Views on McCarten

February 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

writes:

The New Zealand Left suddenly finds itself in the position of the dog who caught the car. For years, slagging off the Party as a bunch of neoliberal sell-outs has been one of the Left’s favourite pub and parlour games. But now, with one of this country’s most effective left-wing campaigners just one door down from the Leader of the Opposition, the Left, like the bewildered pooch for whom the fun was always in the chase, has finally got what it wanted and must decide what to do with it.

Yes, it is a huge victory for the far left.

If Cunliffe and McCarten are allowed to fail, the Right of the Labour Party and their fellow travellers in the broader labour movement (all the people who worked so hard to prevent Cunliffe rising to the leadership) will say:

 “Well, you got your wish. You elected a leader pledged to take Labour to the Left. And just look what happened. Middle New Zealand ran screaming into the arms of John Key and Labour ended up with a Party Vote even more pitiful than National’s in 2002! So don’t you dare try peddling that ‘If we build a left-wing Labour Party they will come’ line ever again! You did – and they didn’t.”
 
Be in no doubt that this will happen – just as it did in the years after the British Labour Party’s crushing defeat in the general election of 1983. The Labour Right called Labour’s socialist manifesto “the longest suicide note in history” and the long-march towards Blairism and the re-writing of Clause Four began.
Not sure comparison to Michael Foot are helpful to Labour.
The Dom Post:

So the dinosaurs are back. Richard Prebble returns to run ACT’s election campaign. returns to become Labour leader David Cunliffe’s chief of staff. The ironies are multiple. These two were the chief brawlers in the brutal and byzantine ruckus within Labour over Auckland Central in the 1980s.

A generation later the two will once again be on opposite sides of the political war. 

Not opposite sides. Prebble is campaign manager for ACT, not National. McCarten is chief of staff for Labour.

Mr McCarten is a similarly divisive figure, and already his old comrade Mr Anderton has said he won’t work for Labour this year, apparently because of Mr McCarten. Labour is billing Mr McCarten’s return as a symbolic healing of the rifts in the Left-wing family, but clearly the rifts do not heal easily.

What was interesting is that Cunliffe said he was sure Jim would still be supporting Labour, and then Jim said he won’t be while McCarten is there. What is surprising isn’t Anderton’s views, but that no one spoke to him in advance and hence Cunliffe said something that was contradicted an hour later.

The Herald:

But that presumes Labour’s existing voter base also favours a move to policies aimed at attracting the lost tribes of the left. There is a risk surely that some working, non-unionised, moderate social democrats will see a Labour Party raising taxes, advancing union interests, expanding the state and redirecting wealth to support beneficiaries and the poor as altogether less appealing.

Most non voters are proportionally under 30. I’m not sure a return to 1970s policies will be appealing to them.

Labour’s result in 2011 was its worst for generations. Its poll rating now, under Mr Cunliffe, has not increased much at all from its early-30s standings under David Shearer, despite promising expanded paid parental leave and a baby bonus for all those earning up to $150,000 a year. 

In August 2013 when Shearer was Leader, Labour’s average poll rating was 32.4%. In February 2014 their average poll rating is 32.2%.

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47 Responses to “Views on McCarten”

  1. Fentex (867 comments) says:

    Most non voters are proportionally under 30. I’m not sure a return to 1970s policies will be appealing to them.

    Why not? A person under thirty isn’t going to have personal experience of the 1970′s to reflect on. Their adult experience is of this century only and if something isn’t working for them the arguments about it will be heard absent experience of any other time.

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  2. AG (1,778 comments) says:

    Most non voters are proportionally under 30.

    Huh?

    It is true that people under 30 are less likely to vote than people over 30. But it also is true that there are a lot more people in NZ over 30 than are aged 18-30. So the fact that people under 30 are less likely to vote does not mean that “most non voters are under 30″.

    Anyone interested in the actual data on who votes/doesn’t vote could look at http://www.nzes.org/docs/papers/nzpsa_2012.pdf

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  3. thor42 (916 comments) says:

    I agree with Fentex.

    The under-30s will have no memory of the union-dominated 1960s and 70s. Days when it seemed like the Cook Strait ferries were on strike every fortnight and the BNZ Centre in Wellington lay unfinished for years because of a boilermakers dispute IIRC.

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  4. thedavincimode (6,532 comments) says:

    What is surprising isn’t Anderton’s views, but that no one spoke to him in advance and hence Cunliffe said something that was contradicted anhour later.

    I don’t find that in the least bit surprising.

