For the first time since February, I think Labour can win this election.
In this article from 21 June, Colin James notes how National was starting to look more competant than Labour - and it was proposing popular policies (in particular, tax cuts).
Well, Labour's learned the tax cuts lession and amended it.
But Brash is loosing the competance battle. Every time he waffles. Every time he doesn't appear to know what he thinks. Every time Clark corrects him on his own party's policy details. Every time he looks out of place.
I'd hate to be his media advisors at the moment.
I'd also like to note how much I'm enjoying watching two intelligent, hardworking, and largely honourable people do charmless politics.
Sod the election. This image of crops in Kansas is absolutely amazing.
In particular, the eiery regularity of *everything*. No wonder people feel claustrophobic.
It makes me wonder whether they will start to use hexagonal paddocks.
There are no mates* in international affairs. This can be seen in the last 35 years of New Zealand's foreign relations with the UK, US and France. And to a certain degree with Australia.
The American ambassador who recently said we should get over our differences of the past and start discussing how we can move on obviously never understood the difference between a friend and a mate. As far as I can tell, you don't have to negotiate a mateship. Mateship is about knowing what the friendship can bear, and what it can't. It is about respecting the individual decisions of another person and keeping your distance if you don't want to be too close. It relies on strongly held common values and not pushing too hard. It is also about making sure you stump up with help when it is needed, and don't lean on each other to get your fair share of help in return. While reciprocity is important, generosity is crucial to a good mate.
The US obviously doesn't understand this. Don't get me wrong, I think there are probably whole states in the US, where mateship is rife and holds entire communities of people together. But it doesn't tend to live in the white house or the pentagon. Insisting on using another's belongings for your own ends has no place in mateship. Even if it helps a bigger person to defend you against other nasty people. Mates turn up when needed and are afforded any help that can be provided with dignity.
There is a part of me (and I suspect a fair few other New Zealanders) which sort of assumes that the rest of the world understands mateship. It is my private theory that the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was *so* offensive, because it breached the basic tennants of mateship so badly. Where was the reciprocity for the soldiers who fought for France in two world wars, where was the respect of another's opinion (even if only in distancing yourself to the point where you feel comfortable again)? And where was the simple apology and recognition of a bad mistake?
To be fair, the French government was obviously paranoid at the time. The decision was taken by a tiny group of politicians who were prepared to believe uncorroborated intelligence because it fed their existing fear. Not that distant from certain governments now spending vast sums of money in Iraq. I suppose we can be grateful for those (rather large) mercies.
But still, a breathtaking break of the basic rules of mateship. But was it a breach of friendship? Are friendships more resiliant to mismatches of expectations and method.
And can we continue to run our international affairs using mateship as the standard by which we decide who to deal with?
* In case anyone has the erroneous idea that I consider myself an authority on mateship, I'm specifically speaking as an outside observer of a process I find facinating. Any mistakes are entirely my own.
My hands have decided that "window" is actually spelt with a silent "n" at the end (as in "windown").
No other part of body agrees with my hands on this matter. But they've been keeping it up for 2 days now.
This would be less annoying if I wasn't documenting a series of software screens (windows) at the moment.
Sometimes erroneously pronounced to rhyme with Ange.
Lange made two genuine contributions to this country:
1) He was a bloody good antidote to Muldoon. After how ever many years of divisive, brutal, nasty leadership, Lange brought inclusiveness, warmth and good humour to politics. In a time when we have two totally ruthless leaders, it is kinda nice to remember a guy who seemed to have the top job because he was talented and wished people well. Interestingly, his biggest regret (from the interviews I've seen) seems to have been the impact that the style and speed of the reforms had on the people it damaged.
2) He gave us a role model of a person who could take an independant, indigenous opinion and defend it on the world stage. The Oxford Union debate was less a wonderful example of how to build world peace, and more a miracle. He was recognisably a New Zealander (probably in spite of his intelligence) but he could actually make people on the telly look stupid by what he said. He made the French look bastardly and small minded. He made the Americans look thugish and dishonourable. He made the English and Australians look optional. I cannot think of another New Zealander who was so good at carving a legitimate place for us on the world stage - on our own terms and whether or not our bigger brothers approved*.
He enabled us to believe in ourself as smart people who could defend our opinions, and gave us the conviction that our opinions were worth defending. And we didn't have to stop being New Zealanders to do it. It is arguable that we would have muddled through finding ourselves anyway, we were well overdue for it, but he was a particularly bright version of how we might approach it.
In the context of giving us our self-belief, it seems to me that the other detail of what he did is largely irrelevant**.
* Actually, possibly Peter Fraser managed a similar thing, but it was a lot less visible to people on account of the lack of telly (and we still hadn't figured out we weren't part of the UK).
** oooh, I can't resist the qualifications on this one, can I? I should point out that his government also built the vast majority of the policy platform which has continued since 1989. But his government was a team, and consequently those changes cannot be attributed to him to the same degree.
Well, tonight's worm debate was pretty good all up. I was impressed with the politicians as a whole. They didn't spend the entire time bagging each other, and some of them actually addressed issues and pointed out policy.
Most of the reactions were predictable. Dunne is a worm whisperer, though I doubt it will do him as much good as it did last time. Anderton was as enlivening as a pile of sawdust, and Hide said a lot which didn't connect with the audience. Tariana got caned when she mentioned culture or the Treaty.
There were also some surprises. The worm was notably positive towards sustainable energy solutions. Anderton actually had policies (and a paua shell coloured tie!). Everyone wore black except Helen, who was in RED. Winston (largely) kept his cool.
Helen connected with the audience. She made what she said count, and received a mostly positive reception.
Brash started well, but dipped badly when exposed about *anything*, or when he had to talk about actual policy detail. He looks very stiff when he's ad libbing and, frankly, like he's lying about something. He (extremely adept) media minders need to keep him on scripted stuff.
Curiously for me, the audience's reaction indicated that they were looking for 'change'. This is going to make the Government's job very difficult, particularly in the face of the same front bench (and no releif on the horizon).
Well, it might be very early (and bound to be followed by outstandingly bad weather in September), but I saw my first new buds on a tree today.
Bring on summer!
What does $50 buy you at christmas?
For me, it buys $50 of something nice to try, the potential of a good experience. But (in one of those moments when you realise the rest of the world doesn't automatically work like yourself) I figure other people spend $50 on other things.
So, a list of my guesses about what people buy when they spend $50 at christmas:
* a $50 "I love you" voucher (it's the thought that counts)
* $50 worth of luxury (French champagne anyone?)
* $50 worth of "I'm doing better than you" (cause I can afford/orgnanise this)
* $50 of nostalgia (I remember when we used to eat this in the old country)
* extra heaven points (just give that $50 to jesus)
* $50 of less work (I hired students to come and clean up the whole garden)