A closing argument from Phil Quin

Phil Quin’s opinion started several days of online discussion over Golriz Ghahraman’s involvement in the defence of someone alleged to have been involved in genocide in Rwanda.

Quin doesn’t step back from some of his arguments, but now concedes:

It was my fault. I should have known the arguments were way too complex to convey in two rushed opeds (in both cases, written by request of editors and not pitched by me). If I wanted to do justice to the issue, I should have breathed through my nose and penned a lengthy detailed feature piece. Or I should have shut my fat face.

He stands by his core argument, but now sees the hopelessness of launching an informed opinion on a complex topic into a brief op-ed.

But the oped form is hopelessly inadequate when it comes to dense and complex subject matter about which the readership concerned, through no fault of their own, don’t grasp an iota of  essential  context. Such opeds reliably miss their mark, creating yet more unhelpful noise.

I’m afraid I’m guilty on this front.

You will never persuade me the ICTR defence weren’t a collection of ratbags who used the Tribunal as a means to relitigate the politics and culpability of the genocide. This is an opinion I share with almost everyone I know who knows anything about the ICTR — and that is literally hundreds of people who, without exception, know heaps more about it than the randos on Kiwi Twitter who couldn’t care less about Rwanda or international justice but wanted to attack me. Even the people who really wanted to agree with me were flailing about with insufficient knowledge.

All I achieved by trying to fit a round peg of an argument — that Golriz was phenomenally unwise to partake in the ICTR, something I will believe with all my heart to my dying day — into a square peg of an oped format is to increase net ignorance around the subject, and give partisan hacks the chance to play silly games and engage in dishonest name calling.

It debases the discourse, dishonours the real life suffering of many — and, rather than uplifting our collective understanding of a terrible period of history, it turned it into just another political shitfight to give partisans the visceral pleasure of dehumanizing, misrepresenting and flagrantly lying about anyone with which we disagree.

Amongst the shitfight there were some valid arguments in support of Ghahraman being involved in attempts at international justice as a defence lawyer, as well as there being valid arguments about her and the Greens brushing over details of her legal experience in her political promotion.

Never say never and all that, but I will keep my opinions to myself from now on unless I feel my contribution is sufficiently well informed to make a useful contribution, and won’t simply trigger another unhelpful round of substance-free nastiness. I will still tweet, mind you. Any idiot can do that. If the urge to write in a longer form strikes, I’ll read a book by someone I disagree with instead.

I suspect that no matter how well informed someone is and how detailed they make an argument the reality is that when it comes to politically charged discussion the same outcome is likely to occur – most vocal politically slanted people are likely to skim read and jump to their own conclusions regardless.

But some of us would appreciate more depth and detail, and it is good to have it on record.

Ideally we would get a lengthy argument from both Quin and Ghahraman, so we can see both sides of a complex story. However I suspect that both would now prefer to move on from last week’s eruption.

From Phil Quin: On opining

Context behind Quin’s allegations against Ghahraman

A counter to Phil Quin’s allegations against Golriz Gharaman by ‘Salt-Pile at Reddit, giving some well researched context, was posted in comments yesterday by Mefrostate but I think it deserves more of an airing.


Dirty Politics: the disturbing context behind Phil Quin’s allegations against Golriz Ghahraman.

As has been widely reported, Phil Quin recently accused Green MP Golriz Ghahraman of genocide denial and of supporting those accused of human rights abuses. One of the keystones of his accusations – even after his public apology – was a paper Ghahraman co-wrote with lawyer Peter Robinson in 2008, entitled Can Rwandan President Kagame be Held Responsible at the ICTR for the Killing of President Habyarimana? which was published in the Journal of International Criminal Justice.

Reading this paper, what really stood out to me was that it didn’t support any of Quin’s claims about it. Up until this point, I’d assumed Phil Quin was a well-meaning individual with a passionate interest in human rights which had led him to Rwanda, but that simply couldn’t account for the surprisingly large gap between what he claimed the paper said, and what it actually said. 1

My interest was piqued. Who was Phil Quin, and what on earth would make him misinterpret a dry legal paper about hypothetical jurisdictions as “genocide denial”?

