OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Paul Williams, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    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.

    It's a model that works, you opt in on the issues you care about and pool your finances. On climate change and on same sex marriage, I think it's had a real and measurable impact. I guess eventually there'll be an issue that the "membership" is divided on and then we'll see how robust the model is.

    Something similar in NZ is only a handful of creative people away, possibly they're here? The model is entirely scalable (I understand most of the people hours are voluntary).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2200 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Good news, Mount Roskill has their M.P back. Goff wants to fight on. Goff needs to represent that fine Auckland suburb well. I'm glad he's staying on.


    and Paul Ifill, what a footballer. He will influence the game here.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to BenWilson,

    Of course Left/Right is a very broad brush, that omits huge detail.

    I agree with pretty much everything you say about multi-dimensional politics.

    Except.

    I'm not sure Left/Right is sufficiently well-defined to count as a political axis. On many issues, it's much easier to identify a conservative position, a liberal position, a progressive position or a green position than a left or a right position.

    Not so long ago, Roger Douglas was left, now he's considered right. Richard Nixon was right, although he'd be considered left today. Libertarians are far right, whereas anarchists are far left. Stalin's Communist Party was far left, but Hitler's National Socialist Party was far right.

    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.

    Perhaps you don't mean "define" as literally as I'm taking it, but I think this is precisely where we've got to in popular political discourse: Left is what Labour says and Right is what National says (insert two largest parties for other countries). Thus we get the kind of confusion we've had in this thread.

    I'm not saying that there's some perfect vocabulary for politics where everyone fits perfectly into an assigned box. It's complicated. But that's precisely why we need more than two adjectives. It's like trying to talk about race with only "black" and "white", or religion with only "Christian" and "Muslim".

    To return belatedly to the distant origins of this thread, I'd propose that the challenge for Labour now is to find a way to express its political values that doesn't use the word "Left". Not because Left is bad, but because it's meaningless.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    ot because Left is bad, but because it’s meaningless.

    Not among my people at all.
    Maybe among squirrelly academic types, but not among the disadvantaged and thoroughly turned off voters who compromise my whanau (of whom all voted, including the 18yr olds,)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    One limitation of the left right debate is its narrowness, particularly in nz. Coming back from the USA it was clear even ACT would have been considered lefty liberal, but by contrast with parts of Europe The Greens are hopelessly mired in right wing capitalist dogma.

    As a result I tend to eschew left right and simply ask what do we actually want and how do we best get it.

    To answer Ben's question if we want the best education for our kids should we adopt a failed model from the USA? Who cares if the successful models come from a left or right wing government the aim is educated kids. Creating an ill educated generation to fit a right/left model is silly.

    I'd also note that typos are easier on an iPad under the influence of alcohol.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3261 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    ’d also note that typos are easier on an iPad under the influence of alcohol.

    Heh! Any keyboard of any kind I’d suggest Bart!

    Yes, I agree – educated kids are a maximal BUT unless their parents/guardians can FIRST provide them with a warm home, healthy food, good water and -above all
    loving consistent care from educated* parents, they – & we all – are buggered.

    * educated does not necessarily mean ‘schooled’: it means parents who, one way or the other, have been taught how to love, guide, and educate in the ways of life,
    their kids. Frequently, this means learning on the job as well. For most, there is still the help of older others-
    unfortunately, the percentage gets fewer

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Perhaps you don't mean "define" as literally as I'm taking it, but I think this is precisely where we've got to in popular political discourse: Left is what Labour says and Right is what National says (insert two largest parties for other countries). Thus we get the kind of confusion we've had in this thread.

    In that sentence, I was using it literally. As a line through the heart of the Labour and National clusters, and extending beyond them in both directions, capturing up all the other assumptions and points of difference in a giant cliche that forms a single line to describe a term, as it applies in this country, at this time. I do not know, however, if the average position along this line of every individual would necessarily render a halfway point that lay between the National and Labour clusters. My guess is that it's some way into the Labour cluster, but I have never done the exercise, which is vast, and subject to the problems I already mentioned. I'd also expect there to be a lot of overlap between those clusters, that the Labour/National clusters might actually look like one elongated cluster, and the Green one would probably overlap almost entirely with the Labour one using this dimension alone.

