The Boxer

By   /   July 14, 2017  /   34 Comments

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At this point in the electoral cycle, Bill English should be staggering across the ring like a bloodied, punch-drunk boxer desperate for the salvation of the fight’s final bell. Instead he’s still up on his toes and trading punches with an opposition that seems incapable of laying a single glove on his up-tilted prime-ministerial chin.

JUST OVER NINE WEEKS to go before New Zealand votes – and what a mess! The National-led Government is an administrative disaster in which demonstrable incompetence strives against refined political cruelty for mastery. At this point in the electoral cycle, Bill English should be staggering across the ring like a bloodied, punch-drunk boxer desperate for the salvation of the fight’s final bell. Instead he’s still up on his toes and trading punches with an opposition that seems incapable of laying a single glove on his up-tilted prime-ministerial chin.

Labour’s performance is especially woeful. Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern swing wildly and miss. That there are two other fighters in the ring with Labour should be imbuing the whole anti-government team with confidence. Except that, instead of taking turns to punch Bill English in the face, the Greens and NZ First are trading blows with each other. Hardly surprising, then, that Labour is losing focus!

This lack of focus, this weakness, lies at the heart of the Opposition’s difficulties. Labour should now be polling in the high 30s, with the Greens and NZ First struggling to stay above the 5 percent MMP threshold. Even when defeated by John Key in 2008, Helen Clark and Labour still managed to attract 34 percent of the Party Vote. The Greens were minor players, with a modest 6.7 percent, while NZ First, with just 4.7 percent support and no electorate seats, was driven out of Parliament altogether.

Labour’s repeated failure to produce a credible replacement for Clark has created a political vacuum into which both the Greens and NZ first have been only too happy to step. In doing so, however, they have contributed to the widespread public perception that the Opposition is a house divided, or, in the devastating visual language of the National Party’s 2014 campaign propaganda – a Ship of Fools.

The explanation for Labour’s failure is to be found in the arrogance and lack of imagination of its caucus. Though the party membership understood the need for a clear reaffirmation of Labour’s core principles, its MPs remained wedded to Clark’s cautious incrementalism. Without a Don Brash-like “defender of the faith” to re-energise Labour’s base and reassert its claim to leadership of the Left, the party’s share of the vote fell to 27 percent in 2011 and 25 percent in 2014. Four lacklustre leaders in nine years have not only sapped the morale of the party membership, they have also contributed to a pronounced loss of public confidence in the political competence of the Left as a whole.

As Labour has weakened, the Greens and NZ First have convinced themselves that the role of second party is theirs for the taking. In the case of NZ First, this is not an altogether fanciful ambition. Given the right set of circumstances: a cruel and incompetent National government; a fast declining Labour Party; an electorate looking to shake up the status quo; and it is possible to envisage Winston Peters breaking through. That the Greens will somehow exceed the 10-11 percent which, to date, has defined the outer limits of their support – that is much harder to see. Nonetheless, they will try. Labour’s failure being the precondition of their success.

So Bill English keeps dancing, jabbing and, occasionally, connecting. Watching him confront not one, but three, opponents, the punters may even start seeing the Prime Minister as the underdog in this fight. What should have been an execution – an act of euthanasia even – continues to be a contest.

And, so far, National isn’t losing.

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34 Comments

  1. e-clectic says:

    As much as it pains me to agree with Chris Trotter, he’s right.

  2. bert says:

    Maybe Little needs to start pulling a few ponytails, peeing in the shower, or a few exhibition boxing bouts. After all, this appears to be the only things that wins votes, Clearly now, policy doesn’t.

    Or the Media can start to follow the Labour trail and give equal opportunity to a profile as they do the government. If the media portrayed National like they do Labour, National would be gone yesterday.

    • KS says:

      Policy does win votes… that’s why Labour is losing. They are bereft of ideas and (non political) talent which scares the bejebes out of middle class voters who care about nothing more than a steady as she goes economy. Grant Robertson’s degree in political science and complete lack of real world work experience does not inspire voter confidence that he knows the first thing about running the economy – end of story. Any policy Labour does announce doesn’t stand up to more than 24hrs analysis before it collapses under scrutiny… roughly appears to be the same amount of time taken to develop it! I can’t think a single Labour policy that has potential to be an election winner – its depressing, we need strong opposition to this Government.

      • Sam Sam says:

        Dafaq? And I mean it. What the fuck?

        By definition anything man made can be unmade. It’s math,tai ally impossible to engineer anything that lasts for ever.

