Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Politics of Absence

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Curran,

    Alternatively, it could be argued that competence with communicating with the public via social media is one of the requirements they should be looking for in new candidates.

    The irony is that Curran does heaps of that. She's a very enthusiastic Red Alert blogger. Energy does not, however, mean accuracy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Being on Twitter a lot does not equate to knowing about coordinated campaign management. Unfortunately.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Again, that list.

    You do have to wonder what the criteria are. It's sad that smart candidates like Jordan Carter will be casualties when he's managing to faithfully repeat key messages and also critically discuss his party's relationship with the public.

    There’s a second vital step where we in Labour need to do better. It’s connecting that individual openness, humility, empathy and determination to solve problems with the party’s overall image, practice and strategic approach.

    We have done that extremely well recently with the launch of our tax policy. #ownourfuture has done bloody wonders for the issues people are talking about, the challenge they are putting on MPs and candidates from our party and others to define a credible vision for the future. We had a big policy proposal that would help address some deep-seated problems New Zealand faces.

    Labour needs to behave that way across the board. If there is one thing I would ask of all my fellow candidates and future colleagues in the Labour caucus, it is to take the voters seriously, all the time. Our party is damaged when we don’t portray that ideal in everything we do.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Agree with them or not, the whole "holding a consistent policy position twice in a row and arguing for it" thing seems to be working out for the Greens doesn't it?

    It also worked for ACT - up to a point. And then they started pitching for the Archie Bunker and Alex Jones blocs.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    You do have to wonder what the criteria are. It’s sad that smart candidates like Jordan Carter will be casualties when he’s managing to faithfully repeat key messages and also critically discuss his party’s relationship with the public

    It's hardly just Jordan. The younger Labour MPs are doing the right thing, working hard in their electorates -- as I noted, Ardern's very visible and engaged in Auckland Central -- but here we are talking about one iffy line in a blog post by Clare Curran six weeks ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Agree with them or not, the whole “holding a consistent policy position twice in a row and arguing for it” thing seems to be working out for the Greens doesn’t it?

    It also worked for ACT – up to a point. And then they started pitching for the Archie Bunker and Alex Jones blocs.

    We'll see if the Greens can turn their polling into actual votes. For all that they're pilloried in the fashionable blogs, Labour do know how to get their vote out on the day. The Greens still need to prove they can learn to do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    WTF?

    Very well connected incumbents in panic mode. Not exactly a novelty, and not exactly restricted to the Labour Party to be fair...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    one iffy line

    Which - amplified by the subsequent defensive responses - tapped into a broader theme about not listening. Not smart politics.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It didn’t make sense, but I’m not sure it warranted the acres of furious, and sometimes vicious, online commentary it reaped. Curran’s a soft target for everyone, it seems.

    Yes, I thought that it was quite OTT how furious people got about her saying something that amounted to "We are losing our traditional constituency to the Green Party, and that's part of the reason our direction as a party has totally lost coherence. We should move to reclaim it". It's not the only strategy possible, the obvious other one is to try to take the votes from National, which would be the only way to actually win an election, but it is some kind of answer to the criticism that Labour no longer stands for what it used to.

    Somehow, that got lost in the throwaway part of the point, which was firmly latched onto, that Curran somehow thought that the working classes are owned by Labour.

    I think Curran wanted to have a discussion about this, rather than to treat it as a message to the public. But that's what it became, because that is what people expect from politicians, and it's the reality of political discussion involving actual political actors.

    Seriously, how can the senior politicians avail themselves of public debate, if they can never actually have a discussion that doesn't end up becoming a caricature, with a hero and a villain? In these circumstances, it's pretty easy to see why National sticks to focus groups and private back room discussions. The episode actually made a mockery of the internet as a place for discussion, at least for people who actually could influence the world. Discussion must be carried on in private - that is the message the Curran episode delivered.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We'll see if the Greens can turn their polling into actual votes.

    Too true.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    saying something that amounted to "We are losing our traditional constituency to the Green Party, and that's part of the reason our direction as a party has totally lost coherence. We should move to reclaim it"

    But that's not what she said, is it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Discussion must be carried on in private - that is the message the Curran episode delivered.

    Discussion must be carried on competently and with some coherence.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    For all that they’re pilloried in the fashionable blogs, Labour do know how to get their vote out on the day.

    M'kay... and there's the problem. Sorry, Russell, but my gag reflex starts twitching whenever I hear a political party or candidate talking about "their" vote. You not only have to earn votes but not be stupid enough to take those boots on the ground for granted because they don't have to be there.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fenton at 18 (a rise of 15 places since 2008!), Twyford at 33? WTF?

    Part of the rationale I believe is that MPs without the guarantee of a high list ranking are encouraged to get on the road and earn their electorate seat. Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The younger Labour MPs are doing the right thing, working hard in their electorates

    Clare Curran isn't one of a "younger Labour MP" working hard in her electorate?

    Checks ... I guess not. But she's not that much older than Twyford.

    Who are the young Labour MPs working hard in their electorates? I can think of Kris Fa'afoi and Chris Hipkins as "young" Labour electorate MPs, are there others?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    The contrasting styles of the hoardings up in Victoria Park are illuminating - Labour has an image of Arden alone, Key has a slightly more prominent image on Kaye's billboard than she does, and the Greens have a picture of kids and a river.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I really do want a successful opposition. If they can't work together to make hay from the current govt's woeful mismanagement then they should make space for those who can.

    Focusing beyond Key on the lacklustre cabinet would seem a reasonably obvious start. But it needed to happen a few years ago.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    @ Craig:

    whenever I hear a political party or candidate talking about “their” vote.

    How do you feel about "my" Government or "my" Minister?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Sacha,

    Discussion must be carried on competently and with some coherence.

    Is that a Tui sucker line?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    the obvious other one is to try to take the votes from National, which would be the only way to actually win an election, but it is some kind of answer to the criticism that Labour no longer stands for what it used to.

    Chris Trotter has recently stated that Labour should target "Waitakere Man", who is seemingly the NZ version of the Essex Man and the Reagan Democrats. I'm not so sure that would be a wise strategy, if Howard Dean's failed attempt to court Joe Sixpack is anything to go by.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to BenWilson,

    Seriously, how can the senior politicians avail themselves of public debate, if they can never actually have a discussion that doesn’t end up becoming a caricature, with a hero and a villain?

    Here’s a radical idea, Ben. If politicians want to have grown-up discussions, they should try acting like grown-ups.

    Grown-ups don’t behave like people who think – or vote – differently from them are, at best, stupid or just downright evil.

    Grown-ups can accept that differences of opinion can be held in good faith.

    Grown-ups can unconditionally own their shit when they screw up – as they inevitably will. Russell can hand-wave all he likes about one line, but anyone who has been around union/political circles in Oz (like Curran) should know that if you walk into a union or ALP meeting and accuse anyone of “white-anting” you better have the numbers to back your throwdown. Own it.

    Grown-ups also accept the unpleasant and painful truth that, more often than not, their troubles are entirely of their own creation.

    How do you feel about “my” Government or “my” Minister?

    Well, it is my Government and my Ministers. And yours. And every other citizens'. Otherwise, no, I don't find the Prime Ministerial first-person possessive endearing.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    M’kay… and there’s the problem. Sorry, Russell, but my gag reflex starts twitching whenever I hear a political party or candidate talking about “their” vote. You not only have to earn votes but not be stupid enough to take those boots on the ground for granted because they don’t have to be there.

    Oh, c'mon Craig. Really?

    It's a a perfectly conventional phrase. It means that you make sure the people who say they're sympathetic to you actually vote on the day -- if necessary, by helping them get to the polling place.

    If anything, it's the opposite of taking your voters for granted. And it's something Labour have historically done well, and something the Greens have generally done poorly. See: the Mt Albert by-election.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Here’s a radical idea, Ben. If politicians want to have grown-up discussions, they should try acting like grown-ups.

    I'm assuming that's not a criticism of the Prime Minister.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Curran's throwaway line was trivial yes but it was also a symptom of what has pissed me off more and more about Labour. It exemplified a view that the only worthwhile result of the election for Labour is being able to form a government where they are the dominant group. Anything else is a failure.

    But MMP, when done right, is all about having multiple parties representing multiple viewpoints coming together and finding compromises. It should be about forming coalitions that can genuinely represent the multiplicity of opinions that exist in the population.

    Instead Labour still pretend that if they get to form a government they can then ram through whatever their policy dictates - even if they only have 30% of the vote. National of course play the same card from a stronger position.

    But either way you end up with a dictatorship by the majority, where minority voices get steamrolled.

    What I desperately wanted to see from Labour was an open understanding that they will have to co-operate with other parties who represent other viewpoints in order to lead this country. That would be a policy of co-operation and compromise to get the most representative government and not yet another simple elected dictatorship.

    If they were smart they would campaign side by side with The Greens. And say we don't agree on everything but between us we represent more of the public than John Key.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m assuming that’s not a criticism of the Prime Minister.

    You've assumed wrong, cherub. First campaign season in 21 years my sensible walking shoes are staying in the closet.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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