Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Sacha,

    Sacha, hello luv, yes it changes all the time.Certainly the type of government one has,dictates the type of reporting we have seen plus the time with technology that increases perception . Tweets, Faceswipe, are so instant that a politician has no time to think before they react and then the Holmes, Flaws Smiths of the world demand answers to ambiguous insinuating questions which become "confusing" to the listener (for someone even as bright as RB no doubt ;) So it changes. An earthquake made many in CHCH even like Bob Parker.He didn't change his attitude. just everything around them changed.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5963 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    the very concept of a list MP is the most unaccountable, unrepresentative politician in any jurisdiction outside Libya. Or maybe Zimbabwe.

    Four parties got MPs on the list in the last parliament. Eight or nine could have done, except that not enough people voted for them.

    Each of those parties selects their list according to some sort of rules. For the Greens, it's one member one vote, for the others a range of schemes.

    Voters can choose to vote for a party, choose to join it and participate in choosing the list (if their chosen party allows such dangerous ideas) or form their own. List MPs represent the votes of 70,000 odd people across the country.

    How is that any more democratic than someone getting elected by less voters who happen to congeal in one place, like Epsom or Belmont?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4406 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Clint Fern,

    They currently have 4 seats and 1 of those is looking in trouble so that kind of blows your theory out of the water.

    i'll assume you're not so familiar with MMP...

    have you heard of the overhang?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    @Sofie

    Rex, the man gets out and about, promise. The guy is a workaholic

    Hard worker =/= accountable. Or even "willing to listen". I don't know Goff's work as an electorate MP well enough to comment on him personally and so he may well be different, but my general experience of MPs is the safer the seat (or, now, list position) the greater the arrogance.

    @Danyl

    In the major parties they almost all want to be electorate MPs - so their careers aren't subject to the whims of the leadership

    And while they're list MPs they are nothing more than tools of a small leadership cabal and wholly reliant on them for preferment.

    the list MPs feel accountable to the electorate that they aspire to, as well as the wider population

    I have yet to see a list MP embark upon a significant course of action (or perhaps more importantly, refrain from one) in defiance of their leadership and in response to the wishes of the broader electorate.

    OTOH I have seen list MPs act to please the small number of people who smoothed their way into power, in ways that are not in the best interests of the wider electorate - David Garrett and "3 strikes" being a prime example.

    Had he not been caught on the whole "dead baby" thing, we'd have the pleasure of his influence on public life for a good decade or more because Act voters were presented a fait accompli - abandon all the other things in which you believe and for which you wish to vote, or vote for them and get lumbered with this fruitcake.

    @Russell

    Bob Clarkson

    Gawd, having had a bit to do with the Tauranga electorate (Winston couldn't even be bothered attending the AGM, for instance, and sent me in his stead) I fear Clarkson may have been doing an excellent job of representing at least the views of the majority of its electors. Just as Lhaws contrived to do with his in Whanganui... only after massaging their nascent prejudices of course.

    There are of course electorate MPs who don't feel accountable to their electorates, and that is always a function of the size of their majorities. In an ideal world, they'd all represent marginal seats. However my point is that every list MP can afford, if they so wish, to ignore the electorate whereas only some electorate MPs can.

    And thus we should be looking to create a system to enhance accountability, not to retain one that - at best - provides no incentive for it.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    I fear Clarkson may have been doing an excellent job of representing at least the views of the majority of its electors.

    +1.

    the man was a fcknuckle, but... that's my home town. it's a like a great big fkcnuckle gang bang.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2024 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    W.T.F.

    Goff also revealed that he would have stripped Hughes of his roles as chief whip and education spokesman even if police did not lay charges in relation to the alleged incident because of the questions of judgment that were raised.

    “I made it clear to Darren that I thought, given the circumstances, there had been a lapse of judgment and that would result in his losing his positions.

    So he would have lost his positions whether the police laid charges or not?

    And yet, he was not even offered leave when he informed his leader of the matters that now occasion this judgement?

    I’m sorry, but what the flaming fuck?

    Seriously.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Each of those parties selects their list according to some sort of rules. For the Greens, it's one member one vote, for the others a range of schemes... How is that any more democratic than someone getting elected by less voters who happen to congeal in one place, like Epsom or Belmont?

    It's the "range of schemes" that make it less so. Kudos to the Greens, and if they all did that, I'd have much less of a problem with the whole system.

    But when they can get away with electoral fraud as NZF did in 1996 (telling the electorate that every member had a vote, then those regional votes determined the votes of an electoral college, running the whole process, then binning the votes and leaving it to Lhaws and Sarah Neems) and have the High Court say that's within the rules because there aren't any rules...

    Or the reason Garrett appeared at number 5 on Act's list. We still don't know what quid pro quo happened there.

