The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Saturday, December 31, 2005

moving towns?

Are the About Towners on the verge of shut down?

Xavier and Paul have set up a new blog, Kete Were, and I see now that Kate has joined it too - meanwhile Roy has posted his swansong and Tristan is overseas, leaving Maria Von Trapp to temporarily house-sit.

space time continuum rip

Is it just me or has Blogger removed the handy little bit on the Create page that lets you set the time and date of your post?

Very annoying when you want to start writing something ahead of time.


calling to account

Being the last day of the year and all that, I suppose I should review my New Year's Resolution success rate for 2005. Regular readers may have noticed that I was recording my progress at the beginning of each month, although I forgot a few.

Here's how it all finally fell out:

1. Get a new job in the area I want to work in - managed in January, started in March, still going strong.

2. Exercise more - regular gym going has been established, tennis buddy is back in NZ, have so much more energy and I'm finding exercise incredibly rewarding for the first time in my adult life. My posture and general health have improved, my clothes fall better, it's All Good.

3. Think positive - going very well - taken a number of important steps this year which have made a big difference.

4. Resist over-committing - now pretty good at this, except at work. Which is rather a big part of my life.

5. Get at least one stamp in my shiny unused passport - Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia visited in February and March - plans underway for a whirlwind OE from late March covering Dubai, Moscow, St Petersburg, Turkey, a whole lot of The Continent (yes, Bordeaux is on the list Flang!), Morocco, the UK, Ireland, and Bangkok.

6. Finish the kitchen - the Heart of the Home is exactly as it was when I concocted this resolution. Except it's currently tidier (Hurricane Re-organise The House has recently hit). Attempted contacts with the Benchtop People by The Man in the Comfy Chair have been unsuccessful, so I think we're just going to have to write that off and start again. It must be finished before we go overseas so that clock is now ticking again.

7. Get up to date with my Alliance projects - this was largely unsuccessful and I need to think a bit more about why.

New resolutions for 2006 coming soon!

Related links:
Original resolutions - that time of the year

Monthly reviews

Thursday, December 29, 2005

lazy blogger tries to paper cracks

I'm going to be a little structured about this - here's my favourite post from each month this year:

Jan 30th - benefit envy - why do the rich seem to be jealous of the poor?

Feb 3rd - tending towards the extremes - on NZ media bias

Mar 21st - who pays the carers in a free market world? - rightwingedness and caregiving work

Apr 10th - a barren argument - PM's parental status irrelevance shock!

May 29th - give us a toot - honking hurts

Jun 12th - aborting abortion - rather self-explanatory title methinks

July (I've cheated and chosen two)
July 24th - imagine - Brash and the mainstream
July 26th - you. will. conform. - bullying as a tool to impose conformity

Aug 22nd - working hard for money and working hard for family - Nats seem to want parents spending less time with their kids (Code of Social Responsibility anyone?)

Sep 7th - bear with me - on the never-ending complaints about Maori culture

Oct 27th - eradicable? - prompted by Wayne Mapp's ascension

Nov 24th - saying yes - on rape and consent

Dec 8th - blast from the past - an old story of collective action resurrected


The Ongoing Debate Dept
(NZ Political Parties and the Leftness Thereof Division):

Looks like January could be a good time to write a bit of an assessment and where the various left and centre-left parties are at...

I'd also recommend checking out the posts under a few things worth noting, on the sidebar under the recent comments.

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy festive season - not sure when this thing will be fully operational again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Aaron has laid into Hide, saying he has gone too far in pursuing the David Benson-Pope stuff and is now veering into the area of persecution rather than prosecution.

It seems to me that there is actually a huge disadvantage for DBP in not being charged, and the same holds true for Peter Hodgson over his alleged "technical assault" of Madeliene Flannagan.

By not being charged both men are effectively denied the opportunity to mount a credible defence. Because they are not being charged it isn't sub judice so they don't have that out. But at the same time they need to just get on with their lives, and their jobs, and not spend time on defending themselves.

I'm not saying either have total defences (or even credible ones) - what I am saying is that because they are not being charged we will now never really know their side of the story, as they would have told the court (i.e. under oath, with the possibility of a guilty verdict and a sentence hanging over their heads, encouraging them to find witnesses and other evidence in their defence).

So basically both men, in particular DBP, can now be slurred and tainted in relation to prima facie cases until (and probably beyond) the point at which they shuffle their mortal coils.

As Tristan has pointed out - the police don't always get it right, otherwise why bother with the judiciary? This particular point seems to have totally escaped the man who went into bat for others when another Govt department, the IRD, got it very wrong indeed.

In closing, I am not saying that either men are innocent. What I am saying is that only one side has been constructed to anywhere near judicial standard and that is the prosecution in both cases, which is far from enough information on which to make a judgement. Unfortunately many have already made their call and nothing short of an outcome in court that contradicts it will sway them. And of course that can't happen as no charges have been laid.

Political pointscoring has been the winner on the day.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

staunchie in-joke

Hat tip: Zoe at crazybrave

You can even do your own here.

yet another reason to think nice thoughts about Viggo Mortensen

As if being Aragorn son of Arathorn wasn't enough.

Viggo Mortensen blasts President Bush


"...I’m against cheating, greed, cruelty, racism, imperialism, religious fundamentalism, treason, and the seemingly limitless capacity for hypocrisy
shown by Bush and his administration.”
*happy sigh*

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

spot the difference

David Benson-Pope vs Lockwood Smith.

What is it about these Education Ministers?

I look forward to reading the right blogs' attacks on Smith for his reinvention of history sometime soon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

leaving on a jetplane

I'm a bit confused about the latest twist in the EPMU Fix Our Planes At Home campaign (FOPAH for short, which sounds a bit like faux pas, hmmm).

It seems that the EPMU have done the bosses' work for them by suggesting lots of lovely pay and conditions cuts to try to save some of the jobs involved. This would be despite the fact that Air NZ is already making big profits and the decision to shift the engineering work off-shore is more to do with ideology than it's actual viability.

When you add into the mix that the Government owns 80% of Air NZ I find this even weirder - they don't want to know about it. I'm particularly sure that ex-EPMU organiser Lynne Pillay, now MP for Waitakere (Labour), is especially keen to avoid talking about it.

- Len's post about this - Air NZ unions sell conditions for jobs
- Alliance release - Unions fail to confront Govt over Air NZ plans

i guess it was the teetotalling that did it

Click here to take the M*A*S*H quiz!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the second time last night, and I was struck again by how familiar the guy who plays Barty Crouch Junior is. So I looked him up on Imdb when I got home and turns out that he's David Tennant, the latest Dr Who. I've never seen any of the other things he's listed for, so I can't figure out why he's familiar. However I have been very curious about what the new Doctor looked like, so I guess this may be some bizarre way my brain had of finding out.

I hope that tongue tic isn't incorporated in the new series, it's rather repellent.

And for the record, Ben I think you were right. Shudder.

Friday, December 09, 2005

gone baby gone

Cathy Odgers appears to have deleted her blog, but someone has set up a fan site, asking the obvious question, in it's place.

How odd.

Update, 9.26am 10th Dec: Cathy's explanatory post on Kiwiblog is here.

Update, 6.57pm 12th Dec: A new blogger, in a similar style - Cactus Kate is now up and already rolling. Hat tip: DPF, off blog.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

blast from the past

I wrote the below over five years ago - at the time, and for many years afterwards, it was the best protest I had ever been on. After today I am not so sure it still holds that crown.

As I can't post about today I thought I'd put this up instead, unaltered from how it was back in The Day.*

Today Rocked!
Let me tell you a little bit about today...

Today rocked! I spent two hours with several hundred other students fighting for what we believe in; and it made an impact, if not on the Government (yet), then certainly on the hundreds of people we passed in the street, whose cars we stopped, the hundreds of other students we passed at the University, the dozens of police and, most importantly, it impacted on us.

It taught us that together we are strong, together we are good for each other.

We sang, we clapped, we smiled, we listened, we squirted each other with water, we shared sunscreen, we chanted, we talked, we ran up and down the middle of Queen Street like raging spanish bulls, and we laughed. We felt strong and we shared our strength with each other... And what's the most important word up there? 'We!'

Muhammed Ali once said, 'Me? We!' I have always taken this to mean together we are strong; that 'I' am a part of 'us'; to express the intrinsic value of the collective spirit, something that can't be boiled down into a monetary concept because it transcends that - it is joy and it is love... and it is so much more than I am able to express.

I want you to feel the elation I have felt, to share a moment with hundreds of other people, and there are many, many opportunities to do this, all over the world, virtually anytime - a chance to revel in the comaraderie, to feel a part of something, a chance that is all too rare in the society we live in now. Despite our big cities, we all walk around in isolation - we don't even know our neighbours anymore. Rather than being a bunch of feeling, thinking humans living together, we are becoming more like a group of robots, who just happen to be existing in the same space-time.

So reach out, connect with others - raise your voice above the sound of the traffic! If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

* I think I wrote this in either early 2000 or late 1999 - if anyone can help me work out exactly when that would be much appreciated.

a good day

any guesses about where this was taken?
(I didn't take it, I should point out)

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Because I am a total sheep, but you knew that already.

Ten Firsts
First Best Friend: Fiona W
First Screen Name: AAA (when making the high score table on the Good Ol' spacies)
First Pet: Freckles, cat.
First Piercing: Ears, about a year ago.
First Crush: The first I can remember was Glen L until I whacked his bag to get his attention and learned the hard way that he played the clarinet. Physical pain clears the fog of inappropriate crushes I find.
First CD Bought: Jazz (Queen)
First Car: Bronze 1984 Fiat Uno, with central locking you could hear across the road and The Devil's Own Gearbox. In a brief but intense affair with a lampost, it's heart was broken.
First True Love: M
First Stuffed Animal: Probably a homemade version of Rupert Bear.
First Words: No idea (as in I have no idea, not I said "no idea")
First Game System: I had a Mario Brothers King Kong handheld back in the 1980s, does that count?

Nine Lasts
Last Alcoholic: A sip of someone else's beer from a Waiheke vineyard in September.
Last Movie Seen: Love Actually, last night.
Last CD Played: News of the World (Queen), in the car this afternoon.
Last Bubble Bath: Thursday night.
Last Time You Cried: Last night.
Last Time You Laughed: At inappropriate placard slogans at a meeting, this afternoon.
Last Time You Fell: Playing tennis, yesterday.

Eight Have You Evers:
Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Friends:
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No. But I do have a trespass order (sadly expired)
Have You Ever Been Skinny Dipping: Nope.
Have You Ever Been On TV: Yep
Have You Ever Regretted A Kiss: Yes
Have You Ever Been Drunk: Nup
Have You Ever Slept For 24 Hours Straight: No way.
Have You Ever Worn the Same Pants for 3 Weeks Straight: Has anyone??

Seven Things You're Wearing
Black slides
2. Blue Jeans
3. Red-purple nail polish
4. Three rings
5. Black top
6. Red shirt
7. A smile

Six Things You Did Today
Fell asleep while trying to read
2. Had something I shouldn't have eaten for lunch
3. Returned DVDs on time for the first time in memory
4. Worked out how to get the whiteboard to do printouts
5. Worked out how to get the whiteboard to do printouts you can actually read
6. Tried the new Bundaberg Peachee drink (yum!)

Five Favourite Things
1. Decent books
2. Marathecat, who I believe wants a puppy for Xmas
3. Dinghy sailing
4. The Game (that would be politics, not whoring, Apathy Jack)
5. Nieces N and M

Four People You Can Tell Almost Anything To
1. The Man In The Comfy Chair
2. The Irstimeister
3. Arl
4. S
(actually there's more than 4, but that'll do for now)

Three Choices
1. radio or cd: CD as long as I can skip the annoying songs
2. German chocolate cheese cake or vanilla bean cheese cake: both, together.
3. black or white: red (Official Colour of the Revolution, doncha know)

Two Things You Want to do Before You Die
1. Learn another language
2. Be a good parent

One Thing You Regret
Wasting too much time on the internet when I could have been watching television.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

the religious objection

Anyone reading this who has any experience with unions (especially in the private sector) will know that recruitment is a big part of the game. While some of the big public sector unions have the luxury of not being too fashed about signing people up, pretty much all of the others have to keep 'em coming in the door, especially in low-income sectors where staff turnover is high and the majority of those who leave the union don't actually know that they have left, simply by leaving their current job.

I tend to not be too agressive about recruiting, but the one objection that really gets to me is "I can't join, I'm religious." I'm no scripture expert, but what is this based on?

It seems to me to be about restriction and control - usually it's not only unions the religious one can't join, it's also any group that isn't directly related to the Church in question. Isn't that a bit cultish?

In other union news, Maria Von Trapp has posted on the kindergarten teachers' strike coming up on Thursday (I mentioned the stopworks they had last week to vote on the strike a little while back). It's only the third time they've withdrawn their labour in their 121 year history, which is pretty significant - and it's not about pay!

Friday, November 25, 2005

lighting up

Depressingly often I encounter people who can't stand it when someone else has something they don't, even if they have more themselves. Upper Tax Bracketers who seem to harbour some bizarre envy of beneficiaries are a good example.

It's like there are two people standing in the dark, and then one of them lights a candle. Rather than being glad for the light, the one without the candle would rather blow the flame out so they were both in darkness.

I'd rather go and get them another candle so they had one each.

This is a rather cryptic introduction to one of the troublesome aspects of unionism. When workers who do Job A are paid more than workers in Job B (both jobs being comparable, eg police and nurses) some people would prefer that everyone come down to Job B's level. They are the ones who would rather stand in the dark.

I'm still working on how to move these people so that they are a bit more candle happy. Thoughts and comments welcome.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

you're a wizard, harry

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire started today. I'm hanging out to see it on Monday, but there's a whole lot of week yet to go. Keeping my eyes on the prize though - this week has been the hardest I've worked since AUSA days.

Mr Stupid could well be in attendance on Monday night, so I recommend that anyone who hasn't checked out his blog (Stupid Internet Name) yet do so, so that I can nag him about his hits. After all it only took me approx a year to strongarm him into getting a blog.

saying yes

Maia has two fantastic posts on rape and consent, which deserve the widest possible audience (especially amongst male readers).

