Trump meets May

US president Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have met in Davos at the annual World Economic Forum.

BBC: President Trump predicts ‘tremendous increase’ in UK-US trade

In a series of warm exchanges in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump also told the UK PM: “We love your country.”

He also rejected “false rumours” of differences, saying that the two leaders “like each other a lot”.

The two leaders met in Davos, at the World Economic Forum, with post-Brexit trade relations between the two countries high on the agenda.

Mr Trump said: “One thing that will be taking place over a number of years will be trade. Trade is going to increase many times.

Typical exaggeration from Trump, although ‘increase many times’ is also typically vague.

“I look forward to that… the discussions… that will be taking place are going to lead to tremendous increases in trade between our two countries which is great for both in terms of jobs. We look forward to that and we are starting that process, pretty much as we speak.”

He added the US would be “there to fight for you – you know that” and the two were “joined at the hip when it comes to the military”.

Mrs May replied that the “really special relationship” between the UK and US continued and they stood “shoulder to shoulder because we are facing the same challenges across the world”.

“Alongside that working for a good trade relationship for the future which will be for both our benefits, so the UK and the US both do well out of this – and it’s been great to see you today.”

It will be interesting to see how trade works out between the US under Trump and the UK given Trump’s other moves on trade.

Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA (with Canada and Mexico) looks shaky, and the US has just slapped high tariffs on solar panels and washing machines – see Job creator, or job killer? Trump angers solar installers with panel tariff and US tariff on solar panels is ‘job destroyer,’ says Joseph Stiglitz

May and the UK have good cause to be wary of trade deals with Trump.

Facts on US embassy move in London

After cancelling a visit to London to open the  new US embassy Donald Trump said:

“Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”

Reuters looks at the facts in Was the sale of the U.S. embassy in London a ‘bad deal’ done for peanuts?

The old United States Embassy in London…

…was situated on a historic square in the exclusive Mayfair neighborhood, home to some of the city’s most valuable real estate.

The U.S. embassy has been based on the square since 1938 and the area was known as “Little America” during World War Two as General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military headquarters were housed on the square.

 

In 2008, when George W. Bush was president…

…the United States signed a conditional agreement to acquire a site for the construction of a new embassy in the Nine Elms area of Wandsworth, southwest London.

The new 12-storey building on the south bank of the river is at the heart of a huge regeneration project in a former industrial zone.

In 2009…

…the US embassy building in Mayfair was listed as a Grade II building including for “special architectural interest for the strongly-articulated design and dynamic facades, well-detailed stonework and consistency of detail.”

This would make it difficult to make certain alterations to the building and can reduce the value of properties.

Lydia Muniz, director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations at the State Department, told the New York Times in 2015 that renovating the building would have cost $730 million and still would not have provided state-of-the-art security.

In 2009, when Barack Obama was president…

…the United States agreed to sell its embassy in Mayfair to the Gulf investor Qatari Diar for an undisclosed sum to help fund a new embassy.

The embassy says the new building was funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other U.S. government properties in London, not through appropriated funds.

So the old embassy wasn’t sold ‘for peanuts’.

The move was planned while George W Bush was president.

Washington Post adds: ‘As usual, he’s dead wrong’: Former U.S. ambassadors explain London Embassy move after Trump criticism

“As usual, he’s dead wrong,” said former ambassador Louis Susman, who served under the Obama administration between 2009 and 2013. “He’s 100 percent wrong.”

“We didn’t have a choice,” Susman said. “We had to move.”

The decision to move the embassy came down to practical concerns, the most important of which was safety. After the al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, the State Department imposed new safety standards that required embassies to be set back 100 feet from any adjacent roads due to the risk of car bombs and other attacks.

For embassies that were in densely populated neighborhoods like Mayfair, that posed a major problem and often necessitated a move.

The Grosvenor Square building was a particular problem. Not only was it a listed building, meaning that any alterations to its structure required approval from the British government, it is also in a dense area full of residential buildings. There were often long lines outside the building, and neighbors began to complain about the threat to their homes.

Bob Tuttle, who was served as U.S. ambassador to Britain from 2005 to 2009, said that when he was prepping for his confirmation hearing, it became apparent to him the embassy would need to move.

“There were two narrow side streets by the embassy. They are very slim, and if someone came down there with a truck, a la the Oklahoma City bombing, it would not only blow up half the embassy and kill half the people in it but it would also kill half the people in nearby residences.”

Realizing the high value of the properties, Tuttle said a decision was made to sell the 999-year lease to the embassy building.

Though Trump blamed the Obama administration for the “bad deal,” much of the work was done by Tuttle — a political appointee under the Bush administration.

Tuttle would go on to take the lead in finding a new location for an embassy, eventually looking at 60 to 70 different possibilities, while his Obama-appointed predecessor Susman arranged most of construction of the new building

“I’m very proud of what we did, and I think we did the right thing,” Tuttle said.

And the ambassador appointed by Trump also supports the move.

ROBERT JOHNSON US Ambassador (Evening Standard):  Our Nine Elms US embassy is the most advanced we’ve ever built

I agree with President Trump that Grosvenor Square, in the heart of London, was a perfect location for our embassy. Security concerns after September 11 meant we had to move to a location that could better protect American citizens and our British neighbours.

On Tuesday we will open the doors of our brand-new embassy to the general public in Nine Elms, a site selected under a previous administration.

…the new embassy is not just bigger, it is better and capable of meeting the complex challenges of the 21st century and beyond. It is the most secure, hi-tech and environmentally friendly embassy that the United States has ever built.

That couldn’t have been achieved in the old embassy building.

Purchased and built from the sale of our London properties, the new embassy did not cost the US taxpayer a cent. Yet is one of the most advanced embassies we have ever built.

That’s not an accident. The United States is re-investing in the Special Relationship. President Trump has told me he views the UK as one of the closest friends and partners of the American people we serve. Our new embassy reflects not just America’s special history with the UK but the special future ahead of us as we advance the prosperity and security of both our nations.

But not special enough for Trump to attend the official opening.

A small youthquake? More of a Winstonwobble.

“Youthquake” became a sort of popular term in 2017, so much so that Oxford Dictionaries named it word of the year:

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is… youthquake.

The noun, youthquake, is defined as ‘a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’.

Why was ‘youthquake’ chosen?

The data collated by our editors shows a fivefold increase in usage of youthquake in 2017 compared to 2016, the word having first struck in a big way in June with the UK’s general election at its epicentre.

Thanks to the precedent established in the UK, in New Zealand use of youthquake to discuss young people’s engagement in politics was rapidly picked up by politicians and the press alike during the country’s general election. The word enjoyed increased and sustained usage both prior to and after the polling, setting youthquake firmly on its way to become a fixture of political discourse.

The use of ‘youthquake’ in New Zealand was fairly minor as far as I saw.

It was hyped a little during the election campaign, but once the numbers were analysed Election ‘youthquake’ a myth, figures show

While turnout for 18 to 24-year-olds on the electoral roll jumped from 62.7 percent to 69.3 percent, there were actually fewer in that age group enrolled to vote in 2017 than in 2014.

Combining the Electoral Commission’s data with population figures from Statistics NZshows only 47.6 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the 2017 election. In 2014, it was 47.4 percent – almost exactly the same.

It’s a similar story for 25 to 29-year-olds; while the Electoral Commission data suggests a 5.5 percent boost in turnout, if you include people who aren’t enrolled, turnout actually fell 1 percent.

‘Youthquake’ got a single mention in submissions, didn’t get any support, and didn’t make the cut of ten words in the Public Address Word of the Year 2017.

Nick Cater in The Australian: Words of 2017: charge your shoeys and toast our kidult runchers

Before bidding an indifferent farewell to 2017, let us ponder what is meant by “youth-quake”, the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year, and some of the other ­neologisms of the past 12 months.

A youth-quake, we are told, almost cost the Conservatives power in last year’s British general election when restless millennials voted for Jeremy Corbyn, an ageing muddle-headed mugwump, to borrow Boris Johnson’s sobriquet.

