The Spinoff Great Debate

The Spinoff has what they call a Great Debate at 7 pm tonight. It will be live streamed on Facebook.

Taking part:

  • Paula Bennett (National)
  • Kelvin Davis (Labour)
  • Marama Fox (Maori Party)
  • Marama Davidson (Greens)
  • David Seymour (ACT)
  • Gareth Morgan (TOP)
  • Shane Jones (NZ First)

Toby Manhire is running things. Trying to joke about everything. There is a live audience. The feed is breaking too much.

It’s a lively debate.

Shane Jones getting blasted from both sides, Marama Fox and Gareth Morgan asking him if he agree’s with his party leader’s views on Maori seats.

Kelvin Davis said he hasn’t listened to Marama Fox for 3 years anddoesn’t intend to start. Labour not looking good with the Maori Party. Davis doesn’t look comfortable or happy about much at all actually.

 

Election policy tool

If you like to look at party policies in depth The Spinoff has a tool that may help.

Introducing Policy NZ: an incredible new tool to help you decide how to vote in Election 2017

Personality is central to politics. That much is a truism. And it’s not just inevitable but necessary that voters get a chance to examine the people seeking the highest seats of power. We want to get a sense of them, to weigh up trustworthiness and character, to understand better how they might behave under pressure, how they interact with others and what they look for in a biscuit.

But sometimes it gets a bit much. While the ability to communicate a party’s ideas and plans are critical to the modern politician, we don’t always get enough of the ideas and plans themselves.

In the last fortnight, for example, a couple of high-profile leader resignations have sucked most of the oxygen out of the campaign preamble, leaving some to say – and here I’m paraphrasing – What ho, Spinoff / other friendly media outlet! How about giving us more about the policies the parties are actually putting forward.

So here it is. The Spinoff is thrilled to bits to lift the curtain today on what we think is a very important and beautiful addition to media coverage of the election.

Conceived and assembled by Asher Emanuel, Ollie Neas, Racheal Reeves and their exceptional team of developers and researchers, Policy is, we think, a seriously big deal. Collecting the policy positions of the main parties and presenting them in a clear, accessible and digestible fashion, the tool allows readers to flick through policy areas, compare the parties’ positions and drill down for more detail

Election 2017 policies: http://policy.thespinoff.co.nz/

“Imagine a world without white men”

These days it’s not uncommon to come across ‘white men bad’ type sentiments. It’s not uncommon for someone seen to be a ‘white man’, especially one who isn’t young and doesn’t seem to be poor, to have their views dismissed as irrelevant in the modern world.

All ‘white men’ are tarnished with the same white brush off.

Lucy Zee at The Spinoff:  Remembering the white men who tried to sell us stuff on TV

Imagine a world without white men.

Well for starters, New Zealand would have hardly any television commercials. My parents were very fresh Asian immigrants when they had me, and the only way I learned how to speak English before going to kindergarten was by watching TV.

TV back in the day wasn’t as diverse as it is now (or didn’t try as hard), so commercials were 99% white people with big white teeth, followed by more white people with even bigger and whiter teeth.

As I got older, the flashy whiteness steadily got more mind numbing and much more obnoxious. I couldn’t tell if my TV was showing the same amount of whiteness it always had, or if I had simply become more aware of my racial identity and demanded more diversity.

My entire life I had been raised by white men telling me what to buy, what to eat and how to eat it. Some ads worked, some didn’t, but I remembered all of them. Looking back on the past few years here is a list of the most memorable white men who tried sell me things I didn’t need.

A number of advertisement examples are given. Suzanne Paul, Marge and Briscoes aren’t included for obvious reasons.

So what did we learn? Even if you don’t watch TV anymore; even if you have an ad blocker on your browser; even if you stab your eyes out and block your ears; white guys are still out here trying to sell you something. If it’s not a tyre then it’s a dream. If it’s not a dream then it’s themselves.

The worst part of all this is that those “nostalgic” white men ads aren’t all that spectacular.

They must have been hopeless. Companies that advertised went broke, newspapers and broadcast media went broke (they are now but that’s a different story, Google isn’t a white male).

They do the absolute minimum an advert needs to do. If something is forced down your throat enough – all day, every day throughout your entire childhood – you’ll probably start to enjoy it. But we need variety, we need flavour, we need more colour on our plates. Because having too much white bread just isn’t good for us.

Funny thing – I only ever had white bread at home, browner bread with lumpy bits were a curiosity when I saw it at my neighbours – who happened to be a white couple. But the beer was all the same brown colour then too.

