Posts by Tom Semmens

  • Speaker: In defence of the centre, in reply to Nick Russell,

    190,000 since the 2015 general election according to the guardian – that was at 9 August.

    You are flat wrong.

    The polls may be wrong (YouGov has Corbyn on 57% of the Labour electorate) and the 400,000 people who have swelled the number eligible to vote in Labour’s leadership to 600,000…

    According to that same story, 160,000 people joined Labour on one day.

    I’d feel a lot more hopeful about that if you had some evidence. It sounds like wishful thinking.

    Check out this story in the Financial Times that talks about his support base:

    Meanwhile Kat Fletcher, the 35-year-old former president of the National Union of Students, has been put in charge of organising nearly 5,000 volunteers — an army far larger than anybody in the core Corbyn team expected at the outset of the campaign.

    What is happening in England right now is in some ways a replay of the Scottish independence referendum. The intervention of the English establishment politicised Scotland and while the referendum failed, the dominant establishment party – Labour – was routed and it increasingly looks like a Phyrric victory. Corbyn could easily spark a similar politicisation of England, which is why the establishment is so terrified.

    Pitching for the youth vote in this day and age is a waste of time. There are too few of them and they don’t turn out to vote.

    I would contend that no one has really tried to turn out our ’missing million”, To do that, you’d first need a leader offering real choice and real hope and secondly you’d need to convert that hope into a powerful, mass based political movement. Corbyn currently has both, no Labour party here has had anything of the sort since the early 1980s.

    To that extent you are right – New Zealand is saddled with two elite cadre parties and I don’t think Labour actually wants mass participation and the attendant risk of leftists re-capturing the machinery of candidate selection and mobilising a radical, hopeful base. So far, our suffocatingly provincial media and parochial political outlooks has permitted this to continue. But don’t bet on it lasting forever.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: In defence of the centre,

    One definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

    And how has the same worked out for UK Labour the last few elections? Like I said, times change. This site is full of forty and fifty somethings who grew up knowing a welfare state that closely resembled Corbyn’s current “radical” agenda. But today’s 18 year olds were born in 1997 and grew up under “new” Labour and neoliberalism. To them, the old is fresh.

    Maybe Corbyn does sound old fashioned to baby boomers and gen xers, but he doesn’t to the under 35s who are lapping up the first ideologically coherent voice of hope on the UK left they’ve ever heard. And anyway, what of definitions of insanity and capitalism in the 21st century? Here is the thing – the UK has tried privatisation, and it’s largely been a disaster. And the nationalisation model Corbyn is proposing isn’t the solutions of Clement Attlee. For example, I’ve heard his advisors postulating a re-nationalised railways that included some sort of active ownership by it’s users.

    The thing about Corbyn is the alternative isn’t more of the same Centrism. The alternative is the SNP, the end of the union, the end of the centre and the rise of parties like UKIP and a radical popular right. In New Zealand, we will not be magically immune to the same forces. To my mind, better a radical popular left led by the Labour party than a respectable radical right led by Farrage being outflanked by the BNP.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: In defence of the centre,

    The other thing I’d like to point out is declining participation in politics and in voting, something which 400,000 new UK Labour party members tells me is entirely due to “centrism”, will eventually lead to a crisis of democracy itself. At what point does a ’democratically” elected government lose it’s claim to legitimacy? The UK Tories won a whopping majority with the votes of 24% of the UK electorate. Well, the Scots have already indicated what they think of that sort of “democracy”. Here, National won with around a third of all the potential votes. At what point does declining interest and popular disgust at tweedle dum tweedle dee parliamentary neoliberalism destroy democracy itself? 15% of the voters electing a majority? 10%? And what then? Will the political class still be chattering about the “centre” while the mob burns down the beehive around their ears?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: In defence of the centre, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Hmmm, this is meant to be a reply to Rob, not anyone else…

    First, actually let’s not consider the alternative. Let’s first consider where clinging to the “centre” has got the anglosphere Labour parties. Look at the UK – Kendall. Blair. Mandelson. Cooper. UKIP hosing up their traditional working class support base. Annihilation in Scotland. Yeah, The centre is working out real good for the UK Labour party. In NZ being “centrists” has seen Labour follow a similar trajectory. A bunch of dull careerist MPs who are mostly interchangeable with the National party. A massive non-vote from their traditional base. Annihilation in the provinces. How is the “centre” working out for NZ Labour again, Rob? If the centre is the future, then lets admit the truth, and wind the Labour party up (mission apparently accomplished in 1940). Most of their MPs will fit right on in with National backbench anyway and the few that don’t can join the Greens. But let’s not keep it alive just because it’ll be sad to see it go, like dear old granny on a ventilator.

    Secondly, whining that

    …“pulling the centre back towards the left” is massively, massively hard…

    as a reason not to try is lily-livered defeatism. If you think it is too hard, get out of the way and find someone more interested in trying.