    You need to spend less time tramping all over the place and more time watching the best political farce since Winston got caught with his hand in Owen Glen’s cookie jar.

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  5. YesWeDid (1,029 comments) says:

    Most voters would not know who Matt McCarten is or what a chief of staff does.

    So this is a big fat non story.

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  6. RightNow (6,660 comments) says:

    “So this is a big fat non story.”
    If it helps you sleep at night…

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  7. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    He will appeal to the usual bludging, envious, non-productive, left-wing arseholes.

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  8. Than (425 comments) says:

    YesWeDid, you’re correct that most people don’t know who McCarten is so in a name recognition sense this is a non-story.

    But the point is that McCarten’s influence will shift Labour to the left. He’ll be involved in policy discussions, and will be arguing strongly for a hard left platform. Looking at his record (walked out on Labour in the 80′s because it wasn’t far-left enough, ditched the Alliance because it wasn’t far-left enough) compromise isn’t a word he understands. If Labour’s policy platform isn’t radical enough for him he will walk out.

    I agree with Chris Trotter’s prediction, with one small change. It’s not “If Cunliffe and McCarten are allowed to fail”, it is “When Cunliffe and McCarten fail”. Much as left-wing activists like to convince themselves otherwise, the NZ electorate has no taste for a radical shift to the left.

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  9. Tinshed (79 comments) says:

    If my two belt-way, Wellingtonite, mid-twenties children, are anything to go by, Labour is an irrelevance. There is no connection there at all. The Greens on the other hand…..

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  10. KiwiGreg (3,176 comments) says:

    I’ll be astonished if he is still “Chief of Staff” by year’s end.

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  11. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    Why can’t the Labour left advocate a modern economic model? They use the word “progressive” but their ideas are utterly regressive. They want to turn the clock back to 1972.

    They have no new ideas, They are irrelevant in 2014.

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  12. s.russell (1,563 comments) says:

    I note with amusement the bar that Trotter sets for “failure”: Nationals 2002 vote of 20.5%. So if Labour get 21% it will be a victory for the far left.

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  13. Sofia (819 comments) says:

    … the best political farce since Winston got caught with his hand in Owen Glen’s cookie jar.

    … or when his senility meant that, while he condemned John Key for using Spook departments to spy on him, he’d forgotten talking to a Herald gossip columnist.

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  14. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    I recall Trotter once writing about his frustration with far-left ideologues and how unconvincing they were in person. A clueless rabble who genuinely believed they represented “the people”, but “the people” wanted nothing to do with them. Anyone know the article I’m talking about?

    I can’t see how McCarten types are going to swing an election their way.

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  15. Alan (1,062 comments) says:

    “Be in no doubt that this will happen – just as it did in the years after the British Labour Party’s crushing defeat in the general election of 1983. The Labour Right called Labour’s socialist manifesto “the longest suicide note in history” and the long-march towards Blairism and the re-writing of Clause Four began.”

    This is the most useless comparison, in ’83 the British left was split due to the emergence of the SDP, which was ruthlessly punished by the FPTP system.

    Neither is the case here.

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  16. David Garrett (6,426 comments) says:

    Tinshed: I agree. It is the Greens who are really worrying…younger people are naturally idealistic and want to somehow help to make the world a better place…how better to appeal to them than by claiming to have the answers needed to actually SAVE the very world the young want to make better? To suggest to them that unless they vote Green, Mother Earth herself will be in deathly peril?

    Peter: Even back in the 70′s – which I sure as hell remember – there were elements in Labour who really thought there were beings such as “worker poets”; chaps who would work all day in a mind numbing job, eat a simple and inadequate meal (because that’s all they could afford) and then retire to their attic room at night and write poetry by candlelight…The dawning realization that they are no such beings is part and parcel of most growing up and seeing the glaring flaws in socialist theory.

    Another thing that has changed markedly since the 70′s is the passing of all the radical cloth cap Pommy unionists, of whom Pat Kelly was the prime example. I recall in the 70′s noting that almost always, the leader of the strike, or the guy making the most noise, was almost always a pom…

    She is much disliked on here but I can tell you from meeting her a number of times that Helen Kelly is a pale shadow of her radical father…Pat Kelly would never have frequented the Koru Club and used Corporate Cabs…

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  17. RF (1,272 comments) says:

    The big joke is that this breaking breathtaking news is being ignored by the majority of the media. Mike Hosking scored it a 3 out of 10.

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  18. chris (567 comments) says:

    David Garrett:

    It is the Greens who are really worrying…younger people are naturally idealistic and want to somehow help to make the world a better place…how better to appeal to them than by claiming to have the answers needed to actually SAVE the very world the young want to make better? To suggest to them that unless they vote Green, Mother Earth herself will be in deathly peril?

    Yes, unfortunately gullible voters still fall for the “Green” moniker and think the Melons are an environmental party. It’s why I’ve always believed the reason the Green Party does so well with special votes from overseas is because the people overseas have no idea what the party stands for, and just see the name “Green”.

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  19. David Garrett (6,426 comments) says:

    Chris: spot on…Whenever I can, I try and engage younger people about politics generally, and their beliefs in particular…the consistent mantra you get is “the planet is in mortal danger, and the only party who knows or cares about that are the Greens”..And your average 18-25 year is totally unmoved by any “watermelon” arguments…the typical response is along the lines of “So? They are the only party who is committed to saving the planet so we must support them”…Red Russel must laugh himself to sleep every night…

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  20. thor42 (916 comments) says:

    Patrick Moore’s testimony to the Senate is *outstanding* –
    http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=415b9cde-e664-4628-8fb5-ae3951197d03

    Filled with “inconvenient” *facts* that demolish warmists’ arguments.

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  21. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Middle New Zealand ran screaming into the arms of John Key

    Chris Trotter is apparently unaware that Key is already PM and has been for the past 6 years. :)

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  22. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    They want to turn the clock back to 1972.

    When NZ had near full employment. How dare Labour aspire to such an ideal!

    http://www.dol.govt.nz/publications/discussion-papers/current-recession/

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  23. RRM (9,458 comments) says:

    If Cunliffe and McCarten are allowed to fail, the Right of the Labour Party and their fellow travellers in the broader labour movement (all the people who worked so hard to prevent Cunliffe rising to the leadership) will say:

    “Well, you got your wish. You elected a leader pledged to take Labour to the Left. And just look what happened. Middle New Zealand ran screaming into the arms of John Key and Labour ended up with a Party Vote even more pitiful than National’s in 2002! So don’t you dare try peddling that ‘If we build a left-wing Labour Party they will come’ line ever again! You did – and they didn’t.”

    :mrgreen: Hey, Chris Trotter!

    :mrgreen: Hey, Hey, Chris Trotter!

    :mrgreen: Chris Trotter!

    :mrgreen: Chris Trotter!

    :mrgreen: Hey, hey, hey, hey, Chris Trotter!

    :mad: What?

    :mrgreen: You’re a dick!
    :mrgreen: And that attitude of yours is a big part of the reason I don’t support Labour anymore!

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  24. chris (567 comments) says:

    I suspect there were a lot less women in the workforce in 1972, ross69. If they’d all been wanting to work too, I bet unemployment would have been higher.

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  25. chris (567 comments) says:

    Oh and I bet there were a shitload more people in the public sector doing sweet FA, thanks to our Big Governments of the time.

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  26. David Garrett (6,426 comments) says:

    Ross69: You complete dork! We had “full employment” because the Ministers of Railways and Works were told at every cabinet meeting to hire any unemployed..so you had a workforce on the Railways that was literally 10 times more than was actually needed when it was privatized 20 years later.

    Who do you think paid for these “workers” to literally sit around a benghazi burner (you’re probably too young to know what that was) and play cards? Why the TAXPAYER!!…And that’s not even touching on all the other advantages of the socialist paradise c. 1973: dairies that couldnt sell certain things on Sundays; shops that could sell ANYTHING on Saturdays; six months wait for a telephone connection unless you knew someone; no new car unless you had overseas funds, in other words only for the rich and connected…yada yada yada….

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  27. Sofia (819 comments) says:

    On the problem of DC’s caucus not liking him [Cunliffe], he [McCarten] had the following to say; “It is not about the people, but the cause … and that has to be the message. If it is only about individuals and their careers, who cares.

    True.
    But consider Labour went into the last Election with two policies: 1] to somehow oppose Partial Asset Sales, and 2] dump Phil Goff as soon as he lost the Election – all about individuals and their careers, not the Cause.

    Since then, although paid by tax funds to be a Parliamentary Opposition, all they have done is change fucking Leaders three times, and now it is still all staffing and jostling positions – “Is Jim pissing in the tent or just pissing off?” – still fucked individuals and their fucked careers, not the Cause.

