Friday, September 30, 2011

Sir Butch replies

Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater has interviewed the Mad Butcher, Sir Peter Leitch this morning.

This is Slater's exclusive and to be fair, we're not going to try and steal any of his limelight. All we do is suggest that you follow this link, and read for yourself how hurtful Darien Fenton's politically motivated attack has been.

To be fair, Sir Butch is a great New Zealander, and a one-time friend of the Labour Party. That the Labour Party has chosen to unleash the attack dogs on him is, to be fair, unforgiveable.


We guess that we won't hear anything now from the English rugby team and its management accusing Richie McCaw of cheating; the Herald reports:

England suspended two coaches from the upcoming match against Scotland in the Rugby World Cup because they switched the ball during kicks against Romania.

The move by the Rugby Football Union avoided sanctions by World Cup organizers, but they warned any similar rule breaches would result in stiffer punishment.

According to the RFU, kicking coach Dave Alred and national fitness coach Paul Stridgeon "mistakenly thought that there was an issue with some of the match balls" in England's Pool C win over Romania.

England stopped switching the balls when warned during the game. After the 67-3 win, England coach Martin Johnson said he had not been aware of the problem. He later said his coaches did not ask the referee before making the switches.

Bother and blast! England has been quick to get its own disciplinary action in, before the IRB heavies come calling. They've been caught fair and square giving Jonny Wilkinson an unfair advantage.

So the boys from Blighty have been busted for going beyond the pale. We can't help but wonder whether a certain campaign manager will be seeking their expertise.

All Blacks named

The All Black side to play Canada on Sunday has been named; here 'tis:

Mils Muliaina, Israel Dagg, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks, Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Isaia Toeava

There were suggestions yesterday that Richie McCaw was going to be rested, but the selectors have resisted the temptation, and the New Zealand first-pick loose trio will play together for the first time in RWC2011; the first of four matches that they will play together, all going well. It's a strong forward pack, and they should hold too much power for the plucky Canadians.

Andy Ellis is the unlucky half-back this week, with Jimmy Cowan to start, and Piri Weepu on the bench. It will be interesting to see if the Canadians can contain Sonny Bill Williams; if they can't, Zac Guilford and Israel Dagg might be in for a busy and productive afternoon.

We can't wait for Sunday; the Cake Tin is sold out, and it should be a wonderful occasion. Unless some kind benefactor sends us a ticket for a knock-out match, it will be our one and only experience of RWC2011. Even She Who Must Be Obeyed is looking forward to it; bring it on!

The Friday Forum - 30 September 2011

It's Friday again; not only that; it's the last day of September. We're not quite sure where the year has gone; it seems like just a few weeks ago that we sat in the Christchurch Cathedral's cafe in early January, having a coffee and setting our goals for the year; how much things have changed.

Anyway, because it's Friday, the Friday Forum is open for business. YOU set the agenda on this thread; it's your place to discuss whatever's on your mind, or whatever's got you upset this week. All we ask is a modicum of decency and respect for one another's views.

That's it; the floor is yours...

Explaining is losing...

Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater published a list of the Rules of Politics a few years ago. And Rule #1 read thus:

If you are explaining, you are losing

Darien Fenton is losing this morning; the Herald reports:

The Mad Butcher had "the wind taken out of his sails" by comments from a Labour MP who said she would "never go near him again".

Despite Darien Fenton's comments that she chooses "not to buy stuff from those who support Tories", the politician said she was not calling for a boycott of the Mad Butcher chain, which Sir Peter Leitch founded.

The debate began three days ago when, after hearing Sir Peter advocate John Key on Radio New Zealand, Ms Fenton posted on her Facebook profile: "So, Mad Butcher. You have a choice, but so do I."

When others asked Ms Fenton to explain her comment, she called Sir Peter a sycophant and said: "[He was] sucking up to John Key big time. I'm never going near him again."

Ms Fenton said she was upset that Sir Peter had recently been complimentary towards Mr Key and that the Mad Butcher had invited the Prime Minister to join him to watch the Warriors play at Sunday's NRL grand final.

Oh dear; Darien Fenton's SMOG (which we blogged about on Tuesday) has hit the mainstream media, and she's backing up the truck big-time. Unfortunately for her, her words have been recorded for posterity.

And if Darien Fenton thought that Sir Butch would go away and be quiet, she's made a big error of judgment; read on:

Sir Peter told the Herald from Melbourne that he did not know what to say when he heard what Ms Fenton had said about him.

"I honestly don't know what to say, to be fair - and it's not often that I'm lost for words. I don't know what I've done wrong.

"I'm very disappointed and it's just taken the wind out of my sails. I'm absolutely gutted by her comments."

Sir Peter said he supported Helen Clark when Labour was in power and took her to Warriors matches.

"The National Party never complained that I supported Helen Clark," he said.

"I've done nothing with John Key that I didn't do with Helen Clark - I've been a little bit more vocal."

In response to Ms Fenton's claims that he was "sucking up to John Key big time", he said: "I thought freedom of speech was one of the things people went to Gallipoli for. But obviously in her opinion, it's not."

He also said it was unfair that she was taking her frustrations out on the 37 Mad Butcher stores which he sold in 2007, but still promotes.

Ouch! How much the world has changed in three years since Labour basked in the Mad Butcher's friendship with Helen Clark. That must now seem light years away for the embattled Labour Party, languishing as it does in the opinion polls.

Sir Peter Leitch is a great New Zealander, and is revered in some communities. Darien Fenton made a huge mistake by attacking him via social media; one of the biggest SMOG's that a Labour MP has scored, and there have been plenty to choose from.

Darien Fenton can make a strategic retreat, but the damage has been done. And there's one final irony; many of those who revere Sir Peter Leitch, and who have benefitted from his philanthropy are people from lower socio-economic areas; people who work in low wage jobs, and who are members of unions such as Unite and the Service and Food Workers' Union. And where did Darien Fenton work before she became an MP?

Whaleoil is right; explaining IS losing. And this morning, Darien Fenton looks like New Zealand's version of The Biggest Loser.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

UPDATED: The two sides of Ms Morse

UPDATE: We seldom agree with former Phil Goff staffer John Pagani, but to his credit he is the one left-leaning blogger who is prepared to see past the smoke-and-mirrors of the Urewera 18; he blogs (with our emphasis added):

There is a twisted far-left narrative that goes: The cops needed to confect a conspiracy because they were so excited about a war on terror! Having a Terrorism Act they had to find some terrorists! They made it up!.

Anyone repeating this claim now discredits themselves.

Molotov cocktails and semi-automatic weapons require lengthy and detailed explanations from the accused (and now acquitted) long before they require explanations from the police.

Yes, there is a right to silence in criminal law. But we are talking not about criminal sanction.

These people have demanded the moral high ground, and demanded the support of the left. Far too many gifted it too cheaply.

Valerie Morse said on radio today she doesn't have to comment on the evidence because it was gathered illegally and it's up to the police to prove her guilt, which they will never be able to do.

But she does have some explaining to do if she hopes to influence public opinion, or cast herself as a victim.

So does every other apology seeker: Were you part of the molotov throwing, semiautomatic firing group, or not? You cannot purport to be an anti war activist when you are throwing molotov cocktails.

John Pagani has risen considerably in our esteem today.


Valerie Morse is a high-profile activist. She gained notoriety for burning the NZ flag at an ANZAC Day service in Wellington in 2007, and was of course one of those arrested during the course of the Urerewa "terrorist" raids in that same year. Charges against her as a result of the latter were dropped a couple of weeks ago after the Supreme Court decision excluding evidence gained by covert surveillance.

Ms Morse told Victoria University's magazine Salient in 2007 of her desire for a peaceful world. Salient quotes her thus:

In an interview with Salient in May this year, Valerie said, “My heart and my passion is really about stopping wars and stopping the horrors that are associated with wars. I suppose the exploitation and domination of people. I want to see a world free of violence and war.”

Today, the Herald has published an outline of some of the evidence which the Supreme Court ruled to be inadmissable. We should be grateful that suppression orders surrounding this evidence were lifted, because it is rather troubling; check this out:

Evidence from Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was given to the hearing that film and photographs of a September 2007 camp showed a woman he said was Ms Morse holding an object believed to be a Molotov cocktail.

The person carried the object out of the view of the camera and returned a short time later without it.

Mr Pascoe was to give evidence that he believed she threw the Molotov cocktail into an outdoor oven, where police later found remnants of Molotov cocktails.

He concluded the person in the film and photographs was Ms Morse because that person was wearing clothing the same as Ms Morse was seen wearing when she was observed on her way to Ruatoki.

In both cases, the clothing was three-quarter trousers, two-tone footwear and a black long-sleeved, round-neck t-shirt.

That was the only basis for the identification because in all the images her face was concealed.

The judge said other evidence tended to corroborate the identification. Ms Morse was seen travelling into the area before the camp, and police found the t-shirt at her house.

Two surveillance cameras were set up and showed a group of people "milling about" the area. Some were running down a path towards where the burnt-out oven was later found.

Many people moving in different directions were shown in the video film, and one person - not the person alleged to be Ms Morse - could be seen making the throwing motion with an object in his hand.

Photos of a person holding a pistol in various military type poses were said to be of Ms Morse.

It makes us wonder; why would a person who wants to see "a world free of violence and war" be learning to make and throw Molotov cocktails in a remote part of New Zealand in the company of other activists, and why would she be posing military-style with a firearm?

The Urewera defendants who had their charges dismissed recently should be counting themselves very fortunate; it would seem, if you'll pardon the expression, that they have dodged a bullet. The charges have not been dismissed because there was no evidence of wrong-doing, but because the Supreme Court ruled that the evidence of wrong-doing was inadmissable.

Dying in a ditch

The burning question of today is this; why was the Labour Party in particular and the Left in general so prepared to die in a ditch to prevent the passage of the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill?

The Bill, which abolishes compulsory membership of student associations passed its Third Reading in Parliament last night. The Third Reading debate was robust, and there was a clear left/right divide. And in the speech below, Taupo MP Louise Upston very articulately sums up the differences between the opposing sides in Parliament.

We welcome the passage of this legislation, after a tenuous passage through Parliament where the Labour Party in particular has made a mockery of the fortnightly Members' Day by filibustering another Bill which has the unanimous support of the House. It is months since there has been a Members' Bill ballot, simply because Labour chose to throw its resources behind blocking freedom of choice for students.

The sun has risen this morning, and the world hasn't ended. But the Labour Party needs now to reflect on its strategy; not for the first time. Surely there were more important issues for Labour to die in a ditch over.

How long?

Of all the animals on God's earth, there's nothing quite like the giant panda. And they're being brought back from the brink of extinction; the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A giant panda breeding centre in China has shown pictures of its new crop of cute babies.

The giant panda breeding centre in Chengdu, in south-west China's Sichuan province, started with just six pandas in 1987 and now has more than 100.

The centre looks after red pandas and other endangered Chinese animals as well.

This is a neat story, and if you follow the SMH link, there's a video which is even better than the photograph above.

But we want to know; how long will it be before some do-gooder comes along and accuses the Chinese of battery-farming these pandas, or of keeping them in inhumane conditions? In the meantime, there's just one more question; where can we get one for a pet?

We will remember him...

The SAS soldier killed in Afghanistan yesterday has been named. He was Lance-Corporal Leon Smith, aged in his mid-thirties. The Defence Force is not releasing any other details at this point.

Lcpl Smith is the second SAS member killed in combat in a short space of time. There are already calls for New Zealand troops to be brought home, but we agree wholeheartedly with Phil Goff's comment yesterday that now is not the time for that debate.

Leon Smith has tragically paid the ultimate price for serving Queen and Country. As a member of the elite SAS he will have been only too aware of the dangers inherent in deployment to such an unstable country as Afghanistan, but he accepted the deployment nonetheless, placing service above self.

Our thoughts, our prayers and our aroha are with Leon Smith's whanau, and his Defence Force colleagues. May they be comforted in their loss by the knowledge that he died doing what he believed had to be done. The familiar words of Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen seem especially poignant today, and we offer them as a tribute to Lance-Corporal Leon Smith's service and untimely death:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Get well Jonah

At RWC1995, a young Tongan in a black jersey strode the rugby world like a collossus. Jonah Lomu was the undoubted star of the tournament in South Africa; who will ever forget him steamrolling over Mike Catt to score the opening try of the semi-final thrashing of England?

Just two years later, life dealt Jonah Lomu a cruel blow. He was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, putting a temporary halt to his rugby career. He was again a star at the 1999 RWC in the UK, but then his star began to wane. He received a kidney transplant in July 2004.

Now Lomu is ill again; the Herald reports:

The All Blacks have rallied behind one of their greatest legends, Jonah Lomu, who is in the renal and transplant unit at Auckland City Hospital.

In a sign that his health problems are perhaps more than routine, the All Black World Cup side stopped their training session yesterday to send him a photograph message: "Get well, Jonah. Kia kaha."

Lomu, 36, had a kidney transplant in 2004.

All Black hooker Keven Mealamu said the team wanted Lomu to know they were thinking of him.

"We just want him to get better. He's been a big part of the All Blacks in the past and probably a big part of what they are today, so it's just a nice message from the boys hoping he gets better quick."

Mealamu said it was sad to see a man like Lomu in his current state.

There's a degree of mystery over the nature and severity of Lomu's current illness, and with each day that passes with no news whilst he remains hospitalised, it's hard not to wonder whether this is a serious relapse for the big guy.

Our thoughts, our prayers and our aroha are with Jonah and his family as he battles this latest setback. We hope that he's soon back on his feet again. In the meantime, here's the man himself at his blockbusting best.

Kia kaha Jonah!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

VSM passes

Stop the presses!

Parliament has just passed the Third Reading of the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill. The last bastion of compulsion has fallen, and once the Governor-General signs the Bill into law, membership of student associations will be voluntary.

This is a significant day for students throughout the country, who include amongst their number the Inventory children. We can't say that we have ever been a great fan of Act MP Heather Roy, but this will be her legacy when she retires from public life when Parliament dissolves.

The opposition parties (Labour, Greens, Mana and Maori; and of course Chris Carter, voting from Kabul) have fought this legislation tooth and nail, but it has all been for nowt. It became a die-in-a-ditch issue for Labour especially, but all the filibustering has been in vain; democracy rules.

Instructions from Kabul

Sometimes the protocols around parliamentary procedure are bizarre. Chris Carter gave his valedictory statement two weeks ago, before upping sticks and heading to his new job in Kabul.

However, before he left for Afghanistan, he neglected to formalise his resignation from Parliament as an MP. And we've just seen the bizarre sight of a party vote being called for to enable the House to move to the VSM Bill's Third Reading, and Chris Carter's proxy vote being cast by the whip for the Green Party.

Apparently, Carter's resignation is effective as from this Friday, 30 September 2011. The MP who racked up the highest level of travel expenses that the NZ Parliament has ever seen has stung the New Zealand taxpayer one last time. Even though he has taken up his new job with the United Nations, we are still paying him, and he is still voting in the House, though he is quite literally half a world away.

Sometimes the law is an ass. At least in this case, Carter's vote is of no consequence, and students around the country will tonight be released from the bondage of compulsory membership of student associations by sufficient a majority to render the vote of the Member for Kabul ineffective.

VSM Caption Contest

The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill will have its Third Reading in Parliament some time this afternoon or evening. Compulsory membership of student associations will become a relic of a bygone era.

To protest the passage of the VSM legislation, there was a protest at Parliament at lunchtime today. It appears to have been a roaring success, with even the PSA feeling the need to lend weight to it via a display of flag-waving. Here 'tis:

So you know the drill; captions please, kept brief and pithy, to the point, and non-personal in nature. The floor is yours...

RIP David Croft

David Croft, one of Britains comedy geniuses has died, aged 89. The Independant reports:

David Croft and his writing partners gave the world immortal phrases: "Don't tell him, Pike!" and "Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only vunce" and "Mister Gunner Lah-di-dah Graham" and "Ah've been having a terrible time with mah pussy," and "You stupid boy!" and "Morning campers!" and "Don't panic!" and a hundred others.

They may not be lines of Shakespearean depth and resonance, but they're firmly embedded in the brains of anyone who watched BBC1 in the 1970s and 1980s.

Without Croft, who has died at the age of 89, we would never have fretted over the condition of Mrs Slocombe's pussy in Are You Being Served?, or learned of the Nazis' plan to steal the priceless painting Fallen Madonna Mit Der Big Boobies in 'Allo 'Allo, or wondered if Sergeant Wilson's indulgence towards Private Pike in Dad's Army might conceal a family secret.

