Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

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Gordon Campbell on the Mt Albert aftermath

February 27th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Personality politics – Jacinda is great! Jacinda is not so great! – have dominated the coverage of the Labour Party’s fortunes this week, just as a different form of personality politics – Picking Willie Jackson/Greg O’Connor is a masterstroke! Picking Willie Jackson/Greg O’Connor is a suicidal move! –formed last week’s narrative. Early days yet in this election year, but the coverage of the Mt Albert by election hasn’t been long on the policy implications.

Still, this is a relatively new and welcome problem for the centre-left. Labour has seemed so bereft of crossover talent for so long that it seems almost embarrassed by this latest development. Now that it has got a Jacinda Arden – young, smart, compassionate, politically and media adept – what on earth does it do with her? Maybe, make her the deputy leader? Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Mana-Maori Party deal

February 21st, 2017

First published on Werewolf

If the self-interest involved wasn’t so blatant, the electorate deal between the Maori Party and Hone Harawira would be kind of poignant. It’s a bit like seeing the remaining members of Guns’n’Roses or the Eagles back on the road touring the nostalgia circuit…playing all the old hits of Maori unity and kaupapa Maori politics. Can the two surviving Maori Party MPs (one electorate, one list) credibly work together with the old firebrand who split up the group years ago, and still hope to rekindle some of that same old magic? Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on what Trump may mean for us

February 17th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

The chaotic presidency of Donald Trump has been a weird form of spectator sport for the past three weeks. Horrible, but you can’t stop watching it. So far though, not much effort has been put into tracing the possible implications for New Zealand of the stream of executive orders and tweets that have been pouring from the Oval Office. Unfortunately, we may not simply be drive-by rubberneckers at this car wreck for much longer. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Labour’s candidacy troubles

February 15th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

So its official. Greg O’Connor will indeed be Labour’s candidate in Ohariu and – as also signaled well in advance – the Greens will not be standing a candidate in the electorate. At this point, you have to question the validity of the Greens’ excuse – “we need to change the government” – for tagging along. Arguably, by bringing the likes of Greg O’Connor and Willie Jackson on board, Labour is choosing to “broaden its electoral chances” by pandering to the oldest, whitest and angriest part of the electorate. That’s hardly change you can believe in. It looks more like doubling down on the problem, and laying down further problems in future.

Meaning: if they roll over this readily now, what treatment can the Greens expect to receive from Labour if and when Labour finally gets its hands on the levers of power? Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the limits of conspiracy thinking

February 14th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

On the left, there’s long been a tendency to attribute phenomenal powers of competence and technological expertise to its opponents on the political right. (In this mindset, 9/11 was an inside job, carried out to foster the creation of the surveillance state.) Be it the CIA or the NSA or the Pentagon, the Grand Dragons of the left’s nightmares are seen as busily engaged 24/7 in wily games of multi-dimensional complexity that only very smart, ever vigilant and hyper-caffeinated people can detect. Therefore, for ordinary punters to lend any credence to what appears to be happening is only to play right into the hands of the evil puppet masters who are orchestrating our global outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the looming conflict over the Iran deal

February 10th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Just in case war breaks out over the weekend… for the past 10 days or so, the court rulings on President Trump’s travel ban have dominated the news out of the United States. At the same time, a more serious threat has been gathering in intensity.

Iran and the Trump administration are on a collision course over Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, which Iran maintains are a valid part of its domestic defence planning. The US, via Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, has put Iran “on notice” and imposed fresh sanctions. Undaunted, Iran has continued to test more missiles. As the world nervously awaits the next American response, the international deal via which Iran agreed to halt its nuclear expansion (in return for the lifting of economic sanctions) is now threatening to unravel.

Already, the hardliners in the Iranian government – who was always sceptical that the US would keep its side of the bargain – have used the threats from the Trump White House to justify their opposition to the original deal. The immediate casualties of the Trump policy have been the liberals within the Iranian government of Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani, who have been further undermined by the fact that the economic benefits of lifting the sanctions have been very slow to materialise. With presidential elections due in Iran in May 2017, the current round of bickering with the US over the nuclear ban could hardly have come at a worse time for Rouhani and his liberal allies.

So….not only have the Trump/Flynn threats played right into the hands of the Teheran hardliners. At home in the US, a confrontation with Iran would a useful and diverting flexing of muscle by Trump and his own band of extremists. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Bill English phone call, La La Land, and jazz

February 7th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

So this is the Alice in Wonderland world in which we now live. One where PM Bill English wins praise for not provoking the Orange Queen into one of his “Off with their heads!” Twitter tirades. It’s nice that English had a pleasant phone conversation yesterday with US President Donald Trump, who reportedly knows a lot about New Zealand – he’s heard of Bob Charles, because he likes golf. Maybe Peter Thiel also put in a good word for us. (“Very few regulations. Not many refugees. Good guys, Mr President.”)

Reportedly, English told Trump he disagreed with the Muslim travel ban. What’s interesting about this is that English has never explained to the New Zealand public – let alone to Trump – just why he disagrees with it. Is it because the ban is Islamophobic? Or discriminatory on racial lines? Is it because the travel ban contravenes the values to which we subscribe, at home and in UN conventions that we’ve signed? Is it because the ban could undermine Iraqi support for the military effort in which our troops are currently engaged within that country? Who knows? English isn’t saying. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Thiel, and the sympatico between Peters and English

February 2nd, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Who’s in charge of the ship of state – PM Bill English or Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully? Because markedly different messages have been coming from the quarterdeck about New Zealand’s fuzzy response to the Trump travel bans. To recap: Trump issued his infamous Executive Order last Friday and by Saturday, US allies like Canada, the UK and Australia knew that their dual nationals would not be affected by it. New Zealand was left none the wiser. Evidently, no one thought of ringing up Peter Thiel (our billionaire pal and Trump insider) to ask him what the deal was. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the government’s (lack of a) response to Trump

February 1st, 2017

First published on Werewolf

It is unfortunate, but hardly a surprise that Bill English and his Cabinet colleagues should have been left gormlessly uncertain about the impact of the Trump travel ban on New Zealand citizens. We’ve been down this road before, of being smacked around on immigration issues by our supposed allies.

Australia for instance, cracked down on Kiwi former criminal offenders, imprisoned them in dire conditions on the likes of Christmas Island and then booted many of them out of the country that they and their families had been living in for years, or even decades. All without a whimper of criticism from the Key-English government. All it could manage were ways of making an inhuman expulsion system work a bit better at this end.

Déjà vu then, with the racist, Islamophobic Trump travel ban. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on NZ’s silence over Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda

January 30th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Shame that the New Zealand government has been missing in action over the weekend, during the time when the Trump presidency has been carrying out its noxiously xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-women agenda. The contrast between our silence and the forthright response by Canada has been obvious. Canada had reason to tread lightly – after all, the NAFTA trade deal is also in Trump’s gunsights. Yet Canada has firmly denounced the new US policy and offered to take in any refugees barred from the US. Read the rest of this entry »