The Left’s Lost Allies

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LET’S BE HONEST, last Saturday’s Advance NZ rally in Aotea Square was bloody impressive. If the Left had turned out a crowd that large they would have claimed at least 5,000 participants. Now, the last time I remember seeing that sort of number in the Square was when the CTU summoned its affiliates in support of a concerted national push for higher wages. It was a very well organised affair, with workers bussed-in from all over Auckland. By contrast, Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika turned out 5,000+ of their people on the strength of not much more than a summons via Facebook and Instagram. It is now vitally important for the Left to understand what it is looking at: a large and potentially dangerous mass movement of the Right.

Such a thing has not been seen in New Zealand for a very long time. Perhaps the closest historical parallel is “Rob’s Mob”. This, too, was a populist phenomenon, whipped-up on the basis of lies and misinformation by an accomplished political demagogue. The huge difference, of course, is that “Rob’s Mob” was under the firm control and direction of the National Party and its leader, Robert Muldoon. It was a movement created out of whole cloth to challenge the Labour Party’s confident assumption that it remained the party of the people.

With the able assistance of the privately-owned news media – especially the right-wing tabloid “Truth” – conservative working-class voters were encouraged to look upon “Rob” Muldoon as their champion against the pointy-headed intellectuals and communists who were accused of taking-over the Labour Party. The result was a neat anticipation, in reverse, of what has happened with Jacinda. A substantial chunk of working-class voters were drawn across the political divide and into the camp of their traditional enemy. National mustered these defectors with the skill of a heading-dog. The crowds turning-out to Muldoon’s rallies numbered in the thousands. New Zealand had its own Trump when the man himself was still working for his dad!

What we’re looking at in the case of Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, however, is something quite distinct, ideologically and organisationally, from Rob’s Mob. Advance NZ and the Public Party are not under the control of any coherent political group. They are being mobilised by Te Kahika only in the sense that he is drawing together the loose threads of far-Right conspiracism – most them traceable back to Alt-Right social media platforms in the United States – and weaving them into a more-or-less coherent narrative of resistance to Jacinda Ardern’s government.

Once again, the historical parallels are uncanny. In 1974-75, the National Party was offered assistance (at whose instigation remains unclear) from Hanna Barbera – a studio dedicated to producing animated cartoon series for American television. The resulting animated sequences, cleverly embedded in National’s television advertising, burst upon the 1975 election campaign like a thunderclap. Their impact, especially the infamous “Dancing Cossacks” sequence, was devastating. Labour had nothing even remotely comparable with which to answer National’s devastating attack.

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Forty-five years later, skilfully constructed media messages are, once again, making a forceful impression on the consciousness of groups who, historically, have identified strongly with the Labour Party. Sourced from the United States, these messages are not, like Hanna Barbera’s cartoons, the product of a shadowy collaboration between the National Party and American “friends” with a mutual interest in ridding New Zealand of a radical social-democratic government. Indeed, it is precisely against such “Deep State” machinations that the political messages of 2020 are directed.

The authors and repeaters of these conspiracy theories have no more interest in restoring the conventional Right to power than keeping the conventional Left in office. Their purpose is to disrupt the status-quo fundamentally: to bring the whole rotten edifice of elite power crashing down upon the heads of its corrupt political mis-leaders. Their loyalty is only to the Disrupter-in-Chief in the White House. But if, by helping Trump, they can also assist his New Zealand imitators and disciples, then where’s the harm?

Overlaying all these hymns of fear and loathing is, of course, the global Covid-19 Pandemic. Without the Pandemic, the febrile environment in which conspiracy theories can take root and thrive would – at least in New Zealand’s case – be lacking.

Interestingly, the formation of “Rob’s Mob”, and the populist campaign (National’s slogan in 1975 was “New Zealand the way YOU want it.”) which they did so much to propel forward, was enormously assisted by the fear and uncertainty created by the 1973 Oil Crisis. Massive increases in the price of crude oil had destabilised the hitherto booming economies of the Western powers. Ordinary people sensed that the whole post-war era of security and prosperity was coming to an end. Muldoon played upon these anxieties “like a piano”.

Now, many on the left will argue that Advance NZ’s 5,000 protesters pale into insignificance when compared to the 30,000 people who turned out against the TPPA, or the 50,000 who protested against the global lack of progress against Climate Change. This is true. Also true, however, is that a large number of the Maori who took part in the TPPA protest, seeing the free-trade agreement as yet another attempt to steal away of their power, were also at Saturday’s protest. Likewise, many of those who joined the climate change protests out of frustration at the lack of action from a prime minister who had promised to make the issue her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”. After so many broken promises – so many betrayals – it takes surprisingly little to convince people that the powers-that-be cannot be trusted. That all politicians lie.

The truly frightening thing about Jami-Lee Ross’s and Billy Te Kahika’s success in persuading thousands of New Zealanders that Covid-19 is just another trick, just another way of stealing away their power, is realising just how many of them once marched at the Left’s side. Before recoiling in horror at where so many of their fellow citizens have ended up, and what they have found there, perhaps “progressive” New Zealanders should ask themselves how, and why, their former allies became so lost.

42 COMMENTS

    • And this is the attitude that will keep the 5000 running into the welcoming arms of Billy Te Kahika. These people know that something isn’t right with the world and we should be saying yes we agree with you on that but we can explain it better and we know what to do about it.

      It is the left, after all, that bought in the welfare state, state housing and free health care, just to name a few things.

      Basically there is a class system here that no one wants to talk about . The political left has been taken over by pointy headed academics and this blog (judging by the articles and the comments) is a place for well educated people who clearly don’t like lower class people are openly dismissive of Billy’s followers who are doing nothing more than following someone who puts their concerns into words.

      The left has had years to sort this out but can’t even do a basic class analysis on itself. Basically we lost this long ago and the more we fight it the more we will give the power to Billy.

      • Back to reality. Billy and his cohort JLR( who’m is still to face electoral fraud charges) won’t be there post election. Then prey tell will Billy’s “followers” turn too? JLR realising Botany is a losing cause has aligned himself with someone who clearly has drunk too much Cool aid. And as Forest Gump once said “and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

        • Totally agree. They’ll struggle to make 2% on a good day. TOP with actually policy didn’t get anywhere enough, and Internet Mana, well with all its noise again didn’t get close.

          Yes there are fringe conspiracy nut jobs out there, but not enough to gain parliament. This is why the MMP threshold need to remain as is.

      • Great comment @Aaron – sums things up perfectly. Nearly 63 million Americans voted for Trump and they get dismissed in the same manner. The emergence of Trump, Brexit, Billy TK etc are symptoms of the many problems in out society – they are not the problem itself. We keep continuing to dismiss these symptoms and ignore the problems at our peril.

  1. Aye , but this is why I once compared you to the ‘man in black’,…Johnny Cash , and I still do. I picked you as someone with a christian influence somewhere’s from a mile away. I love the fact that you rarely if ever blaspheme, You are very respectful. I like and admire that.

    ———————————————-
    CHRIS TROTTER September 11, 2020 at 11:04 am
    Well said, Curwen.

    My Christian upbringing counsels me to forgive, but reading about the phenomenal amount of money ($1.8 million!) extracted from the 332 members of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church’s congregation (in just one year!) I am reminded of Jesus driving the money-changers out of the Temple with the words: “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves”.

    Sometimes, even the Prince of Peace must wield a sword.
    ———————————-
    Politics aside, … there is hefty weight in eternal judgement. Jesus didn’t make light if that fact. Yet there is still hope if NDE are to be believed. I believe it to be so, such is the Son of Gods desire for ALL to be saved. From Amazon Indian to English Lord. The Bible is written so even a child can understand it.
    ——————————————
    Worldly Wisdom
    Let no one deceive himself. If any of you thinks he is wise in this age, he should become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” And again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”…
    Berean Study Bible
    —————————————–

    Now, to the subject at hand,… I don’t think that Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika have ‘bussed in’ a greater amount than the CTU, and I don’t think you can compare them to ‘Robs mob’. The conditions are entirely different. For a start you have a global pandemic. It would behoove us all to read of the social and economic changes that the Black Death induced in Europe, what we are seeing is but a small sample of those pandemic changes. Political agitators who are bound to come out of the woodwork. And we are far better off than medieval Europe I assure you. I would bring to your memory the Flagellants if you want an example of how far we have progressed.

    Let me remind you also of the ‘positive’ / negative sides of the deaths of millions during the Black Death, – the liberation of millions of serfs into a society that created a new educated middle class that ushered in the era of the Renaissance,…and the destruction of the old system of Lords and serfdom…covid19 is but a smatter of death dealing virology compared to the bacillus Yersinia Pestis.

    We would all like to think that we are beyond and past that stage, – but are we really?

    Neo liberalism do I hear you cry?

    And what have I heard we are to answer it with to date?

    Not a lot.

    I say let Billy TK AND Jamie lee Ross take their stands,… just because they go beyond the officially accepted explanation of Covid19 doesn’t mean to say they are any less wrong or right / misguided or opportunist than any other politician that isn’t an expert in microbiology or epidemiology. They are all mere talking heads, opportunists and B.S artists themselves. All they are doing is commenting on the social fall out and the effects of this virus. Just like any other politician. So let them speak.

    So C’mon , Chris,… get back to reality. To who you really are in like kind for so, so many of us. You represent the same as Johnny Cash. You are the ‘Man in Black’ of NZ.

    Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues – Live at San Quentin
    https://youtu.be/wG0fS4DoGUc?t=24

  2. Marching on the streets doesn’t mean things change, look at the numerous anti TPP turnouts, and end result was that Labour still signed it!
    Which isn’t a bad thing, means Jane Kelsey was made irrelevant and quietened. Win/win!

    • But the TPP wasn’t signed, the new CCTPP was. Many differences include…
      Businesses cannot sue a Government for investment contract breaches.
      Financial Sevices claims reduced.

      So in fact, things did change and Jane was right.
      Win/Win

  3. “bloody impressive” must be a euphemism for diabolical, ignorant selfish logic and dangerous conduct of the brainwashed by the politically desperate.

    I’m not surprised that so many people have been brainwashed and hoodwinked by people proficient at communicating who specialize in wrapping up copious amounts of blatant lies and dangerous misinformation with a tiny bit of truth to make it not only appear credible but factual.

    Look what Jim Jones was able to “achieve” using the exact same method.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zI9ub9AgF0

    There is a chasm in NZ Politics just waiting to be exploited by the highly motivated shitheels who have no other route to gain political traction. To describe them as desperate vested interest would be an enormous understatement. Their target are the gullible and naive out there that don’t believe the main political parties represent them / their views and their wants.

    These protests are nauseating to witness and deeply disappointing. They are the epitome of selfishness and ignorance. The wankers organizing protests during a highly dangerous pandemic are an embarrassment to NZ and should be charged with treason. While the rest of NZ make sacrifices for the greater good these selfish pricks march up Queen Street shoulder to shoulder observing no social distancing and wearing no face masks. It’s fucking outrageous and makes a complete mockery of the efforts being made to combat the virus that is killing so many around the world in diabolical circumstances. It’s bad enough to have the despicable Collins attempting to dangerously undermine NZ’s response to the pandemic for political gain but these protesters and their organizers take it to a whole new level. Kiwis should be bloody angry at those involved and demand the Police uphold the law and charge every last one of these pricks.

    Anyone who describes their actions as “bloody impressive” is not seeing the same picture I’m viewing.

    • i’d say the anti-CGT fucks like Mr. Trotter are the epitome of selfishness… those with higher literacy who should know better should not be such cunts… or they will go down before a demagogue’s mob at some point…

  4. It strikes me that the Advance NZ movement thrive on ignorance and superstition as their gateways to power.
    Not really a lot different from the philosophy of one Donald J. Trump.
    Just imagine if these elementary penguins actually got hold of power??
    Witch hunting would come back into fashion.
    Ughhhhh!

  5. Yes Chris ‘the power of the digital media and now the privately owned media’ are both a sword in the back of any current government when used right as you point out.

    Actually the private media in the end during the late 1970’s turned against Rob Muldoon because he was seen as to egalitarian as he pushed the banks to comply with his request to lower interest rates then, do you recall that?

    I know some of those supporting the demonstration are actually good average people in our circle and have weeks ago invited us to join that movement but we declined because it was supporting the overthrow of Labour for reasons of the restrictions placed on their lives, and we saw that the group didn’t consider the climate change and environmental issues that we care strongly about as former Green Party members but switched to vote for Labour/NZF now.

    Labour must remember to not offend the older people in our society because a good number of those are “Boomers” so Labour will now be forced to consider the boomers finally as they are allies of the current Government but may switch if they feel they are loosing to much under Jacinda..

