Saturday, 1 December 2012

RIP Marcia Russell

Marcia Russell has left this world. As readers of this blog (all six of you) will know, I named my blog after Marcia's groundbreaking series Revolution on the 1984 - 1990 Labour Government.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Gay marriage and Key's third term

The Dim-Post argues the Prime Minister's support for gay marriage is a huge stroke of luck for Labour. In the next Labour-led government, there won't be any pressure from Labour's activists to enact gay marriage while Labour's own Louisa Wall gets the credit for bringing the change about.

But the more I think about it the more it seems the biggest winner from the gay marriage debate is the Prime Minister and his government. As I've argued here previously, the biggest impediment to a third-term for National in 2014 (on current polling) is a lack of allies to the right. The most viable new kid on the block is Colin Craig's Conservative Party (CCCP). Craig's own positioning on the debate - by making outrageous statements on homosexuality - is both opportunistic and playing to the ultra-conservative base. It's likely he'll pick up votes from disenchanted social conservatives who would otherwise vote National or Act (and maybe even NZ First).

It's not unreasonable to guess the CCCP might be propelled into parliament off the back of this debate, even though it appears to be largely over. With Act on its way out (bringing in no extra MPs the people of Epsom could very well just throw their lot in with Paul Goldsmith) and no other potential partners, the CCCP taking 5% of the party vote wouldn't be impossible. Craig certainly has the money to throw at the party.

All of this means the chances of there being a new ally for National post 2014 just got a lot better. Even if Labour are able to repeat their 1999 performance (38% of the party vote) off the back of opposition to the mixed ownership model, and the Greens are again above 10%, a National-led government with support from the Conservatives, United and the Maori Party could still hang on with the same level of support. The likelihood of this outcome is even greater if the threshold is decreased to 4% of party votes (abolishing the one-seat rule would also have no impact).

The net result, though, is that National will be able to stay in office 2014 - 2017, even with a reduced share of the party. By then gay marriage will have been enacted, the sky wouldn't have fallen in and Craig will probably have to find another issue to make stupid comments about.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Look who's back

A few years ago a blog called "Queen and Country" appeared, co-authored by a "Bill Wilmot" and Aidan Work. As you'd imagine its line was distinctly pro-monarchy, and strangely included pictures of the Queen supplied by the Monarchist League. It took a strange (almost creepy) interest in myself, although hilariously getting things wrong at the same time. I've suspected for a long time that "Bill Wilmot" is in fact Aidan Work by another name - his use of sock-puppets on Wikipedia (due to being banned for vandalising articles) with made-up names is well documented.

"Bill Wilmot" who has exactly the same spelling and writing capabilities of Aidan, claimed I worked firstly for the Ministry of Economic Development and was its deputy secretary (in fact there's two Lewis Holdens in the world, and we did in fact both work for the MED) and secondly (by snooping on my Facebook profile) that I worked for IBM, which according to some conspiracy theorists is responsible for the holocaust (in fact they just sold punch-card systems for the German census, there were about as morally responsible for the Nazis as Coca-Cola, which is not a lot).

One of the most unintentionally funny posts on Queen and Country was the foundation of the "Conservative Democratic Unionist Party of the Dominion of New Zealand." Bill/Aidan complained that the mainstream conservative parties in New Zealand were not conservative enough, and advocated such "conservative" policies as the death penalty for anyone in possession of drugs, banning the Maori Party (along with the National Front, for balance of course), repealing the Human Rights Act so anyone could freely criticise "homosexual propaganda". I'm not making this up.

So it's no surprise that Aidan has thrown his support behind the CCCP:

Of course, it's not fair to tar everyone in the CCCP as holding the same views as Aidan. It's just funny to me that he's jumped on the Conservative Party band-wagon because they have an "anti-apartheid & anti-republican" platform. I can't figure out where he's got this idea from, it's not stated in the party's policy platform that they oppose a New Zealand republic (in fact they support binding referendums). The only place they come close is in their principles statement, which mentions New Zealand's membership of the "British Commonwealth". That is clearly a mistake (sadly a common one) but hardly a statement of support for the monarchy, as the majority of members of the Commonwealth today are republics.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The CCCP propaganda machine

As my two regular readers will know, I argued following last year's election that National needed to play the MMP game and talk to Colin Craig's Conservative Party (CCCP). After his latest outburst on gay marriage, I'm sure this strategy would work. Not because I agree for one minute with his views.

In a way, Craig's strategy is a good one. He's dog-whistling to all the homophobic, anti-feminist voters with his comments on gay marriage and promiscuous women. My hope is that Craig takes all the social conservative voters out of NZ First and National.

Of course I don't agree at all with Craig's views on either issue. And social issues are almost always matters of conscience. Hence they make little difference to creating governments, which stand or fall on confidence and supply. The CCCP propaganda machine has cranked up - the question now is whether it can carry Craig into a by-election, or last until the next general election.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The passionless people's forbidden subjects

Andrea Vance covers so-called the "forbidden" subjects of New Zealand politics: euthanasia, gay adoption and abortion. All subjects, as a social liberal, I would argue are for private citizens to decide on, not the state.

And they're all subjects I'm sure will make some of you recoil, close this window in your browser and have a strong drink. Which reminds me of something I read in an interview last week with Gordon McLauchlan in the New Zealand Herald, discussing his new book The Passionless People Revisited. It's actually a sequel of The Passionless People, a often funny analysis of New Zealand in the 70s. 

McLauchlan doesn't sound like much of a fan of John Key. Which is not surprising given his generally left-wing take on the world. But what resonated with me was his description of political debate in New Zealand:
"There is no debate in this country. A typical New Zealand debate involves someone shouting and someone shouting back and then there's an embarrassed silence."
McLauchlan is right on this point. There's a clear link between our inability to resolve the above "forbidden" subjects - either way - because we (and by that I mean the public at large) simply won't debate them. Instead, that's left to the special interest groups, who the rest of the population generally regard as strange, slightly possessed and possibly suffering from OCD. Some, such as myself, are.

And because the subjects are controlled by special interest groups, they don't progress anywhere. Which is the obvious question that goes unanswered: why, when there's clearly interest in all of these issues, can we not sensibly debate these issues?

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Mmmm BOP*

Since it's the end of Q1 2012 today, I'd thought it might be time to publish this pretty little chart I put together a few weeks ago:

New Zealand's Balance of Payments (BOP) 2001 - 2011

It's New Zealand's Balance of Payments (BOP) from 2001 - 2011. The green line is the balance of payments itself, which is the sum of the balance on goods and services - the blue line (i.e. exports minus imports) and the balance on income and current transfers - the red line (i.e. money into the country minus money out).

As you can see, the trend was pretty much all in the wrong direction (downwards) until Q2 2008. From then on out exports exceeded our imports, and in Q3 2009 we actually went into surplus for the first time in many years.

It's great to see our exports are now making us more than what our imports are costing us. The red line is now the worrying one. However, it does seem the prosperity of the last decade, especially prior to the pre-GFC recession New Zealand was in by the end of 2008, shows our worrying tendancy to borrow up large during a boom and spend on housing and imports.

*Obligatory 90s pop music reference.