Iconic Thunberg target of awful attacks but ‘allies’ are her target

Greta Thunberg has become an international icon of youth concerns about climate change.

She has attracted over the top and awful attacks from some who seem threatened by having to change the world to stop the world from suffering potentially irreversible damage due to predicted climate change.

But she is also a threat to politicians who think she is on their side.

Stephen Buranyi (Guardian): Greta Thunberg’s enemies are right to be scared. Her new political allies should be too

Greta Thunberg has made a lot of enemies. They are easy to recognise because their rage is so great they cannot help making themselves look ridiculous. Thunberg’s arrival in the US earlier this month set off rightwing pundits and then the president himself. The conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza compared her look to a Nazi propaganda poster; a Fox News guest called her a “mentally ill Swedish child” being exploited by her parents; and Trump mocked her on Twitter as a “happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”, after a speech in which she urgently laid out the dismal prospects for her generation’s future.

These are the latest attacks, but they aren’t the darkest, or most unhinged. Arron Banks intimating that she might drown crossing the Atlantic in August might be the single worst example – or you can stare directly into the abyss by witnessing the depraved abuse Thunberg receives across the social media networks.

Social media is notorious for attacks on messengers in trying to discredit messages.

Thunberg’s age and gender undoubtedly annoy her critics, but they’re melting down because she explicitly makes the connections that scientists are generally unwilling to make. Namely that their scientific predictions for the climate, and the current economic and political order, may not be compatible.

Continuous growth – economic, population, consumption – is untenable. If the economy keeps growing then crashes are inevitable. if the population keeps growing then the human race is at increasing risk of a crash in food production, or even an inability to keep increasing food production.

Catastrophe may not happen in our lifetimes, but the longer we let things continue as without doing much about it, the greater the risk for us, or for future generations.

Last year’s IPCC report warned there were just 12 years left to avoid irreversible damage to the climate.

That has been misrepresented as 12 years until the world will end. The warning was overstated, and that has been amplified by critics.

Thunberg refers to this often, updating the count as if it were a timebomb strapped to the chest of her entire generation: the closer it gets to zero, the more radical action seems justified.

It’s a moral argument, fundamentally, that assumes the climate crisis will be worse than any disruption caused by addressing it.

I’ve seen Greens (national and local body politicians) here push this argument here. Not just the disruption of trying to address it, in particular the cost. But they don’t seem to have done costings on trying to mitigate the effects of climate change – it seems more of a pie in the sky faith based argument, absent any practical suggestions.

We have already seen something similar in action on a smaller scale in Dunedin, the almost evangelical and expensive  introduction of cycle lanes on busy highways and streets that have increased cycle use, but from hardly any to a bit more but still not a lot.

Carbon moves the deadly clock forward, and anything that facilitates that must be bad.

But we really can’t suddenly cease use of carbon, suddenly cease use of fossil fuels, suddenly cease use of cars, trucks, planes. Trying to achieve anything like that would threaten civilisation more than effects of climate change. At least more suddenly.

She judges long-touted paradigms of “green growth” and market-based solutions as failures by this simple measure. “If solutions within this system are so impossible to find then maybe we should change the system itself,” she said at the UN climate conference in Katowice last year.

Change the system to what? Suddenly or with some sort of transition?

I think that rapid change to world systems would pose bigger risks, and more rapid risks, than business as usual. At best rapid change would cause major disruptions, and the end result could easily be worse than the established systems.

I think that radical change is being promoted because politicians and leaders have failed to act enough incrementally (or failed to act at all, or acted more irresponsibly).

The right doesn’t just mindlessly explode at every climate activist. Thunberg has none of the unthreatening geniality of Mr Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, or the various Hollywood celebrities who have taken on climate as a cause. She styles herself as a climate populist: she invokes a clear moral vision, a corrupt, unresponsive system – and has a knack for neatly separating an “us” and a “them”. When she spoke of her supporters “being mocked and lied about by elected officials, members of parliament, business leaders, journalists”, she was drawing now-familiar political lines against the elite.

This framing releases ordinary people from complicity in the climate crisis, just as other populisms release them from blame for their economic or social fate, and directs that feeling towards a political enemy. “Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie,” Thunberg told attendees at Davos earlier this year. “Someone is to blame.” A 2017 report showing that just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 has become a popular reference among protesters. The alchemy of populism is that powerlessness fuels anger rather than despair.

And anger at inaction is growing, around the world – and here in New Zealand. James Shaw is promising carbon zero legislation but that seems to have been delayed (he has been Minister of Climate Change for nearly two years).

Thunberg’s critics previously understood exactly what to expect from the climate issue. Even if they didn’t follow it closely, they could intuit, as most people could, that the mainstream channels of communication were gunked up with denial and obstruction, and international negotiations were governed by a politics that was accommodating to the status quo. Despite the lofty promises, no one believed anything would change.

It isn’t just that Thunberg has made climate politics popular, she has – for the first time since the early days of the climate justice movement – made them populist on a large scale, something these people rightly see as a threat to the more liberal order that suited them fine. A good reactionary recognises the potential vehicle for real change, and they hate it.

Yes, some people seem to hate change. Or fear it.

In seeing this, Thunberg’s red-faced peanut gallery hecklers are actually more perceptive than many of the liberal and centrist politicians who have taken to gushing over her without hearing her message. Justin Trudeau, for example, praised her last week while unveiling new climate policies that fell short of Thunberg’s goals.

After meeting with him, she claimed Trudeau was “not doing enough” on climate – and she has previously called his government’s doublespeak on climate policy “shameful”.

The New Zealand Government, and the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, are under similar pressure here. Early on her leadership role Ardern grandly stated that climate change was this generation’s nuclear free issue, but those wanting significant action want to put a bomb under her government.

It’s not clear where Thunberg’s politics lie, or where they will go in the future, but her rhetoric mirrors the left of the environmental movement, a wing of which has long cautioned that reductions in consumption and growth will be required to deal with the climate crisis. “You only speak of a green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular,” she told delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice last year, criticising the “same bad ideas that got us into this mess”, and telling them to pull “the emergency brake”.

Earlier this month in New York she continued the critique in front of world leaders. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can think of is money and fairytales of eternal growth: how dare you,” she said, visibly angry.

I think that talk of “the beginning of a mass extinction” is not helping Thunberg’s case. Presumably that is what she believes, but it is easy to ridicule and dismiss as over the top scare mongering. But those who may do that are not her target market.

This is worth pointing out – not to claim Thunberg for any particular political faction, but to note that her main rhetorical targets are not denialist wingnuts, but the same mainstream politicians who invite her to speak and praise her activism.

Politicians like Trudeau and Ardern.

They beam at her as if she were their own child, and, perhaps in a similar way, they don’t appear to hear her when she says it’s their fault her life is ruined. It’s the reaction of a group who have long considered themselves on the correct side of the climate divide, and thus, of history. As if a grand “we tried” would satisfy the generations after them.

But the problem is they haven’t even tried very much, they have just talked about it.

Thunberg’s great contribution is to convince the wider public of the bankruptcy of that outlook, and to indict years of missed targets as the failures that they are. Politicians don’t appear to take this shift, or her, very seriously. They’re happy to bask in her light, perhaps convinced this new insistence on immediacy will pass, as all the others did.

In her latest speech, Thunberg promised change was coming, “whether you like it or not”, although it’s not clear she has a plan for how. For the moment she and the movement she has invigorated are in a strange place, commanding immense popular support for a radical cause, and simultaneously praised by the very people they identify as the problem.

A problem, or problems, with no obvious solution.

They want radical change. But to what? And how?

Democracy doesn’t seem to be the answer, going by poor voting rates so far in the local body elections. Early returns are low, in Dunedin just three quarters of the corresponding time last election, and thus half of the rate in 2010.


Trudeau tries to quell trouble in Canada, admits erosion of trust

Promoted as a new generation progressive Prime Minister who championed openness and transparency , Justin Trudeau has been under fire as two of his Ministers have resigned after allegations of Government pressure over whether a Canadian company was to be prosecuted.

Trudeau has tried to quell the growing disquiet, saying he has done nothing wrong, but concedes that there has been an erosion of trust.

Last Tuesday (RNZ):  What’s going on with Justin Trudeau and Canada?

A second minister in Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet has resigned, citing accusations that Trudeau and his aides tried to influence a bribery case involving a Canadian company.

Wednesday (RNZ): Trudeau SNC-Lavalin crisis grows as minister resigns

One of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s top ministers has quit saying she has lost confidence in the government’s handling of a corruption inquiry.

Treasury Board President Jane Philpott said: “I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities, constitutional obligations.”

The cabinet minister announced her decision to step down on Monday, posting her resignation letter detailing her “serious concerns” with “evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former Attorney-General to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin”.

“There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them”.

Mr Trudeau said he was disappointed by the resignation, but understood it. He has denied political meddling to shield engineering firm SNC-Lavalin from a bribery trial.

Friday (1 News):  Justin Trudeau maintains he didn’t apply inappropriate pressure on Canada’s former Justice Minister

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that an “erosion of trust” and “lack of communication” with his former justice minister led her to resign and accuse him of applying inappropriate pressure in a corruption prosecution — a dispute that has shaken his government.

But the prime minister made no apologies as he discussed the issue at a nationally televised news conference.

Former Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould told a parliamentary committee last week that Trudeau and senior officials tried to pressure her into instructing prosecutors to avoid criminal prosecution of Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and instead require it to pay fines for alleged bribery in Libya.

Trudeau said Wilson-Raybould did not come to him to express her concerns about inappropriate pressure and said he wishes she had. He said situations were “experienced differently and I regret that.”

“I am obviously reflecting on lessons learned. There are things we have to reflect on and understand and do better next time.”

Wilson-Raybould was demoted from her role as attorney general and named veterans affairs minister in January as part of a Cabinet shuffle. She resigned weeks later.

Wilson-Raybould has said she believes she was demoted for failure to give in to the pressure.

It’s unusual for this much coverage in New Zealand of politics in Canada.


‘Millennial socialism’ versus capitalism

A new political term for me – Millennial socialism.

The Economist: The resurgent left – Millennial socialism

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the 20th century’s ideological contest seemed over. Capitalism had won and socialism became a byword for economic failure and political oppression. It limped on in fringe meetings, failing states and the turgid liturgy of the Chinese Communist Party.

Today, 30 years on, socialism is back in fashion. In America Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected congresswoman who calls herself a democratic socialist, has become a sensation even as the growing field of Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 veers left. In Britain Jeremy Corbyn, the hardline leader of the Labour Party, could yet win the keys to 10 Downing Street.

The ‘left’ in both the US and UK are being helped somewhat by dysfunctional right wing leaders and Governments.

Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies. Whereas politicians on the right have all too often given up the battle of ideas and retreated towards chauvinism and nostalgia…

See “What the Kiwi way of life means to me’ – Simon Bridges and anything Winston Peters (it’s quite ironic that he has enabled the rise of Jacinda Aardern).

…the left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites (see article). Yet, although the reborn left gets some things right, its pessimism about the modern world goes too far. Its policies suffer from naivety about budgets, bureaucracies and businesses.

The rest of that article is behind a paywall, but Peter Dunne comments in Government by worthy sentiment:

Last week, the Economist magazine noted the emergence of what it described as millennial socialism, as a reaction to the prevailing liberal democratic orthodoxy.

Millennial socialism, the Economist argues, is not socialism in the traditional sense, but a looser set of views around reducing inequality, reducing the power of vested interests, and greater emphasis on environmental issues like climate change that is capturing the interest of younger voters.

Whether their prescriptions for reform are attainable seems to run secondary to the fact that their issues are being raised in the first place.

Indeed, their essentially general nature as worthy sentiments makes it likely they will have crossover appeal in the wider community. However, as the rise and fall in the public standing of French President Emanuel Macron has shown, the bubble of optimism the millennials’ issues are at last on the political agenda bursts quickly when it comes to taking action.

It could well be the same in New Zealand too – although our national temperament makes it unlikely we will see our own version of the Gilet Jaunes (yellow vest) protest movement.

The emerging reality is that, despite some of the rhetoric, we are moving into an era where commitment to aspiration (prioritising empathy and compassion) rates more highly than action (prioritising evidence and achievement).

Time will tell how this plays out.

But there’s no doubt that those who vote for old school politics are reducing in number, and those who have only voted in this century are growing into a majority that has a different view of the world and of politics.

‘Millennial socialism’ is making a play, but it is far from success. Corbyn has been polarising and just seen his caucus split, with a number of Labour MPs jumping to an ‘independent’ ship. Ocasio-Cortez is making waves in the US but is a long way from tangible success.

Macron is struggling to make progress in France, and Justin Trudeau is not finding his brand of politics easy to sustain in Canada.

Jacinda Ardern is playing a ‘Millennial socialism’ card in New Zealand, but so far it is mostly superficial. Nothing significant has actually changed here yet. We may really see a revolutionary ‘wellbeing budget’ in May, but the lack of enthusiastic promotion of an already politically limited Capital Gains Tax and other tax reforms suggests the reality may be far less than the rhetoric.

As with many political shifts Millennial socialism may be gradual and partial, if it makes much impact at all.

Who knows – people in the US may wake up to how great Donald Trump says he is and swing things towards whatever he stands for instead.

Post G7 bickering

Reuters: U.S.-Canada spat escalates, Europeans criticize Trump’s G7 move

The United States and Canada swung sharply toward a diplomatic and trade crisis on Sunday as top White House advisers lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a day after U.S. President Trump called him “very dishonest and weak.”

The spat drew in Germany and France, who sharply criticized Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw his support for a Group of Seven communique hammered out at a Canadian summit on Saturday, accusing him of destroying trust and acting inconsistently.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland responded to the White House comments by saying that Canada will retaliate to U.S. tariffs in a measured and reciprocal way and that Canada will always be willing to talk.

“Canada does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks … and we refrain particularly from ad hominem attacks when it comes from a close ally,” Freeland told reporters in Quebec City on Sunday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused Trudeau of betraying Trump with “polarizing” statements on trade policy that risked making the U.S. leader look weak ahead of a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hours after Trump withdrew his support for the joint statement and attacked Trudeau, Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro drove the message home on Sunday morning news shows in an extraordinary assault on a close U.S. ally and neighbor.

“(Trudeau) really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council who had accompanied Trump to the summit of wealthy nations on Saturday, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trump seems to have stabbed Trudeau in his front.

Navarro told “Fox News Sunday”: “There is a special place in hell for any leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door and that’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference, that’s what weak dishonest Justin Trudeau did.”

Some will see a lot of irony in “bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump”.

Trump seems to be increasing division between the US and the rest of the countries in G7, but prefers to deal with Russia.

Reuters: Russia’s Putin would be ready to host G7 in Moscow

Russia did not choose to leave the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Russia should have been at its latest meeting.

Interesting times.

Backroom chat becomes international news

If she has learnt anything from the last few days Jacinda Ardern will be now much more careful about what she says, and to whom. Casual chat in private has become international news.

The Guardian: ‘Not that orange’: New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern regrets gossip about Donald Trump

The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has expressed regret over gossiping about a meeting with Donald Trump after it was reported the US president may have mistaken her for Justin Trudeau’s wife.

Ardern was visibly uncomfortable when asked about reports that she had revealed details of the encounter at the East Asia summit in Vietnam last week to a friend who later went public.

The friend – comedian Tom Sainsbury – revealed in a radio interview that Ardern had told her Trump was “not as orange in real life” and that he had been confused about her identity.

BBC: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern ‘regrets Trump story

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says she regrets sharing an anecdote about her recent meeting with US President Donald Trump with her friends.

Washington Post: New Zealand leader regrets story that suggested Trump mistook her for Trudeau’s wife

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she regrets sharing an anecdote that suggested President Trump mistook her for the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“It was a bit of a funny yarn,” Arden told TVNZ on Monday morning, adding that it was “something that I don’t want to cause a diplomatic incident over.”