  6. And if anyone thinks I don’t agree with Trotters thoughts on another one of his articles, ‘Driving Out The Money-Changers of Reactionary Christianity’ well I do,… as Billy Graham once said . ” I don’t defend the church”. The church under its unbelieving political opportunists has done much to try to discredit the church , hiding as they did behind liturgy for political gain. From the slaughter of millions , to the economic rape of nations, they are guilty.

    But mark my words,… NONE of them were true Christians.

    Here you go , from a southern ‘confederate’ band no less.

    Says it all.

    Rebel Son – From a Mile Away
    https://youtu.be/B24HZ50Pngk?list=PLnLPw-F5_XyKaUDw_eWxrTxptWcZb9NXJ&t=24

  7. Unfortunately, betrayal has been the byword of politics for a generation, and politicians are seen to be self-serving liars. Professional liars in fact. The better you lie, the better your chances of success in politics. Just look at Tony B Liar or Shonkey.

    So, with just one success under her belt -the dealing with the Covid-19 crisis in a better-than-average manner- and not much else, Jacinda seeks a second term in which to sit on her hands and do little, or in the case of the environment, make matters much worse faster.

    The ‘get Air NZ running again’ and ‘complete roading infrastructure’ narratives, along with unstinting support for elitist yachting and corporatised sport, tell us exactly what Jacinda’s priorities are. Providing her own progeny with a livable habitat is so far down the list it’s invisible.

    The only advantage Jacinda Adern has in the coming election is that all the other major parties offer worse policies than Labour, and the minor parties won’t even be allowed to present their cases by the BAU corporate-controlled media.

    There is the great irony. The funnelling of voters into the ‘correct’ channels by the corporate media and the failure to provide opportunity for small parties with air time negates the opportunity to expose these ‘nutters’ for what they are via rational discussion and questioning.

    But then when did the media ever indulge in rational, insightful discussion and deep questioning? If it ever happened its so far in the distant past I cannot recall it.

    So, the carnival continues, and upwards of a million potential voters remain utterly turned off by it all.

    I had the opportunity to meet and question the leader of an upstart party last week. To do so would have involved travelling about 1km from my home. I didn’t bother because it was clear that it would have achieved nothing: these people are grossly uniformed/demented. But they do have masses of money to throw away via huge billboard campaigns around the district.

    Anyway, judging by what is happening overseas, it will all be ‘all over’ by Christmas….the economy, that is.

    The environment will continue to collapse at an accelerating rate over the coming decades, of course.

    I see that America -or what’s left of it after Trump accelerated the demolition instigated by Reagan and Clinton, and continued by Bush and Obama- is in for another New-Orleans-devastating hurricane, even as California and Oregon go up in flames. And debts and deficits are rapidly reaching the uncontrollable level as the core economy implodes.

    Interesting times.

  8. Not all that glitters is a tinfoil hat.
    The malicious undermining of our Covid response has been a tactic of the National Party this year.
    Participation in that event was open to all. Whether they were all disciples of Advance NZ’s cynical lunacy is doubtful.

  9. Even among each other it is clear that Jamie Lee Ross desires power among all else, even power for the sack of power. Despite coming from the National Party Jamie is pushing Billy T.K. to do more for the political state of New Zealand.

    It’s here where we witness those protesters become extremely jealous of those wealthier and more accomplished than themselves. Because of this the traditional left is seen as weak and useless. The protesters desire not only power over themselves but political power over everyone.

    Within themselves, protesters coursing with rightwing amphetamines in their veins could never be satisfied being surrounded by people who do not share their own goals and this is where Jamie Lee Ross has discovered power not only of himself but that of others simply because he believes it is his right to do so.

    It is the belief of the strong that it is there right to govern and rule over the weak. That is rightwing amphetamines (do you feel it? People tap into it all the time). Following these rightwing amphetamines completely dominate young people’s lives. So glorious is this power only the strongest can ever hope to wield such power.

    Equality is a lie. Simply look around and you will see the masses for what it is. There are those with power, those with the strength to lead, and those who are meant to follow, those are the ones meant for servitude in a worthless meagre existence.

    Upon delving me into the secretes of right-wing history as more than anything we to desire more than anything, power, over rightwing amphetamines. More than anything we desire power, just like the right does. Through his studies Jamie Lee study’s only rightwing texts as he believes himself superior over all his pairs. It is written on his face. He only lacked one thing, a party of his own to truly become a political leader.

