The Dim-Post

February 19, 2014

Gut feeling update

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:35 am

So the big political story on TV3 news over the last few nights has about a bunch of reporters in TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Unit acting as Labour Party activists. It’s a good story, and another indication of how comprehensively the TV3 political journalists are setting the news agenda and dominating political reporting. (I keep seeing people on my twitter feed demanding to know the difference between Shane Taurima and, say, Mike Hosking or Paul Henry. I think the main difference is that if Mike Hosking wanted to set up a fundraising operation inside TVNZ the National Party wouldn’t let him because it would look terrible and destroy his career).

But it was a clip from another TV3 story the same night that’s really haunting me. Here’s a screen-grab of Labour leader David Cunliffe standing in front of a super-luxury yacht company explaining that his $2.5 million dollar mansion is just a ‘do-up’, after criticising Key for living in a nice house.

cunliffeIt’s hard to compress so much failure into a single image. Up to now I’ve felt that the outcome of the election is too close to call. The sides are pretty even, small changes at the margins could have huge impacts on the results. But my gut feeling now is that Labour’s support will collapse and National will win a third term. It feels like a replay of the 2011 election in which Labour keep doing baffling, stupid things and then demand to know why the media is biased against them and how anyone could like John Key. People don’t want idiots running their country.

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129 Comments »

  1. My thoughts exactly. Labour’s refusal/inability to accept returning to government is not a divine right is getting really irritating.

    Comment by Nathaniel — February 19, 2014 @ 8:42 am

  2. In September 2013 you were telling us Labour needed to ditch Shearer so they’d get a leader who would stop making easily avoidable political gaffes.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 19, 2014 @ 8:43 am

  3. So it’s not a triad of evil born from the GCSB, Cameron Slater and John Key that is destroying the righteous partnership of Kim Dot Com and David Cunliffe. Bugger me.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — February 19, 2014 @ 8:47 am

  4. “In September 2013 you were telling us Labour needed to ditch Shearer so they’d get a leader who would stop making easily avoidable political gaffes.”

    Well there was a theory that Cunliffe was a smart operator. Indeed I thought all the “gaffs” he made that helped undermine Shearer were all actually very clever political ploys. Now I just think he hasn’t a clue and they were all just bumbling gaffs that worked out for him.

    Comment by Socrates — February 19, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  5. So it’s not a triad of evil born from the GCSB, Cameron Slater and John Key…

    Nope. It’s Crosby Textor’s strategists who pulled off the masterstroke of turning Dotcom from being the mega thorn in Key’s side into a liability for all opposition parties. They have a long track record of being viciously effective at this sort of thing. Witness the destruction of former Australian Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot’s career in the late Howard era. Perhaps the Greens can take some comfort from knowing that if they had any real dirt on Turei & Norman beyond $2000 jackets and vists to Dotcom they’d have used it by now. Labour seem happy to let their sense of entitlement blind them to the nature of the clobbering machine they’re up against.

    Comment by Joe W — February 19, 2014 @ 9:15 am

  6. Socrates @ 9:10….Agree….. Cunliffe is clearly nothing other than Chauncey Gardner in Peter Sellers ” Being There”. He’s WAY better than Shearer for the Nats…in retrospect.

    Comment by Geoff — February 19, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  7. I guess the trouble is, have a well-to-do Harvard educated former consultant now technocrat masquerading as a working-man populist was always going to be somewhat of a gift to the NP startegists. It’s pretty hard to set the agenda when you can be easily painted as part of the problem.

    Unfortunately the only other leadership options to date have been careerist jobsworths, who think they’re owed a living by the proles.

    I think Danyl is on the money though – this feels like the moment that the LP blew it.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 19, 2014 @ 9:37 am

  8. Shane Jones.

    Comment by NeilM — February 19, 2014 @ 9:43 am

  9. Well, the corporate media HAS launched an all-out attack on Labour since the big framing speeches. A hostile media bent on trumping up trivial mistakes into major stories is always going to do you in. I am astonished how many people are duped by obvious propaganda. Case in point? the constant emphasis on Cunliffe’s apparent wealth when Key is given a free pass as the Kiwi everyman despite his mega millions being swallowed hook, line and sinker by the likes of Danyl, who proves yet again that he simply a clever idiot when it comes to critical analysis of the media.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 19, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  10. Sanctuary – Key would be crucified, too, if he tried to downplay his wealth.

    It’s not about wealth, it’s about appearing shifty.

    Comment by Rick Rowling — February 19, 2014 @ 9:53 am

  11. I keep seeing people on my twitter feed demanding to know the difference between Shane Taurima and, say, Mike Hosking or Paul Henry.

    Apparently the difference (according to John Armstrong) is that those people “were hired because of their larger-than-life personalities rather than their politics”.

    As much as the likes of Paul Henry irritate me, it’s not so much him who concerns me as the prime time entertainers who masquerade themselves as serious politically commentating journalists in order to sell more advertising.

    Comment by izogi — February 19, 2014 @ 10:06 am

  12. People looking for the problem need look no further than this thread: It’s the media’s fault, it’s Crosby Textor, it’s some sort of conspiracy…No it really isn’t. Labour just needs to stop being idiots. Until people are prepared to take a critical look at their own party and stop blaming everyone else, nothing will change.

    Comment by Some Jerk (@DanSloan) — February 19, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  13. @Rick Rowling – but here is the thing. If Cunliffe was a tee-totalling Prebyterian old school Labourite with no money he would be ridiculed by the right wing propaganda machine as as a loser who is out of touch with middle NZ. Danyl would gleefully buy into the narrative, posting a shot of Cunliffe in an ill-fitting suit looking uncomfortable at the big gay out and tell us all what a disaster Labour’s leadership is.

    If the corporate media pack is a bunch of pack hunting bullies with a hostile agenda that means it is going to apply a forensic critical blowtorch to your every appearance and utterance then you are always going to get the sort of narrative we are getting now.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 19, 2014 @ 10:35 am

  14. If Cunliffe was a tee-totalling Prebyterian old school Labourite with no money he would be ridiculed by the right wing propaganda machine…

    You mean if he were the second coming of Michael Joseph Savage? So what? If Key were to manifest Holyoake’s pre-TV brand of pomposity he’d be up for a similar mangling from the image-besotted.

    Comment by Joe W — February 19, 2014 @ 10:50 am

  15. The reality is that David was visiting Fitzroy Yachts in New Plymouth after their closure was announced. This would lead to the loss of 120 jobs and is a symptom of multiple problems including a too high exchange and a lack of regional development. TV3 caught up with him.

    The framing is naughty in the extreme. Call it whatever you want but it sure looks like media bias to me. They are not reporting on an issue, they are framing a story in an extremely negative way.