The situation in Rwanda between 2011 and 2014, when Quin worked as a consultant for the Rwandan Government, is key to understanding his allegations. A comprehensive report produced that same year by Freedom House details an authoritarian, repressive regime. 2 Despite official democracy and a fairly robust electoral system, President Kagame won over 90% of the vote, and political opponents were allegedly harshly suppressed. There was little freedom of the press; extrajudicial killing and torture were allegedly common. Accusations of genocide played a role in civil suppression:

A 2001 law against “divisionism” and a 2008 law against “genocide ideology” have been used to stifle free speech by equating criticism of the regime with support for ethnic hatred. Government domination of civil society remains intense, and few vestiges of the independent press remain following several years of intense suppression. Even average citizens must censor their conversations, since open discussion of ethnicity is regarded as divisionism and can lead to imprisonment. (see also HRW)

Alleged human rights abuses by the Kagame Government in Rwanda had really been stacking up. A report by the US Department of State for 2013 summarized:

the government’s targeting of journalists, political opponents, and human rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse; disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary; restrictions on civil liberties […]; arbitrary or unlawful killings, both within the country and abroad; disappearances; torture; harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest; prolonged pretrial detention; executive interference in the judiciary; and government infringement on citizens’ privacy rights.

The report goes on to discuss brutality committed against citizens at the hands of the Rwandan Police, including beatings, forced confessions, and torture. It also discusses the denial of pre-trial rights and lack of access to defense lawyers.

In 2010, the year before Quin arrived, the Rwandan Government had been rocked by a controversial UN report which alleged serious war crimes committed by Kagame’s forces in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo during the Second Congo War4 By 2012, it emerged that a delayed UN report accused the Kagame Government of supporting and even commanding the notorious “M23” rebels who were accused of multiple war crimes. This connection was hotly denied by both the rebels and by Kagame.

How many of these allegations were true, and how many were concocted by the regime’s enemies as a kind of “whataboutism” (to somehow retrospectively justify genocide against Kagame’s ethnic group, as it alleges), is unclear. What is clear, however, is that one of President Kagame’s responses to these ongoing problems was to initiate a number of highly expensive Public Relations campaigns from 2009 onward, aimed at western political and financial elites, with campaign strategies which included going on the offensive towards those who criticized them (including NGOs), and presenting Kagame himself as a “democratic, visionary leader”.

Enter Phil Quin, who describes his time in Rwanda as follows:

Between 2011-2014, based in Kigali and New York, I consulted to the Government of Rwanda: setting up a whole-of-government communications operation, as well as assisting Rwandan Government as it successfully sought a UN Security Council berth; commemorate twenty years since the Genocide against the Tutsi; and navigate a raft of sensitive and complex diplomatic and political challenges.

In other words, Public Relations work for the Kagame Government? After his time as a Labour staffer Quin had what he describes as a “lacklustre career” as a Public Relations consultant before moving to Rwanda to, as he coyly put it, “train and supervise an emerging generation of communications professionals”. Certainly, Quin is pictured on a Rwandan Government website, giving Public Relations training to the Rwandan Police – a police force which stood accused of many human rights abuses at the time.

I can discover little about the specifics of how Quin helped to implement Rwandan PR strategies in the face of these complex political challenges, though he seems to have penned the odd attack in defence of Kagame here and there.5 But one telling glimpse is afforded in this blog entry by a former BBC World Service journalistin 2012. The journalist describes how Quin uses genocide denial accusations to try to silence reportage on the use of torture and “disappearance” in Rwandan military detention facilities. The reportage itself was based on an Amnesty International briefing to the UN.

In condemning Ghahraman for her role in acting as defence counsel for people accused of genocide, it seems likely that Quin has reached for a familiar narrative which he had almost certainly been using in his former capacity as an employee of the Kagame Government. This could account for how he came to see Robinson & Ghahraman’s legal article as some kind of attack on President Kagame, and therefore a legitimate target for his accusations of “genocide denial”.

Quin’s attack on Ghahraman makes more sense in this context. For example, his Newsroom article rather oddly begins by implying that the ICTR – set up to deal with the most serious war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity – compares unfavourably with gacaca courts, Rwanda’s effort to process the sheer volume of those accused of smaller roles in genocide through a grassroots process. Quin says gacaca is “rightly seen as best practice in post-conflict reconciliation”, but in fact it was controversial, not least because of its violation of fair trial rights; as Human Rights Watch notes, it curtailed the right to have adequate time to prepare a defence and ignored the accused’s right to a lawyer. This strange apples-and-oranges comparison makes more sense when one considers that emphasizing the narrative of gacaca as a “just solution” was a key strategic point in one of the Rwandan Government’s Public Relations campaign plans.

