Monday, 14 April 2014

Meanwhile, in Egypt

The Guardian reports allegations that rape by the police is being used as a tool of state terror and 16,000 'dissidents' have been arrested arrested.

Tony "we should be supporting the new government" Blair must be nodding approvingly and wondering why he stopped at ASBOs.

Entrails of chickens

In the good old days, if you wanted to foretell the future you disembowelled a chicken and tried to make predictions based on the shape of its liver and whatnot.  Now, we have polling companies, which is possibly more scientific but a lot less fun, even for the chicken.

I don't know if Roy Morgan are trying to Do Their Bit by recycling polls, but they seem to be producing the same one over and over again.  You could basically pick any poll released over the last 6 months and the same questions will almost certainly apply:

  • Does Labour get more than 33%?
  • Does the 'Labour-Green bloc' (a curious entity that exists only in the mind of desperate lefties) beat National?
  • Does NZ First get more than 5%?
Last week's poll was no exception, with Labour polling a deadly 32% - though given the way the party has been flirting with the sub-30 Fatal Boundary, that is something to be pleased about, the 'Labour-Green bloc' just out polling National and Winston looking chipper on 5.5%.

Given every poll is pretty much irrelevant in itself, what can we say about the longer term blah blah blah?

Next to nothing, that has not been said a thousand times.  Labour are dead in the water, but may enjoy a slight improvement when the campaign proper gets under way.  Meanwhile, there is the continual talk of the 'Labour-Green bloc.'  Think about the history of the 'Labour-Green bloc' for a moment.  1999 - excluded from the coalition.  2002 - excluded from the coalition.  2005 - excluded from the coalition. 

That's not a 'bloc.'

History shows the Greens have been perpetually excluded in favour of NZ First and United Future.  Only once - 1999 - did Labour turn left and coalesce with the Alliance.  Which in itself might serve as a warning to the Greens.

The Greens are victims of a phenomenon whereby they make every correct tactical decision, resulting in tactical ruination.  They have, time after time, done the right thing - arranging confidence and supply agreements, conducting grown up negotiations and the like - and it has got them no-where.

Meanwhile, a man-child like Peters throws his toys and stamps his foot and is rewarded, time and again, by fresh shiny baubles.

What is the likelihood of this happening again?  Pretty good and pretty much impossible, is my less than helpful answer.

Pretty good because Labour appear quite happy with the idea of shutting out the Greens if possible.  Cunliffe's recent comments about Labour trying to maximise its vote suggest a degree of hubris - he appears to be intent on eating up enough of the Greens to get Labour within a Winston of victory, without having to draw on the Greens.

Saying the Greens might not be the first party addressed in coalition talks is a clear signal they know Winston is going to have some pretty hefty demands and will want dibs on ministerial folios for himself and his hangers-on.  One of his demmands might even be not working with the Greens - more baubles for him.  hence Cunliffe's comments about maximising the vote.

Pretty much impossible because, I suspect, such a campaign will be unsuccessful.  Labour can no hope to gobble up 10% of the Green vote.  They aren't appealing enough a brand, and the dreams of Standardistas for Cunliffe leading them above the 40% mark have proven to be more than a little bit fanciful.  The party is stuck where it was a year ago, two years ago ... Even seizing 5% of the Green vote - a difficult proposition - will probably leave a putative Labour-NZ First government short.  And Winston has previously refused to work with the Greens.

And, crucially, he has no need to now.  He can always 'Heed the will of the people' and go with National

Which leaves us us no further forward, really.  Last week's Roy Morgan puts the 'Labour-Green bloc' and National pretty much neck on neck (if you add the Green's neck onto Labour's) and Winston as the kingmaker. Wo'dathunkedit?

National will have more baubles to offer Winston and his hangers on, as Labour will already have given a basketful to the Greens.

Robertson or Ardern in 2017?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Tory - a singular noun?

'Tory' might soon be a noun that does not possess a plural form, according to this revealing data speck from Peter Oborne's column in the Telegraph:
Tory membership now stands at well under half the 250,000 inherited by David Cameron in 2005. John Strafford, one of the best-known party activists, tells me that he believes it has fallen below 100,000.
There are more Dodos in Britain than paid up members of the conservative party - FACT.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

I may have to reconsider my position on Syria

I've never been one of the wimps who thinks we should just leave the respective sides in the Syrian conflict to get on with it, partly because Russia and China certainly aren't going to, and partly because the Assad regime is a grotesque insult to decency and partly because I fear if we don't, fundamentalist terrorism will colonise the conflict.

I think this stance has been pretty much justified by developments over the last few years that the conflict has dragged on.  But this gave me pause for thought:
Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday, Blair said: "We have not intervened in Syria. The consequences are, in my view, terrible and will be a huge problem not just for the Middle East region but for us in the years to come." 
Blair advocated military action against the Assad regime after a sarin gas attack on the Ghouta district, near Damascus, last August killed between 350 and 1,400 people. 
His stance placed him on the same side as David Cameron, who wanted to join the US in launching an attack on the Assad regime, but highlighted differences with Ed Miliband, who was highly sceptical of military intervention. 
Blair, who was speaking on the Today programme to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, made his remarks about the failure to take action in Syria when asked if it might still be right to take military action without domestic support.
Is this one of these rare-if-not-actually-extinct occasions when Blair is correct (like the minimum wage or ... nope, minimum wage is pretty much it), or proof that I've made a terrible blundering in supporting intervention in Syria?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Disgusting corrupt Tories

The heading probably contains several tautologies.
The culture minister, Maria Miller, tried to limit an investigation into her expenses by warning the parliamentary standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, that she was acting outside the law and threatening to refer her to a Commons committee.  
In a sign of Miller's attempts to prevent an investigation into her claims for interest payments on her mortgage, she told Hudson that the commissioner would be acting in a way that was "unwarranted, unfair and contrary to all standards of due process and legality". 
Miller, who was ordered on Thursday to apologise for her conduct towards Hudson and to repay £5,800, even threatened to refer the watchdog to the "supervisory jurisdiction" of the House of Commons standards committee. 
The lengthy and fruitless attempt to limit the investigation emerged in the correspondence between Miller and Hudson over the MP's expenses. 
On Thursday Miller was told by the Commons' standards committee, which issues judgments on the watchdog's report, that she would only need to repay £5,800 – a reduction from the £45,000 Hudson recommended that the minister return for over-claimed allowances on her second home in Wimbledon, south-west London.  
So much for Dave the reformer, the sleazebuster, the new broom. Turns out his lot are as shabby and dishonest and self serving as any other administration; and a bunch of bullies who use their power to threaten and browbeat the people charged with keeping them honest; and when even that fails, look out for their own interests by applying derisory fines instead of proper punishments.

Who would have thought it?

Friday, 28 March 2014

More wailing and gnashing of teeth about the possible Mana / Internet Party linkage

Speaking as a middle class, mortgaged European immigrant, I regard Hone Harawira as a man of honour and integrity. I admire his passion - which sometimes gets him into trouble - and the forthright way he responds to criticism. I wanted him and his values in parliament, which is why I voted for Mana in 2011 (in 2008, I felt unable to vote for any party and submitted a spoiled ballot paper - that's how seriously I take my political choices).

Dotcom, on the other hand, I regard as a self serving parasite who uses his wealth to buy influence to further his own interests. Buying a copy of Mien Kampf signed by Hitler as 'an investment' sums up the man perfectly - he sees the Holocaust as something he can make money out of, so he can have more baubles and buy more politicians.

 I can't see any relationship between the two parties working to the benefit of Mana. It will be tainted by the corrosive .com brand - he can play the loveable rogue only so much, and Mana will be continually question about why it is associating with a multi-millionaire possible criminal serial supporter of the right. It is a disastrous mis-step.