The Dim-Post

July 29, 2016

Notes towards a Red Queen hypothesis of New Zealand politics

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:30 am

Gordon Campbell has a Roland Barthes-based theory on John Key’s enduring popularity (Key is actually less popular than his party nowadays). I’ve had a non post-structuralist theory about the dynamics of New Zealand politics for a while:

  • The two left-wing opposition parties (Labour and the Greens) aren’t competing against the government in any substantive sense. They’re competing against each other for the same reasonably small pool of university educated urban liberal voters.
  • The reasons for this are partly strategic but mostly cultural: both parties are dominated by members of this small but influential class.
  • So policy and messaging are both directed at them and not at the much larger pool of centrist soft National voters. Which is why Labour spent the first half of the year talking about free university degrees, a universal basic income and medicinal pot, issues of little valence to middle New Zealand but endless fascination to left-wing intellectuals.
  • And its why there’s virtually no movement from National to Labour in the polls. All those voters (80-90% of the population?) are mostly ‘excluded from the narrative’ (to quote Barthes?). The left-wing political parties are working hard, but running as fast as they can just to stay in place with each other in relative terms.
  • Because they’re immersed in their own class, both in Wellington, other urban enclaves and in the social media world, the caucus, party and staffers of these parties are constantly validated by their courtship of this demographic. Only polls and the occasional election interrupt the discourse.
  • And because they are so indulged in terms of policy and messaging, members of this class are baffled by the failure of the rest of the country to be equally persuaded about the merits of changing the government.
  • This culture and process constrains either party from any attempt to break out of this dynamic.

57 Comments »

  1. Great analysis and one I largely agree with. Time is ripe for a party representing the 25-40 demographic who have “reasonable” opinions where the current government is so obviously wide of the mark: have a reasonable discussion about migration policy, equalise tax treatment of housing, build a lot more houses, stop the Joyce-driven corporate welfare and clean up the excesses of agriculture. A “New Zealand Party” for the millennial/young genX generation

    Comment by Upton Sinclair — July 29, 2016 @ 8:46 am

  2. @ Upton

    that sounds a lot like the Greens…good luck with that 10%. It also sounds like the kind of solution that danyl is decrying.

    Comment by insider — July 29, 2016 @ 9:02 am

  3. Really good analysis Danyl, and swiftly leads to the conclusion that the Greens should abandon the Left to Labour and Mana, and move far to the right, to capture environmentally conscious but economically orthodox National voters.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 29, 2016 @ 9:09 am

  4. @A.

    The Greens are driven by their membership, so for the Greens to move to the right, their membership would need to utterly change. That is, not going to happen.

    Comment by RJL — July 29, 2016 @ 9:15 am

  5. I think this is pretty much spot on.
    So the challenge now becomes that, given that all existing parties are hidebound by history and inherent managerialism, what sort of genuine Liberal Party (both economic and social) can be formed and where some populist will spring from to lead it?

    Comment by Gregor W — July 29, 2016 @ 9:26 am

  6. @RJL I was mostly joking

    Comment by Antoine — July 29, 2016 @ 9:29 am

  7. Doesn’t it mean that the left as a whole should focus on actually engaging with issues that concern those soft National voters and tailoring their messaging to them instead of placating their base and the educated liberal elite?

    Comment by RHT — July 29, 2016 @ 9:31 am

  8. @RHT,

    Yes – it should. But Danyl’s given his reasons as to why he thinks this will not happen. The failure of Meteria Turei to alert Labour to her “we’ll take prices down 40%” gambit perhaps is illustrative of this problem.

    Comment by Flashing Light — July 29, 2016 @ 9:35 am

  9. This is odd, because one of the repeated criticisms of Labour from elsewhere is that it is too focused on middle New Zealand. If you look at what Labour has actually talked about, it’s been housing, jobs, health, education. Look at their PRs, look at the questions in the house, look at their social media feeds. The media’s fascination with pot or UBI are noteworthy, but Labour actually hasn’t said much about those things at all.

    Comment by Jamesy — July 29, 2016 @ 9:37 am

  10. “Greens are driven by their membership”
    Strange that none of the Greens I know knew anything about the latest policy on driving down house prices. Did that ever go before the Policy section or was it just made up on the hoof? At the latest branch meeting not a single person was aware of the policy

    Comment by Ximenes — July 29, 2016 @ 9:41 am

  11. Sound theory. But I wonder if anyone is actually collecting the data to see if it’s true or not. From what I’ve seen, the typical opinion polls are superficial — they don’t really dig deep into why people are sticking with National. Surely there is some research out there that looks at this? If Labour and the Greens are collecting this data, which they should be, surely they would have changed their approach to target these soft voters? It seems weird that in a country as small and as developed as New Zealand we have to speculate so much on why people are voting in a certain way…

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — July 29, 2016 @ 9:42 am

  12. Yes – I agree Danyl – I think the cultural divide is very deep – A couple of weeks ago I went back to the provincial city where I grew up and was walking around a park with my five year old boy and we came across a senior game of football which he wanted to watch – after about ten minutes the referee gave a penalty against the home team – to which those on the sideline responded with a torrent of abuse including the word ‘homo’ which continued on and off until I convinced my boy we should go

    I complained to the bloke next to me about the response and while he agreed that it was bad he said the ref made the wrong call.

    Back in my big city inner suburb I attend school/community meetings where people talk in a politically correct/safe language that drains all the meaning out of words/conversations

    For what it’s worth I think NZ culturally is a very very very conservative place (both in and outside the cities) and the media distorts the true extent of this. (I hope the anti-smacking law will slowly erode this hard conservative culture)

    One possible way Lab/Greens can change quickly (burst the bubble) is to select local candidates for seats and institute term limits for all their MPs

    Comment by rodaigh — July 29, 2016 @ 9:42 am

  13. A long time ago (maybe 2008 0r 2011) the New Zealand people by and large gave up on respecting any semblance that remained of a sensible voting system in this country, seeing how it all seemed rather staged. The PM should have long ago resigned in one of the many scandals that has plagued him and his Government. That is why National seems to have remained popular. People have learned that if one certain powerful former currency trader wants to hole himself up in Parliament House for eternity, then they are powerless to stop him, so they keep voting him in, no longer bothering to argue with it.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 29, 2016 @ 9:45 am

  14. @ Daniel

    I suggest you read danyl’s second to last bullet point , then reread your comment and have a wee think…

    Comment by insider — July 29, 2016 @ 10:10 am

  15. ” If you look at what Labour has actually talked about, it’s been housing, jobs, health, education. Look at their PRs, look at the questions in the house, look at their social media feeds. The media’s fascination with pot or UBI are noteworthy, but Labour actually hasn’t said much about those things at all.” All of this is true.

    I think you’ll find medicinal pot has a lot of valence with Labour’s working-class supporters too, but UBI seems to alienate just about everyone except educated liberals. But those are interesting/controversial issues that allow the Nats to bodyslam or powerbomb Labour/Greens to a crowd of jeering provincial and middle NZers.

    My question is what allows someone like John Key to take on that wrestler-in-chief role? It seems to be some charisma, a common touch, plus some perceived expertise – in Key’s case in business/finance. It doesn’t matter whether he is telling the truth because Kiwis like him as a person, find him entertaining, and he pretty much knows what he’s doing when it comes to money.

    Comment by RHT — July 29, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  16. Regardless of its actual merits, UBI is one of the worst possible policies to talk about as an opposition party. It’s just so easily caricatured. Only an actual government with poltical captial to burn and solid research backing it up could ever hope to get people to support it.

    Comment by Gareth Wilson — July 29, 2016 @ 10:26 am

  17. There are many who are fed up with Key/National but cannot yet see why they should vote for anyone else. I am banking on Labour/Greens firing up the electorate with clear, easily understood, credible policies over the next 12 months. Much sooner and that huge fleet of Government munchins will sabotage and ridicule the plans, or adopt them as National’s own if they resonate.

    Comment by ianmac40 — July 29, 2016 @ 10:59 am

  18. Agree with part of your analysis, but not entirely. The Left has been out of power for nearly two electoral cycles and there are obvious difficulties to interest new potential supporters.

    Comment by Hutts Blogging World — July 29, 2016 @ 11:04 am

  19. To be fair, UBI was *never* announced as policy. It was listed among a range of ideas that had come up in a consultation, and was clearly marked as such, and each time Robertson or Little were asked about it they said “this is not policy, it is one idea that has come up in a consultation”.

    Not sure how Labour can be blamed for ‘spending half the year talking about UBI” as Danyl suggests when that’s patently not true. Unless of course you think parties in opposition should be forbidden from consulting on policy.

    Comment by Jamesy — July 29, 2016 @ 11:58 am

  20. “My question is what allows someone like John Key to take on that wrestler-in-chief role?”

    Maybe something to do with the media treating him as their go-to opinion generator on everything from who’ll win the rugby to who he’d like to fuck? He’s a celebrity. Unless you’ve personally met the man, most people in this country know Key through his numerous, favourable media appearances. Then the same media turn around and wonder “how is he so popular?”.

    I know it’s become a cliché to ‘blame the media’, but the way people think Key has some x-factor without acknowledging the media’s influence astounds me. Yes, it helps he’s not a total charisma vacuum like the opposition puts up every year, but if the media decided to destroy him tomorrow, they could (look what happened when they all decided to report on the sudden ‘housing crisis’).

    Comment by James — July 29, 2016 @ 12:06 pm

  21. Daniel Lang wrote; “People have learned that if one certain powerful former currency trader wants to hole himself up in Parliament House for eternity, then they are powerless to stop him, so they keep voting him in, no longer bothering to argue with it.”

    I think that’s completely wrong – the voters of New Zealand can easily vote John Key out, by voting for other parties. And they know it. The fact is that John Key keeps getting re-elected because people keep voting for his party.

    I’m not going to give one reason and say that’s the reason why so many people keep voting National, because there’s never just one reason. I suspect it’s partly because John Key comes across as non-threatening, partly because his background in the financial markets means he doesn’t need to make an effort to convince people that he understands economics, partly because Labour haven’t been coming across as a party that’s got it together. Another issue is that rising house prices make people who own homes without big mortgages feel rich, and make people who own homes with big mortgages feel they need to keep with the status quo lest any change means house prices stop rising.

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — July 29, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

  22. Danyl I think your analysis is rooted in a subjective assumption that National represents the normalised status quo, against which the enfeebled urban intellectuals of the left engage fitfully in a hopeless struggle. In my view, your argument fails on two counts. First, it gives National a free pass. Coming back to New Zealand, my eyes see a country more acutely defined by subtle and not so subtle class markers than any one of the dozen European I have lived in or frequented in the last year. National’s MPs are drawn from exactly the same narrow class of the bourgeois as the two opposition parties, because New Zealand in general is now a highly stratified society that relies on a tiny elite for it’s leadership class. National’s continued success is simply because of the “James Shaw” effect. Both of the opposition parties merely offer variations of an established globalised economic order, and the voters of the top 30% that make up the dominant white settler culture that is the politically engaged class in NZ and that the ruling elite still engages with via (limited) social mobility is still enjoying a stable standard of living and prefers the authentic neoliberal corporate capitalism of National to the unconvincing knock offs of the “left.” The 30% or so of the population that is the globally mobile members of the white settler class that are winners from neoliberalism neatly coincides with National electoral support. The me to mangerialism of Labour and the Greens is utterly ineffective in winning over those voters.

    I also think the slowly boiled frogs of New Zealand simply have no idea how utterly inane, vacuous and awful the local broadcast media is in NZ. The broadcast media should play a major role as the fourth estate in examining society and holding power to account, but instead it just engages in presenting a single narrative that peddles a series of pernicious myths that adds up to TINA propaganda toool of awesome power for the ruling class. Typically, a news broadcast in NZ begins with an assurance we live in paradise, a bit of celebrity news (just today via the worship of the NBR rich list), some human interest clickbait, a bit of foreign news, some local news *today a miner killed in Waihi complete with a uncritical report from the mine manager, who presumably is prima facie responsible for health and safety, expressing his shock as if he has no role to play in the mines safety at all. Then sport and weather and traffic. It is news designed to keep invisible the excluded and reinforce the dominance of the ruling class. Opinion is dominated by apologists for the elite.

    The biggest issue for the left is the failure of it’s political representatives to articulate a genuinely alternative suit of policies for change rooted in a confident and coherent alternative ideological analysis. The political left in New Zealand is hopelessly middle class, excessively deferential to the rule of law and sees its political role as a self perpetuating end unto itself rather than as a vanguardism for economic and political revolt against the elites. They have not beeen fit for purpose for at least fifty years, and it shows. Opposition to the dominant class that our poltical parties draw their members from will have to be political but only as the end to a wider plan of action that will have to involve at the least violence against property. We need to clear the decks are replace the leadership of the left with those who understand that only by making the cost of waging class war more expensive than the cost of seeking an accommodation can the global elites be brought to the table.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 29, 2016 @ 12:23 pm

  23. Looks like Sanc is back in town

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 29, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

  24. I think there’s something to this.

    But personally I won’t vote Labour as I support the TPPA (like The Clark Govt), support an internationalist approach to defense and so support our cooperation with Obama over Iraq (like Clark’s with Bush over Afghanistan) and reacted in horror over the Chinese sounding names insinuations and ongoing attempts to blame foreigners for our problems.

    Labour needs to decide if it’s the party of Hager and Kelsey and go down the Corbyn route to glorious defeat or not.

    Comment by NeilM — July 29, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

  25. True, I suspect.

    Delivering leaflets in Epsom recently it became clear a Chinese translation would have been useful. Who’s talking to those voters? Assuming they vote.

    Comment by truthseekernz — July 29, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

  26. > Key is actually less popular than his party nowadays

    Is this not true of pretty much all party leaders, except Winston?

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 29, 2016 @ 12:47 pm

  27. Twitter doesn’t help the left as it has become a echo chamber not unlike the standard.

    Comment by Graham — July 29, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

  28. National’s continued success is simply because of the “James Shaw” effect.

    Just between us, Sanc, I suspect James is a primary reason why so many NZ business elites suddenly sound like a bunch of god-damned communists.

    Comment by danylmc — July 29, 2016 @ 1:35 pm

  29. Inertia keeps National in government. Once their problems start to pile up AND the opposition looks competent National will lose. This same inertia kept Labour in govt for 9 years last time.

    National and Labour-Greens are too similar in their economics for centrists to care who is in government.

    Comment by James Green — July 29, 2016 @ 1:35 pm

  30. Hey, there are possible exits from the Red Queen dynamic. Some are:
    – Labour manages to cannibalise Green vote to such an extent that Greens drop below 5%
    – Greens manage to cannibalise Labour vote to such an extent that Labour drops below 5%
    – Labour and Greens accidentally win an election and discover they actually have to work together for a change.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 29, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

  31. @insider, I’m sticking with my theory.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — July 29, 2016 @ 1:55 pm

  32. @Daniel

    Aaaaaaand that’s Danyl’s last bullet point🙂

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 29, 2016 @ 2:01 pm

  33. “…Labour needs to decide if it’s the party of Hager and Kelsey and go down the Corbyn route to glorious defeat or not…”

