TRP Adviser 4 August 2017

TRP Adviser 4 August 2017

This week we learned many things.

Andrew Little is a gent, Bill English is going to be the first National Party leader to lose two elections and Mark Richardson is possibly the stupidest man in the media.

Andrew Little was always going to do it tough as leader of the Labour Party. He took over a caucus that was still a seething pit of factional infighting and a party that was organisationally down in the dumps. To his eternal credit, he whipped caucus into shape and retuned the party organisation.

What he couldn’t do was convince the public that he could offer something distinctly different from the Nats. So he did the honourable thing and stepped aside. That’s a mark of the man. Honest, self-effacing and loyal. Strangely, exactly the qualities that would make a good Prime Minister.

Bill English is – how can I put this nicely? – shitting himself. No National party leader has ever lost two elections. None have ever been given the chance.

In their world, success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. After leading the party to a 22% drubbing 15 years ago, English should never, ever have been re-adopted. And if the Nat’s brains trust (Joyce, S) wasn’t so full of himself, thinking the party could sleep walk to victory, he would have spotted the danger.

Too late now, Tories. Unless, of course, Bill swiftly does an Andrew Little and takes a long walk in the tundra so that Bennett or Bridges can take the reins.

Only seven weeks to go, Bill. If you’re gonna go, better make it quick.

So, it turns out Mark Richardson is numpty and a Neanderthal. Who’d have thunk it?

Richardson was notoriously slow running between the wickets. Turns out he’s equally slow between the ears.

He’s probably going to have to live with this half witted hetero hari kiri for the rest of his life. But hey, he’ll soon be making jokes about it and the men that run our sports media will happily slap him on the back for being a good bugger.

Apparently in NZ media management circles breaking your girlfriend’s back is entirely forgivable, so Richardson publicly wanting to send all women of child bearing age back to the 1950’s is probably grounds for a pay rise.

Sometimes I really do despair. But then I just look at a picture of Jacinda Ardern and break out into a beaming smile. As I’m sure all of you do.

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Thanks, Andrew

Thanks, Andrew

Thank you for winning the leadership. You had strong support from the party and the affiliates and you were the best candidate. We needed you to win.

Thank you for uniting caucus. For the most part, they did not vote for you to lead, but you swiftly won them round. We now have the least bickering, most focussed caucus since the Clark years.

Thank you for engaging with the members. You’ll be remembered for attending more branch and LEC meetings than any leader since the eighties. You asked questions, listened carefully to the answers and did your best to include the members’ views in policy making.

Thanks for not lying. It was your openness and honesty that bought you down, but it was refreshing all the same.

Thanks for going when you did. Resigning was the right thing to do and once again, you have put the party ahead of personal ambition.

Thanks for all you are going to do in the future. The next generation of Labour leaders are going to need a good mentor. There is much they can learn from you.

Thanks, Andrew. This will be a bitter disappointment; however you did what needed to be done. You gave Labour a fighting chance of leading the country again. Now it’s up to others to deliver the knockout blow. Not just the new leadership team, but all party members, all activists, all Kiwis who want a better way.

Thanks, Andrew, you did a good job. That you couldn’t see it through to the election day says more about the nature of the job than the nature of the man.

 

 

TRP Adviser 28 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

Boris Johnson is not a complete buffoon, the Greens may come to regret Metiria Turei’s confession and one man party Peter Dunne may be over and out in Ohariu.

The likely next leader of the UK Conservative party has been here for a brief visit. Boris Johnson managed to complete the trip without any major gaffes, though comparing a kiwi hongi to a Gorbals kiss might be considered offensive by some here and by some North of Hadrian’s wall.

The perceived wisdom in the UK is that Johnson is biding his time, waiting for the inevitable coup against Theresa May to begin and trusting that there will be a knock on the door as the hopeful party calls on him to lead at their time of need.

I’m not so sure.

Leading a Government that is going to limp along until the next election is an unenviable task. Whether that vote is called early or the Tory/DUP Government lasts the full term, whoever leads the Conservatives to the polls can expect to lose.

