Hooton on why Labour is veering hard left

April 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The history of politics in not just New Zealand, but in most countries is that oppositions veer towards the centre. That is where votes are to be won.

has embarked on a policy programme that can only be called radical. They are campaigning to get rid of current monetary policy and interfere in the exchange rate. They are proposing nationalisation of the energy generation sector. They are promising to pay beneficiary families the same at working families for child support (despite the extra costs of working). Their policy programme is resembling what the have been pushing for the last decade, rather than what Clark and Cullen did in Government.

So why have they headed hard left? explains in :

The most famous theory in political science is the median voter model.

Developed in 1929 by Stanford economics professor Harold Hotelling, it provides strategic guidance to politicians, anticipates their policy positions and predicts election results.

Broadly, it suggests that, in any two-candidate election, both are best to adopt policy to please the median, middle-of-the-road voter, and that the candidate closest to the median will win.

Indeed.

In politics, the model’s predictive power is proven not just by vast screeds of algebra by microeconomists, game theorists and political scientists, but – unlike much social-science theory – by real-world observation.

Even with apparent exceptions, like Baroness Thatcher’s three election wins, she was indeed closer to the median than failed prime minister Lord Callaghan in 1979, Soviet appeaser Michael Foot in 1983, and even Lord Kinnock in 1987.

UK Labour finally won power when they abandoned the very socialist policies that NZ Labour is now embracing.

So why the lurch to the left?

Do the maths again, but assume three major players, and you get a different result.  Suddenly, there is an incentive to differentiate and diverge. …

Similarly, in politics, the model suggests that, in three-party systems, parties will no longer all cuddle up to the median voter but some will offer more radical policy choices.  It’s argued, as with consumer markets, that this leads to a more lively democracy.

The release of the Labour/Green electricity policy suggests something like this is happening in New Zealand.

The Greens are now clearly established as a permanent third party, with the other small parties melting away.  Professor Hotelling and his academic heirs could have told us this would likely lead to something like the electricity policy, which has already wiped hundreds of millions from the Crown balance sheet, including the SOE portfolio and the ACC and Superannuation funds, and from KiwiSaver accounts.

This explains why Labour has adopted so many Green party policies.

It is no good Labour/Green saying the policy is not radical by arguing that something like it has been implemented elsewhere.  That would be like National saying a 15% flat tax is not radical in a New Zealand context by pointing to Hong Kong.

Exactly. As pointed out previously, the model they cite has generally been adopted in countries moving from a totally nationalised power industry to one with some competition. It has never been used in a country which already has 14 competitive generating companies.

Here’s a competition for readers. See if you can identify all the Labour Party policies that they have stolen from the Greens? Abolishing youth rates was Greens policy, and resisted by Labour initially. As was massive hikes in the minimum wage, and extending paid parental leave.

We also have their lurch to the left on monetary policy, and their nationalisation agenda and the extending Working for Families credits to beneficiary families.

What others ones are there?

Tags: , , ,

80 Responses to “Hooton on why Labour is veering hard left”

  1. RRM (10,097 comments) says:

    This is not an answer to your question sorry…

    Far be it for me to disagree with Hooton and his evidently wider reading than mine… but that is one theory as to why Labour has gone way left.

    RRM’s theory is that labour has gone way left because the grey heads that were in control during the Clark / Cullen era have mostly left, and now there is a leadership vacuum – so the activist/lunatic base are running the show!

    (And in that party, the activist base is an uneasy mix of (a) union stirrers and (b) arts students and (c) smelly unemployed people…)

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    I wonder if this over-analyses it. My hunch is the entitlement mentality promoted by the left, and appeased by the right for a considerable time now, has finally reached a tipping point where a majority of people will simply vote for whoever promises them the most stuff in the short term. And can you blame them?

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Sector 7g (242 comments) says:

    Or you could just say that National has stolen Labours centre left position.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. dime (10,207 comments) says:

    Labour failed to rejuvenate at the last election. They are a tired, soulless, old party.

    The Greens are now the real opposition.

    Scary but true.

    Starting to think our only hope will be if nz first misses the threshold. that also has the added bonus of being hilarious!

    MMP is downright scary. The left love it now, but wait til they push too far and a party as extreme as the greens appears on the right. then it will be all on.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Cunningham (846 comments) says:

    queenstfarmer (384) I think you underestimate the intelligence of the middle class voter. They are not stupid and I think this will backfire severly for Labour. They will gain votes from the left (off the melons) but the criticism of their power policy has been scathing and widespread. People read the articles and they will take it in. Remember the Greens also copped a bagging for their solution to print money. People will rightly be thinking how many of these crazy Green policies will Labour have to implement to get into power? Remember we haven’t even got to the campaign yet where they will be under the blow torch even more and do you honestly think Shearer will be able to handle that? Key wiped the floor with Goff, I can’t wait to see how the even more inferior Shearer handles it. This policy is a gift for National. They must use it wisely.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. alloytoo (582 comments) says:

    I think the mathematics of three would only apply if the voters viewed the parties as 3 distinct parties, that is simply not the case. They are trying to sell themselves as a unified alternative to national, Labour-Greens are viewed by many as one whackjob party after the last round of idiocy.

    Vote: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. hannity (152 comments) says:

    “What others ones are there?”

