Posts Tagged ‘Trotter’

Day after analysis

November 9, 2008

The victor takes the stage and eloquently frames the  historic moment for the cheering masses. He understands the grave economic and other perils facing the nation, and the need to tackle the problems collaboratively, and extends a bipartisan hand to his beaten opponents.

The sad thing for NZ is that, bar the odd kiwiblogright fanatic who has strayed this way, no-one reading this would mistake it for NZ last night. Our new prime minister’s delusions notwithstanding, the difference between this week’s two victors is measured in light-years, and is captured in the contrast between the election night speeches.

NZ’s new leader has demonstrated little grasp of the economic situation confronting the country, or of what leadership entails. He sleepwalked his way to power, winning an election notable for the lack of excitement and charisma on display. The small parties provided the interest. Otherwise, it was a tawdry, uninspiring affair.

His party’s win was not a triumph of policy. National has spent the last couple of years frantically trying to convince people it would not undo much of what has been achieved over the past nine years. The party won, but its ideology lost. (Although not completely. Labour’s third-way social democracy has been a corporatist compromise with neo-liberalism rather than a repudiation of it.)

Nor was it that the “men couldn’t cope with the idea of being led by an intelligent, idealistic, free-spirited woman … voted [her] out of office” as Chris Trotter argues. Certainly Clark has benefitted from the devotion of a generation of women (and some of their daughters) who were socialised in the 1960s and 1970s. There may be an element of male chauvinism, but if it were simply about that, how to account for three election wins in a row (albeit against weak opponents)?

If anything, the electorate succumbed to Helen-fatigue, or was repulsed by the arrogance with which initiatives such as the anti-smacking and electoral finance bills were imposed rather than sold, and economic policy rolled out. Clark’s not the only culprit there, but her own superiority complex did not equip her to rein in such behaviour by others. NZ voters will put up with a lot if they perceive competence and decisiveness (rightly or, as in the case of Muldoon, not), but inevitably there is a corrosive effect.

For the meantime though, John Key has the helm, and he will need our goodwill and support if he — and we — are to manage the issues that beset the world. He has a great deal to learn. I sincerely hope that he is up to the challenge.


Chris Trotter blogging near you

August 21, 2008

Chris Trotter is taking the plunge and joining the blogosphere. His new blog is at

Chris aims to “Smarten us up”:

“In a world that seems hell-bent on dumbing us down, this blog unashamedly declares its intention to smarten us up.”

His blog is not for those looking simply to “heap abuse upon the heads of your political enemies”…

“If, however, you enjoy a good argument, and are willing to marshall the evidence that makes a good argument, then I would like to hear from you. And if you have a compelling turn of phrase, a flair for witty repartee, and/or a talent for satire and parody, then I would be delighted to hear from you.”

My philosophy too.

In his first post, Chris wields his words with wit and wisdom. He advises the Greens that thwarting the ETS is liking to see Labour in “full attack mode” against them, using all of the Greens’ “iconography (belching smoke-stacks, dwindling ice-shelves, polar bears) … in their own campaign ads.” Russell Norman needs to stop:

“obsessing with cows piddling and pooing in the odd DOC-administered river, and get back on message. The voters are concerned about climate change and peak oil. The ETS is a step (albeit a very small one) along the road to addressing those two mega-problems.”

Well said. We look forward to much more of the same.

[Update: Danyl at DimPost takes a contrary view.]

Georgia: dog wags tail

August 17, 2008

Matt McCarten starts his HoS column today with arguably the biggest understatement since Noah said, “Looks like rain today”:

“In the United States, it seems the mainstream media fall in line frequently with their government’s spin over international events.”

Matt’s disturbed by “how jingoistic and partisan the US news coverage is over the Georgia conflict.” This is important, he says, as the US is the world’s most powerful nation, and, because of the role played by the US news media in filtering the western world’s news. (For an example of the latter, just try TV3 news.)

He points out that most people in the US would have little idea that it was the Georgians who kicked off the current conflict there, with the slaughter of Russian peacekeepers and Ossetian civilians.

Instead they hear that, “the small, feisty and free democratic state of Georgia has been ruthlessly invaded by Russian thugs who are carrying out genocide and mass destruction. It’s … a fight between good and evil.”

We in NZ still have a range of views presented by our news media, and probably have a better understanding of events in Georgia than most Americans, Matt believes. He’s probably right.

Chris Trotter in Friday’s DomPost provides a graphic description of the “brigand’s strategy” pursued by the Georgian government, the human carnage and the sheer, breath-taking stupidity of poking the Russian Bear sharply in the eye. Especially, as Chris points out, when it has stationed masses of huge Russian battle tanks decked out in explosive reactive armour just across the border in North Ossetia.

He dwells — and rightly so — on the monumental irony of the likes of Bush and McCain deploring the violation of sovereign territory:

“Tell it to the Yugoslavs, Uncle Sam. Tell it to the Iraqis and the Afghans and the Nicaraguans, and every other unfortunate nation that has ever found itself in the cross-hairs of American foreign policy. Tell it to the Serbs, forced to watch helplessly as the Western powers carried off their province of Kosovo.”

Well put. Historically the US has maintained an interest in the Americas that almost saw the end of the world when the Soviets tried to station some missiles there, most notably. But there are few Latin American countries in whose affairs the USA has not interfered many times, if not invaded.

The US neocons seemed to have missed the point that their encouragement of Saakashvili is the equivalent of the Russians talking to Mexico about an alliance, and then encouraging them to lay waste to would-be break-away state of Baja California, immediately on the border with California, killing many Americans. What would you expect the Americans to do faced with that?!

That Dubya and his buddy John McCain can pronounce on territorial integrity, the acceptability of “bullying and intimidation” and how “In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations” without being howled down simply underlines Matt’s point.

Hate speech or slightly OTT but timely warning?

July 20, 2008

Chris Trotter goes for broke in today’s SST. He urges the swinging voters who tell pollsters they will vote National this year to ask themselves, “Is this the company I want to keep?”

He points out that the farmers, wealthy and reactionaries have always held ordinary city-dwelling folk in contempt, opposed every progressive reform and acted exclusively in their own self-interest, often at the expense of wider society.

I am happy with the general tenor of what he says. From the peeks that we have been allowed of National’s policies it is clear that the most vulnerable workers are in for another bashing should National win.

Perhaps Trotter goes a little far in places. He says, “Yes, these are the people you will be joining when you make the big switch. The people who have opposed every single progressive reform that New Zealand has ever undertaken – yes, every single one.”

Okay, I can think of the the accident compensation scheme, Human Rights Commission Act 1977 and the Human Rights Act 1993, so the last statement isn’t 100% true. Could probably think of a few more if I really put my mind to it. But that’s quibbling. It’s almost entirely true, so the substantive point stands. [Update: It has been pointed out to me that as Trotter speaks here of the reactionaries and not the Nartional Party, what he writes is arguably entirely true, if not tautological.]

Trotter may be giving the conservatives ammunition by engaging in such full-on rhetoric. One right-wing blog has labelled his rant “hate speech”, and accused him of describing, “the backbone of the National vote as collectively the most evil and foul people ever.” They overstate things much as Trotter does, if not more so; he does not, for example “abuse every small business owner, every person on a high salary.” Nor does he use the words “evil” and “foul”. But other right-wing commentators may not be so inept.

So, hate speech or timely wake-up call to those who may be about to subvert their own interests by voting for the very people who are out to screw them?

[Update: TUMEKE! provides a comprehensive response to Trotter that incorporates a left-wing viewpoint on Labour’s shortcomings.

The wisdom of taxi drivers

June 27, 2008

In his DomPost column this morning, Chris Trotter poses the question, “Let’s just assume, for a moment, that the polls are right, and Labour is doomed. What does that say about the condition of the New Zealand electorate in 2008?”

He speculates that the current polling means that most of the electorate sees “the fifth Labour Government as being worse than the fourth” and Clark and Cullen as more destructive and incompetent than their predecessors.

Gloomy as. And quite wrong. (more…)

Change for change sake? Is that it?

June 9, 2008

Friends who deal daily with myriad “ordinary voters” assure me that there is not the anger with the Government that there was in 1990. How then to explain the persistent gap between Labour and National, which appears to be widening if anything?

TV3 News thought to find out with some vox pops. One woman summed up the views of many, “I think we’re really fickle, the LCD is old and we want the new Sony Bravia…” Concluded 3News, “People appear to want change, but many are not sure why or to what.”

There is undoubtedly widespread ‘Helen-fatigue’. Even the most charismatic leader would find maintaining her popularity after 9 years in charge a hard ask, and charisma is not a quality normally associated with Clark. Helen-fatigue first popped up in my experience a couple of years ago when a colleague, whose opinion I respect, admitted that he might vote National simply because he had grown “tired” of Clark and wanted a change. But there’s more to it than that.


ANZAC Day: The very essence of NZ?

April 25, 2008

Radio NZ news this morning played a speaker at a dawn ANZAC ceremony saying that ANZAC day represents “the spirit and the very essence” of New Zealand, or similar.

Apparently, a lot of people agree. In a poll of 501 NZers reported yesterday, 38 per cent responded positively when asked, “Although New Zealand’s official ‘National Day’ is Waitangi Day, do you feel that Anzac Day would be a more appropriate choice?

I am all for honouring those who lost their lives or their limbs, or endured the horror of war, in their country’s service. But a brief pause for reflection is apposite.