If you have a hammer, as the saying goes, everything looks like a nail. It’s clear now what Quin’s hammer was, but why did it take until now for him to try to nail Ghahraman with it?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but the timing suggests it is part of a wider smear campaign to discredit her as an MP (other examples include the Farrar post which dog-whistled on her refugee status) through creating doubt about her values, sincerity, and legitimacy. That this is in the wake of Manus Island negotiations with the Australian Government is unlikely to be coincidence.

If this is part of a coordinated attack, it’s obvious that with his lack of formal ties to the political right (as a “former Labour staffer”), and what seems to be unquestioningly taken as “cred” on Rwanda, Phil Quin is the right person to do this job. It should give us pause, though, that what we have here is an experienced political PR consultant who appears to be using tactics honed to silence people – tactics which were deliberately calculated to have a chilling effect on discussion around human rights abuses (and consequently on international attempts to preserve human rights) – and that these tactics are now being deployed right in the midst of New Zealand’s public discussion around refugees and immigration.

.

Notes:

1. For a discussion of the substance of Quin’s misrepresentation of Robinson & Ghahraman, read Otago law professor Andrew Geddis’ take on it here, and University of London law professor Kevin Jon Heller’s take on it here. My own brief, informal summary of the paper’s actual content is here.

2. Freedom House is often criticized for favouring countries which are supported by the US. However, this means that Freedom House is probably biased in favour of the Kagame regime in Rwanda, as the US broadly supports it. For an in-depth discussion of how the US may have essentially funded Kagame’s invasion of Rwanda, see this article. For an alternative source for some of the information contained in the FH report, see HRW.

3. An actual report is available here. A brief overview of the report and of Rwanda’s denial is here.

4. Another of the Kagame Government’s PR issues was the alleged Rwandan backing, in this same war, of RCD troops who had participated in war-crimes against BaMbuti Pygmies also known as “Effacer le Tableau” – “erasing the board” – in 2003.

5. Around this time, Quin may also have met fellow Rwandan Government employee and communications expert Tom Ndahiro,whose opinion he quotes.

Politics has no fury like a Labour scorned

From Twitter yesterday:


: Has any NZ govt initiative ever been so embarrassingly pretentious and naive?
US blocks McCully’s showpiece

Hutt City’s anti-TPP stance comes to mind.

 

Hooton: Yes, but no one outside NZ knows that that!

Quin: I’ve done my best to inform my small but geographically widespread follower base.

Hooton: Treason.

Quin: You can accuse me of anything you want, just don’t stop sending the cheques.

Hooton: Usual account?

Quin: Yeah, The NeoLiberal Bank of the Swiss Illuminati, as usual.

Hooton: For those who don’t understand this, media staff have briefed journos that I pay money to . Because they’re fucking mad.

Quin: So..about that invoice? Should I be making other arrangements?

Hooton: I’ll launder your cash through & who are also on my payroll apparently.

Quin: The cult headquarters won’t build themselves!


Bizarre.

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor politics a fury like a Labour scorned.

With a few words borrowed from William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride – will that title describe the Greens?

Overdose on irony

In You’d never guess who’s accused me of making stuff up Phil Quin says:

Is it possible to overdose on irony?

‘Cameron Slater’ (this post sounds like Slater) quotes Quin in PHIL QUIN ON THE FERAL OPPOSITION TO DISSENT IN LABOUR and says:

In Labour people aren’t allowed to change their views, have to subscribe to group think and if they don’t then they get run out of town on a rail. Good people have left Labour because of attitudes like these.

Joe Bloggs points out:

Kinda reminded me of all the good people who’ve left WO for exactly the same reason… the irony, the irony, oh how it burns…

But Slater is as inept as Clare Curran – see Quin illustrates dissent in Labour – in failing to see the irony in what they say.

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?”

Labour pessimism versus optimism

There’s been contrasting columns at the herald over the past two days.

