Guest post: Is the NZ left on the blogosphere too effete?

Often we get comments that are worthy of posts in their own right. I’m upgrading Tom Semmens’ comment on my post on Chris Trotter’s return to the blogosphere, because I agree with the point he’s making, and because it’s important and original. Enjoy!

The reaction to Trotter has been fascinating. The right has reacted hysterically — but given the general paranoid style of the right blogsphere that is hardly a surprise. What has really been interesting has been the left-wing reaction.

To my eyes the comfortably middle-class left-wing toffs of places like Public Address, and the intellectually lofty norightturn or feminist sites have reacted with marked hostility to Trotter’s cloth cap realpolitik. Trotter himself remarked on NatRad that he thought the blogosphere to be a largely irrelevant place to lives of real working class New Zealanders, and at first blush you would have to agree with him. It seems to me that the blogosphere consists of about 10% of the population – the Chardonnay socialists and the ACToid bully boys. However, Trotter in those comments missed the importance of who is on which side of the digital divide when it comes to influencing opinion makers.

When the Labour Party looks at reasons for its defeat this year, the role of Limbaugh-like right-wing attack sites in setting the agenda of the debate has to addressed. It seems any cursory reading of the musing of political editors and op-ed writers in our major daily papers would indicate that they are no longer just interviewing their typewriters – they have web browsers and they often are regurgitating right-wing attack talking points. The use of Cameron Slater and David Farrar’s sites to launder sexual smears and whispering campaigns into the mass media is now documented. David Farrar has managed to use his blog as a launching point to pass himself off as an independent commentator in the wider media, and if the web stats are to be believed the sleazy Slater has one of the most read blogs in the land.

The general online “left-wing” response to all this has been tardy, and a lot of the leftists frankly come across as a lot of intellectually elitist pussies. A good example would be the over-intellectualising tosh served up by Deborah over at “in a strange land” that saw her end up voting for the Maori Party. Another would be the flaccid and half-hearted political energy this time round of Russell Brown over at Public Address.

The left — that is, the left that rolls up its sleeves and gets involved with real workers at trade union and party activist levels — has to develop a far more vigorous and street fighting response online to set the agenda of opinion makers, and that is why I think pseudo-left’s general nose holding reaction to Trotter’s aggressive and thematically cohesive writing is symptomatic of how and why the right came to dominate the op-ed agenda on the internet and onto the mass media.

[Note: the heading is mine.]



41 Responses to “Guest post: Is the NZ left on the blogosphere too effete?”

  1. barnsleybill Says:

    Chris Trotter is no more (or less) working class than me. The paranoid comment about some on the right may have some justification but certainly does not apply to me. I despise salaried socialists like trotter, people who espouse the vitriol and hate speech that he does but happily accepts the shilling from his enemies, is nothing more than a funfair side show, an oddity. He is basically the blogging equivalent of the county fair bearded lady who has no better grasp on what the working classes want than I do about quantum physics.

    His disgusting support (and the manner in which he has vocalised that support) for Helen Clark and the liars and thieves she led shows him to be the worst of the left-wing apologists.
    Corruption is okay if it is the left doing it.
    NZ has its own 9/11
    Disgusting racist attacks on Maori.
    And many many more..

    My contempt for Labour began when Helen Clark rewrote the birthing rules in this country. An event that touched my family with tragic consequences once and but for my belligerent intervention would have seen three tragedies.
    That alone would be enough for most people to carry a lifetime of hate but she has piled outrage on top of tragedy for 20 years in my life.
    I will never forgive and never forget.. Apologists for this woman need to wake the fuck up.

    BB, No-one was suggesting that you are paranoid. In fact, if you look at the US, it’s the left who are paranoid, but with good cause. My fear is that too many of the right here are taking their cues from the nutbar American right .. but then I may just be paranoid about that.

  2. Truth Seeker Says:

    Good lord. I best go look for my (green) cloth cap.

    I thought Trotter was pretty close to the mark…..though he used words I wouldn’t have chosen.

  3. ludditejourno Says:

    Like you, Jafapete, I accept agree with Tom Semmen’s main point, which I’m taking to be the right-wing blogs had an important influence on the political agenda this election.

    And I’ve also really enjoyed Chris Trotter’s writing and analysis from time to time.

    But those times get more and more infrequent for me – and it’s not because he’s some mythical leftie boy street-fighter – though I suspect that’s probably very much how he sees himself.

