Spin winds up as Labour battles

Labour have had a bad week, on top of bad weeks before it. They have been widely criticised for conceding power to Winston Peters, and have been dogged by problems, especially the Clare Curran/Derek Handley saga that continues to cause them embarrassment.

The weekend commentary continues to challenge Labour’s credibility.

Audrey Young: Failings in Coalition Government become glaringly apparent

Illustration / Guy Body

In March, the honeymoon between the new Coalition Government and the public ended after the mishandling of Labour’s summer school complaints and the bumbling around New Zealand’s position on Russia.

September marks the end of another honeymoon – between the partners in the Coalition Government, Labour and New Zealand First.

This week also marks another milestone: Peters finally came clean about how he sees his party’s status in the relationship, as an equal partner to Jacinda Ardern’s Labour which explains a lot.

This week has been more like the first falling-out rather than a crisis in the relationship but both parties behaved very badly to the other.

Young details a plethora of problems.

Duncan Garner:  Don’t write this fumbling coalition off just yet

It’s been a messy, incoherent and rudderless 12 months. The winner has been the surplus National left behind. It has given Labour options. The loser has many names. Clare Curran, and all those average jocks posing as ministers, and those using the “c” word.

Peters prefers to describe criticism of this governing hybrid with a turn-of-the-century word, “balderdash” which is ultimately a pretentious gum movement meaning utter nonsense. The use of such a silly word should be a warning to voters to stay well clear, but you simply can’t save all the conspiracy theorists all the time.

If you wanted a trainer wheel Government, this is it. Yes, there are a few policy scraps and differences right now. That’s because there are three partners and the tail does wag the dog more often than it should. That’s called MMP in action. They’ll sort it. It’s the only option.

So what do they do to try and improve things? It seems like they are spinning up their PR department to try and look better (or at least less bad).

I have noticed a change in attitude at The Standard recently, back to being very sensitive about any criticism of Labour.

MickySavage has kept plugging away with post attacks on National, nothing much new there. (And he puts up some good posts on less party orientated subjects as well).

But some with close Labour (and Green) ties have started to pop up in the mix.

Mike Smith (ex Labour general secretary): Is Politik a propaganda mouthpiece for the UK Embassy?

It very much looks as though Richard Harman would have been one of the selected journalists. I know Richard well, like and respect him, but I think he is barking up the wrong tree on this issue.

Winston Peters is and deserves to be treated as a substantial politician and diplomat. One doesn’t have to agree with everything he says, but he is no fool. On this issue, for our country’s sake, I am very glad he is not knee-jerk following the “western” group.

Curious to see a Labourite supporting Peters, who copped more criticism than from Harman.

Simon Louisson (former journalist who reported for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, the New Zealand Press Association and Reuters and has been a political and media adviser to the Green Party): What does it take for bosses not to get their bonus?

Fonterra’s $196 million loss for the June year – the first loss in the co-op’s 17-year history and a staggering reversal of last year’s $745m profit – failed to seriously dent the remuneration of its former CEO Theo Spierings.

Part of the trouble lies in the fact that people on very high salaries get the same employment protection that ordinary workers receive. I would argue that the law should be changed so that once an employee receives remuneration of over ten times, or even five times, the average income, he/she should be prepared to take the responsibility that they live or die by their performance.

As a former businesses reporter, time and again I would see bosses fired for incompetence but paid enormous “golden parachutes”.

Louisson is back posting at The Standard after a break of six month break, since authoring a flurry of posts (six) at the start of the year).

Te Reo Putake (an active Labour member and activist and seems to be close to some Labour MPs): Coalition Problems? Tell ’em they’re Dreaming!

The National Party and their paid stooges have been promoting the narrative that NZ First is the party that’s really in control of the new government. That’s bollocks.

“Their paid stooges” is a dirty politics type allegation. Trying to blame critics for Labour’s run of incompetence is not going to fix or even paper over the bad press they have been getting.

What’s actually happening is that we have an MMP Government that is functioning in exactly the way it was envisaged to work. The three parties negotiate, they argue for their positions, they seek consensus and then they enact legislation. And, yes, it is a three way deal. The Greens have managed to find ways to build a relationship with NZ First that must be annoying the hell out of the Nats.

It’s not ‘the Nats’ who seem annoyed as hell by Labour’s bad media coverage.

And that’s because the strength of this coalition is respect for different opinions and a way of working that emphasises consensus.

Consensus as long as Peters approves? That is how it is being portrayed, with some justification.

How very different from the undemocratic FPP when a one seat majority ensured an effective dictatorship over legislation.

Inseat there’s a growing perception of one MP who dictates what goes in a small party now dictating to a party with five times as many seats.

No, this is the modern way. No wonder the right can’t understand why they lost the last election.

They’re dinosaurs, watching the comets fall.

It’s not National who look to be in danger of falling at the moment. As self inflicted comets fall around labour their PR dinosaurs try to patch up yesterday’s mess. Too late as the rapid news cycle continues to steam roll them.

A comment on that thread: from Incognito:

Very good post! Bryan Gould wrote a similar post: http://www.bryangould.com/coalition-government-working-as-it-should/

Gould often trots out pro Labour pieces, and plays a similar tune to TRP:

It is increasingly clear that some supposedly expert commentators on the political scene have a poor understanding of how a parliamentary democracy actually works.

When the coalition partners occasionally do not agree on a particular issue, here is no reason, in other words, no reason to froth at the mouth, or bemoan the fact that National, with the largest number of seats but not a majority, is not in government, or to ask, who is running the government. A coalition government that has to muster a parliamentary majority to get its measures passed is what both our constitutional principles and the will of the people as represented by the outcome of the election both dictate; it is called democracy at work.

