Friday, 27 September 2013

Crushing Victory for Red Ed

No Labour leader can hope for a better headline than this:

Peter Mandelson criticises Ed Miliband's energy plan

Seven magic words that confirm it is a good idea.  A finger wagging from Peter Mandelson confirms this is a actually a good idea - I had my doubts until now - and it's all over for David Cameron.  Miliband is a shoe in now.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Song for Ed Miliband

The screaming and howling that has greeted Miliband rather modest proposals for capping power prices is hilarious to behold.  A conference speech by 'Red Ed' apparently wiped billions off the share price of utility companies.  Dire warning of a return to the power cuts of the 70s abound in the lunatic rightwing press.

Blimey, the man stopped a war and has not started a new Global Financial Crisis, and he isn't even in power.  Lenin has nothing on this chap.

By any saner-than-the-Daily-Mail standard, the speech was fairly middle-of-the-road stuff, cannily aimed at being seen to try to do things to make things easier for the typical family. If he was wading off to the extreme left he'd be talking about re-nationalising the electricity companies, not talking about capping profits.

Interestingly, the comments underneath the Mail article linked above suggest that Ed may have hit a nerve. Normally you'd expect anything he did to be utterly condemned and derided by the readers of the Mail ... But a lot of them are positive.  Tories may scream, but the people know they are being giped and they aren't listening to their masters any more.  Revolution is in the air!

So here's a slice of old fashioned tub thumping political pop, courtesy of Paul Weller in his Style Council Days.


"Lights go out," indeed!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Guardian Schmardian

Oh, dear.

Another day, another example of soft porn mid-brow titillation from the Guardian. Just stick a topless bird on Page 3 and be done with it.

If people want smut, there is plenty of it out there on the interweb. Either keep this site free of it, or if you are going to go there, do it properly and don't disguise it in wantonly pointless articles like this, or with endless phtoographs of luciosus bints who somehow make the front page without actually being remotely newsworthy.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cunliffe's Cock Up II

So, a total no-story about a remark Standard blogger and Cunliffe campaign stalwart Jenny Michie becomes a fair-to-middling crisis for Team Cunliffe because of Cunliffe's poor judgement.

For the historical record, here is the original remark, made in a discussion recorded for The Nation:
That’s right, I think it's not a big a deal as it used to be. You know we now have gay marriage, and it actually went through without that much of a fuss, and the sky hasn’t fallen. Having said that I think we'd be na├»ve to imagine that there would be no resistance to a gay Prime Minister at this point. I think some people might have a problem with it, but I certainly wouldn’t.

Which is innocuous enough, especially as it was in response to a direct question from the interviewer, Rachel Smalley: "Grant Robertson Jennie says that he wants to be judged on his ability, not his sexuality. How do you think the socially conservatives might view Grant Robertson you know in the year 2013?"

That's the sum of the original incident, which, for what it was worth, was broadcast on the 25th of August, after Shearer had resigned but before Cunliffe had declared his intention to contest the leadership.

Fast forward to last night, and suddenly the story is on the news, some two weeks after the original discussion.  Michie is now working for the Cunliffe team and the Southern Were-Shrew, Clare Curran happens upon the quote and starts shrilling across Twitter, with the help of Patrick Gower, who never saw a crap story he didn't like.

At that point, the story should have died.  It was slightly surprising it made it onto the TV news, but everyone likes a bit of aggro, so perhaps it was to be expected.  Cunliffe made grumpy noises but nothing more that evening.  The next day, he announced Jenny Michie had been 'stood down' from the campaign team.

I am not impressed by Cunliffe’s behaviour. Sacking a worker who has done nothing wrong is not what you would expect from someone wanting to lead the party of the workers.  Even viewed pragmatically, it was a misjudgement, as it has made a small and rather silly story bigger and distracted people’s attention from Curran’s role in it.

