Here’s another old chestnut I’m really bored of hearing: that the Green Party is somehow obliged to stop standing candidates in seats which Labour wants to win (i.e., presumably, all of them).
Stuart Nash rolled this one out two weeks ago – and don’t worry, Stuart, I’m just going to quote you again:
There is no doubt that an effective candidate improves the party vote: it’s the reason why the Green’s refuse to stand candidates aside in general seats, when to do so could well mean that Labour wins the seat; because they know that without a candidate their party vote drops.
Nash wants to act like this is just a terrible bit of self-serving puffery on the part of the Greens, who are denying Labour its god-given right to keep ignoring how MMP works and win all the seats. And I say “act”, because Nash is a former MP and former senior adviser to the Leader of the Labour Party, so I think it’s quite fair to expect him to understand our electoral spending laws:
206C Maximum amount of party’s total election expenses
(1) If a party is listed in the part of the ballot paper that relates to the party vote, the total election expenses of that party in respect of any regulated period must not exceed—
(a) $1,091,000 (or such other amount as is prescribed by the Governor-General by Order in Council under section 266A); and
(b) $25,700 (or such other amount as is prescribed by the Governor-General by Order in Council under section 266A) for each electoral district contested by a candidate for the party.
My admittedly-not-legally-qualified reading of that is that parties get to spend an extra $25k for each electorate candidate they stand. Any list-only candidates have to come out of the first million.
So of course the Greens are going to run candidates in a number of electorates where they know they don’t have a chance of winning – it affects the amount they’re allowed to spend campaigning. And of course it raises their profile and of course it helps build activist networks and gives candidates valuable campaigning experience. And sometimes people are going to vote for the Green candidate and not the Labour one.
This is an MMP world. Labour candidates should win electorates if the electorate wants them to be their representative. Not because Labour thinks it’s owed a guaranteed number of seats (and terms in government.)
Yes, this does create some annoyances for the left in odd electorates like Ohariu. But we cannot treat voters like they’re too stupid to understand what their electorate vote means. People in Ohariu who in 2011 voted for Gareth Hughes – or Peter Dunne – instead of Charles Chauvel had their reasons. They may not be reasons I like, or reasons you like, and certainly whatever they are they’re not reasons Stuart Nash likes, but … that’s the lumps of democracy for you.
Labour can do better. But it won’t start if it, its leadership, or the people its leadership listen to, persist in stomping their feet and laying the blame everywhere but at their own door.
Julie-Anne Genter of the Greens has been doing some stellar work on public transport, including this exposure last night of the utter fiasco that is “Drive Social”:
The website is called Drive Social. It’s described as a “unique online experience that lets people see who they share the road with”. There’s a flash TV campaign to go with it.
But the Greens say it’s all an enormous waste of money.
The campaign has so far cost $1.6 million and 9500 people have signed up. That’s a rough cost of $174 per person.
As a bus user in Wellington, I was always suspicious of the Drive Social campaign because they kept putting ads in bus shelters. Guess what? Probably not going to find your target audience there, peeps.
Anyway. What really struck me was that Key immediately lashed out with an over-the-top “well the Greens just think everyone should cycle everywhere” – which just makes you look silly when the next minute (and all over Twitter) Genter is being the calm, sensible voice of reason.
And even more so when, you know, you’ve spent $174 per person on a website with no tangible or even measurable results (and $40 per YouTube view of your very expensive video.)
Is this another example of the right drinking their own Kool-Aid? Does Key really think he can just brush off obviously-ridiculous expenditure like Drive Social by saying “but they’re hippies, they don’t know anything”?
Is he shooting from the hip, unprepared, caught off-guard (he’s obviously answering TV3’s questions next to an elevator) and letting the happy she’ll-be-right facade slip for a moment?
Or is he just looking a bit tired?
I was trying to summon the willpower to really engage with and critique the Greens’ food policy, but really, I’ve said enough about our demonisation of fatties and I just lack the spoons to point out in detail how the science around nutrition and diet is so far from settled it’s a joke, or to explain with pretty diagrams just how utterly corrupt a lot of the science around nutrition is.
Let’s just say, I think we should be thankful no large proportion of the NZ agriculture industry is dependent on corn. And now, I ramble a little.
Seriously, @thelemonofpink was entirely on the money:
I… Am not sure how I feel re Greens’ unhealthy food labelling policy. Gut reaction: food policing bullshit.