    The left in New Zealand, as in other places I’ve lived, spends as much time tearing itself apart as it does attacking right-wing agendas. There are huge commonalities of interest between feminist bloggers (like Deborah, dismissed so, in my mind, unfairly here), tino rangatiratanga activists like many Maori party supporters and members, and socialist/unionists.

    But some on the left still want the left agenda to be a left white male agenda – hence we still see “pussy” used as a term of abuse – what does that mean? Oh yeah, like a girl. And the Maori Party? Kupapa if they choose to co-operate with one kind of colonial settler government…but not if they co-operate with….another kind of colonial settler government….

    Mmm. Sorry. I don’t agree – and I find it soooo disappointing, after many, many years of having these discussions with white lefty men who I share many values of social justice with, to find we’re still harking back to wanting the street-fighting working class white boy to make it ok.

    It’s the entitlement Tom – that allows Chris Trotter to tell the Hand Mirror they’re not real feminists and the Maori Party they’re not real tino rangatiratanga activists. It’s that god-given entitlement to rule (the left) – that frankly, has more in common with the right than we might like to think.

    Let’s find a way, those of us who support social justice in terms of race, class and gender, to work together without needing to be “street-fighters”.

    A kupapa pussy with intellectual pretensions who’s also a unionist, a feminist, and a Pakeha believer in tino rangatiratanga

  4. barnsleybill Says:

    We all support social justice luddite journo, but many need to learn that personal responsibility is an important credo as well.

  5. adamsmith1922 Says:


    I would not class my self as paranoid. Perhaps deluded by concepts of rationality at times, but hardly paranoid.

    But then some would barely class me as of the right in some respects, I suspect.

    I find Trotter’s excessive vocabulary and arrogance most off putting, coupled with his over weening belief that he and only he is right. I suspect that that is what really sticks in my craw most.

    A whilw ago he wrote some sense and I could have found some common ground, but for much of this year he has been occupying some fantasy as his pieces have become evermore detached from reality and the rhetoric ever more overblown.

    A shame, because I never previously took him for a stupid man. but this year he has been very bitter.

  6. Ed Snack Says:

    This was of course a joke post wasn’t it JP ? Talk about a puerile analysis, the “left” has to look a bit beyond its own navel before it gains anything that ressembles insight.

  7. David Farrar Says:

    What sexual smears and whispering campaigns did I take part in?

  8. Lee C Says:

    Pete – I wrote a series of articles on MWT earlier this year about – wait for it – The Standard. My findings about this blog were that it is far from effete, and calculated in its conception and line of attack about the then challenging National-government in -waiting – or rather – John Key himself – Even today I remarked taht they are still at it and wilfully or perhaps incapable of realising how counter-productive this strategy has proven itself to be. I would offer this opinion about the diffrence between kiwiblog, whale-oil and The Standard. That KB and WO evolved into efficient vehicles for right wing discourse and as a means to influence the MMS. The Standard was conceived as part of a Labour-left strategy to do the same for the left. Which option therefore is the more insidious?

  9. ak Says:

    Good post Tom. Yes, Trotter’s ability and power are certainly confirmed by the reaction. The poison-pen lions of the Right scream as their nerves are mercilessly exposed with surgically precise rhetorical flourish, while the christians of the Left gape in awe (and not a little trepidation and envy).

    Not sure that upping the ante is the answer though: as you note, the blogosphere’s direct influence is limited. The crucial swinging voter is influenced almost exclusively by the mainstream press and TV – which in turn is controlled by a handful of actors who will choose what they will, irrespective of the volume and/or intensity of interweb comment.
    The deluge of bile and lies from the “sewers” was repeatedly and comprehensively debunked (by the Standard writers and others of the stature of Gordon Campbell and own fine host) over many months – yet, as proven by the paper/TV treatment of Orewa One, S59, EFA and Winnibango, our “opinion leaders” ran with the effluent.

    You might be right Tom, and certainly the infighting and towel-chucking-in you identify is the road to oblivion. But while those who benefit most from right-wing power are in charge of hiring and editing our primary influencers, the Left will always be up against it – until a new source of primary influence emerges.

    I think the answer lies in this medium, but just how is up to you youngsters. In the long view, Karl’s been pretty spot on: the slow revolution inexorably proceeds, currently via Labour-lite and “inclusion”. Look on Slippery’s broadband plan as a huge bushel of seeds-of-self-destruction – and work the new garden with skill. Plant less, cultivate more, and grow for the market.

  10. jafapete Says:

    Thanks for the comments, folks.

    No, it’s not a joke, Ed. It is a fairly provocative piece of writing, but this debate justifies airing these views.

    Lee C is correct with respect to the Standard, but the Standard — more particularly Clinton Smith — stands apart from other left-wing blogs in many ways. Much more muscular still is Tumeke!, but they don’t classify themselves as left-wing and I don’t either.

    There is, of course, a place for calm reflection on ideas, and there are blogs on the left and right that attempt to do that. Adam (who I’m happy to confirm is not paranoid) and I both write blogs that attempt to do this. We treat each other with respect.

    The point that Tom’s making is that the left tends more to this end of the spectrum, and the right-wing blogs therefore seem more effective in setting the agenda. I have heard a lot of (admittedly) anecdotal evidence in recent months that the right-wing poison seeped beyond the blogosphere and into the general body politic.

    PS DPF, Read the sentence carefully. You personally may not have initiated smear campaigns, but unfounded smears about, for example, the former PM’s husband, have not been removed from your blog. It has therefore been used to spread the poison. In one case I left a comment asking that one such smear be removed; it wasn’t. It may be that you carry too much traffic to properly police all the comments, but negligence is not a very strong defence.

  11. Tom Semmens Says:

    In relation to my comments around the “paranoid style” of the right. I took the phrase directly from the 1964 essay by Richard Hofstadter entitled “The Paranoid Style In American Politics.” It is easily googled if you can be bothered. The essay is interesting, because it is clear to any reader that much of the strategy by the right-wing blogosphere in this country is drawn by osmosis from the culture war values introduced to New Zealand by the borderless ideas of the internet.

    To ludditejourno – Any connection between “in a strange land” and using the term pussies to describe the pseudo-left response to Trotter is entirely yours. None the less, your attempt to link the two is interesting, because it tells me your first response is exactly that which I criticise the pseudo-left, that is to seek to attack Trotter on the grounds of identity politics rather than identify with him on the class politics. Don’t get me wrong – I love reading the stuff on all the feminist sites, but I feel that feminists in particular are guilty of retreating to particularly exclusivist identity politics when criticised. Trotter says of “…the Hand Mirror they’re not real feminists and the Maori Party they’re not real tino rangatiratanga activists…” because he thinks class trumps identity, and to do the opposite is to make the medium the message.

    ak: When I talk about a vigorous response I am not necessarily talking about getting into the sewer and trading smear for smear. Now, my Mum tole me once that working in your own small business it helped if you could put your dignity on a peg when you flipped the ‘open” sign in the morning and to put it back on again as you left the shop at night; I therefore don’t consider myself to good to occasionally put my dignity and self respect on a peg and climb into the sewer to fight the good fight – after all, the battle is won by the side that wants it most. To use a good white male rugby analogy that means doing the dirty work at the ruck and maul when you have to. But I agree that generally that is counter-productive, because it turns people off participation in the process and the left thrives on mass participation. So if our opponents draw their inspiration from Limbaugh, then we should look to Jon Stewart. Where they have Anne Coulter, we should promote Amber Lee Ettinger. Seizing the mass media zeitgeist via humour and knowing you are cooler than they are achieves the same result, and lets you run the country on Monday.

  12. ak Says:

    Seizing the mass media zeitgeist via humour….

    You’re onto it Tom – as the ancient proverb goes, one decent vid is worth a thousand dead trees

    (and pussies? yes, fail to see any connection to femininity just watching my old fleabag lick his gonads as we speak…..)

  13. millsy Says:

    You know BB, your comments are a bit rich given that you repeatedly vent your hatred towards the poor, those on low incomes, young people women and gays.

    So if you want hate speech, look in the mirror.

  14. Foreign Correspondence » Blog Archive » How well will this play in Auckland? Says:

    […] goes the guest commentary: When the Labour Party looks at reasons for its defeat this year, the role of Limbaugh-like […]

  15. O wad some power the giftie gie us….. « The Inquiring Mind Says:

    […] on current affairs with an internationalist flavour, not just domestic. It is a must read for Adam. A recent post was in fact the pick-up of a comment on another post, on Chris Trotter’s new blog, by Tom […]

  16. Lee C Says:

    Tom Semmens – The point I was making about The Standard, is that they have deliberately taken aspects of ‘The paranoid style’ and has refined it into their own style which I term ‘faux-paranoia’, ie they suggest that somehow their version of the ‘paranoid style’ is acting from a more morally laudable positon than the right’s when in fact it is a refined strategy which is ultimately even more insidious than the original model as defined by Hofstadter.
    The tags for them come under ‘The VDS – Is it for real?” on Monkeys with Typewriters.

    Eye Thenkyu

  17. ludditejourno Says:

    Hey Tom,
    nope, not linking your use of “pussy” with anything other than misogyny, and I apologise if that wasn’t clear. It’s just not a word I like when it’s used as a derogatory term. I look forward to the day that calling people slang words for women’s bodies is a compliment 🙂

    You say Chris Trotter thinks class trumps identity – and I think you’re absolutely right – and this is my problem with much of his analysis. Firstly because reducing gender and race to “identity politics” is a put-down of genuine critique. When he told the Hand Mirror they were not “real feminists”, he did it to shut down one of their bloggers criticism of his use of the phrase “gang-rape”. Not because they were claiming that gender trumped class.

    Secondly, why exactly does class trump gender or race? It doesn’t in my life – where in some circumstances, lets say paid work, sometimes my race is most important (I get access to jobs because I’m white); sometimes my class is most important (I am vulnerable to management changes of practise with little recourse); sometimes my gender is most important (I get sexually harassed). That is, to be blunt, the bloody point of those of us who think all categories of power over need to be examined – not just class. Because oppression works in multi-faceted ways – and when white left-wing men ignore that, they do so because it suits them – not because class is the most important category of all.

    Which, I’ll say again, I find disappointing. Just as I am disappointed with middle-class feminists who hire working-class women to clean for them; and Maori activists who fail to notice gender as important in family violence. Because I want alliances with other people who notice oppression – not because I want “my” category (which would it be? bogan, woman, pakeha?) to be the most important.

  18. jafapete Says:

    Luddite, On the other hand, “pussy” also signifies a cute little animal that is a domestic pet and that doesn’t pose a serious threat to other domestic pets or larger anilmals. I think that it is quite clear from the context in which the word was used that this is the intended meaning.

    I doubt that any of us lefties thinks that identity is unimportant. The term identity politics was not used as a put-down as far as I can see, but as a way of signifying the political dimension of gender, race, etc. What some of us object to is a tendency by some who might consider themselves “liberal” if not “left” to treat identity as more important than class. In terms of well-read NZ blogs I think that The Standard does well in giving identity and class issues the attention they deserve. But even so, Trotter’s writing reminds us that it is easy to lose sight of class when things are seen simply in terms of identity.

  19. Tom Semmens Says:

    Let’s not to prissy about pussy gentlemen.

  20. Observer Says:

    I agree- we need to be much more forceful. At present the left is trying to have pleasant and reasoned conversations with the right wing fruitcake allcomers in our little leftie corners of the web, but unfortunately no-one who is leading opinion is taking much notice of us and we sure aren’t convincing any of the trolls.

    What we should be doing is aggressively taking on the right in public arenas like the NZ Herald and Stuff website and writing letters to the editor etc. And sooner rather than later- the right have done a masterful job leading opinion and we have a lot of catching up to do.

  21. monkey boy Says:

    It is not the opinions that have hobbled the left – it is how they have chosen to present and espress them. Which is why they were wrong-footed by Key’s election campaign, which refused to engage in the same fashion, and keep lots of clear water between National and the nutter-bloggers.

  22. jafapete Says:

    Left blogs “hobbled”, monkey boy?

    Perhaps you’re right, in as much as Labour’s election campaign was directed by a very small group of people and clearly didn’t work as intended; and, with one notable exception, left blogs didn’t feel able to push the “trust” attack so vigorously. (I mean, you’ve got Winston Peters being excoriated in the media, and his protectors thinking they could profit by making “trust” an issue!?)

    Some left blogs even went around accusing other left blogs (including moi!) of being party hacks. For them, being holy trumps being in power every time. Not helpful.

    A point I make in a comment above is that there is not a lot of clear water between National’s unofficial blogger and the nutbars who infest his blog. The media have been giving him a free pass. I know NZ’s a small country and the talent pool in journalism is shallow, but surely some of the press gallery have political antennae capable of discerning the rampant dog whistling.

  23. barnsleybill Says:

    Millsy, WTF.. Are you confusing me with somebody else?
    put some links in to back up that drivel.

