A happy juxtaposition of hoardings at Wallacetown in the Invercargill electorate:
Captions are welcome – witty not nasty.
The trend in the polls is encouraging but the future isn’t as blue as they paint it.
National is polling well, but still slightly below where it was at this time before the 2011 election.
The message is clear – if people want a third term national government with John Key as Prime Minister they have to vote and vote blue.
Ticking National candidates will help get them into parliament.
But it’s the party vote that counts most and only by ticking National for the party vote will help it into government.
Labour leader David Cunliffe has denied he has double standards for refusing to rule out relying on the Internet Mana party to form a government despite deriding National for its coat tailing deals in Epsom and Ohariu.
Mr Cunliffe has accused National of manipulating voters by using the coat-tailing provisions to try to boost its support partners’ chances through electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu.
However, he will not rule out calling on the Internet Mana Party if needed to form a Government.
The Internet-Mana alliance was set up to try to get the Internet Party into Parliament on the back of Hone Harawira’s seat, Te Tai Tokerau.
MMP allows parties which win an electorate seat to bring in other MPs even if they do not reach 5 per cent of the party vote.
Prime Minister John Key said Mr Cunliffe would try to form a government with the Internet Mana which had a similar deal and Labour had tried similar deals with Alliance and Green MPs in the past.
“A little bit of consistency would be good.” He believed voters knew MMP well enough to make the choices they considered best.
The PM has been open about which parties he is prepared to have in a government he leads and which he won’t.
He’s given voters the information they need to make a fully informed choice and it’s up to them how they exercise that choice.
But Cunliffe is taking Winston Peters’ line in refusing to confirm exactly what he’ll do, or not do, until after the election.
Mr Cunliffe said he had made it clear it was “extremely unlikely” any Internet Mana Party MPs would get ministerial positions, or even lower level associate or undersecretary roles in a Labour-led Government.
But he would not rule out policy concessions in return for their votes, saying that was a matter to discuss after the election. “We will talk to whoever the voters serve up.” . .
That’s another yeah-nah position.
Labour’s consistently polling below 30% an is very unlikely to have a strong foundation of voter support from which to bargain.
Mr Key said he doubted Labour would not include Internet Mana in Cabinet if it was needed to form a government.
“The reality is David Cunliffe about 10 months ago came into the job of Leader of the Opposition and said he was going to deliver a result in the high 30s for Labour and that would see them as the next government. Then he downsized that to the low 30s. In recent times, he’s been saying Labour in the 20s could still theoretically become the government. What we know is when you’re Leader of the Opposition you’re desperate to become Prime Minister and will probably do anything. He’s in the camp of forming an alliance with anybody to get over the line.” . . .
Cunliffe will be desperate to be Prime Minister and if the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties have enough sets to enable him to cobble together a coalition of the losers he’ll make any concessions he needs to be in government.
He had a chance to show strength as the PM did when he ruled out Winston Peters before previous elections.
But Cunliffe’s too desperate to win at any cost to rule out Dotcom and the Internet Mana Party he funds and controls.
However, rather than helping Labour into government it could well set them even further back.
Moderate voters who are undecided will be repulsed by the spectre of Labour and the GIMPs.
The rules allow the smaller of the bigger parties and an ill-assorted bunch of also-rans to form a government but that’s unlikely to be the sort of government most voters would find palatable.
They have the the prospect of a strong and refreshed National Party likely to need only minor support from other parties who have proven to work well in government or a weak and stale Labour Party requiring major support from an unproven and disparate assortment of parties.
It’s a choice between progress and stability on one side and regression and instability on the other.
John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:
It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.
Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.
If it is voters will be the losers.
“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.
It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.
It is also negative.
That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.
At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.
What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.
Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.
Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?
No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.
When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.
It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.
One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.
It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.
If it can’t then it is not ready for government.
The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.
In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.
And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.
I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.
Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.
Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.
Prime Minister John Key has ruled out any electoral deal between National and the Conservative Party.
Prime Minister John Key today made clear National’s position on accommodating support parties in electorate contests at this year’s General Election.
The National Party and its partners have successfully provided stable MMP government over two terms of Parliament and through challenging times.
“We will be seeking a further mandate on September 20,” says Mr Key.
“In an MMP environment, the public determines the make-up of Parliament by voting in a combination of parties, and every election is a tight contest.”
“After the election, political parties must work constructively to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”
In January, the Prime Minister made it clear that if National were returned to Government this election, the preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future as this has been a successful combination.
He also made it clear it would be possible to add the Conservative Party and New Zealand First to this group.
Today he outlined National’s position on electorate contests for the 2014 election campaign.
“We’re seeking to maximise the party vote for National across the country in all seats. It is only through delivering the strongest possible party vote that National voters will return National to Government.”
“For the electorate vote, we will encourage National party supporters to give their electorate vote to the ACT candidate in Epsom and the United Future candidate in Ohariu.”
“We will continue to seek to maximise our party votes in those electorates and that’s what National Party candidates will be working hard to do.
“In East Coast Bays, where the Conservatives have a candidate, the only option to accommodate that party would be to remove a sitting MP from the ballot paper and that, as I have said, is a bridge too far. So there will be no electorate accommodation with the Conservatives.”
“However, we are happy to consider working with the Conservative party post-election should the public vote that party in to Parliament.”
“As I have said previously we are also prepared to discuss working with New Zealand First if that party is returned to Parliament.”
“In Epsom and Ōhariu, both ACT and United Future share a history of working with National and those are proven relationships that have stood the test of time.”
“National doesn’t always agree with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future on every issue, but together our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008.”
“Under the National-led Government, New Zealand is heading in the right direction and if re-elected, National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.”
Conservative leader Colin Craig wanted sitting East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully to stand aside so he could have a better chance at winning the seat.
Had that happened in my electorate I would have found it very difficult to vote for him rather than my National MP.
This would have been very different from Ohariu and Epsom. Peter Dunne was the local MP before MMP and Rodney Hide won Epsom when then sitting-MP Richard Worth was trying to hold it.
The people in these electorates chose someone other than the National candidates first and they keep doing that.
This year they can choose to do that again, or not.
That is very different from taking a choice away by pulling a long-serving and popular MP.
If it had been done and Craig won, any votes that counted for the Conservatives which might have helped National form a government could well have been cancelled out by National voters turned off by that thought who’d then vote for another party.
Early in the week Labour leader David Cunliffe issued some more apologies then vowed to stick to what matters.
If we’re to take him at his word, what matters is who’s hosting the TVNZ debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.
What matters isn’t that people in the media are biased but that we know what their bias is.
When we listen to John Campbell we know his personal bias is left.
When we listen to Mike Hosking we know his personal bias is right.
That is something we can take into account when thinking about what they say and how they conduct themselves and any interviews they do.
That is far better than having people in the media with a bias who aren’t overt about it and, deliberately or not, let it influence their work.
That’s when bias matters in the media.
But this issue isn’t what matters in politics and once more Cunliffe has fallen into a hole of his own making by complaining about something that doesn’t matter which leaves no oxygen for the big things that do – the economy, education, health and welfare.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member’s question was quite instructive, actually, because his argument was that to produce more, you have to pollute more. On this side of the House, we actually totally and utterly disagree with that, but it does show what the member is thinking, and that is, of course, if you want to pollute less—which is something we accept the Green Party wants to do—you have to produce less, and boy will the Greens be producing less if they ever assume the Treasury benches.
Less pollution is something most people agree is a worthy aim but it doesn’t have to be either less pollution or more growth and contrary to the Green’s world view we do need a strong economy if we’re to afford environmental protection and enhancement.
Anyone who’s been in the third world knows poorer economies have poorer environmental standards.
Electoral law permitted election hoardings to be displayed from yesterday.
Alfred Ngaro’s National Party teams were so keen to paint the Te Atatu electorate blue they started at midnight.
Facebook and Twitter showed MPs, candidates and supporters the length and breadth of the country erecting hoardings and enjoying themselves while doing it.
Labour teams could be forgiven for not being quite as happy in their work but that’s not the only contrast between the blue hoardings and the red ones.
The message from National is clear and consistent, the one, or should that be ones from Labour are not.