    It is also one big diversion, Key favours support being given to the rich, Cunliffe prefers that the poorer amongst us are looked after and that there is equal opportunity for all. Individual wealth is when you think about it rather irrelevant.

    Comment by Greg Presland — February 19, 2014 @ 10:51 am

  16. Sanctuary, stop trying to blame the media for the cock ups of Cunliffe and the Labour Party. What’s happening is the Labour Party is simply demonstrating what we all know deep down. Labour has neither the talent and policies nor the fitness to govern at the moment.

    Comment by smttc — February 19, 2014 @ 10:54 am

  17. “as as a loser who is out of touch with middle NZ”

    Thats what Cunnlife tried on Key using his wealth but when questioned about his own wealth he went on to describe himself as “middle range” Lol.

    Curse you to hell corporate media.

    Comment by Simon — February 19, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  18. “…You mean if he were the second coming of Michael Joseph Savage? So what..?”

    Hello Mr. Angry! Hope the carrots did well this year.

    Anyway, you missed my point, which was a) That with a current corporate media environment that is more hostile to the left than at any time since the 1930s Labour is always going to be framed as negatively as possible and b) Danyl is hardly without form for having the Paganiist tendency of simply swallowing the prevailing narrative around the media portrayal of Labour, then using it as a stick to beat them with, partly because he middle class so that is how he inclines anyway and partially because he really, really wants the Greens to take over from Labour as the leading party of opposition. You see, without a class based party of the left, the Greens can relax and happily give full expression to their middle class environmental narcissism without anyone asking bothersome questions like where all the jobs might come from when your economic model is Star Trek utopianism.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 19, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  19. where all the jobs might come from

    Installing solar panels?
    Building decent state housing?
    Early childhood teachers?

    How come, with a “rock star economy”, we have new teachers unable to get jobs while schools struggle with oversize classes?

    Comment by richdrich — February 19, 2014 @ 11:02 am

  20. Funny. I didn’t know that Fitzroy Yachts was a luxury yacht business but so what? And how should Mr Cunliffe respond to questions about his house? Deny? Lie? Or simply answer it the way it is. (It is possible that an expensive house is in serious need to be a “do-upper” isn’t it?) Sounds like Danyl is joining the bandwagon of knockers.

    Comment by xianmac — February 19, 2014 @ 11:03 am

  21. hat with a current corporate media environment that is more hostile to the left than at any time since the 1930s…

    Bullshit. In 1969 The Dominion ran a front page editorial entitled “The Dominion Votes National”. The only thing that’s changed is that the media have developed rather more subtle methods than relying on blatant good ol’ boy entitlement.

    Comment by Joe W — February 19, 2014 @ 11:06 am

  22. I will be interested to see the poll’s, there has been a strong coordinated push (probably in response to the well received Baby Bonus policy) to attack Labour over the last few days.

    This has been across several fronts, various different ministers doing their thing, party (tax payer) funded blogs running things out, and dropping a couple of stories into the media (wonder how long they sat on them?).

    From the news (despite Gower’s best, most animated attempts), from what I have heard talking to non party aligned people and a few coworkers, I just don’t think they got any traction despite all the noise.

    Waiting to see the polls.

    Comment by Michael — February 19, 2014 @ 11:14 am

  23. “where all the jobs might come from”

    Installing solar panels?
    Building decent state housing?
    Early childhood teachers?

    Isn’t that all state spending though? The biggest hole the Greens have is economic policy. It is, quite simply, impossible to maintain our current standard of living within and environmentally sustainable framework. The Green politicians know this but they can’t admit it because their supporters, who largely live in a middle class coccoon where they think that if we all recycle the rubbish and use a reusable cup at Splore all will be well, would be furious. So they simply fudge on economic issues.

    @Joe W – I think your point is well made, but I think the current fact free propaganda deluge (case in point Mike Hoskings lie riddled rant against the parents who got religious study removed a school in St Heliers) shows that we are currently plumbing depths last reached by Hearst’s 1920s yellow press.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 19, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  24. The background of the screen grab looks like a construction site/industrial area. Fitzroy Yachts just closed down with the loss of 120 jobs.

    Comment by Ant — February 19, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  25. The point is, Sanc (and a few others), is that John Key doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t. David Cunliffe, on the other hand, seems to say different things to different groups, and attempts to downplay the fact that he resides in a rather more-than-modest house himself. He doesn’t seem to want to “own” his own background. And so the media jump on that. Key has had his moments, too, but seems to have handled it better. The Labour Party, yet again, seems to be stumbling from misstep to misstep. And as for the media being right-wing and anti-Labour … how do you explain the Radio NZ debacle?

    Comment by David in Christchurch — February 19, 2014 @ 11:17 am

  26. That with a current corporate media environment that is more hostile to the left than at any time since the 1930s Labour is always going to be framed as negatively as possible

    That might be true, but if so then I don’t think corporate media is automatically anti-Labour or anti-left. If you go back a few years, to when National had Bill English in a boxing ring on the way to its heaviest defeat ever, the corporate media narrative was perfectly fine with Labour.

    There are specific journalists out there who clearly have strongly biased political views, in all directions, but at an editorial level (like, when it comes to choosing who to hire and where to put them) I think the corporate media monster likes to lean the way the public are leaning, and do whatever it takes to re-inforce people’s views. People like having their present views affirmed, and to argue with that is to lose them.

    Comment by izogi — February 19, 2014 @ 11:17 am

  27. Isn’t that all state spending though?

    Community spending creates jobs. Real jobs. Much private sector spending doesn’t, it just shuffles money around, such as paying people to bang on doors trying to convince consumers to switch to another “electricity company” (that doesn’t generate a milliwatt of electricity, just takes a toll on power generated from assets that should rightly belong to the New Zealanders that paid to build them).

    NZ can evolve into a smart, resilient and sustainable economy, not a farm and quarry for China and a consumer colony for the US.

    Comment by richdrich — February 19, 2014 @ 11:25 am

  28. Find foot, grab pistol, shoot foot. Labour have lost the plot. Cunliffe has made a sequence of gaffs this year – couldn’t deliver a family friendly policy openly and in full, has a crack at the PM for being rich while Cunliffe struggles in Herne Bay making him seem a complete hypocrite [who cares if they both earned the coin let them spend it as they will].

    And now the Left are supporting an employee who has breached corporate policy re using corporation resources for political purposes. Making matters worse the employee is an editor in the state own broadcaster, who sets editorial driection….

    Screaming the media is against the left is pretty weak as a defence… watching Tv1 and TV3 news is often an exercise in seeing Green party policy dressed up as the word of god…..

