OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Jeremy Eade,

    Damian , you and Russell show up, and I have immense respect to that. Voting Greens makes you left apparently, so welcome, but the left is a big bunch of greviances and sore points. The right in this country voted on mass to one party in an attempt to circumnavigate MMP. But it didn't happen.

    Everyone wants to know what left means but debating it seems to be painful.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to BenWilson,

    Awe +1 (de PasTagged, was getting me silly).
    And quite what was this supposed downer tone on the thread because the only down was coming from those who couldn’t understand the supposed down ;-)

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    So Rich if you are unconvinced that Labour's failure was content based then you need to come up with an alternative explanation for the observed fact.

    If I was Labour I'd be unwilling to bet the next election that it was merely poor delivery of message.

    Actually, I don't. I merely have to point out that while your methodology and measurement is sound, the conclusions you draw from the observed facts may be erroneous. But I will anyway :)

    The observed fact is that Labour lost seats. Your conclusion is that the content of their message was wrong. The counter-factual to your conclusion is that all the pre-election polling showed broad support for their policies across the spectrum.

    That suggests to me that potentially there are other reasons. On the table at the moment we have: 1) wrong message, and 2) poor delivery.

    I'd suggest we also need to consider: 3) poor deliver-er, and 4) systemic inertia.

    Re: 3), Goff as prefeered PM was polling in near single figures. 'nuff said. Re: 4), single-term governments are rare, and (I believe) in general governments change because more people mobilise to vote for a change (i.e. de facto against the incumbent), rather than voting for someone.

    So it's not 'merely' poor delivery of message, it's probably some combination of all four, and a few other factors I've not considered. I'd personally weight 3) and 4) more heavily than 1). I'd also parse 2) and suggest that poor delivery not only includes bad presentation to those that are listening, but also breaks down to i) activating the base, ii) attracting the swingers, and iii) putting in work to mobilise the non-voters.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Well put, Rich.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8500 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    But he made a valid point - to claim that there is no difference betwixt the two GOPs is something that ignores the existence of people at the fringe of both groups

    I think actually that was the opposite of the point he made, wasn't it - he said the difference between the two was so miniscule as not to matter - they're both in the centre (i.e. therefore Labour is not Left) - and therefore I'd be sweet either way.

    Anyway, I'm not here to fight yesterday's battle. And yes, I understand all those points, I can do the math etc. I think the problem stems from a failure to define terms, which leads to a lot of cross-purpose discussion. I understand that there are people to the left of Labour and the Greens, and I understand what that does in terms of dragging them in that direction (as United and Act does for National, on either side apparently), but given they represent such a small minority (Mana for instance, with a 1% party vote, and no doubt smaller groups to the left of them), when we're discussing NZ politics, at least in the sense of who's going to win seats, form Governments and the like - which is where we started talking, then Labour is Left. Not as Left as people to the Left of them would like, I get it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Damian Christie,

    I think actually that was the opposite of the point he made, wasn’t it – he said the difference between the two was so miniscule as not to matter – they’re both in the centre (i.e. therefore Labour is not Left) – and therefore I’d be sweet either way.

    Discuss with Gio here would be pretty cool.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to merc,

    Discuss with Gio here would be pretty cool.

    As I say, it was yesterday's discussion if someone wants to go back through the thread, they can make their own mind up what was meant. I have no desire to wake the grumpy sleeping giant.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Not cool.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    GIO: if you identify the left with Labour, then, sure.

    DC: In NZ, yes I do, so good then.

    GIO: And as a middle class professional you'll be served quite well by both parties. The classic win-win.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    Attachment

    Wooden ya know it...

    I am used to working with icons
    some might call our host that...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4882 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    There's the quote, open for interpretation. Giovanni is welcome to jump back in here and define what he meant exactly if he wants, but all I'm saying is that things were a bit grumpy yesterday, and I don't particularly want to get back into that conversation again. I didn't really want to be having it yesterday.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Your call. Oh and for the record I am win win served by both parties, I don't see anything grumpy in that comment.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    It wasn't that comment per se Merc, but rather the way the thread was going, and the roles various people play in that. It's happened before here, and as I say, it reminds me why I often don't enjoy it. Especially as for the most part, we all must be within a couple of standard deviations of each other (other than Craig of course, he's well deviated </joking>) when it comes to our values, politics, etc, I can't understand how things can get so snarky.

    Personally I blame the Internet. I happily have these sorts of debates at the Backbencher after the show all the time, and never feel the kind of despair I felt yesterday, even when banging my head against Young Act.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1129 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BenWilson,

    Gio's a bit sorry, I'm sure. Just a bit.

    I appreciate where you're coming from, but no, not even one tiny little bit. The protection above all things of liberal sensibilities on this site has reached proportions that make discussing politics on it - or anything that might legitimately be drawn into the political sphere - a frustrating and ultimately exhausting (for me personally, I'd add embittering) experience. If Left vs. Right on Public Address means Labour/Greens vs. National/Act, then what's the bloody point of claiming any thought independence, or committment to the robust discussion of ideas?

    And it really shouldn't need pointing out, but, bafflingly, it seems that it does: identifying progressivism or the Left with Labour/the Greens means reducing the aspirations of anybody below the middle class to whatever those two parties define as thinkable and achievable in real world terms. This is incredibly limiting. In some areas and for some people, nothing short of humiliating. And in the face of that humiliation, which some of us experience on a more or less daily basis, being chided by the moderator of this site for having said "hey, you're middle class, you'll be okay" strikes me as bordering on the obscene.

