather young graduates with very limited analytical skills.”

    I’m sure there’s some of that, but there are definitely biased individuals on both sides. I think what it comes down to is that a large portion of NZ’s media is simply in the entertainment industry more than the news industry, whatever it likes to tell people. That’s why TV1 and TV3 ads for news slots are constantly “we’ll tell you what happened at [blah] at 6pm” instead of simply saying what happened (in summary) in the same number of words. (There’s a fantastic Kent Brockman out-take satarising this behaviour but I can’t find a link.)

    Consciously or not, entertainment media will broadcast or print or hire reporters with views according to whatever’s likely to get the most attention of the public. Normally that means either re-enforcing people’s views, or making them mad, but either way it doesn’t require a great depth of journalistic or investigative skill, nor does it require any special accuracy or consistency in either direction.

    Comment by izogi — January 31, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

  64. I think we’re in agreement izogi. And I’m sure that it would be nice for all of us if it weren’t that way, but then when I start paying for newspapers or watching TV news I guess I get to have opinions on what they do. It’s kinda hard to tell them they should have a business model that delivers what I think the public should want when the current “voting with your feet” suggests that what is currently being delivered is what the public wants.

    The important thing is that the media are what they are. Spending your time trying to argue they should be different isn’t useful in a political sense. Politically speaking the game is to pander to what the media want, but to twist it to your own end. You have to understand how the media consume information and give the information to them in that format. Providing a summary statement that kinda over promises, and expecting the media to read the fine print, isn’t going to work. You need to get the important qualifiers into the statement, and spoon feed them the rest. If they have to work for it then they might fail to do that, and clearly they’re not going to go on air and say “we failed to read the fine print properly”. Logically that means they’ll go on air and say “buried in the fine print that nobody could have been expected to read, it turns out the policy was all a lie”. Complaining about this is about as useful as complaining about the weather – when it’s raining you put on a raincoat.

    Comment by PaulL — January 31, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  65. @insider: I’m sure if everyone commenting here rain a political party they’d never make the kind of cock-ups Labour does. No, really, I’m certain!

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 31, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

  66. Am I the only one who finds the ‘Best Start’ policy a bit ‘meh’. There is opportunity here to be truly aspirational about creating a better New Zealand for all, and the best we can do is $60 for new borns. And then there is the threshold of $150000. That is 3.5 the median income. I’d like to see policy about how we’re actually going to get to a place where all New Zealanders are earning a living wage, living in a healthy home, valuing parents and them parents with the support to do the best possible job [not just throw $ at them], and ensuring that all children have access to quality education. Hate to say it, but National’s education policy was certainly more creative than Labour’s ‘Best Start’. I want to vote for Labour, I really do, but not seeing a lot coming from them that will help me to do that.

    Comment by Ms WonderOutLoud — February 2, 2014 @ 11:55 am

  67. thank for this wonderful subject
    Here’s the thing – the story of many plays, this blog no less, has-been the leader of Labour (Goff first, then Shearer, Cunliffe and now) is, as a person, clumsy incompetent Anyone who is totally inadequate the task of communicating with the public. We promised, first with Shearer, then with Cunliffe, that “all that is needed is a new leader of a skilful hand of management skills and communication media, and Labor will be sitting pretty.

    Comment by moneymaker — February 23, 2014 @ 2:25 pm


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