The reality of being Prime Minister – it’s difficult to trust anyone, even those you thought were friends. And one should expect the media to make headlines out of trivia.

The story was blown up on TVNZ’s Breakfast yesterday in a heavily criticised interview.

TVNZ (video of interview): Jacinda Ardern grilled by Jack Tame over whether Trump mistook her for Justin Trudeau’s wife – ‘It’s quite complicated’

ODT (NZME): Ardern interview slammed as being far from tame

Viewers have slammed Jack Tame as “rude” and “bizarre” over an awkward interview with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

One said Tame’s line of questioning was so “ridiculous,” he’d made her turn the TV off.

Tame has defended this morning’s awkward interview on Breakfast, saying it’s his job “to ask questions”.

Claire Trevett:  Mrs Trudeau, I presume? PM Jacinda Ardern clearly needs better work stories

Ardern had told Sainsbury backstage during the NZ Music Awards because he was a friend of hers. She had told a longer version of the tale to at least one other person.

Ardern has since said she possibly should have just stayed quiet about it. Too right.

Ardern has learned the difference between gossiping as Prime Minister – especially when it involves a controversial figure such as Trump – and gossiping as a backbench MP, or even simply a friend.

In their desperation for trivial headlines the media is forcing politicians to be less forthcoming with comment, and meticulously careful about what they say. This is a shame, but we seem to be stuck with the way things are.

The media have a habit of biting the hand that feeds them.



TPP objection resolved, then talks abandoned

Some bizarre swings in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Vietnam.

On Thursday night  apparent agreement was thwarted by a late objection by Vietnam, but that was resolved during the day on Friday with another leaders meeting due to start at 8 pm on Friday evening.

However Canada refused to attend, so the talks were abandoned, leaving little chance of a resolution alongside the APEC conference, and putting the future of the eleven country

NZH: No deal: How the TPP talks collapsed

The future of TPP has been thrown into doubt after Canada’s sudden refusal to attend the final leaders’ meeting in Danang, Vietnam, which was then cancelled.

The 10 other leaders including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned up expecting Canada to be present at 8pm NZ time.

Instead they found Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, holding crisis meetings with Canada’s Justin Trudeau over an undisclosed issue.

Abe returned to the room saying Trudeau was not attending and so the meeting was abandoned by the other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Vietnam.

The dramas over Canada are not related to the bizarre events of last night in which the TPP deal was declared done by trade ministers, including Canada’s Trade Minister, but Vietnam then objected to a particular issue.

That issue was resolved during the day before the aborted leaders’ meeting.

Trade Minister David Parker said all of Canada’s issues appeared to have been resolved to their satisfaction last night.

“That seemed to change today.”

Parker said New Zealand was surprised at Canada’s sudden change of view and it was not the only country in the room that was. He said Australia was too.

It will be interesting to find out what suddenly turned Canada off the deal after coming close to agreement.

Canada are currently renegotiating the North American trade agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Mexico. Mexico is one of the 11 countries who have been trying to rescue the TPP after President Donald Trump puled the US out of it early this year.

Scathing coverage from Australia. Sydney Morning Herald: Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau sabotages Trans-Pacific Partnership, shocking leaders

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sabotaged a pact to salvage a multibillion-dollar, 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute, surprising leaders of the other nations, including Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.

“There were a lot of unhappy leaders left sitting there,” said an official who was in the meeting.

Mr Trudeau’s walk-out is deeply embarrassing for Canada’s Trade Minister Franois-Philippe Champagne, who has agreed to the deal.

Officials expected that the leaders would simply rubber-stamp what had already been agreed by the trade ministers, despite the agreement being unpopular in Canada.

The Australian: TPP: Canada ‘screwed everybody’ after trade talks no-show

CBC News (Canada): ‘Outstanding issues’: Trans-Pacific Partnership faces uncertain future after Trudeau skips leaders’ meeting

A planned meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership countries was unexpectedly cancelled Friday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped the event when bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart ended in disagreement.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said there is simply no consensus between the 11 member countries at this time.