Without Croft, we'd never have had the most unlikely chart-topping song in British pop history, "Whispering Grass" by Don ("Lofty") Estelle and Windsor ("Sergeant-Major") Davies.

In a statement, his family said the "truly great man" had died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Portugal.

Tributes immediately poured in from writers and comedians. Actor Melvyn Hayes, one of the stars of It Ain't Half Hot Mum, described him as "genius" who was "a privilege to work with".

Nostalgia was the key ingredient of almost all Croft's sitcoms: a look back at 1940s or 1950s Britain that was always affectionate. The soldiers in Dad's Army – based on the Home Guard, who were supposed to defend the English coast while the real army was fighting overseas – were too old, too young, too sick or too crooked to have joined up.

Their attempts to follow the orders of the bank manager martinet Captain Mainwaring and the wholesale incompetence displayed by all involved combined humour and pathos in a tradition that derived from Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan.

Much of Croft's work was autobiographical: he served in the Royal Artillery during the war, had run-ins with stroppy ARP wardens (the platoon's sworn enemy in Dad's Army), been entertainments officer in India, and produced stage shows at Butlins holiday camp.

He transformed these experiences into comedies of class. His favourite subject was snobbery and the human urge to look down on others. The snooty ballroom-dancing Stewart-Hargreaves in Hi-de-Hi, the caste-obsessed Rangi Ram in It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, the grotesque Mrs Slocombe in Are You Being Served?, the pretensions of Mainwaring – these are fine additions to the rich tradition of fictional snobs.

David Croft and his writing partners, Jimmy Perry and Jeremy Lloyd, set the gold standard for sitcoms in the late 1960s, maintained it over 20 years and came up, time after time, with new ideas to make audiences roar.

We grew up with David Croft and Jimmy Perry's television comedies. Even today as we searched for the right clip with which to conclude this post, we've had a time of nostalgia and laughter. The lines are dated now, but they still have the ability to elicit a guffaw or in some cases a belly-laugh.

The characters that Croft and Perry created will endure; Captain Mainwaring, Corporal Jones, Mr Humphries, Lofty, Rene and so many more. They were a formative part of our life, right back in the days when there was only one television channel to choose from.

Rest in peace David Croft; you made the world a happier place with great comedy such as this:

A second Quote of the Day

This time it's Guyon Espiner, commenting on Breakfast this morning:

The Act situation's gone from tragedy to farce or maybe vice-versa; I'm not sure which...

Many a true word is spoken in jest. We wonder what Rodney Hide makes of all the goings-on in Act since his unceremonious dumping as leader back in April.

Quote of the Day

It's Valedictory Season, as a number of MP's say their last hurrah to Parliament before retiring from public office when the House rises next week. There will doubtless be some memorable moments, and some quotable quotes such as this one that Green MP Sue Kedgley provided yesterday:

Ms Kedgley used her final speech as an MP to reflect on the times of hard graft in her parliamentary career. Her work for safer food, animal welfare, public transport and natural health products were all ticked off in a 12-year tenure.

The Green Party's ideas were no longer considered by most to be radical "or even loopy", she said.

"We've even managed to break down the stereotype of Morris dancing, mung beans and sandals."

Just for Robert G...

Robert Guyton worries a lot about us, which is both touching, and a little bit discomforting. But he was especially worried about us yesterday when he typed out the first comment on the post LAUDING Sir Peter Leitch for his philanthropy, accusing us of a series of attack posts.

Like any good blogger would, we've taken his words on board, so this post isn't going to attack anyone or anything. It's just going to be a post which exists for its own sake, and is dedicated to Robert because he cares.

Boy; we feel so much better after that. It's going to be a wonderful day...thanks a whole bunch Robert for changing our outlook on life!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Almost $1.5 million...

The attacks on Sir Peter "the Mad Butcher" Leitch for having the temerity to endorse John Key are as astounding as they are sad.

We're big fans of Sir Butch. He's a self-made man, who has never, ever forgotten where he came from. And he is a man with an extraordinarily generous spirit. He does not deserve to be pilloried in the way in which he has.

So we went and did some research, and we found this on the Mad Butcher's own website. Since it was established, the Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust has made donations of almost $1.5 million to a huge range of charitable causes. These donations include:

  • 2008 - $150,000 to Kidz First
  • 2007 - $145,000 to Hospice
  • 2010 - $112,000 to Diabetes NZ, Macular Degeneration, Allergy NZ, Prostate Cancer
  • 2009 - $100,000 to Hospice
Now these are not donations from Sir Peter's business. Almost all of the money raised for all sorts of causes has come from Sir Peter's time and effort. His luncheons are legendary, he attends dinners up and down the country and has donated book proceeds and memorabilia for auction.

Sir Peter Leitch is also incredibly generous with his time, often to his detriment. We heard him interviewed on the radio a month or so ago, and he said that in conjunction with his doctor and his wife, he had made the hardest decision of his life; to start saying "no" to people. He would, he said, honour all commitments he had already made, but was taking a break from accepting any more invitations.

Sir Peter is not a well man, and even though he has spent a good part of his life giving freely of his time and his money to others, it is good to see him putting his own health ahead of others. That is what angers us most about the politically motivated attacks that have been launched against him for nothing more than saying what he thinks.

And Darien Fenton's attack is not the first, nor is it the worst; this comment appeared on The Standard last week (commenter's name deleted); we have added the comment that follows, and the reply from one of The Standard's moderators for context; check this out:

Cxxxxxxxxxxxx 16

I wish the mad butcher would hurry up and die.
Fuck Close Up for giving this National party cheerleader a free slot in primetime.

big bruv 16.1

Are you going to allow this type of thing Iprent?

