Response to the hammering of UK Labour

Provisional results from the UK election:

  • Conservatives 365
  • Labour 203
  • Scottish National Party 48
  • Liberal Democrats 11
  • Democratic Unionist Party 8
  • Sinn Fein 7
  • Plaid Cymru 4
  • Green Party 1
  • Other parties 3
  • Brexit Party 0

Share of the vote (which under First Past the Post for electorates doesn’t determine the outcome):

  • Conservatives 43.6%
  • Labour 32.2%
  • Scottish National Party 3.9%
  • Liberal Democrats 11.6%
  • Democratic Unionist Party 0.8%
  • Sinn Fein 0.6%
  • Plaid Cymru 0.5%
  • Green Party 2.7%
  • Other parties 2%
  • Brexit Party 2%

The Conservatives and Boris Johnson are obviously celebrating, and so are those who want to see an resolution to the Brexit debacle.

Johnson is promising to take the UK out of the EU next month “no ifs, no buts”

A lot of response from Labour supporters has been to blame Brexit, the media and voters for being stupid and other things, but Jeremy Corbyn has copped a lot of criticism. He has said he will stay on as leader through a transition but won’t be leader at the next election.

Guardian: Jeremy Corbyn ‘very sad’ at election defeat but feels proud of manifesto

“I have pride in our manifesto that we put forward and all our policies we put forward that actually had huge public support on issues of universal credit, the green industrial revolution and investment for the future,” he said.

“But this election was taken over ultimately by Brexit and we as a party represent people who vote remain and leave, my whole strategy was to reach out beyond the Brexit divide to try to bring people together.”

Proud of a losing policy platform? Brexit was obviously a significant factor but Corbyn was seen to have handled it poorly, so it wasn’t so much that Brexit was the problem, it was that Corbyn wasn’t considered capable of sorting it out.

Some Labour MPs and officials were scathing.

Others not:

Here in Aotearoa there was dismay as the results came in at this ‘you must be deemed a lefty by weka to comment here’ post – Lefties on The Standard: UK election edition

Bill: “Ah well. It’s yellow vest time then, innit.”

Adrian Thornton: “Yes it is, time to get out on the streets.”

If you don’t like democratic elections revolt.

UncookedSelachimorpha:

I hope Labour sticks to a strongly progressive agenda, and doesn’t return to its neoliberal / Blairite ways. Might take a few election cycles before people give a progressive party a go – best to keep working towards that, than simply returning to Tory-Lite.

Weird that public support for individual Labour policies is strong – but they can’t get enough people to vote for the party. I suppose the party is the target of the media smear campaign, while the individual policies are not.

Adrian Thornton:

I am not really sure why anyone who has been following UK politics is at all surprised  at a poor result from Labour, Corbyn has been absolutely and well and truly fucked over by all MSM, and most damagingly by so called ‘liberal media’ who, as I harp on about here all the time, have shown that they are more closely aligned ideologically to the Tories and Boris than they are to a progressive Left project…at this point in this very real battle for the future of  our planet, and a more fair and equal society for all citizens,  they are our No,1 enemy.

Often something or someone else to blame for failings.

The 2017 election here showed that a different leader with much the same policies can make a huge difference. Media have their faults, but in general they give better coverage to better leaders, and poor coverage to poor leaders.’

Sanctuary:

If the exit polls are correct, then this is a really ominous result for Jacinda and her administration of merry and complacent elite politics managerialists.

It looks like the centre has collapsed in the UK, USA etc and that has largely been to the benefit of the far right.

NZ Labour continuing to cling to neoliberal centre will eventually lead to it’s destruction.

An alternative view from Ad, who for some reason was allowed to comment critically against ‘the left’:

The hard left saddos you describe are dying off and only appear here on TS for the occasional ideological burp.

And occasionally at protests like Ihumatao and in socialist youth gatherings numbering no more than two hands.

They’re gone.

Observer:

Drawing conclusions for NZ is frankly pointless (MMP changes everything).

There is now a vast gulf between Scotland and England, between London and northern England, etc. That’s reinforced and exaggerated by FPP.

