Different poll reactions

It has been interesting to see different reactions to political polls from different political blogs. The Standard especially – in the past polls unfavourable to Labour or Labour+Greens were sometimes ignored by post authors and rubbished in comments , while favourable polls were trumpeted. Being a pollster himself David Farrar had to be more professional in his posting and analysis, but commenters are as selective (bad) with their bias as at The Standard.

Yesterday’s new Stuff/YouGov poll was good for Labour, Greens and NZ First (and ok for ACT), and not so good for National.

Kiwibloggers piled in with disbelief and conspiracies – from here in General Debate.

Captain Mainwaring:

That poll was utter crap, and since it was sponsored by Stuff, even more so.

RW Capitalist:

Yet EVERY other poll has National ahead of Labour and Arderns numbers going south

Zapper:

So Stuff has a poll out that is catastrophic for the future of New Zealand, if accurate. I may have missed previous polls, but how long has Stuff had polling and do they have a consistent record of accuracy?

I guess there’s no reason to assume it’s wildly inaccurate which means those polled have no level of incompetence and corruption they won’t put up with.

G152:

Stuff are the epitome of fake news.

KevO’Brien:

A Stuffed-up poll.

Tricati:

Labour must be getting desperate and getting Stuff to run an alternative political poll that shows some dubious results – Given the performance of the government over the last months the poll outcomes are laughable. Looks a bit like a ‘push poll’ to manipulate public thinking, but as the outcomes of this governments shambles starts to affect joe- public tax payer; no amount of BS is going to change the thinking publics view.

Even National stalwart Tony Stuart joined the affray:

Quite so Tricati. Instead of the traditional methodology of polls, this one operates from a web panel. Quite how they put together said web panel would be interesting to know, as it is likely to represent established political leanings rather than being a random selection of potential voters. It reminds me of the former Horizon poll, which was hopelessly out of step with other polls.

From the other side of the political divide, Blazer here at Your NZ:

This looks like it will become the most reliable poll.


Te Reo Putake was quick off the mark at The Standard: November Stuff Poll; Nats Knackered

Stuff have released their latest YouGov political poll. It’s grim reading for the Tories and current leader Simon Bridges.

It isn’t their latest poll, it is the first Stuff/YouGov poll, so they have no track record to compare with other polls or to give any idea of trends.

I think ‘Tories’ is supposed to be derogatory (a bit like calling Labour ‘Socilaists’), but it’s a lame dig. Most New Zealand voters will have no idea who it refers to.

Comments began from ‘mango’:

I Have to say that I am skeptical of all opinion polls. But at least this one counters the false narrative that the msm drew from the last couple of polls.

cleangreen:

Mango How cqn any poll be free of bias when every poll is either run by corporates or finance industry pundits?

At least Yougov was begun by a UK conservative politician and then listed on the public stock exchange for offer to the public so I am o/k with this pollster.

Anker:

terrific.  As it should be.  Aren’t YouGov known to be very accurate.?  Seem to remember exit polling on a British election

Sanctuary:

If this poll is accurate then it represent a huge defeat for the relentlessly negative culture war tactics of the Topham-Guerin social media strategy adopted by Bridges since the unexpected Liberal victory in the Australian federal election.

You would think alarm bells are ringing in National about strategy, and given how heavily Bridges is identified with the all-out online culture war approach the implications for him personally are dire.

I expect that National won’t be bothered much by this poll (apart from the bad publicity) unless it is in line with their own internal poll. I’m sure they are keeping a close watch on trends to monitor how their negative divisive advertising and leader’s dog whistling and barking at cars is going.

Anne:

A general observation:

Stuff have been doing some good stuff in recent times. Their extended Erebus podcasts (together with RNZ) has been riveting stuff.

Which is irrelevant to the poll but seems to be trying to give it some gravitas.

There were some more circumspect and intelligent comments. Observer made some interesting points:

Ardern’s 62% approval rating is entirely in line with the most recent TV3 and TV1 polls (Reid Research, Colmar Brunton).

Polls on party vote can jump around, and especially with minor parties, get over-analysed for statistically insignificant changes. But the approval rating is a very consistent pattern that can’t be dismissed as “rogue” or “margin of error” or “name recognition” like preferred PM.

And:

A couple more points on the details:

1) See the NZ First voters’ responses on Ardern and Bridges. Completely squashes the myth that they might favour National over Labour.

