Wednesday, December 30, 2020

In New Zealand today

My learned and respected former colleague Gordon Campbell (blessings be upon him) writes in his Werewolf blog that “Voters gave Labour a mandate to deliver radical left-wing responses to social needs, and on the environment”. But did they?

I don’t think they did, and I suspect Jacinda Ardern doesn’t either.

Gordon’s unhappy that Labour hasn’t achieved more in the 10 weeks since the election, especially considering that it’s no longer encumbered by a socially conservative coalition partner. “Rather than barrelling along in the fast lane,” he writes, “the government has been driving ultra-carefully down the middle of the road at 40kph, with social needs banking up behind it. In 2021, Labour is really going to have to pick up the pace.”

Two things.  The first is that the 2020 election result shouldn’t be seen as voter endorsement of a radical political agenda. For one thing, New Zealanders are wary of radicalism. For another, the result reflected the unusual circumstances of the time.  The main opposition party was in abject disarray and voters were prepared to reward Ardern (as Gordon himself says) for her astute management of the Covid-19 pandemic. That doesn’t translate into a green light for the transformational change Gordon seems to want.

But more to the point, I’m sure Ardern senses that her stonking election triumph presented Labour with its best chance in a generation – possibly ever – to position itself as the natural party of government. She’s not likely to throw that away just to satisfy Labour’s far left.

Politics, after all, is ultimately about winning and holding onto power. Parties achieve little while languishing in opposition. National has always recognised that, which explains why it governed New Zealand for 47 of the past 70 years. It’s a party of pragmatists and compromisers, for which it has been rewarded by voters suspicious of fire-breathing ideologues. Left-wing zealots in the Labour Party, on the other hand, tend to frighten voters away.

With her pledge to govern for every New Zealander, Ardern signalled on election night that she wants to cement Labour in the political centre and thus pull the rug out from under National. Arguably the last Labour leader capable of doing that was Norman Kirk. I think Gordon may have to resign himself to three years of frustration.

■ Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women’s Council has described the recent unpleasantness in the Rangiora branch of Farmers as an example of hate crime. I think we should be very wary of such hyperbole.

To recap: Aya Al-Umari was sampling lipstick with her mother and speaking in Arabic when she noticed another shopper, an older white woman, observing them.

The woman said to her husband: “She shouldn’t be doing that”. When Al-Umari challenged her, the woman pretended not to hear and said to her husband, “It’s okay, it won’t be long before they leave our country.”

In the subsequent exchange, which was captured on video, the woman asked Al-Umari whether she was born and bred in New Zealand. Another shopper intervened, telling the woman she should be ashamed of herself (good on her), and a staff member subsequently escorted the female Archie Bunker off the premises.

Bigotry? Yes. Ignorance? For sure. But “hate”? That’s implying a level of malevolence that wasn’t necessarily present. Shooting law-abiding people at prayer is a hate crime; making an idiot of yourself in a department store falls far short of that threshold.

Al-Umari (who has spent most of her life in New Zealand, although that should be irrelevant, and who lost a brother in the mosque massacres) is absolutely right to say that such people need to be challenged. Otherwise, she says, “hate escalates”.

But rhetoric escalates too, and the danger in labelling such incidents as “hate crimes” is that it creates a climate of moral panic and helps prepare the ground for laws that might unreasonably restrict what we can say – which I suspect is Anjum Rahman’s intention.




Max Ritchie said...

Perhaps not a mandate but certainly an opportunity which the far and not so far left of the Labour Party, eg Gordon Campbell, will take with both hands. Labour is much more susceptible to extremes than any other party because of its constitution - it is very much a matter of numbers. If Ardern wants to go against that then she will have to be very strong. I suspect that there will be a lot of leftward lurches.

CXH said...

Maybe not a mandate to go extreme, but certainly a mandate all the same. I, and many of my friends, gave Labour our party vote to enable then to govern alone. National was not worth anything and the involvement of NZF and the Green's just muddied the waters. It was time for Labour to take responsibility and lead.

This is likely to be a make or break time for them. Sitting in the middle, doing nothing concrete for three years is not going to help them. They would be better to make the hard calls immediately, then have a couple of years to let the dust settle and show that they have worked.

David George said...

What "hard calls" would you like to see them make CXH.
Criminalisation of speech, more tax money into the endless grievance pit, further penalise our successful, draconian restrictions on our primary industry and further declines in our wealth and competitiveness as a consequence perhaps? The clueless non entity at the helm is fully capable of wrecking this country but lacks the wit or wisdom to even realise it.

Odysseus said...

