There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech

First published on The Standard


Kia ora! There have been some terrific posts here at TS on the cancelled Canadian crypto fascists’ speaking tour. I also have some thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, there is no such thing as ‘free speech’. Secondly,  Chris Trotter is the very definition of a ‘useful idiot’.

This week, the self identified “left leaning commentator” was the poster boy for NZ’s Alt Reich, claiming that stopping neo Nazis from spreading hate was A Very Bad Thing.

“We accept the case for blocking genuine hate speech, such as incitements of violence or other illegal activity. But curbing free debate under threat of disruption is neither desirable nor acceptable in a free and democratic society. Truth is not afraid of trigger-words. Truth does not need a safe space. Truth is not a snowflake. Truth can take the heat and most certainly should not be forced to vacate the kitchen in the face of a couple of Alt-Right populists and a politically-correct Mayor.”

Note the use of the language of the oppressor. Trigger words, safe space, snowflake, politically correct. How daring to use the sneering memes of the Breitbart (de)generation. And who’s ‘we’, I hear you ask.

Well, Trotter’s Independent Traders include the following right wing hacks:

  • Dr. Michael Bassett
  • Dr. Don Brash
  • Stephen Franks
  • Lindsay Perigo
  • Jordan Williams

Fine company for a supposed lefty, if you don’t mind holding your nose!

Brash, of course, is a thoroughly obnoxious hypocrite, whose hatred of ‘free speech’ was best illustrated by his recent red faced racist tirade against te reo maori. The rest of the old white men listed above are also Actoids or worse. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the far right in NZ would want to press the flesh of the two Canadian ubermensches, however, it’s shameful and ignorant for the old white man Chris Trotter to fall for this blackshirted bollocks.

There never has been free speech. Even its artsy fartsy cousin, freedom of expression, is a mirage. Real freedom is not what you say, it’s how you live. And we do not live free lives. The world is not free from poverty, is not free from climate change, is not free from fear. Most importantly, we are not free of capitalism, which profits handsomely from our enslavement.

There never has been free speech and there never will be. What the supposed ‘Free Speech Coalition’ actually want is freedom from consequence. That’s the same attitude international capital takes towards climate change; sure we caused it, but cleaning it up is your problem, world.

Yeah, nah.  There is always consequence. Chat shit, get banged, as the footballing philosopher Jamie Vardy put it.

Lets be clear; fascism is not an intellectual exercise. It’s the epitome of evil, a cancer on humanity. My grandparents didn’t debate Nazis, they shot them.

Chris Trotter has got a new gig as a fluffer for fascism. Never forget that. Next time you read one of his pompous pieces in the paper or on a blog that should know better, remember that this is the guy who was happy to big up bigotry.


Bishop’s Head Pawn Push

National MP Chris Bishop has been using Snapchat to communicate with schoolgirls. Just let that sink in for a moment … a grown man in a position of power and authority trying to be down with the kids. It’s beyond sad, it’s downright creepy.

Perverts like Snapchat because its point of difference with other social media is that it is designed to be impermanent. No nasty traces of criminal behaviour left behind to be used as evidence in court.

So, is Chris Bishop a perve?

I don’t know, but I think we should be told.

Bishop should immediately release what copies he does have of the conversations, redacted to protect the identities of the young people. Let’s not call them victims yet, until we know the facts.

I look forward to reading the posts and comments on Whaleoil and Kiwiblog calling for Bishop to be sacked and prosecuted, as was the case with a young Labour MP accused of inappropriate behaviour a few years ago. Should I hold my breath?

The most curious aspect of this weird case of clearly inappropriate behaviour is that Bishop comes to Parliament via a career in drug dealing, just like disgraced Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay. What is it about the Tobacco/National/Disgrace sequence that top Tories can’t work out?

Let me make it simple for Bill English (or whoever is sharpening the knives): if you source your MP’s from the tobacco industry you are picking people with the morals and ethics of the lowest of the low. Don’t feign surprise when they turn out to be wrong ‘uns.

Bishop should explain himself or resign. Maybe both.

In chess, the Bishop is often strategically sacrificed. This might be National’s best move with the weirdo MP for Hutt South.





Manus; an ANZAC Solution

First published on The Daily Blog


The Australian humanitarian crisis cannot be ignored by New Zealand. Canberra seems completely paralysed and unable to understand the horror of the situation they have created at the Manus Island Detention facility in Papua New Guinea, let alone resolve the problem.

Partly, this is because of the entrenched racism of the conservative Turnbull Government and partly it’s because that awkward Liberal Party led coalition is on the verge of collapse, with its majority already gone and yet another MP about to be forced from Parliament because he’s unsure what country he’s from.

New Zealand has repeatedly offered to take 150 of the refugees stranded on Manus Island. The Aussies have refused, apparently because they are afraid NZ will grant the brutalised men citizenship and that will entitle the refugees to then move to Australia.

It’s worth remembering that these people are genuine referees, not economic migrants. They have every right to seek sanctuary. It’s Australia’s shame that they are being treated so poorly.

Australia has cut off power, water and food to the 600. They tell them to move to the tiny main town on Manus Island where they have no accommodation, no jobs and no welcome from the locals. It’s madness.

There is a Kiwi solution available though.

In the ANZAC spirit, we should help our Aussie cousins out. We’ve always been there to help them when they couldn’t help themselves and in their time of crisis we need to step up.

We should send the Navy to Manus.

The NZ Navy has ships more than capable of evacuating all 600 asylum seekers. The Wellington and the Otago are designed to cover this sort of work and have the ability to launch smaller vessels and helicopters to ferry the victims from the Island.

The larger frigates HMNZS Te Kaha and HMNZS Te Mana (ironically Aussie built and ANZAC class) could act as motherships further to sea.

We could be in and out in a couple of days and the evacuation is certain to be supported by the PNG Government and the Manus Island locals.

The next step is to grant citizenship to all 600 on the understanding that 450 will fly to Australia within days. After all, it’s Australia’s problem and Australia is where the issue should be resolved.

So, there’s the plan.

Swift, sensible and easily accomplished.

Let’s prove that the ANZAC spirit is not just something to saluted on Gallipoli Day commemorations.

Let’s save our Aussie cousins when they can’t save themselves.

Let’s send in the navy.


Catalonia; Why the Left Does not Support Puigdemont

First published on The Daily Blog


One of the less covered aspects of the nationalist struggle for Catalonian independence is the fact that the left, for the most part, does not support ousted President Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont leads a minority centre right Government that has been steadily losing popularity. His Junts pel Sí party is itself a coalition of factions from the far left to the Christian right. It is propped up by the CUP, a left nationalist party that is the smallest in the Catalan Parliament.

The government is legitimate; however, it is not popular on the left.

There are many reasons why the wider left does not currently support the wantaway republic.

Primarily, it’s because independence offers little to the working class. The move to leave is promoted mainly by the rich. They see profit in a new republic which would retain strong industrial and tourism revenues.

The working class of Catalonia is not overwhelmingly of Catalonian heritage. In the Franco years, Barcelona was flooded by ethnic Spanish workers seeking a better life. Generations on, Catalonia is as much Spanish as it is Catalan.

That’s an uncomfortable fact for some, however it is regularly reflected in polls on independence that almost always show the majority are happy with the current arrangement of autonomy within the wider Spanish state. Even the recent referendum, hobbled as it was by the Spanish state, only indicated support for the breakaway from a third of voters.

Nationalism, whether it’s from the left or the right, is always fraught with danger. For us on the left, we need to take a calm, reasoned view of events in Catalonia. The response of the Spanish state is not Francoism returned and Puigdemont is definitely not Lluis Companys.

Put simply, these are not revolutionary times in Catalonia.

A genuine independence may well come someday, in some form not yet known, however, it will only succeed if it takes all citizens with it.

We cannot trust the right to deliver real independence for Catalonia or anywhere else.


Talleys: A Curious Way to Quit

Talleys; A Curious Way to Quit

I was fascinated to read in the Daily Blog of the coercion being used at a Talley’s plant in the South Island to force meat workers into accepting an inferior pay deal. Those poor sods aren’t alone.

A couple of weeks ago the General Manger of the Talley’s owned AFFCO meat plants in the North Island quit his job. This was no ordinary resignation; I’m told no notice was given by Andy Leonard and he simply packed up and left. He’s only been in the job two years.

There are rumours in the industry that he had a blazing row with Andrew Talley, who runs the Talley’s group day to day, and after being told it was ‘my way or the highway’, chose the latter option.

According to the scuttlebutt, the argument was over the treatment of the workforce. Leonard supposedly didn’t like the brutality of the Talley’s industrial relations policy and was arguing that morale on the sites (and therefore productivity) was being damaged and the company’s ability to recruit skilled workers was similarly being adversely affected by Talley’s reputation for being shit employers.

Now, of course, this is just gossip and it may not be true. It could be that there are other reasons why a man in such a senior position should simply walk away from a job in this manner. But it is rather curious.

If it’s true, I understand it won’t be the first time a senior management figure has left abruptly. I’m told of one manager who spat the dummy over the treatment of staff and even of a lawyer who couldn’t stomach being asked to cross an ethical line.

OK, this is just tales being told in the meat industry. None of it may be true and, frankly, the Talley’s family probably don’t give a flying fig about burning off managers anyway. After all, they literally kill workers, so what’s a bruised suit or two?