    And when they wonder why at the end of this year they lost the Election, the answer will still be the same …
    be fucking Cause …

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  28. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    David G>younger people are naturally idealistic and want to somehow help to make the world a better place…how better to appeal to them than by claiming to have the answers needed to actually SAVE the very world the young want to make better

    I recall a few years ago being redirected (from Tim Blair, IIRC) to the blog of a teenaged Aussie girl. She wanted to “celebrate” Earth Hour by sitting in the dark with her family. Her family laughed at her. She stomped off to her room in tears, then sat down to tell us all how everyone was so unkind to her when all she wanted to do was save the poor planet. And then she told us how all she wanted to do was cry some more.

    I expect that is the sort of teenager Gareth Hughes or Julie Genter would have been. I pity their poor parents, having to put up with all the hysteria and weeping and pointless idealism.

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  29. Evadne (68 comments) says:

    Ah.. the full employment of the 70s so beloved by ross69… when a married woman’s place was in the home, not competing for jobs, hefty import tarriffs propped up NZ manufacturers and made it impossible to afford anything; when new cars were unheard of; when business communications had to be dictated to a shorthand secretary before being typed up manually – with carbon paper for triplicates – filed by the filing clerk, processed in the mail room, sent via the post office on the obligatory over-staffed train. When it was illegal to send your stock to market by truck if you were in an area designated “rail transport”. When workmen sat idle waiting for the union-approved hammer wielder to arrive, since for them to wield a hammer for a five minute job would result in a full strike…..

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  30. edhunter (497 comments) says:

    Shit I’m in my 40′s & the only two things I remember from the 70′s are Carless days (ours was Thursday because the TAB was closed on Thursdays) and driving over the army’s bailey bridge across the Manukau and wondering when the new bridge would finally be built. Even at that tender age 7 or 8 my anti-union bias was already being formed.

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  31. Evadne (68 comments) says:

    Ah yes.. the car-less days and Mangare Bridge… and Cook Strait ferry strike every Christmas.

    Still, a far-left Labour would probably love that.. there’d be no obesity problem if we had to walk everywhere, and couldn’t buy food at the weekend or on public holidays like in “the good old days”.

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  32. rangitoto (195 comments) says:

    “Who do you think paid for these “workers” to literally sit around a benghazi burner (you’re probably too young to know what that was) and play cards? Why the TAXPAYER!!…And that’s not even touching on all the other advantages of the socialist paradise c. 1973: dairies that couldnt sell certain things on Sundays; shops that could sell ANYTHING on Saturdays; six months wait for a telephone connection unless you knew someone; no new car unless you had overseas funds, in other words only for the rich and connected…yada yada yada….”

    You even had to apply to the government to be allowed to go on holiday in Aus. There was some measly daily allowance you were permitted. The system worked until the UK entered the EU. The govt was days from defaulting when Douglas stepped up and saved the country.

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  33. Ed Snack (1,737 comments) says:

    Just to add to Ross69′s woes, perhaps he would care to examine the labour market participation figures from the 1970′s and compare them to today’s. One could very easily deliver the 1970′s level of unemployment by one simple law: All married women must resign their jobs and stay at home; and of course these people by virtue of no longer being in the position of seeking employment (not allowed to) would not count as unemployed. There ya go Ross, all fixed and in the spirit of the 1970′s.

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  34. David Garrett (6,426 comments) says:

    The young fella (let’s hope to God for his sake he’s actually young, so there’s some excuse) seems to have gone away…Perhaps he is trying to find the passage in Das Kapital which will rebut the reality all of us over about 45 actually lived through…

    Its a bit early for Johnboy and Nasska, but they no doubt will remember the “sheep retention scheme”…where the government – i.e the taxpayer – paid farmers to hold on to gummy old ewes that had no market value…I can’t recall what the rationale for that one was…

    Evadne: As I’m sure you know, you are NOT exaggerating…I worked on the Methanol Plant construction in Taranaki in 1983…if a labourer so much as touched a strop – which was “riggers’ work” – there would be an immediate stoppage..

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  35. alex Masterley (1,490 comments) says:

    I remember carless days .
    Didn’t affect us too badly as we had 2 cars.
    I do remember the currency bullshit and the old import licencing system that applied.
    And the days a general wage order was worked out in the minister of labours office over a few whiskeys.

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  36. thor42 (916 comments) says:

    @David Garrett – “if a labourer so much as touched a strop – which was “riggers’ work” – there would be an immediate stoppage..

    Yep. There were “demarcation disputes” for this and “demarcation disputes” for that and “demarcation disputes” for the other….
    Pure socialist nirvana.

