Who Will Be Fed Next To The Hungry Gods Of Politics?

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IS THAT IT? The resignation of the Labour Party President, Nigel Haworth, and the departure of the young man at the centre of the allegations currently engulfing the Labour Party? Is that the sum total of the axe-wielding? That, and the QC’s inquiry? Is nothing more being contemplated by the Prime Minister and Labour Leader? Will the hungry gods of politics be satisfied with such a meagre offering?

The thing about the hungry gods of politics is that they, unlike the mere mortals who populate the Press Gallery, see all. They look at the mess arising out of the Wellington Labour Party, and its diverse collection of players, and they see all the connections. To their ears are borne the names of every character participating in the drama. They cast their omniscient minds back, and mark every one of the faces that have already appeared on the stage. They recall their motivations; their towering ambitions; and they know. They know.

They know, for example, that had they not whispered in the ear of a depressed and demoralised Andrew Little, Labour would have collapsed to an unprecedented defeat in 2017. They know, also, that those whispers made it possible for Jacinda Ardern to step boldly into New Zealand political history.

When the hands of the political gods are on your shoulders, pushing you forward, there is very little on this earth that can stop you. Seeing how effortlessly Jacinda made her way to the Beehive’s ninth floor who can doubt it? Political commentators talk about Jacinda’s “stardust” – that mysterious quality which has lent so much lustre to her time in office. What they’re really talking about, of course, is magic. The magic she brings to the job. But, from whence does magic come – if not from the gods?

For every politician with cause to thank the gods, however, there are many more with reasons to curse them. Think of Grant Robertson. Think of how close he came to defeating Andrew Little in the leadership contest of 2014. Less than a single percentage point separated his vote from the successful candidate’s. So close. So close. But the gods of politics had other plans.

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Their eyes were on Robertson’s running mate, Jacinda Ardern. She had stood at his side: loyal and obliging, as she had ever been. The media dubbed this duo “Gracinda” – a sort of political “Brangelina”. The other young people who worked alongside Robertson were also ambitious for their hero. Even in defeat they stayed with him. Even as his running mate climbed, seemingly effortlessly, towards the Iron Throne of leadership, their faith in his star did not waver. There are thrones, yes, but there are also powers-behind-thrones.

While Jacinda’s stardust was dazzling the voters, Robertson continued to do what he had been doing for the best part of twenty years – creating a Labour Party in his own image. Young Labour was his special vehicle. They could be seen at party conferences: eager bearers of the Robertson message. And there they were again, in 2014, crowding around “Gracinda”, brandishing professionally-printed placards celebrating “A New Generation” of leadership. Political debts were being accumulated by the MP for Wellington Central; debts that would, one day, have to be repaid.

Meanwhile, the political gods were raising-up and casting-down Labour leaders with gay abandon. First the hapless Phil Goff. Then the luckless David Shearer. Followed by the doomed David Cunliffe. Robertson was a willing tool in the hands of these delinquent deities. Wielding their knives silently and invisibly: conscious always that with every leader that fell, his own chances of inheriting Labour’s crown rose.

So close. So close. Just one more member of caucus. Just 100 more trade union votes – and the leadership would have been his. It was not to be – at least, not yet. But if he could not be leader of the party he could become the arbiter of its policies. Finance spokesperson may have been Little’s consolation gift to Robertson – but it was one he would turn to good use.

Guided by the éminence grise of Labour’s “Third Way” conservatism, Sir Michael Cullen, Robertson bound Labour in fiscal chains so tight that, in the unlikely event of a Labour-led government being formed, it would lack all freedom of movement. No matter how luminous the promises of “transformation”, without the money to turn promises into reality, the person making them was bound to end up discredited. Perhaps, at that point, the gods of politics would relent?

To make their job easier, Robertson did all he could to fill the key posts of Labour’s parliamentary apparatus with people sympathetic to his ambitions. The same members of Team Robertson who had laid low Cunliffe and his supporters were now running not only the party – but the country.

At least, they thought they were running the country.

The ever loyal and dutiful Jacinda was Prime Minister, but her grip on the evolution and implementation of policy was weak. If an instinctive and powerfully empathetic response was required, Jacinda could be relied upon absolutely. What happened behind her throne, however, had become the responsibility of others.

It was then that the gods of politics decided to play their little joke.

Robertson and his allies are not laughing. Events occurring behind Jacinda’s throne have been thrust front and centre. They have ceased to be the responsibility of others and become hers. As scandals involving Young Labour and close Robertson allies have inflicted enormous damage upon both her own reputation and that of the party, Jacinda has had the chance to measure the full extent of the loyalty and dutifulness of her parliamentary and party comrades.

