Don’t want wiffle waffle

April 7, 2014

Winston Peters says that the issue of foreign ownership of farms and residential property has always been a bottom line for New Zealand First.

“The reality is that’s always been a bottom line for New Zealand First.”

Read his lips – always has been is not quite the same as is now or will always be.

“We are making it very clear where we stand in this election. People out there don’t want wiffle waffle they want certainty. . .

He’s right we don’t want wiffle waffle.

But wiffle waffle is what we often get from him and it’s what we’re still getting on the question of which party New Zealand First would be prepared to support should he be in a position to do so after the election.

He continues to say it’s up to the voters, as it is. But voters who know if Winston and his sycophants would be prepared to enter a coalition with or give confidence and supply to, one party or another would be able to vote with their eyes open.

As it stands anyone silly enough to favour New Zealand First with a vote will be taking a stab in the dark.

If you can cope with the wiffle waffle, you can listen to the interview on Q & A.

 


Would it be churlish to ask for interest?

April 1, 2014

Winston Peters has finally deigned to repay the $158,000 of public money he and New Zealand First misappropriated for their 2005 election campaign.

Would it be churlish to ask for interest and penalties for late payment?


Not the workers’ friend

March 20, 2014

Kim Dotcom has taken court action to gag a former body guard.

. . . Dotcom made a successful application for an interim injunction against Wayne Tempero in the High Court at Auckland yesterday. The action came soon after the Herald reported that Tempero was set to release “secret revelations” about Dotcom’s “mindset and megalomania”. . .

That hasn’t stopped other staff talking to Whaleoil who has a story of slave wages, bullying, intimidation and the sheer effrontery of a man spending literally millions on himself but short-changing his most loyal staff.

Labour, the Green and Mana parties like to think they’re the workers’ friends.

They and New Zealand First have all been courting, or courted by, Dotcom in the hope he can help them defeat National.

The enemy of their enemy could be their friend but do they want to be friends with someone who appears to be anything but the workers’ friend?

And will the media which have given Dotcom a pretty easy ride, start asking some harder questions now?

P.S. Former Labour president Mike Williams, just said on RadioNZ National’s panel that he’s on Dotcom’s side with the gagging order.


Another poll confirms the trend

March 18, 2014

Support for he Labour Party is below 30% in the latest Herald DigiPoll survey:

Labour’s support has sunk nearly six points and it is polling only 29.5 per cent in the Herald-DigiPoll survey.

The popularity of leader David Cunliffe has fallen by almost the same amount, to 11.1 per cent. That is worse than the 12.4 per cent worst rating of former leader David Shearer.

National could govern alone with 50.8 per cent if the poll were translated to an election result.

The popularity of John Key as Prime Minister has climbed by 4.6 points to 66.5 per cent. That is his best rating since the election but not as high as he reached in his first term when he often rated more than 70 against Phil Goff.

The increases in support for National and the Greens since December put them at their highest ratings since the 2011 election.

The Greens are up 2.3 points to 13.1 per cent and with Labour would muster a combined 42.6 per cent.

New Zealand First is down slightly to 3.6 per cent but leader Winston Peters’ ratings as preferred Prime Minister at 6.5 per cent suggest the party could still top the 5 per cent threshold required to get MPs under MMP without requiring an electorate seat.

Other polls have shown a decline in Labour’s fortunes this year but today’s is the first to have Labour in the 20s since Mr Cunliffe took over the leadership from Mr Shearer in September last year. . .

Polling began on March 6, in the midst of the fallout over his use of trusts for donations.

But it continued through last week when Mr Key condemned minister Judith Collins for her failure to declare a dinner in Beijing with her husband’s business associates. . . .

The last fortnight was dire for Labour and last week wasn’t good for National, but maybe it’s only political tragics who are really interested in these issues.

Mr Key said the poll was a confirmation that a majority of New Zealanders believe the country is heading in the right direction “but clearly there is a lot more work to be done if we are to create the jobs and increase the living standards that New Zealanders want to see”. . . 

Asked if the issue of Mr Cunliffe’s of Ms Collins non-declarations would have affected the poll, he said: “Voters weigh up a great many factors when considering who to support but I continue to believe the strongest motivation is when a political party is focused on the issues that really matter to voters.” . . .

