A quick response to Rob Salmond

This has all the makings of one of those terrible leftwing blog wars (strangely not featuring Martyn Bradbury for once) but I think I can sum up my points quickly and leave it there.

Rob Salmond got a little patronising in his response to people’s responses to his response to Monbiot.

austin powers cross eyed

He starts off saying, “Rule 1 in politics is “learn to count.” 33 < 50.”

Hey Rob. You know what’s less than 50 and less than 33? Labour’s last two general election results.

emma stone burn

Since 2008 – Labour’s most-deliberately-“centrist”, trying-to-win-National-votes-by-mimicking-National period – Labour’s vote has gone down. It’s not only not attracting new voters, it isn’t even keeping its “base”. And the disillusioned leftwing vote isn’t going to other parties. It’s staying at home.

Rob says, “anyone who looks at Labour’s successful 2005 platform and sees anything other than an appeal to the centre is dreaming.”

I’m going to let Giovanni Tiso handle that one:

On the noble history of centrism-as-political-strategy: let’s not confuse popularity with “moderate” policy-by-polling. It’s meaningless to say “centrism has always been a thing because you always need to get lots of votes.” By that logic, Syriza is centrist because a lot of Greeks voted for them.

It’s a mug’s game to redefine anything short of the National Front or Socialist Aotearoa as “centrist” given the right circumstances, and declare victory. It’s easy to talk about “being relevant to more people” or “perception is reality” or being “data-driven”.

But the theory doesn’t work in practice. You know what the majority of New Zealanders were against back in 2011? Asset sales. How did Labour try to appeal to them in 2011? Campaign against asset sales. Result?

independence day white house explosion
Finally, competence: it’s a core part of looking like a government-in-waiting and inspiring confidence. But competence doesn’t mean giving people the answers you think they want.

There are a lot of teachers in my family. In 2008 one of them commented: “I think I’ll vote for National. At least I know what to expect from them.”

breakfast club double take

A party cannot look competent when it’s unpredictable. And a party looks unpredictable when, instead of having well-advertised principles guiding its actions, it’s jumping all over the place trying to please everyone except its own supporters.

I would rather stand for something.

parks and rec mic drop

QOTD: Aunty Helen on women, leadership and NZ

Great interview of our former Prime Minister in the Sunday Star-Times yesterday, including these gems on the campaign to elect a woman Secretary-General of the UN:

“I’m of the view that all the great citadels of power should be aiming to have women as leaders on a reasonably regular basis,”

And the distance yet to go for women’s equality in NZ:

“When I was Prime Minister, we had a lot of women at the top of things and I always had a slight concern that there might be a relatively small group of over-achieving baby boomers that made it look like we were doing really well as a nation on these things, and then when the over achieving baby boomers move on to other things, was there a critical mass behind? The answer is not yet – but it will come.”

“There are still structural issues. Women are still more likely to have the care of small children, of the elderly, frail and otherwise indisposed relatives, and there’s more call on them for family duties than men and that impacts on career structure.

we are not worthy

Sacrificing mental health to dragons

The Labour Party has had a sneak peek at the process our government is using to pick “providers” for its mercenary social impact bonds scheme, and it’s like something off television:

Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.


“Panel members used ‘score cards’ to rate each proposal and the entire ‘pitch presentation’ was videoed.

“It is unbelievable that the Government is treating such a serious issue in this way. It is also outrageous that the banks, who only this week announced profits of close to $1.7 billion, are now looking to profit from some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable – mental health clients, at risk youth – the very people those same banks wouldn’t want opening accounts.

It’s not completely surprising. As soon as you’ve decided that the point of treating people with mental illness is to get them into work, and accepted the idea that the private sector will be “more efficient” at kicking people off benefits, it makes sense you’d assess organisations’ suitability for the job the same way reality TV decides whether to fund gift cards for dogs and rollerskates for your knees.

Where to next, though?

Maybe we should let the panel buzz out contestants mid-presentation?

americas got talent buzz

Make them walk down a runway in front of Nina Garcia?

nina garcia disappointed

Hold the panels on a desert island?

survivor elimination

Nah, let’s be honest. The only way to really guarantee value for money in the public sector is to go full-on American Ninja Warrior.

salmon ladder

ninja warrior ramp

ninja warrior swing

I mean, it makes way more sense than listening to experts in the field and funding services to ensure people get the help they need.




Game of Thrones season 5!


If I’m quiet on social media today it’s because I’m desperately avoiding spoilers for the Game of Thrones season 5 premiere, which airs in NZ tonight.

Yes, I’ve read the books, so the idea of “spoilers” may seem a little weird. Still, there’s a particular sense of rediscovery when you watch a screen adaptation of a book, and they’ve changed enough of the minor details that you don’t always know exactly which way things are going to go.

(That being said if there’s no Arianne or acceptable-Arianne-Sand-Snake-subsitute I’m going to be pissed.)

daenerys fire

And there are things which television can do way better that the written word (and vice versa). The printed version of Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, for example, didn’t elicit the same laugh-out-loud oh-god-rewind-that reaction that this particular scene did …

look the pie