“…the Dom Post’s recent transformation into unthinking Identity Politics mouthpiece”

Dominion Post readers – is this a fair comment on the newspaper? I don’t get it, and only see a wide mix of coverage via Stuff.

The term ‘identity politics’ is coming up more these days. It’s a fairly vague term to me, and it seems can mean different things.

Identity politics are political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify. Identity politics includes the ways in which people’s politics are shaped by aspects of their identity through loosely[clarification needed] correlated social organizations. Examples include social organizations based on age, religion, social class or caste, culture, dialect, disability, education, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender identity, generation, occupation, profession, race, political party affiliation, sexual orientation, settlement, urban and rural habitation, and veteran status.

The term “identity politics” has been in use in various forms since the 1960s or 1970s, but has been applied with, at times, radically different meanings by different populations.


The term identity politics has been used in political discourse since at least the 1970s. One aim of identity politics has been for those feeling oppressed to articulate their felt oppression in terms of their own experience by a process of consciousness-raising.

Identity politics, as a mode of categorizing, are closely connected to the ascription that some social groups are oppressed (such as women, ethnic minorities, and sexual minorities); that is, the claim that individuals belonging to those groups are, by virtue of their identity, more vulnerable to forms of oppression such as cultural imperialism, violence, exploitation of labour, marginalization, or powerlessness. Therefore, these lines of social difference can be seen as ways to gain empowerment or avenues through which to work towards a more equal society.

Some groups have combined identity politics and Marxist social class analysis and class consciousness — the most notable example being the Black Panther Party — but this is not necessarily characteristic of the form. Another example is MOVE, members of which mixed black nationalism with anarcho-primitivism (a radical form of green politics based on the idea that civilization is an instrument of oppression, advocating the return to a hunter gatherersociety). Identity politics can be left wing or right wing, with examples of the latter being Ulster Loyalism, Islamism and Christian Identity movements.

During the 1980s, the politics of identity became very prominent and it was linked to a new wave of social movement activism.

The mid-2010s have seen a marked rise of identity politics, including white identity politics in the United States. This phenomenon is attributed to increased demographic diversity and the prospect of whites becoming a minority in America. Such shifts have driven many to affiliate with conservative causes including those not related to diversity.  This includes the presidential election of Donald Trump, who won the support of prominent white supremacists such as David Duke and Richard B. Spencer (which Trump disavowed.)





Wellington’s daily newspaper has been running under a different name for the last week and a bit.

Embracing te reo at a symbolic level is one thing. Catering for a target marker is another. Perhaps they surveyed customers and got an indication that this would be popular, but newspapers are struggling to not drop their circulation too much and struggling to make money. This is risky – if they miss out on sales because people don’t recognise what newspaper is for sale, and if the precipitate more losses in circulation, it will be hard for them to get them back.

They do still call themselves the Dominion Post in the small print at the base of the Stuff website pages.+

The Dom Post circulation was down 10% in the year to 31 March 2018, to about 44,000 copies – details here.


What now for Partnership Schools?

Dominion Post editorial: How to fix the problems with charter schools

They are officially called Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua in New Zealand, the editorial didn’t refer to them as this at all.

Charter schools pose a number of problems for the coalition government. Labour had made it clear for a long time that it opposed the schools. But now it seems that the government can’t stop some planned charter schools from opening because of contracts signed with the previous government.

Education MInister Chris Hipkins is, as a result, pedalling back from his earlier statement that four new charter schools due to open in 2019 wouldn’t go ahead. It seems fairly clear that the new government can’t renegue on contracts signed by the former one. The law is the law.

That, however, is a passing problem born out of the transition between governments. In future, Labour will prevent any new charter schools, as it is entitled to do. It has campaigned against charter schools and promised to stop them.

In that, it has a far better mandate to stop further schools than the National-led Government ever had for introducing therm in the first place. The charter schools were cooked up in a deal between National and its helper party Act.

The charter schools represented a major shift in education policy promoted by a tiny far-right party whose voter support was negligible.

Agreed to by a majority in Parliament in 2011, passed by five votes. That’s more than the three vote majority that the current government has, so it was a better mandate.

The coalition has a political problem with charter schools because some important characters in its ranks, such as Willie Jackson, have previously been outspoken supporters of the schools.

And some eminent Labourites such as Michael Cullen have wondered how a progressive government might allow for more choice and experimentation in education than under the present system.

The motivation of Māori leaders such as Jackson is understandable enough. The education system is clearly still unsuited for too many Māori students. The gap between Pakeha and Māori achievement in schools remains disturbingly large. So some Maori leaders turned to charter schools as allowing a new and freer way of aiding poor Māori students.

The system certainly needs enough flexibility and scope to allow experimentation and new approaches to this fundamental problem. The question is: how to allow this while removing the grave problems associated with charter schools?

Grave problems?

David commented:

Have to rank as probably the stupidest editorial ever, I think it was dictated by the teachers union. Inevitably Charter schools will remain and be given a different name, as will National Standards, the TPP etc etc. because they are popular with Maori, with parents and with the people who make the money that funds all the extravagance.

If a government wants to shut down what has now proven to help the most disadvantaged in society for no other reason than their key donors demand it then that is a betrayal to all you told us all you stood for.



ComCom and Dominion don’t get it

Today’s Dominion Post editorial complains The Commerce Commission doesn’t get it

Do they?

The ground is moving under journalism companies everywhere. Readers are migrating in their hordes to the web, with its endless flood of information.

Newspapers are fighting for survival, and news websites, even the most prominent, struggle to compete with the ravenous global attention-grabbers – the Facebooks and the Googles.

These are all banalities by now. It is a shame for New Zealand that the Commerce Commission has not properly grappled with them.

Fairfax needs to do a lot better grappling with the real problems facing media in New Zealand.

It ought to have seen how massive the media challenge ahead is – and allowed the companies to join, to give them a fighting chance of pushing on for years to come. Instead, it looked to the past

Bigger and bigger media companies is from the past to perhaps.

The Commission took a far too rosy view of the near future, banking on newspapers’ survival, lethargy from the broadcasters, and the continued success of the companies’ websites. But the market is in a state of near-constant upheaval.

So more innovative change is required than merging into a bigger company. That won’t address the problems – unless Fairfax and NZME thought it would enable them to just put up a pay wall. That could easily be a disaster.

UBI “deserves consideration”

Today’s Dominion editorial says that a Universal Basic Income merits “a close look”.

Labour’s ‘universal basic income’ idea deserves consideration

Labour is flirting with a “universal basic income” – a radical and intriguing idea that is having a moment in several countries around the world.

There are plenty of questions about such a policy, but it merits a close look.

I agree it merits a close look, but that doesn’t mean a look should lead to a policy.

On the other hand, Labour is only “considering a limited trial of a universal basic income-type system in a town or region”. (Count the qualifiers there).

How long would they run a trial for to see if it’s going to work successfully?

A minimum income would recognise the value of domestic work: parents at home would, along with everyone else, receive the payday. It might also encourage innovation by giving entrepreneurs a small safety net while they try a new venture.

Which could result in more risk taking and more failures.

All of that adds up to something, but it isn’t enough to be convincing yet. The questions around a universal income are serious. The fiscal cost is one. The political hurdles are another – a reduction in the pension, say, would be hard to justify as well as electoral dynamite.

The UBI would have to be set lower than current Super levels, which wouldn’t be universal, or Super would need to be lowered, which would have serious implications for many retired people, or the UBI would have to be set the same as Super, which would be horrendously expensive (that is, taxes would have to rise a lot).

Labour deserves some credit for starting a useful debate. But if it wants it to go any further, the party needs to get beyond the “dole for everyone” caricature and prove that the serious critics have it wrong – that there’s a feasible way to really make it happen.

That’s going to be a significant challenge for Labour.

Suffocating mainstream media

Newspaper circulations continue to slide around New Zealand, which won’t surprise anyone.

The latest Press Audit results are here.

Twelve month movements:

  • Dominion Post -13.70%
  • The Press -8.32%
  • NZ Herald -5.69%
  • Otago Daily Times -3.51%

I’m part of the ODT decline, I dropped my long time subscription last year.

All but one provincial newspaper are down, the exception being the Northern Advocate which rose 1.59%.

But this is just circulation (and large reductions in print advertising revenue). All the large newspapers also have online sites.

It may seem obvious why print news is in decline, but one person claims to be suffocating mainstream media.

One thing is for sure, no one wants yesterday’s papers.

My audience is growing. I guess you have to be relevant and reflect society. The mainstream media have not done that and their sales are sliding to oblivion.

I hope to be able to help suffocate them further.

The Dominion Post is dead on its feet. They have less circulation daily than I have readers on Whaleoil.


Except that comparing print circulation with online readership is a bit silly – the Dominion Post has a substantial online readership via Stuff.

Alexa New Zealand rankings:

  • Stuff: 6
  • NZ Herald: 10
  • Otago Daily Times: 123
  • Whale Oil: 170

Even a tumbleweed provincial ODiTy outranks the niche blog.

(Alexa is only a rough indicator but that surprised me).

Andrew Little: from euphoria to reality

Andrew Little will probably have been greatly encouraged by the euphoric response to his Labour Conference speech in the weekend. But beyond the party faithful and hopeful, reality has set in with some brutal assessments.

I thought Little’s speech showed some hope and promise. It contrasted with his unimpressive interviews in The Nation and Q & A. But one speech does not a leader make.

It was an important speech for the party. but going by media reaction it will have done little to lift Little’s credibility as a potential Prime Minister, or lift Labour’s credibility as a Government in waiting.

Audrey Young gave a positive report in Little smashed it – literally.

Andrew Little smashed it.

He has two years to win over the public before the next election.

His speech to the Labour conference this year needed to win over the members, who afterall, did not support him in the leadership contest a year ago.

Job done, as they say.

It was one of the best speeches by a Labour leader in recent years, in both content, delivery and production.

It succeeded in showing a fuller picture of Andrew Little the person and give a clearer idea of what sort of Prime Minister he would be.

Andrea Vance had a mixed report in Dreams are free – but the electorate knows ambitious policies aren’t:

Little’s first duty was to announce the grounds on which Labour will oppose the TPP.

The deal is a touch-paper for the left and Little is walking a tightrope between the pro-free trade and the anti-corporate elements in his party.

His position is confused – and he’s probably going to spend the next week defending it.

And the reality:

The past year clearly hasn’t been wasted. Little’s team have been learning from past mistakes. But one factor remains a constant – for Labour to win they must persuade the electorate they won’t be profligate.

Little’s asking for patience over spending plans and won’t say if he’ll raise taxes. Dreams are free – but the electorate knows ambitious policies aren’t.

That’s a future challenge for Little. Labour’s conference talked about health, education and jobs, jobs, jobs, to be created by a Labour Government. It’s easy to take spending, spending, spending out of that with little sign of hiow that will be paid for.

But Little’s Sunday euphoria has been crashed to reality in today’s Dominion editorial – Andrew Little is not the man to lead Labour out of the wilderness.

Little had moved long before last weekend’s annual party conference to kill off the remnants of the Leftish policy Labour touted last year.

Little now stands on a bare platform with no significant policy. The fact that nobody much cared when he threw out the old policies might be taken as a sign of a newly unified Labour Party. Or it might be a sign that Labour is a corpse. It doesn’t have the strength to fight or even to disagree with itself. So the attempt to hide everything behind closed doors wasn’t even needed.

Having no policy to sell, Little tried to sell himself. His “impassioned” speech was in fact awkward and unconvincing.

Bellowing about the Kiwi dream and promising “Jobs. Jobs. Jobs” is empty posturing and oddly out of kilter with the national mood. So is the pledge to “turn the page” on the last seven years.

We’ve yet to see whether the country (or polls refeklecting the mood of the country) sees it like this – or even say anything of Little’s speech.

Little will claim that it’s too early in the electoral cycle for policy details, and he’s right. But it’s never too early to create a buzz or the impression that the old party is coming back to life.

Labour can’t even take the step of injecting new blood into its leadership with the fresh face of Jacinda Ardern.

Her qualities are modest, but she is a sign of life. Labour has few other such signs.

‘Same old’ Labour without any policies is going to be a hard perception top turn around.

Neither as a union politician nor as a parliamentarian has Little been a bold or lively reformer. He has little charisma and a lack of new ideas.

It’s hard to believe he will lead Labour out of the wilderness.

That’s harsh.

But it’s a dose of reality. Little should get some confidence from the party reception of his speech but he needs to appear strong and positive regularly, without the double speak he has resorted to over the flag change and the TPPA.

The Otago Daily Times editorial today is also on Little and Labour – Little needs voter momentum.

By all accounts, Labour Party leader Andrew Little made a strong showing at the party’s annual conference held in Palmerston North at the weekend.

Snippets of his speech shown on television news reports, and comment pieces published in this newspaper, indicated Mr Little has managed to crack through the veneer surrounding him since his narrow election as leader.

Reading through the speech at leisure, there are hints of a man with deeper thoughts than previously indicated.

Mr Little gives a sense of direction, something lacking in Labour since the defeat of the Helen Clark-led government which brought in former financial trader John Key as prime minister.

National have managed to win three elections with sparse policy platforms, but they have had John Key who was immediately popular when he took over leadershiop of National and he remains popular.

Labour have lost three elections and turned over four leaders. They have been busy u-turning on a number of policies so now have very little.

Mr Little is seen as humourless, dour and part of the fun police of the Labour Party while Mr Key is shown schmoozing with All Blacks, royalty and crowds of his supporters.

What Mr Little needs to do now is get out into the electorates in which Labour lost the party vote and start securing voter support.

It will not be an easy task.

Many voters have been turned off by Labour’s list of recent leadership changes and a lack of change in MPs.

Even now, there is an ongoing back-of-the-mind thought Mr Little will not lead Labour into the next election.

What is disappointing is Labour feeling the need to hold all but a few high-profile speeches at its conference behind closed doors.

It will not be easy for Mr Little to convince even the party faithful in places such as Dunedin he is the one to take Labour back into power.

He languishes in the polls, gaining little traction with voters.

And, despite a front bench reshuffle, Labour MPs are still seen as too far out of touch with real New Zealand.

Little has failed to excite the polls.

National-lite with a charisma deficit and limited and aged line-up is going to be a hard sell, especially when Labour are also going to need Greens and probably NZ First.

Little lifted his game in his conference speech. But he will need to lift his and Labour’s game consistently and substantially to build on that.

Confronting war versus promoting peace

John Key has outlined the Government approach to dealing with the Islamic State threat in the Middle East. There have been a variety of reactions.

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports on what Key said in John Key: Kiwi forces will help train Iraqis fight ISIS

Three NZ Defence Force personnel have already left for the Middle East to scope out a role for New Zealand forces to help train Iraqi forces fight Isis, probably in conjunction with Australia.

But any such training would be done “behind the wire” and would be undertaken by regular forces on a base, not by the SAS, Prime Minister John Key said today.

“New Zealand cannot and should not fight Iraqis’ battles for them. I am ruling out New Zealand sending SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq.”

Later he said the SAS could be deployed to help to protect a base in which New Zealand Forces were conducting training.

Mr Key said the role of the SAS would not be similar to the “aid and assist” role in Afghanistan, which saw it accompany the Afghanistan Crisis Response Unit on jobs.

The Dominion Post (Stuff) raises fears and dramatics in Key lights a fuse that may fire up terror:

It may not have been coincidence that John Key chose Guy Fawkes day to light a bonfire under New Zealand’s complacency about being far removed from terrorism.

Key’s landmark speech outlining New Zealand’s national security risks paints a stark picture of the rising threat from within.

There are radicalised Islamic State sympathisers living and working among us, some of them actively discussing terrorist acts on New Zealand soil, Key told a Wellington audience.

They included those thwarted in their wish to take up arms in Syria with the Islamic State (Isis) and who now posed a threat to New Zealand’s safety and security.

With the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament still fresh in people’s minds, few will quibble at Key’s view that we can no longer rely on our place at the bottom of the world protecting us from such acts.

They stress the threat:

But that does not minimise the nature of the threat from Isis and its chilling use of social media to spread its “kill a Westerner” message.

That could be brought even closer to home if Isis makes specific threats to New Zealand after Key’s announcement yesterday of a military contribution. That contribution is likely to be limited and confined to training Iraqi forces.

But Isis is unlikely to draw that distinction.

Karol at The Standard quotes Metiria Turei’s idealistic view in Turei for peace & freedom: rejects politics of fear

The Green Party stands for peace and freedom.

Peace is the best weapon we have in achieving personal security. It is a simple fact that New Zealanders are safest in a peaceful world.

And our democracy is only as strong as our personal freedoms. When personal freedoms are eroded our democracy is weakened.

Today, John Key has eroded both our quest for peace at home and abroad, and eroded New Zealanders personal freedoms.

By offering support the US led war with ISIS we are part of a strategy that reduces the prospects of enduring peace in the Middle East; and in the process we are also being told that we have to give up freedoms here at home too.


Mr Speaker

Today I speak on behalf of a truly independent foreign policy that works for peace as the best form of security.

A foreign policy that aligns foreign and domestic interests.

I speak on behalf of our personal freedoms. I put them on a pedestal, only to be eroded in the most extreme of circumstances.

And I speak on behalf of those New Zealanders who believe in alternatives to war and fear; those who aspire to peace and freedom.

We can build a better world, but it will require a better approach than the one outlined by the Prime Minister today.

Most people want peace – but when some people are intent on war doing nothing won’t stop them. Pacifism didn’t do much good for the Moriori.

Karol concludes:

Today Metiria Turei was bold and clear.  She showed a positive way forward.  I give her a standing ovation!

Rather than accept the narrative Key is trying to build, Turei identities and rejects that narrative. At the same time, she provides an alternative narrative, with a positive way forward.

The real world needs the promotion of peace, but it also needs to confronting of warmongers.

Severely flawed royal tour poll

Self selecting online polls are unreliable indicators of public opinion no matter how well they are done, but a Dominion Post poll on the royal tour leaves a glaring gap in it’s options.

             Are you hoping to see the royals? 

o  I’m lining up to see them every chance I get!

o  I’d be happy to get just a glimpse of them.

o  It would be nice to see them, but it’s OK if I don’t.

o  No! I’m a republican and don’t care for royalty.     

The poll is attached to an editorial praising the royals and the tour – Editorial: Give royals a jolly good time – so people interested in the tour are far more likely to click on the editorial link and see the poll than those who don’t care.

The questions are unbalanced, with three options for people who might like to see the royals and only one for those who don’t want to see them.

Worse, the “don’t care” option is tied to being a republican. It’s quite likely there are far more people who don’t consider themselves republicans and don’t care than republicans who don’t care.

This poll is severely stacked against showing a representative sample of opinion.

UPDATE: I linked this to Twitter and got a response from someone from the Dom-Post:

Hi Pete – we hear you. We will amend the poll to make the ‘not interested’ option unlinked to republicans. Thanks

That’s a bit better but changing a poll question part way through the polling is not going to help accuracy, although it’s been changed early in the polling period.

And it doesn’t address the other flaws. Self selecting polls associated with news or opinion articles are for entertainment, they can’t be considered representations of public opinion.

New question in poll:

Are you hoping to see the royals?

 o  I’m lining up to see them every chance I get!

 o  I’d be happy to get just a glimpse of them.

 o  It would be nice to see them, but it’s OK if I don’t.

 o  I don’t care for royalty.


Dom Post wrong about United Future

The Dominion Post looks at the political year for the parties, including United Future:


Reinvent leader Peter Dunne and the party – or slowly fade into obscurity.
Hope that policies like “flexi super” give it some much-needed oxygen.

That is sort of accurate but omits some important points.

United Future has to reinvent the party without Peter Dunne, if this isn’t his last term I don’t seem him staying for more than one more. If he stands again next year UnitedFuture have to reinvent as more than a one man party.

And they have to do more than ‘hope’, they have to find ways of making themselves more relevant. Flexi Super is an opportunity (credit to UF for that) but they have to take advantage of it and make it count.

And the party needs to do much more. For that they need the people to do it. The party has a very sound policy base and would provide a very good opportunity for anyone with centre-ish liberal-ish inclinations to fast track their political ambitions.