    This is the most oft repeated claim by the neoliberal Blairites in the UK as well. The central appeal to authority of the managerialist left is it’s ability to win elections. Political power within the confines of the Westminster system is an end unto itself. The problem is that the soft right managerialists don’t win elections. Their appeal is to an already vanished era of Clark and Blair. No third way neoliberal managerialist party of the “centre” has won power since the GFC and the globalisation of labour force competition smashed the central premise of the establishment lefts policy of appeasement to unbridled capitalism. The NZ and UK PLPs (plus the mainstream liberal broadsheets in the UK and the NZ Greens, who adopted a managerialist just in time to join in the decline to irrelevance of managerialism) are floundering with hopelessly out of date world views. As Robert Reich http://robertreich.org/post/147866112730 recently noted, the idea of the appeal to the centre is out of date “…There’s no longer a “center.” There’s authoritarian populism… …or democratic populism…” Farage and Trump on the right and Corbyn and Saunders on the left are the modern political battlegrounds. Despite their age, Corbyn and Saunders have the priceless advantage of credibility with a youthful audience hungry for radical action against a corrupt political system.

    The pundits keep writing off UK Labour, but how can you write off a party with 600,000 members?? The liberal elite is living in a bubble. Corbyn may not be electable. But he doesn’t have to be. The point is he is leading an ideological modernisation of the parliamentary left in the UK that will make Labour fit to thrive into the 21st century. The seeds he and Momentum are sowing now will produce a whole new leadership generation with five to ten years. The elfts opposition to capitalism requires a mutli pronged approach of which winning elections is but one thrust. To fight the good fight on all the required fronts and using all the required tools you need 600,000 members, trade unions, militant civic action and a PLP.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 29, 2016 @ 2:26 pm

  34. The rest of the country doesn’t pay attention to political debate. Swinging of policy statements one way or the other makes little difference. The policies you talk about amongst yourselves isn’t hurting you or helping you, as no one is listening.

    You get judged on your performance when in power.

    You hold power in Auckland Council. Do a better job.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 29, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

  35. “Key is actually less popular than his party nowadays”

    I’m not quite so sure about that. It’s a common assumption (Matthew Hooton, amongst others, has emphasised it), but I think Nat/Key support is actually a damn sight closer than a number of pundits realise. No one I’ve read seems to realise that the Party-Vote support figures (in both the One News Colmar Brunton and Newshub Reid Research Polls) exclude those unlikely to vote as well as the Undecided – hence a smaller base than the sample as a whole. Whereas, crucially, the Preferred PM stats take the entire sample as their base. In the last CB, for example, Party-Vote base was 1245 / Preferred PM base was 1509. Looks to me like the Nats were only a smidgen higher than Key himself.

    •”Labour and the Greens … (are) competing against each other for the same reasonably small pool of university educated urban liberal voters.”

    Bear in mind that recent NZES analyses suggest a majority of Labour voters are, in fact, socially/morally conservative and that a majority of liberals vote National. (although, I’d agree that a crucial section of the highly-educated New Middle Class has long favoured the Left – and I’d say the Greens are winning that war, with the decisive battle being the 2011 election). On top of that: lower socio-economic groups do still prefer the Left (and, more broadly, Opposition) Blocs to National and the Right (even if the Nats manage to just pip Labour by itself). It would be wrong to characterise Labour’s (and possibly even the Greens’) voting base as overwhelmingly urban middle-class (admittedly with the Greens it’d be a close-run thing – but its easy to understate their lower and lower-middle support. People shouldn’t mistake Pasifika voters for the working-class as a whole).

    •”So policy and messaging are both directed at them and not at the much larger pool of centrist soft National voters.”

    I personally feel this emphasis on swing voters being inherently “centrist” is a bit simplistic. Better to analyse their views on a issue-by-issue basis (and to recognise – as you obviously do – the power of Valence issues). Not to mention the urgent need for the Left to mobilise that big chunk of former Labour voters (particularly blue-collar) who have moved into non-voting (or, if they’re under 30, haven’t started voting yet). Not talking about the hardcore non-voters*, but the known Labour-friendly ones able to be mobilised. the missing 100,000 rather than million.

    * Tories and Blairites love to caricature the ‘missing Million’ thesis.

    •”And its why there’s virtually no movement from National to Labour in the polls … baffled by the failure of the rest of the country to be equally persuaded about the merits of changing the government.”

    There certainly was over the 2012-2013 period and again over the months immediately following Little’s election as leader (admittedly, former Labour supporters who deserted from May 2015 returning). But I think we have to be careful about assuming the latest Roy Morgan is accurate. Might be, might not be. There’s no doubt National’s support began to fall in the wake of the flag referendum and Panama Papers affair – certainly in the Roy Morgans but also in both Labour’s (UMR) and National’s (Curia) internal polling. Let’s just wait and see what the next Colmar Brunton and Roy Morgan have to say for themselves.

    Comment by swordfish — July 29, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

  36. It’s a self-supporting theory, because any questioning of it here will be within that bubble. Ergo, criticism = proof.

    But I don’t think the Labour/Green camps are “baffled”. The politics is straightforward – the economy isn’t terrible for many, and the rest of the world feels like it is. That would assist an incumbent government, and it certainly assists a cautious, tacking and trimming one.

    I’d guess your average swing voter used to like Key, and now thinks he is a bit of a dick, but harmless enough – if they own their home.

    As for the renters, they might march or riot for change if things get worse, but it’s more likely to be against immigrants, than for a capital gains tax. Alas.

    Comment by sammy 4.0 — July 29, 2016 @ 4:57 pm

  37. “Looks like Sanc is back in town”

    I’m sure he’ll be giving us the benefits of the tremendous insight his holiday in Europe gave him into NZ culture for years to come.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — July 29, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

  38. Ortvin, I couldn’t be bothered reading the latest diatribes about how stupid everyone who doesn’t agree with politics is. How many times did he mention Spain?

    Back to the topic, I find the “shy tory” phenomena fascinating. It certainly makes the left over estimate the support they have when they use social media as a gauge.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — July 29, 2016 @ 10:30 pm

  39. Cliff Clavin,you are an idiot of limited use, but I guess you are probably a happy idiot of limited use. Poor old Ortvin however nurses dark grievances from the misty past of teh interwebs, which surely must weary him. We are here because we are all conceited enough to have an opinion we feel sufficiently elevated from the mass to be worth favouring Danyl’s audience. The funny thing is, I have no idea where, what or how I may have said something to upset him, and so I would suggest that a) worrying about something I spouted aeons ago on some forum is a complete waste of his time and b) that he let the ghost of electrons past go cos he is an interesting contributor and his grudge is therefore dismaying and detracting.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 30, 2016 @ 12:26 am

  40. Considering changing my handle to “A happy idiot of limited use”. I could still sign off as A.

    Comment by Antoine — July 30, 2016 @ 4:31 am

  41. Always more than happy to read Sanc’s punchy, hard-hitting analyses and eloquent prose. And while it’s very rare for me to scroll over his comments, I can’t necessarily say the same about those emanating from various Tories – whether of the shy variety or otherwise.

    Comment by swordfish — July 30, 2016 @ 9:22 am

  42. I’d add a few bullet points prior to Danyl’s:
    – The National Party has no ideology other than preventing the left from getting/retaining power, it was founded for this purpose after all.
    – John Key is the ‘most National’ leader as he does whatever it takes to prevent the left from becoming a government by being pretty shameless (in the literal sense of the word) by both going on breakfast radio talking about masturbating and also U-turns on policy whenever the political wind blows. He can take whatever position is necessary to placate the “centrist soft National voters” and leave Labour and the Greens fighting over those urban liberals.
    – He is able to do this because there isn’t any political force to his right. Imagine if the Conservatives hit the 5% threshold votes and suddenly John Key needed to spend time talking about abortion or the death penalty (or any outside of mainstream right wing policy you can think of) that’s been raised by the party that would be seen to be propping up his government.
    – So the National Party has a free hand to out compete Labour for those soft centrists (who are both defending their left flank and defending what that left flank comes up with to those soft centrists). Which leads on to the problems Danyl outlines.

    Comment by Ric O'Shea — July 30, 2016 @ 10:32 am

  43. Sanctuary, cheers for that. Outside of the internet or the Venezuelan government encountering some with the outdated hard left opinions you have is like finding a wollemi pine so in that regard your opinions have value . I do find it odd that someone would bash their heads against a brick wall trying to defend an ideology thats failed so miserably time and time again wherever and whenever its been tried, that is the definition of insanity isn’t it?
    My personal favourite was the time time you said NZ needed to become a decent society again and then in the next post excused shooting WINZ workers because it was a sign that people think they are being ignored and marginalised.
    You said this the day before benefits were increased along with the minimum wage and National introduced measures that harshly punished management for not protecting their employees.

    Once again I digress, the shy tory thing probably applies to Trump as well especially when he’s up against someone with the baggage Clinton has . The democratic party and labour in its various incarnations have reached out to people who are incredibly vocal especially online but comparatively small in number. It distorts the feeling they get about how the wider public sees them because no one wants to be seen to not like the various policies they tweet or facebook when deep down someones reading a diatribe about crashing property prices or something similar and thinking “I don’t actually give a shit about that/think its insane, but want my friends to think I do”.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — July 30, 2016 @ 11:29 am

  44. The democratic party and labour in its various incarnations have reached out to people who are incredibly vocal especially online but comparatively small in number.

    It’s hard to pin point exactly but the people interested in politics spending more time doing politics on the internet must be having some unusual consequences.

    And if those with the time to do this are either highly motivated activist types or those with the resources to spare the time then it’s going skew things somewhat and exaggerate the gap between them and most other people in society.

    Comment by NeilM — July 30, 2016 @ 11:45 am

  45. Sanctuary you go on about the 600k members that Corbyn has brought into the Labour Party in UK. How many voters are there there? How have Labour done in by-elections since Corbyn became leader? Isn’t Robert Reich one of the academics the Danyl mentions in the head post. What you are saying now is exactly what people said when Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock lead the UK Labour party. I surprised that you haven’t invoked Michael Joseph Savage.
    The world has moved on. Some day, you might too.

    Comment by chrism56 — July 30, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

  46. Sanc says: “No third way neoliberal managerialist party of the ‘centre’has won power since the GFC.”

    Obama?
    Key?
    Cameron/Clegg?
    Rudd?
    Gillard?
    Trudeau?
    Turnbull?
    Hollande?

    All seem what I’d call broadly centrist and managerial, and you might call neoliberal.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — July 30, 2016 @ 6:11 pm

  47. @ximenes – the 40% price drop came from:

    a) papers produced by Reserve Bank Mr Grimes, and Mr Mahlouf of the Treasury, released a couple of weeks ago, that indicated easing the property bubble was necessary, by about 40%, in order to avoid
    b) a sharp crash of about 40% equity loss, as occurred in 1992, when Marac failed catastrophically after handing out leveraged property mortgages on portfolios put together with very little equity by speculators, mostly consisting of lawyers, real estate agents & insurance underwriters (I personally know some of the above who got stung that year.)

    Responding to suggestions by the Reserve Bank & Treasury happens in caucus, not in branches, which is why it wasn’t flagged months in advance to branch members.
    The documents cited were released around 11 July 2016, give or take 24 hrs, and were very short-lived in the news cycle due to the extent they criticised the PM, OPMC, and Deputy PM, plus most of the 2016 Budget settings previously announced by Blinglish.

    Comment by anarkaytie — July 30, 2016 @ 6:15 pm

  48. Danyl, you should really credit Sanctuary for this post, since it’s been his position for at least a decade. Although he seems to actually be more optimistic than you are that change is possible, at least recently.

    I’m optimistic too. I don’t think this kind of identity politics analysis achieves much and I think the worm is turning against the government. An elite switch is building. Maybe even for the better. The devil in that will be in the details, which are the only things really worth discussing. How the wrestling match is contested is not interesting at all. It’s all a bit random, and as punters we’re never privy to how the fights will be fixed. The boxing match, OTOH, is much more interesting, something where content matters a lot more than form. Why even watch the wrestling? It’s a joke.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 30, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

  49. I suspect also the Great Recession hasn’t fully affected NZ yet, due to having lesser exposure to Wall St and the City of London. That said, traditional social democratic support bases round the world appear to have split into the following:

    – Solid supporters like trade unions and urban liberal ‘champagne socialists’
    – The Waitakere Man/Reagan Democrat/Essex Man nouveau riche who’ve switched to mainstream conservative parties, and cited by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as justification for Third Way-ism
    – The precariat, who’ve fallen off the ladder and become too cynical and disillusioned to vote because they feel it won’t make a difference
    – The angry downwardly mobile, who voted for Brexit and are likely to vote for Donald Trump. Winston Peters, though mild compared to Trump and Nigel Farage, is the closest NZ equivalent who attracts voters who are both anti-PC and anti-market.

    NeilM: if you were British, would you be a LibDem supporter? Is the NZ political landscape too crowded for a similar movement in NZ?

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 30, 2016 @ 9:38 pm

  50. @Kumera Republic

    I’d most likely vote British Labour Party. But to get into govt they need a new leader.

    I’d vote Hollande in France and he’s facing a similar battle. A resurgent Right and a Left that thinks there’s some people’s movement just around the corner.

    Comment by NeilM — July 31, 2016 @ 7:20 am

  51. “1…….. Time is ripe for a party representing the 25-40 demographic who have “reasonable” opinions where the current government is so obviously wide of the mark: have a reasonable discussion about migration policy …” Comment by Upton Sinclair

    I get confused: anyone wanting to talk about current rates of immigration is usually shouted down as a xenophobe, a right-wing racist, certainly in the UK and the US… and in NZ when it comes to NZFirst. Are you suggesting that NZ Labour become the party of anti-immigration (or perhaps you think it could be called “responsible” immigration)? That’s the trouble with “liberals” reacting hysterically to anyone who wants to have a “discussion” about a topic: it comes back to bite them went it becomes in THEIR interest to have a discussion… The fastest way to shut up an anti-Trump protestor is to ask her what she thinks of the wall Mexico built on their southern border.

    Swordfish raises facts and data (often dismissed as factoids or spin by the “liberals”), really helping the discussion on why Labour doesn’t get power. My 2c worth: even when Labour or the Greens talk reasonably about issues and policies, everyone “knows” that they are stacked full of “loonies” and are a trojan horse for increased liberalism.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — August 1, 2016 @ 8:36 am

  52. “The fastest way to shut up an anti-Trump protestor is to ask her what she thinks of the wall Mexico built on their southern border.”

    And the fastest way to silence a pro-Trumpoid is to ask him if he still bashes his wife or what he thinks of Anders Breivik or Dylann Roof.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — August 1, 2016 @ 10:27 pm

  53. The fastest way to shut up an anti-Trump protester is to ask her what she thinks of the wall Mexico built on their southern border

    You mean the Mexico-Guatemala wall that LITERALLY DOES NOT EXIST?

    http://www.snopes.com/mexico-guatemala-border/

    Comment by Phil — August 2, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

  54. I have to disagree with your theory.

    The different political parties represent different ideologies of voters and were designed to get the people to vote.
    It is a broad spectrum control mechanism .
    For how can you control if you do not control the opposition.
    When you understand politics and the Bank of England’s Crown NZ govt then you understand the whole game and do not buy into the media BS and illusions of ” choice” and “democracy”.

    Comment by bdbinc — August 4, 2016 @ 11:17 am

  55. Mea culpa. I did wonder about fact checking it, but was sure that it won’t have been thrown about so much if it weren’t true.

    Well done for equating Roof and Breivik with Republicans. Can I now equate Baader Meinhof with Bernie Sanders? Or how about the attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, etc, with Islam?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — August 4, 2016 @ 5:05 pm

  56. Actually, no, scrub that last question: word’s through from London, it’s all simply a mental health issue. So that’s alright then…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — August 5, 2016 @ 7:34 am

  57. Mea culpa. I did wonder about fact checking it [the Mexico Guatemala wall], but was sure that it won’t have been thrown about so much if it weren’t true.

    Come on man, this is the internet!

    Comment by Phil — August 5, 2016 @ 9:20 am


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