A time to oppose and a time to not

Last week wasn’t a good one for the Green party.

First they stripped Steffan Browning of his natural health spokesman role after his ill-advised signing of a petition calling for homeopathy to be used against Ebola.

Then they showed why they are a long way from reaching their ambition to be the major party of opposition by totally opposing the government’s plans to offer support in the fight against the Islamic State.

John Armstrong points out that sometimes in opposition parties are better to not oppose:

The next time the Prime Minister delivers a speech on something as fundamental as national security and the potential for Islamic State-inspired terrorism in New Zealand, the Greens should read it carefully, rather than making assumptions about its content and consequently missing or dismissing what he is really saying.

Had they done so, they might have realised the new (and temporary) law to be pushed through Parliament to block New Zealanders going to Syria to sign up with Islamic State (Isis) looks like being far less an infringement of personal freedom than its far lengthier and more prescriptive Australian counterpart.

The Greens might have also realised that contributing to military training in Iraq was about the minimum John Key could get away with without traditional allies such as Australia looking askance.

Labour Party polling is understood to have shown no public appetite for sending combat troops. Even National voters did not like the idea – less than a third were comfortable with that option.

National’s private polling would have produced similar results, and Key is nothing if not poll-driven, so his Government’s contribution to the battle against Isis is very much on the moderate end of things.

But the Greens would prefer to continue to demonise National as persecutors of the poor, environmental dinosaurs and in this week’s case, unfailingly loyal lap-dogs itching for an invitation to sign up to Uncle Sam’s latest military adventure.

It was hardly a surprise that the Greens rejected every initiative in Key’s Wednesday address that was targeted at Isis.

In doing so they have displayed not so much a reluctance to shift on principle as a downright refusal to entertain even the thought of doing so. That is their right.

But it means two things. First, there can be no getting the Greens out of the shadow cast by Labour without compromise or dropping whole swathes of policy as a prerequisite for any move more to the centre of the political spectrum, which would enable the Greens to no longer be hostage to Labour.

It also makes it harder for them to supplant Labour as the dominant party on the centre-left. That is because the politics of Opposition stretch much further than just opposition to policies or ideas.

On occasion – and Wednesday’s speech was such an occasion – the public expects political parties to show some degree of flexibility so they might reach some consensus in the national interest.

This is especially so on foreign policy, defence and intelligence matters.

Labour understands this. The Greens pretend not to understand. . .

No doubt Turei’s rejection of everything in Key’s speech made her and her colleagues feel good about themselves. All they succeeded in doing was to isolate themselves from the mainstream. It was left to Labour to exercise real opposition.

The party accepted the broad thrust of intended legislation to lock those intending to fight for Isis through cancelling passports. But Labour also made it clear that it would endeavour to use select committee scrutiny to iron out details it is not happy about. . .

Labour can thank three senior MPs for the party’s assured and no-fuss handling of the kind of issue where sticking to long-established principles, as the Greens have done, can be of no practical use to anyone. . . .

However, Armstrong’s praise of Labour might be premature because the party’s acceptance of the broad thrust of the government’s plan isn’t accepted by its four leadership contenders:

Prime Minister John Key’s plan to help fight Islamic State in Iraq by sending military trainers has been unanimously voted down by Labour’s leadership contenders. . .

Did they not listen to the three senior MPs who showed Labour taking the responsible path in parliament just a few days ago?

Or is this just another indication of how divided and dysfunctional the party is?

Almost all editorials and commentators have agreed that the government’s response was moderate and necessary.

Labour appeared to agree with that last week but yesterday none of the four would-be leaders were signing from the responsible. government-in-waiting song sheet.


25 Responses to A time to oppose and a time to not

  1. Andrei says:


    ISIS/ISIL, of course, was on nobody’s radar a year ago – they grew out of the “Arab Spring thing” – a catastrophe unleashed upon the long suffering peoples of North Africa and the Middle East who have the misfortune to live on large oil deposits coveted by the Godless Western Empire.

    There is no way the powerful who rule over us can allow the wogs to develop their own resources for the benefit of their own people.

    So war it is.

    And as a vassal state of the Godless Western Empire New Zealand will reluctantly pay its tribute to the empire and contribute to the chaos.

    Anyone with half a brain who has followed the events of the past 25 years knows that at least half, if not more of those the West will train and arm will end up in the ranks of ISIS who not only pay better but share the same culture and language as those we would exploit to fight against them.

    ISIS/ISIL of course are selling oil from the oil fields they have captured at $20 a barrel and someone must be buying it because as you may have noticed we are paying more than 10c a litre less for petrol than we were a month ago

  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    One thing wars should have taught us over the last 100 years is their futility and unnecessary human cost. Most wars have occurred because diplomacy wasn’t applied effectively at an earlier stage and many have occurred because of earlier interference from foreign powers. War often allows the more extreme and strident groups to become dominant because the more moderate voices become lost in the the resulting propaganda. One also has to ask where the weaponry comes from that rebel groups acquire.