We passed this double-sided hoarding on the way home from Queenstown yesterday.
There’s two sides to the sign but a single message – party vote National.
Labour candidates are giving mixed messages – some are seeking the electorate vote over the party one, a lot of them – like those used in 2011 – don’t show their leader.
The contrast couldn’t be greater.
There are blue hoardings giving a consistent message of unity, support for party leader John Key, and being quite clear that National wants your party vote. Then there are red ones giving mixed messages which show disunity and leave voters in doubt exactly what they’re being asked to do.
It’s the party vote that counts for forming a government.
National Party MPs and candidates are showing they not only want to be in parliament, they want to be in a John Key-led government.
But the hoardings of at least some Labour MPs show they’re more concerned about their own seats than the fate of their party – their desire to be in parliament is greater than that to have Labour in government.
If Labour MPs and candidates don’t care about the party vote, why would voters?
Last night’s 3 News-Reid Research poll gave Labour more bad news:
National: 49.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
Labour: 26.7 percent (down 0.6 percent)
Green: 12.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
NZ First: 4.3 percent (up 0.7 percent)
Conservative: 2.7 percent (down 0.1 percent)
Internet Mana: 2.3 percent (up 0.5 percent)
Maori: 1.1 percent (down 0.4 percent)
United Future: 0.2 percent (up 0.2 percent)
ACT: 0.1 percent (down 0.3 percent)
The reason’s for Labour’s poor showing are many, but one of those is Cunliffe’s prevarication over whether or not he’d do a post-election deal with the Internet-mana Party:
SHOULD LABOUR WORK WITH INTERNET MANA IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT:
NO: 59 percent
YES: 29 percent
Don’t know: 12 percent
NO: 47 percent
YES: 40 percent
Don’t know: 13 percent
Cunliffe’s following the Winston Peters’ line on this – he’ll play the cards the voters deal.
But by doing this both men are leaving voters without information they need to cast their votes with confidence.
John Key told everyone months ago which parties he would and would not work with.
People know what they’d get if they give National their party votes.
In contrast, Cunliffe and Peters continue to prevaricate which leaves voters having to take a gamble.
If they give Labour their party votes they can’t be sure they wouldn’t be helping the Internet-Mana Party into government and if they vote for New Zealand First they have no idea if Peters would move right or left.
In spite of what he says about the possibility of staying on the cross-benches, the lure of some baubles would almost certainly persuade him to change his mind.
A vote for either Labour or New Zealand first is a vote for uncertainty and instability.
While support for parties gets the most attention in polls, another important indicator is whether or not people think the country is heading in the right direction.
The trend for that is positive.
Leading by example is the best form of leadership and the PM does that.
He had a good role model in his mother and has succeeded as a result of his own efforts, showing by his example that we can succeed too.
That success isn’t just material either, he provides a very good example of personal integrity, public service and concern for others.
Labour has lost four points in the latest Herald DigiPoll, slumping to 26.5%, its worst level of support in 15 years.
. . . On this poll of decided voters National would be able to govern alone comfortably and gain another 10 MPs.
National has jumped 4.5 points to 54.9 per cent. A Stuff/Ipsos poll earlier this week also put support for National at 54.8 per cent.
Prime Minister John Key is more popular than he has ever been, scoring preferred prime minister on 73.3 per cent, compared with Cunliffe on 10.5 per cent and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters on 5.5 per cent.
The second-most-preferred PM out of Labour MPs is David Shearer, with 2.2 per cent, followed by Jacinda Ardern on 1.4 per cent. . .
Labour’s total support is down from 30.5 per cent in June, but it is disproportionately down among male voters, with only 23.9 per cent of men backing Labour, compared with 29.1 per cent of women.
Political commentator Chris Trotter said the poll indicated Labour was “more or less bereft of hope”.
“Labour is in an extremely parlous position, and the situation is deteriorating.”
And the news gets worse for the left:
Contrary to other polls, the DigiPoll had the Green Party losing popularity, which was also bad news for Labour and the left’s prospects. . .
A single poll could be a rogue one but a trend has to be taken more seriously and the left will even though this support reflects the views of those who have decided:
. . . Undecided voters were 11.5 per cent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. . . .
