Garner on Xenophobia

August 11th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes at the Dom Post:

So suddenly we’re all against selling off farms to foreigners. Well, it’s not really just foreigners, is it. Let’s be honest – we’re worried about the Chinese buying our farms. They’re not like us. There you go, I said it. Clearly many are thinking it. Cue Opposition politicians lining up to scratch our collective itch. Nationalism? Racism? Xenophobia? All of the above? The reality is we’ve been hocking off our farms to overseas buyers for years and no-one seemed too fussed. Australians, Germans, Russians, the Swiss and the Americans – no worries.

You expect it from NZ First, but not from Labour.

The debate has flared up over Lochinver Station, near Taupo. A reputable Chinese company wants to buy it for $70 million. They bought Crafar Farms and, from all reports, have improved it. They promise to upgrade Lochinver and keep the 20 Kiwi staff on. The sellers, the Stevenson family, want to take the money and reinvest it in their other business interests, such as quarries, and create about 8000 jobs over time. Surely we support that – don’t we? Labour has effectively pledged to stop the sale if it gets into government. Let’s pause and consider the hypocrisy: Labour’s position is a massive change of heart.  And Winston Peters, who was in government too from 2005-2008  must have been asleep at the wheel. Labour allowed Poronui Station to be sold in 2007 – that’s the farm next door to Lochinver Station. Labour Cabinet minister David Parker even asked a question of himself in Parliament about that sale – trumpeting the benefits of foreign investment.

They are such hypocrites.

In the last term of the Labour-NZ First government, an average of 762 square kilometres of land was sold every year. The amount sold in the past five years under National has been about 390sq km a year. The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa estimates about 8 per cent of our best farmland is in foreign hands. Should we have banned film director James Cameron from buying his farms in the Wairarapa? He’s about to make Avatar 2, 3 and 4 in New Zealand and that will create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. Should he have been told to bugger off? Labour leader David Cunliffe is even suggesting that Australians be banned from owning big farms here too. He’s taking ‘‘advice’’ over it – which is code for he’s making up policy on the hoof.

What’s new. And for outright racism, here’s Winston:

“As they say in Beijing, two Wongs don’t make a right.”

Winston defends the joke on the basis he heard it Beijing. But jokes are all about context. When you make the joke in the context of spreading fear and phobia about Chinese, then it is not funny, but nasty.

Jamie Whyte points out:

David Cunliffe’s suggestion that Australians be banned from owning big farms invites retaliation from Australia. 500,000 Kiwis currently live in Australia and many own land there or would like to.

Last year, Cunliffe told Australian government ministers and business leaders to give Kiwis “a fair go.”

Cunliffe said it is unfair that New Zealanders in Australia are treated differently from Australians in Australia. Yet he seeks to be Prime Minister on a promise to treat Australians differently from New Zealanders.

The inevitable retaliation would have a delicious irony, with Russell Norman’s support for the policy losing him his right to buy land in his home country. But that joy will be far outweighed by the terrible losses to New Zealanders.

The freedom to move back and forth across the Tasman, and to buy and sell property in both countries, is a great advantage to New Zealanders. The government should guard it jealousy. It should not be put at risk for the cheap political purposes of a desperate politician.

Land sales are regulated. Anything over a certain size must meet a national interest test. You can debate whether the test should be altered, but those parties advocating an outright ban are trying to reintroduce Fortress New Zealand from the 1970s.

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Labour’s health promises not well targeted

August 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour is promising 1.7 million people – 40 per cent of the population – will be eligible for free doctors visits and prescriptions under a Labour-led government.

Leader David Cunlifffe announced the plan today at his campaign launch in Auckland saying the September 20 election was about a choice between prosperity for all or only for a few.

“After another three years heading in the direction we’re heading we just won’t know this country. Our rivers will be dirty. What’s left of our assets will be sold, and so will vast tracts of our land. We will be tenants in our own country,” Cunliffe told the 800 strong audience, in a reference to the recent controversy over farm sales to foreigners.

The major health package includes free doctors visits and prescriptions for almost 700,000 people aged over 65 at a cost of $120m.

This is a massively mis-targeted policy which is entirely about votes, not health.

The Ministry of Health done an annual health survey. One of their questions is whether someone has not gone to see a GP in the last year due to the cost. Here is the breakdown, in order, by age:

  • 25 – 34: 22.3%
  • 35 – 44: 17.8%
  • 15 – 24: 15.8%
  • 45 – 54: 13.9%
  • 55 – 64: 12.1%
  • 65 – 74: 6.3%
  • 75+: 4.7%

So Labour’s policy is not just slightly badly targeted – it is as far away from the area of most need as possible. They are saying we must provide free GP visits to the age group that has the least problem paying. It’s is purely about middle class welfare votes, not about health.

What about free presciptions? Here’s the breakdown by age again of those who did not get a prescription filled because of cost:

  • 25 – 34: 7.6%
  • 45 – 54: 7.5%
  • 35 – 44: 7.2%
  • 15 – 24: 6.1%
  • 55 – 64: 5.6%
  • 65 – 74: 3.2%
  • 75+: 1.9%

Also the Health Survey shows a positive trend for prescriptions, not a worsening one. The proportion of elderly not being able to afford to get their prescriptions filled dropped by a quarter to a third in the last year.

So again Labour policy is aimed at those with the least problem paying. It is a very cynical costly bribe.

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Labour’s campaign launch

August 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

An unidentified columnist at Stuff writes:

Has Labour miscalculated?

Its campaign launch tomorrow will have all the glamour of any event held at Auckland’s waterfront on the viaduct. That decision was no doubt deliberate.

