Our panel takes the National Party election engine apart---and diagnoses a machine in full reverse thrust
The National government has no more than a 50-50 chance now of winning the pending general election. This has come as a surprise and most of all to the National Party which is scrambling around its faithful to put together an 11th hour war chest to avert what many of its adherents are beginning to suspect is the inevitable. How did it all come to this? It seems only yesterday that the National government would go on and on and on….There was the almost monarchical transfer of power, the abdication of King John and the accession of the crown prince, now King William. What could go wrong? Simple. The National government’s formula of being all things to all people started to lose compression. Then this loss of impetus became obvious. The MSC Newswire panel now takes apart, disassembles, National’s election machine, the one supposed to drive it into power again. This reveals that the engine is sputtering just because so much National government policy is influenced by a category that does not vote for it. We now present in this exploded voting component presentation analysis the self-destructive path that the National Party insists on following, the one that favours those who do not vote for it, at the expense of its own voting blocs. This component bloc analysis is on an ascending order of sector significance.
Category 1: The IntelligentsiaThis is the sector which most preoccupies the National Party, yet which delivers it the least quantity of votes. We are talking here of the broad picture of social “science” centred on universities. This sector has the ability to make the National Party feel unfashionable. So the National Party constantly seeks the approval of this vote-arrid sector, often to the detriment of its own conservative base.
An example was when under the persuasion of the university lobby the National government university-ised crucial artisan and technical vocations. This had to be unpicked by Jim Anderton MP, he of the far left, and the trade apprenticeship courses re-instated and revved up.
This one-sided infatuation between the National Party and the intelligentsia elites continues still in several forms now in the run-up to the pending general election.
For example, the National government is paralysed in the matter of articulating in any clear fashion at all, the doctrines of global educational bodies, themselves university based, to the effect that money invested in early education delivers a value far in excess of the money invested in later education.
2. Administrative ClassThis is the category once described as white collar. They slog away doggedly keeping the nation on its course. We are talking here of those who work for institutions such as banks, insurance companies, utilities, and of course the government itself. This bloc has a problem. They are not very exciting and in this mediatic age this counts for a great deal. National governments take this sector pretty much for granted. What this category wants more than anything is stability.
Again, we find the National government in its preoccupation with the flashy and the fashionable elites quite unable to make the obvious gesture to this solid sector.
This should be to the effect that National governments personify stability and the once-much quoted “steady as she goes” way of politics.
National must make it clear to this sector that it recognises it – and will not be subjecting it to any sudden changes of the social engineering variety and which will de-stabilise it.
3. Self employedNew Zealand First’s Winston Peters MP has singled out this sector for special attention – and no wonder. National government’s treat this sector with a disdain bordering on snobbery. It refuses to acknowledge the immense contribution of this sector which generates in three dimensional and practical terms the prosperity of the country. We are talking here of people such as owner-drivers, plumbers, electricians, builders, butchers, bakers. Also, and this is not widely understood, IT people.
These solid, dependable types once again tend to be rather unexciting and so once more we find the National Party taking them pretty much for granted, or did so, until Mr Peters singled them out for his special attention.
One of the problems of this sector is that in expanding, or “growing” their businesses, they need to employ staff, and in doing so run the risk of incurring the immense distraction, not to say cost, of a disaffected employee and the litigation that they can invoke.
The National Party should clearly set out its record in streamlining hiring/firing and state unreservedly that it intends to introduce further such work place measures.
4. FarmersNational governments over the past 30 years have found it increasingly hard to adjust around this sector due to pervasive dairy farming, and more recently and to a much lesser extent, bio-farming.
As a voting bloc it has lost its significance to the National Party. Worse still, the National Party has let this show.
Who outside the sector can instantly recall for example the name of the Minister of Agriculture or the relevant departmental permanent heads?
This weakness too has been identified by New Zealand First’s Winston Peters who has cast himself as the true champion of this once clearly defined and identified backbone of the National Party.
Mr Peters has correctly drawn the conclusion that the National government’s constant compromising with the unproductive but noisy ideological factions has driven farmers to distraction, and thus alienationThis is quite simply the most cruel and the most dangerous cut that Mr Peters has ever delivered to the National Party of which he was once a loyalist.
How exactly does the National government explain why it has been so pliant with these ideologues, who have no intention of casting a vote in its direction in any shape or form?
Even at this late stage the National government must embark upon a strident, very noisy, old style tub-thumping campaign to remind its once key constituency of the way in which it has held firm in the face of so much ideological fear-mongering.
Two of these self-induced panics worth signalling might be Food Miles and the animal respiration/global warming syndrome.
5. The Professionals.This is the class from which National members of Parliament tend themselves to be recruited from. We are talking here of accountants, lawyers, company directors, medical doctors. The traditional boss class in other words. The National government badly needs to re-vitalise this base. The reason is that it is precisely this voter category that is now restless. It continues to vote National, certainly. But it will hedge.
This will take the form of tossing its spare vote to one of the other parties which however dotty it nonetheless views as being forthright, and thus decisive.
This category is in the business of making clear-cut decisions and across a wide swathe. It is becoming increasingly disaffected by the National government’s failure to do the same thing.
6. The TradersThis is the vocational category that loves the National Party and from which the National government will draw its largest single occupational vote haul. This sector is made up of those in occupations not particularly admired by the rest of the working population on the grounds that practitioners are amply rewarded for a minimal contribution to society, a contribution that in the view of many even has an entirely negative impact.
This is why the National Party in or out of office prefers to put some distance between it and this voter category, the only one it can truly rely upon in this pending general election.
We are talking here of course about real estate agents, property “investors” and the money dealers of various descriptions.
The reason they support National is that the National Party prefers to leave them alone in their counting rooms.
Even so, in the sea-change that has gripped politics in the Western world since the beginning of the last year, even this group cannot be relied upon to deliver its vote unprompted.
It is exactly for the benefit of this somewhat unloved category that the National government can deliver a daring policy. More importantly still, it can clearly state the reason for putting it forward. There is another benefit. It will not cost anyone a single cent.
The National government can announce that it will not introduce a capital gains tax. Ever.
Reason A. It is unenforceable and will merely create a wave of unproductive work for Category 2 and Category 5.
Reason B. Countries which have a capital gains tax, which means most OECD countries, have had far worse property bubbles than has had New Zealand.
Ireland is one such example. Britain and the United States are two others.
National Party Paralysed by non-productive but media-friendly anti water exports pressure groups
From MSCNewsWire's European Correspondent August 7 2017 - Fresh water is New Zealand’s most promising new primary export yet the more extravagant become the prospects for development, the more intense the pressure to vapourise the business from powerfully placed ideological pressure groups.
In recent months attempts to staunch the packaged water business has U-turned away from a generalised argument against the plastic (i.e petroleum-derived) containers to a much broader-gauge argument to the effect that pumping out drinking water is undermining the very geological base on which the nation itself rests.
This notion is quite literally allowed to float un-contradicted.
A reason is that the relevant lobby New Zealand Water association is reluctant to buy into the issue.
Privately, officials will talk about the scaremongering centred on the emptying out of the subterranean aquifers.
They point out simply enough that the supply of water remains constant and that water merely changes its form on its way to finding its own level again .
Steam, rain, snow, ice being just some of them.
However, the New Zealand Water association is mainly comprised of municipal water treatment officials and their suppliers.
So there is an understandable reluctance to buy into the ideological and thus frenzied fresh water exports debate.
This is correctly viewed by New Zealand Water industry group, which is a top-tier lobby, as a lose-lose proposition from its point of view.
There are now strong indications internationally that fresh water exports offer the same economic opportunities to New Zealand now as did the wine sector a generation or so ago.
Sales of bottled water in Europe have now substantially overtaken sales of bottled flavoured sodas, of the type now so actively despised by New Zealand educationalists, among others.
The other trend is the way in which the bottled water sector has imitated the wine sector in that provincial and family-owned bottled water marques have begun to bite deeply into the established brands.
This means that Nestle and Danone, the two dominant bottlers, have had to reconfigure their marketing around the threat of these niche, and personalised premium brands.
All this is much more than abstract state of affairs for New Zealand.
It means that all the French multinationals involved in packaged potable water are intent on diving headlong into Asia.
As these companies seek scale and market share in Asia they are much assisted by France’s merchant marine which is customising its freight capacity to take advantage of this new highly absorbent market.
This will be a big export setback in the region.for New Zealand.
Much greater than is widely understood.
The reason is that the European potable water will be bundled into much wider primary offerings just because firms such as Danone and Nestle are also the world leaders in, for example, dairy products.
Dairy products move in and out of various categories of surplus.
Fresh water in clear contrast enjoys a much more constant level of demand.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters MP has booby-trapped the pending general election for the centrist parties.
