Is Labour still a major party?


What differentiates the major parties from the minor ones?

The number of members, the number of MPs and the ability to stand candidates in every electorate would be a good start.

Labour got a boost in membership from its leadership contest last year but any reports I’ve seen don’t number its members in 10s of thousands.

It is the party with the second most MPs in parliament and even the worst polls don’t suggest it will come third.

But  Matthew Beveridge has a tweet from Colmar Brunton showing how the Labour and Green Party votes have been converging.

Labour does still field candidates in all electorates but reopening of selections suggests it had trouble getting candidates in some electorates and there are questions over the ability of several.

The Rangitata candidate Steven Gibson was forced to apologise after calling John Key Shylock and Gordon Dickson in neighbouring Selwyn does his party and himself no credit with this bizarre email to Radio Live’s Lloyd Burr:

It must be hard for Labour to get good candidates in the bigger blue seats it has no chance of winning because of the extra difficulty and cost of campaigning in bigger areas.

Every party takes a risk with new candidates but the behaviour of these two suggests Labour might have been better without them.

However, being unable to field candidates in every seat would be a sign Labour is in danger of losing its claim to being a major party.

Radio Live PM broadcast referred to police


The  Electoral Commission has referred Radio Live to the police over the politics-free hour hosted by John Key last year.

Newstalk ZB’s obtained a copy of the commission’s decision regarding a Labour Party complaint over a show the Prime Minister conducted on Radio Live during last year’s election period.

The commission’s found the broadcast was an election programme and a breach of the Broadcasting Act.

Newstalk ZB understands both Labour and National have been given advance copies of the decision but are bound by a confidentiality agreement not to talk about it until its officially released at five this afternoon.

Radio Live had checked with the commission before the broadcast and understood that as long as there was no discussion of politics the broadcast would not be in breach the Act.

Obviously there is now doubt about that which once again raises questions over the clarity of campaign regulations.

It also raises questions over the effectiveness of the law when it takes this long to make a decision.

Kathryn Ryan discussed the isssue with Graeme Edgeler on Nine to Noon.


What’s happend to the gatekeepers?


The media used to have gatekeepers.

They were the experienced people who used their intelligence and judgement to decide what was news and what wasn’t.

They knew the difference between what was in the public interest and what the public was interested in.

They knew the fact someone wanted to speak didn’t mean that others had to hear.

They saved people from themselves when a mistaken belief that telling their story would help might have done more harm than good.

It wasn’t censorship, it was discretion and events over the last few days have shown it’s a quality sadly lacking in our media.

What would a visitor to New Zealand have thought had they turned on television for the news on Thursday?

One of our neighbours is having a constitutional crisis, the OECD released a report on our economy, the Prime Minister was in China . . . and the lead item on both channels was a tabloid item about someone who used to work on television who’d admitted assaulting a woman.


Trying to find something to listen to while driving to Dunedin yesterday morning I found the issue leading Nine to Noon, and being discussed on NewsTalk ZB & Radio Live.


It’s also been given prominent coverage in newspapers and their websites.


We’ve got past the mistaken view that some violence can be dismissed as “only” a domestic and is best ignored, but turning the aftermath into a circus is almost as bad.


A report on the plea and sentence might have been news, saturation coverage of he-said-she-said isn’t. It’s merely prurience.

BSA judgement for free speech


The Broadcasting Standards Authority has dismissed a complaint  by Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro against talkback host Michael Laws.

Dr Kiro had complained to the BSA the Laws’ remarks on the programme were unbalanced and unfair to her.

She argued that the programme “often cast aspersions on (her) competence” and that she was personally mentioned more than 50 times during the three-hour talkback programme.

But the BSA said listeners would not expect a range of balanced views from Laws’ talkback.

It said the host’s criticisms were not unfair in the robust talkback environment.

“Indeed, it is an essential element of free speech that even the most trenchant criticism of public figures be allowed,” the authority said. “As an appointed official carrying out a public function, Dr Kiro’s work and her conduct were appropriately the subject of scrutiny, comment and criticism.”

The authority agreed with the broadcaster that talkback was a means for the public to express their views on a range of issues. There was no requirement for those views to be well-informed, balanced or considered.

Radio Live, which broadcasts Laws’ show is claiming this judgement as a victory for free speech, as it is.

Like it or not talkback is full of ill-informed, unbalanced and ill considered rants and while it might not seem fair the public, which includes talkback hosts, has the right to criticise people in public positions.

Temper, temper


Oh dear, tantrums aren’t pretty, especially if you have one while accusing someone who didn’t have one of having one.

Helen Clark tripped herself up in the heat of the moment last night. It wasn’t good but she’s made it much worse by trying to explain it away with an attack on John Key:

“The fact he didn’t burst out crying on the set probably counted for him,” she said during a Radio Live question and answer session this morning.

Later in the day she didn’t resile from her criticism telling reporters that expectations around Mr Key’s performance before the debate were low and; “the fact he didn’t collapse with a stress attack on the set probably gave him marks”.

Tears, stress attack? How scary does she think she is? Is this what happens to other people who come up against her?

TVNZ’s phone poll declared him ahead by a long way.

Miss Clark said the poll was worthless as it was self-selecting and there was a charge.

“That hasn’t been the feedback we received. You’ve got to remember to call in on an 0900 number it costs money.”

That’s a fair comment, but internet access cost too and look at this:

Who won last night’s leaders’ debate?

Helen Clark (13060 votes, 48.5%)

John Key (13268 votes, 49.3%)

It was a tie (592 votes, 2.2%)


Back to the tantrum:

At one point Miss Clark made a comment that Mr Key may shout at home but he wouldn’t shout her down.

Today she said she was not accusing him of yelling at his family.

“What I meant was he was having a tantrum he was completely out of control trying to shout me down…”

There’s only been one person having a tantrum over this:

Last night Miss Clark said she did not think the campaign was bitter and today said she was just offering a professional analysis of how it went.

A spokesman for Mr Key said he would leave it to the public to decide.

“New Zealanders will judge the result of the debate.”

Last night asked about his inexperience Mr Key said he just did his best.

“But I gave it my best shot and they (the public) will have a good sense of where a National government would take New Zealand.”

Keeping Stock thinks Clark is showing her true colours.

No MInister says Diddums!

Monkeywith typewriter awards her a soper.

Inquiring Mind suggests the tany could be a tipping point.

Scrubone thinks she can’t handle losing.

Spot the difference


The cover story in this weeks Listener (previewed here) asks whether the unions still love Labour. One of those interviewed is Matt McCarten who is general secretary of Unite.

The success endorsed McCarten’s view that staying aloof from political allegiance is more valuable than affiliation. Why, he asks, under MMP would any other party want to help you if all your funding and membership support was going to its comeptition?

He says those unions with “blatant” support for Labour are not necessarily furthering the interests – or felfecting the concerns – of members.

Then we have The Hive’s  transcript of a Radio Live discussion between Marcus Lush, Matthew Hooton and McCarten: 

Lush: . . . Obviously its going to be very important for the Labour party to get these peoples registered and out there voting. . .

McCarten: Yeah well, well, the enrolment is to get out the vote and that’s Labour’s only chance, I mean that is very, very big in the unions, and the electoral enrolments group are spending a huge amount of resource in doing that. But one of the things, the problem they’ve got, a lot of the vote, you know, doesn’t care, and so the unions have got 20% of their membership are not even enrolled, and so they’ve worked out if they can get that up, well that’s going to be 70,000-80,000 extra in, in, in the vote . . .

Can you spot the fundamental difference in the message between these two interviews?

%d bloggers like this: