Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Hipkins has no time to lose

Some commenters on this blog and elsewhere are saying we shouldn’t be deceived by the Labour government’s sharp tack toward the political centre under Chris Hipkins. He’s merely doing what he needs to do to get back into power in October, the reasoning goes.

In other words, it’s an audacious con job. Just wait, they warn; if Labour wins the election, we should expect the entire woke project to be revived and pursued with renewed zeal.

In support of their thesis, the doubters point out that as a senior minister in Jacinda Ardern’s Cabinet, Hipkins supported the policies he’s now ditching. No one changes their political colours that abruptly, they suggest. The implication is that it’s all being done to seduce voters into thinking Labour under its new leader is a different ideological beast.

Their cynicism is understandable, but I think (and hope) they’re wrong. I think Labour under Hipkins is undergoing a fundamental and genuine reset; one aimed at realigning the party with its traditional constituency.

Of course he supported the disastrous initiatives pursued under Ardern. As a loyal minister he had little alternative, short of resigning his portfolios and being blacklisted by his colleagues. But now he’s in the driver’s seat and Ardern is literally history. The King is Dead, Long Live the King, as the saying goes. In other words, there’s a new guy in charge and all bets are off.

The speed with which Hipkins is cutting away Labour’s radical ideological baggage has taken everyone by surprise. Who would have guessed that the boyish MP for Remutaka – a politician cleverly characterised by the cartoonist Garrick Tremain as a wide-eyed schoolboy – could be so decisive and even ruthless?  

Hipkins isn’t just burying Ardern’s legacy; he’s prepared to take on Labour’s powerful Maori caucus and the party’s Green allies as well. This is a politician who seems absolutely confident that he’s doing the right thing and can carry the party with him. His boldness will surely be reinforced by his showing in the latest polls.

The obvious explanation for Hipkins’ U-turn is that he realises Labour squandered its historic majority after the 2020 election by wasting it on ideological projects for which there was no mainstream support. What should have been a glorious chapter in the party’s history was looking like three years of lost opportunity. Presumably he also grasps that his government’s survival has been put at risk by the cabal of committed activists who have driven the political agenda, and that they must be stripped of their power and influence.

He now has only seven months in which to repair the damage. There’s no time to lose, and certainly no time for political niceties.


Doug Longmire said...

A good article again.
For the sake of our nation, I just hope your analysis is correct Karl.

R Singers said...

Can you explain what exactly he is ditching? Three Waters hasn't been repealed or altered and the three RMA replacement bills go further down the same track.

Anonymous said...

I think you are being too kind and optimistic, Karl. The elephant in the room is still Three/Five Waters, and despite the murmurings, I don't seem him changing that reform to any significant extent, and now we also have the proposed RMA hot on its heels - similarly with its racial identifications and patent attack on democracy. One also needs to remember that Hipkins was directly in charge of Education and what a truly shocking indoctrination process that now portends to be.

Richard Arlidge

Karl du Fresne said...

R Singers,
Labour's policy reversals have been well documented. Some deeply obnoxious legislation remains in place (as Richard also points out), but that doesn't mean Labour hasn't done a massive swerve.

Gary Peters said...

"he’s prepared to take on Labour’s powerful Maori caucus and the party’s Green allies as well"

So far we've seen no evidence of that. A bit of window dressing has occurred but only in areas that have been under wraps for quite a while before so bringing the curtain down again isn't a problem. I'm quite sure wee willie is doing a bit of polishing his merger plans behind said curtain.

Not one of mahuta's family contracts have been rescinded, jimmiy shaw is still free to travel the world and tell us all off for doing the same and 3 waters and co-governance are getting new names.

Yes, he was a member of ardern's cabinet but his attitude, clearly on display in the Bellis and "2 Hookers" debacle doesn't look nice ..... in my opinion.

Odysseus said...

Unless Hipkins repudiates co-governance which dominates Labour's legislative programme for 2023, the policy "bonfire" is simply window-dressing. The pity is so many New Zealanders are naive enough to be sucked in. If Labour are re-elected with their co-governance agenda intact, accountability and democracy will be supplanted by what can only be described as ethnonationalist fascism.

Odysseus said...

