A trifecta of good stuff for you this evening.
Craig Ranapia on Greg “if everyone would just be good little proles then the cops wouldn’t have to beat you” O’Connor and Tiki “brown man with completely inexplicable dislike of agents of repressive state apparatus” Taane:
But the one thing O’Connor and his ilk can’t do – and even worse, don’t believe they have to seriously try – is back up their assertion that words and music they don’t like lead to real world crime.
Gordon Campbell on both legal aid/the anti-nanny-state Government’s strange nanny-state-esque behaviour:
So far, the Key government has reduced the right to a jury trial, extended the powers of search and surveillance by state agencies, restricted the rights against self incrimination, sought the ability to conduct trials in the absence of the accused, and ended the independence of the agency dispensing legal aid – and that’s even before we got to today’s changes.
As Scoop consistently argued, the dispute was always about getting Warners more money, and the union dispute was being used as a diversion to that end. Simultaneously, the climate of anti-union hysteria did no harm to the ability of the government to get its rewrite of some key elements in our industrial legislation framework through Parliament.
What the graphs show is that Labour’s caucus will look broadly similar to New Zealand, but will continue to moderately underrepresent women, Maori, and New Zealanders of Asian descent. The Rainbow community is either marginally overrepresented (by about one MP) or represented proportionally, depending on which population estimate you prefer. And Pasifika peoples are overrepresented in Labour’s caucus by 1-2 MPs.
So having been told quite a bit recently that no one really cares about abortion as an issue in NZ and why don’t we prochoice women just shut up and get to the back of the manifesto where we belong, wouldn’t you know it but a bunch of awesome Kiwi bloggers managed to put together one hell of a blogswarm for World Health Day, hosted at The Hand Mirror.
And then, would you believe, there was actually an abortion-related vote in Parliament, regarding the Abortion Supervisory Committee, which even got honest-to-goodness mainstream media coverage thanks to Tariana Turia being an antichoice douchewad. Hat tip to Morgan at Maui Street.
No Right Turn does his usual stellar work with the facts and figures on the vote, which split somewhat fascinatingly along almost-clear party lines, with National being the only divided party.
The basic take-home is that 70 MPs are sufficiently pro-choice that they won’t support appointing an avowed antichoicer to the Abortion Supervisory Committee. It’s hardly an overwhelming statement of support of women’s right to make their own health decisions, but it’s also a pretty obvious sign that the majority of MPs, whether for personal or political-sensitivity reasons, will not erode the status quo.
It’s a fucking start.
Mr Goff has admitted he got it wrong when he pressured Prime Minister John Key to reveal details of a police investigation into a former National MP.
Mr Goff says he has a better understanding now of how these things work and regrets pressuring Mr Key at the time to discuss aspects of the police complaint.
I cede the floor to Mr McEnroe.
So let’s get this straight:
One of the only issues in this term where Goff has been able to largely control the story, stand up for a progressive principle in the face of horrific misogyny and victim-blaming and conspiracy-theory-spinning. The scalp of a Minister and an eternal “so why was he fired, Mr Open Smile and Transparent Wave?”
… was all a fucking mistake because a former Minister of Justice, whose deputy is a former Minister of Police, didn’t know how sensitive-political-ramifications investigations went?
Let’s consider something far less Pythonesque.
Phil Goff doesn’t actually believe in the right of women not to be sexually harassed and doesn’t really think New Zealanders have the right to know why a Minister of the Crown was bundled out of a job. Phil Goff sat on his fucking hands over whatever allegations have been levelled at Darren Hughes and hoped it would all go away and has no one in his staff who thought “maybe this could fucking backfire on us a tiny bit”.
And now that it has, now that those principled statements have been revealed as waffle, the only possible way to make this not about hypocrisy and cover-ups and double standards is to tell the public Phil Goff has no fucking idea what he’s doing.
That is their idea of “positive” spin.
We are just so fucked.