No explores some recent research from the UK which shows some very disturbing views about rape, which basically show that a significant portion of those surveyed agreed that there were situations in which women ask for rape. It brought to mind for me the scrap between Cathy and Ruth over similar issues a while back, and I hope that Cathy will read Maia's post.

This Is Not What Yes Looks Like asks why we put the responsibility on the woman to say no rather than on the man to ask for a yes.

I wanted to draw attention to these posts but also add a few thoughts of my own. Sometimes women are their own worst enemies in these matters because we share some of the views of men - some of us think, deep down, that there are situations in which women as for rape, and that it is the woman's responsibility to make it clear that she doesn't want sex, and in holding these opinions we do ourselves no favours. I too have been guilty of less than sisterly thoughts in the past (probably back when I also thought that politics should stay out of sport and actually National would be the better party to have in power, ie a very long time ago) and it's through involvement with staunch and on to it women like Maia that I have come to realise my past error.

We need to take responsibility, that's true. But what we should take responsibility for is in fact each other. When we see someone else in a situation that we're not sure they want to be in, we need to just check-in with them, give them an out. When we are getting somewhat intimately acquainted with another person and we're not sure they are in to it we should ask - none of this crap about ruining the mood, if you're both into it a little checking isn't going to dampen things down (in fact it could serve as a prod to your partner to show you just how keen they are).

It seems to me that this inability to communicate with others about impending sex is part of a larger problem about sex still being viewed as dirty and taboo. You don't ask because sex is not something to be verbalised, just something to be experienced, preferably furtively, with the lights off, and as many clothes on as possible.

But that's a totally Victorian attitude that doesn't, and shouldn't, reflect reality. If we can change our attitude to sex I fervently hope that we can also change our attitude to rape - and ultimately see sex as something women can positively choose to take part in (or not), rather than passively put up with happening to them (or indeed not willingly consent to at all).

only one logical conclusion

Both Mr Carter and Ms Von Trapp have recently blogged about their tonsilitis.

Maria has also recently posted that she is out of Auckland for some time, in "Palmerston North". Meanwhile, Jordan has been rather light on the posting...

I say no more. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

industrial rash - some pics

The SuperSizeMyPay campaign not only has a gallery of cool snaps from today's strike at Starbucks on K Rd, it also has some excellent ways that you can show your support for Starbucks workers, and indeed other low paid workers. Just have a look at their site, on the right hand side bar.

Ok too tired to post more coherently than that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

industrial rash

Two rather unlikely groups of workers are taking industrial action in the next week or so:

- Starbucks workers - over pay and security of employment (Unite, which covers the workers didn't seem to have anything up yet)

- Kindergarten teachers - over diversification (massive changes to hours of contact time with children both per year and per week) and associated issues (NZEI, their union, has info here)

Just thought you ought to know.

union myths - #3 unions are just like businesses

When the Exclusive Brethren came up in the election campaign, as shadowy distributors of Right-favouring leaflets, there were a lot of accusations that unions were just the same. There seems to be a perception that unions act like businesses, but in actual fact the nature of them is completely different.

Unions are democratic organisations, and union members have ultimate control over their funds, policy and leadership. Quite different from a business where most of the people involved in it (customers, clients and workers) have no say at all.

For a union to commit money to a political campaign the expenditure will need to be endorsed by the elected leadership, be that a National Executive, a National Secretary or President, or a broader group. Each union has their own rules, which are again decided democratically and have evolved over the years. Unions aren't perfect and most could stand to have a bit more grassroots membership control, but there are control mechanisms - leadership face tests of their mandates on a regular basis and if they were to spend members' money on a campaign that was against their interests or inclinations they would pay the price.

In the cases of four unions (and yes, only four, I checked) they have decided that they will be affiliated to the Labour party. The Dairy Workers (DWU), Service and Food Workers (SFWU), Meat Workers (MWU) and Engineers (EPMU) are all affiliates, which gives their members the automatic right to take part in the structures of the Labour party.

But all other unions are not affiliated. They may choose, by whatever is the appropriate process, to endorse particular parties in a specific General Election (for example the AWUNZ Northern endorsed a vote for the Progressives in 2002). This means that they put information out to their members recommending a vote for the party they have endorsed, and may well give a donation to that party or act as a conduit for members who want to to be involved in that party's campaign.

But most push for their particular policies (which are again decided through democratic processes, which are often quite similar to the way political parties determine process) and critique policies they don't like. This is especially important for state sector unions who need to be able to work with The Government of the Day. Earlier this year a group of state sector unions launched the Positively Public campaign to respond to attacks from National on the public service, but they stopped well short of endorsing Labour (or any other party).

Previous Union Myth posts:
#1 - compulsory membership
# 2 - all unionists want to be Rick Barker (ie Labour MPs)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

pics of hanoi for those interested

Houses cheek by jowl - Picture taken by span in Hanoi, late Feb 2005.

The pics on Chantrelle's blog brought memories back from my own trip to Vietnam earlier this year. For anyone looking for a fascinating place to travel in, which is totally different from the West, I highly recommend it.

first case of blog-firing in NZ?

Noticed an article in the Herald on Sunday (not online) about Neil Law, a young Nat employed by National after the election, who was fired within days of his hiring apparently due to a tirade on his blog about his new colleagues.

His blog, which was called A (Sometimes) Considered Rant has disappeared, as has mention of the offending post on Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour (another blog run by a Nat staffer, Anna Nuzum).

The HOS article says that Nuzum's post, titled An Ill-considered Rant, basically told Neil off for slagging his new colleagues within a week of starting his job.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Now that we've established AJ is real, here's a response to part of this debate.

I wrote:

6. How can you ignore all the evidence that women are a) capable of, and b)
quite keen on, a role in public life and still maintain that we would prefer to
return to the agrarian utopia you propose?
AJ replied:

I am yet to see such evidence. I am yet to meet such a woman who seems content and peaceable with themselves and with the world. I know women who do want to have a role in public life, but never at the expense of their family or their femininity. This I encourage.
Here's some evidence:

1. Kate Sheppard and the suffragette movement - clear indication that NZ women wanted to have a democratic say in their society, ie a role in public life.

2. Women politicians, especially party leaders, eg Helen Clark, Jeanette Fitzsimmons, Jill Ovens, Tariana Turia, Margaret Thatcher, Jenny Shipley, Condolezza Rice (although of course I wouldn't call those last three sisters) - not only capable women (even the ones I disagree with), but also all of them have long histories of involvement in political life, at various levels.

3. Women's organisations that are active in public life, eg National Council of Women, Maori Women's Welfare League, women's collectives and feminist groups at universities (eg the Raving Feminist Witches and Feminist Action, both of which I was involved in a little) - all of these women's organisations (and others) have taken an interest in issues beyond the home.

4. Female leadership in all sorts of organisations and movements, eg Carol Beaumont, Laila Harre, Darien Fenton in unions, Sian Elias and Augusta Wallace in the judiciary, Sylvia Cartwright and Cath Tizard as GGs, mutiple female mayors around the country, Susan St John and Janfrie Wakim in Child Poverty Action, women in student politics such as Kate Sutton and Amanda Hill, women journalists like Audrey Young and Jane Clifton (and others), not to mention the many women such as myself who have blogs that at least touch on politics and clearly show that we are interested in the political sphere and as capable as any of the male bloggers at commenting upon it.

I could go on and on with examples of women who have wanted, and achieved, roles in public life (and encourage readers to list such in comments). Women have made positive political change in NZ - they have been pivotal organisers, behind the scenes and out in front, in every social movement this country has seen, eg the peace movement, HART, the campaign for MMP, the Hikoi.

The fact is that women have wanted a role in public life for generations uncountable. Think about women in history - Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Victoria, Livia, Penthesilia, Dido, Catherine the Great, Boudicea. Many of these women were warriors, either directly or as the head of nations at war, and all of them were political leaders.

You may see the many women I have listed above as aberrations, but the fact is that their number has been increasing with time, not decreasing. This shows that as the barriers fall more women are keen to be involved in public life, not less.

AJ you have claimed that women who show an unfeminine interest in politics are unhappy underneath it all, implying that the discontent is due to going outside of their natural role by pursuing a role in public life. I say, as one of those women, that this is bollocks. I find that when I do not have a political outlet for my concerns about society I become more unhappy, not less. In the past I have made attempts, due to health concerns largely, to cut politics out of my life, or diminish it, and inevitably I have been drawn back - I have things to say, changes to lobby for, and I cannot meekly sit back and merely watch the game.

To be interested and active in politics does not automatically start to turn a woman into a man, either. The many examples I gave above cover a whole gamut of different women who express themselves differently - but all are undeniably women.

And why is it that we rarely say that a man is putting their career, political or otherwise, ahead of their family, yet mothers are constantly criticised for this? It is possible to have balance in your life, although I admit that our society is not currently set-up to make this easy and it is something I struggle towards myself. Out-moded ideas that only women can care for children and do the housework remain significant barriers to allowing women to achieve such a balance.

Perhaps it would be helpful if rather than making (and responding to) bizarre and out-dated statements about women and their role in society, we all turned our debating efforts towards how mothers and other women can overcome the sexist stereotypes that still make life difficult for many of them?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

the people will have their say

Yes that's right, voting is open in the NetGuide Web Awards 2006 (even though it is still 2005, and presumably you will be judged on your past work rather than your yet-to-be-determined, future performance).

So go forth and vote.

note to stef

What's up with your comments, comrade?

suspicious minds

After all that eXistenZ-like pallaver about whether certain old-fashioned agrarians exist or not, AJ has a good summary of it all on his blog.

However, I would like to know which AJ comment(s) Whiggy faked. Perhaps he would care to share or was it all hot air? (I have been having rather a Dr Suess evening.)

Span's brief interlude into detective work has now ended. Expect usual political discourse to appear soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

not udderly convinced

The About Towners revealed at dinner last night, and again on their blog last night that AJ Chesswass is merely a conceptual art project, and thus not a real person.

I guess I don't want to believe because I was duped and engaged with "him" (them), but at the same time I still have some vague nagging doubts (yes, Thomas indeed Tristan).

I'm at work so I don't have much time to investigate (and I'm also incredibly tired from taking The Man In The Comfy Chair to the A&E late last night - it seems he's going to be fine) but I did just do a quick technorati on one of the other bloggers that the About Towners say they created as part of the AJ Chesswass project, KSMilkmaid. She moved her blog from blogger to it's current location in mid-November (although it goes back to July) which would gel with Kate's claim at dinner that they had laid the ground work for about two weeks, and of course you can date blogger posts at any time in the past. However, you can see from the results for KSMilkmaid's original blogger blog, which run to three pages, that she has been blogging for much longer than a few weeks - there are links to her blogger site going back nearly three months...

So I remain slightly sceptical, at least about some of the details. I await AJ's comment that he does exist with interest.

Monday, November 14, 2005

a niche in the market

Idiot/Savant has pointed out that Winston Peters is the Minister You Have When You're Not Really Having a Minister quite succintly, but I'd just like to make one little point that I deserve believes a bit more attention.

It's quite simple really. Jonathan Hunt has tottled off to his sinecure in London (and long may he stay there, I could need High Commission help someday) leaving a very obvious Ministerial gap.

What gap is that, I hear you ask, knowing, as you undoubtedly do because you, like me, are a total political geek and are thus aware that Hunt was Speaker and therefore not in Cabinet?

Three words folks. Wine. And. Cheese.

See - a vacancy has appeared. And lo that vacancy has been filled. The Market Will Provide.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

questions for the agrarian "feminist"

Dear AJ,

I'm just trying to see if I have your ideas straight, please feel free to correct me or to answer the questions i have posed for my further illumination (which i have in some cases posed to you before in comments on the numerous postings that have been addressing all of this, including on your own blog, Maria Von Trapp, The Radical Tory, Pink Panda, ...oh my starry eyed surprise..., About Town, here, and probably elsewhere too).

1. Is it correct that you believe women (all women?) would find life in the home, preferably on the farm, caring for children, house and husband (and presumably filling those essential unpaid roles that underpin our communities and churches) the most fulfilling way to live?

2. Is it correct that you believe women can receive all of the education they require in the home, in particular from their own mothers (and other female relatives I assume)? Why does this not similarly apply to men?

3. Is it correct that you believe in a rigid division of labour between men and women that mirrors the model of men being active in public life and women in private, and that you also think that women would prefer to return to private life, leaving any public roles to men? What basis do you have for believing that given that throughout human history women have become more and more involved in public life, suggesting that we seek it too?

4. How would you apply your model to same sex relationships - for example in a lesbian relationship who cares for the children? what about in a gay relationship with two fathers (and no mother)?

5. What about couples who are unable to have children? Does a woman's inability to have children (or in fact her conscious choice not to) mean she is by your definition incapable of living a fulfilling life? And what about for men - if they cannot or do not have children are their lives similarly blighted?

6. How can you ignore all the evidence that women are a) capable of, and b) quite keen on, a role in public life and still maintain that we would prefer to return to the agrarian utopia you propose?

7. Have you read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood? If your answer is no I suggest you do so at the first possible opportunity.

8. You have written a lot about the role of women in your farming paradise - what role do you see for men, in particular in terms of their child-raising responsibilities? Who would do the housework on your farm? Who would get up in the night if the baby cries? Who would change the bed linen? Who would do the food shopping? What I am getting at is; would men and women share those unpaid, unrecognised tasks that keep a household and a family going?

Of course I do not speak for all women. I am abundantly aware that there are women who in part prefer the kind of private life that you support - some of my best friends are aching to be stay at home mums, and they'll do a damn fine job. But they won't be the passive partners in the relationship that you seem to envisage - they will take an active role in decision-making, they will continue to vote, some of them might even (shock horror) continue to work side by side with their husband in the business that they run together, or work part time for the financial security it provides their family (not to mention the social interaction and sense of worth it gives them in their own right).

But the key difference between what you espouse and the decisions some women make is who chooses. Do you (or other men, or other people in power) choose this life for them, or do they choose it for themselves? IMHO there are already more than enough factors taking choices away from women (socio-economic in particular).

Answers on the back of a postcard* please AJ.

And please, no carping about being told by others to shut up, or that you have been accused of being a Nazi - I have not done so and will not - I am genuinely puzzled by your views, which seem to be honestly held, and seek clarity and explanation, as well as to challenge you and hold up a flag as a woman who does not conform to your ideas about members of my gender.

*span parlance for in comments.

Friday, November 11, 2005

things about span that you never knew you never knew

Finally got around to following up on MTNW's tag to reveal 20 random facts about myself. But actually I am going to cheat - I am going to do 10 now and 10 later, cos I am pushed for time and finding it hard to dredge up the memory power required.

1. In Standard 4 I was captain of the Irish team in our mock Rugby World Cup and got to play hooker.

2. I prefer masking tape (proper masking tape, not packaging tape which is a different beast entirely but is commonly mistaken for the One True Tape).

3. My first car was a 1984 Fiat Uno that had central locking you could hear across the street, not to mention the world's dodgiest gear box. It finally put itself out of it's misery by rolling down the hill in the middle of the night into a power pole.

4. I used to live on the same street as Richard Prebble's mother.

5. My threat of choice usually involves the shaving off of only one eyebrow. That way the victim has to chose whether to shave off the other one themselves or seek an inevitably unsatisfactory eyebrow pencil solution.

6. I have never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. But I'd like to.

7. When I am very very bored I will read ahead on the ITV Coronation Street site - they're currently running almost a year ahead of us, and it means I can put on my smug, knowing, look whenever someone mentions it in conversation.

8. I received a George W Bush postcard today.

9. I'm currently musing on Roald Dahl's characters, trying to work out which is my favourite for a fancy dress party in a few weeks time.

10. If I had to choose only one book to take to a desert island with me it would be the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the illustrated one with the holographic cover from the mid '90s). Now that's class.

And I tag jarrod at First Against the Wall and Kate at About Town.

The remaining 10 will be poured forth across the page once I have managed to dislodge them and shake them into something approximating a coherent list.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

the other rate that dropped today

No not unemployment (although that's good too).

The abortion rate dropped in 2004 for the first time since 1998.

For my previous rant on abortion, see Aborting Abortion.

nzusa results II

(Thanks to Joey for texting me :-) )

Further to the success of ex-AUSA EVP and all round top guy Joey Randall to the position of NZUSA Co-Pres a while back, Conor Roberts is to join him in the role!

Conor is AVP at AUSA this year, and current Young Labour president - these two will rock the party (which rocks the country, etc) and I wish them all the best. Keith Ng famously outed Conor as the first YL president in some years to be openly straight (which was of course factually incorrect, but amusing none the less).

I wonder though if this is the first time that both positions have been filled by the same students' association?

Update, 4.39pm 10th Nov 2005: Live-blog of Conor's win over at Commander in Chief, thanks to Jeremy and Emily.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

return of the daughter of the aunt of the stupid internet quiz part 63

Hat tip: Andrew Falloon

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.

Something tells me most of us political types will get the exact same result...

PS - MTNW - I know I haven't fulfilled your tag yet, but it's half done!

Monday, November 07, 2005

goodbye to the great Green ginga

I was totally shocked, as it seems was everyone else, to hear that Rod Donald died yesterday. When The Man in the Comfy Chair rang me to say he'd just heard a newsflash on Nat Rad I was completely stunned. He seemed so fit and healthy - and I guess he was, but heart attacks seem to often strike those who live stressful lives, regardless of age or fitness.

I never met Rod Donald, as his time with the Alliance was well before mine. I respected what he achieved and that he was true to his kaupapa. His death is a loss for the environmental movement, for the broad Left, for politics, and of course it is a huge blow for the Greens.

My impression was that Rod was gagging to be a Cabinet Minister and was probably very angry about missing out this time, especially given the warrants for Peters and Dunne, and the fact that it is (at this stage) unlikely that Labour will get a fourth term. It always seemed that Jeanette would stand down first, and I suspect she intended to prior to the next election. Now though she will have to stay on to ensure some continuity, at least for the next year. The Greens leadership structure requires them to have one woman and one man, so whoever replaces Rod must be male. Keith Locke is the only other current male MP, and he's publically unpalatable (although not to me) because of the Pol Pot stuff. Nandor may come in now, or Mike Ward, but I don't think either of them would cut it. So the new co-leader may have to be outside Parliament, resulting in all sorts of interesting shenanigans come List Time 2008.

I sincerely hope they can sort this out, as the Greens are too important to NZ politics to be in disarray for long. Someone needs to stick it to National and Act, and remind Labour of what they should be doing - and while the Alliance (and others) try to do this from outside the House, the Greens get more media cut-through due to their Parliamentary presence.

To Rod's family and friends, and the Greens - arohanui. I hope that you are given time and space to remember and respect your partner, father, colleague and friend. Although he had much more to give, he had given so much already - Rod made a difference.

Frogblog has opened a condolence book here, which at the time of posting had 170 comments. Please add yours.

Update, 1.35pm 7th Nov 2005: Here is the Alliance release - MMP is Rod Donald's lasting legacy.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

blog spots

Alliance comrade Len Richards has started posting his thoughts over at newsoc and the lovely Maia, who is one of my top ten favourite women, has launched Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty, which should be a good antidote to all that sexist crap sloshing around in the kiwi blogosphere lately.

Plus Jeremy Greenbrook has started up Aucklander at Large, in anticipation of no longer being The Commander in Chief, (ie VUWSA President).

"where's the u?"

Hat tip: Mrs M (who is blogless)

Gosh people will try to sell anything on TradeMe won't they...


Span's list of things that are ahead of Political Correctness on the Must Be Eradicated list:

1. Poverty
2. Sexism
3. Racism
4. Homophobia
5. Domestic Violence
6. War
7. Greed
8. Strategic deficits and creeping privatisation
9. Nutty National Party "spokesman" roles that are really just an excuse to get some media coverage

(Not exhaustive of course.)

Plus Muriel Newman must be spewing - being the UnPC Police has always been her bag.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

help throw span out of the country

(albeit temporarily)

Next year I'm hoping to go overseas a bit. The Trip (TM) will hopefully involve three to four months of gallivanting around Europe at a slightly more glamourous level than Scummy Backpacker.

Having never been closer to Europe than Ho Chi Minh City, I'm in need of a bit of friendly reader advice, namely:

If you were on a pretty tight budget, in terms of money and time,
what would you do/see in Europe?

Plans so far are to divide The Trip up into rough thirds - one third in the Mediterranean, one third in Western Europe, and the final third in the UK. Maybe start off in Turkey, head up to Russia (need to tick off Lenin on my list of Embalmed Leaders I Have Seen In The Flesh), then on to Greece. I'd also like to shoehorn in Morocco but maybe that's a bit ambitious?

Anyway, all and any suggestions much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

catch-up post

Haven't been able to blog much since last Thursday, either here or elsewhere, as a result of previously mentioned health-related frustrations. This is going to be an ongoing problem, but while I'm feeling like I can, here are a few thoughts about stuff that's going on in The Big Game:

1. Pretty hard to win Tauranga back as Minister for Foreign Affairs

2. Greens actually in a good position - they get some policy wins which were much needed after nine years without much and they don't have to actively support Labour.

3. Will Minister for Trade and Trade Negotiations keep Goff overseas enough to maintain Clark's leadership possie? Especially if Winston's stance manages to stuff up those free trade agreements.

4. Education is going to be quite interesting - Cullen in Tertiary and Maharey in the main portfolio tends to indicate a bean-counter approach rather than any "vision thing" going on.

5. A woman as Minister of Police! I really wanted Margaret Wilson to get it but King will do nicely.

6. Speaking of Margaret Wilson, the fact that she's not in the Cabinet line-up suggests Labour is going to back her for Speaker again, surely?

i am Jack's infected lungs

i tend to feel really ripped off when i'm sick these days. this is the most time i've had off work for health reasons in ages - currently three days, possibly four or even five.

i'm pretty unimpressed with the coughing and the throwing up and the shortness of breath and the raw throat, not to mention the stupid antibiotics which will inevitably result in the witch doctor putting me on the stupid detox diet for 6 weeks when i see her again in a few weeks.

surely three years off due to illness means i have a lot of health in the wellness bank just sitting there waiting for me? i'd like to make a withdrawl please.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

dream job pays dividends

Apparently rich people aren't paying all the tax they ought to, what a surprise!

Now whenever there are stats released about benefit fraud they make the front page (nevermind that they include mistakes and overpayments by WINZ as well as actual fraud), but this little gem from the Herald was buried below the fold somewhat later in the paper, with no snazzy graphic. I'd be interested to hear how much coverage it is getting elsewhere (I heard it on Morning Report too, where it even got an associated interview).

Good to see my dream job is bringing home the bacon.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

unintentionally hilarious

Hat tip: Kakariki at Bloggreen

A very strange music video that I almost expected to be the product of Ricky Gervais. It's a Stormfront production that manages to actually avoid being offensive because it is so lame and unintentionally amusing. I particularly enjoyed the way the White Pride symbol slowly faded out at the end, a portent indeed - the will shall indeed triumph, but not yours Messrs Battlecry.

Would be particularly interested in some critiques from The Whig and Maria Von Trapp.

Friday, October 07, 2005


I heard through the grapevine that VUWSA President Jeremy Greenbrook told students occupying at Vic to stop their protest and leave the building - can anyone confirm if this is the case?

My first thoughts were that this was not particularly surprising from a Labour person - my experience is that while there are some great Young Labour activists who do actually encourage grassroots activism and staunch opposition to the creeping privatisation of education, there are others who tend to stifle any radical responses from the student body because they are outside their comfort zone and don't gel with the "What do we want? Gradual improvement! When do we want it? Incrementally" ethos of Labour-in-Government.

Perhaps YLers of the ilk of Conor and Xavier could have a word in Mr Greenbrook's ear?

Update (12.30pm): Here's another Indymedia article which reports that Greenbrook urged the students to raise their concerns about the fees through him, rather than through protest, and that he was not going to come out against the fee proposal (yet) because he had to keep an open mind...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

blog spots

In case you've wondered where Oliver is, he's in Spain. (And not in pain.)

I'm still missing the Fab Four (and Yoko) at KeepLeft who seem to have lost their pizzazz (or do I mean their Shazam?) since September 17th.

And I've been meaning to post for a while that Strikewatch is back on regular, with the addition of Rachel to the team. Bring it on!

union myths - #2 all unionists want to be Rick Barker

The second in an irregular series; another step forward on my ongoing quest to bust some union myths that the Right seem to like to wallow in from time to time.

Union Myth #2 - All unionists want to grow up to be Labour MPs

Look, we just don't.

I know oodles of trade unionists, from all sorts of unions, and I know very very few who actually want to be Labour MPs. (Seriously, I can think of about four, which includes people I don't know personally, and one person who is extremely unlikely to become an MP but desperately wants to. Oh, and there's this guy).

Having said that, being a unionist is probably quite a lot like being an MP - long hours, (some)people think you're a lazy arse even though you're not, fleeting gratitude when you achieve a good result for someone, abuse from the unsaveable (even when you miraculously save them), people hearing you say what they wanted you to say rather than what you actually said, others who tell you that your sick child is less important than listening to them whine, working really hard for a long time to succeed and feeling great about it when it happens but then having to move on to the next battle almost immediately, having people occasionally look up to you and give you some respect, etc etc ad nauseum.

All up being a unionist, paid or unpaid, is an iceberg job - the bit that's visible to the outside world is but a teeny tiny part of the whole.

Of course there are many unionists who would be heinously insulted to know that most of the Right blogosphere, from my experience, thinks they are Labour hacks (to be fair I've heard people on the Left say this too). Yes we are labour, but with a small l please.

Take for example those on the Alliance party list, which was saturated with unionists, both paid and unpaid. And Luci Highfield, who might have been a Green MP this week with a whole heap of good luck. Not to mention all those other radicals who do their day (and night) jobs and fit union work into their spare time, all the while realising the inadequacies of capitalism and hoping for a revolution.

Frankly I don't ever want to be a Labour MP (or even an MP for another party, really). I like union work. It's hard but it's rewarding, and you can actually see yourself making a difference to someone - because you listened to them and helped them at a bad time in their life, because you helped them to learn how to organise their workmates to make a positive change, because you pulled up a boss who bullied and thought nothing of breaking the law to get what they wanted; for a million other reasons too.

Why on earth would anyone want to give that up to move to the toxic environment of Parliament and twiddle their thumbs on the Labour backbench?

- union myths #1 - compulsory membership

a good man

Yesterday I heard that David Wakim passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on the weekend, on a trip with his wife in Namibia.

David was a staunch advocate for social justice and for peace. I organised for him to speak to an Alliance branch meeting about Palestine once and was blown away by his open-hearted approach. David was also a local pharmacist and heartily involved in Ahmed Zaoui's search for asylum, not to mention the husband of the Child Poverty Action Group campaigner Janfrie Wakim.

Scoop has more detail on this amazing man, who I was lucky to know slightly through his daughter Larissa (we were both involved in AUSA together, and she is now working at the International Criminal Court in the Hague).

Rest in peace David, you have inspired many to continue your work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

retirement roulette

Do these intentions not to seek Cabinet also equal likelihoods of retirement at the end of the current term?

Will there be fresh Labour faces not only in the current Cabinet, but also contesting Wellington Central (Hobbs), Manurewa (Hawkins), and Rimutaka (Swain) in 2008 (or earlier)?

There will clearly be a glut of Labour retirements in 2008, and the likelihood is that although some seats may change hands, most will remain Labour Red (TM). My other picks for fresh meat are Aoraki (Sutton) and Wigram (Anderton).


Update: I/S rightly points out that there could be retirements before the next election from List MPs, Sutton in particular.

man down

Just noticed on Scoop that Paul Swain is not seeking Cabinet again, which means there will definitely be new faces in the areas of immigration, corrections and employment law.

He's cited family reasons, but I'm wondering about the new Labour caucus and whether those on the right of it are feeling a wee bit insecure about getting much Cabinet action. Field is likely to go in the short term at least, and there could be an influx of Greens, so we could be looking at a very different group around the big table than we had in the last three years.

Update: Idiot/Savant has more goss, namely that Hobbs and Hawkins are also jumping - clearly Environment could go Green but who would get Police?

Monday, October 03, 2005

that time of year part IX - September

Totally ticked off:
1. Get a new job in the area I want to work in - I can report that there are also no rollerskates in Wellington. The reward is proving to be harder to get than the damn job was.

5. Get at least one stamp in my shiny unused passport - Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. Working on plans for a whole lot more in 2006!

In train:
2. Exercise more - had three weeks off the gym (election, then away) but during that time i did a whole heap of walking so fitness hasn't fallen much. Bring on the good weather and the return of my tennis buddy from Korea!

3. Think positive - easier now that I know my day to day life is largely going to continue as is (i.e. no nasty Nats in power ruining my life again). However I did have the worst migraine I have ever had, after several months migraine free, after several days of feeling oddly ill and out of sorts. Witch doctor reckons something in my cranium was out of whack. No shit sherlock.

4. Resist over-committing - definitely getting better at saying no.

Totally not ticked off, not even a little bit:
6. Finish the kitchen - reminders about this to The Man In The Comfy Chair are proving fruitless. Am starting to consider some form of sanctions...

7. Get up to date with my Alliance projects - I am so far behind I don't think I could ever possibly catch-up.

Further reports on Span's New Year's Resolutions:
- August
- July
- May
- April
- March
- February
- January

nzusa results

I've heard that Joseph Randall, former EAO at AUSA and all round good leftie, swept into the first NZUSA co-president position for 2006 on the weekend - does anyone have the goss on who picked up the second spot?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

the bastards finally found me

and thus word verification is on.

Sorry folks, like NRT (who seems to have been plagued recently too), I held out as long as I could.

spiting the face

Over at Public Address Keith and Che have been having a right ol' barney about the Maori Seats, and DPF has given summarised, interspersed with his own views.

Given National's well known intention to abolish the Maori seats if it is ever in a position to do so, what would actually happen to all those voters? Where would they go?

Assuming that instead of creating several new electorate seats, we had 60 list and 60 electorate (as opposed to 53 and 67 now), all of those lovely left-leaning voters would go into the current general electorates. They'd slosh around in them, potentially turning slightly safe National seats like Northland and Whangarei and those notorious swingers the Hamiltons a redder shade on a semi-permanent basis.

I'm no maths whizz, but the impact would be significant in the electorates, even if it didn't have much dent in the overall party percentages.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

GV - an example

It's been pointed out that Philip Field paid $59,000 over GV (Government Valuation) for the Coles' house and that this is evidence that he was being a Good Guy and not taking advantage.

Frankly I feel there are other reasons to get rid of Mr Field, quite apart from recent revelations. However let's get one thing straight.

GV, Government Valuation, is actually now called RV, Rateable Valuation. It is the value of the land plus the value of improvements at the time the last round of valuation was done.

In Auckland RVs have been miles out for some time. Point in case - a particular property I am aware of that is worth probably $300 - 320K in the current market is currently given an RV, on the Auckland City Council website, of $221K. This is not a property in a particularly volatile area.

That said, I don't know the ins and outs of the Cole house. On the plus side of the ledger for Mr Field is that a turnaround of the magnitude he gained for the property, especially if it was done up, is in-keeping with the Auckland market in recent times.

Just another little piece of info for the debate.

time for a kit kat

In case you haven't noticed due to the mountain of comments, I haven't been posting much lately - I have just got back from a week away (mainly work stuff) and am off tonight for few days of R&R. So expect normal posting habits to resume from next week.

from a distance

It seems to me that Taito Field is largely guilty of not maintaining a courteous distance from certain things that he has "helped" with.

I'm no big fan of Mr Field - he has been a reactionary voice against social liberalism in the Labour Caucus, as is evidenced by his views of Civil Unions et al, not to mention his more general politics which are not exactly Left of Labour.

In the information coming to light there are two ways to interpret his actions - generously or harshly:
- did he help the Thai overstayer to avoid deportation and also give him a job, or did he exploit this man to get a cheap tiler?
- did his wife work her arse off at the electorate office and thus deserve some remuneration, or did she take advantage of the generosity of another staff member who offered to share their wages?
- did he help a constituent avoid a mortgagee sale that would have left the family with nothing, or see an opportunity for a good profit?

Despite Field's intentions, which are difficult to interpret, the fact remains that in each of these cases he has not maintained distance from an action that is inappropriate for an MP. He should have ensured that it was someone else's house that was being tiled (and that the tiler was getting a good wage), not used his power inappropriately to get a review that probably wasn't warranted, made sure that his staff (and his wife) understood the rules around nepotism, and lined up another buyer for the house (and you would hope a better price!).

I wouldn't be surprised if more examples come to light, and possibly not just in relation to Field. As an MP you are very vulnerable and a higher standard of conduct is expected (as Sandra Goudie is finding out).

I hope that this is the end of Field's ministerial career, and that he stands down soon or at the next election. But to be honest I'd far rather that his colleagues, and local Labour members, had told him to go for his politics than for his misdemeanours.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

money meet mouth

Just a quick post as I'm off to Welly for a week in the morn (yep, I'm secretly one of the new National MPs ;-) ).

I'm after suggestions, so put on your thinking caps. I've been frequently told by those who mean the Left well that what the Alliance (or any similar party of the Left) really needs is to win an electorate seat. But whenever I ask which seat they think would be a Goodie there is puzzled silence followed quickly by a neat segue into another topic.

So here we go, so that no one can ignore it:

Which electorate seat(s) should a Left party (the Alliance or another) target to win in 2008?

I'd be particularly keen for suggestions, anonymous or not, from Labour people, as they are the ones who most commonly tell me this and yet I don't see them rushing to turn over any of their electorates.

Thanks dearies - I'll try to post from Wellywood, or at least respond to comments.

spending ceiling

Some funny things happened in the last week of the National campaign. Candidates put out candidate focused material that didn't mention the Party Vote, lots of Oggi red (paid) billboards were up while the number of National (Iwi/Kiwi etc) ones seemed to fall, and the Nats generally didn't seem as responsive to Labour's attacks.

My theory is that National ran up against the Party Vote spending ceiling ($2M I think) and had to back up quite quickly - thus candidates were told to put out material focused on them if they had anything left in their $20,000 electorate budgets, and planned advertising was cancelled. Graham Watson has noted that when he asked Don Brash why they hadn't done more to counter Labour in the last week he was told they had responded through the media. Which is of course a free method that doesn't count towards the spending limit.

It was important for National to have momentum early on, to look like a credible alternative to Labour. But it's probably more important to leave something in the kitty for later on. We all know that Labour are strong finishers, and National needed to be able to go foot to foot in the last week.

Ah well, I'm sure they'll learn for next time. Unfortunately.

Monday, September 19, 2005

balance of paua

Tariana Turia talked about models of power-broking on Checkpoint tonight, specifically the arrangements they are considering for the shape of the next Government.

She rattled off a list of options for the Maori Party, roughly:
- in formal coalition
- crossbenches
- confidence and supply
- opposition (not sure if she mentioned this actually, but it is an option)
- a mysterious "alternative" that is apparently quite unique to NZ but has been used overseas

Not much of a hint to what this last option might be, but I have been musing on something Keith Locke (he of the naked Epsom dash) said to me at a candidates' forum before the election.

He speculated that the Maori Party MPs may have a much looser voting arrangement than other parties. At first I thought he meant that they would vote here on one issue and there on another, but when I questioned him further he explained that he meant each individual Maori Party MP might vote separately, ie effectively act as independents.

Keith felt that those likely to be elected represented the range of political leanings within Maoridom, and thus each could vote as suited their particular ideology. I wondered if they might add in some way of checking in with their electorate, although Locke felt this was unnecessary (not surprising given he's an MP).

This would certainly be a radical way of managing things, but it does fit with the Maori Party approach to date. One of the reasons they didn't have a lot of policy going in to the election, according to their Auckland Central candidate Bronwyn Yates, is that they have their founding principles and feel that there are many different ways. In other words, they are acknowledging that there is more than one solution to every problem, and that each Maori Party MP may hold a different view that is still in-keeping with the overall kaupapa and tikanga of the party itself.

Which would mean that the party that holds the balance of power in some Parliamentary equations effectively acts as a party of independents, bound by a common set of principles but entitled to vote according to their own conscience on each piece of legislation as it comes up.

Talk about self-determination!

newsflash! Boag on P?

A colleague tells me that Michelle Boag has just said on Nat Rad's new afternoon panel the following (paraphrased):

The deal is done. We will have a minority Labour/Prog/Green Govt, with UF and NZF support on confidence and supply and it will be signed by the end of the day.

When asked if she was flying a kite she said no.


a bit of a laugh for a dreary day

Stolen this from Stuff - I *heart* Ross P Kettle's cartoons!

reflections on the Alliance vote

Yep it's tiny. Calling for a magnifying glass, a la Helen Clark when confronted with a g-stringed David Cassidy, would not be out of the question ;-)

I'm perversely glad that we only got 1500-odd votes. Despite the fact that I voted Alliance*, I have no problem with other Alliance supporters voting Green or Labour in such a tight race. It's nice to be able to hold my head up when meeting those people who had a go at me about the Alliance running, claiming that it would bring about a National Govt. If Labour can't work out a loose coalition (small c) I'd be surprised, and while that may not mean a lot of improvements over the next three years it will at least mean that things don't get a whole heap worse.

The Alliance has a lot to be proud of in this campaign - a year ago I did not think we would be in a state in 2005 to be able to produce and put up hoardings nationwide, produce and deliver over 100,000 tabloids, and have enough candidates to put up a decent sized list. The feedback we have had from ordinary people has been heartening - although it's quite understandable that the positive comments weren't backed up by votes. I'm particularly impressed by the reception of Victor Billot in Dunedin North, and Jill Ovens in working class areas of Auckland.

Ultimately, I'm not disappointed and I'm not surprised. We were outside Parliament on Sept 16th and we're still outside Parliament on Sept 19th, and I'm quite comfortable about that.

Obviously we'll be making some decisions over the next couple of months about the future of the party - we come out of this election knowing that we can still run a low-level national campaign, with next to no money and despite basically all of the bad things that can possibly happen to a political party happening to the Alliance in the last four years (with the possible exception of a Capill or Huata moment). I'm not sure where that discussion will go, and I'm going in to it undecided. I'll be thinking about a lot of the useful conversations had on here, and elsewhere, about (re)building a Left party in NZ, and I'm sure I'll be posting more about it in the next week or so too.

Thanks to those who did vote for the Alliance, and thanks to those who support us but didn't. Here's hoping we can put in a better showing in 2008, for whatever Left party grows from this result!

*with my Party Vote - i ended up voting for the Progressive candidate with the electorate tick, as there was no Green or Alliance candidate and i couldn't bring myself to vote for Phil Goff.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

an out there idea - is this the new high tide mark for National?

Looking at the 2002 results, last election was definitely low tide for National, but was it really an exceptionally high tide for Labour, given these party vote stats?

Labour Party Vote percentages:
1996* - 28.2% (37 seats, first MMP election, big chunks of vote to the minors)
1999* - 38.74% (49 seats, Labour first into Govt)
2002 - 41.26 % (52 seats, went down to 51 when they lost Turia mid-term)
2005 - 40.74 % (50 seats, pre-specials)

Labour's vote has only changed within a 2.52% bracket over three elections, which is pretty damn solid.

In contrast, National went up hugely in this election, but as Labour didn't go down much, it's mostly come from other parties - lots from Act and United, a fair chunk from NZ First. The Greens and Progs have gone down a little too, probably votes that went to Labour, shoring their percentage up, or those people didn't vote this time.

National Party Vote percentages:
1996* - 33.8% (44 seats, first MMP election, big chunks of party vote to the minors)
1999* - 30.50% (39 seats, National first out of Govt)
2002 - 20.93% (27 seats, worst result ever)
2005 - 39.63% (49 seats, huge increase on previous election, but still slightly less than Labour)

I remember after 2002 many Labour people talking about the fact that National was so weak and they were so strong that they felt that the paradigm had shifted for the foreseeable future, i.e. that Labour was now entrenched as the biggest party for years to come. I'm not saying that this is a certainty, but it is a possibility that they were partly right - Labour has not slid much, and the centre-right vote has not grown.

It's hard to know though what would have happened in a less two-horse campaign. If the media had spent more time on the minor parties they may have taken more votes from the Big Two, in particular a few percent going from Labour to the Greens, and up to 10% more to Act, United and NZ First that went to National instead.

National had all the big guns out for this election (well one anyway, tax cuts) and was able to avoid a lot of policy scrutiny (I wonder what would have happened without the Brethren scandal - it did take a lot of attention off policy for about a week, as Anne Else points out on Scoop). They also had a very good advertising campaign (from the point of view of style not content) and clearly much better on the ground mechanics than in 2002. But what more could they do in 2008?

(Yes this is a highly optimistic post!)

Update: Just noticed a number of comments to this effect over on DPF's post about National's new MPs.

*1996 and 1999 results here.

a little loose conversation - span's election night blogging - index

In time order, earliest at the top.

Thanks to Ms Cheesecake, Shaggy Karl, Mr the Red and Apathy Jack for making it a fun night and for cleaning up at the end too. I didn't actually intend to live blog, but it appeared no one was doing it from the left, and my guests were saying some funny stuff, so before I knew it I was posting almost constantly. Thanks also to the hardy souls commenting on the night, your feedback was much appreciated even if I didn't reply quickly :-)

A Little Loose Conversation
8.17pm - Part I (the mascara post)
8.44pm - Part II (the depressing TV3 post)
8.53pm - Part III (the trend is your friend post)
9.04pm - Labour closing (I ditched the Part's thing)
9.18pm - calling Epsom for Hide
9.22pm - Blumsky definitely down
9.34pm - United looking important
9.49pm - dead heat!!
9.54pm - sheesh this is close!
9.59pm - Worth not yet conceding
10.01pm - oh dear, consequences
10.03pm - Labour in front!!!
10.04pm - Progs need to pull up
10.06pm - party vote changes since 2002
10.08pm - Winston speaks
10.15pm - party vote seems stabilised
10.19pm - the minors
10.31pm - gap still close, but growing to Labour
10.34pm - what now for National?
10.40pm - Hartley for mayor in 2007?
10.42pm - tv graphics
10.45pm - changing hands
10.55pm - JPA reveals his inner pimpster
11.01pm - one seat gap between Lab and Nat
11.08pm - special votes
11.08pm - Brash arrives at HQ
11.14pm - not over until the specials sing
11.41pm - Lab MPs
12.12am - Clark at her HQ now
12.21am - it's not all over, red rover

And all done on dial-up - looking forward to going back to broadband in the morning!