A Little Help From His Friends: Who is Andrew Little listening to?

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WHO politicians turn to for advice tells the world a great deal about what sort of people they are. Do they go straight for the professionals? Or, do they rely on friends and family? Most importantly, do they seek guidance from people who simply reinforce their prejudices, or are they guided by those who are willing to openly challenge their deepest assumptions?

The Labour Party leader, Andrew Little, is a cautious man, and, by and large, he has opted to surround himself with cautious people. Professionally trained, himself, he expects a high degree of professionalism from his staff. As a lawyer, he has a natural  inclination towards following the rules of whatever game he is playing.

Persuading Little to take a risk is hard work – but not impossible. His decision to keep on David Cunliffe’s Chief-of-Staff, Matt McCarten, is a case in point. McCarten’s radical reputation would likely have proven too much for Little’s rivals, but his own background in the trade union movement made Little much less prone to an attack of the vapours. McCarten may talk like a revolutionary, but, as the leader of the Unite Union, he always knew when it was time to tie up the attack dogs and seal the deal.

Little was also aware of just how much he owed McCarten for his wafer-thin victory over Grant Robertson. It was, after all, McCarten who, like the Praetorian Guards of Imperial Rome, understood the supreme importance of timing in the “transition” from one Caesar to the next. It’s never enough, simply to know when the moment has come to strike down the Emperor who has failed, one must also know around whose shoulders to drape the blood-stained purple toga, and upon whose head to place the golden diadem. McCarten chose Little’s head – and Little knows it.

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Little also knows that the best service McCarten can offer his leadership is to embrace fully his role as the Emperor’s Praetorian enforcer. This was, after all, the role at which he excelled when he was with the Alliance. In Jim Anderton’s fractious coalition, McCarten was the man who kept the noisy ones quiet, and the quiet ones under surveillance. Little has put McCarten’s head-kicking skills to work in the Labour Party where, by all accounts, he has picked up from where Helen Clark’s fearsome enforcer, Heather Simpson, left off seven years ago. Given the extraordinary lack of discipline in Labour’s ranks since 2008, one is tempted to observe: and not a moment too soon!

McCarten, however, will always be an ally of Little’s – not a mate. That title belongs to the man he has appointed his Political Director, Neale Jones. The two men both hail from the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) where Jones served alongside Little, before haring off to the UK and contracting himself to a number of progressive and campaigning NGOs. If London can be said to have a “beltway”, Jones clearly knew his way around it.

And therein lies a potentially very large problem. Unlike McCarten, who brings with him the whiff of cordite and a kit-bag full of class-war stories, Jones is very much the political technocrat. In this respect, he is very like his boss: dogged, well-briefed, sensitive to the rules of the game, and thoroughly unimpressed by political passion. Hence Jones’ aversion to rushing Labour into anything. After the disasters of Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe, he believes Labour priorities should, for the moment, be strictly remedial. Not until the public’s lost love for Labour has been restored will Jones be happy to let the party, its leader, and its long-suffering rank-and-file, let fly with a little live ammunition.

How, then, to explain Labour’s curious foray into the treacherous territory of ethnicity and foreign investment? Who was it who thought singling-out Chinese investors in a city where Chinese residents make up nearly 10 percent of the population was a good idea?

The man responsible for manipulating the leaked Auckland housing statistics into something Labour’s housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford, could use was Rob Salmond. Anyone looking for proof of what can happen to a political party when it allows itself to be persuaded that politics is not an art – but a science – need look no further than the relationship between Labour and Salmond.

After a few years teaching at an American university, Salmond returned to New Zealand certain he could adapt the techniques he saw employed by the Obama Campaign to New Zealand conditions. This is the “science” of politics that sends out postcards detailing the voting habits of people’s neighbours, in an attempt to psychologically dispose them towards doing the same. Somehow, Salmond persuaded the Labour Party to unleash these sorts of highly manipulative tactics on the long-suffering New Zealand voter. Sadly, as we all know, his political “science” failed to fire, and Labour’s share of the popular vote declined to its lowest point since 1922.

Salmond has recently posted a couple of articles on the Public Address Blog in which he wields his ideological agnosticism like a club against anyone who dares to argue that political parties should “stand for something”. All that matters, according to Salmond, is winning over “the middle” – a political designation, apparently, determined not by geometry, but by opinion polling! How one accomplishes this feat, without sacrificing a political party’s ideological (and hence electoral) coherence, he does not elucidate.

Salmond’s overall influence within the Leader of the Opposition’s Office is difficult to judge, but Little should think hard before again taking him into Labour’s confidence. His insistence that there is a road to electoral victory that allows a political party to bypass the ideological commitments inseparable from political conviction; that elections can be won by some sort of tricky “scientific” fix; if accepted by Little and his team, can only place New Zealand Labour in the same sorry position as the British Labour Party under Ed Miliband.

How ironic it would be if, just as Jeremy Corbyn is showing us how Labour politics can be made to work, Little threw in his lot with those who have, to date, only shown us how to make them fail.

 

66 COMMENTS

  1. Yes well…one could argue that in the case of foriegn investment…it was a correct move .

    Inasmuch as if Labour hadn’t exposed the whole sham of NOT having a Foreign Investors Register…it would never have seen the light of day. And still the National party squirmed around the issue and gave up a washed out limp excuse for a measure of control…

    It is not the foreign investors who own this country – they come a poor second. And that’s a fact.