He now presents himself as the voice of common sense without the clutter of chic, neo fashionable issues that continue to cloud and generally fuzzy-up the offerings of the National government, and to an only slightly lesser degree, the Labour Party opposition as well.
Examples of his precision focus:-
Farmers. He has undermined this founding and traditional support base of the National Party by appealing directly to them and doing so without the environmental qualifications that increasingly haunt the National government. More seriously still Mr Peters has bathed the nation’s economic base in a halo of Heroism while branding their leaders (i.e National Party) as Donkeys. Invoking this Western Front oratory, though, has tended to mask some of his other undermining devices. So also in his sapper’s kitbag we find fuses attached to:-
Multiculturalism. The National government can only tread around this minefield for fear of antagonising its often unrecognised but still very strong intelligentsia support in places such as universities. Mr Peters states straight-out that whether we like it not that we all have to pull together for the common good.
Diversity.(See above)Immigration. Like all adept populists, Mr Peters has the ability to articulate what most people are actually thinking. This is that the nation’s long-standing liberal policies on immigration have a lot to do with the demand for houses substantially exceeding their supply and especially so in Auckland. In other words that the immigrants have the effect of making houses too expensive for the locals to buy.In this current campaign which surely must be his last hurrah? Mr Peters also packs in his electioneering kitbag his old whizz-bangs from his previous campaigns.
Among these we can include his known distrust of the non productive money twirlers (anyone still remember the Wine Box era?)
This is the segment known to be far,far away when the bill for their unproductive though personally ultra-profitable activities eventually falls on the electorate at large.
He also benefits from the National government’s chief piece of knock-out weaponry which is the nation’s extremely low unemployment statistics.
Note that we say “statistics.” The problem is that they have become a damp squib. Because few believe them
Mr Peters knows that there is great distrust about these figures just because they do not give any value to the actual jobs, many of which will be part time or low-paid ones in the services sector, or include for example those doing educational course of one description or another.
To have survived so many campaigns requires of course luck. Here again we find Mr Peters’ star shining brightly still.
The changeover in leadership pf the Labour Party means that it quite literally presents to the progressive part of the electorate an altogether much more fashionable and thus appealing face.
This means that Green voters, the fringe ones, can happily accommodate the prospect of casting their vote in the general direction of the Labour Party.
The Labour Party is much more disposed to form a coalition with Mr Peter’s New Zealand First Party than is the Green Party.
Commonwealth Mediaevalist sees recurring Antipodean pattern now supercharged by media-driven Compensation expectations
In the era of pervasive popular communications, asserts Commonwealth mediaevalist Gordon Strong, “it has been seen that the media and the public combine symbiotically in influencing outcomes in a court of law.
“Accusations are far more likely to remain in the public consciousness than subsequent retractions.”
Justice must be done, and seen to be done, noted Gordon Strong in evaluating the current hysteria outbreak in Australia
“The problem now arises when pressure is brought to bear on the judiciary from other, non-judicial, sectors,” he emphasised.
He stressed too that in assessing the current furore over Cardinal George Pell “it will be instructive to examine previous events of a similar stamp.”
He cited the Orkneys ‘Satanic Abuse’ case in which social workers insisted that children had been subjected to demonic practices and which was dismissed as ‘fatally flawed’ by the presiding judge.
Similarly, the Chamberlain Trial / Baby Azaria case of 1980 which “now seems remarkable for the fact that most of the prosecution evidence was later rejected.”
The pillorying in the Baby Azaria case of the defendants by the media, “the ludicrous innuendos, and the disingenuous attitude of the ‘environmental’ officers, resulted in an unedifying spectacle.”
The Chamberlain couple were not fully exonerated until over thirty years later.
“The issue here is not necessarily the guilt or innocence of the parties involved.
“It is the tendency of the media to weigh opinion towards one version of events.”
Child abuse he said is only one of the emotive issues embraced, “almost gratefully,” by the media.
“Such reportage grips the public imagination, and therefore opinion is easily manipulated. “
Cautioned Mr Strong: “It might be argued that in such cases the media encourages and supports victims who might not otherwise have had the courage to step forward with their own revelations.
“Is it possible some proportion of these claims might be spurious?
The immense sums known to have been paid out in compensation in such cases “must surely tempt unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of the situation?”
He added that the media accelerator now routinely draws in another multiplier represented by Hollywood “via rapturously received movies based on these very cases.”