There was a small youth-quake in New Zealand in September, after which a 37-year-old woman with ostentatious teeth and a modest degree from the University of Waikato discovered she had become Prime Minister. No one knows how or why.

Despite the many words devoted to the topic, we await a convincing explanation of why the youth of today are quaking or what sort of world they want it to be when the ground settles.

The youth-quake generation’s causes are invariably “First World problems”, to use a phrase added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to describe “a minor annoyance experienced by people in relatively affluent circumstances”.

Most made up words, particularly involving politics, are usually attempts by journalists to concoct some claim to fame rather than being a popular term emerging from the masses. I don’t hear ordinary people going around talking about ‘youthquake’ or Jacindamania’ in normal conversation.

The ‘missing million’ is probably barely understood if known at all outside the circles of political obsessives.

‘Youthquake’ isn’t even a new term according to Oxford.

When was ‘youthquake’ coined?

In 1965, emerging from a post-war period of tumultuous change, Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue, declared the year of the youthquake.

In an editorial in the Vogue US January edition that year, she wrote: ‘The year’s in its youth, the youth in its year. … More dreamers. More doers. Here. Now. Youthquake 1965.’

That’s well before Ardern was born.

Vreeland coined youthquake – based on the pattern of ‘earthquake’ – to describe the youth-led fashion and music movement of the swinging sixties, which saw baby boomers reject the traditional values of their parents.

As in 2017, the UK was at the heart of the youthquake, with ‘the London Look’ of boutique street-style individualism taking the high fashion houses of Paris, Milan, and New York by storm to inform a new mass-produced, ready-to-wear fashion directive worldwide.

The use of ‘youthquake’ in New Zealand was just another lame attempt to liken the election here in September to prior elections in the US, Canada, France and the UK, all of which were in quite different circumstances to each other and New Zealand.

Here Winston Peters aspired to trouncing Labour and challenging National for top spot at one stage of the campaign, but NZ First got the wobbles and came close to dropping out of Parliament. He then went through the motions of choosing between blue jelly and red and green jelly. He ended up helping Labour jack up what may well be a wobbly coalition, thanks to some gelatinous positioning by the Greens.

So we had more of a Winstonwobble, and Winston’s core support is from an elderly demographic. There is little similarity between him and Sanders or Corbyn.

UK and EU in ‘Brexit’ breakthrough

Report of a breakthrough in talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union that will allow ‘Brexit’ to progress to the next stage.

BBC – Brexit: ‘Breakthrough’ deal paves way for future trade talks

PM Theresa May has struck a last-minute deal with the EU in a bid to move Brexit talks on to the next phase.

There will be no “hard border” with Ireland; and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be protected.

The so-called “divorce bill” will amount to between £35bn and £39bn, Downing Street says.

The European Commission president said it was a “breakthrough” and he was confident EU leaders will approve it.

They are due to meet next Thursday for a European Council summit and need to give their backing to the deal if the next phase of negotiations are to begin.

Talks can then move onto a transition deal to cover a period of up to two years after Brexit, and the “framework for the future relationship” – preliminary discussions about a future trade deal, although the EU says a deal can only be finalised once the UK has left the EU.

A final withdrawal treaty and transition deal will have to be ratified by the EU nations and the UK Parliament, before the UK leaves in March 2019.

But it is still not simple from here due to the precarious position of the May led Government.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose opposition on Monday led to talks breaking down, said there was still “more work to be done” on the border issue and how it votes on the final deal “will depend on its contents”. Mrs May depends on the party’s support to win key votes in Westminster.

What has been agreed?

  • Guarantee that there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic and that the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom” will be maintained.
  • EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa will have their rights to live, work and study protected. The agreement includes reunification rights for relatives who do not live in the UK to join them in their host country in the future
  • Financial settlement – No specific figure is in the document but Downing Street says it will be between £35bn and £39bn, including budget contributions during a two-year “transition” period after March 2019

Brexit: All you need to know

The cost is high:

A figure is not mentioned in the text of the agreement but Downing Street says it will be between £35bn and £39bn – higher than Theresa May indicated in September but lower than some estimates. It will be paid over four years and the precise figure is unlikely to be known for some time.