    And no govt – including this one – has either the mandate or the right …to override the public opinion and surreptitiously cut a deal with a foreign nation that gives them the unfettered rights to come in here and manipulate or buy up open slather our land – and by proxy – undermine the people of this country’s sovereignty.

    Let us not forget – our MP’s and PM are only the peoples REPRESENTATIVES.

    Nothing more.

    And no Free Trade Deal – including the TTPA – changes this.

    As for the other main thrust of this article… you are quite correct in stating regards discarding ideological foundations in chasing the mirage of the ‘ middle ‘ .

    There is no middle.

    As you wrote before…the middle is a conglomerate of idea’s furnished by both the left and the right…and – more importantly in this country – it is a conglomeration influenced powerfully by the former social democracy with which this country until 1984 had practiced.

    And until the 1984 hijacking by neo liberalism ….had enjoyed the most egalitarian society on earth ….it is no wonder that those values die hard. It is also no wonder that the neo liberal proponents we have had in govt since 1984 have worked so hard in conditioning this society to believe there is no other way but neo liberalism.

    And herein lies the inherent weakness of neo liberalism when confronted by the likes of England’s Jeremy Corbyn.

    That there is in fact , a way.

    And the neo liberals in both the Tory and Labour party in England are scared shitless because of it.

    Why ?… because Jeremy Corbyn endorses the old Labour party values that actually DID work. And they will work again.

    It is for this reason that the neo liberal right hates him. It will surely mean that they will have their grip on power and thus finance weakened because of it if this catches the public’s imagination – as it is currently doing.

    And the same will happen here. For too long – 35 years in fact , the Labour party have limped because of the Rogernomes – neo liberals – still remaining in the Labour party. It is this that is the cause of the impotence in that party. Therefore they need to ruthlessly purge those from among their ranks.

    And in doing so…return to their former ideological foundations. If Labour did that – and actually STOOD for something instead of being the poor cousin of National – the voters would see a viable party with a totally fresh approach – fresh because it is merely returning to its former base…not because it is anything new…but to a whole generation of young people born into the neo liberal morass… it would provide that dynamic ‘ new’ direction…

    And it is this ….that scares the hell out of neo liberal both within the National party and Labour.

    • Yes Chris Andrew needs guidance, and hopefully Labour will return to the only place they belong which is a party to represent the people as Natz treat the average person with contempt.

      Every time a poll has been taken over anti-smacking, Flag referendum or any other contencious issue natZ ignore the public even worse than Labour did.

      But we do need labour to follow NZ First lead now and listen to the voices of the people and get involved in all the provinces.

      As Wild katipo Government and Politicians are paid by us to represent us all but they often forget this important rule.

      You are so explicitly right there Wild Katipo.

      In 1984 the country changed and is now being finished off by the evil NatZ puppets of the elitists as bribed partners of “the Club” of Bilderbergers.

      They will vanish when this country goes broke like Greece did as we are truly on track to go there inside a year or two.

      Labour NZ First may find the way forward by going back and looking at where our historical strengths are again.

      Just for one case we could go back to the woollen industry, like woollen manufacturers, of Carpets, Woollen upholstery products, (Air NZ used to adorn there seating with our woollen products but not now) then there are, no thermal woollen drapes, or bedding products made here in mass now either and there is according to the Farming federation many other opportunities for wool used in many global products no one else is making as we did before.

      Norm Kirk had this idea and we need to revive our future beased on sound past strengths we have proven we know how to do better than others.

      PROOF TRY AND BUY A NEW NZ MADE AXMINSTER CARPET.

      Just go and try to buy a woollen Axminster carpet new made in NZ and you will fail.

      NatZ have allowed “DUMPING” of US style plastic Nylon 6 (Toxic -US EPA) carpets to be deliberately dumped on the NZ market now and this has almost killed off the woollen carpet industry using Kevin Milne and others to popularise these non-insulating nylon carpets to be sold cheaply as they are now shunned by many countries as toxic to people. See this US EPA Report;

      http://www.greenpeace.to/publications/carpet.pdf

      There are no fully operational woollen carpeting mills now on the scale we had prior to 1984. none whatsoever as NatZ policy allowed the closures of most if not all woollen mills over the last six years, down and allowed the carpeting milling equipment to be sold to go offshore to china and India.

      Great Government right? the bandits, lairs, traitors,& carpetbaggers, (sorry for the pun)

  2. I went to see Andrew Little speak yesterday at UC – he was invited by UCPOLS.

    Overall Little was generally what I suspected, but I was surprised by how slick Little was, especially when sidestepping some serious questions regarding ideology.

    The best question of the day came from someone who mentioned Corbyn, and Little’s response was that he didn’t support Blair’s idea that every Labour leader should be a mirror image of himself. It was a good snappy answer that silenced what the essence of the question: where is NZ Labour’s Corbyn? Why does the term ‘broadchurch’ excuse the likes of Nash, but nobody to the left? Is there a left within Labour?

    Little seems to be far more personable than I initially thought, which in itself is no problem, but I hope he uses his charm for more than defending his third-way path (which is all he did yesterday).

    One thing Little said yesterday that scares me is that he has been traveling around the regions talking to people. I don’t want the Labour leader to shape their leadership and party on the reckons of farmers. I want the Labour leader to represent core Labour values. For that to happen Labour needs to plagiarise MANA’s policy (which would bring Labour’s policy and rhetoric in line with Corbyn’s).

