There have been arguments made that we nasty, shadow-agenda critics of Shearer should wait to hear his speech, to be delivered on Sunday at Labour’s annual conference and probably robotically “Live Tweeted” by his social media team.
I’m personally of the opinion that while anyone can be given a good speech – and I’ve yet to see an example of that from Shearer’s team – good speeches also need to be delivered by good speakers. Sam Seaborn can’t just make anyone sound inspirational and charismatic, it helps to have a Martin Sheen on the delivery end of the process.
So the problems are twofold, for me: first off, will Shearer’s speech be a good one; second, will he deliver it with any gusto? The second is obviously out of my control. The first … well, a girl can dream.
Maybe he could start by saying
National and Act are leading this country in the wrong direction, and we all know it. We know poverty is getting worse, there aren’t jobs out there, our public services are being cut to the point they can’t serve anyone.
I don’t need to list every single way in which John Key’s government has shafted this country. I’m the leader of the Labour Party, and I need to tell you how we are going to fix it.
He might list some big, juicy policies. Adopt Gareth Morgan’s universal income thingy. Free doctor/dentist visits for under-18s. Minimum wage to $15 in the first year of government at to $20 by the end of it. Paid parental leave to Scandinavian levels. Decriminalising low-end drugs and treating addicts like addicts instead of criminals. Paid for by capital gains tax, a new top tax bracket, a financial transactions tax, demanding actual substantial royalties from the mining and drilling industries.
I don’t expect any of these policies. I completely lack the skill to cost these things. I just want something I, as a New Zealand lefty, can hang my hat on and say “this is what we fuckin’ stand for, dudes.”
Then he could spork the incredibly-predictable objections from the right:
National and Act are going to say that these policies are ridiculous, are too expensive, won’t fix the problems in our country. We know what they think fixes everything: tax cuts for the wealthy.
Tax cuts don’t feed hungry children. Tax cuts don’t treat preventable illnesses. Tax cuts don’t even create jobs, and isn’t that always the excuse? But after four years of unsustainable tax cuts pushing our country further into debt, poverty is worse, unemployment is worse, emigration to Australia is up.
Let’s say Labour want to try repeating the success of the pledge card (though I’m going to say it: still pissed off about that “affordable tertiary education” bullshit, people.) So define the 5 big policies and the 5 big facts that Labour wants to take to the election debate table. I could personally go for:
- The cost of doing business in NZ is stupidly low compared to anywhere else you want to do business.
- The rich in NZ pay a pathetic amount of tax for the privilege of living here
- New Zealander workers are hugely productive compared to anywhere else.
- Our public service is a vital support system which keeps our economy and society healthy. Cutting the “back office” functions just makes the front office’s job harder.
- When we treat all people with dignity and fairness, everyone benefits.
… and back all that up in the campaign with handy factsheets which your MPs have already memorised.
Then, talk about a united front. A caucus which will not tolerate petty infighting, a caucus which will have open, upfront discussions about leadership if they need to happen, a caucus which will fucking exile anyone who sows dissent in the ranks/Duncan Garner’s earpiece. As an early indicator of this, get Shane Jones off the front page of the fucking “People” page on the website.
It’d be a great start. It might rekindle the tiniest flicker of hope in my heart for a Shearer-led Labour Party. But it’d be a tiny flicker, a flicker wondering where the fuck this strong, clear direction and decisive leadership has been for the past year – and wondering when it’s next going to be extinguished by some godawful response to a predictable journo query.
The only problem: I just don’t know if Shearer / the current party leadership have concrete-enough principles to believe any of the above. You can’t get inspirational prose out of a core of “we really want to be re-elected” and “we definitely know that the one thing we are is not-National. Specifically … by not being National.”
Things Shearer’s speech seriously does not need (aka the David Shearer Speech Drinking Game, one drink per mention):
- anecdotes about how he was the White Messiah to starving brown children
- anecdotes about super-yachts or roofpainters
- anecdotes about Good Hardworking Kiwis with names like Bill and Joe who work in Real Jobs like plumbing
- the phrases “going forward”, “bringing the fight to National”, “middle New Zealand”, “ordinary Kiwis”, “our children’s children”, “heartland”, “make the hard decisions”, “new new Zealand”, “pull their weight”
- promises to announce actual policy in the near future
- any mention of Excalibur
ETA: Toby Manhire has also made a helpful list of pointers for Shearer. Probably more helpful, to be honest.