Poli-geeks like us might view everything in terms of left and right but actually “We’ve had enough” is a major driver of voter behaviour. Traditionally, “we’ve had enough” is about a long-lasting government. This time, it’s Brexit.

There will never be another Brexit election in the UK (there might not even be a UK). So simple lessons “for next time” don’t apply.

I posted a comment that was promptly moved as I’m not deemed left enough (I think i was the only one moved), but that evolved into an interesting to an exchange on Open Mic.

Wayne (ex National MP):

Weka,

I note in your “lefties only” comment item on the UK election that some (you included) are saying Jacinda will loose in 2020 because she is not left enough.

Surely the result in the UK shows that is wrong. Jacinda is successful because she is not seen as extreme. She uses progressive language, but does not threaten an economic revolution. Instead she says things can get better with a moderate amount of social democracy.

Most people don’t want revolution because who knows where it might end up. Revolutions are full of risk. And basically don’t happen in democratic nations.

While there is no doubt Johnson’s simple Brexit message appeals because it offers certainty (in contrast to Labour promise of more confusion), I am also certain that Corbyn’s socialist message did not appeal. What Labour needs is a modern Blair. In fact that is exactly what Jacinda is. Which in my view is why she is successful.

A question, would Blair be reviled if Iraq had never happened, or instead would he be seen as the most successful Labour Prime Minister ever?

Weka:

No, I think Labour will get to form govt next year, but it will be closer than is comfortable for the left. Labour do have a problem in that many people voted Labour last time presumably because of JA (multiple reasons) but may be disappointed in what Labour have achieved. The solution to that is to vote Green, so we’re not in the same situation as the UK.

“I am also certain that Corbyn’s socialist message did not appeal.”

Obviously not enough, but I think the UK election is more about poor voter turnout, people being sick of Brexit back and forth, Labour Leavers objecting to Labour’s second referendum, vote splitting with the LDs, MSM and poll bias and so on. In other words, lots of dynamics going on.

The issue for the left is how to shift the Overton Window in NZ. I agree with you that NZ doesn’t want a revolution, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to move the centre. The right has done this in the past 35 years without prior approval /shrug.

Blair is hated because of how he cemented neoliberalism. Without Iraq only the neoliberals would see him as a great PM

Wayne:

I know that is a theme with the momentum left, but in truth their views only appeal to a small minority of voters. Some on the left also accuse Helen Clark of also accepting/endorsing neo-liberalism, but most people regard her as a very good PM. Without Iraq wouldn’t Blair be seen in the same light?

In my view NZers (apart from a mysogonist rump) have formed the same view of Jacinda as they did with Helen. A same pair of hands who won’t fundamentally unsettle the economic compact that prevails in NZ (for instance her commitment against CGT so long as she is PM). The major criticism she gets is that she (her government) have not delivered that well on their stated targets. In my view that is fixable with more focus and discipline.

A problem with a place like The Standard is you get a few remaining die-hard (I mistyped that as dire-hard and nearly left it) anti-neoliberal far lefties who make a big noise, aided by their ‘lefty only’ approach, not just as commenting rules but active and often nasty attacks on people deemed not left enough.

But they only represent a small minority of voters.

Weka sometimes says she wants to encourage views from the right but the calls them trolls if they say things she doesn’t like, and warnings and bans strongly favour her left.

Elections won’t be won and lost in blogs, but they can provide an interesting insight to dedicated political activists and their frustrations (there is a similar but more open avalanche of ‘not right enough with more abuse of alternate views at Kiwiblog).

We don’t have strong a strong left or right in Aotearoa. Which I think is a good thing, most voters don’t think as divisively as the political blog remnants.

How do we decide what is right or wrong?

Jehan Casinader wrote this – As a Christian, Israel Folau’s searing sermons from cyberspace make me angry –  in relation to religion, but can also apply to politics.

Surrendering to a higher power doesn’t make you a saint. Those who believe in God, including me, are just as broken, flawed and selfish as everyone else.

That’s why Folau – and those who have vilified him – have lost sight of the bigger picture. Judging others is easier than engaging in deeper conversations about faith, truth and morality.

If there is a God, what is he or she really like?

Where do we find meaning?

And how do we decide what is right and wrong?