    It’s no good talking about Labour’s core values when Little talks up Kelvin Davis (which he did yesterday), while Kelvin Davis is on Radio NZ talking about the CYFs underfunding problem as a problem of ‘poor parenting’ (which I heard Kelvin say yesterday on RNZ’s midday news). Labour need to stop reinforcing the ‘poor parenting’ discourse because it’s neoliberalism in it’s purest form.

    The only hope I got from Little yesterday was that it seems as though he will not offer substantial policy until closer to the election, and by that time the Corbyn train could have opened up a discursive space where Little can deviate from the third-way path he seems to assume is the only way. Salmond is without doubt a problem. Technocratic methods will give Labour no answers in Chch and it will not explain John Key’s popularity. Little will need to shift toward more sociological, psychological, psycho-social and psychoanalytic methods to understand why people would vote for someone like Key.

    Finally, the big problem I can see for Labour (and the left) is that Little said he needs to take votes off National and the Conservatives. Saying that AND using a technocratic approach means that we can expect Little will chase the centre, rather than try to shift the centre to the left. Numbers focused technocrats will justify a Lab+Greens+NZFirst coalition, but that mean Labour will remain uninspiring and devoid of progressive answers to our historical problems.

    I am against Labour trying to build anything with NZ First because conservatives by their very nature have no answers. They are great if you want simplistic interpretations of problems, but they have no real solutions. (See Curwen’s recent post on how Trump for evidence, unfortunately my comment wasn’t allowed on there – I pointed out the problems with using Trump’s quotes from 15 years ago).

    Little has not lost the opportunity to create a new social democracy that addresses contempory problems, but to do so he will need to be ‘extreme’ and ‘revolutionary’. Labour core values were extreme and revolutionary in their time, and Labour’s core values today have to be extreme and revolutionary. A Lab+Greens+MANA coalition should be a starting point. I’m happy to see Little get angry because anyone with an ounce of empathy is angry about mainstream politics, but it’s time to inspire the left with rhetoric and then policies based on Labour’s core values. Here’s a good place to start: http://mana.net.nz/policy/policy-social-wellbeing/

    • re “I am against Labour trying to build anything with NZ First because conservatives by their very nature have no answers.”

      1.) a Labour Left coalition wont get in without NZF ( are you trying to kill a Left government?)

      2.) NZF is “conservative”?….for a long time NZF was to the Left of the Labour Party!..

      3.)NZF shares many values of the Greens …eg.sale of state assets, spy bill, overseas ownership of NZ land

      3.)…and last Election when the Greens ( increasingly middle class)were talking of some sort of coalition with Nactional ( certainly not discounting it in the media) many switched their votes to NZF or Labour who were more stridently anti Nactional

      …..re “I don’t want the Labour leader to shape their leadership and party on the reckons of farmers. I want the Labour leader to represent core Labour values.”.

      1.)..Labour must listen to farmers…Jonkey Nactional is not representing their interests well especially in trade… it may surprise you that many in the rural community listen to and vote Left ( my parents did all their lives)

      2.) for Labour to get in it has to listen to farmers as it did most successfully with Colin Moyle as MInister of Agriculture…we are in an MMP environment where every vote counts

      • “a Labour Left coalition wont get in without NZF ( are you trying to kill a Left government?)”

        No, i just don’t see a coalition with NZ First achieving anything useful. At best we’ll have 9 years of more neoliberal / third-way and then Nats back in again. We can’t afford another Labour term like the last.

        “NZF is “conservative”?….for a long time NZF was to the Left of the Labour Party!”

        That is true – they’re economically to the left of Labour. That just shows how few answers Labour currently has. NZ First are just a politically savvy version of Colin Craig’s Conservatives. Winnie was proud his policies were being copied by Craig. I’d be ashamed of that.

        “NZF shares many values of the Greens …eg.sale of state assets, spy bill, overseas ownership of NZ land”

        True, but all parties have cross-over policies. The Greens and MANA were much closer – in terms of policy. If I listed the policies / ideology that Labour has in common with National, it would make for a long post. Labour could also work with the Conservatives and United Future too. I’m one of the many who are sick of centre-left parties striving for power and forgetting their principles.

        “and last Election when the Greens ( increasingly middle class)were talking of some sort of coalition with Nactional ( certainly not discounting it in the media) many switched their votes to NZF or Labour who were more stridently anti Nactional”

        Are you sure Greens voters left for NZ First? That’s the first time I’ve heard of that. I remember Greens asked Labour to form more of a collective opposition and Labour gave them a public smack-down. However, I agree that the Green’s strategy at the last election could’ve been better – but Labour’s was much worse IMO.

        “Labour must listen to farmers”

        Labour needs to stop listening to people and rediscover their values. If they felt the need to ‘listen’, they could start with their former base, but I’m not sure why they would want to listen to farmers. The rural vote is predominantly based on the worst aspects of conservative and libertarian values. There’s plenty of homeless people in Chch Labour could try listening to.

  3. So… [Comment deleted. Andrew, if you are going to post here, make your comments pertinent and reasonably intelligent. Fly-by-put-downs by visiting right-wing commentators will not be published. As I keep reminding people, there is no automatic right to post comments here. – ScarletMod]
    …union?