And … yeah, pretty much. The policy is a paint-by-numbers “fat is bad, sugar is bad, sodium is bad, kids don’t know where apples come from” bullshit.
It’s really disappointing to me because the Greens are simultaneously pushing a “people deserve to be informed” policy, yet ignoring the fact that study after study shows that pushing “healthy” foods and “lifestyles” on kids does fuck all to change their weight. Ignoring the fact that any policy which treats weight as a symptom of poor choice not only doesn’t work but invariably leads to bullying and stigmatisation. Ignoring the fact that in a culture as weight- and lifestyle-obsessed as ours, it’s really hard to fucking fathom how anyone could not have heard a million times before breakfast that they need to eat less, move more, buy whole foods, learn to cook, count calories, cut the fat, 5+ a day.
It comes down – as it always comes down – to the idea that being fat is a moral failing and if only the poor stupid fatties could be told that bacon is a sin and apples are a virtue then they’d just stop being fat!
We reject this kind of bullshit when we’re talking about poverty, and the Right insist that the poor just make bad choices and thus deserve to live in damp, dark homes, or that people choose to live on the dole because it’s so much money, or solo parents on the DPB just don’t want to look for work. When it’s food, and fatness? Suddenly personal responsibility is everyone’s favourite card to play.
And all of you queuing up to tell me that this kind of discussion isn’t eliminationist?
The Green Party envisions an organic nature where:
… New Zealand is a healthier nation without epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes or other food-related chronic health problems.
Yep, there we go again labelling people’s bodies as a disease.
I expect the Green Party to be better than this. But they’re not. Because fatness is certainly not “the last” acceptable form of prejudice, but it’s certainly one of the last where otherwise-liberal, anti-discrimination people drink the “but it’s scientific!!!” Flavor Aid.
Metiria Turei out-geeks John Banks. It’s not difficult, but it is funny.
Alison McCulloch again pool-shots it out of the park on Policing Pregnancy.
Manboobz on Seth MacFarlane’s beyond-obnoxious Oscars hosting. Trigger warnings for racism, sexual assault, sexism, and Seth MacFarlane.
Family First can’t even get their own polling to come out against marriage equality. H/T Russell Brown. And of course FF’s press release on the topic fails to trumpet that anti-equality feeling is dominant in the male/over 60 demographics.
Chris Rock on minimum wage, via Atheist Pinko Sluts Monthly.
Smile, Sizeist! is a new Tumblr documenting the very real, very violent shit that fat people are subjected to.
Rape culture is when the police coerce rape victims into withdrawing complaints to make their stats look better. And I’ve only just finished watching season 3 of The Wire.
The Greens have released a housing policy around progressive ownership – government builds houses, low-income families rent houses for nominal cost-recovering rent, and extra rent paid goes towards purchasing equity in the house.
As a bonus, rich people’s kids don’t even have to self-select out of it!
Holly Walker did a great job explaining the policy – and how no, Minister Heatley, it isn’t just creating bad debt the way your government did giving tax cuts to the rich – on Firstline. It was clear, compelling, and made sense to someone like me who really, really avoids the deeper, scarier economic debates over at The Standard.
“it comes down to the economic impact of that and whether we could afford it”.
“There’s other areas we would want to take a look at, particularly the economic impact of it. We want to be responsible economic managers and that’s a big proviso on whatever we roll out as policy.”
Good economic managers, that’s his comment. Economic impact is what’s important – not getting underprivileged families into safe dry homes, stable tenancies, and actually able to work towards owning a house as their circumstances allow. Not reducing demand on the rental market so landlords can’t just charge $300 a week for any old drafty damp shack.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I think about people’s concerns (yes yes, voiced often at The Standard) that David Shearer’s Labour Party might just be a bit of a National-lite no-principles don’t-scare-the-horses-by-actually-saying-anything-too-lefty outfit? I definitely hear the words “responsible economic managers” ringing in my ears.
Gold star to Shearer’s advisors though for making him sound like he’s been stuffed with waffles. “Oh yeah, there are other things we’d look at. Oh, I don’t have examples to cite or anything, I haven’t figured out how to make definitive statements, but we’d definitely look at things. Lots of things. Because that makes us sound open-minded. And responsible. Especially about the economy.”
I know none of y’all in the big grey building next to the silly round building read blogs, but you might like to consider just how many commenters over at TS are now declaring themselves for the Greens. Those white-anting bastards.