    Rightwing amphetamines are to powerful to be defeated by those as weak as the woke. Disregarded also are claims that those who partake in rightwing amphetamines are evil beings. Evil is a word used by the ignorant and weak. Rightwing amphetamines is about power, it glorifies strength of the individual. Eventually the exploits of the strong will be granted its dark wish for a Political Party.

  10. The pandemic did this. And there’ll be more pandemics.

    The Ardern govt’s failure to prioritise climate change was an easy gamble to take when ordinary people can’t see climate change happening. Coronavirus impacted all of us, we had to drastically change our behaviour. There was no question of doing otherwise when the deliberately run-down health service would have been, and still is, unable to cope with a virus being allowed to become widespread.

    I found lockdown hard and it’s effects are probably being exploited right now, God knows for what purpose. Ross is just an odious creep, I was shocked at his whimpy mediocrity on RNZ this morning – and his ignorance on sovereignty issues, but I suppose he could have been dumbing down for the RNZ audience.Billy T K is unknown to me, but obviously not to others.

    Pandemics and climate change will now be interlinked, Ross’s hopeless floundering to confine current scenarios to a trade with China issue, irrelevant. Both of them may well be being manipulated themselves, and the issue may be whether this is the breakdown of society which climate change will bring.

    Obviously I’m disappointed at the govt’s inertia re climate change, but other big things have been happening, but, the unexpected will continue to happen, and at the moment the best hope is that things settle post election, and there are not masses of unemployed disadvantaged persons ripe for exploitation. Labour were too myopic with their narrow little budget announcement, and if that was self-preservation, it better be leading somewhere better…

    • Good depiction Snow white – I enjoyed reading it, as the issue of ‘secret agendas’ is a strong argument in these times when even the worst liar on the political scene ‘Judith Collins’ pleaded to us in her first political AD something resembling “trust me as I want to be honest here” statement right at the beginning of her AD; – and that was a bold lie right there.
      Why vote for a lie?

  11. Chris
    You say, perhaps progressive New Zealanders should ask themselves how, and why, their former allies became so lost.
    Look at this morning’s headline.
    Ashley says CV19 came through the border…Jacinda is already busy spinning it so it doesn’t reflect on her. Is she now the expert?
    I think folks are seeing through her and Labour. It all spin and bullshit and treating us like idiots. One giant spin machine!
    Fastest way to lose your allies.
    We want an honest and transparent govt. Funny that…I heard that somewhere….

    • Mr Munster,

      Do you ever get tired…..of just being you?

      Ardern is not spinning. There has been no proof that the latest Covid came through at the border. Had there been proof she would have been the first to put her hand up and own it but clearly, you haven’t been paying attention. This Government owns any errors they make and immediately put a plan in place to remedy the situation. There is conclusive evidence of that. That is very unlike the previous bunch of divisive and arrogant arseholes who’s M.O was to display complete indifference, deny and not recall. Why would anyone concede the virus came through the border when there is no proof of that? What else would you like Ardern to concede with absolutely no proof ? Human life on Mars and Pluto ? That aside, there is already way more than enough eggspurts in the National Party and with their trolls that have already held their kangaroo court, charged Ardern and found her guilty of “shambolic blunders at the border”……..no proof required. All the while completely overlooking their own previous adamant aggspurt advice that NZ should not handle the pandemic their way….they should just follow what Australia do…..nek minute.

      If National had been at the wheel when Covid hit, the death toll here would be in the thousands but hey, all that matters is business right?

      You ask sarcastically if Ardern is now an expert on Covid. Stupid ignorant question. Ardern is clearly an extremely intelligent person. Only fuckwits drowning in bitter political bias ca’t and won’t see that. She’s been dealing with facts all day every day about Covid since the virus became a threat. The people she deals with are experts in their field. When you need to make decisions about the health, food on the table and even the very survival of the NZ population, you learn quickly. Ardern’s handling of the pandemic deservedly received received 93% approval from New Zealanders and widespread praise around the world. The only people who disagree just happen to be vested interest shitheels who’s only path into Government is to relentlessly undermine Ardern. How ironic that you would be in that corner.

      As for political allies. Who could blame anyone for being cynical toward the very concept. National despise NZF but would sell their grandmother and their own children to go into coalition with them if that was the only pathway into Government. NZF has shown they are happy to shit on anyone if there’s votes in it.

