Peters cranky under pressure

I wonder how many Northland voters will be attracted to Mr Cranky?

“I don’t know how long you’ve been in this country …” Winston Peters, when trying to avoid a question from Susie Ferguson.

“…I don’t know how long you’ve been in this country…” Winston Peters to @SusieFergusonNZ . Bit off.

She probably owns a house here too.

It’s more than a bit off. The problem is that some other media seems addicted to their Mr Cranky attraction.

“Labour can never again govern alone”

Felix is fuming at The Standard because Labour aren’t capitulating to Winston Peters in the Northland by-election.

This is despite the facts that Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime announced her candidacy on February 9 and launched her campaign on Saturday February 21. Peters didn’t announce he was standing until Saturday February 28 and he launched his campaign yesterday, March 4. If Labour now pulled Prime out they would be rightly ridiculed.

Undeterred by political reality Felix states:

It’s an opportunity to build a platform for governing with other parties, and to be seen to be doing so. You know Labour can never again govern alone, right?

Wrong. It’s not possible to know that. But that doesn’t deter Felix from dripping bittterness and cynicism.

 Why should Labour destroy a working organisation in the north for a near impossibility?

Ah, there’s that Labour party spirit. Working strategically with other parties on common goals = destroying the organisation.

Ropata:Rorschach responded:

The best strategy for Labour is to build their profile and voter base.
Why would they throw away years of effort from local volunteers to push dear old Winnie, whose values and popularity are highly questionable.

That all seems very sensible, except to Felix:

Pretty sad state of affairs if that’s the best Labour can hope for.

Sometimes I wonder if it has sunk in yet that Labour will never be able to govern alone.

Never.

Ever.

And:

ps building cooperative allegiances and laying the groundwork for future governing arrangements isn’t throwing away all the hard work. Quite the opposite.

Plodding along with the same old same old while you wait for the world to change back, that’s throwing it all away.

Throwing a by-election and handing everything over the an unreliable opponent is the sort of thing that would enhance Labour’s chances of never governing alone, never, ever.

They would look like an also-ran party, or a didn’t-stand party. For a major party that would be an awful look.

Ok, Labour’s chances of governing completely alone are slim under MMP. But their chances of being the dominant party in a coalition with minor parties has to be a primary goal. Otherwise they would consign themselves to being one of a number of minor parties.

Labour got a very poor result in last year’s election, ending up with 25.13% of the vote. But no other party came close to them for second place, with Greens stagnating at 10.7% support. NZ First were next on 8.66%. Combined all three still lagged National’s 47%.

But just four elections earlier National slumped to 20.93% (in 2002) and recovered from that to be close to beating Labour three years later and successful and close to governing alone six years later. And repeated that twice since, now virtually being able to govern alone (needing just one vote from any of three parties to get a majority).

Labour have to aim at being the big steak on the plate and not resign themselves to being a vegetable amongst a left wing salad.

And to be seen as a prospect for this they have to seriously compete in the Northland by-election.

And Willow-Jean Prime, in the prime of her life, has to significantly better a faded old star who is trying to be seen as relevant again.

Labour’s recovery prospects demands that they soundly beat Peters in the by-election.

If an ambitious young woman can’t thrash a wilting Winston – he first stood for Parliament in 1975, about eight years before Prime was born – then Labour’s prospects for the future would look bleak.

But that’s probably what Felix really wants. It’s not that Labour can’t be a dominant party again, it’s more like Felix sees them as an impediment in a dream of a hard left revolution.

Sensible Standard on Northland

There’s a good by-election post on The Standard on Northland. It’s by Lynn Prentice – yeah I have a few disagreements with him at times and he’s a bit of an old school political Neanderthal but he has a lot of campaign experience.

Amongst his typical verbosity but he makes some pertinent points based on reality, against some really dumb and unrealistic whining.

Looking at the numbers and the situation I can neither see Winston or Willow-Jean Prime winning on their own even if the other was not there.

But even if there was, there are definite downsides for a political party in asking any electorate candidate to stand aside. First they may not do it and even go independent, and secondly it destroys the local electorate organisation that has to fight in future elections for party and electorate votes.

One thing he doesn’t point out is that Peters says he is vehemently against doing any deal anyway, (but it’s hard to be certain, his laid on by media appearances have been punctuated by smirking laughter).

Voters, especially on the left, make up their own minds who to vote for. A lot of the marking around with parties that are roughly on the same ‘side’ is simply offputting to voters.

Candidates and political parties should damn well fight their own corner and not expect other parties to help them. That is what the voters expect.

Voters are going to make up their own minds about their tactical voting.

If one of those two parties were my only available choice, I’d be likely to simply not vote.

Those who total up the votes from the general election and conjure out of that a possible majority for one candidate are dreaming.

Talking of dreamers there’s a few comments protesting against lprent’s reality check but they tend to be those on the fringe waiting for a fairy godmother initiated revolution.

Felix shows why all he has usually got is bitter niggling:

 Where is the advantage for Labour

This is exactly what pisses me off about the thinking of many in or around Labour. For a party built on collective action and solidarity they have no fucking idea how to behave as part of a larger whole.

Felix keeos showing at The Standard that he has idea how to behave as part of a larger whole.

There’s others with real political experience commenting. Karen:

Labour has absolutely nothing to gain by standing aside for Winston, who has no chance of winning anyway IMO.

Jono:

Labour would have been tarred and feathered for doing any deals.

Jenny Kirk:

There are huge numbers of Labour supporters somewhere out there in Northland, and it is Labour’s responsibility to provide them with a good candidate to vote for.

Real Labour people find it very difficult to vote anything but Labour – whether in an FPP or MMP voting situation. And if Labour withdrew its candidate for Northland, there would probably be wholescale walkout and decades loss of trust in the Party.

Labour is rebuilding itself, and this by-election gives the Party a chance to show people what it is about, and to talk about what it could do if in government.

And:

There is always that niggly little doubt about Winston : has he ever said what he really means, and has he ever done (other than the gold card for superannuitants) what he’d say he’d do if he had the power to do so.

There’s as much “niggly little doubt” about Winston’s reliability as there is niggly little doubt about his youth.

The media will help Winston as much as they can but that risks exposing him more and turn futility into embarrassing failure.

All those who are frantically trying to talk up a free run for Peters are likely to do is turn people off voting left. And probably off voting at all.

The Northland by-election is a good small step in Labour’s rebuilding process.

And if the frantic numpties really slowed down enough to think about things then if Labour with Willow-Jean Prime perform credibly and Peters bums out that could spell the beginning of the end of his career.

NZ First out of the equation in the 2017 election should boost Labour’s vote share and the Left’s chances.

Lprent can have the last word.

Why should Labour destroy a working organisation in the north for a near impossibility?

Andrew Little and The Voice of Reason

‘The Voice of Reason’ was a regular commenter at The Standard for years. That was highly ironic considering that he  was consistently on of the most vindictive lying abusers of anyone deemed a political enemy at The Standard.

A few years ago TVOR changed his name to a Maori equivalent, Te Reo Putake.That’s an insult to te reo.

(And incidentally made a mistake indicating he used multiple pseudonyms at one stage).

This came up recently:

Travellerev:
Te Reo Putake might mean the Voice Of Reason but for God’s sake, his is the voice of insanity

The Murphey:
Is it possible to be a ‘voice of reason’ when one’s bias is so openly illustrated via fear a fearful and scared perspective in his commentary’s ?

Te Reo Putake:
Yes, it is. I chose the voice of reason to wind up righties. As you can see from travellerev’s comment, it still works beautifully.

That’s about as stupid as ‘Redbaiter’. Another indicator:

If I can be the voice of reason for a moment, I hope that Standardistas won’t gloat over this news, after all innocent until proven guilty and just because he’s a hypocritical bullying piece of shit doesn’t mean that, ha … stop it, musn’t laugh … ha, ha, ha … no, really … ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh lordy this is too good , ha ha ha ha, not able to be company director if bankrupt, ha ha ha, Freed dead in the water ha ha ha ha …. sorry, I’ll be back when I’ve composed myself. Now, what was I saying?

There’s more irony in that than at Taharoa. Especially “hypocritical bullying piece of”…

Te Reo Putake on Little’s leadership win:

Pretty pleased with this result. Well done, Andrew. And well done to the other candidates, too. I hope Andrew asks caucus to elect Jacinda deputy. It would be the right move.

This election shows that NZLP now has a mature internal democracy, and that we can elect our leaders in public, rather than in the boardroom. A lot of the credit should go to Moira Coatsworth. The democratisation process she has lead has gone a long way to making the party a more enjoyable place to be.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post that said if Andrew ran, he would win. I’m going to go for the second leg of the quinella; Andrew Little will be NZ’s next Prime Minister. You read it here first, Standardistas!

“That we can elect our leaders in public” indicates that TRP is a member of ‘we’. He also attends Labour Party conferences – “Conference is going to be great fun, whatever happens. I’m looking forward to attending.”

An indication of local political interests:

Iain LG is a long way from “undistinguished”. He has held Palmy against a concerted effort from the Tories for 3 elections and for one term was the only provincial Labour MP. He successfully promoted David Cunliffe for the leadership, and was elected as junior whip. He clearly has Andrew Little’s ear as well. Even more significantly, he has also built a formidable local electorate team that is easily the best in Labour for canvassing and publicity and is a model for how to campaign successfully. Even John Key acknowleged his work, commenting to Banksie in the teapot tapes that he was unbeatable in the seat.

“A formidable local electorate team that is easily the best in Labour for canvassing and publicity” may coincide with TRP taking a break from blogging before the last election, but I’m not sure that is usual behaviour on The Standard “a model for how to campaign successfully”.

And a hint of union association:

Nah, it turns out Little didn’t give PRC “a clean bill of health”. In one of the links above he’s quoted incorrectly in reference to the site health and safety committee and a second factual quote is misused to give a false impression to fool readers (including Phil F., apparently). Opinion masquerading as fact.

What is true is that the union could have done better, but as it was never told by the workers on site that there were issues and the company went out of its way to undermine safe mining best practice (including offering bonuses to workers to ignore the problems and just get the coal moving), it’s understandable.

More importantly, it was hardly a matter the then National Secretary would know anything about prior to the explosion. He was based in Wellington, running the union as a manager, not doing the organising work of the local union rep and site delegates in Hokitika.

Ironic seeing TRP criticising “he’s quoted incorrectly” and “opinion masquerading as fact” when that’s one of his trademarks on The Standard.

“Andrew and I”:

“You and Little are saying that contractors aren’t workers.”

Correct. Andrew and I both know the law. Now you know it. Isn’t the Standard great like that?

“Some how because they aren’t workers it makes a difference?”

Yep, there is a difference. Workers are paid on a regular basis (weekly, fortnightly etc.). Contactors are generally paid on the 20th of the month following an invoice being sent. So, it can be up to seven weeks after the work is done that it is even due to be paid. Mind you in NZ there is a lag in payment that can drag on for weeks beyond that, (particularly in media!) so there is nothing unusual in Cohen having to wait.

You get a picture of who is behind pseudonyms over time, and that’s just a few from a short period.

This is as a commenter at The Standard but recently TRP elevated himself to become an author as well (of a blog that’s not Labour Party as lprent adamantly keeps reminding).

I thought his posts were quite good, and I thought his behaviour might change to reflect more responsibility.

But as shown in Same old TRP hasn’t discarded his dirty spots. It didn’t take much to prove that. And trying to use his ‘author’ status to threaten banning if I gave as good as I got suggests a certain amount of gutlessness.

Prentice protected and tried to excuse his behaviour – “TRP was winding you up“. So repeated lying and abuse is “winding up” and fighting back is banned, literally.

Apart from some association via the Labour Party (and union background) Andrew Little doesn’t have anything to do with what happens at The Standard.

But unfortunately what happens at The Standard reflects on him and on Labour, and often very poorly.

Little notably told John key to “Cut the crap!”. Unfortunately for him and Labour there’s more chance of Key taking his advice than Prentice and TRP.

It’s a shame that this sort of behaviour overshadows the reputation of The Standard, and it must be annoying for authors who try to do a good job like Greg Presland and Anthony Robins.

However they choose to be associated with the crap, and they choose to do nothing (openly at least) in stemming the crap. In fact Presland supported TRP on Sunday by also threatening a ban for challenging his crap, so despite his good intent as an author he’s an integral part of the problem.

And this is a problem for Andrew Little, because The Standard is the main face of Labour in the blogging world, and they continually lie and abuse and chase away anyone not deemed a suitable member of the club.

Andrew Little has so far succeeded because he often genuinely sounds like a voice of reason. Even is caucus seems to have woken up to the reality that perpetual infighting is tantamount to perpetual Opposition.

But Labour activists are stuck in a dirty rut at The Standard.

I gave Te Reo Putake a chance to reconsider his lying abusive behaviour on Sunday and he chose to re-emphasise his dirty approach rather than retract.

The crap is unlikely to be cut. They keep shitting in their own and Labour’s nest.

Little and Goff contradictions over Iraq

Like just about everyone Andrew Little has trouble taking one consistent stance on Iraq. NZ Herald report on his meeting with Tony Abbott:

Labour leader Andrew Little told Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in their private meeting that Australia’s air strikes against Isis in Iraq make sense because the Iraqis were saying air strikes were making a difference.

So it makes sense to listen to what the Iraqis want regarding air strikes.

But he also told Mr Abbott that the plan for New Zealand and Australia to train Iraqi troops was an exercise in futility because it would be “propping up a corrupt and dysfunctional army”.

But it’s futile to listen to what Iraq wants regarding training their troops.

This sounds like cherry picking points of political convenience. And I wonder what Little’s stance on providing training assistance would be if he were in Government.

And John Key pointed out another contradiction.

Mr Little yesterday said a stable Middle East was in New Zealand’s interests but it was not going to be achieved with 16 trainers and 120 logistics and security personnel for two years. “It’s too small to make a difference.”

Mr Key said yesterday that the same parties who say New Zealand won’t make a difference in Iraq were the same ones that said New Zealand should make a stand against climate change “and when I say we’re only 0.14 per cent of world emissions, they say it doesn’t matter that we’re small”.

That’s the reality of politics – if you deal with many issues it becomes easy to find contradictory approaches (Key won’t be immune from this).

And especially it’s a reality of the Middle East. It’s such a complex situation, where becoming allies with prior enemies isn’t uncommon.

Another contradiction was highlighted by Phil Goff on Q & A yesterday.

Firstly to you, Mr Goff. Labour’s opposition to military action here – what is it in a nutshell?

GOFF: In a nutshell, it’s because this is a high-risk venture that is probably the least effective thing that we could do to stop ISIS. I’m totally opposed to ISIS. I think there are some really effective things that we could do.
We could be providing humanitarian assistance. There are 13 million people in refugee camps in this region, not only from ISIS, but from some of the other regimes that are just as brutal.

What sort of systems are you talking about?

GOFF: Just keeping people alive, giving them healthcare, giving them food, giving them proper accommodation. The $35 million that we are spending on putting troops into Iraq so that we will have 16 trainers – that money could make a real difference in keeping people alive in those refugee camps.

Even humanitarian aid workers are at risk. You’re putting them at risk without any military support. We’ve seen them being beheaded.

GOFF: No, we’ve done this before. We provide our assistance through people on the ground from the region who deliver that aid.

It’s high risk to deploy our troops to help train the Iraqi army, but Goff downplays the risks faced by humanitarian workers, who are targeted as beheadable pawns by ISIS.

Nevertheless, you have lost this battle – hey are going – and your Labour counterparts in Canada, the UK, Australia have all backed their government in this. Why not Labour now? You know it’s going to happen.

GOFF: Because we believe in an independent foreign policy. We make our own judgement. John Key is making his own judgement.

An independent foreign policy doesn’t rule out doing what some other independent countries choose to do.

GOFF: We have made the hard decisions as a Labour government time and time again. I was part of the decision to send people into Afghanistan, to the Solomon Islands, to Timor.

Those were decisions where you had a clearly achievable objective. There was risk. We were prepared to take that risk, but we were going to achieve our objectives and we did. In this case, trying to do something with the Iraqi army with its 50,000 ghost soldiers, it’s ineffectual.

I’m sure those decisions weren’t independent of what other countries were doing. Trying to sort out Afghanistan was seen as futile – and it’s questionable whether ‘clearly achievable objectives’ have been achieved. Any improvements taken time and effort but there are still significant issues there.

There are animosities that have been entrenched and stirred up for millennia in the Middle east. It’s hard to see how anyone can win there.

And it’s difficult for politicians in New Zealand to take non-contradictory stances on what should be done.

Conservatives opt out of Northland by-election

Colin Craig has come out of political hibernation to announce that the Conservatives won’t stand a candidate in the Northland by-election. NZ Herald:

Conservatives skip north’s byelection to avoid giving Peters a fillip

Conservatives leader Colin Craig says the party decided it would not stand in the Northland byelection because it did not want to split the centre-right vote and help Winston Peters.

Its candidate also had a new baby and was not available, he said.

The party executive met on Saturday and made the decision.

An easy decision probably, especially if it would have required a new candidate. Last election the Conservatives did relatively well in Northland:

  • Conservative candidate Melanie Taylor votes: 1,555
  • Conservative Party votes: 2,243 (6.31%)

But without the attraction of a party vote a new candidate would have struggled to get attention or support, so it’s wise for them to opt out, along with getting in a wee dig at Peters.

So far the following candidates have been announced (nominations close tomorrow):

  • Willow-Jean Prime (Labour)
  • Robin Grieve  (ACT)
  • Winston Peters (NZ First)
  • Mark Osborne (National)
  • Rueben Taipari Porter (Mana)

Of those Willow-Jean Prime is the only candidate who stood in last year’s election in Northland.

“Those of you who are writing off Winston…”

A comment at The Standard about some history of by-elections by Shannon.

Those of you who are writing off Winston need to do some revision of New Zealand’s by-election history.

1975 Rangitikei by-election: Social credit victory
1980 East Coast Bays by-election: Social Credit victory
1992 Tamaki by-election: National pips Alliance by just 1300 votes in a former National Prime Minister’s seat
1992 Tauranga by-election: Winston wins the biggest every majority in percentage terms in a general seat
1994 Selwyn by-election: National hold off the Alliance by just 428 votes in a former National Minister of Finance’s seat
1998 Taranaki-King Country by-election: ACT come within 1000 votes of victory

Third party candidates with strong campaigns can succeed in by-elections.

Matthew Hooton, who seems to have an interest in Peters succeeding, added:

Exactly. The Selwyn one is most useful as a model I think.

All of those by-elections except 1998 were pre MMP.

None of them had the balance of power of Government hinging on the result.

None of them involved a long tern MP who was soundly beaten in his last electorate contest.

Those by-elections are all in very different circumstances to the Northland by-election.The thing of most note is the year of the first one, 1975. That’s the year Peters first stood for election.

I wouldn’t write of Winston but I wouldn’t take too much notice of last century by-elections.

Mana Party in Northland

The electorate that Hone Harawira built the Mana Party on was Te Tai Tokerau. That covers Northland and parts of the northern fringe of Auckland.

But the Northland electorate has been a non-Maori National stronghold.

Nevertheless Mana announced two weeks ago they have a candidate for the Northland by-election.

BREAKING NEWS: Porter is standing in Northland By Election

It is with great respect that I, Porter, Rueben Taipari accept the Mana party candidacy to stand in the Northland by election caused by the mysterious resignation of Mike Sabin ex National party MP.

The reason I accept is because the corruption within this Govt is a major issue and blatant disregard for the democratic system, fast tracked laws, misuse of Govt intelligence services, convenient forgetfulness and many other unethical practises should be a concern for all who value our freedom as a democratic country.

National made a lot of promises in the election last year and has kept none of them.

That’s an odd claim. One of the big talking points of National’s campaign last election was how few things they actually proposed or promised apart from ‘steady as she goes’. Making wild claims isn’t a good start.

Mana hasn’t stood a candidate in Northland before.

In 2011 their party vote was 420 (1.29%). Last year Internet-Mana got 601 votes (1.69%).

Porter, Rueben Taipari wasn’t on the Mana list last election.

Porter’s candidacy for the by-election isn’t mentioned on the Mana website (the last sign of activity there was on October 7 last year).

However it has been mentioned on Mana’s Facebook timeline, which links to an article on Mana News:

Porter up against all odds

Rueben Taipari Porter is disappointed with the Northland Age’s article that supported Norwegian multinational deep sea oil drilling company Statoil. Mr Porter explained “The Northern Age article was one sided this is a good indication they are just ticking the box and pretending to get consultation for Statoils drilling aspirations”

When asked if he was interviewed Mr Porter said “NO” he explained he wasn’t  interviewed for this article despite being included in the photo. This entire article is designed to give the perception that Statoil has community support and the community has been consulted. Rueben Taipari Porter is up against the odds if mainstream media is going to skew public opinion in favour of Statoil.

Oddly that doesn’t actually mention the by-election.

The Mana Party now seems little more than an umbrella for activists. The by-election will give Porter some attention but it’s hard to see it recovering Mana much ground.

What’s Winston up to in Northland?

What other than ego and attention seeking has motivated Winston Peters to stand in the Northland by-election?

Is there any more to it than a punch drunk old political pugilist pleading for attention?

Peters first stood for Parliament in 1975. That’s forty years ago. He will turn seventy next month.

He last stood for an electorate in 2008, when he lost in Tauranga to National’s Simon Bridges by 11,742 votes.

NZ First last stood a candidate in Northland in 2005, where Winston’s brother Jim was the fourth ranked candidate on 2.547 votes to John Carter’s 16,577.

In last year’s election Labour’s party vote was 5,913 compared to NZ First on 4,546.

Greens, who aren’t standing in the by-election, got 3,855 but it’s hard to see many Green supporters backing Peters.

National got 17,412 (48.97%). That may be dented in the by-election but with Government’s balance of power at stake there should be plenty of motivation to defend their seat.

Northland has been easily held by National since it was formed in 1996 with the introduction of MMP.

Peters is generally regarded as being politically astute. He must realise his chances in the by-election are as slim as his cigarettes.

He must realise that he’s more likely to dent Labour’s chances of achieving a creditable loss than anything.

What’s Winston up to in Northland?

There’s certain to be ego and attentiion seeking involved, things that Peters is very familiar with. Is that all he’s aiming for?

Perhaps he thinks he can score some hits against National, particularly with the circumstances surrounding resigned MP Mike Sabin. But he must be severely constrained in how far he can take that. There seems to be some legal suppression involved there, and that seems due to remain in place until after the by-election.

Peters is adept at using the media, they have long given him disproportionate levels of coverage.That would normally seem to give him an advantage in the Northland campaign.

But lining up beside several fresher and younger opponents in the spotlight of a by-election is something he’s unfamiliar with.

Peters could wow everyone with his wit and wisdom.

Or he could embarrass himself, and that could be terminal for his political career. That in turn could drag down NZ First.

There seems to be little to gain but a bit of attention, and more to lose.

Perhaps Peters has a cunning plan in mind.

It could be a plea to the public to be seen as politically relevant, for a month.

But he risks being seen as a punch drunk old pugilist thinking he can compete with the Sonny Bills of the twenty first century for public adulation.

Politics and blogging not so bad here

I sometimes despair at the quality, behaviour and ethics of our politicioans and of our wider political discourse. Things could and shoulds be better.

If you listen to some of the more extreme political views, from the right at Whale Oil and Kiwiblog, and from the left at The Standard and The Daily Blog, you might think New Zealand is teetering on the edge of self destruction.

But we live in one of the best parts of the world in the best of times for civilisation. What’s happened in the recent and more distant past should be a constant reminder to how to us about how much things have improved for Western civilisation at least.

And what’s happening right now in Syria and Iraq, in northern Kenya and in the Ukraine should make us very thankful about our quality of life in general in New Zealand.

Two pieces of recent news brought this to mind.

American blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh

A prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger known for speaking out against religious extremism was hacked to death as he walked through Bangladesh’s capital with his wife, police said Friday.

The attack Thursday night on Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, occurred on a crowded sidewalk as he and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University. Ahmed, who is also a blogger, was seriously injured.

Roy was a prominent voice against religious intolerance, and his family and friends say he had been threatened for his writings.

Similar attacks in the past in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people, have been blamed on Islamic extremists.

Blogging in New Zealand may seem knarly at times but it’s limited to online abuse by a relatively small and harmless number of numpties who flail in futility.

Nemtsov murder: Russian society polarised as theories abound

Russia woke up in shock on Saturday. The press, the social media, the politicians – all describe the killing of Boris Nemtsov, one of the leaders of the country’s opposition, as something that was – until Friday night – completely unthinkable.

He was gunned down a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin, in an area which is always tightly policed, and where security cameras are everywhere you look. He was, it appears, tracked for hours as he travelled around central Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the killing a “provocation” and ordered Russian police chiefs to personally oversee the investigation.

And they were quick to come up with suitable theories.

The head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, said that he believes the murder could have been “a provocation aimed at destabilising the country”.

The assassination of Mr Nemtsov is already polarising society. Opposition supporters blame the Kremlin. And pro-Kremlin experts and pro-government media are, mostly, in agreement with President Putin.

That should put grizzling here into perspective.

They’re all pretty ho hum in comparison.

We should be thankful for how benign politics is in New Zealand. Sure there’s room for improvement and we should keep pushing for that but bloggers can safely tell our politicians whatever we like without fearing for our safety.

Being stalked and persistently and pointlessly pissed on by One Anonymous Bloke is very lame in comparison.

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