Posts by Caleb D'Anvers

  • Hard News: Where are all the polls at?,

    I have to say, I’m not that convinced by elements of Danyl’s analysis there. I don’t think it’s actually the case that NZ and UK Labour’s tertiary fees policies are “very similar.” Corbyn offered current students the concrete material benefit of not paying any fees for the coming academic year, with a total abolition kicking in from October 2018. NZ Labour’s policy won’t actually bed in fully until 2024, meaning its first full beneficiaries are currently about 11. And even then, it will only pay 3 years of tertiary education. I can’t really see the logic of charging fees for graduate and postgraduate degrees (which is often where the really significant “value added” of tertiary education starts to accrue), or the final years of conjoint degrees, or the clinical or practice years of longer courses like medicine or law. Just get rid of the failed fees regime altogether. There’s no rationale for keeping it under any circumstances.

    So I can understand why NZ students’ response to the policy might be more lukewarm than those of students in the U.K. They’re not being offered anything like the same benefits.

    Similarly, I don’t think NZ First and UKIP are equivalents. It’s still unclear what UKIP is, or was, exactly. A racist revanchist party? Grubby opportunists? A cult of personality built around the media image of one man? A pure protest vote? All of the above? NZ First, at least, has seen power and we know pretty much what it is: a cult of personality, yes, but also a kind of reheated Muldoonism. Not really much like UKIP at all.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Where are all the polls at?,

    I think it's worth pointing out that one of the reasons practically all the polls before the 2017 UK general election were wrong was because they systematically under-represented the youth vote. That was deliberate: after the polling debacles of 2015, the pollsters made adjustments to their sampling to reflect what they expected turnout to look like, based on who actually turned up to the polls two years earlier. So polling samples were weighted towards older voters, on the assumption that most of the young wouldn't vote.

    We now know that that was completely wrongheaded. It made no allowance for young voters' enthusiasm for Corbyn-style Labour policies that had not been on offer in 2015 (in particular, the abolition of tertiary fees). And it didn't anticipate the success of Momentum and other Labour-affiliated organisations and campaigns in mobilizing the youth and student vote, particularly around residential university campuses. That's why the Conservatives unexpectedly lost seats like Canterbury (main campus of the University of Kent) and, perhaps, Ipswich (home to the newly established University of Suffolk).

    Could something similar happen in NZ? It's quite possible, but one of the reasons UK Labour was so unexpectedly successful in June was because it offered a complete break with the status quo. It promised an end to all student fees, starting in October 2017, for instance, not a "sensible" graduated abolition over several years. I do wonder if NZ Labour's residual tendency towards compromise and "sensible" options might blunt that message and prevent the kind of unanticipated "youth quake" we saw here 3 months ago.

    But the only way of really proving the pollsters and the conservative newspapers and broadcasters wrong is to actually turn up and vote tactically for a change of government.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Campaign 2017: Buy a…,

    This is how the story's being reported in the UK:

    The prime minister, Bill English, told reporters he had been aware of Yang’s background and did not believe the Chinese politician had tried to hide it. However, in a Chinese-language interview with the Financial Times, Yang reportedly asked repeatedly that information about his academic past in China be omitted from any article about him. “You don’t need to write too much about myself,” he reportedly said.

    Tom Phillips, China-born New Zealand MP denies being a spy, Guardian (13 September 2017).

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Campaign 2017: Buy a…,

    The implied allegation is he’s currently disloyal to NZ.

    No, I think the implied allegations are much more serious than that.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Campaign 2017: Buy a…,

    Yang was asked if he was aware while working as a lecturer he was teaching English to people training to be intelligence officers, so they could monitor communications.

    “If you define those cadets or students as spies, yes, then I was teaching spies. If that is the case. I don’t think so [they were spies]. I just think they are collecting information through communication in China. If you define that way, then they were spies. But for us, it was just collecting information.”

    Yang agreed when he was asked if his students were using the English they were learning to monitor the communications of other countries.

    “If you say spying, then spying,” Yang said, before National MP and party whip Jamie-Lee Ross cut in and ended the press conference.

    Well, that went well, then.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Campaign 2017: Buy a…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I agree entirely about National's social media scaremongering campaign about extra taxes and their apparent success in disseminating it over the past couple of weeks.

    Due to family dynamics, I get a lot of "rural NZ" in my Facebook feed. Those users seem worried about being blamed (and more importantly, taxed) for farm water runoff and generally suspicious that Labour might somehow take their cows away. There's a poem going around people's walls (it has tens of thousands of likes and shares so far) advocating "two ticks blue" due to Ardern's supposed plans to "tax this and tax that" and do various other nefarious things that won't go over well in Ashburton or Masterton.

    It all puts in perspective the various self-styled communists who also show up on my feed accusing Ardern of being an uber-neoliberal Blairite shill.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Warming up for…,

    I got to know Matthew Bannister very slightly in the mid-00s, when we both shared an office in the English Department at the University of Auckland. Matthew was at that stage working on the manuscript of what would become White Boys, White Noise: Masculinities and 1980s Indie Guitar Rock. I was working (not especially productively at that point) on my PhD thesis. No one else really used the room and we ended up talking a good deal about the ideas that were going into his book: the influence of the Velvets on the Dunedin scene, and the influence in turn of Warholian discourses of masculinity and performance on the Velvets. He always had an amazing array of books on music floating around and he'd let me borrow them, so long as I had interesting things to say about them when I returned them. I lent him my copy of Slacker on DVD. Good times.

    I last saw him sometime in the late '00s on George Street in Dunedin. He was in town for family reasons; I was attending an academic conference. We found a cheap Vietnamese restaurant and caught up over lunch.

    It's great to hear that he and the other Sneakys are making and performing music together again.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: This is bad – very bad,

    There are similar issues at the moment in the UK, with some unsurprising parallels:

    Police in Manchester battling an epidemic of the use of spice attended nearly 60 incidents related to the drug in the city centre in one weekend….


    Phil Spurgeon, a city centre inspector with Greater Manchester police, questioned the wisdom of the ban on the drug. “Spice has been around for the past two or three years in different guises,” he said. “I’m not being judgmental about the legislation, but the reality with the Psychoactive Substances Act is that it has shifted supply on to the streets.

    “The product was probably more consistent in the head shops. Now it’s more varied, the makeup is constantly changing. That’s why we’re seeing people collapsing, as the drug becomes more potent.”

    Frances Perraudin, Manchester police attend 58 spice-linked incidents in one weekend, Guardian
    (10 April 2017).

    Of course, one of the basic commonalities is hopelessness.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Interesting Britain!,

    I was so dreading the impending May dictatorship that I avoided all election coverage after polls closed on the 8th. I only discovered what had happened when I woke at 5 am the next morning to go to Heathrow (I had to be at a conference in Canada the next day) and my wife told me that the Tories hadn't got their majority.

    The Brits at the conference spent much of the time clustered around our phones. A colleague of mine -- certainly no fan of Corbyn -- couldn't hide his glee. A postdoc I knew vaguely was disappointed -- she thought Labour would win. When asked why, she replied wistfully, "I was in a social media bubble."

    We haven't won anything yet -- not by a long shot -- but there's a greater sense of quiet determination and common cause about than I've felt for a long time.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Taking the stage in Mount Albert,

    Adam Curtis made a similar point in an interview recently. He compared the EU referendum and Trump to giant “f*ck off” buttons presented to disgruntled voters. The thing the buttons ostensibly were for wouldn’t really do people any good, but the very act of pressing them would send that message, and that’s what was attractive.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 476 posts Report Reply

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