So, when New Zealand First declines to support a particular proposal put forward by Labour, or if the roles are reversed so that Labour fails support something New Zealand First wants, we should celebrate, not fulminate. We have the best of all worlds – a more representative parliament, a government that has to take account of a wider range of opinion than just its own, and a coalition government that provides stability and a consistent strategic direction.

Perhaps some of our commentators should pause to reflect for a moment before going into print.

Jacinda Ardern has often batted away suggestions of dysfunction by saying it is just how MMP works. In a just released book on the 2017 election (see ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election) she says:

The rest really is history, and now with the most genuine MMP government we’ve ever had, it’s also up to us to make history.

What makes the current government any more ‘genuine’ than past ones?

Tracy Watkins: Is Winston Peters Labour’s dud Lotto win?

There might have been lots of calming words spoken about  MMP in action – but that’s just Labour putting on a brave face.

Seems like a few brave faces are being trundled out by Labour’s PR department.

Ardern, Labour and their mouthpieces can claim as often as they like that ‘MMP is working as it should be’, but they currently look like they are insisting the seats look comfortable as the wheels get very wobbly.

Standard oversensitive to being criticised on an insensitive post

This should have just been me making a point at The Standard this morning, but showing signs of past intolerance of criticism they overreacted, threatened me with a ban, demoted the thread and then it seems banned me anyway because i couldn’t in response to lprent’s censorship (he may not have seen the post as it was originally so may have fired a broadside half cocked).

MickySavage posted Which National MP leaked Bridges’ expense details? In the main it was similar to my post on the same topic this morning, but it included a very inappropriate graphic that mocked mental health and named MPs – here’s the graphic, still on their tweet of the post:

I simply said “I think this is a poor taste post in the circumstances. Mental health is not a joke, nor should it be used for making cheap political shots.”

Te Reo Putake reacted:

Pete, with the exception of the ‘cluedo’ picture, there is nothing humorous in this post. No jokes are made in the post about the mental health issues of the MP concerned.

So, in short, your comment is in poor taste and you are using the matter to make a cheap political shot.

Poor form.

There was nothing political about my comment at all, and the cluedo picture was prominent (before any text) and that was worse than a cheap political shot.

But TRP was still overreacting:

Pete, the graphic has been around since the original leak. Posts have to illustrated with something and in the circumstances (a fast breaking news story about a mystery MP) it’s not inappropriate.

However, you didn’t specifically mention the graphic in your whinge. You specifically called out the post.

So you were having a crack at the author for your own beigely bland political purposes.

If I were you I’d just be grateful you were merely admonished, not banned. If you have anything to say about the substance of the story, have at it. If not, silence is golden.

The graphic was the most prominent part of the post, so yes, I called out the post. Perhaps I could have referred specifically to the graphic but it was fairly obvious.

I didn’t have a crack at the author at all, I didn’t refer to the author. I called out a crappy post.

And got threatened with a ban for it – that’s how The Standard used to operate when called out for crappy posts. Seems like now TRP is back they are back to message control.

MickySavage was initially defensive:

I thought about this.

First there is no proof that the person has mental health issues.

Second it is clearly a topic of public interest.

Third there have been numerous allegations from the right that Labour was responsible for the leak. Clearly this is not the case.

Fourth the emphasis is on disunity in National’s ranks and Bridges’ poor judgment.

Fifth I raise the possibility of canning the inquiry.

It has been made very clear through the day that it was predominantly a mental health issue. Otherwise his poinnts are fair given the issue and circumstances.

And he must have thought some more about it, because a wee while later the graphic was replaced and the post was amended:

Update:

I agree that mental health is an important issue so I am replacing the picture associated with the post.  The story is relevant however.

So my comment was effectively accepted as valid and appropriate action was taken. Good on MickySavage for that.

But then lprent got involved

[lprent: Just read through this thread. Basically TRP is correct. You are wrong. Shoving this silly diversion thread to the end of post. ]

He may not have seen the original graphic, but TRP was wrong and MickySavage eventually took the right action.

I don’t care about it being dropped to the bottom of the post, from here, and I don’t care if they ban me, but while i can and where I’ll can I won’t back down from giving my opinion on what i think are crappy aspects of posts or moderation.

And they also seem to have banned me without saying, because i haven’t been able to respond to lprent’s interfering (it had already been dealt with) and his typical overreaction.

Hard lefties oppose National cooperation on climate change

Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment” (in a campaign speech in August 2017).

Simon Bridges won’t go that far. On Q+A yesterday

CORIN DANN So certainty. Is climate change the nuclear-free issue of your generation?

SIMON BRIDGES I would not go that far. Is it the most significant environmental issue? Is it an important long-term issue that we need to deal with and deal with seriously and provide certainty on? Yes.

Bridges was vague about where he actually stands on a number of climate issues, and is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but National have signalled a willingness to work together with other parties – National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission.

But how genuine are they? Not at all according to some on the left.

MickySavage asked yesterday: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

His post concludes:

If this is what National and Simon Bridges is promising then all good and the Government can get on with things.  But if this is merely a replacement of outright denial with a more nuanced approach designed to delay urgent action being taken then he should rethink this.

Bridges has just been reported criticising National MPs expressing doubts about climate change.

Many comments at The Standard didn’t trust National and didn’t want them involved. Petty partisan politics is so ingrained some people can’t countenance cross-party cooperation.

Gabby: “Much easier to wreck things from the inside.”

Robert Guyton: “National’s funders will say, nah.”

Jess: “Bi-partisan means two parties. National wants to regress to Nat vs Labour with Nat as the bigger party, instead of a coalition. Or if they really see Govt and opposition as two parties, their perspective is going to be no help whatsoever (no surprise there).”

