Trotter predicts

Chris Trotter makes a number of debatable predictions for the year in 2017 in the shadow of Trump (Stuff).

The political consensus at the beginning of 2017 – election year – is that the National-led Government will hold on to power.

Who is in general agreement that National will hold on to power? I think there’s too many unknowns and uncertainties to claim this with any confidence.

National are very likely to comfortably get the most votes and seats in this year’s election, but it’s far from certain whether they will be able to form a similar coalition to this term (with ACT, UF and the Maori Party), or if the need more whether NZ First will join a coalition or let National run a minority government from the cross benches. It’s also possible (but unlikely with Turei as leader) Greens  could enable a National led Government either in coalition or from the cross benches.

Not in its own right, as might have happened had John Key led them into battle, but with sufficient parliamentary support to govern comfortably.

They don’t govern comfortably this term, requiring two of the three minor support parties to back any legislation, and they have been limited because of this.

The most significant political event of 2017, however, could well be the collapse of the Labour Party and the emergence of the Greens as New Zealand’s leading party of the centre-left.

Labour collapsing is a real possibility, and any further decline in their share of the vote could be seen as a collapse. But they could just as likely stay at a similar level of support, or increase their vote a bit (to the high twenties), or recover into the thirties. At this stage i think which of these will happen is impossible to predict with any certainty.

In a way Greens can already be seen by their actions as the leading party of the centre left going by performances inside and outside Parliament. Their party vote seems to have hit a ceiling at about 11%, but even if they increase to say 15% (their target last election) they are likely to remain smaller than Labour.

A number of people have predicted that NZ First grow bigger, causing a drop for Greens to fourth in the party pecking order. I think this is quite possible – NZ First are likely to pick up more ex-National vote than the Greens if the National support declines.

A key factor driving the New Zealand electorate’s flight to the right will be the profound and ideologically toxic influence of Donald Trump’s presidency.

There has been no sign of New Zealand moving much to the right this century.  Both Helen Clark and John Key aimed at the centre and apart from a few policies mostly stayed moderate. Even National’s asset sales were watered down to being only half sales.

If anyone has learned anything yet about the effect of Trump they should know that it’s difficult making predictions about his influence. It’s quite possible Trump as US president will have a negligible effect on New Zealand overall. Or not.

Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman predicts a global trade war, and the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is filled with disquieting articles foreshadowing an ominous deterioration in the relationship between the USA and China.

The future for US trade relationships and US foreign relations are uncertain. Trump will definitely do things differently – but it depends on how China learns and adapts as to whether problems will escalate or not. Predictions of Trump trashing the economy have already proven to be premature at least.

If the US and China clash New Zealand may manage to stay out of the melée. That could be complicated by Winston Peters – but if there’s trouble abroad and Peters is seen to try and stir that up here it could easily backlash against him in the election.

In a neat division of political labour, NZ First will lead the attack on China while, publicly, National condemns (but not too loudly) Peters’ racially-charged rhetoric. Meanwhile, privately, the conservative supporters of both parties will be encouraged to recognise the inherent electoral synergies of the unfolding crisis. As the countdown to the election shortens, the prospect of a National-NZ First coalition government will begin to acquire the aura of inevitability.

Some voters here like maverickism, but most prefer stable status quo government when it comes to economic matters.

Especially if there is an ‘unfolding crisis’ a National-NZ First coalition government will become more uncertain rather than certain. If Peters ramps up his attacks on China it is more likely to create further division between NZ First and National, and voters tend to avoid this sort of uncertainty.

Amplifying the conservative message among the Maori electorate, the Maori Party will cast the Chinese as a second-wave of colonisers threatening not only tino rangatiratanga but also Pakeha sovereignty. Iwi corporations will be portrayed as the foundation stones of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s economic independence. The incipient government of the centre-right will thus be presented as a National-NZ First-Maori Party alliance.

Is Trotter serious? Or is he taking the piss? Or is he trying to stir something up?

An alliance involving NZ First and the Maori Party seems unlikely given Winston’s previous antagonistic attitude towards a ‘race based’ party.

I think it’s highly unlikely that Winston will present an alliance including NZ First and National prior to the election – he has been staunch in not indicating which way he may go – and even less likely of any NZ First-Maori Party presentations.

The turmoil created by the Trump administration will similarly throw into sharp relief the serious disjunction between the beliefs of the Labour Party and its electoral base. Even if Andrew Little and his advisors were of a mind to join with Peters in attacking China, the reflexive anti-Americanism of his caucus and Labour’s wider membership would drive the party inexorably towards their enemy’s enemy. Immediately, what was left of Labour’s support among “Waitakere Men” would decamp for the Sinophobic right.

That’s more likely to be to  NZ First rather than to National.

The reverse manoeuvre – in which Little prevails upon caucus and party to follow National, NZ First and the Maori Party into Trumpism and Sinophobia – would only drive Labour’s younger, more progressive, voters toward the Greens.

I think Trotter is in fantasy land here trying to connect National and the Maori Party with ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’.

And to claim ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’ would split Labour is even more bizarre.

The classic Labour solution – trying to have a bob each way – risks losing both the conservative and the progressive components of its electoral base.

Labour already seem to be trying the bob each way approach, and have already lost both conservative and progressive parts of it’s electoral base to an extent. An international crisis, should it happen, is more likely to force Labour into being seen as responsible rather than divisive.

The extreme-nationalist complexion of the Trump administration and its geopolitical focus on the burgeoning power of China can only hasten the disintegration of Labour’s electoral position.

I think this is far from certain, and even if it becomes a contributory factor  in further Labour decline it would be impossible to quantify.

It is, however, highly doubtful that sufficient young people will participate in the 2017 general election to significantly offset the emotionally powerful appeal of an unabashedly nationalistic, Sinophobic and pro-American coalition of National, NZ First and the Maori Party.

I think Trotter is trying to create an absurd political meme here, either ignorantly or disingenuously. Fantasy or deliberate fiction.

Neither conservative fish nor progressive fowl, Labour is likely to see its party vote plummet into the teens – and with it any hope of reclaiming major party status.

That’s already possible without any Trump crisis involved.

The baton of progressive politics will pass to the Greens. Real political power, however, will remain with the National Party and its allies.

It may be that Trotter has genuinely given up on the Labour Party. Labour could collapse further.

But NZ First becoming allies with the Maori party seems preposterous. And National joining Winston’s Asia bashing and siding with Trump is more so.

Trying to promote Greens as the progressive baton carrier and the dominant opposition party seems to be wishful thinking, at best.

Trotter’s political propositions were all over the place last year, and they seem even more confused now.

Trotter tightens moderation

All blogs and social media forums have their own moderation policies. It is obviously up to each how they want to run things.

There have been a number of sites that have  put comments in the too hard basket and shut them down altogether, notably RNZ and The Spinoff and some have suggested that NZ Herald seems to effectively be doing similar.

This week Chris Trotter announced that he would continue allowing comments but under stricter moderation.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO READERS: Moderating Comments On “Bowalley Road”.

READERS’ COMMENTS to the postings on Bowalley Road constitute an integral part of the blog. That is why I do not intend to follow the example of Radio New Zealand and The Spinoff by switching-off the comments function.

I do, however, understand why those two sites chose to do so. The viciousness and crudity of anonymous commentators is extremely wearying to the spirit. Though the worst examples are swiftly deleted, they must first be read – and that is not a pleasant duty. Also vexatious are the tangential conversations and ideological disputations that ramble on between commentators. Though obviously engaging for their participants, they contribute very little to the overall enjoyment of the blog.

With these issues in mind, I have decided to tighten-up the moderation of comments to Bowalley Road.

The first and most important change relates to anonymous commentators. From now on all anonymous comments will be deleted without being read. My strong preference is for commentators to use their real names. I do, however, understand why some people feel very uneasy about doing so – especially on such an overtly political blog as Bowalley Road. Accordingly, I will continue to accept pseudonyms, but only with the proviso that commentators, having chosen a name, stick with it. The use of multiple pseudonyms, if detected, will result in the offender being permanently banned from commenting on Bowalley Road.

The use of multiple pseudonyms is a common problem where malicious people try to avoid moderation, some repeatedly.

But it can be difficult to differentiate between legitimate use of a pseudonym versus anonymity being used to avoid being linked to past abuses.

I tend towards giving people with pseudonyms the benefit of the doubt. The small number of serial abusers are usually easy to identify – the more they try the easier it is to pick up red flags.

The second change in moderation policy will be to shut down all tangential conversations and/or slanging matches between commentators. Those deemed to be straying from the issues raised in the posting will be warned once to stay on-topic. Persistent off-topic commentary will be deleted.

Chris can obviously do what he likes but I disagree with this approach, especially on ‘tangential conversations’. The more comments there are on a post the more they can naturally diversify. Often that diversification adds to the discussions in a very good way.

Trying to judge what is too tangential or off topic risks leading to selective pruning that can fit your own preferences, something I want to avoid.

There can be a fine line between banter, vigorously contesting opinions and slanging matches. Things can go to far but again I prefer to lean towards allowing freedom of expression. Otherwise there’s a risk of stifling discussion and picking sides (or a perception of picking sides).

With these changes, I hope to restore Bowalley Road’s commentary threads to their former high standard of tone and content. In essence, all I am asking from those who wish to participate in this blog is a modicum of self-discipline and a generous helping of courtesy.

Most of us would like that.

But ‘warts and all’ robust discussions are an important part of politics, as long as it doesn’t go to far, too personal and too abusive.

How to moderate is an ongoing challenge but I will continue to lean towards fair and balanced freedom of expression as much as I can.

This won’t be to everyone’s taste but there is a shrinking number of forums relatively free of restriction so I think it’s important to keep at least one going.

 

A divinely crafted political entity

Chris Trotter is back to blasting “Labour’s 1984-1990 betrayals” and wishfully proposing a “divinely crafted political entity” in An Opposition Worthy Of The Name?

The signal achievement of National’s nine years in opposition was the unification of the Right. With ruthless efficiency, Don Brash and John Key rolled up National’s electoral competitors, leaving only the vestiges of parties that had once attracted, between them, more than 10 percent of the popular vote.

.In contrast to this approach, Trotter wants a left wing dream team.

The bitter truth is that if a beneficent angel were to uplift the best politicians from Labour, the Alliance (before it disappeared) the Greens and the Mana Party, and drop them into a divinely crafted political entity that might – or might not – continue to exploit the still potent Labour brand, then the Government of John Key would be in real trouble.

The current Labour Party bleats on (and on, and on) about being a “Broad Church”, but the sad truth remains that its reservoir for recruitment has never been shallower.

That is a real problem for Labour.

A genuinely “broad church” party of the Left would balance off  Andrew Little with Hone Harawira, Jacinda Ardern with Laila Harré, Stuart Nash with John Minto, Kelvin Davis with Annette Sykes, Grant Robertson with Julie Anne Genter and Annette King with Metira Turei. The whole spectrum of alternative power: from Soft Centrists to Hard Leftists; would be covered.

He must presume that Jim Anderton is in permanent retirement and perhaps that Matt McCarten is going to remain in the background coordinating it all.

Here is a better look at Trotter’s divinely crafted political entity:

  • Andrew Little
  • Hone Harawira
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Laila Harré
  • Stuart Nash
  • John Minto
  • Kelvin Davis
  • Annette Sykes
  • Grant Robertson
  • Julie Anne Genter
  • Annette King
  • Metira Turei

That’s just twelve, more would be needed for a Cabinet.

That’s just 50% Labour. Even with last election results and current poll numbers that must be based on Trotter’s perception of competence and electability rather as it is nowhere near proportional representation.

It is disproportionately weighted to the far left with three from the MANA Movement plus Laila Harré, all from the Mana/Internet disaster rejected by voters.

The most notable omission is James Shaw. As Green co-leader that’s odd.

And leaving out Labour’s best performer, Phil Twyford, is curious.

That line up would attract the vote of the 1% who supported Internet/Mana and possibly most of the Green supporters, say 10%.

And if they are lucky about half of the current Labour supporters, the left and the unions, might be happy with that, but few of those with some leaning towards the centre and the 10-20% of centrist voters who have deserted Labour are unlikely to be impressed.

Trotter’s list may be divinely crafted by unions and far left activists, but it would destroy Labour. Andrew Little would be unlikely to get back in on the Labour list.

Perhaps that’s what he wants.

 

Facts arising out of the Panama Papers

Christ Trotter summarised the Panama Papers:

  • New Zealand is not a tax haven in the generally accepted definition of that term.
  • Changes to New Zealand legislation have put this country at risk of being perceived as a tax haven.
  • The Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, took advantage of our legislative laxity to promote New Zealand as a politically stable and corruption-free hiding place for their clients’ assets.
  • The National-led Government’s responses to IRD warnings that New Zealand was at risk of losing its corruption-free reputation were wholly inadequate.
  • The entire problem can be solved easily: simply by toughening-up the disclosure provisions of the relevant legislation.

Trotter also summarised Labour’s handling of the issue:

If Labour had been willing to assess these facts dispassionately, and with an eye to presenting itself as a credible alternative government, its handling of the Panama Papers would have been very different.

From the outset, it would have made it very clear that its number one priority was to protect New Zealand’s international reputation. That being the case, it would have been very careful to avoid calling their country a tax haven.

Their treatment of the Prime Minister would also have been different. Rather than attempting to associate him with the dubious behaviour of Mossack Fonseca, they would have acknowledged that the offending legislation had evolved gradually, under both Labour and National, and offered to make its remediation a bi-partisan effort.

Having sought out and obtained the best advice available from tax lawyers and accountants about how the legislation might best be rewritten to eliminate its usefulness to entities like Mossack Fonseca, Labour would then have approached the Government with an offer to rush through the necessary changes under urgency.

It’s hard to argue with this.

From Labour fails to make gains from Panama Papers

Waatea 5th Estate

I got around to watching Waatea 5th Estate for the first time since their first week tonight.

Joining us tonight to discuss…

The Veitch apology
Faulty Housing data
Media Merger kills 4th estate
Cameron Slater
Key’s tantrum

Tax expert, feminist and Labour Party Candidate – Deborah Russell

one of this country’s best newspaper columnists – Rachel Stewart

Former Green Party MP and human rights activist – Keith Locke

And blogger, political commentator and author – Chris Trotter

Some of it was interesting enough.

Russell and Trotter made some good points – not leaning to port so hard they nearly capsize helps.

But Bradbury is terrible, his presentation and voice, and also his fairly extreme bias. His first programmes were tolerable but he is more opinionated and more overbearing and more high pitched. I don’t see him taking over from the 4th estate any time soon.

And the name screetched by Bradbury isn’t great, Waatea is pronounced something like Waah teah.

You can’t just whack wings on the devil and call it an angel

Another lament from Chris Trotter, who seems to have resigned himself to needing divine intervention to rescue the mess of the left.

An Opposition Worthy Of The Name?

IT IS ONLY NOW, thirty years after the event, that the full effects of Labour’s 1984-1990 betrayals have become visible.

Still blaming today’s problems on a last century government that rescued New Zealand from Muldoon induced economic disaster.

The party’s inability to respond coherently to John Key’s National-led government has allowed the latter to escape, Scot-free, from economic and social policy failures that daily grow more intractable. All over New Zealand, voters shake their heads in frank disbelief at National’s extraordinary run of political good luck. Everywhere their cry is the same: “If only we had an Opposition worthy of the name!” How right they are.

Key’s successes and National’s successes are not an “extraordinary run of political good luck”, despite the left’s disbelief that they could do anything well.

But Trotter is probably right to an extent at least about “If only we had an Opposition worthy of the name!”

The bitter truth is that if a beneficent angel were to uplift the best politicians from Labour, the Alliance (before it disappeared) the Greens and the Mana Party, and drop them into a divinely crafted political entity that might – or might not – continue to exploit the still potent Labour brand, then the Government of John Key would be in real trouble.

The current Labour Party bleats on (and on, and on, and on) about being a “Broad Church”, but the sad truth remains that its reservoir of recruitment has never been shallower.

He may also be right about that. But then he goes into dream land.

A genuinely “broad church” party of the Left would balance off Andrew Little with Hone Harawira, Jacinda Ardern with Laila Harré, Stuart Nash with John Minto, Kelvin Davis with Annette Sykes, Grant Robertson with Julie Anne Genter and Annette King with Metira Turei.

The whole spectrum of alternative power: from Soft Centrists to Hard Leftists; would be covered.

a) Can anyone apart from Trotter realistically see  all or even most of those people being able to work together on a common cause?

b) Can anyone apart from Trotter see that one of Labour’s big problems is who they would need to make up the numbers to form a government. The electorate has rejected them for the last two elections.

That Labour’s fatal apostasy [the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle] has rendered such a divinely appointed caucus little more than a pipe dream is the besetting tragedy of progressive New Zealand politics.

Its embrace of neoliberalism in the mid-1980s left Labour with the political equivalent of syphilis. Sadly, every one of the many attempts to administer the Penicillin of genuine progressivism (God bless you Jim, Rod, Laila!) was rejected.

Consequently, Labour’s bones have crumbled and its brain has rotted. Small wonder that the other opposition parties are reluctant to get too close!

Trotter finally reveals his actual dream.

He doesn’t want a broad centre to far left left joining of forces. He seems to want Labour to leave the centre and hand itself over to the activist far left.

He fails to recognise that the mass of voters who can make a different government don’t want his far left to be seen as being too close to a centre-left party.

Labour are in serious trouble and are not inspiring hope of success on the left.

But trashing the centre and ceding to the far left is not the divine star leading to the promised land of the left.

The big plan last election was for the far left tail to wag the Labour dog, but the tail fell off.

Now they seem to be kicking an ailing dog thinking that a magnificent tail will morph out of the mess.

You can’t just whack wings on the devils of 2014 and call it an angel.

Flag symbol of class warfare

Not long ago Chris Trotter wrote hopefully that protest against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement was symbol of an uprising of class warfare that would build into revolution.

The TPPA protest has fizzled away, so Trotter has turned his attention to the flag referendum, and more specifically to Sue Moroney’s snarky tweet that caused a bit of a fluff last week.

Trotter asks Was Class The Decisive Factor In Determining The Flag Referendum’s Outcome?

FOR THE BEST PART OF A WEEK, the Labour MP, Sue Moroney, has been on the receiving end of a vicious media caning. Her crime? Tweeting a photograph of a handsome Waihi Beach property flying the Silver Fern Flag, accompanied by the incendiary caption: “Just because you own a flash beach house doesn’t mean you get to decide our flag.”

He works his way to…

At the core of Ms Moroney’s tweet is the unmistakeable whiff of class warfare. Her generous parliamentary salary notwithstanding, she clearly reacted with visceral working-class fury to the visual cues of the Silver Fern Flag and a “flash beach house”.

Her ownership of four properties including a holiday home also withstanding – Moroney is an unlikely flag bearer for the working class.

Something in her personality (and in the personalities of tens-of-thousands of her fellow New Zealanders) linked together wealth, power, the proposal to change the flag, and the Prime Minister, in a causal chain of extraordinary emotive strength.

In a peculiar, largely unacknowledged way, voting to retain the flag became, for many Kiwis, a small but satisfying gesture of class defiance.

For many Kiwis? How does Trotter measure that? There’s a range of reasons that people voted against flag change, a prominent one being the colonial class who wanted to t=retain the Union Jack symbol of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps this explains why Ms Moroney’s tweet has elicited such an angry response from those who, in one way or another, contrived to carry the Prime Minister’s flag. Her bitter caption clearly stung them in ways many found difficult to explain. It implied that at least some members of the punditocracy had behaved discreditably; lined up with the wrong people; backed the wrong cause.

At the very least, Ms Moroney’s “class warfare” tweet has cast the indisputable class divide separating those who voted for the present flag from those who voted against it, in a new and disquieting light.

About the only disquieting thing about Moroney’s tweet was her lack of awareness about how a petty attack on some peoeple and their holiday home might be perceived. It was not a good look for an MP or for the Labour Party, as Andrew Little acknowledged.

But I think it’s extremely unlikely that Sue Moroney will become an inadvertent flag bearer for a Kiwi uprising into class warfare.

For most people the flag referendum faded quickly into Easter.

Trotter will have to look harder for his revolutionary leader, and hope for another divisive issue to tear New Zealand apart.

Maybe a few weeks after Helen Clark’s successful or failed bid for the lead position of the UN he will see some fissure in the fabric of our society in that.

In the meantime I guess he can continue scouring Twitter for hidden signs of his revolution.

Or maybe he could flag searching in futility for his Comrade Kiwi king.

Trotter, the military and the TPPA

Earlier in the week Christ Trotter wrote in The Press that Josie Butler had claimed there was military protection at the Christchurch TPPA Roadshow.

Certainly, Ms Butler’s description of the Christchurch roadshow makes a strong prima facie case for concern. In her report of the event she states that: “I went to the first security check point which was at the front driveway to the [Rydges] hotel. The guards asked for my ID, and whilst I was getting it out I noticed one of the guys had an army badge pinned to his lapel, I asked him if he was military and he confirmed that all security present today were army personnel.”

Constitutionally-speaking, this claim is particularly alarming. The only circumstances in which it is justifiable for the Civil Power to call upon the assistance of the Military Power are those in which there is a demonstrable threat to life and property. Historically, the involvement of the Military has been confined to helping out during natural disasters and, extremely rarely, to the quelling of widespread public disorder – like that following the 1932 Queen Street Riot. Nothing even remotely resembling such circumstances were present last Friday in Christchurch.

Urgent efforts must be made to confirm the accuracy of Ms Butler’s claim. And if it is confirmed that the NZDF was involved in providing security for the roadshow, then questions need to be asked. First, of the Defence Minister, and second, of the Police Minister. Did Gerry Brownlee know that the Military Power had been called upon to assist the Civil Power in Christchurch? If so, at whose instigation? Does Judith Collins know why the local Police were deemed unequal to the task of preventing disorder at Rydges Hotel?

Frankly, it would be a whole lot better for New Zealand …whoever Ms Butler spoke to about his military lapel badge turns out to have been pulling her leg about the composition of the security detail. Because, if her version of events is proved correct, then New Zealand is in a world of trouble.

What sort of “trade deal” have we signed-up to, if its explanatory roadshow requires the protection of the armed forces?

This was potentially quite alarming but Butler was not an impartial witness.

Trotter has reposted Protecting The TPP at Bowalley and has added an update.

On Tuesday, 15 March the author received a call from Nick Bryant, Gerry Brownlee’s media officer. He informed him that, having checked with both the NZDF and MFAT, the Minister was able to assure him that no serving military personnel were involved with providing security at the Christchurch TPPA roadshow event.

When contacted, Josie Butler strongly reiterated her claim that the security personnel hailed from the military.

An appeal for assistance was issued over social media which quickly produced a link to a private security firm called October Protection.

According to its website:

October Protection is a Christchurch based security and protection company with branches in Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, Dunedin and associates throughout New Zealand. We provide industry-leading hospitality security, along with VIP transport, helicopter services, secure event, travel and accommodation packages New Zealand wide ….. Many of our staff come from military, police, corrections and close protection backgrounds and their experience is diverse and extensive, providing October Protection with a vast array of specialist skills.

It would seem that both Josie Butler and the Minister were telling the truth.

Butler may have been sort telling something related to the truth, but Trotter embellished it somewhat. The TPPA Roadshow does not appear to have been protected by the armed forces as he intimated.

 

Butler and Trotter versus TPP

Christ Trotter has based his latest column on the word of anti-TPP activist Josie Butler –  Protecting the TPP

The heavily guarded Trans-Pacific Partnership’s (TPP) travelling roadshow came to Christchurch last week.

The word “heavily” is used advisedly. According to the reportage of Josie Butler (who staged a peaceful protest at the event and was escorted from the auditorium)…

Apparently Butler hid a dildo down her pants to get past bag searches.

…the roadshow was not only protected by upwards of 30 police officers, but also by 40 members of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Those numbers surprise me. I saw two or three police officers outside the Dunedin venue (and the same number of protesters, and no one that looked like they were from the New Zealand Defence Force.

Butler’s reportage further alleges that the roadshow had at least one other protector – its government-appointed chairman, broadcaster Sean Plunket.

If Butler’s description of the proceedings is accurate…

That would surprise me.

…then it is fair to say that Plunket has opted for an alarmingly heavy-handed approach to chairing these gatherings. Participants are restricted to asking questions of the presenters and will be interrupted aggressively if they so much as attempt to contextualise their queries. Hecklers are summarily ejected.

There was no sign of this at all in Dunedin. Plunket was polite and gentle with questioners. The only times he interrupted ‘questions’ was to ask for an actual question rather than a long statement (which are the bane of public meetings).

Plunket told me that in Christchurch most of those attending were well behaved and participated reasonably, and there was a small number of very vocal protesters.

What was presented to New Zealanders as an opportunity to participate in a free and frank discussion of the costs and benefits of the TPP, is being experienced by those attendees not already convinced of the agreement’s benefits as little more than a crude propaganda exercise.

That’s a crude assessment based on the word of one fairly extreme protester.

Even worse, these meetings are alleged to have been conducted in a fashion that treats dissent as a hostile and potentially criminal act.

Disrupting events can be seen as hostile. Throwing objects at people is seen as  a potentially criminal act by many people. Outside the Christchurch event Butler squirted a liquid at people. That’s not just dissent, that’s aggressive attack.

The case in favour of the TPP needs to be made in full acknowledgement of its inherently adversarial nature. After all, the roadshow is the first official occasion for the public’s direct participation in the TPP debate. Critics of the deal should, therefore, be encouraged by the chair to make their case, and the government’s spokespeople required to answer their criticisms as well as their questions.

I saw exactly that in Dunedin.

Certainly, Butler’s description of the Christchurch roadshow makes a strong prima facie case for concern. In her report of the event she states that: “I went to the first security check point which was at the front driveway to the [Rydges] hotel. The guards asked for my ID, and whilst I was getting it out I noticed one of the guys had an army badge pinned to his lapel, I asked him if he was military and he confirmed that all security present today were army personnel.”

I didn’t see anything like that in Dunedin, but unlike Christchurch we don’t have a military camp handy.

Constitutionally-speaking, this claim is particularly alarming. The only circumstances in which it is justifiable for the Civil Power to call upon the assistance of the Military Power are those in which there is a demonstrable threat to life and property. Historically, the involvement of the military has been confined to helping out during natural disasters and, extremely rarely, to the quelling of widespread public disorder – like that following the 1932 Queen Street Riot. Nothing even remotely resembling such circumstances were present last Friday in Christchurch.

I don’t know whether the military has been only confined to helping in natural disasters before or not. They don’t appear to have caused any problems in Christchurch.

Frankly, it would be a whole lot better for New Zealand if Butler’s record of the Christchurch TPP roadshow turns out to be inaccurate.

I think some of it probably was inaccurate, or at least quite slanted.

That Plunket was, in fact, the soul of politeness and a stalwart facilitator of free speech and open debate.

He was in Dunedin.

And that whoever Butler spoke to about his military lapel badge turns out to have been pulling her leg about the composition of the security detail. Because, if her version of events is proved correct, then New Zealand is in a world of trouble.

I don’t know if this is the big deal that Trotter is trying to make of it or not.

And according to this TVNZ report Plunket sounds polite in dealing with Butler:

Dildo throwing nurse returns with sex toy at Christchurch TPP event

Nurse Josie Butler used a remarkably similar dildo at the Government’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) roadshow in Christchurch yesterday, which was filmed on camera.

Speaking at the event at the Rydges Hotel she attempted to hold a presentation ceremony for chief TPP negotiator David Walker.

“David Walker, I am here today on behalf of the vast majority of New Zealanders to present you with the New Zealand Dick of the Year Award,” she said.

However, a security guard removes the microphone from Ms Butler, while moderator Sean Plunket can be heard saying “no, you’re not, Josie”.

“Okay, thank you, Josie. That is great,” he said, as Mrs Butler is led away by security staff.

That doesn’t sound like “an alarmingly heavy-handed approach”.

And Butler doesn’t act on behalf of “the vast majority of New Zealanders” who I suspect will see her as an embarrassing nuisance.

But Trotter is prepared to take her at her word and base a major scandal on it.

Has anyone else voiced any concerns about the Christchurch Roadshow? I can’t find any.

 

Trotter on Collins and Key

In his weekly Stuff/Press column Chris Trotter writes Judith Collins a sop to National’s base.

What is National’s ‘base’? I expect that with close to 50% support continuing their base is quite diverse and broad.

Trotter makes a number of unsubstantiated claims.

Was John Key’s decision to stand down his Justice Minister, Judith Collins, critical to his 2014 election victory? The National Party was hemorrhaging votes as a result of the extraordinary revelations contained in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics. Collins featured prominently in the book, making her, in the eyes of many, a symbol of all that was wrong with the National-led Government.

The bleeding ended abruptly when, pending the outcome of an investigation into yet another spate of allegations, the Prime Minister decided to stand Collins down.

The polls leading in to the last election don’t reflect Trotter’s claim that National was ‘haemorrhaging votes’ after Dirty Politics was launched and recovered after Collins stood down.

As shown in Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election, 2014 closer to the opposite occurred, with if anything a lift in the polls after Dirty Politics (13 August) and a drop off after Collins stepped down into the election (30 August).

There were other significant things happening as well, like David Cunliffe’s campaign performance (note Labour’s poll slide), and probably more significant was the rise and fall of Kim Dotcom and Internet-Mana, including Dotcom’s ‘moment of truth in mid-September.

Does Trotter have access to some secret polls? Or is he making things up?

But, if the standing down of Judith Collins played an important part in securing Key his third term…

A big ‘IF’ about the importance of Collins in the election result.

…why bring her back into his Cabinet? In her new role as Minister of Police and Minister of Corrections, Collins is once again displaying all the headstrong and abrasive qualities that made her so unpopular during her first, controversial, stint in Key’s cabinet.

I think she was generally quite popular, except amongst Trotters far left, until Labour and Winston Peters decided to target her and try and bring her down.

I don’t see any obvious sign of major unpopularity now either, except at The Daily Blog and The Standard, and there’s few votes for National there.

What Trotter seems to struggle with, like many on the left (and right for that matter) is separating their own feelings from those of the general voting population.

Many political scientists would dismiss this question as naive. They would argue that Key brought Collins in from the cold in order to appease National’s “base”.

I expect that ‘many political scientists’ would think and argue a wide range of things and wouldn’t be confined to Trotter’s narrow band of thinking and assertions.

Collins has become the poster girl for a great many of the deeply conservative National Party voters living in rural and provincial New Zealand.

Has she? I don’t know how in touch Trotter is with the “many of the deeply conservative National Party voters living in rural and provincial New Zealand”. I doubt many of them frequent his favourite cafes and bars in Auckland.

Many of them also belong to the Sensible Sentencing Trust, a powerful lobby group committed to securing harsher penalties for criminal offending and a more Spartan regime for prison inmates.

How many Chris? Can you quantify this at all? Or are you guessing?

The accusation that Key has adopted a “Labour Lite” strategy for remaining in power strikes a very resonant chord with the party’s conservative base.

I see that at Kiwiblog and The Standard but I don’t think many of National’s ‘conservative base’ comment at either. I think those strongly anti-National are more likely to be Conservative or Mana Party supporters.

Indeed, it was almost certainly that back-bench intervention which persuaded Key to bring Collins back under the protective umbrella of collective cabinet responsibility.

Almost certainly that is a big guess too, and I doubt it’s accuracy.

Once Collins was cleared in the investigation into allegations made against her I think it was widely expected that Collins would be one of the first in line to be appointed to Cabinet in Key’s next reshuffle, and I think Key signalled this. It was not a surprise when she was reinstated.

National’s base doesn’t care. For rural and provincial conservatives, the tougher the prison regime, and the longer the prison sentence, the better they like it. There is deeply punitive streak running through these voters that is apparent not only in relation to crime and punishment, but also in their expectations of welfare and housing policy.

Sweeping generalisations like this looks like little more than another raft of baseless assertions.

Sure there will be some amongst National’s base, and amongst their rural and provincial supporters, who fit Trotter’s descriptions but I doubt he has any measure of how many. Half a dozen perpetually disgruntled Kiwiblog commenters does not a base make.

John Key, raised by a cosmopolitan Jewish mother in New Zealand’s second-largest city, and with years of residence in Singapore, London and New York, has little genuine affinity with National’s traditionalist base.

Key’s ongoing popularity suggests he has an affinity with quite a bit more than National’s traditionalist base – which is wider than rural and provincial, especially with extensive urbanisation over the past hundred years.

Judith Collins is his sour sop to the snarling Cerberus of social conservatism.

Collins is one of a diverse twenty or so Cabinet Ministers.

The sour and snarling seems to be from Trotter.