        Are there no humans in New Zealand? Does idiocy need explaining?

        Very problematic this narrative that only National-Berries can make money.

        Just fuck off

      • bert says:

        You lost me when you said “steady as she goes economy”

        My question to you is, who said? Bill English, Steven Joyce, John Key. This is the trouble with those that believe what they want to hear. There happy to accept National at face value but criticize when good policy is released. Your evidence…

        “Any policy Labour does announce doesn’t stand up to more than 24hrs analysis before it collapses under scrutiny… roughly appears to be the same amount of time taken to develop it!”

        Again, where’s your evidence? I could say National are the most corrupt government in our history and any policy they have created in the last 9 years has left millions without homes, living in cars, in poverty and millions behind,etc etc etc.

        Please explain why you believe it’s taken “roughly 24 hrs to develop policy” otherwise you appear to be trolling.

        And what do you know of Grant Robertson’s background or are you just bagging what you don’t know. Personal attacks on Labour M.P’s has always been the National way and quite clearly lacks any brain substance- end of story.

        Lastly, we don’t need strong opposition to Government, we need a change of Government. A Government that governs for “ALL” New Zealanders, not just investors.

  3. Poor Chris continues to call Labour Left, I think he even pretends to be left himself, Oh what a sad picture he presents…Mr twenty % English boxing on, flitting about on his toes…kissing arse here and there… I think Chris admires wee Bill after all both he and Bill are neoliberalists in drag.
    I hope the Greens continue to call out the NZ First racists. Chris is always wise after the event and I imagine this will apply this time around. Still, if you favour doom and gloom and don’t want people to vote just follow the advice of Chris and his middle of nothing approach.

    • countryboy says:

      In line with your thinking? I say poop sir. In line with the click bate tabloids and the micro focus that tech savvy iWahtsit brandishers might relate to I ask; are you a Machiavellian Confederate supplanted here to diffuse and confuse?
      Thinking that you are, already gives me an advantage over whether you are or not. I.e. I’m on high alert to your game buster. Your opinions on @ CS have all the a literary twisting and writhing of a snake with an itchy arsehole with a pencil stuck up it. The result is nothing worth reading but it gets the job done I suppose.
      Readers beware.

  4. WILD KATIPO says:

    … ” The explanation for Labour’s failure is to be found in the arrogance and lack of imagination of its caucus ” …

    And who in recent history were the big players in Labours caucus ?

    – Neo liberals.

    And that’s why there was need of a purge a long time back. There wasn’t. They continued pursuing a third way Blairite philosophy and constantly chasing their tails round with identity politics. Neo libaeral’s don’t / cant have imagination simply because everything they do is curtailed within the constraints of that ideology.

    And that turned the people off in droves.

    It is only recently that Labour under Little and before that Cunliffe had started making some timid squeaks that seemed vaguely like Keynesian based social democratic thinking .

    … ” Though the party membership understood the need for a clear reaffirmation of Labour’s core principles, its MPs remained wedded to Clark’s cautious incrementalism ” …

    And here’s where that purge needed to have taken place discreetly , yet didn’t because of fear , of having to admit they were wrong and that neo liberalism has been a colossal failure . They didn’t because they did not the public to see a party involved in internecine warfare. You will recall the ridiculous statement of Trevor Mallard about wanting to bring back Moa’s ” one small enough I can pat ”…

    That was done to undermine David Cunliffe and to label Keynesian economics and our former social democracy a ‘ dinosaur’ – right in the middle of a general election campaign.

    It was a vicious, calculated and subversive move on the part of Mallard to undermine Cunliffe and preserve his own comfortable neo liberal butt and those of his fellow subversives.

    Trevor Mallard is one of those that should have been purged from the Labour party years ago.

    These people would rather enable National to win rather than see change take place in the Labour party.They are quite happy to see fellow New Zealanders suffer year after year if it means they retain their well paid parliamentary salary’s. They are parasites of the first order.

    These are one and the same breed that in England – undermined Jeremy Corbyn , or at least attempted to. And we have more than our fair share in New Zealand. So we see now that it is not so much Labour per se’ ,… but rather the predominance of these neo liberal subversives that have wormed their way into caucus.

    And it is these that have held back the core Labour principles, it is these that the party membership want to see gone.

    The latest moves by Little regarding wages , the Living wage and other social policy’s are mild , admittedly , – but they represent quite a line in the sand and have the potential for great change , – the Living Wage to be first introduced to the public sector for example , – what this will do is force the private sector to follow suit, as there will be no justification for paying below the costs of living wages any more.