I think that if asked, Johnson will say ‘No, thanks’. It’s all too much like hard work and swanning around the world being witty with the locals is much more fun.

Metiria Turei’s confession to an easily understandable and perfectly forgivable benefit rort is still in the headlines, well past the usual news cycle of a day or two.

I reckon it marks the high tide in the Green’s polling. it’ll ne all down hill from here.

It won’t affect their die hard voters, but it will have an impact on waverers in the middle who might have been tempted to go green. If there is one thing about the New Zealand middle class that really stands out, it’s a broad streak of sanctimony.

They’ll forgive the likes of Key and English for their many, many rorts because that was just business. But a beneficiary who bends the rules to survive? To the workhouse with her!

I hear from usually reliable sources that Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu.

Labour have a near perfect candidate for the seat in former police union boss Greg O’Connor. Ohariu is a fairly conservative, middle of the road electorate and both Dunne and O’Connor fit that mold.

O’Connor has the advantage of being brand spanking new and earnestly keen. Too keen, in fact, having been snapped putting up election signs way too early.

That was an embarrassing start for the Labour candidate, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him in the electorate. I’m told he has built up a convincing polling lead over Dunne already.

And that’s why Bill English felt the need to publicly tout for Peter Dunne. No coy cup of tea, this time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

National know they are going to need every scrap of support they can get if they are to form the next Government without having to grovel to grumpy old uncle Winston.

Ohariu could be the seat that decides the very nature of the next Government.

 

TRP Adviser 21 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

The Greens are not 100% pure, the NZ Labour Party has woken from its slumbers and, sorry, Shane, NZ First is still a one man band.

Metiria Turei’s announcement that she bent the benefit rules was not in itself a particularly shocking revelation. I mean, who hasn’t indulged in some creative accounting, some under the table tax avoidance or some pilfered office supplies?

Paula Bennett, that’s who!

Yes, it turns out that the Sainted Paula led a life of bleak austerity and blind obedience while a beneficiary and it never so much as crossed her mind to forget a flatty or two, get into a relationship without applying for permission from WINZ or start her fledgling property portfolio without fudging the figures.

So those of you thinking that Turei’s mea culpa was actually aimed at embarrassing the Deputy Prime Minister a mere week after a Facebook poster was threatened with legal action for allegedly defaming her should be ashamed of yourselves. Ashamed I say!

The Labour Party has finally come up with a policy that genuinely challenges National. Pitching themselves as the party that will spend our tax dollars on health, education and families rather than tax cuts for the well-off is genius stuff.

Ok, it’s not Sanders or Corbyn level radicalism, but it makes it really simple for voters. If you care for your country, you’ll be voting Labour this election. If you are that self-centred that $20 off your top tier tax bill is more of a priority, then you’ll keep voting National as usual. You heartless bastard.

Well done Labour. More of this, please.

Welcome to NZ First, Shane Jones. Please take a seat at the back and stop talking. In fact, stop anything that resembles a sign of independent thought and just remember this is Winston’s Party and he’ll make up any damn policy he likes any time he likes.

Winston’s brain fart on holding a referendum on the maori seats has backfired beautifully. He’s had to back track on who might vote in the referendum, hinting that it might be just those on the maori roll who get to decide. Then flip flopping on that, because he belatedly realised that maori roll voters had already made up their mind.

Being on the maori roll is a conscious decision. Nobody already on that roll is going to vote to do away with the maori seats. Nobody.

Ok, Winston might gain a redneck vote or two by bashing maori, but he seems to have forgotten that he gets a fair few party votes from those seven seats. Maybe not so much now.

I guess he’ll still get the tick from Shane Jones, who is, ya know, actually on the maori roll. But the message to the newest Peters protégé is clear; you’re not even in my thoughts, big fulla.

 

First published at yournz.org

Better to be Hung for a Sheep as a Lamb

In the past week, the options have narrowed for Labour.

The Greens, through motormouth Metiria Turei, have ruled themselves out of the next Government. Labour’s tax proposals, while progressive, are too easily dismissed as complicated and paternalistic. The polls, while probably underestimating the left as usual, give no comfort.

The current Labour leadership are repeating the mistakes of David Cunliffe, who went in to his election with policies that were watered down and downright timid. The irony is that his predecessor, David Shearer, who was derided by many on the left, campaigned on a far more red tinted platform and did better than expected.

So, what should Labour do?

Tinker with tax? Hold their nerve and hope to muddle through? Keep putting out bland, meaningless slogans like “It’s Time for a Fresh Approach”?

Nope.

Labour need to be bold.

Andrew Little should dump the current campaign direction. He should be brave enough to say we’ve been too timid and put up an easily understood message instead.

It’s the UBI.

If Labour go into this campaign saying we’ll gut the benefit system, simplify taxes and give all New Zealanders a weekly minimum income equivalent to the current super payments, we’ll win handsomely.

Not because voters will instantly understand the UBI concept. Not because voters will suddenly unleash their dormant inner revolutionary. Not because it’s financially sensible.

Labour should do it because it plays to prejudices, and to back pockets.

There aren’t many middle class Kiwis who don’t look down on beneficiaries in some way or another. There aren’t many in the middle who wouldn’t fancy $400 a week. There aren’t many who wouldn’t abandon National if Labour gave them a simple reason to switch.

Sure, that message distorts what a UBI is really about, but so what?

It’s bold, it’s revolutionary and it’s better than meekly accepting defeat.

Do it, Andrew.

Win it with UBI.

Leave Paula Bennett Alone!

Like a lot of folk, I’ve had the allegations of youthful criminal behaviour by current Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett pop up in my facebook feed. They’re not entirely new and they do seem to confirm what many feel is her character (or, rather, lack of character).

As we know, Bennett bought property and gained an education as a solo mother. As a minister, she swiftly took away the rights of other beneficiaries to do the same. She is also a proven bully, perfectly willing to use the force of the state to cower the powerless.

In many ways, Paula Bennett is an awful person.

However, I have some sympathy for any beneficiary who broke the law in order to survive. NZ has enjoyed only around a decade where solo parents were shown any dignity or empathy. That period was from 1973, when the Domestic Purposes Benefit was enacted, to the mid-eighties, when the first faux ACT government was elected.

Since then, beneficiaries have again been reduced to social pariahs for whom we are supposed to have nothing but contempt. From mothers to others.

The allegations against Bennett come from someone whose social media output suggests is a confused, angry person with a tendency to right wing paranoia and misanthrope. That doesn’t mean the allegations are false, of course. But it does mean we should tread with caution before believing them.

Just because he believes them and we might want them to be true because it confirms our low opinion of Paula Bennett doesn’t mean they should be aired publicly, let alone be the subject of criminal prosecution.

If Bennett did break the law while struggling to hold her family together, I think that’s entirely forgivable. That she has learned nothing from her experience isn’t.

#CrookedBillary

Frankly, I don’t give a toss about what recreational pursuits Todd Barclay has indulged in over his time as a Parliamentarian. It’s no big deal.

It’s hardly a secret that generations of past MP’s drank themselves legless most sitting days. That was fine back in the day.

Rob Muldoon famously called a snap election while pissed as a parrot. One of his Cabinet Ministers claimed to have been assaulted while walking home from Parliament and the joke at the time was the Police were looking for three men: Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Johnny Walker.

These days, Parliament is a relatively sober workplace. MP’s are just as likely to be found in the gym as they are in Bellamy’s.

The issue is not whether Barclay was putting the high into Otago High Country or rooting like a Ranfurly rabbit.

The question is this: What did Bill English know?

If he knew about the drugs and sex allegations, why did he hide them? Why didn’t he get on the front foot and deal with Barclay as ruthlessly as his predecessor the Smiling Assassin John Key would have done?

Is the truth that rather than deal with an even trickier issue than the illegal tape recording, our PM bottled it and instead chose silence because of the potential damage in election year?

If he knew Barclay was committing crimes, even relatively harmless matters such as using recreational drugs, why did Bill English say nothing?

Could it be that English is not the deathly dull, upright Christian bore we’ve been led to believe?

Is it time for the hashtag #CrookedBillary?