The enemies of Labour

September 7th, 2012 at 4:43 pm by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes in The Listener:

It’s getting to the stage where someone – not sure who would get to decide whom – is going to have to issue an official list of Enemies of the New Zealand Labour Party. Just so we’re all clear.

As far as I can gather, reading the online effusions of those who profess to care deeply about the future of the left in our politics, including politically declared journalists, party activists and anonymous Green supporters, the official list of enemies so far includes:

the leader of the Labour party David Shearer for, among other things, opposing benefit fraud, but mostly for not being David Cunliffe;

at least half of the Labour caucus, including most senior spokespeople, for the crime of voting Shearer into the job;

deputy leader Grant Robertson, for his perfidy in supporting the leader and for the fact that he is often touted as a future leader, when Everyone Knows the only acceptable future leader is David Cunliffe;

former party advisor John Pagani and unsuccessful Porirua selection contestant Josie Pagani, for the atrocity of endorsing and defending the party leader in their roles as pro-Labour media commentators;

former MP Stuart Nash for his temerity in questioning whether too much Labour focus was going on issues like gay marriage and adoption, and not enough on core policy;

Jane lists a couple more also.

Time was, you had to be a non-Labour member, and preferably a non-Labour supporter to be a bona fide threat. Ideally you would be a member of the National or Act party, or at least a vote-stealing Green or Alliance person to be considered a viable enemy of Labour. But now the real enemy is apparently the Labour establishment itself.

We have met the enemy, and it is us!

This is understandably confusing to many non-political junkies, and even those of us who follow the dark arts closely could wish that Labour would make these distinctions the way they are made in many other countries, like Australia, where various quarrelling groups are formally recognised as factions. Factions can seesaw in terms of the power they wield, but the general idea is that they are all on the same side – ie, not bloody Tories.

Here, however, this civilised approach of agreeing to disagree, and tolerating shades of opinion, is coming to be regarded as a cop-out.

I’ve often commented that Labour claims to be a party of tolerance and diversity, yet they seem to really hate a diversity of opinion!

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Clifton on Little

June 15th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes:

There is one thing worse for an Opposition MP than getting knocked back on an application for a snap debate in Parliament on a subject embarrassing to the Government – and that is being granted a snap debate when you are not expecting it and suddenly having little to say.

That was the fate yesterday of Labour’s Andrew Little, who must have felt like the dog that chases cars, but cannot think what on earth to do on the day one obligingly stops and surrenders. He had to get up and speak about the Government’s ACC woes for 15 long minutes, and by the time he had lamented the running down of the corporation, upbraided the Government for being beastly to claimant Bronwyn Pullar and her friend Michelle Boag, and demanded ACC Minister Judith Collins be sacked, he had started to repeat himself rather forlornly.

Not a good look to call on the Minister to resign for doing exactly what you asked her to do!

But, in time, the fabled Labour machine swung into action. Frontbencher David Parker took out a pad and started scribbling large-print notes, which he passed behind him to Trevor Mallard, who appeared to proof-read them, before passing them on to Mr Little, who quickly glanced down at each sheet of paper and, without missing a beat, introduced a new aspect of the Government’s perfidy. Socialism in action.

When finally his ordeal was over – no-one was mean enough to move an extension of time

Oh dear having to have Parker write your speech and Trevor vet it.  They probably stepped in after he said this:

Then when the heat gets really tough she starts suing her political opponents, because that is the best way she knows to shut them down. This is not a Minister for ACC worth speaking of. This is not ministerial conduct that we understand in a Western democracy. This is shocking stuff. If you asked anybody else in the world “Is there a country where a Minister of Justice, who is charge of the courts, is using those courts to sue her political opponents?”, you would think we would be talking about somewhere in Africa, or maybe a Pacific Island. 

I guess Andrew isn’t going to be Foreign Affairs Spokesperson after those comments. As I have commented, he seems more focused on stopping the lawsuit against himself (which he could have stopped with a simple retraction and apology), than on the actual ACC issues and how they impact on New Zealanders.

 

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An amusing exchange

March 7th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jane Clifton reports from the House yesterday:

Prime Minister John Key hit on a cute method of deflating the Opposition’s ambush question strategy yesterday – though he probably won’t try it again.

Asked by Labour leader David Shearer whether he stood by his recent statements – one of those mystery questions that can lead to follow-up questions on just about anything – Mr Key grinned and said, “Yes, specially the one I said to my wife when I told her I loved her.”

This temporarily took the wind out of Mr Shearer’s sails because it’s hard to ask tough questions in a menacing fashion when you’re laughing.

General laughter was prolonged, including applause from Mr Key’s colleagues, and Speaker Lockwood Smith had trouble restoring order.

When finally he got a word in, he said, “Members would be wise to remember that if they include material in their answers, they can be questioned on it.”

“Yes,” cried Labour’s Annette King. “What did she say?”

The PM may be lucky that Labour didn’t ask supplementary questions about Bronagh :-)

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Clifton on Aussie Imports

May 31st, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes:

Green co-leader Russel Norman worked up quite a head of steam in Parliament yesterday about the menace posed to New Zealand by its predatory neighbour. …

But Dr Norman was plainly unconvinced. And when he pointed out that the Australian-owned banks that dominate the New Zealand banking system had self-interestedly repatriated 85 per cent of their profits during the recession, when New Zealand really needed the money, Mr English didn’t disagree that Australian shareholders did not have this country’s interests at heart.

But still the ripples of amusement continued.

Dr Norman’s final question brought the mirth right out into the open. “If Kiwibank is sold to Australia, will the Government require Kiwibank to change its theme song from God Defend New Zealand to Advance Australia Fair, or perhaps to Advance Australian Profits?”

Mr English grinned broadly as he answered: “I would find that question easier to answer if it were not asked with an Australian accent.”

For the MP warning against callous, grasping Australian “eeen-terests” and “proi-va-toi-sation” is himself … an Australian (though now a New Zealand citizen).

“Good onya, Digger!” enthused Maurice Williamson.

Reminds me a bit of the former NZ First MP Peter Brown who would launch tirades against immigrants, despite being himself an immigrant from the UK.

For the record Russel has been an Aussie for 30 years and a Kiwi for up to 13.

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Press Freedom Debate

May 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

To mark Press Freedom Day, there is a debate tonight (7 pm) at the Backbencher on the moot “That politicians pay the price of a free press”.

The cost is $25, which includes finger food. Proceeds go to the Asia-Pacific Solidarity and Safety Fund which basically provides welfare to the families of journalists killed doing their job.

The debaters are:

Affirmative

  1. Annette King
  2. Darren Hughes
  3. Simon Bridges

Negative

  1. Tom Scott
  2. Jane Clifton
  3. Barry Soper

They are all very amusing speakers, so should be a fun evening.

You can pay at the door, but if you do plan to go, it is useful to e-mail Brent Edwards so they can cater for the right numbers.

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MPs survey of the media

September 29th, 2008 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Last week I set up an online survey for MPs, asking them to rate various media organisations and senior gallery journalists on a scale of 0 to 10. Just under one quarter of MPs responded, and the results are shown below.

As the media often rate how well MPs are doing, I thought it appropriate to reverse this and ask the questions in reverse. The media are a hugely powerful filter, and it is appropriate (in my opinion) to have some focus on how well they are perceived to be performing.

The questions were:

  1. For each media organisation please give them a rating from 0 to 10 for how well you think they do in their parliamentary reporting. This should take account of all relevant factors – accuracy, fairness, thoroughness, relevance, substance etc.
  2. Now for some individual senior members of the press gallery, please rate from 0 to 10 how well you think they perform at proving fair, accurate, unbiased and informative reporting on Parliament. You can skip any that you do not feel able to rate.
  3. Finally can you indicate your party grouping as National, Labour or Other. Your individual identity is not sought by us, and we have no way or interest in identifying individual respondents. However we would like to summarise results for all MPs and by the three groupings to see if they vary by party grouping.

It is important that these be read in context, so make the following points:

  1. This is the opinion of MPs only. It does not set out to be an objective rating, and should not be seen as such.
  2. MPs get reported on by the gallery. While this makes them the group of NZers potentially best able to have an informed opinion on the media (which is why I surveyed them), it also gives them a conflict of interest. MPs may score journalists lowly due to personal run ins with them, or the fact they are too good at their job! This should be borne in mind.
  3. I only e-mailed the survey to the 121 MPs, but it is possible that one or more responses was filled in by a staff member who has access to the MPs mailbox. I think this is unlikely, as most staff are very professional. However MPs were not required to prove their identity to vote, as confidentiality of individual responses was important. You need to know the Survey URL to be able to vote.
  4. National MPs made up 43% of responses, slightly above their numbers in Parliament. Minor Party MPs were also slightly over-represented, Labour MPs under-represented and some MPs did not give a party identification.
Media Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
NZ Press Assn 6.1 6 6 4 9 5
Newsroom 5.8 6 5 1 10 9
Trans-Tasman 5.5 6 6 0 8 8
NZ Herald 5.3 6 6 0 8 8
Scoop 5.2 5 5 0 10 10
Newstalk ZB 5.1 6 7 1 8 7
Listener 5.0 5 3 1 8 7
NBR 4.9 4 4 1 8 7
Radio NZ 4.8 6 3 1 9 8
Radio Live 4.4 5 1 1 8 7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5 5 0 7 7
The Press 4.2 5 1 1 7 6
TV Three 4.1 5 6 0 8 8
Dominion Post 4.1 4.5 1 1 7 6
TV One 3.9 5 5 0 6 6
Maori TV 3.7 4 5 0 6 6
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 7 0 7 7
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3 3 0 5 5

NZ Press Association tops the rankings with a mean or average 6.1 rating – and received no very low ratings from anyone. The two Internet agencies were in the top five, indicating MPs like the fact their releases are carried in full. Trans-Tasman also does well.

Television generally gets ranked lowly with all four stations in the bottom half. Sky News actually ranks highest.

Radio is middle of the field with NewstalkZB being the highest ranked radio broadcaster.

