The Dim-Post

August 17, 2015

Sense and ostensibility

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:15 am

Andrea Vance’s latest column starts with the Greens’ Rugby World Cup licensing fiasco:

Consoling beersies for the Greens, who spent much of the week as party poopers after initially opposing Seymour’s bill. They ended it as flakes, flip-flopping on their principles.

The whole episode points to a wider identity crisis in politics. In a blind taste test could you differentiate between parties?

Seymour stayed true to ACT’s roots as a voice for business. That does mark a departure from recent predecessor who put National’s interests ahead of all else, including their base support. With his bill, Seymour called out deficiencies in the Government’s alcohol reforms.

For some time, the Greens have positioned themselves as Parliament’s social conscience. Like death’s head at the feast, they made all kinds of rational objections to Seymour’s proposal.  But you couldn’t really hear them over the howls of “buzz kill.”

Perhaps tiring of their perennial Cassandra predicament, the Greens recognised this stance made them deeply unpopular. Quicker than you could say “Seymour is a populist” – they surrendered their principles.

I don’t think the Greens were acting ‘out of principle’. I’m sure they thought they were because they like to think everything they do is principled but I tried hard to figure out what, exactly, their principle was behind their opposition. They didn’t want ‘boozed up’ people spilling out onto the streets when schools were opening – which, c’mon, really? – only now they’re supporting a modified bill that allows exactly that, and congratulating themselves that the last week of toxic news coverage was a ‘win’ because Seymour might modify his bill.

The real reason for opposing the bill was that ACT was doing something populist, and ACT is the enemy and it’s generally a good idea to prevent your enemy from becoming more popular. But you can’t just say that out loud so you have to have an ostensible reason that the media and public will believe. The Greens didn’t so their opponents got to project their own motivations onto the decision. ‘The Greens are killjoys. They hate beer and rugby etc.’ Instead of blocking ACT’s popularity they enhanced it and made themselves deeply unpopular for no gain.

A core problem we have on the left, I think, is that very few of our MPs actually understand politics. Of course it depends on how you define the term – if you expand it to include policy and ideology and political history and hating neoliberalism then yes, sure, they know about that stuff. But on the actual core challenge of influencing the public to achieve power they are mostly demonstrably clueless. Worse, they’re blind to their cluelessness. ‘Bad at politics?’ They would snort. ‘Aren’t they MPs? Haven’t they risen to that height through their own political genius? Doesn’t that, by definition, make them awesome at politics?’

Are New Zealand First backbenchers ‘awesome at politics’? They are not. The leader of their party is and he needs people to fill out the rest of his caucus and his backbenchers are really just a bunch of nobodies who’ve lucked into that slot. And an awful lot of Labour and Green MPs have done pretty much the same thing. They’ve used parties founded by or led by people with political acumen as vehicles for entry into Parliament, stayed there, some of them for decades, while evidently learning nothing. How many left-wing MPs have won a seat off National recently? How many have taken down a Minister? Won cross-party support for a bill? How many have even increased the party vote in their own electorate?

Very few. National expects success from their MPs. If they don’t perform they ditch them. But both of our left-wing parties have contrived to build MMP parties that protect mediocrity and fail to incentivise electoral success. It’s a huge problem. We desperately need party structures that discourage MPs from making ridiculous unforced errors. MPs should be worried about what the 50,000 voters in their electorate will think of their decisions, not their friends in whatever faction empowers them, or the couple dozen activists who engage with them on twitter and support whatever they do.

The most successful opposition MP at the moment is Kelvin Davis. He’s also one of the newest MPs and his background is teaching. And he got in by winning a tough electoral race. That’s telling us something, I think, about the value of all those honors degrees in political science or backgrounds as political staffers or decades of parliamentary experience that his fellow, ineffectual opposition safe-seat or list MPs possess.

55 Comments »

  1. A core competency for an MP is Maths. First question: Is 61 votes in a 120 seat parliament greater or lesser than 59 votes?

    Comment by WH — August 17, 2015 @ 9:12 am

  2. Well if the Greens are trying to speak sense in a media-driven society, they’ll always look like killjoys. They were objecting to Seymour introducing a Bill in such and urgent and unseemly fashion, when it’s obviously just a way to sell more piss (ACT isn’t fighting for people to enjoy a quiet beer, come on!). They’ve at least raised debate about why we find this kind of thing so necessary when other more important parliamentary business goes stale.

    You seem to be suggesting that they need to play the ‘game’ of politics more, but shouldn’t there be at least one honest party?

    Comment by roy cartland — August 17, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  3. A core problem we have on the left, I think, is that very few of our MPs actually understand politics life.

    Life as it is lived by very ordinary people who, as often as not, are looked down upon by the likes of the Greens, even more so than by most modern Labour politicians.

    And then there’s the activists.

    For example, I get that the Wellington Sevens are somewhat of an eye-rolling exercise (Yes, I am somewhat of a snob), which is why I chuckled about your comment here years ago at the start of one tournament – “So I’m outta’ here, was I think the phrase used. But I’d be willing to bet that’s the attitude of most of your posters too and most Green activists: heaven forbid they dress up like idiots to trundle along to the Cake Tin to act like idiots for a day, while watching large men run around a paddock throwing rugby balls and crashing into one another.

    The Greens initial reaction was simply the extension of these attitudes into the political arena, and why the initial response to the counter-attacks was either a shrug of the shoulders – Of course this is sensible! Why would anybody argue?or a mystified expression at people getting their backs up (“I guess someone has to be the grown up sometimes”).

    Worse, they’re blind to their cluelessness.

    The cluelessness is bad enough, but the fact that it continues in spite of the repetitive, painful electoral punishment of it over many years, is the killer here.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 17, 2015 @ 10:28 am

  4. Nepotism, cronyism and sycophantiside is how you rise to the top in NZ, it makes the wheels go round, it’s not what you know but who you blow. Who hasn’t been done out of a job or lost some advantage to someone who was un-fairly appointed.
    The Greens appear lost their way, former representatives such as Nandor Tanczos and that ideology have been superseded by the New Era Green, James Shaw who in particular seems in many ways to be a mirror image of John Key. Previously many voters associated the Greens as an alternative life style party who for example openly discussed mariquana law reform. $900 million per year on C -class enforcement, 75% of Police resources dedicated to stopping people using weed as a form of recreation and pain relief. Americas legalisation has now created a Billion dollar generating industry, Alaska, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Holland, Canada, Colorado, Oregon, Portugal and the list goes on and on, what ever political party is willing to take that first step here will instantly capture 800,000 votes, user figures based from Health Dept stats, as for alcohol laws and the footy ?

    Comment by Woz — August 17, 2015 @ 10:36 am

  5. I’m more pessimistic, I think it’s an inevitable part of politics rather than a product of the particular MPs we have now.

    Though perhaps if your brand is Pragmatic then you might weather the inevitable tarnishing by political storms, scandals and compromises better than if it’s Pure.

    Comment by NeilM — August 17, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  6. Yoh make a great case for returning to an FPP electorate-only system, Danyl, although I suspect that was not your intention.🙂

    Comment by macdoctor01 — August 17, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  7. “Life as it is lived by very ordinary people who, as often as not, are looked down upon by the likes of the Greens, even more so than by most modern Labour politicians.”

    pretty sure you can throw in national, act, UF, NZF and the maori party in there as well – in short its an utter straw man

    Comment by framu — August 17, 2015 @ 10:50 am

  8. I’m sure they thought they were because they like to think everything they do is principled but I tried hard to figure out what, exactly, their principle was behind their opposition.

    I only caught the fringes of this story as point of contention seemed so meaningless, I didn’t really pay attention to it.

    My only thoughts on the matter were (i) why on earth did various GP spokesfolks roll out the oft ridiculed “think of the children!” line and (ii) why is so much political capital / airtime being wasted on this issue when the principal at stake seemed to be procedural?

    There is still massive mileage in genuinely embarrassing / cut-through issues like the Saudi story, TPP, potential state housing selloffs, the flag etc. and they’re still fucking around with this stuff.
    Boggles the mind

    Comment by Gregor W — August 17, 2015 @ 10:52 am

  9. …in short its an utter straw man

    There are elements of that in National – Tim Grosser and Christopher Finlayson perhaps being the leading examples – but electoral results and popularity say otherwise, which moves us from “straw man” to “Crosby Textor”.

    Worse, they’re blind to their cluelessness.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

    Comment by tom hunter — August 17, 2015 @ 10:56 am

  10. Not sure just how ruthless National is on poor performance, there is still a fair bit of dead wood there though of course there a lot more of them occupying Parlimentary seats
    There certainly doesn’t seem to be an obvious successor to the PM yet
    It is just with their smaller caucus Labour & Greens dead wood is more obvious

    Comment by rayinnz — August 17, 2015 @ 11:00 am

  11. “but electoral results and popularity say otherwise”

    doesnt actually remove straw from man

    Comment by framu — August 17, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  12. Firstly, the Greens are buying right into the narrative that says that substance abuse is a problem with substances. There are many people who are being damaged by our society (homelessness, mental health, low self respect, etc) – one of the symptoms of this is problematic substance use. The way to deal with this is by addressing the fundamental problems, not rolling out prohibition. Obviously the right don’t like this, as they have a vested interest in not fixing the real issues and maintaining an “other” to scare mainstream people with. The left should not be aligning themselves with this victim blaming (if you want to use identity-politics language).

    Secondly, yes, the government is privileging its constituency over people who want to go out and do something other than watch rugby, or take drugs other than alcohol. The answer to this isn’t to say “if I can’t have any fun nobody else should be able to” but to demand the same rights for us as for the boofheads.

    Empowering solutions, not authoritarian ones.

    Comment by richdrich — August 17, 2015 @ 11:31 am

  13. Reblogged this on Talking Southern Auckland and commented:
    Interesting comments on how ineffectual the main Opposition has been in the post Clark era.

    On a Twitter note I have been pondering over the recent Twitter culls and blocks I have been doing given this situation

    “not their friends in whatever faction empowers them, or the couple dozen activists who engage with them on twitter and support whatever they do.”

    Comment by Ben Ross - Talking Auckland — August 17, 2015 @ 11:41 am

  14. why is everyone talking a wildly different scenario to “we shouldnt let any old bar open for RWC with zero oversight”? – cause that was the actual issue.

    Comment by framu — August 17, 2015 @ 11:44 am

  15. RE: danyl’s point about Winston’s political skill, he’s demonstrating it today with his attack on Hosking in today’s Herald: “Hosking is National stooge”. Attack is the best form of defence in politics. But it’s not like Labour and the Greens doesn’t know this: it’s easy to find evidence of them attacking Key. It’s just that their punches don’t seem to land very often…

    I think, again, it might come back to a lack of self belief, or alternative ideology. Winston can attack National because he truly detests neoliberalism and is a classic nationalist/mercantilist. His attacks are underpinned by ideological conviction. When Labour attacks it is always kind of half-hearted because ultimately Labour supports neoliberalism, they just want to soften the edges a bit. It is hard to put your opponent on the ropes when you really don’t want to destroy him. The Greens suffer from this problem too, especially now that they’re trying to downplay their radical roots.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — August 17, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  16. Not a word about who in the Greens fits the bill at being incompetant ? I wonder why.

    Comment by dukeofurl — August 17, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

  17. @Tom Hunter:

    But I’d be willing to bet that’s the attitude of most of your posters too and most Green activists: heaven forbid they dress up like idiots to trundle along to the Cake Tin to act like idiots for a day, while watching large men run around a paddock throwing rugby balls and crashing into one another.

    If that was what the sevens was about, it would be one thing. But really it’s about getting dressed up (like idiots?) and having a drunken party in the Cake Tin stands whilst some rugby happens to take place nearby. Which is something that even non-snobby-Greens-supporting “real people” seem to be getting pretty tired of: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/sevens/10716945/Cheaper-Wellington-Sevens-tickets-not-selling

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 17, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  18. They should move the sevens to Porirua or Taranaki – get back in touch with grassroots, family event for the people, Pasifica, blah blah. Also, it’d get the munters out of our CBD.

    Comment by richdrich — August 17, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  19. More ex-teachers in politics could be terrible. Or brilliant.

    Comment by John Palethorpe — August 17, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  20. Which is something that even non-snobby-Greens-supporting “real people” seem to be getting pretty tired of…

    … but to demand the same rights for us as for the boofheads.

    Sniff!

    Chuckle.

    Comment by tom hunter — August 17, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

  21. Possibly an issue is that our Left parties have relatively democratic structures, in Labour’s case complex structures too, especially for list selection and perhaps this selects for candidates who are good at navigating those structures through internal networking and patronage, which is definitely a kind of politics, but not one connected with winning electoral success. A difficult problem to solve. I personally think parties should be democratic and have safeguards against entryism, and it would be bad if the price of that is not winning very much.

    We mustn’t discount the role of money either. To the extent required competencies can be bought, National is at a huge advantage. And 2nd tier performers can be found a safe and remunerative place in business to induce them to leave.

    This is all a bit whiny though. I mean, did this hurt the Greens with people who don’t already vote Green but conceivably might?

    Comment by Stephen J — August 17, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

  22. Sorry: s/boofhead scum/salt of the earth hard working Keeewees

    Comment by richdrich — August 17, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

  23. did this hurt the Greens with people who don’t already vote Green but conceivably might

    Made me less likely to give them money or volunteer – I’d probably still vote for them in the absence of any credible alternative.

    Comment by richdrich — August 17, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

  24. I’m not sure that *you* understand politics.

    Kevin Hague is a man with a concern for reducing harm in health. This bill came up and was obviously his portfolio. He took a position which then got adopted by his party, because they trust him. He and they didn’t think carefully enough about how this would be perceived in the media.

    The problem isn’t an “ostensible” reason. The problem is that they were too sincere and played it straight.

    Kevin Hague is a smart and generous man who likes rugby and beer. He also would have been a terrible leader of the Greens.

    Comment by Moses — August 17, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

  25. They were objecting to Seymour introducing a Bill in such and urgent and unseemly fashion

    Imagine you’re an MP and your future career depends on either winning or defending your electorate from the National Party. How do you feel about telling your constituents that you didn’t allow them to meet their mates in a bar to watch the rugby because the bill was introduced in an ‘urgent and unseemly manner’? It’s utterly insane, and MPs only do such moronic things because the party structure protects them from the direct consequences of their actions.

    The tribal nature of politics drives people to support ‘their team’ no matter what. But we need to acknowledge that a lot of our team have no idea what they’re doing, and we need to call them out when they screw up.

    Comment by danylmc — August 17, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

  26. NZFirst can do the same thing, but because there are men in the media who like what they say, their brand is well received by a group of Very Serious Men rather than pilloried.

    The Greens are usually smarter than this and think about how their position will interpreted. They got the spin wrong, but not the issue: on the very front page of the DomPost this morning there’s a Drunks in the Emergency Department story.

    Comment by Moses — August 17, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

  27. He and they didn’t think carefully enough about how this would be perceived in the media.

    A politician who doesn’t think through media coverage is like a mountain climber who didn’t realise there’d be heights.

    Comment by danylmc — August 17, 2015 @ 1:43 pm

  28. A politician who doesn’t think through media coverage is like a mountain climber who didn’t realise there’d be heights.

    Or a mountain climber who is aware that there are heights, but failed to read the storm clouds above and finds themselves climbing down.

    Given that there were actual reasons they opposed this, it makes sense to read this straightforwardly as a failure of political management rather than as boneheaded opposition to ACT with post-facto rationalisation.

    Comment by Moses — August 17, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

  29. Things could pick up for the centre left, Corbyn could be as sucessful as Tsipras.

    Comment by NeilM — August 17, 2015 @ 2:33 pm

  30. Imagine you’re an MP and your future career depends on either winning or defending your electorate from the National Party.

    That’s a pretty odd way to think of politics in New Zealand. We no longer have a 2-party system where parliamentary representation is a zero-sum game dependant on gaining a plurality in a particular geographical area. So why on earth would someone base their political decisionmaking on this line of thinking?

    Your point seems to be that there is no use having principles in politics if you aren’t in a position to deliver on them. Sort of, yeah … except that the Green’s mantra has always been that they are about changing outcomes, not getting power for powers sake. Because the flip-side to your position is that if getting into a position of power requries abandoning all your principles (as, I suggest, would be the case for a hypothetical Green electorate MP required to ask “will arguing this help me keep my seat from National?”) then what is the reason for your existence?

