Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Next Labour Leader

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  • Cecelia,

    In all three TV interviews and debates with Shearer and Cunliffe present I have preferred Cunliffe. When questioned about the "Show me the Money" glitch, he was generous to Phil Goff I thought. Yes, he appears too smart for his own good at times but he almost admitted that when, in one of the programmes, he said that Nanaia would humanise him! David Shearer is an awfully nice guy but heck, he looks a bit old to be a "fresh face" and Cunliffe can run rings around him in debate. What I admired about Helen Clark was her intellect: Cunliffe has that too.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It would probably trigger a wave of sympathy.

    Imagine the sympathy if Bronagh had an affair ... 20 years of Key?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3391 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Euan Mason,

    I agree that our western malaise is to crave government services but be unwilling to front up with taxes to pay for them, but this isn't what neoliberals are about.

    I think we will be best served by those who make clear their intentions. I am all for any party in NZ that tries to alleviate the major swings we have had to suffer from successive Govts.
    Labour never signaled their asset sale agenda pre-election, National have and they got the vote. Let's see what they do now because there's not much else we voters can do other than that.
    My 2 cents for Labour, keep it simple, keep it honest, and if they were really smart they will try be seen as constructive, not wreckers and haters.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to Sacha,

    Green-aligned Gordon Campbell suggests a focus for Labour.

    For what its worth, I think the way forward for Labour’s new leader is one entirely consistent with its traditions. It would involve a focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. Just as the Greens’ identity is grounded in its advocacy for the environment, Labour’s raison d’etre has always been work opportunities and better conditions for Kiwi battlers and the hard pressed middle class.

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Just listening to some back "issues" of The Panel, and one of the panellists made the point that Shearer was overseeing a budget of billions and had hundreds of people reporting to him (doubtless through several layers, but still).
    That kinda nails shut any relativity arguments about Key's experience, given that trading floors in the 80s and 90s weren't exactly enormous and although the sums of money in play were, even then, eye-watering, they were still not the budget for which he was responsible.

    I haven't heard Shearer speak, though I imagine he'd be a fairly quick study with some proper media coaching, but he is definitely well-placed to be the anti-Key in terms of personal narrative. That's without buying into DPF's "making $50m vs helping save 50m lives" contrast, either.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Greens are about sustainability

    Nope they aren't and never have been. The Greens are about a whole bunch of things ranging from loony herbal remedies that must replace an authoritarian health bureaucracy to economic policies like capital gain taxes. It has been and continues to be my problem with The Greens. They are a blend of great and ghastly. It is their strength and weakness.

    But they are not about sustainability. If they were they would be consistent about that and apply whichever method gave the best sustainable solution to a problem.

    They do however, honestly represent a portion of New Zealand.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3391 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    the more likely outcome is for environmental damage to worsen both internal class and external international conflicts over resources. Standing on the beaches imploring the resource hungry and desperate invaders to be reasonable will butter no parsnips with most people, who will see a more immediate logic in voting for the party that plans to tool us up with missiles and machine guns

    Not quite sure what you are saying here: that as the environmental crisis deepens - and IMO that will be much swifter than we know - that we will all be rushing off to vote for a party that re-arms New Zealand with an airforce, re-enter the Anzus alliance, and introduces compulsory military training?

    If this is the scenario would Labour not be better engaging with a party that actually tries to forefront the environmental crisis and which is the advocate for policies which might just possibly avert the conditions that might give rise to the vision you describe?

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I think they’re more “stymied” by the bizarre misapprehension that they can go out and trash the Greens and Maori Party then expect them to come running, tails a wagging, whenever they snap their fingers.

    Well, quite.

    I think the thing is, though, that there's a natural tendency to perceive newer political groups as heretics within the same movement rather than engage with them as truly distinct. It requires less mental effort, and it sometimes turns out to be true. From within the bubble, it's probably hard to tell the difference between Jim Anderton and Tariana Turia. Likewise, when all your discourse is about Left and Right, it's hard to see why the Greens aren't either.

    Labour's strategy towards other parties is perfectly comprehensible for a party that really doesn't understand who it's dealing with.

    But it’s interesting how far “don’t be a dick” can get you in grown up politics.

    As in life. And much of not-being-a-dick rests on accepting that other people have agendas beyond being your friend or your enemy.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Peter Cox,

    I don't think those two things are mutually exclusive. But I think National have proven that you can be extremely popular without the former, as long as you have the latter.

    They're not mutually exclusive, but I think they're negatively correlated. Why else is this whole leadership selection debacle devoid of policy discussion? It's suddenly all about demographics - how to appeal to this cliche or that. Which cliche am I again?

    Why else was RNZ unable to get a single answer from National's extremely popular leader (so popular that not quite half of the 67% of people who voted picked his party! 32% support? Wow!) about their policy positions?

    And why, oh why, did 33% of the people enrolled to vote not even show up? Perhaps they wanted a clearer reason to do so than seeing two old rich white guys locking horns over the false binary of who gets to rule?

    I guess we can probably agree to disagree, but I think the talk of collectives is nice and all in theory, but evidence suggests you're gonna need a strong leadership for people to unite behind.

    There are occasionally times in history, where the future does not resemble the past. This, in my opinion, is one of those times. This could be the time when strong leadership is seen for the hollow abdication of thought that it has always been, and clear policy wins the hearts and minds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    one of the panellists made the point that Shearer was overseeing a budget of billions and had hundreds of people reporting to him (doubtless through several layers, but still).

    I have heard this too ... but find it surprising, then, to see a person so clumsy in presentation of self. It is endearing at one level, yes, but also a worry. I agree with Craig - a mashap(?) of Cunliffe/Shearer would have made for an ideal leader. The person that Shearer most reminds me of is Bill Rowling - and Muldoon made mincemeat of him. And would it be the case that we might end up with a kind of `Citizens for Shearer' campaign? Rowlings didn't serve him particularly well.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I find the idea that somehow the environment is going to become the most important issue confronting voters when they come to voting a complete load of old clarts. More important than jobs? The economy? health? Really? Yet this seems to be the assumption that is lying at the very heart of the thinking of the Green party supporters right now.

    Given the Greens election campaign was explicitly premised on smart jobs and child health as well as clean rivers, your confusion tells us more about you than the party.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16662 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    they aren't and never have been

    You've read the Browning article?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16662 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to HenryB,

    find it surprising, then, to see a person so clumsy in presentation of self

    Being able to discern and do the right thing in a given situation is a different skill from self promotion.

    I don't know myself but I don't find it difficult to believe that he can make good decisions, which is what we want from a person with power, and still not be able to give interviews well. If the latter was the most important trait then we may as well appoint actors to govern us.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3391 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yeah, I should have said “perceived as”. I’m sort of boggled by how much the general perception of the Greens has changed over the years, while they’ve basically, in terms of essentials if not presentation, stayed exactly the same.

    Foucault noted the same phenomena regarding other groups in society, for example, mentally ill people. They stayed the same but perceptions changed from criminals, to circus freaks to patients. Discourse is all.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I don’t think Labour has much to fear from the Greens, largely because I am yet to be convinced the Greens know themselves what they stand for.

    Tom, I'm yet to be convinced that you know what either the Greens or Labour stand for. The Green Party's policy is extremely clearly laid out on their website, as it has been for many years now. It has changed a remarkably small amount. What Labour stands for changes every year.

    Furthermore, do you have any ideas on the economic future of NZ? What do you honestly think is going to give us the best chances of weathering the total erosion of the industrial base upon which the working class even exists, as capital and skilled labor alike flee the country for cheaper labour and better jobs?

    I seriously want an answer to this. You might actually have an idea. Let's hear it.

    The Greens do have an idea. They see that our entire civilization has stood upon something unsustainable, and continues to stand on it. They are thinking a very long way ahead. They might be wrong, perhaps a fossil fueled world can be held onto using massive scale violence, as has supported the glorious working classes in the powerful nations of the world since the 1930s and before.

    Perhaps cooperation of international movements towards controlling and fairly distributing the planet's resources isn't the only future our species actually has, and instead the built in inequity of the traditional Labour movement, which ignored everyone who wasn't working like a machine, and soon to be replaced by one, or quite likely die in one, will save this country. I don't know - I'd like to hear your vision.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    they aren’t and never have been

    You’ve read the Browning article?

    As Browning points out

    As defined by the UN, sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of others, now and in the future, to do the same

    Too much of The Green policy forgets about meeting the needs of the present. And too much is fixated on rationalising existing ideologies rather than actually finding the best solution based on the best evidence available.

    We both know where this is going perhaps we should stop this discourse and get back to Labour. Whatever The Greens are Labour will need to learn to co-operate with them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3391 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Genuinely interested in evolving perceptions of what the Greens are about. And how that relates to Labour's positioning and relationships.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16662 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I think they’re more “stymied” by the bizarre misapprehension that they can go out and trash the Greens and Maori Party then expect them to come running, tails a wagging, whenever they snap their fingers.

    Which is the thing to say, and has been the thing to say for simply ages, but can you actually point to any recent example of the Labour leadership “trashing” the Greens and the Maori Party, over and above the normal electoral contest? If the MP was “trashed” by anyone, it was its own electorate voters.

    Whatever else Labour is, it seems to be a magnet for dubious received wisdom.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18883 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I find the idea that somehow the environment is going to become the most important issue confronting voters when they come to voting a complete load of old clarts. More important than jobs? The economy? health? Really?

    First, unless you have some highly unorthodox ideas on where food, drinking water and oxygen come from, the environment plainly is more important than jobs, the economy and health. I guess you can achieve some political results by assuming the general public is too thick to understand that, but it doesn't seem like a sensible strategy in the longer term.

    Second, I think you may have missed the Green policies on jobs, the economy and health. I believe the Green Party you're thinking of is somewhat different from the one we actually have.

    Claire Browning commits some confused thoughts to the internet here on Pundit, and since the comments are largely laudatory I can only assume her words accurately represent a lot of the current Green “philosophy”.

    I think you may also be labouring under the misapprehension that Claire Browning was writing a manifesto. It was clearly a piece discussing the culture within the party, not an explanation of its principles.

    The Greens have no answers to poverty or unemployment, merely a fantastical appeal for us to all indulge in double think (neither left nor right!

    Why are these the only two allowable categories?

    The Greens will never be an environment party!)

    What's an "environment party"?

    and a use of the fig leaf of semantics (“…Social Justice is a conceptual part of Socialism and is but a fraction of the big picture encompassed by Social Responsibility…”)

    Re-read the article. The quote was from a single party member who specifically was talking about semantics. People quibble about language because they want to get it right. That doesn't mean they don't have principles.

    If Browning is to be taken at her word, then the fundamental thinking underlying the Greens is that incipient environmental crisis is somehow going to unite us all in a (Green party led) global crusade to save the planet.

    I have failed to find this view expressed by Browning in the article. Could you enlighten me as to where she says this?

    the more likely outcome is for environmental damage to worsen both internal class and external international conflicts over resources. Standing on the beaches imploring the resource hungry and desperate invaders to be reasonable will butter no parsnips with most people, who will see a more immediate logic in voting for the party that plans to tool us up with missiles and machine guns.

    I've never met a Green who'd disagree with you there. This is why they tend to put a lot of emphasis on reducing economic and cultural inequality, and also on global co-operation. I think you'll find that there's a bit more to it than "imploring the resource hungry and desperate invaders to be reasonable".

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Yeah, I should have said “perceived as”. I’m sort of boggled by how much the general perception of the Greens has changed over the years, while they’ve basically, in terms of essentials if not presentation, stayed exactly the same.

