Yesterday I made this post, both here and at The Standard. It was born of my frustration with the number of leftwing men who are still complaining about identity politics like they only just learned the phrase, still demanding that 100% of the left’s collective time and thought be about their personal issues, still basically crying like babies who are being asked to share their toys.
And the response pretty much proved my point.
I was told that their actions – which multiple other people had observed and commented on – were “in my head”. I was told I needed to “get counselling”. A comment was left here saying:
All fat hags should be neither seen nor heard.
My attempts at moderation – in hardly more aggressive terms than people like lprent normally dole out – were point-blank ignored, and labelled “censorship”.
I was cast as some “other blogger” who was imposing my terrible, bullying will on The Standard, normally such a genteel place. The irony of that last point is that a mere day earlier, people had rallied around a comment which praised The Standard for being a more rough-and-tumble place. Somehow it’s different when it’s a sweary woman doing it, isn’t it?
But of course it was really me who was silencing people, by objecting to their insistence that I be silent.
Of course I, and other commenters who agreed with me, needed to have basic democratic politics (“you see, we need to win elections in order to have the power to do things and the right don’t want us to win“) explained to us, because our ladybrains were just too confused.
And the conversation has carried on in other threads where people want to make it very clear that they are the reasonable, thoughtful ones who totally would agree with me if I wasn’t so goshdarned mean.
This is a standard (couldn’t help myself) day in the life of a feminist blogger on a leftwing site. This is exactly what I tried to explain. But I guess maybe we need yet another election where Labour’s woolly-headed waffle and stamping down on “identity groups” nets them another three years on the Opposition benches before the boys will listen.
2005: John Tamihere interviewed in Investigate Magazine.
INVESTIGATE: What is the most powerful network in the Labour executive?
The Labour Party Wimmins [sic] Division. Whether it’s bagging cops that strangle protestors they should be beating the proverbial out of, or – it’s about an anti-men agenda, that’s what I reckon. It’s about men’s values, men’s communication standards, men’s conduct.
I spoke to the boards and principals association in Wellington, and I showed them a picture of two girls with their fists clenched, standing on top of two young male students. The object of the exercise was to prove that once again the female students had romped home academically against all the boys. If the positions in the photo were reversed, all hell would break loose.
Where else in the world do Amazons rule?
In our constitutional base you could kill the Prime Minister – sure, there’s a deputy prime minister – but in the interregnum the second in charge is the Speaker. The Governor-General. If those three die you go to the Chief Justice, another woman.
I don’t mind front-bums being promoted, but just because they are [women] shouldn’t be the issue. They’ve won that war. It’s just like the Maori – the Maori have won, why don’t they just get on with the bloody job. I think it becomes more grasping.
Other comments include “I’m sick and tired of hearing how many Jews got gassed”. Tamihere loses his seat in the 2005 election to Dr Pita Sharples and goes on to host a talkback show on Radio Live.
2009: Chris Trotter coins the term “Waitakere Man” in a post urging Labour to return to its working-class roots.
To win in 2008, National had to break Labour’s grip on the mixed metropolitan suburbs.The voter escorting National to its First Term Ball turned out to be the sort of bloke who spends Saturday afternoon knocking-back a few beers on the deck he’d built himself, and Saturday evening watching footy with his mates on the massive flat-screen plasma-TV he’s still paying-off.His missus works part-time to help out with the mortgage, and to keep their school-age offspring in cell-phones and computer games.National’s partner – let’s call him Waitakere Man – has a trade certificate that earns him much more than most university degrees. He’s nothing but contempt for “smart-arse intellectual bastards spouting politically-correct bullshit”.…On racial issues he’s conflicted. Some of his best friends really are Maori – and he usually agrees with the things John Tamihere says on Radio Live.…
National was getting two (or more) votes for the price of one. Sometimes Waitakere Man brought with him the votes of his mother, daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces as well. How had Clark forfeited the trust of Waitakere Woman?…What broke their connection with Clark was the anti-smacking legislation. They felt affronted – as if their parenting skills had been weighed in the balance of the Prime Minister’s conscience and found wanting. Clark, who had no children, was telling them how to raise their kids. She seemed to be passing judgement on their whole family – turning them into criminals. They felt betrayed.Waitakere Woman’s sense of betrayal, combined with the ingrained misogyny and cultural diffidence of Waitakere Man, was what got National onto the dance floor in 2008. Key should read both Rodney Hide’s intransigence on Maori representation, and the recent Referendum’s unequivocal result, as timely reminders of the price of his party’s admission.When the band begins to play, Waitakere Man and Waitakere Woman must not be left standing.
In making this decision it has not only chosen wrongly, but it has also dealt what may prove to be a fatal blow to the career of one of its more talented MPs, Phil Twyford.“Waitakere Man/Woman” is the key to Labour’s recovery.…[quotes previous post on Waitakere Man]…Carmel Sepuloni’s going to win back those voters?
Following a judicial recount, Sepuloni misses out on the seat by nine votes and was not returned to Parliament due to her placing at 24th on the party list. Phil Twyford returned to Parliament after winning the seat of Te Atatū.
2012: Chris Trotter identifies John Tamihere as the “avatar” of Waitakere Man.
Mulling over the Labour Party’s decision to re-admit John Tamihere to its ranks, I’m beginning to understand how Dr Frankenstein felt. “Waitakere Man” – the monster I created more than three years ago on the pages of The Independent Business Weekly – has not only gone its own way, it’s acquired a powerful, new, flesh-and-blood political avatar.
Waitakere Man proved troublesome from the moment he emerged from my computer keyboard. Many people believed he was myavatar. They charged me with counselling the Labour Party to embrace this bigoted blowhard and tailor its policies to suit his prejudices. Not true. My intent was only ever to make Labour aware of Waitakere Man’s existence.
It seems that Phil Goff has coincidentally started following Trotter’s advice, but Trotter, ever the voice of wisdom, warns:
When, inevitably, [Waitakere Man] brings his knee up between progressive Labour’s legs, let no one who voted for Mr Tamihere’s re-admission feign either horror or surprise.
August 2013: Chris Trotter theorises Tamihere will run for Waitakere under New Zealand First, and win.
But, if Tamihere (JT) runs, it won’t be in Labour red. Though the party eventually agreed to accept his 2012 membership application, the word in Labour circles is that a Tamihere candidacy in Waitakere would be approved only over the dead bodies of the party’s women’s and LGBTI sector groups.
That the very attitudes and values that produce such an allergic reaction among Labour’s social liberals and identity politicians might also be the attitudes and values of the average Waitakere voter, is as neat a summation of Labour’s dilemma as one is likely to find in the topsy-turvy context of contemporary electoral politics.
By recruiting JT to the NZ First cause and putting him up in Waitakere against both Paula Bennett and whoever Labour chooses (probably Carmel Sepuloni) Peters could grow the overall NZ First Party Vote by as much as 2-3 percent. On election night that could mean a NZ First tally of 8-10 percent – rather than the 6-8 percent it is currently anticipating.
Trotter also refers to Paula Bennett as “oozing BBW appeal”.
5 November 2013: Following media exposure of the “Roast Busters” rape club, John Tamihere and Willie Jackson bully a rape survivor on their talkback show. [Post by Giovanni Tiso featuring transcript of the questions asked]
Tell me this, how old are you?
How did your parents consent to you going out as a 14-year-old til 3am in the morning?
So anyway you fibbed, lied, whatever, and went out to the parties – did you not know they were up to this mischief?
Well, you know when you were going to parties, were you forced to drink?
Don’t youse [sic] know what these guys are up to?
Yeah but girls shouldn’t be drinking anyway, should they?
6 November 2013: Danyl Mclauchlan posts on the Roast Busters/John Tamihere issue.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in and around this instantly-infamous Radio Live clip …
… Finally, there’s a huge amount of affection for Tamihere amongst the Trotterist factions of the Labour Party. People like Mike Williams and Josie Pagani feel JT’s well-documented pathological contempt for woman would be an electoral asset among blue-collar male voters, and David Shearer gushed that he’d be an amazing Minister for Social Development. The core tenet of Trotterism is that identity politics isn’t important, and if that faction in the party had its way they’d have a welfare spokesman who thinks that young girls who drink alcohol deserve to be gang-raped. So let me say again that Tamihere would be a poor choice for that role, and that, like Shane Jones he is basically un-electable, and that people in the Labour Party should stop promoting these weird, creepy misogynists.
I’d exercise a little caution if I were you, Danyl.
8 November, 2013: Josie Pagani (whose views on these issues would have to be the subject of a separate post) posts at Pundit on the issue.
I am disgusted with the attitudes of Willie and JT … But I don’t support banning them from radio. The painful, ugly truth about the attitudes of Willie and JT is that they are shared by tens of thousands of men who think women should take responsibility for not being raped.
Willie and JT’s job is to discuss stuff. You don’t fix their faulty attitude by telling the part of our community who think they have a point, that it should not have a voice. You deal with it by argument.
Because where do you end up if you get banned for expression? You end up like the pathological blogger Dimpost, who effectively attributes blame to me for the words and attitudes of Willie & JT.
It goes something like this – I have previously spoken out in support of Willie and JT, as politicians with something to contribute to the community. Therefore, I am responsible for everything JT says (and therefore the inference is that I agree with everything he says).
How perverse do you have to be to implicate a woman in the anti-woman views expressed on radio? What is really happening here is that he is trying to silence me (and others) because he disagrees with me about other political issues. This is where you end up when you try to have Willie and JT removed from the radio – banning people you disagree with, not just those who hold offensive views.
And Chris Trotter responds in comments:
Danyl McLaughlin’s [sic] association of Josie and myself with the behaviour of the Roastbusters and their defenders – based on nothing more substantial than that we share a political analysis with which he disaggrees – marks a new low for his blog. Perhaps you should ask yourself whether Danyl’s compulsion to denounce, denigrate and distress those by whom he feels threatened makes him more, or less, like the Roastbusters he purports to abhor?
The TLDR of all of this: Chris Trotter has repeatedly made it clear that he thinks there is a “Waitakere Man” archetype of NZ voter who is a narrow-minded white dude who likes, and is even embodied by (except for the whiteness, obviously) John Tamihere. Chris Trotter has repeatedly urged the Labour Party to appeal to this archetype – though always in every-so-slightly cagey terms like “dance partner”. Which makes it very convenient, when Tamihere is an abusive fuck to rape victims, for Trotter to distance himself from the whole situation and paint himself as the victim.
You don’t get to constantly grind down identity politics and put your view of working-class (or is it self-employed?)/lower-middle-class men on a pedestal, then complain when the obvious misogyny and bullying behaviour which comes with that archetype explodes into the public view.
Here endeth the lesson.
Homework: consider the idea, posited by The Egonomist and others, that the promotion of a particular type of bigoted redneck thinking is identity politics – and the reason we don’t recognise this is because some identities get to be “normal” and not “other”.
This is a repost of a comment I left at The Standard, responding to a guest poster’s assertion that
It may upset some Labour members who position themselves to the Left in the Labour camp, but in broad terms Labour should seek to target and capture the support of those who generally consider themselves centrist. And those who would consider themselves to be an intermittent Labour voter. This is the real ground to be captured in 2014.
I feel like this phrase is key:
those who generally consider themselves centrist
Because what it says to me is that we’re not talking about policies or ideology, we’re talking about appealing to people who don’t see themselves as having an ideology. That’s where National’s jibes about the “far left” come into play: it’s the view that a lot of New Zealanders call themselves centrists because “left” means Stalin and “right” means Colin Craig.
I feel like a lot of people who would call themselves “centrist” are really pretty leftwing/non-National in NZ political terms, i.e. of wanting people to get a fair deal, having a safety net when times are hard, getting a good free education and healthcare system for their kids.
But we’ve allowed this myth of the “centre” to dominate. It’s the Peter Dunne approach: he doesn’t get votes because he’s strongly for a particular political perspective, he gets them because he’s seen as an ideology-free “common sense” kind of guy.
I don’t think we recapture those voters (if that’s who we really want to recapture) by cuddling up to what National are doing. I think we do it by reminding them that all those values they believe in and take for granted are leftwing values.
And to his credit, David Cunliffe has already started doing this:
“If putting a warm dry home around every Kiwi child and making sure their tummies are fed and they have shoes on their feet is suddenly far-left, well go ahead with that tag,” he said.
Just because I’m a numbers nerd, here’s a breakdown of a few key factors in the National and Labour top 20.
Gender, identity and bumping uglies
Labour’s lineup is 35% women, 100% cisgendered, 15% queer.
National is 30% women, 100% cisgendered, 5% queer.
Race and origins
Labour is 20% Māori, 5% Pasifika and 75% Pākehā. One MP was born overseas (Su’a William Sio).
National is 15% Māori, including Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges, whose Māori ancestry is mentioned in their Wikipedia articles. One MP was born overseas (Tim Groser).
Labour is 60% electorate MPs, and three were born in their electorate or thereabouts – Damien O’Connor, David Parker (having formerly held Otago), Chris Hipkins.
National is 80% electorate MPs, and six were born in their electorate or thereabouts – Gerry Brownlee, Anne Tolley, Nathan Guy, Chris Tremain, Nikki Kaye, and, technically, Bill English.
As far as I can tell, all 40 are currently able-bodied.
17 out of 20 on Labour’s list and 18 out of 20 on National’s have a university education. Both parties have two members with a stint at Harvard mentioned on their Wikipedia page: David Cunliffe, Shane Jones, John Key and Hekia Parata.
Does that make you think?
Congratulations to David Cunliffe, who won on the first round of preferences. My Storify of how the announcement went down on Twitter is here.
Now in the wise words of RuPaul:
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, TV3 broadcast the public portion of the final hustings meeting of the Labour leadership election. There are too many prepositions in that sentence.
So dispose of the prose and check out the Storify of the hashtag, now with even less pointless edgy derailing by the Occupy “movement”.
A continuation of yesterday’s post, wherein I appropriate the labour of Young Labour to comment on the
Old Labour leader candidates.
Well, that clears that up.
Cunliffe: Yes it is my intention to do so, but I want to check that sufficient protections are in place.
Basic political answer for the issue.
Jones: Highly unlikely.
And Jones immediately shatters his straight-talking stance, inasmuch as he had one, by dodging a pretty simple yes/no question. Of course, it all makes sense if you add “unless Sealord makes it worth my while” at the end
of everything he says.
Cunliffe: I really think we need to improve the financial support and structures for students. I can’t make a commitment to a universal allowance until we’ve crunched the numbers – but it’s something I want to strive for. I am committed to extending eligibility for the allowance.
Jones: I will, subject to fiscal resource, deliver a universal student allowance system.
Robertson: Question is not if, but when. One of the things I am proud to have been part of was the interest free student loan system. I have always been committed to making study more accessible.
They’re all pretty much the same – no one’s saying “yes, 100%, in the first 100 days we’ll get it sorted”.
What I will be picky about? Is Robertson being proud about merely ameliorating the shittiness of student loans by making them interest-free. Those who studied while interest was being applied? Still have to pay that interest back. And we now live in a country where there’s a new “being a grown-up” milestone: the milestone of getting the first paycheck after you’ve paid off your loan.
If you ever pay it off, of course. It’ll take you longer if you’re a woman. And we know that social and educational outcomes for children are on average a lot better if their mothers have higher education.
Meanwhile people wring their hands about why younger people aren’t able to afford first homes …
Boy, that sure tells us a lot about them.
Cunliffe: Helen’s great achievement was putting the brakes on the neo-liberal experiment and putting people and social justice back into politics. The role of a government I lead would be to really move forward on making fundamental changes to our economy based on the traditional Labour Party principles of fairness and social justice.
Jones: I will alter the tax system to reward investment and jobs in the regions.
Robertson: I am proud of what the Clark government achieved. But the economic framework of that time needs to change. This means a government that is more hands on in creating jobs and policies like a capital gains tax. The era of light handed regulation is also over if we are to have safe workplaces.
Cunliffe and Robertson both try to have it both ways, praising Clark yet criticising. Jones … again, I just can’t tell if he’s meaning to sound as snarky as he does (just add “unlike SOME governments” at the end to see what I mean) or if he’s just not much of a thinker or if he’s just that straight up-and-down (insert porn joke here).
The whippersnappers* of Young Labour have done a very good job canvassing Cunliffe, Jones and Robertson’s feelings on a number of topics … so I’m just shamelessly springboarding off their hard work to provide my own take (and also transcribe the answers for those who can’t read the images).
Of course, they were always going to start with the dread ManBan.
Robertson: I am totally committed to ensuring the Labour caucus is 50/50 men and women.
Nice and straightforward, doesn’t actually address the question.
Jones: I don’t support a quota system, I will reward merit and take innovative steps to attract quality candidates regardless of gender, ethnicity or creed.
Surprise surprise, Shane Jones believes in a meritocracy and doesn’t think he should take this golden opportunity to address the fact that people think he’s a fucking misogynist troll.
Cunliffe: I’d like to see Parliament made up of 50% women, but it’s not something we can legislate for. The place for deciding on quotas is in political parties. I am committed to 50% of Labour’s caucus being women no later than 2017 and earlier if practicable. That means a real effort to change our culture.
Well, you can actually legislate for that kind of thing, David … but points for actually addressing the question and stating clearly that this is something requiring a culture change.
Cunliffe: I am comfortable with personal possession of marijuana being a minor infringement. I do not believe that it makes sense to waste significant police resources on this issue. Did I ever smoke marijuana? I was a student in the early 80s but I swear I did not inhale while writing poetry.
A nice balanced answer, though not one that’s going to convert any ALCP members. And I like Cunliffe’s ability to make a joke of himself, which neatly takes the sting out of bullshit hacks’ jabs at him.
Jones: I am not a smoker and will not put any priority on legalising marijuana.
Robertson: Like any drug we need tight regulation, but I favour a partial decriminalisation approach. I have to say though that this issue is not a major priority for me. As for inhaling, yes, not for many years, and I did not particularly enjoy it.
Another balanced answer, but it’s always super-telling when a politician uses the phrase “I have to say though”. It’s an ass-covering manoeuvre, a sop to the people who will freak out over the statement preceding it.
*QoT rolls up her sleeves and readies the chairleg of truth*
Robertson: All women should have the right to control and determine their own reproductive health. That is an absolute non negotiable. In my mind, our current abortion laws fall outside this principle and need to be reformed.
… well that was unexpected. It wasn’t Holly Walker levels of awesome, but given the last Labour leader to be asked the question decided to put his male privilege on full display by declaring he “hadn’t given it much thought”, I’m impressed, Grant.
Jones: Abortion, for me will always be a matter for an MP’s conscience.
Surprise surprise, Shane Jones hides behind the conscience issue – but won’t actually let us know what his conscience (I assume here that he has one) would tell him to do. And that’s a big fucking deal for a party leader.
Cunliffe: I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected. The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent. The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.
David does well here, but … yeah, a definite second place. Saying the law “hasn’t been reviewed for many years” is a massive understatement which is barely balanced by “that is now urgent”. And I just hate the conscience issue thing. Sure, abortion is widely seen as a “moral” issue, but we don’t have fucking Parliamentary conscience votes on whether Viagra can be advertised on television during the cricket, and Viagra isn’t a necessary medical procedure the lack of which might kill people.
Of course, Robertson and Cunliffe both make abortion purely a woman’s issue. They’re neither of them strident feminists, and if Grant thought about it he probably didn’t want to hand the religious extremists another “look at the gay man who is gay!!!!” attack of opportunity.
What I’m most torn on is Jones’ answers. Because I think he’s below pondscum, I read his brief, politic responses as either the kind you give when you don’t really respect the person asking your questions, or the kind you give when you lack the political instinct to figure out how to turn it best to your advantage. Cunliffe and Robertson have both made efforts to either cement their progressiveness or reinforce their moderateness and they’re definitely aiming at the Young Labour audience. Jones doesn’t seem to give a fuck.
On the other hand, there’s probably plenty of people out there who will see that as a good thing: straight-talking, no waffle. No real principles either, but that probably doesn’t matter to Jones supporters.
*Oh god I feel old.
I’m going to put my cards on the table and say it straight out: in the upcoming Labour leadership contest, I am firmly behind [Grant Robertson/David Cunliffe].
The thing about [Robertson/Cunliffe] which sets him apart from [Robertson/Cunliffe] is sure, he’s got an ego, but he’s good at controlling it. When people meet [Robertson/Cunliffe] they really get a sense of warm and genuineness, unlike [Robertson/Cunliffe].
Sure, [Robertson/Cunliffe] has been a public servant for a long time, but he can still appeal to people outside the beltway because of his life experiences. And while some people this [Robertson/Cunliffe] really reflects the progressive, leftwing values I support, I just don’t agree, because he has a really checkered history on those issues, whereas I think [Robertson/Cunliffe] has been really vocal and visible in those areas.
Now I understand that [Robertson/Cunliffe] might appeal to some people, and that’s totally fair, because we should all vote in line with our consciences. But on the other hand, I think he’s just not going to win against John Key, whereas [Robertson/Cunliffe] can totally take the fight to him, especially in televised debates.
The other thing is that we really need a break from the Goff/Shearer style of leadership, and [Robertson/Cunliffe] fits that bill for me because he can really stand apart from it, whereas [Robertson/Cunliffe] is just too closely associated with the failures of the past.
I’ve been a [Robertson/Cunliffe] fan for ages, and I’m not going to apologise for backing [Robertson/Cunliffe], but it’s really annoying me how fannish the [Robertson/Cunliffe] supporters are being. They’re just jumping on the bandwagon because they think [Robertson/Cunliffe] is going to win and they just don’t understand that [Robertson/Cunliffe] is the real man for the job.
What I guess I’m really saying is that we need unity and leadership, not smugness and divisiveness, and that’s why Labour needs [Robertson/Cunliffe] and not [Robertson/Cunliffe] because he’s a doodyhead, and I just wish everyone who supports [Robertson/Cunliffe] could stop slinging mud around in the debate because you’re making us look fractured and spiteful.
Homework: choose the options which reflect the opposite of how you feel, and consider how fucking smug it sounds and how much it annoys you. Then choose the options which reflect how you actually feel, and get some nice warm fuzzies about how balanced and rational you’re being.
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.