    I really am done here, but feel free to discuss in absentia, I really don't care all that much.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7358 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Well jaw jaw is better than war war ;-) And Gio put me on to this link which seems appropriate, http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2011/02/24/digital-dualism-versus-augmented-reality/
    I feel this dualism claim needs further discussion. Here is what we want it to be.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Damian Christie,

    when it comes to our values, politics, etc, I can't understand how things can get so snarky.

    I posit that it's because of mutual respect. Someone from Kiwiblog calling me every name under the sun means nothing at all, and indeed could lead to amusing insult trading until I grew out of it. 3410 saying I talk more than I listen hurt a hundred times more than being called a depraved liar by any troll.

    Which makes things tricky. How can you have robust debate if the least slight causes real disquiet? Are we becoming like the Elves in the final chapters of LOTR, who Tolkien describes as having lengthy conversations without speech, so much meaning could be conveyed by the least glances and millenia of shared knowledge, and pretty much knowing what they mutually thought anyway, so that speech was barely necessary? No wonder they left Middle Earth.

    The answer is what Russell has always said. Remember that it's just another discussion thread, and another one will come along tomorrow. Sometimes we have to resay things. Or even apologize and just get over stuff. That this is even possible in this community is very valuable and rare on the internet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8500 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I appreciate where you're coming from, but no, not even one tiny little bit.

    I hate speaking for you, I'm always wrong.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8500 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    identifying progressivism or the Left with Labour/the Greens means reducing the aspirations of anybody below the middle class to whatever those two parties define as thinkable and achievable in real world terms. This is incredibly limiting.

    Please do suggest which other significant political movements/actors you believe we're overlooking. The thread was pretty clearly focused on political parties, and you mentioned unions earlier but if there are others then name them so we can better understand your despair.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16627 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Yeah, I have to say, I can see how Russell's telling you off was just as, if not more, annoying than the actual subject of discussion. I too would be worried/offended if Labour/Green was viewed as the extent of 'the Left' in New Zealand.

    In another discussion I was told that wishing Cunliffe had suggested that privatised SOEs be renationalised without compensation was outside the Overton window in NZ political discourse 25 years on from the Lange government. If that's the case, who drags the window back to the left if 'the Left' is defined as Labour and the Greens? Possibly the more democraticly run Green Party, but they appear to have shifted right in recent times, not left.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to merc,

    Where are the new blood journalists with objective reporting skills and analysis?

    Unemployed.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2080 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And I vote Green, FFS

    Commie.

    So, a pinkgreen, then. Might clash with the bluegreens, methinks...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2080 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    Left and Right are perfectly simple political concepts. The Right (or Conservatives) are for maintaining the power of the monarch and the church. The Left (or Whigs) are for expanding political franchise to the professional classes.

    There are no other factions, and no other issues. Rumours of a third political movement representing the labouring classes are clearly nonsensical.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I'd consider Mana Party to be Left. There would be a few that probably didn't get to the big whirly gates but they do represent a leftist view. Wasn't Alliance, do they still exist? Maybe not large but both were on opposition benches, and put there by vote.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6135 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Of course Left/Right is a very broad brush, that omits huge detail. It's one way of broadly partitioning the space of voter positions, and the scale is very difficult to define without surveying the opinions on the same questions with the same sampling methods right around the world.

    There are many dimensions along which difference can be ranked. As many as you can make questions for, which, absent a limit on the length of the question, is infinite, and even with a small length limit, is still extremely large. With a selection of n questions, each person answering gets a point in a n-dimensional space. The clustering of the points in this space can indicate broad agreement between large groups, and could define the positioning of various parties in this space. But the selection of questions is still going to be problematic, people could be very close to one another in your choice of questions, and yet consider themselves opposites, when it comes to the unasked question that pits them as mortal enemies. It could turn out also, that differences in basic understanding of the terms in the question could lead to people who disagree with each other very much answering the questions the same way.

    So even with extreme precision in your questioning, and sophisticated mathematical analysis of the results, you could find the terms left and right very hard to clearly distinguish.

    I think, for instance that analysis saying the Greens are moving to the center both correct and misleading. On one dimension, left/right, in very broad sweeps, and defining the left/right dichotomy by the relative positions of the two GOPs, that is a correct assessment. Add other dimensions, and it might not look like they are passing through Labour's cluster, but passing around it, striking off in a different direction to both Labour and National. NZF might look like they are in between Labour and National, but I would actually believe they are quite distant from both in two dimensions, the racist dimension and the monetarist (they're profoundly against). Peter Dunne might appear to be pathologically centrist, and yet his position on cannabis reform is far more anti than the national average would seem to be. I don't even know where to put the Maori party, I never really have. ACT would be very hard to place clearly too, because there is a vast gulf between what they say and what they do. The party that claims to be tough on crime has had a rather high number of criminals in high places. Mana might actually be entirely within the Labour cluster, simply attracting people who have stopped believing that Labour actually stands for them, with differentiation mostly coming in the human rights dimension.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8500 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Paul Williams,

    he fastest growing political movement in Australia is GetUp which claims almost 600,000 members.

    Including me. They have worked effectively on several specific issues by giving a large wave of on-line support or opposition. I have long wished someone would start something similar here.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2077 posts Report Reply

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