    • Can we get a clear statement on The Daily Blog’s comment banning policy? Is it only unconstructive trolls and irrelevancy that is barred, or also tendances from the Left that you disagree with?
      If the latter then I think you are doing your cause a disservice. Surely we can handle genuine discussion or is that a bourgeois concept?
      Would you allow a comment from Stuart Nash, who doesn’t seem flavour of the month, or Kelvin Davis?
      Or Phil Goff, or Helen Clark or David Lange?
      Like I say, what IS the policy?

      • I agree it would be useful. Especially in light of all the difficulty we’ve ALL experienced with posting comments presumably due to hacking.
        It’s very disheartening to write a good response or comment only to have it disappear in the IT ether.
        Was it something I wrote or is this yet another hacking attack?
        If it doesn’t get addressed this matter will fester and people will give up and move away. And a lot of posts are worth reading (neo-liberals aside).

    • Fair cop officer!

      I was in a hurry.

      The point I was trying to make was that since the post made it clear Andy is only listening to the unions and was put in is position by the unions, logically the only policy you’re going to see from him is policy that suits his masters.

      Fine if you’re a unionist, but I see two issues here:

      1. Labour is surely a broader church than just unionism. It seems the other facets of the movement now have no voice with Andy in charge.

      2. Since less than 15% of workers are union members these days, how is that going to get Labour elected?

      • A case in point today:

        Labour is rabidly against Charter Schools because the teacher unions are afraid of losing their hegemony, but an examination of their performance to date shows that they are delivering a better outcome for Maori.

        So Kelvin Davis has ignored instructions from Head Office and gone public over his support of Charter Schools, thus exposing a festering sore within Labour.

        http://www.3news.co.nz/opinion/opinion-labours-charter-school-division-2015090109#axzz3kWDlbQI3

        So the first question is: Are you prepared to throw away the chance of a decent education for Maori in order to protect a teachers union?

        Broadening it further, are you prepared to oppress the poor in order to maintain a nice little sinecure for a middle class club?

        • Labour is rabidly against Charter Schools because the teacher unions are afraid of losing their hegemony, but an examination of their performance to date shows that they are delivering a better outcome for Maori.

          Incorrect assumption.

          Charter schools are opposed not for the spurious reason you’ve outlined (and which is nothing more than a reflection of your anti-union bias), but because it is a thin-wedge policy of privatisation in education.

          The fact is that Charter Schools are private companies/institutions. As such, if they want to set up business – that’s fine. But don’t expect taxpayer subsidies to do it.

          Davis and Henare were foolish to attend.

          • Yeah sure Frank.

            THE FACT IS teachers account for about 50% of the total union membership in NZ. Not quite the last bastion but close to it.

            Couple that with students being given freedom of choice regarding union membership and it’s the end of the road.

            Please don’t slam the door on your way out.

            • Geez that Zac Wallace made a good fearsome warrior didn’t he…and Ill bet a bloody good union rep as well confronting the very small likes of yourself…

              Is this where you get your psychotic hatred of workers and unions from?

              Were you humiliated and shown up for the mean spirited and penny pinching bastard you really are?

              • I AM a worker!

                I was forced to join a union in my earlier days and hated every minute of it. The union bosses were worse than the factory bosses.

                I cheered the day I could throw that union card away.

          • That’s not entirely correct either. Chris Hipkins wrote this piece (http://blog.labour.org.nz/2013/04/17/charter-schools-have-no-future/) in which privatisation was only one in a list of 10 reasons Labour opposes charter schools. I don’t buy most of them, and the opposition based on some perceived disgust over a profit motive is surely the silliest.

            Private education has been around for over 2,000 years; public provision of education is actually relatively new, from around the mid 19th century. In NZ the majority of children who attend pre-school (ECE) do so in privately run centres. My understanding is there are around 500 private or integrated primary and post primary schools in NZ, attended by almost 20% of the total number of children attending school.

            My point would be simply that I don’t care who delivers education to my kids or whether they make a profit from doing it. They should be judged on the results and that alone.

          • This was a case of pragmatism winning out over ideology.

            What is actually wrong with Davis and Henare supporting a charter school that is delivering positive educational outcomes for Maori kids?

            Or should, in your opinion positive educational outcomes for Maori be sacrificed for ideological purity?

            Furthermore Henare and Davis’s support for the charter school in question will likely contribute to positive electoral benefits amongst Maori voters for them as well. Or should that outcome be tossed aside too in the interests of ideological purity?

            • What is actually wrong with Davis and Henare supporting a charter school that is delivering positive educational outcomes for Maori kids?

              Three things.

              1. Charter schools are not Labour Party policy, and for good reason. If David and Henare want to support Charter Schools, they’re in the wrong Party.

              2. Secondly, you are a bit premature about “delivering positive educational outcomes”. Charter schools have not been around long enough to make such a determination here in New Zealand. In the US, they deliver mixed results, with the majority showing either worse outcomes or no different to State schools.

              3. State schools could deliver similar results if they had the millions chucked at them, at the same level that Charter schools are being funded. There’s your discrepancy right there.

              If you want to put your kid in a private school, that’s fine. But don’t expect us taxpayers to pay for your lifestyle choice.

    • Don’t you worry mate ,…its coming – just like Bob Dylan once said…’ its a slow train…comin round the bend ‘ …and it wont be any passenger train either…it’ll be a freight train.

      And especially if these neo liberal superbanks try on any more of this boom and bust credit crap .

      They’ll be sinking their own boats doing that.

      Oh yes….mark my words…there’s a slow train comin round the bend alright.

      • let’s hope that train scoops up salmond in its’ cow-catcher – and takes him far away…

        ..him and all the other blairites/clarkists blocking progress/defending the fucked status quo..

        ..a pox on all of them…

    • I see Corbyn has just shot both himself and Labour in the foot by making compromising statements over the Falklands.

      It all smells a lot like the days of Michael Foot and Tony (Sir Anthony to you) Benn. By declaring a policy of unilateral disarmament they effectively handed power to Thatcher for three terms.

      • Yes …but on the other hand my little neo liberal zealot …Corbyn has been proven right about the illegality of the unilateral invasion of Iraq by the USA …and his little English toady Tony Blair.

        And one thing about Bush and his nasty little war was that instead of bringing a man to trial – in their view it saved a lot of embarrassment to simply have a man shot.

        Which in itself is a lawless act of aggression.

        And for we know it could have been a dead dog thrown over the side of that naval destroyer .

        There was no autopsy , no official reports , no attempt at public identification – nothing.

        Pretty dodgy from an even more dodgy American President starting off a dodgy war to begin with.

        Weapons of mass destruction my bloody arse…mate.

  4. “….All that matters, according to Salmond, is winning over “the middle”
    I used to think that, but now wonder if “the middle” just follow whichever side seems to winning in the media.
    Corben hasn’t actually become leader yet, and so lets wait and see how he fairs when Crosby Textor start the machine, which at the moment is deliberately idling in the background….waiting.
    Personally, I favour studying Crosby Textor very hard, and using the same tactics in reverse for the left, might put “the middle” in a spin, but then they may wake up

    • There’s more than a little wisdom in doing that ,…in studying the methods they use…means you are familiarized with their weak points.

      We already know the formula of how they operate – particularly with regards to utilizing big business funding….but let us never forget …the early activist days of the Labour party never had the benefit of large amounts of cash to finance their movement…

      Instead it was the mass mobilization of people of the working and middle classes…

      Now…if one were to look at the current state of affairs in this country…it would seem ripe for the picking for a reemerging of a movement similar to the early days of the Labour party.

      The problem therefore is twofold. One)…the ongoing presence of neo liberals in the Labour party …Two) , … the monopoly of the far right of our national media…bolstered by private media interests.

      There is another …that of the subversion of the original Employment Contracts Act…which has successfully atomized the workforce.

      However , strategically…it would be the revamping of the Labour party and the purging of neo liberal influence that would set in motion like a set of domino’s the others…do that…and you would find that would be the heralding of a new social democratic movement.

      We can say this with confidence because of the mass grass roots development of the left in regards to Jeremy Corbyn and his counterpart in the USA Sanders.

      More so in Corbyns case as we tend to follow the English style more so than the American.

      But the point is this : we do not necessarily have to have immediate procession of all the trappings ( ie : monopoly of the media )to bring this into effect.

      A leaf can be learned by old time campaigners such as Winston Peters…who , being scorned by neo liberal influence and their media stooges won Northland nonetheless. And remember – Winston was subject to all manner of put downs and insinuations …yet he still prevailed.

      This is along the same sort of methodology that Corbyn uses.

      And it works.

    • That does have a certain appeal to it, but it also carries a level of risk. As Jesus Jones sang back in the 90s, “The problem with success is you become what you detest…”

      If the only way to win over ‘The Middle’ is to metamorphose into Crosby-Textor, is it really worth winning over?

      • No – rather I mean recognizing how they operate and anticipating their moves to counter Key and co.

        And utilizing methods that have been discarded in the digital age yet still are powerful – such as Peters uses.

        • Max said that revolution has to come from one of the Bigwig countries. We live in a one super power world so democratic revolution to be successful should come from a white male in America. Preferably a revolutionary that experienced the Hittler era.

  5. How, then, to explain Labour’s curious foray into the treacherous territory of ethnicity and foreign investment? Who was it who thought singling-out Chinese investors in a city where Chinese residents make up nearly 10 percent of the population was a good idea?

    This is the sort of comment from someone who does understand the Auckland property market which is saturated by foreign investors and speculators. 90% of people of Auckland are NOT Chinese so I don’t see why pointing out the obvious to anyone in an Auckland Auction, is so unsettling to some people. It is not just the buyer who is the issue, but also having so many people bidding up the price, many may not even be Chinese, but alot are migrants with more money than locals on slave wages. The Chinese and Australians know this, and that is why the protect their locals which our neoliberal governments don’t, with let the market decide the price attitude.

    I also find is really odd that those who are so angry about NZ property investors seem to think that it is fine to allow foreigners with higher wages and lower interest rates without ever having paid any tax in this country to speculate on property and buy the cream of local stock here driving up the prices and interest rates for all?

    What I think is wrong with Labour, is that they have everything the wrong way around. (The property call was a good one, but sadly they bailed out when the Natz started panicking and the usual name calling, which generally means Labour are ON the right track).

    Labour is following a neoliberal ideology but with higher taxes. Doesn’t work for anybody.

    Either you are against TPP, troops in Iraq, state surveillance, 5 eyes, mass foreign surveillance, being tenants in our own country etc but on most of these issues have a confused 3rd way, MAYBE stance.