    Or, even if it's done according to the party's rules, that it can depend solely on the judgment of three people in a major party like Labour - which surely has the resources to do better if it wished - as to whether someone becomes a list MP... a "congealed electorate" ain't perfect but it's better than that.

    It's the House of Representatives after all. That suggests a slightly larger sample size than three.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Under 'Power' Giovanni? Please explain.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It feels like a John Key patented "wait for the polling before taking a position" play. But yeah, the position seems to be lacking internal logic.

    Since Sep 2009 • 358 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to Rik,

    there is ample evidence of many individuals milking the system

    Where is this ample evidence, Rik?

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Lew Stoddart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Russell, true, it is crucial in politics to bear in mind how things might be, but in order to win, you fight today’s battle according to the conditions of today. Too much wishing the ‘MSM’ was better, or the people were smarter, or whatever – all gets in the way of crafting politics which appeal to them. A not-especially-contentious statement which has probably gotten lost in the noise.

    As far as ‘look it up’ went; Giovanni had already indicated that he couldn’t be arsed reading further on the topic, so I decided against belabouring the detail.

    Paul, no real disrespect intended; just that what you proferred by way of a counterargument wasn’t one worth the name. While I may be a pretty recent commenter, but I’ve been lurking here long enough to know that’s not generally how things roll. *shrug*

    L

    Wellington, NZ • Since Aug 2010 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to Rik,

    As Russell said about me, just because Keith sees it one way does not make it true, it is just his opinion that it is fair that the top 3% of income earners pay 26% of the income tax base.

    I think the difference, Rik, is that Keith does his homework.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to John Morrison,

    I just think Goff/Labour have a hard job just now breaking through the blue smoke-screen that pervades NZ media currently.

    I totally agree with you John. I think there's a huge underestimation - even on this venerable blog - of the effect of the changed ownership and operation of the media. It seems to me that Tracy Watkins is deciding the country's political direction at the moment.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m sorry, but what the flaming fuck?

    "because of the questions of judgment that were raised."

    "I can hear one side of the case through Darren Hughes. I can't talk to the complainant. The police can talk to both, and that's why they're the appropriate body to make any decision about what they do with that complaint."

    Bear in mind Hughes offered to resign for the good of the party and possibly cos he could see the long and winding road ahead. Shit, I saw that path immediately, and Goff has had nothing but shit flicked at him since. His treading carefully at the beginning don't necessarily mean they both didn't know the end.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5963 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jan Farr,

    It seems to me that Tracy Watkins is deciding the country’s political direction at the moment.

    I don’t really read Watkins often, but when I do I’m struck by the shallowness of her commentary. She seems to embody the worst of Beltway culture.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to Sacha,

    Fair enough. Funny how I had forgotten it..

    Quite understandable though - just another result of the subtle leadership of the media.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jan Farr,

    Bear in mind Hughes offered to resign for the good of the party and possibly cos he could see the long and winding road ahead.

    And Goff didn't accept the resignation. But now Goff says that no matter what the police find, Hughes' "lapse of judgement" was such that he won't keep his positions.

    So why not stand him down in the first place?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    Since you weren’t prepared to even read my argument before making your counter, why should I bother? I’ve had this argument a hundred times with Labour apologists who just want to make excuses, and it always goes this way.

    So: sigh.

    And the winner is - for coherence and honesty - Giovanni!

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jan Farr,

    Quite understandable though - just another result of the subtle leadership of the media.

    Or because it was presented and managed in a forgettable way.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So why not stand him down in the first place?

    Dunno Russell, perhaps he really thought it'd be over before he would be pushed to have to drop him. He said he honestly didn't know about the allegation until reported. Goff is taking all the flak on this, this man is always prepared to talk to media, so maybe he thought unless the shit hits the fan base I wont react until necessary. Tell you what, I'll ask him. I promise, cos I don't want to speculate ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5963 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    Russell, true, it is crucial in politics to bear in mind how things might be, but in order to win, you fight today’s battle according to the conditions of today. Too much wishing the ‘MSM’ was better, or the people were smarter, or whatever – all gets in the way of crafting politics which appeal to them. A not-especially-contentious statement which has probably gotten lost in the noise.

    On the other hand, it was Goff being all realistic and recanting on the lightbulbs that made me write this:

    http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/be-the-party-of-good-science/

    I think it's possible to make a virtue of acting on evidence, even in a world where half the country seems to think Ken Ring has a point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18646 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    a politician has no time to think before they react

    And yet other parties seem to manage their political messaging just like they always have done. I'm not convinced that the technology is overturning those fundamentals of political management. And social media is a way *around* the gatekeeping of traditional media channels.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16414 posts Report Reply

  • Lew Stoddart, in reply to Marcus Turner,

    Marcus, an absurdly long comment follows, which is partially a response to your musings, and partially a general explanation of my critique on the thread so far.

