Eddie on Labour’s factions

March 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Eddie” at The Standard asserts there are three broad factions in the Labour caucus. S/he divides them up as:

The Right (nine MPs)
David Shearer (leader)
Phil Goff
Annette King
David Parker
Clayton Cosgrove
Shane Jones
Damien O’Connor
Kris Fa’afoi
Ross Robertson

The Left (14 MPs)
David Cunliffe (leader)
Nanaia Mahuta
Louisa Wall
Sue Moroney
Su’a William Sio
Lianne Dalziel
Parekura Horomia
Rajen Prasad
Rino Tirikatene
Carol Beaumont
Raymond Huo
Moana Mackey
Iain Lees-Galloway
Andrew Little

The Careerist Left (11 MPs)
Grant Robertson (leader)
Chris Hipkins
Jacinda Ardern
Phil Twyford
Clare Curran
Maryan Street
David Clark
Trevor Mallard
Darien Fenton
Megan Woods
Ruth Dyson

It is the last faction that Eddie says holds the balance of power. S/he notes:

Of the 11 MPs in the Careerist Left, 7 are former parliamentary staffers. This group has some good people but there’s a strong thread of personal advancement running through it, which is why they’ve brokered a deal with the Right. Robertson is wary of the ‘Left’ faction, because he doesn’t think he’ll do as well out of a deal with Cunliffe.

Seven former staffers – the new professional elite. Have any of them ever spent a day in the private sector generating wealth?

I think what we are looking at is a Cunliffe v Robertson battle for the leadership, if Labour do not win the next election. The left vs the careerist left. Who will win? No idea. Who will lose? New Zealand :-)

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A Standard strategy

February 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I was fascinated to see Annette King commenting on The Standard several times, in different threads. In one comment she said:

I hope more colleagues engage on the Standard, a must read for me. Constructive comment and exchange of ideas would be of two way benefit.

This is quite remarkable considering David Shearer has said how he never reads the blogs, and his caucus and office have tried to poo-poo any influence they have.

I joked on Twitter:

The really impt vote in caucus was to select who would be sacrificial MP to post on The Standard. Annette got short straw :-)

But I think there is substance behind the joke. Smart people in Labour know they can not afford to have the most read blog on the left remain a cesspit of anti-Shearer hatred. So they obviously decided on a strategy of waiting until Shearer wins the leadership vote and then do two things.

  1. Have Labour-friendly authors post how it is time for people to accept the leadership is settled, and that it is time to focus on defeating National
  2. Send caucus members into The Standard to make them feel less alienated and constructively engaged

It’s a pretty smart strategy. I could guess who came up with it. It won’t be a silver bullet as the depth of ill-well runs very deep. It isn’t just against Shearer, but also Mallard, Curran and more generally the old guard (which makes the choice of Annette to engage with them a very smart one). But I do think it will work in reducing the level of hostility and bile.

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Hooton on Labour

January 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton at NBR writes:

The wreckers of Labour’s November conference are again destabilising David Shearer’s leadership. They are likely to keep doing so all the way to the election.

Ahead of the conference, Mr Shearer was subject to an either controlled or spontaneous avalanche of criticism from across the left establishment, including Labour-connected press galley journalists, the Herald’s Tapu Misa, Helen Clark’s hagiographer Brian Edwards, the left’s poet laureate Chris Trotter and the anonymous and semi-anonymous writers and commentators atThe Standard

As might be expected from New Zealand’s most-read and most influential left-wing blog, The Standard is a more collective effort than its right-wing rivals.

And what has he been reading there:

For some time, blogs have ceased to merely report grass-roots political activity: they are now where much grass-roots political activity actually occurs, with hundreds of different perspectives being put forward on various topics.

A generation ago, political reporters hung around dire regional conferences to get a sense of what the grassroots were feeling.

With little happening at today’s stage-managed conferences, it makes sense that they now observe the postings and comments on blogs such as Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and The Standard to get a sense of grass-roots opinion (noting, as always, that conference delegates and blog writers tend to be further to the extremes of the parties to which they purport allegiance).

Even with that proviso, the extreme language at The Standard about Mr Shearer is unprecedented, and it is again being ramped up.

A nickname for Mr Shearer has emerged: Captain Mumblefuck. His intelligence and admittedly poor diction are derided.

We are told he is a bully and coward for demoting Mr Cunliffe, and a puppet of Trevor Mallard and Annette King. He is accused of appeasing the middle class, his 100,000-house KiwiBuild policy is criticised as a veneer for public private partnerships and he is widely suspected of having a secret neoliberal agenda. 

Elsewhere, based on research by Mr Trotter, some even hint he may be some sort of agent for foreign intelligence services.

I think it is fair to say that far nicer thing are said about David Shearer on Kiwiblog, than at The Standard.

To pressure him, a false rumour was spread in recent days that Mr Shearer planned to announce this weekend a membership and union vote. The motivation is because most Standardistas are confident he would lose.

In anticipation, people are being encouraged to join the party for the very purpose of voting against its leader and for the candidate, Mr Cunliffe, bizarrely seen as far left.

Internal fanaticism
This sort of internal fanaticism has been seen before, including when Don Brash’s supporters were undermining Bill English and when Paul Keating took out Bob Hawke. The strategy can work because, as Mr Hawke observed, it has a terrifying logic. 

If I recall correctly, Matthew was one of those internal fanatics he is citing, so he knows what he is talking about :-)

If a challenger’s faction, even a minority, is utterly determined to make life impossible for the incumbent, then eventually the leadership or even prime ministership ceases to be worth holding.

Labour’s new rules make the strategy even more likely to succeed and have created a risk of chronic instability. With members and unions now having the power to choose the leader, whichever faction happens to be in the minority will spend its time not taking the fight to the dreaded Tories, but signing up new members and manipulating union personnel.

The new rules put Labour at constant risk of old-fashioned Leninist entrism. Already, party bosses report infiltration by former members of the Alliance who have no interest in being part of a modern social democratic party but want to recreate Labour as a replica of their old far-left ideal.

Mr Shearer has a big speech this weekend. He would be well advised to throw some red meat to his far left to settle them down a bit. But the subversion by Mr Cunliffe’s supporters will continue all year. There is another meltdown ahead.

Interestingly, Mike Smith (who works in Shearer’s Office, and is a trustee of The Standard) did a relatively mild post chiding another Standard author for telling porkies about the Labour leadership.

The response has been a virtual lynching of Mr Smith for daring to criticise another author.

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The Standard and Red Alert

December 26th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Smith blogs at The Standard:

I thought back to when we started the Standard. I was in the room too; our aim was to set up a labour movement blog and offer a counter to Kiwiblog’s pro-National line; not to join Farrar in making the prospect of Labour government the principal target for attack.

A fascinating statement, somewhat at odds with the traditional line that The Standard had nothing to do with Labour, and is just a bunch of individuals. Mike was of course the Labour Party General Secretary at the time, so his revelation that he was part of the group which established The Standard is significant. I blogged some time ago that it was an initiative started by Helen Clark’s office, and this confirms it.

On the subject of left blogs, Grant Robertson blogs at Red Alert:

In terms of Red Alert, watch out in the new year for a re-launch with a different approach and way of doing things. Exciting times ahead.

I guess that means fewer SMOGs. Will some MPs have their keys taken away from them?

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The Red Alert privacy accusations

December 10th, 2012 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

There’s been a great volume of posts and comments on the left blogs about one or more people in Labour, including an MP, allegedly targeting Labour party members for comments they have made on blogs under a pseudonym. The best summary comes from Danyl at the Dim Post:

My understanding of what’s happened here is that most authors on The Standard comment under pseudonyms. And they’ve commented on the Labour blog Red Alert using those same pseudonyms. Now, when you comment on Red Alert you have to provide your real email address. So these have been matched to Labour’s membership and the dissenting members have been contacted by party officials. All pretty creepy.

It is creepy and authoritarian, and worse.  If correct, I think the actions may breach the Privacy Act.

Lynn Prentice has commented:

I’d advise anyone who has used a pseudonym on Red Alert that could compromise them in real life to expect problems. The system operators over there are quite compromised, don’t act responsibly, and have been that way for some time. Quite simply they are not operating in a way that makes it safe to leave comments there unless you have cast-iron anonymity. …

Which incidentally, is why you don’t see Red Alert on our feed

That is a hugely damning statement. The person in charge of the most read left blog in New Zealand (and a long term Labour party member) says he won’t even link to the Labour caucus blog because of their ethical standards in using private registration details to target people.

If I was a journalist, I’d be asking whoever is in charge of Red Alert to confirm or deny the allegations from their own party members.

It seems that once the identity of certain people commenting at The Standard was known (by cross-matching the e-mail address they used on Red Alert to their membership database) they were heavied, as were their friends. The Sprout has said:

My friends were heavied in an attempt to intimidate me to stop posting during the leadership contest between Shearer and Cunliffe. Clearly someone in Wellington didn’t like me saying their pony was a rightwing puppet who couldn’t lead a party to save himself. Despite me only stating the obvious, it spurred a pretty awful and nasty intimidation campaign. They knew the people being threatened weren’t me, but they knew too that doing that to my friends would quieten me. How shitty North-Korean is that?

So far it’s been CV, millsy, Peter Wilson, and me – that I know of – but who knows who else has been leaned on to shut up?

Eddie confirms this in a post:

Now, a senior Labour MP has written a letter to the New Zealand Council trying to stamp on debate by party members online. The MP has singled one individual commentator in particular for attack in the letter (don’t worry, you know already if it’s you) after using back-end data from Red Alert to identify them.

To be clear, a senior MP is attempting to change the membership rules of the party to punish a member for writing somethings that the MP doesn’t agree with in the comments section of blogs (which everyone knows Labour MPs don’t read anyway). Talk about breaking a butterfly upon a wheel. Talk about abusing your institutional power in an attempt to insulate yourself from criticism, no matter the cost to the party itself.

And this comes from the party that says it is from open government and protecting people’s right of free speech on the Internet. Can you imagine what they might do if they were actually in Government?

One of those allegedly targeted was Colonial Viper. To make it harder for Labour MPs to work out who to target, many of the commenters as The Standard have adopted similar pseudonyms in a Spartacus strategy! Nice solidarity.

Pete George has a comprehensive set of links on this issue.

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Is Labour trying to regulate party bloggers?

December 7th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

IrishBill at The Standard blogs:

Word is that a senior Labour MP (who will go unnamed) has been lobbying National Council to put rules in place for party members who participate in the blogosphere. It appears they don’t like the idea that members might voice their concerns about the way their party is run. I can only assume that there would have to be some kind of a process whereby members who broke these rules would face a loss of membership or some other form of censure.

Ironic, as for a couple of years the Labour blog that did the most damage to Labour was the caucus Red Alert blog :-)

To be fair, in the last year they seem to have sorted their stuff out, and Red Alert has been mainly SMOG free.

A cynic might feel compelled to point out the hypocrisy of such a policy. Especially when John Tamihere has compared the party to the head-hunters on national TV and then had the party leader intervene to get his membership approved. Double especially when Shane Jones gets to attack the Green Party on matters he holds no portfolio for and yet faces no censure. And that’s not even talking about the way caucus members themselves have brought the party into disrepute with their online antics.

Don’t forget the attack on the Mad Butcher.

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Winners and Losers

November 22nd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A couple of blogs have posts on who they see as the winners and losers on Labour’s factional warfare.

Eddie at The Standard says:

Winners

  • John Key
  • Russel Norman
  • Andrew Little

Losers

  • The Left (and NZ)
  • Grant Robertson
  • David Shearer

Winners in the long run

  • The Labour membership
  • David Cunliffe

Doesn’t sounds like it is all over, as Shearer has been trying to insist today.

Bomber at Tumeke blogs:

Winners

  • Mainstream media
  • The Blogs
  • Emotional violence
  • Labour’s old guard
  • The unions & Labour’s membership
  • Mana & Greens

Losers

  • The left of the Labour Party
  • Democracy
  • David Shearer

Bomber also looks at three scenarios:

  • Shearer the King – rated a very low probability
  • Cunliffe the Challenger - a certainty if Shearer trips up in the next 3 months
  • Robertson/Ardern ticket - the only person who walks out of this factional fighting stronger is Robertson

Also iPredict has a look at the trading on the Labour stocks, and the timing of buys and sells.

 

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How many will be sacked?

November 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

David Cunliffe will be stripped of his portfolios and banished to the back benches for disloyalty today after a leadership vote in which Labour leader David Shearer is set to win unanimous backing.

As expected, yesterday Mr Shearer summoned his MPs to Wellington for an urgent vote today in an attempt to force Mr Cunliffe to “put up or shut up”. …

Party sources said once he received the expected unanimous backing from MPs he would dump Mr Cunliffe from the top 20 and send him to the “unranked” back benches.

Some in the caucus are calling for his close supporters to also be demoted, which could mean bad news for shadow attorney-general Charles Chauvel and energy spokeswoman Moana Mackey.

MP Sue Moroney, seen as in the Cunliffe camp, said she would back Mr Shearer.

But no-one would say what they would do in February’s vote.

“I don’t think there has been any challenge issued, actually.”

Before Mr Shearer had sought her backing, no-one had asked for her support for a leadership bid.

She had seen no evidence of disloyalty by Mr Cunliffe.

“I’m quite surprised at the level of the attack on David Cunliffe . . . in the last 24 hours,” she said.

There’s a fair few in Labour arguing that it is unreasonable to expect any MP to state how they will vote in a secret ballot in three month’s time. Having said that, I think Cunliffe could have chosen words that would not have been so destabilising, yet left him wriggle room.

Former Labour Party General Secretary Mike Smith says there was clearly a coup planned:

My first indication that something was up was the rising temperature of comments on the Standard, culminating with anonymous posts days before the conference calling for Shearer to stand down. I don’t know if the posters are Labour members or not, but it now looks like an attempt to destabilise Shearer days before his first conference speech. …

The next intimation I had that something more was afoot was when I turned up at the Conference on Friday night to be told that the affiliates meeting had ignored the Party Council’s recommendation for what may trigger a leadership vote across the Party, and supported a motion from Northland and Te Tai Tokerau to turn the long-standing majority confidence vote, held at the start of each year, to an endorsement vote with a 60% threshold. 

This was quite unexpected by the Party leadership but as became clear in the debate the following day, not unexpected by some in the unions, a few caucus members and some of the electorates. …

Cunliffe refused to rule out a February challenge. If it walks like a duck…

I was the first to say that the three posts (and one column) calling for Shearer to go were orchestrated. Quite a few doubted that. I’m pleased to see Mike Smith saying that he also saw it as part of a destabilization attempt.

A pro-Cunliffe view comes from “Blue” at The Standard:

The ABC club would have us believe that David Cunliffe has ‘openly undermined’ both David Shearer’s leadership and Phil Goff’s before him.

They appeal to the need for a ‘unified team’ and want David Cunliffe shot at dawn for supposedly threatening it.

These attempts to rewrite history are amusing but factually inaccurate. We all know who undermined Phil Goff’s leadership and it wasn’t David Cunliffe.

It was Grant Robertson and Trevor Mallard who made the decision to keep Phil Goff off the Labour billboards at the last election, openly admitting during an election campaign that they considered their leader a liability. Phil Goff’s stumble in the ‘show me the money’ debate was no one’s fault but his own – he got caught out not having done his homework on a flagship policy and only the most determined denier of reality could try to pin that one on anyone else.

We also know who has been undermining party unity during David Shearer’s leadership, and again, it isn’t David Cunliffe. It’s the ABC club who ring up Duncan Garner for a giggle about how much they hate their own colleague.

I think the great winner from all this has been Grant Robertson. He has kept entirely out of this, allowing the two Camp Davids to go to war against each other. If Shearer’s leadership becomes unviable at some stage then Robertson is poised to take over.

Grant has huge sway within the party. His supporters are in all the influential positions on the NZ Council and the like. If he had taken a call in the debate and argued against the 60% threshold for a vote in February, then I believe that would have made the difference in what was a very close vote. But he was smart and has kept his name away from all the infighting – making him the unifying choice in future.

UPDATE: NZ Herald editorial says:

A more experienced leader would have dismissed any suggestion he should try to “call out” a challenge with an early vote. When a leader wins – as usually happens the first time – the question does not go away. It merely leaves the party divided and ensures the discontented faction will choose its moment to make another bid.

The damage is long lasting. The Cunliffe faction will be seething at the fact that Chris Hipkins so publicly slammed David Cunliffe and accused him of undermining both Goff and Shearer. They understand that such a public denunciation means that Cunliffe can never have a meaningful role again under Shearer. You can’t say someone has been backstabbing leaders for the last four years and then rehabilitate them.

But if at some stage Cunliffe did become Leader, then MPs such as Hipkins would be unable to continue in a senior role also. Having called Cunliffe a backstabbing fink, he could never serve under him. This is why it is so very rare for MPs to openly denounce each other. They have to work together day in day out – sometimes for years to come.

What will be fascinating to watch next year is what new rules get agreed to for selections and list ranking.

UPDATE2: Zetetic at The Standard names names:

For the past four years, Labour has been controlled by a clique of 3 has-beens and 2 beltway hacks: Goff, King, Mallard, Robertson, and Hipkins.

This old guard clique led Labour to its worst defeat.

Trevor and Grant ran the campaign. Goff and King fronted. Not sure what Chippie did!

A year later, with their second choice frontman as leader after they ignored the members’ will, Labour’s still below its 2008 result and on track for another defeat. (Funny story, since the start of the year, Hipkins has been telling all and sundry in all seriousness that ‘if these trends continue’ Labour will win in a landslide in 2014 – I parodied him here - now, take a look at the real trend)

Oh Chippie is the polling guru!

The Douglas clique at least had an ideology they were working for. This clique what do they stand for? What are their values other than power for themselves? The failure of Labour to define a value set over the past four years is a reflection of this clique’s lack of values.

The membership voted no confidence in the old guard on Saturday. In retaliation, they’ve gone nuclear on the membership. The response of the old guard has been to unleash a nasty side that many who watch Labour politics have known about for some time, but never thought we’d see expressed quite this openly.

Next year’s conference could be fascinating.

The attacks on Cunliffe usually take the form of what we’re seeing right now, with unnamed ‘senior Labour MPs’ telling media Cunliffe is a ‘fink’ and an ‘egotist’ and calling for him to be ‘cut down’. This talking campaign has been going on since beore the last election and I know because I’ve heard it from the old guard’s proxies more times than I care to count. Mostly this doesn’t surface publicly, except for the odd stuff up like when Goff and King went to Garner to shop a story that Cunliffe was despised by the caucus in an effort to undermine his position. It’s been relentless.

Most people assume it was Trevor. Interesting speculation that it was Goff.

They’ll try to take him down today with an open ballot leadership vote – a Stalinist tactic that will hurt them next year and will be fruitless today because Cunliffe has launched no challenge and today’s vote will be unanimous. Their goal is to get Cunliffe and the membership out of the way so that when Shearer is replaced – it will be an open field for Robertson

While I doubt there is a lot I agree with Zetetic on, I agree with him that the real end goal is Robertson succeeding unopposed. Not so sure it will work.

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The war against Shearer

November 12th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Standard has done three posts in two days calling for David Shearer to go, and on who should replace him.

While each is by a different author, I have been around politics far too long to think for a second that this is not part of a co-ordinated strategy to destabilise Shearer in the leadup to the Labour conference.

Otherwise why not wait until after the conference to see how he goes? Their authors know how destabilising their posts will be, and that it will detract from the Labour conference – even if Shearer performs well.

The three posts are:

  • Eddie – On David Shearer’s Leadership - For the Left to win in 2014, David Shearer has to resign as Labour Leader.
  • Irishbill – It’s time to go - David Shearer needs to go if Labour is to stand a chance in 2014 and he needs to go as soon as possible.
  • Queen of Thorns – Who could replace Shearer? - I agree with the other posters on The Standard who think Shearer needs to go as Labour leader.

Again, if you think this is a coincidence, I have a bridge for sale. Someone has decided to push the button. The only rational reason to come out all guns blazing just seven days before the Labour Annual Conference is so that Shearer is undermined at the conference.

UPDATE: The cartoon below is in today’s Dom Post.

UPDATE2: Auckland based Tapu Misa writes in the NZ Herald:

As the Labour Party heads into its annual conference this weekend, it has some big questions to ponder. But first it has to ask itself how long it can afford to persist with David Shearer as leader.

Again the timing is fascinating – writing for him to go the week before the conference, rather than waiting to see how he performs at the conference.

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Highlights from The Standard

November 5th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Not a headline I thought I’d write often. But two items worth a read.

Queen of Thorns has done her own “Shearer Says” template:

This week I’ve been in [ insert location].  The people there are [hard-working/real] New Zealanders with a great sense of [fairness/justice/community/family].  But they’re [having a hard time/losing their jobs/worried] because of [insert recent National policy implementation].

This isn’t [good/just/fair/helpful].  This is [bad/stressful/unjust/unconstructive].  Labour will stand by the people of [insert location] and help them through the tough times ahead.

National was elected on a promise to [insert promise here].  Instead they’ve [insert policy here].  This isn’t [the way forward/the right thing for New Zealand/what they promised].  As the Leader of the Labour Party, I will do something to fix this [optional:  and will shortly be announcing our policy in this area].

Labour knows that [jobs/children/the environment/the economy/the heartland/our communities] are important to New Zealanders.  Under National, [insert previous] is [suffering/in decline/living below the breadline/spiralling out of control/neglected] while they [insert policy implementation].  As Leader of the Labour Party I’m committed to fixing this [optional:  and will shortly be announcing our policy in this area].