    This in turn will strengthen the hand of the Trade Unions to a degree.

    And this same effect can be applied to other areas, welfare for example. It will raise the weekly entitlements to keep in line with wages.

    We would all like rapid change now , but if we cannot have that , at least change by strategic increments is a good start. And while I would like to see the Greens and NZ First helping to form the incoming Labour govt , my vote will go to Labour this election. I want to know that I have contributed to getting Labour the numbers it needs to form that government.

    And that’s coming from someone who has not voted for Labour in 33 years because of Roger Douglas and Labours obstinacy in change. I think there’s changes afoot with Labour , and I want to support that process.

  5. Grant says:

    What you say has some truth and some romancing to it…
    Bill English has had plenty of blows landed on him…in fact he looked as sick as a dog and was pretty much out on his feet a week or so ago, only to be rescued by the ‘Blue Light ‘ bell who you can bet will not come up with anything conclusive about the Todd Barclay affair until after the election.
    He has also looked pretty sick when being questioned about the housing crisis that has been allowed to run rampant under his stewardship.
    His dithering illogical replies have highlighted the fact that he never thought it through properly in the first place and now has no answers.
    Then in rode a couple of Green Knights to put him back on his feet….
    However, this will only be temporary…
    There is so much to come out over the next 3 months about English and the National party that The Greens brain explosion will be will fade to a distant memory.
    National is an incompetent party in pretty much every portfolio….report after report confirms this….another one out today on Immigration was damning.
    Why are they still there? Many reasons and not all are Labour’s fault.
    They aren’t as bad as you make out …..yes they shafted Cunliffe….big mistake….but Little has picked up the pieces and done a sound job and deserves credit….They have some great people and are way better endowed intellectually than National will ever be.
    If Ardern lost the frowning angst and got more aggressive she could out argue anyone in the opposition….people just want to see the self belief . Being magnanimously palsy walsy with the opposition will not win a single vote off them…it just makes them look dominant.
    And there it is really …like Corbyn in the U.K and Sanders in the U.S showed , they genuinely intensely disliked the opposition and what they stood for …they absolutely hate the massive social divide exacerbated by neo -liberalism….they weren’t afraid to take on the media…
    Corbyn’s calm mastery of them was a joy to watch …. he could do it because he genuinely believed his own words.
    People desperately want to ‘feel the Burn’….they don’t want mediocrity…they want to see genuine passion!!!…..it’s time..

    • frank says:

      great counterpoints…and yes the Greens brain explosion will fade from consciousness (though it will remain within the subconscious and may well impact turnout)…but I fear time is against us for the genuine passion to be found (this time) and the appalling Nats will continue their destruction.
      It is hard to believe that a group so blatantly dishonest and inept could ever have lasted so long.

  6. Mike the Lefty says:

    Yes, Chris, if you believe the polls we have.
    The apparent ability of National to weather any storm is more about successful diversion and spin than anything else.
    National only “look” impregnable because they, and their corporate mates and their innumerable media supporters (who make up most of the NZ MSM), spin it that way.
    The Toddy Barclay affair, the casual threat to by-pass inconvenient laws, the appalling state of government health facilities….the list goes on.
    The polls do not reflect real NZ concern about the state of our country because the polls are carefully rigged, the people carefully selected and the questions weighted to produce an outcome that will always minimise the vital issues and produce a result that favours National with the intention of provoking apathy into government opponents.
    English has not yet been on the spot in front of his political opponents with none of his toadies around to bail him out.
    When that happens we shall see whether he has balls or not.
    Labour is actually playing it quite well, not announcing all your policies at once or too soon is a good tactic, especially for the opposition.
    Knockout blows more than two months away from voting will be forgotten about by then.

    • lloyd jordan says:

      FGS LISTEN TO YOURSELF, polls rigged questions rigged heads in sand blithering fools that fail to heed a potential disaster its almost ground hog day stuff.

      the fact is Cunliffe was knifed within days of being elected.. but the head in the sand brigade has denied the very existence of a neo dominated caucus and head office, he was left to wander the corridors of exclusion still with the mantel of leader only to protect the names and faces of the neo rapists, foolishly lashing out at Hone as a last ditch to claim any sort of election hope, thank you annette king another 3 years looks on the cards, wonder if your select band of knife experts may call on you in retirement to ride to the rescue of bright blue Labour

  7. Castro says:

    That’s what happens when the No Zealand government imports 1000 or more foreigners per week and gives them voting rights; it’s called neo-colonialism.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Or smart politics by an incumbent that wants to carry on the policy’s of the New Zealand Initiative , – the very people who gift National their donations and ideas ….