This article prompted some discussion at Reddit: Remembering the white men who tried to sell us stuff on TV

I don’t have the energy to care if it’s tongue in cheek or not but The Spinoff’s increasing amount of articles that focus on race (namely that white people are a problem) are starting to annoy me. If this is tongue in cheek then I really don’t understand the purpose apart from trying to create controversy.

Oh… it’s not tongue in cheek. She’s serious about white people controlling ads I guess. So she selected a few ads and used that as proof? And only men for that matter so I guess it’s sexist as well? I don’t get it.

Fuck this is tiresome.

Ah, but computer_d is bound to be a white male so he would say that. Ignore it.

You should put me on the ignore shelf too amongst the white cobwebs of the past – except that I could claim to be of a smaller minority than whatever Lucy Zee thinks they are (I presume non-male non-white).

What both of us write is grey on white – does it matter what colour our fingers are?

 

Peters “plotting to eat Labour’s lunch”

Another very good insight into the NZ First party and congress by Branko Marcetic at The Spinoff: Winston Peters is plotting to eat Labour’s lunch. And it’s working

The New Zealand First Party tends to be more associated in the public mind with mobility scooters and rest homes than Tinder and flatting. So as a 27-year-old, I wasn’t exactly the typical demographic most people imagine when they think of NZ First members. And as a non-native-born New Zealander, the party’s anti-immigrant bent would hardly suggest its conference as the place I would choose to hole myself up for most of last weekend. But in order to get a proper sense of the party and its members, it was very much worth it.

It was very much worth it, this is some of the best political reporting I have seen. Marcetic has dug beneath the hubris.

All around the conference in south Auckland, there was a palpable sense of excitement. After the electoral wipeout of 2008, followed by clawing back over the 5 percent threshold in 2011 and improving further in 2014, there was a general feeling the party was destined for even greater heights this year, buoyed by electoral trends in the rest of the world. Party members milled about, chatting excitedly.

They have good reason to be excited at this stage of the campaign. The article gives a good insight into the party membership. And then it looks at The Man.

The leader’s 40-minute paean to the working poor, declining middle class and a country buckling under the devilish hat-trick of unsustainable immigration, political correctness and 30 years of neoliberalism, capped off the two-day event. It was as pure a distillation as you’re ever going to get of Peters’ multi-decade success and survival in politics, and his current resurgence.

Peters understands the travelling medicine show aspect of politics, and added a performer’s touch – even a sense of festivity – to his speech.

Unlike other party leaders, Peters clearly has no interest in appearing what the media tends to view as “stable” or “reasonable”, but so often comes across as staid and dull. Like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, he’s aiming to channel the anger of the ordinary working person, and aim it at venal politicians who “work for the few, but not for you”.

The net result, not unlike with Trump, is that even if you despise Peters, you’ll watch his speech because you know it will be entertaining. How many neutrals would willingly subject themselves to an address by Andrew Little or Bill English?

Who?

As I’ve written about previously, Peters’ speech – and indeed, the party’s focus as a whole – seems designed to target the disaffected section of the public that would have once flocked to Labour, but is uninspired by today’s iteration of the party. Hence it was Peters paying tribute to the ordinary working Kiwi and launching repeated, angry broadsides against neoliberal economics – an attack he pointedly stressed for the media – and hence the party’s members are pushing for policies at times swiped from the first Labour government.

Compare this to the approach of the Labour Party, which seems headed toward another crushing electoral result. It’s not hard to make the case NZ First is animating voters that might have once gone for Labour by projecting an untrammelled anti-neoliberal message.

I think it’s too soon to call a crushing defeat for Labour. They have just announced  reasonable fiscal policy that has been reported fairly positively. But did many voters take any notice? Grant Robertson fronted the announcement with Andrew Little tacked alongside.  If the election is decided on perceptions of leadership Labour may well be crushed.

Labour’s campaign to date has lacked any real alternative vision to rally potential voters to its flag. Unlike Peters, who is angrily painting a picture of a country in decline and offering as a solution the rollback of neoliberalism, Labour’s “Fresh Approach” slogan all but implies that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong.

As one op-ed charged, the party is essentially “promising not to change too much”. Meanwhile its policies, however well-meaning, are often overly complicated, failing to excite the ordinary Kiwi voter, and contrasting with the popular, universal benefits the party enacted under Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser.

The lack of excitement about Labour policies is not just the nature and complexity of the policies, it’s not just the struggle of little to appeal, media and probably many voters turned off Labour some time ago and it will take something special to turn on a beacon of hope for them.