Warm regards,
David Shearer
Leader of the Labour Party

The commenters seem to feel that QOT version is better than the actual thing, and that she should be hired as a writer for Labour!

Michael Valley assesses the Labour front bench. He comments:

Comparing them to the winning Labour team in 1999 really hammers home how awful our guys today are. I pitted each of the frontbenchers today against their 1999 equivalents. Out of the 9, only 2 of the 2012 crop come out on top. And only 3 (Parker, Cunliffe, Cosgrove) have done the job they’ve been put there to do.

Some of his assessments:

Leader
David Shearer (2012) vs Helen Clark (1999)

No contest. Whatsoever. None. Clark looked like the next Prime Minister. Shearer’s minders wouldn’t even let him front on Q+A this morning for fear he would be shown up by Norman.

Deputy Leader
Grant Robertson (2012) vs Michael Cullen (1999)

Grant is better than his leader. Without a doubt. But he just doesn’t shape up compared to Cullen. While Cullen gave excellent support to Clark, oversaw a brilliant house strategy, and kept on top of every portfolio he was ever given (finance, tertiary education, attorney-general, acc etc.) Robertson has failed to fire. His strategic genius has put Labour in the shit they’re in now, and Labour are virtually invisible in the Tertiary Education and Environment space. …

Social Welfare

Jacinda Ardern (2012) vs Steve Maharey (1999)

Maharey was a brilliant advocate and really held the government to account. Remember Christine Rankin hiring a plane for WINZ executives to visit an exclusive Taupo resort? Maharey uncovered it. Ardern on the other hand has been invisible, even after being gifted the MSD privacy uncovered by Keith Ng the Greens outshone Labour. She does not deserve the portfolio nor being put at number 4. New Zealand’s most vulnerable deserve better. …

Health

Maryan Street (2012) vs Annette King (1999)

While now past her use-by date, 1999 Annette was a brilliant opposition politician. While no one even knows who Maryan Street is, in 1999 Annette was ripping Wyatt Creech to shreds. Barely a day went by without health making the news and Annette always stood strong against good healthcare for only the rich. Street on the other hand is awful. She must go.

Education
Nanaia Mahuta (2012) vs Trevor Mallard (1999)

Trevor used to be good. Bloody good. This really is no contest. Nanaia hasn’t performed. Putting out a press release after getting hints she might be dumped doesn’t cut it. She ought to be slaying Parata. To be fair she’d probably beat 2012 Mallard. But how hard is that? Yesterday, Mallard thought it would be a good idea for a senior Labour MP, him, to publicly attack the head of Treasury after he made comments widely welcomed as open-minded and turning away from dry neoliberalism. At least Nanaia keeps her mouth shut rather than putting her foot in it.

It’s going to be an interesting Labour Party conference in two weeks time.

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Now that is irony

August 17th, 2012 at 8:58 pm by David Farrar

A couple of weeks ago The Listener profile on me included the quote from John Pagani that I tend to have a more reasonable tone than The Standard which can be hard to read as it comes over embittered and angry.

And on Wednesday Josie Pagani facebooked in response to criticism (such as calling her a silly bitch) from some of The Standard people that they were like an anonymous lynch mob. Most of her post is actually attacking National on welfare.

So what do you do if you have been criticised for being a bit angry and embittered and a tendency to lynch people you disagree with?

You dedicate an angry and embittered post to lynching both Paganis, with the charming title “Two little Pagis squeal and squeak“. The post author is of course an anonymous coward who sees nothing wrong with slamming people who have the guts to stand behind what they say and link their reputations to it – but cowers behind a pseudonym.

The charming little thread, even had one regular make not very veiled death threats, using an analogy of an execution for treasons. And remember again this is how they respond to an accusation they are angry and get like a lynch mob. The irony is so overpowering it is staggering.

Now the commenters on a blog do not represent the views of the authors. But this was a post started by an author, purely to heap abuse on the two Paganis.

But do you know what is even more interesting. Do you know the crime that both Paganis are guilty of? They have dared to defend the Leader of the Labour Party David Shearer!

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A great own goal

May 19th, 2012 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

A wonderful own goal at The Standard. Zetetic blogged on Peter Dunne:

He lashed out that those who pointed out he’s voting for asset sales he never told his electorate he would support.

Now this is a lie the left keep repeating. And watch it bite them hard.

Pete George pointed out this was a lie and Eddie ranted:

three choices. Present evidence Dunne explicitly said he would support the partial sale of the energy companies and air nz, withdraw your comment, or face a three month ban. 

So Mr George gets to work.

First he brings up this quote from Zetetic him or herself:

and National is on a razor edge, with a 2 seat majority but the rest of Parliament opposing asset sales if ACT and Dunne lose, or on Dunne.

Absolutely proving Zeletic is lying about Dunne. He warned people before the election that a vote for Dunne was a vote for asset sales, and then afterwards he claims no one knew a vote for Dunne was a vote for asset sales. I think we now understand why he or she does not dare to post under their own name. They would be unemployable.

A second quote is found, this time from Eddie before the election:

This is high stakes stuff. If ACT goes and Dunne loses too, as looks likely, National will be bereft of natural allies. And National’s support is tracking down to the point where it can’t govern alone. The Banks endorsement should only make that more likely.

What happens in this scenario? There would be no parties that would support its asset sales policy through Parliament, except perhaps the Maori Party

So Eddie is also exposed as a liar. Remember this if anyone from the left ever claims Peter Dunne’s position was unknown – the left were actively campaigning against him on the basis they knew he had said he would vote for partial asset sales proposed by National.

Eddie, also very glad he does not use his full name or possibly even his real name, doesn’t give up and basically says that what he said is not important, but that he will ban Pete George for three months if he doesn’t come up with something directly from Dunne.

Then the final knock out blow as Pete George quotes from a live chat on Stuff:

The Dominion Post:
To Peter Dunne, from Joe Brown: Will you say no to all state asset sales like Labour and Charles Chauvel have this year?

Dunne Peter:
In principle, UnitedFuture does not advocate selling state assets, but in the event National putst up its mixed ownership model for the electricity companies and Air New Zealand we would be prepared to support that, provided the maximum was 49%, with a cap of 15% on any indivudual’s holdings. We would never support the sale of Kiwibank, Radio New Zealand or control of water assets.

Game, set and match to Pete George.

A huge thanks to The Standard. The left have got away with lying about Dunne for months on end now. Thanks to this thread they started, we now have nice documented proof that they have been lying.

Labour with their proxies in “People’s Power Ohariu” have an Operation Ohariu next weekend to try and build opposition to asset sales. I wonder how many of them will also spread lies about Dunne’s position?

I’d point out in Ohariu National got many mroe party votes than Labour and Greens combined, and that Dunne and Shanks (both known to vote for the mixed ownership model) got almost 20,000 electorate votes between them and Chauvel got 13,000 and Hughes 2,000 so not even close.

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Hate-mongering

January 30th, 2012 at 12:38 pm by David Farrar

One of the posters (not commenters) at The Standard posted this over the weekend:

As you can see he calls Fran O’Sullivan a traitor, enemy and sell-out who will be shunned and reviled. This is because Fran dared to support the Crafar farm sale. It shows how demented some of the opponents have become. Redlogix of course cowers behind his alias, and would never ever dare to write such stuff under his own name – unlike Fran.