    Labour needs to go back to its true values: A safe work place and a decent days pay for a decent days work, with enough left over after paying for the families needs to buy a jug on a Friday. Labour in my centrist view has strayed far from its original rationale and has become the party of envy, the party of have a gift and its not your fault. NZ needs a strong, focused Labour with realistic policies to keep the political debate sane… sort yourselves out…

    Comment by Dave_1924 — February 19, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  29. Labour MPs have always felt uneasy talking about their relative wealth, like somehow their street-cred would be lost if someone brought attention to it.

    IMO, the media made a big deal out of it because it was easy to do so. Cunliffe left himself wide open with this one. But it doesn’t mean an inherent bias in the media.

    Comment by Auto_Immune — February 19, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  30. I think the corporate media monster likes to lean the way the public are leaning, and do whatever it takes to re-inforce people’s views.

    Provided they can still take people’s anxieties and deliver them up to those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Applying Danyl’s gut feeling yardschtick to the current boycott Countdown issue, I can’t help but feel that the usual methods of mocking public resentment into oblivion have been quickly canvassed and dropped as being a fast-track hiding to nowhere. There’s no choice but to roll with this one or risk a major populist backlash.

    Comment by Joe W — February 19, 2014 @ 11:32 am

  31. John Key doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t. David Cunliffe, on the other hand, seems to say different things to different groups, and attempts to downplay the fact that he resides in a rather more-than-modest house himself. He doesn’t seem to want to “own” his own background.

    Bit of a shame really [for Labour], because Labour could probably use David Cunliffe’s success to their advantage if it were framed right. That is if you subscribe to the idea that many voters presently like National, even if they’re being steamrolled by the current government, because they see John Key as extrodinarily successful (essentially for doing nothing… juggling money around… even if that’s not totally true) and somehow see what he represents as the path to opportunity to be like him.

    I guess much of David Cunliffe’s problem is that he’s not terribly likeable. Successful, though? Sure.

    Comment by izogi — February 19, 2014 @ 11:35 am

  32. “…John Key doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t…”

    Says the corporate media.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 19, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  33. Labour could probably use David Cunliffe’s success to their advantage if it were framed right.

    I guess Lange didn’t frame it right when he presented his shadow cabinet onstage during the 1984 election campaign.
    “I give you Ann Hercus, future Minister of social welfare” was greeted with rapturous applause. The followup “I give you Roger Douglas, successful in business”, though, was met with the barest of scattered clapping from the hardline faithful.

    Comment by Joe W — February 19, 2014 @ 11:50 am

  34. Yeah, pretty sure there’s not a media conspiracy against Labour. What I see is a lazy media taking cheap shots where they can get them because it’s easier than doing real reporting. And so long as Labour keep offering up cheap shots they’ll keep taking them. And there’s no way that Key has ever gotten an easy ride on his wealth, it’s constantly referred to, along with his holidays in Hawaii and pretty much anything else he does. Even, occasionally, some commentators (to be fair, not usually in the MSM) like to point out that he’s not just rich, but jewish as well. He seems to take it all in his stride, he never denies it, and he points out that, for example, he donates his salary to charity. It’s not that the media aren’t trying, it’s just that they’re not landing any punches on him, whereas Cunliffe seems to be making it easy. Seriously, he can’t claim he’s not rich and expect to get away with it, he should have just said “yep, we’re doing pretty well, now let’s talk about the NZers who aren’t doing so well, because they’re the people who matter in the upcoming election.” No story then.

    Comment by PaulL — February 19, 2014 @ 11:50 am

  35. There’s no choice but to roll with this one or risk a major populist backlash.

    Very true. The trick will be for Cunliffe to front foot it, not let the agenda be set – a bit of “Sure I’m loaded, but I worked bloody hard for it” etc. wouldn’t go astray.
    As a supplementary note, wouldn’t it be great for lefty politician to frame the socialist narrative as “I fucking love wealth! I want us to all be rich!”.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 19, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  36. On the money, PaulL! Spot on.

    Comment by David in Christchurch — February 19, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  37. he donates his salary to charity.

    Indeed. But the media are guilty of not digging any deeper. Like asking which country the money goes through and how the resulting tax deductions on his unearned wealth are pretty handy.
    I guess we cant expect too much though.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 19, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

  38. “Bit of a shame really [for Labour], because Labour could probably use David Cunliffe’s success to their advantage if it were framed right.”

    This. If the Labour comms or strategy team were half way competent, Cunliffe would’ve said something along the lines of “yes, I do live in a fancy house in a wealthy street, and I got there because I got an excellent free education, healthcare etc. and had support from the state. I want all NZers to have the same opportunity that I did. That’s the difference between me and John Key: he’s pulling the ladder up after himself. I want to strengthen it.”

    That would be reinforcing the whole fairness and opportunity narrative that they’re trying to create. It’s not rocket surgery. But you can’t win or create a narrative if you can’t win the day, and the MPs and staff seem quite incapable of doing just that.

    Comment by James L — February 19, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

  39. Sanctuary – the key point, to me at least, is that we, the public (and media), can respect a likable and trustworthy fellow, no matter his station in life. That’s John Key. As much as the so-called ‘Left’ want to believe that most kiwis would reject someone simply because they are wealthy – well… obviously we’re a little less blinkered than the ‘Left’ are – or want us to be. To draw on the well-worn kiwi egalitarianism cliche – we’re all equal no matter how much money we have.

    The beat-up on Cunliffe is that he appears neither likable, nor trustworthy, no matter his station in life (except for the fact that dissembles about that station in life). Lying about being wealthy to appear to be ‘one of us’ shows he has no clue about public perception, appealing as it does to class notions that we just don’t share.

    In fact, if anything, Key being a ‘good bloke’ despite his job and position on the wealth ladder, in all likelihood, counts even more toward his popularity than anything else.

    Comment by Michael — February 19, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

  40. “Well there was a theory that Cunliffe was a smart operator.”

    And where did that theory come from? The “Shearer is so incredibly awful that any random person off the street would be better than him” school of thought? Was that similar to the “Goff is so incredibly awful that any random person off the street, etc etc” school of thought? And, should Cunliffe be replaced by Shane Jones or whomever, will we soon be hearing the “Jones is so incredibly awful that any random, etc etc” too?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 19, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  41. @Sanc: Thank god you’re here to give us an alternative to the middle class perspective, eh?

    PS: How’s the lifestyle block doing?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 19, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  42. If you went out to a fancy restaurant and ordered a $50 steak and it was served to you in a stainless steel dog bowl you’d notice, right? Doesn’t change the taste of the food but you can tell at a glance that it’s NOT A GOOD LOOK and that the NOTAGOODLOOKNESS makes the taste of the food almost irrelevant. You’re not going to remember how the food tasted; what will stick in your mind is the image of the dog bowl. It’s so obviously NOT A GOOD LOOK that no restaurateur in his right mind would do such a thing.

    Labour does it week after week. The food changes and the bowl changes but time after time their Thing They Want You To Remember is totally obscured by the NOT A GOOD LOOK thing.