(Ironically, this post was written after a few glasses of high-price bubbly)
If I’m going to keep getting into arguments about this on The Standard, I figured I might as well lay out my thinking here on the drinking age question. An earlier post on the topic is here.
Here’s the martyred cries I keep hearing:
“But we have a terrible drinking culture and we have to protect kids from it!”
These are “kids” who can vote, drive, fuck, get married, and join our military to die overseas. And yet even when we’re acknowledging that the drinking culture in this country is a problem created by an older generation who also like to binge drink and drive drunk, somehow we feel justified in punishing young, yet grown, adults for our own cock-ups.
It’s patronising and shitty, and anyone who genuinely remembers being a teenager will figure out pretty quickly that it’s also counterproductive.
“But drinking causes harm in ways marriage and voting doesn’t!”
Right, because voting in a reactionary rightwing government which will strip our assets and throw beneficiaries on the streets is much better than a couple of people vomiting into the otherwise-pristine gutters of Courtenay Place.
“But alcopops are terrible!”
If you’re calling them “alcopops”, I immediately assume you’re over 30 and have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. It’s like drugs: when the media starts panicking about “Liquid Fantasy” you can bet any amount of money you like that no teen worth their salt is calling it that stupid name.
I literally had to sit relatives of mine down to convince them that “alcopops” are not, in fact, available in your local dairy. You can buy them at liquor stores or bars, places where you should already be showing ID to purchase alcohol.
“But older people buy the alcohol for younger people!”
Yes. Usually their parents. But clearly the problem here is booze-hungry youngsters.
“But you shouldn’t be able to buy alcohol when you’re still at school!”
Sucks to be a 21-year-old who’s still at school then. And really, really sucks that you might be 18, still at school, and able to FUCK, GET MARRIED, DRIVE AND JOIN THE MILITARY but not have a beer to celebrate any of these things.
“But kids don’t realise how alcoholic those alcopops are!”
Still with the “alcopops”. Seriously, it’s a stupid name. Stop it.
You know what happens if you drink a 6-pack of Vodka Cruisers? (Probably not, you’re still calling them “alcopops”.) You really need to pee after about an hour. And then you get a wacky sugar high which you may mistake for drunkenness, and then an hour after that you crash out and need to find a warm sofa.
And that’s assuming you had them all to yourself and weren’t splitting it three ways with Charlene and Rhonda.
You know how most teens drink themselves to death? Sculling straight vodka. Trying to drink a 40-oz of tequila in one night. Because, oh wait, no one has taught them how to drink responsibly. Probably because Mummy and Daddy were too busy going off and getting pissed themselves to actually deal with mind-altering drugs and their children’s impending adulthood.
Alternatively, they can’t access alcohol and it’s a total Forbidden Fruit so instead – because they’re teenagers and teenagers are not particularly clever when they’re looking to have fun and get blotto – they huff paint thinner and die.
“But it’s the kids waiting outside bottle stores getting strangers to buy their alcopops that are the problem!”
The problem still seems to be that some adults don’t take our laws seriously. Explain how this is the fault of a 14-year-old whose life is so shit they’ll do anything to forget it, including drink shitty red wine.
“But alcopops are so much stronger than other drinks!”
Another line frankly trotted out by those who have forgotten teenagehood. Protip: teenagers aren’t fucking bartenders. If they’re not drinking shitty red wine in big anxious gulps, they’re pooling their resources on a shitty bottle of gin and mixing it half-and-half with orange juice because they heard about that in a song once.
Or, you know, they’re sculling straight vodka. Much safer. It’s sterile, you know.
“But I saw a story where A&E doctors totally said the problem was worse!”
Yes, such stories are always completely reliable.
“But [insert media channel here] showed young people getting really drunk!”
