Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: National Landslide, or Key-Fuelled Rage?



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  • Raymond A Francis,

    So this what the rather manufactured scandal coming out from the left wing blogs is based on

    A quiet “on the record” talk in a café
    That, as transcribed ,is not very clear but seems to point that the leader of the opposition would like wage rises to be based on lifts in production rather than just government decree and the inflation that goes with that
    Is that not what we all want!!

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Raymond, the point being made is that even if Key's been misunderstood, firstly he's not often clear about what he does think and secondly he often makes a mess of correcting the record. It's not as if this is the first time he's mis-spoken either; the famous slip-of-the-lip at the conference where he declared his leadership of Labour (perhaps less surprising now given National's tendency to copy policy positions).

    David, I remember those times also, though not as well as you, and I do think the situation is markedly different not least of all because the economy is still performing well - particularly if measured in terms of employment.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    One thing seemed odd to me in all this: I seems to recall that in the absence of any other measure, don't we use wages as a measure of productivity.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Wages only tells you the labour share of productivity - GDP per person in real dollars is often the measure Treasuries use.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Holy cow, Robman! It's not Key, it's the rest of them.

    Honestly, Labour has mishandled a number of items - being blamed for the Anti-smacking bill for one, when it wasn't even a Labour bill - and therein lies Labour's problem - that and the fact that Helen is so polarising: there is a disturbing vitriolic dislike of her out there (hatred seems too strong even if appropriate on occasion).

    But just look at National - After Key there's English, then Power, then, erm...Tony Ryall and...(eek) Nick Smith and then...um...

    I'm sure there'll be good players coming forward but the talent...well, people criticise local government but who can really claim that central government is that much better?And who can claim that National is better than Labour?

    But...there are a lot of people who have an intense dislike of Helen and without her going Labour is dog tucker. But then she's the best weapon they've got, too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 166 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I think it was a lot easier in 1990 to put your finger on what was wrong at the time, though that might be an effect of retrospection. Things were improving but not fast enough. We'd been promised there'd be a rocky patch, and then things would improve. We got six years of 'jam tomorrow' and no jam.

    Add to that, Labour was tearing itself apart from the inside, with the waka-jumping of Anderton and the formation of New Labour.

    This year... for all the soul-searching and talk about 'social engineering', I think Labour's greatest enemy is our sense of fair play. They've been on the swing for too long and it's time to give someone else a turn.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Emma, that's certainly my recollection of the 1990s situation though I fear your analysis of the current situation may also be right.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    I think Labour's greatest enemy is our sense of fair play. They've been on the swing for too long and it's time to give someone else a turn.

    They may also be victim to our insatiable appetite for all things new. Could voters be so conditioned by the marketing machine to want the new model that they apply it to politics as well?

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    If the new model really is only differentiated by trim and a handful of extras but is otherwise essentially the same model... that certainly appears to be National's campaign strategy which is why I think the two situations are in fact not so comparable.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2185 posts Report Reply

  • Snowy,

    Why is it that on an issue so significant to so many voters, one that would lose Key a LOT of votes if he meant what he said, that Key can't emphatically deny what he said? Instead we've had every mangled attempt at obfuscation possible but he's never denied it.

    Emma - you may be right, it's called the Buggins' Turn. It elects great leaders like GWB

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    They may also be victim to our insatiable appetite for all things new. Could voters be so conditioned by the marketing machine to want the new model that they apply it to politics as well?

    Well, being a little less condescending to the great unwashed, could it be within the realms of possibility that Labour is The Little Party That Cried Wolf once too often? I know this is going to drive the usual suspects nuts, but John Key is not Ruth Richardson in man-drag and believe it or not, National sure isn't ideologically purist enough for my taste. I can't weap too many crocodile tears if Labour has wasted enormous amounts of time and energy selling a line nobody is buying.

    Shit, ay. Oddly enough, it seems to me that Key is doing what Helen Clark quite consciously did a decade ago: Made it rather implausible for a beleaguered Government to claim that electing a Labour-lead government would see a radical swing to the left.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Snowy,

    how much would you like your wages cut by Craig?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    The leavers of government is not won by a party (never,never,never)
    it is lost
    Well that is my view of the last 38 years
    So a clever oppostion just has to wait and not rock the boat
    Which is exactly what Labour did when in that position
    No policies and just niggle ,niggle and it worked
    I am not sure it will work this time as SMP has made things harder for the right
    But I agree there is a feeling it is time for the other lot to have a go
    it may not lead to good government but it does lead to new ideas and new ways of dealing with problems
    And very rarely does the sky fall or wages either, trust me on this

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Which is exactly what Labour did when in that position
    No policies and just niggle ,niggle and it worked

    I fear your memory is faulty. Labour in the late 90s was bursting with policy ideas. Not all of it actually turned up as government policy, but there was a lot of detailed wonk-work done. What Labour thought should happen was no mystery in 1999.