    Many commentators who understand the Arab world have explained how the use of military force and the resulting suffering of ordinary citizens may squash one militant group, but another will always rise to replace it. 500,000 people have been killed in Iraq since the US led invasion in 2003. Over 20,000 Palistinians (mainly civilians and thousands of children) have been killed by American supported Israeli forces over the last ten or so years.

    While shocking violent acts have been documented as coming from the IS there have been many shocking stories of brutality and cruelty from US, English and Australian forces. The US use of unnecessary torture in secret facilities is now widely known and twelve years after the Guantanamo Bay detention camp was established there are still 240 prisoners detained there without trial or an internationally accepted legal process applied. Most who have been released were shown to be innocent of any crime and yet were subjected to unnecessary cruelty. US drones are used to kill those that the US ‘suspects’ may have terrorist links and 2,400 people have been killed this way, despite most turning out to be innocent civilians.

    In reality the US has more to fear from its own citizens through its crazy gun laws than any Arab terrorist act. There have been 4,500 US casualties because of the Iraq conflicts and yet in 2012 alone there were 8,855 firearm related US homicides. Perhaps it is time New Zealand distanced itself from the United States’ penchant for violent solutions.

  3. Paranormal says:

    So what are your remedies for the middle east DK?

    BTW you you mention the US “crazy gun laws”. Do you have any idea what they might be? With your leftist command and control mentality you wouldn’t understand why it’s a good thing a government should fear it’s citizens rather than the alternative.

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    I wasn’t talking about the Government fearing its citizens, but the very real fear that citizens have of other citizens. You may have seen this worrying video of children in a primary school learning to protect themselves with bullet proof blankets because of the growing numbers of school shootings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZgvxFepOn0

    Very rarely do we look at the real causes of world conflict and address those. Most ‘terrorist’ activity comes from displaced or persecuted groups who have been forced to accept decisions that have a negative impact on their people. The Palestinians have suffered hugely from the artificial creation of the Jewish state and now are forced to live in atrocious conditions and loss of human rights in their own country. The Kurds have continually suffered under different regimes and feel that they lack self determination. The problems in Yugoslavia were because of an artificially created country (after WW2) that did not recognise the different cultures and ethnic groups that were captured within the borders. The people within the region were not involved in the decision.

    I do not have the specific answers to solve the problems in Iraq and Syria, but military intervention is only likely to cause greater loss of life and greater hatred from local people for those in the West who feel that they have a right to decide what is best for the region. Given the shocking track record of the US in solving conflicts in the last forty years, why should we allow it to continue to take a lead? Beating people into submission through military force never forms a sustainable solution.

    The UN should have a greater leadership role but it appears to be ineffective because the largest powers continue ignore it’s decisions when they go against their interests. There needs to be more informed discussions in the world about diplomatic solutions rather than hyped up war talk. We are inclined to react to a militant few and allow them to define the conflict rather than seek to hear the grievances and concerns of the majority.

  5. Andrei says:

    The problems in Yugoslavia were because of an artificially created country (after WW2) that did not recognise the different cultures and ethnic groups that were captured within the borders.

    No Dave the people of Yugoslavia lived side by side for generations until people from the outside corrupted the ambitious to stir up strife amongst them to advance their imperial ambitions.

    Hitler did it in the forties

    And Bill Clinton, followed in Hitlers footsteps in the nineties

    They bombed Serbia for forty days, smashing its industry and infra structure,for “humanitarian” reasons, for example the Yugo car plant was reduced to rubble destroying the livelihoods of thousands .

    NATO still occupies Bosnia and Kosovo where the empire has seized (stolen) the Trepča Mines paid for with the blood of the local inhabitants who have been reduced to poverty by Western leeches.

    The local people who resist the transatlantic pirates looting of their homelands are called “terrorists”.

    This is how it works

  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, then I guess we are actually in agreement that outside influence in internal politics generally ends in tears. China is much smarter in acquiring resources from other nations. They tend to build infrastructure like roads and bridges and invest in local businesses in exchange for needed resources. The US just invents an excuse for a war (WMD) to step in and take control at great human cost. Their corporates always do well out of wars too. http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/308-12/16561-focus-cheneys-halliburton-made-395-billion-on-iraq-war

  7. Andrei says:

    Andrei, then I guess we are actually in agreement that outside influence in internal politics generally ends in tears.

    Of course it does Dave – outside influence in other peoples affairs is always entirely malignant and serves the interests of those doing the interfering not those of the peoples of the lands where the politics is being subverted.

  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    Hence the idea of progressing change with people as apposed to doing to them 😉

  9. Andrei says:

    As predicted by me on Sunday 25th October 2014 the copious blood is flowing in East Ukraine just in time for the G8.

  10. Paranormal says:

    DK – yet again you look once over lightly at the headlines with no real understanding of whats happening. You go on about the crazy US gum laws and fail to understand that guns are banned at Schools which is why they’re targets. You also completely overlook the fact that US violence rates are below New Zealands. Ever stop to consider why that is?

    As for military intervention, you should do some reading about the Malayan Emergency to see how it can be done effectively.

  11. Mr E says:

    “we are actually in agreement that outside influence in internal politics generally ends in tears. ”

    Quote of the day, from an outside government politician. I think he has done another ‘Stefan’.