If everyone who ever uttered this would like to provide proof of their ability to magically tell a drunk 21-year-old from a drunk 20-years-and-10-months-old, I’m sure the bouncing industry has jobs just waiting for them.
We have a problematic drinking culture in this country. It is shown whenever someone suggests lowering the drink driving limit and the rural sector suddenly explode because how dare we transgress against a man’s right to shear a hundred sheep, get off-his-face on Speights, and then drive home with a 50/50 risk of killing another human being.
It is shown when the main objection I recall to raising alcohol taxes is that the poor superannuitants Who Gave Their Lives For Our Country won’t be able to buy as much sherry.
It is shown when major cities have utter shitfights over who gets to host the Sevens, or the V8s. Which are both of course all about the sport.
Yet who gets to hold the can for this? The young people who haven’t even figured out their relationships with alcohol yet. The young people who are trusted to fuck, trusted to sign documents tying them to another person in eternity, trusted to hold a gun and fight for our country or alternatively the US’ imperialist interests of the day, trusted to drive a vehicle and yet are not trusted to have a glass of wine with friends after work.
We protect young people by displaying a better fucking attitude to alcohol ourselves. We show young people that drunkenness can be fun if you keep a handle on things and know how you’re getting home, but that it’s not a holy grail of funtimes and the only way to enjoy yourself ever.
Maybe we could even take a serious fucking look at our youth suicide rates and wonder if maybe we’ve made life so empty and shit for our young adults that it’s no fucking wonder some of them see getting plastered as the only way to feel happy and free.
But nah, you’re right. Far too much work. Let’s just throw young adults under the bus and act all surprised when the rates of hospitalisation and binge-drinking shift upwards with each well-intentioned effort to Save The Youngsters From Themselves.
I’m again ceding the floor, this time to Gravey who lays it all down on Kiwi women’s “promiscuity”:
You sure as fuck are not a logician – these things are NOT a consequence of promiscuity. And fucking comments like yours do not help. Binge-drinking is NOT at the root of teen depression, it is one of the symptoms of it.
Shit, Gravey, here I was thinking young Kiwis were just horrid drunks/sluts/drunken sluts because they were inherently bad people.
I just can’t get over this. Claiming that women who like to fuck are the cause of all the world’s violence and depression.
Well, our boobs do cause earthquakes.
On this fine Wellington afternoon a terrifying convergence of awesomely stroppy women (and a few lads) descended upon The Apartment bar and proceeded to talk all things from (least-) favourite trolls to great ways to explain breaking your bed to the manufacturer to how much we all need to attend the Wellingtonista awards.
Marvellous good fun, blog-comrades!
One question remains for me, though, and it’s not the one begged by every single piece of “mainstream” coverage of our National Alcohol Shame [to wit: How do our yoof end up thinking binge drinking is cool and fun? HOW, DAMN YOU?].
It’s the question I generally end up screaming sarcastically at the television: how can we – specifically, our lawmakers and one-man-lobby-groups informed pundits and retrograde temperance movement ALAC keep up the pretence that our National Alcohol Shame is just a youth problem, sprung out of Zeus’ head fully-formed and absolutely nothing to do at all with anything those young folk might be seeing, hearing, being told every fucking day by the society they’re living in?
It’s not like this is behaviour demonstrated on a regular basis by our supposed role models. And it’s not like authorities will fight over the right to host events which are all about the sport an excuse for a citywide piss-up. And of course our national leaders have always been paragons of restraint in this area. And certainly the older people in kids’ lives are setting fantastic examples.
And “Party Central” is just a name that evokes … good solid Christian-value funtimes, maybe featuring a two-thousand player game of Yahtzee?
Seriously, people. Drinking isn’t fun, and going out to get pissed is just totally uncool. Where do the kids get this idea from?
Of course, the answer is actually obvious: all these groups, including our politicians and including our Concerned Moral Majority and especially those rape-threat-encouraging fuckers at ALAC are well aware that this is society-wide. They just don’t care because of course [for the pollies and the moralists] it’s okay when they do it, and [for the nouveau temperance wankers] hypocrisy is just hunky-dory as long as you’re stopping someone from having a fun drug-aided time.