      What happened to allies of National at the previous election? The Maori Party were sent to Coventry and United Future threw in the towel before election day when they learned the drubbing they were in line for. ACT and National appear as potential coalition partners but both will happily shit on each other when it suits and then suck each others tit when it suits. Same applies with National toward the Greens. Bottom line is propping up National is a death sentence for any smaller party. NZF being dead in the water has fuck all to do with Labour. To find the real problem for NZF, all they need is a mirror and to use it. This Government will always have friends but some friends you’re better off not having.

      Have a day off from being you Herman. You may just enjoy the change. I’m certain your family will.

  12. Not 5000 according to one FB contributor who line by lined a photo of the crowd taken from rear view, not a cropped side shot as Chris has used.

    “Several thousand? More like 1,350 people if you are generous with estimating the people on the sides of this shot. I have put in red lines to mark 20 rows …see how numbers thinned out in the foreground ( 7 rows total 160 people ) then 13 rows of about 50 people each = 650 people. I added 250 more around the tent near Queen Street. Then I said 300 more people on the sides–out of shot. You be the judge.”
    –Gerard Otto.

    Regardless, it is obvious that there are many thousands of alienated, disenfranchised, oppressed, and exploited out there looking for answers on the basics of life. 35 years of neo liberal Parliamentary consensus is not the answer for them–or me!

  13. Meh.
    I think debating ‘left’ versus ‘right’ is a false narrative.
    The debate is between human, human beings and inhuman, human beings.
    The human beings who enthusiastically embrace the concept of being inhuman will be so and that is indeed what we get from them. Inhuman behaviour and true to form for the inhuman they really, really like being inhuman because it rewards their narcissistic egotism and you will see them come here and brag about how joyously inhuman they indeed enjoy being and can’t wait to get back to being inhuman. Just watch trump? He’s a brilliant and supportive argument for my opinions in that regard. He’s even gone to the trouble of painting himself orange and sports a gig red tie, such is his entirely unshakable belief in himself and his inhuman actions and opinions.
    The collective national party are a bold and unapologetic cadre of psychopathic narcissists who greatly enjoy creating mayhem within what should be a safe, prosperous and egalitarian AO/NZ society but it was THEY who deliberately wrecked it for the frissons that orbit their penises and vaginas.
    When I look into judith collins’s eyes I see dead people. When I look into billy tk and and be-suited zombie jamie-lee-ross’s eyes I see greed and a lust for power and if judith collin’s dead people is the price to be paid then so be it.
    AO/NZ’s politics are a mishmash of cluster fucks, a tangle of lies, half lies, truisms, abstract logical fallacies and all spouted out by bullies, liars, thieves and crooks. It’s therefore little wonder that a hoard of village people are meandering behind the village idiots hoping to fuck things will, by some miracle, turn out to be ok.
    I’d strongly suggest we wait until we can look back on the three years approaching… and if nothing’s changed and we the people are still be treated like fucking morons I think we the people should veer off and try a very, very different tack. Something novel? Something new and different? Something like making our politicians listen to the humans of us for a change?