    I notice that many people in this discussion seem to know a heck of a lot more about the inner workings of the two main parties – and politics in general – than I do.* In the predawn glimmer of an upcoming election, I’d like to ask about the effect of swinging votes.

    Just to be clear, I have no knowledge of the insides of any party, Labour or otherwise. (Some will probably say ‘it shows’ :) All of what I’m on about here is derived from observations on the outside. So take it for what it’s worth.

    That having been said, while not discounting the views of insiders, I do think, at times, they lose perspective and become compromised by their entanglements. I believe, for instance, that one of the major reasons for Labour’s sluggish response to the 2008 election loss was that, while the leadership went, many of the mid-level functionaries and organisers responsible for the abysmal strategy which resulted in that loss remained. Although Labour still doesn’t seem to admit it, in its latter years Clark Labour actually was out of touch, and it was out of touch largely because insiders weren’t efficiently fulfilling their role of feeding back to the leadership what the public cared about. I wrote about this here.

    So the two topics of your question – regarding insider knowledge, and swing voters – are pretty closely linked. Now on to the second.

    You are right in saying that there’s a lot that’s difficult to ascertain about all this, but enough is known to say the following with some certainty: swing voters (those not ideologically committed) are almost never rational actors, unless a very explicit appeal is made to their sense of utility maximisation. An example of this was ‘north of $50’; another example was interest-free student loans. By and large, these are handy as a clincher, but are no substitute for building a baseline narrative which communicates to voters at the gut level. Questions like who are these guys, what do they stand for, can I trust them to act in my best interests even when I don’t really understand what it is that they do – all need to be answered reasonably well before explicit policy appeals, or even appeals to the back-pocket can work. (Though, often, such questions can be answered by a policy proposal).

    Consider the typical demographic breakdown of late-capitalist democracies: a fair proportion of the extremely poor, a large proportion of fairly-poor-to-moderately-well-off, a small proportion of the comfortably-off and a tiny proportion of the extremely well-off. Under a purely rational model of political behaviour, a political movement which looks after the rich at the expense of the poor will lose every time. That they don’t comes down to the fact that these parties have made a study of the science of political behaviour over at least the past half-century, and they know how to pitch their messages and their values and their policies to voters who will, in all likelihood, be disadvantaged by them. Whereas the left sees ‘the game’ as something sort of dirty and beneath them, and – despite broadly rejecting rational-actor models of behaviour in economics – they tend to insist on making cerebral appeals of policy-wonk detail front-and-centre of every campaign. This is a damned shame, because in saying “the game is beneath us”, the left too-often says “winning elections is beneath us”.

    Almost everything we know about political behaviour tells us that voters vote on their guts, not on their brains. (And we know a fair bit about it; read Drew Westen and George Lakoff for starters). So to be useful, reaching out to swing voters must be done by appealing to people’s guts first, and a lot of that is the sort of stuff we’ve been discussing with regard to Darren Hughes and Phil Goff. Swing voters, by definition looking to be convinced as to why they should follow a given leader, want to follow people they perceive as actually leading; who are decisive and transparent in their actions, and so on. They also want MPs who don’t take advantage of young, vulnerable men in their care; for example. These characteristics, and others like them, lend credence to a party’s policy statements and so on, make them believable and ‘truthy’. Because of this, a good leader can sell bad policy – and they often do – but a poor leader will have a hard time selling the best policy in the world.

    Sorry to have been going on at such length, but the fundamental point is this: good policy, well-articulated, costed, evidence-based and so on, is necessary but not sufficient to a successful political movement (for the left, at least, who will be held to a higher policy standard – on the right you can usually get away with worse policy). But policy is what governments do while governing. Before you get to that stage, you have to win elections. And you don’t do that with policy. So while the policy has to be there, and it has to stand up to scrutiny, it should stay beneath the surface. To win over swing voters, you need to focus on leadership, narrative, values, and appeal, and use policy to clinch the deal.

    In this regard, Labour at present has it arse-backwards. Giovanni’s protestations notwithstanding, people don’t know (or don’t believe) what they stand for, and consequently don’t trust them to be a good government. So, even though it’s overwhelmingly not in their best interests, they vote for the party which they feel like they know, or can trust to represent their values.

    L

    Wellington, NZ • Since Aug 2010 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Jan Farr,

    Under 'Power' Giovanni? Please explain.

    Whoops! Parker.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7337 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Don Christie,

    Australian State politics, a foetid, festering carbuncle on the name of democracy….

    But endlessly entertaining in a torture porn kind of way -- and I got one hell of an answer to my long-time question "Just how sleazy and generally bizarre does the NSW state government have to get before voters throw it out"? Answer in two parts: 1) Very, and, 2) like dingos on speed. I have Liberal acquaintances in NSW who were saying to themselves "these polls can't be right"; and they still don't believe it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11846 posts Report Reply

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