2) The combined vote for ALL “other parties” is 1%. So that’s Sustainable NZ (who?), the New Conservatives (who?), the Tamakis (who?), and any other fantasy partner for National.

And this is after Tava got his headlines from the launch.

There really is nothing there, and it’s high time lazy commentators stopped pretending there is.

But:

No need to “believe”. Simply read.

As I’ve pointed out, there is a trend, and it is across all polls.

While this poll can be compared to other polls it doesn’t say anything about trends because we don’t have any history for YouGov so there is no trend.


When they launched The BFD tried to distance themselves from Cameron Slater, which looked obviously because of legal and financial issues. But recently they have been naming Slater.

It now looks confirmed that Whale Oil morphed into The BFD, and the author ‘Cameron Slater’ (which looked like a cover for various authors) has morphed into ‘SB’, which while used by Slateers wife Juana Atkins looks increasingly a semi anonymous cover for Slater and possibly for paid for promotions. Same old.

Like the fading Whale Oil, The BFD is usually quite slow to react to topical stories but ‘SB’ was quick off the mark yesterday with National Slips Under 40 & No One Likes Simon Bridges – LATEST Poll

This continues the tone of the ‘Slater’  campaign against National and Simon Bridges.

National’s caucus and indeed media should ask Bridges to prove his claims that National’s internal polling is different from this poll. An unwillingness to share would be reveal the lie. Bridges knows that his own internal polling shows he is deeply unpopular, even amongst National supporters.

This looks like familiar Slater/Lusk (who is apparently now promoting NZ First, as Whale Oil did and The BFD tries to do) – innuendo and veiled claims to have inside information, but with no evidence.

“An unwillingness to share would be reveal the lie” is utter nonsense. I don’t think National ever reveal their own polling, and they are not going to do so in response to pathetic threats like that.

There was not many comments (The BFD looks to be struggling for attention) – but despite the post trying to make a political play on the poll there were a few disbelievers.

Huia:

This poll is almost certainly reflecting sample bias.

Bartman:

Let’s see – Stuff are involved, their track record of biased reporting is universally accepted, and we trust these results why?

rockape:

I am surprised someone experience in politics believes this poll for one second.

SB political posts have been getting some very negative reactions from the remaining participants.

(Some interesting comments at Kiwiblog on The BFD from here)


Later in the day Farrar posted on the poll at Kiwiblog: A new poll

Stuff has got back into the polling business, having published a poll done by YouGov.

It’s great to see another public pollster. Before this we only had One New Colmar Brunton and Newshub Reid Research. If Newshub dies, then we may have been left with just one public pollster.

A good point.

But fair to say the results of this poll are quite different to the two recent TV polls.

  • National – 38% (SYG), 47% (ONCB), 43.9% (NRR)
  • Labour – 41% (SYG), 40% (ONCB), 41.6% (NRR)
  • NZ First – 8% (SYG), 4% (ONCB), 4.0% (NRR)
  • Greens – 8% (SYG), 7% (ONCB), 6.3% (NRR)

So the three polls broadly agree with Labour and Greens but disagree on National and NZ First.

The differences for National and NZ First are well beyond the margin of error.

So what this means is that either there has been a massive change since the TV polls (mid Oct to early November) or one or more of the polls are wrong.

I think he’s overstating some of the differences. National on 43.9% (NRR) compared to 38% (SYG) with margins of error at about 3% are not really that far apart.

YouGov polls are done entirely through online panels. YouGov is a very good company globally and has a good track record in the UK of accuracy. In the US their record is more mixed. Five Thirty Eight gives them a B- rating.

As I said it is a good thing YouGov are now polling in New Zealand, but I’d caution against reading too much into their initial poll. As always, it is the trend that matters.

Yes, good to have another poll but interpreting their first result needs to be done with caution.

You have to give Farrar credit for another thing – he is very good at not revealing the polling he does for National. What this indicated at the same time that the YouGov poll was conducted would be very interesting, but he keeps that a secret.

Comments on the post at Kiwiblog are the same old dissing of unfavourable results. ‘chaos’:

When you are paying people to do the survey you get the answers people work out you want to hear so they get paid.

As I said elsewhere I had this survey and lied my ass off in it.

If true (I think that’s doubtful) it would have made very little difference to the overall results.