    It's one way of defining the term, probably closest to the way I personally use it. But you're totally right, it's a term that isn't greatly helpful in itself, due to vagueness, and more specific dimensions shed more light (and take proportionally longer to explain, depending how many you use). I'm certainly not stuck on my definition. To argue over the meaning of such terms is as useless as all arguments over what random collections of sounds "mean". They mean nothing except what we intend them to mean, and if argument ensues about the right to use one term, the only way forward, really, is to use a new term, one devoid of existing connotation preferably, so that it has a strict meaning that can be agreed on. That is if we really wish to have debates that are somewhat scientific, about which statements with a high probability of truth and falsity can exist.

    However, this is not how the kind of political discussions that we usually have go. So everyone brings a different meaning to the table, and angry fights happen over which is right, because discussion will continue, using these terms, whether it is a good way of doing it or not. It's the way we're stuck with, unfortunately. Indeed, there's a strong argument that moving the language is one of the most powerful ways of controlling the thinking about it that makes up the bulk of political discourse, so Gio is well within his rights to seek to battle over it. In a Marxist sense, the country has moved to the right for my whole life. In the dimension of individual freedom, it's become much less conservative. So the average is indeed somewhere in the neoliberal camp, if that is to be defined by the rhetoric of parties like ACT rather than their actual actions, which are usually totally hypocritical, culminating finally in their only representative being a homophobic racist law and order nut seeking to hand public funds to private schools, elected almost entirely by National supporters seeking to reduce the proportionality of our democratic system.

    But to speak of Labour, National, Greens, UF, ACT, Maori Party, and NZF collectively as the Right will only confuse most people in a discussion. That leaves exactly 1 seat that is officially to the left. If that is the case, then a leftist coalition is not going to happen in this country in any foreseeable future.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8314 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Sacha,

    Please do suggest which other significant political movements/actors you believe we’re overlooking. The thread was pretty clearly focused on political parties...

    What Sacha said. And this is my frustration. I joined this conversation to talk about David Shearer vs David Cunliffe, because that was what the conversation was about, before being made to feel like a class traitor because the entire fucking Labour paradigm is just so middle class, man.

    If, as Ben points out it's possible to do, you want to have a discussion about how left it's possible for people to go before it becomes philosophically unrecognisable from right, or self, or id or ego or whatever, then let's do that. But that wasn't what Keith wrote about. And it wasn't what I was talking about. There's got to be a point where we can discuss the minutiae of something in the paper without being called to account on first principles, which is where I think this is ultimately heading, isn't there?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1128 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Positions to argue politics from, could be aranged with the help of an architect.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2586 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    I think I could happily argue that the current state of political discussion in new zealand had moved towards something like 'whoever gets offended first wins'.
    It is not very helpful but you can see how we got there.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 202 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Damian Christie,

    On a brighter note: I interviewed Holly Walker,

    So Labour is a wicked party because it is full of professional Bowen triangle types obsessed with issues marginal to the day to day life of most New Zealanders and who are following a careerist path from the politics department and student activity to parliamentary researcher to parachuting into parliament as an MP with no real world experience.

    On the other hand, Holly Walker is an impressive new MP because she did politics at Otago and Oxford (that well known bastion of hard nosed reality), worked in student media, and was a parliamentary researcher before parachuting into parliament as an MP with no real world experience and for a party that over 90% of New Zealanders adjudge to be worried about issues marginal to their day to day life.

    Right. I am so glad we've cleared up the difference between the evil careerist machine politics monsters we must slay and the ardent caped crusaders we need more of.

    And I vote Green, FFS.

    Who could have guessed?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1776 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    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.

    Gio, I can only do my best to keep discussions here productive, and telling someone who's attempting in good faith to have a discussion with you that “hey, you’re middle class, you’ll be okay” didn't seem productive.