    But yes: I suspect some Labour longtimers are thinking about how it feels to be on the other side.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17967 posts Report Reply

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    No policies in 1990?? Bill of Rights, anybody?

    1990 saw the blue-rinsers that swung over to Rogernomics in the 87 election swing back to the Nats in his absence. And the Labour vote was crucified by the Enrolled Non-Vote. Same as 2008. Y'see, people who vote Nat always vote. People who vote Labour either vote Labour or don't vote at all.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    how much would you like your wages cut by Craig?

    Wrong question, Snowy. Remember you're talking to a freelance writer who fills the gap by temping.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    One thing I find strange is that when economists talk about productivity, they are stuck in this early-20th century model where productivity improvement is all about buying a bigger clump press that can churn out more widgets per man-hour.

    I think a lot of productivity increase is through the nature of work changing. So if Factory X, which makes clothes at a labour cost of $12 an hour closes due to foreign competition, but in the same week Atelier Y opens up *designing* clothes at a labour cost of $25 an hour, then productivity per worker just doubled.

    For me that's how we improve productivity - by increasing the number of high-added-value jobs.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4218 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    So if Factory X, which makes clothes at a labour cost of $12 an hour closes due to foreign competition, but in the same week Atelier Y opens up *designing* clothes at a labour cost of $25 an hour, then productivity per worker just doubled.

    But if Factory X employs 100 people at $12 and hour and Atelier Y employs 2 designers at $25 an hour there's a deficit surely?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Here are a couple of interesting grabs from an old Kevin List interview with John Key. The first makes his position on productivity a good deal more clear:

    There are two fundamental issues around New Zealand. One is around productivity, and we have an economy that's not productive in the way that it could be. Certainly there's a lot more to eke out. If you can develop productivity, then wage rates actually grow. That's the really driving issue for New Zealand. We're fundamentally quite a low-wage economy, and that's the gap which you'll quite often hear Don Brash and myself talk about.

    He also has this to say later in the interview, which is quite interesting in a The Selling Of the Prime Minister way. My emphasis added. Identifying with the battlers, or making the most of a marketing angle?

    KL:: Okay. I've got your bio here from July 28, 2002, and it's the official National Party bio. It says you grew up in a State house. That's disappeared from your 2006 one. Is that just an oversight or a rewrite of the bio?

    JK:: No, it's still on.

    KL:: Not on the website.

    JK:: Oh, is that the National Party site?

    KL:: Yeah.

    JK:: They rewrite their own. It's on my site. It's on my site. I look at it as a great marketing ploy for me. I'm very happy and very proud of my background.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    There are two fundamental issues around New Zealand. One is around productivity, and we have an economy that's not productive in the way that it could be. Certainly there's a lot more to eke out. If you can develop productivity, then wage rates actually grow. That's the really driving issue for New Zealand. We're fundamentally quite a low-wage economy, and that's the gap which you'll quite often hear Don Brash and myself talk about.

    "Next contestant - John Key from Helensville, specialist subject: the bleedin' obvious. "

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 556 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Well, Paul, sometimes the bleeding obvious needs to be repeated frequently and at the top of your voice. You know, like the frequent occasions when 'common sense' appears to be as rare as a kosher ham and cheese sandwich.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11617 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Is it as bleedin' obvious [and Key makes an unlikely Sybil Fawlty, btw] when Clark, Cullen or Mallard say much the same thing?

    Because they do, often.

    And its a long running issue for NZ. Couple of weeks ago I was looking at a Treasury paper from 1957 which lamented NZ's poor per capita productivity.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Snowy,

    Let me guess, Singapore has much higher productivity?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    To give your mate a little insight, the "Don't drink and fry" ads are nothing to do with Labour's rumoured social engineering.

    The Fire Service Commission has a contracted obligation to reduce avoidable fire deaths in this country. We already have an extremely low rate of avoidable fire death (as contrasted with things such as people dying when their car crashes and burns, or through an industrial accident), but it could be lower. And one of the leading causes of home fires is people who get home from a night out and start a fry-up. They pass out on the couch, and from there we've seen the other ads about what happens when a pot catches fire. Your mate, like most of the rest of the population, is obviously unaware of the risks, which is why the ads were produced in the first place. Does he consider the work on making drink-drivers social pariahs to also be Labour's social engineering?

    I have no time for National when it comes to the Fire Service (Roger Estall, anyone?), but I seriously doubt that they'll have those ads gone by lunchtime if they're elected. If they do then their Internal Affairs minister should be dragged out and shot, because it would be a completely cavalier attitude to public safety.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    At least Singapore doesn't make it compulsary to wear bike helmets.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

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