Friday, 28 November 2008

Senior Tory M.P. arrested

I actually think this (1) is a great thing, and there should be more of it. And once the police have arrested all the venal bastards who, like Green (2), supported the Iraq War and the excesses of The War on Terror, and who failed to question the vicious hypocritical practices of the British and U.S. governments, the 'detainees' should be rendered to Gauntanamo and subjected to a bit of waterboarding and sensory deprivation and other 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'
1 - 'Cameron condemns Tory leak arrest,' unattributed BBC article, 28th of
November, 2008. (
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7753763.stm)
2 - Profile of Damien Green compiled by theyworkforyou.com, views on 28th of November, 2008. (
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/damian_green/ashford)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Rememberance Day

Dave Brown's Rememberance Day cartoon from the Independent (1):



We will also remember those who would have put New Zealander troops into Iraq. Especially since they now have the power to do so.
1 - 'Rememberance Day' by Nick Brown, published in The Independent, 10th of November, 2008. (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/the-daily-cartoon-760940.html)

Monday, 10 November 2008

Trotter struts, frets - part two

Congratulations to Chris Trotter, who managed to make it all the way through his first post-election column without saying "I told you so," or using the word "infelicitous," at all (1).

Trotter ascribes the failure of the left to the reactionary tendency of New Zealand voters:
So, what was it in the end? What led a majority of the New Zealand electorate to reject a government that has not only done it no great harm (as National-led governments are historically prone to do), but might even be said to have done it some good? Why did voters reject a prime minister with nine years of hard-won experience in government, for a chap who's barely spent six years in parliament?

Last night's result was manufactured out of the besetting sin of the last 150 years of western history - the crisis of masculinity. What, exactly, is a man in a world of corporate and public bureaucracies? A world of tin-pot bosses, impossible schedules, and unrealistic expectations? A world where to show your feelings is to reveal your weakness? A world where girls can do anything, but boys make a virtue out of boorish stupidity? A world where cynicism trumps heroism, and where simple human decency is dismissed as political correctness?

It was these: the men who just couldn't cope with the idea of being led by an intelligent, idealistic, free-spirited woman; the gutless, witless, passionless creatures of the barbecue-pit and the sports bar (and the feckless females who put up with them); who voted Helen Clark out of office. (2)

First of all - I have to say it - how he can describe Helen Clark as 'idealistic,' is beyond me. For the last time, she signed a free trade agreement with the Communist despots of the P.R.C. There was nothing iidealistic in that, just pragmatic economically motivated hypocrisy. Which exposes Trotter's column as the ideological ideal-illogical exercise it is.

(For record, the voting system isn't there to "save us from ourselves" as Trotter puts it (3) - it is there to reflect the will of the people. MMP is not perfect, as the bump in the wasted vote this year showed - but it is better than many. If Trotter wants a system where the good and the wise get to decide what is good for everyone else, I suggest he visit Helen's friends in Beijing.)

He can't be honest and attribute Labour's defeat to its true source - a rudderless party who on;ly purpose had become to maintan its position in power, on the benighted principle that' "We might be slightly better at mismanaging things than the other team." There was nothing fundamentally distinctive about Labour in 2008. The fact John Key was able to "Mee, too!" almost every policy of Labour's showed that. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they lost - because there was no reason for them to win. No compelling reason why people would vote for them. No Big Idea to excite people.

Admitting that, however, would mean Trotter and Labour have to admit that they failed, and they don't have the courage for that - the same lack of courage that cost them the election. SO it is easier to blame the electorate, in a singular display of graceless disgruntlement.
1 - "The night MMP couldn't save us from ourselves," by Chris Trotter, published in the Sunday Star Times, 9th of November, 2008. Reproduced on stuff.co.nz. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4754717a1861.html)
2 - ibid.
3 - ibid.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Don't blame Bradford for ACT

It has been suggested (1) that one reason for ACT's good performance last night was down to a backlash against the repeal of Section 59, particularly among Pacific Islanders in South Auckland. They oted for ACT, supposedly, because that was the party that refused to support he bill.

(The implication that PI families are prone to violence agaisnt children is noted)

This doesn't stand up to even the most basic scrutiny. Comparing the party vote for ACT across the three South Auckland electorates of Mangere, Manakau East and Manurewa, ACT's share of the party vote has barely changed - a boost in one electorate balanced by falls in another.
Mangere 05 - 141
Mangere 08 - 252

Manakau East 05 -629
Manakau East 08 - 395

Manurewa 05 - 232
Manurewa 08 - 575

And anyway, we're talking about such piddling numbers here that the net increase in Manurewa (since when did it become a hotbed of Freidmanite lunacy?) wouldn't even get Roger Douglas's toe nail clippings into parliament.

