Archive | May, 2014
Aside 30 May

The Internet Mana love in continued with the announcement of the least possible Internety person to be the Internet Party leader. A party going for the youth vote chose a person no 18-24 year old would have heard of , a person with no e-profile. But this is still post ideological …right ?..A party that is a pure commercial proposition just makes a transaction ..remember when parties elected their leaders …some still do ?? really ..

Anyway there are implications after implications. One really interesting one is that this year the electorate seats may be really interesting , like an old school election. In Tai Tokerau , will Hone actually win , how hard will Labour fight him ? Will Internet Mana manage to put a good candidate in Tamaki Makuara and split the vote, with the resources available the Maori seats could all be tight. And what a frenzy if they stand someone strong against Peter Dunne …he’s got form …as does the PM . No doubt they will target a couple of seats in metro Auckland or with large University bases as well.

 

But will it matter …it could be they are the biggest loser out of it. Say Internet Mana manage to get 3 seats, will Labour form a coalition with them ? If they need New Zealand First they may just do what Clark used to do to the Greens. Knowing they have nowhere else to go leave them to the side , they can’t lose then and it cushions the blow.

The other big loser is ACT…yes ACT. This deal makes a Conservative-National deal more likely , to ensure the right-wing vote gets shored up. National may abandon Dunne to his fate and ACT just don’t have the numbers to be given a seat, better to consolidate than support them. In which case we may have a revolving door one party in one party out ..

 

interesting times ….

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The End of Ideology

27 May

Francis Fukuyama was wrong. The end of ideology arrived today…well in New Zealand anyway. Its been a long time coming. Peter Dunne the perma member of Government has for a long time puzzled me. I am unsure he has any ideology and indeed its absence is his calling card. However today it happened . A party that has been perhaps New Zealand most left-wing and working class, a party that has campaigned on really simple yet core issues like free school meals has merged with a party that has been created purely to create economic activity for its “owner” and which has a libertarian free market bent.

I don’t care whether the owner is rich , that’s not the point. The point is that not that long ago he was backing the future leader of ACT. Something has occurred beyond normal politics. These two parties have no ideological common cause. The mana leader claimed it was to bring the internet future to the party, is he sure he understands what that future looks like under Dotcoms vision. The only common cause seems to be a dislike for John Key.

Political parties it seems no longer need beliefs , this merger may be succesful , it may increase the 1 MP they currently have, it may pour millions of dollars at the electorate, it may create all the things Kim Dotcom wants, it may be over by Xmas. Who knows …but more pressing who will now care? The retail consumerism of electoral politics is now complete.

Newham South Bye Election 40 years on ..

16 May

The 23rd of May marks the 40th anniversary of the Newham South Bye Election. It is notable for two main reasons , firstly it was the only Bye Election of the 1974 short Parliament and secondly it was a major electoral coup for the National Front . The irony of a constituency with a similar sounding name going to the polls trying to get an electoral coup for a bunch of racists and petty nationalists is surely just coincidence.

Newham South was caused by the elevation ( if that’s the right way to look at it of Elwyn Jones, to the Lord Chancellorship and creating what was seen as a safe contest as Harold Wilson bumbled on in his minority administration. Labour chose ,

Labour chose a retread from the February 74 election and all other parties the same candidate as had stood in Newham South just weeks before.

The seat was in some ways a bellweather for the October election , Labour remaining where they were, The Liberals and Tories going ever so slightly backwards. All candidates bar the winner lost their deposit on a low turnout.
The interesting thing is that the seat gave the National Front its first ever finish ahead of a major party, in coming third they finished marginally ahead of the Conservative candidate. Luckily it didn’t herald any great electoral breakthrough for them although many of their potential supporters drifted to Thatcherism in 1979.

Key sends smoke signals for the election to come …

15 May

He will stick with his hopeless Immigration Minister and his hapless Justice Minister , he will play the rugby fanboy for all its worth and now John Key has sent out his smoke signals for the election camapign. No surprises but the line from here to election day will be families , families and families.

A budget that provides for free health care to Under 13s but in 4 years time ( whose counting ) , when we still havent managed to get free care to Under 6s ( whose counting ), that will extend parental leave by 4 weeks ( whose counting ) reduce car costs ( all counting ) because our accidents are falling ( dont be silly ).

Key will play the family for all its worth , only National understand them ( whose checking ) and from here to election day you may not see his hapless and hopeless support acts quite so much ( whose asking ) but reelection seems a little nearer ( whose worried ?)

 

 

Moving the Cows

9 May

See there’s only one O in moving , even when it relates to Cows. It’s never mo**ving or any elongated version of that. Just moving.

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So we decided to move the Cows onto a larger paddock today. It will give them more room to run around and some real grass. First thing was to walk them up in the halters we have been trying them on. Halters don’t seem to be really well suited to calves. They are getting more content to wear them though.

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They actually walked up really easily. Then we let them off…they seemed to get into some confusion on more than one occasion as to whether any of the Ponies just might be Cows. Somehow Cows just seem to want to find more Cows.

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They potted around , finding the highest grass and tastiest weeds. They seem to adore thistles.

Then we decided to move the electric tape back ….just to give the Ponies and Calves some extra grass. We had of course not banked on one of them making a dash for it through the tape whilst we were moving it. You don’t need to give him much of a chance ….

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…he looks innocent I know , but he took some “convincing ” that he should go back.

The Calves settled easily , they stopped enquiring over the Ponies reasonably quickly. They are doing a fair bit of walking , low-level mooing and occasional grazing !

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Mercury’s golden heifer …well Willow actually.

Tony Benn and the Queen

4 May

I doubt any politician will ever has as much nonsense written about him as Tony Benn. The so-called most dangerous figure in Britain !. You have to wonder what was going on in 1974 when that was written in the Evening Standard. Although it was Kingsley Amis.
Benn was nothing if not a democrat , and for that he was tagged as a loon , nuts , immature and worse. The media and the chattering classes painted him as a totem of extremity. The hippie son-in-law in Reggie Perrin in his ” Benn for president ” t-shirt . Or the knee jerk reaction of Jeffrey , in George and Mildred , to blame ” Anthony Wedgewood Benn” for anything ( Dandruff as quoted in Alwyn Turners excellent ” Crisis? What crisis?”).
Benns diaries though leave a wonderful record of what he was really up to , rather than the fleet street version. One aspect that amuses me is his relationship with the Monarchy.

One of the most bizarre incidents that seems to rattle on for years is his attempt to get the Queen to agree to having stamps without her head on. This is hardly born from radicalism more pragmatic design aesthetics. The Queen and the palace play Benn superbly. It’s all mixed messages and subtle hints. In March 1965 Benn has an audience with the Queen where she tells him she has no views on it ( of course Monarchs don’t ). On his way out Adeane , the Queens private secretary assures him the Palace has never blocked the idea of stamps without the queens head on “but I think the monarch’s head has to be on the stamps, doesn’t it ?” By October 65 Adeane has written to No 10 with the threat of political controversy. Days later Wilson tells him the Queen has told him she doesn’t want her head removed ( in either the Cromwellian sense or off the stamps). He concludes by getting the Queen to agree to a Silhouette. Benn acknowledges “I have been defeated..the Monarchy and all it stands for is one of the great centres of reaction and conservatism in this country.”

In 1966 Benn is at a state banquet. He again meets Adeane and the issue of stamps comes up. Benn tells him the Archbishop of Lambeth has written to him angrily about the removal of the Queens head. The establishment get unhappy at the strangest of things.

In Feb 68 Benn is sat next to the Duke of Edinburgh at a lunch. The Duke comes across as itching to get the Queen political. He wants all Ministers to meet her, for the Ombudsman to be part of the Royal Household …this word seems very 60s !In July 69 Benn meets the Queen at Winfrith reactor.Benn engages in a discussion on Royal prerogative. The Queen affirms her support for Concorde, “She is not clever, but she is reasonably intelligent..the Duke …was talking about high taxation as a major disincentive “

Some more interesting observations seem to suggest the futility of the relationship between Government and the Crown. In 1977 , Prime Minster Callaghan suggests the Cabinet buy her a present for the silver jubilee. A silver coffee pot. Each Minister had to contribute $15 ! In 81 the royal wedding and Benn sees “Feudal propaganda …as socially advanced as France before the revolution..”

So Tony Benn , a mild-mannered man who was openly a republican. The most dangerous he ever got to the Queen was to try to make stamps aesthetically easier…a case study in media representation.