Labour's public upset over the TVNZ debate moderator is a sign of more ill-discipline and prompts the question if it's time for a rejig in David Cunliffe's office

Labour has been bleating about Mike Hosking being used as moderator in a TVNZ election debate. There is even the unconvincing talk that Labour may boycott the debate if Hosking takes that role.

Sanctions are an easy option when it comes to the West's anger against Russia's actions in Ukraine, but the lessons of our past suggest another course

For the past year I have been on the World War I Commemoration Panel. The members include people as diverse as Sir Peter Jackson, Dame Anne Salmond, and Sir Bob Harvey. One of the most interesting things I have done as a member of the panel is read up on the politics and intrigue that precipitated the war.

New Zealand makes no economic sense in a global market place. 


If you follow the logic of some economists this week who tell us to ‘red-zone’ small towns in New Zealand, then presumably the same logic should apply globally. New Zealand is too small, too far away, with too many old people.

At last some high level acknowledgement that a ceasfire between Israel and Hamas has to be more than a return to the status quo...but don't hold your breath. 

The mounting death toll in Gaza has spurred an intensified flurry of diplomacy (again), and finally a stated acknowledgement that this time the terms of any ceasefire (which will eventually come) need to differ from those of the past three Israeli-Hamas wars.

Israel-Hamas fighting continues despite international pressure for cease-fire; MH17 victims' bodies to be flown to Netherlands; Widodo declared Indonesia's new president; Beijing orders restaurant inspections to avoid using tainted meat; Syrian rebels expel ISIS militants from parts of Damascus; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Israel-Hamas Conflict Continues Despite International Pressure

First, stop blaming the media. 

The problem isn't 'right wing framing'. There isn’t a media conspiracy to get a third term National government. When you fall behind everyone airs their favourite explanation and negatives get repeated and amplified. It's the job of politicians, not media, to inspire a change in the story. 

It seems the latest trend in minor party politics is political nudity, draped in just the merest hint of government

When MMP was young and new, coalition governments were the bright new thing that everyone wanted. Famously the 1996 agreement between National and New Zealand First was long and detailed.

Winston Peters has just moved his King to East Coast Bays and put Labour and the Greens' capital gains tax pawns under threat...proof that New Zealand First is still a player

With holidays over, party conferences held, and the final two weeks of this term's parliament commencing, the parties have just about all laid out their pieces for the campaign chess game ahead.

More than 400 lives for 14 tunnels. It is not worth it. As the world watches in horror at the slaughter of Palestinians trapped in Gaza, it becomes even more evident that lopsided as they are, military assaults from Hamas or Israeli will never bring peace to either the occupied or the occupier.   

Yet another bloody day in Gaza.

Yet another day of occupation.

Yet another scripted justification from Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu...although perhaps a slight shift ...”as I said when this action began there is no guarantee of success, but results have so far exceeded expectation”.

Rodney Hide thinks some MP should bravely do a pointless thing that he himself is not quite courageous enough to try.

In today's Herald on Sunday, Rodney Hide repeats his call for some MP to use parliamentary privilege to reveal the identity of a "prominent" New Zealander granted name sup

Colin Craig has just one thing he wants from National in any post-election deal. Unfortunately, it's something that National isn't able to give him.

A while back, I confidently predicted the following in the wake of the announcement that Laila Harre would lead the Internet Party:

Did you know that if you don't know you are breaking a law, this means that you're allowed to break it without criminal consequences following? At least, you can if you're a New Zealand spy agency.

Completely unsurprisingly, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has rejected Russel Norman's complaint about the way the Police investigated the GCSB's involvement in spying on Kim Dotcom (and other matters). Norman had complained about three aspects of the Police's investigation:

Is spending money on trying to affect how people vote a bad thing ... unless it's you who is doing the spending?

On my sabbatical year in Canada in 2006, I was introduced to a couple of truly great new (to me) things. One was chocolate porter as the ideal mid-winter tipple in a land of ice and snow. The second was Arrested Development, watched as a DVD box set in evening-long binge sessions. For those who've done likewise, you'll understand the reference made in this post's title.

The inequality debate reaches beyond individuals to towns and regions, so what can we do when an entire town is in the doldrums?

One of the main topics on The Nation this past weekend was inequality, with Paula Bennett being the main guest, supplemented by a very interesting interview with Shamubeel Eaqub, NZEIR's principal econ

There is a lot of lip service paid to employees being an organisation's greatest asset, but the reality is rather different

'People are our greatest asset'.

Put it in to Google, with New Zealand as the specific country, and the range of companies that appear with the strap line is remarkable. From accounting firms through science to media and volunteer organisations. The employees of some of the companies might, however, give the Tui billboard response… Yeah, right.

The High Court just cracked open the door to expressly telling Parliament that it has made laws that unacceptably breach human rights. But it also said that it really, really, really doesn't want to walk into that strange room.