    • Iain Mclean says:

      Castro;

      1384.6/wk to be exact. (on 72,000/yr.)

      Cheers.

  8. Marc says:

    Kiwis are a joke, they do not seem to get much of what goes on in the world, and dream of some solutions that will not really solve anything at all. I was there:
    http://www.mopo.de/hamburg/g20/nach-g20-krawallnaechten-im-schanzenviertel-diese-konsequenzen-fordern-anwohner-27949154

    Hope for Greens, Labour, all so washed down and out, they do here stand for NOTHING much, but words and symbolic language, they have no clue, and are too weak a force to stand up against the tsunami of capitalist “investment” by mostly overseas vested interest holding parties.

    This country is screwed with what I see and hear go on.

  9. Spoon says:

    So true of the Left.

    But hopefully there will arise a social consciousness that will allow a Left leaning govt, heading to 2018..

  10. Marc says:

    Hamburg’s most elite Elbchaussee, similar to Remuera Road in Auckland, on fire:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek_TVMqGRgk

    Keep on pushing us, NZ admin and govt nazis, you may some time face the same.

  11. countryboy says:

    If Labour went up to the NZ Farmer and said; “ Look here Farmer, we need you to function at 100% because you earn our money so how about we get together on the MSM and discuss, in public and in a frank and forthright manner, how best to achieve that goal.
    How about a Bank for you for starters. Keep them greedy foreign bastards out. We could call it The New Zealand Farmers Bank and have a government ministry administrating the funds in a fair, transparent and equatable way? Then, we promote trade with our off-shore buyers, instead of cash for product exclusively. Then we involve you and your down stream service providers under a universal umbrella of protection and security because farming is, as anyone knows in farming, is a terrifyingly insecure business with huge financial over heads added to the vagaries of markets, weather, disease and pestilence.

    If Labour said that, and followed through on that, NZ farmers would be theirs, not Nationals. National court the farmer because Money, and Farmers aqueous because they have no one else to go to bat for them. And that’s quite obvious. It is, isn’t it? I mean, you cant deny any of the above.
    Which begs the question. Why hasn’t Labour thought of that? Farmers are NZ’s income earner so why hasn’t Labour gone in for a slice of that action?
    @ CT? Why have you not yet welded the need for Labour to steal away with farmer money and a rural economy in retreat under National Party domination? The Nat’s are an on-going travesty, a disaster to our income earning sector on all levels specifically and to NZ generally and no one here is debating that? The elephant! It’s right there by the TV.
    I mean, and not wanting to use the fuck word unnecessarily, what, the fucking, fuckety, fucking fuck is that the fuck about for fucks sake? It’s like we’re facing certain $-doom from a gargantuan rock slide looming down the mountain and you guys are worrying about what colour to paint the lounge of the first house in the way.
    It entirely bewilders me …
    Until I remember. Oh, yeah. Right. Swindle. $-billions gone. Assets re assigned, corporate criminal involvement in agrarian enterprises. Are they eager to capitalise on looming food shortages re Global Warming… ?
    No opposition political party’s brave enough to go rogue first and buck the status quo because it’d mean the end of the Great New Zealand Institutionalised Lie, the repercussions of which would be immeasurable.

  12. Marc says:

    I cannot believe the shit that goes on in NZ, we have the shit media spin things against Greens and Labour 24/7 and try and charm Winston First now, and all this crap. We have Greens, stupid, incompetent Metiria, and NZ First fight each other. And Labour rudderless.

    Where is the population taking a stand, have they any guts and principles, I wonder, where is the so much BS talked about silent majority, now apparently only interested in self protecting privileges?

    NZ seems to be a country with a population that has lost its moral compass, teach me wrong, please.

  13. Marc says:

    NZ have nothing of this quality, that is yet:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCe3XW49Sh4
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdvFxS6k_ZM

    Perhaps think, as you do not wish this upon yourselves.

  14. Louis says:

    The Boxer was brought to you direct from the propaganda department of the National party.

  15. Chris McMahon says:

    The Greens are shackled to a political corpse.

    Winston will have his term of tawdry glory.

    We will go into the next election more damaged than ever.