It’s still the trend that counts and the trend is very good for National but it’s still a couple of months to the election and the result of that, trend not withstanding, is still not certain.
The left might be panicking but there is absolutely no room for complacency on the centre-right.
However, there is
John Armstrong has joined the growing crowd calling for Kim Dotcom to put up or shut up:
The time has come for Kim Dotcom to put up or shut up, for this intelligent, canny but highly manipulative individual to front with his yet-to-be-made public disclosures which he boasts will blow John Key out of the water – and though Dotcom does not say it directly, presumably bring a rapid end to Key’s days as Prime Minister.
Dotcom must now prove far beyond any reasonable doubt that Key has lied repeatedly when challenged as to when exactly he became aware or was made aware of the former Megaupload mogul’s existence.
If Dotcom cannot or will not do that, he should zip it.
Because he is not a New Zealand citizen, Dotcom cannot stand for Parliament. But as a resident he otherwise has the same political rights accorded any voter. Turning the election campaign into even more of a circus is not one of them. . . .
If he really has a mega-bomb to drop which would be big enough to turn the tide from National the least he can do is drop it in time for voters to consider which other party would get their vote.
If he thinks that his own political travesty of Internet Mana would benefit, then he’s even more deluded than he appears to be.
Key will stand or fall on the strength of Dotcom’s case. The time has come for the country to hear it and appraise it. The time has come for Dotcom to cut the babble and prove Key is the one talking nonsense when he insists that until the eve of the police raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion he did not know of Dotcom, let alone that Dotcom was living in his Helensville electorate, or that Dotcom was the subject of a FBI investigation even though the intelligence agencies for which Key has ministerial responsibility had known for at least 15 months before the raid that was the case.
If the Prime Minister has not been telling the truth, then, as Dotcom and his supporters argue, it is a matter of paramount importance even if what they are arguing about could hardly be more trivial. . .
But will Key stand or fall on the case and is it of paramount importance when the issue is so trivial?
Armstrong counters his own assertion:
If Dotcom’s case similarly relies on hearsay or circumstantial evidence in any way, he would be best to work on an exit strategy – one in which he exits now. Or at least as quickly as he can without losing too much face.
Key, in contrast, has said little that he might later regret, but done much to try to second-guess exactly what Dotcom seems to think he has on him.
When Dotcom first suggested Key had known of him some time before Key claims to have heard of him, the Prime Minister and his staff in Wellington and Helensville searched desks, filing cabinets and computer records for anything that might be incriminating even in the slightest. They found nothing.
Lastly, Dotcom should ponder over this scenario. If Key is caught out, he will probably apologise and then make his credibility the issue for the final days of the campaign.
He will be able to wager his huge stocks of popularity on voters viewing any conflict over what he said about Dotcom and what he knew about Dotcom as a minor indiscretion.
Again, the argument is probably too trivial to destroy Key. But Dotcom needs a change of government if he is to have any hope of avoiding extradition to the United States. And Key’s hard-to-believe ignorance of his existence is one of the few means Dotcom has of securing such a change.
Why is it hard to believe?
Even with my bias I couldn’t condemn David Cunliffe for forgetting he’d written a letter about a would-be immigrant years ago.
Similarly no reasonable person could expect anyone to remember everyone he’s ever heard of, especially when the records have been scoured to find anything which might counter the PM’s assertions.
And how many people care anyway?
. . . The premise here is that Key lied about knowing that he had, in his very own electorate, a man Most Wanted by the US authorities. Key has always insisted he knew nothing of Dotcom till the police raid on his home. The question here is, why does this matter? It’s likely it can be proved Key “was told” about Dotcom. But whether he actually took the information on board, along with the ninety-thousand other things he’s informed of as Prime Minister and SIS Minister, is probably unprovable.
Realistically, had Helen Clark, Jim Bolger or any other recent PM been told that some funster computer tycoon whose business practices were under overseas scrutiny had moved to New Zealand, it’s doubtful they would have seared the information into their memories either.
As for “knowing about” the raid, that information was the province of the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, who would have found it highly improper to share with other ministers, least of all the target indivdual’s local electorate MP.
And even if Key did “know” – so what? What does that prove? That he didn’t stop the raid? Why would he, since the police officials concerned – albeit wrongly, as a judge later ruled – would have advised him it was the correct procedure? Had Key known and overridden it, that would have been the scandal: “PM Interferes With Police To Protect Rich Constituent.” .
Whatever’s in store from Big Kim’s Mega-Evidence Upload, it seems unlikely to achieve the status of game-changer. Most people will not cast their votes according to the status or treatment of Kim Dotcom. And those voters who can be bothered to process the information will simply divide according to what they want to believe: that the Government would take all manner of risks in order to give residency to and then persecute a blameless business tycoon; and those who strongly suspect the usual roil of cock-ups and unsuccessful conspiracies to cover the cock-ups up. . .
Dotcom and his rag-tag collection of enemies of his enemy would like to believe that a revelation that the PM had heard of Dotcom earlier than he said he did is a mega-bomb that will blow National’s chances of winning the election out of the water.
That just shows how desperate and deluded they are.
It is important to Dotcom because of his ego.
But even if he does find something to prove his assertion how many other people really care enough about who heard what and when to change their votes?
Those already decided would be unlikely to be swayed by something of so little import and those undecided and moved by it would be even more likely to declare a plague on all their houses and find something better to do on election day than vote.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has released latest benefit figures showing the number of people on welfare for the June quarter is the lowest since 2008, with sole parents leading the impressive results.
“There are over 16,000 fewer people on welfare compared to June 2013, with the total number currently 293,586,” Mrs Bennett said.
“When we look back just a few years to 2010, when benefit numbers were around 352,000, it’s clear to see the difference that welfare reforms are making, alongside New Zealand’s strong and growing economy.”
Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit have decreased by almost 7,500 since last year and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased over the same time.
“Most significant is the 10.7 per cent total drop in people on the Sole Parent Support benefit in the past year, which is happening nationwide with 12 per cent drops in Nelson and Waikato, and an 11.9 per cent drop in the Bay of Plenty, as well as big decreases in Canterbury and Auckland,” Mrs Bennett said
“Sole parents, particularly those who go on benefit in their teens, have the highest lifetime costs of any group on welfare and are more likely to stay on benefit the longest.”
“We’ve deliberately targeted our welfare reforms at sole parents by investing millions into intensive support and training and into help with study and childcare, so that working while raising children alone is achievable, and rewarding.”
The latest figures also point to positive trends in the years to come, with the number of teen parents aged 18 and 19 on the Young Parent Payment decreasing by 11.7 per cent.
“With teen parents spending an average of 19 years on benefit and costing around $246,000 over a lifetime, the headway we are making now will pay off for generations,” Mrs Bennett said.
The intensive wrap-around support through Youth Services and the tailored support Work and Income case managers are providing each person they work with is paying off – for taxpayers and for people who were otherwise at risk of long term welfare dependency.
The drop in benefit numbers is good for those directly affected and indirectly for all of us.
Moving from welfare to work has economic and social benefits for those who do it and their dependants.
The more people who can help themselves do, the more there is to support those who can’t.
Reducing the long-term cost of welfare provides significant savings which benefit the country as a whole.
. . . Meanwhile Dotcom, is now promising to reveal all he knows about John Key just before the election. And it’s pretty damn big, he says. Oh yes. In political terms, this is a bit like the playground “gonna tell on you and my father is a policeman and my aunt is a wrestler and you’re gonna be REAL SORRY!” . . .
This reminds me of Labour’s desperate smear attempts before the 2008 election when they sent Mike WIlliams to Australia to dig the dirt.
He came up with egg on his own face and no dirt at all.
If Dotcom really has something on Key he’d spill it now which would give the opposition a strong foundaiton on which to build an all-out assault.
The only advantage in waiting is to keep himself in the headlines.
Parties on the left appear to think more is better when it comes to taxpayers’ money.
They want to take more so they can spend more.
In stark contrast to that National has focussed on getting value for money in the knowledge that in many areas the quality of spending is more important than the quantity.
The left’s policies tend to foster dependence where National is determined to help those who can stand on their own feet to do so.