Perhaps NZ First’s resurgence won’t end up being as dramatic as it now appears. A lot can change in two months, including Labour’s poll numbers. But as Labour scrambles to capture voters’ imagination, it may yet ask itself how the party of workers allowed an ex-lawyer from Auckland’s St Mary’s Bay to steal its shtick.

It’s remarkable that Peters is appealing more than Labour to the battlers and the disaffected.

NZ First’s resurgence is real, but is it sustainable for the next two months?

Peters has done well as portraying himself as a political maverick, even though that image is debatable.

But when it comes to the business end of the election voters will look more closely at what effect an enlarged NZ First might have on Government.

New Zealand voters have tended to back stability and incremental change only. Many have warmed to NZ First, but they may baulk at the possibility of chaos.

We will find out in just over two months what the voters think, and then a week or few after that we will see what sort of coalition government we end up with.

It is interesting to see that after attending NZ First’s congress Marcetic is looking most on how NZ First will impact on Labour and not National.

Maybe after eating Labour’s lunch Peters will try to scoff National’s dinner.

NZ First congress from the inside

This is one of the best political party insights I have seen – a journalist became a paid up member of NZ First and observed the people and the policies from the inside of their congress in the weekend.

Branko Marcetic at The Spinoff:  I joined NZ First and went to their conference to find out what they’re really up to

To its supporters, NZ First is the only party that truly gives a damn about the average Kiwi, and its policies are born of fairness and common sense. To its detractors, it’s a hotbed of racism and intolerance that threatens to bring Trump-like authoritarianism to New Zealand.

In an attempt to cut through the noise and get a sense of what the party truly is about in 2017, I decided to immerse myself, and look at the party as an insider. I paid the $10 fee to join the party, and signed up to attend the conference — my first for any party — as an observer. The intention was not to indulge in “gotcha journalism” or attempt to lampoon other attendees, but to engage with and better understand the men and women that make up a party so often defined by sensational headlines.

The weekend gave me an insight into a party that is almost universally expected to hold the balance of power come September 24.

Despite the party’s association with anti-foreigner sentiment, immigration was rarely touched on across the weekend. In fact, if there was a prevailing theme weaving through the various speeches, discussions and debates at the 2017 conference, it was a steadfast opposition to neoliberal economics, a belief that New Zealand had gravely erred in the embrace of deregulation and globalised trade since the days of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson.

If you want to get an excellent insight into the NZ First party the whole article is worth reading.

Peters aside there are a lot of people who believe in the party and what it stands for.

Green glory – missing the point

Simon Wilson wonders why Greens aren’t polling better when they are doing so much right in Greens in search of glory.

…the Greens are up 1.3 percent in the latest poll (Newshub) and despite all the talk about NZ First, they have maintained a clear lead on Winston and his crew. So the Greens are clearly doing something right. Just not everything.

“Just not  everything” is an important point – but there may be fundamentals that Greens can’t do anything about. They have struggled to break through a support ceiling of 10-11%.

Wilson asks:

If you were them, what would you do – something like this?

1. Refresh your lineup

This time round the Greens have made those calls. Whether they get 20 percent or 7 percent or anything in between, the new caucus will have a balance of new and experienced talent.

Whether it is vote attracting talent or not is yet to be seen.

2. Neutralise key critics on the right

(Shaw has) become a respected voice among business groups – they don’t always like what he has to say, but they like him and that means at least they listen, far more often than they used to.

Shaw’s detractors on the left may not want to admit it, but he possesses a vital skill in politics: he can impress people who are not his natural allies.

It’s debatable whether he has impressed voters though. He doesn’t present as a strong leader – that’s difficult for him in a co-leadership arrangement where Turei is well established and influential in the party.

3. Fix any issues that made you especially vulnerable last election

That would be the boat with everyone rowing in different directions. As a meme, it worked. Hence the Greens’ and Labour’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), whose success to date demonstrates that the two parties can work together.

The Greens can be damned either way on this.

And they are. Most importantly the MoU has been strongly criticised on the left, where most of Green’s potential votes are.

4. Reaffirm your core purpose

That would be climate change and protecting the environment, and it would also be social policy, because the Greens have always been a progressive party.

I give them a fail on this. Greens have made it clear that their core purpose this campaign is to “change the Government”.

They would rather shun National rather than leave the option open to get any environmental and social policy wins with whichever party wins the most votes. This is also a fail on core MMP principals.