Many people seem to treat politics based on beliefs and faith similar to religious beliefs. They believe politicians from their chosen party and politicians, they support them unquestioningly.

And they seem to fear opposing parties and positions to the point of vilifying them no matter what the merits of what they propose, do or say.

For some, politics is an extension of their religion

For others, politics seems to have become their religion.

If there is a political ideal, what is it really like?

Where do we find meaning?

And how do we decide what is right and wrong?

 

Left versus right proposing surveillance powers

I’m not sure that a ‘non-partisan’ group set up by Jordan Williams for surveillance of surveillance would be embraced across the spectrum, especially when suggesting it he also takes a swipe at ‘those on the far left’.

The right overestimates, the left underestimates people’s responsibility

I’m usually leery of generalisations about the left and right, but…

The left underestimates people’s responsibility for their own condition and their agency for improving it.

The right overestimates it, ignoring systemic disadvantages and circumstances outside people’s control.

The truth falls, as is often the case, somewhere in the middle.

…the third point in particular is close to the mark for a lot of political and social issues

Source

Are NZ media left or right?

An age old argument is whether the media favour or lean left or right. One common claim is that editorially they lean right but most journalists tend to lean left. I think it’s far more complex than that.

The alleged leaning of the media is often stated in relation to the leaning of the person of accusing them of favouring the other lot and not giving enough weight to their preferences.

Last month Justin Hu tried to pigeon\hole New Zeaaland media and political blogs – Subjective New Zealand media objectivity/bias chart\ –  but that seems to be a work in progress, after a lot of online discussion and criticism he adjusted his chart.

It came up on Reddit yesterday: What NZ media are neither leftist nor right and have no political opinion?

I’m truly tired of hearing stories with extreme leftist and politically correct opinion. (News hub is guilty) It seems that so much media in NZ is extreme left with all there political opinions. Does anyone know of any neutral NZ media with no right leaning nor left opinions but just tells the news as it is? Hard facts.

No media can be entirely neutral – especially not from everyone’s perspective. And no media publishes on ‘hard facts’. And if they did they would probably be accused of only publishing selected facts that resulted in bias.

An attempt to judge the media here:

I think you would struggle to call our media extreme left.

Stuff and Herald probably have centre right editorial stances but both seek leftist commentators. This probably is a result of having a traditional media base.

TVNZ is simply too bland to say it has any political persuasion. news hub is all over the place but O’Brien is clearly a fan of Jacinda. Garner is simply a dick and I have never been able to work him out.

ZB is clearly a right wing mouthpiece. Most probably a result of the fact that it is talk back.

Then you come to the independents. RNZ is largely left these days but morning report is objective and Espinar is great. Campbell clearly sits centre left.

Then you have Newsroom that is edited by Hickey and Murphy both of whom are left wing.

And blogs:

Then you come to the web natives. spinoff, standard and the daily blog (and scoop) that have left wing editorial stances. Although I agree with someone else that the Scoop has largely gone downhill and largely just straight releases press releases but Gordon Campbell is as left as they come.

Then on the right you have kiwiblog and even further Whaleoil.

All four of the above mentioned blogs (not Scoop) have clear political leanings and are to varying extents political activists promoting their preferences, and far more commonly, trying to trash their opponents.

Are any extreme?

Just out of interest what do you consider extreme left and extreme right?

Because those terms are relative to your beliefs, what one person might consider extreme right another might think is more center right.

Relative to one’s political perspective:

A general rule of thumb is that if you are a left-wing person, then all media or right-wing and vice-versa. Interpretations of media bias are a very common way to see the persecution complex in action.

Declining standards?

The reason for journalism’s decline is changing economics. Opinions are cheap, repeating press releases even cheaper. Everything has to generate its own clicks. Advertising is dead, but PR is very much alive to buy articles with.

Consistent editorial lines, a multitude of outlets and more personnel to report did make news higher quality in certain senses.

Many claim that there is a lot more crap published by media, and publishers and broadcasters are certainly under increasing financial pressure.

But we have far more available to see and read.

There was a time when almost all my news came from one newspaper and one TV channel, with a bit of variety from a Sunday newspaper.

I can find a lot more than that now if i look for it.

And I can find balance if i look for that too.

Bias can easily be detected if that’s what you want to find.

I’m only biased towards my own views, but I do try to consider and present other points of views and arguments too. One of the best ways to to this is allow other views to be expressed without restrictions.

The self destructive left

There has been a lot said about Steve Bannon lately, and what could be described as the partially successful but ultimately self destructive right in the US.

But the left of politics also has major problems, some of which are also self inflicted, repeatedly.

Andrew Doyle: On the self-destructive left

Which came first: the alt-right or the social-justice movement?

Will Donald Trump eventually be toppled by leftist activism, or will such activism guarantee his second term in office?

Is Katie Hopkins right to describe herself as the creation of her enemies, as the ‘monster’ to the liberal-left’s Dr Frankenstein?

Do attempts to shut down free speech on university campuses prevent the dissemination of extremist views, or make such views more likely to gain traction?

These are complex issues. Political activism is sometimes productive (for a cause), and it is sometimes counter-productive.

It’s a circular pattern that appears to be accelerating, largely thanks to the nuance-free arena of social media. As politics becomes more polarised, each side is resorting to increasingly distorted caricatures of the other.

Left wing and right wing politics may be getting more polarised. I think that’s debatable in New Zealand, they represent just a small minorities, but they can be the most vocal and visible in social media.

Less debatable is “each side is resorting to increasingly distorted caricatures of the other”. We see this here to an extent on Your NZ (I discourage it), and prominently elsewhere on political blogs – you don’t need to look far in comments at Kiwiblog or The Standard, or posts at The Daily Blog and Whale Oil, to see this in action.

This leaves us in a quandary. More than ever, we are in need of frank discussion about the issues that matter most. But with figures on all sides of the political spectrum so determined to double down on their alienating and ad hominem strategies, the possibility of debate is seriously curtailed.

This is a real problem in political discourse and debate. I have tried to combat this in this forum, but that’s an ongoing challenge as some seem determined to double down on their alienating and ad hominem strategies. In the past I have tried to confront this on other forums with limited success (I have certainly provoked reactions and believe that has resulted in some changes but they are minor at best).

The rapper Joyner Lucas has addressed this problem in his recent viral hit ‘I’m Not Racist’, which presents two men – one white, one black – candidly airing their grievances. One commentator found the conceit ‘exhausting’, claiming that ‘the notion that social divisions [can] be reconciled through “honest” conversation’ is ‘hopelessly outdated’.

Unless there is a seismic shift in attitudes to those who choose to be actively involved in political debate in social media then, while I will not concede they are hopelessly outdated, honest conversation is under serious threat of being trashed by those with ill intent in political forums.

It’s an attitude that is entirely self-defeating.

I’ve been trying to make that point for years, but the worst offenders are deaf and blind to the damage they do to their own causes.

Smearing one’s opponents as ‘racist’ or ‘stupid’ may be satisfying in the short term, but it’s unlikely to change any minds.

It’s more likely to entrench differences, and I don’t see how it can be satisfying to anyone except for those who try to deliberately disrupt decent debate (and those offenders are often the most active participants).

Nor is it supported by the facts. A recent study by the think-tank Open Europe has revealed that although immigration was a major factor in the referendum, the vast majority of voters have a ‘far more nuanced and sophisticated’ attitude on the subject than is generally acknowledged. Likewise, the inaccurate and promiscuous use of terms such as ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ has been a boon to the far right, particularly in the US. It has enabled vile fringe groups to claim a level of support they simply do not have.

Not just ‘vile fringe groups’. Political forum trolls and harassers may think the lack of opposition to their destructive behaviour means they have wide support, but I think that most people just avoid them – and they forums they operate on, one example of defeating one’s own purpose.

Is there any way of turning this around and finding better ways of debating and of airing differences in preferences and opinions without getting sucked into shit fights and personal abuse?

It’s easy to get drawn into the worst of political discussion – berating rather than debating – and to get dragged down to the worst level. Most of the time I think I’ve managed to resist this, and that can annoy the hell out of deliberate disruptors and harassers, but it doesn’t seem to stem their affliction or attempts at destruction of debate on anything they disagree with.

One reason (a major one) I don’t feel like putting more effort and resources into expanding content and functionality and participation here is because I don’t want to waste time enabling others to trash discussions. I think what we have here is worthwhile I don’t see it as worth my while putting more effort into having a forum that is abused.

Perhaps to an extent that’s an admission of defeat in my primary aim. Or perhaps I’m happy to chug away, learning more about what might work.

It is not just the left that’s self destructive – political forums across the spectrum are plagued by destructive behaviour by some of the most prolific contributors. Martyn Bradbury and Cameron Slater are examples of that – both say they want to create thriving alternatives to what they call a fading and failing traditional media, but despite some useful contributions they largely ruin their own chances of succeeding.

Andrew Doyle makes some good points but it is a wider problem in politics than his focus.

Is there a better way of appealing to decent debate?

Or is it futile to resist it’s self destruction?

 

 

New Zealand’s voting blocs

Alex Eastwood-Williams describes New Zealand’s voting blocs in a post at Right Minds NZ.

Last week’s election result has resulted in a barrage of commentary from those arguing that MMP’s time has come to an end and that we are returning to a two-party system. I’m not here to argue that – in fact I vehemently disagree – but I am going to argue that New Zealand’s political marketplace is overcrowded.

Last week’s election result was not an endorsement of the two-party system but merely a rejection of the six-seven-or-sometimes-eight-party system.

Both the Greens and NZ First looked at risk of failing to make the 5% threshold but enough voters rallied behind them to get them safely over the line.

The Three Voting Blocs

The main point of this article will be to argue that there are just three types of voter, and therefore can only be three blocs in the New Zealand political marketplace (and the same applies worldwide).

Voters and political parties are either “Left”, “Right” or “Non-aligned”.

A bit simplistic but close enough to how things work.

That’s not to say I believe there will be a three party system – in fact I believe the three blocs can allow up to six political parties to co-exist in Parliament at a time, although only four parties would be able to survive healthily and long-term.

The way the political market will usually work would be that the three blocs would create four parties: There would be the dominant one in power which would usually be the only party of its bloc. For example, right now the ‘Right’ bloc are in power, and the National Party is virtually the sole political party in that bloc. (You can pretend that ACT are an independent party if you like, but let’s be honest – if National pulls the plug, they’re gone.)

Then there would be the opposition bloc which would usually have more than one party within it – currently that’s the ‘Left’ bloc with Labour and the Greens – although when Labour were in government, the opposite was true with National and ACT both two separate political entities occupying the same bloc.

‘Right bloc’ and ‘left bloc’ is also a simplification. National have remained in power by dominating the centre, as did Helen Clartk’s Labour government. So they are rightish and leftish.

Finally you have the ‘Non-aligned’ bloc: That is the voters and political parties who are neither left nor right, basically the “protest vote”. Usually there would be just one party: Currently this is New Zealand First – though this is likely to change once the coalition deal is signed, and historically Social Credit (who were socially conservative but economically left-wing) dominated this part of the political landscape. Sometimes there’s room for more than one party in the non-aligned bloc – before 2005, NZ First, United Future and the Maori Party could all claim to be part of this bloc.

It should be emphasised that the ‘Non-aligned’ bloc is not always “centrist” – in fact it’s often dominated by the parties whose views are so extreme that no other party will work with them – for example, the Mana Party between 2008 and 2011.

There’s possibly another group of voters as a part of or separate to the ‘non-aligned bloc’ – tactical voters. I could as easily vote for ACT or the Greens, depending on what my aim was.

And obviously non-aligned voters will often vote for left or right bloc parties.

As it happens, I think swing voters are much more rare and far less powerful than they’re assumed to be, though I would never discount the fact that, yes, there are voters who swing from the left bloc to the right bloc and thereby decide elections.

I think the power of swing voters is very debatable – I think their influence varied from election to election but they are a critical group of voters.

…one of the main reasons that left hasn’t been in power for a while is because the left bloc is totally fragmented. Even with Labour and the Greens agreeing not to step on each other’s toes, the left still can’t muster the same amount of support as the right and that’s because so many of their voters are wasting their vote on parties like Internet-Mana in 2014 and TOP in 2017. Labour in particular has failed to unify and dominate the left bloc the way that National has unified and dominated the right.