If I said the same thing about a Labour supporter you would ban me in a heartbeat.

Or it this another example of the standards hypocrisy?

[lprent: Actually no.

When I land on this type of anger/trolling style (on whatever side) it is usually either a newbie (who is doing it mostly out of ignorance of consequences and needs to learn them) or it is someone who is making a habit of it (gets tiresome rapidly) or it is someone who keeps repeating slogans rather than arguing.

Campbell isn't a newbie, doesn't make a habit of it, and it has no repetitive slogans. We let everyone get away with getting a bit wound up if they don't have a record of doing it.

How do you think I don't wind up moderating you all of time? It usually only happens when you start getting repetitive and usually those events are damn near years apart. It isn't the opinions that count for moderation it is the behavior.

Incidentally, I think that it has been months since I last banned someone for trolling or simple bad behavior. Most of the time these days it is for making stupid comments requiring site defense... ]

Considering the treatment we received from another left-leaning blog at the weekend, we can't help but chuckle at the double standards on display here. We could say more, but we'll resist temptation.

Far from wishing ill on Sir Peter Leitch, we wish him a long and happy life, because we know that his presence on this earth brings joy and hope to hundreds of people. The Labour Party has made, in our humble opinion, a huge mistake by choosing him as a target for their hubris and their opprobrium, simply because he has expressed an opinion that they find unpalatable.

Chris Trotter muses...

Over at Bowalley Road, Chris Trotter has blogged about a couple of issues that we touched on at the end of last week; he opines:

THEY WEREN’T the most important events of the past week. In fact, in a world racked by economic crisis and intractable conflict, they weren’t important at all. But, as is so often the case with small, seemingly trivial events, they were highly instructive. They told us why John Key’s National Party will have to work so very hard to lose the forthcoming election, and why – barring a miracle – Labour hasn’t the slightest chance of winning it.

Trotter then goes on to compare the Mech Suite video at University of Canterbury with Trevor Mallard's extraordinary attack on Otago University academic Dr Bryce Edwards, and Mallard's attempt to suggest that Bill English was surreptitously funding Dr Edwards' NZ Politics Daily.

And in dealing with the latter, Trotter raises some very valid questions; read on:

It is difficult to know where to begin with this outburst.

That it was made by the caucus’s chief strategist raises a whole host of questions about the nature of the election campaign Labour is intending to run.

Does Phil Goff sanction this stuff? We can only hope that he does not endorse the sort of crude ad hominem arguments featured in Mr Mallard’s posting. We must hope, too, that Labour’s appeal to the electorate is fuelled by emotions considerably less disreputable than the petty spitefulness and partisan hostility which it displays.

Needless to say, Mr Mallard’s outburst did not go unnoticed by Labour’s opponents – or its friends. The blogosphere was soon buzzing with negative commentary and, like the You-Tube clip from the “Mech Suite”, the posting’s audience began to expand. Within days, the number of people in receipt of Mr Mallard’s “wisdom” had grown exponentially.

There's still some doubt over exactly what Trevor Mallard's role is in Labour's 2011 General Election campaign. Lately, Mallard has seemed to distance himself from suggestions that he is Labour's campaign manager. It may even be possible that he WAS at one point Labour's campaign manager, but that others influential within Labour have had a re-think.

The attack on Dr Edwards by Mallard was bizarre, and he has not produced a skerrick of evidence to support the allegation he made; namely that Bill English was funding attacks on the Labour Party via money paid to David Farrar who is one of Dr Edwards' publication's sponsors. Mallard's allegations have been treated with a mix of anger and contempt from right across the political spectrum. More damaging for Mallard; his allegations are now being mercilessly lampooned. If you're a Twitter user, check out the hash-tag #bryceedwardsconspiracy

Chris Trotter has one final barb, and we'll conclude with his conclusion; after all, it's his story that we are drawing attention to. His words will receive widespread attention, as they constitute one of his newspaper columns for the week. Here's his wrap:

ALL ELECTIONS have a “tone”: a mode of address to the voting public which (largely unconsciously) “cues” their response to the competing parties.

If we compare and contrast the tone of the You-Tube clip of the PM’s visit to the “Mech Suite”, with the tone of Mr Mallard’s “Red Alert” posting, picking the election result becomes a cinch.

Sometimes, little things generate big consequences.

Darien's SMOG

Darien Fenton is a Labour list MP. She had the ignomony of conceding the biggest majorityin New Zealand in the 2008 General Election when she lost the Helensville electorate to John Key by a whopping 20,547 votes. However, thanks to MMP, she returned to Parliament despite only securing 16% of the vote in her electorate.

Darien Fenton was propelled into Parliament by her former employer; the Service and Food Workers' Union. That makes her one of Damian O'Connor's "self-serving" faction. The union bloc will ensure that she maintains a high enough list placing to return to Parliament for election after election. She is ranked at #18 on Labour's 2011 list.

She's another of Labour's social media exponents. And she posted this on her Facebook page last night:

So, Mad Butcher. You have a choice, but so do I.
· · 11 hours ago · Privacy:

Ms Fenton is, of course, referring to Sir Peter Leitch's public endorsement of John Key, her former electorate nemesis last week as his preference for the 2011 election. It's fine that she disapproves of Sir Peter's decision, but she should have left it there. Further down in the comments, when asked "What happened?" she replies:

Darien Fenton Sucking up to John Key big time. I'm never going near him again.11 hours ago ·

But wait; there's more! Another commenter suggests that Labour needs to earn the support of people like Sir Peter, and not just take it for granted. And then she shows her true colours:

Darien Fenton Fair enough XXXX : but he's gone way out on a limb. It's about consumer choice. I choose not to buy stuff from those who support Tories.10 hours ago ·

Oh Darien. This is a really great SMOG. And we'll tell you for why, as our dear departed Dad used to say.

Sir Peter Leitch represents everything that Labour used to represent. He is a close personal friend of Helen Clark, and a number of Labour MP's. He is a self-made man; from a shy, dyslexic apprentice butcher to an outstanding New Zealander, a successful businessman, a philanthropist and the public face of the might-ty Vodafone Warriors.

You'd think that Labour would applaud the likes of Sir Peter as an example of what can be achieved through determination and hard work. But no; he's crossed to the dark side, and is now persona non grata with Labour. We think that's both petty and incredibly sad.

Lighten up Darien. Sir Peter Leitch is a great man, and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable causes, as well as countless hours of his time, to his own detriment. History will remember him fondly. And never forget this; he has a choice too, and he's exercised it. It's not difficult to see why.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nek minnit; we're banned! Part deux

We really appreciate that people unknown to us have gone into bat for us at Red Alert today. One, Jem commented as follows:

Those of us who believe in Freedom of speech…and not the Communist Chinese approach adopted by Labour … want to know why Inventory2 was banned for a comment that was purely a statement of fact and not abusive in any way?

Does the Truth terrify you that much??

Clare responded quickly with this:

Jem and others: Inventory2 was banned for several reasons. He was personally offensive and he lied. A number of others who comment regularly in a similar vein are running close to the line and are on notice.

Our moderation policy is here. Please read it.

1. Keep it relevant to the post.
2. Keep it clean. Don’t use offensive language. We’re tolerant, but we use the test of wanting to have intermediate age school kids using this site for research.
3. Don’t make it personal. Stick to the issues rather than the person. By all means criticise what people have said or done, but do it in a way that is not personal. Leave families out of it. And we moderate attacks on National and ACT MPs on the same basis as Labour.
4. Don’t tell lies

The moderators consider requests for removal from a ban if you write to us personally.

So we want to run a sniff test of sorts; what part of:

"Phil Goff sold $9b worth of assets in the 1980's; nek minnit..."


  • Irrelevant (to a post entitled "nek minnit", which parodies a politician)
  • Unclean
  • Personal
  • A lie?
The last one particularly grates. We don't like being accused of lying, but that is what Clare Curran has done, on pretty flimsy grounds. Further on, Clare says that she's looked back at some of our previous posts, and that they are "provocative and nasty". Provocative? Absolutely; isn't that what an adversarial medium such as blogging encourages? But nasty? Give us a break.

"Nasty" is what Trevor Mallard did on Friday; make serious accusations about the misuse of public funds by a Minister, and in the process attacking an academic and two businessmen with whose politics he disagreed; allegations which have not and cannot be proven. Nasty is using parliamentary privilege to attack a public servant. We are mere babes in the wood on the nasty scale.

That's where we're going to park this now. Clare has made her decision, and that's her perogative. We truly appreciate those who have come to our defence today; thanks heaps. And Clare Curran, who loves slogans, would do well to remember Rule #1 of Whaleoil's Rules of Politics;

Explaining is losing

Nek minnit; we're banned!

Oh dear; we managed to upset Clare Curran last night.

There's this viral video on YouTube at the moment; Nek Minnit. We don't quite understand the hype, but we did understand the parody video that Clare posted on Red Alert of an apparent flip-flop from John Key. So we thought we'd be clever. We added this comment:

"Phil Goff sold $9b worth of assets in the 1980's; nek minnit..."

Now that's not what we'd consider offensive or abusive. In fact it's a statement of fact. Phil Goff was a member of the Labour cabinet throughout the period 1984 to 1990, when asset sales were on the agenda. And as cabinet is bound by the principle of collective cabinet responsibility for decisions taken, Phil Goff was indeed an asset-seller.

We struck a nerve; within a few minutes, this appeared:

Inventory2 says:

You are now banned. Clare

Now Clare Curran is an expert in public relations. She was such an expert that David Parker wanted her to work for the Ministry for the Environment a few years ago, leading to the infamous Erin Leigh affair, which had an airing in the Supreme Court two weeks ago. And before she won selection for her electorate seat in Dunedin, Ms Curran used her expertise within the party. Muriel Newman, former Act MP blogged this in June 2006:

“Framing” is the political left’s new buzzword for what used to be called brainwashing. It has been developed into an art form by George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at Berkley University and forms the basis of a paper prepared by communications consultant Claire Curran for last month’s Labour Party’s Southland Regional Conference. Called “Language Matters: Setting agendas - taking charge of the debate”, the paper describes the necessity of capturing the language for the center-left if Labour is to win the next election. It provides an insight into their communication strategy.

The key message delivered in the paper is that Labour must take control of the language: “This paper is about Labour taking greater charge of the language of debate and discussion in New Zealand . It is called ‘re-framing’ and it means gaining (or regaining) the use of concepts and phrases that spark public and media interest. If you control the language, you control the message. The media doesn’t create the message, they run with it”.

Clare Curran most certainly takes "control of the language" at Red Alert, as we found out last night. Red Alert is not the last bastion of free speech, as you would expect the blog of a liberal, progressive poltical party to be; if the moderators don't like what you say, they indeed take "charge of the debate" to ensure that no contrary opinions are expressed.

Now it's their blog, and it's their right to allow or refuse any content. But we reckon that the moderators at Red Alert, mainly Clare and Trevor Mallard are too quick on the trigger. Cameron Slater managed a few "nek minnits" before being put into moderation, whereafter his attempts at irony and sarcasm disappeared into cyberspace.