On the Standard, this has been hailed, weirdly, as Cunliffe 'showing steel' and demonstrating effective action and sound political judgement.  I think that is wrong on all three counts.  I don’t think a CEO who sacks workers to hire cheap labour is showing steel. Nor is a politician who boots out his staff for no good reason.

Cunliffe's response is fairly strange, on many levels.  First of all, dismissing someone who had given their time and energy, for doing nothing wrong, was pretty repulsive behaviour.  Especially from a man who wants to lead the party of the workers.  And especially from a man who should have know what it is like to be treated unfairly - Cunliffe after all had been demoted last year for exhibiting  disloyalty which he had always denied.

Of course, Patrick Gower was involved in that farago as well, and perhaps Cunliffe panicked, seeing his nemesis once again manifesting.

Another other reason it was a strange move from was because it showed poor instinct.  The story was not interesting until he made it interesting by his poorly judged response.  Curran was only making herself look stupid. No-one really cared what jenny Michie said a fortnight ago on a TV show no-one watched, and most people would have agreed with her assessment that there are still some brain dead idiots out there for whom Grant Robertson being gay is an issue.  After one night, the story would have died as it seems to have little to do with the Kardashians, or loveable rogue sheep - unless Jenny Michie was booted because she was actually a Kardashian. Or a rogue sheep.

Doing nothing wouldn’t have hurt Cunliffe. But by doing something he made it look like it was a story after all.  If sacking Michie was supposed to close the story down, it didn;t work as it was on the news again tonight. I doubt the original incarnation of the story would have been. Sacking Michie gave it legs. Fortunately, probably not enough to make it into a third night.

So it was morally a pretty unpleasant thing to do.  It was also clearly ineffective and miscalculated.  And Cunliffe should have known this.  He should have realised that he was not killing the story, but turning it into a zombie that would lumber after him.  If he is smart, and if he has been ‘under constant attack’ from the ‘biased’ ‘MSM’ as some slightly paranoid sounding posters at The Standard make out, he would have seen how this would be seized on as an example of his remorseless ambition.

Robertson and Jones have shown a bit of nous on the issue, more than Cunliffe. Robertson got to look big by saying it was nonsense, and that should have been the end of the story. Jones got a good line about werewolves. Cunliffe gets a lot of bad coverage. Who won?

So, he botched it.  It happens.  Not the end of the world.  But if this is the sort of blundering reaction to a relatively feeble attack by a blethering idiot, what will he do when the National machine starts? Sack New Zealand?

Monday, 9 September 2013

Guardian in Pretty Girl on Front Page of Website SHOCKAH!!

Gosh.

Another day, another toothsome filly featured on the front page of the Guardian website, this time highlighting the Burning Social Issue of skin whitening.  The fact that she is a bit famous (in Brazil) and fairly easy on the eye has nothing to do with the positioning of this story, of course.  We're ALL whitening our skin these days, dahling.  I burned my Epidermis right off the other day, thorough careless application of bleach.  What a silly cow I am!

Perhaps it's a new campaign.  Forget poverty, forget unemployment, forget education, Syria and global warming.  To Hell with Female Genital Mutilation.  Who cares about disabled rights?  Why bother about the badger cull when some bird in Brazil has been photographed under very different conditions and the photos don't look the same?

You're not OUTRAGED?  I'm burning a Brazillian flag as I type (not as easy as it looks, you know) and next time I get the hair ripped off my crotch I'm going to call it a Freedom Wax!  That'll teach 'em.

Or perhaps not ...

The fact that her winesome visage will generate a lot of clicks (including mine ...) has nothing to do with anything.  Nothing.

This hypocritical foregrounding of attractive women on trumped up, non-story reasons is a bit pathetic, really, and the silly 'social concern' angle just makes the blazoning of this young woman's pictures across the front page even more distasteful.  The Guardian used to be a paper worth reading.  Now there might be a certain prurient pleasure in looking, but its criteria for what makes a story 'newsworthy' are depressingly obvious and tabloid.

I would have hoped the ready availability of endless amounts of smut and salacious imagery on the internet would have meant the Guardian didn't have to demean itself with such titillations.  The image brought to mind is of a (late) middle aged successful writer or (being the Guardian) broadcaster, gurning rather shamefully at the paparazzi camera after being snapped clubbing with some blonde doxy who is enjoying her five minutes of fame with a Top 30 hit with a cover of a Cyndi Lauper song.  You should know better, act your age, and all that.

At least The Sun is open and honest in its use of pretty birds to generate interest.  The Guardian is only a couple of notches above the Mail, these days.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Waffle About UK Economic Growth

So, the Financial Times is getting excited because the UK has managed the fastest quarter of growth in the past three years - a not-exactly-whopping 0.9% for June, July and August.  That's very nice.

Just a few weeks ago, people were getting excited about the 0.6% growth in the second quarter of the year (a proper quarter, not the rather spurious 'last three months' which is tantalising the FT).

The second figure is conflated in the first figure, of course, as there is an overlap in the periods being considered.  But even a grumpy curmudgeon such as I will accept that, yes, the economy is growing, slowly.  But it isn't terribly convincing, as it is based on internal consumer spending, not foreigners buying stuff made by Brits.  The FT notes - rather far down the article, I felt, that exports fell, particularly to non-European countries, and the trade deficit expanded between June and July - from £1.3bn in June to £3.1bn.
 
Britain is buying in more than it is selling overseas, so the recent growth isn't sustainable, unless the trade figures pick up.  It's a spending bubble, and will collapse as soon as the spending stops.

Yet the Tory boys trumpet the wussy growth figures as if it was a vindication of George Osborne's demented - and ongoing - attack on public spending.  Not so.

Ed and Ed - Milliband and Balls - warned that Osborne's  austerity drive would delay and reduce growth. I think that has been demonstrated to have happened. It was damn close to being a double dip and a miserable, potracted period of stagnation is nothing much to crow about.  The USA went for the opposite approach and has enjoyed comparatively strong growth.

It is worth bearing in mind that wages are stagnant here while inflation is rising; and Osborne has plenty of cutting still to do.

The crucial question is, have people become so inured to hardship that they will actually regard this mediocre growth as the dawn of a new Golden Age?

I suspect that may have been Osborne's strategy all along.

Wither now, Aussie Labour?

If the New Zealish Labour Party thought it had woes, then they need only look across the ditch and see what REAL problems look like.  And it is really sad as, viewed pragmatically, Abbott's victory offers a brilliant opportunity for the Labour Party to regroup and get ready for what should be a straightforward return to power in 2016, for it won't take long for Tony Abbott to become so hated that people would even vote Kevin Rudd back in.


However, I confidently expect the Australian Labour Party will not manage to put its house in order and will go into the 2016 election - and the one after that, and the one after that - as a disorganised, dishevelled, hate-inspiring rabble of self-serving divisionists, gleefully plotting against each other and not giving a damn about the party, far less the country, because their seats will be safe.  After all, if they've managed to cling on to their seats through the routing of Rudd, they'll probably never lose them.

Blessed with playing opposition to what will be the most hated government since ... er ... their last one, Labour will not be ready. Abbott is going to be loathed, his policies are going to be hated and his MPs are going to turn out to be drivelling morons who couldn't even find a place in One Nation. In fact, there is a possibility Labour and the Coalition will be so hated that, next time round, Australia will see it first ever Green government, with One Nation forming the opposition. Or the other way round ... because both the big parties are going to be despised and disowned for a very long time.

(Okay, that last bit is a bit fanciful.)

So, what now for the Labour Party.  In a sane world, Rudd would step down.  But this isn't a sane world.  This is the mad world where Tony Abbott gets to be PM, so all bets are off.  He should go.  But who would replace him?  There aren't enough Labour MPs left to have a leadership race and an election, are there?

You can imagine the conversations between the remaining members of caucus: "Right, I'm standing and so are you. I'll vote for you and you vote for you, and that way we can say the new leaders was elected after a fiercely fought contest, winning the overwhelming support of the Labour Party cauccus. All three of them ..."

At least the travails and misery of the (sort of) left in Australia should serve as some sort of warning to our lot.  But will they heed it?  I fear not.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Aussie election blah blah blah

First of all, let me say I profoundly don't care which of the scumbags gets to be Prime Minister of Australia.  They are both loathsome human beings, in a way that even John Key isn't.

But the machinations of politics does fascinate me, and as the psychodrama of the NZ Labour leadership toddles tediously along, the show across the Tasman provides a welcome bit of Grand Goignol.

The Guardian is calling the election for the Coalition, Abbot for PM, and proclaiming the demise of Kevin Rudd.  This seems to me to be a very superficial reading of events.

Rudd was not brought back to win the election but to minimise the defeat.  It's a measure of how much of a (shortlived) impact his return had that this was immediately forgotten and replaced with a 'Who will win?' narrative.  But it was never a win/lose proposition, no matter how much Sunny Kev might try to make out he expects to be PM on Monday.  He was brought back because an awful lot of marginal Labour MPs were worried they might lose their jobs. 

If he can save them, they'll save him.

Whether or not he has made a difference to the scale of Labour's defeat remains to be seen.  I suspect he may do well enough to hold on to have another tilt next time, if he wants to - he seems to be the only person who wants to be leader of the Australian Labour Party, and who can blame the others for shirking a slurp from that poisoned chalice?

Abbot is already unpopular and he hasn't even won the election yet, far less started doing anything to really annoy people.  Wait a few months and see the real hating start.  Whoever is in charge of Labour for the next election will have a good chance of condemning Abbot (assuming he isn't rolled, as happened to Rudd and then Gillard) to the ignominy of being a one term wonder.

Something Rudd hasn't actually achieved, of course, as he got booted out before the 2010 election.

Cunliffe's cock-up

Hat tip to Karol on the Standard for highlighting this.

David Cunliffe has been speaking his branes on the history of Labour Party:
Since Michael Savage’s day, Labour has stood for a sense of security, that we could have the basics covered by working together and that would give us the chance to make the best of our lives.
That really is an apalling re-write of history. What happened to the 1980s, David?  Huge swathes of New Zealand – usually those with least – were not civen a chance to make the best of their lives. They were given redundancy payouts and left to rot in communities with no jobs, no future and no hope.

Any man who can mouth that falsehood should be barred from even looking at the levers of power, far less touching them.

That line has done more to make me doubt Cunliffe than anything the other candidates, National, Kiwiblog, Whale or ever the endless dittohead comments on the Standard has done. He’s either practising in deceit, like every other politician, saying whatever needs to be said to achieve his ends; or he’s actually deeply naive / stupid / deluded about his party’s history.

The sad thing is, even if he’s both deceitful, and naive / stupid / deluded, he’s still probably the best candidate of the three.

But I suspect 2014 will see me making up about 1% of Mana’s party vote in Palmerston North, again.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Nefarious Machinations of the Nightbeasts claims already in

A rather cryptic title for a short thread observing that, over on The Standard, Fanatics 4 Cunliffe have already started muttering about how the leadership is going to be handed to Robertson, or Jones, or - all together now - Anyone But Cunliffe through some devious plotting by the 'old guard' in caucus.

Good grief. So if Cunliffe loses after an open contest where votes are divived between caucus, the membership and the unions, some people will STILL not be happy with the result?

I think he will win – though a bit less certain since Robertson seems to be quite hungry – and I want him to win. But I can’t believe we can already see the factionalist refusniks already starting their wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Obviously, for some, it seems the only fair 'election' would be the coronation of David Cunliffe.

Hopey-changey stuff

First of all, people are talking about a 'vote for change' based on the combination of Labour, Greens and New Zealand First. ‘Chan...