On Tuesday there was Phil Quin: Labour’s pessimism ploy. (Quin resigned from Labour when the Chinese surname data was promoted).

Despite a considerable souring of economic sentiment, Labour, under Andrew Little, has barely moved in the polls since last year’s historic drubbing. His personal popularity lags behind predecessors David Cunliffe and David Shearer – and Little is more than 20 points adrift of where John Key stood at a comparable juncture in Helen Clark’s third term.

Little is no ideologue; nor does he play one for the cameras like Cunliffe. Instead, his animating worldview is one of pessimism. He is gambling that voters are change-averse, grumpy and fearful of the future.

Quin detailed:

  • The CGT reversal was just the first of numerous maneuvers that reflect this downbeat assessment of the public mood.
  • On the TPPA, Little’s Labour has adopted an unapologetically protectionist stance. It is no small matter for Labour to abandon decades of enthusiastic support for trade liberalisation, long seen by politicians across the spectrum as a key to New Zealand’s current and future prosperity.
  • Labour’s release of leaked Auckland housing data in order to highlight the prevalence of Chinese-sounding surnames is perhaps the singular event of Andrew Little’s tenure to date (full disclosure: I resigned from the party over the issue). It was an audacious and high-risk gambit. Little himself conceded he knew it would attract accusations of racism – but public polls suggest it has fallen well short of being the game-changer Labour had hoped.
  • Perhaps nothing showcases Labour’s defensive crouch better than its decision to oppose the referendum on the New Zealand flag. Labour’s historic mission is to forge a proudly independent national identity for New Zealand. It’s depressing to see Labour cede this turf to John Key for negligible political gain.
  • Labour is mining economic anxiety for the prospect of electoral gain and, in the process, usurping National’s historic role of defending, by any means necessary, what constitutes the status quo.
  • By playing up fears about the perils of globalisation or an impending Chinese invasion, Labour will encounter furious and vocal agreement. This shouldn’t be mistaken for a groundswell. Voters don’t reward parties who merely echo and reinforce feelings of despondency without offering real solutions.

Quin concludes:

Labour, in particular, thrives when it approaches the future with gusto, not trepidation. Merchants of doom and gloom might fill the airwaves, but they rarely win elections.

Yesterday Rob Salmond promoted an alternate view in Rob Salmond: The true state of Labour.  Salmond is stated as a communications and analytics consultant, whose clients include Andrew Little.

Is the Labour Party pessimistic, or optimistic? Does it oppose change or embrace it? Is the movement marching forward or standing still? Answering these questions is important, because it helps us understand the engine room of the next government.

It depends on whether you see things from where Labour is trying to present itself from it’s communications team or how the puiblic generally sees Labour. The Standard has hardly looked optimistic about Labour’s chances for a long time, it doesn’t represent all of Labour’s emotions but it’s a significant view on the thoughts of the activist Labour left.

Take home ownership, the political hot-topic of the year. Labour leader Andrew Little thinks home ownership rates really can go up again in Auckland, and across New Zealand. I’d call that optimism rather than pessimism. To get there, Labour’s proposing big changes, for example a large-scale, government-led programme of house building, or big changes to our investment rules.

Labour have succeeded in highlighting Auckland’s housing issues but this has drawn attention to the problems with escalating values rather than promoting a difference under a future Labour Government.

The plight of regional New Zealand’s another example. Little reckons our heartland towns really can get out of their current funk, and become potent economic forces again. For me, that sounds like more optimism. Labour’s ideas for achieving that include major capital expenditure on rail links and ports. Doing that might also help New Zealand’s economy diversify, becoming less dependent on dairy as new industries grow.

Except that many regions aren’t in a ‘current funk’. Tourism, apples, wine, avocados, meat etc are doing better than ever. There are labour shortages in some areas.

This is where Labour is failing – they have been talking down the regions, talking down the economy, talking down the TPP. Tacking an ‘optimistic hope Labour can do better’ doesn’t negate the negativeness.

Once you look at real examples of Labour’s contribution to the public debate, it’s hard to see where the pessimism argument is coming from.

No it’s not hard to see pessimism.

Quin does, correctly, that Little’s decision not to pursue a Capital Gains Tax was motivated by electoral pragmatism. He also notes, also correctly, that Labour’s position on the TPPA is a skeptical “wait and see” at the moment, not a definitive yes or no.

