Posts by Tom Semmens

  • Legal Beagle: Election '20: The No…, in reply to linger,

    I detect no appetite in the NZ electorate to turn away from establishment consensus, competent centrist technocracy in favour of more chaotic but more representative coalition government. Surely the recent election was evidence of how the NZ electorate favours competence over democratic purity. COVID has in this country, in the short term at least, shored up the authority of centrist, expert led governance – that is why Ardern won an absolute majority, and why Biden has won (the real lesson of Biden’s win is that in the North Atlantic English speaking democracies establishment technocratic centrism can still just about squeak a narrow win on the back of a mis-handled pandemic and a huge turnout) and Johnson is floundering (despite UK Labour under Starmer being timid, utterly visionless, virulently centrist and more interested in pursuing a vendetta against the reformative left in his own party than opposing the Tories).

    COVID has (to my mind at least) put paid to the nonsensical myth of Kiwi “rugged individualism” and decisively demonstrated that a predilection for mildly authoritarian politics and collectivist social proscriptions is our actual cultural preference and this preference was not extinguished by the neoliberal revolution, merely made dormant. Hence, it seems to me most NZers would not regard the threshold as a blight on our democracy so much as a bulwark against reprobate politicians and “undesirable” social elements getting a voice in government.

    Perhaps a meta to take away from this pandemic is COVID may indicate a subtle changing of NZ – and Australian – society away from the extreme individualism of European and US political culture towards a more Asian style of collectivist politics. Maybe we are now more Asian in some ways than we realise.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Legal Beagle: Election '20: The No…,

    The whole point of the threshold is to keep nutcases like Advance NZ away from power. It might not be a pure democracy, but I'll settle for the compromise.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Hard News: Towards new human spaces,

    I would quite like some sort of cycling infrastructure from St Lukes to Greenlane, but I suspect that will have to wait for Jacinda repulsing an alien invasion from beyond our Galaxy.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Would you also agree that the Spanish government should stop sentencing political leaders it finds troublesome to very long jail terms?

    I never knew the Spanish government controlled the Spanish judicary.

    Anyway, judicaries everywhere tend to reflect the consensus of elite establishment opinion in their rulings on topics with strong political elements, be it the UK Supreme Court ruling Boris Johnson’s prorogation of UK parliament was unlawful or the status of Catalan politicians engaging in illegal political activities or indeed here with the Waitangi tribunal or the NZ Supreme court.

    Novara media have an interesting take on the upcoming Spanish elections in relation to the crisis in Catalonia. It is a mess.

    Suffice to say, no one comes out this analysis looking very good – and for New Zealand’s armchair revolutionaries who have reflexively supported the Catalan case for independence it contains some uncomfortable analysis and conclusions.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted,

    The two opinions most commonly expressed by friends in Barcelona:

    1. The independence movement is driven by wealthy families who stand to gain financially and the extent to which Catalonia has been in any way negatively affected by the current system is vastly exaggerated. Cf Brexit.

    2. The central government’s response of using force to shut down the referendum was wrong and counterproductive.

    I wasn’t going to mention the accusations that the whole independence movement was stirred up by Catalonian politicians looking to avoid investigation for corruption and nepotism, but yes – that is also a reason.

    The use of force is counter-productive, but you have to ask why it was deployed. Why was Madrid so confident it could get away with a crack down? It was confident because it had a cast iron legal position, the backing of the EU and crucially, most of the rest of Spain. Electorally, making an example of Catalonia was the easiest call ever, especially given the intransigence of the pro-independence groups.

    Everyone in Spain knows the Civil Guards are next level – conservative and absolutely reliable in defense of the perceived “honour” of the Spanish state. Once they turned up, their actions were inevitable.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted,

    What a load of hogwash. For all the nice leftism of the Catalan independence movement it has as it’s base exactly the same conceited logic as the Fascists of the Italian Lega Nord – cultural snobbery and a selfish rejection of the poorer parts of Spain as an albatross around the Catalonia’s neck and a desire to abandon their poorer fellow countrymen and women in places like Estramadura for the sake of being unfettered in the sunlit uplands of posh, progressive Europe.

    a massive grassroots movement had taken root wanting a vote on Catalonia becoming its own independent state within Europe.

    Really? A good 50% of the region isn't keen, if election results are any guide. I guess though if you don't want independence you opinion doesn't count in Catalonia, a selective definition a bit like if you want Brexit your view doesn't count in the minds of the ultra remainers I guess.

    Most Spaniards I know are deeply unsympathetic to the Catalonian chauvinism on display every day there, and the Catalans themselves are so wrapped up in their own self-importance they refuse to face certain political realities.

    From 1938-75 Spain was a deeply socially conservative, fascist dictatorship where the army and the Church were the standard bearers of “Spanishness” and of the highly reactionary values of Francoism. These values might currently lie dormant, but have not necessarily vanished from Spanish society, let alone the military.

    The semi-federal, highly autonomous nature of Spain’s internal organisation created by the seminal 1978 constitution is in a large part a reaction to the enforced and suffocating narrowness of the Francoist cultural and social agenda. Regions wished to express their identity again, and the 1978 constitution recognised this. These concessions to autonomy were negotiated within the context of a highly politicised and dangerous military and one of the key aspects of the 1978 constitution over the line against the far right’s objections is the first part of section two –

    “…The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all…”

    In other words, to gain their semi-autonomy without losing everything in another military coup, the Spanish regions (including the Basque Country and even regions like Asturias as well as Catalonia) agreed to the INDISSOLUBLE UNITY OF THE SPANISH NATION. The Catalan government is trying to renege on this key promise – and take the wealthiest part of the country off with an insouciant two finger salute and an attitude of “I’m all right, Jack” and they then disingenuously claim they don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

    None the less, the Spanish constitution is clear and is the legal basis to the claim by Madrid that the independence referendum was illegal and unconstitutional. It wasn’t that “Some laws were broken” the whole damn thing was a massive exercise in illegality under the 1978 constitution Catalonia signed up to, and why – as you put it – the Spanish government doesn’t “…even acknowledging that Catalans might have a legitimate political demand…” and the reason why the EU did nothing.

    And anyway, Catalonia’s claim to independence is piss-weak. Catalonia has always been a possession of the crown of Aragon, with the uniting of Aragon and Castille (Ferdinand and Isabella) Catalonia became part of Spain, with significant local autonomy. Catalonia has NEVER been an independent state and has less claim to independence than, say, the Lega Nord where Piedmont had at least been an independent state in the 19th Century.

    The Catalonians need to get over themselves.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Hard News: Cabinet and the Reeferendum, in reply to Sacha,

    Peter Dunne is not impressed.

    Of course he is not impressed, that creakingly ancient stuffed shirt made an art form of obfuscation dressed in up a bow-tied tweed of supercilious pomposity.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Hard News: Cabinet and the Reeferendum,

    It is now blindingly obvious National are going to run a “just say no, two ticks for blue” campaign next election with maximum fact free FUD.

    Middle aged male blowhards in the media will reckon their love and support National's "strong stand".

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Hard News: Digital persuasion and the…,

    I would like to see the NZ police issue a warrant for the arrest of Mark Zuckerburg in relation to the Christchurch shooting video and seek his extradition.

    NZ is a serious country with a proper rule of law so the US courts would have to hear the case and Zuckerburg would have to take it seriously.

    Not that I think we'd ever be able to extradite him here on a charge of abetting terror. But to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, it would be great to get him into a courthouse and make him deny it.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

  • Hard News: These things we must now change, in reply to ,

    Because semi-autos allow you to dice the animal as you kill it? Our laws will still allow five and seven shot magazines.

    Given that there are some people who think the only acceptable weapons with which men should fight boars is a plastic spoon and a couple of hellhounds named “Adolf” and “Satan” that even their owner won't pat unexpectedly, anyone who can’t hit an angry pig with a seven round mag deserves to be tuskered.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report

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