The newspapers range the spectrum. The NZ Herald is up at 5.3, Press at 4.2 and Dom Post at 4.1. I would have them all higher, but this is a survey of MPs, not of my views.

Now the sample sizes are of course very small (but of a limited population) but let us look at how National MPs ranked media compared to all the other MPs:

Media All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
TV One 3.9 6.3 2.2 4.2
TV Three 4.1 6.2 2.6 3.6
Maori TV 3.7 5.2 2.5 2.7
Sky/Prime News 4.3 5.5 3.3 2.2
Sunday Star-Times 2.7 3.5 2.1 1.4
Radio Live 4.4 4.8 4.2 0.6
Radio NZ 4.8 5.0 4.6 0.4
Dominion Post 4.1 4.2 4.0 0.2
Herald on Sunday 3.5 3.5 3.5 0.0
Newstalk ZB 5.1 4.8 5.4 -0.6
The Press 4.2 3.8 4.6 -0.8
NZ Herald 5.3 4.2 6.1 -1.9
NBR 4.9 3.3 6.1 -2.8
Listener 5.0 3.3 6.3 -3.0
NZ Press Assn 6.1 4.3 7.4 -3.1
Trans-Tasman 5.5 3.3 7.1 -3.8
Scoop 5.2 2.8 7.0 -4.2
Newsroom 5.8 3.0 8.0 -5.0

National MPs ranked the four TV channels much higher than other MPs did. Maybe this is minor parties upset that they do not get on TV much?

Despite the generally accepted lean to the left of Radio NZ, National MPs ranked Radio NZ higher than other MPs did. And while some on the left attack the NZ Herald at favouring National, National MPs actually ranked them lower than other MPs did. The Listener and NBR also get accused of leaning right, but again get ranked lower by National MPs.

The Nat MPs also rated the online media very lowly.

Now the journalists. I decided not to list all members of the press gallery, but only those who are relatively senior, and are more likely to have a reasonable number of MPs have formed opinions about them. Looking back I could have included more.

If any journalist is unhappy about being missed out, happy to include you next year. Now again it is worth remembering these are only the opinions of those MPs who responded to my survey – it is not an objective rating.

Journalist Mean Median Mode Minimum Maximum Range
John Armstrong (NZH) 6.4 7 2 2 10 8
Peter Wilson (NZPA) 5.8 5 5 3 8 5
Audrey Young (NZH) 5.7 6.5 7 0 10 10
Ian Templeton (TT) 5.6 7 7 0 9 9
Jane Clifton (Listener) 5.6 6 6 2 9 7
Barry Soper (Sky & ZB) 4.9 5.5 7 1 9 8
Ian Llewellyn (NZPA) 4.9 5 5 1 8 7
Vernon Small (DP) 4.6 5 6 1 8 7
Colin Espiner (Press) 4.5 5 6 0 8 8
Guyon Espiner (TV1) 4.4 5.5 7 0 7 7
Tim Donoghue (DP) 4.1 4.5 2 1 9 8
Brent Edwards (RNZ) 4.1 4 4 0 7 7
Tracy Watkins (DP) 3.8 4.5 6 0 7 7
Duncan Garner (TV3) 3.7 3.5 3 0 8 8
Gordon Campbell (Scoop) 3.6 5 5 0 7 7
Ruth Laugeson (SST) 2.7 2.5 2 0 6 6

John Armstrong tops the ratings, followed by the NZPA Political Editor Peter Wilson. Generally MPs ranked journalists slightly higher than media organisations. As can be seen by the minimum ratings showing, some MPs were very harsh handing out zeroes. Did WInston multiple vote? :-) (Note I have no idea if Winston did vote)

And once again we compare responses between National MPs and other MPs.

Journalist All Mean Nats Mean Others Mean Difference
Laugeson 2.7 4.2 1.6 2.6
Clifton 5.6 7.0 4.5 2.5
Soper 4.9 6.2 4.0 2.2
Campbell 3.6 4.8 2.8 2.0
Edwards 4.1 4.8 3.5 1.3
Llewellyn 4.9 5.2 4.7 0.5
Young 5.7 6.0 5.5 0.5
Garner 3.7 3.5 3.9 -0.4
Espiner G 4.4 4.2 4.6 -0.4
Wilson 5.8 5.5 6.0 -0.5
Armstrong 6.4 6.0 6.8 -0.8
Watkins 3.8 3.0 4.4 -1.4
Donoghue 4.1 3.2 4.9 -1.7
Small 4.6 3.2 5.6 -2.4
Espiner C 4.5 2.8 5.8 -3.0
Templeton 5.6 1.8 8.5 -6.7

Again very interesting. The SST is generally seen as hostile to National, but Ruth Laugeson is ranked much higher by National MPs, than by other MPs. Likewise the Gordon Campbell and Brent Edwards (both left leaning) are ranked higher by National MPs than other MPs.

Also for some reasons National MPs ranked Ian Templeton very lowly. Maybe they don’t like his weekly chats with Clark and Key, ignoring the lesser MPs?

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