Both the account of the exposure of ecclesiastics in Boston and the Chamberlain trial were dramatised.
In general, observed the mediaevalist, the Cardinal Pell affair seems “couched in mystery,” even without considering the complexity of the internal politics that are a “hallmark” of the Roman Catholic Church.
“It is so far unclear what allegations have been made against this senior official.
“The denial of any wrong-doing by him is simply interpreted in this fevered atmosphere as further proof of his guilt.”
Mr Strong recalled that Pope Francis describes the affair as ‘a mediatic judgment – a judgment of gossip’.
What is equally a cause for concern, noted Mr Strong, is that Australia’s Victoria State police officials publicly speak of ‘a whole range of historical sex offences.’
This he pointed out was a phrase which, stated in isolation, has an ominous ring.
“Undisclosed information held by government agencies always has sinister overtones, as if to imply ‘you are all guilty, if we say so’
Mr Strong said that he discerned an underlying sense of personal triumph being shown by “lesser mortals” in attempting to bring down Cardinal Pell.
He observed too that in the present era of media excitability the more celebrated and powerful the figure the more likely they are to be drawn into a maelstrom of rumour and infamy.
In contemporary times, said Mr Strong, it is evident that having an exalted status in society may in fact be a liability, a lethal burden instead of a blessing.
Somerset, UK, based Mr Strong, the author of numerous books on antiquity, and who recently visited Australia on a lecture tour, pointed out that he was not a Roman Catholic.
He was anxious that researchers into this now apparently recurring syndrome, one on a seemingly accelerating cycle, provided context and background.
Mass hysteria episodes in history, although equally alarming, were not exacerbated by the pervasive universal electronic communications of today.
It was now overdue and imperative claimed Mr Strong that this element became recognised for what it had become---a precipitating and sustaining component of contemporary outbreaks of mass hysteria.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters desk || Monday 10 July 2017 |||
Microsoft Scam Artists Have Revealed the Cause of this inevitable bias
The accelerating reduction of the domestic land line in favour of the exclusive use of mobiles will tend to favour in polling for this year’s general election the political parties that traditionally appeal to the older generation, the demographic which literally holds onto its landlines.
This will favour the National Party and also Winston Peters’ New Zealand First Party.
It will work against the parties that rely on the younger protest or ideological following such as the Greens or the new Gareth Morgan-led Opportunities Party.
This whole phenomenon has only just been identified and it was discovered due to the plague of scam callers from around the world barraging New Zealand households to the effect that their Microsoft-driven computers are a liability and that only the caller, claiming to be an "accredited" Microsoft specialist ,could fix the “problem.”
Nobody could fathom out why these scam artists were and still are laying siege to an older demographic unlikely to be dependent on Microsoft?
It was now that the obvious explanation was realised and it was that the older generation tends to be the one that hangs onto its landlines
It is thus accessible to the international scamsters who rely on scrolling through the Spark (formerly Telecom) white pages.
The incredibly shrinking printed White Pages phone books are further proof of this phenomenon.
It is now a serious issue in polling that the political class, for once, is reticent to talk about.
No wonder. It means that a growing majority of households are excluded from polling.
It means that all flatters, the one group that the parties are determined to target this year, are eliminated from polls.
Since cell-only people tend to be mostly young people, the pollsters intentionally overweight the 18-30 year olds to compensate for this effect, but as more middle aged people also drop their landlines, it is becoming a serious issue.
A baffling element of the fake Microsoft scamsters plague is why the same households, the ones still with their landlines, were targeted time after time in the same confidence trick call, sometimes in the same evening.
The reason was and is that the fraudsters' automated phone diallers are programmed on a household probability to make a defined number of phone calls. Not finding the required pre-programmed quantity of landline numbers , the system then reverses on itself and goes back over its old numbers.
Occam’s Razor holds that in any mystery at all the revealing explanation will always be the obvious one.
The foreign phone scammers have demonstrated the nature of the flaw in the polling for the general election.
It’s an ill wind………
The National Government sensibly is de-fanging the dog issue by having its Internal Affairs Department sponsor advertisements seeking to encourage owners of attack dogs, or as the advertisement describes them “menacing by breed,” dogs castrated.
Local government authorities meanwhile are being encouraged to advertise to “proud owners” of all animals their obligation to get their dogs registered.
Why the gentle persuasion, instead of tough pressure on the owners of the animals?