    • Good on Stuff for investigation the right wing “journalists here as tey need to get real and focus on climate change not “gotcha” politics against just labour and not National and why is our public owned radio NZ a National Party media network now?????? That must be changed.
      https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018763930/the-goodies-and-baddies-of-the-1pm-covid-presser
      RNZ
      MEDIA
      5:00 am today
      The goodies and baddies of the 1pm covid presser
      From The Detail, 5:00 am today
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      Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield talk to media during a Covid-19 coronavirus briefing on 6 May, 2020. Photo: Pool / NZME
      The daily reality TV show that is the 1pm Beehive news conference has turned the spotlight on the journalists covering it, with critics calling them hectoring and aggressive.
      But Stuff political journalist Thomas Coughlan tells The Detail’s Sharon Brettkelly we live in a free-thinking democracy and we need to hold our politicians to account.
      “There are questions that politicians don’t like to be asked, let alone being forced to answer – that’s probably where the shoutiness comes from,” he says.
      The routine has been the same nearly every day for 25 weeks; at 1pm the Prime Minister – or another politician – steps up to the platform with, usually, the Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
      “It’s this very dark, poorly lit room in the bottom of the Beehive,” Coughlan says.
      “I actually find it quite a tiring place to be, the atmosphere is so draining it has this soporific quality to it.”
      But as soon as the microphones are “hot” and live streaming begins the atmosphere changes.
      Coughlan describes to The Detail the moment the journalists arrive in the theatrette and set up their microphones, the sounds of the hand sanitiser machine that herald the arrival of Ardern and Bloomfield, and what happens when the Prime Minister says she’s “happy to take questions”.
      And it is those questions and the behaviour of the journalists asking them that are under fire.
      Documentary maker Robyn Paterson says the press gallery journalists risk undermining their own validity with their aggressive, relentlessly repetitive questions. In her recent opinion piece on Newsroom.co.nz she asks if their approach threatens to “derail the nation’s co-operation at a time when it is most needed”.
      “I think it’s that fine line isn’t it, between what is scrutiny and then flips into ‘gotcha’ or what some would call harassment,” she says.
      From Coughlan’s perspective the criticism came from nowhere, and the questioning is no different to any other press conference with the Prime Minister or other politicians – except it goes out live to the public.
      From the first Covid press conference, he says, “what was going on was obviously extraordinary and unprecedented. The way that the questions were being asked and the way that the gallery was conducting itself was really quite normal.
      “In those 1pm press conferences there really is no material difference from a post-Cabinet press conference or a stand up with the opposition; it doesn’t feel any different.
      “The criticism seemed to come from nowhere because this really is the way it’s always been and actually no one has had an issue with it in the past because I don’t think anyone’s been watching.”
      He says people are “choosing not to understand” the repetitive questioning.
      “Politicians won’t voluntarily surrender the whole truth. As a journalist you have to repetitively question and when a question is repeated it is refined each time … in such a way that it becomes a closed ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.”
      Coughlan says transcripts from the press conference show that a lot of the questions are not answered and repeat questioning is a way of forcing the politician into giving an actual answer.
      But Paterson says journalists need to be mindful of the public needs.
      “I really feel that at times that hasn’t been taken into account. What do the public need? What we are facing at the moment is a particularly tricky disaster because it’s a long term disaster and it’s ongoing … and a public health response requires widespread and continued public buy-in.”

    • I agree with you Diane about the bold socially responsible policy of UBI. Labour already did something similar to UBI with the Covid payment for those who lost their jobs because of Covid. And it was more than the benefit, so the precedent was set. The sky didn’t fall on ‘Chicken-Little’s’ head when Labour paid a form of UBI to Covid-unemployed.

      But socialism is an anathema to capitalists. No wonder there are forces of darkness, Sauron, neo-liberalism and Dirty Politics amassing axis of evil allies to the spreading of disinformation, distributing tin-foil hats.

      World society has changed and machines and corporations have taken over from ordinary people being gainfully employed.

      Have you seen what Bezos’s income is? I tried to type out the number of zeroes in his earnings, but rubbed the number ‘0’ off my keyboard. No tax here, no tax there, no f-ing tax paid anywhere.

      So why are countries bound by “fiscal responsibility, when the top 1% in the world, own more than 99% of the wealth and are immune from societal responsibility?

      If the IMF can ignore the Emirates of Bezos, who owns more than countries, it can surely give Aotearoa a free pass on UBI.

      Either that, or the IMF can applying its economic stewardship over Bezos Inc and start limiting his growth, taxing and selling off his assets and slapping an inflation target on him.

  14. I guess the reason is everyone went to school to learn how to get a job and now we have to figure out how to make small and medium-sized businesses everywhere and that will take a lot of structural change.