The parliamentary Labour Party are careerists with Middle Class upbringings and aspirations. Their obsessions - environmentalism, identity politics and "diversity" - speak to the leafy streets of Mt Eden and Remuera, not South Auckland. And staying in government is a matter of pure self interest for a career politician. Compounding this is the fact that other than issuing edicts banning stuff, they have absolutely no idea how to get things done, not even building a tram to Auckland airport. Expect three years of stagnation and increasingly irritating smiles. And be kind.

As for the "hate speech" incident, what a nonsense. This was just an unpleasant encounter with a hick with poor manners. Now if it's hate speech you want, you can fill your boots by reading certain religious texts. I am hopeful our coming hate speech laws will see them banned, just like Tarrant's "manifesto".

transpress nz said...

I can remember in a less salubrious part of Los Angeles in 1980 while walking past a small group of black males on the street (a common sight then) a call of "Goofy". Was it intended as a racial slur? Probably. Did it offend me? No. It went with the territory, literally. What the Far Left in NZ want, however, is any expression of opinion adverse to anyone for any reason criminalised. The problem is that they only want it applied in one direction. If you get called a "white honky", vanilla face" "white trash" and report it to the nearest police station, there is no chance of anything happening, and nor should it. Trolls delight in knowing that their offensive remarks, whether on the street online are effective. Muslims running off to the nearest police station to complain is exactly what these people want. If Muslims ignore it, the trolls will stop, if not immediately then eventually.

CXH said...

Those you list are not hard calls, just tokes to keep the faithful in side. They could attempt to do something about our housing. About our immigration levels that have swamped our low level infrastructure. About our productivity that has been on a downward slide since the middle of last century.

Plenty of hard decisions that could be made, but will they. Unlikely as re-election is the priority. But not doing anything may backfire, assuming National can grow up and become the adults in the room again.

Unknown said...

In the beginning we are a population and we elect a government. That government is supposed to act for our betterment. In 1987 they decided the ethnic nation (whites are an ethnic group like any other -Japanese - Chinese) was racist. Yes there was more to it than that, but when making decisions these moral assumptions are enough to turn the boat in a new direction.

We do not know what results from these good intentions but (I suspect) those ancient intuitions warn us and those ancient intuitions turn up in inarticulate talk back callers versus "don't be racist" - educated host.

Take John Campbell and Peter Brown "but 160,000 of those [Asians] will be born here Mr Brown - you know that?". As A tour bus driver I listened to Chinese guides tell the story of Chinese miners (English speaking Malaysians). The truth is that the European miners left for the West coast as winning big was like Powerball. I heard different versions "the gold was running out and the European miners didn't want to do the work. The Chinese miners came and the Europeans were surprised how much gold they found". Meng Foon said "the European miners had cold hands".
This is ethnocentrism telling feel good interpretations about our group, but it is a luxury we are denied.

This work thus suggests that for multiculturalism to succeed identities need to be transformed. And, importantly, as Kymlicka suggests, this transformation applies not only to the minority but also to the majority. Indeed, perhaps the major identity transformation is required from members of the majority as their attributes are, as a rule, the same as the ones that define the national identity. Minorities need to be written into the self-definition of the national identity such as to imbue them with existential legitimacy as citizens in parity with the majority. The Social Psychology of Social (Dis)harmony: Implications for Political Leaders and Public Policy

Another interesting fact about multiculturalism (pluralistic societies) is the role of the journalist as the intermediary. Especially when members of the majority ethic group resists the beautiful idea. The journalist becomes superior like beak (?) (school monitor - were school is elite society). That's why they can poke sticks at Trump supporters (given that Trump support is driven by identity threat).

The media, in all its diverse forms – print, radio, television, electronic – is a key institution in the creation and distribution of images and messages about our community(ies). Those significant others in our community, in the absence of in-depth personal contact or experience, will be described and explained to us via the media. It helps confirm who we are as individuals and members of various communities. As the demographic make-up of New Zealand has changed since the late 1980s, the media have played a critical role in exploring what this means for all of us. Paul Spoonley

We have added low paid service jobs as we have added 1 million people and many of them showed up in the "over tourismed" equation. Real wages in these sectors have been falling. A situation described and explained to us via the media. In fact Paul Spoonley is brilliant at spotting the Filipino on the dairy farm but never the Chinese tour bus driver.

You still find plenty of woke working class, they remind me of Shawshank Redemption where on entering prison for the first time you here cries of "I'm not supposed to be here". When you argue they usually take the line that immigration is good for the economy. You can imagine how the media would use that?

Watch Eric Kaufmann on Youtube discussing religion and birthrates.