We've been blogging longer than Red Alert has, and we can say with pride that we have NEVER banned anyone. We have deleted a few comments; probably less than 50 out of almost 18,500 which people have left at Keeping Stock; generally because they were irrelevant or off-topic, and generally after a warning as Robert will testify. We have tolerated a level of personal abuse, and abuse of the choices we make with our life. We prefer to leave comments in place, and as we have said before, we reckon that they reveal more about the person making the comment than they do about the subject of the comment.

So we say this to Clare and Trevor; controlling the message is one thing, but if you want open and honest debate, you need to lighten up a little. When even Labour-aligned bloggers such as Robert Winter and Imperator Fish are questioning the value of Red Alert, you should be listening. Shutting down debate will just take that debate elsewhere.

We'll cop our ban sweet, and wear it as a badge of honour, as we do our ban at The Standard. And we'll continue to encourage debate at our place from right across the spectrum, with our usual tolerance, good humour, and the patience of a saint, and without a thought to controlling the language; because we're just ordinary folk; not PR experts.

What a weekend!

What a weekend of sport it's just been; in no particular order:

  • The All Blacks turned on their best performance of RWC2011 to beat France 37-17
  • The Vodafone Warriors beat Melbourne 20-12 to storm into the NRL Grand Final
  • The Auckland Vucans beat the Sharks 30-26 in golden point extra time to make the NSW Cup Grand Final
  • The Junior Warriors beat the Bulldogs 64-nil to make their second consecutive Toyota Cup Grand Final
  • Arsenal had its best result of the Barclay's Premier League season beating Bolton 3-nil, whilst Manchester United stumbled to a 1-all draw with Stoke City
  • Wanganui surged to the lead (on points differential) in the Heartland Championship
  • Eden Park was packed to the rafters twice in two days, and everyone got to the ground and got home
  • Argentina scored a last-gasp try to beat Scotland in Wellington; their reward is a probable quarter-final match against New Zealand.

Has there been a weekend quite like this for sports fans in the recent past? We'll do a wrap later in the day, but for now, we need to get our breath back. As the Mad Butcher would say; "Mate, what a ride!"!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One law for them...

John Pagani rightly got annoyed on Friday at news that National's Rangitikei candidate had erected campaign hoardings early. That Labour's Rangitikei candidate is Pagani's wife Josie is, of course, a mere side issue! He blogged:

The rules of this council are perfectly clear:

"Signs shall only be permitted in the two-month period prior to the election."

Which is why my wife doesn't have any signs up in this neighbourhood. Yet.*

Maybe the National candidate does not know the rules.

Perhaps he should ask the mayor.

What implicit pressure is placed on the council when the scofflaw is the mayor, his worship, himself?

If this were a Labour candidate, the squealing from the right wing bloggers would be deafening. What are the odds of their total silence?

See, it's his own council rule that he's breaking. Isn't that an order of magnitude worse than the hysterics we've seen over technical breaches elsewhere?

Isn't it funny?

So John Pagani had to eat his words when both
David "Happy Feet" Far
rar and Cameron "Whaleoil" Slater blogged their indignation at the National candidate's error in judgment, entitling their posts "Stupid" and "Moron" respectively. He probably didn't expect that

So in this spirit of bi-partisanship between National and Labour blogg
ers, we look forward to John Pagani's condemnation of Jacinda Ardern, Labour's rising star:

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer says it is very disappointing the Labour Party’s Auckland Central candidate Jacinda Ardern has deliberately ignored official advice around election hoardings.

On Tuesday Auckland Council’s senior lawyer Wendy Brandon advised candidates that election signs are allowed up from 12.00am, Monday 26 September – two calendar months prior to the 26 November general election. Signs up around Auckland today breach the Electoral (Advertisements of a Specified Kind) Regulations 2005 bylaw.

“Like every other party, Labour was given very specific legal advice from the council but deliberately chose to breach the bylaw. It’s very disappointing and only reflects poorly on them.”

Mr Brewer says Auckland Council CEO Doug McKay also wrote to political parties asking them to respect the Rugby World Cup and be sensitive to where they put signs up.

“By splashing red around the central city, Labour has ignored the council’s request to be sensitive around the Rugby World Cup. Aucklanders’ have gone to a lot of trouble to have the city looking its best and people won’t appreciate makeshift hoardings on the likes of Western Park, Ponsonby Road.

“The Mayor needs to tell his colleagues in the Labour Party to pull their heads in. Auckland residents and ratepayers deserve better. They have spent over $100m on this tournament and ensuring Auckland looks great.”

What say you John; does bi-partisanship go both ways? Or is it only bad when the other team does it? As John Pagani himself says; "Isn't it funny?". Anyone for a scofflaw?

Matt misses the irony

Matt McCarten is on an anti-boss rant this morning; check this out:

Even I was surprised when I read this week's Dream Employers survey of 7000 workers in Australia and New Zealand, which found that half of Kiwi workers want to leave their current employer and only a third of them would recommend their boss.

It's even worse in the hospitality sector, where a staggering two-thirds of workers want to sack their boss.

I have represented several hundreds of hospitality workers who have been treated abysmally and these findings back up my experience.

We wonder if anyone has surveyed union employees; specifically Unite union employess who for eighteen months before and after the 2008 General Election had almost $150,000 of PAYE, Kiwisaver and Student Loans withheld from the IRD by their employer. On balance, we think probably not.

Matt McCarten is a hypocrite, whose own employees have been " treated abysmally" by him and his union. We have just three words for him this morning; pot, kettle, black.