Kat: “Agree with you Jess in that National just want to maneuver into a position of taking out the coalition in 2020 by appearing to be genuine about serious issues.”

marty mars: “Simon is insincere imo. The gnats don’t care. Last throw of the die in many ways.”

Stuart Munro: “Trying make a wedge to peel off a few blueish Green voters.”

Jenny: “Feeling the ground shifting under them, National’s corporate sponsors desperately need a bipartisan consensus to do nothing meaningful about climate change.”

Draco T Bastard: “Translation: He wants Labour and the Greens to compromise and accept National’s position. And National will not budge from its position.”

What I think DTB really means is that he doesn’t want Greens to budge from their position – ignoring the reality of an MMP Parliament that requires agreement (and compromise) from at least three parties.

I joined in and said: This is the best opportunity ever for cross party cooperation on dealing with a major issue facing New Zealand and the world. Getting pissy about shunning parties because they don’t measure up to ideals (non of them do) is a bit pathetic given what is at stake.

Robert Guyton:

“Moving towards doing something”
Shuffling their feet so they aren’t considered dead.
That’s all.

I queried Robert: What approach do you think is best Robert – MMP democracy, or petty partisan politics? Greens will get closest to what they want if they’re prepared to work hard with all other parties in Parliament to get the best out of all of them – kinda like the James Shaw approach.”

Robert:

James is handling this issue beautifully, in the way a snake-handler manipulates vipers. Still vipers though.

This was Shaw’s response to National’s announcement they would work with other parties ion climate change:

Fortunately commenters on left wing blogs don’t run things in Parliament, but as Eugenie Sage found out, they can kick up a stink when Ministers follow laws and procedures and allow something activists don’t like.

Wayne Mapp also joined in:

Thank goodness the commenters here are not actually in govt. Most of you would not talk to National on anything (except for terms of surrender).

In reality in a range of issues governments and oppositions co-operate. For instance on national super, various environmental issues, a number of national security isssues there is dialogue and adjustment to get a bipartisan (sometimes multi partisan) consensus.

In fact John Key’s initiative in Opposition was to do the anti-smacking deal with Labour.

But hard lefties seem to hate dealing at all with the political ‘enemy’. In response:

Stuart Munro: “Well you’re a pack of lying assholes.”

One Anonymous Bloke: Here’s a radical idea to improve your public image: stop lying and killing people.

Fortunately people like that are nowhere near real political decision making, all they have is futile vitriol in social media.

This morning on RNZ:

“Nationalise all broadcast media”

There is a lot of angst being expressed over news coverage during the week at The Standard: The manufacturing of a narrative

They are complaining about the excess of coverage of stories they don’t think are important, and a lack of coverage of stories they think are important. The media are the immediate scapegoats, but National and big business and world conspiracies also feature in the list of culprits.

Ironically with a post and comments that try to play down Clare Curran’s indiscretions in trying to promote her policies for a publicly funded broadcast television alternative, these claims and suggestions propose that media is fully controlled by the state.

Unicus:

Of course the Government can and must act to protect our country from what is a rampant corporate propaganda machine . It is not enough to simply express disgust about this calculated and co ordinated attempt to bring down the legitimately elected government of our country Although Curren is not the individual to do the job RNZ and Television NZ must be re structured imediately .

Ed:

The media are paid puppets for international finance.
The government will control the narrative if it takes control of the airwaves from private corporate interests.
The airwaves are the commons.
They should be returned to the 99%.

solkta:

Yes, the government should immediately nationalise all broadcast media; along with all law firms, insurance companies and banks.

One of the primary and most important functions of media in a democracy is to hold the government to account. This would take an important check on power away.

I’m not sure that they will be so keen on the government controlling the narrative by taking control of the airwaves when National takes over the government again.

And on the right wing conspiracy – Robert Guyton:

No, Baba: ” A narrative is building being built of incompetence and dishonesty around this government that will be very difficult to shake”.
The perception is being created, purposefully, in order to destroy the Labour-led Government – who’s doing this? You know full well, ol’ mortar’n’pestle witch!

Babayaga:

The narrative is being self inflicted. It really is that simple.

Robert Guyton:

“Self -inflicted”?
Bullsh*t!
Inflicted by the Right Wing machine.
Baba – you’re full of it!

John Drinnan:

So are you saying that most journalists in the country are corrupt and promoting a story that they know is untrue – all to meet the demands of a cruel lying media That famous right wing Gordon Campbell? For goodness sake?

I’m not sure why that last sentence has a question mark.

Russian judgment – “Winston Peters and Jeremy Corbyn are sane voices”

There have been claims that Russia has been set up over the allegations of nerve gas poisoning in Salisbury, England, ranging from valid questions to conspiracy theories.

Mike Smith at The Standard says that “Winston Peters and Jeremy Corbyn are sane voices calling for evidence” and suggests that there are “all the signs of another false flag operation” in Russian to Judgment.

The possible poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the consequent  hysteria have all the signs of another false flag operation, as we saw before the second American invasion of Iraq. The chain of circumstantial evidence has more holes in it than a swiss cheese, and while  attempted murder (if that is what it is) is a criminal act Winston Peters and Jeremy Corbyn are sane voices calling for evidence before any attribution still less action.

Smith questions whether anyone was poisoned at all – “possible poisoning”.

What we don’t know is what evidence may (or may not) have been circulated around intelligence agencies and governments.

Its not hard to see why the British government would like to draw attention away from the looming disaster of their bungled Brexit. The French and Americans are also unhappy about the continuation of Assad’s government in Syria. With the sudden firing of Rex Tillerson and the looming exit of McMaster, the neocons are firmly in charge in Washington and we know what that led to in 2003.

The situation now in Washington is very different to 2003, as the US reacted to the 911 attacks.

Helen Clark’s Labour-led government took a principled stance not to support George W. Bush’s  “coalition of the willing,” and no doubt had to withstand considerable pressure to do so. It is concerning to read that the British High Commissioner is briefing New Zealand media about Theresa May’s view of events, and sending out barely disguised threats in an attempt to interfere in our trade policies.

Smith seems to be a fan of Winston’s attempts to negotiate a trade agreement with Russia despite opposing the TPPA.

It is not as though we haven’t seen anti-Russian hysteria before. Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report seems to have gone full ‘Dancing Cossacks,’ following the lead of CNN which has led the charge in Washington since the election of Donald Trump.

Who sounds hysterical?

We live in a very uncertain and dangerous world and New Zealand is not immune. The Doomsday Clock is at two minutes to midnight. Now more than ever we do not nee to seed tensions escalate on such flimsy grounds as the latest beat-up. We need to maintain our independence and our principles, and not be sucked into other people’s wars.

Smith was asked in comments what signs there were of a false flag operation. He responded:

Signs of a false flag operation are those similar to the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. I was in Canada in early 2002 watching hyped-up American television in my hotel room. I came back and reported to the Labour caucus that America was going to invade. A year later they did.

One sign is heightened tone in the media allied with treating allegation as fact.

Those signs sound flimsy – “heightened tone in the media” is hardly unusual, nor is “treating allegation as fact”.

A false flag operation is a terrorist act committed by one group for the express purpose of discrediting another group, which is framed for it.

Smith is suggesting that Russia has been framed, but he doesn’t specify who he thinks framed them, but the obvious implication is the UK and perhaps the US.

Smith also said:

Nobody’s giving deference to an oligarchy – just don’t want more war, and as for ramping up nuclear capabilities that’s more true of the US at the moment.

Few people want war, especially between nuclear powers, but as for ramping up nuclear capabilities – Russia’s Putin unveils ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons (BBC): The weapons he boasted of included a cruise missile that he said could “reach anywhere in the world”. He said of the West: “They need to take account of a new reality and understand … [this]… is not a bluff.”

What Smith asserts is at odds with our Government response. Jacinda Ardern on The Nation yesterday:

Okay. Well, let’s move on to an entirely different topic. Britain is out kicking 23 Russian diplomats, aka spies. Now, this is over the nerve-gas attack in Salisbury, and things are really ratcheting up. The US has issued sanctions; this is over interference with elections. So are we going to join any further sanctions in relation to Russia if we are asked?

Yeah, and, obviously, we’re working very closely with the UK and other partners. We’ve joined with them in saying these actions are repugnant. We’ve made strong statements in The Hague over it as well. The use of nerve agents–

But what about actual sanctions?

The use of nerve agents is an illegal international act. So at the moment, it is a matter of keeping in close contact with our partners to see what actions they’re taking. At the moment, they’ve isolated down in the UK and dealing with them at an individual diplomat level, but it is a matter of making sure that we’re in constant contact as those decisions are made.

So at the moment, you’re not ruling out the possibility of expulsions from New Zealand?

We haven’t ruled anything in or out at this stage, because, as we say, we’re working closely with our partners, and this is an ongoing matter, but we’ve been very clear this is an illegal act; it is a repugnant act.

A quite different view of Russia in Ardern stumbles badly on Putin-Peters axis:

…since invading and annexing the Crimea in 2014, Russia has:

  • Interfered with elections in the US, France, Germany, and possibly also in Italy.
  • Continued to carry out a clandestine war in Eastern Ukraine.
  • Provided military support in the form of soldiers, air power, equipment, and training to Assad’s regime in Syria which is again using chemical weapons on civilians.
  • Continued to murder and harass political opponents and journalists in Russia.
  • Continued to repress ethnic and minority groups within Russia.
  • And Putin has even revealed he’s antisemitic too in trying to blame Jews for any meddling in the US election!

Salisbury hasn’t changed anything. Russia is still the same brutal, aggressive, and repressive dictatorship that it was in 2014 when FTA negotiations were suspended over Crimea, the only thing that changed in that time was that Winston Peters had the balance of power following the 2017 election and used that power to wring a concession for a Russian free trade deal in his coalition deal with Labour.

It was a surprise concession considering Peters and NZ First had not campaigned on a Russian free trade deal.

It’s healthy to have some scepticism about what is asserted by the UK (or US or NZ) in situations like the Salisbury poisoning and the escalating diplomatic stoush. But it is also healthy to have some scepticism about Russian denials, and defence of Russia by people lie Smith.

I have seen some claim that Jeremy Corbyn is a sane voice on the current situation, but he seems to agree with evidence pointing to Russia – Jeremy Corbyn: Salisbury attack ‘evidence points towards Russia’

Jeremy Corbyn said the “evidence points towards Russia” being responsible for the Salisbury attack but he did not go as far as his shadow defence secretary.

He said the source of the chemical weapon used “appears to be Russia”.

Earlier, his shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said the party accepted “Russia was responsible”.

The Labour leader condemned the “appalling” attack but pressed the PM on whether the UK had supplied traces of the nerve agent used in the attack to Russia for analysis before Wednesday’s deadline, as the Kremlin had asked.

And he asked what action the UK was taking with its allies through the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.

The UK’s response, said the Labour leader, should be underpinned by support for the rule of law and international agreements and respect for human rights.

But in a later Facebook post, Mr Corbyn called for the Russian authorities to “be held to account on the basis of the evidence and our response must be both decisive and proportionate”.

