Poll reactions

3 News released their latest Reid Research poll last night.  repeating the results:

  • National 46.7% (-0.6)
  • Labour 32.3% (-0.7)
  • Greens 10.2% (+0.2)
  • NZ First 7.5% (-0.4)
  • Maori Party 1.3% (+0.8)
  • Conservative Party 0.7% (0.2)
  • ACT Party 0.8% (+0.2)
  • UnitedFuture 0% (0)

There is no change of significance there, but that doesn’t stop part hopefuls reading positives and negatives into the result.

Te Reo Putake at The Standard: RWC and rapists: 3 News poll confirms a pretty average week for Key.

The latest Reid Research/3News poll is out. Key gets nothing from the RWC, and the rapist remarks turn out not to have helped his popularity either. There was a time when talkback radio style outbursts used to make him look strong. Nowadays, not so much. Meanwhile, the opposition are just 1 seat behind …

Anthony Robins at The Standard: Key’s rapists attack a dead cat that keeps biting

Was Key’s bizarre rant in Parliament – accusing Labour of supporting rapists and murderers – a deliberate “dead cat” strategy? If so then it has backfired badly. Still in the headlines 2 weeks later, and probably costing him in the polls.

I wonder what they woukld have said if the poll had changed support levels.

“Inequality is a choice”

Anthony Robins writes at The Standard that Inequality is a choice.

Inequality is a choice. It isn’t a choice made by individuals, it is a choice made by governments.

‘Inequality’ far more complex than that. For a start it depends on how you define inequality.

I choose to make working for a living more of a priority than some, and I choose to put other priorities ahead of accumulating possessions and monetary wealth.

Having kids is costly on money terms but my children and step children and grand children are worth far more to me than a better bank balance.

There is no way a Government can impose and enforce equality. There will always be arguments over what is equal and what is not.

Even the Chinese Government has given up on trying to force equality of single child families, and they could never force women to have that one child anyway.

Robins doesn’t help his argument when he chooses to misrepresent facts.

The last Labour government chose to implement a higher top tax rate and Working For Families, these policies (though arguably too little too late) did reduce inequality. The current National government chose to cut the top tax rate, attack labour laws, and increase GST, these policies are increasing inequality.

Yes the current National Government chose to cut the top tax rate. And Robins chose to omit other pertinent facts, like the Government also cutting other tax rates and increasing benefits to compensate for the increase in GST.

This dishonesty is common from the left.

For facts see Budget 2010: Tax reductions in detail which includes:

Key tax changes
All personal income tax rates will be cut from October 1, 2010.
Income up to $14,000 will be taxed at 10.5%, down from 12.5%.
Income from $14,001 to $48,000 drops to 17.5% from 21%
Income from $48,001-$70,000 down to 30% from 33%
Income over $70,000 will be cut to 33% from 38%.

GST will increase from 12.5% to 15%. Income support and other payments will rise by 2.02% to compensate for the increase. This includes student allowances and supplementary benefits, superannauation, veterans pension and the Working for Families tax credit.

Company tax
The company tax rate will fall from 30% to 28% from the 2011/12 income year.

The sting
While higher income earners will benefit from the government slashing the top tax rate, there is a sting in the tail of the budget that will hit wealthy in the hip pocket beyond just an increase in GST, which is widely considered to adversely affect the less wealthy the most.

Building depreciation tax deductions will no longer be allowed from next year, providing the building has a useful life of 50 years or more. This would include most rental houses and offices.

Robins also doesn’t discuss what effect these tax changes had on employment and the economy that were severely stressed by the Global Financial Crisis.

Honesty is a choice.

There are some choices related to inequalities, both personal and by Government. And there are many aspects of inequality that none of us can do much if anything about.

Inequality is a vague ideal that as far as I’m aware has never be achieved. Perhaps Robins or someone else can point to examples of sustainable equality in any human society.

I think that equality is the wrong goal.

Contrasting views on Cunliffe speech

David gave a speech yesterday in Parliament’s General Debate. There have been two contrasting posts on this:

‘Notices and Features’ at The Standard: David Cunliffe on the state of the media in New Zealand

Ir wasn’t exactly on the state of the media, it did mention the media a bit but was more a reflection on the state of Cunliffe feeling sorry for himself and for Labour and looking for something else to blame.

There’s some fairly mixed comments. Here is one of the more complimentary:

David Cunliffe is correct in every aspect in what he delivered in that speech.
Well done.

Where the hell is the Media in not high lighting these facts ?

Democracy , how the hell can we say that this country is still a democracy when it is obvious it is not.
We are being controlled by a slimy few from the inner National Party.

Never, ever has there been a more devious Govt.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: The Cunliffe conspiracy theory on why he lost.

David Cunliffe gave a speech last in Parliament’s general debate which sounded more like a blog post on a left wing blog.

It didn’t take long for it to become a speech posted on a left wing blog.

Farrar points out a few errors and questionable claims.

Don’t expect a speech like that from Cunliffe at Labour’s conference.

If you want to waste five minutes of your life listen to the speech:

The Standard versus Stuart Nash

In response to Stuart Nash’s criticism in a post Stuart Nash has in a post at The Daily Blog at Greg Presland has posted Dear Stuart Nash.

It is an interesting post.

He talks about how the Labour Party is now more united and disciplined.  Fair call.  I am pleased to see that this is happening.

He talks about how winning is everything in politics.  Again this is fair enough.  Seven years of National’s current rule shows how important it is that a Labour Green government is elected.

He then criticises the party because more than one Labour member apparently said that they preferred Maryan Street to Nash as an MP.  He concludes that some in the party think that winning is a sin.  Unfortunately for Stuart he does not understand that his vainglorious success in Napier probably hurt the party’s prospects.

Vainglorious campaigns in an MMP environment where electorate seats are won and the party vote goes down are a waste of time.

Not very complimentary.

He then has a chip at this blog and calls it a bastardisation of a once proud Labour broadsheet.

Clearly he does not understand the importance of open debate and discussion.  And he clearly does not understand that the discussions generated by the Standard represent a distillation of the thoughts of activists and progressives throughout the country.

And pushback on Nash’s strong criticism of The Standard not being loyal Labour preachers.

The Labour Party has a proud history of activism and the promotion of cutting edge radical policies.  Mr Nash’s recipe of muted debate and bland third way triangulation of issues is a sure path to irrelevance.

It appears that Nash has responded in comments.

Stuart Nash 2.3

I have the energy, land information, forestry and statistics portfolios. I admit, I have done nothing with the statistics portfolio, but have been leading the charge around the ineptitude of the overseas investment office, and I have written three substantial policy discussion docs on forestry, energy and land information. I have also written and driven our provincial engagement strategy. I have also given more speeches in the House than any other Labour MP, and I finished my LLM this year. Believe me, I am not sitting on my arse doing nothing.

[fyi – Haven’t been able to verify the authenticity of these comments…this commenter may well not be Stuart Nash] – Bill

Update: [seem to be genuine after all]

There’s more response to Standardista comments.

dear me. imagine being in government. you obviously can’t but its why I am here.

And more.

For someone who has been around for so long – and under Helen – I am surprised at your apparent naivety. You just don’t get it do you. The interesting thing is that this is the first time I have actually read the Standard for months. I don’t know of a Labour MP who does (though no doubt there are some) because those I talk to tend to agree that this is a site mired in negativity and bile.

This site doesn’t represent the moderate left voter – or the aspirational Kiwi who is looking for an alternative to the current government; but rather the embittered left dreaming of a socialist utopia that has never existed anywhere in time or place.

Its an absolute disgrace to the proud broadsheet that used to be the Standard – and I should know, I have a whole heap of them at home. They trumpeted the Labour virtues, triumphs and achievements; not like this site that promotes a narrow biased view of the world that is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of thinking Kiwis.

I suspect that after tonight I won’t read this site for another 12 months. After all, why would I – it offers nothing I can’t get looking into a long drop in a DoC campsite.

Not a good look from Nash – but good that he has the freedom to speak his mind I guess.

Love it. That ‘American’ campaign manager was actually my birth father, and never ever once did I distance myself from Labour messages. In fact I was the first candidate who was open about the fact that a Labour candidate could not win Epsom.

Not too sure who you are, but you seem to forget that when I won the nomination for Epsom the LEC was broke, but I raised $15k for my campaign – spent $10k and left $5k in the coffers. The team and I (mainly Graham Lee) door knocked every house and the party vote for Labour in Epsom was the highest it has ever been.

Come on, be honest for a change and don’t hide behind a pseudonym. If you were on the Epsom LEC or my campaign 2005 campaign team then you know you are lying, and I don’t appreciate that.

[Nope. You don’t challenge the legitimate use of pseudonyms. Not here. There is nothing dishonest about employing them.] – Bill

But wait, there’s more.

Man, gotta love you guys. If think I don’t know what I was doing when I wrote the post on the Daily Blog, then you insult my intelligence.

The lack of political or strategic nous expressed in a number of the comments (and starting from the author of this post – sorry but take another look at the stats: holding electorate seats improves the party vote. The PV might have dropped in Napier, but I was not the MP, simply a candidate) just confirms my suspicion that this site is populated by the nutty fringe who really are quite divorced from political reality. You believe you influenced the outcome of the past tow leadership races? How did the Cunliffe campaign work out for you? Not too good right. Wow. How deluded is this!

I am just so relieved that very few actually take this site seriously. If they did, we really would be in trouble.

Good luck in future endeavours.

Oh, by the way, take a look at my election billboards: the vast majority simply said

None of this ridiculous other stuff that was floating about.

So, move away from the keyboard, go and raise some money, knock on doors, hold 150 street corner meetings, work hard for two years and you never know, you might win as well. But somehow I doubt that. :-)

Just what Labour needs. Not.

Nash is entering into exactly what he had warned against – making Labour look bad on blogs.

Stuart Nash bashes The Standard

Labour’s Napier MP Stuart Nash has a guest post in a monthly series at The Daily Blog – TDB Guest Blog Project – Stuart Nash: ‘The most pressing issue in NZ right now’.

In it he almost promotes and praises Whale Oil, and takes a swipe at The Standard and people on the left who want the freedom to express themselves.

He first says:

Everything Labour does from now until Election Day 2017 must contribute towards a Labour victory.  For every strategic and operational initiative, the question needs to be asked “is this contributing towards a win in 2017?”  If it doesn’t then drop it, don’t say it and keep clear of it.

Then on Whale Oil:

My experience is that our supporters, while just as passionate, are not so disciplined.  We love to hate Whale Oil and yet we give him strength, purpose, relevance and breathe life into every pore of his existence time and time again by publicly throwing metaphorical mud at those with whom we are supposed to have a political affinity.

Labour once had a blog for MPs called Red Alert, and the rumour around at the time was that Cameron Slater wanted this closed down.  Then I found out the opposite was true: it gave him some of his best material due to the occasional ill-disciplined MP.

Red Alert was a self inflicted wound, with Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran wielding the ban swords.

Our supporters have the same impact when they squabble, bitch and back-stab on so-called ‘left-friendly’ sites like The Standard (a dreadful 21st century bastardisation of a once proud Labour broadsheet).

Sounds like some bitterness directed at The Standard there, but the ‘labour left’ blog has probably done more damage than anything to Labour over the past seven years. It’s hard to know how much potential support they have driven away.

Criticising your favourite Labour MP is not the route to victory, no matter what you think of their philosophies, hair or politics.

If you feel so aggrieved by something an MP has said, written or done, then email them personally and you are more likely to get a response and, just perhaps, an explanation.

What will their Labour MP do? Shove some letter box leaflets at them and tell them to shut up?

But ill-disciplined rants typed from an anonymous keyboard will only provide Mr Slater and Mr Farrar with a wealth of information and powerful ammunition to fire back with twice the impact.

So is Nash suggesting The Standard should clamp down on any Labour dissent? That’s one of the things that destroyed the credibility of Red Alert.

If you want to change the government, then get behind the cause and become an advocate for the lines the leader is leading with, because there is a reason why we have taken the stance we have.  95% of the time it’s because it’s what we believe is right; but occasionally, the politics of political pragmatism must rule.  That’s how you win, and that’s why we are here.

Whoa. That sounds like “toe the line and spin the line”. The Party rules, ok!

So Labour want a compliant membership and they want left leaning blogs to devote their efforts to spinning for the leadership.

That’s an awful approach to democracy in social media. And it’s an approach that has failed for seven years.

I don’t know if this is Nash’s own views or if they have the approval of the party hierarchy.

Perhaps he has followed his own advice – “get behind the cause and become an advocate for the lines the leader is leading with”.

He deserves to get blasted back by individuals at The Standard. If Labour still believes that silent obedience is the way back into power then I grieve for the corruption of modern democracy, where wider participation and diverse views should be encouraged and nurtured, and not told to shut up.

The Standard hasn’t done Labour any favours over the last few years but the Labour Caucus has self inflicted more damage and that looks like continuing.

Futile fulmination on Slater hate

I posted Slater: “The only solution is to kill them…” on Thursday and that was well discussed here. I think it was a stupid thing of Cameron Slater to post but pretty much par for the Whale Oil course.

But criticism has built up elsewhere, I’ve seen it on Twitter.

And this morning The Standard posted: Petition on Slater’s hate speech. Petitions are becoming more common for all sorts of things and are usually just futile fulmination.

You can sign the petition to the Human Rights Commission here.

WhaleOil has gone too far. We need to stand up to Slater.

In comments Psycho Milt puts a reality check on things.

Complaints can be lodged, but anyone lodging one will need to figure out how to get them over this hurdle:

6a. This standard is not intended to prevent the publication of material that is … the expression of genuinely held opinion…

Good luck with that.


I certainly wouldn’t sign this petition, because the Human Rights Commission has no place in this. If Slater’s comments are incitement to violence they open him up to prosecution, and if they aren’t incitement to violence then they’re free speech that ought to be protected under NZ law. In neither case does the Human Rights Commission have a role to play.

Seems like a sensible call.

There’s no reliable proof that it was even Slater who wrote it, it just happens to have him as author but that doesn’t mean much.

Disagreeing, criticising, ridiculing are all valid responses. There’s plenty of ways of standing up to crap from Whale Oil without racing off to petition the Human Rights Commission.

UPDATE: Naturesong responded to Psycho Milt:

I am not accusing anyone of bullying.
I am not suggesting that hate speech laws or in fact any using any legal means to silence him or his blog.

The point I’ve obviously not articulated well enough, is that the blog WO is a member of OMSA.
As a member the blog agrees to a minimum set of standards.
I’m suggesting that the blog be held to them.

It’s a personal responsibility argument.

That’s a good point and a sensible approach to holding Slater to account. Has Slater breached minimum standards at Whale Oil?

“Nicky Hager had committed no such offences”

As well as Anthony Robins there’s a number of commenters Angry at Westpac At The Standard. Some are in the ‘Nicky Hager can do no wrong’ camp.

Freemark remarked:

A few comments out there regarding Hagar & his sources being untouchable due to the “Public interest.”

IMO we saw at the Election and subsequently how interested “the Public” were/are in the book and the issues.

Westpac (& every bank) is required by law & often does disclose many details of account balances, income/expenses etc to other Govt organisations such as IRD etc.

They will also on behalf of these organisations clean out bank accounts and pay them over to said Govt department.
Where is the outrage about this?

Anne replied:

We’re not talking about government departmental cooperation to obtain evidence of fraudulent or criminal behaviour. Nicky Hager had committed no such offences and the police were well aware of that fact from the start.

I don’t know how Anne can be certain Hager had “committed no such offences”.

As well as having an apparent god-like knowledge of everything Hager has done or not done Anne also seems to have an uncanny knowledge of everything the police are aware of.

What we are talking about is a band of corrupt police officers using a legal loophole for the purpose of harassing and intimidating a NZ citizen because he had the temerity to write a book exposing corruption within the government which lead directly to the Prime Minister’s office.

So Anne has judged the police corrupt, convicted them and would sentence them if that was within her powers.

The fact so many voters are ignorant and clueless when it comers to such matters is not the fault of the messenger – in this case Nicky Hager – but the lazy, dumbed down voters of which you appear to be one.

It’s the lazy dumb people who can’t see the truth as per Saint Anne. And they are too lazy and dumb to vote how Anne wants them too.

I don’t know whether the Police and Westpac acted properly in the investigation of Nicky Hager. If they did abuse law and process to gather evidence then I will be very critical of them.

But unless this is investigated properly and the actual facts become known I will keep an open mind about whether there is any fault or corruption involved.

Some like Anne can see no wrong in Saint Nicky.

But no one in New Zealand should be immune from investigation if it is warranted.

Those like Anne who wanted Dirty Politics to swing last year’s election their way seem to put their political ambitions above  the law.

I certainly have serious concerns about what Dirty Politics highlighted (it didn’t reveal much apart from some detail because i was aware generally of how Cameron Slater operated with Jason Ede and others).

I also have potential concerns about how the police investigated Hager, but that is subject to the whole truth becoming known.

I also have serious concerns about one sided books being launched during election campaigns.

And I have serious concerns about individuals being promoted as too perfect to be subject to the laws of New Zealand, and an assumption that any attention from the police must mean corruption.

I guess Anne will just label me as lazy and dumb. But I can claim I have committed no such offences.

Tax on sugar in drinks

The Health Minister Jonathan Coleman was interviewed on The Nation on Saturday and was asked about taxing sugar in fizzy drinks to try and combat alarming increases in obesity.

Anthony Robins has posted on this at The Standard in Let them drink beer:

The Nats are so desperate to avoid taking action on sugar’s role in the demographics of obesity that they’ve taken to talking pure drivel.

He quotes Coleman from the interview transcript:

Well, the World Health Organization, which put out that major report recently, led by our own Sir Peter Gluckman, you know, that has said, and I will quote it for you, ‘The rationale and effectiveness of taxation measures to influence consumption are well supported by available evidence.’

Well, they might be talking about a decrease in sales. But what we want to know about is – is there a link to obesity directly? So, for instance, there might be a decrease in consumption of soft drinks, but are people drinking more flavoured milk? Are they drinking beer as a substitution? What is says in that report is that, actually, there isn’t clear evidence. On balance, they recommend it, but, look, that’s the WHO, you know? You would expect that they would take a very purist view. … [emphasis added]

And responds:

Coleman is obviously prepared to go through any contortion to try and avoid the bleeding obvious. Because science rarely deals in certainty, any remaining shred of uncertainty is used as an excuse. I guess he’s just following in Key’s fine traditions(“He’s one academic, and like lawyers, I can provide you with another one that will give you a counterview”). But as with the data on polluted water, or the evidence for climate change, we can only go on ignoring reality for so long before things fall apart.

There are some obvious potential problems with taxing sugar in drinks.

How much would you have to tax to change people’s buying and consumption habits? People already pay much more for fizzy at bars and cafes and dairies and service stations than they can buy Budget fizzy. And they already pay far more for brand name fizzy than for Budget fizzy.

And if you do manage to deter people from buying high sugar drinks what will they switch to? It’s likely to to include alternatives other than water.

In the Standard comments Psycho Milt says:

Much as it pains me to agree with a pillock like Coleman, he’s on very good ground with this:

Sales decreased, but it’s not clear if that’s a correlation or a causative effect, so there were other things going on – a tanking Mexican economy, $30 billion drinking-water programme.

There’s no good reason to assign causality to the tax rather than either or both of those things, or all three. The word “science” shouldn’t be applied to this bullshit – it’s social science, which isn’t the same thing at all.

Likewise, this also is bullshit:

‘The rationale and effectiveness of taxation measures to influence consumption are well supported by available evidence.’

The quote itself isn’t bullshit – we’ve seen pretty conclusively that it works, via the tax on cigarettes. However, there are two factors applicable in the case of cigarettes that aren’t obviously applicable in the case of sugary drinks:

1. The level of tax on cigarettes required to influence consumption is enormous. What politician is seriously going to legislate to make a 500-ml coke $10 or upwards?

2. As Coleman asks, “is there a link to obesity directly?” With cigarettes, there’s a clearly-demonstrated and indisputable link to heart disease and lung cancer. The same can’t be said of sugary drinks and obesity. Personally, I’d say there has to be such a link, because lipogenesis is a matter of insulin response and sugary drinks prompt a high insulin response. But so do a lot of other things, much of which is declared by “experts” to be something called “healthy food” that we should eat in large quantities. Unless there’s proven causality for obesity involving sugary drinks that doesn’t equally apply to all other carbohydrates, drinks manufacturers have every reason to dispute the justification for a tax on their products.

Consumers have little alternative if they are pushed by price away from purchasing cigarettes.

It’s possible to quit smoking. Many people manage to quit.

If people are discouraged by price to buy less fizzy drink they have a wide range of alternatives, many of them unhealthy if drunk or eaten in large quantities.

It’s not possible to quit drinking anything or eating anything for long.

If people are discouraged or forced to give up consuming some sugary products they will continue to consume something.

The Nation video: Interview: Health Minister Jonathan Coleman

Patrick Gower asks Jonathan Coleman about what isn’t in his childhood obesity package and where are thousands of patients who aren’t getting specialist appointments.

The Nation transcript.

Progressive hope turns to Trudeau

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party has just won the election in Canada, giving new hope to Progressives and Lefties that the world might find a way of swinging left.

The Corbyn hope seemed to hit with a hiss and a roar and then subside quickly when the reality of UK’s Labour Party being entrenched in Opposition for the next five years.

Can Trudeau be copied in New Zealand?

It should be noted that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party had been in government since 2006. Three terms and nine years is a good dig. Coming back for a fourth term is challenging for any government.

Michael at The Standard hopes it’s a wider revolution than that:

First victory for a progressive party in the Anglosphere…

Now we just need to get the UK, Australia, and NZ out of Tory control.


Great news. Tides starting to turn? I hope so.

Josie Pagani posts at The Pundit:

We need to talk about the one per cent

One per cent of the world’s population now control half its wealth.

The concentration of more and more resources in fewer and fewer hands has actually accelerated since the global financial crisis. This is no accident. It is the outcome of policy decisions made – or avoided – by political leaders either unable to learn the lessons of the crisis or unwilling to act on them.

After discussing a range of issues she concludes with Trudeau hope:

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in Canada just won government by running an up-beat, optimistic campaign to tackle inequality, invest in infrastructure, and manage markets so they work for the 99 per cent not just the 1 per cent. That’s how progressive parties win.

Chris Trotter’s wild swings of late are back in positive mode, but he just looked at the sunshine coming out in Canada in Here Comes The Sun: Justin Trudeau Changes Canada’s Political Climate.

On John Armstrong – insightful and spiteful

There’s been many tributes to John Armstrong on his retirement from regular column writing due to illness – here are many of them: Twitter tributes to John Armstrong

There’s been a number of blog posts as well. Here are two contrasting views on Armstrong – one from Lynn Prentice at The Standard and the other from Danyl McLauchlan at Dim Post.

retweeted Prentice’s post saying:

An honest piece by Lynn – insightful.

The post: John Armstrong – a person worth disagreeing with

In the pages of The Standard there is one journalist who has generated or been referenced in more posts than any other. Today John Armstrong published his swansong at the NZ Herald. He is losing his long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Like most things that John wrote, it is worth reading.

I come in this post not to praise him as a person, for I barely knew him outside of a few brief encounters at recent party conferences. I come to condemn him for being  the type of political journalist who made it hard for us to shove in a little box.

John Armstrong is an obnoxiously valuable analyst providing documentation of our local political world over the whole 8 years of this sites life. It made it hard to take the easy route, to pin a label on him and then forever to deal with him as we do with lightweight entertainers masquerading as opinion makers.

More than 500 posts out of our 17,000+ published posts have referenced John Armstrong. They were written by almost every author who has ever written at The Standard. No other journalist or opinion maker comes close.

The whole post is worth reading – it shows how it’s possible to be critical without being pissy-minded.

Prentice sums up:

But back to my reference post. Like other authors since, Steve had to revise his opinion. In fact, Steve just had to add this addendum to his post on the same day.

[Update: all that notwithstanding, Armstrong’s piece today critiquing the Treasury briefing to English is good

For me that sums up John Armstrong. You might disagree with his conclusions and his overall conservative viewpoint. But it was damn hard to disagree with him when he had one of those breath taking insights into the politics of this country – at all levels.

It is going to be missed in the coming years when he is no longer able to offer it.

In contrast McLauchlan sounds more spiteful than insightful because he sees Armstrong as a supporter of the incumbent government and of the political establishment. He has just posted Notes on John Armstrong’s final column, and in it says things like:

  • His columns generally defended powerful establishment figures and attacked and mocked their critics, and because he’s a fine writer and deftly articulated elite conventional wisdom this made him very respected in those same establishment circles. It’s not a form of journalism I admire. I think it’s the opposite of everything journalists should aspire to.
  • In his final column he articulates his belief that politics is a game and he enjoys seeing how it is played, which is a fair summary of his approach to the subject. Facts never had a place in his work. His view of politics is one in which substance is nothing and style is everything.
  • This indifference to truth and enthusiastic celebration of spin and distortion is also, I think, the opposite of everything political commentary is supposed to be about. Governments have enormous resources to spin and obfuscate. Under Key this is mainly what the government does. If the press gallery isn’t there to debunk all of the propaganda and spin then it has no purpose.
  • There’s no obvious replacement for Armstrong’s role in the political media ecosystem. Key prefers to communicate directly with voters through soft media outlets where his messaging is even less challenged than in Armstrong’s columns. This propaganda model is so effective his heirs will all do the same. Lying to a large number of voters more effectively is the kind of ‘playing the game’ that Armstrong has always celebrated, so I think he’d have to admire this change.

I suppose Prentice has been involved in establishment politics for many years, including providing assistance to Helen Clark.

McLauchlan seems more inclined to wanting a markedly different type of politics and journalism to what Armstrong has been a significant part of for the last thirty years.

He presumably prefers the Green way and anything that is different or praises anything different is seen as not just the wrong way, but a way to be despised. Therefore anyone who is a part of the wrong way should also be despised. Like John Armstrong.

It would be interesting to know what sort of  journalists McLauchlan might approve of.


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