  24. monkey boy Says:

    “but surely some of the press gallery have political antennae capable of discerning the rampant dog whistling”
    No, and neither do they care, because some of them are up their necks in the same mire.
    Left blogs – Yup, they hobbled themselves. I used to go to the VDS and actually ‘warn’ them that their attack-policy was going to alienate voters, well before the election, mind, when they could have turned the tide in their favour somewhat, and they were just too in deep with the program to take even the satirical ramblings of a monkey as anything other than trolling ego-tripping and right wing nuttery. I agree that DPF is a dog-whistler but isn;t he good at it? The classic was when he posted about Peter Davis one day with stern warning to people about saying the worng thing, then folowed it up the next with a post about Mrs. B. Key. The self-hobbled lefty blogs actually got outsmarted, and even now are only just starting to realise it…

  25. monkey boy Says:

    It’s the same mentality that demanded Socrates drink hemlock .

  26. monkey boy Says:

    sorry last bit was a ‘blurt’. please ignore.

  27. IrishBill Says:

    Good post Tom. Despite the protestations of the more ignorant right the Standard is not the Labour party and thus the standard’s muscular left politics is ours.

    And that’s exactly what we wanted. I personally joined up to the Standard because I wanted to see a more aggressive and economics-based left politics in the blogosphere.

    I’d point out to monkey boy that we’ve got to number two in the blog rankings in a little over a year and are regularly quoted in the MSM. Clint is also starting to attract offers from media as a political commentator and we have been the target of the National Party research unit and several of their top MPs. I think that can be considered success by any measure.

  28. Lee C Says:

    I am sure that the Labour Party are rapt with your successes, Bill. Perhaps this continued hubris explains much more eloquently than I ever could, why ‘the left’ failed so spectacularly at the polls. Which is, what I thought we were discussing.

  29. jafapete Says:

    Almost Lee. We’re discussing whether the left blogs in general could have been more vigorous in countering some of the propaganda and smears coming out of the likes of kiwiblog and Whaleoil (which is not to say that Farrar actually wrote the stuff himself).

    Many lefties commenting here seem to think that we could usefully harden up some, as Tom suggests. Then again, others seem to want to carry on “holier-than-thou” point-scoring, which an adult lifetime on the left has taught me to expect. Sigh.

    But we’re certainly not discussing “why ‘the left’ failed so spectacularly at the polls”, because it didn’t. You want “spectacular”, try National in 2002. And note that the then leader is now no.2 in the new Government. Labour’s already changed its leader to one who will appeal more to the swing voters who deserted it, and who will be more than a match for the relatively inexperienced new PM. It also has 43 MPs, many experienced, and many fresh and itching for a fight. Cause for despair? Hardly.

  30. Lee C Says:

    Oh. Sorry. When you put it like that, I have evidently failed to realise what a resounding success the last election campaign was for Labour and the ‘lefty’ blogs.

    Perhaps yes, the ‘left blogs’ could have been more successful in countering the propaganda and smears from ‘the right’. It is interesting that you cite ‘holier than thou’ as an attitude, then appear to endorse the same attitude by failing to accept that the left were up to it as well.

    Here’s what passes for “aggressive and economics-based left politics.” Here’s a cross-section from The Standard (with some headings/themes I dreamed up):

    August 2008

    I guess it’s this kind of credibility gap between what National says and what it does that makes it so hard for voters to trust them.

    They’ve publicly flip-flopped on climate change now, but who knows what they really believe?

    MB Media bias
    It’s high time the Herald stopped writing only for those who want to get back on the privatisation gravy train, and started informing Kiwi voters about National’s real plans.
    Now, with the polls turning against them*, National will be hoping voters believe an ex-currency speculator has the competency to lead our country.

    Media Coaching
    Certainly the verbal stumbling and hesitation has been disappearing from Key’s appearances. The coaching and media training seems to be paying off.

    Media Bias
    She (journalist labelled as ‘pro’ Key) then trots out her tired old line “the moderate new face of National.. John Key” (notice, it’s only ‘faces’, appearances, that are analysed, not actual policy).

    Secret Agenda
    As I said last week, the polls that came out this weekend can not reflect any impact of the secret agenda tapes.

    On allegations someone went through his rubbish) Cynically and with planning, Key lied to the New Zealand public and was caught out. In some ways, I think that is a bigger scandal than the secret agenda tapes.

    Sure, they claim they would keep the flagship Labour programmes like Kiwisaver that are having a real transforming effect but can we trust them?

    July 2008-08-21

    You make my stomach turn, Mr Key. You’re just another sexist old bigot.
    Perhaps they want to indicate to their supporters that despite their flip flops and absorbing of Labour policy, they so still have a plan that right wing proponents would be proud of?

    Do you know whether Key will stick to his current policy or flip back to his old one? No-one knows, probably not even Key himself. Will you support a candidate for Prime Minister who you can’t trust to stick to his promises?

    I’d suggest National tread carefully lest they be accused of taking voters for granted. After all, past comments already suggest that Key doesn’t think voters are that smart:

    I guess that kind of open democratic representation is a little too hard for the National Party and its minions to grasp.
    June 2008-08-21

    Classic Crosby/Textor. Another hit and run, an attempt to sow(sic) a vague discontent with the current government while offering no answers. Where is the real discussion of problems and how to fix them? Nowhere, because National has no intention of fixing them. The aim is simply to make the current government unpopular and waltz into power as the only alternative.

    This is the same formula we saw last week when Key revealed he knows nothing of New Zealand history, the same as we saw when Key said “we would love to see wages drop“, and we’ll see it again every time the mask of Brand Key slips.
    Undermining Democracy
    A political party does not resort to C/T’s expensive, scummy, disrespectful strategy if it can win honestly because, ultimately, C/T politics is very destructive, both for democracy based on an informed populace and for the party that uses it – they end up unprincipled, baseless, a shell of a party with no heart.

    Nicky Hager’s piece in today’s Sunday Star Times has confirmed what we all suspected: Crosby Textor are the creators of Brand Key. For those of you unfamiliar with CT, they’re known as the dirtiest and most driven political PR firm in the game. CT specialises in dog-whistle racism, attack politics and pretty much every aspect of the politics of division.

    So, if you’re thinking of voting National, ask yourself: what do you expect from them and do these expectations match with National’s actual statements? Or are you falling for the bait?

    But the mother of all misdirections, the one which is probably framed and hanging on Crosby Textor’s office wall of fame, is the “stolen emails” misdirection. Remember that?
    Rather than discuss the content of the emails that featured in the Hollow Men, National’s response was to make a huge fuss over the fact that they were “stolen” and make that the story instead.


    Though of course, as a_y_b pointed out yesterday, this approach isn’t at all confusing if all you’re trying to do is to win an election by accentuating and exploiting negative perceptions of your opponent.

    May 2008-08-2
    Secret Agenda
    Like the Rogernome faction that controlled Labour in the 1980s, a small band within National is controlling policy, keeping the rest of the party and the country in the dark.

    With so much at risk you would hope National would be sending a clear message about where they stand but I guess that’s just not something they do.
    National sees the media as a tool to hammer the Government, not an independent observer and critic. They can’t handle it when the media starts asking them the hard questions and their reaction is to threaten and bully. Hardly promising stuff from a possible government.

    April 2008

    all National can come up with is more hollow beneficiary bashing. Pathetic.

    (On Key’s foreign holidays) –
    Equally the leaker may have just decided it could be embarrassing for Key to be seen to be off cavorting in his Maui mansion when he’s whinged about the government forgetting about ordinary New Zealanders. Either way there is someone in National who has deliberately set out to disadvantage Key. Given the fact National is doing so bloody well at the moment that’s very strange indeed.

    March 2008-08-21

    February 2008-08-21
    Media Coaching
    You could almost be forgiven for thinking Key and Brash had been coached by the same guy. On the other hand, maybe Mr Key’s just not as friendly underneath all the gloss as some may have supposed.
    I did think that at the very least we could rely on Bill to be straight with us about what he really believes though, mainstream or not.
    Secret Agenda
    Instead, it looks like their political consultants have got National rolling out systematic inoculations caucus-wide.
    (on attacking a journalist/Media Bias)
    Key needs to apologise for his shameful attack on an experienced journalist and come clean on his wages policy.

    January 2008-08-21
    Policy Innoculations
    Now the interest free student loan policy is just the latest in a long series of John Key’s “policy inoculations”.

    John hasn’t told us yet who he plans to put in charge of his boot camps, but I think it’s time he started giving us some answers.

    So this is John Key’s ambition: throwing troubled teens in boot camp, beating up on beneficiaries and criminalising our children.

    Secret Agenda
    This is precisely the face National has been trying so hard to hide from the public over the last year, and so far the centrist game seems to have worked for them. My opinion? John should have stuck with the smile and the nice haircut.
    (On Biased Media (OBM))
    You can just about feel the Herald’s despair that despite an unprecedented, wholly unbalanced and misleading campaign against the EFA they have not managed to manufacture outrage and concern beyond the well-heeled National and ACT supporters who tottered along Queen St last year.
    suppose The Herald won’t mind Tim giving another paper campaign publicity in that Truth isn’t their direct competitor. It does however remind one of the old saying “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”

    December 2007
    “We should wish for everyone to have the same opportunities to make choices in life.”
    If Helen Clark said this, it would be believable. If John Key said it, it’s what we might expect, but we should only believe half of it.
    Happy New Year.”

    That’s just up to the end of the last year before it really got down and dirty. So cool, that’s politics, we all do it in the heat of the moment. But one thing I am not afflicted with is a selective memory. Apologies for the length (as the bishop said to the actress.)

  31. jafapete Says:


    Nobody suggested that the centre left’s election loss was a resounding success. Merely that it wasn’t a “spectacular” failure. It was a run-of-the-mill loss, and one from which may be possible to recover relatively quickly. Of course there is a need to reflect on the reasons, but there is no reason to despair.

    Note that I did agree with your point about the Standard in an early comment on this thread, saying that the Standard “stands apart from other left-wing blogs in many ways.” This includes the reluctance of most blogs to engage to any real degree in Helen Clark’s attempted character assassination. I say in another comment that, “with one notable exception, left blogs didn’t feel able to push the “trust” attack so vigorously.” That exception was the Standard. They’re really the exception that proves the rule about the left blogs’ unwillingness to get down and dirty.

    Even so, you cannot compare the attacks on Key’s consistency (and he did lie about the number of Transrail shares he was trading when he shouldn’t have been) with the sort of stuff that Whaleoil was retailing. Let alone the smears about the former PM’s spouse, etc.

    Sadly, I think that people have moved on from this thread, but thanks for your comment.

  32. Lee C Says:

    Thanks for your patience Pete. I’ll make one more contribution if I may, because I really care about this stuff. Your comments were taken on board and I agree with your esssential points about the ‘lows’ from whaleoil, abetted by kiwiblog. Much of my last stuff was in response to Bill’s rather coy characterisation of his blogs. One of my [personal] issues is that as a centre leftish leaning voter, the general tone of that ‘notable exception’ may have driven people away from voting left, and the swing to National was an expression of desperation and frustration. That sense was, in part justified by the perceived apparent lack of willingness from the left to engage in a dialogue any more meaningful than ‘You can’t trust John Key.’ As long as we have the likes of Clint and Trotter poisoning the well, it will contribute to this state of affairs. The point is, the Standard was not seen as an exception, more that it typified a general aura of negativity from the left-field. Perhaps people may confuse ‘insulting’ with ‘butch’ and ‘respectful’ with ‘effete’. it is not so much the lack of engagement, but the kind of engagement that so badly affected people’s perception of ‘the left’. It’s an interesting thing, but I have been critical of this hamfisted ‘attack’ mode from the left because it is ‘better’ than that. Hofstadter documented the right’s use of this tactic fifty years ago. We have to ask ourselves, has ‘the left’ drifted so far as to become ‘the right’ in its hubris regarding a kind of divine right to be in charge, or else how could it allow itself to become so negative and venemous?
    If Labour want to return to power, they have to stop their knee-jerk poison-pen campaign and match the so far superior strategy that National rolled out – by accentuating their positives, accepting where change is needed (not as an admission of weakness or guilt) and accepting that, in short, they stuffed up. Then ‘fair-minded’ kiwi will give them a fair hearing. Otherwise they face the political wilderness. So perhaps ‘effete’ is a misnomer for what has been discussed.
    ps fat jeep fee fate – by the way is an anagram of ‘jafapete effete’.
    Thank you for your patience. Isolate, innoculate, recover and win.

  33. Tane Says:

    JP, you’ll have to excuse Lee/Monkeyboy. He’s obsessed with The Standard in a way that’s actually quite frightening. Sometimes I think he writes more words about us than we write full stop.

    It’s quite hysterical as well, comparing our regualr critiques of National’s policy, competence and trustworthiness with the kind of bile spewed by Slater and then laundered into the mainstream by Farrar.

    The fact he’s gone to the effort of compiling a highly selective list of topics covered on The Standard to try and somehow prove that we don’t cover economic and class issues shows just how obsessed the wee man is.

    I’m not sure what’s behind it, perhaps a jealousy at the hit count, perhaps an expression of futile rage. Perhaps Lee finds it uncomfortable to be reminded of the left-wing ideals he’s abandoning as he moves to the right of the spectrum.

    Anyway, good post Tom.

  34. millsy Says:

    “Millsy, WTF.. Are you confusing me with somebody else?
    put some links in to back up that drivel.”

    Where to start, BB, where to start?

  35. Ayrdale Says:

    …We have to ask ourselves, has ‘the left’ drifted so far as to become ‘the right’ in its hubris regarding a kind of divine right to be in charge, or else how could it allow itself to become so negative and venemous?…
    The left have become indeed, the new right, the new conservatives and the new elite.
    The agony now for the left in NZ is where to draw the talent from to represent left interests in the future. National has the state house boy, Labour had a middle class farmer’s daughter, and a sneering pommy M.Of Finance with his head up his arse. How the hell could they hope to continue to connect with any sizable group within the electorate ?
    Now we see Trotter calling Maori kupapa…in short demonstrating a lack of respect and affection which characterises his generation of lefty elites.
    Forget it. You on the left will have to go green or become psycho-anarchists. TINA.

  36. Tom Semmens Says:

    Ayrdale, according to your site you don’t believe in anthromorphic climate change, Clint Rickards is a victim, and some other rambling stuff that seems to lack a coherent internal narrative.

    Thank you for your words, but credibility – game over.

  37. Ayrdale Says:

    …the argument is settled, the debate is over. Won’t do mate. You are wandering in a blind alley. Rickards, Shipton et al, are becoming modern day sacrificial victims…nothing will do for the squawking masses but their execution. Why not address the point…the failure of the left to connect with the people they claim to represent. Address the point, or stay in the blind alley.

    Ayrdale, I love this stuff. National only wins because they adopt so much of Labour’s policy (grants for redundant workers, anyone?), and the right can’t get a majority of the vote, and they lecture us on failing to connect with the people we represent! I’m not going to pretend that the left didn’t fail to some degree to “connect”, but I’m certainly not despondent.

    Note that in the US, where the contrast between the “socialist” re-distributor and the “true conservative” was much sharper, the Republicans are frantically arguing that the US is still a “centre-right” nation. Now that’s funny.

  38. Ayrdale Says:

    …maybe not despondent, but how about effete ? And not just effete left on the blogosphere, but in its political administration and attitude. If anything sunk Helen Clark it was the realisation by voters that she and lefties in general know what’s good for the rest of us, and happily dispense the medicine. That’s why I question where the left in NZ go from here…looks to me like down to the greens and more bossiness.

  39. ak Says:

    Good heavens! Just noticed the volume of comments on this thread Pete (only ever check the lead post, thought you’d gone on holiday) and what a heavy accent on “effete” from our testosterone-packed “winners”!

    [ak, Never mind the width, feel the quality! You have a way with words, and I agree with every one of them. And, yes, I fly out this afternoon for two months in L.A., so stay tuned.]

    Effete indeed! Methinks they dost angst just a little too much – couldst it be that the reality of a Labour-policy NACT administration is finally dawning on their tiny minds? That the disgusting misogynist/flip-flop/media-capture campaign they have pursued and condoned has not only coincided with a global and unspinnable refutation of their trust in Money Traders, but inserted as our National representative an idiotically grinning narcissistic ingenue that their base would hesitate to pack before in a scrum? And that, as part of that flip-flopping acceptance of the thrust of social progression and his quest for adulation, their flimsy messiah has blundered into hugging to his chest the Tariana clique whose very survival will depend on mercilessly savaging him?

    No wonder they’re worried. Sorry, Lee, but it’s gonna be a slowly-evolving meltdown for this administration baby. The legacy of the woman who defeated you three times in a row is enshrined: and as you know deep down, your “win” is but a blip on the graph of humanity’s inevitable progression. You can gloat like a goat if it floats your boat, but your miserable, misanthropic recipe is consigned to the dustbin of history. But do carry on mate: your inventive writhing in the face of reality is highly entertaining.

  40. ayrdale Says:

    …the legacy is enshrined…I’m afraid not. The glory days of the Princes Street branch are long gone, and the earnest and well intentioned inhabitants will be soon forgotten. As they say, legends in their own lunchtime. Historical inevitability has finally caught up with the left, and it’s plainly not what Marx intended. Ask Tony Blair. Yes, maybe a slowly evolving meltdown for this administration, pendulums being what they are, but one that takes 3 terms at least…

    Slowly evolving meltdown, ayrdale? Already we’ve had Tony Ryall saying that waiting lists can be fixed without any extra resources, and probably irreparably damaging his credibility with the health sector, and Anne Tolley telling the hard-pressed university sector (more redundancies on their way as I write) to tighten their belts. All this and they’ve barely had time to put their feet under their desks!

    You’re right about Marx, though. i don’t think he had much to say about Third Wayism.

  41. What kind of feminist is ok? « LudditeJourno Says:

    […] there is the technique of describing people as “pussies” when you think they are a little wimpy.  Names for women’s bodies are pretty much always […]

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