The prime minister said it would be “fair to the British taxpayer” and would mean the UK in future “will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS”.

So Brexit still has a difficult and potentially very expensive path to follow.

Facebook and the Brexit vote

Facebook is also under investigation in the UK to see how much Russian operatives might have interfered in the Brexit vote.

The Telegraph: MPs order Facebook to hand over evidence of Russian election meddling

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has demanded that the US internet giant release adverts and pages linked to Russia in the build up to last year’s EU referendum and June’s general election.

On Tuesday Damian Collins, the chairman of the committee, wrote to Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg asking for the company to hand over examples of adverts bought by Russian-linked accounts as well as details about how much they cost and how many people saw them.

The committee is currently investigating the influence of fake news, which critics say has thrived on Facebook in the last year amid politically-divisive votes in the US and across Europe.

“Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations,” Mr Collins wrote.

Facebook sparked a political storm in the US last month when it revealed that thousands of adverts were bought by Russians in the run-up to Trump’s election victory.

Under investigation from Congress it has handed over 3,000 adverts purchased over two years by the Internet Research Agency, a group linked to the Russian Government. Mr Collins said he was looking for similar evidence in the UK.

The US adverts, which also appeared on Instagram and were seen by 10 million people, focused on divisive topics such as race, immigration and gun rights, and were allegedly used to help propel Donald Trump to the White House. Mr Trump has attempted to play down the impact of the adverts, saying the amounts spent were “tiny” and claiming that Facebook was on Hillary Clinton’s side.

Mr Zuckerberg has said it “just wouldn’t be realistic” to stop all interference in election campaigns on Facebook, although the company has since vowed to manually review every advert targeting people by political affiliation or race.

The Internet has become a key component in the globalisation of dirty politics.

US-UK trade deal “very very quickly”

Donald Trump said that a very very big trade deal with the UK will be done very very quickly, but others are very very dubious.

“There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries. We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal – a very powerful deal, great for both countries – and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.”

“Prime Minister May and I have developed a very special relationship and I think trade will be a very big factor between our two countries.”

That sounds very very Trump but Theresa May was less certain.

May said she would not be sceptical about the Trump offer but remained “optimistic”.

Others were more sceptical. Thomas Bernes, who has dealt with the US in a major trade negotiation and is now a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation:

“I was involved in the Canada-US trade agreement and it was extremely complicated. No one will be interested in a trade deal until you know where the UK is vis-a-vis the European Union and until that point is reached you can have plenty of goodwill but it is nothing more than that.”

“I think it is political puffery. There will be no fast US-UK trade agreement.”

The Guardian Trump expects trade deal with UK to be completed ‘very, very quickly’:

Trump’s comments are unlikely to signal any confirmed trade deal being announced soon. The US president has consistently pledged to put American interests before those of any ally countries and a UK-US deal remains a long way from being agreed.

A senior Downing street official said no date was being announced for a visit by Trump, but added: “The invitation has been extended and will be set out in due course.” They suggested there were no plans for an imminent visit.

The official described a “very good atmosphere” in a 50-minute meeting, in which a “significant proportion” was dedicated to the trading relationship.

“They agreed to prioritise work so a deal will be ready as soon as possible after Britain leaves the EU. They pledged to examine areas now where the two countries can deepen their trade relations. The president made clear he believed the UK would thrive outside the EU,” he said.

The conversation did not go into any specific detail of what a trade agreement might look like, he added, but “was talking in broad terms about the determination to get a good deal for both countries”.

Maybe Trump will just very very quickly build a trade deal and insist that the UK pay for it.

 

13 point ultimatum for Qatar

Qatar has been issued with a 13 point ultimatum and has been given 10 days to comply as Saudi Arabia and their allies pile the pressure on top of the blockade.

Guardian:  Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades.