Individual polls bounce around but this one confirms the trend which shows National and its leader are popular, Labour and its leader aren’t.

There’s just six months until the election.

That’s time enough for National to slip a few points and make it difficult to form a coalition.

But it’s not a lot of time for Labour to climb out of the doldrums and convince voters it could offer good governance and stability with the collection of support parties it would need.


Greens thin-skinned?

March 12, 2014

Shane Jones is unrepentant about insulting  a potential coalition partner and one of its MPs.

Labour MP Shane Jones says Greens are too thin-skinned after the party laid a complaint about his attack on one its MPs.

Greens’ head of staff Ken Spagnolo said he had raised Mr Jones’ comments with Labour head of staff Matt McCarten.

Mr Spagnolo said it was not a formal complaint, but he had told Labour that Mr Jones’ comments about Greens’ fitness to govern were “unhelpful”.

Mr Jones, Labour’s economic development spokesman, had criticised Green MP Gareth Hughes on Radio Waatea for “carrying on like a mollyhawk” in his opposition to offshore mining.

The comments earned him a telling off from leader David Cunliffe, who said that the comments about a potential coalition partner were inappropriate.

Mr Jones was unrepentant this afternoon.

“Is this the same Green Party that complains of Colin Craig being too thin-skinned?” he said.

“I’m from Kaitaia. I know it’s mollyhawk in the north. Further down the line it’s mollymawk. Now I could’ve got my names wrong but people should just loosen up.

“The thought that it’s led to a complaint, I’ll just leave the public to judge that for what it is.” . . .

Th Greens are often likened to watermelons – green on the outside and red inside but melons have thick skins.

Insulting potential coalition partners might not be helpful it you’re trying to appear like a government in waiting, but this does look more than a little thin-skinned when Russel Norman is refusing to retract his comments about Conservative leader Colin Craig.

It’s also a distraction.

Heads of staff are supposed to keep their heads down and stay out of the headlines.

If Spagnolo felt the need to raise the issue with McCarten there was no need to go public about it.

Jones was also in trouble for comments about Asian students.

Meanwhile Cunliffe confirmed he had spoken to Jones about straying outside his portfolio areas and using strong language to attack the Green Party.

But he had not been disciplined

“I’ve spoken to him. The message to caucus is …that all of us are consulting with our colleagues if we are crossing portfolio and manage our comments in a proper way.”

He said Jones was a much-valued colleague but occasionally his rhetoric crossed the line. There was a clear understanding not to attack potential coalition partners.

At the weekend Jones criticised the number of foreign university students – a responsibility that crossed the roles of Grant Robertson and Raymond Huo. Cunliffe said it was a heat of the moment debate comment and fully understandable. . .

This is straying into New Zealand First’s xenophobic territory. It also highlights tensions in Labour between its factions,  once more gives Jones more attention than the rest of his colleagues put together, albeit for the wrong reasons.


Knowledge is power

March 11, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has called on the wee parties to be upfront about which party they might support after the election.

. . . Announcing the election date on Monday, Mr Key said he is the only New Zealand prime minister to have been so upfront about an election date – and he challenged the minor parties to be, in his words, equally forthright about who they would work with post-election.

He said New Zealand First leader Winston Peters could announce right now that he would go with the largest party, but he won’t.

Mr Key said all the anecdotal evidence he has heard is that Mr Peters would partner with Labour and the Greens: “That’s what I hear,” he said, “so that’s what I’ve got to work on.”

For his part, Mr Peters says the Prime Minister is scaremongering. “He’s never talked to me on the matter,” says Mr Peters, “and whatever his planning skills are, mind-reading is not one of them.” . . .

Peters always insists that who he’ll support will be up to voters.

It will of course, but without telling us which party or parties his would support he’s leaving voters in the dark and expecting them to vote blind.

Knowledge is power – giving voters a clear indication of their intentions helps them make an informed decision.

Peters’s refusal to be clear is simply playing politics.


Trend matters

February 16, 2014

Individual poll results show variations in rises and falls but the trend is consistent.

The latest Fairfax Media Ipsos poll has

National: 49.4% (Oct 2013 Fairfax-Ipsos poll: 50.2%)
Labour: 31.8% (33.6%)
Greens: 10.00% (10.7%)
NZ First: 3.6% (2.3%)

Other parties were in margin-of-error territories, led by Colin Craig’s Conservatives, which was up 1.3% to 2%. Kim Dotcom’s putative Internet Party drew no support.

National is still unusually popular for a second term government and Labour isn’t any better off with a new leader and the baby bribe.

It’s still several months until the election but the trend is encouraging for the centre right and must be causing considerable angst among the left.


Time to take focus off mavericks

January 25, 2014

The media has a propensity for getting side tracked by mavericks.

Kim Dotcom is losing some of his gloss but the fascination with Winston Peters continues.

Prime Minister John Key carefully explained his preferences for coalition partners after this year’s election making it very clear New Zealand First would only be considered if the alternative was a Labour?Green government.

That, only-as-a-last-resort statement has prompted lots of interviews with Peters who continues his bizarre insistence that it’s better to keep the voters in the dark until after the election.

Equally bizarre is John Armstrong’s column this morning headlined Peters for Prime Minister? Don’t bet against it.

It is based on the assumption that the PM would resign from politics sometime in the third term, if he got it for which there is no evidence at all.

Political tragics from the left and the media (which is sometimes but not always the same people) have raised this as a possibility but he has always made it quite clear he is in politics to get a job done and isn’t planning to give up part way through.

But even if there was a vacancy for PM in a National-led government Peters wouldn’t ever be considered when there’s a list of able and trustworthy successors within National.

The media needs to take the focus off the mavericks and help voters focus on what matters and what might happen.


Partners by choice better than necessity

January 22, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has made his preferences for coalition partners clear.

He also stresses the importance of the party vote:

. . . “First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have. . .

National didn’t need to invite the Maori Party into coalition in 2008, it chose to do so.

A higher party vote gives more options for a major party because it would be able to approach potential coalition parties by choice rather than through necessity.

It was difficult to win an outright majority under first past the post, no party has managed it under MMP.

The PM’s first preference for coalition partners is those he has worked with successfully already – Act, the Maori Party and United Future.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future. . .

By making this clear voters have a better idea of what they might be getting.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

Voters also know what they won’t be getting if National is able to form a government:

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

Labour is a bit confused about how left it is, not helped by a leader who sways further left with some audiences than with others.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

This has excited the media but it is clear New Zealand First would be a last resort.

Whether or not National is in a position to form a government and which parties it will need, or be able to choose, to invite into coalition is up to voters who now know which parties are preferred, which could be considered and which would be ruled out.

The more votes National has, the more options it has and the the more stable the government will be.

On current polling it would certainly be a lot more stable than a Labour/Green government with other parties in tow through necessity and therefore able to exert a much stronger influence than if they were in government by the bigger party’s choice.


National will consider working with . . .

January 21, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced which parties  National will consider working with following this year’s General Election.

His preferences are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future and is not discounting the Conservative Party.

He’s also left the door slightly ajar for New Zealand First.

 “MMP makes it likely that every election will be a tight contest,” Mr Key says.

“That means it’s also likely that following the election we will need to work collaboratively with other parties to form a stable Government.

“First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

 I sincerely hope that New Zealand’s First’s support won’t be needed, although David Farrar posts on the possibility of asking for it to support a minority government.

It’s more of a vanity vehicle than a party and its leader has shown he’s unreliable.

He’s also not prepared to show his hand before the election:

. . .  Winston Peters says the party is making its position clear from the outset that it will not be part of any pre-election discussions or arrangements aimed at subverting the democratic process.

“We thought MMP would stop the gerrymandering and ‘old boys’ arrangements of the past but some political parties keep manipulating the political process for their own ends instead of trusting the voters.”

Mr Peters says the time for talking about forming governments should be immediately after the election and not before. . .

What he means is he’s not prepared to put commit himself one way or the other for fear of losing votes.

Instead he’ll keep everyone in the dark until he can make a deal which best advantages him.


Conservatives filling vacuum

December 3, 2013

Conservative Party candidate Leighton Baker doubled the percentage vote he got in 2011 in Saturday’s Christchurch East by-election.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum.