Regular readers will know that the issue of prisoner voting - or, more accurately, the decision of the National and Act Parties to take away the right of prisoners to vote - is something that I've had cause to post on in the past.

Israel's massive bombardment of Gaza and Hamas firing rockets into Israel will never solve the political disaster that is the continued illegal occupation of Palestine. Indeed as the Palestinian death toll mounts, resistance to occupation will only become more entrenched and that means peace for neither side.  

Repeating an action or a behaviour over and over and expecting a different outcome is supposed to be the definition of madness.

Applied to the current disaster in the Middle East - the Palestinian/Israeli part of that troubled arena - madness is fast becoming the dominant theme.

Labour’s new election slogan is a challenge for the party to focus exclusively ‘on the positive things that matter to Kiwi families’, as the PR promises. 

That means rejecting the rhetoric that has New Zealand going to hell in a hand basket, and avoiding negative distractions that make Labour look like the party of dead trees, slow trucks and extinct birds.


I like Labour’s ‘Vote Positive’ more than I like National’s ‘Working for New Zealand’ (which begs the question, ‘who have you been working for until now?’)

Whether it will change anyones’ vote remains to be seen.

John Roughan's column on why paying "voluntary" school fees is a good thing confuses me. I think that's because it is very confusing.

Tim already has posted his response to John Roughan's column on Labour's policy to allow schools to replace "voluntary" school fees with a $100-per-student payment.

It feels good to pay for your child's education, says the columnist. Yes, and I already am, I reply

This morning John Roughan argued in the New Zealand Herald that Labour's policy to end voluntary school donations for most parents was "imaginative" but "a pity".

Mallard's moas and David Cunliffe's mangled apology are signs that Labour's still slipping off-message too often... and sometimes not even accidentally

Damage from within. David Cunliffe so close to getting it right, but still so wrong. And potentially strong and popular policy undermined by off-message gaffes...

People are starting to demand someone's - anyone's! - head over the Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail diplomatic immunity escapade. What's the rush?, I say.

Everyone just needs to calm down a bit about the whole Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail saga. Because some people who ought to know better, as well as some people who never will, are starting to make some pretty silly statements about the matter.

Jock Anderson still just can't get over the fact that "leftie protestors" are allowed to burn flags as a form of protest. And it's all because of those meddling judges ... .

Having arrived back in the country, I note there's been a fair bit going on while I was away that I could profitably comment on. Campaign funding matters seem to have become unnaturally prominent. MFAT officials are letting criminals flee back home without their Minister knowing anything about it.

If the murders of teenagers on both sides of the deadly dispute over Palestine doesn't spur the international community to force an end to the unlawful occupation, what on earth will?  

The justice that is sought following the abduction and murder of three teenage Israeli settlers will not be found in retribution.

The justice for the teenage Palestinian abducted and murdered in an apparent revenge attack will not be found in more abductions or murders.

As John Key re-writes the script for relations between New Zealand and the US, what are the implications for China and does this mean a return to automatic support for America?

There has been a fair bit of recent speculation about whether John Key's approach to foreign policy represents a departute from the consensus of the past two decades and if this, somewhat to everyone's surprise, will be a central part of his legacy. After all, Key is supposed to be all about the economy, in contrast to Helen Clark's focus on foreign relations.

My two cents on the sort of dramatic policy Labour will need to win over voters. Think interest-free student loans and go from there

Labour says tomorrow it'll be announcing a new education policy regarding schools. I have no idea what it is, but it's prompted me to quickly write this post that I've been meaning to write for months - what I'd announce if I was Labour looking for a circuit breaker.

Where is the sense of urgency from a Labour party that doesn't seem terribly fussed about winning this election, or at least seems quite happy to leave it to potential coalition partners to get it over the line?

The biggest crime a Labour Party caucus, activist base and affiliated unions can commit is to not put their party in a position where it can realistically when an election. They can claim all they like to want to bring new talent into parliament through the list, but on current polling, it's rhetoric – no new faces will make it come September.

Sssh. Don't tell anyone, but Labour's actually building a coherent plan for running the country. Unfortunately for them, no-one can see past its repeated mis-steps

Pick your parable: from the Jews it's "Do not be wise in words — be wise in deeds". The Chinese say "talk doesn't cook rice".

Child poverty strikes a chord across the political spectrum, but the left will struggle to make inequality a major election issue because most New Zealanders are just getting on with it

What is the election going to be about? The froth and bubble of donations? Not very likely. The competence of the main players will undoubtedly feature. Or perhaps Bill Clinton's 1992 classic slogan "it's the economy stupid" will again prove true.

Internet Mana gives National a cast of villians to parade before voters

The Internet Mana party does not, in any real sense, exist. Nor, while we're at it, does United Future; ACT once existed as a neo-liberal nostalgia project, but no more.

Yet whereas the latter pair are struggling to evade their past, it's possible that the Internet Mana party may still be willed into existence.