The Dim-Post

August 15, 2012

Quick waffles about political positioning

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:25 am
  • The hypothetical National-New Zealand First-Conservative Party-Maori Party post 2014 coalition would be a conservative government, but it wouldn’t be able to implement much in the way of neo-liberal economic policy.
  • Others have already linked to this Radio New Zealand political debate, but if you haven’t heard it I recommend it for the novel yet queasy thrill of cheering and fistpumping Matthew Hooton as he demolishes the left-wing debater, Josie Pagani.
  • Related: another day, another Labour Party activist throwing up their hands in despair – but if you’re a Labour strategist this is a good thing. Their premise is that Labour’s activists are completely out of touch with middle New Zealand, so losing their confidence means the party leader is winning. See, guys like Scott Yorke – who is a lawyer working in the private sector in west Auckland – are completely out of touch with real New Zealanders. He sits there in his ivory tower in Te Atatu (where Labour’s party vote has declined by 5000 over two elections) with his young family and pontificates about politics but he doesn’t know the people of New Zealand the way professional strategists in Wellington do.
  • Also related: thinking about yesterday’s post – I think people like me who are interested in policy and ideology tend to overthink the role that politics and ideology play in politics. One of my basic premises is that ‘people don’t want idiots running their country.’ Did 800,000 people fail to vote Labour in 2011 on ideological grounds, or was it just that they looked like idiots? When you’re in opposition, the best way to not look like an idiot is to do a good job at making the government look like idiots.


  1. Labour’s vote in Te Atau dropped becuase they would not do a deal with Greens and Manu Parties. We have an MMP system in New Zealand and Labour is stilll not awake to how to work within that system to ensure a left wing government wins.

    Comment by Ron — August 15, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  2. the novel yet queasy thrill of cheering and fistpumping Matthew Hooton as he demolishes the left-wing debater, Josie Pagani.

    “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil” – Churchill, on the invasion of the Soviet Union.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 15, 2012 @ 10:56 am

  3. @Ron Or it’s because former labour voters of Te Atatu, much like me and many others, think Labour have completely lost their way. The percentage of folk leaning towards Labour, but then turning away as they’re not down with Mana (in particular) must be very, very small.

    Comment by Nathaniel — August 15, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  4. It all makes perfect sense when you remember that New Zealand slipped quietly into Bizarro World at some point during the last few years.

    Trust me. The more you look, the more you see it.

    Comment by Ugh — August 15, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  5. Ugh – slipped quietly? or jumped on a freakin huge circus train? either way the destination is the same – yet strangely familiar

    Comment by framu — August 15, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  6. Labour’s party vote went down in Te Atatu in 2011, but this mirrored the rest of the country. National’s party vote also declined in Te Atatu, which seems to show that a lot of people just stayed home on election day. However, the candidate vote was won comfortably by the Labour guy, Phil Twyford, and he got more votes that Chris Carter did in 2008. He ran a strong local campaign with a lot of visibility. People seemed to like Phil, his party not so much.

    The moral of the story is… actually I’m not sure what the moral is.

    Comment by Scott Yorke (@ImperatorFish) — August 15, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  7. I finally got around to listening to Josie Pagani on that NatRad link, and she is full of nonsense, but a very particular nonsense that reflects the wider abandonment of socialism in Labour in favour of post-modern relativism. I think Josie Pagani is nothing more than a post-modernist twit in a party founded on principles of modernity that she dimly aware her world view is instinctively hostile to. Socialism – a supremely modernist creation – believes science establishes facts, political theory establishes the social state, that secularism usurps religion, and in this country this expressed itself in our welfare state.

    This is why she is resistant to class based analysis – she has no time of the old paradigm of the rich, the middle class and the working class. She sees the world instead as the information elite, the middle class and an underclass. The information elite craft the message for the middle class and the underclass are ignored. Gone for Josie is the simple socialist focus on the wants of the poor and working class with objective measures of their needs; Instead there is a kaleidoscope of competing interests – such as feminism and biculturalism – which reject as patriarchal or culturally inappropriate scientific fact and replace class with cybernetics as an explanation of the organisation of society.

    Stripping politics of innate meaning and reducing it to merely debating the semantics needed to frame a huge number of individual (middle class) realities is a form of political nihilism that is consuming Labour from the top down and what is worse, Pagani’s post-modernist theoretical political twaddle fails even to survive contact with the corrosive effects of reality. When confronted by the unapologetic realpolitik of the economic/demographic divide and conquer politics of the hollow men she has no real answer, as Hooten showed when he wiped the floor with her. When confronted by the ugly intrusion of objective reality in the form of angry activists she retreats into denial of cognitive dissonance.