The Conservative Party is filling the gap left by the decline of New Zealand First and United Parties which didn’t stand candidates.

Its challenge will be to build its vote to pass the 5% threshold so it can enter parliament without the need for a deal which would be needed for it to win an electorate.

 


NZ First needs a headline

November 29, 2013

Colin Craig is a younger, fresher option for people who might have been attracted to Winston Peters.

Craig’s Conservative Party has been getting headlines and that’s bestirred a New Zealand First MP to go in search of one too.

He found it in NZ First will stop farm sales to foreigners:

. . . New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of farmland to non resident foreign buyers, its primary industries spokesman Richard Prosser says.

“Under a New Zealand First-influenced government there will be no more sales of farmland to non resident foreigners, full stop.

“This road leads to peasantry and New Zealanders being tenants in our own country,” Prosser said.

Not surprisingly the rhetoric isn’t supported by the facts:

Though there is no formal record of how much land is owned by offshore investors Overseas Investment Office land information manager Annelies McClure said “Current best estimates are that between 1% and 2% of New Zealand farmland is held by overseas interests.”

That figure excludes forestry and land, such as areas of native bush, not in productive use. . .

Prosser’s rant has been prompted by plans for Synlait Milk to sell to the Pengxin Group.

He doesn’t factor in the foreign exchange this will bring into the country and what those who sell their shares might do with the money they’ll get for them.

But then that wouldn’t get the attention-grabbing negative headline he wanted.

It might not do him and his party any good though because the Conservatives are not keen on foreign ownership either.


The trend is tight

November 11, 2013

Last night’s TV3 Reid Poll showed:

National is on 46.8 percent. It is still on top, but has taken a big drop of 3.5 percent.

Labour are up 1.2 percent on 32.2 percent. That gain comes from the Greens, who are down to 10.2 percent.

And Winston Peters is on 4.2 percent; not quite at the five percent needed to get back into parliament, but still extremely dangerous.

Among the minor parties, Colin Craig’s Conservatives are at 2.8 percent, well over double the last poll. It’s the highest ever result for the party, and crucially, it is taking votes off National.

Hone Harawira gets a decent bump too, scoring the numbers to bring a second MP to parliament.

But as for Act, it appears they won’t win Epsom and will be out of parliament altogether. . .

The significant movement is the rise of the Conservatives, seemingly taking support from National.
But there’s little comfort for Labour when its gain comes at the expense of the Green Party.
Most movement is within the right and left blocks rather than between them and confirms the trend of most polls which have been showing it’s a very tight race.
As Mike Hosking opined:

Any government with a mid-40s support base in a system with so many parties to split the vote really couldn’t ask for more. They’re as popular today as they were the day they won the house five years ago. That’s impressive. But in a game where you’re not the only team, the other teams have let them down so they have real trouble.

So in another time, in another system, a third term would be a given. But under MMP in 2014, I wouldn’t bet the bank.

However, there’s little comfort for the left either.
The results for preferred Prime Minister show John Key at 40.9%, compared with 10.8% for Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe.
Cunliffe is lower than David Shearer was when the last poll was carried out in July.
The increase in Labour’s vote is within the margin of error although the poll was taken while the party conference was on and it and it was getting lots of publicity.
That will be cause for concern for Labour and strengthen the resolve of the ABC – anyone but Cunliffe – block in caucus.

Who do you trust?

November 8, 2013

Duncan Garner critique’s Prime Minister John Key of the fifth anniversary of his government.

He gives him 7.5/10 and concludes:

Your choice is between John Key and Bill English with a few rag-tag minor right wing parties – or David Cunliffe and Russel Norman – with perhaps Winston Peters in tow.

Who do you trust?

To which a commenter answers:

Let’s not forget his development into a well respected leader in the region as the last APEC conference in Bali showed. And he’s the only Commonwealth leader to ever have been invited to Balmoral – surely that’s worth an extra point :-)

Given all the challenges that have been thrown at Key over the past 5 years, easily a 9.5 out of 10. The answer to your last question is a no-brainer, Cunliffe and Norman in charge is a very scary prospect and when voters enter the booth in November 2014 I think in their hearts they’ll know Key and English are the people to trust. Key to win by a nose next year.