    Home insulation program, ? Old commie trick, that one

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. rangitoto (262 comments) says:

    The labour policy would appeal more to green voters than national voters or even nz first so the main effect will be to win votes back from the greens where a lot of their former base have gone.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    This is nothing more than pure political survival by Labour – the Greens current leadership mix untested in the real world of government where announced policies have real world impacts and its young pure image contrasts with Labour’s tainted brand, leadership wangles, tired recycled front bench and dull uncharismatic leader. In lefty voter land it’s not hard to see where the medium term heart of the centre left is gravitating towards. If Labour tried to brand itself as a kinder gentle slightly pinkish version of what is a very centrist National party under Key, they run the risk of MMP oblivion.

    This is a case of co-opt or die. The trouble is that enough sane Labour activists with a grounding in the real world (even from small businesses) have long been driven out of the party by Damien O’Connor’s “gaggle of gays and trade unionists”. What’s left are much more doctrinaire lefties who have come from either the unions, the beneficiary dependent underclass, the socially progressive rainbow coalition activist groups or academia. Not one of these groups has even the remotest sense of how a modern market economy works in a small remote largely commodity export dependent country like NZ. The bribery/promise bidding war in the past was constrained by enough wise heads in the 5th Labour Government who at least had a Rolodex/iPhone contacts list that included SOME business people. The impact of something like effectively nationalizing the power industry would be thrashed out behind closed door and a more nuanced and cautious policy would’ve emerged. Something just different enough from the status quo to sell to the base as populist enough and then toned down into something workable in government. Kiwibank was one such example. Anderson grandstanded as a populist for 3 election cycles on KB but what emerged was a something not far off a mainstream Aussie owned bank with very smart market positioning. There is almost no one close to Shearer who has the contacts to give a frank and believable assessment prior to launch. Ever conscious of the harder left Cunliffe faction breathing down his neck, worried about the virginal Greens who can do no wrong in the eyes of an increasingly younger inexperienced and facile Press Gallery and faced with accusations of being a grey man with little to differentiate his party from National, Shearer’s own personal lack of business experience meant he lacked any personal ‘canary in the coal mine’ capacity to pull up before this leftward lurch became entrenched. Shearer is banking on an incurious media in love with the Greens to enable him to avoid answering the “show me the money” questions for long enough to propel him to the 9th Floor.

    It behooves all on the right to universally begin to in every forum possible to succinctly detail the costs of these policies on ordinary kiwi families and paint them as the radical lurch that they are.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. s.russell (1,649 comments) says:

    A three party model may explain why Labour has gone left: to compete for votes with the Greens. But that means abandoning the competition for votes with National: a strategy that ought to be self-defeating as it makes it easier for National to win the middle and thus the election. The only potential gain for Labour is in holding back erosion to the Greens on the left, so that they remain the biggest losers.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Few typos
    *wrangles
    * gentler
    Perils of iPad posting

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Ross12 (1,483 comments) says:

    I’ve said this before. Watch the Australian election in September. Gillard made a major error about 3 years ago in sucking up to the Greens. She now realises this ( not openly saying it) but come September the ALP will pay heavily for that error. In the aftermath when all the finger pointing begins the ALP will point them at the Greens ( even if was the ALP’s fault). It will be ugly and in NZ , Key and co will be given some powerful ammunition for the next election here.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. tvb (4,553 comments) says:

    The lurch by labour to the left is to prevent the Greens from taking more of their vote. I predict labour will move towards the centre as the election gets closer. In the meantime they wish to stop their vote from leaking to the Greens. Helen Clark understood this very well.

    Vote: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Than (511 comments) says:

    I’m inclined to agree with RRM. With Labour’s support at such a low-ebb, it makes sense that those who remain are the most dedicated, the most left-wing. I suspect the same thing happened in National during 2002-2006, but they found a far-right platform (Iwi/Kiwi) that had popular appeal.

    My predictions for the next round of polls;

    – An overall drop in the center-left vote, enough to comfortably let National form a government
    – A gain in Labour’s share of the left-vote at the expense of the Greens.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. sparky (235 comments) says:

    Personally I don’t think Matthew Hooton’s theory, plays any part in Labour’s going Far Left. My beliefs are that Labour have nothing to offer, and have taken the Greens on as there saviour, purely to get into power. Labour have lost there soul to the Greens ideology, and seriously need to get back to grass roots, before they disappear all together. Hasn’t done the Australian Labour Government any good, getting into bed with the Greens, and will be in for a big loss comes September.

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. kowtow (8,929 comments) says:

    KIA good post.

    But we also have to hand it to the left that they have managed to pull what was the right across the line and into their radical social policy and relativist territory.

    Same in the UK where the conservative Party could implode ,on same sex marriage. Something no true conservative would ever support.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. bc (1,384 comments) says:

    Hmm averaging three posts a day with the scary Labour ‘far left’ theme at the moment.
    Yep, National are worried.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 27 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Its simple;

    Labour realised that after the performance of the last Labour government the public was never going to buy that they were democratically minded, fiscally prudent, or economically sensible.

    If the public already can’t distinguish you from the Greens, then what risk is there in abandoning all pretense to the contrary.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Hmm averaging three posts a day with the scary Labour ‘far left’ theme at the moment.
    Yep, National are worried.

    Yep. Worried about kids education. Worried about everyone’s retirement. Worried for our economic future.

    Lots to be worried about, given National is unlikely to be in government forever/

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    I don’t agree with Hooton either. If it were a three party model, then the aim would be to target the place where you could get most votes and still govern. Labour taking votes from the Greens would make no sense – it loses votes in the centre in doing so, and therefore becomes less likely to govern. I’d also question whether that’s as likely to get lots of votes – moving leftwards probably loses 2 votes for every 1 vote gained, moving centre-wards probably gains 2 votes for every 1 vote lost.

    I have a different theory, which has to do with Shearer’s survival. As always the activists in a party are more ideological than the voters – so activists tend to polarise left or right where voters are mostly in the centre. Typically the aim is to keep your activists happy enough to keep doing free work for you whilst offering policies that appeal to the centre. This is a bit harder on the left than the right anyway, as right wingers tend to be a bit more pragmatic (fewer of the young idealistic types).

    The problem for Shearer is that he used to need to be popular to voters to stay as leader. But since the power changes in Labour, he now needs to also be popular with activists. The activists are very left wing, and their ideas are batshit crazy. To keep his job he needs to pander to them, so stupid policies like this see the light of day. After the shit storm that goes with it (and the potential shrinking of the left wing in the next poll) I reckon they might learn that politics is still real life, and has real consequences.

    Vote: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. James Stephenson (2,265 comments) says:

    So is this “3 party theory” the reason why National seemed to be so happy about the demise of ACT, against all of the received wisdom that they need a coalition partner?

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Changeiscoming (202 comments) says:

    As I have posted before and I will say it again here. With the liberal National party now occupying the spot on the centre left where Labour use to be. Labour has had to stand out to set themselves apart. They have acomplished this by moving further left.
    They are in the same zone now as the greens.

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    An overlooked aspect of Labour’s strategy is ginning up low income/low information voter turnout. They are banking on a populist clear left leaning ideological divide to get base voters to the polls who saw Goff as little different from National and stayed away in 2011.

    National must counter with a more sophicated nationwide more micro targetted GOTV strategy laced with a good dose of fear. Against the odds of a weak economy, foreign policy blunders (mostly unreported by the MSM) and a very unpopular healthcare policy, Obama squeaked out a win using that formula. Key can do the same. Fear works and in this case, the fears are real and provable. Obama defined Romney early on and Romney (lulled into a false sense of security by turnout driven inaccurate polling assumptions) failed to respond. Shearer and Labour/Greens can be defined as inexperienced radicals whose policies will cost middle NZ dearly. Shearer lacks the charisma and media mastery to strongly respond, National have some potent attack weapons in Joyce and Collins who can be deployed judiciously alongside Key’s kiwi bloke friendly mastery of economic detail and, whilst a compliant media will blunt the attack, middle NZ voters have proven capable of filtering the media’s left leaning bias somewhat.

    Vote: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    I agree with tvb that in the lead up to the next election you’ll see Labour move to the centre (while the Greens hold their ideological line).
    My read is that these policies are about ‘activating the base’ and growing the vote – specifically the votes of people who previously supported Labour and then stopped.

    National didn’t win in 2008 because their vote increased by 3% (compared to 2005), they won because Labour’s vote shrunk by 6%.
    http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/chart-of-the-day-used-to-vote-for-you-but-now-doesnt-vote-man-edition/

    Labour have belatedly recognised that their retaking of government doesn’t depend on winning a bunch of votes off National, it relies on reactivating a large (election landslidingly large) chunk of the population who used to vote for them but now don’t. To do this they are trying to activate the base of their party and are emulating the techniques and in some cases policies of the Green party which has steadily grown it’s vote share and influence in the last few years…

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    @Cunningham: fair points, though I have a more pessimistic view of it. Look at Labour’s interest-free student loan bribe. Many people believe that was an out-and-out bribe, that won Labour their 3rd term. And like many entitlements, once given they are very hard to take away (in our political system) regardless of how unprincipled or economically damaging they are.

    If a party truly does not care about long-term, or even mid-term, economic harm (i.e. the Greens), then there is very little if any downside to rolling out bigger and bigger entitlement promises every election to buy votes. More and more people are willing to sacrifice any potential downside – if they even see any – for the instant gratification of whatever bribe is on offer. Hey, they’re being offered other people’s money!

    If the only antidote to that scenario is that the eventual economic decline will “correct” people’s irresponsible support for Labour & the Greens, then there’s not much to look forward to.

    Vote: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @Kiwi in America
    heheh – posted at the same time, but much the same view. Get Out the Vote will decide the next election.

    I think you are wrong to assume that GOTV will favour Key though. The stats show that the main reason key won the last two elections was a lower turnout of Labour’s base. Turnout in South Auckland won 2005 for Labour and record failure of that same turnout decimated Labour in 2008 and 2011.

    Low voter turnout has been repeatedly shown to favour right wing parties. Which makes sense – there are more poor people than rich so all things being equal left wing parties running on redistribution platforms would normally win if every voter was well informed and showed up on the day to vote in their self interest.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    queenstreetfarmer
    Whilst the student loan bribe certainly helped in the Labour heartland in 2005, Brash’s strategic pratfalls during the campaign (the famous walk the plank footage and his foolish meeting and denials with the Exclusive Brethren) revealed him to be an awful retail politician. Clark found it easy to portray herself as centrist middle of the line in comparison – and it worked.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    richard29
    I would normally agree but in the case of 2011, so many polls (until the cup of tea kurfuffle) showed National’s lead strong enough to govern alone that a number of Waitakere ‘men/women’ never bothered to show up figuring Key had it in the bag. National absolutely must get these people to the polls and if they do, they can counter the Labour base ginned up by the populism.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. berend (1,689 comments) says:

    Excuse me, we have a party on the right? Selling a minority stake in a company is now right-wing?

    What I see is 3 parties campaigning for the left-wing voters. I assume all the right-wingers have already left.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Shazzadude (531 comments) says:

    Bang on the money, Richard29. A higher vote turnout can only hurt Key. The vote Key lost between mid-2011 and election time were lost mostly to the Conservatives and New Zealand First. Split voting patterns suggest some moved from National and skipped Labour all the way to the Greens as well.

    With the media likely to bill the next election as anyone’s, Labour will be first in line to receive a boost from an increased turnout in South and West Auckland.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    I think that Labour and the Greens are hoping for a realigning election, something that happens only once in a generation if that. This is an election where what is considered the ‘centre’ of the political spectrum gets significantly moved, or where a new political party breaks into a 2 party system, or what a certain political party once stood for fundamentally changes. The best examples of these in our past are 1935 and 1984. In the former the First Labour Govt took power and NZ moved significantly to the left. In 1984 the reverse became true, Fourth Labour was elected and moved us significantly to the right.

    I think Labour is hoping that in 2014 something similar will happen, where National’s current position at the centre will become the new right, Labour’s left position will become the new centre and the Greens far left position will be the new left. They are hoping the global financial crisis will be enough to shift the whole political spectrum the way the Great Depression and the recessions and inflation of the late 70s/early 80s did before. If they succeed they achieve the left’s dream of repudiating the last 28 years of market driven reforms and returning to a strongly unionised, centrally controlled, universal benefit providing New Zealand. If they’ve read the electorate wrong they will just marginalise themselves and quickly run back to the centre after a stinging defeat in 2014.

    Now in this case I think Labour is completely delusional if they think a realignment of the political centre is possible in this economy. I expect if they continue on the current path and don’t turn quickly back to the centre before 2014 they will be setting themselves up for a defeat.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. s.russell (1,649 comments) says:

    I suspect Labour has concluded that competing for sensible moderate votes against Key/National is hopeless, so just like in 2011 they will pin their hope on a big turnout of the hardcore left base – hence their playing to that voting block.

    This almost worked for them in 2011, because at the same time moderate and right voters failed to turn out or indulged themselves in protest votes for the Conservatives or he’s-good-for-a-laugh votes for Winston – lulled by polls that said the result was a foregone conclusion. In THIS case low turnout almost sunk the right.

    Ironically, closer polls may help undermine this Labour strategy because (espcially if National pushes hard on this) those soft right voters may take things more seriously and become more likely to a) get of their asses and b) cast a vote that will block Labour (ie not wasted on a minor party that may not get in).

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Shazzadude (531 comments) says:

    “kiwi in america (1,891) Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 5:35 pm
    queenstreetfarmer
    Whilst the student loan bribe certainly helped in the Labour heartland in 2005″

    It wasn’t Labour heartland so much as the middle class. Remember, National aren’t scrapping interest-free loans either, and that’s because the middle class, who interest-free loans primarily benefit (both students and the parents of the students), are National’s bread and butter voters.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. kowtow (8,929 comments) says:

    Yes shazzadude ,Labour succeeded in creating even more middle class welfare and National daren’t touch it.Same with the non contributory old age pension. Not going there either.Welfare for the wealthy.(which I don’t really care about ,but how much can the country afford?)

    Slowly but surely we all become dependant on the state and there’s no turning back.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. bc (1,384 comments) says:

    Kimble @ 5.07pm “Lots to be worried about, given National is unlikely to be in government forever”

    And that’s exactly why National is worried. Thus, the 3 posts a day.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Steve (North Shore) (4,536 comments) says:

    What Labour, Greens, Mana, NZ First need is an Alliance Party with co-leaders
    The co-leaders will be Russell, Meteria, Grant, Cindy, Winston, Hone; and they will win and rule NZ.
    Be carefull with your vote

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    Labour are veering left because:
    a) very weak leadership
    b) weak lineup of MPs
    c) they have lost the interest of their centre and the left of left activists have convinced enough of the decision makers that that is where their potential votes are
    d) they have capitulated from challenging National head to head so have to climb on the Green machine to have any hope of sort of leading the next Government

    This week’s Roy Morgan poll will be an indicator of how the power policy has affected them, but the next one will give a better idea if it has altered the trends significantly.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    I think that it’s poor strategy from Labour. Policies like this will remind people that Labour cannot be trusted to run the economy, because they’d run it into the ground. Anyone’s whose income depends on the private sector (i.e. not beneficiaries or public servants) and who has half a brain (most of them) would legitimately be worried that policies like those that Labour are espousing would ruin the country. And would turn out to try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    I’m not convinced that the hard core left of Labour’s supporters actually get all that excited about a policy like this. It’s playing to the activists, but I’m not sure it’s playing to voters. We see that on here – the activists from the left excited about how wonderful the return to the “good old days” will be, and pretty much everyone else pointing out that it won’t work and that it’ll fuck the country whilst it doesn’t work.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. JC (948 comments) says:

    I think Labour has smaller fish to fry than picking votes off the Greens.