These are certainly shades-of-grey positions, the signpost of a party cognizant of both its principled starting point and the limits of what the public actually wants. Serious political parties always care about both these things. But those premises don’t lead to Quin’s pessimistic, fearful conclusion.

These premises are meaningless waffle to most people.

Many commentators have noted Labour’s caucus is more united, more disciplined, than it has been since Helen Clark. For the first time in around six years, the leadership murmors have disappeared

“Many commentators”?

Recent Labour related news has featured:

On polls:

Quin says Labour “has barely moved in the polls since last year’s historic drubbing.” Labour got 25 per cent in last year’s election. Less than a year later, four of the five latest polls have Labour above 30 per cent. An increase of more than five points inside a year, with the Greens’ vote steady or slowly increasing as well, isn’t “barely moved.” It’s “solid early progress.”

It’s more like tenuous recovery from an embarrassingly low election result. It was thought that Salmond’s Chinese surname data waw an attempt to get a populist poll boost but it barely had any affect ap;art from annoying a lot of people on the left.

It’s a communication consultant’s job to talk up optimism.

That doesn’t mean the public see optimism or are optimistic about Labour’s next election chances.

Labour are still requiring the support of both the Greens and NZ Fiirst to look like they are able to form a Government.

Can Salmond sound optimistic about that?

Winston Peters looks more optimisitic about his chances of being the next Prime Minister than Andrew Little.

To actually look optimistic (rather than say you are optimisitic) voters need to see a Government in waiting that they think is viable and manageable.

I think Mr Salmond has a bit more work to do yet.

Labour HQ asks members to check with them before tweeting

Labour Party President Nigel Haworth has asked members not to “launch immediately into a commentary” on Twitter but to run things by Party HQ instead.

Ex Labour Party member Phil Quinn must either still be on the Party mailing list or is being forwarded party emails. He has blogged on an email sent to members.

Equally, the modern era provides multiple opportunities to comment publicly on political issues. Blogs are one thing, but I think media such as Twitter are probably more important.

It is easy to read a newspaper report, or pick up a news item on the TV, and launch immediately into a commentary that may be widely shared.

We see this regularly, and it is sometimes founded on incorrect information, as events subsequently show. Spokespeople in Caucus, staff in Party HQ, Council members, members of Policy Council and I are available promptly to respond to queries about issues before public comments are made.

“It is sometimes founded on incorrect information” could also apply to Labour MPs on Twitter.

We are happy to talk to you if you hear or read something that worries you, or makes little sense. And a quick check with the Party about the issue allows you to comment in an accurate and informed way, even if you disagree! We are all the better for debate founded on accurate information.

Debate founded on accurate information is laudable.

Debate founded on HQ vetting is more of a worry in a modern political party.

So what are we to think now? Should we treat all tweets that look like they might be from Labour Party members with suspicion of being managed by Party HQ?

I wonder what the turnaround time will be if, say, a hundred party members are itching to say something on Twitter. Maybe HQ are set up to respond quickly, or maybe they hope that people will have moved from touchy topics before they get a reply.

I suspect Quinn didn’t run his post by HQ before launching into commentary – but he’s not a member any more so exempt from Party control.

The Quin response – how Labourites treat their own

The Labour Party’s decision to dump on not just all New Zealanders with Chinese ethnicity but all New Zealanders with potentially Chinese sounding names has divided their support base. Some are defending Labour’s actions, some are horrified that Labour would so blatantly play a race card.

One of the latter is long time Labourite Phil Quin who emailed his resignation to the party secretary.

Dear Mr. Barnett

In light of Labour’s calculated decision over the weekend to deploy racial profiling as a political tactic, I resign my membership of the party.

I am stunned that Labour, as a matter of conscious political strategy, would trawl through a dubiously ­acquired list of property buyers to identify Chinese­sounding names. Even as I write the words, I can scarcely believe that senior party leaders – or anyone of good conscience, for that matter – thought it an advisable course of action. That they are now defending it – even attacking Susan Devoy for her principled comments on the subject – compounds my disappointment.

