“Banal is what gets you elected”

Chris claims that “banal is what gets you elected” so that’s what Andrew Little and Labour are busy doing – full bore banal.

He has posted at Bowalley that Busy Doing Nothing: Why Andrew Little Needs To Keep Labour Out Of The Headlines:

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, the Labour Party is currently engaged in a critically important political campaign. No, it may not look like Labour is doing very much at all at the moment, but that is the whole point. After the sheer mayhem of the last four years, a period of tranquillity is crucial to Labour’s chances of re-election.

All of the party’s research suggests that by the end of 2014 the New Zealand public was fed up to the back teeth with Labour.

As 2015 loomed, what Labour most needed to do was to get its name out of headlines. No more leadership elections. No more Caucus back-stabbing. No more shots of furious rank-and-file party members calling for the heads of the “Anyone But Cunliffe” faction.

The new leader, Andrew Little’s, best course of action, after he’d spent a little time reassuring the voters that he could string together a coherent English sentence, and that he wasn’t in the least bit sorry for being a man, was to say and do as little as possible and just let the people of New Zealand get used to him.

One problem with this approach though is that Little has gone backwards this year, especially with his capitulation to Winston Peters in Northland.

And while Little stays out of the headlines it gives more opportunity for Winston Peters and now Ron Mark, and James Shaw and Metiria Turei, to build profile and support, or at least keep Labour’s support in the mid-twenties along with Little’s missing in action strategy.

At some point, however, Andrew Little is going to have to give the voters something more than an absence of embarrassing headlines. Part of establishing that all-important connection with the people who vote is to say or do something powerful enough to bind them – the politician and the voters – together.

By far the most effective way of doing this is through words and gestures; symbolic moments that imprint themselves on the voters’ minds; events that leave people thinking: “That guy would make a damn good prime minister.”

Little has done more of the opposite this year, and with the inaction added to that it’s a very risky strategy.

Perhaps National will keep being over-cocky and cock some significant things up, and Little’s Labour may come through be default, but with the current numbers that will be with substantial power sharing with NZ First and Greens (if NZ First will go that way).

Labour hasn’t just treaded water this year, they have slipped under the surface a little more.

It won’t be easy to swing from banal into overarm.

SIDE NOTE: Trotter has made several references that suggest he has been fed inside information from Labour…

“All of the party’s research suggests…”

“Except that is not what the polling and the focus groups are telling Labour.”

…and has done a friendly post with a bit of added input of his own.

Hurricanes or Highlanders?

Most of the talk and speculation is over. Tonight the Super 15 will be decided on the field at the Cake Tin.

The Hurricanes are logical favourites.

The Highlanders will probably be sentimental favourites outside of the Wellington region.

Of course I’m hoping for a Highlanders win but don’t have any expectations other than for an intriguing contest.

The score will start at 0-0 at 7.35 pm. Then it’s up to the two teams on the night.

The curious attitude of Tracey Martin

Will Tracey Martin walk away tomorrow from a position of power she seems to have not wanted?

Martin has been replaced as NZ First Deputy Leader by Ron Mark in what is claimed to be a close vote, and against the wishes of Winston Peters. And seemingly with the full support of martin.

Martin’s reaction has been curious, as have past comments by her about her elevation in the party pecking order.

Just before the announcement yesterday that Mark was replacing her Martin tweeted:

Worth a re-read. :). Tracey Martin – in Winston Peter’s shadow

This linked to a Stuff profile of her from two months ago – Tracey Martin – in Winston Peter’s shadow – which suggests she wasn’t ambitious about leadership roles.

Living in the shadow of NZ First leader Winston Peters would be a cold place for many and while deputy Tracey Martin is no threat to his popularity she is successfully carving herself a place in Parliament.

As the party’s deputy leader she is the apparent succession plan for a party that seems to have prided itself on never having one.

That may sum up her elevation up the NZ First list and installation (until this week) as deputy – she wasn’t a threat to Winston.

Martin was a surprise pick for the deputy role and the unkind would say that’s because she wasn’t a risk of overshadowing her charismatic leader.

At the age of 50, Martin has found herself in a position of power that she never asked for and would walk away from tomorrow – a surprising claim from an MP only six months into her second term in Parliament.

Martin presents as very unambitious and not very committed – so why was she promoted and why was peters still, apparently, wanting her to remain as deputy this week?

In 2008 she was 13th on the party list and had no hope of making it to Parliament but when the listing committee, including her mother, met in 2011, she leaped up to second place.

“I deliberately said to my mother if she had any influence at all don’t make me number two because there was a certain group of people who were a bit anti the Martins anyway.”

But she was made number two anyway, and later she was made deputy leader, apparently against her wishes.

Better female representation is a long-term goal but for Martin the job is only a three-year commitment.

“And that’s only if you don’t cock it up.

“I could happily go home tomorrow and do what I love to do which is raising money to help my community.

“I’m not desperate to stay here and that’s because I think the absolutely worst kind of politician is a person who is desperate to keep their job because they’ll do and say anything to keep it.”

She doesn’t sound desperate to keep her job. Odd comments for an MP, it looks like she has been put into the party and the leadership against her wishes.

And the curiosity continued this week. It has been reported to be a close vote that deposed her as deputy, with Peters wanting her to remain as his 2IC. But from what she said yesterday she seems to support Mark’s elevation over her.

Stuff again, in Ron Mark new NZ First deputy:

Martin said she supported Mark and would never have been the deputy leader if he had been in the last caucus that appointed her in the role.

“I think I’ve done a really good job as deputy leader in the period of time I was required to do it. I think I did the best I could do with the experience I had.

“This isn’t an anti-me, this is the fact that Ron had years more political experience than I do and that is the right person in that place in that job going forward in this moment.”

This sounds almost like she would have voted for Mark against herself and against Peters.

Martin said there were no surprises over the announcement and she didn’t yet know what her future held.

“I hope to remain a well respected member of the NZ First caucus and Parliament. I’ll do my job and do it to the best of my ability.”

Except that yesterday she pointed out a two month old article that said “Martin has found herself in a position of power that she never asked for and would walk away from tomorrow”.

Very curious.

And now she finds in a position of less power. Will she walk away tomorrow?

Mark confirmed NZ First deputy

After a weird week of speculation Ron Mark was confirmed as the new NZ First deputy leader, replacing what is reported to be Winston’s choice, Tracey Martin.

It has been claimed this is the first time the NZ First caucus has decided something significant against Winston’s wishes.

This may introduce unfamiliar tensions within camp NZF. It has been widely known or assumed that Winston doesn’t tolerate any threat to his own leadership. Last term Brendon Horan and Andrew Williams were excommunicated, supposedly for daring to have ambitions that threatened Winston’s authority.

Mark is saying all the right things (that is, pandering to Peters) about his own ambitions, saying he sees Winston as the leader into the foreseeable future.

But whoever is deputy when Peters decides to retire (or otherwise ceases to be leader) will have the inside running to take over the top position, and it’s thought that Mark has his eye on this goal.

Mark is an experienced MP, having been in Parliament for about a decade before NZ First got rejected in the 2008 election.

He became mayor of Carterton and didn’t stand in 2011 when NZ First returned, but was reported to have been persuaded to stand last year.

Mark was apparently pissed off to be only placed at 9 on the list but with NZ First’s resurgence that was enough to get him back in.

The list selection is reported to be dominated by Peters and the party President, Tracey Martin’s mother. In 2011 Martin had been promoted to two on the list where she remained last election. So Mark has overturned the party rankings to get himself installed at second in command.

My impression of Mark in Parliament this year has been as a jumped up smart arse.

Perhaps the greater responsibilities he now has will morph him into a respectable and credible leader-in-waiting.

This should mean not trying to act like a young Winston clever dick. Time will tell.

Open Forum – Saturday

4 July 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.

“Left wing commentator”

I get called many things and I know I’ve been referred to as a right wing blogger – presumably either by people far more to the left, or presumed based on few post or a single post.

It’s odd where I sometimes find references to myself and to Your NZ. I was checking Your NZ on Alexa and found there was a link in from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newstalk_ZB in a section about Cameron Slater on Larry Williams.

 In 2014, he participated in a series of one-hour pre-election panel discussions on the drive programme – retaining the position following the release of Nicky Hager book Dirty Politics amid calls from left-wing commentators for him to resign.[45][46][47]

I guess I must be left-wing-ish relative to Slater and Williams, on some things at least.

Talking of popping up in other places they don’t seem to be able to let go at The Standard. In Daily Review a few days ago:

Hateatea:

If The Standard only had Open Mike and Daily Review tomorrow, what would PG have to fill up his blog?

mickysavage:

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Funny Greg. You seem to be hiding behind a tree listening often enough.

Hateatea:

I had a quick look just before and it would appear that he is fixated on R0B at the moment but I couldn’t be bothered reading yesterday’s to see what that was.

Sad to say, but absence hasn’t made the heart grow fonder

Who’s fixated on whom Hateatea? I did one or two posts referring to R0b and moved on. I post about many blog posts and bloggers, it’s one of the niche things I do.

The rest of the thread is funny too.

I suspect that few of them there see me as a left wing commentator”.

In the political blogosphere the wings flap around a lot but I try to get to the guts of issues somewhere in between.

This could also apply to politics:

Image result for left wing right wing

This depicts a sentiment I see expressed on both the left and the right. The Tweedlenational/Tweedlelabour despair:

This is a good attempt to show various political inclinations.

I think I’m fairly centrist, except on the issues I’m more socialist, conservative, libertarian or populist.

Visualising MPs on Twitter

Don’t worry, this isn’t about visualising what MPs look like while they are tweeting, I’ll leave that to you.

Jayne Ihaka posted a graph on Twitter to show how MPs are connected – not surprisingly most of them communcate within their own political circles.

Jayne Ihaka @Jayniehaka

Made a graph to see how NZ MPs are connected on Twitter…No surprises really!

IhakaMPsTwitter

Chris McDowall has done something similar at NZ Herald, breaking it down to individual MPs in Visualising New Zealand Members of Parliament Twitter networks.

A common critique of discourse that occurs on social media is that we tend to interact with people who already hold similar opinions to ourselves, reinforcing one another’s opinions and biases.

A few months ago I started wondering about the social networks of New Zealand members of Parliament and whether this holds true for our politicians. To find out I collected some Twitter relationship data and experimented with a small visualisation project.

I remembered this work yesterday when Jayne Ihaka tweeted an image of a network graph that she had made and I figured it was about time I wrote it up. I share it now for anyone who might be interested.

There’s a lot of graphics so it takes quite a while to load.

Some of the lower volume Tweeters are very party-centric, for example Stuart Smith (National):

TwitterSmithStuartRino Tirikatene (Labour:

TwitterTirikateneThere’s varying degrees of wider engagement with the more prolific MPs.

TwitterOConnorSimonTwitterClarkDavidAnd a centrist party MP (Maori Party) is evenly (and extensively) engaged:

TwitterFoxMaramaA new age National MP (Chris Bishopl) shows widespread engagement.

TwitterBishopChrisA comprehensive line up of charts here. Visualising New Zealand Members of Parliament Twitter networks

Yeah, it’s Twitter. But some MPs engage quite effectively and it’s one of the easiest ways of accessing MP attention.

TPP – Pharmac fears dismissed by US economist

As US economist thinks that the fears (or fear-mongering) of the effects of the Trans Pacific Partnership on Pharmac and New Zealand drug prices are overly pessimistic.

NZ Herald reports Pharmac TPP fears dismissed:

Leading American trade economist Professor Peter Petri is optimistic that the Trans Pacific Partnership will turn out to be less damaging to Pharmac than people fear.

Trade Minister Tim Groser on Tuesday said the Government would not sign up to an agreement that undermined the pharmaceutical purchasing agency which kept the cost of medicines affordable for New Zealanders.

Petri said the most recent leak of TPP text he had seen, albeit a year old, embodied a set of rules much weaker than the United States had initially sought.

“The idea is to make the process of drug selection transparent and the US had initially proposed a formal appeal process which was then subject to the agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism [one of TPP’s most contentious provisions],” he said.

“The most recent leak suggests that it will be an appeal process up to the country itself to shape … and my guess is it won’t be subject to the dispute resolution mechanism.”

There’s been vastly different views on leaks.

TPP opponents fear that measures to increase the amount of information made available to drug companies about the processes by which Pharmac apportions its finite budget and decides which pharmaceuticals to subsidise will enhance their ability to stir up public concern that New Zealanders will be denied access to this or that life-saving medicine. The effect would be that the companies make more money and New Zealand taxpayers bear more cost.

“No doubt they [the pharmaceutical companies] will make those sorts of arguments,” Petri said. “That’s the price of transparency, that you get people making arguments you don’t like.”

But it was odd, he suggested, for people to deplore a lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations but oppose more of it in Pharmac’s deliberations.

Time will tell who is most correct.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

It looks like the Trans-Pacific Partnership has got some legs in the US and according to New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser it’s action time.

There’s been some determined campaigning against it here, with complaints ranging to the secrecy and lack of details to claimed specific impacts.

Stuff reports: TPP will add two per cent to NZ economy – US economist

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should add about 2 per cent a year to the New Zealand economy, according to a United States economist.

Services, tourism and IT would make up about 40 per cent of the increase, agriculture would make up 25 per cent, and the remainder would come from investment.

For New Zealand one of the biggest sticking points is access for its dairy products. The US, Canada and Japan have highly protected dairy industries.

Petri said the US was “for the most part” working with New Zealand on dairy issues.

There have also been frequent warnings about possible impacts on Pharmac and drug prices here too. Groser assured recently that prescription charges would not go up.

Petri and his colleagues have modelled the outcomes of a successful TPP agreement, which appears to be likely now that the US has agreed to fast track negotiations.

He said the drama over the agreement in the US was mostly over and that the terms would surprise people “in a positive way, they are much less extreme than they have been represented”.

That probably applies here too, with some claiming that the TPP will be the end of new Zealand as we know it.

Regarding the controversy surrounding the TPP, Petri said the issue had not been handled well politically.

“They should have kept negotiations within the room but at least described the broad lines of negotiations more publicly,” he said.

It could have been handled better here by National on the PR level.

If the TPP goes ahead will the benefits outweigh the downsides? We won’t know for some time after it happens, if it happens, and even then there’s certain to be claims and counter claims.

Open Forum – Friday

3 July 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.

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