If ever there was an occasion when Labour needed to put on its game face it’s the campaign launch, when it needs to convince the punters it is still in the game.

A party atmosphere can hardly hurt.

But National has stolen a march on Labour by launching its own campaign in two weeks from Manukau in the heart of South Auckland, traditional Labour territory.

Given that this is where Labour has placed much of its focus on turning out several hundred thousand voters who went awol in 2011, the challenge thrown down by National is clear.

Don’t just assume those voters will all go your way, is the inference that can be drawn from National’s deliberate march into Labour’s heartland.

It is a very ballsy move by National.

Since his earliest days as prime minister, Key has harboured a dream of extending National’s support into heartland Labour areas like South Auckland, particularly among the more conservative Pacific Island communities turned off Helen Clark’s government by its anti-smacking stance.

That is part of National’s wider strategy of being a party with appeal to a broad spectrum of voters by reaching out to non-traditional constituencies.

The May budget, with its extension to paid parental leave and free doctors’ visits showed National is not squeamish about cribbing policy from opponents to further this goal.

Labour has been slow to wake up to National’s game plan.

Even Key’s comments about targeting future tax cuts at low to middle income earners show the extent to which National remains focused on the strategy.

I want tax cuts, and I am very happy if they are targeted at low to middle income earners. a reduction in the bottom tax rate means all taxpayers get a tax cut.

For years, Labour successfully papered over the divisions between its left and right factions, thanks largely to the iron-clad control of Helen Clark.

But the last few years have seen it re-erupt to the extent that both sides seem hell-bent on giving the impression they might even relish the prospect of a loss on September 20 so they can blame the other for engineering it.

The party’s left faction are already talking up a caucus purge and de-selection after the election.

Excellent. Purges are always a great idea.

This is also a fight over whether David Cunliffe should stay on and lead the party in the event of defeat.

Those who believe he must stay are ranged against those in the caucus who they see as wanting to use defeat as an opportunity to roll Cunliffe.

Cunliffe’s office doesn’t even bother to hide the divisions between the caucus and the wider grassroots. One senior adviser called recently to take issue with a statement that the grassroots had grown increasingly distant from the party. Their complaint was not that it was untrue, but that it was the other way round – the caucus had grown distant from the grassroots.

Think about that statement. A senior staff member in the Labour Leader’s office called a journalist, to slag off the caucus. And if they win, these guys will be running the country.

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Leyland on Labour

August 8th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Leyland writes:

New Zealand politics is very odd at the best of times. Yesterday was particularly strange when we saw a story about how outrageous it was that Labour candidate Kelvin Davis dared to actually campaign against his opponent. We are really in the twilight zone now.

David Cunliffe is putting Labour in a very awkward position by continuing to flip flop on doing a deal with Internet Mana. Last week he refused to rule them out, but then by this morning he had entirely changed his tune.

The problem is that a leader that is shifty about who he will work with will very quickly lose all credibility. He just looks hungry for power at any cost, and if he’s not going to back his own candidates and MPs, what hope do the people of New Zealand have that he will back them as Prime Minister?

Very valid points. Patrick is a former staff member in the Labour Leader’s office.

Don’t get me wrong, I want a Labour government. A deal in Te Tai Tokerau, or allowing Hone to win, would possibly assist that. But Cunliffe can’t have it both ways. He can’t go on TV and say Labour won’t work with Internet Mana, then suppress a campaign to ensure they win in Te Tai Tokerau. He can’t say that the coattails rule and rort by National in Epsom is unacceptable, then be complacent in using it to make himself the PM. It is those inconsistencies that annoy Labour’s base, shifts voters to the Greens (or even National in the case of many Labour supporters who can’t stand Internet Mana), and makes Labour’s message confused and unappealing to centre voters.

In other words your actions need to match your words.

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Labour’s policy to block small businesses from Government tenders

August 7th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

Labour’s small business policy promises to significantly increase the proportion of government undertaken by small business.  This is good, but….

Labours Work and Wages policy will “ensure that government bodies only contract with businesses that are good employers including a history of adhering to employment legislation, and respecting the right of their employees to join a union and bargain collectively.”

Labour will also “seek to use the purchasing power of the state to create incentives for private sector employers who can become certified Living Wage employers.”

Small businesses will not be exempt from the good employer requirements, unless Labour proposes to backtrack on its Work and Wages Policy.  Most small businesses are not unionised.  Does this mean they will need to unionise to get a look in?  Will they have to pay $18.40 or more to their employees before they get a look in?

Labour’s policy does seem to be that the Government should discriminate against employers who do not unionised workplaces, which will mean almost all small businesses.

This is a very self serving policy. Almost all business policies of Labour’s are about forcing or incentivising more people to join unions. Unions in turn then use their extra money to help Labour get elected, in four ways:

  1. Some unions join Labour and get to vote on their leader, candidates and policies
  2. Some unions donate directly to Labour
  3. Almost all unions allow their staff to spend as much time as they want campaigning for Labour on work time
  4. Many unions run third party campaigns on issues, designed to help Labour get elected

So while one of Labour’s policies say they want more small businesses winning tenders, the small print is only if they have unionised workforces, to help fund the Labour Party.

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On Labour’s Youth Employment Policy

August 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

Maybe your  readers can figure this one out….

Labour’s Youth Employment policy announced today includes  the Kick Start Apprenticeship scheme. This will offer a payment of $9,100 ( the equivalent of the dole) each time an employer provides a full time permanent job, salary and training to an unemployed youth who is 18 or 19, been on the dole for at least 3 months and is at medium to high risk of being on the dole full time. 

This might make sense if it weren’t for the fact  that Labour’s Work and Wages Policy will significantly increase the minimum wage and remove youth rates and 90 day trial periods! 

I can just see employers flocking to grab $9k for the privilege of putting huge effort into inexperienced  unmotivated youth with no comeback if they don’t work out, and paying them the same as experienced workers…..Not much chance of government being a player either as Labour has promised that government employers will to pay at least $18.40 to first time employees .  It will be cheaper to leave them on the dole!!!

Very good points. 90 day trials allow employers to take a risk on a young inexperienced voter.

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Joyce attacks Labour xenophobia

August 2nd, 2014 at 2:04 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has accused Labour of “xenophobia” in their opposition of the potential sale of Lochinver Station to the Chinese company that bought the Crafar Farms.

Mr Joyce and Grant Robertson, economic development spokesman for Labour, appeared on TV3’s The Nation this morning and discussed the sale.

Mr Robertson said under Labour the sale would not go ahead.

“Our criteria would definitely mean that a sale like this would be highly unlikely.”

Mr Joyce said the opposition were “electioneering” in relation to the issue.

“When did [Labour] go out and oppose the purchase of James Cameron’s land?”

“A little xenophobia from the Labour Party to start the day,” he said.

Cameron is becoming a resident, but you rarely hear Labour attack Harvard University for land purchases, Shania Twain, Australians or Canadians. But if it is Chinese, then they have lots to say.

Mr Joyce said the Lochinver Station was a “ridiculously small amount of land” in the North Island to sell off.

The Lochinver sheep and beef farm site is valued at $70 million and covers 13,800ha.

That’s 138 square kms. Around 0.05% of NZ. At this rate China will own all our land in the year 3,956. Panic, panic, everyone.

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Transtasman on Labour media management

August 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The latest Transtasman notes:

The tawdry cry of media bias, marinated in bitterness and misanthropy, has been held aloft by Labour activitists. They have a point, but not the one they think they are making. How journalists’ view political parties is affected by many factors, and individual political biases and prejudgements is only one of them – and seldom the most important. Almost every journalist in the press gallery has tales of slow or non-existent response from Labour to requests for information, or of interviews/appearances agreed to and  then “pulled” at the last minute.

It isn’t a matter of incompetent staff: the almost total turnover in the past three years is only one indication something deeper is the problem.

No one knows what is going on because people who should be told are not told, and the big reason for this is internal levels of mistrust are so toxic.

It adds up to an organisation – and we use the word ‘organisation’ with some degree of over-stretch here – which cannot do the political equivalent of walk from Mum’s car to the kindergarten gate with out having a trouser incident. 

And of course this affects coverage.

Journalists experience this level of cluster-fornication every day and it has a deep impact. And this is before we get to the public snafus, the destructive and bitter factionalism and the way many electorate candidates are distancing themselves from the current, official election strategy. Almost everything Labour does at the moment sends the message it is in no position to run anything.

If there is a tone of disrespect in how journalists cover Labour – and there very definitely is – it is because Labour is not behaving in a way which earns respect.

The scary thing is that despite this level of toxicity, they could end up in Government in 51 days. It only needs a 4% swing or so and Labour could form a Government with the Greens, NZ First, Mana and Dotcom parties.

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Quin on inept Labour

July 31st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Phil Quin writes in the Herald:

To paraphrase US comedian Lily Tomlin, who was talking about cynicism at the time, no matter how dire Labour’s political management reveals itself to be, it’s impossible to keep up.

Last week, I broke a cardinal rule and spent some time wading through left-wing blogs, as well as comment sections on more mainstream sites.

Oh dear.

It is clear the small number of Labour, Green and Internet-Mana Party activists who populate these dusty corners of cyberspace have convinced themselves the media are systematically rallying behind John Key’s re-election and conspiring against the left.

The paranoia is hilarious.

Supporters and activists find it much easier to blame straw-men, presumably along with a mandatory 50 per cent of straw-women, than confront the painful truth that the political operation surrounding David Cunliffe is strategically misguided and tactically inept.

Heh, nice dig at quotas. But an important blunt assessment by a former Labour staffer.

To my mind, the Cunliffe apology for being a man was by far the most damaging of these. According to a Herald poll, only 9 per cent of respondents thought the manpology was a smart move, and yet the overwhelming preponderance of leftist commentary insisted either that Cunliffe was right to say sorry for possessing external genitalia, or that the apology wasn’t a big deal.

My mantra during this pre-election period has been that Labour’s strategists are misguided in their conviction that fewer than 30 per cent of the vote is sufficient to form a viable government.

With others, like Shane Jones and Josie Pagani, I have urged the party to lift its sights to become a 40 per cent party, capable of winning a broad spectrum of voters from all parts of the country.

The sad thing is that many on the left celebrated Jones leaving the Labour caucus, and they revile Pagani and want her gone also.

In particular, we make the case that Labour has all but surrendered in provincial New Zealand, and that this is a strategic bungle of epic proportions.

Labour holds just one seat in provincial NZ, and they may lose that one in this election.

If Labour fails to break well into the 30s, the party president and general secretary should resign and party council members should convene urgently to consider their own positions.

It is not shocking in the context of New Zealand electoral history for John Key to win a third term; what is untenable is that he looks set to do so with a higher vote than either of the past two outings.

As for David Cunliffe, he should resign with grace and alacrity as soon as it becomes apparent he is unable to form a government, which might be far earlier on the evening of September 20 than any Labour voter would wish to contemplate.

I’m told David Cunliffe has made it very clear he has no intention to resign in the event of a loss.

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Labour’s Hobbit Haters are back

July 31st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party wants to repeal the law changes that were ceded to Warner Bros over The Hobbit films, a move which the Government says would cripple the $3 billion screen industry.

The Greens policies will kill off the oil industry while Labour’s would kill off the film industry. Combine the two of them together, and you shudder.

A $2 boost in the minimum wage to $16.25 an hour by early 2015 would mean an extra $4000 a year for those workers – but the Government was quick to dismiss this as costing up to 6000 jobs.

Why stop at $16.25? Why not $25 an hour?

Mr Bridges said the minimum wage in New Zealand was the highest in the world, relative to the average wage.

It is. The way to grow wages is to increase productivity, not by legislation.

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Trotter on Labour’s electorate MPs

July 28th, 2014 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Well, I say “Labour” but, really, the hoarding facing us was all about Phil Goff. It was his ugly mug and buck-toothed smile that confronted the viewer, and his name in bold sans-serif that somebody had helpfully placed a big tick underneath. Oh sure, right down the very bottom you could, if you squinted hard enough, make out the Labour Party’s slogan “Vote Positive”, and yes, there was even an exhortation to “Party Vote Labour”. But, seriously, nobody driving by is going to have time to register anything other than the local MP, Phil Goff, is soliciting their vote.

I’m told this is happening all over the country. That the hoardings erected by Labour electorate MPs are, overwhelmingly, self-promoting. Not the party (unless you have very good eyesight). And certainly not the Leader. (God forbid!) In spite of delivering the worst result in 90 years, the so-called “election strategy” of 2008, promote the candidate – not the party, is being idiotically repeated – by the same idiots!

Chris means 2011.

The fundamental message of the MMP system: Only the Party Vote matters! is, once again, being studiously ignored by MPs whose only concern is to retain their seniority in Labour’s faction-ridden caucus.

What this will produce, just as it did in 2008, is the absurdity of Labour plummeting to 27 percent in the Party Vote, but capturing 32 percent of the Electorate Vote. Had those figures been reversed on Election Night three years ago, Phil Goff would now be Prime Minister.

Well depends where they pick the party votes up from.

That Phil Goff is promoting himself alone, that his leader’s image is being relegated (as his own was in 2008) to the back streets, adds up, in my opinion, to just one bleak message.

Labour is heading for the worst defeat in its 98-year history.

We can only hope.

Danyl McL has also noted that very small Labour logos on the billboards.

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Labour’s Comms & ICT policies

July 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I think it is a sign that the Government is doing most things right,  when most of Labour’s policies seem to be to keep the status quo and just have a lot of reviews. This is not a bad thing. An Opposition shouldn’t promise massive change just for the sake of it.

Labour’s policy is here. The details are:

  • Review the Ultra-fast Broadband project
  • Review the Rural Broadband Initiative
  • Review the telecommunications regulatory framework
  • Review the Telecommunications Service Obligations
  • Encourage local authorities to include broadband availability in their online maps
  • Hope someone builds a second cable, and offer the same money as National to be an anchor tenant in one
  • $2.4 million a year for local Councils to roll out Internet access to low income communities
  • $1.6 million a year for a pilot rural fibre connectivity scheme
  • $1.3 million a year for a connectivity innovation fund
  • Review the Telecommunications, Commerce and Radio Communication Acts
  • Review the Copyright Act
  • Review the recommendations of the Data Futures Forum

There’s nothing bad in this policy. The modest spending commitment of around $5 million could get some good results.  But largely the policy is an endorsement of the status quo and almost a dozen reviews. Some seem pointless, while others are very desirable (I am very keen on a first principles review of copyright law).

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Labour doesn’t want Hosking

July 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

The state broadcaster is refusing to budge, declaring: “Mike is our man.”

Leader David Cunliffe’s inner circle believes the Seven Sharp host is too close to National and has compiled a dossier of examples.

I think it is pretty obviously that Mike Hosking has a centre-right worldview. Just as John Campbell has a centre-left worldview. The issue is not their world-view, but whether they would be biased and be unfair moderating a debate.

I’ve never heard of National demanding (for example) that John Campbell not moderate a TV3 leaders debate, so am surprised that Labour is so sensitive that they are trying to demand a moderator they agree with.

National’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce, rejected this and said he was happy with the current format of prime minister versus opposition leader.

He said the party had no issues with TV3 using John Campbell for its televised debate. “We’ve all got to trust the professionalism of the interviewers,” he said. “There are people who think John Campbell is to the Left but the prime minister is more than happy to front on both TV channels.”

Sensible.

 

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The Press on Labour’s need for discipline

July 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Worse than that, however, the attack on Cunliffe was yet another illustration of the continual indiscipline afflicting the Labour Party at present. It also demonstrates Cunliffe’s inability to get his party inside the House and outside focused on what they must do if they are to have any chance at all in the general election.

The attack, which first appeared in the Sunday-Star Times at the weekend, was done behind a veil of anonymity. The source was described as a senior Labour figure, but it could not be discerned from the story whether it was a person in the caucus, two-thirds of which is said to support someone other than Cunliffe, or someone in the wider party. Either way, it seemed calculated to do the maximum harm.

Labour are suggesting the source was not an MP. But that is hard to reconcile with the quotes in the SST:

“We will be having a talk to David at caucus about his work ethic on Tuesday. We’ll be letting him know he’s got two months to turn this around, and we’re backing him and right behind him but he’s got to lift his game.”

The only people who attend caucus on Tuesday are MPs, the Chief of Staff and the President. I assume it isnt Matt McCarten being quoted or the President, so hence it must be an MP.