There is strong evidence to demonstrate that dog owners are single-issue voters on the lines of love me, love my dog.
The dog threat is a highly visible one.
The late local body politician Brett Ambler saw his region becoming overrun with threatening dogs and he noted publicly that their owners clearly delighted in the stand-over status that the animal bestowed on them.
The urban dog problem has accelerated with the success over many years of the anti-hydatids programme.
While hydatids remained a threat the parasite dissuaded urban dog ownership simply because the zoonotic parasite easily jumped from animals to humans, notably young children at the crawling stage.
Early steps to contain the dog problem centred on pavement fouling and local authorities enjoyed success in engendering a community-led scooping solution.
The arrival of the “menace by breed” animals then took the problem to another level.
All political parties are anxious to avoid what they regard as the no-win issue and hope that various kinds of dissuasion instead of legislation will staunch the developing public menace.
The New Zealand Veterinary Association points out that “dog aggression is responsible for a significant public health problem.”
There are five dog breeds which automatically receive menacing dog status: Brazilian Fila, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Perro de Presa Canario and (pictured) American Pit Bull Terrier.
There is a ban on importing these dogs, but no ban on owning or breeding them.
In 2002 the Ministry of Health declared New Zealand “provisionally” free of hydatids.
| From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk || Thursday 6 July 2017 |||
What about the hedge funds and such like said to be lurking in the middle distance?The two newspaper groups began to go heavily into play in the 80s bubble and will have been stripped by now of hard asset value i.e. real estate. So they are unlikely to be a target for speculators.
NZ Commerce Commission Fairfax & NZME Merger Saga Decrypted---Presents Case Study on Peril in Strategic Planning of an Early Assumption That Masks Evolving Reality
Indicates need to distinguish between what is known and what is hoped for
The two newspaper companies always gave the appearance of being confident that they could win over to their way of thinking the Commerce Commission?They made the mistake, so evident now, of believing in their own assumption to the effect that the Commerce Commission would see the merger positively.
What were the contrary signals from the Commission that they missed?The Commerce Commission’s point of view in its rejection of the first draft of the merger proposal turned on several doctrinal, ideological, words that indicated that it was not for turning.
What were these words?Democracy, plurality and above all, diversity.
Why diversity?The loaded word runs through the Commission’s deliberations in a now clearly visible thread. It means that people considerations carry clear priority over any competing considerations in this case those of efficiency, economy of scale and so on.......
Why did the two companies go to the Commerce Commission in the first place? Would it not have been more effective to have simply concocted a new structure with a holding company?The Wellington and Auckland based companies had their hearts set on a single merged New Zealand company with a consolidated balance sheet and all that goes with it such as just one management structure.
Until quite recently the two companies worked closely together with a cooperative news pool and joint advertising sales promotion – why didn’t they just carry on as a de facto cooperative?This cooperative structure began to dissolve when the two newspaper groups came into play during the stock market bubble. The old proprietorial families moved away and were replaced by professional managers.
Where and when did they lose the plot?In their search of their competitive edge they opted for going it alone and thus they acted independently now in terms of their own evolving individual web sites and also in acquisitions. They dissolved their news gathering and dissemination cooperative, the New Zealand Press Association. Also abandoned now were certain geographic areas in which they had long agreed not to compete with one another.
Did they underestimate what the internet was going to do to them?At first the internet looked even promising. There were new personalities, celebrities that people wanted to read about. Covering the internet brought in the coveted younger demographic. Let’s look back. When television arrived in New Zealand the newspapers actually benefitted, and the Sunday papers were now launched to satisfy the interest in the new world of television
What happened with the internet?The internet instead now ushered in the era of disintermediation which is still accelerating all around us. People want to deal direct, sweep away the middle operator, the mainstream media, which had hitherto controlled the gateway to news coverage. You want an event covered?You go to Facebook. You want something known – there’s Twitter. You have an opinion? Then you start a blog. You have a range of points you want to air? Start your own website.
There are also any amount, at least 50, broadcasting channels available now. Plenty of competition you would think?The Commerce Commission took a narrower view of this scene than the newspaper managements jointly appeared to appreciate. The Commerce Commision’s verdict centred on most of the nation’s daily newspapers being held in a single set of corporate hands, and the perception thereof.
