Changing Standard

 

There has been noticeable changes at The Standard over the last few months. More rigid moderation has resulted in long time regulars being banned, and there has been a marked change in volume and nature of comments.

One of The Standard’s most prolific commenters, Colonial Viper, caused some controversy and last year was banned for several months. He returned to commenting yesterday, but didn’t survive for long.

Colonial Viper3.5.1.1.1

Hey always happy to argue my points hard out over a beer, but last time I was banned for a month for referring to what official exit polls said about demographics voting Trump.

So why bother.

[That’s not why you were banned. You were banned for making assertions as fact and not backing them up, and that specifically being a pattern of behaviour considered trolling. Here you are misleading about why you were banned. I can’t see any point waiting for yet another series of demonstrations of the patterns of behaviour that have led to multiple bans in the past, so I will just do it now. Banned until a month after the election. – weka]

That’s removed another dissenting voice for the election campaign. CV is wacky agt times, but he is prepared to challenge group think, something the new Standard seems to want to avoid. Ironically this happened on the 1984 post.

There were mixed reactions:

adam

I’m liking the new hard nosed weka.

To many people have spun shit about her point of view, they deserve what they get for misrepresenting her.

As we all should cop, if we tell porkies about the authors.

The authors offer enough reminders not to do it. Yet, people still do it.

Galeandra

Well you can carry on liking her on your own. I’m off again.

Weka banned me when she didn’t like her arguments challenged recently.

She was busy yesterday – also:

Peter Swift

Of course you are my bro, I’m inclusive. We’re all in this together, man, and like it or not, we are the BROtherhood of man.

Best stick that faux race outrage, I’ve lost the argument so will play a race card, back in it’s very naughty box where it truly belongs. :tut tut: 🙄

[ok, you’re out until Monday. Pattern of behaviour that is flaming, and you’ve been warned 10 mins ago and you still do it, so wasting mod time too – weka]

[just seen your response in the backend. You still don’t understand why you were moderated, so here it is again. You were banned for flaming, ignoring moderation, and wasting moderator time. If you don’t understand what flaming is, ask. That ban is now extended out to 1 month for ignoring moderation, wasting moderator time, and attacking an author. Expect moderations from now on to at least double but some will just go to past the election if you do something really stupid – weka]

Tim

The most reasonable commentator gets suspended because someone said the word ‘bigotry’… Your position is truly weak, weka.

[Peter got a short ban for blatantly ignoring moderation, and for flaming. Flaming is about behaviour. In moderation we are looking at patterns of behaviour that cause trouble for the site and increase work for the moderators. It rarely has anything to do with the content. Peter already has a history of this, which you are probably unaware of but the moderators are. Marty and adam were both warned as well and chose to tone down the flaming. I would have banned either of them similarly if they hadn’t.

Speaking of patterns of behaviour, and looking at your comments in general, I’ll let you know a couple of things. One is that I personally have a low tolerance for having my views misrepresented. People can disagree with me and they can go hard against my arguments, but when they start misusing my beliefs either against me or to further their own argument, then I will moderate. One of the reasons is that it’s hard enough being an author here without being attacked. The other is that I write to generate discussion, and if people choose to abuse or attack rather than debate then they need to go somewhere else.

You can count this as a warning. We obviously disagree politically, which is fine. But in addition to that you are stepping over a line that will result in a ban if you keep it up. Don’t make shit up about moderation (wasting moderator time is one of the quicker ways to get a ban), don’t attack authors, don’t misrepresent the views of authors. Pretty simple. – weka]

Weka does write to generate discussion, her Kaupapa Pākehā was good, but she also often puts strict boundaries on what can be discussed, and tends to ban when losing an argument (claiming things like ‘misrepresentation’, something she has done herself).

She is easier on some regulars, like:

bwaghorn14

”It looks like Labour are willing to bash those they see as being in their way politically”
it would appear you as a card carrying greeny are willing to bash labour when it suits weka

[ok, I’m torn between giving you a warning over stupid shit that’s against the rules (having a go at an author over perceived party politics), and asking you wtf you are on about. I’ll go with the latter. Please do explain what me being a GP member has to do with the post or what I said in it. I’m really curious what possible motivation I could have as GP member for apparently bashing Labour. – weka]

She uses her role as moderator to wield a stick in discussions:

Nope14.3.1.2

You can’t pretend your Green Party allegiance doesn’t influence your frequent attacks on Labour and Little.

Everyone has a political bias, and party membership and allegiance is a huge contributor.

I had hoped the MOU would give greenies a sense that there was one way to change the govt, and that was backing Labour and the Greens. Support for any other party that won’t commit to changing the govt just makes it less likely this will happen.

[“You can’t pretend your Green Party allegiance doesn’t influence your frequent attacks on Labour and Little.”

So much on one little sentence. I don’t have an allegiance to the GP. I vote for them and I am a member and I support many but not all of their policies, but if they had done what Little did I would be criticising them too. I don’t have to pretend anything. I like Little (that’s on record), I want Labour to do well, I want the Greens to do better, I want the govt to change. You and I disagree on how that might happen and what the best strategy is, that’s fine, make those arguments, but stop making shit up about me.

You will now provide 5 examples of my writing posts that attack Labour and Little in the past 3 months, or some other reasonable example of ‘frequent’ and ‘attack’. If you can’t/won’t do that, you have two choices. You can withdraw that comment and apologise, or you can have a ban. I’m putting you into premod until you answer. If I don’t see anything I will eventually ban just to tidy this up. I suggest you read the Policy and About and that you start paying attention to what is being said in moderation bold across threads so that you learn where the boundaries are.

You seem new here and look like you are bringing good commentary, so I’m cutting you some slack, but you need to understand that commenters are expendable and authors aren’t. Stop attacking authors, and debate the politics and points instead. If you don’t understand anything I’ve just said, ask for clarification. – weka]

These changes in moderation have generated quite a bit of comment. Violet:

Violet 2.1.1.1.1

We all know, that in little NZ, blogs like TS are often referred to. We also know that one of the biggest arguments against the left in NZ is that they fight amongst themselves constantly, and therefore are not capable of governing the country. The constant criticism of Labour here over the last few months, feeds directly into that view. And yes, I know this not a Labour blog, that is really not the point.

And as a reader for many years, I am sure this has been a relatively recent change. In the past, I have come to this blog to read a practical opposition to the government from a practical left wing perspective. Of late, it seems to be more often a fanciful view of what politics could be if everyone behaved in a way that is so far from practical reality.

I am so disappointed that this blog has turned this way over the last few months. What we need now, is strong support for a change in government at the next elections. And no, that doesn’t mean no criticism of Labour. But the reality is, like it or not, Labour doing well in the upcoming election is crucial for a change in government.

There is discussion on that, mainly from Weka, who continues here:

.weka 10

Violet, from here https://thestandard.org.nz/kaupapa-pakeha/#comment-1302361

A couple of points. One is that the Labour-bashing was going on for most of last year. I spoke against it quite a few times. I’ve even written a post about that that I haven’t published yet. It’s been delayed because of the US election mess here last year, and then more recently because of all the hooha over WJ (I had it loaded and just about ready to go). So whatever changes have happened in the past few months that you are seeing, Labour-bashing is not new here.

A large part of that was the fact that an author and prolific commenter had a lot of leeway here last year to Labour-bash. He’s not here now as an author and hasn’t been here as a commenter for much of the past few months either.

I”ve just had a look through the posts tagged Labour, and apart from the Kaupapa Pākehā one and the Poto Williams one, there aren’t really any ones that are that critical of Labour. Back in early Dec there were some but they weren’t critical of Labour so much as responding to criticism.

I”m not saying your perceptions are wrong, but that unless you can be specific they’re not that helpful in understanding what you mean or looking at what needs to change. I really like it when people talk about what works here and what doesn’t, so have it. I’d just ask that you give examples so we can know what you are referring to.

Long time commenter Anne:

Anne11

I am so disappointed that this blog has turned this way over the last few months. What we need now, is strong support for a change in government at the next elections. And no, that doesn’t mean no criticism of Labour. But the reality is, like it or not, Labour doing well in the upcoming election is crucial for a change in government.

My sentiments too Violet. Thank-you for expressing them so well. I have yet to figure out what exactly has happened to TS over the past few months, but there is a sense of intolerance and a lack of respect towards points of view that don’t always fit nicely with what the majority are saying on this site. I say that with some reservation because it only applies to a relatively few number of commenters who happen to be more prolific contributors, and by no means are all of them are at fault. However if it continues, it will start to turn people off coming here.

[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.]

Weka herself posted several comments that were “off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in”. This double standard is effectively a warning to be careful what ones says, and where they say it.

Moderating is a difficult and thankless task. Every site has a right to do things as they want to. There’s no doubt that Weka’s interventions are having a marked effect at The Standard, for better and worse.

I’ve always had differences with the Standard on their moderation, but the bans and the need to tip toe knowing a moderator is hovering changes the nature and the value of discussions. It looks like this will become more of a thing as election year progresses.

Colonial Viper has been a Labour candidate (Clutha-Southland, 2011) and has since clashed in the party (in particular with Claire Curran in Dunedin South). He added a lot to The Standard (not to everyone’s liking) so his absence makes a difference.

The biggest difference is that even Labour supporters and members are now not necessarily safe to comment as they please there. Or at all. Earlier this week:

trpthestandard

So TRP can author posts but not comment on them?

That continued with CV joining in, click on this to see the thread:

 

Something missing here

‘Mickysavage’ has an odd post at The Standard: John Key – Mr 2%

One of the more interesting aspects of last night’s Colmar Brunton poll was the decline of support for John Key as preferred Prime Minister to 2%.  Jacinda Ardern is polling at twice that level.

Support for Bill English has surged.  But National strategists should be worried about this.  English is no Key.  In real life he is rather non descript and not very exciting.  He will not dominate the media in the way that John Key has.

I didn’t even think about what Key might have got because he has stepped down as Prime Minister and will be leaving Parliament soon. Why would even 2% who voted for him as ‘preferred Prime Minister’ when he prefers to be out of politics?

But there are not one but two interesting omissions from the post – Andrew Little and Winston Peters.

As nondescript and unexciting as Bill English may be he went from 0% in the last two polls up to 31%, most of what Key got in the last poll.

And Little dropped from 8% to 7%, with Peters staying on 8%.

While Labourites may be relishing the chance, at last, to savage Key on a poll result it is of no consequence.

How Andrew Little shapes up against Bill English will largely determine the outcome of this year’s election.

I asked an ex-pat Kiwi in Australia last week (someone who keeps an eye on news here and votes in NZ elections) what they thought of Andrew Little. They hadn’t heard if him.

There’s not just something missing from the poll post at The Standard, there is something missing from Labour.

On promoting and excusing political violence

Kevin posted this comment: “Usually I’m just taking the mickey with these things but in this case there’s serious underling themes of what is violence, is it ever justified and when, etc, so could make a good thread. And to be honest I find the thread a little bit on the scary side.”

Referring to this post be ‘weka’ at The Standard: Punching Nazis, and practicing resistance

I’ve been sitting for a few days trying to figure out what I think about punching Nazis and applauding punching Nazis, as a form of resistance. The act spoke for itself in obvious ways, and yet the glee with which the anti-fascists danced around the internet putting the video to song left me discomforted, as did the inevitable stand-off between liberals and radicals about what’s ok.

In comments Marty Mars:

If you don’t punch them they think they are allowed to do what they want including punching others.

because of all that I say punch a nazi every time

Weka:

I agree with much of that, and I can’t say I have too much of a problem with the original punch.

That some people accept, excuse  and promote physical violence against people with different political views is a concern in the New Zealand context.

McFlock:

I tend to follow the rule of thumb that sometimes, some people need to be punched – but it is never a good thing.

This is why I try to avoid socialising with tories: they might be all amiable and good company, then they tend to say or do something that makes my fists itch.

Nazis are easy to justify punching, like paedophiles. I won’t be overly sad if Rolf Harris gets thumped in prison, for example.

The trouble is that if you don’t have a pretty firm line about where and when and on whom thumping is justifiable, you end up on a slippery slope.

The interesting argument is the dividing line between “someone who disagrees with you politically” and “oh hell, no, thump that guy”. In the case of nazis it’s important to not normalise their existence. So yeah, disrupt their interviews. If that doesn’t work, hit them. And the more political power they gain despite those actions, escalate it again. Because as they’ve shown, as soon as they get a legitimate toehold they’ll expand their campaign of hate.

Yes, that’s me advocating intolerance to the point of violence. The difference is that I’m intolerant to nazi-style organisations, because they’re intolerant of every other group in society. Not one or two groups that are particularly vile, everyone. That’s pretty much what makes them nazis. They glory in violence against inferiors, and see themselves as superior to everyone else (well, overcompensate much, anyway).

Weka:

Spot on McFlock. I love it when someone else does all the thinking and then encapsulates it so I don’t have to. Thanks for that 😎

I would probably separate out paedophiles from Nazis, although that’s a different conversation I think.

But as McFlock pointed out, if you start trying to decide which political views or social behaviour esxcuses violence or not it becomes a slippery slope.

Phil makes an important point:

My concern with this matter is a little more practical: what is the measurement standard for determining if one is or is not a Nazi?

Someone like Richard Spencer, with his truly vile and hateful views of race and ethnicity, would seem to exceed any reasonable metric of judging Nazi-ness and my initial gut reaction is that he deserves to be punched, repeatedly.

But, each of us is going to have a different standard for measuring Nazi-ness. Your own post hints at it by linking John Key and proto-facist. I’ve seen plenty of people on here, and other blogs, suggest everyone from John Key and Helen Clark, to George Bush and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Tony Blair and Nigel Farage are Nazi’s.

I have serious concerns that some deluded individual is going to think “I think Politician X is a Nazi, therefore it’s acceptable for me to punch, or shoot, or kill them” and that’s not a political opposition/resistance we should be encouraging in any way at all.

And then in comes Sanctuary:

Waaaaaaayyyy to much over-analysis going on here. The neo-fascist got clocked on camera. Good job.

And:

Jesus, what a bunch of namby pambies! You all sound like the giddy heights of resistance for you is pointedly refusing a second biscuit from a conservative vicar.

Now look here. Right wing violence in the form of cruel infliction of poverty or the humiliation of having to grovel for a dime happens all the time. These right wing neo-fascist types are not playing at politics, unlike the completely useless bunch of pearl clutching pacifists here. Those assholes wouldn’t think twice about stomach punching your granny, or slashing her pension to nothing. I would happily scone any one of them on the noggin with a baseball bat. Assholes deserve it.

Weka responded:

What are you on about? There’s 2 people in this thread who I would consider leftish, that have said it’s wrong to punch people, and 3 RWers. Everyone else is saying there’s a context and are talking about that. Hardly a bunch of namby pamby pacifists. I wonder if you are bothering to even read what people write, or the pos, let alone think about it.

Her response is a bit bizarre, and notably doesn’t oppose the violent suggestions.

I guess it’s ok to raise discussions about whether political violence is acceptable or ever justifiable, but I would have liked to see condemnation of it from a blog moderator who warns and bans people for very trivial things.

I find  labeling people left or right or Nazi or fascist in the context of making reasons and excuses for violence, especially in a politically benign New Zealand context, more than a bit disturbing.

Violence on political or religious or ethnic or just about any grounds, especially initiating it, should simply be condemned.

Blogger of the year

Political blogs in New Zealand serve as a useful enough niche in discussions on democratic matters but are waning in influence and newsworthiness.This is largely due to the growing dominance of Facebook as a forum for just about everything, but is also an effect of ‘Dirty Politics’ on the two largest blogs.

Twitter has it’s uses in monitoring news, and views of the news writers, but as a forum it is also diminishing in importance. It has been tainted by misguided and often bitter social crusaders with too much bashing of anyone with different views.

Kiwiblog still chugs along as one of the biggest and most worthwhile blogs to watch. David Farrar was rocked by ‘Dirty Politics’ but kept going and is still a knowledgeable and very well informed political commentator. He is trashed by some on the left because he is closely associated with National but gives some good insights into the Government without being a yes man, he is prepared to criticise his own side and praise opponents albeit with an obvious preference overall.

Amongst the daily noise there are some good comments and a number of commenters are worth watching out for.

The Standard has had a difficult year, with internal divisions causing more than a few problems, and a couple of long serving and prominent authors/commenters being banned over differences. While it there are still strong Labour connections there is a growing influence – often negative – of Green supporters, active in effectively censoring The Standard by shutting out and driving away views and people deemed unwelcome.

There are some commenters worth watching out for but there is a lot of repeat bleating and unrealistic idealism.

The Daily Blog has waned. A lot of effort and resource went into Waatea Fifth Estate which was designed as a great alternative to the struggling traditional media, but failed to get repeat funding for next year -it was interesting at times but didn’t build an audience. Some posts are good but the messy site design and too many rants and ridiculously slanted assertions from Martyn Bradbury detract from overall credibility.

Commenters have been heavily filtered since the beginning a The Daily Blog, with Bradbury’s  lack of confidence in his arguments resulting in him protecting them from examination, so the comments threads are rarely of much value.

Whale Oil is still the biggest blog stats-wise, mainly due to having by far the most daily posts (25 yesterday), by many of these are fillers and click bait. Slater sometimes has some fresh and breaking content but not much these days, and tends to bang on about a few topics repeatedly. Insider sources have diminished markedly. He also now relies a lot on other media content, ironically heavily criticising that same media for being past it and irrelevant.

The commenting community is still very active despite major purges in 2014 in particular but you have search for good content, which can be tedious with the often very slow Discus system.

On blog comments – while Whale Oil keeps conquering the click stats their number of comments gives a better idea of comparative interest, with most posts getting few if any comments. There are often as many comments per day at Kiwiblog, and The Standard usually isn’t far off in comment numbers either (but not the last few days).

Public Address sometimes has some very good posts – Legal Beagle is always worth looking out for and  Russell Brown’s posts on drugs are worthwhile – but they are barely daily so it’s more of a magazine style blog. Comment numbers are spasmodic.