Greens have put themselves in weak position where they both have to have Labour doing much better, and if that works they are left in a weak negotiating position.

Greens may also have another core purpose they are keeping quiet on – to take over Labour’s role as the biggest alternative party to National. That’s a high risk punt.

5. Build your base, finances and organisational strength

The biggest lesson from the Corbyn campaign? In my view, this: there’s real political power in activating a big supporter base through social media. The Greens have been busy building such a base (to be fair, so have some of the other parties).

The Greens have been well organised and well financed for years – they have been doing better in getting donations than Labour, and Labour has started to copy some of their tricks like email harvesting to build a big contact list, and repeatedly seeking many micro donations.

Greens have a solid and well organised base but has it’s drawbacks as well as advantages. Their base prevents them from maximising MMP negotiating strength by shunning National and tying their prospects with Labour’s.

6. Build a policy platform that will lead to progressive achievements

For all that they’re doing right (see above) there are still two big things the Greens could get a lot better at.

Policy is one and leadership (see below) is the other.

Now they’ve shown they can work with Labour it’s critical they find themselves a few key policies that set them apart. High-profile, easy-to-understand, game-changing policies. Policies they can achieve in their first term in government, so voters get a real, concrete sense of what they might be voting for.

I have no idea what key policies the Greens want to promote that are distinct from Labour’s.

Joining at the hip for the campaign has created a difficult situation for the Greens – they want to look like they have enough in common with Labour to form a credible government but somehow need to look significantly different.

7. Galvanise the hearts and minds of voters

It’s still the most important thing, and the hardest.

You don’t have to squeeze yourself into a box. But you do have to be likeable. Plus, you have to be decisive and also modest, and seem smart but not smartypants, and be confident but not arrogant, and convey the sense that you know what you’re talking about and that you yourself believe what you want us to believe. You have to be trustworthy. And did I say, you have to be likeable.

All of that adds up to being inspirational. Being the people we want as our leaders, because we believe in you.

The thing is, right now nobody owns these things. We don’t really have those leaders in our parliament. So that’s the challenge, for Greens co-leaders James Shaw and Metiria Turei and for all their colleagues: time to step up. 99 days to go, and a party conference in mid-July – time to show us what what these new Greens really mean.

But Greens can’t and won’t be seen as leaders, because they have made themselves reliant on and secondary to Labour, whose leadership is looking quite weak.

The can only realistically sell themselves as a strong support party, a better alternative to NZ First and with Labour a better alternative to National.

I think that Wilson misses a key point.

I think that many voters like at least some of the Green policies, especially environmental policies, and want a strong Green environmental voice in Parliament.

But there is far less enthusiasm for Greens having too large a say in social and financial issues.

If the Greens were an environmental party, prepared to work with any party and any government to promote their environmental policies, they would do well, and would be popular.

If the Greens were a socialist party, primarily promoting their social and financial policies, I think they would struggle to beat the 5% threshold.

There is core support for the red Greens.

There is much wider support for the green Greens, but a lot of potential votes are lost due to concerns over the red side of the party.

Greens will do well enough in the party vote this election.

Greens can organise and fund raise and campaign better than most if not all other parties but their success is very dependant on Labour, and may also be dependant on NZ First. This weakens their position substantially.

Taxpayers’ Union response to Spinoff apology

Jordan Williams has responded to the Spinoff apology and has demanded answers. There are suggestions of a thick plot here.

Retraction and apology received from the Spinoff

The full retraction and apology by the Spinoff, relating to allegations that were totally false and defamatory, contained in an article by Simon Wilson, and published on the Spinoff website morning, is welcome.

The Spinoff has accepted that the Taxpayers’ Union (including its affiliate the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance) and the three people named in the original article had no role in the distribution of feathers. The Spinoff has apologised for making the allegation and rewritten the article.

We want to know how the Spinoff got this so wrong, and why they didn’t even bother to approach us for comment before publishing.  Both organisations operate 24-hour phone lines for media comment. We couldn’t be more available.

The Spinoff is funded by Auckland Council through its “Heart of the City” lobby group.  We want to be satisfied that the Spinoff was not acting pursuant to the Council’s interest in distracting attention from the finalisation of the Council’s budget.

This suggests there could be a thick plot here.

It’s fair to ask how the incorrect accusation came about.

Taxpayers’ Union denies white feathers

Jordan Williams has emphatically denied the Taxpayers’ Union having anything to do with emailing white feathers or sticking them on councillors doors.

It’s not the sort of story someone is likely to dream up, so there’s some explaining to be done – in the first instance by The Spinoff who made the claim on a story.