    I didn't edit or delete the comment, I didn't threaten to ban you or abuse you, I just said I didn't think the response was warranted. You clearly didn't agree, but if you're going to describe that as "humiliation" and "bordering on the obscene" you may need to check your sense of perspective.

    Anyway, I have editorial meeting to get to, but could you please at least consider the possibility that the dreaded "liberal sensibilities" may not actually have been the problem in this thread.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18707 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Interface off its face...

    ...typos are easier on an iPad under the influence of alcohol.

    How do you digitise the alcohol to get it into the iPad?
    Or is that what the selection of 'ports' is for?
    (Do iPads even have ports, or am I thinking laptops?)
    : - )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4664 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Islander,

    can FIRST provide

    Bart would be proud that I instinctively read that as the late Foundation of Research Science and Technology.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    So Labour is a wicked party because it is full of professional Bowen triangle types obsessed with issues marginal to the day to day life of most New Zealanders

    Sigh. Where did anyone *here* actually say that? May be a comforting mantra that helps avoid dealing with any need for change, but it's pretty schoolyard stuff.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16473 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to steven crawford,

    Positions to argue politics from, could be aranged with the help of an architect.

    I'll take the Rapunzel tower. In ivory, natch.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2354 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    So everyone brings a different meaning to the table, and angry fights happen over which is right, because discussion will continue, using these terms, whether it is a good way of doing it or not. It's the way we're stuck with, unfortunately.

    I reckon we're at an interesting point where the underlying models are actually changing. Influenced by things like MMP and worldwide waking up about the limits of capitalism and environment. The rise of systems thinking over black/white binaries. And the inevitable process of this young blended nation of ours growing up.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich Lock,

    In ivory, natch

    That's from the new Ikea catalogue, right?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    To return belatedly to the distant origins of this thread, I'd propose that the challenge for Labour now is to find a way to express its political values that doesn't use the word "Left".

    I'd agree with that. I reckon their recent campaign opening video did that quite well.

    Developing cooperation and differentiation with their allies might involve discussion about what they have in common, but that's likely to be at a positions and "what's important" (values) level that is more subtle than a mono-dimensional label can ever encapsulate.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16473 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Ikea is a little déclassé for us well-served middle-class professionals, darling.

    Freedom furniture for the neccesities. Pre-loved antiques to zhuzh it up. Or so one's interior designer informs one.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2354 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    So Labour is a wicked party because it is full of professional Bowen triangle types obsessed with issues marginal to the day to day life of most New Zealanders and who are following a careerist path from the politics department and student activity to parliamentary researcher to parachuting into parliament as an MP with no real world experience.

    I can only assume that as this is a reply to me, this is some kind of sarcastic paraphrasing of something I've said? In which case, WTF? Those are an awful lot of words you've put in my mouth, and based on how accurately you've managed to convey my thoughts, I wouldn't be applying for a job on Sensing Murder anytime soon.

    I hold many, if not most Labour MPs in high regard - I've met all of them and consider a few of them good friends. My comment was precisely limited to NZ First MPs, and that much I'll stand by.

    Do I rate Holly Walker? Yes. Is it because I voted Green that I rate her? No, I'd tend to think it was the other way around, weird as that might seem to some people.

    Just when things were calming down a little...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1128 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    can FIRST provide

    Bart would be proud that I instinctively read that as the late Foundation of Research Science and Technology.

    Ah, yes, FRST, usually pronounced "forced" to rhyme with MoRST. Of course, when I see "FIRST" I immediately think of the tax gathering IT system IRD uses, but that's what 5 years in the belly of the beast does to your perceptions.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1874 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Damian Christie,

    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.

    It's the missing beer?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16473 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    Sigh. Where did anyone *here* actually say that? May be a comforting mantra that helps avoid dealing with any need for change, but it's pretty schoolyard stuff.

    Oh, puleeze, Sacha! Tom, facts? Yeah, nah.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1874 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Just when things were calming down a little...

    There are those - yes, even on PAS - that it's better to just ignore...


    And some might say I'd be one of them, so YMMV

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1874 posts Report Reply

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