Top five posts for June

Good lord, we’re half way through the year already.

Brexit smashed everything out of the park this month, with new Boots Theory author (Bootster? Boots Theorist?) posting On Brexit:

A much better reaction to Brexit and to what now appears to be a wave of anti-establishment reaction across western democracies, would be for social democratic political parties to look for ways to reengage with the electorate, and particularly the working class, on progressive issues.

That means seeing the parliamentary left not as leaders of the debate but as an equal part of a broader progressive movement. It means giving more authority to rank and file party members (it’s no coincidence that people joined NZ Labour and UK Labour in droves when they had a meaningful opportunity to make a choice of leader), it means working alongside democratic organisations like unions and NGOs as a parliamentary cog of the progressive movement rather than acting as defacto leaders of it.

Stephanie offered a musical interlude on the same theme.

Before Brexit blew everything out of the water, the big political story half of the month was the announcement of the Labour/Greens MoU. Stephanie wrote in the Labour/Greens deal:

… some will say this agreement is a killing blow to National’s chances in 2017, and others will declare it hands National the 2017 election on a platter. But the important thing isn’t whether Labour and the Greens have a silly handshake, an MoU, a concrete coalition deal, or a blood oath sworn on Grabthar’s Hammer. It’s whether they look like a credible alternative. It’s how they get a clear message to the nation: this is what’s wrong and this is how we fix it.

And Rob focused on The Winston Effect, writing on the MoU:

Things have changed with the M.O.U. They’ve changed because Andrew Little has re-staked his claim as leader of the opposition and has brought together a power base that rivals the Prime Minister’s in terms of the number of New Zealanders it represents. Having watched Little throughout his time in the union movement and in politics, I’m expecting he’ll use that power well to create change – it’s something he’s always done.

What that all adds up to, despite what some pundits have claimed, is a harder time for Winston and bad news for Key.

Stephanie looked at the way we talk about tax:

We have tacitly supported the idea that tax is a burden, that government spending should be reined in, that we must avoid at all costs getting hit with the “tax and spend” label. We’ve abandoned the good old socialist rhetoric about where wealth comes from – labour – and why government exists – to ensure wealth is distributed more fairly and support everyone in our society to live a good life. Instead we propose minimal-cost policies and fiscally-neutral spending.

It can feel like an insurmountable challenge, I know! The rightwing rhetoric is so pervasive we don’t even see it as a political statement any more, to say “business creates jobs” or “goverments must deliver surplus”. But we can be bold and challenging and forthright about the principles that matter to us.

The back pay issue broke in the second half of the month, with Rob advocating for stopping the clock:

My guess is that, caught on the hop, Key’s natural response was to say no to “The Unions”. I think that’s a mistake based on his, and other National Party folks’, unwillingness to acknowledge that “The Unions” is in fact a group of democratic organisations comprising a huge cross-section of New Zealanders, including many National Party voters.

Stephanie also posted her own take on The Labour/Greens deal and the continuing weirdness of rightwing local government politics, this time in Wellington; and Rob had a bit more to say in a note on Brexit and NZ Labour.

Top five posts for May

As I predicted last month, things were a little quieter around here as I got used to a fantastic new job. But I managed to crank >5 posts out and thus can technically fulfil the requirements of a Top Five!

I beseeched my fellow progressives to stop letting the side down with your fate hate:

There are serious health problems in our country. Actual diseases caused by substandard housing, actual illnesses made worse by a lack of varied food (where added sugar is a concern, but here’s the amazing irony: that’s because we decided too much fat made people fat so we got rid of all the fat in foods which made them taste awful!) We have actual epidemics of preventable diseases and we have too many families in our community who cannot afford a full load of groceries, or even the time to Just Grow Their Own Vegetables in the garden they don’t have because they’re living in their goddamned car.

Imposing a sugar tax fixes none of these.

I talked about how we got here:

A long time ago in New Zealand we all, through public services run by the government, ensured every family had enough money to feed their kids and a safe house to live in. We used to make people’s jobs secure and support people who weren’t able to work.

We knew some things were too important to leave in the hands of private companies whose first priority was profit. We knew together, as people who are part of a community, we could help each other. And the government, or the state, was the best instrument of that – because it wasn’t driven by making a quick buck, because it was accountable to the people.