There isn’t just one hard truth to NZ politics at the moment. The second is equally unpopular with people, but if it doesn’t offer a clear way forward it at least suggests a fixable problem. At the same time, it’s not the kind of thing Labour/the Left want to have bandied about too publicly in an election year.
Everything Labour does is waffle.
No, seriously, everything.
Where my previous post argued that NACT are motivated by a clear and demonstrated drive to financially benefit themselves and their class and keep the true “middle New Zealand” distracted by shiny, often illusory toys (beneficiary bashing, north-of-$50 tax cuts), this one poses more of a question I wish I didn’t suspect the answer to:
What the fuck is Labour doing except waffling?
Waffling, swaying, flip-flopping, whatever today’s pop-propaganda term is, from one statement to the next, one lukewarm denunciation to the next, since the 2008 defeat Labour has basically been a yacht captained by people who figured hey, it was their turn so they might as well have a go, desperately seeking the right current to sail them into Getting Elected Harbour and getting caught on the treacherous reefs of No1curr and Fuck You’re Uninspiring every single time.
Everything is waffle. Waffle doesn’t win elections.
A first pre-emptive rebuttal: Key/National did not waffle their way into victory in 2008. They made explicit, just-qualified-enough statements which set them firmly and believably (to the middle-voting public) in the role of Just Like Labour Only Without The Sense You’re Being Put On The Naughty Spot.
But what the fuck does Labour stand for at this point?
Waffle. Whatever the headless chickens and soccer-fan octopi in the strategy team think is a winner this week.
What month is it? Are we panicking about the loss of the “centre” vote and rehashing really obviously-going-to-backfire Brash/Orewa dogwhistles? Hmm, fuck, that didn’t go so well (hint for Labour strategists: when Idiot/Savant is telling you you’re fucking hypocrites, be worried). Best throw some “I can’t believe it’s not a real leftwing policy” bones to the fanbase! A fanbase who, possibly in serious need of some reassurance that the Apocalypse had not in fact left them in a better-treed version of Transmetropolitan, thought “fuck yes! A real turnaround!”
‘Cause you see, “the many, not the few” involves such fantastically leftwing setpieces as “listen to the stories about gang members ripping off WINZ, those fucking bludgers!” and “young offenders need intervention and literacy skills AND a kick in the pants, am I right, holla at your boy Garth McVicar!”
But some celebrated nevertheless, right until the rightwing research unit bots said “Oy, bitches, how’s 1985 treatin’ ya?” and silence descended, because not all the pretty speeches in the world from Goff count for shit until he utterly disowns that Rogernomics crap. Prediction: never going to happen.*
January 2011. Election year, baby. And someone gets it through HQ’s hivemind that maybe being a bit fucking bold could be a good idea! Let’s do it! Let’s face down those NACT bastards with their relentless “the left doesn’t understand how the economy works” meme and release completely uncosted tax policy! How could this go wrong???
Oops, even one of the staunchest left bloggers in the country came to the conclusion: waffle.
Which is not to mention that whole not condemning Paul Henry’s vile fucking racism thing – can’t upset the white underclass since we’ve thrown those nasty identity politics types under the bus (oh wait, but the Big Gay Out’s on this weekend!). Or the neverending quest to try to turn a stern, serious, career politician into his affable, smarmy, shallow opponent (because of course the only way to defeat an opponent is to become him … wait, what?). And let’s not forget that this isn’t just a Goff problem when suddenly Annette King tooooootally wants to help out those poor people who incidentally Labour royally fucked by defending a discriminatory policy tooth and nail.
Not just waffle. PowerWaffle.
To put it bluntly, fellow lefties: we are in an election year with a main-left-party leader who thinks the appropriate response to “I told my mate Tony Veitch that Liz Hurley’s a hottie” is “I think she’s hot too butIlovemywifebecauseI’mabetterfamilymanthanyou.”
You thought we were fucked before?
We are so fucking fucked.
*I’m like Ken Ring, only I admit I make shit up off the top of my head and act smug when I’m correct anyway.
Let it stand in history that it was the NACT government who chose to exploit the Canterbury earthquake for political gain.