    Yes it can peel a percentage point or two off them but its the Maori vote that counts, so offering a big Govt role for power that can be corrupted into favours for the Bros could appeal to voters in the MP, Mana and NZ1st.. I wonder if this was why Winston countered so strongly to promise a buyback of MRP and Contact?

    JC

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. Scott (1,807 comments) says:

    What about this? Labour is actually still in power. Louisa Wall ( Labour) just got her same sex marriage bill passed. Next is gay adoption, if that happens then another goal of the rainbow wing of the Labour party will be achieved.
    Then euthanasia will be introduced by Maryann Street (Labour) and will be supported by John Key and may be passed. Labour is on a roll! They are getting everything they have ever wanted on social policy despite losing the last 2 elections!!!

    So why not go for broke? They are committed,they are true believers. So why not go for everything?

    Who is going to stop them-John Key? Well as far as John Key is concerned he has his principles. And if you don’t like them well he has others.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (899 comments) says:

    Sorry.Disagree. Labour-Green policy is a winner. Kiwis like that and this is showing in the opinion polls. So Labour-Greens have done their homework and now are sleep walking to victory.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Now in this case I think Labour is completely delusional if they think a realignment of the political centre is possible in this economy. I expect if they continue on the current path and don’t turn quickly back to the centre before 2014 they will be setting themselves up for a defeat.

    It’s not possible. It is inevitable. The light touch pro market model has failed. It’s just a question of how long it takes voters to wake up to that, and for entrenched interests to be eliminated. Our politics is sclerotic and our elites more so. They all need to be put out to pasture.

    Western societies have become pretty silly places since the 1970s. It’s time to get serious again, or we will be left in the dust.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    I suspect part of the debate here goes to the heart of what the left and right think.

    My view is that western societies are wealthier and more equal than at any time in our history. We have better environmental outcomes and better pretty much everything. Much of that is due to our capitalist system (I’d also agree that we’ve had a lot of social change in that period, and in general on the social end the left wing have been instrumental in getting the govt out of our lives).

    It’s not clear to me why we’d want to go backwards to a time when people were poorer and less happy.

    Some on the left seem to see it differently, and I’m struggling to work out what it is that they see differently. Is their problem that some people (All Black players, for example) get paid vastly more than others? Or is it that they spend too long bleating about how bad it is and not getting out there and actually doing something useful with their lives.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. william blake (109 comments) says:

    Typically shrill squealing from the far right at any disobedience.

    Labour / Green policy is to regulate power distribution not ‘nationalise the power companies’, something that the commerce commission should be doing anyway.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13 You need to be logged in to vote
  45. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    If Labour don’t pretend to go left the Greens will decimate them.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  46. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Billy Blake, labour is nationalising power generation to kill asset sales.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  47. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    How do we pay to rebuild CHCH?

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  48. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Labour and Greens = idiot economy wreakers

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  49. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    Labour is veering hard left

    because

    National have left them no where else to go

    meaning

    we become more like a PIIGS economy faster.

    Isn’t National clever ??!

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5 You need to be logged in to vote
  50. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    Wishful thinking k.i.a…

    Key is goneburger next year!

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9 You need to be logged in to vote
  51. hj (7,142 comments) says:

    The latest edition of North and South Magazine : The Great NZ Rip-off. The ripper-offers don’t get it… “isn’t everyone having a great time?” (like the fisherman who thinks the trout’s having a lot of fun).

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  52. hj (7,142 comments) says:

    These days economic literacy is seen as something Goldman Sacs have got (a weapon you use to dominate others).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  53. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    Economic literacy is certainly something you can dominate Labour and Greens with. You don’t need anything like what Goldman Sachs have got to do that, Economics 101 will do.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  54. hj (7,142 comments) says:

    If labour in veering hard left why are the knives out for Shearer after his comments about a ACC claimant painting his roof and his “immigrants shouldn’t be taking jobs of local people ” comment to the Hornby Working Men’s Club?

    Just wondering……..

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  55. Kea (13,546 comments) says:

    The only choice they have is to go right of National (eg, the center) or even further left.

    Labour is stuffed, but you can count on the media to come and rescue them with endless stories to try and make National look bad. It is the only way Labour will have a chance. They will never do it based on their merits.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  56. HC (154 comments) says:

    To be honest, I would not give a “hoot” or “toot” for Mr Hooton or Hoot-off and his interpretations and theories.

    All democracies, where there is the traditional two party merry go round system, one getting in a term or two, or even three, then the other having a term in government, tend to become “stalemate” democracies, yes questionable democracies, as there will mostly be little difference between the main parties.

    That, although some would argue it is natural, as catering for the “centre”, is not a good system at all, as it leads to little progress and change, especially when it is needed and overdue.