I lived and worked in Rwanda for several years, including in 2014, during the twentieth commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi minority. Many of my former colleagues, still dear friends, are among the few who survived the slaughter. They taught me something about what happens when political parties start compiling lists based on ethnicity. Nothing good can come from racial profiling of the kind Labour chose to employ in pursuit of a headline and a poll bump.

Some have applauded that as a principled action.

3 News reported Labour unwavering on Chinese buyer data:

Labour is unrepentant, standing by the unlawfully leaked real estate data and its analysis, which suggests three-quarters of Chinese buying in Auckland don’t actually live in New Zealand.

“It’s always disappointing when a member resigns from the party, but the correspondence coming to my office in the last day or two has been overwhelmingly in favour,” says Mr Little.

Many of those not in favour have chosen to express their disappointment elsewhere, like Quin. His letter was posted at The Standard – Phil Quin resigns from Labour – where there was some support.

But some Labour supporters are happy to be rid of anyone who is not in their own favoured faction. It’s as if they have support to burn and don’t care about shedding stalwarts.

Here are some of the comments celebrating Quin’s resignation.

Saarbo:

Good riddance, Quin’s always been a fuckwit.

mickysavage:

He is no left wing saviour. He has attacked the party publicly for years and think we made a bad decision in keeping Helen Clark as leader. He with the Paganis are firm believers of Blairite third way politics, the sort that gave us the beneficiary on the roof speech from David Shearer.

He was also allegedly in the process of setting up an alternative left wing party and/or faction within Labour based on Progress in the UK. I suspect that we will see some more activity on this part so his self martyrdom needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

lprent:

I have never figured out what in the hell those bozos like Quinn were trying to achieve. Sort of socially conservative basher with a rather strange crony capitalistic bent. But I really suspect that it has more to do with some kind of “I want power/I love the game” leverage than actual thought through convictions.

Anyway, I’d be rather pleased to see them fade to obscurity.

leftie:

In my humble opinion, it is no great loss this pretender has resigned. Labour is better off.

Thom Pietersen:

Agreed – part of the ideological nutbar PC brigade – Labour – working people, working, not bloody bludging. Maybe he could join the elitist arse sitting privileged geoglobal money party (I’d bang in a bit of totalitarianism – if people would keep shtum about the price of a TV).

Irascible:

In all my years in the Labour Party I’ve never met, heard or seen Phil Quin taking an active or positive role at any level. Anything I’ve ever heard about him has been derogatory and derisory. His resignation should, therefore be seen for what it is, grandstanding by a nonentity in an effort to rebuild his often ignored ego.

Anne:

Glad he’s gone and I hope he takes his right-wing third way friends (eg. Josie Pagani) with him. They can set up their own little think tank and run down Labour (as they have been doing for a very long time) ad infinitum.

Sanctuary:

+100 Anne

All this has done is given the likes of Quinn and whole pile of other middle class, identity politics Blairist ex-Labour types the fig leaf they needed to start honest about the fact they nowvote National. Bye bye, you won’t be missed.

Paul:

So hardly a loss then.

Mark:

Well if thats all it took to get rid of that prick, the Labour Party should have done it ages ago. Now if we were really lucky Josie might join her good friend. That would be the icing on top.

KK:

Good riddance.

Jenny Kirk:

Great to see him go ! He’s just a parasite and rightwing with it.

ankerawshark:

 Good the issues has forced the resignation of Phil Quin.

Te Reo Putake:

Glad he’s gone, wish he’d gone a long time ago. National and ACT are his ideological home and they’re welcome to him. The NZ Labour party doesn’t need constant undermining from people who use their membership as a device to destroy the party from within. It’s cheap, cowardly and dishonest.

Good riddance, Phil. You were very, very average.

G C:

Bye Phil bye – nobody cares

geoff:

Phil Quim quits……and nothing of value was lost

keyman:

never heard of him so wont miss him sounds like a twat

Blue:

Good riddance to Quin – that’s probably the only bright spot to come out of this fiasco.

whateva next?

ad nauseum rather! Labour is about co operation, cohesion and compromise, not a federation of self interested separatists. Time to sort the wheat from the chaff.

A highly ironic comment.

Labour sort of need all the wheat, chaff, oats and barley that they can get don’t they? Or will those remaining be happy being a 20% party?

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]

[Deleted]

[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.