But as you can see, not content with just having Fran labeled a traitor and enemy to be shunned and reviled, a commentor Millsy calls for her to executed, saying “the likes of O’Sullivan, Key, Williamson, and Coleman will find themselves … rewarded for their treachery with a one way trip to the gallows”.

Now Millsy is just a commenter, and this is not the first time he has advocated violence against those whose political views he opposes. I of all people would say you don’t judge a blog on the basis of a comment by a commenter. I mean, after all it is possible they didn’t even see the comment (I read a small proportion of total comments on KB). If they did, surely they would delete it and at least kick him off?

But no, as you can see Red Logix (who is an author, not a commenter) effectively endorses the comment, saying that while it was a marginal call, it is okay because he said “the likes of” and that Millsy is correct in general.

Fran actually had been contributing to the thread (and kudos to Fran for standing up to people who call you a traitor and enemy) and pointed out that Millsy is Brendon Mills (easily found through Google). Now get this – The Standard deleted Fran’s comment, but left up the one effectively calling for her to go to the gallows!

Fran sums it all up nicely, with this tweet from Fran:

The Standard? Internet version of the Ku Klux Klan. Happy to string up people behind web cloak of anonymity.

There is a reason so many of their authors (not all) wear virtual hoods to hide their identities.

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Two Kates

June 16th, 2011 at 1:15 pm by David Farrar

An anonymous staffer at The Standard has blogged on how some National MPs websites have been registered by parliamentary staffers.

Doh, of course they have been. An MPs website  is a legitimate parliamentary expense, so long as it does not solicit money, members or votes.

The issue with Labour is that they had a parliamentary staffer processing credit card transactions.

But even putting that aside, the anonymous staffer has also mixed up two seperate Kates. He has mixed up the former IT staffer and manager Kate Pullar with the former Secretary to Chester Borrows Kate Pullar. It is no surprise than an IT staffer would be the registrant for domain names. Having two Kate Pullars was a bit of a challenge, but to solve it I referred to the first Kate P as “Bob” of course :-)

I was a registrant for dozens of MPs and parliamentary sites when I worked in Parliament. I registered them using my parliamentary e-mail address. Nothing wrong with that.

I sometimes helped the party people out (this was in the 1990s when this Internet thing was quite new to people) by registering some party sites for them – but I did so using my national.org.nz address from home, so it was clearly not in my capacity as a parliamentary staffer.

Ironically after the 1999 election, the PMs Office did not update the registration details for over a year. It was a source of amusement to be that I was the admin contact for both the PM’s Office and the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. I could have gone in any redirected all the Clark Government websites, but didn’t do so of course!

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Brilliant

May 9th, 2010 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

No one does headlines like The Sun. The story starts:

A MAN aged 59 was squatting in a luxury home near the Houses of Parliament last night.

The squatter, named as a Mr Gordon Brown from Scotland, was refusing to budge from the Georgian townhouse in Downing Street, central London – denying entry to its rightful tenant.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

Meanwhile the Telegraph reports Gordon Brown ranted and threatened Nick Clegg during a phone conversation.

While the Guardian reports a Conservative memo on Europe may be a barrier to them doing a deal with the Lib Dems.

For my 2c, I am convinced David Cameron will be the next Prime Minister.

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A response to Lynn

February 25th, 2010 at 1:36 pm by David Farrar

Lynn Prentice has responded to my post calling for an end to anonymous smears on The Standard, by … well mainly calling me some names.

I usually don’t respond to such posts, as the advice which I give to people about responding to Whale Oil, applies equally to The Standard, which is “Remember if you wrestles with pigs in mud, you just get dirty and the pigs enjoy it”.

Having said that, I will break my own advice and respond on this occasion.

he is upset about Eddie pointing out Murray McCully and his mining shares. There wasn’t an value known when the post was written, so Eddie reasonably asked if there was a conflict of interest.

No Eddie did not ask if there was a conflict of interest. He tagged the post corruption, and said McCully had been “caught”.

Eddie could have written a good post on the question. I have no issues that he raised the issue. But Eddie, along with many other Standard authors, have a history of using extreme language against political opponents. They label almost everything corruption (even a post on me). And it is not just that tag – they often attack journalists as being incompetent, corrupt, seeking jobs from National, biased, etc etc. Now I often point out errors in stories also, but try to avoid suggesting ill motives from the journalists involved.

But almost all the authors of The Standard do nothing but slag off and smear people’s motives. You disagree on Maori seats, and you are a racist.

And the reason they do this, is because they are anonymous. Lynn himself tends not to do it often, as he is a known person who can be held accountable for his posts. Rochelle Rees has admirably made herself known, and I think her posts are generally excellent (of course I disagree with them, but she makes her case well). I’m pleased to see Mike Smith join The Standard and that he will blog under his name. I am sure he will not resort to such extreme language as the anonymous authors.

I know many journalists resent the fact the people who do not have the courage to blog under their own name, will smear them and try and damage their professional reputation – while unwilling to expose their own reputation.  They don’t mind fair criticism, but having anonymous posters declare they are lackeys of the Government is tedious.

So getting back to the post in question, I have no problem with the content of the posts, it is the extreme language and rhetoric from anonymous posters.

Now I will admit Whale Oil also uses extreme language against those he disagrees with – which often includes me, and half the Cabinet! But at least Cameron does so effectively under his own name, and he is prepared to take the consequences of what he says.

Anyway back to Lynn:

He seems to think that The Standard has a ‘view’. Now I know that Farrar isn’t particularly technically literate. But surely even a fool would understand that “The Standard” is just some software running on a server. It is the people who write opinions – not a machine. I program the computers for a living and the only thing more stupid in my opinion are some of the trolls that I deal with periodically in this site.

David has read our About he knows that this site runs as a cooperative. Authors write their own opinions and there is no editorial control apart pulling a post after it is put up. I know that he is aware of this because he has written many posts about our site and how it runs in the past. So why is David pretending that the site has an editorial policy? Well the alternative is that he’d have to be upfront about his attacks and direct them at a person. It is easier (and probably safer) to direct it at an abstract concept that can’t defend itself.

I know Lynn gets frustrated that people refer to The Standard collectively, but I don’t think he has considered why people do, so often. First of all Eddie himself declared:

The Standard can now reveal …

So even his own authors talk collectively. But that isn’t even the reason so many refer to the site collectively. The reason is that so many of the authors are anonymous. If a poster is known to be a real person, then their posts ted to be identified with them. But an alias not connected to a real known person doesn’t resonate with people. And to make it even worse, many of the posters have a very similiar style – extreme language and smears against people they disagree with.

If you don’t want people to see you as one entity, then the answer is have your posters reveal themselves. This is in fact Social Media 101 – people relate far better to individuals, as they understand their background, their biases, their interests etc etc. Now if you want to have a policy of anonymity, because all you are about is attacking people you disagree with, then so be it – bt there are consequences – it means the brand of The Standard is far stronger with readers, than those of individual authors. You can’t have it both ways.

I would also mention that the posting style of Eddie has changed dramatically since the election, raising some suspicions that aliases do not relate to unique individuals, but have represented different people at different times. Again, because readers have no way of knowing if an author is a genuine unique individual, one associates things they say more with the site, than them as an individual – because we do not know them as an individual. Again – you can;t have it both ways.

Lynn then gets into the Winston issue. He concludes:

There was no evidence of corruption or even conflicts of interest apart from in your hysterical fantasies.

Now here I just find myself in a different dimension to Lynn. He actually says Winston had no conflicts of interests!!!  He failed to disclose two personal significant donations, and both donors were people whose interests he lobbied Ministerial colleagues on behalf of. And Lynn thinks that is not a conflict, yet McCully was.

I doubt there is a single former Labour Minister who would state on the record that they do not think Winston should have disclosed his donations from racing interests, while he was lobbying them for more money for race prizes.  In fact, I know at least a couple of them are furious that he compromised their collective integrity by not doing so.

But this is not a debate about Winston – it is about always assuming the worst motivations about your opponents. Already today, one author has concluded that as Heatley’s offences were so trivial, that it must mean Key is covering up some bigger scandal.

I’ve several times referred to Phil Goff as essentially a decent bloke, and that if he becomes PM I think he will be a conscientious PM. I regularly swipe at him for stupid things he says, and disagree with many of his policies, but I do not believe he is in any way a bad man, seeking to do bad things. But on The Standard, under the protection of anonymity, that is almost all they do – portray everything as being motivated by vile intentions. It may not be a collective decision, but it is certainly the culture of the site.

David, over the years you have set a very low standard for political blogs in this country.

Oh Lynn, you really can do better than that.

Your wee outburst today appears to simply be because you don’t like a much milder questions of the same sort directed at your friends in your favored party. I’d suggest that you get used to it because asking questions of your friends is part of what this site was setup for.

Questions are good. Go for it. But when you have one to two posts a weeks labelling someone corrupt, then maybe the rhetoric could be less extreme – which it would be if posters had to take responsibility for what they say.

In my opinion, you’re known as being a bit of a hypocrite, frequently a bit of an idiot, and I think that you should also do something about that hysterical streak you have.

I rest my case.

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Anonymous smears

February 24th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One of the anonymous authors at The Standard tried yesterday to smear Murray McCully over, well doing the right thing.

In a post they filed under the “corruption” category, they revealed that Murray McCully has shares in Widespread Portfolios. Except they did not in fact reveal it – McCully did in the MPs Annual Register of Pecuniary Interests. He’s declared every single year since the Register started in 2006.

Then in a piece of detective work worthy of Sherlock Holmes, they went to the homepage of Widespread Portfolios and managed to dig up (I a being sarcastic – it is at the top of their main page) the statement:

Widespread Portfolios Limited (stockmarket code WID) invests primarily in overseas-based mining and mineral exploration companies.

So this so called corrupt behavior from McCully was to declare he had shares in a company that declares it invests in mining companies.

Now not only has McCully behaved entirely appropriately, the value of his shares turns out to be $31.63. McCully has followed the PM’s lead and mooted giving the shares to the young Max Key. Poor Max must be wondering why he is becoming the target of unwanted share parcels. He should suggest to his Dad that he would rather have one of those Ministerial credit cards that Ministers have been disposing of :-)

Phil Goff looks stupid when he says:

Opposition leader Phil Goff said any shares in a mining company working in New Zealand represented a conflict of interest.

“Whenever there was a conflict of interest of any sort in the Cabinet I was part of, a minister was expected to remove him or herself from the room immediately and not participate in those discussions.”

What nonsense. Did half the Labour Cabinet remove themselves when they debated monetary policy, because they were owners of investment properties? Their interest was vastly more than $31.

A conflict of interest is generally about a decision to favour a specific company, not about policies that support a sector of the economy. Do farmers get excluded from decisions about primary production?

Exclusion on a conflict happens only when there is a direct beneficial interest, such as granting a contract to a company you have shares in – and even then, it has to be significant. If your super fund has lots of Telecom shares, that doesn’t mean you can’t ‘t be involved in decision on Telecom – again I suspect most of the Cabinet would have an indirect interest.

The major requirement around conflicts of interests is transparency. And McCully has complied 100%. As it happens, he had not even been present at any discussions on mining, but it is ridicolous of Goff to suggest he can’t be, because of $31 of shares.

But what really annoys me over The Standard’s labelling of this as corruption (the category they assigned to the story) is the immense double standards – and this applies to Phil Goff’s comments also.

Think back 18 months to Winston Peters. Here are the key facts in two cases:

  1. Winston knew of a $100,000 donation from Owen Glenn to his lawyer to cover his legal fees.
  2. Winston never ever declared this, as he was required to do so.
  3. Winston lobbied for Mr Glenn to be given a diplomatic appointment

But the more important case:

  1. Racing interests donated money to Winston Peters personally by paying his costs to Bob Clarkson.
  2. This personal donation of tens of thousands of dollars was never declared by Peters, and only exposed by the SFO
  3. The same racing interests also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to NZ First.
  4. Peters was the portfolio minister for racing under Helen Clark, yet never disclosed the personal donations, or the party donations. Arguably no need to disclose the party ones, but he was required to disclose the personal one.
  5. Peters advocated for more money for the racing industry, including having the taxpayer pay for bigger prizes for races.
  6. Officials strongly advised against doing this, but Cabinet agreed to the extra funding advocated by Peters, unaware that Peters was receiving large donations from racing interests.

Now one can argue Peters was genuinely motivated to help the racing industry, and the donations did not influence him. That is not the issue today.

The issue is that this was the most serious breach of the conflict of interest regime we have seen. A personal donation which directly benefited a Minister (by paying off his damages to Clarkson) was not declared, and that Minister directly lobbied for money to be given in prizes to the racing industry.

So this puts Phil Goff’s holier than thou statement about practises in the last Government in perspective. And remember Phil Goff voted against the Privileges Committee report, as Labour insisted Winston had not broken the rules.

But back to The Standard, what did they have to say about Winston’s conflicts at the time:

On 22 July:

For my part, I don’t see the big deal in all this Peters donation stuff. Transparency in election funding is important (and it’s something that National and ACT have constantly opposed) but there is no evidence of Peters has been purposely secretive.

So no big deal. And even better:

As for the Dompost’s ‘revelations’ today – various members of the Vela family and companies owned by the family gave amounts that may have totalled $150,000 to New Zealand First over a period of five years. So what? The donations are legal and, as long as NZF didn’t receive more $10,000 from any individual person (legal or natural) in one financial year, they didn’t have to be declared under the law of the time.

However the donation to pay Winston’s legal costs to Clarkson was required to be disclosed, but more importantly back then The Standard had no concern about sums 1,000 times greater than $31 going to parties or politicians, and the party leader directly advocating for policies that will benefit those donors.

And again on 23 September:

So, the committee found what everyone knew: Peters story doesn’t add up. But it also shows that this story isn’t really about anything significant. Oh, no, a politician didn’t make the efforts he should have to find out what benefit he may have gained from a legal donation, his form was wrong as a result, and he made up a story to try to cover himself. Shoddy behaviour to be sure but nothing that actually impacts on the substance of government.

So as Winston supported Labour, there was nothing of substance wrong. Never mind he didn’t declare the personal donations to cover his legal costs to Clarkson, and never mind the Labour Cabinet had no idea when Peters was advocating more money for racing prizes, he was receiving these donations from companies that are likely to benefit.

Peter’s conduct was probably the biggest breach of standards since the marginal loans affair. Yet to Phil Goff and The Standard, it was all okay.

Now let us admit that we all are coloured to some degree and see things more rosy for the side you tend to support. That is natural, and expected. We’re not neutral reporters.

But I find those who blog anonymously stretch that to breaking point – there is almost no misconduct they won’t defend for their own side, and they will label as corrupt basically anything that moves from the other side.

The Standard suggest McCully is corrupt for following the rules and declaring his $31 of shares (yes they did not know the amount, but the issue is McCully has acted entirely appropriately) yet they defended Winston time and time again over horrendous breaches of the conflicts of interest regime.

I regard myself as a mate of Phil Heatley. Have even stayed at his house and he is one of the nicest guys you can meet. But when the Dom Post published their story yesterday, I described the use of the ministerial credit card as totally unacceptable with no ifs and no buts.

Those who blog anonymously tend to use extreme language to smear people. They call them corrupt, crooked or racist or bigoted. They do so, because they don’t have to defend their comments in real life.

So here is my challenge to Eddie. Stop the extreme language against people just because their politics are not your own, or have the guts to blog under your real name.

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Call to spy on Key

January 15th, 2010 at 9:37 am by David Farrar

The Standard is obsessed with the fact that John Key holidays in Hawaii. They go on about it all the time. The obvious answer that it gives him and his family some privacy is far too obvious.

Anyway a new low was reached in their comments section. Now this is not by one of the authors of The Standard, but from one of the Key hating commenters. And here is his theory:

i wish the standard had enough cash to send someone after Key on his hollidays to snoop around in Hawaii. what the hell does he do there anyhow? i hope it’s all savory activities. no strip clubs etc…. if he were going to indulge in anything that offends “mainsteam NZ” he sure as hell wouldn’t be doing it in Wellington.

at the very least an expat NZ asset could be developed to keep tabs on him.

No that is not the ghost of Mike Williams, but Roger Nome.

When challenged on his plans, he responds:

this is politics not kinergarten. the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of lower-income nzers is at stake here – and Key is screwing them. they’re more important than this filthy rich dude’s privacy (of course within the boundaries of the law).

Ironic that he posts under an alias, yet says there is no right to privacy. Oh, sorry no right for filthy rich dudes.

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The all powerful DPF

December 24th, 2009 at 11:26 am by David Farrar

IrishBill blogs at The Standard:

David Farrar is largely to blame for the Nats running Melissa Lee in Mt Albert. According to a friend of a friend David decided the demographics meant she could win and convinced the caucus his crazy idea would fly. Note to DPF: learn to count.

I am not sure what is more hilarious – that Irish Bill blogs on an allegation from a friend of a friend (of a friend of a friend ….) or the assertion that I convinced Caucus.

Sadly Caucus don’t invite me to their meetings. It is possible that I did attend Caucus one day, and they surgically removed the memory of it from my brain. Maybe that is what he heard from a friend of a friend.

One could also quibble and point out Caucus doesn’t select the candidate. But hey lets keep facts away from this.

Anyway now that The Standard have acknowledged my power of control over Caucus (and by implication the entire Government of New Zealand), may I suggest some sensible strategies for those wishing to buy influence:

  1. Ask me to review new luxury hotels in Queenstown for you
  2. Insist I spend several weeks on a cruise ship in the South Pacific, getting the feel of it
  3. Place me on the mandatory invite list for all games at the Stadium (esp the Sevens)
  4. Take me out to dinner at Logan Brown
  5. Propose funding of Kiwiblog interns to assist me

Now some corporates out there may feel this is not a good return on investment. But remember The Standard’s sources are impeccable – it comes from a friend of a friend!

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Climate Change blamed for cannibal polar bears

December 11th, 2009 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

cannibal-polar-bear

Marty G at The Standard shows off his expert knowledge of Arctic polar bears, and declares this photo shows how climate change has turned polar bears into cannibals. He says:

This is climate change. This is just the beginning.

I have a terrible feeling that this picture is an omen of things to come.

Oh yes, next there will be cannibal geckos, cannibal crabs and worse.

Or one could talk to someone who actually lives in the area, as the Daily Mail did:

But this theory is disputed by Inuit leaders in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, who claim it is wrong to connect the bears’ behaviour with starvation.

Kivalliqu Inuit Association president Jose Kusugak said: ‘It makes the south – southern people – look so ignorant.

Ignorant indeed. Unless you prefer Marty’s knowledge of polar bears to the local Unuit leader.

‘A male polar bear eating a cub becomes a big story and they try to marry it with climate change and so on, it becomes absurd when it’s a normal, normal occurrence.’

What a shame – it could have made a great film – revenage of the cannibal polar bears.

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The Standard on Lee

December 6th, 2009 at 7:55 pm by David Farrar

The Standard has obtained documents under the OIA from NZ on Air, relating to Melissa Lee and NZ on Air. They show that Melissa was aware of the issue back in May 2009.

If the issue was known about that far back, it is bad political management to have it unresolved for so long. If I was an MP, and found out that there may be some money to be repaid to a government agency, I would ensure the matter was dealt with in days or weeks, not months. And then do a media release announcing the repayment, and what caused it. That is far superior to having the information come out through the media.

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Drinkwater on monetary policy

November 22nd, 2009 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

Just as Scrubone has become the dedicated fisker of No Right Turn, B K Drinkwater has appointed himself as the fisker for Marty G at The Standard. His latest response to the suggestion that monetary policy should target inflation, unemployment and the exchange rate is:

Genius! What the RBNZ should do is this: pick a point on the Philips Curve and manage New Zealand’s economy towards it! If only some genius thought of this before.

Oh, wait. Someone did, and it didn’t work. Apparently, some guy called Friedman accurately predicted its failure …

Stagflation in the 70s proved Friedman correct, but this is where Phil Goff wants us to go back to.

I actually can’t figure out whether Marty wants the interest rates to be low or high. He thinks that if they’re too high, then the currency carry trade will create a “flood of credit”, making mortgage rates too low. His preferred solution—abandoning inflation-targeting—clearly implies that he wants the OCR lower than it is, and that by doing this, somehow mortgage rates will go up.

He’s very confused.

And then Blaise sums up:

So Marty wants the following:

  • A lower OCR
  • Higher mortgage rates
  • Jobs, or in other words, investment in New Zealand
  • Reduction in the currency carry trade, a big chunk of such investment

My head hurts.

Need more be said.

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Does Labour think Field broke the law?

October 7th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A friend pointed something out to me. He told me that never ever had Labour said they agreed that Field was corrupt and broke the law. I didn’t think he could possibly be right, but I went back to check their statements, and this is their exact words. On being found guilty:

Labour acknowledges the jury’s decision today on charges brought against Taito Phillip Field after a long and difficult trial, Labour Chief Whip Darren Hughes said.

“Mr Field was expelled from the Labour Party in 2007. Labour has acted in good faith throughout this process.

“The jury has decided that Mr Field acted illegally.

“The judge is yet to sentence Mr Field. Labour will make no further comment.”

They “acknowledge” the decision. They do not accept the decision. They do not welcome the decision. They do not say if they agree what Field did was corrupt. They do not say if they think it was wrong he obstructed the course of justice. They “acknowledge” the decision.

And yesterday:

Deputy Labour Leader Annette King made the following statement on the sentencing today of Taito Phillip Field.

“This sentence demonstrates that all New Zealanders are equal under the law.

“Taito Phillip Field has been judged by his peers. He must now serve the sentence handed down in the Auckland High Court.”

Labour will not be making any other comment on this matter.

Again not a word on whether or not they agree that Field was corrupt. They merely state he has been judged by his peers. Their language is the classic language of people who disagree with something.

So that is my first question to Phil Goff. Does the Labour Party agree that their former colleague acted corruptly? Is this why they won’t express remorse for defending Field – is it because they think he did not break the law?

The Dom Post reports on how Labour is refusing comment:

Labour has pulled down the shutters over the fall from grace of former MP Taito Phillip Field, after standing by him for more than a year during claims of bribery and corruption. …

Labour stood by Field for more than a year and continued to defend him after former prime minister Helen Clark was forced to order an independent inquiry by Auckland QC Noel Ingram.

Dr Ingram’s report cleared Field of a conflict of interest but the Labour government was heavily criticised after Dr Ingram revealed he had been given no power to compel evidence. …

Dr Ingram said yesterday that it was “clearly the case” that his inquiry had been frustrated by the refusal of witnesses to co-operate. He agreed that the outcome would have been different if that had not been the case.

Now bearing in mind that report from the Dom Post, prepare to damage yourself laughing at this post on The Standard from Eddie:

Taito Philip Field has been sentenced to six years jail for bribery and corruption.

Field is a prime example of the ability of power to corrupt. He let down all those who put their trust in him – his community, his former party, and the voters.

We are fortunate that in New Zealand corruption by politicians is not tolerated. This sentence will be a healthy reminder of that for any others who are tempted to exploit the trust placed in them by the public for their personal gain.

This is such an audacious attempt to rewrite history that it is obvious why Eddie refuses to blog under his real name. He would be a laughing stock if people knew who he was.  I mean even after the multiple abuses were detailed in the Ingram Report, Helen Clark said Field could return as a Minister one day, and Michael Cullen said:

the fundamental fault Mr Field committed was to work too hard on behalf of the many, many hundreds of people who come to his electorate office on immigration matters.” …

He works harder on those matters than I suspect the entire National Party caucus does on constituency cases. If that is what he is guilty of, then I am sure he is happy to plead guilty to working hard on behalf of his constituents.

Again this was not a statement made in the early days, when the allegations were just that. This was after the report by Noel Ingram QC laid out bare and detailed the multiple abuses by Field. And anonymous Eddie at The Standard claims there is no tolerance. Not only was there tolerance, there was an active defence.

For those who want a reminder of the timelline, I have it here. Also back in July 2006 I blogged a summary of all the abuses that Ingram detailed in his report. And again all these abuses were known about by Labour when they decided to defend him in Parliament, led by the then Deputy Prime Miinister.

I can’t quite decide if Eddie is secretly ashamed of how Labour behaved, but won’t admit it, or if he actually honestly believes Labour was right to defend Field, and that this did not constitute tolerating corruption.

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Fran on the Accidential Empire of Political Blogging

September 29th, 2009 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan addressed several dozen people at breakfast this morning on the topic of the Accidental Empire of Political Blogging. Rural Women NZ hosted the breakfast.

Fran was mainly positive about the impact political blogging has had in NZ, saying the diversity is useful, as is the competition for the media to some degree.

She did have some criticisms, such as accuracy and fact checking, and most of all political bloggers who blog anonymously. Her big call was for more political bloggers to post under their names so there is some accountability for what they say – as journalists have.

She was full of praise for Red Alert and said it has obviously replaced The Standard as the most influential and useful blog on the left.

Whale Oil got a mention with praise for his willingness to savage members of his own party (she joked that his father must be glad he has a life membership that can’t be revoked) but said she thought the pre-election scuttlebutt on Damien O’Connor was a serious error of judgement.

Lots of questions and discussion ranging from has a blogger been sued yet, to press gallery membership. Fran nicely refers to the gallery as a cartel :-)

Was a very good breakfast and even better drinks afterwards, finally escaping around 10.30 am!

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State House Tenants can now buy their homes

September 16th, 2009 at 1:36 pm by David Farrar

Phil Heatley announced yesterday:

From today those state house tenants in a position to buy the house they live in can do so, says Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

Over the next week, Housing New Zealand will be approaching about 3,800 state tenants who pay market rent and live in a home that is available for purchase, to make them aware of the opportunity.

Letting a family who may have lived in a state house for years and years, maybe even decades, buy the house is such common sense, you have to wonder if anyone could possibly think it is a bad idea. Well Labour do of course/

Marty G at The Standard has said he is not oppossed automatically to state house sales, and proposes four conditions:

Housing NZ must use all revenue from sales to buy new houses – we don’t want the amount of housing available for the most needy decreasing.

I’m surprised he does not realise that is Government policy – that the money from sales will go to purchase new housing.

It must not sell all the houses in wealthy areas only to construct state house only neighbourhoods - the poor and the wealthy should not be physically separated by government policy.

Now having just argued for the importance of not decreasing the amount of state housing available, Marty then argues for a measure that will decrease the number of available houses.

The median house price in Manurewa is $250,000. In Mt Eden is is $600,000. If you sell 10 houses in Manurewa and replace them with houses in Mt Eden you can only afford four houses.

I’d rather have ten families in state houses, than four, for the same investment.

There are more than enough modestly priced areas to have state houses, without creating state house only neighbourhoods.

The houses must only be bought by their current tenants – we don’t want them claimed by wealthy investors, locking out the poor.

That also happens to be Government policy. I note Marty makes a classic mistake by assuming that people living in state houses are poor. They certainly were poor when they first moved in, but the 3,800 paying market rents are no longer poor. You could argue that their houses should be sold to anyone, with them just given first option.

This is the problem of providing housing assistance through having lower rentals for state houses, as opposed to income assistance regardless of who your landlord is.  To provide maximum equity, you really should evict tenants from their state houses once their income rises so they no longer are “poor”, But no one does that because of the fuss it would create. But what this means is that you have people on a waiting list for a state house who are far worse off income wise than the current tenants.

Likewise when the number of people living in a state house reduces (as kids leave home), you should ideally shift them to a smaller house. Not doing so again leaves more needy tenants on the waiting list (and there will always be a waiting list). This is one reason why I think income assistance rather than lower rentals is a better policy approach.

There must be a caveat on the titles to the properties preventing them being rented out by a private landlord - that way they can’t be bought out by property investors as happened in the 1990s.

Now this is just bizarre. If for example an elderly couple need to more into a retirement home, they can’t rent out the house they own. Blaise Drinkwater responds to this point on his blog:

What Marty G wants to do is sell the house to the tenant—because the tenant is Needy and home-ownership is A Good Thing—, but then dictate who this buyer may sell the asset to at a future date. This kneecaps the value of the house: to restrict the pool of potential buyers is to decrease demand artificially. The needy tenant is disadvantaged by this.

There is envy implicit in Marty G’s calculus: property investors must not be allowed to own ex-state houses because they’re rich and that’s bad. This leads him to a policy preference designed to restrict the wealth of the wealthy by diminishing their economic opportunities, but has as a side-effect: it also restricts the wealth of the needy by diminishing their economic opportunity. It turns out you can’t have one without the other.

Repeat after me: if you outlaw a voluntary transaction, you’re hurting all the parties that would benefit from that transaction, and not just the ones you’re trying to hurt.

Blaise sums it up well.

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