The vast majority of voters don’t read blogs so I don’t think stuff or YouGov will be worried about the negative reactions.

Sexual assault claims ‘innuendo’ and ‘lies’

Winston Peters arrived back in Parliament after sick leave and immediately took to stirring up Labour’s sexual assault issue. He also tried to attack Judith Collins by association – much along the lines that have been run at The Standard.

Newshub: Winston Peters labels Labour sexual assault claims ‘innuendo’, NZ First MPs back him up

Winston Peters has wasted no time wading into the Labour Party investigation, calling the allegations “unfounded fiction”, an “orgy of speculation”, and “innuendo”.

The NZ First leader’s inflammatory comments come as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seeks to work with the complainants out of the public glare – but she won’t take her deputy to task.

“I’ve rarely seen such a disgraceful episode of unfounded allegations,” Peters said on Tuesday.

Typical irony from Peters given his history of using speculation and innuendo and allegations without producing evidence (it has often just been threatened).

He said it was “led by a woman called Paula Bennett making all sorts of vile allegations by way of innuendo without a fact to back it up”.

And New Zealand First MPs were lining up to back him up.

“If you are a victim of criminal wrongdoing, do not go to the opposition – go to the police,” Shane Jones, Regional Economic Minister, said.

Tracey Martin, Internal Affairs Minister, added: “[Winston Peters has] got a point – I haven’t seen any evidence be produced.”

So it looks like a coo-ordinated line of attack.

In Parliament yesterday Peters attempted a diversionary attack on Judith Collins was not allowed by the Speaker: 9. Question No. 9—Energy and Resources

Rt Hon Winston Peters: A supplementary question to the primary question today from the Leader of the Opposition: which member of Parliament was associated with this company?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Speakers’ ruling 159/5 says, “It is not reasonable to use questions from the governing party or its support parties to attack other members of the House.” I think it’s clear that what the Deputy Prime Minister is doing is deliberately targeting a member of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: I’ll hear from the Deputy Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That protest might sound meritorious were it not for the fact that the very leader of his own party raised that question during a supplementary in the first question today.

SPEAKER: Well, I’m not convinced that team-tag would make something like this appropriate. My view on this—and it’s a very strict view—is that attacks, especially on the families of members of Parliament, are generally inappropriate. I think that the question was an invitation to attack a family member of a member of this Parliament, and on that basis I’m not going to allow it to proceed.

Coincidentally (perhaps) similar lines have been run at The Standard. This post yesterday went as far as naming Collins: The strange case of Oravida and the rupturing of the Ruakaka jet fuel line:

The rumour mill went overboard at the time with suggestions that an Oravida company associated with Judith Collins was involved.

The post included an Oravido photo with Collins. This is dirty politics by association. Collins wasn’t driving the digger that ruptured the fuel line, and there’s no evidence she had anything to do with it or with the operations of the company – I think it’s extremely unlikely.

Also at The Standard yesterday, again authored by Labour stalwart MICKYSAVAGE: An unfortunate rush to judgment by the media?

Labour’s Council member Simon Mitchell, who is a very experienced and adept lawyer, has made a public statement which directly contradicts the essence of some of the allegations that have been made.

The post strongly supports Mitchell’s statement, and makes no mention of the complainant’s counter statement (it was linked in comments by someone else).

The post features an old photo of Paula Bennett with Cameron Slater, who has no link to the Labour sexual assault story. Associating Bennett here with Mr Dirty Politics is the sort of dirty politics that Slater used. SHG commented

And lprent was again throwing around warnings when comments were made that he didn’t like.

Either Mitchell is lying or this individual victim is lying. I’d be interested in hearing what the other complainants have to say. What a messy situation.

Let us not forget that Sarah is only one of twelve people who have complained.

Also, let us not forget that where sexual assault/rape/harrassment is concerned, only a fraction of the incidents ever result in complaints.

What I’m saying is, don’t fixate on what Sarah did or didn’t say to the Labour Party’s lawyer as if answering that question represents any sort of achievement.

[lprent: Lets not forget that the panel and everyone else in the Labour process have been saying that the sexual assault/rape allegations weren’t raised to them. You have just asserted that it was. That is defamatory.

Please keep trying to make me liable. I am really looking forward to kicking your snarky lying arse off the site permanently.

Second warning. ]

Ironic accusing SHG of being defamatory given the posts smearing MPs.

lprent falsely accused me of lying last week when all I was doing was quoting media reports. He has accused the media and others of lying too.

He and The Standard seem to have a similar agenda to peters and NZ First, It looks like the are doing dirty work for the Labour party establishment in a defence, and an attack on the complainants.

Disclosure: The Standard banned me on Sunday for posting media reports on this issue. The seem to be hard out trying to control the message favourable to the Labour Party establishment, with messages contrary to what Jacinda Ardern has been saying.

Labour behaviour problem deeper and wider than leadership

Last week The Standard demonstrated that the problems with behaviour in the Labour Party and the way it was dealt with runs deeper and wider than leadership and Parliament.

The Labour staffer story that was published last Monday by The Spinoff – A Labour volunteer alleged a violent sexual assault by a Labour staffer. This is her story – set off the biggest political news story through the week, with the spotlight on the Labour Party and it’s leadership. Party president Nigel Haworth resigned on Wednesday, and the staffer resigned from his job in the leader’s Office in Parliament on Thursday.

As the story progressed a lot of attention turned to what Jacinda Ardern knew or didn’t know , and to  lesser extent what one of her senior ministers, Grant Robertson knew and when.

The terms of reference of an inquiry are expected to be announced today by Ardern. She has promised a comprehensive investigation, but there have been reports of debate within the Labour Party council about the scope of the inquiry, with suggestions that some have tried to exclude scrutiny of how they handled the initial internal inquiry that is widely seen as badly botched.

But problems with how claims of bullying assault and sexual assault are dealt with have been deeper in the party, and wider than Labour.

Green MPs who are often speak strongly against attacks against women and abuses of power seem to have been silent on this.

There have been attempts to deflect by arguing that National have handled things poorly in the past – they have, last year and years ago, but that’s in the main an attempt at diversion. National have been accused by some of engineering the criticism of Labour and Ardern, with some bizarre conspiracies suggested. Paula Bennett in particular has been targeted because as a last resort some victims went to her to try to force Labour into action (which she helped achieve).

There has been a number of people on Twitter running the diversions, dumping on the messengers and blaming National and the media.

The Standard blog is strongly (but not exclusively) aligned with Labour. The way the issue has been dealt with there is s sign that the culture of bullying, and of burying bad news, runs deeper in the party than party and parliamentary leadership.

There was nothing mentioned about last Mondays biggest political story until I posted about it here.

I kept posting comments about it through the week, and it was well discussed.

It wasn’t until Thursday until the first and only post, by Te Reo Putake – Accused Labour Party Staffer Resigns

It was a light week for posts at The Standard, with Labour stalwart mickysavage doing his best to divert to National bashing and trying to portray National as worse at dealing with scandals.

But Open Forums were active discussing the issue through the week, aided by me posting daily revelations.

On Wednesday I posted about several media reports, and also on the open letter to Ardern by Labour Party supporters concerned about how it was being dealt with (they demanded the resignation of Haworth).

lprent gave me a not very subtle warning.

[lprent: I’d suggest that you be careful about claiming authentication of that ‘open letter’ here. I read that article and I simply don’t believe it. Apparently nor do many others – 100 people adding to it doesn’t exactly sound like a landslide.

To me it reads exactly like a fake false flag operation. And I never appreciate false news or outright lies being promulgated here. ]

He went on to argue a number of times that he thought the letter looked to him like a setup from National, with no evidence. The authenticity of the open letter hasn’t credibly been challenged anywhere, and media verified it as authentic.

This was the first of several warnings from lprent on posting information about the issue. He was trying to shut things down.

Attacks on messengers – in particular the media and Paula Bennett, and at The Standard on me continued as the story continued.

There was a lot of media commentary on the issue in the weekend. I posted on some of that on Sunday morning.

What followed looked like a planned and coordinated plan to shut me up. I don’t think all involved were working together, but that’s how it looks to me, and I have seen these executions often in the past.

Sacha and Anne immediately started to niggle at me (Anne is a long time Labour supporter, Sacha leans further left). Earlier in the week Anne had told me to eff off from responding to her comments, so ironic. She had called on moderators to deal to me more than once.

lprent started to give me lectures, like

Perhaps you and the idiot who wrote that quoted piece should engage your brain rather than your lust for gossip and consider what options gets killed if that kind of report gets released. For a start, just think of the consequences for victims.

Sometimes you are just an idiot.

And

[lprent: You must be blind. There have been comments all over the site for days. Unlike you, some of them have actually had suggestions about what should be done to prevent this kind of crap again.

I realise that you prefer to act as a brainless critic who carps and can’t offer any ideas. But perhaps you should try exercising your brain a bit.

But my toleration for outright lying by you and other is wearing very thin. If you can’t bring yourself to actually participate in debate about how to solve a problem – then leave. ]

I didn’t lie. Sacha and Anne had made things up about me, but they got a free pass – this is standard practice at The Standard. A few days ago marty mars had barely had his hand smacked for abusing others and making up accusations, something he haas a long record of doing.

Others joined in.

And at some time during the day, after moderator messages from lprent, weka and Incognito, I ended up being banned because I didn’t edit a quote up to their required standard – despite others in the same thread not complying.

It’s years since I’ve been banned there, but this looks like an attempt shut down discussion on the Labour staffer issue.

It serves as a not very subtle warning to others (some others have also been banned over the last week).

It’s not just the Labour Party hierarchy who seem intent on sweeping their bungling (and the victims of bullying and assaults) under the carpet.

 

Blog statistics down since Canterbury mosque attacks

The number of page views here varies over time, usually with explainable changes. Up leading up to and following elections and around significant news events. Down at Christmas and when I am on holiday or busier than normal on other things.

A significant I have noticed is that after a jump in page views associated with the Christchurch mosque attacks ion 15 March this year, page views have settled back to be running 20-25% fewer than they had been prior to that.

Weekly page views over the last six months:

The bump two weeks ago was when the book Whale Oil was launched – posts about Whale Oil have always tended to be popular, but page views have been running consistently lower since March.

I can only guess why this has happened, but I suspect it is something that Google has changed in their search algorithms.

Views referred by ‘search engines’ (primarily Google) are a significant proportion of traffic.

This drop in page views appears to be not just here. Alexa isn’t proof of numbers, but it suggests drops in traffic at Kiwiblog, The Standard and The Daily Blog since about mid-March as well.

So that adds weight to a factor other than content here.

It’s difficult to judge traffic at Whale Oil, because they switched domains last month (from whaleoil.co.nz to whaleoil.net.nz) makes it hard to judge traffic trends there, but traffic numbers have long been suspect there, and there was an unexplained huge jump in traffic there last September.

They still claim “Whaleoil is the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand” which appears to be nonsense, the claim is unchanged for a number of years but other indications are that numbers are down there. Comment numbers have certainly dropped significantly, especially since last October when Cameron Slater had what appears to be a mild stroke and since he filed for bankruptcy in February, an since the company running the blog went into liquidation.

Slater and Whale Oil suffered a major hit in credibility when the book Dirty Politics was launched in 2014 and after a number of legal blows and revelations, particularly the defamation judgment of Matt Blomfield (October 2018) and the launch of the book Whale Oil last month. Despite rearranging ownership I suspect Whale Oil is facing a significant issue with the liquidation.

But WO aside, it seems that the major blogs have dropped page views since March when the Christchurch massacres occurred, as has Your NZ (while this is of interest it doesn’t bother me, I’m not driven by numbers or popularity).

 

Blogs can be echo chambers for the disgruntled in opposition

Something I have noticed on political blog commentariats since the 2017 election is the increase in moaning on Kiwiblog, and a better tone at The Standard. For forums that are largely aligned with the left or right, or with National or Labour, the tone of comments seems to be significantly affected by whether the preferred party and politics are in Government or in Opposition.

This came up at Kiwiblog today in response to what are common complaints about the perceived affect of moderation on commenting there.

mara:

By the way moderators, what has happened to what was once a robust, feisty liberal blog? It appears to be moribund now and I wonder why I bother to write. It is sad to see the passing of good history.

Charmaine Hawke:

I will also add what happened to if we can determine who you are you will bypass moderation? It seems to me very few of the regulars are getting through.
DPF why didn’t you just say everyone will be moderated and leave it at that.

SGA:

the real time conversations you used to be able to have to thrash out ideas

That’s been slowly dying on KB for a while now sadly, imho. It was happening before moderation.
KB was better when National was government. Now it’s a bit of an echo chamber for the disgruntled. I’m guessing the Standard was a bit like that when Labour was in opposition.

I think to an extent at least SGA is right.

The Standard commenting quality seems to have improved since the Labour led Government took over, and Kiwiblog does seem to have taken over more of the  “echo chamber for the disgruntled” mantle.

Whale Oil has also become more or an echo chamber for the disgruntled, but the chief disgrunter was moaning a lot about the last government when he was cut out of the information and leak channels. Now with SB in charge she seems to be trying to model on more on Breitbart, with more ‘conservative’ (extreme) Christian leanings as well.

Has The Daily Blog changed?  I don’t follow things much there, I find the website a mess and difficult to find my way around, so don’t bother most of the time, but there are indications that Martyn Bradbury has moved his criticisms of National to criticisms of Labour since the change of Government. he isn’t keen on the greens and there is no other party that suits his politics to back.

Update – I just checked out The Daily Blog and Bradbury, obviously dismayed at the CGT capitulation, is promoting the idea of a far left ‘anti-neoliberalism’ party to challenge Labour’s lack of real transformation:

A new political party in the wake of the CGT betrayal & the Politics of Kindness vs the unCivil Service

Another trumped up ban at The Standard

So things seem to be much the same at The Standard – a trumped up ban from Te Reo Putake. I don’t care about bans at The Standard, but this is quite shonky moderation – ironically when discussion was generally working quite well.

I posted this comment:

There was actually some reasonable discussion, apart from a few like Sacha trying to say I should shut up because i didn’t know enough about something that is very vague.

But:

I’m used to special standards of attribution for me that many others are never asked or required to meet. I’m used to trumped up bans.  But that’s pathetic TRP. Embarrassing for The Standard .

TRP – did you do that on your own? Or did Sacha or someone else put you up to it?

So it seems that decolonisation is a touchy subject in some quarters. Can’t have the general population talking about it.

See What does decolonisation of Aotearoa mean?

Oh, and TRP, do you actually know what plagiarism means? I note that you haven’t attributed to the cartoon replicated in your post.

 

Comments are the lifeblood of blogs

Posts are obviously essential for blogs, that’s what they primarily consist of. But comments give blogs life. A healthy commenting community is almost aan essential

There are exceptions – No Right Turn is followed and respected with no comments.

But mostly a blog with no or low comments is a sign of struggling to reach an audience, or ‘moderation’ that deters lively discussion – The Daily Blog is a good example of this (but the awful site layout and difficulty with knowing what the latest posts and comments are are also problems there).

Whale Oil still has an active commenting community, but this has diminished somewhat and seems to be concentrated on social rather than political discussion – a sign that message control moderation suppresses decent debate. Activity at Whale Oil has noticeably reduced since Cameron Slater had a stroke and stopped commenting altogether. Site failure to disclose what happened and apparent pretence that nothing had changed – possibly an attempt to try to protect revenue streams – has probably disappointed a number of now ex commenters too.

The most active commenting is on Kiwiblog – significantly more than on Whale Oil on political issues. This works in parallel to the often well informed posts from David Farrar. Very light moderation encourages a lot of commenters and comments, but detracting from this at times is the level of abuse tolerated there.

The Standard has changed significantly over it’s eleven or so years, in part due to substantial coming and going of authors. It’s commenting community has also changed quite a bit – recently I think for the better. They used to revel in gang attacks on anyone deemed some sort enemy of of ‘the left’, which was a form of self trashing as a serious forum for debate.

Then they turned over authors and moderation was dominated by ‘weka’, who tried to manage and manipulate comments to fit her agenda. She suddenly disappeared at about the same time Greens got into Government with Labour and NZ First. Since then there seem to be fewer posts apart from stalwart mickysavage keeping things ticking over, But the often toxic commenting environment seems to have improved significantly.

Recently MICKSAVAGE posted The Standard a decade on:

The site itself I believe offers a rich historical repository of contemporary New Zealand politics.  If you want to understand what has happened during the past decade from a left wing perspective then this site is a good place to start.

Proposals for suggested changes and critiques all welcome.

An interesting comment from Te Reo Putake (whose approach to blogging has evolved somewhat over many years involvement there):

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people.

For mine, it is the commenters who make this place special. If you look at our comrade Bomber’s blog, which often has posts on the same topics as TS, there is no life in the comments section. As I understand it, each comment at TDB is held until released by a moderator. That means that there is no flow, no conversation, no engagement.

It’s different here. The commentary is effectively live and takes on a life of its own. This permissive approach to debate is vital to the Standard’s success. As WtB notes above, the community has to a large extent self regulated and the moderation workload has dropped considerably in recent times.

That may in part be due to a change of Government changing some agendas, but there seems to have been a noticeable change in moderation practice, with open support for diverse views being expressed, quote a contrast to past toxic intolerance..

I’d also like to give a nod to the righties who comment here. TS is not an echo chamber and differing opinions make for good debate. It’s great that conservative opinion is not shouted down, but rather, is argued against rationally. Well, mostly!

The site is better for the contributions from people we don’t agree with, in my opinion.

In my opinion this is a positive change at The Standard.

I’ll take up the challenge “Proposals for suggested changes and critiques all welcome”.

Fewer posts attacking the Opposition.

More posts debating topical Government initiatives and proposals, and allowing wide ranging discussions (with personal attacks discouraged).

Through that I think that The Standard could become a more useful part of wider political discussion in New Zealand – comments are the lifeblood of political blogs. Too much bad blood is a real negative and puts many people off, but The Standard seems to have found a fairly good formula for now.

Labour leaks targeting Bridges

There have been a series of leaks of internal information obviously designed to damage Simon Bridges and National.

This began with the odd expenses leak just a few days before the information was due for public release, followed by the onslaught from Jami-Lee Ross as the now ex-National MP self destructed. There have been further anonymous leaks of historical information that look suspiciously like a continuation of that attack.

There has also been what looks like a Labour campaign to discredit Bridges and destabilise National heading into the holiday period.

Leaked UMR polling information has progressed from whispers to journalists to drip feeing of poll graphics. I posted on this one yesterday –UMR polling history – which notably was monthly polling with the last result from October, so without the latest poll. One could presume someone is only able to get old data, or the November poll didn’t fit the hit.

There is also a word cloud floating around – Stuff reported on it here How public view Simon Bridges – that was purportedly ‘sent to corporate clients in late November’ and has just popped up. This also indicates it is October data – from the time of the Jami-lee Ross saga, so an out of date targeted hit on Bridges.

Ex Labour staffer Neale Jones, now working for a ‘public affairs company, specialising in Government Relations, Strategic Communications and Campaigns’, keeps tweeting a stream of criticisms of Bridges and National. Whether that is personal or part of Strategic Communications and Campaigns is not clear.

And The Standard has a steady diet of anti-Bridges/National posts. Over the past week:

Mostly this is preaching to the converted, and several authors are involved, but it looks like they have more interested in damaging the Opposition than promoting the Government.

Over the same period there are three posts on Labour/Government bills.

Will all of this have any overall effect? It’s hard to say, but even though there has been a string of media ‘opinions’ from political journalists dumping on Bridges the consensus is that a leadership challenge would be unlikely with National polling higher than Labour (apart from the leaks of cherry picked UMR polls.

In the meantime Jacinda Ardern and Labour keep polling reasonably well – but news of Government progress has not been prominent. Perhaps that’s why there is more focus on attacking National.

The way forward to The Future – the big picture

They are trying an ongoing discussion on suggestions on the way forward to The Future at The Standard. Robert Guyton elaborated in Open Mike:

Plans for a post titled, “How to get there” and intended as a platform for TS readers and commenters to display their ideas and aspirations for improving the chances for each and every one of us (humanity that is) to “get there” have been floated over the past couple of weeks and today might be, by the grace of the TS authors and tech people, the moment for it to surface, glistening and quivering, into the light of day. Fingers crossed.

The title has changed but here it is The Future Is …:

This post is intended to be a place for discussion of the way forward.

The idea comes from an exchange on Open Mike a few weeks ago. TS regular Robert Guyton suggested we have a dedicated thread where “the way forward can be discussed, within parameters such as doable suggestions, successful examples, contributions from readers who support the concept of the thread, new takes on the future etc.”

So, an Open Mike for ideas, solutions and the discussion of the possible. The Big Picture, rather than a snapshot of the day’s goings on. Topics rather than topical.

You might want to talk about gene editing or free public transport.

Maybe the future is solar? Maybe it’s female? Maybe the future is merely a philosophical concept that’s had it’s day?

