A symptom of Labour’s core problems

Labour have a number of deep seated problems – see What now for Labour and Little?

The Standard is a window into some of Labour’s problems. It is a blog dominated by National negativity with scant lauding of Labour.

They pretend they encourage robust debate on the Labour left but continually demonstrated the opposite.

Two long time regular Labour activists at The Standard are Te Reo Putake (‘the voice of reason’, yeah right) and Colonial Viper/Rawshark (Tat Loo) have highlighted the divisions and infighting and intolerance of dissent within Labour.

Tat is a party maverick and has recently been speaking up about Labour’s obvious problems. One response from TRP ironically sums up some of Labour’s problems.

Do you have anything new to try, CV? Seriously, your relentless negativity has its bleak charms, but unless you’ve got practical solutions, why bother? What specific, measurable, realistic and time bound ideas do you bring to the table?

TRP seems ignorant of the fact that his accusations sum up his own problems. And The Standard’s. And Labour’s.

When the activist core of Labour is this dysfunctional it’s hardly surprising that Labour is struggling.

CV tried to debate but TRP’s follow up comments demonstrate the deep seated intolerance and lack of self awareness:

So you’ve got nothing at all? Just the whinging?

So, nothing then. Good to know.

We’ve established that you haven’t got a clue, CV. Anything else you want to add?

Yep, nothing but negativity. CV has no answers.

Be honest. You can’t report to anyone, because you haven’t got anything to say. You’re stuck in a scratched groove son, time to change the record.

You enjoy a good sulk. Good for you. But boring for the rest of us.

Do you have anything new to try, TRP? Seriously, your relentless negativity offers little but bleak self harm. Unless you’ve got practical solutions, why bother? What specific, measurable, realistic and time bound ideas do you bring to the table?

Do you have anything new to try, Standard? Seriously, your relentless negativity offers little but bleak self harm. Unless you’ve got practical solutions, why bother? What specific, measurable, realistic and time bound ideas do you bring to the table?

Do you have anything new to try, Labour? Seriously, your relentless negativity offers little but bleak self harm. Unless you’ve got practical solutions, why bother? What specific, measurable, realistic and time bound ideas do you bring to the table?

What now for Labour and Little?

The Labour Party and Andrew Little are in a difficult position – partly due to National’s strengths and the Northland opportunity that Winston Peters whipped out from under their feet, but made substantially worse by their own efforts which at times border on abysmal.

Peters outmanoeuvred Labour in the Northland by-election, but Labour and Little compounded the problems by rolling over and opted out of Opposition leadership.

National have outmanoeuvred Labour with their policies announced in last week’s budget.

Again Labour and Little compounded the problems with an awful response – the criticisms have come from everywhere, most notably (and widely) from the left.

So what now for Labour and Little?

Changing leader again shouldn’t be an option. They are onto their fourth leader since Helen Clark. Labour’s problems are wider and deeper than at the top. Getting a new leader seems to just repeat the same mistakes.

So the time has come for Andrew Little to show whether he the ability to become a leader. He showed some raw glimpses of this capability last year when he took over but this year so far looks like an accumulating train wreck for him.

One of Little’s biggest problems is that he seems to have been taken over by a Labour remodelling committee and has become no more than a puppet – with incompetent string pullers. Really, it’s starting to look that bad. Little’s budget speech last week was awful.

David Shearer in particular – remember him? He was three leaders ago. David Shearer in particular seemed to follow the same path as Little – initial raw promise of being something different but quickly becoming a bumbling follower of foolish strategy.

David Cunliffe did similar but he also had inherent problems that put off voters.

So can Little recognise the problems and rise above them and become a leader of Labour rather than languish as a limp Labour lackey?

It looks like Little needs some fresh advice from outside the waning whining party mindset.

And he needs to lead. Become himself at the head of the party, look like himself.

The only way Labour will look better than National is by looking better than National. They are a long way from this.

They seem to have resigned themselves to trying to make National worse – which they have overdone incessantly for the last seven years with no success.

And they seem to have resigned themselves to trying to fool voters into thinking that they can somehow look better despite relying on either NZ First or Greens (or both) to take them over the line.

One major problem with this is that Russel Norman and Winston Peters have both looked stronger opposition leaders than the procession of Labour attempts.

Their situation looks as dire as it has during the post-Clark era.

The Labour Party badly needs to reinvent itself and look like a competent alternative. Their recent track record is of repeat failures.

Andrew Little has to step up and present himself as a leader and carry a revitalised Labour with him. This year he seems to have taken the opposite approach.

So can Little reverse his slump? If he’s learned lessons he could, he has time to do it but he really needs to come alive and lead soon.

If that’s possible.

Open Forum – Monday

25 May 2015

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Living Wage now $19.25

Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ have done a 2015 update and have now set their ‘living wage’ at $19.25 per hour.

A new rate of $19.25 per hour

The recalculated Living Wage hourly rate for 2015, which comes into effect 1 July 2015, is set at $19.25.  This is an increase, in line with the average movement in wages, of 45 cents on the 2014 rate. The Living Wage enables working parents to afford for their children to go on a school trip, provide heathy food and pay basic household bills. For many it is the difference between barely surviving and having a life.

The rate will apply from July 1, 2015, for Living Wage Accredited Employers.

The Living Wage defined

The Living Wage is defined as:
The income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society
(www.livingwage.org.nz)

The original Living Wage announced in February 2013 was set through independent research by the Family
Centre Social Policy Research Unit led by Charles Waldegrave, who continues to provide the updates on an
annual basis.

Calculating the rate

The Living Wage rate is based on expenditure items for a modest weekly budget. Annual updates reflect wage movements because the Living Wage is a rate in the market. A full review every five years will involve analysis of the movements in expenditure items, wages and inflation to check that the annual increases remain realistic, robust and true to the Living Wage
definition.

Wage movement is reported by Statistics New Zealand in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) and the calculated rate is set according to the wage movement for the year to June the previous year because this was the basis of the first determ ination. The QES measures the average hourly wage bill across all jobs in New Zealand. The average ordinary time hourly earnings for the year to June 2014 increased 2.5% from the year to June 2013. The movement of 2.5% on $18.80 was then rounded down to $19.25.

A modest increase

This figure sits at 68 percent of the average hourly earnings in New Zealand ($28.23) for the same quarter.
The most recent HES data for expenditure figures on essential items used in calculating the rate rose by 3.4
percent. It is therefore a modest increase for workers struggling to survive and participate in society.
The increase of 2.5% is small compared to CEOs of major NZX companies who earn on average $1.4million,
or $665 per hour, 34.5 times the 2015 Living Wage rate.

CEO rates rose on average 4% in 2013 with the ANZ’s David Hisco on the top of the list earning $4.1million a year or $1982 per hour – over 100 times the Living Wage.

I think this is well intentioned but highly impractical, but it has become a part of the discussion on income disparities.

The definition “The income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life” ignores the wide range of circumstances and needs needs of workers ranging in age from 16 to 60, from single people, second incomes to sole supporters of families and ranging from small towns in the far north and the south to large cities where living expenses can vary vastly.

And it ignores the value of the work being done.

Today’s big news – snow on a skifield

I haven’t watched television news for over a week until getting home today. I’ve watched the headlines on both Prime and 3 News.

Apparently one of the big news story’s of the day is there is some snow on a mountain skifield.

They both showed Coronet Peak without saying if this extraordinary phenomenon had occurred on  other mountains or not.

It did – I saw quite a few snow capped ranges this afternoon as we flew across the South Island. I’d say the snow line is above 1,000 metres so it’s still confined to the tops of the hills.

Sure there’s a bit of a nip in the air – we landed to 4 degrees – but that’s not particularly unusual in a southerly change here.

The forecast is for snow tonight – what will they put on the news if there’s actually snow at altitudes that people live?

It just seems a bit desperate to go up to a ski field to find some snow for a weather story.

Labour delusions continue

Post budget reaction from loyal Labour demonstrates a continued failure to accept their own deep-seated problems and an obsession with trying to trash National as being the pathway to success.

Anthony Robins has posted Outflanking Labour on the left at The Standard.

I’m seeing right wingers run the line “outflanking Labour on the left” quite a bit (just coincidence I’m sure).

We used to call it “swallowing dead rats”.

We used to call it “losing the argument”.

Please by all means National keep moving left. It’s shifting the political center to the left. Capital gains tax is OK now. Raising benefits is Ok now. The left is winning from opposition. Please keep outflanking us!

Another Labour try-hard Greg Presland added:

Well put.

As the dust settles a few themes are appearing.

National agrees that child poverty is an urgent issue but it has delayed implementation of measures until April next year.

National hates doing anything that lets us provide for our future.

National lied about “no new taxes”.

National is underfunding health and education.

National is doing nothing about our future and has a series of band aids being applied to urgent political issues.

Trying to make a win for Labour and disaster for Nationalout of an embarrassing budget response is kinda sad but loyal Labour activists have had a lot of experience at this over the last few years.

The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell pointed out contractions in the attack lines from Robins.

I thought this was the most evil right wing government in the history of NZ politics. I thought they were governing for their rich mates. I thought they were selling us out to America.

Is this all now untrue? Are they really, as others have been saying since 2008, quite moderate?

Instructions please. I have a dinner party with lefties tonight so need advice urgently.

Robins responded:

I thought this was the most evil right wing government in the history of NZ politics.

I don’t recall saying such a thing,

I thought they were governing for their rich mates.

Absolutely.

I thought they were selling us out to America.

Trying to but it’s all going a bit pear shaped.

Is this all now untrue?

As above.

Are they really, as others have been saying since 2008, quite moderate?

As right wing governments go I guess they are relatively moderate, but that still means they don’t give a damn about the poor, the environment, or long term planning, and that irks me. What they’re mainly concerned about is being in power. And they’re prepared to swallow any number of dead rats to stay there. Which is what the post is about.

It’s not National who are in dire delusional trouble, it’s Labour.

It’s easy to see why Tat loo is a bit of a rebel in Labour – he’s had some perception about their problems for some time, clashing within the party.

With its Budget, National has made it plain to all how far Labour has moved to the centre and how much unoccupied room Labour has discarded on the Left in doing so. Nationals strategists have cunningly decided to grab that space for themselves, leaving Labour political-economically marooned in no man’s land.

What will Labour do now? Perhaps Labour will launch proposals for bettering what beneficiaries are being offered in the NAT Budget? Or possibly more likely, Labour will start a discussion on new innovative ways in which NZ Super might be withheld.

NB anyone see any suggestions yet from Labour that they will look after beneficiaries better than National has done in this Budget? That Labour will broaden the scope or magnitude of National’s base benefits lift? Nah didn’t think so.

Philip Ferguson agrees:

I thought Viper’s comments were perfectly reasonable. It’s not that they have believe in National; it’s that they don’t have faith in Labour. And why would they?

Can anyone here who supports Labour explain why three Labour governments didn’t increase benefits?

I don’t think anyone on the left has said this is a “left-wing” budget. It’s a middle-of-the-road social-democratic budget.

It’s simply a comment on how far to the right Labour is on economic policy that Key-English have outflanked them to the left, in the sense of producing a more social-democraic style budget than either the 4th or 5th Labour governments.

For instance, Helen Clark had nine years of surpluses in which to reverse the Richardson benefit cuts and didn’t.

I’m totally opposed to National, but I’m bemused that Labour members/supporters are so hacked off about this budget when it’s an improvement on anything Labour has produced in the *15 years* of the 4th and 5th Labour governments.

It just looks like some folks are engaging in vulgar anti-National Party sniping when what they should be doing is reflecting on why Labour couldn’t even offer the miserable improvements that Key-English are to low-income earners such as beneficiaries.

But don’t expect the Labour loyalists to accept their own problems and address them. They seem destined to keep repeating the same mistakes.

Loo also remarked:

theres still time for Andrew Little to escape the grips of Thorndon Caucus Bubblethink and come back to the real NZ.

Little initially showed promise of something different but he seems to have been sucked in by the mangled message party machine. Unless he rebels and does something different – like as if he can be a leader or something – then Labour looks in big trouble as a party. Still.

Open Forum – Sunday

24 May 2015

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

There’s no reason why commerce and compassion can’t co-exist

It’s common to see carping about how compassionless the Government and John key and National MPs are. How they purportedly don’t care about poor people – some go as far as accusing ‘right wing’ politicians and rich people of deliberately keeping the masses poor so they can accumulate wealth.

Which is absurd, as anyone who knows how commerce works knows that the more affluent people are the more prosperous business can be. You can’t make much money out of destitution.

Thursday’s budget has created confusion and consternation on the left. How could an allegedly hard right government be the first to raise core benefit levels for 44 years? Something three eras of Labour led government had failed to do.

Amongst the confusion absurd claims have been made. In Thoughts on budget 2015 Danyl at Dim-Post:

National believes in massive intervention in the economy, mostly in favor of their political donors but also in response to signals from their polling and market research…

rickrowling asked “What are the examples of this?” None have yet been given. This statement is typical from the left of National do anything hinting at compassion – there must be an ulterior motive driven by the greed of the 1%.

One way of trying to explain is by claiming that National’s efforts are weak and the left would have done it better. Like ‘truthseekernz':

The response from virtually all opponents was lamentable. I would have preferred something like:

“It’s great to see this government adopt a weak tea, might-work-a-little version of the policies we’ve been promoting for years. So we’ve won the policy argument. National has done it because that had to, not because they wanted to. If voters want the real thing, they should be sure to vote for us (whoever ‘we ‘ are – Labour or Greens) next election.”

National can’t have done it because they wanted to what they thought was a good thing to do, they ‘had to do it’. That’s crap of confusion.

wjohnallen:

John Key’s hallmark of power is pragmatism and if that means that he has to give a little to the masses, he will, and did. But that does not change his wider agenda that has all the markings of seeking neoliberal outcomes.

Again Key “has to give a little to the masses” but has a “wider agenda”. That’s ideological crap.

Neilm has a different take on it:

And Key’s opponents have developed a rather insular, self-reinforcing narrative about how Key hates the children etc which isn’t quite what National is. I’m not suggesting that National is the perfect social justice party but constantly making strategy on the basis that they’re corrupt liars out to destroy democrat and the planet has distracted from forming a strategy that deals with reality.

Tinakori also challenges the left leaning laments.

Wow, Danyl, there are so many straw men in that post. The major two are the propositions that this government was a group of hairy chested economic fundamentalists and that effective social policy is entirely the preserve of the left.

The first was flawed from the very beginning and was probably prompted by the bizarre and false idea that they had embraced austerity as a fiscal policy when their approach was classic Keynesian. This is just another case of the left and the commentariat looking to overseas political slogans for guidance rather than looking at what a government actually does.

As for the big things – fiscal, monetary and general regulatory policy – there is no major change that I can see and the spending changes are pretty small in the context of both government spending and the economy.

richdrich swings the other way:

The “middle class welfare” concept is an artefact of neo-liberalism.

It divides society into “hard working keewees” and “beneficiary scum” (Labour and National both love the former term, but Labour might be a bit softer on the latter. “Communities with needs”, maybe?)

Benefits (apart from disguised ones like tax free capital gains) are denied the former and grudgingly meted out to the latter, accompanied by an appropriate degree of paternalism, like making them spend all day in a Winz office with no toilet – at least they can’t take drugs while they’re in there.

I haven’t seen any sign that National (and ACT and the Maori Party and Peter Dunne) have “grudgingly meted out” the benefit increases. Confused leftists like richdrich can’t bring themselves to even grudgingly meting out praise when it’s due.

How could this tory scum out left the left on social policy? Tinokori suggests:

On social policy you underestimate the personal impact on government policy of growing up in a state house (Key) and the Catholic social conscience (English).

There may be something in that, but there’s far more to it. I’m not Catholic and didn’t grow up in a state house. I did grow up in a very poor household – where I learnt the value of hard work and self responsibility.

Many people in New Zealand who have built their own businesses and careers and wealth have seen and experienced hardship somewhere along the way.

We now seem to have a left who can’t see past their arrogance.

I see more compassion in Key and English and many in business and on the centre right than amongst the carping on the impotent left.

This budget appears to have turned politics upside down in New Zealand. I don’t think it has. It just demonstrates what has been evident for a long time, that the left/right divide was long ago bridged. It doesn’t exist in New Zealand how it once did.

Key and his National government get it. They got it a long time ago, that’s why they are still in government.

There’s no reason why commerce and compassion can’t co-exist. Except in the closed carping minds of the old left. They are left crapping in their own nest.

Open Forum – Saturday

23 May 2015

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Dunne on budgets past and present

Like him or not Peter Dunne has been around for a lot of budgets and offers an insight into the bad old days of handout/slash budgets compared to the modern tweakism.

The 2015 Budget has been presented, and while Parliament settles down for the next day or so to debate some of the consequential legislation, the public will begin to pick over the entrails to determine their assessment of it.

Essentially, it will boil down to one thing – do they feel personally better or worse off as a consequence. They may take account of the small projected Budget surplus, with bigger surpluses to come in the years ahead, but they will also remember there was to be a surplus this year which has not eventuated, so they will take that promise with a grain of salt.

They will look at the social assistance package, noting with quiet approval the rise in benefit levels (for some, their anxious consciences will be salved by that) but then they will quickly check to see if they are one of the losers because of the consequential adjustments to Working for Families payments.

In most cases, they will conclude that the Government has probably got it “about right” with little real impact on their own circumstances, and so they will just carry on with their lives.

As it should be. Lotto has taken over as the Kiwi dream of deliverance from financial hardship.

Not that they really expected anything different. The days of Budgets being the year’s “Big Bang” have long since passed, with much of the detail announced by Ministers in the weeks immediately beforehand, even though as the Minister of Finance has shown in this Budget the odd surprise can still be delivered on the day.

All of this is a far cry from the Budgets of old, when people would listen in intently, waiting for the feared words, “As of midnight tonight …”, which usually presaged the introduction of new taxes, levies or reductions in some form or other of government services. Gone too are the old traditions of the pre-Budget stock-up of alcohol, and tobacco products to avoid Budget tax increases – even these are indexed now, and movements in rates announced well in advance, so no-one is caught by surprise.

Few truly lament the passage of all that drama.

There is another reason why the Budgets of old should be forgotten. Their fundamental purpose was different – they were the politicians’ version of Scrooge’s Christmas, the one time in the year when goodies were dished out to those whom the Government liked, or wanted to like it, while those whom it did not like or care much about were either ignored or scapegoated. An economic and political morality play, if you like.

Today, the Budget is much more a statement of the Government’s plan of action for the year ahead, a politically and economically strategic document, rather than just handing out the loot.

One thing that not has changed in the transition is the attitude of the Opposition. Be they of the left or the right, be the circumstances adverse or more propitious, Oppositions always oppose the Budget, with as much and fire and passion as they can muster, even though changes of government over the years have led to very few changes in Budget settings.

Benefit levels are a good example – the last significant uplift in basic levels was when Sir John Marshall was Prime Minister, 43 years ago.

Another National government.

When benefits were slashed by National in late 1990, despite its outrage and fury at the time, the Labour-led Government after 1999 did not restore the cuts. Now that a basic adjustment has been made, the Opposition are predictably saying it is not enough.

This is the sort of thing that makes Budget watching such fun – so long as no-one takes it too seriously. Debate will rage in Parliament over the next few days; the pontificating commentariat will have its worthy say; and then, by early next week or so, life will settle back to pretty much what it was beforehand.

Until we go through it all over again next year.

Most people don’t go through it al again, they ignore the budget and the political theatrics surrounding it. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Source: Dunne Speaks

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