Labour Parties, and the Search for Neverland

One has to wonder if there isn’t a contagious disease ravaging Labour parties around the world.   Something to do with searching for the centre, fear of lefties, and, down under, fear of women?   In the current UK leadership battle a longtime, hardworking, leftie MP – Jeremy Corbyn – has surged to the lead, signed up new members in droves.   There is concern non-Labour voters are also signing up in droves, small ones happily and hardly Corbyn’s fault.  Rampaging back from the right are Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell freely (yes, no fees)  giving unsolicited advice.  Could there be anything more unreal than those two luminaries offering advice on how to save a nation from a very principled man? 

Credit: donimages.tumblr.com

Credit: donimages.tumblr.com

I’ve followed the drama in The Guardian online.   George Monbiot’s piece ‘Jeremy Corbyn is the curator of the future.  His rivals are chasing an impossible dream’  is excellent, thoughtful.  He argues that Corbyn can’t win the next election but neither can his rivals, and that Corbyn’s task is to pull Labour back to the left. 

FINDING NEVERLAND’s CENTRE  IN NZ

Local Labour stalwart Rob Salmond, commenting on his own behalf, popped up on the Public Address blog to rebut Monbiot.   He argues the centre matters.  It’s easily located on his graph!   Eureka!  Monbiot anticipated the Salmond approach and wrote:   ‘dreamers argue that Labour has to recapture the middle ground.  But there is no such place; no fixed political geography.  The middle ground is a magic mountain that retreats as you approach.  The more you chase it from the left, the further to the right it moves’.   Indeed.  Go on, read Monbiot’s article, it is  beautifully crafted.

I can’t say the same for Salmond’s simplistic effort.  There was I weighing up his thesis when halfway through came the hellfire and brimstone words:  MAN BAN.   I’M ASHAMED OF BEING  A MAN.   My highlighting.   It was  a stellar piece of disconnection.  Dogwhistle politics, surely National’s terrain?  Grandsons of brave ANZAC’s sobbed?  Women thought ‘get over it’?  Am I to deduce these words were the defining moment in Labour’s election failure?  Curiously, Salmond overlooked the most serious  stuff up:  a proposed capital gains tax.  It was badly and inadequately explained to unprepared middle NZ.  Which shuddered.  Now, to the detriment of the country,  it is not even up for discussion.  

Women are the wreckers.  Eve and Pandora, creatures of MANmade myths, started the rot.  In the face of regular buckshot from Labour’s anti-identity politics brigade (a right bunch of charmers and arguably advocates of male identity politics but let’s not go down that vortex) Labour women have been regularly silenced, women’s issues sidelined. 

I may have written ‘let’s not go down that vortex’ but I haven’t the slightest intention of obeying this injunction.  In deference to preferred male conduct I’m just copying their hypocrisy and double standards.  Couldn’t some of the above  charmers enlist the help of leftish comedians of all genders to counter National’s lavishly paid for jibes, propaganda.  And point out that identity issues are hip pocket issues.  Clue: they affect work opportunities, pay, promotion etc.  And children’s development, confidence etc.

Labour won the women’s vote when women mobilised around abortion in the 1970s but they have since squandered it.  Accessing abortion, a hip pocket issue if ever there was, can require three days off work, travelling and paying for child care if you live in the wrong locality.  It is banned from Labour’s agenda.  The sex education shambles (also Labour’s legacy) isn’t a man’s issue?  Rape, Roastbusters culture is a rare aberration?  Yeah, right!  

FREE ADVICE FOR LABOUR

To quote Salmond, albeit at the risk of prolonging a PFJ/JPF situation, some Labour luminary such as Jacinda Ardern’s boss, Andrew Little, should have stood up to geriatric hunk and mischief maker, Graeme Lowe, who described Ardern as ‘a pretty little girl’.  Ideally Little would then have paid tribute to Lowe’s better qualities.  He was a great League player and a very courageous man.

If you didn’t  know what Salmond’s cutey reference to a  PFJ/JPF situation was on about and, like me, couldn’t be bothered checking the link, my helpful son did and recognised the scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian where different factions of various judean peoples’ fronts debated their positions.  It’s very funny, quite apposite.  Rob might care to look in the mirror.  

SIMPLIFYING LABOUR’S CHALLENGES: 

STOP CRINGING.   USE HUMOUR.  ANGER WHEN APPROPRIATE.   ADOPT,  RECLAIM ACTIVISM.  GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA.    

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On the Bring From a Lack of Drink

I confess I was shocked by the blatant beer and circuses approach adopted by National to the challenge live television coverage of the Rugby World Cup posed to my compatriots.   Open the bars they compassionately cried.  Equality for binge drinking students and the huddled masses!  Hang about here:  how many homes don’t have televisions?  How many zillion replays will there be?   Had they learned nothing from the Northland bye-election?  

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 07.31.44And what about the workers:  the extra staff on call or working in A & E Departments, police and emergency services.   God forbid they are denied coverage.  Another quick law change to allow ambulance, fire service and police drivers to use their mobiles?  Big tv screens in A& E and operating theatres to be included in core hospital services?    

Manboys in the mainstream media lost their balance (not that they have much) and sobbed compassionately, unsabashedly joined forces with Winston Peters and declared  doubters to be wowsers.   Apparently one thing in this land of freedom and democracy you are not allowed to be is a wowser.    Well I’M A WEE WOWSER AND I’M OKAY.  Labour leapt onto National’s beer wagon alongside Winston. The Greens lost their bottle and joined them. Columnists, and at least one cartoonist were more thoughtful.

Is it not enough to do my bit for the beer barons most days now?   Offsider, a rugby fanatic, has done a lot more over the years but also thought opening the bars a silly idea.   Don’t we understand that mankind is on the brink from lack of drink? We’re in a state of emergency! 

The current liquor laws were much debated two years ago, the World Cup problem raised, no accommodation thought necessary apparently.  So what’s going on?  Too many piss-ups at Parliament?   This is not how you make or change laws.  Then there is the mess of the mangled Healthy and Safety legislation.  Are we being softened up for flogging off Parliament’s lawmaking powers to more competent overseas legislatures?   On the basis of National’s performance it mightn’t be bad idea.  

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Bill English, Bribery and Abortion

Enlightenment has dawned on me:  what a goof I have been for a lot of my life.   While I knew that politicians were very self-interested about their own survival, I didn’t see all the implications of that in respect of policy making.  I understood  their survival instincts, losing a job when there aren’t many around is not a happy experience.  That explained their liking for good remuneration and superannuation.  

I was bowled by the super duper superannuation deal the Labour’s Rogernomes dreamt up for their futures.  It was scaled back later in response to public outrage.   Did I learn from that?  Nope! 

Was it a favourite novelist, E. M. Forster, who advanced the need to ‘only make connections’.   Eureka, I’ve belatedly made one in respect of the parliamentary blockage in regard to securing decriminalisation of abortion, winning the right to choose and ensuring safe abortion services.  The way to go: bribery.  If it’s good enough for a government to advance trade deals and overcome blockages using bribery, as with the Saudi sheep farm deal, it’s good enough for the public buy the consciences of MPs.  

What’s your price, Mr English?   Pretty steep I expect since you are avowedly anti-abortion and pretty well off anyway.   Just think of the taxpayer millions currently wasted on court cases and the certification process.   So hand over $4 million, mate (less than one year’s admin costs) and pro-choicers will spread it around enough MPs selectively to get the law repealed, maybe with some to spare and refund.        

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Pratfall: PM Down

Was it overdosing on the lead up to  ANZAC that accounted for ponytail excess?  Pathos to bathos?   Every empowered woman appears to have been approached for comment.  Or rushed foward?  Labour’s Annette King was, I thought, rabid and Marilyn Waring not far behind.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed telling people I’m a raving feminist.  I’m seriously averse to dying of boredom at social do’s, hopeless at gossip, small talk.  Unhelpful son (one and the same as helpful one) told me my ponytail views were so wrong I needed re-educating.  I’ve tried this, failed. 

I think touching hair usually means approval.  We pat animals, may pay a price for the presumption.  Hair has featured in social and cultural mores/values since we came down from the trees.  Hair styling (often a form of mutual grooming) has produced fantastical arrangements.  I cannot find anything in gently pulling ponytails without permission that makes it sexually creepy.  By contrast eliminating pubic hair sets off alarm bells.  In an age of rampant child prostitution, Victorian painters omitted it.  A fairly eminent Victorian freaked out completely when he discovered his newlywed wife had some. 

In my time ponytails and the long hair of schoolboys have invited institutional displeasure since Elvis.  Obviously persistent and unwelcome touching of another’s hair, body is not acceptable.   The politics of the waitress are irrelevant but offsider made the excellent point that Key’s presumption may have been even more unbearable if she wasn’t a political fan of his.

It should be no surprise that Key didn’t know when to stop.  His ordinary bloke persona, overly indulged by media, invited a pratfall. I don’t think it was an issue  of entitlement or prerogative.  He wants to be liked.  He clowns.  Clowns can irritate, frighten, go too far.  He did.  (Coulrophobia is the word coined in the 1980s to describe fear of clowns). 

The cafe manager knew of the waitress’s annoyance,  and would have done well to ask if she wanted him to intervene.  She could have asked him to do so.  It was a tricky situation.  The bodyguards were egregiously useless.  The PM apologised with two bottles of wine.  Overanalysing the apology and wine provenance was farcical.  Nothing can compare with humiliation on the world’s stage. 

Bosses and politicians might consider it worthwhile encouraging union membership.  They try to handle such incidents to avoid embarrassment.  The waitress can still make a formal complaint but for her own sake I hope she doesn’t.  Courts are bullyboy arenas even for plaintiffs with good cause.   She could be called as a witness in the case serial litigant Graham McCready is taking to the Human Rights’  Commission.  She has asked him to desist.  He said he will not.  That is his prerogative.  I think his action is incredibly insensitive.   And there is the Dirty Politics Brigade waiting to pounce.  Wrong, it got its foot in the door in the shape of the Herald’s reporter Rachel Glucina.  Apparently her bosses had four tries at explaining their role.

With any luck the furore has died so why am I writing this?  I don’t think  I have betrayed my own principles.  But unhelpful son has delivered the deadliest insult of all:  I am in the Bob Jones camp.  Alongside that silly old sexist, still rated a wit  worthy of column space??   I wonder if old Bob has the faintest comprehension of how his political and literary legacy is exquisitely reflected by internet trolls and middleaged blokes throwing ugly tanties on talkback. 

The only flaw in my arguments is that some men just don’t want to evolve.  But I doubt Key will make the same mistake again. 

P.S  What a relief to read Verity Johnson’s column in The Herald last weekend:  Come on, Pull the Other One, we need a little fun in our lives.  Not every woman’s cup of tea but she is entitled to her opinion and choice of conduct.  Me too. 

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Winston Wooed ‘Em

Well, stap me vitals and knock me down with a feather,  Winston Peters won Northland.   Hooray!   Even if he isn’t a political favourite of mine he certainly wooed and won with his charm offensive,  well honed political skills, cunning.  Mark Whathisname (it appears I and usually helpful son are not the only ones Winstonwhose memory cells baulked in this respect) had been dealt a lousy hand before Winston appeared on the scene and could still come home to spell serious trouble for John Key.

National may now turn to grudge and a little spite.  On second thoughts, a lot of National’s policies seem based on spite, their right to rule is challenged and the undeserving poor and their disagreeable champions must be kept in their place. 

It’s a pity Labour didn’t adopt the gaming approach and swallow Dotcom and Internet Mana before the last election.   It may not have worked.   I managed to spare myself and not see what is generally considered to have been the final nail in Internet Mana’s coffin at Dotcom’s Moment of Truth where his conduct was not helpful.   I’m still not sure why he became so unpalatable, political poison overall.   He was, wrongly it now transpires, allowed into the country because we were so keen to get our hands on his dosh and he certainly spread it around liberally. 

I’ve always had a liking for pirates and Dotcom was very much associated with piracy albeit the anti-thesis of the usual pirate in fiction and film.   Huge.  Onshore.  Netted in one of the most ludicrous action sequences ever to grace the screen.   Two helicopters, 76 police officers, a dog or so, what a ball!   I’ve since checked out the date of the raid and Skyfall’s release and the raid occurred ten months earlier.   Had our GCSB been downloading rushes of Skyfall?  

Dotcom is no Johny Depp/Jack Sparrow who has to be the bestest pirate of all.  The corporates going for him are much, much bigger pirates than he is?

I haven’t given much thought as to how Winston and New Zealand First will play out in Parliament not least because of his unpredictability.   I don’t like his ‘constituency’.   But I would just love to see him stroll mockingly back into Parliament in pirate gear and a parrot on his shoulder singing “Yo ho ho and a bottle of whisky, with twelve members now perched in the nest, drink and the devil makes an old man frisky, yo ho ho ho and fingers to the rest…”

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Gaming Northland

Oooooh isn’t the Northland bye-election serious fun.   Well that was written before the cruel and contemptible 1080 blackmail threat overshadowed it.   (At this stage I’m prepared to accept, just, National’s handling of this threat.   I hadn’t given any thought to the normal approach, which is not to publicise such threats as that serves the purpose of the blackmailer all too well.)

Labour’s manoevring in Northland is so delicate.   I think I detected a bit of sheepish embarrassment.  Whither  Winston will go if elected is not predictable.   He is rattling National’s cage deliciously.  Their candidate is on a hiding to none in the personality stakes and his grasp of electoral propriety appears non-existent.    I’m not cynical enough to not have been shocked by the brazen audacity of their pork barrel politics.    Bribery is illegal but modern pork barrel  politics are not too far removed from that especially when the impact of government services etc can be considerable in a contemporary context.   Think long outlawed treating on election day, say a tankard or two of ale two centuries ago and today’s and $30-60 million on bridges and more to come?   

Did we hear Mark What’s-his-name (neither I nor helpful son of marvellous memory can ever remember it) say if people didn’t vote for him they might not be built.  Is blackmail contagious?   Did  Key and Joyce salvage the situation and confirm they would be built come what may.   I wasn’t too confident of using the term blackmail even on an obscure blog like this one.  But another hooray henry, this time the National MP for Whangarei, obliged today by telling a Northland woman to shut up until after the election if she wants something done about sealing their dusty road!   ‘POLITICAL BLACKMAIL’ shouted Winston.  You can’t accuse National of a lack of transparency this time round.    Maybe it is going to be a very close race after all.     

I keep thinking of writing a blog about the historical development of democratic process after our predecessors lopped off their monarch’s head in a very revolutionary manner.  Somehow we have drifted back into a divine right of kings approach to power which is now reinforced with a level of spin that would have been the envy of olden day hereditary monarchs who didn’t bother to explain away their conduct.  They relied on more straightforward methods of elimination of overly vociferous critics and rivals.   

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And No Birds Sing

The sedge is beginning to wither, there hasn’t been a puddle for months.  The fishpond, a sunken iron bath, required a top up every two days.  Sedge and Japanase anemones are flowering, both grow close to a concrete path, shallow waterpipe which may keep them cooler.   Wellington’s drought started early, carried on relentlessly.  Some welcome rain at the weekend, nothing like the drenching on the windward side of Mt Victoria.

TuiWhere is my bird life?  Something reminded me of lying in a paddock in childhood  listening to larks.  This memory bought back a small pond Dad had dug out and designated as a swimming pool.  It was not a success in that role, the water was full of clay.  Frogs loved it, the drains and troughs.  I found their nighttime noise quite soothing. 

I’ve lived in the same house in Wellington for nearly fifty years.  Way back, there was a lark in nearby ‘wasteland’ which I so named to counter Joyce’s urban one.   Sadly it has been ‘developed’:  large houses, few trees.  There is a medium sized play area but not many children come from that street.  No trees to loll under on the flat.  Bush remains on the steeper hillsides. 

After a silent period children have returned to our nearby street, I missed their happy playing.  They use the play area.  I confess I did not miss the unhappy playing of children whose family broke up following unemployment summarily inflicted on them by 1980s Rogernomics.  Our two empty sections run down into bush and are more beautiful each year, the flowering and fruit trees and natives now  well sheltered.  Up top it is heaven to sit under the silver birch on a hot day.  It sheds early, comes into leaf late and is no barrier to winter wamth.  Exposure to wind has made its trunk resemble that of an Ent.   Trees can’t be sacred in urban environments.  I’m outraged when Councils say some monster must stay although it’s shading, gutter filling, drain blocking, branch dropping on neighbours and the unhappy owner.   Or when they  prevent owners thinning bush so they and children can walk through or play in it.    I’m ambivalent about the 500 year old kauri on private land in Auckland.  Yes, it will be sad to lose it.  The current owners didn’t plant it.  We’ve planted at least seven kauris.  They are distinctive in the sapling stage and hold their shape well once on their way.   Unless some loaded greenie buys the lot they will probably go.  Recently I was firmly given a rimu and totara.  We already have some, I made it clear I couldn’t accommodate them.  They’ve taken off and I’m the miscreant who will soon do for them.  Neighbours need sun.    

Spring storms destroyed bird nests two years running.  A blackbird I called Peter (but assumed was more than one blackbird) once sang hugely most of the day from the  from the top of the big kauri.   A neice phoned from Turkey, was it him she could hear singing?  Indeed it was.  He has gone now and apart from a bit of chattering there is an eerie silence.  Tuis visit but are unusually quiet.   I miss the raucous gurgler who woke me at daybreak. 

There are not many cats now.   Fat monarch caterpillars vanished in a period of high wind, four butterflies have emerged from shelter close to the ground.  A small frog has reappeared.  Two big ones haven’t.  No sign of skinks.   A fat skink and frog faced off year after year on a sundrenched piece of wood.  Hedgehogs no longer brawl noisily at midnight outside the bedroom window.    

On the upside there hasn’t been a fire on the peninsula opposite for years.  Bush is regenerating.  Hereabouts opossums have vanished, wasps are rare.  Putting aside plane noise there is a velvet silence most nights.  Rats and mice remain.  BUT WHY NO BIRDSONG?  Climate change, big storms, drier summers, less nectar, fewer insects and trees?   Is it compounded by bigger houses, manicured lawns, boxed vegetable gardens, herbicide, insecticide use?         

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