    Or, let me put this another way. Take any Green Party policy as espoused at the last election. Any one. Subject it to your “I’m an electorate MP – will this help me keep my seat from a National challenger?” test (and don’t just do so from a Wellington Central perspective … make the electorate Selwyn or Whanganui). How’s that working out for you?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 17, 2015 @ 2:45 pm

  31. Given that there were actual reasons they opposed this, it makes sense to read this straightforwardly as a failure of political management rather than as boneheaded opposition to ACT with post-facto rationalisation.

    This.

    The Greens quite regularly oppose legislative proposals because the process behind them is messed up, That’s because they actually care about good government and believe that if you don’t take care of the means, then the ends can turn out rather badly. So, for example, it withdrew its support for the Parole (Extended Supervision Orders) Amendment Bill 2009 when it discovered that this contained provisions that breached the NZ Bill of Rights Act … making it the only Party in the House not to vote for measures that were intended to keep controls on child abusers and rapists. So this is kind of what the Green Party is in Parliament for – someone has to care about this stuff.

    Maybe the bar opening issue was a time when they could have allowed pragmatism to overcome principle. OK. Fair call. But just how often do you want the party to do so … before it stops being the party you want?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 17, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

  32. We no longer have a 2-party system where parliamentary representation is a zero-sum game dependant on gaining a plurality in a particular geographical area. So why on earth would someone base their political decision making on this line of thinking?

    Because politics is, ultimately, local? Because National bases its strategy around maximising party votes in each electorate and this is a wildly successful model? Because most left-wing currently MPs gain access to Parliament by lobbying party factions or members instead of going out and campaigning or performing well in the election campaigns and this might help explain why they seem utterly divorced from political reality a lot of the time?

    I do genuinely believe that the majority of Green policies would survive the ‘holding Selwyn electorate’ test, because voters don’t really care about policy that much and most of the policy is sensible uncontroversial stuff – which is why the main parties tend to poach it. I don’t think policy is what prevents the Greens from winning votes. I think the MP’s tendencies to say and do weird, nutty things that don’t, generally, have much to do with the core values of the Green Party is our big problem, and they get to do that because the members don’t hold them to account for it properly.

    Comment by danylmc — August 17, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

  33. What Seymour proposed was just another exercise in troughing. The liquor laws allow special licences to be applied for. Seymour just wanted to make it free, and without proper consideration.

    Green opposition was rational.

    Comment by Andrew R — August 17, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

  34. Does any political party not aim to maximise the party vote in each electorate? This is like saying that the All Blacks aim to score more points than the opposition, no?

    Comment by Keir Leslie — August 17, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

  35. But National’s model revolves entirely around requiring individual candidates to put the Party first and their own personal electoral prospects a distant second. So – take Michael Woodhouse in Dunedin North. At a personal level, he would love to win this seat, even though his list placing means he doesn’t really ever need to. But his job isn’t to do so. And he knows this. His job instead is to remind Dunedin North voters that John Key is his party’s leader, that his party has a short set of key messages that are easily understood and that the opposition parties are a bunch of crazies who will undo six years of solid success. If he also wins Dunedin North, so much the better … but if he wins Dunedin North without having done his primary job, then he’s a failure.

    In fact, the closest thing we currently have to your “imagine you’re an MP and your future career depends on either winning or defending your electorate from the National Party” model of political thinking is Stuart Nash … who effectively ran a “Vote Me!” campaign in the Hawkes Bay that was a disaster for the Labour Party’s party vote. Would seventy of such campaigns throughout New Zealand really bring The Left to power?

    I think what you really want is for the Greens to show the same message discipline/organisational unity as National currently does. But such things don’t just come about simply by individuals thinking a bit harder about how they are acting, or imagining hypotheticals to guide their words/deeds. They are the product of institutional cultures and processes that develop over long periods of time. They are reflective of what the party is “for” – remember, National thinks of itself as the natural party of Government … the Greens think of themselves quire differently. They even wax-and-wane at different times – remember how National was a complete shambles back in 2002, while Labour was the “new normal” that would rule for generations to come.

    Does that mean that Kevin Hague should be beyond criticism for choosing to take a stand on Seymour’s bill? Well, no – not if, as a member of the Party (which I’m not, so really not my business) you think he’s harmed your organisation’s public perception. But I’d also point out that Hague is the only list MP from “the Left” who still lives outside of a main urban area (and yes, I count Dunedin as such). So if you’re wanting the Party to “base[] its strategy around maximising party votes in each electorate”, then you’re going to need more Kevin Hagues and a few less James Shaws.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — August 17, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

  36. “Because politics is, ultimately, local?”

    [Citation needed]

    We have a national campaign, and it’s pretty clear that many voters respond to national factors (they like Key, they think National are good economic managers) over local factors.

    Usually I am happy to see an anti-Green piece, but this really reads like a call for a return to FPP. All that’s missing is an explicit endorsement, of the system, but you come very close with the statement “MPs should be worried about what the 50,000 voters in their electorate will think of their decisions”, which doesn’t seem to even realise that list MPs or the party vote exist. This is particularly jarring when your advice is for the benefit of a party made up entirely of list MPs who all owe their presence in parliament to the party vote.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 17, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

  37. @kalvarnsen – I don’t read Danyl’s comment as a vague endorsement of FPP; more noting that it pays MPs (particularly of a minor party) to think pragmatically on occasion rather than be a victim of observer bias.

    I agree also that it’s important for GP MPs to think about electorates, even if it’s just to test hypothesis. They live in electorates after all and are surrounded by real humans who they interact with on daily basis, and who won’t necessarily draw the distinction between electorate and party political representation.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 17, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

  38. @Gregor – surely if there’s a vote Green MPs should be paying attention to, it’s the list vote, since that’s the vote that keeps them individually and their party collectively in Parliament? (With a brief exception for Jeanette Fitzsimmons in 1999)

    Of course you could argue, as Danyl often has, that the list vote is significantly informed by an aggregate measure of the party’s performance in 71 electorate contests, but again, [citation needed].

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 17, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

  39. Excellent piece Danyll. Thank you.

    I suspect most people don’t take much notice of what politicians say but do take notice of what they do. In this respect, I suggest Meteria Turei is an enormous liability who will drag down her recently appointed co-leader who appears to be a sensible and promising fellow.

    The subliminal message projected by Turei is the antithesis of everything I thought The Greens stood for. She projects an aura of stunning materialism and gluttony. I doubt she has ever been within a mile of a cycle way.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — August 17, 2015 @ 5:47 pm

  40. Also, I mean I know Selwyn’s an off-hand example, but. The voters of Selwyn have massive disagreements with Green party policy — Selwyn’s a farming, dairy-heavy electorate that is economically dependent on easy access to cheap water (and extractive agriculture more broadly), and they see the Green policies on water management and climate change as very very contrary to their economic interests. And the Green positions on water and climate change are pretty core, as I understand it.

    (Yes I do know that Eugenie Sage was elected on a water platform in Selwyn-Banks Peninsula, but that ward was very carefully mapped out, to put it politely.)

    So, I mean, I dunno. I don’t disagree with the stuff about discipline and thinking about how things will be received by the public and all that – but there is a core of disagreement that you can’t get around just by better political management.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — August 17, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

  41. Interesting stalk horse for change in Green candidate selection and their work in the House & Media when elected.

    Sounds like a call for a clean out and selection of some more pragmatic people with fine tuned antennae for the hoi polloi…… people who can’t be tarred with the bat shit crazy brush easily?

    Has Mr Shaw identified the current crop in caucus are a liability to achieving a balance of power position and being able to work with either major party and actual use that to advance green issues from inside government?

    Comment by dave1924 — August 17, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

  42. @kalvarnsen – yes, courting the party vote is important to the GP for obvious reasons, but that doesn’t preclude their MPs thinking about how policy plays out at the electorate level.
    After all, MPs spend time going to local events to stump for party support. One would presume that they couldn’t help in some way, being influenced by electoral affairs and undercurrents.

    Also from a purely practical level, the National party spend an enormous about of time and effort creating a local, blokey persona for Key which he assiduously cultivates at every opportunity, on the basis that this will rub off on otherwise mostly unappealing local candidates.

    It seems to work for them.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 17, 2015 @ 7:31 pm

  43. What Seymour proposed was just another exercise in troughing. The liquor laws allow special licences to be applied for. Seymour just wanted to make it free, and without proper consideration.

    Green opposition was rational.

    There have been Northern hemisphere Rugby World Cups before. During the last one, liquor laws permitted bars to open early morning to screen the matches. Is there any evidence whatsoever that their doing so presented a particular problem of the nature that Kevin Hague was complaining about? Were there increased drink driving injuries near schools? Were emergency admissions inflated well beyond normal for the appropriate day of the week? In other words, is there actually a rational basis for opposing this policy?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — August 17, 2015 @ 8:46 pm

  44. so the real message of this post is that after staff room politics at a high school anything else is a freaking doddle?

    Comment by sheesh — August 17, 2015 @ 10:04 pm

  45. Kapai, Danyl. Politics, well done is a strange mixture of heightening the contradictions and recognising our common humanity

    Comment by Tinakori — August 17, 2015 @ 10:42 pm

  46. @Gregor W: That’s exactly my point – National wins electorates through a successful national campaign, not through 70 odd quixotic local campaigns each with a different approach to fit the idiosyncratic circumstances of each electorate.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 17, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

  47. @kalvarnsen – I think we’re talking at cross purposes here.

    I’m suggesting its sensible to think at a local / electorate level when considering how national policy discussions and positions of principle will play out.

    Effectively, sense checking how political messages might be received by Joe & Jane Average in Hutt South who are, for arguments sake, more interested in the political process when the story is about the Rugby World Cup than about river pollution.

    I’m not suggesting campaigning for an electorate on local issues.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 18, 2015 @ 6:29 am

  48. Effectively, sense checking how political messages might be received by Joe & Jane Average in Hutt South …

    Did Waitakere Man and his better half move recently? And, if so, does this mean that we’re now saying Chris Trotter was right?

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 18, 2015 @ 7:25 am

  49. ” During the last one, liquor laws permitted bars to open early morning to screen the matches.”

    so whats different – from a legal perspective – this time round? – maybe the way seymours bill was worded had something to do with it? (thats just a guess)

    Comment by framu — August 18, 2015 @ 8:10 am

  50. “people who can’t be tarred with the bat shit crazy brush easily?”

    i dont think thats escapable – there is an entire PR machine (regardless of whos in power) whos sole purpose is to denigrate opponents and muddy the waters. Ergo, the greens will always be tarred as such because morris dancing. Act will always be tarred as fringe monetary cultists, the maori party gets an alternating bludger or trougher etc etc

    Comment by framu — August 18, 2015 @ 8:16 am

  51. @43 Graeme Edgeler With respect to my comment yoy pose the wrong question. My question is whether the existing law is broken so that it needs special legislation. Cheers.

    Comment by Andrew R — August 18, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  52. And, if so, does this mean that we’re now saying Chris Trotter was right?

    Not necessarily.
    Trotter’s notion was more about forming policy based on hypothetical conservative demographic that was not enamoured with Labour’s ideological / identity settings.

    This is more about under what conditions you communicate a certain POV without necessarily changing policy – basically whether it’s worth dying in a ditch over something, or whether you merely make the point then STFU.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 18, 2015 @ 9:35 am

  53. My question is whether the existing law is broken so that it needs special legislation.

    In my opinion, a law which imposes restrictions on people without real benefit is broken.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — August 18, 2015 @ 9:37 am

  54. @Gregor W: I agree that it makes sense to look at how the “average joe/jane” will perceive issues. But I think any unbiased look at that will show that the average joe and jane’s viewpoint does not, except on a handful of issues, differ significantly depending on where in the country they are, and that it’s perfectly possible to build a successful political platform that glosses over the few times it does differ.

    Danyl’s prescription that MPs should pay attention to electorate votes, and by implication ignore list votes, seems to contradict what I’m saying. I assumed, since you seemed to be agreeing with him, that you thought so too. Perhaps I was too hasty.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — August 18, 2015 @ 10:11 am

  55. Imho the Green MP best at the practical art of politics was Sue Bradford – she got through multiple core Green principle bills through building community and political coalitions, not least the incredibly controversial s59 repeal.

    My observation from a lot of time doing politics but particularly in the last five years being a politician, is that those who are good at making change are quite rare. Far more common are those good at stymying change (deliberately or accidentally) which is good for the status quo and IMHO is a big part of the sad dinance of small c conservatism in NZ’s local govt.

    Comment by juliefairey — August 18, 2015 @ 11:47 am


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