The main reasons for the left not being in power for nine years have been:

  • Labour has largely been seen as lacking direction, weakly led and run, and hopeless.
  • National have been seen as reasonable managers of the economy through a very challenging period and have done well enough to sustain unprecedented levels of support.

Meanwhile in middle

The ‘Non-aligned’ bloc is by far the most fascinating because it doesn’t play by the same rules.

As I stated above, “centrist” does not mean “non-aligned” – in fact centre parties rarely stay non-aligned for long. As soon as they form a government with either the left or the right, they become part of that bloc, and something else will usually emerge to take its place in the non-aligned bloc.

For example, while New Zealand First has been non-aligned for most of its history, it became part of the Left bloc when it entered a confidence and supply agreement with Labour in 2005. It didn’t return to power until it was able to reclaim its non-aligned status in 2011 by promising not to go with either side.

It wasn’t just their alignment – there were issues of competence and trust that played a significant part in NZ First’s exit from Parliament in 2008.

A similar fate befell United Future, who reached the height of their power and popularity in 2002 when they were truly unaligned, but have since faded away by attempting to join first the left bloc and then the right bloc.

It was more than attempts, it worked successfully enough over a number of terms.

What happened in 2017

Far from being an endorsement of a two-party system, the 2017 election left us with a five-party system (if you count ACT as separate to National), and down from a ridiculous and overcrowded seven-party system.

This is perfectly normal and fits the above parameters: National (plus ACT’s one seat) dominate the right bloc which came marginally ahead of the left bloc. Labour and the Greens dominate the left bloc which would have gained another 2% if people hadn’t wasted their vote on Gareth Morgan, and therefore would have been on par with the right. And NZ First, being the rogues they are, were the non-aligned vote – the people who were neither left nor right.

All that changed was that there were two less parties in the right bloc – because by joining with National, both United Future and the Maori Party became aligned with the right, and with there not being too much room on the right bloc for parties other than National, this is pretty normal.

Though it’s fully possible for the three blocs to result in seven or eight parties being elected to Parliament, this will seldom last longer than a term without an Epsom or Ohariu type deal – and anything more than four parties would be hugely inefficient.

While emphasis returned to the two largest parties this only happened late in the term, when Jacinda Ardern inspired a resurgence in support for Labour.

Not long ago, in July, it looked like being a very different mix – one dominant party, three moderate sized parties with opportunities still for ACT, UF, MANA and TOP.

So the number and mix of parties is fickle.

Not mentioned in this is a primary reason for the party sizes and mix we have – our MMP threshold. This has made it impossible (so far) for any new party to get a toe in Parliament’s door.

‘The fundamental divide between left and right’

Food for thought (and comment);

It’s like we’ve forgotten a basic fact of leftwing politics. It’s built on solidarity.

That’s the fundamental divide between left and right.

We believe in community and cooperation. They believe in self-interest. We’re about the collective. They’re about the individual.

We know that the important question is not “how does this benefit me personally?” It’s “how does this benefit us all.”

Standing together, not because we’re all the same and we’re all after the same thing, but because we have the same enemy: capitalism, which takes many forms: patriarchy, white supremacy, social conservatism.

From The political prospects for 2017: living our values (in which there are some other interesting points).

It is common for those on the political left (and also on the political right) to see their own views and ideologies as close to ideal, and opposing views and ideologies as close to totally misguided at best, and despicable and evil at worst.

Pragmatism versus ideology

In Political Week Stuff looks at the trend towards political pragmatism and away from ideology.

This was prompted by a week of political liaisons that bridge supposed ideologies.

Winston Peters and Don Brash had a get together:

When it comes to political odd couples they don’t get much more unlikely than Don Brash and Winston Peters. So any passers-by witnessing them sharing lunch at Wellington’s Old Bailey on Thursday would have done a double take.

Peters used to harbour a special sort of loathing for Brash, whose dry stewardship of the Reserve Bank epitomised everything that was wrong about monetary policy in Peters’ eyes.

