Word of the day

December 3, 2011

Mansuetude –  meekness, tameness, gentleness  of manner, mildness; sweetness of temper.


December 3, 2011

6/10 in Stuff’s Biz Quiz.

How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb?

December 3, 2011

How many dogs does it take to change a light bulb? 

Border Collie: Just one. Then I’ll replace any wiring that’s not up to code. 

 Rottweiler: Make me!  

 Lab: Oh, me, me! Pleeease let me change the light bulb! Can I? Huh? Huh? 

 Dachshund: You know I can’t reach that stupid lamp! 

Jack Russell Terrier: I’ll just pop it in while I’m bouncing off the walls.

Greyhound: It isn’t moving. Who cares?

Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? The fridge light is bright enough to let you find my food.

Mastiff: Do it yourself! I’m not afraid of the dark.

Boxer: Who needs light? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

Pointer: I see it, there it is, there it is, right there!

Chihuahua: ¿Tu me quieres cambiar la bombilla?

Kelpie: First, I’ll round up all the light bulbs and get them in a circle…

Old English Sheep dog: Light bulb? That thing I just ate was a light bulb? 

Basset Hound: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Poodle: I’ll just blow in the Border Collie’s ear and he’ll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry. 

Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us, and you’re inside worrying about a stupid light bulb?


December 3, 2011

Only 5/10 in the Herald’s changing world quiz.

The size of the problem

December 3, 2011

John Armstrong illustrates the size of Labour’s problems:

While National was promising a brighter future, Labour was  offering a better past. But no-one lives there any more. Labour had lost touch with middle New Zealand. . .

Labour’s overall vote shrank by 15% at the 2008 election.  That was not unusual for a party that had been in power for nine years. But Saturday night’s result saw Labour’s vote shrink again, this time by 23% on the 2008 provisional result.   

All up, nearly 300,000 voters deserted Labour between 2005 and 2011 – that amounts to 35% of the party’s 2005 election  night tally.

The reasons for this are many.

John Key’s popularity and increasing support are among them but they are more symptoms than causes.

Labour had some really silly policies – GST off fruit and vegetables and not-working for families.

Even David Cunliffe admits that was stupid:

“People must always be able to earn more in work than welfare . . . “

Labour spent most of the election campaign attacking John Key and misrepresenting National’s mixed-ownership model for state assets policy as asset sales.

Phil Goff’s ratings improved as people saw more of them but the party went backwards.

After National’s disastrous defeat in the 2002 election the leader Bill English and president Judy Kirk with Steven Joyce’s assistance undertook a complete review of the party. A special constitutional conference re-wrote the rule book and provided the foundation for rebuilding the party.

Labour will have to do the same. Armstrong says:

The Labour Party can dither no longer. Some of its most sacred cows are in need of      slaughtering.   

The magnitude of last Saturday’s crushing defeat dictates that whichever David – Cunliffe or Shearer – emerges triumphant from the leadership tussle, his first action should be to initiate a rigorous, thorough and preferably independent top-to-bottom review of the party’s structure and practices.   

Nothing should be exempt from scrutiny. Not even that most delicate of subjects – the role of the party’s trade union affiliates.

Failure to do so won’t just make it difficult if not impossible to win the next election, it will gift the Green Party the opportunity to become the major party on the left.

Is he jumping or being pushed?

December 3, 2011

TVNZ says Pita Sharples will happily stand down as co-leader so new blood can come in.

TV3 has a different slant:

. . . it seems the Maori Party do not want Dr Sharples as co-leader any more and  his position will come up for grabs.

The male co-leadership will be contested by Te Ururoa Flavell – the only  other male MP in the Maori Party.

Sharples said before the election that this would be his last term and it makes sense to hand the co-leadership over in plenty of time for his successor to make his mark.

But being happy to stand down is not the same as not being wanted, so is he jumping or being pushed?

UPDATE: The Dom Post says internal struggles are plaguing the Maori Party but offers nothing in the story to back that up.

Could it be the media trying to find conflict where none exists?


Labour must lose unions

December 3, 2011

To my horror I think I might have once contributed to the Labour Party.

When I started my  first real job union membership was compulsory. Like it or not I was a member of the Journalists’ Union and I think it was probably affiliated to the Labour Party.

The rules of the JU’s successor, the EPMU include the promotion and protection of members, industrial, economic and social interests part of which is:

To affiliate to, federate with, amalgamate with, or otherwise combine with any trade or industrial union or association, or association of trade unions or any other organisation, institution or political party having objects similar to the objects of this Union, and to assist such organisations, with a view to advancing the interests of the union movement and working people.

I wonder how many journalists who are union members know this? Back in 1981 when I started work there was no website to check the rules and  I didn’t think to ask for a copy. Had I done so, it wouldn’t have got me anywhere, I had no choice about joining the union nor say in its affiliation.

While I can see the attraction of such affiliations for the money and people-power it gives the party and power it gives unions, I don’t think it’s good for members of either organisation.

Affiliation with Labour weakens the union voice. It can’t speak in the best interests of workers if  it’s hamstrung by its links to Labour when it wants to criticise that party or praise those which occupy different parts of the political spectrum.

The power of the affiliates within the party also disadvantages individual members whose voices and power can’t compete with the block votes of  unions.

If that was ever a good idea, this year’s Labour list and diminished caucus shows it no longer is. The unions used their power to get their preferred candidates in winnable places leaving the parliamentary wing full of deadwood and some of the newer MPs out of parliament.

Parties have far more power under MMP and they are supposed to be democratic in their processes, particularly in selecting their lists. A party which makes affiliates more equal than ordinary members isn’t democratic and it’s not just people on the right who think that affiliated memberships have had their day.

In rebuilding Labour without the unions, Chris Trotter writes:

When universal membership made trade unions the most representative institutions in New Zealand society, their affiliation to the Labour Party was an important part of our progressive and democratic political traditions. But the dramatic reduction in union density and the trend towards oligarchical control in union organisations renders their continuing attachment to a similarly reduced Labour Party highly problematic. The rejuvenation of the labour movement requires trade unions without electoral attachments. Affiliation has had its day. . .

Union affiliation and the power it gives to the few who control block votes has never been  democratic and it is even less so today when unions represent such a minority.

If  union affiliation to Labour affected only the party that would be their business, but when the party will return to government one day it affects all of us.

Political party membership should be the preserve of individual people, not organisations. Labour must lose the unions.

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