The Spinoff has been threatened with defamation action.

Taxpayers’ Union: SPINOFF ARTICLE ON “WHITE FEATHERS” TOTALLY WRONG

The Taxpayers’ Union, its founders Jordan Williams and David Farrar, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, and its spokesperson Jo Holmes, totally reject the allegation made on the Spinoff website today that they have sent ‘white feathers’ (either physically or electronically) to Auckland Councillors or have acted in any unethical way in relation to the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance “Ratepayer Protection Pledge” signed by approximately a dozen Auckland Councillors, prior to last year’s elections.

The Spinoff’s publisher and the article’s author have been sent a letter putting them on notice of the defamatory allegation, and unless an apology and full retraction is received prior to 5pm today, advice in relation to filing defamation proceedings will be sought.

Fair enough asking for a retraction and apology, but that’s very heavy handed.

So it’s up to The Spinoff to substantiate or retract.

UPDATE:

UPDATE 2:

The Spinoff has added at the top of their story:

NB: An earlier version of this story attributed the distribution of white feathers to The Taxpayers’ Union, a charge the organisation has since vigourously denied. The Spinoff has since been told that the feathers were in fact distributed anonymously, and accepts that The Taxpayers’ Union had no role in the distribution of the feathers. The story has now been updated to reflect this. The Spinoff apologises to the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, David Farrar and Jo Holmes for the error.

And they have updated their story:

First, how nasty can council politics get? Right now, it’s this nasty: councillors who didn’t vote for public consultation on the rates rises have been sent a white feather – as a mark of their “cowardice”.

The Spinoff understands white feathers were anonymously emailed to nine councillors in the form of a certificate, though at least two are said to have received a real feather at their homes.

The strategy comes straight from the playbook of the Tea Party in the US: they don’t bother much with left-leaning politicians, except to abuse them, but prefer to target the centre-right. And it’s predominantly centre-right aligned councillors who are alleged to have received these feathers.

There must be some reason why Simon Wilson at The Spinoff linked the Taxpayers’ Union to the feathers, either in error or he was incorrectly informed. I think an explanation is in order here.

Media promoting selected candidates

I have major concerns about how media gives selective and disproportionate coverage for some parties and some candidates.

Media often pre-selects candidates and gives them favourable publicity while they ignore or dismiss others. This is common with the selection of which candidates or parties feature in debates.

This is doing a disservice to the public and to democracy.

In part it is probably little more than headline hunting. The amount of political oxygen they give Winston Peters is probably a major factor in his success, as is media failure to hold Peters to account adequately. They seem more interested in his story creating potential and forget their fourth estate responsibilities.

Media can also have a negative effect, often blowing problems and potential things up out of proportion to their importance.

One simple example is renewed media attention given to dildo news. Journalists like to snigger and promote offensive attacks and threats against politicians without caring about the implications of attaching dildo imagery with the targets. I doubt that media outlets would be so salacious if they were the targets.

Selective reporting can lift lucky candidates out of obscurity. This happened in the boring Auckland mayoral campaign, which was everyone thought was a foregone conclusion with a boring Phil Goff. So the media switched their attention to promote Chloe Swarbrick, seemingly for novelty value and to put some interest into their coverage.

As a result Swarbrick did unexpectedly well in the election, and has since been given more media attention when she became a Green candidate.

The media have also been prominent in the rise of Jacinda Ardern to deputy leadership of the Labour Party.

It’s unclear whether media promotion pushed Andrew Little into pushing Annette King and installing Ardern, or whether Labour or Ardern operators manipulated the media to help orchestrate the coup. Whichever it was it was democratically suspect.


The Spinoff is a new media alternative to the old school ‘mainstream’ media. They describe themselves:

The Spinoff is a New Zealand online magazine covering politics, pop culture and social issues. We also have a custom editorial division which creates smart, shareable content for brands.

There seems to be a confusion there between editorial and brand promotion. I thought that news and advertising were supposed to be kept separate.

Yesterday “Politics editor for The Spinoff” Toby Manhire drew my attention to something via Twitter:

That was an odd call for three new candidates. it referred to a this post:

‘Let’s be honest, I wanted to throw up’: Kiri Allan on taking the Labour message from the doorsteps to the TV studio

In her second candidate diary for the Spinoff, Labour’s candidate for East Coast describes door-knocking in the electorate, meeting fellow diarist Chlöe Swarbrick, fronting a press stand-up after that controversial list announcement, and a big TV appearance.