Graham Adams has produced this far more sceptical appraisal of Hipkins' apparent conversion from "woke" to bloke:

It's well worth a read. Hipkins' reign as Education Minister has been little short of diabolical, inculcating critical race theory and gender ideology at every level.

WWallace said...

The problem is that, like John Key, Hipkins is merely being pragmatic (definition: a trait of politicians with poll-dependent policies). There is an absence of principles. As others have pointed out, the only way we will know if Hipkins has truly come to his senses, is if he ditches the Three/Five Waters and the RMA replacements.
The other concern is that this is a government with a history of deceiving voters. eg breaking promises around No New Taxes. And perniciously, introducing legislation or "change by stealth" with no voter mandate. eg 3 Waters, School History curriculum, a public service fixated on Te Reo, etc.
This is a government that has lost the trust of the voters.

R Singers said...

Karl, Labour have paused or stopped a few things but nothing has been "reversed". And I assume what you mean by documented is stories by media funded by the same Government.

Karl du Fresne said...

Hmmm. I sense I'm on my own here.

Huskynut said...

I'd entertain the possibility you might be right except for labour's behavior in commissioning but hiding he puapua from the electorate and their coalition partner, then enacting it without warning. That alone signals a depth of political cynicism if not treachery that simply doesn't deserve any benefit of the doubt until it's been 8n some way repudiated.
Fool me once, shame on you... etc

rouppe said...

I'm afraid I agree with most of the others, Karl. I simply don't trust Labour.

It's fair to say the because certain policies have been dropped, doesn't mean they're binned.

I also agree with Gary Peters and Odysseus that none of the Co governance features have been dropped.

The Make It 16 has simply been moved to slip in from Local Government. Hipkins was clear: too difficult to get over the hurdle in Central government but local government only requires 50.1% so its easier to do.
Once it's in local government its just a matter of time to burrow its way up like a parasite.

The Labour Party are incredibly dangerous. They played the long game with education and poisoning our children's minds, they're playing a long game here, especially with polls so close they could quite conceivably win.

Andy Espersen said...

Karl – you write, “[Hipkins’] boldness will surely be reinforced by his showing in the latest polls.”

His “boldness” doesn’t really amount to much – if you look at it soberly. Yes, he has gained a few poll points by officially promising to postpone till after the election a few of the most audacious and unpopular of Ardern’s policies. But nowhere has he openly admitted that she and Labour were plain wrong or mistaken in any one of their numerous controversial policies, be it co-governance, education, Covid lockdown, Covid mandates, attitude to perfectly legal, democratic protests, Waitangi Treaty interpretation, the Maorification of New Zealand, social justice by preferential treatment - or whatever (I could go on with this list).

Hipkins was in the thick of it all – through all the 6 years under Ardern’s woke tyranny. You seem convinced that leopards can change their spots. But will they? Can they?

I do hope your naivety will prove correct – but remain unconvinced.

R Singers said...

I don't think you are on your own. There certainly is a narrative that Hipkins has gone from "Woke to Bloke" and is tacking back to the centre. Legacy media have this incessant compulsion to create the news as if their allocated time on our screens and radio were a drama like Shortland St. (As do other malignant actors like Kate Hannah and Dr Sanjana Hattotuwa who refuse to reveal who funds them.) So your article isn't out of step with the legacy media zeitgeist.

Some of us tho' work in industries where we need a conclusive fact base before we make decisions or take action.

I can see that Hipkins has stopped the RNZ/TVNZ merger which was dead in the water anyway (the merger need more money than the capital value of both organisations). The mergers of the DHBs and polytech is still there and sucked up large amounts of money.

The hate speech legislation has been punted to the law commision, and will come back at some stage.

The first three waters bill is now an act and the other two ares still progressing through the house. The three RMA replacement bills are working their way through the house.

There's still a Ute tax and talk of other taxes that aren't taxes.

There's still no answers why the covid response deviated so far from the established science. The responses to Cranmer's OIA requests to Ministry of Health are seriously disturbing.

I am completely open to your argument, if you want to explain what substantive changes you think have happened.

Somewhat cynically however I think that some clued up PR person has worked out that Chris Bishop's Hutt Boy persona is "trending" and its being copied by Hipkins. For example Bishop makes a quip on his Facebook page that he expects a plague of locusts and an hour later Hipkin's makes it to a TV reporter.