On her overseas travels, as she mulls over the future of her erstwhile running-mate and present Finance Minister, the Prime Minister may recall with a mixture of irony and regret the words of the Ancient Greek playwright, Euripides:

“Those whom the gods seek to destroy, they first make mad.”

 

58 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah sorry mate but no cigar for Labour from me. Next election I wont be wasting my time strolling down to the voting booth because I know whichever way I was to vote I’ll get much the same thing. Will they “boldly” get a second term? If they do I suspect it will be by the skin of their teeth and it will I probably have more to do with majority voter apathy or a case of “bad and worse” than genuine enthusiasm for this govt. Of which I have seen very little beyond sites like this one.

  2. Don’t agree with you sean people haven’t forgotten the 9 years of agony under national they will get another term but who will be the coalition i am hoping the greens get more party votes so they don’t need winstone then we will see what can be delivered at the moment NZ first have too much power. National will not win with soimon okay cause too many people can’t stomach him

    • Some people never learn. The last time that the Greens made mock of Simon Bridges, they had to apologise. Here we go again.
      Perhaps, being from the UK (West Country) and having a county hick accent, I am a bit sensitive about this, but you need to realise, Michelle, that an accent tells you something about where one is from, but nothing at all about where one is going. Just for the record my accent is rather like Alfred the Great’s (the only English leader ever to be call “Great”.
      As for Simon Bridges, worry about what he thinks and ignore how he says it.

    • You seem to have forgotten more voted for National than Labour so obviously the majority of those did not feel any agony.
      National do not vote for a party because of a leader they just do not like the way Labour wreak the economy .

      • @Trevor Sennitt You seem to have forgotten that more people did not want National back in power than did.

        You seem to have forgotten that even though National sold every income-earning asset that they could get away with, they still couldn’t manage to finance the public health system competently, consigning people to lives of anxiety and pain, and killing themselves.

        You seem to have forgotten that National engineered a housing crisis, including by selling state houses, then denied that there even was a crisis consigning people to living in cars, sheds,garages, park benches, cbd doorways, and under bridges.

        You seem to have forgotten that they gave tax cuts to the rich and said that poverty was a life style choice, including for those working two or three jobs.

        You seem to have forgotten the children of the poor going to school hungry and ill clad, and now experiencing third world health problems.

        You seem to have forgotten that everyday folk cannot afford to warm their houses in winter while power companies and lines companies reap obscene profits to make eg men in Hong Kong even richer.

        You seem to have forgotten a lot Trevor, just like PM Key who also had trouble remembering things.

        • See this what happens when you start to believe your own spin.

          Sorry refresh my memory, what profitable income earning assets did the NP sell off in their last term in office?

          Most of the state houses sold were to independant housing providers doing the same job, only better than HNZ. Most of the rest were sold to make way for high density state housing on the same land which Labour now claim as their housing success.

          There has been no reduction in homeless and a huge increase in waiting list for state housing under labour.

          Yes only an idiot would believe the proposed tax cuts were primarily targeted at the rich, the small % earning the same income that Labour targets as buyers for it’s ‘affordable’ KIWIBUILD housing and including most in the government pay trough.

          Xenophobic rhetoric. Finally something Labour can be relied upon in a crisis.

          Despite pouring billions into low income families, the statistics around poverty and the homeless get worse. Too many leftwing libertarians performing below their pay grade. Let’s get them all legally stoned. That should fix all our problems.

          • “Sorry refresh my memory, what profitable income earning assets did the NP sell off in their last term in office?”

            Several thousand houses, Jack. In fact, according to Housing NZ Annual reports from 2008 to 2017, there was a fall of 7,400 houses from HNZ. Other state assets such as Mighty River Power, Meridian, Air NZ, and Genesis Energy were part-privatised in 2013-14.

            ref: https://treasury.govt.nz/information-and-services/government-finances/assets/income-state-asset-sales-may-2014

            “Most of the state houses sold were to independant housing providers doing the same job, only better than HNZ. ”

            1. There is no evidence that “independent housing providers doing the same job, only better than HNZ”. That is an ideological position, and not sustained by any evidence.

            2. Many areas such as in Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt’s Epuni, Naenae and Taita suburbs lost state houses and were replaced by private housing developements. They were sold off to private developers who on-sold them privately. Hence 7,400 few state houses.

            “the statistics around poverty and the homeless get worse”

            Achieved during 30 years of neo-liberal “reforms” and nine years of National. Kind of revealing that, isn’t it, Jack?