Is that the sane voice that Smith was referring to?

Few have supported Winston Peters or called him a sane voice over the poisoning issue – he has been strongly criticised. But even he joined condemnation of the poisoning – NZ joins condemnation of nerve agent attack

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has grave concerns over the use of a chemical nerve agent in the United Kingdom resulting in critically serious injuries to some of those exposed.

“We share and support the concerns expressed by other nations about such use of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons as a tool of war, or for murder or assassination is totally repugnant, and this incident is an affront to global rules and norms. As New Zealand has stated on many occasions, we are deeply disturbed at any use of chemical substances banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention,” he said.

“How this military grade nerve agent was transported from Russia and released abroad is the key issue here, and warrants urgent international investigation,” said Mr Peters.

 

Smith’s ‘sane voices’ seem to disagree with him.

 

“Attempts by some fringe Labour supporters to minimise these issues”

It is normal for political activists to over play attacks on opponents, and to make excuses and minimise issues that put their favoured parties and politicians in a bad light. This has been apparent over the sexual abuse claims at Young Labour’s summer camp.

This can go to the extreme of trying to shift blame to opponents, sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Like this from ‘Anne’ at The Standard:

I am becoming convinced that this Youth Camp incident is being used by Labour’s opponents to destroy General Secretary, Andrew Kirton. The MO is remarkably similar to that used on David Cunliffe… grab a piece of info. (eg. a letter he had received 12 yearspreviously) and create a false meme around it. Make sure your MSM acolytes keep it on the boil for as long as possible. They all know the truth will out eventually, but that doesn’t matter because by then the damage has already been done.

And Draco T Bastard:

I’m pretty sure the only reason it’s in the news is for the political point scoring done by the RWNJs.

No other case of sexual abuse gets this sort of attention from the MSM.

Anne again:

Warning! Right wing concern troll calling him/herself John Selway has been sent to TS. Wonder who his/her masters are… and what his/her previous mission was?

Now there’s a real conspiracy theory for the deniers to dig their fangs into.

Ironic that she mentioned conspiracy theory.

Tim Murphy at Newsroom (where the story broke) writes How bad is bad enough?

By common consent the Labour Party has handled the sexual assaults against four young supporters at a political summer camp badly. Labour’s top two names certainly think so. Among their statements on Wednesday were

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern:

“This sexual abuse took place.”

“The event was not undertaken in a safe and responsible way.”

“Things went very, very wrong.”

 

Labour Party President Nigel Haworth:

“We have failed in our duty of care since the event.”

Their acceptance of failure and distress on behalf of the victims was unmissable. No gilding of the lily at the top level.

But among their supporters there were those determined not to take their leaders’ lead and accept that Labour did not do right by these victims.

On social media some have claimed the disclosure of these sexual assaults was somehow a political attack on Labour; that National did not get intense media scrutiny over John Key’s ponytail pulling or Todd Barclay and Bill English’s behaviour over the taping of a staff member; that Newsroom, in breaking this news showed no concern for the four victims.

They have been shooting the messenger. They have been minimising.

Shooting the messenger is common on political forums, but more problematic is the minimising of what Ardern and Haworth have admitted are serious problems that include sexual assault.

They are wrong, wrong and wrong. Key was confronted with the starkest and most intense coverage of his bizarre and indefensible fetish, Barclay was forced to resign after weeks of media scrutiny.

Whataboutism has been rife – including here at YourNZ. That’s a common diversionary tactic.

But with the clear acceptance at the top that so much went wrong – for the victims, and *after* the camp – the ongoing confidence in Kirton and the attempts by some fringe Labour supporters to minimise these issues are more than a little troubling.

In effect they are minimising what could amount to multiple serious assaults. That is troubling – and also troubling is that nonsense claims on this are allowed to stand unsubstantiated at The Standard.

There are also many troubling comments on this issue at Kiwiblog, but that’s another story.

Also another story, from NZH – Witness: People were vomiting in the toilets and bushes from too much boozing at Young Labour summer camp

An eyewitness at the Young Labour party during the Waihi summer camp says it was a “recipe for disaster”, describing it as an unsupervised party where people were throwing up in toilets and in the bushes from excessive boozing.

And there was a giant walk-in fridge where anyone, including people as young as 15, could just walk in and grab any booze they wanted.

The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the public deserved to know the true nature of the event, during which a 20-year-old is alleged to have sexually assaulted four people aged between 16 and 18.

“On the Saturday night, even before dinner, people were playing goon bag roulette with the clothes line, hanging a bag of cask wine and sitting underneath it and spinning the clothes line,” the man said.

The use and abuse of alcohol is one of the problems accepted by Ardern and will be included in their inquiry into what went wrong.

Diversion, censorship over sexual assault issues

Every blog has the right to allow or not allow anyone to comment in their forums. But how they do this affects their credibility and reputation.

There are different degrees of feminism. I think most people will now support the premise of gender equality in general, but extreme feminism is not for equality, it tries to make women the powerful, and suppress and men.

The Standard has had it’s moments over the years, and I have had my differences with them, but one of the more remarkable examples of attempted message management has taken place over the last couple of days, along with a surge of purging.

The Standard has not had a post about the Labour summer camp sexual assault issue. Instead they have tried to divert from it, including shutting down speech.

The story broke on Monday. The first signs of a clampdown and diversion were after discussion about the issue in Daily Review 12/03/2018 (Monday evening):

Fuck off, you disgusting, sexual assault enabling old prick.

[3 month ban. I’ve been watching your trolling since the election, and you appear to bring little to the site now. What is not ok is starting a flame war in a topic of this nature where many people are vulnerable. Throwing accusations around, using sexual assault to Labour-bash, it’s all the same kind of nasty, macho bullshit that makes it really hard to have meaningful conversations about rape culture on TS. – weka]

A ban may not seem unfair given the comment made, but it was in response to

Crawl back under the rock you came from [Edit. Best not to go there Adam – MS](bm) . How about we let the victims make decisions before we start making accusations.

So a “Best not to go there” edit versus leaving the response and a 3 month ban – not an unusual unbalanced approach to ‘moderation’ at The Standard. This was followed later by a ‘weka’ comment:

My suggestion in general to the men here who want to have a shit fight about this, is to sit down and shut up, and start listening to what women are saying. Women generally understand what the issues are and how to talk about them without making the conversations unsafe or into flamewars.

This is also not an unusual attempt (at TS as well as elsewhere in social media) to shut down male speech.

Then on Wednesday morning ‘weka’ posted Talking about sexual assault:

As news unfolds about the sexual assaults that took place at Labour’s Summer School last month, it’s time for political communities to look at how they talk about sexual assault and rape culture.

This discussed the summer school assaults initially, before widening to a more general topic:

New Zealand is still very bad at addressing sexual assault or knowing how to talk about it, although some spaces are better than others. Yesterday a flame war started up on The Standard in discussing the sexual assaults. I came in late and saw a bunch of left and right wing men having a fight about it.

The ‘left wing man’ had his hand smacked, sort of. The right wing man was banned for 3 months.

Not surprised but still disappointed. So I want us to talk about how to talk about sexual assault, and I want to give a general heads up for moderation going forward.

What is not ok is to make discussions about sexual assault hostile. Women in particular want safer spaces to discuss rape culture and the politics around sexual assault, and when discussions are made hostile many women will simply not take part. Which then leaves the kōrero with men, including men who are either uneducated about sexual assault and the politics around that, or who have an agenda that doesn’t include preventing rape or making spaces safer.

My position last night was that men generally need to sit down and shut up and start listening to what women have to say.

I think that that is often weka’s position.

The main problem with telling men to sit down and shut up is that it’s the progressive and compassionate men that will do so, and they are the ones who are usually more informed and more willing to push back against rape culture. So let me rephrase this. I wrote a post recently about #mettonz and why gender equity matters, and it applies here. If we want to solve the problems that lead to rape and rape culture, then we need to amplify the voices of the people that understand what is going on and how to address it. Women have been at the forefront of pushing back against rape culture for decades.

There are many women who have important things to say, and if the space is yet again taken up by men, those voices get lost.

My request then is this. If you want to understand what is going on, then ask. If you have a good handle on what is going on, then please share from a place of informed opinion, but also please amplify the voices of women, and pay particular attention to making the space attractive for women to take part.

Not just aiming to “amplify the voices of women”, but also to suppress the voices of men.

And make no mistake, feminists know full well that the left is not free of rape culture or sexual assault. So the point here isn’t to bash Labour…

No, it seems to be to suppress criticism.

… it’s to point out that rape culture transcends the conventional left/right divide and all men need to take note of that. Left wing men need to get better at addressing this within their own cultures, and right wing men need to resist the temptation to have a go.

Especially to suppress the voices of “right wing men”.

A long discussion follows, with ‘weka’ prominent throughout via comments. Like

The point is that women have been addressing rape culture for decades, and men have largely been the ones making that harder. Irrespective of the genders of the people being assaulted. There is certainly an important conversation to be had about the impact of sexual assault on boys and men. I just don’t see the men generally in this commentariat having been capable of that either. That’s the problem I am pointing to today. Left to its own devices, this community is hostile to anyone wanting to talk meaningfully about sexual violence and it is actively exclusive (which to my reading is against the Policy).

There are some men here who are good on this stuff, and I encourage them to speak up, and if you see some good commentary by men from offsite, then please feel free to quote and link. I’m hoping that you also amplify the voices of women who know what they are talking about, and generally make this a good space for women. When this is a good space for women, it will be more likely to become a good space for other genders as well.

Discussions about violence towards all genders is welcome, so long as it doesn’t go down a ‘what about the men’ track. That’s a political position which I can clarify if anyone doesn’t understand.

I don’t disagree entirely with ‘weka’, but trying to control and manipulate discussion on one of New Zealand’s major political blogs, a ‘left wing movement’ blog, hints at an attempt at a not moderate feminist takeover.

‘weka’ was also active via ‘moderation’:

[neither post nor tracey are advocating covering anything up. 2 month ban for trolling and ignoring the post – weka]

[you either didn’t read the post, or don’t care about the post. 3 month ban for ignoring the post and moderation. If you want to talk about the sexual assault of men, see my comment on this elsewhere in the thread – weka]

[additional moderation note now that I’ve had time to catch up. When I say I want this space to be good for women to comment in, abusing women commenters goes against that. I will be using this thread as a reference for future conversations, so I suggest people start paying attention to where the boundaries are on behaviour that is acceptable. – weka]

“I will be using this thread as a reference for future conversations”.

[I specifically said don’t politicise this. I suggested people ask questions rather than jump in with reckons and judgements, and I did that for very good reasons that I explained in the post. I’ve also made it clear that I will clarify where the boundaries are if people ask. 1 month ban.

Yes, I am utterly serious about changing how discussions about sexual assault happen on TS, now you know, and it has nothing to do with Labour and everything to do with too many of the men on this site – weka]

“Too many men on this site”.

[if you are unwilling to engage with the parameters an author sets for a post, then don’t comment on it. I gave you the courtesy of not moderating but responding in depth to two of the questions you raised, and you come back with rape denial.

This post wasn’t written for you to write whatever you want, any more than it was written for the RW trolls or other rape apologists. It was written to create a good space for women and survivors of sexual assault (and others) to talk about those issues. If you don’t understand what the point of the post was, despite me making it very clear, I suggest you stay out of such discussions in the future.

2 week ban (double the last one which was for telling authors how to run the site and likewise ignoring moderation. See the pattern there?) – weka]

‘Ignoring moderation’ is weka for not complying with her message manipulation and control.

She was helped by lprent, with some comments moved to Open Mike 13/03/2018 :

[TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

[lprent: How about admitting you are making that up and it is simply you lying. Banned 1 month for trolling. ]

[lprent: The age of consent is 16. The due process is to first ask the victims what they want to do.
Banned for 2 months for being a lying troll. ]

[lprent: You aren’t reading it right. “…sexually assaulted four teenagers, all aged 16…”. What is the age of consent? Duh! 16. It has been even when you and I were kids. It is their choice about reporting anything to parents or police.

Banned 3 months for asking a leading question in a troll-like fashion. I’d suggest that you desist from this style of question because I’m likely to just reduce our workload for a few years next time. ]

[lprent: Age of consent is 16. Drinking alcohol is unfortunately only really controlled for kids and adults in certain kinds of public and non-public places and for being sold to kids – none of which is alleged at the camp..
Banned 3 months for stupid trolling and lying with dumbarse ‘questions’. ]

[3 month ban for politicising sexual assault and using it as an excuse to Labour-bash, and for ignoring moderation – weka]

[another 3 for telling lies about moderation in DR – weka]

[You seem pretty keen on getting banned, so I’ve just doubled your ban in the other thread for telling lies about moderation. – weka]

[lprent: There were some pretty clear warnings by both weka and myself about tight moderation on a post today (probably the one you commented on) because it was likely to attract stupidity from trolls not wanting to discuss the topic posted. And so it proceeded. I think 7 or 8 people today for months as I have limited toleration for ignorant morons ignoring warnings. If you choose to ignore warnings, then it is your own damn fault. ]

So that’s a clear and strong message – comply with weka’s discussion management (it can be difficult to guess what she will find unacceptable) or risk being biffed.

Again, weka and lprent can chose to demand that men keep out of conversations, and they can ban, as much as they like. It’s their blog.

But The Standard is increasingly becoming an anti-men weka dictated ultra left wing forum.

Anyone deemed right wing, and now male is at particular is at risk of not being welcome.

From The Standard About:

We come from a variety of backgrounds and our political views don’t always match up but it’d be fair to say that all of us share a commitment to the values and principles that underpin the broad labour movement and we hope that perspective will come through strongly as you read the blog.

Perhaps that needs revision.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I’m just pointing out what The Standard has become.

 

A silly ACT

David Seymour getting desperate for attention?

Stuff – Below the Beltway: The ups and downs of the political week

DOWN

David Seymour – The ACT leader is going to be on Dancing With The Stars. He needs to find 15 hours a week to train, which will no doubt cut into the time he has for his Epsom constituents. Also, the show didn’t work out so well for the last ACT leader who took part – Rodney Hide dropped his dance partner during a lift.

Rodney Hide did a stint embarassing himself like that. Publicity stunts via ‘reality TV” are lame at best and likely to do an MP’s credibility more harm than good.

This will open Seymour to ridicule, and it has already started. The Standard:

Seymour’s decision shows his commitment to New Zealand politics. And what a poodle party ACT is.

It’s worse than posing for Vogue, because it drags out the exposure for weeks.

Different views and racism at The Standard

Some interesting discussions and reactions about racism at The Standard, triggered by the debate over Donald Trump’s shithole comments.

Yesterday Bill posted Two Faced Liberalism.

Anyone want to lay out what the essential difference might be between picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants and picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants?

What’s the difference at play in preferring “skilled” migrants over supposedly “unskilled” ones or Norwegian migrants over Haitian ones; moneyed ones over poor ones? Liberals might argue that the former and latter are nuanced and better targeting for economic exploitation than the middle one. And some might point out that the middle is informed by racism while the former and latter aren’t. But then, that last point is just to argue that some forms of discrimination are okay while others aren’t.

Anyone inclined to get on a high horse over Trump splabbing shit about preferring Norwegian migration to Haitian migration should, surely, get all fired up over preferring those who might be considered economically exploitable to those who might be considered economic liabilities. It’s the same shit afterall – born of discrimination.

And while we’re here, Haiti is a shit-hole. Would you live there? Or would you want to bring up a family there? I wouldn’t.

I don’t really know much about current Haiti, but it’s home for over 10 million people. Perhaps many of them wouldn’t be fussed about living in New Zealand.

To slam Trump for his bullshit as though it’s such a terrible thing to refer to a place as a shit-hole (who hasn’t referred to some place as a shit-hole?) and ignore why Haiti and other places on Trump’s list are “places polite society would never refer to in that way”, isn’t just facile – it’s the height of cold fucking hypocrisy.

You give a shit about Haiti and the people living there? Do you? Really!? Or is indulging in a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like, on the basis they’d never (apparently) refer to a place with predominantly black or brown populations by way of Trump’s uncouth terminology – is that all that matters?

Actually one of the latest ‘clarifications’ is that while Trump was critical of Haiti in relation to US immigration he didn’t refer to that country as a shithole (he referred to others as such though).

There was limited reaction to that post at The Standard, but Matthew Whitehead commented:

If Haiti is a shithole, Bill, it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

It’s really unjust to agree that a developing country like Haiti a is shithole just because it’s been colonized, and is still having wealth transferred out of it, by overseas interests. I would have expected better of you. It’s also very dismissive of the fact that people like you and I might actually have things we could learn from people in Haiti.