The outcome of next year’s election is very finely balanced.

Labour has more potential coalition partners but it’s still not very strong itself and the prospective of  its possible partners in government may well put off more voters who might be considering voting for Labour.

National has fewer potential partners but is stronger itself.

A still weakened Labour with a strong (for a wee party) Green Party plus  any or all of New Zealand First, Mana, the Maori Party and possibly Peter Dunne is a much more radical and less stable option than a strong National Party with two or three partners.

#gigatownoamaru is backing itself but welcomes support from anywhere to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first gigatown.


Quantity rather than quality

October 19, 2013

Winston Peters hopes to have at least 16 MPs in his caucus after next year’s election.

If New Zealand First’s form is anything to go on that would be quantity rather than quality.


Left will cut superannuation

September 2, 2013

Labour and the Green Party it will almost certainly need as a coalition or support partner both want to increase taxes.

Superannuation is based on the average after tax wage.

When taxes drop and the average after tax wage increases, as it has under National, superannuation increases too.

When taxes increase, the average after tax wage falls and superannuation will too.

This is the law of unexpected consequences that hits policies based on ideology rather than reason.

How will they explain an income drop to the 65+ age group who are already wary about Labour’s suggestion that the age of superannuation should increase?

What baubles and election bribes will they have to throw Winston Peters’ way to get him to agree to a super cut when the New Zealand First constituency is in the age group most likely to be detrimentally affected?


Maori Party out-xenophobes the xenophobes

July 30, 2013

If Labour was trying to out-xenophobe the xenophobic New Zealand First and Green parties with its housing policy it has been trumped by the Maori Party.

The Maori Party has labelled Shearer’s new policy aimed at restricting foreigners from purchasing houses as ‘lip-service’, and has challenged the Labour Party to commit to real action to protect the assets of Aotearoa by extending their policies to prevent the sale of land and strategic assets into all and any foreign ownership.

“The Maori Party have a clear policy on land ownership, we must protect and preserve our land to keep it from falling into foreign ownership. The Labour Party’s housing policy, which would restrict foreigners from purchasing houses, is nonsensical as it discriminates against which foreigners it exempts and does nothing to protect the asset of true value to the people of Aotearoa – the land.”

“On one hand the Labour Party want to limit the purchase of residential property by overseas investors, but on the other they promote and support the free trade agenda which is entirely about easing rules for foreigners to do business, and invest in New Zealand assets.”

“There are other ways to do business with countries overseas which protect the rangatiratanga of New Zealanders over our resources. We think that both the Labour Party and the National Party have a duty to look at how we can protect our resources before they advance investment agreements such as the TPPA.” . . .

There are lots of ways to do business with other countries but if we want economic growth here, with the social development that fosters, we need investment.

Our poor savings record means we don’t have enough spare money ourselves which leaves us with two choices – we can borrow from other countries or welcome foreign investment.

Inwards investment should pose no more threat to the rangatiratanga of New Zealanders over our resources than investment from within.

Whoever owns our land or other assets is subject to the same laws which govern what they can do with them as everybody else regardless of where they come from.

Without foreign investment we’d go backwards.

That would hurt the poorest people, among whom are a disproportionate number of Maori, the most.


Divided they lost

July 1, 2013

Only around 12,000 of the nearly 35,000 people on the electoral roll in Ikaroa-Rawhiti bothered to do vote in the by-election.

Labour’s Meka Whaitiri won the seat with just 4,368 votes and a sorry 35.8% turnout.

Is that a record low?

The Mana Party will be delighted that its candidate  Te Hāmua Nikora came second with 2,607 votes.

The Maori Party will be very disappointed that its candidate Na Raihania, was third with 2,104.

The win might be enough for those in Labour’s caucus who were aiming their knives at their leader’s back to set them down, for now.

But something all three parties need to think about is that the combined total of Nikora’s and Raihania’s votes was greater than that of Whaitiri’s.

Pita Sharples says the Maori Party, rather than its candidate, is responsible for its result. He didn’t mention, but he ought to be thinking about, his unwillingness to loosen his hold on the leadership.