Ken said...

I haven't decided yet Karl! He does seem to be doing what you write about.... But I'm tending to err on the side of some of your other commenters, unless he's open transparent about any of the co governance by stealth issues, I'll be skeptical.
Ken Maclaren

Gary Peters said...

"Hmmm. I sense I'm on my own here"

No Karl, I think you were stirring the pot and showing your liberal side 😎

I think you've been around long enough to know when a politician is a llb and hipkins fills that description nicely.

G Brown said...

Lipstick on a Chip, to coin a phrase. Even if you are correct - and I seriously doubt it - it's because Woke has essentially won. Institutional capture is virtually complete. The PM doesn't need to legislate co-governance or Te Reo mania because virtually every institution from corporations to professional bodies are promoting this in one form or another. Implementing CRT in curriculum ensures automatic transmission of indoctrination. The mainstream media, HR, and Twitterati ruthlessly enforce Woke ideology and punish any deviation. The bulk of New Zealanders are either too ignorant, passive, or fearful to mount any resistance. There isn't going to be any major backlash as some anti-Woke wish. I salute the few counter-voices, but much like Cesar hails those about to die.

Labour can therefore afford to pursue, or seemingly pursue, other more traditional Leftist policies.

ZTS said...

The co Governance stuff (Ethno State) is steaming ahead under Chippie.

The 15 Co Governed planning regions in the new RMA, the changes to Local Govt upcoming and being implemented, the handing over to Iwi the management of the fishing in the Hauraki Gulf and these are just the ones we know about. No change in DoC sorting out TUT despite it being on record that they have no plans to honour the agreement they had with DoC and which was made on behalf of all NZers.

The Tuku Morgans and other tribal Maori comments on the pullback on CoGovernance is all obfuscation to convince the voting public that it's all gone away.

On the day Ardern resigned, On TDB I said - This was a done deal, known to at least to the cabinet and about 2 - 3 months in the making. And I also said that for the Maori Caucus to meekly follow the leader and not push for a Maori Deputy Leader was evidence that a deal had been done and that only time would tell what that deal was. I suggested there would be no back down on co-governance but noise to make it appear like it had gone away. Then if Chippie returned to power the Co Governance/He PuaPua agenda would be further implemented.

I am shocked at how many people think Chippie really is going to 'stop it'. Logically, he cant pull back now. Does he think that the inevitable Maori backlash and Hikoi's to parliament would be survivable in an election year? Unless polls show otherwise, he wont dare do it. Also probably doesnt want to.

People forget that JA,GR and Chippie have been the tight three for about 10 years or more and as Dept of Education is the wokest of the woke government departments, you can be sure that Chippie supports race based governance.

Andy Espersen said...

In a way, you are defending the Labour party in this post, Karl. I am sick to death about that crowd. Jacinda Ardern and her arrogant colleagues (most certainly including Hipkins!) have got close to ruining the New Zealand I always loved. Admittedly they were presented with some difficult political problems over these 6 years, the four biggest problems probably being : 1. Climate change. 2. Covid 19. 3. The popular re-interpretation of our most basic, constitutional document, the Treaty of Waitangi. 4. The peculiar worldwide, anti-scientific sentiment of “cancel-culture” taking hold among the political left, spreading fear among many.

Dealing with those 4 political problems this Labour government has failed miserably on all counts. The Jutland peasants (among whom I grew up) had a great way to describe such folks : “They are sillier than snot : Snot can find a way out – but they can’t”.

Those Labour politicians are bereft of what is undoubtedly the most important personal qualities for politicians, namely Wisdom and Common Sense. And together with disdain for true democracy, immense hubris, cock-sureness and a pitiful state of ignorance this is has caused disaster for New Zealand. Our present Labour party is not worth defending.

Max Shierlaw said...

The critical point you overlook Karl is that if Labour do get back into power in October it will be by way of a Labour/Green coalition Government. All the woke ideological policies will be back on the table and Hipkins won't have the same power over a coaltion partner as he does with his own MPs.

Paul Peters said...

Labour can go quiet on co- governance because it is already in place or being implemented by state agencies, local govt , universities, you name it...Otago Uni in a symbolic way is the latest.
Major MSM is the same ...and that applies to pronouns and gender issues not just race . The Herald crowd tolerate a level of dissent with Hosking as the in-house dissident wheeled out to show ''neutrality''.
The Soviets used to have the odd mild dissenter tolerated for the same reason. They never went too far. Hosking plays within the boundaries. Wise.