It seems that Allan (Labour), Stanford (National) and Swarbrick (Greens) are being given an ongoing opportunity to promote themselves and their election campaigns via The Spinoff.

There is no suggestion that money is involved but this looks like a selective promotion of “shareable content for brands”.

Sure, media play an important part in allowing the public to learn about political candidates and parties – but a sound democracy requires this to be reasonably fair and balanced rather than picking winners and giving them disproportionate promotion opportunities.

I sought clarification from Manhire about how their ‘candidate diary for the Spinoff’ thing worked and asked “Is giving all first time candidates the same opportunity to promote themselves? Or just a select few?”

Manhire seemed to be deliberately unclear in his response.

All candidates arefree to comment here at Your NZ, or to submit guest posts or inform me of items of interest, but I’m not going to give special preference to any.

@TheSpinoffTV later also simply answered “No”. It seems like another evasive fobbing off.

Last month Manhire detailed The Spinoff versus the 2017 election: our campaign plans exclusively revealed

Generally that sounds quite good, but…

Candidate diaries

We have enlisted a stellar bunch of first-time candidates to write regular posts documenting their experiences as newbies. We begin today with the first pieces from Erica Stanford, National’s candidate in the electorate of East Coast Bays, and Kiri Allan, Labour’s candidate for East Coast.

Not all of our candidates have East Coast in their constituency names, however; we’re also welcoming Chlöe Swarbrick, the insurgent runner for the Auckland mayoralty, Green candidate for Maungakiekie and 13th placed in the “initial” party list. And, with a bit of luck, someone from NZ First, too.

“Enlisted’ sounds like The Spinoff are recruiting – selecting – a handful of candidates to give them special attention. Just candidates from the four largest parties, who already get substantial campaign advantages.

The three already chosen are all youngish and female. Geographically two electorates are in Auckland, one in the north east of the North island. So these selections are not very representative.

Perhaps all three of these candidates will become MPs and may even eventually become Prime Minister as Manhire proposes. And The Spinoff may pat themselves on the back for successfully picking winners.

But in a fair democracy I don’t think the media should be pre-picking winners and providing them with special attention.

Media has to make enough money to sustain their operations, and to do that they have to provide news and information that interests and attracts readers and listeners and viewers.

But if a democracy is to function fairly the media also needs to meet it’s responsibilities. There are growing signs that they are straying from fair and balanced coverage.

We are nowhere near the media and political mess that the US is in, but the power and ability of media to swing an election is certainly there. They need to be as aware of this as they are aware of the need to make money and look cool by selecting a small number hip looking candidates.

Fair and balanced coverage can be difficult to achieve – but it should at least be given priority.

Probably stuck with the current system

A fascinating and very perceptive analysis by Danyl Mclauchlan at The Spinoff: The New Zealand Project offers a bold, urgent, idealistic vision. I found it deeply depressing

It covers neoliberalism, the failure of the left to sell their ideals and have a revolution, and looks at what can be done to fix New Zealand’s problems. It’s lengthy by there are many things worth discussing.

Politics is technocratic because modern societies are complex: many things could be better, but almost everything could be much, much worse, and all the high-minded values in the world are worthless if you can’t keep the lights on.

It is compromised because pluralism – the challenge of different groups in society holding different and conflicting but reasonable and valid views – is the central problem in politics, and cannot be fixed by re-educating everyone.

Political reform should be cautious, because outcomes are uncertain, and overconfidence bias is real, especially among groups of intelligent experts who reinforce each other’s assumptions, a dynamic that often leads to catastrophic failure despite the best of intentions.

Maybe the current system’s inability to address the housing bubble, inequality and environmental issues means we’re hitting the limits of a political system based on caution and compromise, and that will eventually provoke a wider crisis similar to the near economic collapse of the early 1980s, which led to the neoliberal reforms.

It’s a fairly common fantasy – especially on the radical left – that there will be a crisis followed by a left-wing rebirth.

It’s also common to see this on the radical right – there will be a revolution taking us back to some mythical ‘good old days’.

I think it’s dangerous to assume that the left would be the beneficiaries of any kind of crisis or collapse.

Same for the right.

We’re probably stuck with the current system, and trying to make change within it.

That’s almost certainly correct. Incremental change trying to improve what we have, rather than changing things entirely and replacing it all with some vague ideal.

We are probably stuck with the current system.

But it is a lot easier to tweak things to try to improve problems rather than a total replacement of something that generally works fairly well with something vague that would have unpredictable and less perfect.