Gordon Campbell: On Bill English…
The Standard: The Shock Doctrine
No Right Turn: Key commits to WFF cuts.
We. Are. So. Fucked.
[Please note: your humble author has been pretty fucking harsh on WFF in the past, especially on the basis of its discrimination against beneficiaries. The idea that children should be left in fucking poverty to “incentivise” their parents to find mythical jobs is one reason your humble author doesn’t party vote Labour. But as NRT covers, cuts to WFF will screw a lot of people. Not cool.]
This is something that’s been bugging me for a while. Frequently in online conversations (usually over at The Standard) people have been pointing to the speech made by Annette King at the Labour Party’s 2010 conference* – usually to indicate a change of direction by Labour, a solid differentiation from National, a clear plan to change things for the better and focus on Kiwi kids’ lives.
But … I just didn’t get it. There wasn’t a concrete, specific thing I disagreed with, just a niggling little feeling that we had not in fact entered some Brave New Age of Labour finally remembering to be the party of giving a fuck about poverty instead of clawing for “centre” “middle” “mainstream” “average” New Zealand (also known as pretty-fucking-well-off middle-class heterosexual white families who like to think that getting their daughter to stop texting during dinner is The Worker’s Struggle.)
I did have to ask myself if this was just prejudice. If I just had real trouble accepting For Our Children rhetoric from a Labour Deputy Leader who said in 1996 that the child tax credit isolated “beneficiaries from other families, treats them like lepers and worst of all it treats their children differently. What is different about a beneficiary child?“, then sat by as a member of a Government that fought against the Child Poverty Action Group’s complaint against Working For Families treating beneficiaries’ children differently,** and now (following an election when the left decided to stay home because they might have felt a bit fucking disillusioned) wants to say “Oh sorry, I guess that obviously unjust thing was obviously unjust*** but we totes care about the kiddies, honest! Social justice, what what?”
… Yeah, I’m obviously having a bit of trouble buying that.
But was that affecting my reading of Annette’s conference speech?
Obviously the only way to check was to rip the shit out of it and see how many points make me go all capslocky and sweary.
Don’t pretend you’re not turned on right now.
Part One: Attack of the Waffle
As New Zealanders we like to think our country is the best place in the world to bring up children; we call it “God’s own”. We say things like the future of New Zealand is with our children; our children are our greatest asset; every child deserves a decent standard of living; every child should have the ability to reach their full potential. We value our children. Children matter.
Absolutely nothing in the intro tells you that this is a Labour Party speech. Paula Bennett could happily begin a speech with this. Sir Roger Not Dead Yet Douglas could say this. Why not just fucking say “I love coming to … ROTORUA! *pause for cheap pop* You guys are great! Not like those guys in … TAUPO! *pause for boos*”? Why not “As a New Zealander, a lifetime fan of Barry Crump and a regular eater of Watties Tomato Sauce, I think puppies are cute” if we’re just going for fucking empty suck-up platitudes?
Part Two: There Is No Permanent Record
All those statements are true, but are they true for every child in New Zealand?
Obvious answer is obvious, and YOU FUCKING KNOW WHAT IT IS GIVEN YOUR FUCKING PARTY DEFENDED USING BENEFICIARIES’ KIDS TO BULLY THEIR PARENTS.
For the past 18 months, we in Labour have been thinking and re-examining all our policies. A time in Opposition allows for that!
Apparently Labour didn’t think “thinking” was something they had time for in government. Suddenly the 2008 defeat makes a lot more sense. But seriously, what kind of excuse is this? Is Annette, and by extension Labour, trying to pretend that they honestly couldn’t have done anything different in their last term in government, or even their first term? I’m on record as being very critical of the classic “you had nine years” rhetoric, but seriously, Labour did have nine years and it was so pathetically obvious a bribe attempt to announce six months out from an election “oh yeah and we’ll totally get around to that universal student loan thing, which we have coincidentally remembered just when polls have shown we’ve fucked our student support base!”