Via Holly Walker, who gets to make kickass statements on the topic since she wasn’t a key advocate of a discriminatory, beneficiary-hating policy in the first place:
Children have the same needs, whether their parents are in work or not. But if a parent loses their job overnight (as so many have in Christchurch), they also suddently lose access to part of their WFF support. The In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) provides about $60 per week to help with the essentials for those on the lowest incomes, but only if you’re in paid work. If you can’t find work, or lose your job, you miss out, and so do your children.
Now CPAG needs your help:
You can support their efforts to raise funds for their appeal here. They’re also selling three original Tom Scott cartoons, which first appeared in Bryan Bruce’s Inside Child Poverty documentary on TradeMe to help raise funds. But don’t buy them, ok? They’re on my watchlist.
Those cartoons are pretty ace. Holly might have to keep a close eye on that bidding price …
In rough order from “somewhat probable” to “QoT’s wishful thinking”:
- Key muddles along until 2013, then bows out claiming his work is done to allow someone (fuck knows who) to lead National into the 2014 election.
- ACT gets absorbed into National, if only in a Jim Anderton-esque way, until Banks retires.
- Whatever NZ First does, it’s entertaining. Fully undecided on whether Winston accepted some baubles of office or is enough of a grumpy old man that he’ll truly be content to sit on the backbenches sniping at everyone.
- Conservatives, whose momentum largely derives from Colin Craig’s pockets, stick around and become the new rightwing alternative (now with bonus fundies)
- Greens form an MOU with NACT, get a few strong policies in, stick around the 10-12% mark as Labour hopefully figures out how to get votes back off National instead of whiteanting them*
- Labour frontbench bloodbath. Please. Unfortunately Damien O’Connor’s victory in West Coast-Tasman will probably convince plenty that pandering to Chris Trotter’s fantasy Waitakere Man is still a winning strategy.
Remaining thoughts on election night: TVNZ’s graphics sucked (and the graphic designer at our party agreed); Goff’s speech was really good; Peters remains a suave, suave dude. Happy the Greens picked up a record vote, boo hiss bloody Epsom and bloody David Parker.
Otherwise, same old same old, innit?
*Yep, I went there.
I know how this one is going to play, dear readers. It’s just going to be another evil, spiteful, bitchy, undermining, white-anting hysterical rant from a no-name bitch who no one likes who just hates Labour because she’s evil, and is just too picky, etc etc, and you know what? Go for your life. At this point I’m treating the whole thing as an historical exercise, writing down my thoughts now so in years ahead I can look back and say “fuck I was smart back then”.
And I do also understand that this is how politics works: find something that vaguely aligns to this week’s hot topic, and use it to try to turn the conversation back to yourself.
And I’ve previously said that it cannot be difficult for the left to put child poverty firmly on the agenda this election.
So when the Child Poverty Action Group’s report, Left Further Behind, got released last week, it was inevitable that as many parties as possible (the Nats and ACT excluded for fairly obvious reasons) would jump up with their hands in the air to cry “teacher, teacher, I have important thoughts on this!” like that beardy bastard in first-year philosophy/pols classes who thinks wasting half the class musing on the topic of “but is it not perhaps natural for man to seek a leader?” will really impress the professor.
Of course they were going to make this report about themselves. Of course you were going to get press releases with titles like “More evidence shows need for a plan to end child poverty” with the ever-so-subtle implication, “AND WE HAVE THAT PLAN”.
But I’m sorry, Labourites, yours in particular? Just a bit too far.
Here’s the context. Labour introduced Working for Families. CPAG made a complaint about Working for Families discriminating on the basis of family status. Labour, in government, fought damned hard against CPAG, with Crown Law even demanding a judicial review on the basis that CPAG, not being itself a starving beneficiary child, could not make such a complaint.
Now, CPAG’s report covers the introduction of WFF, noting it wasn’t as generous as a similar scheme in Australia (p51), and didn’t make allowance for big events like the recession or Pike River putting people involuntarily out of work (something the current Government kinda dealt with.) (p58) They agree that yes, things have got worse under NACT, and yes, they note that many many more children would have been in poverty today without WFF.
On p51, CPAG further notes that Labour is rethinking its attitude to WFF, and quotes Annette King on the subject. But a bit of a newsflash here: this is not CPAG jumping on some awesome Labour bandwagon, this is CPAG saying thanks for finally fucking listening to us on this, peeps.