As someone who was regularly lampooned by Peters’, meanwhile, Brash was understandably distrustful of his NZ First opponent and appalled by his Muldoonist-style economic policies.

Also during the week Michael Cullen offered a fix for NZ Post with a proposed part sale of Kiwibank to the Super and ACC investment funds.

And John Key offered his and the Government’s support for Helen Clark’s bid for UN Secretary General.

Labour supported both the Kiwibank rearrangement (as did Jim Anderton) and Clark’s bid.

And what’s been National’s biggest noise in welfare lately? Raising benefits, something it might have nicked from Labour’s manifesto.

So what happened?

Pragmatism has trumped ideology. It doesn’t polarise the electorate the way ideology does, and it blunts the mood for change. Pragmatism shows politicians are listening. Pursuing ideology at all costs shows they’ve stopped listening.

There are still ideological lines drawn between National and Labour, of course, but they are well scuffed compared to the bright lines drawn by the likes of the Greens and ACT.

ACT’s David Seymour opposed the Kiwibank move, he wants full privatisation, and Greens opposed it because they feared it was a move in the direction of privatisation, but from either side of the political spectrum they can afford to promote ideological positions.

It helps, of course, that Key and Clark seem to have struck up a cordial relationship over the years, maintained by text and a personal visit whenever either of them is in each other’s town. But even if there had been any personal enmity, they would have put that aside for the greater cause in this case.

As for the Brash-Peters love-in, that one may yet have more to play out. As a staunch proponent of RMA reform, Brash will see in Peters a potential friend and ally if he is a means to achieving that end.

But Key may be harder to convincedthat the olive branch extended by Peters over RMA reforms doesn’t come with too high a price tag, namely doing over the Maori Party in Peters’ favour.

Nor will Key be convinced that once Peters’ achieves that aim he won’t use it to hold Key over a barrel.

That’s not about ideology; it’s self preservation.

Self preservation in politics often requires pragmatism. This has become easier with a significant shift in power seeking political focus.

Last century politics was more of a left versus right battle with ideology far more prominent.

Now the big battle is over the centre, where ideologies and pragmatism intermingle more and more.

It’s very hard to see what ideologies either National or Labour see as important, less so what they see as non-negotiable.

Clark’s Labour government won and held the centre vote.

Key’s National government now rules the centre, with Labour wavering between centre and left, wavering between leaders and wavering in the polls.

The ideological fights are confined more to the fringe fanatics in comments at blogs like Whale Oil and Kiwiblog on the right and at The Standard and The Daily Blog on the left.

Of the blog authors David Farrar is still closely involved with National’s ongoing success but due to major failures at the extremes Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury are increasingly impotent, and the Standard authors struggle to unite the left and they damage more than enhance Labour’s chances.

Their ideologies have been overtaken by political pragmatism and they seem unable to catch up.

What distinguishes the Left from the Right…

Chris Trotter has switched back to depressive in his latest post at Bowalley.

Here Be Dragons: The Ika Seafood Bar & Grill’s First “Table Talk” Looks At The Year Ahead – Through Right-Wing Eyes.

I LEFT the first Ika “Table Talk” for 2016 feeling very down – and I know I wasn’t the only one.

After criticising the panel for either being right, gone right or exuding wry detachment he stated:

What distinguishes the Left from the Right is its belief that the world should be – and can be made – a better place.

This is one of the most problematic delusions of some on the left – that only their intent and ideas are for the betterment of the world or the country, so anyone with different ideas and opinions must want things to be worse.

What distinguishes the left from the right is (some of) the left can’t comprehend that anyone thinking differently to them could have any good ideas or good intent.

Ok, there’s some on the right who are a mirror image of that intolerance, but I see it mostly from the far left.

Andrew Little may be the next on Trotter’s ‘must be right’ labelling list, because today he stated:

I care about New Zealand too Mr Joyce

Everyone of us cares about the future of this country. That was a line near the end of an opinion piece by Steven Joyce published on Stuff on Wednesday.

He’s right.

Trotter quoted Nietsche: “Have a care when fighting dragons, lest ye become a dragon yourself.”

Ye be a dragon now Andrew.