It would be worth getting a wider range of views than are likely at The Standard. We all hope to get what is now ‘the future’ – the best way forward is a collaborative but keenly contested approach across the political spectrum (and outside it).

 

Anti-climate change comments no longer allowed

Anyone arguing against climate change happening can’t comment any more – don’t worry, not here, but that seems to be what Stuff are imposing on comments there.

I think that climate change is potentially a major problem facing our planet, and facing humankind. We are having a significant impact on the planet, and most probably on the climate.

I largely disagree with those who say there is nothing to worry about. We should be concerned, and we should be doing more to reduce the human impact on the climate and on the environment.

Not all climate change effects will be negative, some areas may benefit. But overall it poses a major risk, especially considering the huge and expanding human population and the need to feed everyone.

However we should not, must not close down arguments against climate change, or for natural climate change, or against doing anything. For a start, a basic premise of science is that it be continually questioned and challenged, no matter how strong the evidence is one way or another.

And there is a lot to debate about what we should be doing in response to our impact on the planet.

So censoring one side of a debate is a major concern to me. There are whacky extremes on both sides of the arguments. Why target just one side with censorship?

From The Standard: Stuff is banning climate change deniers from articles and comments

Congratulations to Stuff.  Instead of the endless on the one hand but on the other hand reporting, where on the other hand is nothing more than incomprehensible babble from the anti science right, they have adopted this policy:

Stuff accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by human activity. We welcome robust debate about the appropriate response to climate change, but do not intend to provide a venue for denialism or hoax advocacy. That applies equally to the stories we will publish in Quick! Save the Planet and to our moderation standards for reader comments.

The change in policy is accompanied by the announcement of a new series of stories and opinion pieces under the title of Quick! Save the planet which is described in this way:

Quick! Save the Planet – a long-term Stuff project launching today – aims to disturb our collective complacency. With insistent, inconvenient coverage, we intend to make the realities of climate change feel tangible – and unignorable.

This project accepts a statement that shouldn’t be controversial but somehow still is: climate change is real and caused by human activity.

Mature adults can disagree about the impact of climate change and how we should react. We’ll feature a wide range of views as part of this project, but we won’t include climate change “scepticism”. Including denialism wouldn’t be “balanced”; it’d be a dangerous waste of time. The experts have debunked denialism, so now we’ll move on.

There were 268 comments to the editorial written by Editor in Chief Patrick Crewdson, mostly supportive, but a few were clearly testing the boundaries.

Well done Stuff.

It is great that the tide of opinion is flowing towards accepting climate change as a reality and working out what needs to be done.  The question will be is this too little too late.

Maybe, but it is not great to see a banning of opposing views. That is bad for debate, bad for democracy, and bad for science.

This is just one of a number of very concerning developments in trying to shut down free speech that are happening right now.

Two contrasting comments early in the Standard discussion:

Robert Guyton:

Stuff’s sidelining of deniers is bold and decisive – good on them. I made this point at our regional council meeting yesterday, with any closet deniers who might be sitting around the table, in mind. There was a squirm 🙂

Chris T:

Totally and utterly disagree.

Deniers of climate change are blind, but to censor differing views that are being put foward (that aren’t breaking swearing rules etc), no matter how stupid they are, or no matter how they may differ from yours, on topics that are as contentious as this, is ridiculous.

There is another argument currently about whether media should provide ‘balance’ by giving a voice to whacky extremes, or at least whether they should provide a forum for minority views with significant slants – Bob McCoskrie comes to mind.

Media articles should be balanced towards factual and scientifically backed information. They shouldn’t give anyone a voice who wants to spout nonsense, or extreme views. Media can choose what they publish.

But when they start to censor comments – free speech – I think they are getting into worrying territory.

Chris T: Is there a master list of topics people aren’t allowed to disagree with or do we just make it up as we go along?

mickysavage: Claiming that climate science is a Soros funded attempt at world government would be a start, saying that scientists are engaged in scare mongering for money is another and claiming that ice cover is actually increasing and that temperature increases have stalled for years is a third topic.

Wayne: Your list, especially the last two, looks indistinguishable from censorship.

Banning arguments against “ice cover is actually increasing” is a particular worry.

Ice cover actually increases every winter. Obviously it decreases in summer. It always varies with seasons. Most science generally suggests that ice cover is decreasing overall, but even with climate change (warming) it can increase in some areas.