Labour is also mentioned in other sections on removing GST from fruit and veg, the repeal of s59, early childhood education etc etc.
But no, sorry, Annette, sorry, Labour media team, sorry, Labour supporters; Left Further Behind contains not a single hint that CPAG “supports” Labour’s policies. Which is not really surprising, since CPAG is going for that whole “not politically affiliated” vibe.*
The Labour fans out there, no doubt already marshalling the usual “but John Key is Satan”, “but Labour is our last best hope for peace” lines, will not doubt point out that the press release doesn’t specifically say that CPAG are specifically explicitly and deliberately advocating in favour of Labour’s policies.
Not good enough, my friends.
Because the headline of the press release is
Labour welcomes Child Poverty Action Group support
Not even “Labour welcomes CPAG report” or “Labour endorses CPAG report” or “Labour’s policies in line with CPAG report”.
If the only thing you read (and please, stop for a moment to consider the standards of our mainstream media) was the headline, you would certainly come away with the impression that CPAG had endorsed Labour in some way.
Sorry, but they didn’t.
Then consider nice weaselly statements like
The … report released today confirms Labour’s policies
… when it doesn’t say anything about Labour’s policies …
I am pleased that so many organisations are coming together with the shared view that we must all do better for our children.
… as though CPAG were a new kid on the block in this area and just happened to have a really appropriate name …
and absolutely most fucking egregiously:
The Child Poverty Action Group has mirrored much of the policy that has already been announced by Labour
Mirrored. MIRRORED. Y’all may want to accuse me of being petty and pedantic, but you know what mirrors do? Reflect things that are already there. Obvious implication of this statement? Labour already thought of this first and CPAG are just joining in.
I’d hate to think that this is actually part of some official Labour key messages document: “Always speak as though all good things are inspired by us”, “always act as though we had every good idea first”. But it’s becoming a bit of a theme, and it’s far too closely related to “always act as though we are the one true leftwing god”, “the Greens are filthy traitors stealing our rightful votes” attitudes.
Child poverty is a serious fucking deal in NZ, and God knows I’m happy to see any party taking it seriously. But Labour has a pretty shit track record on this one, and it’s not one they’re keen to talk about (another recurring meme). So frankly, peeps, I am not looking in that direction for any actual answers.
I’m going to look to groups like CPAG. Here’s what they have to say about the future of eliminating child poverty (p73):
There are very good arguments for a universal payment, but in 2011 we have very wide income disparities and we do not have progressive taxation to fund redistribution. In addition, the poorest children miss out on payments in the current system because payments are tied to their parents’ paid work activity, not solely to income.
A universal payment alone is incapable of addressing child poverty with the current restrictions: fiscally it would mean that in order to make a payment to children that alleviated poverty, the payment level would have to be so high that we could not do it without either raising the top tax rates considerably to pay for it, or sacrificing some other worthy spending. Eliminating poverty has to be the first priority and this requires targeting assistance to the lowest income families. It would be possible (and desirable) to have a universal dimension, comparatively small initially, but the most significant assistance in the immediate future will need to be targeted at the poorest children. This could be the first step towards a universal payment for all children.
I’m sure they’d be happy for political parties to push these ideas, free of charge. But acting like this report actively supports any specific party, particularly Labour? Acting like this is some kind of “me, too!” to Labour’s awesome godlike child poverty policies which date back to the dawn of Westminster? Get your fucking hand off it, mate.
*Just to make it crystal clear: this is what it looks like when CPAG “supports” a Labour policy. Just so y’all know in future.
PS. Seriously, Labour. All this would have taken to be a good-news story from me (because it’s all about me) was to can the entitlement complex and say “This report is good, we’re happy we can see we’re going in the right direction, we did make mistakes last time and we’re not going to do it again.” How hard is that? Once you’ve taught your leadership team to say “sorry”, that is.
This isn’t directed at anyone specific, but suffice it to say that if National forms the next government, I will swear off alcohol for a month if no one in the lefty Kiwi blogosphere makes a post about how it’s all Mana’s fault and
Ralph Nader Epsom voters RAM Hone Harawira screwed everything up for Labour and if only everyone else on the left / in the social justice movement had stood aside and waited their turn, and at least half the National voters had woken up / paid attention / used their brains / not been so stupid, it would all have been all right.