The daily newspapers published by the two groups are often considered to say the same thing about the same things anyway?The Commission concerned itself with the perception. In this case the perception of most of the dailies being controlled by just the one proprietor. It was now at the first decision that there was introduced the notion that New Zealand if the merger went through would convey a similar perception as that of China in that the press in China is controlled by just the one entity, the Communist Party. The signal was clear. It was not picked up.
The Commission’s second and seemingly last veto was delivered at the very start of International Free Press Day. Was this symbolic?Perhaps – and just because in this attenuated affair so much can be viewed as turning on symbols and perceptions.
What happens now?The two newspaper groups, the ones based in Auckland and Wellington must wash their minds of further approaches, appeals, to constituted authority including now the judiciary, and they must do so primarily on the grounds of sidestepping any further distractions. The danger of a strategic assumption, in this case that the Commerce Commission would approve the merger, is just that it is so enticing just because it makes the transition from supposition to reality. The wish becomes the fact.
In practical terms, this means....?The two groups will have to rearrange themselves around a new corporate structure and one that stops just short of a unified balance sheet. The daily newspaper business, an extremely marginal one, is riddled with intensive and in-built administration procedures especially on the subscriber and circulation side where there are stop-starts that can only be automated up to a certain point. They must now merge these departments. They must merge too their printeries.
They will have to be more radical than that, given their falling circulations?They will have to adopt a new business model and my feeling is that they will develop a franchise model which has already been experimented with by at least one rural newspaper management buyout. Print is relatively strong in the provinces. A franchise move will allow the two groups to develop their centralised services and will dilute the liability also of their substantial staff contingencies.
What about the hedge funds and such like said to be lurking in the middle distance?The two newspaper groups began to go heavily into play in the 80s bubble and will have been stripped by now of hard asset value i.e. real estate. So they are unlikely to be a target for speculators.
We keep hearing about the Auckland and Wellington-based groups. But what about the third proprietor, the one in Dunedin?The Smith family who control the Otago Daily Times group kept it within the family. They are a force to be reckoned with and in the affair under discussion remain the dog that did not bark. Or, if it did, was not heard by anyone. They remain in an envious competitive situation notably now dominating the high value tourist region centred on Queenstown.
What would you recommend that the two beleaguered would-be North Island-based suitors NOT do?Cut the frequency of any of their dailies to let us say three issues a week. The disruptive force of the internet and everything that came with it was to break the newspaper-reading habit. This custom so dominant until just so recently can only be further disrupted by meddling with the frequency of established daily titles.
One has this impression, somehow, of unfinished business. Was anything held back by any one of the parties involved?The episode was characterised by candour. It was just that the two parties looked at the same thing, the merger scheme, and each saw something that was quite different.
Your full hindsight?The two groups should have pulled back after the first round when the Commission’s viewpoint was made clear. They should have done so issuing high-minded yet truthful communiques about the severity of their position, and their continuing determination to better the lot of the public at large. In the event they appeared resentful and so their task in formulating a virtual amalgamation will be harder than before.
Foreign Minister Knew that It is the Putting Right That Counts
New Zealand’s foreign minister Gerry Brownlee’s deft handling of the small country’s Middle East posture was timed and executed to perfection.
The former school wood working instructor demonstrated in his new post the understated flair in this realpolitik that has been a characteristic of his long Parliamentary career.
From the outset he understood that in a favoured New Zealand mercantile jingle that it is the “putting right that counts.”
His backtracking on the New Zealand security council participation in the censoring of Israel demanded that he de-fuse the issue, and do so without appearing to snub the rulers of any real or potential trading markets in the region’s Gulf States.
This was accomplished by delivering an apology that was not an apology.
Mr Brownlee had from the start sensed the danger of the UN resolution being allowed to swing unmodified in the always volatile Middle East diplomatic atmosphere.
He had to tread carefully in order to be seen as treating the issue as a high-minded moral milestone instead of the positioning being seen for what it was---a calculated trade-off to appease what was then an unqualified official belief that the Obama presidency would seamlessly make the transition to a Clinton one.
In order to sustain this robe-touching exercise he also had to skitter carefully around some other matters, notably keeping on side with the Gulf traders who much earlier had been told they could go ahead with receiving live sheep shipments and also with the Green lobby which remains determined to making sure that they do not..
The live sheep trade and its banning is a symbolic touchstone of the Greens
Mr Brownlee’s instrument was the apology that was an apology or not an apology, depending on the angle that you examined it from.
The product of the diplomatic soft shoe shuffle in three dimensional terms was the resumption of diplomatic exchanges with Israel.
