Beige with a megaphone, and earplugs

No, this isn’t about me. It’s about a post be another enemy of left wing activists, Josie Pagani. Like me Josie is concerned about Labour’s failures over the last two and a half terms.

Fifty shades of beige – with a megaphone

The New Zealand Labour party’s prioritisation of gesture politics over intellectual renewal has had catastrophic electoral consequences

This year opened with the release of two polls marking a damning milestone: a decade since the Labour party last led the conservative National party in any published poll. After three elections and nine years in government, National is winning close to 50 per cent voter support compared to Labour’s 30 per cent.

Labour appears to have given up being more popular than National. It aims to form a left bloc with the Greens and New Zealand First, a Trump-ish anti-immigrant party.

Even the left wing activists have just about totally conceded that Labour can’t compete head to head with National and will required Green support at least (if you’re optimistic) and probably also NZ First in a cobbled and hobbled coalition.

According to research, Labour lost the 2014 election because it was not trusted on the economy, people did not like its leader, and because the party refused to rule out a coalition with the militant-left Internet-Mana party, which was so toxic that a staggering 56 per cent ranked it 10/10 on a dislike scale.

Voters distrust the ability of a weak major party to manage its coalition partners. They do not mind coalitions, but if a Labour-led government threatens to be unstable or weak, it hands National an electoral advantage.

And National has done well to consolidate their advantage.

Its decline since owes a lot to the popularity of prime minister John Key, who has governed as a moderate conservative.

This has presented Labour with a dilemma. If it argues the country is going to hell in a hand basket, as it often does, voters view it as unrealistic and carping. Yet if it does not oppose strongly, then the government’s popularity rises further.

And when Labour tries to change the subject to the few topics where it has an advantage, it looks cynical and opportunistic.

Labour have done poorly and consolidated their disadvantages.

Labour’s working class base now often see the party as more interested in social engineering than social mobility. It entertains sugar taxes, but discards taxes on capital. It has seemed more interested in making you a better person than making you better off.

Behaving like a different protest group every week, Labour has turned inward. It opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal which, in government, it started negotiating and which is supported by four former party leaders.

Labour’s nativism reached reactionary depths last year when it compiled a list of people with ‘Chinese-sounding names’ as Exhibit A in its campaign against foreigners buying houses in Auckland.

Phil Twyford recently acknowledged  it was “a less than masterful piece of political communication” – see Twyford admits Chinese name mistake.

Behind the placards and behind the frenzied attacks on foreign corporations, immigrants and John Key, the public sees cynical, risk-averse and calculating individuals placating activists. Fifty shades of beige with a megaphone. Meanwhile, this gesture politics lends itself to emotive, negative campaigning that turns even more voters away.

The message from Labour is often ‘your life is miserable, New Zealand is a dreadful place and getting worse, the world is scary, don’t let it in, and by the way you’re fat – vote for us!’

It’s not an especially progressive pitch, and it is an electoral debacle.

And there’s little sign of any significant change.

Pagani’s harsh but accurate insight is likely to be ignored (for example there has been no post in reaction at The Standard) or she will be bitterly attacked, again.

Her post was mentioned in comments at The Standard but that got a limited, negative response:


Great article by Josie Pagani. Hits the nail right on the head, and drives it home


I have read a lot of Pagani‘s nonsense before. She is used a tool by the elite. She is owned. And you appear either gullible or similarly compromised.

It says a lot of Pagani that trolls like red delusion support her point of view.


Nah, Pagani is afraid of MMP.

Of course Weka’s favoured Green Party is happy for Labour to remain weak and propped up by a big dollop of Green in coalition, but conceding to this as their only realistic path back into Government is a major drop in Labour ambition since the none years of Helen Clark in charge.

The Labour Party may have become beige with a megaphone, but a bigger problem is the earplugs and blinkers.

Pagani’s post is likely to fall on deaf ears, and Labour will continue to struggle.

Progressive hope turns to Trudeau

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

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

Can Trudeau be copied in New Zealand?

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

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

First victory for a progressive party in the Anglosphere…

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


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

Josie Pagani posts at The Pundit:

We need to talk about the one per cent

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

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

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

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

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

Quin illustrates dissent in Labour

In his latest column Phil Quin sums up his despair about Labour: “I am genuinely exasperated by its unrelenting incompetence, and fearful that New Zealand is on the cusp of becoming a one-party state.

I feel much the same, and I’ve seen many others express similar sentiments. A strong democracy benefits from having at least two strong political parties.

Labour’s continued failure to look like a Government in waiting – and their habits of blaming everything and everyone else and of attacking anyone who criticises them rather than address the problems being highlighted keeps limiting and reducing support that they badly need.

Quin points some of this out in You’d never guess who’s accused me of making stuff up.

Of all people, it was Dunedin South MP Clare Curran who took to social media to attack as “fiction” my latest NZ Herald column on the party’s disastrous TPP policy. For good measure, she added  I am “very bitter”.

Is it possible to overdose on irony?

In my plagiarism posts, I presented several examples of Curran lifting entire sections from magazine articles and inserting them without attribution in a Labour Party policy paper. Neither Curran nor anyone else in Labour disputed my account.

By contrast, when calling my column “fiction” and me “very bitter”, Curran failed to produce a scintilla of evidence to support either claim.  Just another baseless ad hominem attack. Ho hum..

This happens every time without fail.  Some outlet or other publishes something from me that contains criticism of the Labour Party because I am genuinely exasperated by its unrelenting incompetence, and fearful that New Zealand is on the cusp of becoming a one-party state.

The response from Labour is never to dispute the facts as I lay them out, or even to question my interpretation. I am simply attacked for being “bitter”.

Try attempting to out-criticise anything to do with Labour at The Standard if you are labelled a right wing nut job and you will see what Quin is getting at,

So why do people choose the ad hominem attack over engaging on the substance of arguments to which they object?  After all, I cop a fraction of what others with unfashionable views endure on a daily basis.  Sadly, personal vilification in lieu of argument is a ubiquitous feature of the modern discourse.

When they have only a party entrenched in negative behaviour without a positive outlook people tend to lash out at others. Instead of addressing and fixing their own faults.

The problem for Labour is that they call in the attack dogs each and every time. All dissent amounts to apostasy.  Every critic must be acting in bad faith: they are embittered over a factional stoush twenty years ago; they harbour ulterior motives; they’re on someone’s payroll.

The impact on people like me who cop the abuse is neither here nor there; what should worry Labour supporters is that an ethos that delegitimises dissent makes reform impossible – and that, without reform, the party’s future looks very bleak indeed.

I also think Labour’s future looks bleak. If they do manage to cobble together a National beating coalition after the 2017 election I think it would be a miracle if they survived in Government longer than a single term – if they manage to last that long.

Quin pointed to examples of the inclination towards personal attack:

So you can see why I might feel a tad hurt by Curran’s digs, since I went out of my way during the plagiarism episode to avoid disparaging her. (Curran also honed in on the Josie Pagani for retweeting my article: “Josie,” she snarled, “why are you so anti-Labour?”).

I saw that exchange between Pagani and Curran and it’s a good illustration of one of Quin’s points.

As for a number of MPs who don’t like criticism I get this when I try to view Curran on Twitter:

You are blocked from following @clarecurranmp and viewing @clarecurranmp’s Tweets.

But Josie Pagani is more open to engagement so it’s easy to see what happened via her.

Labour’s position on TPP undermines all international agreements, from climate change to human rights. Phil Quin:

another piece of fiction by the very bitter Phil Quinn. Why are you so anti-Labour Josie?

another piece of fiction by the very bitter Phil Quinn. Why are you so anti-Labour Josie?” Nice Clare-try engaging in issues

gee Josie. All you do is bag Labour at every turn.

: gee Josie. All you do is bag Labour at every turn.” Your ‘unity’, also collective denial. I want a Labour gov

could have fooled me. Our position clear & principled on the But we haven’t seen the text so reliant on briefings & leaks

Reaction outside a few Labour MPs has suggested their position is far from clear and principled.

Other reactions were mixed.

No you don’t you want a neoliberal national light government.

Pagani don’t give a shit about anything or anybody that isn’t Pagani.

A modern and successful party allows discussion, disagreement and debate surely?

And all Labour does is bag everything in sight and not.

one would of thought so we need new energy , new ideas and new talent

Away from the smug trolls, honestly, & with respect would be nice.

I’m all for that. Sick of snide remarks. I accept Phil’s got the right to make his points.

As Quin said in his post – “Is it possible to overdose on irony?”

Little’s legacy the retention of the Union Jack?

Josie Pagani made an interesting point in a RadioLive interview with Duncan garner about Labour’s and Andrew Little’s stance on opposing everything about the flag change despite it being contrary to party policy.

Patrick Gower had just talked about it being Key’s legacy policy followed by Garner suggesting yesterday Key almost seemed to be conceding on flag change..

Yeah he’ll be worried about cause you’re right Paddy, this is his legacy policy, and he can’t just be stuck with his war on weeds or his cycle pathway, you know he’s gotta have something a bit more iconic so he’ll be really worried.

Key’s known little for those things and far more for other achievements but that’s a side issue.

Personally I think he’s made a really good case for the change in the flag, and I think it’s a shame that the politics, the sort of gotcha politics between Labour and the Nats has sort of got in the way of this.

And Labour will be worried too, cause they don’t want their biggest achievement in Opposition to be preserving the Union Jack.

Both Garner and Gower agreed that that was a really good point.

If Labour succeed in helping retain the current flag it may be a long time before they can credibly try carry out their own policy to change the flag.

It’s no wonder Labour is in trouble

Attention has been given to a group of people with an interest in Labour wanting to set up a ‘think tank” to broaden discussion within the party.

Another person with a close interest in Labour, Greg Presland, blogged on this asking Is this progress?

Richard Harman has blogged on Politik on proposals for a right wing third way think tank being formed in New Zealand.  The think tank is apparently to be modelled on the British Organisation Progress which is a UK based think tank associated with the Labour Party espousing a Blairite third way approach to politics.

Those linked include Stuart Nash, Josie Pagani, Nick Legget and Phil Quin.

Presland concludes:

Apart from an obvious philosophical difference the most frustrating thing for me with a Blairite third way approach is its insistence on triangulating issues.  Being a pale insipid pink is thought to be sufficient.

And the basic problem is that the issues that our world face are so huge that a slightly more benign approach is not going to solve them.  How are we going to deal with climate change for instance by making the ETS slightly more efficient?

The last attempt at formation of such a group, the infamous backbone group in the late 1980s ended in the formation of the Act Party.  Harman reported that there was a heated discussion in Caucus about the current proposal.  No doubt some MPs are keen to avoid past experiences.

That’s relatively mild disapproval of wide views and discussion.

There was some support for the idea in comments, but there was also signs an insidious problem that’s frequently on show at The Standard.

Fellow Standard author and another with a close interest in Labour, Te Reo Putake, commented:

In one way this is a good thing; we’ll be able to identify and ignore the people in the party who are the biggest problem. The downside is that it’s just one more place for the msm to go for anti-Labour stories.

It doesn’t sound like The Standard is much of a broad church. It’s parishioners piss on each other.

This is typical of Labour activists like TRP. He (and others) often identifies people he sees as a problem and tries to drive them away from The Standard.

Ironically he also comments:

The difficulty with that is that these people want to continue the failure. They are offering nothing new.

Very ironic. Then:

We’ve lost two elections since 2008 with leaders who broadly support this kind of regressive, righty thinking. We need new ideas, or at least, a return to the old ideas that work.

He sounds confused. Old ideas that may have worked. Last century sometime. And anyone who begs to differed is excommunicated.

In response to “So, Is the party a broad church or not? It does seem so if you want to do away with those who do not agree with you, Karen.”

Yep: The definition: a group, organization, or doctrine that allows for and caters to a wide range of opinions and people. The fact that the people mentioned in the post are in the LP at one end of the spectrum, and the majority of the members at the other, confirms it. Probably applies to the GP as well.

Claiming to represent “the majority of the members” – intolerant of anyone else.

And TRP had recently demonstrated his approach to people he disagrees with.

11 June 2015 at 11:58 am

[Deleted. Take a month off. TRP]

10 June 2015 at 12:36 pm

[“Falsehoods”. “Thrive for accuracy” I have no time for people who accuse me of lying, as you’ll see shortly. The post, like most here at TS, had a short shelf life. It’s prominent position was brief. It was recognised as inappropriate almost immediately. This is a multiple author site and when mistakes happen we work hard to address the issue as quickly as possible. Now piss off for a week for calling me a liar. TRP]


[Nope he was banned for abusing an author and wasting my time. Yours is for questioning the right to ban. Take a day off, felix. TRP]

Hey Putake

Would you mind telling me why the fuck you’ve deleted my comment? I don’t give a fuck about a ban, [Deleted. If you didn’t give a fuck about a ban, you’d respect it. Come back tomorrow. TRP]

With preachers like that in the Labour church preaching hell and damnation to anyone who strays from their narrow ideology it’s no wonder Labour is in trouble.

Like many people I’m an ex-Labour voter. They don’t want me back. They think they can somehow appeal to people who have never liked politics. How those disaffected voters would be attracted to the TRP doctrine of ‘agree or be shat’ on I have no idea.

“Not as bad as Whale Oil”

Since the release of Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’ there has been much discussion and condemnation of what has been revealed – even though much of the dirtiness of Cameron Slater was already well known. He has boasted about his political uncleanliness.

Last year after the Len Brown revelations just after the local body elections Slater said on The Nation:

Mr Slater argued that Auckland politics was “a dirty disgusting despicable game”.

“It involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels,” he said.

“And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.”


He repeated this on his Whale Oil blog recently. He often quotes ” Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it”, along others from his list of ‘rules’.

Whaleoil’s Rules of Politics

1. If you are explaining, you are losing

2. Utu is good, even necessary

3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too

4. Always know where the bodies are buried

5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels

6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate

7. Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer

9. Speak plain, Speak Simple

10. Remember, I’m telling this story

11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2

12. Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name

There might be a lot of people, especially politicians, giving serious consideration to rule 3 right now.

Slater’s personal attacks and vindictiveness are well known. There’s no one who comes close to his media prominence and dirtiness in New Zealand politics.

So all other bloggers can comfortably claim they are “not as bad as Whale Oil”. But that sets the bar very low and should not excuse lesser levels of dirtiness.

One of the more long serving and respected bloggers Russell Brown posted  We can do better than this at Public Address and concluded:

In one of the early reports that annoyed me, Radio New Zealand’s political editor Brent Edwards, talked about smears being unleashed to “blogs” and “the blogosphere”.

Actually, we’re not all like that. The multitude of bloggers, political bloggers included, have no part in this. And while the cynical side of politics is not new, I do believe that the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can, all of us, do better than this.

Russell is right, we’re “not all like that”. No one else is as bad as Whale Oil. I agree that “the scope, scale and nature of what is described in Hager’s book is unprecedented” – although it shouldn’t really have been a surprise to Russell if he was aware of what Whale Oil has been doing for years.

But in comments Russell seems to think that the ‘all of us” in “We can, all of us, do better than this” doesn’t apply equally to all of us.

It’s over to you, Pete, to identify a left-leaning blogger with even a tenth of the venality and vindictiveness of WhaleOil.

I feel kind of icky agreeing with Pete (sorry, Mr. George) but if our baseline is “not as bad as Whaleoil” that’s a depressingly low bar you can clear without lifting your feet.

Which is really just a morally elevated way of saying “everyone does it”. It’s simply not true. What has happened in and around Whaleoil these past few years is actually of a different nature.

He seems to be claiming it’s not true that everyone doesn’t do it, despite calling for “all od us” to do better.

Some of what Whale Oil has done has been of a different nature” and of a more extreme nature, but there are many examples of dirt mongering across the blogosphere. Russell moderates Public Address fairly well but even his own blog shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. There’s dirt at different levels but there’s dirt – there were even mild attempts to attack me personally to divert from the issues being discussed on that thread (eg ScottY and Kracklite).

Public Address is relatively mild but still allows personal political attacks and dirty comments. The other major left wing blogs The Standard and The Daily Blog allow and promote a lot of abuse and attempts to emulate some of Whale Oil’s “success”.

Lynn Prentice (lprent) at The Standard often boasts about his nastiness:

That is because in my sysop role I’m deliberately a nasty vindictive mean old man with abuse of power issues, whose only redeeming quality is that he is too lazy to be bothered exercising those traits, but who often and almost randomly goes totally over the top when roused.

And as chief moderator that sets the tone for blog with support of a one sided attack culture.

And Martyn Bradbury is well know for over the top rants and abuse, as well as doing party promotional blog posting without revealing he is being paid by or seeking payment for his work, one of the things Slater is correctly criticised for.

Josie Pagan is very familiar with how nasty the left wing blogs can get, they have blasted her a number of times. She recently posted The politics of vilification.

Nicky Hager’s book exposes both the politics of demonisation and the National Government’s role in facilitating it. The right wing blogs have been more extreme, more violent and more coordinated with the parliamentary party and so the book is their comeuppance. 

I agree with that. Whale Oil is obviously the main culprit but Kiwiblog can be very nasty in it’s comments and I think the generally and widely respected David Farrar would admit to overstepping lines of decency at times (as most if not all bloggers do to varying degrees).

But imagine how much harder would it be for the government to deflect some of the disgusting stuff they’ve been involved in if some on the left blogs had not spent so much energy vilifying and demonising people they disagree with.

I’ve been suggesting to left wing blogs for a long time thatthey would be fdar more credible and effective if they cut down on the crap – I’ve been banned from The Standard for giving them advice along those lines.

At least Farrar recognises problems and has pledged ttake measures to try to improve Kiwiblog – Some changes for Kiwiblog.

Josie concluded:

But there is also a wider lesson to everyone about the way politics is conducted. 

As I wrote back in December, “The fundamental principle of the left is our compassion…. Ours is the politics of redemption, forgiveness and humanity.” 

Or, as Nicky Hager elegantly stated on The Nation this morning, “if anyone is doing it, they should stop.

It’s hard to see Whale Oil changing it’s degree of nastiness but if we are to improve political discourse in New Zealand it’s up to all of the rest of us to do what we can to improve – bloggers and politicians.

Directing all the blame at the other lot and demanding action from them ignores those shitting in our own nests.

Yes Russell, we can, all of us, do better than this. ‘All of us’ means not opting out because we’re are not as bad as Whale Oil.

UPDATE: Russell has responded via Twitter:

Thanks for another droning restatement of what you’ve already said. I’m at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it.

I replied: Try using your stature showing some leadership in the blogosphere in raising standards perhaps?

Lynn Prentice on radio on The Standard

Lynn Prentice from The Standard was interviewed by Guyon Espiner on Radio  NZ this morning.

Left wing bloggers defend their own work

Espiner: And joining me in the Auckland studio is Lynn Prentice from the left wing blogsite The Standard. Good morning to you.

Prentice: Good morning.

Espiner: Well, you heard Bill Ralston saying there that this has been happening for years and this is just the new form of it with websites. Is he right?

Prentice: Ah not for the left. Basically we don’t take material particularly from the parliamentary wing. We never have. other blogs might be we don’t.

Prentice doesn’t speak for “the left”. There are other major left wing blogs like Public Address and The Daily Blog – at the latter (which Prentice has been an author at) Martyn Bradbury was posting while a paid consultant to the Mana Party and while involved in the setting up of the Internet Party.

Espiner: So the Standard has never received any information from the Labour Party.

Prentice: We have but a long time back. If you go back you have to go back to the H-Fee back in 2008.

Espiner: So for the last, what, six years you’ve not received any information from anyone at all in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Mike Smith was General Secretary of the Labour Party until August 2009.  He became Prentice’s co-trustee at The Standard in 2010 and became an author. He was an adviser in the Labour leader’s office (in Parliament) up until last year. He is still authoring posts as of today. (Source L Prentice).

Prentice: We will often get stuff pointing at stuff that is already in public.

Espiner: Right. So you have received material but just not fresh material.

Prentice. Nah, That’s right. The thing about it is…

Espiner: You’re in contact with the Parliamentary wing of the Labour Party surely?

Prentice: Yes.

Espiner: Yeah, ok. So you’re really just the left wing equivalent then of Whale Oil are you?

Prentice: No.

Espiner: What’s the difference?

Prentice? The difference is basically we sit there and write opinion, we don’t try to form it. We write our opinions about what we actually do, we don’t actually go off and try and say what everyone should be thinking. We’re not broadcasters in the same way.

Yeah, that’s an interesting explanation. They have even had a number of posts recently imploring people how to vote. See Get Out The Vote!

Espiner: Well that’s a fairly subtle difference isn’t it? You’re forming or making left wing opinions based on contact with the Labour Party at times. You’ve just said that.

Prentice: Not just the Labour Party, I mean we talk to the Greens…

Espiner: Other left wing parties.

Prentice: There’s maybe, I don’t know, fifteen or twenty people who’ve been active on the blog over time, some of them from the Greens, some of them just not affiliated at all like Karol.

Karol recently stated she was not a member of any party but “I have party voted Green in recent elections, and intend to do so again this election” and has been strongly promoting Greens and voting left.

Espiner: Was it originally hosted on the Labour Party server?

Prentice: Ah hem. There was a server courtesy of a, that was donated to the Labour Party which then got ported onto an activist, and we were hosted on the activists running it, and that was for a grand total of about six weeks until we found out that that was actually the case.

Espiner: Right, ok. Why don’t people on The Standard blog blog under their own names?

Prentice: Why should we?

Espiner: Well because when you’re putting an opinion forward, putting your own name to it …

Prentice: Because the fast way to have Cameron Slater go and try and trace you down at work.

Espiner: Well, no…

Prentice: It, it’s actually in my current job I had to actually go off and tell them if Cameron Slater finds I’m here he’ll attack me.

Espiner: Ok, but you could say look, Cameron Slater, no matter what you think of Cameron Slater, you know who he is.  He’s the son of the former National Party president. You’ve got no illusions about where he’s coming from whether you like his material or not. Yep I’m looking at The Standard website now and I have a bunch of people, Rocky, who’s Rocky?

Prentice:  Rochelle Rees, my niece. She’s well known.

She may be well known amongst the regulars at The Standard but will be unknown to casual readers. I check out The Standard quite often and either didn’t know who Rocky was or didn’t remember. Being well known to Lynn doesn’t mean everyone else knows her that well, but they don’t seem to get that.

Espiner: Ok, who..

Prentice: There’s Mike Smith.

Espiner: Who’s um, you’re lprent I presume.

Prentice: Yeah.

Espiner: Who’s Bunji?

Prentice: Bunji’e just one of the guys from Auckland.

Espiner: Who is it?

Prentice: I don’t know.

Espiner: You don’t know who that is?

Prentice? Well, I do know but ‘m not going to tell you.

First he lies, then he won’t say. Fair enough for the latter, except that Bunji himself did say a bit today.

There’s much more and this must surely rumble on, but for a start can I say that I’m unaware of any passing of gossip and scuttlebutt to The Standard – even if I don’t know all the authors.  I know that a few times Labour policy has been sent to us as it was to journalists with an embargo so we can have stories ready and scheduled when it’s announced.  But nothing more than that.

So they have received material before it goes public. A repeat from above:

Espiner: Right. So you have received material but just not fresh material.

Prentice. Nah, That’s right.

Bunji also said today:

People know where I’m coming from far more than whomever is doing today’s Herald editorial.

They know I’m a Labour party member – as I’ve mentioned that – and from my topics, that I’m based in Auckland.  That’s further confirmed by the fact that I’ve blogged about Labour conferences in Auckland – which might cause an accurate assumption that I’m actively involved in my local Labour Electorate Committee.

Ok, so an active electorate party member. But again, ‘people’ don’t know this.  Some regulars will know but many won’t. I didn’t. Unless you happen to notice the comment amongst many that reveals a bit about someone you won’t know. None of the authors (or either trustee) has disclosures or any information about themselves that’s easily available.

Espiner: Ok, well this is the point though isn’t it, because people can’t make up their minds about…

Prentice: …about what they’re writing? Of course they can? It’s sitting right there on the page.

Espiner: Yes, but it’s anonymous, isn’t it.

Prentice: No it’s not anonymous.

Espiner: Well yes it is because we don’t know who these people are.

Prentice: No, but the thing about it is that it’s no more anonymous than the editorial of the Herald…

Espiner: Well let me put this to you.

Prentice: …who are completely anonymous, they don’t even put their names to it.

Not right – here are named people in editorial positions at NZ Herald.  No one is identified in About at The Standard, and rarely is anyone identified on posts apart from their pseudonym (with an exception or two).

Espiner: Yes, but we it could be couldn’t it that these people could be members of the Labour Party, could even be Parliamentary staffers for all we know, they could have very strong links to the Labour Party, so…

Prentice: Except I say they aren’t. Mike Smith says they aren’t, and we’re the people running the Standard.

That’s the Mike Smith mentioned above, who was himself an adviser in the Labour leader’s office not long ago.

Espiner: So none of these people are connected to the Labour Party?

Prentice: No, they might be connected to the Labour Party, they might be members, they might be supporters, but what you’re asking is are they MPs, are they staffers? Nah.

Espiner: Who are they?

Prentice: They’re basically people who’re interested in politics.

Like mickysavage (Greg Presland), who isn’t a staffer but works in David Cunliffe’s electorate committee and set up a donation trust for Cunliffe last year. And who else? No way of most people knowing.

Espiner: And why don’t they put their names to it?

Prentice: Because basically we’ve had people who go off and try to attack them at work, ok. And it’s a strange thing to do. If some of our people like Clint Smith for instance, basically went on as Steve Piersen on the blog, and eventually went off when he went off when he went off to work for Parliamentary Services. He just happened to be out in the open.

I’m not sure that he was out in the open. Clint Smith worked for Labour, switched to Greens (‘Hey Clint’) and earlier this year moved back to Labour. It had been claimed but wasn’t verified that Smith posted at The Standard as ‘James Henderson’ up until the end of last year, if that is true it was as a Green staffer.

Prentice: But the point about it is there’s a long tradition of being pseudonymous on the ‘net. That goes back thirty years…

Espiner: Ok, can I put a hypothetical to you. Someone comes to you with information which is hugely damaging to the National Party, and it’s four weeks before an election, around about where we are now, and what do you do, do you put it on a website?

Prentice: Ah, a lot of the time what we’ll do is just simply forward it to a journo.

A lot of the time?

Prentice: We’re not there to make news, we’re there to write opinion.

Espiner: All right, thank you very much for explaining that and for joining us, we really appreciate your time. That’s Lynn Prentice from the left wing blog site The Standard.

Some may not be interested in making news, but there is a lot of discussion at times about wanting to make news and to be noticed by mainstream media.

I think it’s fair enough that some people choose to use pseudonyms online. I don’t and being known makes me more of a target for personal abuse. I understand that some prefer to avoid that.

But using a pseudonym does alter perceptions of what is written, not knowing if it is just an ordinary unaffiliated person or David Cunliffe’s offsider.

Lynn hates getting advice (he bans people for it) but I’ll give him and Standard authors some – it would help if you had an ‘authors’ page (or add to ‘About’) with named authors with brief backgrounds plus authors with pseudonyms with brief descriptions of their disclosed background. It does make a difference if you know you’re talking to an active party member or a non-aligned individual.

The problem with avoiding saying anything about authors (apart from in comments scattered through the blog) is that it makes it much more likely people will speculate. If an author is hard out promoting a party but their background is unknown many people will presume they are working with or for the party.

They way things are at the moment there is doubt and there is mixed messages that are far from convincing.

UPDATE: Later in the day on Newstalk ZB ex Labour candidate Josie Pagani named three people including Clint Smith who she says blogged as staffers at The Standard. The other two were Neale Jones and Rob Egan.

There has been discussion about this at The Standard (including Prentice) and so far no denials. I’ll update if there is more on this.

Can the economy be fixed?

Josie Pagani asks Has National fixed the economy yet? and links to a website so she has gone to a bit of cost and effort to make a point:

Not surprisingly the answer is


The economy will never be fixed, especially using Josie’s parameters.

“Catching up to Australia” is unlikely to happen (as unlikely as Dunedin catching up on Auckland) unless Australia has a major crash that we avoid, and that’s also unlikely because our trade and our economy are very reliant on theirs.

However there are many indicators suggesting National has the economy on track to improvement.

South Island leads national recovery

A swell of optimism from the South Island is expected to drive record business activity throughout New Zealand this year, the ANZ’s quarterly Business Micro Scope survey of small firms says.

Editorial: Economy focus for election year

All indicators and experts are pointing to a boomer year for the New Zealand economy in 2014 which, after about five years of gloom, cannot come a moment too soon.

Yesterday, HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said the bank was predicting New Zealand would be the “rock star” economy this year, with growth outstripping most developed countries around the world.

While the upturn is being driven largely by the Christchurch reconstruction boom and high dairy prices, as opposed to widespread growth across a range of sectors, economic growth will shape the political conversation this election year.

The timing could not be any better for the National-led Government. Prime Minister John Key will play on his party’s credentials as a sound financial manager, pointing to the flourishing economy as the fruit of its firm hand, clear eyes and sensible policy. National will tell voters that a Labour/Greens Government would put all that at risk. It’s a compelling argument for middle New Zealand voters concerned primarily about pocket book issues.

The big question this election year is what impact a Labour-Green-Mana government would have on the economy compared to how it’s likely to go if National remain in charge. It’s a given that Labour-Green-Mana would increase government spending more, possibly substantially. It’s also likely they would increase taxes more.

Despite Josie’s effort to prove her leftish credentials she is fighting an uphill battle taking National on with the economy.

Likewise Labour, who have to somehow convince voters they can manage the economy better than National despite having high spending coalition partners Greens and Mana.

National may have some problems if they get too close to kooky Colin Craig but the Conservatives don’t appear to be a threat to the economy.

Which the voters prefer between National (and maybe Act, United Future and Conservatives) or Labour and Greens (plus maybe Mana) is this year’s election’s big question. If NZ First make the threshold they could go either way – but while Winston Peters may be a threat to coalition stability he is not seen as much as an economic threat.

Is the economy fixed yet? Is the weather fixed yet?

It looks like the sun is starting to shine on our economy. Talking up a storm on that will be difficult for Labour.

Why The Standard can be nasty

The Standard is well known for being Labour and being nasty. That’s not strictly correct, it’s not just Labour, there are commenters there who support Greens, Mana and non-aligned.

But it’s reputation for nastiness, abuse and bullying is justified. It is bragged about by blog authoritarian Lynn Prentice, like this yesterday:


The only person who truly goes for full-blown nasty vilification and abuse on this site is me. Having dealt with similar dickheads for the last 30 years over many kinds of online forums, I have observed that the only way to make such fools aware of what they are doing to others is to do exactly the same back to them. Except do it nastier – a lot nastier. I’ve found that it causes anyone to pause and consider what they do on a site if they have to consider what awakening the site ogre is going to do to them. ]

This was in response to a comment by ‘Pete’ (not me):

I am not sure why you are surprised. I read Red Alert and The Standard regularly (as well as some of the right wing blogs), and have noted that some of the opinion pieces and the comments contained a heavy thread of personal abuse.

Personally, I find this very distasteful. I would far rather have a a robust exchange of views and leave the personality driven stuff out of it. If you read the comments then you will see that it is many of the regular contributors/commenters who engage in this stuff.

I am strongly of the view that this ‘vilification’ of people is a turn off for many left of centre voters, and definitely for those in the middle. When Clare Curran had a go at Peter Leitch on Red Alert some time ago the response was a dramatic illustration of how people feel about denigration in general.

I feel that the contributors of left and right wing blogs (but mainly left) frequently, just can’t help revealing their nasty side, and that this continual diet of attacks on people from all ‘sides’ creates an unfavourable impression of left wing politics. It definitely does not speak to values such as inclusion.

My view is that it might be a coop but it is a bit rich to allow contributors free reign and then hide behind site policies. But then, it is their blog, so that is what you get.

Prentice frequently promotes his nastiness. Especially when anyone points out the toxic nature of his blog. This has all resulted from Josie Pagani pointing it out in The left must stand up to abuse.

It’s time for the tolerant, open and compassionate left to stand up to vilification and abuse when it is practised by sections of the left.

Martyn Bradbury’s unreasonable aggression has produced a truckload of ugly incidents lately, but the pattern of reprehensible abuse and aggression is not restricted to him.

Check out the tone of comments on The Standard nearly any given day. 

I have no problem with argument – it’s why we are here. The contest of ideas is vital to progress and the only way we can tell good sense from bad.  So therefore it is important to distinguish argument from bullying, from hatred and denunciation, and from the politics of exclusion.

Calling for tolerance or decent behaviour at The Standard more often has the opposite effect.

I’ve seen it all before. In fact in Prentice’s response to Pagani’s ‘right of reply’ he used his banning of me as some sort of example – and Pete George (who got banned from here for trying to say how we should run our site) in particular.

That ban was in August 2012 but it’s worth repeating what I said then…

micky, you may not have noticed but the overwhelming majority of flame wars are one sided attempts, and often with only one aim, to attack me regardless of what I post. If you look just below here I posted something and the usual trolls attacked, and the exact same topic was deliberately re-raised and discussed.

If you want to be an exclusive club of hard lefties that harrasses off anyone you take a dislike to then you need to be more upfront.

Why “The Standard”?

The Standard newspaper – from where our masthead comes – was founded by labour movement activists in the 1930s. They used it as a vehicle to share their views with a broader audience – a perspective they felt the mainstream media was representing poorly. We think the same is true today.

Maybe the blog has evolved since that ideal. If you want to be narrow minded and nasty don’t try and pretend to yourselves you ‘re a flagship for the broad left.

Much of the active comment here would not appeal to most potential Labour or Green voters. Nor would the behaviour.

Negative attack politics seems to be the core activity, in posts and comments. I just happen to attract some of it, but it’s far more pervasive than that. If that’s how you want to be then fair enough, but it doesn’t seem to satisfy many of you, this place oozes discontent and bitterness.

You’ll attract better if you act better. If that’s what you want.

…and what Prentice said in banning me.

[lprent: Re-read what you quoted. Even after all of this time and for that matter bans for it, you appear to be trying to spin what this site is about.

We’re not trying to talk to “potential Labour or Green voters”. We are trying to spread the perspective of “labour movement activists”. You appear to be such a political newbie that you have not realized that these are two radically different things.

We simply don’t care except in general terms about getting the voters voting because we’re not a political party and that isn’t our task. Sure some of us do that in other roles. But this site is here to allow people on the left to play with ideas and argue. We make it public so that people can see what we’re interested in and are arguing about. We rather enjoy having people of other political bents coming in and arguing provided that they can argue and follow our site rules.

What you seem to fail to understand is that as well as putting up ideas for criticism, there are objectives of the site includes pointing out the flaws of political policies, flawed economics, political idiots, brown-nosing journos, and outright thickheads like yourself. This is because those are also part of the political process, which is something that you seem to prefer that others do not do. Most people around here have long since concluded that is because you hate mirrors….

I’d ask if you get the point, but it is quite apparent that you never do think on what others say. For some reason you appear to think that examining and expressing your own unthinking and often bigoted ideas about the left is a preferable technique to listening to others or actually thinking.

Permanent ban for yet again trying to tell us what we should be doing with the site. I’m tired of it and I really don’t think you’re capable of either learning or holding your end up in any kind of discussion. ]

It’s a bit difficult holding up your end of a discussion when you get banned and then lectured.

And nothing seems to have changed since then. The Standard is likely to keep on shitting in the left nest, led by Prentice and supported by those who follow his example.

The Standard can be nasty because that’s how Prentice wants it, and that’s how some there make it with him.

That won’t help the chances of the left in this year’s election, but that’s their choice. They seem to prefer a nasty and divisive friend/enemy approach to politics. Ironically that’s one of the things that repels the 800,000 voters they think will win them the election.

Espiner, abuse and imperiling democracy

There’s been an interesting debate at The Pundit on a post by Josie Pagani which relates to Martyn Bradbury attacking the appointment of Guyon Espiner to Morning Report. Bradbury included Josie Pagani in his hissy fit Espiner, Hosking & Paul Henry – the 3 Broadcasters of the Apocalypse.

He has some support from Stuart Munro commenting at The Pundit:

Martyn’s concern about Espiner is not misplaced – unless he radically lifts his game it will erode what was customarily a fairly high standard at National Radio.

For some roles it wouldn’t matter, but for the routine grilling of the most disingenuous people in New Zealand, politicians, to send in the muppets is to imperil democracy.

At best Martyn’s concern is premature and excessive. And out of step with the majority reaction I’ve seen that applauds Guyon’s appointment. In contrast I’ve seen just a few who have reacted “he’s not one of us so he is enemy” – and referring to Guyon as a muppet who will “imperil democracy”.

This relates back to Josie’s main point, that The left must stand up to abuse.

There is something wrong with a version of the left that despises people.But what Martyn Bradbury and the demonisers are attempting is
ex-communication. Their conduct is anti-ideas because, confronted with
someone who has a different idea, they don’t engage. They vilify.

That’s true (and of some on the right as well, it hapens daily on Kiwiblog as it does at The Standard). It seems to be a symptom of political frustration, if they can’t get someone to agree, if they disagree – or don’t get appointments of people who seem agreeable – they attack and vilify, and try to shout down or shut down.

This friend/enemy approach must be counterproductive but if you point that out you get attacked as well, accused of being the vilifier.

I think abusive politics does far more to imperil our democracy than the appointment of one widely respected journalist to one job in one media outlet