Pitching hysterical tantrums on social media

Danyl at Dim Post can be quite insightful when he’s not trying too hard to be a political activist. He commented in the thread of his own Kathryn Ryan sums up 2015 in NZ politics  politics   post:

At least the left enjoys full=spectrum dominance of twitter. When the day that pitching hysterical tantrums on social media becomes the key to political power, no one will stop us.

Rueful truth.

Bradbury claims disputed – dirty politics?

The sun rose this morning and Martyn Bradbury made some claims about Labour and the Greens, and Greens and National, that have been disputed – some say he is wrong.

Bradbury has been promoting Labour and their conference over the weekend. Like co-Daily Blog stalwart Chris Trotter he seems to be manic depressive on politics.This was one of Bomber’s very enthusiastic phases, so much so that  Shayne McLean @NZGTMedia tweeted:

@BowalleyRoad meanwhile Martyn Bradbury looks like Labour has given him an Apple laptop to match the one Dot Com bought him

That refers to his of colluding with party operatives for money – is he being used by Labour in some sort of attempted ‘dirty politics’ two track strategy as described by Nicky Hager in his ‘Dirty Politics’ book? Chapter 1 The Rise of the Bloggers, Page 16:

The idea that Key, as party leader, would be presented as friendly and positive, while other people did the attacking.

Slater and Ansell understood this tactic because they had been working together closely on precisely this sort of arm’s length attack campaigning in the previous months.

Slater wrote back saying “If the Nats won’t attacj [Labour] then let us, but we need some cash to do so…I can put together a consortium of bloggers to attack…

Bradbury was posting conference reports on waateanews.com over the weekend. On Saturday he said:

Beyond all the nice words in public about the Greens and NZ First there are private mutterings. At this Conference, Labour were going to tell New Zealand who their preferred political partners would be so that there is no confusion about what form of coalition government could be formed post the election, but those plans of transparency were put on hold when the Greens and NZ First refused to agree to that announcement.

Inside NZ First, the Ron Mark faction who are closer to National than Labour don’t want to commit and within the Greens, James Shaw doesn’t want to lose the strategic edge he’s created by working with National.

In Notes on the Labour AGM Danyl at Dim-Post disputes this:

I don’t know about New Zealand First but I checked with the Greens and no such approach or proposal was made to them. I guess Labour are still seething about the Red Peak thing and prevailed upon Bomber to write this. It’s not true.

Danyl helped James Shaw in his campaign to become Green leader so I presume he has contacts high up in the Green Party.

Green supporter Weka also commented on Bradbury’s claims at The Standard:

There’s a few probems with that. One is that we only have Bradbury’s word that Labour had intended to make an announcement re coalition partners and that NZF and the GP refused. I’d like to see that corroborated somewhere else (Bradbury’s stance on the whole GP/National thing doesn’t make any sense, he also hasn’t backed up his claim and I think this makes him a biased and unreliable source on this issue).

If it is true, we’d also need to see the reasons that the GP refused, they might have been quite valid.

The other problem is that Bradbury is expressing opinion that Shaw can make the GP form a coalition with National, but it goes against all the evidence. Please have a look at my link above for an explanation of why it’s not Shaw’s choice, and how it would be extremely difficult for that to happen even if Shaw wanted it (which he doesn’t). It would require a nationwide change of stance amongst the membership including going through a remit process at least one AGM. Have a go at explaining how you think that might happen, because I can’t see it.

When you make factually incorrect assertions as you did with your first comment, you damage the left. What you said is almost word for word a right wing dirty politics meme aimed at undermining the GP and thus preventing a left wing govt. Is that what you want? If you can back up your statements, please do so, but I’m afraid ‘Bradbury said it’s true’ doesn’t count in this case.

And Joseph commented on The Daily Blog:

Highly unlikely, because the Greens public position is still to govern with Labour. This position was confirmed during the recent leadership contest where both Shaw and Hague said they did not support forming a govt with National. Someone spinning you, Martyn?

..and waateanews.com:

As I said on Martyn’s blog, I think it is flat out false that the Greens rebuffed Labour and he is being spun by someone. The Greens position is firmly to work with Labour to form a govt and James Shaw stated in the recent leadership campaign that he did not support forming a govt with National. He would not be leader now if he’d said otherwise. It is the Party that makes the decision on coalition choices and they are clear on this.

I can’t find any response from Bradbury on this. He has in his conference review Labour Party conference 2015 – winners and losers he has reiterated his claim of Greens working with National:

Identity Politics – the inability for identity politic activists to debate the issues in a way that doesn’t cause allies to become enemies and alienate the broader electorate has seen identity politics put on the naughty step for some time out.

It gives the Greens some room to move on those issues but that could also erode the strategic edge the Greens have by pretending to work with National.

He seems to be trying to shame the Greens into shunning any contact with National and devoting themselves to becoming an obedient add-on to Labour’s election ambitions.

Is Matt McCarten using Bradbury here?

After Bradbury’s over-enthusiastic (paid for) promotion of the Mana Party and then the Internet Party last term perhaps Labour should be very worried about his association with them.

Especially if he makes things up, or is a ‘dirty politics’ repeater of misinformation fed to him from within Labour.

Bradbury is a political mercenary (similar but different to Cameron Slater) but apparently is not yet recognised as potentially toxic to Labour.

Ironically one of his first conference tweets:

Which journalist will be the first to now misrepresent what Annette King said as a ‘sugar tax’

Has Bradbury misrepresented the Green’s relationship with Labour? If so did he dream up his claims or was he fed them? If he was fed them, by whom?

“Speaking on behalf of the marginalized”

In the weekend’s furore about ‘the Twitterati’ thing taking offence was rampant. There were even people infuriated by the use of the term ‘Twitterati’. I have no idea what the politically correct term people who use Twitter is, and I don’t care.

At the end of the The stupid twitterati thing post at Dim-Post Danyl said:

When you’re online its all-too-easy to get wrapped up in the righteousness of your convictions and use it to justify acting like an asshole. And progressives should challenge the narrative, and confront the privileged, like journalists (or me). And they should speak out against things that offend them (although twitter is now in such a constant state of outrage, often about trivial nonsense I feel that this is a very low value form of activism). But if you’re attacking an individual, not their ideas, and you’re doing so en-masse, repeatedly, and they’re clearly distressed about it you’ve left activism way behind, and you’re an ordinary nasty old bully.

Discussion followed. At the end of the comment thread (currently):

Donna Mojab (Miles):

Speaking on behalf of the marginalized is not “appropriating their victimhood”. Allies of the marginalized people do have a right to speak on their behalf. How else can we give voice to those whose concerns are not heard loud and often enough? Of course, we have to make sure that we get it right by listening closely to what they say first, but that is not the same as staying silent.

Making sure you “get it right” for all minorities at the same time is kinda impossible. Many a time I’ve tried to get it right and have been jumped on because a minority (sometimes of one) has taken offence at what I’ve said.


Thanks for writing that. It goes to the heart of a lot of this. I find that the best way to be an ally is to make arguments from my perspective and then amplify the voices of minorities so they can make their own arguments and speak for themselves. Trying to make identity politics issues about me basically just seems wrong.

Amplify the voices of which minorities? You would have to select the minorities you were amplifying,

Pete (not me):

> Trying to make identity politics issues about me basically just seems wrong.

This is pretty much exactly what you’re doing though. You’re having a bit of fun by mocking people for “appropriating” the persecution of trans people, but meanwhile you’re ignoring the actual trans people who are telling you they’re not okay with your “jokes”.

> then amplify the voices of minorities

You could fucking start by not ignoring the voices of every single minority person who spoke up this weekend.

Harsh. I’m sure Danyl didn’t hear every minority voice who spoke last weekend, so he will have ‘ignored’ quite a few of them.

I think they are trying too hard here to be ‘correct’. I’ve found that with vocal minorities you can often be damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And if you remain silent in case you offend someone that’s a sad state to be in.

What is a minority?

the smaller number or part, especially a number or part representing less than half of the whole.

Males are a minority in New Zealand. Just. White males are more of a minority. And white middle class males are a smaller minority. Yet I often hear in social media that ‘we’ are the privileged, and we should shut up and let the under-privileged have their say unhindered (and un-critiqued). I think that’s bollocks.

Free speech and equal rights means that each of us should be able to express our opinion freely without being shouted down by a different minority.

The vocal small minorities seem to forget that their disproportionate voice drowns out other minorities.

I’m not going to try and restrict some people’s voices and amplify others based on my perception of their minorityness.

People who speak here on Your NZ are a small minority. I have no idea what other minorities any of you may think you are a part of.

The aim here is to provide an equal opportunity forum for anyone who chooses to take part. I’m not going to start trying to find ‘minority’ topics to amplify. I look for topics that are of interest to me and that I think may be of interest to others here.

So speak up freely without worrying about which ‘minority’ could be offended (but respecting others is worthy). If someone does express offence then I hope you’re prepared to support your opinion (although it’s also not uncommon to have an opinion without rationalising it).

Each and every minority is free to speak here, but I’m not going to try and ensure equal space and prominence for each equally sized and worthy minority, except on an individual basis.

I speak on behalf of myself, whether I feel marginalised or not (sometimes I do). And others are free to speak on behalf of themselves without having to justify how marginialised they feel they are.

In my mind free speech means with minimal restrictions. Perhaps I’m in a minority on that.

The Twitterati debate

There’s been a big storm on Twitter over the weekend. I haven’t got time to summarise, but here’s two related posts on it:

Lamia at Corner Politics: On Twitter, free speech, and activism

A couple of days ago I pointed out Whale Oil’s post on ISIS and Palestinians and his call to kill all Muslims on Twitter. Giving oxygen to Whale Oil’s hateful rhetoric is obviously counterproductive and many people responded to me by saying it is best to ignore. And perhaps they are right. As a Kiwi Muslim, while it is hard for me to stomach it, I have enough experience with bigotry to know that these views are prevalent and accepted in NZ and there’s not much I can do about it by drawing more attention. However, WO (Whale Oil) has a close and personal relationship with our Prime Minister and several other National MPs including Judith Collins who has referred to him as a close friend. It is troubling to me that our nation’s lawmakers and leaders are so comfortable associating with a deeply troubled and bigoted man and that it is accepted as normal. What I presume John Key and others would say is that he is entitled to his view but that shouldn’t stop their friendship. Fair enough. I myself might be knowingly or unknowingly “friends” with people who have questionable positions but I certainly would not take political advice for them. And if I was a in a political position, I would not be texting them regularly and then deleting those texts. That is what troubles me. And that is why I tweeted that.

Following my tweets, some people tried to defend his post by saying that it was not about Muslims but about ISIS and Palestine and that I was trying to limit his free speech. Let’s make one thing clear, I have absolutely no power to limit his speech. I only have the power to criticize and that is my right. Some did try to point to legislation that could be used to stop him and were quickly corrected on the limits of the law. It shouldn’t be shocking to people, that a call to kill entire groups of people was upsetting to some folks and made them want to put a stop to it. Bigotry induced desires to KILL entire groups of people should make everyone upset. Because that post wasn’t *just* about ISIS and Palestine.

It goes on at some length. Not good reading for white middle aged males or whales.

And Danyl at Dim-Post: The stupid twitterati thing

New Zealand Twitter was a pretty toxic place over the weekend. There was a sustained confrontation between a well-known print journalist and a bunch of left-wing online activists. I don’t really know the journalist and I’ve met and liked a bunch of the activists just fine, but my sympathies were with the journalist. And the longer it went on and the more I thought about what was happening the more uncomfortable I felt about it all. Because when a large group of people mock and harass an individual over a sustained period of time it isn’t really a confrontation, or a debate, and it certainly isn’t activism. And when the target got upset, and the activists began to gloat about him unravelling and losing it, and doubled-down on their attacks, it made it pretty clear that what was happening was simple old-fashioned bullying.

‘It isn’t bullying’, the activists would reply. ‘What’s happening is that twitter is a place where marginalised people: trans people, people of colour, the working class, finally have a voice. This journalist – and YOU, Danyl, are straight white middle-class men and you can’t handle the fact that you don’t control the narrative any more. So you’re attempting to silence these marginalised voices by accusing them of bullying and smearing them with names like ‘The Twitterati.’

There’s also quite a bit of comment at Dim-Post too.

And to end on a lighter note.

Bryce Edwards Retweeted

I think I coined the phrase ‘Twitterati’ last year to describe the acerbic punching sideways that dominates the NZ twitter sphere

Susan Strongman Retweeted Martyn Bradbury

I invented LOL

Matt Nippert Retweeted Susan Strongman

At age 13 I invented a series of interconnected vacuum tubes that is known today as “The Internet”.

On post-ideological politics

Danyl Mclauchlan has written an interesting post Notes on post-ideological politics. We do seem to have moved on from an ideological left/right political divide.

I keep seeing all these think-pieces about Trump and Corbyn and what’s happening in 21st Century western democratic politics, and what it might mean to New Zealand, so I thought I’d toss my opinions on the stack.

  1. We’re transitioning into a post-ideological democracy. No one seriously thinks we’re going to be either a socialist or free-market economy. And no one believes that when the economy grows the benefits of that growth will be shared equally. Politics is about which groups will be privileged by policy settings and wealth distribution.

From what I’ve seen around the blogs some seem to seriously think we can jump to a socialist economy or to a true free-market economy. The reality is tweaking a mix of both.

Of course benefits or anything for that matter cannot be shared equally. That’s a mistake some ideological socialists make – it’s impossible to define what is ‘equal’ let alone share equally in a very complex and unequal world.

Politics is about who will be privileged by wealth re-distribution. This generally means taking money from people with more money and giving it to people with less money.

  1. Which is another way of saying that most politics is now identity politics. Groups that aren’t privileged by the status quo want both cultural and economic change. These groups generally break down across racial and gender lines. People who don’t want change – because it will come at an economic or social cost to them – dismiss this kind of politics as ‘identity politics’. But, of course, the fight to preserve the high status of (mostly) white males is also a form of identity politics.

I’d like to see something to back up “groups generally break down across racial and gender lines” and the fight to preserve the high status of (mostly) white males” or I don’t buy it.I think political demographics are far more complex than ‘white man bad’.

  1. Although they affect to oppose it, mostly white men are the most ferocious practitioners of identity politics. That’s where Donald Trump comes in. Trump holds many views that are anathema to Republican elites. He’s in favor of socialised healthcare and higher taxes for the rich. Rank-and-file members don’t care about his policy positions though. They care that he’s a misogynist who hates Mexicans and Muslims and claims that Obama is a Kenyan. He’s signalling that he will champion his tribe of mostly white men against rival tribes. He will protect their privilege, which they feel is under threat.

Again, I call crap on “mostly white men”, without substantiating it i see that as lazy generalisation.

‘Phil’ has addressed this in comments:

The data doesn’t back this up. Trump’s support is, perplexingly, fairly evenly spread across most of the demographic breakdowns of Republicans. Of course he’s doing terribly on a national stage with Latino’s, but among registered republicans and independents that lean republican he’s polling quite consistently across all age ranges, geographic breakdowns, and income thresholds. He’s even doing ok with women – the gap between male and female support for Trump is not that big.

  1. Corbyn is different, and he shows us that identity politics can be more fluid than ethnic or gender divides. Identity can be defined in a negative sense. The entire British establishment went ballistic when it saw Corbyn out-campaigning pro-status quo rivals for the Labour leadership, and this saw a surge of support from people who feel disenfranchised by that establishment. I think it was Karl Rove who said that to succeed in politics you need to make thirty percent of the country hate you. Corbyn did that, and people who feel antagonistic towards his enemies decided that Corbyn was their friend.

And a somersault of convenience:

  • Trump = bad privileged white man (from the right)
  • Corbyn = good white man (from the left)

“The entire British establishment went ballistic when it saw Corbyn…” – bullshit on that too.

  1. In New Zealand terms, National has staked out a large privileged group which could be described as ‘predominantly white property-owners on middle and high incomes’. ‘Mainstream New Zealand’. Almost everything they do advances the economic and cultural interests of this group. National’s policy agenda makes no sense from an ideological point of view, but once you grasp that it’s not about serving an ideology, but rather a large, fairly homogeneous group of voters, generally at the cost of heterogeneous groups who are mostly less likely to vote then everything is perfectly logical.

And way off the mark. National are the first to raise benefit levels for decades. They have extended free health care to all children up to age 13. They have worked with others on providing breakfasts for many kids in low decile schools. None of this is as much as Danyl’s Greens want but it shows his generalisations as nonsense.

  1. Winston Peters understands this political model. He’s been practising it for a while. He’s shifting his identity slightly, from someone who champions the elderly to a hero of provincial New Zealanders. I think Labour and the Greens are cheerfully oblivious to all of this.

I agree with him on 6, except that Labour and greens must have a bit of an inkling. If not I suggest Danyl has a whisper in James’ ear.

I don’t think Danyl has quite gotten past post ideological politics yet.

Tracking poll now tries nonsensical ‘bloc of parties’

Having tried an adjusted tracking poll last term that inflated opposition positions to supposedly correct for previous election inaccuracies Dim Post is trying a different approach now – combining poll results by select party groups.

Tracking poll

Peter has updated his poll aggregation script to show us blocs of parties:


All of the pundit commentary around the one year election anniversary has been around National’s stability in the polls. But there actually seems to have been quite a lot of turmoil. National is losing voters to Labour. But the Conservative Party collapsed this year, and National seems to have picked up all of their votes.

The ‘blocs’ don’t make sense.

Combining Labour and Greens but leaving out NZ First is sort of all right but what’s the point?

Combining National with ACT is again sort of all right except that ACT’s one seat outperformed their party vote.

Leaving UnitedFuture won’t make difference – except that Dunne’s vote makes quite a difference right now.

Leaving the Maori Party out also ignores another couple of seats.

Including Conservatives makes no sense at all because their vote is likely to be a waste of time next election. It’s hard to see Craig recovering.

Polls are polls – rough indications of support for a hypothetical, that an election was held now when no one is thinking along the lines of election options.

Dim Post seems to be trying to gerrymander polls into convenient totals. It might make a little sense showing as an alternative but it’s nonsense as their only ‘tracking poll’.

They may think it promotes the Greens “Labour+Greens” combination but at a glance it looks like National versus Labour with NZ First tagging along and no sign of the Greens.

Deep discussion at Dim-Post

Danyl kicked off some deep discussion at Dim-Post on Jacinda Ardern’s image promotion – Hang on a second.

But the context around Ardern’s surge in popularity complicates all of this a bit, I think. She isn’t popular because she’s an effective campaigner, or because she’s been breaking big stories or landing hits on the government in the House. She’s popular because she’s gotten glowing coverage in the women’s magazines over the last few months, appearing on the cover of Next magazine and being profiled in the Woman’s Weekly. I assume this is all being facilitated by Labour’s new comms director who is a former Woman’s Weekly editor and it is a level and type of coverage that any politician – even the Prime Minister – would envy.

Ardern’s popularity subsequent to that coverage tells us something very interesting about the power of that type of media, which is something that political nerds like me are usually oblivious to. But it’s also something that’s happening because she’s really pretty. And there’s something problematic about insisting politicians shouldn’t be judged on their looks when they do appear to be succeeding specifically because of their appearance.

Prettiness, sexism and political capabilities were all thrashed over. Danyl updatred his post twice in response to criticisms.

If you’re interested in a leftish view of all this the thread is worth reading. But one comment stood out from the crowd.

Left wing women are horrible no matter what they look like.

Comment by Redbaiter — August 28, 2015 @ 10:44 am


The world must be an ugly place for Reddie. He sees nearly everyone as left wing.

The Dim-Post post was also discussed at:

There’s no reason why commerce and compassion can’t co-exist

It’s common to see carping about how compassionless the Government and John key and National MPs are. How they purportedly don’t care about poor people – some go as far as accusing ‘right wing’ politicians and rich people of deliberately keeping the masses poor so they can accumulate wealth.

Which is absurd, as anyone who knows how commerce works knows that the more affluent people are the more prosperous business can be. You can’t make much money out of destitution.

Thursday’s budget has created confusion and consternation on the left. How could an allegedly hard right government be the first to raise core benefit levels for 44 years? Something three eras of Labour led government had failed to do.

Amongst the confusion absurd claims have been made. In Thoughts on budget 2015 Danyl at Dim-Post:

National believes in massive intervention in the economy, mostly in favor of their political donors but also in response to signals from their polling and market research…

rickrowling asked “What are the examples of this?” None have yet been given. This statement is typical from the left of National do anything hinting at compassion – there must be an ulterior motive driven by the greed of the 1%.

One way of trying to explain is by claiming that National’s efforts are weak and the left would have done it better. Like ‘truthseekernz’:

The response from virtually all opponents was lamentable. I would have preferred something like:

“It’s great to see this government adopt a weak tea, might-work-a-little version of the policies we’ve been promoting for years. So we’ve won the policy argument. National has done it because that had to, not because they wanted to. If voters want the real thing, they should be sure to vote for us (whoever ‘we ‘ are – Labour or Greens) next election.”

National can’t have done it because they wanted to what they thought was a good thing to do, they ‘had to do it’. That’s crap of confusion.


John Key’s hallmark of power is pragmatism and if that means that he has to give a little to the masses, he will, and did. But that does not change his wider agenda that has all the markings of seeking neoliberal outcomes.

Again Key “has to give a little to the masses” but has a “wider agenda”. That’s ideological crap.

Neilm has a different take on it:

And Key’s opponents have developed a rather insular, self-reinforcing narrative about how Key hates the children etc which isn’t quite what National is. I’m not suggesting that National is the perfect social justice party but constantly making strategy on the basis that they’re corrupt liars out to destroy democrat and the planet has distracted from forming a strategy that deals with reality.

Tinakori also challenges the left leaning laments.

Wow, Danyl, there are so many straw men in that post. The major two are the propositions that this government was a group of hairy chested economic fundamentalists and that effective social policy is entirely the preserve of the left.

The first was flawed from the very beginning and was probably prompted by the bizarre and false idea that they had embraced austerity as a fiscal policy when their approach was classic Keynesian. This is just another case of the left and the commentariat looking to overseas political slogans for guidance rather than looking at what a government actually does.

As for the big things – fiscal, monetary and general regulatory policy – there is no major change that I can see and the spending changes are pretty small in the context of both government spending and the economy.

richdrich swings the other way:

The “middle class welfare” concept is an artefact of neo-liberalism.

It divides society into “hard working keewees” and “beneficiary scum” (Labour and National both love the former term, but Labour might be a bit softer on the latter. “Communities with needs”, maybe?)

Benefits (apart from disguised ones like tax free capital gains) are denied the former and grudgingly meted out to the latter, accompanied by an appropriate degree of paternalism, like making them spend all day in a Winz office with no toilet – at least they can’t take drugs while they’re in there.

I haven’t seen any sign that National (and ACT and the Maori Party and Peter Dunne) have “grudgingly meted out” the benefit increases. Confused leftists like richdrich can’t bring themselves to even grudgingly meting out praise when it’s due.

How could this tory scum out left the left on social policy? Tinokori suggests:

On social policy you underestimate the personal impact on government policy of growing up in a state house (Key) and the Catholic social conscience (English).

There may be something in that, but there’s far more to it. I’m not Catholic and didn’t grow up in a state house. I did grow up in a very poor household – where I learnt the value of hard work and self responsibility.

Many people in New Zealand who have built their own businesses and careers and wealth have seen and experienced hardship somewhere along the way.

We now seem to have a left who can’t see past their arrogance.

I see more compassion in Key and English and many in business and on the centre right than amongst the carping on the impotent left.

This budget appears to have turned politics upside down in New Zealand. I don’t think it has. It just demonstrates what has been evident for a long time, that the left/right divide was long ago bridged. It doesn’t exist in New Zealand how it once did.

Key and his National government get it. They got it a long time ago, that’s why they are still in government.

There’s no reason why commerce and compassion can’t co-exist. Except in the closed carping minds of the old left. They are left crapping in their own nest.

Labour’s biggest problems – Dim-Post

Danyl at Dim-Post looks at similarities in the failure of Labour in the UK and Labour in New Zealand in Elections in the anglo-sphere but the response by commenters mostly disagrees.

There’s loads of analysis about on the outcome of the election in the UK; most of it is focused on Labour. What went wrong? Did they choose the wrong Miliband brother? Should they return to Blairism? And so on.

Seems to me that one of Labour’s biggest problems – both here and in the UK – is that they’re faced with an opponent that is (a) better resourced than them and (b) uses those resources to make themselves far, far better at politics than their left-wing opponents.

The Conservative Party’s strategy in the UK election was pretty much the same as National’s strategy last year. It’s because they have the same strategic advisers of course – the infamous Crosby/Textor, who are also very active in Australian Federal and state elections.

Infamous on the left when th left lose lose. Crosby/Textor don’t always help centre ‘right parties succeed.  In the 2010 and 2013 Australian Federal election campaigns “Textor was the principal national pollster and chief external strategist for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party”. A 50/50 success rate there.

“In 2012 Textor was strategist and pollster for Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party election campaign; one that delivered one of the biggest majority for any party in the history of Queensland politics.”  The Liberal National Party crashed out in their next campaign, in January this year, and Newman lost his seat.

Which gives their clients a huge advantage. Not only can they deliver data and market-research driven advice, they can trial-run lines and strategies across multiple separate-but-similar electorates, hone the techniques and sell successful ideas on to their other clients – who are all right-wing parties that want to see each other succeed.

Often when something goes wrong for John Key and the media goes ballistic, Key will often ‘talk past’ the media and deliver lines directly to the voters. And it always works. He gets to do that because of a huge wealth of empirical data about how voters react to different issues, gleaned from years of study across these multiple electorates.

Labour and the other opposition parties in these other electorates can’t do that. And it shows.

Why can’t they do that? Labour can use whatever strategies they choose, They can employ whatever strategists they choose.

They could use some common bloody sense and they would do a lot better.

They’re forced to experiment, releasing policies or taking positions on issues on a trial basis. Will the public like it? Do they respond? And if the media reaction is critical then they reverse position. They’re playing a complex game in which they know the desired outcome, but not the actual rules, against opponents who know the rulebook back-to-front as well as all the loopholes.

That’s bollocks. If Danyl knows all about the problems then there’s more than a tiny chance that someone in Labour could also work things out.

There are other structural factors at work, of course. But the triumph of empirically based political strategy and messaging is a very big deal that’s getting missed alongside all the chatter about Labour ‘moving to the left, or the center’ etc.

Something that Danyl misses here, that Labour in New Zealand has been missing and something Labour in the UK struggled with:

If parties (and their strategists) put lipstick on their pig voters see a made up pig.

Consultants, research, packaging and marketing can help. But a pig’s a pig. And voters are more perceptive than losers are willing to admit.

There’s some good comments responding to Danyl, the first from PaulL worth repeating in full here:

Partially true Danyl I think. True that the sharing goes on. Untrue that the left don’t also do this sharing. Julia Gillard’s senior team came from the UK and a number of them went back. In the last Australian election one of the big stories going around was that the left had imported important expertise from the Obama campaign in social media and motivating particular categories of voter. I’d expect much of that experience then carried through into people who turned up in the NZ or UK campaigns.

I’d be more inclined to the view that the strategy that the winners took is credited with the win. If Labour had won the election we’d be talking about how Labour outplayed the Tories on the ground.

My personal view is that most of these elections are explained by the middle, by the economic performance of the incumbent, and the likeability of their leader. Gillard wasn’t likeable (nor was Abbott), things were going south fast in Australia economically, and Gillard was moving left in her coalition with the Greens (no longer in the centre).

Cameron has governed from the centre and the UK’s economic performance (as compared to the rest of Europe) has been pretty good. Miliband was unlikeable and pushing hard to the left. On average people in the UK thought that they didn’t want to be more like France, Spain or Greece, which is really what Miliband was selling.

In NZ, Key has governed from the centre, and Labour promised a move leftwards, along with having a potential coalition with the Greens taking them further left. Notwithstanding the beliefs of many on the left, NZ is actually going reasonably well, and when a political party promises to change everything (but things are going reasonably well for most NZers) that scares them.

I think the lesson here is that in a country that’s doing OK you win elections by saying “we’re mostly steady as she goes, other than these 5 specific things that we think those crazy baby eating capitalists have got wrong.” When you say “the whole country is screwed and we want to change everything” then those people (most people) who are doing OK get scared.

Herald journalist Dita De Boni backs Danyl:

Totally agree Danyl. As someone pointed out, in the UK CT and the Conservatives planted the idea that Miliband was “weird” – the same way they did here about Cunliffe. Very effective. Although neither did anything as weird as pulling repeatedly at a woman’s ponytail.

That’s mostly nonsense. National and CT may have promoted and tried to accentuate Cunliffe’s ‘weirdness’, but Cunliffe planted plenty of weird seeds all on his own.

And he was relying on some weird partner parties. Many people like the Greens but not many people want a Green dominated Government.

Another weird party leader at least recognised his mistake – too late.

The best example from this campaign isn’t Labour, however — it’s Kim Dotcom. He said on election night that it was only in the past two weeks that he realised how tainted his brand was. He threw $4.5 million at the Internet MANA campaign and it polled less than the Māori Party, who had the same number of incumbent candidates and a tiny fraction of the money and expertise. Had he thought to spend $30,000 on market research* asking questions like those asked by Curia about what New Zealanders think of Kim Dotcom, he could have saved himself the rest of the money, and saved Hone Harawira his seat, Laila Harré her political credibility, and the wider left a severe beating.

That is effective use of data: not asking questions to tell you what you want to hear, but to tell you what you need to know. This electoral bloodletting is an opportunity for the NZ political left to become reality-adjacent, and we can only hope they take it. Because if they don’t, reality is just going to keep winning.


Simon Garlick explains Labour’s ‘awesome’ fallacy, something that left wing activists also seem afflicted by. They often complain in defeat that the money and the media and excuse excuse excuse prevented the voters from seeing how awesome they were and how loathsome their opponents were.

NZ Labour is an organisation the has no idea how to communicate effectively, which is a bit of an impediment when you consider that it’s in the business of politics.

While I’m sure that the Labour comms team occasionally and temporarily counts talented communicators among its ranks, collectively the organisation is ignorant of the techniques and methodology of effective communication. To them Crosby Textor’s success is a complete mystery. I’m not sure that they even know what Crosby Textor does.

Remember that Gary Larson Far Side cartoon about “What you say – what dogs hear”?

I suspect that when you say to Labour, the organisation, “you need to do focused polling not on what people care about but how much they care about it, you need to use that information to develop key points that will influence people to vote for you in the places that you need votes the most, and then you need to work out what to say, when, and also about what things you need to say absolutely nothing, and you need to sit down with a calendar and work out when and where the best places to be seen saying things are”, what Labour actually hears is “ooga booga magic dust”. Otherwise there’s nothing that can explain the fish, and the ginger hairdo, and the man ban, and the “my house is a doer-upper”, and the “let’s penalise beneficiaries for not voting”.

The really depressing bit about Labour is that it is totally 100% religiously convinced of the self-evident awesomeness of its platform. “We’re awesome, and our policies are awesome, and if people don’t vote for us that means that the people are stupid sheep who don’t deserve our awesome.”

The thought that the people might need to be listened to and that the policies might need to be amended based on what the people care about is just crazy talk. Ask third parties for advice? Pffft. Hire third parties to help work out what people care about? Pffft. Get third parties to identify what policies will most likely make a difference to the way people vote? Pffft. Magic dust. Beneath us. Our awesome is self-evident.

Hey, Labour and Labour and Labor, all of you have been buttfucked on national TV recently, and each time it’s been by an opponent who used the services of one particular campaign strategy firm. Did any of you think of maybe hiring a campaign strategy firm yourselves? Like, maybe even Crosby Textor? Or like maybe finding out if Crosby Textor has any strong competition and hiring that firm? Like maybe seeing if any of Crosby Textor’s key talent could be incentivised into jumping ship and setting up a competitor? No?

Didn’t think so. That sort of nonsense is for political parties who aren’t awesome.

After last year’s New Zealand election it was common to see left wing activists expressing bafflement at the result (Martyn Bradbury a prime example). They had been convinced they would be rewarded and couldn’t fathom why they were punished by voters.

Labour’s biggest problem is itself and the people who make the biggest noises on the left. They are too blind and deaf, and they are often wrong about what voters perceive and what voters want.

In praising Martyn Bradbury

Greg Presland has joined the list of bloggers praising Martyn’ Bradbury’s handling of the Key/waitress/hair story.

Firstly in relation to the story I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it.  Unlike Cameron Slater and his attempts to bring down Len Brown with the Bevan Chuang story Bradbury did some important things.  He let the story be the story and did not inject himself into the story at all.  He let the waitress tell her own story in her own words.  And unlike Slater whose grandiose yet ridiculous plan to have Len Brown removed from office and John Palino somehow installed as mayor Bomber had no intention of achieving any particular goal.  He just facilitated the telling of a very creepy story.

He also quotes Danyl Mclachlan of Dim-Post:

[Bomber] simply published the waitress’s own account as a primary, information-rich source that the mainstream media could base their stories off. Reporters called the PM, but the scandal had already broken and the media were all matching each other’s stories. It couldn’t be shut down. And Bomber kept himself out of it all. That approach – publish a primary source and make it available to all media simultaneously – turned out to be a really awesome way to get the story out there.

I have also said that Bradbury deserves some praise for how he presented the initial post that broke the story.

But Presland and Mclachlan take a very narrow view, focussing on the first post only. Bradbury has gone on to try and link it all with Dirty Politics – his next post on it headlines this:

UPDATE: The Prime Minister and the Waitress Part 2 – Dirty Politics?

This post, about the horrendous Herald coverage of the issue – opened with a photo of David Farrar with Rachel Glucina with this caption:

Rachel Glucina and Government pollster and right wing political blogger, David Farrar

Glucina was at the centre of that controversy. I haven’t seen anyone – including Bradbury, Presland nor Mclachlan – provide any evidence that Farrar (or Cameron Slater or the Government) had anything to do with this issue.

But Presland and Mclachlan compared Bradbury extensively with Cameron Slater.

In pushing Dirty Politics links they are all playing dirty, while praising Bradbury for playing it clean. Sheesh.

I don’t think it’s deliberately hypocritical. Most likely they are blind to their double standard.

And before Greg accuses me of suggesting a conspiracy again, this is probably not a co-ordinated or planned approach.

Left wing bloggers seem so obsessed with ‘Dirty Politics’ and the narrow definition they try to apply to the term they are blind to their own mode of operation.

To keep Felix happy I won’t say they’re playing ‘Dirty Politics’ themselves (I understand what you want that term to mean Felix) so I will describe it as playing dirty to promote a political attack.

As Presland did in his post after praising Bradbury.

Rachel Glucina’s attempt at turning the story around by suggesting there was a political angle in the complaint failed miserably and only succeeded in providing an institutional target and showing that Dirty Politics is alive although not so well.

If Felix was consistent he would point out that this doesn’t fit his version of Dirty Politics.

The right had no where to go on this.  Every time one of their nodding heads in the media tried to turn the story around there was blow back.  And as the story took off and international media ran with it you could sense John Key’s credibility ebb.  Crosby Textor will have their work cut out to repair this fiasco.

I think Greg pushes the CT conspiracy quite often. And he brought Farrar into the post:

The response of the right wing bloggers has been interesting.  David Farrar obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it and his early post inappropriate if accurate was as realistically as positive as he could go.

So Farrar “obviously wanted to have nothing to do with it” but Presland said “I wish to praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it” – that’s in relation to the story which was Bradbury’s first post but that’s disingenuous considering Bradbury’s ‘Dirty Politics’ follow-up.

Cameron Slater  is obviously no longer running pro Key lines and is preparing to support his mate Judith Collins in a leadership battle that when it occurs will be bloody and divisive and will leave National in far worse shape.  Let’s be real here.  There is no other leader of the quality of John Key in National.  The possibility of a leader emerging from the ranks of Collins, Joyce, Bennett, Adams or Bridges is one that fills me with confidence that the the next Government will be a progressive one.  Key is their only chance.  And he has been significantly damaged.

Slater’s lack of complicity (despite Presland associating him with it) is turned into a lame leadership hit.

Slater’s line on the story, that the left had stuffed up the chance of a political hatchet job spoke volumes about his world view.  He could not believe obviously (donotlink link) that a left wing blog could publish a story with no intent other than making sure that the story was told.  Subsequent posts suggesting that the waitress should toughen up just reveal a shallowness of human understanding that has always been apparent.

So “subsequent posts” at Whale Oil are relevant but Presland tries to judge Bradbury on one post in isolation “with no intent other than making sure that the story was told”.

If Presland wishes to “praise Bomber Bradbury’s handling of it” then he is in effect praising Bradbury’s attempts to widen the issue in to another example of ‘Dirty Politics’ – which Presland also does himself. He commented here yesterday:

Basically I thought Bomber did really well, way better than Slater in his attempts to achieve similar things.

Presland has been an integral part of an attempt to tie the Herald, Slater and Farrar into the hair story as an example of ‘Dirty Politics’.

He speaks on behalf of all at The Standard:

The rest of the posts were spontaneous. We do not sit down and coordinate and plot posts as part of some conspiracy. Well intentioned individuals post about aspects that they think are important and interesting.

A number of bloggers at Dim-Post and The Daily Blog may have also been spontaneous and un-coordinated.

But they all seem to be singing the same tune – Bradbury impeccable, Key/Herald/Slater/Farrar/right dirty.

If it’s all spontaneous (and it may well be) does that just indicate “well intentioned individuals” are already thoroughly indoctrinated in the ‘Dirty Politics’ campaign?

In praising Martyn Bradbury for one isolated play they have ignored the bigger game and seem oblivious to theirn involvement in the whole dirty sport of politics.