    So not really appealing to the voters sick of neoliberalism, but also not appealing to the neoliberals either with higher taxes.

    Labour are trying to sell an Austerity for Kiwis, with zero benefits to anyone. Pay more taxes so we can sell our soul to 3rd party countries and give our corporate welfare, surveillance and sell our country to foreigners while the local kiwis pay for it all with more taxes?

    Not something I can see the majority wanting. At present only die hard Labourites are hanging in there, but without some sort of understanding of what the typical Labour voter wants the party has some sort of sabotage from the inside if they think that there current policies and views are workable.

    If Labour got rid of neoliberalism and vowed not to raise taxes then that would get the middle voter. It is up to them to work out how to do that, but with all the waste in Government, bribes, etc – they need to work out how to grow the economy not just give away money to business while telling average joe they need to pay more, to have what people expect, decent health care, social welfare, schooling and transport.

    Perhaps instead of subsidising the Rio tinto’s of NZ they should look at why Kiwis are tired of being 2nd class citizens to businesses that don’t look like they give a damn and are polluters to boot.

    • Labour played their hand badly in the overseas investor debate. It should have been about the rights of permanent residents – regardless of ethnicity – to have a fair chance of owning property, or at least being able to afford a home for life (public housing or properly regulated private rental). Instead, it came across like a beat-up on people of Chinese ethnicity, some of whose families have been in Aotearoa for as long or longer than pākeha New Zealanders. Of course National and ACT were going to try to spin it as the latter, but Labour needed to work with the Greens and NZ First to keep the focus on the former.

      The key economic fact we need to get across to people is this; property buyers from anywhere in the world competing to buy a finite amount of residential property (enough for 4-5 million people to live in) must drive up prices.

      Imagine everyone in Eketahuna bidding for the bags of potatoes in the local superette. There is only so much anyone in the town will pay for potatoes, which limits the price the superette can charge. So far, markets 101. Now imagine people from anywhere in the country could bid for that bag – even though they have no intention of eating it – knowing they can then resell it to a local at a profit. Is that going to raise potato prices in Eketahuna? You bet your hungry ass it will.

      • The point you missed is that we can create both potatoes and houses, so your analogy only works if there is a fixed number of bags of spuds.

        Auckland is growing. People are moving from the regions, immigrations from many nations are arriving and cashed up Kiwis from the Aussie mines are coming home to bid up the prices too.

        Given that the city is growing, it needs to either build UP or build OUT. Or both: Either ease some of the sillier consent restrictions preventing multistorey development or move the city boundaries as we have done several times before. Take your pick.

        This is not a national problem – it’s an Auckland problem (seeing as property is only going up significantly in Auckland). So the problem is owned by the clowns we elected on to the council and whom we will remove next year.

        • Unfortunately the development is being decided by speculators – the idea being 25m2 studio apartments for the working poor or McMansions built to the max limits or beyond.

          This McMansion approach is pricing out families who just want 3 bed, 1 bath, reasonable section for kids as this stock is being redeveloped into 4 bedroom 5 bathroom 3 living areas, tiny low maintenance garden – which will be sold probably to an executive couple or very small family.

          Families now can’t actually afford to live in the suburbs anymore as ‘new’ stock are competed for to be redeveloped into the later eagerly consumed by migrants, returning Kiwis and older families, or those already in the property market who can afford the 2million plus price tags. On local wages even those families with equity often can’t afford to get in as the excessive amount of development onto 1 unit sites, cost more.

          Sustainability is just a joke in Auckland in particular as developers, Auckland transport and the council resource consents officer compete to rid the city of trees, family friendly offerings, sunlight and lifestyle in favour of Hong Kong style knock up apartments or McMansions or high priced apartments with high body corps ripping people off. All in the name of affordability of course. Half the dumbos don’t even see the irony.

          The speed in which the council rushes to prosecute anyone putting on an extra dwelling space even if technically removable shows that it is all about profits for them not the housing crisis.

          Always keen to help out the corporate with some rate payer welfare such as the .2Ha Westgate mega mall with zero environmental or transport or sustainable components in the design.

          Soon we will hear about how we can’t afford unnecessary libraries and the like, as all our rates are used up with defending ports of Auckland, corporate developments and the like.

          Oh well, the kids can learn to shop at the mega mall instead of read, and look forward to a zero hour contract career unloading bananas at $15 p/h for ports of Auckland who love to act illegally but the council just says go Business!

          If the ‘international’ market decides, it is deciding against local families.

          If the council decides it is deciding against intelligent decisions, in it’s race to compete with the government to offer corporate welfare.

          • AVE NZ: You started with an incorrect assumption. If the developers WERE making the decisions we would have houses galore and they’d design them to meet the needs of the market (they aren’t stupid – they build what sells).

            But that is not the case. If you’ve recently tried to build or even make minor modifications to a house you’ll know that the whole thing is driven by pointy headed RMA wonks in the council. I can give you some crazy examples if you wish!

  6. Thanks for your words Wild Katipo – Can it really be that simple?
    Hope Andrew is reading this blog….

  7. There is no middle.
    The middle is a vector of migrating opinion.
    There are Left ideas and Right ideas and non-partisan ideas.
    I challenge anyone to think of a single centrist idea.
    Attracting the “centre” is about avoiding contentious subjects.
    But it might also be about presenting a version of the future that most people would wish for. Noone has ever been harrangued or hectored into changing either opinion or vote.
    As Fatty says, the initial analysis must be psychometric in nature, not doctrinal.