“We made progress but, as we said coming in, there is no rush to conclude. There are outstanding issues for more than one country. One of those countries is Canada. We are working hard for Canadians and Canadian jobs in important industries such as automotive, agriculture, culture and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said.

Trudeau has signalled all week, during his travels in Asia, that Canada is not ready to put pen to paper on the agreement as there are still a number of lingering concerns. “Let me remind everyone Canada will not be rushed into a deal that is not in the best interest of Canada and Canadians,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

I didn’t see that reported here.

Liberal government officials refuted international reports — notably from Australian and New Zealand news outlets — that suggested Canada alone was to blame for delayed TPP talks.

“I can’t really speak for what you might be hearing from other countries,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at the summit Friday. “Certainly, my own understanding, our understanding, is that there are a few countries who continue to have some important issues that they’d like to be addressed. And I think that’s reasonable.”

That’s quite different from Australian and New Zealand reports. And this symbolism:

UPDATE from Stuff:  TPP nations ‘have made good progress’ on deal, no-show ‘a misunderstanding’

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be dead in the water just yet, with Canada’s trade minister denying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliberately skipped a leaders’ meeting in Vietnam.

François-Philippe Champagne said the 11 remaining nations, which include New Zealand, had “made good progress” on striking a deal, though there was still work to do.

Reuters reported on Saturday morning that the 11 nations had agreed to the core elements of a deal, but still had details to iron out.

Reuters said it had seen a draft of the nations’ final statement, which was due to be released later in the day.

The statement said a “limited set of provisions” from the original deal would be suspended, while further technical work was needed on areas that still needed consensus “to prepare finalised text for signature”. It did not say when that might happen.

A Canadian official said: “We’ve agreed to a framework towards the deal, with work programmes to deal with issues.”

It sounds like it is an evolving situation.

Does Andrew Little finally get it?

Has Andrew Little had a common sense epiphany and now realises that being seen as a perpetual pissy fit leader isn’t very attractive to voters?

Little had to go all the way to Canada to find someone he would listen to, telling him he needs to present something positive to voters.


Andrea Vance wrote at One News: Little should take a leaf out of Trudeau’s buff book to pull voters

Andrew Little’s taken himself off to Canada to lick his wounds.

But it’s not too late, Little. A year ago, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party confounded expectations to win the federal election… and the hearts of millions of women around the world.

I doubt that Little is in the same league regarding hearts of women.

Here’s what Little can learn from Canada’s JFK.

Sunny – not sulky – ways

That advice in itself would be a great start.

Trudeau didn’t go negative. He had poise even in the face of ridiculous attacks on his hair – and Stephen Harper’s attack ads.

“You can appeal to the better angels of our nature and you can win while doing it,” Trudeau said.

His campaign focused on a “positive, optimistic, hopeful vision of public life”. He warmly embraced refugees, as opponents fear-mongered.

This “tone-at-the-top” was emulated by the party as a whole – from candidates through to volunteer door-knockers. Post-election polling showed Trudeau was the main attraction for 20 per cent of Liberal voters.

Little has heard this same message from Trudeau himself and has come back enthusing about it.

If he had listened outside his bubble in New Zealand he could have heard this same advice here, but at least he has finally taken it on board.

I hope Little can turn his image around, I really do. We desperately need a decent opposition, one that isn’t relentlessly negative and sullen and sulky. So if Little gets positive it will be a great start.

But will a sunny positive Little trickle down the Labour ranks? That could be a major challenge for Little.

Labour MPs seem to have become locked into a mostly negative campaign for the last eight years. Some of the sullens are leaving, like Phil Goff (probable) and Clayton Cosgrove. Will they be replaced by sunnies?

Another challenge will be the Labour troops, the door knockers who have had the stuffing knocked out of them over and over.

And an even bigger challenge may be the Labour activists, the online warriors who keep tearing their hair out in frustration and keep tearing to shreds anyone deemed to be an opponent or an enemy of Labour.

Little himself did this recently when he blasted ex-Labour party members as right wingers and banned his MPs from going to the same meetings as them.

The bashing of anyone deemed an enemy of Labour is on show at The Standard frequently, where it oozes bitterness and intolerance.

Burning off potential Labour voters is a stupid strategy, and that has been happening from the top down.

It seems that Little has finally got it, that sulky sullen negative leaders don’t attract support. Now he has been told the obvious in Canada perhaps we will see a sunnier more positive Leader of the Opposition.

Whether that can trickle down the party will be another matter, the Labour troops can’t all be sent to Canada to have common sense epiphanies.

Canada promise to legalise cannabis

Canada’s new Prime Minister Just Trudeau has promised cannabis legalisation policy since becoming Liberal leader two years ago and hios Government has repated it’s pledge.

The Guardian reports: Canada’s new Liberal government repeats promise to legalize marijuana

Canada’s new Liberal government has repeated its pledge to legalize marijuana in a speech outlining its agenda as parliament resumes after the 19 October election.

A speech delivered by governor general David Johnston reiterated new prime minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana. It is a position Trudeau has held since becoming leader of the Liberal party in 2013. However, for the first time, the government said it will restrict access to marijuana but did not elaborate.

Trudeau has said that legalizing marijuana would fix a “failed system” and help remove the “criminal element” linked to the drug. He also has said Canadians would benefit from analyzing the experiences of Colorado and Washington state, which recently legalized pot.

I think it’s just a matter of time before this change of tack on recreational cannabis use works it’s way around the Western world at least.

I wonder if Trudeau talked to John Key about this when they met recently at an APEC meeting.



Scouring Labour for some Trubro magic

Chris Trotter dismisses the chances of Labour leader Andrew Little weaving any Trudeauesque magic in New Zealand and scours the Labour ranks for what I presume he wants, a change of leader.

He is seeking a Trubro that doesn’t seem either apparent or likely.

Having moved on quickly from the hope that UK Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn would inspire a world wide left wing revolution Chris Trotter is now hoping that Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the template for his socialist nirvana.

From his latest column at Stuff – Chris Trotter: Can Labour find someone to weave some Trudeauesque magic?:

Inevitably, those New Zealanders favouring a change of government in 2017 are scouring the ranks of opposition parties for a Kiwi politician capable of bringing some Trudeau magic to our own political arena.

Before he scours Labour’s ranks Trotter writes off Little.

Labour supporters, in particular, are looking at the rather dour figure of Andrew Little and wondering whether he has what it takes to unseat a Prime Minister as popular as John Key.

Are they? Or is it people like Trotter who seem to want to remake Labour into their own socialist ideal?

New Zealand leftists who have studied the Canadian campaign are worried that Labour has already committed itself to the sort of moderate and fiscally unadventurous course that saw Canada’s left-wing New Democrat Party (NDP) relegated to third place behind Trudeau’s Liberals and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

Leftists always seem to be worried about being foiled by a moderate approach to government.

So concerned was the dour and rather tetchy NDP leader, Tom Mulcair, to fend-off criticism that his party wasn’t ready to manage the Canadian economy, that he promised voters to keep the federal Budget in permanent surplus. Given that this was also Stephen Harper’s policy, Mulcair’s decision allowed Trudeau to outflank the NDP on the left.

Little’s critics look at his inept handling of the Trans Pacific Partnership issue and wonder whether something similar hasn’t already happened here.

Trotter went from almost maniacal  trumpeting of a Little lurch left over the TPPA to despair in a day recently. He is obviously now in the ‘Little’s critics’ camp.

In the end, however, most of the speculation about whether a Justin Trudeau is lurking, unrecognised, in the Opposition’s ranks circles back to the Labour Party. If Little is too dour and grumpy to beat the man Bill English once described as “bouncing from cloud to cloud”, who is left to bounce Labour’s banner up there alongside him?

Little is also Labour’s current leader and there is no sign of a mood in Labour to go through yet another leadership contest.

Grant Robertson would probably say Grant Robertson. (And, to be fair, there are many in the Labour Party who would agree). But, to the rest of New Zealand, Robertson can come across as just a bit too complacent; a bit too absolutely, arrogantly, Wellington. For the best part of a year, he’s had plenty of chances to shine as Labour’s finance spokesperson. That his light has barely flickered in that role must count heavily against him.

Robertson certainly appears to be no Corbyn or Trudeau. Nor probably New Zealand Prime Minister. He has twice failed to become Labour leader. And it’s difficult to see him getting the union support thought necessary to swing a Labour leadership contest.

Which leaves just two names for Trudeau-seekers to play with: Stuart Nash and Jacinda Ardern. Both are well endowed with the skin-deep trappings of the Trudeauesque politician: youth and good looks.

Nash even boasts a famous Labour name – although, the number of people who recall New Zealand once having had a Prime Minister called Walter Nash will not be large.

And the number of people who see Nash as a genuine socialist revolutionary probably isn’t large either.

Ardern, herself, is already registering in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – always a sign of better things to come. The positives are definitely there for both MPs.

So to Ardern, the Labour MP who doesn’t even aspire to becoming deputy leader.

Trotter may need to scour the ranks of ambitious candidates-to-be and hope that a New Zealand Trudeau – a Trubro? – somehow manages to survive Labour’s selection process and score a winnable electorate or list position.

And then get sufficient time and experience to be considered leadership material by those who vote in Labour (not Trotteresque miracle fastrackers). And to survive and succeed in a leadership contest.

Trotter’s Trubro aspirations may need to look past 2017, to 2020 or even 2023. By then surely New Zealand will have woken up to the wonders of socialism that have never proven successful to date.

No Trudeau in NZ Greens co-leadership

The left wing hope has moved on from UK Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

In Chris Trotters quest to find “some Trudeauesque magic” to inspire a real left wing victory (or perhaps that could be a really left wing victory) in 2017 he considers Green co-leader James Shaw but quickly moves on to Winston Peters.

From his latest column at Stuff – Chris Trotter: Can Labour find someone to weave some Trudeauesque magic?:

Inevitably, those New Zealanders favouring a change of government in 2017 are scouring the ranks of opposition parties for a Kiwi politician capable of bringing some Trudeau magic to our own political arena.

Not surprisingly Trotter is one of those favouring a change of government, and he is scouring the ranks of opposition parties.

The Greens male co-leader, James Shaw, certainly shares much with Trudeau in terms of projecting youthful energy and good looks. Less certain, however, is his willingness to adopt the Liberal leader’s strategy of inviting voters from across the political spectrum to join his nationwide crusade for “real change”.

And, even if he was up to persuading his colleagues to leave the the safety of their eco-socialist strongholds, and embrace the political centre, would he be able to persuade the electorate that the Greens, in office, would remain politically centred?

It is the curse of the Greens to be perceived as enthusiastic promoters of a rather narrow ideological agenda. Historically, the Canadian Liberal Party has attracted solid voter support across the whole electorate. It’s a trick New Zealand’s Greens have yet to master.

There’s a certain amount of irony in Trotter cursing the Greens for being “enthusiastic promoters of a rather narrow ideological agenda” but I guess Trotter swings between almost manic enthusiasm and despondency at the hopelessness of his dreams.

NZ First, by contrast, has never ceased presenting itself as a party with the broadest possible voter appeal. Indeed, in its early days, back in the early 1990s, its support rivalled that of the National Party’s.

Unashamedly populist in his political instincts, NZ First’s long-time leader, Winston Peters, would dearly love to replicate Trudeau’s utter trouncing of John Key’s good “mate”, Stephen Harper. Unfortunately, youthfulness is not a quality many people associate with NZ

Many people probably see a few other qualities lacking in Peters and NZ First too. It’s unlikely to see him do a Trudeau in New Zealand in 2017.

While James Shaw is undeniably ambitious it’s a huge task to try and triple Green support.

And Trotter ignores a major feature of Green leadership.

It’s not Shaw who will be waving the Green flag next election, it will be Metiria Turei+James Shaw, presuming they are both co-leaders then.

The Green system of co-leadership limits the chance of a charismatic leader, because their two leaders must share duties and exposure.