However, as Matthew Hooton points out:

Had Mr Harawira not split the Maori Party in 2011, it is almost certain it would have won last night’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.  It would most probably have held on to Te Tai Tonga in 2011 so that it would now hold six of the seven Maori electorates and have much greater leverage over Mr Key and Labour. . .

There is no single Maori view but one party targeting the Maori seats would have had a very real chance of challenging Labour for them and being in a very strong position to go with a government led by either National or Labour.

But divided they lost the by-election and will almost certainly be too weak separately to do nearly as well as they could together.

Harawira put his personal feelings before political strategy, opening the way for Labour to retake most of the Maori seats and that could well bring about the demise of these electorates.

The idea of  New Zealand First in a governing coalition is the stuff of nightmares. But there would be one small consolation if that was the only way for National to stay in government, both parties favour culling the Maori seats.

National conceded that policy when it invited the Maori Party into coalition in 2008.

Should the Maori Party not be in a position to help National into government and, perish the thought, New Zealand First be a potential coalition partner, the Maori seats could go.

If Harawira had bothered to take a longer view beyond his personal agenda he would have been aware of that possibility and the risk he was taking in splintering from the Maori Party.


Rickety rickshaw in danger of losing driver

June 28, 2013

Quote of the day from Claire Trevett:

If polling tracks were Roads of National Significance, then National is in a people-mover on the Waikato Expressway, occasionally zooming up and down gentle inclines but confronting little that has yet forced it to alter its speed.

Labour, meanwhile, is clinging to a battered rickshaw rattling along pothole-ridden, precipitous back roads hoping like hell to hit a flat stretch. Alongside are the outriders of the Greens and NZ First, trying to pop the rickshaw’s tyres so they can purloin its passengers for themselves. . .

Not only is Labour’s rickshaw rickety, its at risk of losing its driver and it’s doubtful if the party has the resources required to make it more road-worthy.

If it lost a wheel, it couldn’t hope for any help from potential allies because most loss of poll traction for Labour is likely to result in gains for them.


Illiberal left

June 9, 2013

Do LabourGreen and New Zealand First understand what they’re doing in calling for a police investigation over the leaking of the GCSB report?

Politics lecturer Brent Bryce Edwards rightly says they’re being illiberal:

“There’s always problems when the police get involved in the political and media realm. It can have a very chilling affect on politics and journalism,” Dr Edwards says.

Threshold not reached
Generally those that regard themselves as politically liberal will not want the police involved unless utterly necessary, says the Politics Daily compiler.

“Therefore the threshold for calling the cops into Parliament and newsrooms should be very high. It’s hard to see that this threshold has been reached in this case,” Dr Edwards says.

“Normally those that call the police in on their political opponents are from an authoritarian political philosophy. By contrast, liberals generally regard those that leak government department reports as heroic whistleblowers that are enabling the freedom of information and the right of the public to know what those in authority are doing.”

That was certainly the case when, Tracy Watkins reminds us,  Labour’s Phil Goff was gleefully leaking sensitive Cabinet documents relating to Foreign Affairs.

He almost certainly got the papers from a public servant who, like an MP, is supposed to keep confidential matters in confidence and, unlike an MP, be non-partisan in his/her work.

Jane Clifton reminds us:

The affair does underline the dichotomy we in the political firmament face over the issue of leaks, though. Labour and New Zealand First are harrumphing like scandalised Wodehousian aunts about Dunne’s behaviour. Yet both have received, publicised and gloated over similarly spicey leaks in their time.

Leaks have come to the Opposition from two of the most sacred departments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Security Communications Bureau, at times in farcical quantity. Information from these bureaucracies have the potential to harm this country’s security and trade.

It’s a very unhealthy sign that such officials are prepared to undermine the Government by leaking information that could also undermine the welfare of the country. Yet the Opposition has trafficked in them with abandon, and never has a single Labour, Green or NZ First politician called the police about such documents, as they have done over the Dunne situation.

Clifton goes on to remind us that leaks are undeniably desirable for the media and the public who learn from them.

Calling for a police investigation is at best baffling and definitely hypocritical when all three parties have benefited from leaks, the most recent being of the Henry report to Peters.

Would he like an investigation into that one too?


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