The Pundit is still there but only has the occasional post. Andrew Geddis is always worth checking out but otherwise, from a 16 strong line up of authors there isn’t much content, with only 9 posts this month.

No Right Turn is worth keeping an eye on but with no commenting allowed it lacks community and variety.

Blogger of the Year

For me there has been a stand out political blogger in New Zealand this year – Danyl at Dim-Post.

Dim-Post evolved from a semi-satirical site with an interest in literature into political activism to an extent in 2015. Danyl helped James Shaw in his campaign to take over Russel Norman’s co-leadership of the Green Party, and became a part of the Green campaign committee.

But this year, especially in the second half, Danyl has done something unusual for a political blogger – he has been prepared to examine his own political views and critique his own side, the left, with some very good insights and challenges. He has also been prepared to look across the political spectrum and mix criticism with praise and acknowledge positives with the current Government.

It’s rarely refreshing to see someone involved in politics prepared to break out of the bubble and look at the bigger pictures, even when they are not painting what they prefer to see.

Comments are also often worth skimming through as there are some good contributions there.

For a sort of a lefty Danyl is notably different to the idealists with entrenched views and no tolerance for alternative views.

Some of Danyl’s thought provoking recent posts – if you have spare time over the holidays it could be interesting to revisit these posts and comments.

I think Key’s tendency to blow with the wind has more to do with political expediency than intellectual honesty, and I said so. But I agree that the ability to change your mind is an important trait, and since then I’ve been trying to think of recent instances in which I’ve changed my mind on political issues, and I couldn’t really think of any, which worried me a bit.

I guess I know what twitter and all of the Green and Labour Party MPs have been talking about today. This poll conducted by a Feminist charity in the UK is a pretty typical example of the various surveys about public attitudes to feminism (I’m not aware of any similar work in NZ). Most people will say they believe in gender equality but very few people will self-describe themselves as feminist.

I’m not a fancy media strategist etc but when you’re twenty points behind in the polls and there’s a huge, unpredicted political change, probably not that smart to go around saying ‘nothing has changed.’

One of Key’s strengths was an apparent indifference towards his government’s policy agenda. There were no bottom lines, no hills to die on. With the exception of major natural and financial disasters, everything else in the country was pretty much fine as it was but could be changed, preferably slightly, if the public mood seemed to call for it. ‘We think we’ve got the mix about right,’ was Key’s first response to any problem. It gave him enormous flexibility, and he’s leaving his office with popularity and political capital unmatched by any other Prime Minister.

A series on Marxism:

The Standard has one of those ‘Maybe Marx was right‘ posts you see a lot on the left nowadays, linking to a column in the Guardian suggesting the same thing. Reading the Trotsky biography I’ve mentioned on here before has lead me to a lot of secondary reading about Marx and Marxism, and my half-informed take is that Marx was right about some things but very wrong about other, very major things, and his total wrongness on those major things hasn’t yet sunk in for the radical left, which is a source of a lot of their failure and irrelevance. I want to talk about one of the wrong things.

One of Marx’s big ideas was that history operates according to scientific laws. This was a much more sophisticated way to think about history than people back then were used to. A lot of intellectuals thought that history was shaped by a ‘world spirit’, viz Hegel. Most normal people – In Europe, at least – thought the Judeo-Christian God made everything happen. Most historians thought that ‘great men’ shaped history. The idea that technological and economic change and other materialist factors drove history was, well, revolutionary.

Yesterday a few people asked me why on earth I wrote a long confused rant about Marxism. Like, what does that even have to do with anything that’s happening in the real world? Possibly nothing, increasingly so, but I think it’s relevant to some of what’s happening on the left. The post is a culmination of stuff I’ve been thinking about for a while.

When I wrote my screed about Marxism one of my fears was that Scott Hamilton would show up and tear it to pieces. Happily he has not done this, instead he directed me to this post he wrote a few months ago also critiquing the base-superstructure model.

Giovanni Tiso has written a post about Why he is a Marxist.

I like forums that challenge norms, that provoke thought and encourage discussion. It’s lacking in the big blogs. I think that Danyl has done this better than anyone this year.

Clark on RM poll

The December Roy Morgan poll had National down 4.5to 45%, and Labour up 5.5 to 28%. These weren’t out of the ordinary movements but were predictably heralded by left wing blogs.

The Daily Blog: LATEST POLL SHOCK: National plummet to 45% Labour-Green jump to 43%

National have suffered a shock drop of 4.5% and Labour-Greens have jumped up 5.5% in the latest Roy Morgan Poll…

Typical exaggeration from Martyn Bradbury. It would be more shocking if RM polls stayed consistent.