Meanwhile Mr Brownlee’s government continues to plug away with the equipping of the Gulf processing depot which is the visible-yet-invisible reparation due to the live sheep importing lobby as compensation for the reneging on the original undertaking to supply them with the live shipments.
Mr Brownlee saw the danger to his government of the whole seraglio left as it was dangling unsecured in the lead up to the general election this year. It had to be dealt with before it intruded on the rather more fevered atmosphere of the campaign.
More importantly, by taking the issue substantially out of play he has smoothed relations with the Trump administration, the one that the professional diplomats failed to see coming.
National & Labour Know They Must Ditch Fuddy Duddy Images. But How?
New Zealand’s two major political parties have been revealed in the same day to each have bungled their separate strategies to turn a youthful face to the electorate.
The first was when a very young National Party Member of Parliament did what party officials who sought to block his original selection said he would do which was fall out with the same electoral officials, an incident spiced up by the now seemingly mandatory secret taping sub plot.
The second incident involving the Labour Party followed hard on the heels of the National Party episode.
Nearly 100 electioneering “interns” mainly from the United States were brought to Auckland to assist in campaigning for the Labour Party and along the way to receive lectures from luminaries of the party.
All this at a time when the Labour Party, the equivalent of the US Democrats, was itself campaigning against people from overseas taking the jobs of New Zealanders and in so doing forcing up the price of accommodation.
Fired up by the notion of a Bernie Sanders type of youth crusade the Labour Party Auckland operatives had forgotten to consider that people from the United States insist on a high standard of accommodation in New Zealand.
Indeed, it was the failure of the New Zealand premium hotel sector to provide things that Americans like, such as air conditioning, that was such a problem prior to the arrival of the United States franchise hotels in order to provide its citizens with their home comforts in the South Seas.
The United States interns were less than impressed by the sparseness of their billets.
They were similarly underwhelmed by their failure to meet the high level Labour Party figures who, in the event, seem not to have realised that they were supposed to have met the interns in the first place.
In electioneering strategic terms however both these episodes demonstrated how both the main parties are turning themselves inside out to demonstrate their regard for youth values meaning the youth vote.
The two very recent European elections, the one in the UK and the one in France indicate that their attention is justified.
In election wining terms in New Zealand for Labour and National this means stopping the youth vote sliding into the Green Party.
The Greens embody all the conventional middle class ideological values on things like climate and refugees.
Neither was the mood of the main party strategists improved last month when they surveyed the cover of the house magazine of this voting bloc North & South (pictured) which channeled Vanity Fair with a tableau of idealised Green candidates.
The National and Labour election schemers saw before them the embodiment of the yearnings of this whole sector which is bounded at the younger end by career-friendly university types still in touch with their capping mag days, and at the older end by Guardian Weekly subscribers.
Because National and Labour share something else too.
It is an indelible musty-fusty sectarian aura redolent of times gone by.
This understanding haunts the high command of both the main parties.
It is the reason the National Party forced on an entirely rural and safe farming electorate a perma-grinning disco type in their early 20s whose short career in the real world was notable for a stint with Big Tobacco.
It is the reason that the Labour Party turned a blind eye on a semi-freelance operation to whip up a US-style youth storm in Auckland.
Both the two main political parties will now start once again to heed their once powerful local organisations at electorate and divisional level.
These representation committees will tell them that twisting and turning to meet fashionable media-driven yearnings is one thing.
Also that meeting grass roots expectations requires a fixed and determined longer term direction.
Sinister frenzy flourishes due to the failure of ruling classes, ecclesiastics, politicians, educators to purge it ---- Establishment now powerless and swept along helplessly with the vengeful and resentful mob
Gordon Strong is Britain’s leading commentator on Arthurian legend and mythology. He routinely lectures on the subject in the United States and Australasia and was recently the subject of a National Geographic Discovery series. Mr Strong, who lives near Glastonbury, is also an authority on the way in which the atavistic characteristics popularly supposed to exist only in ancient myth and superstition exist today and occur all around us now but in a different form and under a different description. His particular area of applied study is in recurring mass hysteria and its causes and effects. He is the author of the just-published book Consciousness & Imagination in which he reveals the reasons founded in timeless superstition that underpin so many eerie events today. Gordon Strong (pictured) now answers Five Questions on Britain’s current bout of moral frenzy
If we look at these developments in terms of a witch hunt, then this one has been running for longer than most?