    To argue that Labour have and are moving to the radical left is absurd, as they have not done so at all. When Grant Robertson swiftly rushes to say, that no similar state run agency, like NZ Power to buy all generated electricity, will be introduced for other “markets”, then he is already indicating a pull back. And NZ Power itself is not “nationalisation” at all, as it is simply meant to be an agency to buy the electricity from the best performing generators offering the most competitive energy or electricity.

    If you cannot agree with that, then how can you justify and defend the existence of Pharmac?

    It is a system used in other states, as has repeatedly been said and commented on. So that is not nationalisation at all and not “radical left”.

    Labour has taken up the odd policy the Greens promoted, because they either made sense, or they proved popular, so it was necessary for Labour to adopt them, or they would have lost even more voters to the Greens. The Greens are of course a bit maverick a player, but as such party, they are surely mixing up the political landscape, which is good competition for the rest. Let us not forget, that the National led government agreed to continue the warm home policy, to subsidise the insulation of homes in NZ. That has worked rather well.

    UK politics have also certainly benefited from the Liberals playing a role, even though they have a different voting system.

    NZ politics has over times actually moved to the right of centre for decades, when compared with the times before 1984. Labour’s policies after 1999 were not that left at all, only perceived as such, due to some interventionist policies to promote some social and gender equality in various areas, to protect workers from the worst kind of parts of the earlier Employment Contracts Act, and to assist families and students by introducing WFF and interest free loans and so. It lost to National, as people yearned for a change, and as some asked, what Labour actually stood for, while re arranging chairs had become the policy of the day.

    Key only won as he promised not to abolish most Labour had introduced. As expected since this term started, now the game is back to what the Nats wanted to introduce in the late 1990s (welfare, employment and other reforms favouring employers, business operators and investors, to have easier operation and better profits).

    Workers and poor are not that stupid, they are slowly tiring and waking up. NZ is actually very much to the right, compared to most countries in Europe, to North America and Australia. So do not fool us with Hooton’s bizarre interpretations.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9 You need to be logged in to vote
  57. OneTrack (3,348 comments) says:

    “NZ is actually very much to the right, compared to most countries in Europe, to North America ”

    And we want to be more like those countries don’t we? Can we have the same high unemployment rates that they have? Can we have parties struggling to make a government because nobody really wants the poisoned chalice? Is it a problem that we don’t have a rich country to prop us up?

    Yeah sounds great. Let follow them. Why can’t I see the horizon? They wouldn’t be leading us off a cliff would they. Nah, shudup and keep running, nirvana is just over th………..

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  58. HC (154 comments) says:

    One Track (hopefully not in mind also): I have moved between NZ and other places over years, and no place did ever engage in such “economic experiments” and “social experiments” as little Aotearoa NZ has. It is a playground for experimenters from oversesas, to try some new policies and systems, to then see how they pan out, and learn from it. So it happened with Roger Douglas’ “experiments” and it will be the same with Key and Bennett’s new “social warfare agenda”. They admittedly do not want to copy the UK medical and work capacity assessments, they want to adopt (most) of them, to perhaps change them a bit, to “avoid the same mistakes” made there.

    That though is another big “experiment”.

    I walk the streets of Auckland, and I see nobody at peace, I see nobody sitting down, chatting, talking, appearing to be happy and at peace, it is rat race, it is distrust, envy, it is a place, where you feel being watched just standing or sitting in one place too long. I see playgrounds without kids, parks without visitors. Having lived in Europe, I never experienced such an atmosphere and social tension, that is an underlying one, not easily visible. Apparently everyone around has something to do, a job, a task, a hobby, a duty, a pre-occupation, a study commitment, a training commitment, a care or support commitment or whatever.

    Yet, there is not much sharing, talking and exchanging going on, it is a totally divided society, where heaps of migrants and locals compete for jobs, business, for attention and for their needs. Housing is exorbitant, and so are rents. People overcrowd, people struggle at many levels. Yet some do OK, and they will support many you commenting here.

    There are job cuts, job losses, businesses not coping and closing, and some supermarkets and fast food retailers want to introduce youth rates, below the minimum wage rates. Guess what, some will likely lose their jobs, to be replaced by people working from 01 May for less, so less pay, less money goes round, but the shareholders and owners get more gains.

    That is where it is going, and over night, 10 million have been added as costs to the too slow Christchurch rebuild. Where is the biased media raising questions about that, while they report on the odd beneficiary supposedly making “lifestyle choices” or even “defrauding” WINZ? Most supposed fraud is brief overpayment due to taking on jobs though, nobody tells you that. NZ is now a place run like a pressured society, where nobody feels really happy and comfortable anymore, I suppose this government wants to prepare us to become “competitive” with certain Asian countries, so we will work for next to nothing 60 hours a week and pay through the nose, to compete with migrants to fight for homes to live in.

    Next come the sweat shops in South Auckland and a few other places, I am sure, Mainland China style.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  59. HC (154 comments) says:

    One Track: So Europe is more than Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Italy, and they got into trouble not just due to fiscal irresponsibility, there were some other reasons, not widely commented on. On the other hand, there are also economies in Europe, which also did NOT indulge in high risk social and economic “experiments” like little laboratory NZ and its mice and whatever, like for instance Germany, Austria, Denmark and so forth, who are doing reasonably well, to in part even excellently well.