            And the homeless stats are “worse” because National cancelled Categories “C” and “D” from the waiting list, pushing those families off. And into garages, cars, etc. At least the current government is making clear the true extent of the last decade of fudged figures.

            “Yes only an idiot would believe the proposed tax cuts were primarily targeted at the rich”.

            Really? Prepare to be disappointed then. Take note;

            “While higher income earners will benefit from the government slashing the top tax rate, there is a sting in the tail of the budget that will hit wealthy in the hip pocket beyond just an increase in GST, which is widely considered to adversely affect the less wealthy the most. Building depreciation tax deductions will no longer be allowed from next year, providing the building has a useful life of 50 years or more. This would include most rental houses and offices.”

            And;

            “Annual income and decrease:
            $50,000 = $1530 less
            $60,000 = $1830 less
            $70,000 = $2130 less
            $80,000 = $2630 less
            $90,000 = $3130 less
            $100,000 = $3630 less
            $110,000 = $4130 less
            $120,000 = $4630 less”

            So there you have it: those who earned the most, got more in tax cuts. Those earning less not only got less, they faced a rise in “GST, which is widely considered to adversely affect the less wealthy the most”. On top of which user-pays charges like prescription fees, etc, were increased.

            Who wrote those comments? That marxist-leninist periodical, the National Business Review.

            ref: https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/budget-2010-tax-reductions-detail-123294

            So you can cut your ACT propaganda crap, Mr Roberts. You’re embarrassing yourself if you think you can delude us after 30+ years of failed neo-liberal policies.

      • “You seem to have forgotten more voted for National than Labour so obviously the majority of those did not feel any agony.”

        Which, under MMP, is irrelevant, Trevor.

        You’re thinking of First Past the Post.

    • Labour will have trouble forming a Govt….NZ1st will get below 5% and out of parliament and the Greens will either scrape in or just fail (4.5 or 5.5%), Winston’s policy in an election year is to be the proverbial ‘lion on the hustings’ and he manages to get enough support to survive, but next year is a wee bit different as the only votes he can ‘steal’ are soft National ones, he will demonise the Greens to get their vote down and demonise National to try and get his vote up. It’s a coin toss whether both the minor parties make it in 2020, I’d rather see NZ1st in parliament than the bloody greens!

      • Lot of assumptions there. Lost count of the number of times people have written off NZFirst only for them to come back on election night. Wouldn’t put so much faith in opinion polls if i were you, but you have ignored the fact that its the National party that have no mates.

      • I’m right, try not to fret about Winston Peters losing.He won’t. Many regard Peters as an elder statesman. He is one of the best performers in Parliament. He straddles both the Maori and Pakeha world with consummate ease. He is better than many at articulating polarising issues like blaming Pakeha for historical Crown offences, and as such he can be seen as a peace maker. Blessed are the peace makers.

  3. No, we haven’t forgotten how socially destructive the National govt was. Right now, their obsession with sex is probably turning people off too.

    • Obsessed with sex?!!!!! WTF?!!! I suppose the cops who caught Joseph Thompson and the Parnell Panther were obsessed with sex too, were they Pip? Maybe anyone horrified at what Jules Mikus did to little Teresa Cormack is similarly obsessed?

      Is that you, Jacinda? Or Ghislane Maxwell?

      • The thing is Blair, that the noise and indignation concerning as yet nebulous – but possibly justified – complaints about LP staffers behaving in the same sort of way some of the Nats were, has not been matched with any similar sort of noise about some of the big issues facing some or all N Z’ers. Climate change is a good example. Seen any Nat ministers calling press conferences about climate change ?

        Press conferences about homelessness and a bit of mea culpa about that ? Nope.

        You must know that your examples are horrendously more extreme than anything that Paula Bennett has come up with, but Mrs Bridges said that Simon was a dirty little street fighter, and that does not auger at all well for a particularly clean or well informed election campaign.

    • Pip
      Here’s a slight edit to your ‘obsession with sex’ comment, which I think is a more accurate reflection of reality.

      “Right now, their (National’s) obsession with Labour Party sex, is turning people off Labour and sex”

      • Ocon – Been round the neighbours and we all agree that the likelihood of asking an assailant their political affiliation is not very high – except for the Act chappie.

        Mrs Ping says she keeps her purse on a chain – but didn’t say why except that she’s not interested in politics anyway. (That doesn’t mean she’s a communist spy.)

        The hairdresser guy with the motorbike says paying cash is $5 less than using eftpos. Gentle Annie says she’s never assaulted anybody but that she can’t say the same about the bloke over the back fence. That’s about it really.

      • @Ocon Former National MP Jami Lee Ross was accused of bullying and sexual harassment by several women. Former staffers say bullying is almost routine.