We lost that. But we didn’t lose it by accident. It was by design.

Tony Veitch was in the news again, having a column bafflingly published in the NZ Herald where he wasn’t repentant, just making it worse:

When Tony Veitch as a famous dude in sports entertainment does NOTHING to educate men or challenge our culture of violence, HE MAKES IT WORSE.

There are things men can do to really challenge family violence in New Zealand. Tony Veitch has done none of these things. Because every single time, it’s all about Tony Veitch.

This also saw a number of people revisiting my post from last October: Tony Veitch is a danger to women.

In Budget week I talked about the government’s housing message dilemma:

For eight (long) years there’s been little mainstream pushback against the ideas that ordinary people deserve near-zero support from their community, and the market must not be meddled with.

But this week John Key has looked up and everyone’s staring at him saying “WTF, mate? People are living in cars? We’re putting them up in motels so their kids can sleep in a bed for once and we’re charging them for the privilege? What the hell is going on and why aren’t you doing anything about it?”

Shock ran through the NZ blogosphere as I revealed exclusive, compelling, very very very credible documents exposing a vast righwing conspiracy.

An internal WhaleOil document, exclusively created by released to Boots Theory, show the innermost workings of a corrupt, depraved, unmitigated, cryptofascist conspiracy to control our media, our government, our daily lives and even our rare Pepes.


Also in May I wrote about Nick Smith’s effective support of irresponsible landlords, and riffed on Joanna Russ in my post how to suppress feminist voices on domestic violence.

Top 5 posts for April

Things might be a little quieter around here as I’ve started a new job and those first few weeks always demand a lot of your focus and energy. But here are the posts you liked last month to tide you over.

When the creeper is your mate

This got a lot of attention as a comment on the Andrew Tidball story broken by The Spinoff. Content note: discussion of sexual abuse and harassment.

Being a good progressive person isn’t a one-off achievement. It’s a never-ending personal struggle. It means not just taking the easy road of criticising the despised. We have to be open to criticising ourselves – and our friends.

Nicola Young’s scary “solution” to people begging in Wellington

The core of Nicola Young’s campaign is convincing people she’s not a nasty Tory, which is why she says things like “the council already helps people with genuine homelessness issues”. She’s trying to draw a line around certain “undesirable” people – people whom surely no one would stand up for – in the same way the right always talk about “the working poor” (not those lazy bludgers) or “genuine hardship” (not those families who live in a car because it builds character).

The worst game strategy guide ever is a masterpiece of writing

For some reason this post from May 2015 got a lot of views this month, and damned if WordPress will tell me where they came from.

I salute the poor lost comms souls who sacrificed who knows how many hours of their lives to the FFIX strategy guide.

It’s not personal, it’s just business

On the extremely dodgy-looking case of the Niuean resort, international aid funding, and the mega-rich National Party donor:

… the powers that be don’t have to be openly corrupt to get things done the way they want. They’re the powers that be, after all. You don’t have to cheat when you write the rules.

Nobody is entitled to votes

I don’t think this conversation’s going to die down any time soon.

We are not entitled to anyone’s vote. And if we aren’t giving people a reason to vote for us, it’s not their fault. It’s ours. This applies as much to Hillary having to go into a contested convention as it does to the UK Labour Party’s routing in Scotland or the continued “missing million” thorn in the side of the New Zealand left or any number of other examples.

If you believe in democracy, you do not fear a fairly contested election. So if you’re a (d)emocrat and you’re advocating that Bernie should just give up now, I have one question: what are you afraid of?

I also wrote about Kim Kardashian and the capitalist apocalypse, a post I’m still slightly in love with, plugged some recommended reading on the Panama papers and did a wee thought experiment on why some US progressives may actually vote Trump over Clinton.

Boots Theory top 5 posts for March

The big hit this month courtesy of some incoming links from much bigger blogs like Public Address:

Where those Kiwimeter questions came from

Here’s the thing – when I encountered the same questions one month later as part of the Kiwimeter quiz – which is framed very differently – I chose to stop participating. They struck me as far more wilfully slanted to get a specific reaction.

(I guess my well-filled-in comment box at the end of the precursor survey which noted this was a concern of mine got chucked in the trash.)

In response to some ongoing Twitter dramas and snark directed at the amorphous “Twitterati” gang:

Sometimes talking IS the work

When we talk, we create solidarity. There’s massive value in knowing that out there in the world is someone else who totally gets why you’re angry or how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. That kind of bond doesn’t just build movements, it literally saves people’s lives.

If you don’t think that counts as constructive, righteous, progressive social justice work, you need to go back to a dictionary and look up every single one of those words again.

Filed under “things which are still confusing me”:

What is going on with the local-government Right?

And now – and I’m still not entirely sure this isn’t a hoax – John Palino, the man most famous for running with the Dirty Politics crowd who exposed Len Brown’s extramarital affair and horrifically exploited the woman involved, Bevan Chuang, has decided he wants to go again. But he also wants to make it clear he’s moved past that whole thing, and has proven it by hiring Simon Lusk as his campaign manager, getting Cameron Slater to organise his media contacts, having Carrick Graham at his campaign launch and raising the Len Brown story at literally the first opportunity.

Filed under “things I’m never going to stop writing about”:

Make the bludgers pay their fair share

This is a conversation the left desperately need to stop running away from, especially if we keep letting the first question for any progressive policy be “but what will it cost?”

Let’s just stand up and say it. Yes. It will cost a hell of a lot to institute a universal basic income, or raise benefits to a survivable level, or rebuild our health system. But we won’t be paying for it – those dickheads over there, who have been bludging off other people’s hard work and living the high life through fancy accounting tricks will. Because for too long they’ve dodged paying their fair share and it’s time they took some responsibility.

And finally, a few perennial issues: language, framing, and how the Left talks about people of colour:

Migration, taps and growing pains

Beyond the narrative metaphor-building nerdery, though, there are two more tiny problems with this rhetoric.

The first is that it’s racist dogwhistling gutter trash.

The second is even if that doesn’t bother you, there are no votes in racist dogwhistling gutter trash as long as Winston Peters breathes.

I also blogged about how we talk about industrial action and the importance of words, plus a Twitter round-up for International Women’s Day. A number of you were also interested in what the Boots Theory is – thanks for stopping by, new readers.

Boots Theory top 5 posts for February

It was quite a month, and largely thanks to anti-feminist creepy dudes.

I say no to rape-promoting meetups in my city

Let’s put some numbers on this. RoK has 11,000 followers on Twitter, with 12,500 “liking” the RoK Facebook page. Roosh himself has nearly 18,000 Twitter followers. The Quantcast page for RoK’s January site stats show 1.1 million unique global visitors and 3.7 million pageviews. RoK’s advertising page suggests a sponsored post would garner “5,000 – 15,000 views”.

And immediate online reach isn’t where this ends. The attitudes and ideas promoted by people like Roosh V are tacitly reinforced by far too much mainstream culture. The dudes reading Roosh are telling their friends about it. They’re going out in public and putting Roosh’s teachings into practice. This can, literally, only end with women being psychologically bullied and manipulated and physically assaulted.

DUKE: I have questions

Look at the “distinctive content” TVNZ was seeking for DUKE. Look at NFL, professional wrestling, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Gotham, Agent Carter (I’m ignoring the ridiculous men-with-heavy-machinery offerings because I already fill that need with Gold Rush). First off, this is basically a channel designed for me and we all know I’m a rabid man-hating feminist.

Secondly … this is exactly the kind of content our free-to-air channels should have been showing for years but haven’t. Sorry for the overuse of italics, but I could’ve told TVNZ that this was the kind of content they needed to be showing off the top of my head.

The Epsom Paradox

After watching several of my Twitter buddies disbelievingly live-tweet the ridiculous proceedings around the Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan the other night, I had some thoughts. The good folks of Twitter liked them, so I decided to expand on them in a post. Here it is!


The responsibility for stopping abuse lies with each of us. When we all stand together at an event like this, it sends a message. It draws a line about what is and isn’t acceptable.

But we have to follow this up with the much harder work of getting the message out in our communities and challenging the people who share these harmful attitudes. They aren’t just strangers on the internet: they can be our friends and coworkers and family members.

Three free years

Make no mistake: free tertiary education is a leftward step. And it’s about time.

I also blogged about the fact that good policy costs money, and our problem with masculinity – or rather, buying into sexist framing about men and violence.