    While being pre-occupied with right neo liberal economics and thinking that will NEVER bring the much promised (for 30 years now) trickle down honey and dew to all, perhaps look at other alternatives more closely. What about training, educating, involving, integrating, and employing REAL people you have in NZ, to do more than serve damned stupid burgers, lemonade, beer, chips and ice-cream to tired tourists, and work in jobs and for enterprises that deliver higher value products, not just blocks of bizarre, low grade, uninspiring cheddar cheese, butter, cans of milk powder, of raw logs, raw fish, PSA infested Kiwifruit and tourism souvenirs made in bloody China.

    What about getting real jobs for real work going, so NZ actually will offer incomes that satisfy not just the top 10 to 25 per cent, but the rest also?

    NZ is in structure and product line up close to third world category status, not much else.

    In Germany they still MAKE things and earn more bloody wages than in silly little NZ.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  60. BlairM (2,340 comments) says:

    I think it’s pretty simple: Obama has shown the Left that they can run with a bold leftist campaign appealing to their base and still win.

    The problem with this in a New Zealand context is that turnout is less important, since most people vote. But the numbers are still on their side. National will have to run a strong “hopes and fears” campaign to keep power.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  61. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    If labour in veering hard left why are the knives out for Shearer after his comments about a ACC claimant painting his roof…

    That was several months ago, and the left of Labour knives were out for Shearer because they said he was veering to the right.

    After the NZ Power announcement he/Labour wee seen as being steered/veered to the left, and the left of Labour cheered.

    Then Grant Robertson promised that Labour had no plans to interfere in any other market, and the left of Labour jeered.

    There are many across the diverse Labour spectrum dismayed with Shearer’s general inability to express a coherent message and his general inability to lead Labour with anything resembling competence.

    That’s on top of the cheerers and jeerers of veerer Shearer.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  62. Redbaiter (10,361 comments) says:

    National under John Key and encouraged by beltway urban liberals like Matthew Hooton has moved so far to the left that there is nowhere for Labour to go to mine votes but further left.

    Parties can win elections like craven cowards by crawling to the perceived centre, but they are also won by people with courage and vision, like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

    Key is not anything like Thatcher or Reagan, so lacking a good hand at the tiller, NZ’s political ship will continue to bear left until it hits the iceberg of economic reality. Then people may wake up to the fact that the pilot house has been filled with shuffling socialist idiots like John Key and Matthew Hooton and David Shearer and Russell Norman. Really just all the same brand of incoherent witless directionless leftists.

    Don’t forget- they’re in power because you NZ, in your indiscriminate fawning gullibility and abject inexplicable failure to recognise a partisan far left media put them there.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  63. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    The world according to the Red perspective – three people on the right, about half a dozen in the centre, and everyone else is crammed on the far left.

    A very lopsided view.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5 You need to be logged in to vote
  64. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    They are proposing nationalisation of the energy generation sector.

    I wonder how many Tories whined when Pharmac was “nationalised”.

    I also wonder how many Tories will donate the money they will save when this policy comes in. No doubt charities will be inundated with donations…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  65. Redbaiter (10,361 comments) says:

    Charities are only one avenue of assistance.

    People also help those close to them, family and friends.

    It is a left wing mental sickness that says this naturally human cooperation can only be successfully managed and directed by big government.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  66. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “PHARMAC is considered a world leader in the management of pharmaceutical funding, and this means that in New Zealand we don’t face the runaway cost increases that are considered normal in other countries.”

    http://www.pharmac.govt.nz/2005/05/16/160505.pdf/text

    We do, however, face rising electricity prices, which have been increasing at 4 times the rate of inflation. Imagine if wages were rising at 4 times the rate of inflation. DPF would be hysterical.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  67. duggledog (1,619 comments) says:

    Red I put it to you that Key & co. know very well what has to be done, but have to make changes that seem meek and mild incrementally so as not to scare the horses which are still overwhelmingly socialist.

    Governments are reactive only proactive in extremis

    How would you advise John Key given the chance? (I would advise him to retire, go to Hawaii and go fishing)

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  68. Kea (13,546 comments) says:

    I walk the streets of Auckland, and I see nobody at peace, I see nobody sitting down, chatting, talking, appearing to be happy and at peace, it is rat race, it is distrust, envy, it is a place, where you feel being watched just standing or sitting in one place too long. I see playgrounds without kids, parks without visitors. Having lived in Europe, I never experienced such an atmosphere and social tension, that is an underlying one, not easily visible. Apparently everyone around has something to do, a job, a task, a hobby, a duty, a pre-occupation, a study commitment, a training commitment, a care or support commitment or whatever.

    He is spot on with that comment. I am not sure if it is a left/right thing though and he over looks some pretty serious issues in Europe, but there is something profoundly wrong with the way we live.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  69. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “We think Pharmac has been hugely successful. We think it makes money for New Zealand. It is the most cost efficient way of purchasing pharmaceuticals for New Zealanders and we’d take a fair bit of convincing that that wasn’t the right model.” – John Key

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10727575

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  70. Redbaiter (10,361 comments) says:

    “Red I put it to you that Key & co. know very well what has to be done, but have to make changes that seem meek and mild incrementally so as not to scare the horses which are still overwhelmingly socialist.”

    This is defeatist garbage.