I would actually argue that all the types of migration restrictions you mention are informed by discrimination, but okay. I agree there is an inconsistency to thinking skilled migration is fine and opposing the rhetoric of white supremacy, although it isn’t a direct inconsistency that everyone finds easy and obvious because it’s an argument that relies on statistics, not direct inference.

And yes, I actually do give a shit about countries that are less well-off than New Zealand, like Haiti, or Samoa, and have previously given both time (and I don’t mean by spreading “awareness,” lol) and money to help make the situation just a little bit better.

Bill replied:

…it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

Well, yes. Did you bother reading the link before commenting? The link that comes after You want racism? Read Johnathan M. Katz’s opinion piece… and before There are very specific and traceable reasons as to why Haiti, El Salvador and however many African states might be referred to as ‘shit-holes’. And every single one traces back to liberal capitalism.

I also provided a “get out” clause for anyone who might have felt the urge to get all defensive, but it seems you missed it Matthew. I made no assumption about whether any individual reader of this post has sailed on by the historical colonial context of Haiti and other countries or not. I asked if a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like was taking precedence to giving a shit. Ample room right there for a simple “no”. 😉

There was some discussion on Twitter:

Removing a post would have been a drastic way to deal with it, and would likely have caused a split at The Standard. Instead Presland wisely chose to do a posy of his own providing some different views – Racist dog whistling

We may think that we now live in more enlightened times where the scourge of racism is finally being dealt to and racist behaviour by politicians is no longer considered acceptable.

But recent events suggest to me that racist memes are still being used by the calculating to stir up political support from the bewildered.

A classic example of race baiting has occurred recently in Australia.  Victoria, which currently has a State Labor government, has an election later on in the year.  Clearly the Liberals would love to win back power.  So the Turnbull Government has made a big thing about gangs of young Africans causing problems in Melbourne and how Melbournians are afraid to go out at night.  Peter Dutton, whose level of odiousness almost matches that of Trump, has front footed the attack.  And things have been egged on by Rupert Murdoch owned papers.

Dutton chose to use the right wing playbook.  He attacked the Andrews Government for appointing “weak” judges and suggested that the non existing law and order problem was all because of liberals (small l).

But just when you thought that no politician could sink lower than Dutton Donald Trump describes most of the developing countries as Shithole.  Put aside his misogynist views, his lack of understanding, his overt belligerence, his anti environmental crusade, his attack on the poor and support for the rich and the threat he poses to world peace these comments should result in his removal from office.  In a properly functioning democracy …

But this is a weakness of the democratic system.  Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time.  That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem.

It’s not just been a political tool of the right in New Zealand, with Winston Peters pushing dog whistle racism boundaries regularly, and Labour’s disaster over Chinese sounding name mis-analysis a couple of years ago.

Claims of racism from the left in an attempt to shut down discussion are not uncommon either, as the exchange on Twitter shows.

This is valid and healthy discussion to have here, so good on The Standard for providing a forum for diverse views rather than trying to squash discussion.

Some emotive and interesting comments on that second post. Shona:

My daughter had a knife held to her throat and was threatened with death while a Sudanese 16 year old youth groped her in Central Melbourne during daylight work hours, while she was carrying our her job. i have NO SYMPATHY for these assholes. The aggression against the Sudanese is because of their fucked up religious views of women amongst other things.

And no those views are not to be tolerated in a modern society.They do not give a rats arse about western values. And no Australia and NZ do not need these fucking people . Now out will come all the dearly deluded members of NZ’s oh so tolerant left telling me what a racist I am. I am an atheist and an old fashioned working class feminist . Fuck these people we don’t need em!

A feminist racist? It sounds like she has good reason to be angry, but her target appears to be too broad.

Gristle responded:

A cousin of mine was raped at knife point in the South of USA by a couple of whites.

Am I now meant to think that all white Americans are like that due to their race, nationality, religion? I mean look at the fundamentalist, racist, sexists, class hating people in the USA. (And that includes so many in power.)

“Fuck these people we don’t need them(?)”

Fender:

And my son was stabbed fourteen times by a NZ born white crohn’s disease sufferer who was unemployed and is now in jail. I’m unaware of any religious or misogynist views held by this asshole but obviously he’s from a group that is also not needed in this country (using your logic).

These are isolated personal experiences so it’s fair to cut them some slack if over-reacting.

But we hope that our politicians, and politicians in leadership positions such as Peters and Trump, should have more consideration for a bigger picture than appeasing their own base of racists supporters.

NZ views on Trump versus Bannon

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Trump vs Bannon

So of Trump’s two campaign chairs, one is indicted for money laundering and the other he now labels as mad. What does that say about the judgement of the person who hired them?

David Garrett:

Trump is one seriously unhinged unit…If you allow yourself to think about it, it’s terrifying that this guy’s hand is on the nuclear button at the same time an equally unhinged unit in North Korea has his hand on another nuclear button.

Surely 2018 will be the year the world is closest to a nuclear conflict since the height of the cold war? Doesn’t bear thinking about…

MickySavage at The Standard: Duck and Cover

Makes you wonder if the nuclear button tweet was an attempt at diversion.

And Trump has lost his cool with Bannon.

Whale Oil may have a bit of a dilemma over the Trump-Bannon split. They were still championing Trump yesterday:

Bannon’s Breitbart may now be a front runner. WO have modeled themselves on Bannon/Breitbart,  and I suspect someone may have fancied themselves as a Bannon-like PM maker, but now Trump has dumped on Bannon (not posted about at WO) that may cause some flip flopping between champions, trying to ignore the bust up.