He has more clout than Miles Davis and his colleague the other day.

All that is left to do is rejig general election seats and if necessary add mandatory treaty overrides for all legislation to pass a treaty panel test and.or have clip on appointed Maori seats to parliament/ committees etc with voting rights.

Politics is an issue I find almost all my immediate work associates duck for cover on these days ....the odd line of it doesn't affect me, i just want to know if i get a pay rise, I don't care , or a resigned acceptance.

One passing colleague who works at the hospital on the building/engineers side told me he had what he thought was a pleasant enough conversation with a woman from admin ; she brought up something and he expressed some concern about govt direction. Soon after he was called to hospital HR for criticising the govt. I noted at board run vacc station where I worked for almost a year the nurses and admin pro- govt were vocal all the time; others were silent. Or walked away but a couple of them spoke with me way outside far from earshot about the danger of wrong comments being reported higher up

The old line of do not discuss politics at work applies only to those deemed disinfo, racist and gender dissenters and anything else lumped in as suits.

Eamon Sloan said...

Hullo Karl. Though you have made some good points about Labours political motivations I am afraid that you might well be on your own. I wrote a comment on one your earlier posts that nothing had changed for me following Labour’s leadership moves. To summarise, I’m over it, I’ve had it, I’m out.

Current comments here clearly outline much of what ails the Labour movement. One issue which riles me is the attack on our democratic norms – we are moving away from the foundational one man one vote. Co-governance has been weaponised by Labour to undermine and eliminate those democratic norms. Ngai Tahu (the presiding South Island Maori tribal authority) now has the ability to bypass the electoral system and make direct appointments to the Canterbury Regional Council. That privilege was legislated for by the current government and is the thin end of the wedge. Should we now view Ngai Tahu as the South Island government in waiting?

The original Three Waters proposals went into all sorts of contortions in setting up boundaries to satisfy the Maori elites. There may yet be time to turn around some of the Three Waters and other co-governance excesses. My big question about Three Waters is why Maori wish to claim ownership and direction of New Zealand’s societal and economic lifeblood. Ownership is what it would effectively become, full stop. I would want to have our water systems operated by qualified experts, managerial and technical, even if we have to import more of that expertise. Sorry to have to say this but the required expertise will not be found in some remote marae.

The very culture and language itself is under threat and attack in so many ways. The decolonisers, academics mainly, are pursuing multiple agendas – e.g. the curriculum review, one of Hipkins’ legacies. The Treaty has become an all-encompassing and suffocating deity almost. We now have a racially interpreted Treaty, on steroids, functioning for the benefit of one culture (religion?) only. The language (New Zealand English that is) is being corrupted daily through the deliberate intrusions of unnecessary Maori language terms.

If you have gained the impression that I am saying Maori culture and the Labour party combination are the root causes of New Zealand’s current problems then you have read me correctly.

Ben Thomas said...

The problem is MMP.

A Labour government will be propped up by the Green and Māori parties and they will demand the restoration of all these ditched policies. That is why opposition from the GP and MP is muted. They know that they only have to bide their time and 'not rock the boat'.

And of course Labour are helped by a National Party that is clueless and an equally clueless leader, that thought that they could return to power by doing nothing.

Alex said...

Hipkins is like a teenager, about to be caught smoking, running round the house opening all the windows ...

But first he hides the ciggies under his mattress .

Karl du Fresne said...

These are all cogent arguments. We can only wait and see.

R Singers said...

Just a note on Eamon's comment. Tribal Authority is misleading. It's a corporate entity. One of the largest corporations in the country.

rouppe said...

@R singers: one of the largest corporations in the country, that doesn't pay any tax because it (along with all the other settlement trusts) has hoodwinked regulators into believing it is a charity.

@Ben Thomas: given the extremism of the Greens and the MP, and how we're all saying how Hipkins is dragging Labour to the centre, and National is Labour-lite, imagine if Labour went into coalition with National.

Terry Morrissey said...

Sorry Karl, but I would advise that once you have been bitten by a mongrel dog you'd be wise to never trust it again.