The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

Saudi Arabia and the other nations leading the blockade – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on the energy-rich country a fortnight ago, initially claiming the Qatari royal family had licensed the funding of terrorism across the Middle East for decades. Since then, the allies appear to be pushing for the isolation of Iran and the suppression of dissenting media in the region.

Ordering a shut down of Al Jazeera on it’s own should be of concern to Gezza, and anyone who values free press.

Qatar has become reliant on Turkey and Iran for food imports since the embargo was imposed on 5 June and insists with its huge wealth it can survive the embargo for an indefinite period.

Qatar is the richest country in the world per head of population.

In a sign that the UK does not regard the demands as reasonable, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday: “Gulf unity can only be restored when all countries involved are willing to discuss terms that are measured and realistic.

“The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of de-escalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region.”

Sounds sensible but ineffective.

US policy towards Qatar so far has been marked by confusion. President Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for the Saudi embargo and described Qatar as a haven for terrorism.

By contrast, the State Department under Rex Tillerson has twice upbraided Saudi Arabia’s approach to Qatar and questioned its true motives in sparking the diplomatic crisis.

In recent days the State Department has been pressing Saudi to specify the actions Qatar must take to see the embargo lifted, but warned that those demands need to be “reasonable and actionable”.

The US has a large military base in Qatar. It also has an unpredictable president.

The demands:

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10.  Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11.  Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
  12.  Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  13.  Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

I really don’t know much about how things work in the Middle East but that list seems highly hypocritical, and must be designed to be impossible to comply with because some of those demands are not just ridiculous, they would amount to Qatar being controlled by foreign dictat.

Cyber attack on UK Parliament

The Telegraph: Parliament hit by ‘sustained and determined’ cyber attack leaving MPs unable to access their emails remotely

Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack that has left MPs unable to access their emails if not in Westminster.

MPs were alerted to the hack on Friday night and have reported problems getting into their email accounts on Saturday.

The attack comes just days after reports that passwords of ministers were being flogged online after hacking groups managed to gain access.

An email sent by parliamentary authorities to those impacted by the incident described the attack as “determined”.

The email stated: “Earlier this morning we discovered unusual activity and evidence of an attempted cyber-attack on our computer network.

“Closer investigation by our team confirmed that hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords.

“These attempts specifically were trying to gain access to our emails.

“We have been working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to identify the method of the attack and have made changes to prevent the attackers gaining access, however our investigation continues.”

The war online continues.

So far there is no sign that New Zealand has been targeted. Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t care about what happens in our election, but there’s nearly three months to go until the election.

A UK rethink

While UK Labour are resurgent under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Conservatives are trying to manage a mess of their own making.

ODT editorial:  Political lessons not learned

British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding on to power with the slimmest of margins and, if predictions from her own MPs are to be believed, she is categorised as a “dead woman walking”.

Mrs May has literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by calling an early election, seeking a stronger mandate to trigger a hard exit from the European Union — Brexit.

Instead, she witnessed a resurgent Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a man previously so reviled in his own party he had to win two leadership challenges and watch as some of his MPs resigned before the election in the “secure knowledge” Labour was doomed.

The snap election was one of the biggest political misjudgements ever.

Mrs May had no need to call an early election; she was secure for another two or so years.

Already Mrs May has been forced to sack key advisers. One of her challengers, Michael Gove, has been reappointed to Cabinet and the other challenger Boris Johnson, instead of being sacked as expected, retains his Foreign Ministry role.

This is a complete shambles for a woman who staked so much on the result of an early election. Her power as Prime Minister and party leader has been eroded.

There are lessons in British political history of parties coming second in the Commons ending up forming a minority government.

The Tories based their election campaign on fear — fear of immigrants, fear of EU influence in the courts and, selfishly, fear of losing control. The electorate rejected the fear politics and looked for a new approach. There is no appetite for more austerity or a hard exit from the EU in Britain. A rethink has been forced by millions of voters.

May is remaining staunch. She has just told the Conservative caucus that she got them into their current mess and she will get them out of it.

But she has lost the confidence of many in her own party.

The final step will be another election later this year.