So good luck to the workers at SPM in Canterbury. The other big plants in the region will be hiring for the new season soon. That means plenty of jobs where you will be respected, treated fairly and well paid. It couldn’t hurt to look up the Silver Fern Farms, Anzco and Alliance websites to check for vacancies, could it?

And if you’re staying at SPM, there’s a really simple answer for your problems; join the Meat Workers Union. Acting collectively is the best response to bullying.

And, Andy Leonard … mate, if you want to talk, get in touch. You owe the Talley family nothing.

The NZ National Party; A Fully Owned Subsidiary of the Talleys Group.

One of the lines from the first leaders debate that stood out for me was Bill English saying he’d been telling a group of meat workers that they would be taxed an extra thousand dollars by Labour.

Now that’s a porky in itself; the Nats are proposing that they cut tax for the average earner by $20 per week, which is not the same as his implication that Labour would raise income tax.

However, that’s not the interesting aspect for me.

English says he spoke to workers at AFFCO Horotiu.

That’s a Talleys Group plant.

The workers English talked to were locked out 5 years ago in a brutal attempt by the Talley family to starve them into accepting lower wages and conditions. The reality for these workers is that under National, they have lost income, rights and, importantly, certainty of employment.

Millions of dollars of wages were lost by those workers. That’s the reality that Bill English prefers to ignore.

One of the unusual features of working at a Talley’s owned meat plant is that the production workers often work under a regime of regular layoffs. They can be required to sign fresh employment contracts as often as four times year. If your face no longer fits, you don’t get offered a new contract.

I’ll be blunt; the Talleys Group are the cutting edge in worker exploitation. Their preferred employment regime appears to be keeping their workers in a constant state of fear. The contract rollovers mean there is no certainty of ongoing employment at all.

So, what’s the significance of Bill English’s remark?

I understand that National Party candidates have been invited to talk to workers at many AFFCO plants. Labour candidates … not so much!

The Talleys are desperate to see the Nat’s stay in power. If Labour bring in their proposed Industry Standards for pay and conditions, all players in the meat industry are going to have pay their workers fairly.

Clearly, that’s anathema to the Talleys family.

In a slaughterhouse, one of the more unpleasant tasks is controlling the dead beast’s fecal matter. I won’t upset delicate readers by describing the process, but I can tell you what is used is called an ‘anal bung’.

That’s also the phrase I like to use when talking about the huge amounts the Talleys donate to the Nats each election.

Bill English’s Anal Bung. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Oh, and because I’m an equal opportunities kinda guy, can I just remind everyone that it appears that the Talleys are funding Shane Jones in Whangarei. A vote for NZ First is also a vote to keep workers petrified and poor. Don’t do it. Vote to make NZ workplaces fair and fear free.

Shaw Thing

Now that the dust is settling on the Turei resignation, it might be time to have a dispassionate look at why she quit as leader of the Greens.

First up, Meteria didn’t resign to ‘protect her family’. If that had been a genuine concern, she wouldn’t have put them in the spotlight in the first place.

Secondly, she didn’t resign because of the shadow her admission of benefit fraud might cast over the Green’s election campaign. She left because she knew the damage had already been done.

Thirdly, James Shaw is likely to be equally responsible for the debacle. He hinted at that in an interview with Suzie Fergusson on Friday saying, “I take responsibility for my part in that”. 

He was talking in the wider context of campaign in general, but this was the first time he has linked himself to Turei’s downfall.

Why is that important?

If Shaw signed off on Meteria’s confession, he should resign too. It was terrible politics, not because of the issue that was raised -poverty on the benefit- but because Turei was not fully transparent. As John Campbell said, she told a story, just not her story. Shaw should have done due diligence and clearly, he didn’t.

However, he won’t resign, because he’s the only hope the Green Party now has of getting in the high single figures.

The Greens are going to have to settle for losing 5 or 6 MP’s and spending the next three years gazing wistfully down the corridor that leads to the Cabinet room and wondering what it’s like in there.

I hate to be cruel, but the Green Party have shown that they do not yet have the chops to have earned a cabinet posting. Maybe in three more years?

I’ve been following the debate around the resignation in the left wing social media with considerable interest. Most of the analysis has been woeful.

Here are some blunt facts:

The Greens are a middle class party, dependent entirely on the votes of petit bourgeois suburbanites.

Their voters may have a liberal conscience, but they are prone to tut tutting about their lessors. Key knew that. So did Muldoon.

Being caught out fibbing about her true circumstances means Meteria Turei has actually set back the cause of the poor in NZ. Her sense of entitlement has hurt the very people whose plight she wanted to champion.

And that’s the real shame of this mess.

We live with less Green MP’s, but can we live with ourselves if poverty, homelessness and alienation are written off as topics for discussion now and post-election?