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E you will have to explain.

    Paranormal, gum is banned in most schools here too because of the mess it makes if not discarded properly, but I hadn’t realised the other consequences 😛

    I can list far more situations where military intervention from the outside has not worked.

  13. Mr E says:

    “explain” – Sure.

    ‘Doing a Stefan’ I am pretty sure is in the Urban Dictionary right next to doing a ‘Munson’

  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, you’ve still lost me with the connection and obviously the different spelling of Steffan’s name must be part of it too. It’s too obscure for me I’m afraid.

  15. Paranormal says:

    So DK – still focussing on the headlines than actually finding evidence based solutions. Typical.

    So do you now resile from your earlier sweeping factless statements on the US?

  16. Paranormal says:

    DK – Just to show you really were only talking in headlines and leftist meme’s with yet again no real knowledge of the subject, here’s some once over lightly 2013 stats for you (all figures are per 100,000):
    Homicide rate: NZ 1.93 USA 4.5
    Assault rate: NZ 917 USA 229
    Rape rate: NZ 91.1 USA 25.2

    In addition the USA crime rate has more than halved since 2004 where New Zealands increased under Liarbour and has just started to trend downwards. Want to comment about crazy gun laws now? Or are you still in school teacher pick on typos mode rather than the substance of an issue. I seem to recall you were all indignant when called on this previously. Perhaps you realised you’ve been called out yet again.


  17. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, the New Zealand crime rate has gone down because of different recording practices, just like waiting lists for medical procedures are manipulated by not recording all those needing an operation. Even with the overall crime rate dropping, many of the worst kinds of offending (sexual and domestic violence) are rising alarmingly:


    I don’t believe this story was an isolated one:

  18. Mr E says:

    “the New Zealand crime rate has gone down because of different recording practices,”

    Typical misinformation.

  19. Dave Kennedy says:

    Which link do you disagree with Mr E? Any evidence otherwise? Even the police statistics have domestic and sexual violence considerably up.

  20. Paranormal says:

    Exactly Mr E.

    So DK – you’re suggesting we’re even worse off than USA?

    But then again you are really just repeating headlines without any deeper understanding or analysis. Have a look at the data to see whats really happening rather than rely on emotional rubbish spouted by the MSM that you seem to love linking to. or you could read the repiort for yourself: http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/crime-stats-fiscal-national-20140630.pdf

    Better still look at the longer term picture: http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx Overall Crime is down from the highs of the 90’s and 2000’s. If you graph it you can see it dropping from the mid 90’s until there is an upswing under Liarbour, then dropping again from a peak in 2009. Assault is down significantly from the highs reached in Helen Clarks time. Sexual Assault has increased, but has been increasing steadily since 2004 after dropping slightly from a peak in 2002.

    If you want a correlation, the massive drop in crime in the US is credited to Clintons welfare reforms (following on from the success of the Wisconsin Governors welfare reforms) along with three stirkes, LWOP and relaxed firearms laws. The welfare reforms here and the change in focus from Liarbour could very well be the start of a long term improvement – if your lot don’t have anything to do with it.

  21. Mr E says:

    Here is an analogy,
    The Green Party lost the election because of people that shared Shane Jones views.

  22. Dave Kennedy says:

    “So DK – you’re suggesting we’re even worse off than USA?”

    Definitely not.

    It is very difficult to compare data over time because of different expectations in recording. Teachers have been asked to fudge results too make statistics appear better and it is obvious that the threshold for making a crime minor or just an incident has changed under National.


    By far the most common crimes are property damage, minor thefts and burglaries and even a slight change can make a substantial difference to the recorded numbers. There has also been and ongoing drop in arrests for minor drug charges.

    It is harder to fudge the more serious crimes of violence (using your link):
    Sexual assaults are up 11% since 2012
    Harassment and threatening behaviour is up 13%
    Fraud is up 8.7%

    The latest family violence statistics make dismal reading, especially the increase in sexual offences against children:

    ■ 95,080 family violence investigations were conducted by the police.

    ■ Offences were recorded at 37,880 of these.

    ■ 12,490 Police Safety Orders (PSOs) were issued.

    ■ There were 5025 recorded breaches of Protection Orders and 3835 convictions for Breach of Protection Order and Non-Molestation Order prosecuted.

    ■ Between 2005 and 2013 the number of sexual offences against adults reported to police increased from 1187 to 1848.

    ■ The number of reported sexual offences against children increased from 1278 to 2071 in the same period.

  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E you do realize that your link was satire 😉

  24. Paranormal says:

    So whats your point DK.

    The point I’ve made is you made a wild sweeping and, as normal, grossly inaccurate statement regarding crime in the US. I have proven you were wrong yet again.

    Further, your prescription will only make crime more prevalent, whereas we have seen an overall reduction in crime, led mainly by a drop in assaults and burglary. Yes sexual assault crimes continue to increase, following the trend started in the early 2000’s. In all of this we have a far higher crime rate than the US.

  25. Mr E says:

    Read my last two comments in succession. I’m confident you will get it, eventually.

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