It was the latest in a series of stories that has put Labour in the headlines all right, but for all the wrong reasons. From Trevor Mallard wittering on with some harebrained thoughts about the genetic reconstitution of moa, to Kelvin Davis breaking with the party line over a contentious highway in Northland, to a half-baked suggestion about changing the burden of proof in rape trials, to Cunliffe’s own cack-handed apology for being a man, the stories are a corrosive distraction from whatever substantive policies Labour is trying to promote. The party’s message is being swamped by them.

And banning some perfumes and cosmetics.

But if Cunliffe wants to present himself as an alternative prime minister, and the party as an alternative government, he must bring some discipline to it. Otherwise, voters will, quite rightly, write him and the party off.

Sound advice.

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Cunliffe says sorry for his holiday

July 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has admitted to making errors, including taking an over-long three-day holiday in Queenstown last week.

Cunliffe emerged from a caucus meeting of his MPs today promising to make changes to the way he and the party delivered their messages and admitting that the holiday was a mistake.

“I take responsibility for things I could have done better,” he said.

“I’m happy to say that with the information that I now have about the movement in the polls, which I didn’t have when I made that decision [to take a holiday], I would have made a different decision.”

He certainly would not have gone on such a long break, though he noted he was also ill for two days “and I didn’t have much choice about that”.

And in another story:

He scoffed at suggestions that some in his caucus were “doing the numbers” on a leadership change.

“That’s nonsense, absolute nonsense,” he said.

“I am confident I have the full support of my caucus.”

Hilarious.

Former leader Phil Goff ruled out any interest in becoming leader again, and while Cunliffe’s predecessor David Shearer wouldn’t rule it out, he said he was focused on the party’s key messages.

Mark my words. Shearer will challenge after the election.

Also a third Stuff article reveals a new side to Cunliffe:

Pray, is Reverend Sue Dickson’s advice.  Cunliffe says he does – daily. 

I did not realise Cunliffe is such a devout Christian.

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Pagani advice for Labour

July 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit on what Labour should now do:

First, stop blaming the media. 

The problem isn’t ‘right wing framing’. There isn’t a media conspiracy to get a third term National government. When you fall behind everyone airs their favourite explanation and negatives get repeated and amplified. It’s the job of politicians, not media, to inspire a change in the story. 

National did this also in 2002. It is very tempting to do, but almost always pointless.

Stop saying the polls are close. It reminds voters that Labour aims to lead a bloc in which it might not be all that dominant and which could include the toxic Dotcom party. Tortuous explanations about the Left Bloc v the Right Bloc sound cynical, as if you don’t care about winning support of people.

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

If Labour did that, I think they would get a very significant boost in the polls. People do not like the idea of a Labour-led Government being subservient to Dotcom.

Stop barking at every passing car. We don’t need a position on every lifestyle or identity issue in the news cycle. Though Labour tries to talk about core themes, like jobs and smaller class sizes, it can’t complain when those subjects get overshadowed by its own policies. 

The temptation of releasing a ‘policy a day’ comes from a lack of confidence that the main themes are strong enough to win. This is a strategy error, not a discipline one. 

I think they are taking this advice on board.

There are no easy pathways now. The party made David Cunliffe leader for his strategy of shoring up the base with a more militant tone. He’s delivered on that strategy but it hasn’t worked. 

Correcting to the centre close to the election carries the seeds of disappointment for those who believed it would work, and has the added downside that the public don’t believe it. 

It’s too late to ditch some of the rhetoric that made people doubt whether you would put them ahead of sectarian interests, but not too late to campaign for  the values that make Labour, Labour.  It’s mission is to represent working people and their families in a broad-based party. So: do that.

I think it is too late to now try and move towards the centre.

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Labour chess

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:48 am by David Farrar

The current internal machinations in Labour are a bit like a game of chess. Grant Robertson is the King of the Board who doesn’t want to do combat himself, so he is sending pawns off to do battle, and clear the way for him. The latest play is:

  • Grant has the numbers to roll Cunliffe, and has had for some time. This is beyond dispute
  • Grant does not want to become Leader yet. He rightfully fears losing the election, having a divided party, and an activist base that will blame him for the loss. This is almost beyond dispute.
  • Another factor for Grant is he is not even sure if he wants to be Leader for the 2017 election if Key still leads National. He only wants to become leader when he thinks the election is winnable (which it was in the middle of last year).
  • David Cunliffe is unlikely to go quietly after the election, if they lose. The magnitude of the loss will be a factor, but very clear signals have been sent out that he believes the unions and activists will stay loyal to him, and allow him to carry on. This is of massive concern to many MPs, and this is almost beyond dispute also.
  • David Shearer has been picked as the candidate to go up against Cunliffe in the December leadership ballot and then the membership vote. He strongly feels he was not given a fair go, and that he can appeal to non-core voters. He is far more angry and resentful against Cunliffe than people realise, but a complicating factor is he is equally resentful towards Robertson whose faction toppled him. But Camp Robertson would support him. I would put this as highly likely if Cunliffe does not resign.
  • A growing number of MPs are worried they will lose their seats and have been canvassing numbers for David Parker to challenge before the House rises. They are worried it will look desperate, and also the election materials have been printed. However the possibility of Little, Ardern and even Parker losing their seats weighs heavily on them. I’d say this is less than 50/50 probability – there is talk, but caution will overcome action.
  • A complicating factor is the Deputy Leadership. Both Parker and Shearer want Robertson as their Deputy so he shares the success or blame of their leadership. He would rather keep his powder dry until it is his time (he saw when deputy to Shearer how much activists also blamed him) and a condition of his support is that Ardern becomes Deputy.