The most famous of these in relatively modern times was, of course, the events surrounding the Witches of Salem and this is worthy of note because the state governor simply put an end to the affair by decree. Now and in in this current outbreak we find that no establishment representative can come forward and say, in effect “so far- and no further,” simply because the establishment has been so closely identified with this incendiary issue and its continuation. The BBC is one such entity. It cannot take up a moderating role just because it is so closely identified with the outbreak in the case of the broadcasting entertainer Jimmy Savile. This of course then became compounded as the BBC drew in Sir Cliff Richard. Whether the BBC chairman could have been relied upon for any impartial view is a matter for conjecture. It is almost impossible to identify any inherent bias in the Corporation as the stance of the BBC continually alters, and almost arbitrarily so.
This outbreak has been an equal opportunity one with the highest in the land having been encompassed in its compounding hysteria?
Mass opinion, ‘the voice of the people,’ is always dangerous, and is so often hysterical. The once valued notion of common sense has disappeared from much of society. Being misinformed and ill-educated, few have the wit to act independently. We live in a society where the party line is upheld as the only view. This outbreak, it is true, has been remarkable for its duration and the way in which it has encompassed the entire nation and its spectrum from entertainers, through to politicians, and military leaders. That fact makes this current one so interesting from the point of view of students of myth and folklore and of course witchcraft. Let me give you an example of such an outbreak and a very recent one. It was in New Zealand in the form of the one in Christchurch which is outlined with such clarity in Lynley Hood’s work “A City Possessed.” This outbreak in terms of duration had a beginning, middle, and an end, and focussed on a clear cut situation centred on child care. It was though contained within Christchurch and did not engulf the whole nation. The fervour duration was limited to a comparatively short space of time
It is often stated by researchers such as yourself that these outbreaks in history occurred in response to some natural disaster such as a pestilence or a famine?
The nature of the God of the Old Testament as a ‘jealous’ deity may be relevant here. The desire to punish the wrongdoer is aligned to another contemporary manifestation, the blame culture. In this instance, the high profile and celebrity status of so many of those swept up in the current outbreak gives its own clue. There is an overwhelming notion that those who have received society’s greatest reward, in terms of power and appreciation, have somehow deceived them. The notion that these so-called celebrities were and are imposters, in other words. This impression has been fanned by the popular media which profits mightily from this kind of thing, even though, as we have just noted, it causes the problem in the first place by presenting the public with these false gods. That they have become fallen idols seems now almost inevitable.
So you see the British current hysteria as a modern outbreak of what has been going on since mediaeval times?
It is what has been going on since the beginning of recorded history. Something goes drastically wrong. It is only the form that changes. The implied thesis is that someone must pay the price. In the instance of the current United Kingdom outbreak one senses that politicians and their fellow media inspired celebrities have somehow reneged on their promise to make Britain a better place. People are being told that they have never had it so good. But one does not have to be a seer to comprehend that a vast proportion of the adult population is very disappointed about their lot in general. So in the gulf, the vacuum, in between what was promised either directly or implicitly and what has in fact come to pass is the need to topple these false prophets. Public figures are always vulnerable, and ironically their very prominence makes them an easy target for persecution.
Many people see the most sinister aspect of this current and sustained outbreak is that anyone can officially accuse anyone and the accused are tarred for life?
‘Operation Yewtree’, the code name for the operation to entrap the supposed wrongdoers was only partially successful. Of those arrested, only half of that number were eventually found guilty. In the light of that knowledge it all seems a questionable procedure. There was also a flagrant disregard of one of the most ancient of legal precepts, mentioned in Magna Carta. The adage referring to ‘presumption of innocence’ as well as ‘justice must not be delayed’ was ignored. This is the most chillingly atavistic element of the current situation and this does take us back to mediaeval times when this naming/shaming, as we would now call it, phenomenon began to be recorded in detail. Someone has a grudge against someone - so they are exposed. In the electronic era we have this multiplier. Some aggrieved person is able to identify someone they have never even met, but have somehow cultivated a deep antipathy toward what they represent. In former times an authority figure could, by virtue of the trust they embodied and thus the authority vested in them, call a halt to these outbreaks. But the current nominal repositories of such trust and confidence have become so diminished that they stay silent. The reason is that they know that the hysteria is beyond their control, and because they are fearful that by drawing attention to themselves they will somehow become embroiled also. I include in this category, ecclesiastics, politicians, educators, and in British terms, the ruling class.