Then some genius decided to bring up the statistics:
New Zealand is not doing as well for children as are other comparable countries. We sit in the bottom third in OECD rankings for most child indicators.
And yes, obviously, social change isn’t an overnight thing. It takes a while. So the party who’ve recently been in charge for a solid decade might not want to raise the question of what the fuck they did, especially when the answer is “defend to the death our right to starve beneficiaries’ children”.
Part Three: The Tells
It seems picky, but language is so important. Especially when a speech is being sold as a step-change (whoops, there I go) and a new direction and a turnaround from nasty neoliberal politics … and contains phrases like:
looked at where our emphasis should be for future investment
It is this period, the report states, that needs to be given the highest priority for investment.
tilting public expenditure towards the early years of life.
The tilting one is particularly awful. God forbid we invest more into children, apparently it’s all about putting them at the top of the list (who gets bumped down?) and shifting the scales in their favour (and whose side of the see-saw has to go down for theirs to go up?)
And it’s really heartening to see a rejection of that whole “social engineering nanny state” bollocks from the last election:
Labour has developed a new, fresh family and whānau policy narrative, not based on the government bringing up children
Oops. I realise I’m not a politician, much less one with Annette’s level of experience, but I can’t help but think it’s a bit fucking stupid to buy into your enemy’s narrative, especially a narrative which is a barely-disguised attack on all social funding and all government support for families. Ditto for the “our early childhood education is underfunded” and “our social services aren’t well integrated” bits.
Part Four: Oh, Right, You’re Not Saying Anything
But here’s the clincher, the bit my brain kept skipping, the core of what’s so not-actually-A-New-Hope about this.
Today I want to give a broad outline of our policy – “Putting Children First”. Detailed announcements, including costings will be made in due course.
I don’t expect detailed costings and a shadow Budget a year out from an election. But I do want more than a long hand-wavey Wouldn’t It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice chat-ette from the Deputy Leader of a party who wants to be leading the next government.
Labour has developed a new, fresh family and whānau policy narrative
We just, um, don’t know what it says yet. Except it’ll take 6 years! Because 6 makes us seem serious and committed without reeking too much of “you can’t criticise us unless you elect us to a second term.”
Part Five: Except for the Fucking Obvious
Annette does share some very important facts, though. Like, poverty is bad! And poverty is cyclical! And kids raised in poverty are a lot more likely to have shit lives than kids who got iPods with their parents’ tax credits! And the early years are totes important! It’s like somebody left a Sir Robert Winston DVD in the Labour caucus room.
Part Six: And Some Really Non-Specific Specifics!
Under the heading “Legislative and Structural Change” (ooh, so beguiling) you’d hope to get some solid information on what Labour wants to do.
And you do, if your definition of “solid information” includes a lot of “commitments”, and “reporting”, and “new policy”. Not new policy on anything, in particular. And as with the intro, there is absolutely nothing to separate this “policy” from anything National would say to describe their position either. It’s all “kids are important, and we’re going to make government departments focus on kids, and we’ll change the way things are done, and we’ll totally make it work.”
Basically, if you were hoping for specific teacher-pupil ratios or a commitment to not fuck over Plunket or specific funding to train more ECE teachers … well, the closest you’ll get is
Labour also proposes … all babies at birth would be enrolled with a Well-Child provider
Labour’s going to make a currently-available service compulsory! Woo-hoo. That’ll definitely help with the “governments not raising children” sell.
Conclusion: Go-Home Sequence
Come on, Annette! Show us some fire, make us proud, keep it original and fresh and … oh.
To quote Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel –
…Labour proposes an Agenda for Change for Children. The full details will be there for all New Zealanders to see before the 2011 Election. There will be a clear choice – tinker and talk or bold action that will finally put our children first and makes New Zealand the best place in the world to bring up all our children.
A Nelson Mandela quote and “stay tuned for more details of this amazing offer”. Yeah. That’s a speech to keep me warm on the cold 2011 campaign nights, when I find myself wondering “but has Labour changed?”
The warmth will be coming from my righteous fucking fury.
*Incidentally, Labour, your website’s search function blows big floppy donkey dick.
**CPAG lost on the discrimination front, in a decision praised by Paula Bennett (nice philosophical company you’re keeping, Labour) because hey, starving these kids now might force their parents to take minimum-wage jobs in the future! And hey, we have to make sure work pays better than benefits, which would totally be a concern if benefits weren’t already set at below-survival-requirements levels!
**Not that any senior Labour MPs, as far as I’m aware, have ever directly addressed the discriminatory nature of
their bribe to the middle class Working for Families. Happy to be corrected but may pass out from shock.
John Key has stated he’ll quit politics if National loses this year’s election.* Boo fucking hoo. In any kind of just world this would be reported by our media as a clear sign of where his real commitment lies – and that’s certainly not to effecting important changes or making New Zealand a better place or anything.
But it’s not a just world, which is also why Audrey Young’s journalism gland is so atrophied it allowed this to go without the most basic comment:
He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.
“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative.“
Hey Audrey, do you think a real journo might have dug a little deeper into the fact that our own Prime Minister apparently doesn’t understand what the Opposition is for?**
Yes, Smile&Wave, it’s pretty negative. Because Opposition is [meant to be] a vital check on governmental power. It’s the devil’s advocate that views all government policy through an essentially negative lens in order to make sure that it’s not fucked up.
Now I can expect a complete egomaniacal flake like Key to not get that. It would just be a really awesome late Christmas present if our political journos could figure it out.
*And doesn’t even have the fucking nous to spin that as “respecting the nation’s decision” or “taking personal responsibility for any backlash against National”
**I mean, I get you’re determined to ignore the fact that Key is unrelentingly negative on a constant basis in the House, Audrey, with his constant infantile “LOL UR DUM” responses to serious questions. But maybe some actual constitutional engagement could help cover that up?
Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai, has signed a law which “legalises” rape, women’s groups and the United Nations warn. Critics claim the president helped rush the bill through parliament in a bid to appease Islamic fundamentalists ahead of elections in August.
It gets even better worse:
Article 132 requires women to obey their husband’s sexual demands and stipulates that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least “once every four nights” when travelling, unless they are ill.
Along with the usual grab-bag of “oh, and it’s harder for you to leave him after he DOES rape you, but if he wants to rape greener pastures it’ll be comparatively easy to dump you” in a country which I’m sure offers fantastic welfare packages to divorcees.
And of course it’s not even like Karzai supports this crap. He just wants to win a fucking election, and if women get raped and imprisoned in their own homes as a result, well, at least he stays in power, amirite?
And fuck you, The Independent. Fuck you and your “legalises” scare quotes to hell. Does this legislation make it legal for a man to fuck a woman without her consent? OH I THINK THAT’S RAPE. But Christ, I guess we can at least credit you with using the r-word at all, yeah?
To borrow a more positive outlook from Julie, the fact that John Key’s first speech as Prime Minister-elect got cut off by TV3 can only bode well for the NZ comedy circuit over the next three years.
And Copeland and Field got thoroughly trounced.
No more Winston; that’s going to take some time to process. Won’t miss the man, will miss the theatre.
ETA: And of course (hurrah hangover-brainfarts) Officially Scum Stephen Franks is not my electorate MP! WOOT!
Tomorrow is Election Day, New Zealand, and as worrying as the polls can be looking at the moment – no matter which team you’re batting for – what always comes to the fore in my mind is the concern that people just vote. There’s no shortage of polling booths and there’s no five-hour queues (holy shit, USA). I don’t care who it’s for, if it’s even serious (though I must admit to be interested to see what support Bill & Ben garner), I just want you to take a few minutes out of your day and participate in this fucking awesome democratic shindig we have going on.
Speaking of which, so far the hardest part of planning my own celebration of the day has been discovering that purple food colouring is really bloody hard to find. Red, blue, green, yellow, even black, no problem. Purple? It’s a clear indication God doesn’t want me to make United Future cupcakes.