  15. The left’s lost “allies” has only one perpetrator and that is social democracy.
    The NZLP was formed under Holland as the road to parliamentary socialism where the great nationalising of the Mean of Production, Distribution and Exchange would be voted in.
    It won power under Savage who redefined socialism as “applied Christianity’.
    Ever since the left and union wing of the party has held out the mirage of recreating some memory of the Savage years.
    But the Savage years were characterised as ‘reds under the bed’ by Nationals coalition of importers, exporters, bankers and gentry.
    An historical absurdity since social democracy (even democratic socialism) has been the most efficient bulwark against ‘reds’, socialist or communist.
    Labour has run scared of that myth ever since, notwithstanding the Xstian socialism of Nordmeyer, Big Norm, and David Lange, until the Rogergnome right put the myth to rest and won votes in Remuera.
    Result was that Labour pioneered Blairism before Blair as the middle classes answer to both socialism and capitalism – a classless pink-brown melange.
    Labour remains trapped in Blairism avoiding mention of class and left and right for the melange of middle-of-the-road liberalism.
    So it is social democracy that has sold out the left’s ‘allies’ – Yes the missing one million – the ordinary, blue collar and white collar workers who it betrayed for generations.
    The result if a full circle back to the Liberal Party of Balance and Seddon that suppressed the contradiction between the rising landless working class and the gentry.
    It created an escape valve by stealing more Maori land to settle the landless than was stolen during the Land Wars.
    To paraphrase Keith Sinclair, the sound of unemployed boots on the march became that of gumboots running away from the working class.
    Labour today is a Liberal Party leaving a huge political vacuum where the working class party should be to represent its interests.
    Not surprising then that in the face of a global economic crash, a pandemic and climate catastrophe, that many ordinary working people are left without political bearings.
    And just like the 1930s when the global crisis means that workers are expected to pay the price for recovery, workers without strong parties that represent their class, capable of forcing through ‘new deal’ reforms against a weak and divided ruling class, become disoriented and fall for populism or fascism.
    As was clear then as now, history repeats and without learning the lessons of history, humanity jumps into the abyss.
    The lesson for today is that social democracy by concealing the underlying class antagonism, disorganises and neutralises the working class, preparing the ground for populism and fascism.
    The way out of this historic impasse is an independent workers’ party with a program for socialist revolution to put an end to rotten capitalism and its rapid decline and fall into human extinction.

  16. Labeling all these people as “Right Wing, Fascists or Lunatics” is probably a analytical and strategic political mistake.

    The Left should be able to intellectually respond wiser to such events.

    Edward Snowden: Governments Are Using Coronavirus to Build ‘the Architecture of Oppression’ (2020)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5OAjnveyJo

  17. Aw come on Rusty, your brain is addled and rusted out. Give New Zealand a break.
    We cannot hand out money to people for doing nothing. We’ll end up like Russia and China and then New Zealand would be a dictatorship, where people aren’t allowed to have guns, for fear they will overthrow a legitimate elected supreme leader.
    It will end up in a tax nightmare.
    How can you tax a gratuity to 23% of the population?
    The world will end as we know it, because New Zealand would have created a black red hole, where money is created by a big red Cossack bang.
    How can people be paid for doing nothing except speculate by voting Labour?
    How can you speculate and make money legitimately, which is what Jacinda and her red mob want to do?
    We need to cull this sort of thinking.
    Money as we know it is a finite commodity, and the ultimate aim of the money concept, should be, for it to eventually end up in the hands of a very few wealthy individuals. Only a few are worthy enough to be born to rule and money is the key to the kingdom.
    Trump is right to build walls around USA, because it protects wealth.
    He wouldn’t agree with handing out money to Americans for doing nothing, and neither should New Zealand.
    UBI’s a stupid concept, and the sooner we get rid of Labour and vote for ACT and people like Leighton Baker, Hannah Tamaki, Billy TK and Jamie LR, the better off we will all be.
    And if people don’t succeed, it’s because of personality flaws and allergies to hard work.
    The state should not reward laziness, or drug abuse.
    We are a Christian country, with Christian values. After all no matter how much you want, laziness won’t help a bit, but hard work will reward you with more than enough. Proverbs 13:4 New King James Version
    The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.
    And nobody will prosper if NZ will pay people for doing nothing – ie UBI.

    UB Aye? UB Nay

    • Productivity is up but wage increases are flat and you say to the 90% everyone else sharing in your hard-earned wealth isn’t good enough for you. So we lefties have to get creative about how we want to share the wealth.

  18. If that crowd was five thousand odd strong then if voting was lap top allowed then id say 98% could probably vote, but it!s not a laptop election voting structure, so possible 5% of that crowd on a good Saturday turning up at the ballot box, understanding they are pre registered to vote, as i understand you can vote on the day by way of a special vote giving the voter the right to vote yet it is not counted. Nationaly these followers of tin foil hatted dellusion may on the day pull possible 1% or 1 and a half%.

  19. Oh, noooos, let’s put on our boo hoo rags and become unhinged because people walk down the street and air their grievances, you know that ancient English tradition, how dispicible!!! But kids in school, A-OK! On grievances, I for one do not think it is too late to totally fry all those that gave the pervert Seville a pass. But I suppose all those enamoured with media believe it is a conspiracy. And as for febrile populist rants- they undermine WHAT exactly? Please tell me again.

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