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  37. rangitoto (195 comments) says:

    Oh yes. The “sheep retention scheme”. I recall a John Clarke/Fred Dagg line making fun of that: “I’ve been retenting into the ground lately”

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  38. big bruv (13,294 comments) says:

    Evadne

    The Mangere Bridge!…that’s nothing. You should have lived in Wellington during those times.

    The endless hole in the ground that was the BNZ bank site.
    The shitty attitude from every government run monopoly.
    Having to deal with public servants who would stop what they were doing (including dealing with you) at smoko time and not come back until they absolutely had to.
    The “challenge” system inside the public service that meant anybody who served long enough could challenge an appointment they had unsuccessfully applied for on the grounds that they had been with the public service longer, talent or ability was not a consideration.
    The interisland ferries going on strike every Easter, school holidays and Christmas holiday periods.

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  39. sbk (308 comments) says:

    “the lost tribe tribes of the left”…hehe…anyone would think that McCarten was the modern day Moses gathering the Nation of believers and heading for the Red Sea…only to find that once he got there and despite all his exaltations to the faithful and sermons to the sinners…the Red Sea didnt part…cause,as we all know, the hard left has no time for God.

    sorry,it is Friday…mind you…lost just about sums up your average leftist.

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  40. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    there would be an immediate stoppage..

    I worked as a pipe fitters TA with Hulmes on the Motonui project and I don’t recall losing any time there.

    From there I went to the Marsden refinery extension with the same crew, was on strike within a week and a month or so into my time there I came close to being sacked for riding a welders bike.

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  41. big bruv (13,294 comments) says:

    I well recall that during my apprentice receiving a visit from a union thug. This prick walked into the shop during our morning tea, my boss asked him if he wanted a drink. While we were sitting there he demanded to know why I had not yet joined the union. When I replied that I did not see the need he stood up, stabbed his finger into my chest and said “you don’t have a fucking choice in the matter”.

    Now, that was a incredibly stupid thing to do given that I worked in a butcher shop at the time and had a very short temper in those days, plus I had on my hip three razor sharp knives that meant I could have filleted the prick in five mins flat.

    Luckily for me my boss (who was and remains to this day a giant of a man) leapt to his feet and told the thug that he had 30 seconds to leave his shop or he would toss him out onto the street. Had he not done this I hate to think what might have eventuated.

    When the thug realised that he was outnumbered he took off, not without the usual threat that he would be back (we never had the pleasure of his company again), my boss explained to me that I did in fact not have any choice in the matter and that I was going to have to pay union dues.

    In the end my boss paid my dues for me, I refused to give them one cent of my money and to this day have retained a intense hatred of all things union.

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  42. David Garrett (6,426 comments) says:

    BB: I have also seen the positive side of unionism, on the first job I ever worked on, the Oanui to Auckland gasline in 1975…long story short, A grizzly old Scot unionist threatened to shut the northern part of the job down because we labourers were being exposed to fumes of God knows what because Mc Connell Dowell were saving money on having used 44 gallon drums steam cleaned before reuse as they were supposed to …and I have also seen the worst of unionism, on the aforementioned Methanol Plant site at Waitara Valley..

    My two cents is that three things have happened: firstly the unions lost credibility because of all the shit mentioned in this thread, and more…secondly “the workers” have got smarter and better informed, and no longer need some cloth capped Liverpudlian communist “explaining” things to them…thirdly, since the much criticised Employment Contracts Act, everyone can bring a PG, you don’t have to be a member of the brotherhood.

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  43. duggledog (1,358 comments) says:

    These stories are great reading! Any more?

    Big Bruv I had a similar encounter with a greasy haired chap who was the union guy at my place of work in 1990. Laziest ass hole I ever met.

    Told him I would negotiate directly with my boss myself. I did, and got my own pay rise. Never spoke to me again

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  44. David Garrett (6,426 comments) says:

    duggle: Negotiated your own pay rise? You capitalist running dog lackey!! the Bros are supposed to do that for you, you know that…

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  45. OneTrack (2,604 comments) says:

    chris – It’s why I’ve always believed the reason the Green Party does so well with special votes from overseas is because the people overseas don’t have to live with the consequences of their vote. fify

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  46. Than (425 comments) says:

    OneTrack – That applies regionally as well as overseas. Go to Greymouth and ask how many people support the Green party.

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  47. jonnycomelately (18 comments) says:

    A great thread – a wander down memory lane for sure. Really got off track nicely. Anyone remember The Wool Board and wool retention for the poor sheep farmers?

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