    Foucault noted the same phenomena regarding other groups in society, for example, mentally ill people. They stayed the same but perceptions changed from criminals, to circus freaks to patients. Discourse is all.

    Aw, c'mon. The Greens have done a lot to reshape their own image and that started when they chose Metiria as co-leader. Their election broadcasts were, as I noted at the time, Obama-esque in their language. They've played down cannabis reform and consciously made themselves appear less radical and less left-wing.

    None of which I have a problem with, but the shift in perception didn't just happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18883 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Certainly two questions I would like to pose to Labour aspirants are:
    - what effect do you expect climate change to have on New Zealand in 30 years?
    - what policies will you advocate now to mitigate or deal with those effects?

    Dealing with the flood of migration from Australia as the cities run out of drinking water and the back country can't grow enough food any more is going to be difficult for us.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2963 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Given the Greens election campaign was explicitly premised on smart jobs and child health as well as clean rivers, your confusion tells us more about you than the party.

    On come on. smart jobs is a slogan from a party that knows it'll never be in a position to have to come up with some concrete initiatives. And I love clean rivers. I love my mum and apple pie as well. How are the Green's actually proposing we get clean rivers? If it involves reducing the competitiveness of the only industry that stands between us are the third world or imperils the tens of thousands of real, today jobs in the dairy industry how long do you think those dairy workers will place the environment ahead of their jobs?

    We both know where this is going perhaps we should stop this discourse and get back to Labour. Whatever The Greens are Labour will need to learn to co-operate with them.

    Fair enough.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    <q>Greens are about sustainability

    Nope they aren’t and never have been.</q>

    I was a bit unclear there. I meant that the green political viewpoint, as an abstraction, revolves around the concept of sustainability. I'll certainly grant that the Green Party is a different beast. Likewise, conservative thought is concerned with the stability of society, but that's not always true of the Conservative Party.

    The Greens are about a whole bunch of things ranging from loony herbal remedies that must replace an authoritarian health bureaucracy to economic policies like capital gain taxes. It has been and continues to be my problem with The Greens.

    You and me both. For my part, I think capital gains taxes are perfectly consistent with the principle of sustainability. Loony herbal remedies, not so much.

    There are certainly other formulations of what it means to be "green". I tend to emphasise sustainability as I think it's one of the more coherent ones.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    If it involves reducing the competitiveness of the only industry that stands between us are the third world or imperils the tens of thousands of real, today jobs in the dairy industry how long do you think those dairy workers will place the environment ahead of their jobs?

    Hard to say. I agree that the Greens need to make a far more concerted effort to show how industrialized farming can possibly benefit from being more green. Considering just how dedicated such infrastructure is to completely using up natural resources, we may have to wait until that actually happens before they'd ever be convinced. Or, it could be that the Chinese learn how to make milk far more efficiently than us, and our economy is completely destroyed. I think that's the most likely. They're only just scratching the surface of what they're capable of in that arena. They have massive land and extremely rich soil, and most of the factories demanding most of the milk powder, and a desperately poor rural population to work it. I can't see the milk business in NZ lasting. Unless our agrarian economy is extremely forward thinking, it's got quite a short life span. Then we're just a bunch of farms with the absolute worst food-miles profile on the planet.

    Maybe making a national and believable green brand might actually work, enabling us to make high margin products, in sustainable way. Eventually, everyone's going to have to do this - it wouldn't hurt us to be one of the first ones.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    the green political viewpoint

    Ah fair enough. On that we agree. My friends at work have long argued we should just form our own political party and call it "The real Greens" or something similar. That is a reflection of our frustration with the difference between the party we have now and the green political movement which almost every one of my colleagues support.

    That perhaps is the path that a Labour party could take. But probably not, since it distracts from what is really needed which is a genuinely strong Labour identity that powerfully represents a smaller portion of New Zealand rather than weakly representing a larger portion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3391 posts Report Reply

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