That’s government for the people to their benefit, helping them lead more independent, hopeful and productive lives.
Most people accept that National is a good economic manager and recognise it has a good head.
Many don’t get the link between that and a good heart.
The economy matters not as an end but as a means to better services, better opportunities and better lives.
One of the strengths that Prime Minister John Key has is that he is comfortable in his own skin.
He knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for and has no need to apologise for it.
That gives him the confidence to be comfortable in front of almost any audience.
Claire Robinson writes that this can’t be said for Labour leader David Cunliffe:
Can I begin by suggesting that at a personal level David Cunliffe is not really sorry he’s a man right now. In fact I’m sure that he’s quite pleased to be a husband and a father. It’s not something that he would give up, never, ever. I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse. Can I also suggest that there’s nothing for him to personally apologise for, at least in terms of domestic violence, because as far as we know he hasn’t done anything to be guilty of in that department.
So if his apology was not personal, was it political? On the surface yes, as a message targeted at female voters; . . .
But no, it wasn’t political in that as a statement it appeared to be more ad-libbed than scripted; loose lipped rather than tactically crafted for best effect. Did David just sense the love in the room and on the spur of the moment decide it was safe to unleash his inner-feminist? Many women and men on social media seem to think so; arguing it was courageous calling out the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.
But that is quite out of character for David. Feminism isn’t his strong point. Otherwise he would have known that it’s way too simplistic to attribute the cause of sexual/domestic violence to sexism. That David reducts the issue to the ignorance and inability of men to “man up”, suggests a superficial understanding of what is a deeply complex, and insidious reality. Moreover, if David was truly aware of what happens in abusive situations he would not have used the apology in the communication of his message. He would know that victims of repeated domestic violence are also victims to the apology. The apology is what repeat abusers do to hoover their victims back to them; a psychological handcuff to prevent them from breaking free, thereby perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Over time victims of abuse learn to distrust the apology because it means nothing.
Apologies are part of the pattern of abuse and one of the weapons abusers use to manipulate their victims.
What is in character, however, and is the most plausible scenario, is that he walked into that room and immediately recognized he was a fish out of water. His fight or flight brain jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to a group of hostile man-haters (stereotypical assumption when confronted by a bunch of feminists). To reassure that he had come in peace he instinctively dialed up a number of clichés from his study of American political behaviour, and in one fell swoop conflated Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark (down-with-the-homies), with the political apology that American politicians frequently use when they have done something wrong and need to appear vulnerably human and remorseful. It wasn’t a genuine apology; it was a cliché’d response to his own personal discomfort. Which is why so many felt that it lacked authenticity and sincerity, and why it came across as insulting. It is yet another example of the yawning gap that exists between the real David and what uncontrollably falls out of his mouth.
One of the criticisms often levelled at Cunliffe is a lack of sincerity. He often looks and sounds like he’s saying what an audience wants to hear not what he really believes.
If David had come in authentically saying, I’m feeling like a fish out of water, forgive me for not being an expert in this area, but we have been consulting with real experts and I hope you will agree that Labour’s new policy is going to go some way towards dealing with sexual and family violence, he would have been credible and convincing. And he would not have potentially offended a lot of the male voters he needs to stave off disaster in the polls. . .
You can’t fake sincerity and the more Cunliffe tries the harder it is to work out exactly who he is and what he believes in.
If discomfort with his female audience led him to show he was buying into the hard-line feminist all-men-are-rapists line, what would discomfort in front of a group of the working men who were once the foundation of his party lead him to say?
The Prime Minister doesn’t try to be all things to all people and that’s one of the reasons for his popularity.
What you see is what you get.
With Cunliffe different audiences get different messages from a different version of the man and it’s impossible to know which he really believes and who he really is.
If David Cunliffe wasn’t really sorry before he said he was sorry for being a man he will be now.
. . . “I don’t often say it, [but] I’m sorry for being a man because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men,” he said. . .
He doesn’t often say he’s sorry or he doesn’t often say he’s sorry for being a man?
Either way that sentence is getting far more publicity than the policy it prefaced and most of the publicity is negative.
Prime Minister John Key said the apology was silly:
. . . John Key says that’s no reason to regret being a man.
“The problem isn’t being a man. The problem is if you’re an abusive man and I think it’s a bit insulting to imply that all men are abusive.
“A small group are and they need to change their behaviour and be held to an account.”
Key says with his apology, Mr Cunliffe is implying that all men fall into that category.
“To get up and say, ‘I’m sorry for being a man’ really is, I think, a bit insulting to all men in New Zealand because the vast overwhelming bulk of them are good, loving fathers, brothers, uncles.” . . .
Violence, and family violence in particular, are problems but while men are the majority of perpetrators, the majority of men aren’t.
Cunliffe’s silly sorry is the sort of comment that starts people muttering about political correctness and feminazis.
It insults the majority of men who are good men.
It might even make those who aren’t good think that being a man is the problem which therefore excuses them because it’s something they can’t change.
One of the problems we face is too few positive male role models for many children who are brought up by women, taught by women and have very little to do with good, caring, strong men who never use their strength to intimidate, punish or harm.
Rather than apologising, good men should be standing tall, celebrating manliness and showing that violence and abuse aren’t manly.
Labour’s congress is an opportunity for the party to get free publicity.
They’ve sabotaged themselves by barring the media from most sessions and in the vacuum that’s created, the focus will go on this silly sorry for which Cunliffe should indeed by sorry.
Trans-Tasman notes the appeal of certainty and stability:
National emerged neat and tidy from its election year conference. Delegates went home knowing what they have to do to ensure the party can re-form a governing coalition. It’s this disciplined approach which carries its own message to the electorate, contrasting with the inchoate array of parties lined up on the other side of the fence. Private polling shows within the electorate, opinion is beginning to harden on the parties of the left being so disparate, (even if they gained a majority of seats in the next Parliament), a coalition of those parties would be highly unstable and couldn’t last.
Certainty, along with stability, is the priority for most voters. The difficulty for the parties of the left is they project not just instability, but incoherence in the policies they are espousing. The realisation has grown Labour would have to share power with the Greens, NZ First and possibly the Mana/Internet alliance. How would it work? In the NZ Herald this week John Armstrong noted Labour seems to be increasingly paralysed by the division between MPs who put a priority on economic development and those who want environmental concerns to be very much part of that development.
The Opposition has forgotten what Helen Clark did in the run-up to the 1999 election, staging a reconciliation with Jim Anderton and his Alliance to project a united front and give electors an idea of what a Clark-led Govt would look like (even though it must have savaged her personal pride to cosy up to her old foe). . .
The more voters see of what a Cunliffe-led Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana/Internet Party might look like the less appeal it has.
There are enough uncertainties in most people’s lives without adding an uncertain coalition and the instability that would come with it especially when its contrast with the certainty and stability of a National-led government with John Key as Prime Minister.
“Quite simply, the rate of family violence in New Zealand is unacceptable,” says Mr Key.
While crime is at a 35-year low, violent crime is decreasing at a much slower rate.
“Almost 50 per cent of all homicides in New Zealand are a result of family violence. That is, on average, 14 women, seven men, and eight children killed by a member of their family every year.”
Mr Key says together with the Government’s focus on vulnerable children, this work will help New Zealand families live without violence and fear.
“Firstly, Tariana Turia has released the Government’s response to the Expert Advisory Group’s report on Family Violence. Of the 22 recommendations in the report, 19 have been accepted in whole or part by the Government, and I thank the Advisory Group members for their work.
“Mrs Turia is building on the work of the Expert Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive, long-term approach to break the cycle of family violence. This work focuses on changing attitudes and behaviours towards family violence, and on early interventions for drug and alcohol addiction.
“Today I am also announcing further measures to address family violence through Justice, Police and Corrections, which will build on the foundation we have laid in place.”
“I would like to thank Ministers Judith Collins, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia for leading the work to foster a long-term change in behaviour, and to protect people from the misery of violence in the home,” says Mr Key.
“This Government has already undertaken a range of work to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders.
“A great example of this is the recent passing of the Vulnerable Children’s Bill, which ensures that New Zealand’s most at-risk children get priority,” says Mr Key.
The new law provides 10 new Children’s Teams to wrap services around at-risk children early to keep them safe from harm, introduces new vetting and screening checks for government and community agency staff working with children, and puts the onus on parents who have killed, severely abused or neglected a child to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.
“We have also increased the penalty for breaching protection orders and improved non-violence programmes for offenders,” says Mr Key
“However, it is important to remember that while governments can make laws, it is up to us as individual New Zealanders to change our attitudes to family violence.
“It is time we learned we must not ignore it, nor should we accept it,” says Mr Key.
Groups working with vulnerable children are supportive of the initiative:
The Red Raincoat Trust says the Chief Victims Advisor will give victims a voice:
The Red Raincoat Trust is delighted to hear of Justice Minister, Judith Collin’s plans to appoint a Chief Victims Advisor. “We are rapt; victims will now have an official voice within the criminal justice process. A Chief Victims Advisor will be able to engage directly with the victims enabling them to understand how the criminal justice process works for them. Until now, this hasn’t happened which often left victims vulnerable and re-victimised” says Debbie Marlow, spokesperson for the Red Raincoat Trust.
Ministers Judith Collins and Anne Tolley announced the Chief Victims Advisor today as part of a package which is hoped will help prevent family violence. Other initiatives announced today include an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death and a multi-agency response system for domestic violence.
“The package announced today will help ensure our families and communities are kept safe and it shows us that this government is committed to ensuring that our victim’s voices are heard and agencies are responding to their needs. Well done!”.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust has congratulated the Justice Minister, Judith Collins on today’s announcement regarding the establishment of the Chief Victims Advisor.
“Finally victims of crime will be afforded the true advocacy and support that they are entitled to” says Ruth Money Sensible Sentencing Trust.
“We have been actively promoting the concept of victim advocacy for years now and this proposed position will go a long way to balancing victims’ rights within the system and ensuring that the Ministry of Justice stays informed regarding the needs of victims” says Money. . . .
“These moves and proactive measures from Minister Collins and the Government must be applauded. For too long the system has seen the rights of the offender or alleged offender come well before those of the victim and public safety, today we see some balance being proposed”
The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) welcomes announcements about the trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims.
The FVDRC is an independent committee that advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths and prevent family violence. Last week it released a report analysing data collected on all family violence homicides that took place over a four-year period. The Committee urged organisations to take more responsibility for preventing abusers from using violence, rather than expecting the victims of family violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe.
The Chair of the FVDRC, Associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie, says the Committee’s previous report recommended the development of a nationally consistent high-risk case management process and it is pleasing to see this is being trialled.
“The sheer volume of police call outs for family violence often means the most dangerous cases of family violence do not get the attention they need within the systems we currently have,” she says.
“The aim of an intensive case management service is to bring the key agencies together to share information, as well as to develop, implement and monitor a multi-agency safety plan.”
Julia Tolmie says high-risk case management teams overseas have been highly successful in preventing deaths from family violence. . .
The FVDRC also supports the trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency and the introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.
The measures announce deal with reported crime.
Not all abuse and neglect is reported and some isn’t reported until it’s too late.
It is equally important to address the causes of abuse and neglect to prevent them.
The seriousness of the problem is shown by For the Sake of our Children Trust in a 24-year snapshot of 58 deaths of children as a result of neglect or abuse.
It points to clear risk factors:
. . . Based on the 58 known cases listed, 51 cases identified child’s biological parents were NOT married. The perpetrator responsible for the death indicated 27 of the deaths tabulated had a ‘stepfather’ or ‘boyfriend/partner of the mother being responsible or part responsible for the child’s death. The remaining figures for the perpetrator was indicated the mother or relative of the child or unknown. . . .
Apropos of this, Lindsay Mitchell notes this is a fair assumption given that around 87 percent of children who have contact with CYF appear in the benefit system very early in their lives.
The benefit system has a place as a safety net, but it can also be a trap which increases the chances of poorer outcomes for children, including increasing the risk of abuse and neglect.
Moving families from welfare to work has obvious financial benefits for them and the country.
The social benefits are equally important. they include better educational and health outcomes and a lower risk of neglect and abuse.