    Thirdly, assuming only an ideologically malleable collection of self-serving centrists are competent to run a country is a typically Blairist thing to say. That is the problem with Blairite thinking nowadays. It isn’t that they offered a sort of pale pink “leftish” managerialism when capitalism was triumphant. It is their current towering arrogance, ideological vacuity and their utter, utter, utter contempt of democracy. The behaviour of the Blairites in the UK Labour leadership race has been a toxic disgrace (seeking to cancel democracy, stage palace coups, threatening and browbeating their own supporters) to the point every utterance they make simply increases Corbyn’s support. The representatives of Rob Salmond’s “centre left” in UK politics are actually loathed by a huge percentage of working class UK voters, to the point that they’d need a police escort to prevent being lynched by the same crowds cheering Corbyn. No wonder they fear democracy!

    Times change. Neoliberal capitalism is a zombie ideology discredited everywhere except in its extreme supporters in global financial markets and the inertia of it’s colonised establishment bureaucracies. All the other contenders in the UK leadership election – and most of our Labour party – are interchangable memebers of that colonised establishment, as are the Tories. That isn’t democracy, that is a one party state with a charade of choice, a charade that is increasingly being seen through with declining voter participation as people give up in disgust.

    400,000 people have joined up to support Corbyn. And don’t give me any bullshit about Trotskyist opportunists and “entryists”. If there were 400,000 Trotskyists in the UK they’d already have a very successful party of their own. They joined up because for once someone is offering a choice, is offering them hope, and is speaking to their concerns. And that is the purpose of the Labour party, Mr. Salmond. It is not to sit around with a sense of entitlement peering at graphs and triangulating the life out of everything while waiting for some sort of electoral magic trick that’ll give Labour their Muggin’s turn in the ministerial limos. The purpose of the Labour party is to be a vehicle of radical change, to stand for something that gives hope to the poor, the oppressed, and the exploited, and to fight with them to get elected, and when elected use that power to bloody well ram radical change down the throats of the neoliberals.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: A week on from the housing controversy, in reply to Mark H,

    Be cool if this much effort went into pressuring the government into actually doing something on the runaway Auckland housing market.

    Dude, this site is downtown Peoples Republic of Grey Lynn. They've all got their houses, thank you very much. Plenty of time to get outraged at the drop of hat.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese,

    This story led 3News, and plenty of NZer's would have nodded their heads in agreement with Twyford. QED.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: House-buying patterns in Auckland,

    A more basic question – why did Labour choose to focus on this partcular angle right now? Who signed off on it as a strategy?

    Because maybe it is an issue that resonates with voters?

    What does my head in is how sterile and predictable the response of the self-regarding clever clogs of the liberal left has been to this story. It plays out like a broken record played by people who seem to have learnt nothing from the left’s defeat over the last thirty years. To loud are the voices of comfortably off middle classs liberals who uncritically accept the self-serving capitalist framing of this debate as always racist and who return from a morning shouting down the lived experiences of the have-nots to puzzle over the appeal of UKIP or the FN to working class voters.

    To my mind, the left needs to be way more clever in these debates than simply falling into the trap of accepting the capitalist framing of the issue.

    Being opposed to foreign buyers of local housing stock only implies a slide to general xenophobia if the left chooses to accept the debate in those crude terms and cede all discussion to the popular right – which refusing to even talk about it inevitably will, especially when it is accompanied by a nasty parting shot that everyone who is willing to talk about it is a racist. I think the alternative is that the left frame the issue within a context of collective local resistance to the power of globalised capitalism and an understanding of local social problems. It seems to me that it would be a far more clever (and modern) use of our time creating a narrative that can present people’s cultural outlook on foreign ownership as being shaped according to solidarity and unity of locals everywhere against the global elite – which these foreign “investors”, Chinese or otherwise, are undoubtably part of.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese, in reply to TracyMac,

    What a shame, then, that Twyford doesn’t give you any information about either.

    That is because, as you damn well know, the government refuses to collect it.

    The wide eyed political naivety of the PA left – to the point of your self-serving deceit – never fails to let me down.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese,

    And, no, I don’t know any Southeast Asians who would think Ng is a Vietnamese name.

    South East Asians largely live in South East Asia. In this neck of the forest most people are not experts in the geographical origins of Chinese surnames. Therefore, if you ask any Kiwi it is hardly surprising they’ll tell you Ng is Vietnamese, probably because almost all the Ng’s in NZ in the past came from Vietnam and not Canton.

    I have friends who are house hunting who all have so far proven capable of being furious at the number of non-resident Chinese buying houses at crazy prices they can’t afford without getting the hate on for Chinese in general. Twyford is reflecting the lived reality of a lot of Aucklanders using whatever statistics he can because the government refuses to even collect them, and accuses anyone who asks for them of being a racist.

    So I wouldn’t get hung up on this “racist dogwhistle”. I think the only people getting outraged about it are some of the PA crew, who seem to love getting offended about stuff like this. Falling into the government trap of accusing anyone who wants to talk about the issue a racist (you can practically guarantee Farrar will coo about this post over in the sewerblog) is really, really stupid.

    How about demanding the government actually collect statistics on this, so we can debate the issue with proper numbers instead of getting annoyed at an elected representative trawling through surnames in an attempt to get a handle on a problem being reported to him by everyone trying to buy a house?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Potency and purity,

    They've predicted a massive mental health epidemic of depression from the abuse of MDMA for twenty years. However, this seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it - AKA The Fermi paradox.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1886 posts Report Reply

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