The question as to whether or not National would retain its popularity post Key looks like it is getting answered.

That question hasn’t been answered at all by this poll.

The Standard: Nats take a plunge on the Roy Morgan roundabout

The erratic Roy Morgan poll has swung around again, Nats down 4.5% to 45% and Labour/ Greens up up 5.5% to 43%. Worryingly for the B-team, government confidence fell a “whopping” 10 points.

Less over the top but it was hardly a plunge, given that National was 42.5% in April,  43% in May and 41.5% in September (and swung to 48% in October and 49.5% in November).

This sort of over-excitement is  to be expected from them, just as silence from them is the norm if polls move against them.

But Labour MP David Clark posted this on Facebook:

It has been an unusual political year. I wonder how much conflict within National’s ranks will cost them in next year’s election? Events like the frightened withdrawal in Mt Albert, the challenge to Todd Barclay, Jonathan Coleman’s unquenched ambition, and English’s early missteps in getting rid of broadcasting and housing portfolios – may have contributed to the sharp drop in the first public poll. Or is it just that people everywhere have decided it is time for a change?

Is Clark just trying to spin a line to his fan club or does he actually believe any of this?

The RM polling was actually being done (November 28-December 11) during the period that John Key resigned, Bill English was chosen as Prime Minister. English appointed his ministers and advised National wouldn’t stand a candidate in Mt Albert until after the polling period had finished.

Relative to normal poll fluctuations it wasn’t a ‘sharp drop’. The RM movements for National this year have been:

+1.5, -2.5, -3.5, +3, -2.5, +10, -7, -4.5, +6.5, +1.5, -4.5

National’s RM average over the year is 46.3%, well within the margin of error, so they haven’t finished far off that.

I hope Clark was just spinning a line. Otherwise his ignorance is alarming.

And also quite sad is Clark, The Standard and Bradbury seeming to accept Labour closing the year on 28.5% without concern.

Labour have only twice this year topped this, with 29.5% in May and 33.5% in September. For the rest of the year they have received 27.5, 27, 28, 26, 28, 25.5, 26.5, 23.

Labour have averaged 27.4% over the year and have closed just above that, which is similar to where they were leading into the 2014 election where they dropped to their lowest result for a long time at 25.13%

It will take several polls in the new year (and more than just the swinging Roy Morgan) to get a reasonable idea how party support is going  are doing under English’s leadership.

To look like a strong lead party Labour really need to get up to 35-40% at least by next year’s election, otherwise at best they will have to share power with Greens and probably New Zealand First.

Labour and “Denial in Politics”

Should Labour switch from ‘Key is crap’ to ‘better than ‘Bill’?

Mike Smith has a post at The Standard on ‘Denial in Politics’ – it begins with a focus on the Democrats in the US and Trump’s success, then turns to New Zealand:

Denial in politics can take a variety of forms. When you are in the middle of a campaign that is not going well, it is all too easy to construct and cling to an unrealistic path to victory, and even more importantly to underestimate the strengths of your opponent.

Labour did this in 2008; we built a  negative campaign around attacking John Key that was a mistake and did not work. As Bryan Gould has recently noted, we underestimated him to our cost.

Labour’s campaign style is still excessively negative, and not yet clearly focused. Now that Key has gone, it will be crucial that Labour does not underestimate Bill English.

Interesting from an ex Labour general secretary. Smith only occasionally posts at The Standard, and when he does there usually appears to be a specific party-related purpose.

He has many different and arguably more admirable characteristics than his predecessor. Nobody’s fool, he has been tested in the fire and not found wanting for some time now.

A reasonable assessment. English has flown mostly under the radar for years, and has surprised many now he has emerged from John Key’s shadow. He sounded like a well informed experienced Prime Minister as soon as he took over.

He does have some vulnerabilities with all his eggs in the so-called “social investment” basket, but they will need careful research and even more careful communication to be effective.

It’s unclear who Smith is directing that at.

It could be interpreted as support of English’s ‘social investment’ approach.

Or it could be suggesting careful research to Labour, advice they could do with heeding given their performance over the last eight years.

But certainly Labour should take note of “Labour’s campaign style is still excessively negative” – that continues to turn off voters and fails to present them as a viable alternative.

Social investment could be something that Labour embraces and supports in principle, but perhaps suggesting some different approaches and policy detail.

‘Better than Bill’ would be a hard idea to sell, but it would improve on their ‘Key is crap’ futility.

But on recent history it’s more likely Labour’s negativity will dominate their strategy.

Rachinger pleads guilty

Ben Rachinger was due to start a scheduled five day trial today in the Slater/Standard hacking case, but has instead entered a guilty plea.

