Armstrong on Activists

July 24th, 2010 at 10:21 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

The left-wing activists who stormed the Sky City Hotel last Sunday in an inevitably futile attempt to force their way into the National Party conference should take a good hard look at themselves.

The noisy fracas with security guards inside Auckland’s Temple to Capitalism certainly got the activists what they wanted – top-of-the-bulletin coverage on that evening’s television news. But if they think such tactics are going to mobilise public opinion against the Government’s just-released package of workplace law reforms then they should think again.

Their actions were widely viewed within the Labour Party as unhelpful, though no one was saying so publicly.

and charging a Police line just sends people into the opposite direction.

While others on the left have been quick to label National’s package as a “class war” being waged on the country’s workers, Labour has avoided using such over-the-top language.

When it comes to portraying National’s policy prescription, there is a danger of crying wolf. More so because much of the package is based on National’s 2008 election policy. That prescription pleasantly surprised some left-wing commentators for being so moderate and not a return to the Employment Contracts Act. They cannot now turn around and argue that the package released by Key last Sunday is designed to wage class war.

And many aspects will actually be welcomed by employees such as the ability to trade leave for pay.

Even the 90 day trial period will be popular with many employees I reckon. We’ve all seen new people hired at a workplace and within a week or two it is apparent they are not up to the job. It isn’t just the bosses, but the other employees, who often have to carry them until they finally leave.

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38 Responses to “Armstrong on Activists”

  1. Inventory2 (10,095 comments) says:

    Armstrong’s piece should be read by every union member in New Zealand. They should then ask themselves this; “Are our leaders acting in OUR best interests, or just their own?”.

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2010/07/armstrong-on-unions.html

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  2. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,790 comments) says:

    Have a look at the splenetic outbursts from Mr Trotter over at Bowalley. They really don’t know how funny they are.

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  3. Inventory2 (10,095 comments) says:

    @ Adolf – ‘E by goom; solidarity, brothers!

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  4. mickysavage (786 comments) says:

    Armstrong is an apologist for the National Government.

    During a week where by far the biggest piece of news was the cave in on mining and the realisation that National does not have an economic strategy apart from kicking workers he comes out with a puff piece because a couple of veteran protesters were at a protest.

    He needs to get perspective and report on the real news, not swallow National PR lines.

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  5. David Farrar (1,853 comments) says:

    Oh dear Mickey, shooting the messenger.

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  6. Pete George (22,781 comments) says:

    Mickey, the mining was last week’s news, get with it – the labour law changes are being suggested and “fought” now by a few union dinosaurs (with few teeth left). Ok, some of the changes need a bit of a look at, but these are mostly moderate sensible proposals.

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  7. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Sue Bradford and John Minto charging a Police line just sends people into the opposite direction.

    Makes me want to join the police. Do I get a taser? When’s the next protest?

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  8. Ross Miller (1,661 comments) says:

    Errrrrrrrr wasn’t the 90 day trial initiative recommended by Labour’s own Small Business Advisory Group only to be rejected by their caucus. Sez almost everything that needs to be said about the state of the Labour Party.

    Trapped in an ideologicial time warp.

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  9. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,790 comments) says:

    krazikiwi. a Glock is less likely to fail.

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  10. Inky_the_Red (734 comments) says:

    “The left-wing activists who stormed the Sky City Hotel last Sunday”

    who wrote this. There was no storming the hotel by activists. I was there. Bradford and (in particularly) Minto did not attempt to storm anything. A few Anarchists (mostly connected to the Unite Union) entered the hotel beside the conference entry. The made a lot of noise then left.

    There were only a dozen police and about 3 security standing guard if we wanted to we could have marched into the conference centre, we did not.

    Yes there was some pushing of the police. Yes there was an idiot (from fathers rights or something) who tried to encourage the storming of the building. However the protest was peaceful (loud but peaceful). When it looked like there might be trouble Len Richards from the SFWU made sure the SFWU banners were collected so not to be associated. Soon after Minto said the protest was over and we left.

    Protest is an important right in a democracy, just because you don’t support the protest doesn’t give me the right to protest. If you want to ban protest go to China.

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  11. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could actually have some agreement on a moderate employment policy?

    Right now, we have Labor unashamedly pushing in favoUr of Unions – under them, the unions got pretty much all they asked for.

    National can either push for something like the ECA only to have it repealed, or push something more moderate and have it repealed. Neither of those choices are that flash IMHO – our laws shouldn’t be a tennis match that change every time we change the government.

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  12. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    kk – would make a great “Who has better work stories”. Cut from someone looking bored in an office cubicle, to the riot squad whaling on Minto and Bradford with truncheons. Now that would SELL !

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  13. gravedodger (1,510 comments) says:

    Micky S assuming your view of ‘real news’ would only be that which agrees with your luddite view of things political, I would point out that the media in this country have barely produced anything resembling what I would call “news” in many moons. TV news is undisguised “infotainment” and the dead tree press indulges itself in opinion and prediction or sanitised comment on events based on press release or “un-named sources. “the News” in its historical sense is as about as current as the last sighting of the Moa or the Huia.
    John Armstrong is an OPINION writer and as he pisses everyone of at different times he seems IMO to be somewhere in the center.
    Go back to your primordial swamp and wallow in it.

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  14. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    Inky said…
    Protest is an important right in a democracy

    Yes, I agree, but on public property not on private property. Sky city is not public. It is private. How do you feel if some unknown person to you just comes into your property to protest against you (perhaps his/her reason is that he/she doesn’t like unionist or could be something else). You wouldn’t feel comfortable with that, would you? Same thing happens to the owners/managements of Sky city. They wouldn’t have felt comfortable with your crowd’s attempted home/property invasion. Do your protest on the public road opposite the Sky city. If you don’t agree with me here about property rights, then tell me your address, so I can just turn up on your property to protest against you, simply for being a union supporter. Isn’t that democratic? Yep, me turning up at your private property to protest against you is simply democracy at work. Shall we try it? Address please.

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  15. Inky_the_Red (734 comments) says:

    The protest was on the road and footpath outside Sky City. That is public land.

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  16. Maggie (674 comments) says:

    “Even the 90 day trial period will be popular with many employees I reckon. We’ve all seen new people hired at a workplace and within a week or two it is apparent they are not up to the job. It isn’t just the bosses, but the other employees, who often have to carry them until they finally leave.”

    Haven’t you ever heard of dismissals? Or are you one of these “you can’t sack anyone, it’s all too hard….” ideologues?

    Many employees may like the 90-day trial period so long as they are not directly affected. When their son or daughter comes home having been fired and not knowing why, they may change their tune.

    I’ve no problem with a trial period. But anyone who is dismissed is entitled to know why and to challenge that dismissal.

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  17. Inventory2 (10,095 comments) says:

    @ Inky the Red – if there was no “storming of the building”, then how come Sue Bradford could proclaim “that she had been “belted in the face” by police. “I’m sure I will end up with a few bruises.”“? Or was she one of your “a few Anarchists”?

    And Bradford herself is quoted

    She said she was pleased with the number of union members who had turned out to oppose the Government’s reforms that she likened to those under former Finance Minister Bill Birch in the early 1990s.

    “It is important to show the National Party conference and John Key that this is an attack on working people,” Ms Bradford said.

    “There was a large number who wanted to get into the conference, but obviously the police stopped us getting in,” she said.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10659620

    If you can’t be honest, just bugger off.

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  18. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Excellent way of putting it, Fisi. And also if some violent thugs joined in on your protest that you really, really, intended to be peaceful ( promise ! ), that wouldn’t be in any way your fault and I’m sure Inky would see that too.

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  19. RightNow (6,647 comments) says:

    Inky? “If you want to ban protest go to China.”

    Who said anything about banning protest? Do more, we love it.

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  20. Inky_the_Red (734 comments) says:

    I don’t disagree that a small minority of protester had other agendas other than promoting workers rights. If the Majority had wanted to Storm the National Party Conference a dozen police would not have stopped 300 protesters.

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  21. Pete George (22,781 comments) says:

    I’ve no problem with a trial period. But anyone who is dismissed is entitled to know why and to challenge that dismissal.

    More or less right – they are entitled to know why, and could challenge it but usually by that stage it would be too late. I think a good employer would usually explain any concerns to give the person on trial a chance to measure up before the dismissal stage. By the time it gets to dismissal (during the trial), like resignation, it usually would be the end of the line.

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  22. kiwi in america (2,433 comments) says:

    Inky
    The trouble is that the ‘majority’ you refer to is mythical. National campaigned on this law change and surprise surprise after a succesful trial where the sky did not fall down as the unions warned, they implimented their manifesto. Last time I read the polls, a healthy majority of NZ voters approved of National to the extent that they could still form a majority government 20 months after they were elected and despite governing through the worst recession since the 1930′s.

    Bradford and Minto are hard left socialists who are wedded to a discredited Maxist ideology and thankfully they have a very small number of fellow travellers. Like all ideologues, they are utterly convinced of the rightness of their cause no matter how bad the optics of their police charge looked and how damaging this imagery is to the more moderate centre-left as represented by the Labour party.

    I’m surprised mickey savage hasn’t alleged the whole thing was a dastardly manipulation dreamed up by Crosby Texter. From the perspective of the Nats and the PM’s Office, you couldn’t have asked for a better outcome to occur during the labour law policy announcement!

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  23. Inky_the_Red (734 comments) says:

    I was talking about the Majority of the people in the Protest not some mythical Majority of the people

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  24. reid (15,918 comments) says:

    He [Armstrong] needs to get perspective and report on the real news, not swallow National PR lines.

    And you don’t think the Unions need some perspective as well?

    Apparently, according to how they act publicly, one MUST conclude that every single union official ALL believe that EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYER JUST CAN’T WAIT TO BE REALLY WICKED IF ONLY THE LAW WOULD LET THEM.

    That is just so fucking far off reality it’s off the sanity scale – they’re loopy, fucked in the head, many many clowns short of even a really small circus with only one animal: a hedgehog, and no tent.

    Seriously, the Unions would do a lot better: i.e. improve their effectiveness; if they acknowledged they didn’t REALLY believe that and to prove it, stop talking about it as if they do.

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  25. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    I love union protests … it moves people to the right.

    But good on them for trying to increase new financial union membership .. so the leaders can comfortably live of the proceeds ..

    It’s pretty hard to make a living off union memberships as a leader these days … unless of course your name is Andrew Little.

    You have to see from the Unions and Labours prospective.

    Political motivated leaches Sue Bradford and John Minto up front protesting with them only makes it worse..

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  26. Inventory2 (10,095 comments) says:

    mickysavage said

    Armstrong is an apologist for the National Government.

    During a week where by far the biggest piece of news was the cave in on mining and the realisation that National does not have an economic strategy apart from kicking workers he comes out with a puff piece because a couple of veteran protesters were at a protest.

    He needs to get perspective and report on the real news, not swallow National PR lines.

    Oh Mickey, Mickey, Mickey. If the back-down over mining was the “biggest piece of news” this week, why did Labour MP’s feel compelled to ask so many questions of Ministers about the proposed employment law changes? Sheesh, there were FIVE questions on Tuesday alone, from Phil Goff, Trevor Mallard, Nanaia Mahuta, Grant Robertson and Darien Fenton. All but one of Labour’s allocation of questions on Tuesday was devoted to employment law changes. Mallard and Fenton were asking questions again on Wednesday. That’s seven questions in total on the employment law changes, compared to five on the issue of mining from Labour MP’s.

    Nice try mate, but sheesh; as a lawyer, even you will have to admit that your argument there was seriously deficient. I hope you represent your clients better than you represent yourself :-)

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  27. reid (15,918 comments) says:

    “Politically motivated leaches Sue Bradford and John Minto up front protesting with them [doing anything at all ever, except breathing], only makes it worse..”

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  28. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    I bet Inky & Micky didn’t even put any money in the pokies, probably left their wallets at home being tight lefty twits.

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  29. Anthony (766 comments) says:

    David is quite right about poor employees annoying the rest of the workers. Nothing is worse for morale when you are trying to get your job done than when there is someone else being paid heaps and contributing next to nothing or even hindering the rest of the workers!

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  30. Inventory2 (10,095 comments) says:

    Indeed SSB – they only spend Other People’s Money, not their own!

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  31. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    It’s hard to see how unions can have any support (from the middle that is) for their cause.

    Reading the law now on union access to the workplace for example, reads like a unionist bill of rights. Fines are only specified for employers, and rights of employers are implied, while those of unions are quite specific.

    Then you have the 90 day “end of the world” provisions that have been the biggest snooze since the Regulatory Paperwork (no. 23) amendment bill of 1936. Yet having had precisely zero complaints arise in the time between it’s implementation and the current round of agitation, they’re still running the same line.

    Finally, you have the ultimate irony of the same women responsible for removing the “reasonable” provision from child discipline laws, at the front of the objection to removing the “reasonable” provision from sick leave enquirers.

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  32. Komata (1,109 comments) says:

    Can some of our ‘socialist posters please enlighten me:

    Since when did John Minto become an expert on the Employment Contracts Act – and, if he actually has no such expertise (defined as having a working knowledge of and participation in the processes relating to . . ), what gives him (as a teacher, and therefore divorced from the ‘real’ world) the right to participate in and lead a protest about the 90-day contract?

    As he is ‘well ensconsed’ in his profession, and has no first-hand knowledge about such things, it would appear that actual knowledge about such things is no longer a requisite for protest. Therefore, if that is the case, does Minto J’s presence have echoes of the ‘Smell of the Tear gas, the roar of the Crowd’-type of situation – amd marks him as a ‘habitual protestor’ who can’t get his fix by any other means.

    IF it does, he is I believe, more to be pitied than pilloried.

    Was it Willie Nelson who sang ‘He’s an old hippy and he don’t know what to do, how to keep on with th old, or to make sense of the new’?

    Evidently Mr. Minto hasn’t heard of the song – or perhaps he just can’t make up his mind. or maybe he is (very) afraid of getting old?

    But to return to the question: What is Minto’s expertise?

    (And yes, this is a serious question – in case anyone is wondering. . . )

    Thanks.

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  33. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    Komata: he’s an activist.

    The only qualification you need to be an activist is to have a concern surrounding the issue you are agitating on. You don’t need to know anything, or for your concerns to be legitimate.

    Oh, and a loudhailer helps.

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  34. scrubone (3,044 comments) says:

    Those comments are not necessarily negative – many enthusiastic yet unqualified people have done wonders for society. Indeed, if we waited for everyone to gain full qualifications in any area before commenting or working in that area, we would be a far poorer society.

    John Minto can agitate on what he likes, whether he’s qualified to or not.

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  35. Komata (1,109 comments) says:

    Thanks SB

    Therefore, I can be an activisit so long as I am passionate about ‘anything’. Actual knowledge about what I am actually ‘activising’ against is irrelevant – and the more noise that I make the better (especially with a loudhailer).

    Taken to a logical conclusion the possibilities are ‘interesting’ . . .

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  36. s.russell (1,559 comments) says:

    Hooray for the Unions! They have a long and honourable history of sabotaging the Labour Party’s election prospects.

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  37. Komata (1,109 comments) says:

    SR

    ‘Hooray for the Unions! They have a long and honourable history of sabotaging the Labour Party’s election prospects’

    Yet have you noticed that when ‘traditional’ Labour gets into power (with the exception of the last few lawyers and academics), their leaders suddenly become very, very conservative.

    The trappings of power evidently makes radicals conservative (with Tim Shadbolt being a classic example) – and, if anything, more conservative than the conservatives.

    Power evidently DOES corrupt.

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  38. BeaB (2,057 comments) says:

    I loved seeing Minto, Bradford etc. Their ugly angry mugs reminded the whole country why we are lucky to have this John Key-led government. If I had a higher opinion of polticial planning I would even suspect the Nats set it all up. Brilliant timing and images.

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