Again change is less likely than not before the election. It must effectively happen today or next Tuesday. There are 60 days until the election. They are resigned to a result probably in the 20s. Their fear is a low to mid 20s result that removes some of their “stars” and leaves them too weakened to be competitive in 2017. They will now accept a result of even 29% as adequate.

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Felix Marwick on Labour

July 21st, 2014 at 12:30 pm by David Farrar

Felix Marwick from NewstalkZB writes:

Deficits are something no political party likes and the problem for the Labour Party at the moment is that it has one; a popularity deficit.

Its 27 percent result at the last election was the worst result it’d had in over 80 years and, at the time it was thought the party had scraped the bottom of the barrel. The only way, it seemed, was up. But four consecutive polls since last Wednesday have had the party polling below 30 percent and it seems distinctly possible Labour could crash and burn on September 20 unless it has a major change of fortunes.

From the outside Labour’s predicament looks pretty simple. It has no discipline. Its caucus appears more focused on personal rivalries, revenge, and self interest than they do in winning the election.

I’m trying to recall the last time I chatted to a Labour person about winning, rather than about internal battles. It was a long time ago, with the exception of the odd electorate candidate who is very focused on their local race.

Certainly there are some within Labour’s ranks that will probably argue that David Cunliffe and his supporters are being served the dish they themselves plated up for previous leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer. It does seem there is an element of payback going on. This is something voters should pay attention to the next time a Labour MP tells them about how committed they are to the future of this country. The party’s track record since the departure of Helen Clark suggests self interest reigns supreme.

Bring back Helen!

What all of this means of course is that Labour is worse than a house divided; it’s a house falling apart. It’s a Christchurch red zone home. Its foundations are stuffed, its walls are broken, the roof is a leaking ruin, and its garden is submerged in liquefaction.

Nice analogy.

One seriously wonders if the party would be better off ditching all of its incumbents, replacing them entirely, and starting afresh. If ever a political party needed a fresh slate, it’s Labour.

Some people say the next Labour Prime Minister isn’t yet an MP. They do need a circuit breaker. Hard to see David Shearer uniting the party after he challenges for the leadership back in December.

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The discipline issue

July 21st, 2014 at 7:19 am by David Farrar

Danyl blogs at Dim-Post:

It’s been a shambolic couple of weeks for Labour. They had their congress and launched a major education policy, carefully designed to attack National where they were vulnerable and attract centre voters back to Labour, and they’ve spent every day since then talking about either Moas, or banning cosmetics, or Cunliffe’s ‘man apology’, or changing the burden of proof in rape cases, or Kelvin Davis’ support for the holiday highway, or te reo in schools – with some Labour MPs supporting this and some opposing – ie they’ve been talking about pretty much anything other than the huge new policy they just launched.

That is a good summary. Labour has been in the news almost every day for a fortnight, but on a different issue – and generally a negative one.

Sounds like Labour are finally working this out, as Stuff reports:

Yesterday’s frontbench meeting is understood to have settled on a radical rethink of strategy for the remainder of the campaign, with Labour set to focus on fewer key policies and messages.

This is sensible. What is alarming is that such a common sense approach is thought to be a radical rethink.

But will the party keep to the script?

MPs are also under orders to be more disciplined. Cunliffe is believed to have had words with veteran MP Trevor Mallard about his plan to revive extinct moa, which grabbed headlines on the eve of a Labour Party conference that was supposed to showcase the leader.

Others singled out for criticism for going “off reservation” include Tainui MP Nanaia Mahuta and Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis, who have both taken opposing views to party policy on issues in their areas.

A senior MP said the latest poll ratings were a concern.

“We have to be bloody good at what we do, we’ve got to be very tightly focused and on message.

“We’ve got good policy, got a good campaign plan, we know we’ve got the troops on the ground, we can pull this up.”

There was an acknowledgement that the public was confused by the number of different signals coming from Labour, and that was blamed on “trying to do too much too quickly”.

“Then there’s another level with people saying things that are completely off the script.”

That included Cunliffe himself, for his apology “for being a man” to a Women’s Refuge conference.

But will Labour be disciplined enough. I doubt here. Here is Sue Moroney campaigning for free Moroccan cooking classes:

And it gets better. Sue also wants free Photoshop classes. Presumably for Labour Party staff.

Do you really think this is a Labour Party that could achieve surplus and run a balanced budget?

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Labour at 15 year low in Herald Digipoll

July 20th, 2014 at 11:16 am by David Farrar

Another day, another rogue poll. At what point will Labourites accept they are polling well under 30%?

The Herald reports:

Labour’s support has slumped to its worst rating for 15 years in the latest DigiPoll survey, putting critical pressure on leader David Cunliffe.

Its 26.5 per cent support is a slide of four points since June.

With just two months to the election, Labour could slip into the disastrous territory held by National in 2002, when it polled 20.93 per cent in the face of the highly popular Labour Government.

On this poll of decided voters National would be able to govern alone comfortably and gain another 10 MPs.

National has jumped 4.5 points to 54.9 per cent. A Stuff/Ipsos poll earlier this week also put support for National at 54.8 per cent.

Prime Minister John Key is more popular than he has ever been, scoring preferred prime minister on 73.3 per cent, compared with Cunliffe on 10.5 per cent and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters on 5.5 per cent.

Its a good result but with MMP the guy preferred with 10.3% can beat the guy preferred by 73.3%. Labour could poll in the 20s yet still form a Government. There is no room for complacency. Every vote is important.

Labour’s total support is down from 30.5 per cent in June, but it is disproportionately down among male voters, with only 23.9 per cent of men backing Labour, compared with 29.1 per cent of women.

I apologise for polling so badly as a man.

Political commentator Chris Trotter said the poll indicated Labour was “more or less bereft of hope”.

“Labour is in an extremely parlous position, and the situation is deteriorating.”

I never regard someone as dead until I have chopped the head off, put a stake through the head and burnt the corpse. A lot can still happen in 62 days.

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Patrick Leyland on Labour’s lack of message

July 19th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Leyland blogged:

NZ Labour’s woes are well documented. The latest round of polls – both with Labour sub 25, are frankly, disastrous. On these numbers Labour will be lucky to get deputy leader David Parker re-elected, and the prospect of any new list MPs just looks like a fantasy.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. From my distant perspective, it looks like Labour is running some excellent on the ground campaigns. Some of the MPs look like they’re making great visits (David Shearer and Chris Hipkins seem to have had a really sucessful visit through the regional North Island). Kelvin Davis is getting good media from his work helping flood victims in his electorate.  I’ve heard that some electorates are smashing their voter contact targets. The fact that they’ve even managed to agree to targets at all amazes me (I have previously sat in a Labour meeting where the idea of targets was quite literally dismissed as “boss talk”).

And as Phil Quin pointed out on the Q+A panel the other week, Labour do have some very good policy positions. Chris Hipkins really needs to be commended for the work he continues to do with education – their school donation and class size policies are really solid vote winners.

Unfortunately, Labour seems to have since dropped them like a lead balloon.

Using Facebook as a sample of Labour’s external comms*, let’s have a look at what they’ve done with the education announcements… 

10 July – A week after the key note speech a video of it is posted online. Without any mention of the policy. You have to watch the 36 minute video to discover that Labour wants to reduce class sizes.

10 July – Chris Hipkins launches Labour’s excellent education manifesto. It’s a beautiful document that really easily sets out some great policy. Does Cunliffe or the Labour Party mention it? Nope.

Number of mentions of Labour’s education policies after they’re announced: 0. Number of times David Cunliffe has mentioned that they are reducing class sizes on Facebook: 0.

Hell, it’s even depressing to look at a Facebook feed of all Labour candidates and party pages. The last time anyone from Labour talked about education was Grant Robertson three days ago.

I think this was a useful highlight of Comms 101. A party that thinks it will win by just releasing a policy, mentioning it once, and then moving onto the next policy, will not get its message across.

A party should have three to five core messages such as “Labour will reduce class sizes” and repeat it ad nauseum for weeks and months. That is how you get it into the consciousness.

The fact that no one in Labour seems able to do even basic comms must be alarming for supporters like Patrick.

In a week where Labour committed hundreds of millions of dollars to make worthwhile and significant changes to education, candidates should not be posting videos of ice water challenges. There are enough distractions from Labour’s core messages thanks to donations scandals, Kim Dotcom etc etc, Labour shouldn’t be using Facebook to create even more diversions.

And by totally going to ground and refusing to go out and sell Labour’s policy, David Cunliffe doesn’t even look like he wants Labour to win.

Rather amusingly within hours of Patrick blogging, Labour then did a flurry of educational posts and graphics to Facebook.

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Dover on why he is not voting Labour

July 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Labour minister Dover Samuels says he won’t be voting for the party at the election.

He cited the party’s opposition to the Puhoi to Wellsford extension and Leader David Cunliffe’s “prima donna grandstanding” over the issue of sexual violence.

The former Maori Affairs Minister who now serves on the Northland Regional Council confirmed the Herald this morning he did not intend giving his party vote to Labour.

“Labour’s moved away from me, I’ve never moved away from Labour. I’m as staunch of the principles of Labour as I ever was, since the days of Mickey Savage.”

They’ve lost Shane Jones also. There is a pattern here.

“Winston Peters has been somebody that certainly has been an advocate of the regions and I’m a regional councillor and I find that spokespersons for the Labour Party have really turned their backs on some of the initiatives that the Northland Council have been advocating.”

He pointed to Labour’s plan to indefinitely postpone the Puhoi to Wellsford extension which it derides as “the holiday highway”.

” I don’t know where they got that from but the Puhoi road is integral to Northland’s economic future.”

Everytime Labour calls it the holiday highway, a Grey Lynn liberal applauds, and a local in Northland gets furious.

Mr Samuels said his advice to Labour was “come back to the grass roots principles”.

“I was a minister and a Member of Parliament under Helen Clark. She recognised you never become Government if you don’t take middle New Zealand with you.

“Shane Jones saw that and unfortunately this idea of “rich prick” and this idea of “I’m ashamed to be a man” and all of this kind of prima donna grandstanding does not actually resonate well with middle New Zealand at all.”

Mr Samuels said he was hearing many Labour Party supporters of long standing asking “what is happening to our party?”.

Their support base appears to now be reduced to the unions and people who comment at The Standard.

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Labour’s guilty until proven innocent law makes the UK newspapers

July 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Independent (UK) reports:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence to reduce the trauma suffered by victims.

Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system in the run-up to the country’s general elections in September.

They won’t remain second largest as more and more people hear about their policy. But well done Labour on making international headlines for their policy.

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Labour loses the vote of a former Minister

July 18th, 2014 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

Former Labour Minister Dover Samuels just said on Radio Live that he would not be giving his party vote to Labour this year, because it is no longer in touch with or representing the regions. He is party voting NZ First.

Samuels was a Labour MP for 12 years, and a Minister for almost six years.

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Cosmetics to be banned by Labour

July 17th, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Labour announced:

A Labour Government will help protect animals from harm by prohibiting the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. 