Stuff: Former Whale Oil associate Ben Rachinger admits deception charge

Benjamin Rachinger, 28, appeared in the Manukau District Court on Monday for what was supposed to be his judge-alone trial on a charge of obtaining money from Slater.

Instead Rachinger pleaded guilty to the charge and a sentencing date was set for March next year.

Earlier this year Slater completed diversion after admitting he hired Rachinger, an IT worker, to break into The Standard blog site.

No hack actually took place.

The charges against the pair came after Rachinger made public claims in January 2015 that he had been paid to hack The Standard, sparking a police investigation.

The sentencing will be interesting. Rachinger had claimed he had been also acting as a police informant. Slater was controversially granted diversion for the part he played in this despite previous convictions.

Lynn Prentice has posted on this prior to the guilty plea: Whaleoil and Rachinger – the final chapter starts

UPDATE:More details from Newshub: Slater-hired hacker pleads guilty to fraud (it wasn’t fraud, it was ‘obtaining be deception’).

IT consultant Ben Rachinger, 28, was hired by Mr Slater to hack into left-wing website The Standard, with the aim of embarrassing the Labour Party.

Mr Rachinger was paid $1000 by Mr Slater, but never carried out the hack they discussed. Instead he blew the whistle to TV3’s The Nation, telling the programme he was asked by Mr Slater to figure out who The Standard’s contributors were and record their IP and email addresses.

Police alleged Mr Rachinger never intended to follow through with the promise he made to Slater. He was charged with obtaining $1000 by deception for saying he could and would hack the site.

A summary of facts shows Mr Slater believed Labour politicians were writing for The Standard and posting their views anonymously online.

He offered Rachinger $5000 – paying him $1000 up front – believing the hack on The Standard’s servers would uncover evidence of links to Labour.

Mr Slater admitted his part in the plot and was discharged without conviction in May.

Mr Rachinger is also seeking a discharge without conviction, and told Newshub outside court he’s looking forward to the chance to put the matter behind him.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/slater-hired-hacker-pleads-guilty-to-fraud-2016121211

 

 

Standard negativity post-Key

John Key’s resignation is Labour’s best opportunity in eight years to turn things around and look like a better governing option.

But going by reactions at The Standard left wing negativity is entrenched.

It’s understandable that there will be some jubilation about Key’s exit from Government, but most of the reaction at The Standard has been an attack on Key and his legacy and his party.

They’re dancing on Key’s grave before he has checked into the political hospice.

Before Key’s announcement it Labour and Green and Mana had been on virtual life support at The Standard, with only an occasional beep from the heart monitor – there was some joy after the Mt Roskill by-election win on Saturday.

But come Monday, before Key’s announcement, he was the only post focus:

Since then the Standard posts have been:

Even their two Daily Review posts featured Key images.

Absolutely nothing on Labour, Greens and the door opened to their opportunities next year.

Ironically ex-Standard author Te Reo Putake, a Labour supporter and Andrew Littler promoter and fan, asked to post a positive Labour/Little/Opposition here – Key to the Kingdom. He has been banned from The Standard following a civil war.

Key’s resignation is the best gift to Little and Labour (and the Greens) for a decade.

But the Greens and especially Metiria Turei have put most of their efforts into criticising and attacking Key, when he is no longer a political threat. Winston and other NZ First MPs have attacked Key. This sort of negativity is reflected at The Standard.

National are vulnerable. The public will have an extra  look to see who they think can run Government competently.

And I see mostly see Opposition mud flying, still.It seems like a particularly stupid first impression post-Key to present to the public.

If opposition parties, and supporting online forums like The Standard, want to take advantage of National’s current vulnerability surely they can at least try to look better, rather than worse.

Is the left capable of being positive?

Debating Castro’s legacy

There have been contrasting responses to the news of the death of Fidel Castro. A hero who stood up to the US, or a brutal dictator? Both.

Wikipedia:

Castro is a controversial and divisive world figure.

He is decorated with various international awards, and his supporters laud him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary regime secured Cuba’s independence from American imperialism.

Conversely, critics view him as a totalitarian dictator whose administration oversaw multiple human-rights abuses, an exodus of more than one million Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country’s economy.

Through his actions and his writings he has significantly influenced the politics of various individuals and groups across the world.

In Browning can’t understand why Cuban exiles are celebrating Castro’s death David Farrar points out  a Facebook comment of Green MP Stefan Browning.

I’m saddened by the death of Fidel Castro. He represented so significantly the battle against the worst of the forces of capitalist greed and the tyranny of oppression by the USA industrial military complex. Cuba has problems but its achievements and humanitarian reach have been significant too, especially considering the blockades and measures against it. I was disappointed by this Stuff announcement that has so much about those celebrating Fidel’s passing, when millions will be mourning.

Fans of socialism have turned a blind eye to some appalling un-democratic, authoritarian and brutal leaders.

Farrar comments:

I’m saddened by the fact an MP who has never had to live under an authoritarian dictatorship praises it so much and can’t understand who the hundreds of thousands who actually lived under it despised it.

Castro imprisoned gays, killed political opponents, tortured prisoners, censored the Internet, banned trade unions, made strikes illegal etc etc. But because he was an enemey of the US, Browning thinks he was a great guy.

Browning is attracting huge negative feedback on his Facebook page for his tears of sadness at the death of an authoritarian dictator.

Even on the left there has been a very mixed reaction to Castro’s death.

The Standard: Fidel Castro has died

Cuba is a unique place with some weaknesses and problems but with other features that are outstanding.

RIP Fidel Castro.

That was under the authorship of ‘Notices and Features’ so someone chose not to put their own name to it. There was some support and also harsh criticism of Castro’s legacy.

Martyn Bradbury: Rest in Revolution Fidel Castro

2016 has been a shit year, and it continues to find ways to keep killing off all my heroes, this time 2016 has managed to wrestle life from the Godfather of the Revolution, Fidel Castro…

…and the World lost an idea that common people could join together and fight the forces of Capitalism with weapons if need be.

A revolutionary hero just turned up at the pearly gates demanding a meeting with the workers – Rest in Revolution Fidel.

That must be the workers Castro didn’t torture or murder. It’s odd that Bradbury should suggest castro has arrived at the ‘pearly gates’ when thought that religious beliefs were backward and viewed the Roman Catholic church as ” a reactionary, pro-capitalist institution” (however Castro ended up organising a visit to Cuba by the Pope in 1998).

Is a Castro type revolution what Bradbury keeps trying to talk up for New Zealand?

Comments at The Daily Blog were also a mix of praise and condemnation.

 

 

 

CV’s ideal Labour

Colonial Viper has been under fire at The Standard lately because he is prepared to challenge the Labour status quo, and  establishment Labour activists don’t like their boat being rocked. CV has had his author rights removed and there have been a number of calls to shut him up at The Standard altogether.

CV is a past Labour candidate (2011 in Clutha/Southland), and as a party member has clashed with Clare Curran in Dunedin South.

His disillusionment with the current version of Labour is obvious.

Last night he summarised his ideals:

I’ll support Labour 100% and Andrew Little 100% if he:

1) States that it is time to turn NZ away from free market neoliberalism and apologises for the role the 4th Labour Government played in wrecking the country.

2) Says that there will be a total clear out of the no-hopers out of caucus, Labour Parliamentary staff and consultants who have led Labour to electoral losses over and over and over again.

3) Commits to transitioning the nation to a livable UBI and/or living minimum wage within Labour’s first term in government.

Give me a call when it happens.

It is actually common to see those ideals expressed by current and ex Labour supporters, although not usually together like this.

This is a similar sort of leaning to Jeremy Corbyn’s UK Labour, and to Bernie Sanders’ preferred style for US Democrats.

I see one big problem with this in New Zealand. If Andrew Little and Labour took this path they would only be representing a part of Labour, and that would struggle to be a half of the party.

The CV type Labourites want to ditch their centre and focus to the left. Another comment at The Standard yesterday, swordfish on ex Labour member Nick Leggett’s possible move to National:

Yep, absolutely a Blairite. Along with his good chum, Phil Quin, Leggett’s a core member of the extra-Parliamentary wing of the old ABC brigade, very close to Shearer, Goff and Shane Jones, has written for the on-line presence of the lavishly-funded Blairite ginger group, Progress, and so on. Utterly opposed to anything resembling true Social Democracy.

Some in Labour have been happy to see Jones, Goff and Leggett  leave the party, and want Shearer out too. They try to drive away any suggestion of centrism from their discussions.

But it’s more complicated than this. Colonial Viper has been labelled a Right Wing Nut Job because he has been challenging the Labour establishment.

Some in Labour seem to want to paper over the cracks, or chasms, and pretend they are a united major party.

Andrew Little seems to be caught in no person’s land. He has managed to dampen down public dissent in the Labour caucus, but not at The Standard – Little supporter Te Reo Putake was recently banned from The Standard in what looks like an uncivil war.

Little’s uncertainty and lack of confidence is hurting Labour, but so is the fractious bickering amongst the troops.

Can Labour continue as a single party? If they do and ditch their centre they are likely to continue to shrink.