Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on drone strikes and Judith Collins‘ last stand

April 17th, 2014

Reportedly, US drone operators refer to their kills as “bug splat” – mainly because when the carnage is viewed on their screens thousands of kilometres away at home, it looks like an insect strike on a windscreen. The name has even been bestowed on the software used in the system. Since at least 900 innocent citizens in Pakistan have been killed in drone attacks, one of the local responses has been to create a huge art installation work called “Not a Bug Splat” that – if seen from the air – would require US drone operators to see the face of a Pakistani child killed by their activities. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the life and ACC work of Sir Owen Woodhouse

April 16th, 2014

With the death of Sir Owen Woodhouse, the founding father of the Accident Compensation Scheme, New Zealand has lost one of the titans of its post-war social policy. In its original incarnation in the early 1970s, ACC had been a globally innovative “no fault” scheme whereby accident victims surrendered their right to sue those responsible – on the understanding that they would receive compensation at a level that, as Woodhouse famously stated, would be sufficient to enable accident victims to fully participate in social life. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on royalty and its tourism spin-offs

April 15th, 2014

Ultimately the Queen’s longevity has been one of her most significant accomplishments. A transition to Prince Charles while the monarchy was in the pits of public esteem in the mid to late 1990s would have been disastrous for the Royal Firm. Far more congenial representatives have now emerged. Predictably, the visit of the current royal couple has raised (a) the perennial debate about republicanism and (b) some desperate speculation about what political benefits accrue in election year to politicians from their photo oppportunities with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the failure to create a Labour/Greens alliance

April 10th, 2014

David Cunliffe won his current job by indicating he would be a Labour leader proud of his party’s left wing traditions. Since then, a question mark has been hanging over how Cunliffe would handle Labour’s relationship with the Greens during the run-up to the 2014 election. After all, some senior members of his caucus (e.g. Shane Jones) oppose the Greens as much as they do National. Would Cunliffe be willing to front foot it and own the implications of (a) the obvious overlap in policy positions between Labour and the Greens and (b) Labour’s reliance on the Greens to make up the numbers to get within catching distance of National? Or would he fudge the issue, lest the formation of a Labour/Greens alliance should scare off some voters – and alienate Winston Peters, whose concerns, it now seems clear, are to be treated as paramount. Everyone knows Peters could be the king-maker after this year’s election. It was less clear that his tender sensibilities would be allowed to determine how Labour dares to position itself pre-election as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Narendra Modi, and the elections in India

April 9th, 2014

On the upside, the gigantic election process that began yesterday in India is the largest exercise in democracy on the planet. Reportedly, a staggering five million people are employed, directly or indirectly, in the election process. The likely outcome is not quite so welcome. On current projections it seems that Narendra Modi is the clear frontrunner, while still falling just short of the 272 seats he needs to gain an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. According to polling reported yesterday in India’s Economic Times, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plus immediate allies within and outside the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will reach 265 seats, seven short of a clear majority. The actual polling will be staggered around India over the next month, and is set to conclude on 12 May. By winning, Modi will oust from power the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress Party dynasty of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. As the Economic Times points out, Congress is losing ground to Modi right across its former rural heartlands, mainly over issues of corruption: Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on trade unions and Transpower

April 3rd, 2014

So much for the demonising of trade unions. As the dust setttles on the Global Financial Crisis, some US corporate leaders seem able to read the lessons of history. Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, has credited his company’s survival to what, to some, would seem to be an unlikely source: the trade union movement. In particular, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and its then-leader, Ron Gettelfinger. On CNBC yesterday, Ford thanked the UAW for saving Ford in its darkest days, and for preventing the bankruptcy that befell General Motors: Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on this week’s election in Afghanistan

April 2nd, 2014

In effect, there are three main candidates running in Afghanistan’s presidential election this week: the former diplomat Abdullah Abdullah, the former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, and Zalmai Rassoul – who was, until last year, Foreign Minister in the government of Hamid Karzai. Rassoul is widely perceived as a stand-in for Karzai, who can’t stand again for re-election. In opinion polls this year, Rassoul has regularly come in third. Given his connections – and given the rampant fraud committed by the Karzai government during the last election in 2009 – it is not surprising that foreign observers are picking Rassoul as the man to beat. Already Rassoul has been the subject of a formal complaint concerning his campaign’s alleged abuse of government resources. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the ICJ whaling ban, and security agency failings

April 1st, 2014

The ban on Japan’s whaling programme ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is a credit to Australia, who brought the case. Indirectly, it is also a victory for the Sea Shepherd group, whose activism doggedly kept global attention focused on what Japan has been doing in the southern oceans, and the speciousness of its claims to be doing valuable “scientific” research. The courts have now agreed. In that sense, the whaling story is a classic example of how activists help to create a climate where diplomats and judges can finally feel able to do the right thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Mana and Dotcom

March 28th, 2014

So far, Mana leader Hone Harawira deserves a lot of credit for the disciplined way he has conducted his discussions with the Internet Party. Harawira has (a) explored whether a basis for co-operation exists (b) sought a bottom line agreement in ruling out working with National post-election and (c) suspended further action until the Internet Party has put its house in order. So far, that looks faultless. True, some senior figures within Mana have voiced their opposition – on principle – to working with the Internet Party. That looks like an over-reaction. Alliances will always involve a degree of compromise, but there is no indication – as yet – that Harawira is abandoning any position that Mana holds dear, in his talks with the Internet Party. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the EU/NZ trade deal, and Scotland’s growing rejection of independence

March 26th, 2014

So Europe is “considering” whether to launch free trade discussions, with New Zealand ; the parties plan to establish a scoping process and will hold talks next year and if all goes well, negotiations will proceed from there. Given that the EU already has free trade deals with all but a handful of OECD countries, this is hardly a major breakthrough. Unfortunately, the initial reporting is depicting the possiblility purely in terms of the positives for this country, as if such deals carry no downsides with them. This morning for example, RNZ was already talking about potential savings in the tens of millions of dollars on the compliance costs of doing trade in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »