Ignorance of recent political history

It political forums it’s common to see ignorance of recent political history in New Zealand. There are often comments about how damaging the supposed neo-liberal revolution has been to the country but scant knowledge of what came before (Muldoon) and with ‘Rogernomics’/

There was a typical discussion in This is deliberate on Kiwiblog yesterday.

The first comment was from Harriet:

I cannot understand why a party like Labour – that has always been for the ‘working man’ – puts so much of it’s time, money and effort into defending those who don’t, but could, work.

No wonder they are seen as being irrelevent to the working classes.

Newcomer ‘Fatsworth’ responded:

But not post Roger Douglas (ACT)

Labour been not been able to rid itself of the stench and actually return to the working class representative Party ideology that it was founded on.

Too many factions have been involved in the Labour Party over the years, and imo, the worst faction, the faction doing the most damage, was that of the Right, starting with Roger Douglas and Prebblisation – at the 1984 General Election.

This election was not David Lange’s to win – this election was always Roger Douglas’s to win.

I experienced what preceded this, the Muldoon era of price and wage freezes, farm subsidies, car-less days, mortgage interest of 20%, budget lurches and the country on the brink of going broke.

David Garrett:

Mr Fatsworth: Please list the reforms of the Lange-Douglas government which in ur view didnt need to happen.


I consider that you are well aware of what the Douglas reforms were about and what the results of such were/are.
They certainly were not for the benefit of the country as a whole – the so called free market industry ‘competition’ barely exists and the New Zealand consumer majority ended up paying the going rate of industry price fixing.
Example: Retail electricity provision.

I thought the electricity reforms came under the following National government, not Lange/Douglas and Labour.


In other words you can’t name ANY of the major Lange- Douglas reforms that didn’t need to happen…I didn’t expect you to pick “removing all subsidies for farmers” or even “removing all subsidies for manufacturers” but I did expect, perhaps, “restructuring the railways from a giant make work scheme” or even “floating the dollar”

Your answer suggests you actually haven’t a clue what was done in the Lange-Douglas era…you just don’t like it.


Subsidies removal? No – these still remain – WFF being the most costly today and that props up what?

Working for Families was introduced this century and is nothing like the Muldoon era subsidies.

The failure of Rogernomics.

I don’t think the trade off stacks up – thousands of NZ businesses going to the wall – hundreds of thousands of job losses – increased welfare expenditure – hundreds of thousands leaving NZ for Australia that became the true back bone of NZ – the ECA sold as an employee bargaining chip but never was – redirected disposable income into living costs – easy access to credit to make it look good – the selling of the electricity assets that rendered the majority into a servitude to the private investment sector.

Now – David Garrett – Name the benefits (apart from welfare and easy access to consumables) that this so called ‘miracle economic plan had/has for the New Zealand majority.

PaulL joins in:

Consider how many of those reforms were inevitable if we weren’t to go the way of Soviet Russia. Those NZ businesses were selling goods at a price that was higher than the market price. In other words, they were ripping off poor NZers (by and large). The Warehouse is one of the biggest forces for giving poorer NZers a better standard of living, and the bulk of their product comes from offshore.

The Rogernomics reforms just reflected reality. They haven’t been reversed for that reason.

Taking your points in order (since I have nothing better to do):

Subsidy removal. WFF is not a subsidy, it is a benefit. Subsidies generally refer to corporate welfare. Removing corporate welfare is generally a good thing. Remember the TVs that were manufactured in Japan, then disassembled by Japanese labour, then shipped to NZ, then reassembled using NZ labour? That was productive how?

Thousands of NZ business going to the wall. I think the word you’re missing in there is “unprofitable”. Those businesses only existed due to subsidies or protectionism. They were destroying value, driving NZ bankrupt, and making NZ citizens poorer whilst they did it. Remember NZ’s car industry? Any idea how in hell NZ was big enough to support a car factory? Remember the Toyota Camry with the Commodore 4 engine in it, courtesy of govt industrial policy? Crappy car with a crappy engine, putting the two together didn’t make it any better. Govt sucks at business.

ECA. A great way to get the unions under control, unions that were destroying NZ’s productivity. Remember the ports?

Redirected disposable income into living costs. Where would you suggest it go instead? Seems like disposable income should most go into living costs to me.

Easy access to credit. What, you’re objecting to the ability to get a mortgage (not to mention the ability to get foreign currency so you can travel overseas. Remember when the govt controlled who could get foreign currency? Should things still be like that?)

Selling of electricity assets to organisations that ran them at a fraction of the cost, reducing the wholesale price of power substantially. Keeping the lines companies as monopolies, however, not such a great idea – that’s now where half your power bill goes. Logically enough, the Labour party thinks the answer is to turn the productive part of the power sector back into a monopoly. As for servitude – remember the Labour govt that as a matter of policy wanted higher power prices so that people would use less energy? Ever consider that maybe power prices going up is actually an intention of Labour/Green policies?

The benefits are manifold:
– ability to travel internationally
– ability to buy products from international markets – including from Amazon in the US (in the old system importing these would have been illegal)
– ability to get a mortgage
– ability to start a business and set wages and prices without govt approval (remember wage and price freezes?)

That’s just a start. I think you’ve forgotten (or never knew) just how bad NZ was before Roger Douglas.

That was last night. Fatsworth hasn’t responded. I’ll update here if he/she does.

UK result versus proportional representation

There’s been comment here about the disparity between votes and seats in the UK election, which operates under first the post.

David Farrar has tried a ‘what if’ exercise at Kiwiblog – The UK result under proportional representation and concludes:

So under PR the UK Independence Party would have 83 seats, instead of one. The SDP would hold 31 seats instead of 56 and the Lib Dems 52 seats instead of eight. And the Conservatives and Labour would have fewer seats – and the Greens 25.

If you look at the blocs, the right bloc would still have a majority under proportional representation. They’d be just 10 seats down. However it would be a Conservative/UKIP Government, not a majority Conservative one.

The left would do worse under PR with Labour and the SNP both losing seats, but the Greens picking some up. They’d be 33 seats down compared to FPP.

The Lib Dems in the centre would be best – going from eight seats to 44.

But I think this is an exercise in futility. In the UK they voted for 650 separate electorates. There was no party vote, and I don’t see any way of assuming the total vote as if it equated to party support.

And if there was a party vote that would ultimately decide the proportion of seats then voters would have had quite different considerations and could easily have decided differently, on individual electorates (which under our MMP can influence outcomes) and overall.

So Farrar’s speculation is kinf of interesting but it’s really quite meaningless.

Farrar on Minister’s brother being charged

David Farrar at Kiwiblog has a carefully worded post Why standing down a Minister for their brother is absolutely wrong.

Most people accept you should not stand down a Minister because a family member has done something wrong.

In general I think that’s correct.

Now a few have argued that it is different if the Minister holds a portfolio in the justice sector, such as Justice, Police, Corrections etc. Again, they are wrong. They are not wrong that it may create a conflict that needs managing, but they are absolutely wrong that the way you manage that is by the Minister standing down.

And that’s a fair point. The Opposition tend to cry resign or cry stand down too readily and too often.

Let’s say the person charged is the brother of the Minister of Justice. Should they stand down because their brother has been charged? Well if you stand down the Minister of Justice because their brother has been prosecuted, then you’re saying that they may have been able to interfere in the case if they had not stood down.

Now that is wrong. The Police and Crown Law have statutory independence in their functions (apart from a few small areas where the Attorney-General plays a role). No Minister can interfere in decisions around police investigations, charges, bail, prosecutions, trials, convictions, sentencing, or parole.

The proof of an independent justice system is when (as has happened here) the Police can and do investigate the sibling of a cabinet minister, and do decide to prosecute them and charge them. The fact this happens while the Minister remains in office is a strength, not a weakness.

Yes, it can be seen as a strength. Except by some people who will inevitably claim political/police collusion.

If a minister who holds a portfolio in the justice sector has a family member charged with an offence, the only thing that needs to be done is to make sure that the Minister is not briefed or in the loop in any way on the prosecution. As Ministers are not briefed on such things anyway, that should not be difficult.

Sounds reasonable to me.

The Daily Blog spike

The Daily Blog is has congratulated itself for a record month of hits last month, beating Kiwiblog on the April Open Parachute blog ranking, the first time a left wing blog has done this.

Milestone for The Daily Blog

For the first time in NZ Blogging history, Kiwiblog has been beaten by a left wing blog.

few people believe Whaleoil’s numbers are real, so Kiwiblog has been number 1 or 2 since the blog rankings began and this is the first time it’s been third.

Many thanks to our readership and our bloggers.

Fair enough. Something they can be proud of. But this was due to one thing, the Amanda Bailey/John Key ponytail pulling story. With the right stories it’s easy enough to get spikes in numbers. It’s much harder to sustain those numbers.

Here’s the numbers for the last few months:

  • September: visits 504,304 page views 813,779
  • October: visits 210,877 page views 347,647
  • November: visits 160,716 page views 259,736
  • December: visits 126,534 page views 203,1264
  • January 2015: visits 116,155 page views 188,868
  • February visits 121,994 page views 205,870
  • March visits 163,445 page views 274,075
  • April: visits 353,964 page views 511,527

So April was over double March.

Weepus Beard commented:

Congrats on the visits/month stat, and the statistics king David Farrar will be seething at his demotion.

I’m surprised he hasn’t congratulated TDB himself but then he only comments on/misrepresents stats that support his own narrow, right wing view of the world. He deliberately ignores/misrepresents any stats which damages that view or supports any socially responsible view of the world.

Strange to turn congratulations for The Daily Blog into baseless diss of Farrar. And it should be noted that The Daily Blog beat Kiwiblog on just one of the two measures.

  • Kiwiblog April 2015: visits 311,709 page views 566,587

Kiwiblog still had 10% more page views. And Open Parachute is just one way of ranking sites. Currently Alexa shows:

  • Kiwiblog – rank in New Zealand 273, global rank 135,533
  • The Daily Blog – rank in New Zealand 868, global rank 283,412
  • The Standard – rank in New Zealand 1,489, global rank 364,133
  • Whale Oil – rank in New Zealand 138, global rank 79,442

Weepus Beard continues:

I’d like to say though that these very encouraging views per month are not translating into comments. The heart of a blog is in it’s commentators and some improvements could be made on the back of this result.

TDB authors are the equal and in some cases way better than The Standard authors but this does not seem to make much of a difference.

I’m not qualified in blog studies to know what improvements might be made to increase the number of comments left here at TDB.

There’s a number of major reasons why The Daily Blog usually gets significantly fewer comments than The Standard and Kiwiblog.

Weepus Beard comes up with one of them:

Aha! I think I’ve got it. One of the reasons why TDB visits do not translate into comments is…

…real socially conscious people with real social,ly conscious comments to make do not like their having their comments stuck in moderation for hours upon hours as if we were mistrusted right wing trolls.

No one likes their comments going straight into limbo, having to wait until a moderator gets around to publishing it.

That’s if they release it. The Daily Blog has a reputation for ‘disappearing’ comments that it doesn’t like. Martyn Bradbury has been known as a site censor and comment manipulator for a long time.


  • It takes time to build up a commenting community (especially with the above practices). The Standard and Kiwiblog have been going much longer than The Daily Blog, and people tend to stay with what they are familiar unless there’s a compelling reason to switch favourite commenting communities.
  • The Daily Blog’s target market tends far left. Bradbury has associated himself with small parties and narrow interests, like Mana and the Internet Party. The Standard has Labour and Green and Mana supporters, a much wider catchment.
  • Bradbury has a credibility problem, often being an over the top ranter who is wide of the mark in his claims and predictions.
  • After the disappointment of the last election there was much less frequent posting at The Daily Blog.Number of posts is a significant factor in number of visits, number of views and number of comments.

The Daily Blog deserves some statistical glory for their April results, but that doesn’t mean it will become a sustained recovery. See what May’s rankings are to see how much it settles back, unless they manage to break another big story.

Blog rankings – April 2015

The Daily Blog

  • September: visits 504,304 page views 813,779
  • October: visits 210,877 page views 347,647
  • November: visits 160,716 page views 259,736
  • December: visits 126,534 page views 203,1264
  • January 2015: visits 116,155 page views 188,868
  • February visits 121,994 page views 205,870
  • March visits 163,445 page views 274,075
  • April: visits 353,964 page views 511,527

Boosted substantially by a single topic – John Key versus the waitress.

Whale Oil Beef Hooked

  • September: visits 3,716,364 page views 5,309,045
  • October: visits 2,008,487 page views 3,275,031
  • November: visits 1,776,421 page views 2,981,810
  • December: visits 1,764,050 page views 2,999,841
  • January 2015: visits 1,549,207 page views 2,771,035
  • February 2015: visits 1,697,269 page views 2,947,932
  • March 2015: visits 1,497,906 page views 2,669,703
  • April 2015: visits 1,275,864 page views 2,708,282

Visits continue to slide. It remains a mystery why Whale Oil still has over twice the numbers of any other New Zealand blog when it doesn’t seem to do much different, except for the number of posts per day which is much higher. That may be what keeps the numbers up.


  • September: visits 695,190 page views 1,093,806
  • October: visits 373,637 page views 604,405
  • November: visits 301,119 page views 522,519
  • December: visits 278,787 page views 515,827
  • January 2015: visits 232,512 page views 447,489
  • February 2015: visits 299,472 page views 541,919
  • March 2015: visits 322,036 page views 579,501
  • April 2015: visits 311,709 page views 566,587

A slight drop but one day less in the month may account for that.

The Standard

  • September: visits 429,438 page views 868,342
  • October: visits 255,449 page views 561,703
  • November: visits 194,646 page views 431,100
  • December: visits 182,211 page views 392,090
  • January 2015: 163,164 page views 356,129
  • February 2015: 189,833 page views 417,128
  • March 2015: 232,651 page views 490,905
  • April 2015: 226,436 page views 483,101

Steady taking into account one less day than March.

Note that these are a rough measure. They can be useful to monitor trends on a blog but the value of comparing blogs is debatable. Sitemeter can vary significantly from other measures.

Note: not all blogs supply Open Parachute with site statistics, notably Public Address and Pundit.

Open Parachute sitemeter rankings:

How should one mark ANZAC Day?

‘Akaroa’ at Kiwiblog:

How should one mark ANZAC Day?

Get up in the pre-dawn hours and stand with others at dawn to ‘Remember Them”?

Or, at home, silently and quietly reflect on the sacrifices made, the pointlessness of it all and how it all seems to go on and on.?

I don’t know. I’ll probably get blitzed for saying this, but I sometimes feel a bit put off by public gatherings and dawn services. To me, they always seem a bit contrived and orchestrated instead of being personal, private memorials.

And I’ve been to a few dawn ceremonies here and there – and adjourned to the RSA afterwards to have a glass of ‘gunfire’ followed by a few jars.

In Singapore we stood in Kranji Cemetery amongst the graves of the fallen POWs.

In Bangkok we stood at the cemetery embracing those who died on the Railway of Death.

But I guess the best way to honour those who fell would be to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.

But that’s a vain hope, IMHO.

(Pretty reflective time, ANZAC Day, eh?)

Yep, each to their own.

It shouldn’t be a vain hope – we should be bloody determined to avoid wide scale man-made disasters, and that includes getting sucked into them by other countries in other parts of the world.

Unfortunately sometimes not fighting at all is an extremely risky option, as the ISIS threat demonstrates.

Politicising ANZAC Day

ANZAC DAY was generally well covered on blogs.

On Lest We Forget at Kiwiblog David Farrar posted a list of names of “2,871 New Zealanders who died at Gallipoli, or during that period”. The comments were respectful – until ‘big bruv’ took a cheap shot at a not so distant past politician.

Lest we forget.

Well done to all of us who rose early and attended Dawn parade. Never forget that a former Prime Minister of this country could not be bothered getting up early to honour our war dead. Never forget that Helen Clark famously said that she ‘does not do mornings’

There is a list a mile long as to why Helen Clark is the worst PM in our nations history but her stubborn and selfish refusal to attends dawn parade is the most shameful.

I thought that was inappropriate and said so, as I do.

Crappy seeing cheap political shots on this thread.

Why can’t each of us remember as we see fit? There’s no need to all do the same thing. We have a certain amount of freedom to choose here in modern New Zealand, thankfully.

I’ve never been to a dawn service. I remember the wars, and my grandfathers, father and uncles who served and (some) died, in my own ways.

In the meantime Inandout had followed up:

big bruv : Helen was one of those gutless, despicable protestors (along with Goff) who abused and spat on our Vietnam Vets on their return, so of course she would not get out of her marital bed on Anzac Day. I was however presently surprised to see a Vietnam War memorial statue in the town of Queenstown, Tasmania; first I have ever seen one anywhere dedicated to that war.

Big bruv threw a bit of a hissy at me.

I suppose I could point out the irony in that comment of yours, I suppose I could argue the point. However, I simply chose to tell you to keep your stinking opinions to yourself. Do you ever get sick of being the self appointed guardian of the blogsphere?

I responded:

I’m not guarding anyone, just giving my opinion. I think that’s allowed here, even though some try to abuse us of that freedom to speak notion.

And left it at that, not wanting to disrupt the ANZAC thread. I thought I’d follow up later but ‘bc’ beat me to it:

Poor big bruv, unfortunately for him there’s this thing called google. There’s also this little box thing where you can type in something, I typed in “Helen Clark Anzac day”.

All sorts came up. Like this: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/34146/helen-clark-at-gallipoli

Apparently she is the FIRST New Zealand prime minister to visit Gallipoli on Anzac Day. Oh and she gave a speech at Anzac Cove, at a DAWN service.
Here it is: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/anzac-day/news/article.cfm?c_id=773&objectid=10122448

Big bruv, master at making $*!# up.

So not only did he shit in the ANZAC thread big bruv either made things up or was ignorant of facts, but the latter is unlikely as this has been gone over before on Kiwiblog a number of times so he should know.

That’s how things are often dealt with at Kiwiblog. Some of them there don’t like being held to account but all they can do is rant back.

Big Bruv posted a similar diss  on The Standard’s post Anzac Day – 100 years. It was dealt with differently there.

Well done to those who attended Dawn parade. Those of you who did attend showed more respect than former PM Helen Clark who refused to attend dawn parade. It seemed that she could not be bothered getting out of bed early on that one day of the year. [r0b: Moved this comment from the Anzac day post to Open Mike. Also banned BB for a year on the charge of inappropriate politicisation and being a POS.]

That’s a bit of a draconian reaction. Some of the Standard troops went on to rebut BB’s nonsense. As on other blogs politicisation of things is common at The Standard.

There’s more irony down the thread. ‘Keyman’ commented:

i cant be leave how nasty the people on this site are calling the prime minister a pervert or worse where is your respect for the high office and your betters John key is leader of this nation and you should hold your noses and bow before him. just make sure your wearing protection hat or swimming cap

BB’s bullshit barbs at Helen Clark were mild compared to things that are directed at John Key at The Standard.

And there’s an oddly ignorant response from Stephanie Rodgers:

This comment is perfectly placed downthread from big bruv’s attempt to smear Helen Clark’s memory. The right do love to trot out the “respect your betters” line … as long as it’s the betters they personally agree with.

The Standard Labour Left have been in smear overdrive over the last few days. Their moderation ensures the smearing is just in one political direction.

UPDATE: a generally fair comment from Redlogix at The Standard.

BB claimed Helen Clark never attended Dawn Services. This is a repeat of a common lie – a lie that can be readily shown for the smear it is with a few seconds googling.

BB is not expressing an honest opinion. He knows he is lying, and continues to do it over many years. This is not behaviour we are obliged to tolerate.

I agree entirely.

There is a difference between ideas and opinions – and behaviour. This site has long tolerated the expression of a very wide range of opinions, but does not allow repeated bad behaviour to disrupt the debate.

Except that The Standard does allow deliberate lying and repeated bad behaviour deliberately designed to disrupt debate. Frequently. It just depends on whose side they deem you are on.

Kiwiblog troll

Posted on Kiwiblog:

Quite funny, but not so funny was what prompted it, a series of deliberately provocative and abusive posts over the last few days. This resulted in:

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

Lucy scares all decent and intelligent people. Her type is behind every religious inspired war, genocide, torture and horror in the world today.

She longs for a past time where she could have tortured mutilated and killed non Catholics with impunity. She is more dark and evil than most people could fathom, but some of us see straight through to her rotten hateful heart.

[DPF: This comment, and many others are unacceptable. This is your seventh strike and a three month suspension. The 10th strike is permanent inclusion. You need to change your style if you want to remain here]

DPF would have meant “The 10th strike is permanent exclusion”, his policy details Strike 10 – permanent ban.

Seems fair enough. Kiwiblog can get quite abusive at times but this is at the extreme end, and it was after repeated abuse by a recidivist – in fact this person was on the receiving end of DPF’s first strike:

Kea (13,924 comments) says:
And that Scott Chris shows you are fundamentally unsuited to make that choice. You are a coward and intellectually dishonest. Your own contributions are worthless dross for those reasons.

But I would allow you to share your brain-farts in total freedom. They make other contributors look good and fill the diversity quota [for the handicapped] at the same time.

[DPF: Thanks for the perfect example of an unacceptable comment. You’re the first person to get a strike under the new regime]

Looking through the strike list shows someone out of control – these are just a handful of the worst examples.

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

Scott Chris has pushed the “Report abusive comment” button FIFTY TIMES. What a cowardly wanker.

DPF gives me a strike but sees none of the abuse thrown at me by this, and other, abusive bigots on a daily basis. DPF has form for this sort of thing and his bullshit claims about lack of bias further erode his remaining credibility. The primary reason he demerits me is for my views.

I am out of here folks for good and are closing my account. Though I will pop in to watch KB continue its decline into a fanatical Christian anti-Muslim hate site.

[DPF: And that was strike two. You’re not yet suspended if you change your mind]

Abusing the blog owner is not a good idea, especially when they are trying a new system of trying to tone down the abuse.

Note the statement that they were ‘out of here folks for good ‘. Twelve days later:

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

stupidboy, it is you an Lucy supporting the annexation of he Crimea made under the USSR. Not me, not Andre and not Putin.

[DPF: Warning – use his proper monicker]

A day later:

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

Lucy, I know exactly what you are talking about and I told you exactly that I did not report you. I told you I was kidding.

Are you on the Sherry or something ?

You are not normally this retarded unless you have your god-goggles on.

[DPF: 2nd warning – unacceptable]

Five days later:

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

Padriv Ustoev, in CATHOLIC South America, be-headings are so common they are not even news. Nor are mutilations and torture. All the words most dangerous cities are in CATHOLIC South America.

And sorry folks, impotently down voting and typing troll on your spittle soaked keypad will not change the reality.

[DPF: And that is strike three and a one week suspension]

That toned things down, until a month later.

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

Kowtow reaches a new low in race hate baiting.

The attacks on Hindu folk in Auckland is proof that Christian immigration is not compatible with New Zealand values and should be stopped now.

If the Jew does not like it here it can crawl back to its nest in Israel kowtow, surrounded by Muslims ! :lol: (they are Arabs themselves of course)

[DPF: And that is strike 4. Two weeks holiday]

That lesson was more quickly forgotten or ignored.

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

For the newbies, Lucia is a radical Catholic and Nazi apologist. Her view of the churches involvement in the Croatian (and German) Holocaust contradicts the findings of respected holocaust research organisations, eyewitnesses, scholars and the people who admitted what they did. That makes her a holocaust denier.

She will lie and deny facts, refusing to answer questions, to protect her precious church. She runs to DPF to try and get people who expose her banned.

[DPF: And calling someone a Nazi apologist is a good way to get banned. This is Strike 5 and a one month ban.]

A pattern of behaviour and defiance.

Kea (13,924 comments) says:

Yes, I think it is. Right now, I’m not in the mood for calling DPF’s attention to Kea’s comments. However, I’m sure as the days unfold, how I feel will change.

There you go, Kea. Annoy me enough and your own words will condemn you.

What a raging narcissist.

I have wiped better things off the sole of my shoe than a hate filled harpy like you. You are filth. Go fuck yourself.

[DPF: And that is Strike 6, just a day after you are back from Strike 5. That is a two month suspension]

And two and a bit months later was yesterdays ban, which won’t have been a surprise considering the whole day leading up to it in General Debate 19 April 2015.

Bridges too far?

Did Simon Bridges got to far in seeking cost details on Northland bridges?

Mr Bridges’ office asked the NZ Transport Agency for information on the bridges and estimated costs of upgrading them prior to the byelection announcement that National would upgrade 10 one-way bridges.

Andrew Little thinks he did.

Labour’s leader Andrew Little said that was a clear breach of the rules for ministers’ use of public officials and Mr Bridges should be sacked.

John Key thinks he didn’t.

Mr Key said he did not believe it was a breach.

“My understanding is it’s quite okay to ask for information. You’re quite free to do that. The issue is whether you’ve got policy advice and Mr Bridges didn’t do that.”

The Cabinet Manual seems unclear.

The Cabinet Manual states that “any requests [ministers] make for advice or information from their officials is for the purposes of their portfolio responsibilities and not for party political purposes”.

Bridges would be responsible for fulfilling the bridges bribe so should be basing decisions on advice and information. Many policy decisions can be both part of Governance and for party political purposes – trying to get re-elected.

Anthony Robins at The Standard thinks it’s clear in Burn the Cabinet Manual:

Key won’t take any action over Simon Bridges’ clear breach (excellent work by Rob Salmond at Polity) of the Cabinet Manual. So, might as well burn the thing, at least for the remainder of this government’s term. Key has no intention of being held to account, or holding his ministers to account, by or for anything at all.

Did Helen Clark and Michael Cullen get advice and information before making their famous election rescuing Student Loan bribe? Was any Minister sacked as a result of that? I’m sure there are numerous examples of advice or information from officials being used for election (party political) purposes.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog calls it A beltway beltway issue.

I don’t believe that anything Simon Bridges did, is a breach of the Cabinet Manual. But regardless this is what you call a classic beltway issue. The number of people who get excited over this is miniscule. Mrs Jones in New Plymouth and Mr Smith in Hamilton want jobs, incomes, decent schools, good healthcare etc.

The sort of people who think this is great politics are the same sort who orgasm over who won question time in the House. I know, because I used to be one of them.

Ecch. But he may have a point, no matter how awfully he has put it.

In comments yesterday on Your NZ Alan Wilkinson commented:

This is b.s. If a Government makes a promise before a by-election it has to implement it and therefore it has to cost it responsibly and accurately.

Totally different to before a general election when it may not be reelected. No matter what the Cabinet manual says the Minister was making a promise in his ministerial capacity which he would have to implement and therefore fund.

Just to add the obvious corollary to this, in a by-election if the Cabinet Manual rule were to be applied it would mean the Government’s opponents in the by-election would be free to promise anything they wished and the Government’s candidate would be unable to promise anything new. Farcical nonsense. It shows exactly how incompetent or biased MSM journalism is that this is not pointed out and the opposition’s arguments rubbished.

There might turn out to be some sort of technical breach of the Cabinet Manual but Alan’s comments make sense to me.

Flipper at Kiwiblog:

The closest that anyone has comes to the true worth of “The Cabinet Manual”: is Helen Clark. She amended “it” to suit each circumstance…and to her benefit.

The reality is that the manual is just a collection of “thou shalt nots” (well if it suits the PM), and “:thou shalls”. It has no stranding in law because it is not backed (compiled pursuant to) by a statute. Many matters upon which it offers guidance may well (probably are) covered by Statute. At best the manual is a collection of Executive fiats.

Back to the instigator of the beat-up to far, Rob Salmond at Polity, who responded to Farrar’s post in The “beltway” response:

By “acted in a political way,” of course, he means “breached the rules of his office.” Also, good luck passing off the actual job of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, to hold the government to account for its actions, as “crying wah wah.”

I agree about Mrs Jones and Mr Smith, though. This is not an election defining issue. I’m guessing Labour’s 2017 election campaign won’t have much to do with this issue, in the same way National’s 2008 campaign didn’t say too much about Taito Philip Field.

The thing about so-called “beltway” issues is that they aren;t much good at election time in their own right, but if a number of similar issues emerge around a government then it forms a more general impression which does matter in elections. That was how National used Field. In National’s case, that general impression might be “arrogant” or “liars” or “duplicitous” or “corrupt.” They’re certainly handing out plenty of material…

So Salmond doesn’t seem to think think this is much of a big deal but is trying to chip away at National’s credibility.

Rob would help his own credibility on this if he didn’t try and compare what Simon Bridges did with what Taito Philip Field – Field was charged with “15 counts of bribery and 25 of attempting to pervert the course of justice”.

Field was jailed for six years on corruption charges, with the sentencing judge saying his offending threatened the foundation of democracy and justice.

Likening this to Bridges going too far seeking Ministerial information and advice looks like a beat-up too far.

Newspaper opinion bias

David Farrar has been collating data on newspapers’ political opinion and rated how pro and anti National and Labour they have been over the last five months.

Partisans on both sides of politics often make sweeping claims about the media. Some on the left have claimed that the NZ Herald is relentlessly pro-National and that (for example) John Armstrong is a cheerleader for the Government. Others think the opposite.

For some time I’ve wanted to try and collate data on the media, to try and ascertain where the opinion of certain editorials and columnists tends to end up, and for the last five months have been doing so. The data below is imperfect,but it is also new – in that we’ve never seen before a comprehensive analysis of the opinion columns of major newspapers and their columnists.

More attention is given to the governing party and more negative opinion is not unexpected but to varying degrees especially from columnists.

It’s quite interesting and worth a look:  Inaugural Media Opinion Statistics.

I expect there will be a few lefties who find the results hard to believe, it’s common to see claims that the media is supportive of the hard right and promotes it’s interests.


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