  8. everytime i hear a politician or a commentator say the words middle ground my hair gets greyer, there is no middle ground only a grouping of wannabes, wannabe on the winning side no matter what one, wannabe courted and pampered with treats that others miss out on because the rock solid voter gets nothing for his troubles, little is a lawyer first and foremost raised in an ultra right wing family and only went left because that was the only job..do i trust him hell no…he has already shown that the neos have him under control, until they are all purged i wouldnt trust that party to baby sit a puppy

  9. I think it was Jamie Dimon the banker who first used the whistle blower paradox, or at least it’s the first time I’v heard used in modern times.

    Where one encourages disgruntled employees who over embellish there employment problems which they were fired for. To then use that over embellished story to blow the whistle to ones political enemies.

    Put in another way a lowly administrator of a realtor floats a story that he has rudimentary information his company collects on property sales that he is willing to hand over to a willing politician who then uses that floored info to run a smear campaign. Only for that information to blow up in his face.

    You might be surprised at how many bankers use this whistle blower paradox to discredit his rivals or just to make a buck.

    If you can’t do your own research and vet information you should seriously reconsider your career choice.

  10. Also maybe Andrew Little should listen to Kelly Ellis about social welfare – she understands the complexity, psychology and absurdity of the system which is increasingly under attack for privatisation in our neoliberal world.

    If Labour are to change they need more understanding and a lot more integrity. People like Kelly Ellis can help make a big difference to their policy.

    My only warning is that going too hard against what we consider wealth in this country can be divisive.

    I want Labour elected due to the consequence if they are not. There is a blame culture against the middle class that comes out in these blogs – no one is perfect – but being angry and trying to punish or put down a large chunk of voters is not going to get anyone elected.

    I’m more angry about the corruption, privatisation and waste going on. The lack of investment in green technology, the lack of investment in future technology, the lack of understand of technology in general.

    We are in a brave new world of technology and it is time the opposition parties tried to understand it, to make a way forward.

    France has done a 35 hr week for example – there are many ideas of how to cope with the changing world.

    Natz 19th century version of inequality, zero social welfare and pollution and poverty is not palatable to most so there is plenty of room to create a different vision.

  11. I would say Andrew little is listening to his own internal polling

    Labour has quite a sophisticated grassroots internet communication system with its membership ….on political and social issues facing New Zealanders today ( they are to be congratulated!)

    … grassroots/flaxroots input is asked for on EVERY major policy issue

    … Labour have done polls on what their membership regards as priority issues….

    …. from the feedback I have had from long time Labour Party voters (some who have considered voting Green in the past) …that Andrew Little is well liked and that Labour’s policies are on the mark!

    …particularly on the mark is the concern with the mass buy up by foreigners of New Zealand housing and land

    • I would also say that one listens to the other outside Polls/Nact orientated pollsters on land lines and with selective framing of questions and demographics ….at your peril if you wish to gauge how well Labour is doing…it can become a self fulfilling prophecy

      Polls overseas are well known as PR tools for the right wing ….anyone who judges Little’s performance on these outside pollsters with their biased framing ….is buying in to this sus right wing PR.

    • I would say if AL is looking at polls what is going on? Endorsing the surveillance bill and not saying a clear NO to TPP for example – both of these are pretty clearly not vote winners.

      But it should not even be about votes, it should be about decency on the above issues.

      Allowing 24 hour fishing surveillance on Kiwis without a warrant? Hard to understand what the thinking was there. Cancelling someones passport?

      Likewise, the TPP, by not saying NO clearly, makes it a conditional YES and then a debate about side issues, not the real issue, which actually nobody knows as we are not allowed to know. I mean under this scenario, just be clear. NO WAY. TPPA.

      The other deadly barb is property, which both Labour and Greens are going all out on, possible thinking it is a safe bet. WOF rentals, Capital gains (which may or may not be Labour policy, but is listed on their website as their policy and they did campaign for it last election).

      My view, property is a guilty pleasure of many Kiwis. They dream to own the bach, a lovely home and to save for their retirement with property. There are countless reasons for it, lifestyle, slave wages, lack of faith in government to provide in the future, whateva.

      So 65% of Kiwis don’t benefit from that rule and are enjoying feeling wealthy with higher house prices. The countless attacks on property owners by Labour and Greens being greedy, is counter productive from a voting point of view and like Kelvin Davis scenario, a lot more beneficial to National.

  12. So Little’s a lawyer is he.
    That explains everything.
    Doomed by his narrow, and closed mind only to be bogged down by minutiae, a weird little fetish that delights lawyers and accountants. He will have no imagination allowing him to build a big picture. And chillingly, he’ll have no time for human emotion. No wonder he’s so bland.
    We’re fucked if we have to rely on Little to lead us anywhere other than down the garden path. Because if there’s one thing I know about lawyers, they either dominate without a conscience or secede without a fight.

    Robin Williams once told this joke .

    “ Scientists are using lawyers in laboratory experiments now instead of rats.
    They discovered there were some things even rats won’t do . “

    • Ha ha, my thoughts exactly.
      I can’t stand accountants and lawyers, over paid pompous, arrogant wankers. Counting beans for a job, or lawyers just feeding off other peoples misery mostly, bottom feeders. Funny how it’s so elevated as a profession. And both make everyone miserable when you get the bill. I have more respect for road workers who are out in all weather doing a truely useful job.

      All the best people of the world are killing themselves, Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Isn’t it about time artists ran things? Artists love ‘living’ life and celebrate it in their work, imagine that on a world scale. Haven’t the boring, non creative, money obsessed, earth plundering politicians had enough time to fuck it all up. This is a really horrible time to be an artist or poet or any true creative spirit.

      We don’t have much time left, they will throw us the bone once this country along with the rest of Earth has been slashed, chemoed, poisoned, and radiated to near death. Then the artists might have a chance to heal the mess left in palliative care. Oh joy!*

    • Worse than a lawyer: His CV is only half a page long!

      Having got his law degree he landed a job with the EPMU. There he sat until he was handed a list seat in parliament by his union backers. From there they used their block vote to muscle him into the leadership role.

      The bare facts:

      > He has twice lost an election in the constituency where he grew up, the second time by a larger margin than the first.

      > He has never held down a real job

      > He has never held a managerial or leadership role

      > He has never owned or operated a business

      > He has never worked or lived overseas

      Need I say more?

  13. I take Andrew Little to be a thoughtful man, and I have not expected much indication of his position in his first year. However, I will be both surprised and disappointed if he takes on the formulaic centrism that has been pushed by some Labour-affiliated people for too long, and to no good effect. Those who take an interest in politics now know that the neoliberal demand is austerity for the largely abandoned working-class (whether the word is used or not), asset sales and tax switches from income to consumption. Those who don’t take an interest in politics just know that they are screwed if they happen to be on the wrong side of the ledger. From that position representatives of the comfortable middle only look like gloating conquerors posing as friends. Moreover, the anger this generates prevents the so-called centre from establishing itself, as the past seven years here, and the support for Corbyn in Britain both show. Wherever Little ends up positioning himself, the form of centrism that has been so good for careers and so bad for many constituents no longer flies.

  14. *Sigh*

    That strategy of attempting to cling to the centre, and consequently denying one’s own fundamental principles is always going to end in failure. That is one reason why the majority of the rank-and-file Labour Party members elected Little over Robertson.

    Helen Clark did manage to do it, but at great cost, and many good people, myself included, refused to vote for her for that reason, which is one of the reasons why the Labour vote collapsed when many of the ‘centre’ voters deserted Labour and embraced a revitalised National under Key.

    Also, the kinds of policies that will be enacted by clinging to the centre are NOT what NZ desperately needs, and enacting those centrist policies will only lead to failure.

  15. What matters is enfranchising the poor. Those crowds of non-voters who are terrified to register for fear of being found by organisations chasing them for debts, unpaid fines, fees and misdemeanors. Those who can’t afford to live in one place long enought to register (or be informed of their rights). Those who live on the streets until found by religions who tell them only to vote for–and at this encounter they point “heavenward”. Those who are so busy chasing existence that they are cowering on election day–and losing their power.

  16. Rob Salmon seems to me to be a Machiavellian type person. Power for powers sake. I don’t really see a political compass, currently just going round in circles.

    Need to keep him on a short lease.

    • Rob Salmond believes in the Obama style campaign, and in the strategy to win over the middle ground, that is also happily consumerist minded, where the middle class with quarter acre sections and one to two car households, possibly running their own small business, feel comfortable and fit in.

      He simply accepts the media as it is, it seems, which has shifted towards commercialism and presenting ratings generating “sensationalised” and short itemised “news”.

      But by ignoring the power of the MSM, that still influences so many people, any person doing so leaves out a massive power, which is these days increasingly serving the elite in control of the status quo, and used to simply dumb down the wider public.

      Any person who wants to pursue progressive policy has to present a robust, at times agressive media campaign, to put out clear, convincing messages, and not let themselves by distracted or scared by the likes of Gower and Co.

      Andrew Little is Mr Cautious, and at times too much so, he needs to find a way to push a plan, a movement that is persuasive and convincing, and finds appeal by the majority.

      It seems a long way to get there yet.

  17. Not many friends if you consider 2 of his staff went to that charter school Examples like that it what frightens me about Little and co in power.

  18. Worse even than Labour absorbing Salmond’s political agnosticism and failing would be if Salmond actually found a way to make his dark side statistical ‘policy’ work like some kind of reanimated Mandelson. This would doom NZ’s left to a lack of political representation until some long overdue antipodean spring. It’s the first day of spring now, and the bitter Westerosian winter of Gnat governance failure has peaked.

  19. […] While Rob Salmond continues to bash activists for having ideas, the Labour Party remains on cruise control terrified they might spook the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind. I think there is little risk of that, with the Greens tip toeing around trying to be as quiet as field mice (the Shaw inspired  U-turn on their vote in favour of liquor licences for the RWC booze up shows how fractured they have become over his shock win), no one is spooking the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind these days. […]

  20. “Sadly, as we all know, his political “science” failed to fire..”

    Failed to fire? It didn’t just fail to fire, it backfired. Many people voted for National because their neighbours and/or peers were voting for National.

  21. “Sadly, as we all know, his political “science” failed to fire..”

    Failed to fire? It didn’t fail to fire, it backfired. One of the very reasons many people voted National.

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