    Hey, let’s have the Leader’s big State of the Nation speech “in the darkened auditorium of a school in an obscure corner of west Auckland and make serious remarks concerning early childhood education while everyone is completely distracted by the joys of a public holiday and the excitement of the Grammy Awards”.

    Hey, let’s have the Leader make a big policy announcement on antenatal health care but have the written and spoken text say different things and send out an infographic that clearly misrepresents the policy and lets announce it via a badly-spelled Twitter post and then when the Leader is questioned about a detail of the policy that’s supposed to be so important let’s have him not know the answer.

    Hey, let’s have the Leader criticise John Key’s wealth while living in a multimilliondollar home in Auckland’s most expensive suburb and let’s put him on TV to defend this hypocrisy while standing in front of a sign advertising custom-built luxury superyachts.

    All these things are just as obviously NOT A GOOD LOOK as the dog bowl, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone in the Labour comms team willing or able to point that out. Week after week, fuckup after fuckup, no-one’s ever to blame and it’s all the fault of the evil right-wing media conspiracy and Crosby Textor and the molemen. Never Labour’s fault, no, that’s crazy talk.

    Comment by @simongarlick — February 19, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  43. key “good bloke” image is a front though – compare media appearances with his behaviour in parliament or whenever he realises hes been caught out

    its a construct created for, and readily accepted by the media – of course NZers think hes a good bloke – thats what theyre constantly told

    are labour pretty shit at this media stuff – of course. are national way better at it – of course, does the media treat their own framing, hype and lack of analysis as reality – of course

    labour cant go round moaning about this – they need to be on the ball a hell of a lot more – but we do need to admit that if the media are being lazy slobs and running everything that the nats give them as gospel then they need to wear some of that shame (but that doesnt excuse labour).

    Comment by framu — February 19, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  44. it’s all the fault of the evil right-wing media conspiracy and Crosby Textor and the molemen.

    Whatever Labour’s up against, Crosby Textor are a well-funded and formidably effective part of that. All the wittering about Cameron Slater and other minor functionaries only serves to obscure that fact. Playing the victim card over the nasty media this early in the game comes across as a kind of nostalgia for the good old days of 3 time loser Bill Rowling.

    Comment by Joe W — February 19, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

  45. Whatever Labour’s up against, Crosby Textor are a well-funded and formidably effective part of that.

    So? That’s what CT does. That’s their job and they’re good at it. It’s not like it’s a big secret.

    I am reminded of my own comment on this similar thread last month:

    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 — February 19, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

  46. “I am reminded of my own comment on this similar thread last month:”

    its a nexus of 3 issues for me
    1) labour are a bit crap with this media thing
    2) national pay for the best, most tricksie PR company going and have a proxie army to run their dirt (well, 2 bloggers and a few commentators)
    3) the media are lazy opportunists who would need a press release from their flavour of the month to tell them they shat their own pants

    so if your labour – dont complain because its only the political junkies who know the history and detail of an issue. Dont give the media bones to run with, because even if youve only given them a tiny scrap youll never succeed with pointing the finger.

    i almost long for one of those korean govt punch ups – it would be more interesting and you could take bets

    Comment by framu — February 19, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

  47. A safe work place and a decent days pay for a decent days work

    Like for the redundant boatyard workers Cunliffe was visiting? Should he have held up a big sign saying “No, i am not here to buy a fucking superyacht”

    Comment by richdrich — February 19, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

  48. People don’t want idiots running their country.

    You were doing well up until that point. I take it you’re now a National supporter because that’s the party where all the smart people are. :)

    Comment by Ross — February 19, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

  49. I guess much of David Cunliffe’s problem is that he’s not terribly likeable.

    Neither was Muldoon. Remind me again how many terms he did as PM?

    Comment by Ross — February 19, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

  50. I wonder where all the concern trolling that sanctuary and greg presland are displaying was when Don Brash was being similarly framed as he walked a plank and struggled with a midget car. Laughing all the way to the polls no doubt. The media are circling injured prey – they don’t care if its blood is red or blue.

    As for Cunliffe framing his house as the result of hard work, too late – he has already blamed his wife http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9111399/Labour-of-love-for-the-partners http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAAkc17wzto&feature=player_embedded

    Comment by insider — February 19, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

  51. … the good old days of 3 time loser Bill Rowling.

    Which also serves as another example of how current hostility to the left from the media really isn’t the worst since the 1930s.

    It is also one big diversion, Key favours support being given to the rich, Cunliffe prefers that the poorer amongst us are looked after and that there is equal opportunity for all.

    Well, yeah. It beggars belief that there are people out there who’ll vote for a government on the basis of who had the better PR, but there must be or National wouldn’t give Crosby Textor all that money.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 19, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

  52. izogi: I guess much of David Cunliffe’s problem is that he’s not terribly likeable.

    Ross: Neither was Muldoon.

    True. It’s more complex than likeability, but In the face of the National Party’s successful smiley face that fits well on a marketing brochure, the comparitive perception of David Cunliffe isn’t helping him.

    Muldoon still had character of a different sort which gelled with a lot of people, even if you hated his guts for what he actually did. He was eventually displaced as PM by a guy who was a brilliant debater (and then helped to pave the way for the likes of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble!). What does David Cunliffe have, character-wise, which comes close to comparing with these guys?

    Comment by izogi — February 19, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

  53. Not getting the connection between the Fitzroy yachts story and Cunliffe’s house. Fitzroy’s closure means that most of the 120 people it employs in New Plymouth will be out of a job. That’s an absolute sitter for an Opposition leader talk about. Tying it to the whose-house-is-flasher story in Auckland is just weird.

    And it’s inept of Cunliffe no doubt, but everyone else seems to have forgotten the actual context of Cunliffe’s comments — which was Key’s dismissive “some people need to get out more” quip about the Salvation Army report on poverty. I think it says something about our political and media culture that this seems to have had more legs than the important story from which it emerged.

    Comment by russell brown — February 19, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

  54. @ framu
    key “good bloke” image is a front though – compare media appearances with his behavior in parliament or whenever he realizes hes been caught out

    That’s grasping at straws. Or; name a politician that doesn’t behave significantly differently in QT vis-a-vis their media appearances.

    @ Ross
    I guess much of David Cunliffe’s problem is that he’s not terribly likeable.
    Neither was Muldoon. Remind me again how many terms he did as PM?

    There is still a segment of the population (probably all now in their 60′s ?) who are HUGE fans of Muldoon. For instance, my first boss. He operated a one-man-band cleaning company and used to regale me with tales about just how great life was as a man in the 1970′s under an amazing PM who didn’t take crap from no-one.

    Comment by Phil — February 19, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  55. “That’s grasping at straws”

    not really – theres being a more strident version of your media persona – and theres being an utterly different creature all together

    thats my point – public key and “in the house” key is in the jekyl and hyde territory. His media persona isnt a softer version of himself – its a front, a show. Hes not really like that in reality

    but thats just my opinion of course

    Comment by framu — February 19, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

  56. edit – im not sticking up for cunliffe here – just pointing out that IMO keys blokey image is fake. Its a paid for package and as such kind of silly to pretend its anything more than that

    Comment by framu — February 19, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

  57. @PM: “Well, yeah. It beggars belief that there are people out there who’ll vote for a government on the basis of who had the better PR, but there must be or National wouldn’t give Crosby Textor all that money.”

    I think there are a significant number of people who vote for National on the basis that they agree with their policies. I know that’s not popular on the left, but there it is. But equally there are people who vote for Labour on the basis that they agree with their policies. The reason for the PR companies is that a large proportion of NZ couldn’t tell you what the policies of the parties are. And given that those people in the middle usually decide elections, it makes sense to spend some money to make sure your policies or positions are communicated as well as possible. (Of course, a bit of demonising the opposition never goes astray either). And being able to produce content in a way that’s easily consumable by the media is obviously a good thing – if they can’t understand what you’ve given them they’re hardly going to write positive articles about it.

    As I’ve noted before, ranting about how unfair that is really isn’t going to help. It actually is the way the world is, and the way the game is played. If you want to win then you play by the rules, you don’t complain about the umpires.

    Comment by PaulL — February 19, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  58. I had to check I was not accidentally on the standard after reading this comments thread.
    Cunliffe ducking his wealth is a joke. The three leaders before him were multi millionaires hiding their loot in trusts too. Quite why they need to hide it is baffling.
    Who wants a PM who is incapable of looking after their own money?
    The comparisons to Hoskins and Henry are laughable.
    If either of them are found to be using a department at a crown owned business to fundraise, organise and campaign on behalf of any political party they should be sacked. I am confident they are not.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — February 19, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

  59. Cunliffe asked Key in the House yesterday about job losses at Fitzroy yachts and elsewhere. Key was being snarky as usual. It’s amazing how often he talks about Labour when he’s caught explaining his government’s failures.

    http://www.parliament.nz/resource/0002179616

    Comment by Ross — February 19, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

  60. It’s not that amazing, Ross. It’s red-meat politics. Key is doing his job.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 19, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  61. public key and “in the house” key is in the jekyl and hyde territory. His media persona isnt a softer version of himself – its a front, a show. Hes not really like that in reality
    but thats just my opinion of course

    I’m not disagreeing with you, per-se. My perception is that most politicians are like this and, more importantly, I think most of the voting public “know” that all politicians are like this. It doesn’t actually matter whether Key is better, worse, or the same at it as the others.

    To put it bluntly, Labour and its supporters aren’t going to win a single god-damned vote by banging the ‘Key is a two faced monster’ drum, because to the public that drum is being banged by just another two-faced monster.

    Comment by Phil — February 19, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

  62. If either of them are found to be using a department at a crown owned business to fundraise, organise and campaign on behalf of any political party they should be sacked. I am confident they are not.

    I expect you didn’t write that during work hours…

    Comment by Ross — February 19, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

  63. “because to the public that drum is being banged by just another two-faced monster.” – hey, agreement! :-)

    yeah i agree there – im more talking about the werid meme that key is really blokey and totes awesome and that cunliffe is unlikeable, (Its all media construct, with the nats being better at it.) and people who should know better repeating it as gospel truth.

    its in the same realm as all those media stories where they go “why does the public think X?” without bothering to look at themselves first

    Comment by framu — February 19, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

  64. Ross.. Guilty. My business, my computer… And I am not looking for a winnable list position.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — February 19, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

  65. Helen Clark managed to win 3 elections with the media culture as it is.

    But if Labour’s poor performance is due to the media then it follows there’s nothing Labour can do to change things.

    Comment by NeilM — February 19, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  66. Helen Clark had H2 as Chief of Staff. Right now Cunliffe doesn’t HAVE a Chief of Staff, and off the top of my head before the current vacancy there were five different 5 chiefs of staff in the preceding 12 months. That’s not inspiring. Makes you wonder what all the chiefs of staff learn that makes them jump ship as soon as they learn it.

    Comment by @simongarlick — February 19, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

  67. They probably think it’s a really exciting opportunity to shape the future of the country… but then it turns out to be all about managing individuals’ egos and factional fighting, and signing off expenses, and clearing up after various elephants in the room have been ignored by the pollies. Unlike H2, they probably have lives outside their leader’s political halo. And that quickly becomes the priority.

    Comment by insider — February 19, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

  68. “there doesn’t appear to be anyone in the Labour comms team willing or able to point that out.”

    Lack of strategy or comms nous has been their problem for the last 7 years. Who is doing those jobs now?

    Comment by Sacha — February 19, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

  69. If you’re a party that needs to impart ideas to win, and the media environment is hostile to ideas, you might as well not turn up.

    Comment by Tom — February 19, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

  70. “If the Labour comms or strategy team were half way competent, Cunliffe would’ve said something along the lines of “yes, I do live in a fancy house in a wealthy street, and I got there because I got an excellent free education, healthcare etc. and had support from the state. I want all NZers to have the same opportunity that I did. That’s the difference between me and John Key: he’s pulling the ladder up after himself. I want to strengthen it.”

    That would be reinforcing the whole fairness and opportunity narrative that they’re trying to create. It’s not rocket surgery.”

    Exactly

    Comment by Sacha — February 19, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

  71. If the Labour comms or strategy team were half way competent

    Yes, but we live in the real world.

    Comment by @simongarlick — February 19, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

  72. People don’t want idiots running their country? Objection your honour, contrary to evidence before the court. There are idiots running the country right now, and a lot of people really did vote for them despite hating their core policies.

    Comment by tussock — February 19, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

  73. @Sacha: That would just open him up to the “Who is he to talk about poverty with his nice house on a wealthy street” narrative. Your no-brainer alternative is actually just as bad.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 19, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

  74. kalvarnsen #73: The champagne socialist card is a clear and present danger, but it’s not impossible to deal with. Cunliffe just has to start with the ‘ladder-kicking’ meme. James L’s example above makes use of compare & contrast to get the point across.

    Russell Brand is fully aware of his own ‘champagne socialism’ – and had his 2c on the matter not too long ago:

    “Some people say I’m a hypocrite because I’ve got money now. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

    It’s easy to attack me, I’m a right twerp, I’m a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it, but that doesn’t detract from the incontrovertible fact that we are living in a time of huge economic disparity and confronting ecological disaster. This disparity has always been, in cultures since expired, a warning sign of end of days. In Rome, Egypt and Easter Island the incubated ruling elites, who had forgotten that we are one interconnected people, destroyed their societies by not sharing. That is what’s happening now, regardless of what you think of my hair or me using long words, the facts are the facts and the problem is the problem. Don’t be distracted. I think these columnist fellas who give me aggro for not devising a solution or for using long words are just being territorial. “

    Comment by deepred — February 19, 2014 @ 8:54 pm

  75. “The champagne socialist card is a clear and present danger, but it’s not impossible to deal with.”

    For anyone worth their pay, certainly. Believing in fairness and community and society only broadens what counts as success.

    Comment by Sacha — February 19, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

  76. @Deepred: Do you really think “Do what Russell Brand did” would constitute good advice if presented by Cunliffe’s comms advisors?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 19, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

  77. If Cunlifte started snorting heroin and rooting Katy Perry, he might just get my vote.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 19, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

  78. Its relativr innit, that sort of advise would better than any to date

    Comment by bart — February 19, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

  79. @PaulL

    “He seems to take it all in his stride, he never denies it, and he points out that, for example, he donates his salary to charity. ”

    Key has never actually said he donates his salary to charity but it has become some what folklore that he does despite him having made utterances to the contrary, but the salary donation fallacy fits into his supporters ‘good rich bloke’ narrative particularly that he doesn’t need the job so is somehow doing us all a generous favour by being in politics, unlike all those other leeches in Parliament sucking on the tax-payers tit.

    When this salary fallacy is pointed out to his supporters the general response is “So! Do you think he should work for free?”

    Paul if you have proof of Key confirming he donates his Parliamentry salary to charity, I’d love to see/hear it?

    Comment by sleepdepriveddiva — February 20, 2014 @ 12:50 am

  80. From Stuff FB page, post on PM’s popularity:

    GM @ 7.26 pm

    “John Key rocks, he’s a self made man who has decided to stop making money for himself and help the rest of us out.”

    How does any Opposition leader gain traction against that?

    Comment by sleepdepriveddiva — February 20, 2014 @ 2:16 am

  81. @Bart: I really don’t think it would.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 20, 2014 @ 2:23 am

  82. The ‘good cause’ that Key donates part of his salary to is the National Party.

    Comment by Mike — February 20, 2014 @ 6:49 am

  83. If the Labour comms or strategy team were half way competent, Cunliffe would’ve said something along the lines of “yes, I do live in a fancy house in a wealthy street, and I got there because I got an excellent free education, healthcare etc. and had support from the state. I want all NZers to have the same opportunity that I did. That’s the difference between me and John Key: he’s pulling the ladder up after himself. I want to strengthen it.”


    Cunliffe does say this, he said it again this morning.

    Comment by sleepdepriveddiva — February 20, 2014 @ 7:29 am

  84. “John Key rocks, he’s a self made man who has decided to stop making money for himself and help the rest of us out.”

    Presumably the “rest of us” in this sentence refers to the country’s other mansion-dwellers (well, Kim Dotcom excepted, but he’s a mere tenant).

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 20, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  85. If the Labour comms or strategy team were half way competent

    I know someone in Labour’s comms team and she’s really smart and competent. But also fairly new to the role, like almost everyone in that office. Politics is hard, it takes a while for people and teams to click and perform at a high level and Labour have a really, really high turnover rate in their leader’s office. The regular purges whenever there’s a leadership change have to be part of the problem. Did Cunliffe really have to sack Shearer’s liked and respected chief press sec and then spend four months trying to replace him?

    I also think they’d be insane to replace Cunliffe. He’s been a disappointment. But he was elected by the party. Having the caucus ditch him, throwing in a new leader, sacking all the staff again and starting from scratch just months away from the election would be a disaster.

    Comment by danylmc — February 20, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

  86. Actually, sleepdepriveddiva, Cunliffe said he was in the middle. The facts show otherwise. If Cunliffe is in the middle, then the vast majority of us, even those earning over $100,000 per year, are poverty-stricken. If he has indeed changed what he is saying, it’s because he (or someone in his office) has realised that he was looking like a dork, and has taken the advice that has been freely offered here. ;) :D

    Comment by David in Christchurch — February 20, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

  87. “That would just open him up to the “Who is he to talk about poverty with his nice house on a wealthy street” narrative. Your no-brainer alternative is actually just as bad.”

    No, it’s actually not. People want to succeed. They want to have money and they want to have a nice house. That’s why the whole “I’m aspirational for New Zealand” thing in 2008 was very effective. Pretending that you’re just an average Joe who struck it lucky is the worst possible way to play this.

    “I know someone in Labour’s comms team and she’s really smart and competent. But also fairly new to the role. Politics is hard, it takes a while for people and teams to click and perform at a high level and Labour have a really, really high turnover rate in their leader’s office.”

    I don’t doubt that. I have worked in various political jobs and I currently work in one (although not in parliament at the moment).
    But what’s clear to me is that the MPs are either not getting the advice they need, or they’re incapable of following it and sticking to the message. C.f. National MPs’ reactions to Shane Taurima on Tuesday: they were all (barring Parata, which is hardly surprising) on message. They got their talking points and they stuck to them. Even Tau Henare nailed Morning Report. That’s basic political management.

    Comment by James L — February 20, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

  88. Good points, James L. All we need to do is remember the Clark team at the peak, and they made sure that Labour MPs were singing from the same song sheet. Now, the factionalism that sank the Aussie LP seems to be afflicting the NZ LP.

    Comment by David in Christchurch — February 20, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

  89. They got their talking points and they stuck to them

    It does make one wonder what the NZLPs the whips and PR police are doing.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 20, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

  90. David in Christchurch, my post addressed James L advice to point out Cunliffe already does say exactly that and has done for sometime. Correct he didn’t say it in the battle of the mansions or did he but it never made air time?

    Comment by sleepdepriveddiva — February 20, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

  91. Blah blah blah. Look, Cunners and Co ate fucking jokes.

    Comment by bart — February 20, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

  92. Look, Cunners and Co ate fucking jokes.

    Did they? Fucking jokes, no less! You obviously feel strongly about their dietary preferences … .

    Comment by Flashing Light — February 20, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

  93. ” my post addressed James L advice to point out Cunliffe already does say exactly that and has done for sometime. Correct he didn’t say it in the battle of the mansions or did he but it never made air time?”

    Well I certainly didn’t pick up on it if he did say something like that during the “battle of the mansions”, and I imagine that I, like pretty much everyone who reads or frequents this blog, pay more attention to the political news than Joe Public. Maybe he did say it initially and it wasn’t reported, but what was reported was inherently more newsworthy in the eyes of journalists.

    And that’s pretty much the whole point. It’s not a media conspiracy or bias; it’s just how the media works. If politicians are trying to run a narrative and then say or do something that goes against it, that is newsworthy. MPs have to work within those constraints and then use them to their advantage. It means being incredibly disciplined and staying on message.

    Comment by James L — February 20, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

  94. FOr anyone here who doesn’t think our “news” media is now completely and utterly nothing more than a bunch of jabbering chimpanzees with a moral compass to match, I suggest you go and read the broadsheet coverage of the death of an asylum seeker in the Manus island detention facility in the Australian press. Then I invite you to ponder this. Would anyone in our MSM have the moral whit to write what is being written there, and would it even be published?

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 21, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  95. Cunliffe blew the election by standing in front of a closing business? I don’t get it. It’s still close as, and the political genius of John Key hangs by a very slender thread. If Labour wins, and it’s only a sunny polling day away at this point, then it won’t be long at all before we’re analyzing what a genius he is.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 21, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

  96. Cunliffe blew the election by standing in front of a closing business? I don’t get it.

    True dat, rampant overanalysis, & it’s hardly Brash walking the plank. Also conspicuously removing one’s tie when seeking the empathy of one’s perceived inferiors, then donning it to project authority is pretty standard practice across the political spectrum. Even John Howard did it. Not an issue for female pollies though.

    Comment by Joe W — February 21, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

  97. He didn’t blow it standing in front of a closing business.
    He blew I by appealing to the everyman standing in front of a closing business, trying to explain away a massive asset base.

    Should he needed to have explained his personal affairs? No. Did he blow it by not framing he narrative? Yes.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 21, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

  98. *blew it

    Stupid autocorrect.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 21, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

  99. Ties tend to cut blood flow to the brain, I have observed.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 21, 2014 @ 11:58 pm

  100. > trying to explain away a massive asset base.

    That’s a middle class asset base these days. I hate to break it to the rest of NZ, but if you have owned property in Auckland for any length of time, 2 million just doesn’t seem like that much money. It’s a house. You can’t eat it or spend it, and if you sell it, you’ll need to spend the same again to get something similar. Yes, it’s above the average, but it isn’t for the suburb he’s been living in for a long time.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 22, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  101. That’s a bit of a stretch there, Ben. Herne Bay has _never_ been a middle class suburb. I remember some years ago going for a walk around part of it. Middle class? Not even close!

    Comment by David in Chch — February 22, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

  102. The sea-ward side has been decidedly posh for at least 30 years – trust me on this, I was a postie in central Auckland, mid-80s, and had a stint in the area. Funnily enough I also had a stint in Parnell & was delivering mail up the stretch of St Stephens Ave where Key now lives. Main difference? Yes, the Parnell area was a bit more up market, but not hugely. There were more company reports to delver to shareholders, whereas Ponsonby/Herne Bay tended to have more copies of Broadsheet and the Guardian. Not a lot seems to have changed.

    A friend lived in Jervois Road at the time & I remember adapting an Alexei Sayle line for Auckland to the effect that people in Herne Bay earn just as much as people in Remuera, only people in Herne Bay feel guilty about it (Sayle’s original line was about Hampstead and …some Thatcher-supporting London suburb I can’t recall. Kensington, perhaps).

    Anyway, she cracked up and said ‘yes, that’s it!’

    Comment by Rob Hosking — February 22, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

  103. David, I grew up there. Trust me, it was middle class in the 80s. I delivered papers to beat up old do-ups, slum apartment blocks, etc. Yes, the actual waterfront was always expensive, as you’d expect with cliff top sea views and giant sections. But most of Herne Bay is not like that, even now. On the south side it was indistinguishable from Ponsonby. I went to Ponsonby Intermediate (which is in Herne Bay) and it was mostly Pacific Islanders, Maori and middle class white kids.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 22, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

  104. It does depend what you mean by middle class, of course. I tend to think of them as salary earners. With the ridiculous property growth, you could consider them to be pure capitalists now, if they sell out. But if they just live there, raise a family, send their kids to the local, and do some profession in the city, they’re middle class.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 22, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

  105. With the ridiculous property growth, you could consider them to be pure capitalists now, if they sell out.

    Is there any better illustration of how fucked up things have gotten in Auckland, than that Aucklanders could become wealthy overnight by selling their houses and moving to a provincial town? If I hear someone in Auckland has a million-dollar house I assume it’s one like mine.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 22, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

  106. I went to Ponsonby Intermediate (which is in Herne Bay) and it was mostly Pacific Islanders, Maori and middle class white kids.

    Just out of curiosity: Where did the middle class Maori and Pacific Island kids go to school?

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — February 22, 2014 @ 5:37 pm

  107. >Is there any better illustration of how fucked up things have gotten in Auckland, than that Aucklanders could become wealthy overnight by selling their houses and moving to a provincial town?

    It’s a sign that it’s a way more desirable place to live, at least to the people living here. I certainly don’t want to move out of the only place in the country I even consider to be an actual city, away from all of my friends and family, and the University at which my near complete degree is being built, just so I can cash up. Got nothing against the rest of the country but don’t want to live there.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 22, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

  108. Another way of putting that is: This is my home. It’s going to take more than property price inflation to move me out, especially considering that inflation is going in my favour.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 22, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

  109. It’s true that a lot of Aucklanders wouldn’t want to, but that’s not the point Milt’s trying to make.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 22, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

  110. #109: I think the point is that housing has gone from having a roof over one’s head, to a speculator’s plaything. To the point where attempts to address the problem are a bit like trying to fix the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy – vested interests with fat chequebooks are too powerful for any meaningful reform.

    Comment by deepred — February 22, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

  111. Ben – $2m doesn’t seem like that much money? Maybe not if the house you are living in has inflated stratospherically through good fortune. But not to anyone else I’m afraid.

    The homeowner might not be comfortable with the idea of having unearned wealth because it clashes with their self perception, but someone who is sitting on that kind of asset ain’t middle class anymore.

    Even unrealised potential wealth is wealth, irrespective of whether it is ready cash or not.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 22, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

  112. With renting becoming the new normal, these kind of discussions are probably taking place over an increasing number of potential voters’ heads. Unlike their Australian counterparts, the Greens’ Labour-backed solar homes policy doesn’t appear to address social housing. The promised “cleaner,cheaper power for Kiwi homes” seems to be strictly for homeowners. There’s been no attempt that I can find to explain how the scheme might benefit those at the bottom of the heap.

    Comment by Joe W — February 23, 2014 @ 12:47 am

  113. @deepred: Well, I don’t know about that. Housing has always been a subject of investment, throughout NZ’s history.

    @Joe: The argument I’ve heard is that if the landlord installs solar panels, the tenants pay less power. The question is, why would the landlord do that?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 23, 2014 @ 1:49 am

  114. >someone who is sitting on that kind of asset ain’t middle class anymore.

    I know so many people who have that kind of asset from doing nothing more than an average job until the day they retired. That’s what happens when you own something highly leveraged for a long time. It doesn’t make you upper class. You’re in the same damned house you were in 30 years earlier, working a job to pay the bills and rates. If you sell, it would be to retire comfortably in something lesser, further from everything you had become accustomed to for your whole life. That’s the exact plan of the middle class.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 23, 2014 @ 2:10 am

  115. Joe – that’s really my point. While an individual might want to see themselves as middle class, it’s not the reality when you are riding a big asset. I know a bunch if wealthy people that work hard every day and are sometimes (comparatively) strapped for cash. But that doesn’t make them middle class.

    I think your last sentence sums it up – the aspiration of the middle classes is not to stay middle class. It’s to cash out. Which is great! But the moment you reasonably have the ability to do so and materially change you standard of living for the foreseeable future (or in some cases permanently) you have to hand your MC card back.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 23, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

  116. Apologies Joe. Over to you, Ben.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 23, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  117. Silly Gregor, don’t you know that the only way to stop being Middle Class is to be a guffawing monocled 19th century aristocrat who stomps around in a top hat kicking orphans. Money doesn’t matter, no matter how much you have of it, as long as you still cook your own dinner every now and then or put in some work in the garden, you’re Middle Class! (And thank god for that!)

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 23, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

  118. These sorts of windfall profits strike like lightening – with a ferocity matched by its specificity.

    From Grey Lynn villas to WhatsApp.

    The difficulty is to produce a narrative that offers a solution. I’m not sure that’s possible. It’s just chance.

    Comment by NeilM — February 23, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

  119. Wow.

    Errr….say what? Does danyl think that Labour party leaders are a buffet? It’s hard to know.

    As for all the absolute BS- if danyl, lord of the beltway, and quite often allegedly left leaning or something, thinks that asking about a report slamming child poverty and then visiting a place where there has been a loss of jobs is sign that a Labour leader should quit…

    Cunliffe should have done a Turei and invited them over. It would help with that connection with the electorate- how likable was John Key when he first joined parliament and talked about the housing boom etc… and could show that Labour are a party of opportunity- that anyone wherever they come from can achieve in the NZ system under Labour.

    Cunliffe seems to have been saying nothing but we won’t pull the ladder up after ourselves.

    Some of the comments on this thread strike me as petty and make me want to put my head in my hands.

    Comment by sheesh — February 23, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

  120. Gregor, I’m not sure why you bother with the phrase “middle class” if you simply equate it with a portfolio value. If it had any value as a form of analysis it was about the attitudes and behaviour of the people. If being upper clas as simple as having a portfolio 4 times the national average, then we have a staggeringly large upper class, formed mostly from the older segment of society. It’s a class that doesn’t span families at all, and most people are born lower class and die upper class.

    One of the things people who haven’t “benefited” from property inflation don’t seem to get is that it’s not actually all that and a bag of chips. The belief that it is is predicated around insisting that people who have had inflation ought to move somewhere else to cash up. But if they have no intention to, then their actual quality of life can actually go down.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 23, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

  121. So how do you define “middle class” Ben? You don’t like simply equating it with portfolio value so what is it? As far as I can tell from what you’ve said above middle class simply means white people who have a nice job in the city.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — February 23, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

  122. ” If it had any value as a form of analysis it was about the attitudes and behaviour of the people.”

    Karl Marx, who invented the idea of ‘class’, defined it on strictly economic terms.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 23, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

  123. “…Karl Marx, who invented the idea of ‘class’, defined it on strictly economic terms….”

    Even the most cursory reading of Marxist writers would disabuse you of this incorrect assertion.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 24, 2014 @ 7:49 am

  124. Gregor, I’m not sure why you bother with the phrase “middle class” if you simply equate it with a portfolio value

    Because there is no other simple way to measure it unless you applying a moral dimension, which is obviously fraught.

    Otherwise, while your hypothetical $2m property owner who works a well paid white collar city job is middle class, and so is his neighbour who rents but has $2m in stocks and bonds returning him 10% per year.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 24, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  125. >So how do you define “middle class” Ben?

    It’s hard to put a perfect ring fence around it. But it’s a massive oversimplification to do so, usually. Mostly, I’d say it comes down to “people who are paid for their skills, and require that payment to maintain their lifestyles”. That doesn’t cover children or the retired, so it’s nowhere near perfect.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 24, 2014 @ 9:49 am

  126. Incorrect, Sanc. It’s true, that Marx implied cultural characteristics to class, but given that Marx viewed culture as arising from economic conditions, he’s still saying the qualifiers are purely economic.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — February 24, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  127. Marx would never have been stupid enough to put a dollar value on class, because it would be out of date in no time. Nor did he just define it by wealth averages and percentages in a “bottom 20%, top 5%” kind of way, because that kind of distribution can and has changed dramatically. He defined it by what they do, and how they are, to account for their function, how they spend their days, and how they exert power, a much longer lasting analysis. But the world has changed a great deal since then – the classes he observed have changed in proportional very radically, at least within the industrialized world (to which most of his analysis was dedicated). The middle class is far greater than it was then.

    It’s probably an analysis that isn’t much use any more, but there you go. The criticism of Cunliffe as being out of touch with the average to lower income NZers on account of owning a valuable property is nuts. His excellent income, perks and access to political power are far more likely to alienate him personally, and *every* successful politician has that. If he gets elected PM, he goes to live in snooty Vogel House, ffs. It’s not what people look at.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 24, 2014 @ 11:48 am

  128. So basically anyone who has been in a paying job for more than a couple weeks and has picked up a skill set is middle class now?

    The criticism of Cunliffe as being out of touch with the average to lower income NZers on account of owning a valuable property is nuts

    It sure is nuts: the entire point of this thread is pointing out how stupid Cunliffe was for pretending he didn’t own a valuable property.

    It’s not what people look at.
    Nobody gave a shit about Cunliffe’s house until he made an issue of it himself – hence this thread.

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — February 24, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

  129. >It sure is nuts: the entire point of this thread is pointing out how stupid Cunliffe was for pretending he didn’t own a valuable property.

    Yes, and it somehow manages to ignore that Cunliffe’s property is considerably closer to the mean than Key’s is, but equivocating is fantastic politics. Somehow Cunliffe is unable to mention that Key is one of the richest people in NZ because he himself is in what? The top 10% somewhere? That the quantitative difference between having a property that you live in that has tracked the average for an area that was once affordable, and having 50 million dollars, isn’t also a qualitative difference. So long as any politicians has an above average house, they’re in the same wealth category as the uber rich. I guess Key has worked his magic well, when anyone with more than 500k worth of property feels like they’re part of his class. A real everyman, never mind that he could afford to buy 40 Ferraris and would still be rich as afterwards.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 25, 2014 @ 9:51 am


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