BSA reject Labour complaint

Last November after Labour released a youth work scheme policy 1 News journalist Andrea Vance questioned their costings. Labour conceded that they had not mentioned an assumption that a 6 month subsidy was costed for 4 months as they though that would be the average.

Despite their omission Phil Twyford attacked Vance on Twitter quite severely, and then Labour laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

See Labour lay complaint over coverage of policy costings.

The BSA has released it’s finding in which they rejected Labour’s complaint: Jaspers and Television New Zealand Ltd – 2016-095 (19 April 2017)


An item on 1 News reported on the Labour Party’s ‘Ready for Work’ policy, which offered unemployed young people employment on the minimum wage in environmental and community projects for six months.

The item reported that, according to Labour, the scheme would cost $60 million per year for 10,000 participants. However, the $60-million sum was actually ‘based on participants taking up the scheme for just four months, not the promised six’.

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was based on inaccurate and unsubstantiated conclusions made by the reporter featured in the item, which was misleading and damaged the credibility of the Labour Party.

The reporter’s comments, while critical, were not inaccurate or misleading, and it is an important function of the media to comment critically on political party policy in the lead up to an election period.

Labour was given sufficient opportunity to consider the reporter’s comments and to put forward its views, both during the 1 News item and in considerable coverage in other media at the time.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance

So Vance was doing her job as a political journalist, Twyford blew a fuse on Twitter, and Labour took the rare step of complaining to the BSA.

Vance was exonerated.

Labour had egg on their face when their policy was examined, Twyford threw eggs at Vance, Labour complained about the eggs to the BSA, and Labour’s reputation has ended up scrambled.

Little: I’m not in the centre at all

Andrew Little on  ‘If that’s the centre, I’m not in the centre at all.”


RNZ (audio) Andrew Little rejects labels of centre or left

The Labour leader Andrew Little has dismissed Helen Clark’s advice Labour should work at ‘commanding the centre ground’ saying labels such as centre are meaningless.

He said virtually the same think on Breakfast where he tried to explain: “I’m focusing on issues that affect middle NZ’s and solutions for it'”.

There has been technical debate about whether centre, left and right are the right argument, like at Dim-Post in Notes on the unidimensional spatial model of politics.

Talking about ‘the left’ or ‘the centre’ is useful shorthand, but the ‘median voter theory’ or, as political scientists call it, the ‘uni-dimensional spatial theory’ of voter behavior is meaningless and has been discredited for several decades, although some pundits still seem attached to it.

For intellectuals interested in values and policy the unidimensional model is important. You can pick your side – ‘the left’ or ‘the right’ – and decide that they’re the good guys, and the others are the bad guys, and convince yourself anyone voting for the bad guys is doing so out of bad intentions or false consciousness.

But very few voters think about politics like this. They decide based on social identity, valence issues like competence, their mood, largely determined by economic factors but also influenced by retail politics: interactions with politicians and their supporters.

I think of this as ‘The Good Look’ spectrum (based on the press gallery’s current favourite euphemism for when a politician does something illegal or evil or stupid, that it is ‘not a good look’) and it interacts with the left-right spectrum

Rob Hosking (of NBR):

Little’s right. It is meaningless, mostly, But in politics you pick your battles, you choose what messages you want to send, and you don’t want to choose those which reinforce your existing negatives. This one does.

Vernon Small at Stuff: John Key promotes Helen Clark. Andrew Little distances himself from her views. Say what?

Even if things should fall apart, it seems the centre cannot hold Labour leader Andrew Little’s interest.

In a strangely intense rejection of Helen Clark’s suggestion that parties on the left must “command the centre ground” to win elections, Little dismissed the idea as “meaningless” and “a pretty hollow view”.

Strange, because it is truism. Winning power requires 50 per cent plus one of the voters – and Mr 50 and Mrs 51 are by definition in the centre.

That is where the centre is critical.

He may even have been worried his own insiders would take “centrism” as an abandonment of his mandate.

As he explains it, he is constructing a “coalition of constituencies” ahead of next year’s election. It is one that transcends simplistic Left and Right, but is focused on some salient issues, such as health, housing, inequality and the needs of small business.

But whatever the explanation, it seems odd that Little would allow himself to be seen as offside, or peeved, with Clark’s view.

She is, after all, Labour’s most recent and consistent winner.

Contrast Little’s stance with Prime Minister John Key’s enthusiastic championing of Clark, his former rival, as the next United Nations chief.

Clark was, after all, popular with many a centrist and women voter in her time and still commands respect. Showing magnanimity towards her can hardly harm his prospects of a fourth term – and might well improve it.

Which underscores just how odd it was that Little would distance himself from her comments – especially when the UN secretary-general vote is coming to a head.

I’m not sure that this is a winning strategy.Others are also doubtful.

Tough gig for Mike Jaspers coming in as media guy for as he eschews the centre.

Jaspers is filling the vacant position in Little’s office as Chief Media Officer. I don’t know if he has started yet, but he would appear to have taken on quite a challenge.