        Does this turn you off National and sex, Ocon ? According to your sort of “reasoning” it should.

        There was no need for you to take my initial comment,viz, ” Right now, their obsession with sex is probably turning people off too”, and to utilise it in a silly way. You did no ‘slight edit,’ you distorted.

        • As you did Pip in your original comment; that is distort.

          National was approached by several Labour female volunteer complainants, primarily about the process that Labour was using to investigate their complaints relating to sexual harassment et al. That process has been found wanting. So its process that is the issue Pip; not sex.

          And if you link all this back to Chris’s commentary, poor process may well claim more Labour Party scalps. Not because of anything National has said and done, but because of what Labour has not said and not done.

          So, not only have you distorted stuff Pip. You are also trying to divert attention away from the Labour Party and its shabby processes. Try owning whats going on within Labour Pip. That would be the authentic thing to do.

          • So you’re complaining about some process, a processes that is normally carried out by the police? Tbh you’ve had enough attention.

          • Ocon – As a humble (that’s distortion) little (another distortion)
            Green supporter (truth) I am greatly flattered (downright lie) that
            you think I have knowledge of labour party processes ( jargon word even irritatinglier (poetic license) than a Powerpoint presentation.

            You need to approach the appropriate people about this. I am not appropriate (distortion) and currently coping with a broken finger nail (prophesy) so you’d best see the QC with your tedious simplification of an issue affecting persons who matter much more than you do.

            Meanwhile try to avoid cultural appropriation (scalps) offensive to
            ethnic groups throughout the Pacific, Sthn Atlantic, and possibly the Horn of Africa and, if possible, avoid confusing process with people, and derangements of epithets.

            A bientot.

  4. Would the PM dispose of her Finance Minister though?….the optics would be terrible…and whom would replace?…Parker?…not sure he wants the job (IIRC)

  5. Don’t forget the Greens happily signed up to the fiscal stability pact. No refuge for the disillusioned there. There is so much that needs to be unwound after nine years of the Nats. Lets hope the NZTA clean out is a start of the year of action. But hopefully no more assaults on the working poor in the regions by directing migration there.

  6. There will be some strategic voting on the left from which the 2 minor parties will benefit. Hoping that they will be gifted a seat each like the Nats do with Act. Time will tell.

  7. Whilst John Key was busy pursuing pony-tails on especially young human females there was hardly a quiver of concern from the mainstream(or should I really call it the MAN-STREAM) NZ media. Not a quiver that he(Key)was actually sexually harassing females especially in their very workplaces where they thought they would be safe. And not a quiver of concern about his sexual deviant behaviour by one Paula Bennett.

    Out of all this and the almost OCD by the mainstream NZ media on a subject they held taboo during the National government years eg the Muldoon years in particular; has resulted in me no longer bothering to take the mainstream NZ media, who have now confirmed to me and probably many others as to how deep into the NZ National Party pocket they truly are. they do not merit any reading let alone listening to.

    We were constantly fooled in the past by the previous National government telling all and sundry that NZ was in a ‘Rockstar’ economy. All that turned out to be Fake News(using one of Donald Trump’s pet sayings).

    And so now whilst the lowlifes of say Paula Bennett are pretending to be the champion of the common person we need to remember her treatment of beneficiaries that she deemed ‘lowlifes’ because they criticised her precious National government of the day. But there was once a time I believe that when she too was a beneficiary Paula Bennett criticised a National government. Seems the woman(Bennett)is expert at manipulation when it suits her. Hardly meritable for votes when all things considered though.

    I will still be voting Labour at the next election because National do not hold any credibility in my opinion.

    • Justme – Although Paula Bennett seems to try to do all the cross-party sex stuff, I think that the Women’s Affairs Minister may have been somebody else – Louise Someone or rather – when Key was harassing that poor waitress; I seem to remember her being asked for a comment and not making one.

      And just as well too, as God only knows what direction Bennett could have headed in, and even then that lass was subject to some sort of phoney interview for not being comfortable with a rich and powerful man seeing her as just a bit of fun.

      There was no mileage for MSM or Nat women in taking a stand on behalf of Key’s victim.

  8. Good telling of the story. I joined to vote for Cunliffe’s vision and stayed to vote for Little. Not sad I helped defeat those Wellington lightweights. All cream and icing and no willingness for labour. This is the time for the strongest govt of the people, not this silliness shadowed by the neuroses of the Clark govt. Labour is traditionally about an insight into reality, why National with their pragmatics had two thirds of govt. Hence the last lost 9 years. Modern Labour and their focus groups.

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