    The refuge of the mental pygmies and cowards who are the National Party under Key.

    Thatcher and Reagan did not worry about scaring the horses and other such mythical excuses, they purely and simply lead their parties and their countries with courage and conviction. And they were successful because of it.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  71. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    Pharmac purchases drugs that qualify for state subsidy. The market is open to selling drugs without going through Pharmac.

    The NZ Power is quite different – one body purchases all electricity and sells it on, some on with a state subsidy, in an effective monopoly. But there is no market alternative.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  72. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    I wonder how many Tories whined when Pharmac was “nationalised”.

    Any differences with Pharmac and NZ Power? Lets see:

    – Pricing is not set by Pharmac – competition determines which drugs are selected and how much is ultimately saved
    – Pharmac does not dictate to drug companies what drugs they can manufacture, when, or how many

    – NZ Power will dictate a single price across all generators based on the average operational cost
    – NZ Power will be able to dictate what generation asset types are to be used, when they are to be used and how much capacity they must generate

    No difference between the two? – there’s a Tui billboard right there

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  73. Pete George (23,793 comments) says:

    And here’s more differences:

    – Pharmac is the end purchaser, not the consumer;

    – Pharmac doesn’t force an average wholesale price on the market, it tries to get the best deal on drugs but its purchasing power is still limited;

    – There isn’t a large distribution cost as with electricity which is the big driver of electricity cost inflation.

    – The products Pharmac purchase are highly variable products from high cost patent drugs to lower value generics. There is choice to the degree that Pharmac can choose not to buy, choose to buy alternatives or lower cost generics. Contrast this to electricity, which is a homogenous commodity.

    – Pharmac aren’t actually a purchaser, they are a purchasing agent. The purchasers are the 21 or so DHBs, so the single purchaser comparison doesn’t hold.

    – Pharmac are largely an importing agent, whereas a state power purchaser gobbles up domestic supply.

    – DHBs and patients are free to purchase drugs directly from suppliers if Pharmac doesn’t. Unclear whether electricity customers would be free to do so.

    – 25% of electricity supply is transmission which will in all likelihood will fall outside the state purchaser’s reach, or at best be difficult to control viz price. Drugs have efficient low cost channels.

    More on NZ Power versus Pharmac

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  74. duggledog (1,619 comments) says:

    Red –

    The country Thatcher inherited was in a much worse state that the one Key inherited, hence my reactive / proactive comment.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  75. HB (331 comments) says:

    Why would anyone give a hoot about what Hooten has to say? He is an idiot!

    http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/chart-of-the-day-dead-wood-edition-2/

    “Hooton claimed the total loss was in the ‘billions’ on National Radio”

    wtf?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  76. Akld Commercial Lawyer (166 comments) says:

    And add to the continuing references to the Pharmac red herring that the pharmaceutical companies have already made their choices about how to invest their capital (on developing new drugs) and therefore the returns they may earn in a very small market such as NZ will not impact on those investment decisions. By contrast, artificially massaging the returns on new generation capacity by adopting a Robin Hood pricing model will directly influence the next series of investment decisions. And the Greens themselves point to the need to shift investment out of expensive (and inefficient) thermal generation. That switch won’t get made if their is no investment case to do so.

    This is discredited policy and banging on about red herrings and further examples of jam jar economics won’t save it or the credibility of their spokesman. Hence we see Robertson doing a big sidestep and Labour’s economics spokesman is still nowhere to be seen 10 days after the policy launch. NZ deserves a better opposition than this.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  77. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “Hooton claimed the total loss was in the ‘billions’ on National Radio”

    Yeah Hooters likes to guild the lily. He obviously doesn’t know the difference between notional losses and real losses. Of course the real losses suffered by consumers don’t seem to bother him.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  78. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    NZ Power will dictate a single price across all generators based on the average operational cost

    No it won’t.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  79. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    It should be noted that economist and policy analyst Geoff Bertram warned the government last year that “regulatory risk overhanging the electricity industry had become severe, and that it would be unwise to proceed with any partial share floats without first ensuring that investors could be confident of a stable policy and regulatory environment.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/8607601/Tighter-rein-urged-on-asset-revaluations

    I wonder how the government responded to this warning…

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  80. Akld Commercial Lawyer (166 comments) says:

    Oh dear, not Geoff Bertram again. This thread is over a week old – the work pinpointed in short the answer is that Geoff Bertram’s comments, including his personal submissions to various Select Committees demonstrate a point of view that is somewhat at odds with many of his peers. This is particularly evident in the open letter from Seamus Hogan published on 19 April (see Offsetting Behaviour) and earlier work – including that of energy industry expert Lew Evans .

    I guess the outcome of most expert commentary is heavily dependent on a number of assumptions – but continually citing sources that are (demonstrably) anti the partial privatisations is indicative is partisan thinking. That, ultimately, is the problem with trundling out David Parker and then Shane Jones in support of the “policy”. I am minded of the example of pilots landing on aircraft carriers – apparently the only way they can do it is to effectively turn off every human instinct. Now that they have seen that the average taxpayer is not that silly – Robertson is trying to distance Labour from any suggestion that this is indicative of a wider (Eat the Rich) plan. As the teenagers in my house might say – there is a Tui’s billboard in waiting for that.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote