“Media attack on New Zealand’s democracy”

A post by Dr. Hans B. Grueber at ZealandiaBlog suggests that there is a Media attack on New Zealand’s democracy

It’s true that the only ones seemingly concerned about parliament being left in limbo since the election and politicians not fronting up or answering any questions of note are journalists.

Twenty five years ago New Zealand voted in a first referendum for the (more) democratic proportional voting system called MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) as recommended  by the Royal Commission after the most thorough investigation into all electoral systems around the world.

The media are extremely slow learners. Over all these years they still  seem to be living in the old imperial First Past the Post world. For example they still talk about electorate and list MPs as if there was a difference. In the other MMP country Germany nobody makes that distinctions and never has. In our current debate we still hear the myth that electorate MPs are supposed to be first class while list MPs second class. The former being accountable and being able to be voted out by the people while the later (only) being accountable to their parties, which put them on the list. This myth could not be further from the truth.

As one scientist quipped in the US context that MPs in safe seats are less accountable to the public than the members of the Stalinist polit-bureau. The later having changed much more often under public pressure that safe seats under First-Past-the-Post. As I already said in a 1992 debate in safe National seats like Te Kuiti or Southland Clutha the party can put a blue ribbon around a sheep dog and it will be elected.

This year the blue ribbon around Toddy in Clutha Southland got fairly tatty, leading to him leaving Parliament with his tail between his legs. This was largelky due to the efforts of some of the media.

Not even a conspiracy

Still every election where the results are not to the liking of the neo-liberal media inevitably the electoral system is blamed.

Even the media are labelled ‘neo-liberal’ now. Was that the cause of or a result of the ‘neo-liberal’ revolution in the 1980s?

The New Zealand media in general do not even try to conceal their disdain for our electoral system and democracy. After this year’s election, which as usual under proportional representation didn’t produce a clear winner with over 50% of the vote they almost demanded that the party with the most votes – as it two weeks later turned out to be 44% – be given the right to form the next government.

The fact that 56% had voted against the old government wasn’t ever worth a mention.

I’ve seen something like that mentioned quite a bit. For someone promoting the merits of MMP to be treating it as a binary for/against vote is curious.

It isn’t a fact that “56% had voted against the old government”. There is no way of knowing the reasons why each of 2,591,896 people voted, especially the 186,706 who voted NZ First.

ACT voters, some Maori Party voters and others may not have specifically voted against the old government. Even some of those who voted for the Greens may not have cared who runs the next Government, they may simply have wanted to ensure that the Greens retained a voice in Parliament (I have voted exactly that way in the past)

It was actually 55.6% who didn’t vote for National. And 63.1% who didn’t vote for Labour, 92.8% who didn’t vote NZ First, 93.7% who didn’t vote Green.

We didn’t have a new government on election night, Oh My God !

The media wouldn’t even allow for the final results to come out before crying out about New Zealand being taken hostage by a party with only just over 7% of the vote. They are just taking their time to negotiate and make up their minds. These media, editors, commentators, and pundits assumed that the New Zealand people of voting age are still like little children who cannot wait and want to open the presents under the tree before Christmas day. The only ones who can’t wait are the media themselves. This is the age of instant gratification after all.

It does seem that it is mainly some of the media who are impatient for a new government.

Another media beat-up in the crazy assumption that it will scare the people is the fact that for an interim period after every election the old government continues as caretaker government in charge of running the day to day business of government. However they are not allowed to introduce any policy changes of make major decisions.

This is portrayed as a terrible thing as if the country would not happily function for a few weeks or even months without a proper government.

I haven’t seen the caretaker government portrayed as a terrible thing, although I have heard some concerns expressed about New Zealand not actively reacting on the international stage. However New Zealand’s lack of input will hardly be missed by most of the world.

The other MMP country Germany held elections on the same weekend. The far right neo-liberal party (FDP) represents the interests of the the business community, which according to the media here cannot live without the certainty of a new government. One of their representatives just appeared on the most influential political TV talkshow. When asked about a coalition before Christmas he replied that such serious negotiations could not be rushed. The host’s only reply was that they just would have to wait.

Belgium a few years back was without a new government for about 18 months after their election. The people loved it as no harm and damage was done to them unlike to us by successive neo-liberal governments over the last 33 years.

A caretaker government won’t change what has been done by successive “neo-liberal governments” over the last 33 years. Gruber keeps confusing two things, our current political limbo under MMP, and his apparent obsession with and opposition to neo-liberalism. It’s worth pointing out that seven of the “neo-liberalist” governments we have had have been elected under MMP.

And it’s worth remembering that if the incoming government 33 years ago had done nothing for some time, and hadn’t taken drastic action, some fairly severe damage to the country is likely to have occurred.

The media still stuck in the First-Past-the-Post world ignore the fact that all this is totally normal under any proportional system in the world. They are seriously suggesting the we, the people, didn’t know what we were doing when we voted over the last 25 years not only once but three times for MMP – a far more democratic system than we had before.

More democratic, which has resulted in more representative Parliaments, but I wouldn’t say far more, and still misused and abused by parties and politicians when it suits their ambitions for power.

Concerted Attack

Following the mainstream media including the state owned broadcasters you cannot but conclude that we are witnessing a concerted attack on our electoral system. Not only do we read and hear comments by editors, political reporters and media personnel of the above nature. The media also give overwhelming space to totally outrageous and false comments in the letter pages and give a platform to anti MMP campaigners of ‘Dirty Politics‘ fame to spread their old disinformation and lies.

It seems we have been watching the Media attack on New Zealand’s democracy.

I think Grueber is right that some of the media has been overly critical of what our eight MMP election has delivered – a headline and scandal vacuum – but it nothing like a concerted attack.

Some journalists have actually suggested tweaks to our MMP, like lowering the threshold, and having a clearer system for forming a new government. I think both would be good improvements to the already better than most system of democracy that we have.

And a healthy democracy needs a critical media, even if they don’t always get things right, aren’t as balanced as they should be and get too excited about things that don’t matter much, like not having a new government for a few weeks.

Our system of democracy is pretty good, our governments over the last 33 years have in the main been pretty good (they will always annoy some of the people some of the time), and our media does a fairly good job most of the time.

We can be critical of the media, as they can be critical of our politicians and aspects of political system, but attacking media for an “attack on New Zealand’s democracy” is in a way an attack on our democracy as the media are an important part of it.

Journalists complaining about nothing much happening is not something most voters will care about.

Better that we look at how we can improve our way of doing democracy.

Journalists and social media bias

When you follow New Zealand journalists in social media you get an idea of where some of their political sympathies lie. This can be subtle, and far removed from the perceptions of some (usually hard lefties and hard righties) that all journalists are biased to the left, or that all media are biased to the right.

For US news I get both Fox News and CNN feeds on Twitter, and they are both generally biased, most notably Fox.

Ironically Fox writes about a less right leaning competitor: NY Times changes social media guidelines so reporters don’t appear biased

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet issued new social media guidelines to his newsroom on Friday and advised staffers to “read them closely, and take them to heart” so that the paper’s journalists are not perceived as biased.

“Many of our journalists are influential voices on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms. The voices of our readers, listeners and viewers inform and improve our reporting,” Baquet wrote. “But we also need to make sure that we are engaging responsibly on social media, in line with the values of our newsroom.”

Baquet discussed Twitter at a forum at George Washington University Thursday and said his staff should not be able to say anything on social media that they cannot say” in the Times, according to Politico.

The Times’ rival, The Washington Post, published a story back in Oct. 2016 headlined, “#Biased? Reporters on Twitter don’t hold back about Trump”. The article mentioned Times reporters throughout, noting that “reporters are supposed to keep their opinion out of the stories they write” but that policy doesn’t seem to apply to Twitter. The Post called out Times staffers Alex Burns for attacking Trump on a regular basis – and that was before he defeated Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

While some journalists state on their Twitter profile that any tweets are their own opinions they can’t help being seem as associated with their jobs and their media organisations, so they must be aware of this and behave accordingly.

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor thinks it’s too little, too late when it comes to the Times’ reporters appearing anti-Trump on social media.

“Twitter has been around for 10 years and The New York Times is only now realizing that its staff say lots of stupid, left-wing things there? I know Baquet isn’t active on Twitter, but he claims he is aware of the Times agenda problem. You’d never know it though,” Gainor told Fox News.

Fox frequently slams other media for being anti-Trump, but even though she is a political relic Fox continue to show strong bias against Hillary Clinton and the liberal left, as well as an obvious bias in favour of Trump. Their current feed has scores of positive tweets like…

…about interspersed with several like:

There are mild biases in media here at times, but they are nothing like the extremes of the US media.

They can go both ways at times, this is two consecutive tweets from CNN:

 

Government forming negotiations in progress

After the final election results were released on Saturday negotiations to form a new government began in earnest. NZ First had meetings with both National and Labour yesterday, and these are expected to continue over the next few days.

Winston Peters still says he expects to announce his choice by Thursday, when the formal election result, or “writ”, is returned. That was always an odd target date.

But whether he meets that target or not that may not be the final outcome as other parties may need time to consider what has been negotiated. The Greens in particular say they are committed to taking any decision to a special general meeting for the party members to decide.

Some of the media are getting a bit precious. There was complaining yesterday about being blocked from seeing how was attending negotiation meetings in Parliament, with complaints of secrecy and non-transparency, but that seems ridiculous to me. I think that most people won’t care who attends, al they will be interested in is the final outcome. It’s not that we have any say in what is going on.

I’m really getting fed up with media coverage of not much happening, and I’m avoiding a lot of their coverage. If something interesting or important happens can someone please alert me in case I miss it.

There is no urgency. The caretaker government is operating fine. We don’t get another vote for another 3 years, unless NZ First negotiate referendums on their policies.

Speculation has been in overdrive – in the absence of any news of importance all I will speculate is that media speculation will continue unabated to fill the vacuum.

Politics isn’t theatre

Politics is serious stuff, especially in an election campaign when we get to decide, sort of, who will run the country for the next three years.

Several months ago some journalists openly dreaded a boring election between the two main contenders, Bill English and Andrew Little. All they had to over-embellish headlines was the old troubadour, Winston Peters.

Then Little changed everything when he stood aside, allowing Jacinda Ardern to take over. The media had already played a party in Ardern’s promotion to deputy earlier this year, and this was headlines on a plate for them.

The media was besotted, as were a lot of potential Labour supporters who had had a drought of hope for nine years. So we had ‘Jacindamania’, the ‘Jacinda effect’.

Journos were fizzing at the bung in anticipation of last Thursday’s first leaders debate.  This turned out to be a useful opener, but there was media disappointment at the lack of excitement.

Bryce Edwards summed it up:

Last night’s leaders debate on TVNZ1 was lacklustre. A lot of people will tell you that the debate was quality – it was calm, it was respectful, and it focused on policy. But, actually it was boring and we didn’t learn anything new. Yes, of course they put forward their different policy generalities and attempts to show that they have vision and values. But it was all terribly bland and vague.

Woe is Bryce. A boring debate! Most people find most politics boring most of the time.

We did learn something important and new – two leading politicians could have a respectful debate.

Media would have loved attacks and abuse and mayhem, but here’s an important thing – elections aren’t for the entertainment of journos and pundits. Or they shouldn’t be.

Barry Soper:  The Soap Box: Politics is missing the theatre

Politics is these days missing the theatre, although in fairness Winston Peters is still performing and looks set to be playing the starring role after the vote in three weeks time.

He’ll undoubtedly put on another performance this week while the big players will continue what so far has been a fairly mundane affair…

Woe is Soper – despite continually giving the old Thespian Peters a nationwide soapbox the campaign is still lacking sufficient drama!

And it’s fair to say the current aspirants don’t put in the same election campaign hard slog that former contenders did. Long gone are the daily Town Hall meetings around regional New Zealand, along with the theatre that accompanied them…

Soper is yearning for the past, much like Peters. The world has moved on to much more wide ranging and far reaching forms of communication.

Last week, officially the first of the campaign, saw Jacinda Ardern essentially at schools and tertiary institutions where she was mobbed by students wanting selfies while Bill English also hit learning institutions but at least did venture into a shopping mall for a walkabout among the great unwashed which can be high risk, given they’re expected to shake the hand of any random who approaches them.

But these are essentially the fill-in events while they prepare and perform for their spin doctors away from the cameras for the main event, the television debate. There’s another one of those tonight and another one on Thursday.

Actually there is going to be a town-hall type debate in Christchurch tomorrow night – where opposing leaders contest, rather than an old fashioned one party PR exercise that Soper seems to prefer,

You’d have to wonder what they can say that hasn’t already been said but with the political tumult of the past several weeks, the only thing that’s predictable about this campaign is the unpredictable.

Many voters want to be able to actually assess the capabilities and policies of the politicians, and these debates are the best way most have of doing that.

They aren’t looking for the best actor – to the contrary, they want to most credible and most capable leader. There are far more important things to do in running a country than supplying drama and headlines.

In trying to decide who to vote for I try hard to see past the headlines, past the theatre, past the noise and nonsense, so I can judge policy details and especially competence.

‘Mother of all scandals’ a wind up?

The Winston Peters superannuation overpayment story has highlighted, amongst other things, the dangers of over-egging things on Twitter,

Tim Murphy kicked things off in a tweet on Saturday.

This initiated a lot of speculation and questions over the weekend. The Super story eventually broke on Sunday evening when Peters issued a press statement.

A day later:

A danger of social media and disproportionate interest media coverage.

Winding Patrick Gower up should be avoided, he seems highly enough strung as it is.

When winding people up on Twitter these days could potentially escalate into nuclear war journalists should perhaps tweet with more care.

In New Zealand politics Twitter has become a significant factor. It is a small niche in social media generally, much of the public is oblivious to it and it’s influence, but it is a major player in exchanges amongst journalists.

Competition for the next click bait headline, joking and winding each other up, could have major repercussions.

We are hardly at risk of a nuclear war here, but we are risk of serious fallout potentially from a single tweet starting a history making change.

Media has a responsibility to be balanced

This shouldn’t need to be said, and if it is seen it is likely to be ignored, but the media have a responsibility to be balanced in their coverage of politics, especially in an election campaign.

A month or so ago we had media overkill of Todd Barclay’s political career. It was a story that deserved some coverage, but it became more of a hounding than reporting, and still pops up occasionally.

Last week has been extraordinary. The media obsession with promoting Jacinda Ardern was possibly without precedent. It’s hard to imagine a greater concentration of coverage if they had discovered that Princess Diana’s death had been faked and she had been living anonymously in Morrinsville.

The change of Labour leadership was a very big story. The rise of Jacinda Ardern was a phenomenon, but the glittering saturation coverage was excessive, and democratically unbalanced and unfair

The media plays an important role in a democracy, an essential role. A problem with modern media is that it has become a means of exerting and influencing power.

Politicians and parties have recruited a lot of journalists, and they obviously know how to play the game. They also have good contacts in media.

Switching from journalism to political PR seems to have significant financial benefits for the best of them, with probably only the TV and radio ‘personality’ journalists on more lucrative salaries.

Politicians cultivate their own relationships with journalists. It is something Ardern has been adept at, she has milked a lot of coverage in the past, but has been careful not to upstage her leader.

And that paid off last week with journalists flocking to Ardern. She was smattered all through newspapers. She appeared on just about every TV program that wasn’t ‘reality TV’ or Coronation Street – she would probably have been on Shortland Street if there wasn’t a lead time to their content.

The coverage of all other politicians and parties combined would have been less than the attention Ardern got. We have had an outpouring of overkill.

But we have had what we have had, and now Ardern is an obvious media favourite to at least feature prominently in the election campaign.

I think it’s too much to ask but the media have a responsibility to be objective and to provide balanced coverage.

They have already shown their bias against Bill English, with it being common to report on his lack of ‘charisma’ – he is too boring for their headlines and click baiting.

He is so old hat that journalists have almost lusted over a younger fresher alternative.

Winston Peters has long been given favourable coverage and inadequate scrutiny from media, but even he was virtually ignored. Who knows what a shunned Winston will do now to try to attract attention.

The media have switched from their obsession with ‘king maker’ to building a throne for their anointed queen.

It hasn’t been all adulation, there has been some reasonable coverage, but the overwhelming impression has been that media has had a clear favourite, and balance went out the window with Andrew Little.

The media euphoria over the rise of Ardern will subside a bit, but there is a real risk of ongoing lack of balance.

The future of the country is at stake and voters should be given fair and balanced coverage. I’m not confident we will get that.

Trump praises himself, attacks media and Court

President Donald Trump continues to attack the media and US courts via Twitter, and conducts a session of praise of himself with hos Cabinet.

Washington Times:  Trump’s tweets slam the media, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!”

Sad for the President to resort to this type of attack on the media. As flawed as they are the media still has a duty to hold the President and his administration to account.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country. S.C.”

And it’s dangerous for a President to become publicly involved in matters before the courts.

But Trump managed to get some praise published in media – praise from himself and his Cabinet.

NBC News:  At First Full Meeting, Trump Claims Historic Success — and Cabinet Rushes to Pay Him Tribute

President Donald Trump blamed “obstructionist” Democrats for slowing his agenda Monday, even as he lauded his success as historic — an assessment many of his Cabinet members lined up, one by one, to endorse.

Meeting at the White House with his entire Cabinet for the first time, Trump used his opening remarks to blame Democrats for delaying the meeting, saying they’d held up key appointments in the Senate to score political points.

(Senate rules require only 51 votes to confirm presidential appointees, so the Republican majority has enough votes to approve Trump’s picks on its own. Democrats can do little more than delay the process.)

Trump went on to boast that he had already accomplished more than most other presidents in U.S. history.

“Never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR, he had a major Depression to handle — who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than what we’ve done,” Trump said. “I think we’ve been about as active as you can possibly be at a just about record-setting pace.”

Trump added that he was following through on his campaign promises “at a much faster pace than anyone thought,” citing executive orders, the rollback of government regulations and 34 bills passed by Congress.

So Trump is claiming unprecedented success, but also a lack of success due to obstruction.

Meanwhile, almost all of the legislation signed by Trump has been relatively small-bore; many of those measures include naming people to positions and designating buildings.

Congressional Republicans have increasingly voiced concern about the slow pace of legislative accomplishments on health care, tax reform and other issues.

As for nominations, the real bottleneck in the process, Democrats and others say, is at the White House, which has yet to appointment nominees to fill many vacant positions in the government.

Regardless of reality, Trump was joined by his Cabinet in a praisefest.

As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments’ work.

It was all too much for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who tweeted a “staff meeting” parodying the White House flattery festival.

I’m not sure that parody is necessary, Trump is an ongoing self parody.

Clash of conspiracy theories

One conspiracy versus another:

If it matters Dan Bongino describes himself as a ‘renegade Republican’. Wikipedia describes him as ‘a former United States Secret Service agent who was a primary candidate for Florida’s 19th congressional district in 2016’. He lost.

 

“When you have a president who is so good at communicating with the media”

Trump warns Comey and attacks media

The Donald Trump sacking of FBI Director James Comey is escalating after the reasons for the termination have kept changing, and Trump appears to be unhappy with the bad press.

The sacking is said to be because he was getting increasingly irate with Comey and with media coverage of investigations into Russian collusion with Trumps presidential campaign.

Now Trump seems to be getting even more irate with the media for covering the debacle.

  • Then the President came for the media.
  • Then the President came for the FBI.
  • Then the President came for the media again.

CBS News: Sean Spicer faces first White House briefing since Comey’s firing

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday is giving his first briefing since President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, as questions about the timing and reasoning behind Mr. Trump’s shocking decision mount.

Mr. Trump suggested Friday morning over Twitter that maybe “it would be best to cancel” the White House press briefings, after Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave an account of the decision to fire Comey that was in direct conflict with what Mr. Trump said later.

Spicer has been at the Pentagon fulfilling his Naval Reserve duty, and was supposed to continue work at the Pentagon Friday, but was called back to the White House. The president suggested, again over Twitter, that because he’s such “a very active President,” that his surrogates can’t speak for him “with perfect accuracy.”

The White House has claimed Mr. Trump fired Comey because he lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI employees and because of a Tuesday recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation.

But Mr. Trump himself has contradicted initial statements (as well as his own termination letter of Comey), claiming he was going to fire Comey regardless of any DOJ recommendation and that when he decided to fire Comey, he thought of the “made-up” story about his connections to Russia.

Earlier this year, the president also asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. Comey responded that he could promise that he’d be honest with him.

Mr. Trump’s account of the dinner differs from Comey’s, and earlier Friday, he tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes.‘”

Comey was leading the investigation into Russian election meddling.

Fox News: It was all Trump’s decision: POTUS changes White House narrative on Comey firing

When President Trump sat down with Lester Holt yesterday, he essentially altered the version of James Comey’s firing that his top aides have been pressing in public.

“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” he told the NBC anchor. The recommendation in question was a two-page memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been on the job for two weeks.

Rosenstein is “highly respected,” Trump said, “he made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey” (who he called a “showboat” and a “grandstander”).

At Wednesday’s press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked: “So it’s the White House’s assertion that Rod Rosenstein decided on his own, after being confirmed, to review Comey’s performance?”

“Absolutely,” she replied. “And I think most of America had decided on their own that Director Comey was not the person that should be leading the FBI.”

But if the president asked for a review to buttress a move he planned to take anyway, then Rosenstein’s letter isn’t the crucial document that was being advertised.

Sanders told ABC’s Jon Karl yesterday she hadn’t had the chance to ask the president that question about whether he had already made up his mind. “Nobody was in the dark…You’re trying to create this false narrative,” she said.

None of this affects the core question of whether the president acted properly in canning his FBI director. But it does underscore that the administration’s rollout of this controversial decision has been shaky.

The media narrative has moved on to whether the White House is engaging in some kind of coverup, with newspaper accounts challenging some of the administration’s key points.

And that is upsetting Trump, further raising suspicions that he is trying to hide something.

NY Times: Trump Warns Comey and Says He May Cancel Press Briefings

President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about the president and put the news media on notice that he may cancel future White House briefings.

In a series of early-morning posts on Twitter, Mr. Trump even seemed to suggest that there may be secret tapes of his conversations with Mr. Comey that could be used to counter the former F.B.I. director if necessary. It was not immediately clear whether he meant that literally, or simply hoped to intimidate Mr. Comey into silence.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump appeared agitated over news reports on Friday that focused on contradictory accounts of his decision to fire Mr. Comey at the same time the F.B.I. is investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

A self inflicted train wreck by Trump. It was only a matter of time before his reactive behaviour and ego would escalate – at least this is happening on internal matters and not in the Far East or the Middle East.

The presidency could be in a state of failure, but Foreign Policy goes further and asks Is America a Failing State?

We have the tin-pot leader whose vanity knows no bounds. We have the rapacious family feathering their nests without regard for the law or common decency.

We have utter disregard for values at home and abroad, the disdain for democracy, the hunger for constraining a free press, the admiration for thugs and strongmen worldwide.

We have all the makings of a banana republic. But worse, we are showing the telltale signs of a failing state. Our government has ceased to function. Party politics and gross self-interest has rendered the majority party oblivious to its responsibilities to its constituents and the Constitution of the United States.

On a daily basis, Republicans watch their leader violate not only the traditions and standards of the high office he occupies, but through inaction they enable him to personally profit from the presidency, promote policies that benefit his cronies and his class to the detriment of the majority of the American people, and serially attack the principles on which the country was founded — from freedom of religion to the separation of powers.

Is it that bad? It is looking increasingly like that.

Trump has had staunch supporters but some of those must be starting to wonder whether he is unfit for purpose.