It would be interesting - but tiresome - to see where ACT was getting it was behind ACT's surge, it wasn't the wrath of brownskinned child thumpers in South Auckland.

In fact, Labour's support in Mangere dropped by about 7,000 vortes, but so did the total number of party votes cast (28,967 down to 21,688). The vote simply seems to have stayed at home. In Manakau South we see the same thing - 33,193 party votes cast in 2005, down to 23,312 in 2008. And Labour's majority down by about 4,500 (interestingly, National's support fell by 5,000 as well, acocunting for the difference). And in Manurewa, the difference between 2005's party votes and 2008's was about 8,000 votes, once again matching the fall in Labour's majority.

It might be arguable that the collapse in Labour support in these electorates reflects disgust at Labour's support of Bradford's bill, but there is nothing to support the claim that they were transfering to ACT in any significant numbrs. And with out that evidence, it is hard to attribute the decline to the Bradford Bill at all. It might be, but there isn't any good evidence to support the contention.

National, after all, did rather well last night inspite of supporting the bill.

The figures for 2005 can be verified here and the figures for 2008 can be checked here (2).

1 - Comment posted on The Standard by a poster called Falafula Fisi: "Labour should blame themselves for bringing in the EFA and the backing of Sue Bradford’s bill. I have lots of relatives in South Auckland who had been Labour supporters since they set foot on this country, until came the Sue Bradford’s bill, and they me told this afternoon, that they all voted for ACT the only party that opposed that bill." (http://www.thestandard.org.nz/election-night-live-blogging-the-live-post/#comment-103069)
2 - The online summary of the 2005 and 2008 election results, broken down by electorates, viewed as of the 9th on November, 2008. (http://2005.electionresults.govt.nz/electorateindex.html and http://2008.electionresults.govt.nz/electorateindex.html)

Come on, Scotland!

Forget the election, the real battle is Scotland vs. All Blacks, being played at Murrayfield right now. Lets see if my compatriots can add to New Zealand's woes.

UPDATE - Even here, I seem doomed to confoundation. All Blacks 32 - Scotland 6. And in my post-election befudled state, I misread the TV schdules (not once but twice) and thought the match was being shown on Prime at 3.30 a.m., not 3.30 p.m. ... So was very tired and grumpy by the time I realised my mistake (worse - I watched the infomercials until 4 a.m. expecting to cut to Murrayfield at any moment ...)

And then National Radio went and gvae awy the result while I was listening to the post-election analysis this mornng.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Election 08 comments

Initial forecast with 2.3% of the vote in:

National on 48% versus Labour's 32%. Which looks shocking for Labour, but I remember last time round Labour started 10% behind and pulled it back 1% per 10% of the vote coming in, to sneak ahead in the final few results.

This time, they are too far behind, but if that formula holds true the final result for the two big parties might look like National 43% and Labour 37% - pretty close to my earlier guesstimate. The Greens look okay at 6.2%, and should add a bit to that.

Freakily, it looks like NZ First might be in with a shout of reaching 5%. How can this be?

UPDATE - National up to 49%, Labour down to 31%, Greens slipping, NZ First creeping up ... this is not what should be happening. Still, right now it is all rural types who vote National and - unlike us leftie uban types - can't make it to a polling station on the day itself. So my formula should be vindicated as the evening progresses.

8.58 - Finally a slight shrinkage in the National lead, down to 47% of votes in. This trend should continue, leaving them as the largest party in parliament, but bperhaps not by a decisive margin. Where will Winston be seems to be the crucial question now.

9.06 - Labour move up to 32%. Creeping up, National creeping down, who big will the gap between them be?

9.40 - Labour up to 33%. National + ACT perhaps less than 50% of total vote. Starting to get confusing and messy. Bit unjust, perhaps, that NZ First is polling more than ACT but looks like it is completely gone, where as ACT might have a decisive influence. Oh well, that’s the system.

9.58 - National still trending down, but slowly. Labour trending up, but slowly - 45% to 33%. Gap is 12%. Nats + ACT + UF looking possible, but still some big numbers coming in. A propos of nothing, New Zealand elections lack any sort of epic quality. It's all over in a couple of hours. At least in Britain, you might have to wait until 3a.m. which gives you time to get properly excited / upset / drunk.

10.04 - National are now well over 200,000 votes clear of Labour. You can repeat "Silver and Bronze beats Gold, it's all about plurality," but you can't deny that it feels wrong to contemplate defying such a gap. To do so might, in the longer term mean the end of M.M.P. Perhaps Winston could weasel his way back into the Beehive on an anti-M.M.P. ticket ...

10.12 - I reckon there’s 3% of shift left in the remaining vote, at most - Labour up to 34% or 35% at the outside, and National down to 44%. Which might leave National just short of a Nat-ACT-UF totality, but Labour unable to do anything, even with the Greens and the Maoris.

10.20 - Bloody Hell, does that mean Phil Goff in charge of Labour? How depressing, Just when they need a proper leader for 2011 when National get serious about wrecking the place.

10.29 - Thing is, I pledged (1) to do a streak if Roger Douglas got into parliament. Fortunately, I didn’t specify it had to be a public streak. Though it is a cold night. ACT haven't just undone my modesty, they've undone the whole election - everything else turned out more or less as predicted, but their robust performance meant that no coalition formulation Labour could come up with could overcome the rightwing bloc. Which is sad, because it means we could be in for a grisly six years or so, unless Keyism comes hideously undone, quickly. ANd Labour are smart enough to find someone who isn't Phil Goff to lead them.

10.34 - Shit. Pompous Chris (2) will be twiddling his moustache and spluttering "I told you to dump Helen!" over this. And Hide's success will establish the idea that you have to be a publicity seeking tit to suceed as the leader of a minor party. The bads just keep piling up!

11.09 - I pour myself my first alcoholic drink in about four years, to toast Key's success and fortify myself for the squeals of rightwing joy. Interestingly, posting comments on The Standard, the 'capcha' anti-spam thingy requested that I type in the words 'society' and 'suffers.' Could this be an omen?

11.30 - Clark announces her resignation. That's probably the biggest shock of the night, really. I thought she'd hang on a bit longer.
1 - 'Forget the Obama Drama - New Zeland (sic) Election Night!' discussion thread started by la la (that's me) on the MSN News forum, 8th of November, 2008. (http://uk.msnusers.com/News/general.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=2521835&LastModified=4675697389884986541&all_topics=0)
2 - The Policy Blog, cyberspatial home of Chris Trotter (http://www.policy.net.nz/blog/). Trotter made a lot of noise about how Labour should ditch Clark before the election, described pervious on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2008/03/trotter-struts-frets.html.

Prediction

  • National take the lions share of the vote - 45%
  • Labour perform better than pollsters predict - 38%
  • Greens weigh in with a handy total - 8%
  • The remainder of the non Maori electorate vote is dribbled away between the other parties. Progressives, ACT and United Future returned through electorate seats with minimal extra M.P.s
The Maori Party are left to decide who gets to be governing party, eventually going with Labour because of the pro-Labour tendency of their support base. Prehaps it is intimated to them that Helen Clrak will step down in favour of Shane Jones before the next election.

Long term conseuence is that National exploit anti-MMP sentiment to restore FPTP and abolish the Maori seats, effectively ending the Maori Party as a political force.

Spoiler Warning

Today, in an act of democratic defiance, I'll trot off to the polling station and spoil my ballot.

I can not justify voting for either Labour or National. National was never a realistic option. Labour have failed to offer any big idea to inspire me to vote for them, and my repugnance at their Free Trade Agreement with the P.R.C. is too strong. Appartatchiks might wail about choosing the 'least worst' or focusing what is 'best for New Aealand.' But stuff them, their simply trying to cozen a few more votes for their corrupt, useless party who have snuggled up with the most hateful and evil regime on the planet.

Greens out, because they would simply support Labour, and I can't justify a proxy vote for Labour. Ditto most of the other left leaning parties. Even the token parties are out, because if some freak of electoral absurdity were to put a representative of the Workers' Party in the Beehive, they would inevitably coallese with Labour. Anyway, there's something disheartening about a bunch of student Trots calling themselves workers, with straight faces. Especially when they are constantly shrilling for surplus value to be appropriated to pay for their personal improvement.

ACT, NZ First or United Future? Don't be silly.

So in a few hours time, I'll scribble all over my ballot paper, because I think it is important enough to show that you care, by turning up. But I also think it is important enough to not waste your vote on a party you despise, that you disagree with and that you think needst o return to its principles and work out why it wants to be in power in the first place, other than to provide a bunch of porkers with sinecures.

Hang out the stars in Alabama!

Well done, Albanians, or whatever you are. Who ever thought The Great Fightback would start in Alabama? Seriously, well done. Nothi...