Labour’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Trevor Mallard today launched the initiative at an event organised by Labour’s Ōhariu candidate Ginny Andersen at the Wadestown Veterinary Clinic, which after boundary changes is now in the electorate.

 Trevor Mallard says most New Zealanders find the testing of cosmetics on defenceless animals abhorrent. “No animal testing of cosmetics is carried out in New Zealand because it is barred under the Animal Welfare Act. However, there is no restriction on animal-tested beauty products being imported and sold here.

Labour thinks NZers are unable to make decisions for themselves on what products they find acceptable to buy – so Trevor will decide for everyone.

“Labour will ensure that no make-up sold in this country has been tested on animals by formally prohibiting it in New Zealand. We will also prohibit the sale of imported cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Legislation enacting Labour’s policy will be restricted to cosmetics, toiletries and fragrance. It will not affect medicines. 

“The European.Union last year prohibited the sale and importation of animal-tested products. As in the EU, Labour’s policy will apply both to finished products and ingredients, or combinations of ingredients.

So which companies may be impacted. This overseas site lists companies and brand names that use such testing

  1. American Beauty
  2. Aramis
  3. Avon
  4. Banana Boat
  5. Bausch & Lomb
  6. Bobbi Brown
  7. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
  8. Bumble and Bumble
  9. Cacherel
  10. Cargill
  11. Carpet Fresh
  12. Carter-Wallace
  13. Charlie
  14. Chesebrough-Ponds
  15. Church & Dwight
  16. Clarion
  17. Clairol
  18. Clear Choice
  19. Clinique
  20. Clorox
  21. Commerce Drug Co.
  22. Consumer Value Stores
  23. Coppertone
  24. Coty
  25. Cover Girl
  26. Crest
  27. Daisy Fuentes
  28. Dana Perfumes
  29. Darphin
  30. Dawn
  31. Del Laboratories
  32. Desitin
  33. Dial Corporation
  34. Diversey
  35. Donna Karan
  36. Dove
  37. Dow Brands
  38. Drackett Products Co.
  39. Drano
  40. EcoLab
  41. Eli Lilly & Co.
  42. El Sanofi Inc.
  43. Elizabeth Arden
  44. Erno Laszlo
  45. Estee Lauder
  46. Faberge
  47. Fantastik
  48. Fendi
  49. Final Net
  50. Finesse
  51. First Response
  52. Flame Glow
  53. Flirt!
  54. Garnier
  55. Giorgio Armani
  56. Givaudan-Roure
  57. Glade
  58. Glass Plus
  59. GlaxoSmithKline
  60. Good Skin
  61. Grassroots skin care
  62. Helena Rubinstein
  63. Helene Curtis Industries
  64. Herbal Essences
  65. Huggies
  66. ISO
  67. Ivory
  68. Jhirmack
  69. Jo Malone
  70. Johnson & Johnson
  71. Johnson Products Co.
  72. Jovan
  73. Kaboom
  74. Keri
  75. Kimberly-Clark Corp
  76. Kiton
  77. Kiwi Brands
  78. Kleenex
  79. La Mer
  80. Lab Series
  81. Lady’s Choice
  82. Lancaster
  83. Lancome
  84. Lava
  85. Lever Brothers
  86. Lipton
  87. Listerine
  88. L’Oreal USA
  89. Lubriderm
  90. Lux
  91. Lysol
  92. MAC Cosmetics
  93. Mars (candy company)
  94. Mary Kay
  95. Matrix Essentials
  96. Max Factor
  97. Maybelline
  98. McNeil Nutritionals
  99. Mead
  100. Michael Kors
  101. Missoni
  102. Mitchum
  103. Mop & Glo
  104. Nair
  105. Naturelle
  106. Neutrogena
  107. Neutron Industries, Inc.
  108. Ojon
  109. Olean
  110. Orange Glo
  111. Origins
  112. Oscar de la Renta
  113. OxiClean
  114. Pantene
  115. Parfums International
  116. Pearl Drops
  117. Pennex
  118. Pfizer, Inc.
  119. Pine-Sol
  120. Plax
  121. Playtex Corporation
  122. Pledge
  123. Polident
  124. Ponds
  125. Post-It
  126. Prescriptives
  127. Prestige Brands
  128. Prince Matchabelli
  129. Proctor & Gamble Co.
  130. Quintessence
  131. Raid
  132. Ralph Lauren Fragrances
  133. Reckitt Benckiser
  134. Redken
  135. Resolve
  136. Revlon
  137. Richardson-Vicks
  138. Sally Beauty Supply
  139. Sally Hansen
  140. Sanofi
  141. SC Johnson & Son
  142. Schering-Plough
  143. Scotch
  144. Scott Paper Co.
  145. Scrub Free
  146. Sean John Fragrances
  147. Sensodyne
  148. Signal
  149. Smashbox Cosmetics
  150. Snobal
  151. SoftSheen
  152. S.O.S.
  153. Splenda
  154. Stanhome Inc.
  155. Sterling Drug
  156. Suave
  157. Sun Star
  158. Sunsilk
  159. TCB Naturals
  160. Tegrin
  161. 3M
  162. Tide
  163. Tilex
  164. Tom Ford Beauty
  165. Tommy Hilfiger
  166. Trojan
  167. Truvia
  168. Ultima II
  169. Unilever
  170. Vaseline
  171. Vichy
  172. Vidal Sassoon
  173. Visine
  174. Vivid
  175. Warner-Lambert
  176. Westwood Pharmaceuticals
  177. White Shoulders
  178. Whitehall Laboratories
  179. Windex
  180. Woolite

As always great to see Labour focused on the important issue of telling NZ women which cosmetics they are allowed to buy.

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