    In short, she is a not half as clever as she thinks she is smooth talking bullshit artist whose values are probably more aligned with the Greens than the Labour Party.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 15, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

  8. But Sanctuary, that’s what you always say.

    Comment by danylmc — August 15, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  9. That conservative coalition that you refer to, wouldn’t it require Key and Winston to work together? Is that really very likely? There is so much bad blood there already. Or does it suggest that either, or both, will be stepping aside before 2014? That’s not to mention Colin Craig, who Winston is in direct competition with, and they will probably have to try and destroy each other over the 2014 campaign just to survive. That’s going to leave a sour taste around the Cabinet table too, that is assuming that National would make a first term MP in Craig a minister. Lastly, Winston goes on a fair bit about Whanau Ora, and yet he would work with the Maori Party?

    All in all, that sounds like one crazily unstable government. National would be better off taking the loss and trying to regroup in 2017, with Winston out of the picture due to (ahem) age.

    Comment by alex — August 15, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  10. “National would be better off taking the loss”
    Campaign to lose? I’m not sure that is in their DNA? And would Craig really demand a portfolio first term?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — August 15, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  11. That National-led government doesn’t even have to be a mathematical possibility, if Labour/Greens gain just 1 % net in the polls, at National’s expense, every six months. No need for Winston or anybody else.

    Labour don’t have to buy into some self-destructive, deranged Pagani plan. They only need to be a bit less rubbish. (OK, a lot less rubbish).

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — August 15, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  12. Danyl

    800,000 people failed to vote for Labour in 2011 because there is a trend to the number of people that vote. 2011 showed the lowest voter turnout in several years. In 2014 there will be more of a turnout because more people will have a vested interest in what party leads the Government because more people than ever will receive some form of Government assistance (due to National spending billions on short-term roading jobs and nothing on permanent sustainable employment) and they will feel that this part of their income is under threat.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — August 15, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  13. sigh, Sanctuary plays commie bullshit buzz bingo, again.

    abandonment of socialism
    post-modern relativism
    secularism usurps religion
    class based analysis
    information elite, the middle class and an underclass
    simple socialist focus on the wants of the poor and working class
    kaleidoscope of competing interests – such as feminism and biculturalism
    reject as patriarchal or culturally inappropriate scientific fact
    replace class with cybernetics as an explanation of the organisation of society.
    frame a huge number of individual (middle class) realities is a form of political nihilism
    realpolitik of the economic/demographic divide
    politics of the hollow men

    Oh oh oh oh !!!!!! BINGO

    Comment by Tim — August 15, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  14. I think Winston and Craig’s opposition to neoliberalism is something that’s only there for election campaigns, not for governing.

    I still think the Conservatives getting into parliament is vanishingly unlikely, and it’s a possibility entertained only by diehard true believers and political analysts who like fantasising about a more diverse and thus more interesting party system.

    Comment by Hugh — August 15, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  15. @ Hugh – If the threshold comes down Craig will make it in I think, a lot of people who would have otherwise voted for him were probably detered by the wasted vote factor. Now that he has proven he can get somewhere, people will more seriously consider voting for him. Besides, this whole marriage equality thing won’t do him any harm, especially as most Nats seem fairly relaxed about it. The minority who are vehemently opposed will have a home in the Conservatives.

    What a depressing thought.

    Comment by alex — August 15, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

  16. >When you’re in opposition, the best way to not look like an idiot is to do a good job at making the government look like idiots.

    Also you have to look like you’re a legitimate government in waiting. Going around bitching about the only one of your colleagues articulating a position on something doesn’t make you look like a government in waiting. And then the leader dealing with a week later doesn’t make you look like you have a PM in waiting.

    This week we had a PM choosing to be out of the country watching a little league game when 2 NZ soldiers were being buried. Ugh.

    Comment by Karl — August 15, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

  17. Kid’s baseball game to go to…snap election ‘ploy’ to set up.

    Comment by Sunny — August 16, 2012 @ 9:04 am

  18. I have read Josie Paganis little middle class whine on her facebook page and Rob Salmonds more interesting view on pundit, and what they are missing – like rest of the complacent political/media establishment (viz. Claire Trevitt’s defence of the cosy political establishment in today’s Herald) – is the current global economic crisis has totally discredited the neo-liberal status quo in the eyes of the left, the left wing activist base, and all those hundreds of thousands who longer vote for the parties of a political establishment that offers a tweedle dee and tweedle dum defence of economic failure. Party activists have run out of patience and are no longer seeking managerial government, government for the sake of government, government just to keep the other lot out, but are looking for bold answers to a global crisis that is occurring on multiple fronts. Labour was founded as a party of meaningful reform to capitalism, something whose time has come again, and to put it bluntly if “pulling to the centre” involves accepting league tables and attacking teachers and beneficiary bashing and pandering to provincial red necks then we’d be far better off simply pulling the plug on the current Labour Party and starting again.

    “Paganiism” (you read it here first folks!) is, to me at least, the distillation of all that is wrong with the current Labour party, an organisation that has morphed from radical change agent into an self-serving institution that seems to think its mere existence is its own justification, a sort of political party as Wall street bank – “to big to fail”. As a result it is becoming a dangerously hollowed out institution and I suspect if Cunliffe and a half dozen MPs were to walk and create a “Real Labour Party” they would take most of what is left of the organisational and activist base with him, and I think under a more mature MMP electorate they could take at least half the Labour vote with them as well. The “traditional” Labour party would be reduced to a husk of Peter Dunne clones reliant on brand recognition to see them through to retirement, probably propping up a National government. What a legacy for Shearer, Mallard, King, Goff and Dyson! Forever known as the people who took an great political movement and remade into their own image.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 16, 2012 @ 10:54 am

  19. “we’d be far better off simply pulling the plug on the current Labour Party and starting again. ”

    Come now. There are plenty of moribund branches. Entryism is easier and more effective.

    Comment by Not a Trot — August 16, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  20. Given that National is likely to again be the largest party after the next election, why wouldn’t the Greens contemplate an arrangement with National (abstain on confidence and supply, perhaps?) rather than a messy coalition with Labour/Mana/Maori Party/NZ First, if National is unable to form a government? It should be a much cleaner arrangement with National able to agree on many Green initiatives and policies (or forced to with the alternative being not in government). Even if Greens + Labour + Mana + Maori Party + NZ First is a majority, this would be a very difficult coalition to arrange and sustain. Supporting National would give the Greens three years of implementing Green policies with only one partner in the negotiations.

    Comment by cctrfred — August 16, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  21. @cctrfred: It would probably be fatal for the Green’s popularity. Oh, sure, the Greens make the obligatory murmurs about being policy driven and committed to compromise, but Green supporters do not really take them to heart and will not believe they got what they were promised if/when the Green party is propping up a Key-led National government.

    @alex: Depends how low the threshold is dropped, but if it’s only to 4%, I really doubt it. Any right wing outrage over marriage equality will fade by 2014, and while I agree that there are probably a lot of National voters who prefer Craig’s stance on this issue, I don’t think they would switch preferences in significant numbers.

    As for the expectations factor an awful lot of voters thought the Conservatives would get in last time – out of naivete, I expect.

    I think if Craig is willing to burn as much money as he did last time he can probably maintain a 2.5% vote share, but that’s about it bar a general across-the-board political shift to the right – which is unlikely until we’re in the second term of a Labour government, which is a scenario I doubt Craig has the political stamina to hang in there for.

    Comment by Hugh — August 16, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  22. @CCT – I can’t see the Nats committing to any child poverty initiatives, let alone environmental initiatives.
    Or to put it in more realpolitik terms, heard much about the LibDems in Britain recently?

    Comment by alex — August 16, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

  23. @alex: I can see them signing up to the environmental stuff, and I can see the greens putting aside the child poverty stuff in the name of pragmatic compromise, which we are of course all warmly in favour of.

    Comment by Hugh — August 17, 2012 @ 1:08 am

  24. @Hugh/Alex

    If National ‘do a deal’ with Craig, he’s in. The Conservatives sit at 2.5% and they’ve got 3/4 MP’s.

    Will the voters of Rodney consider that palatable? Well, they’re so overwhelmingly National supporters that they could probably be convinced it’s worth a shot to maintain the government they prefer.
    Plus, Craig could campaign with “Vote Colin Craig – I’m not Banks or Hide”.

    Comment by Phil — August 17, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  25. @Phil: Yes, that’s true, I was really speaking about the possibility of Craig getting in based on his own campaigning, not on a nod/wink from National.

    I’d like to think the voters of Rodney would resist being turned into another Epsom, but you might be right. Question is, why didn’t they do that last election?

    Comment by Hugh — August 17, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  26. The state of labour politics is dire at the moment, if there were an early election and indeed even
    in 2014 the left vote would be for the greens and mana,hone has come into his own and
    sounds more believable than those currently in labour apart from cunliffe.
    It would be great to see cunliffe start a new party and he would have a big following,
    the old clark team needs to go,but they wont,they will hang on and in the process
    absolutely destroy labour as a true left party.

    Comment by anne — August 17, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  27. @ Hugh – Nah, the bottom would drop out of the activist base of the Greens if they compromised on something like child poverty. In many ways it is issues like that which are more important to Greens than the environment, because they are current and concrete issues, rather than long term problems.

    Comment by alex — August 17, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  28. Alex is right. Such a compromise would literally split the Greens apart. They’d lose a great number of their most important activists, and at least a couple MPs. More importantly though, there’s no desire for such a thing from any party of the party machine.

    Schadenfreude is watching the Labour leader’s office being forced to justify why his party will support Delahunty’s beneficiary bill, but won’t commit to supporting it. Despite it being the policy his MPs took to the electorate just 12 months ago.

    Comment by George D — August 17, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

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