She has also lost the confidence of voters. If as many predict another election will be necessary soon May could make an even bigger misjudgement staying on as leader – it’s on the cards she would end up taking the Conservatives from a position of strength to a chaotic and embarrassing lost of power.

Comparing Corbyn with Little

Some Labour supporters in New Zealand have been encouraged and even excited by Jeremy Corbyn’s massive improvement in last week’s UK election.

UK Labour were polling 15-20% behind the conservatives a month out from the election, came a lot closer by election day (but still lost), and polls since put them ahead of the Conservatives.

NZ Labour will hope for a similar transformation, but it is being pointed out that:

  • The political situation on New Zealand is much different
  • UK Labour moved left while NZ Labour is trying to fight for the centre
  • Corbyn impressed with his authenticity and straight talking, while in contrast to his claims of being a straight talker Andrew Little has largely become a phrase reciter.

Bernie Sanders pushed Hillary Clinton for the US Democratic nomination last year with a similar straight forward left wing authenticity to Corbyn.

If Little wants to emulate them he needs to change his style substantially, but it looks like that would take a major change of approach by Little and his media managers.

From  NZ POLITICS DAILY: Corbyn’s success highlights NZ Labour’s inadequacies

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Read more: https://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/nz-politics-daily-corbyns-success-highlights-nz-labours-inadequacies
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According to Tracy Watkins, Labour are failing to emulate Mr Corbyn’s bold and authentic approach: “The Labour team seems to think this [staying on message approach] is the same as the Corbyn strategy, or for that matter the Bernie Sanders strategy, of running a campaign around a small number of big, bold ideas. But as May showed, there’s a big difference between big ideas and trite sound bites.

Little had the advantage of having little political baggage as a relatively new MP and being able to run on the anti-politician ticket but seems to be squandering it.”

Watkins seems unconvinced that Andrew Little is in any way like Mr Corbyn: “When Little has got into trouble lately it’s for dodging questions by sticking to patsy answers and one-liners rather than speaking to the heart of an issue.

This is not because Little lacks authenticity or doesn’t know the answers; it’s a deliberate strategy from the Labour team. Little has even explained it to me. It’s about staying on message apparently” – see: Expecting the unexpected the new situation normal.

I see two major problems with “staying on message”.

First, that’s the sort of politics that turns off voters and especially those who choose not to vote. There is a major left wing campaign to get out the non-voters, especially young voters. A similar campaign seems to have been successful in the UK, but Green and Union campaigns last election failed in New Zealand.

Second, trying to stay ‘on message’ is a major reason why Little sounds uncertain and fumbling – when interviewed he often pauses, seemingly to think what messages he should divert to rather than giving a straight forward answer.

And if NZ Labour want to emulate UK Labour they will have to change their direction from populist and centre seeking to being a genuine left wing party.

Edwards:

Andrew Little’s strategists have been very upfront about their desire to keep Labour in the centre of the political spectrum. Labour’s chief strategist, Rob Salmond, has blogged about this in the past, suggesting Mr Corbyn’s approach is an unpopular “hard left” one, and that elections are still won in the centre – see: In defence of the centre.

Gordon Campbell in On the lessons from Corbyn’s campaign.

Mr Corbyn’s relative success with getting young and alienated public to vote, highlights the inability of Labour here to mobilise the missing million: “Corbyn and his Labour team ran an inspirational campaign that did in seven weeks what the New Zealand Labour Party has talked about doing since 2011, but never remotely looked like accomplishing.

Andrew Little’s Labour team has been trying to outbid New Zealand First (eg on immigration and law’n’order) for the votes of the reactionary right.

Unlike Corbyn, the parliamentary centre left leadership here seems afraid to stand up in public for the agendas they profess (in private) to hold dear. It won’t end well.”

Whether moving left can be done now in New Zealand, it is getting late in the campaign game for a major shift.

Little and Labour may be able to do a Corbyn-like rise from the poll ashes, but they will have to rethink and refocus their efforts substantially. This in itself has it’s risks, it will be hard to claim authenticity after a major change.

But Little has to be himself, bold and become confident if he is to break out of his media managed mangle.