A poignant moment

Not a lot of words are needed here. But there was a moment of poignancy and magic as a very ill Jock Hobbs honoured Richie McCaw after last night's RWC2011 match at Eden Park.

Two great New Zealand rugby personalities; one at the peak of his powers; the other in a struggle for life. There was a lump in our throat, and we reckon there were a few moist eyes around the country last night.

Kia kaha Jock Hobbs.


New Zealand 37; France 17

The hosts of Cardiff 2007 haven't quite been exorcised; that won't happen for another four weeks. But New Zealand put France to the sword at Eden Park last night in front of a crowd of 60,800 in a performance that will have had other RWC2011-aspiring coaches paying very close attention.

France came out breathing fire, and piled into the All Blacks for the first eight minutes, during which the All Blacks barely touched the ball. And then came the moment that changed the match, and possibly more. France fed a scrum on the All Black 22m line, and the All Black scrum giant awoke. The French scrum was splintered, and the All Blacks won a penalty. From the lineout on half-way Ma'a Nonu made a bust, the ball was swung left, and Adam Thompson crashed over in the left-hand corner.

It was a match-defining moment, and the French looked stunned. It was no surprise that New Zealand ripped them apart in midfield twice more in quick succession via Cory Jane and Israel Dagg to take a 19-nil lead.

This will have been a sweet victory for Graham Henry, Richie McCaw and the other survivors of Cardiff '07. The French were dispatched with a mixture of agression and panache. The forwards were brutal, smashing the French scrum time and again in the first half. The All Blacks were far superior at the breakdown, and that gave the backline a platform from which to attack the French midfield which they did with great effect.

And here's the best news; this was far from a perfect All Black performance, and there is room for improvement. But if this is the nucleus of Graham Henry's First XV, then we reckon he's got the recipe right. Kieran Read will hopefully return next week against Canada, but barring injuries (and there were a few; hopefully none serious) Henry now has a formidable New Zealand team. Sure; there will be arguments over a few positions, but Henry and his side answered their critics last night with a pretty emphatic performance against the enigmatic French.

The All Blacks now have a play-off place wrapped up, and with three bonus-point wins, they are the only team at RWC2011 with the perfect record after three matches. There is a lot of rugby to be played before the Webb Ellis Cup is handed over to the winning captain on 23 October, but there was a lot to like about the manner of the New Zealand performance last night, and it was the icing on the cake for Richie McCaw's 100th test match.

PTL for MySky

A friend came to visit us at our new whare last night, and watch the All Blacks vs France match. Before the rugby started, I asked if she'd remembered to MySky the rugby and the league for her husband who was out of town for the night. "Of course" she replied "but how on earth did we manage before MkSky?"

We sometimes wonder the same thing. And because the magnificent Vodafone Warriors are in next week's NRL Grand Final after a thrilling 20-12 victory at Melbourne late last night, we'll be putting our MySky HDI to good use next Sunday when we go down to Wellington to watch New Zealand's final RWC2011 pool match against Canada.

We can't be in two places at once, so MySky is the next best solution. And it will be a fantastic occasion in Sydney because the Junior Warriors annihilated the Bulldogs 64-0 last night in the Melbourne curtainraiser, and will defend their title in the Toyota Cup grand final as well.

Next Sunday is shaping up as one of the sporting days of the year, and thanks to the marvels of technology, we won't miss a moment of it; we will be match-fit!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Go the All Blacks

The NZRU and the IRB are getting a little precious wethinks.

like WhaleOil, we're backing Black, and they can try and shut us down if they want.

We urge all rugby-loving bloggers to join us; Go the All Blacks!

Green consequences

We blogged earlier in the week about the Greens Hamilton West candidate Max Dillon Coyle, and an unfortunate "misunderstanding" between him and the Waikato Times.

Actions have consequences, and we understand that the Greens no longer have a Hamilton West candidate. Whether the de-selection was self-inflicted or external is not yet clear.

This has embarrassed the Greens more than somewhat; they are after all the only principled party in Parliament now that NZ First is no longer there! But telling porkies to the press is telling porkies, regardless of the hue of the party that does it.

Responding to Trevor; what the Left is saying...

Trevor Mallard's post on Red Alert yesterday was both extraordinary and inexplicable; what was he thinking? Or perhaps he wasn't!

In any event, it created a storm of critcism from right across the blogosphere, even on the Red Alert post itself. Andrew Geddis, Professor of Law at Otago University and Pundit blogger started it off:

Shock! Horror! Who knew!!

Except, of course, for the fact that every issue of NZ Politics Daily carries at its head the statement:

“New Zealand Politics Daily is produced independently by Bryce Edwards, Department of Politics, University of Otago, with the help of a research assistant who is paid for by the sponsorship of:
Curia Market Research – the place to go if you want to know what New Zealanders are thinking
Exceltium Ltd – New Zealand’s most successful corporate and public affairs consultancy
PSA – the public sector union advocating for strong public services and decent work.”

And I suspect the majority of all those who subscribe do not do so just because of Bryce’s commentary (which has its biases, yes … show me a commentator who doesn’t have these) but because of the extraordinarily thorough collection of “real” media and blog commentary on matters political. If a lot of that commentary has criticisms to make of Labour, then perhaps you should look inwards rather than shoot the messenger. Just sayin’ …

(Disclosure: Bryce is a friend, with whom I intend to get drunk on Saturday before dancing badly at a Verlaines concert.)

Other folk who are hardly friends of the National government joined the fray:

Victor Billot says:

I have never read such an imbecilic post. This kind of thing is a disgrace to the Labour Party, if you could be bothered to mount such an effective attack on the Tories instead of non-compliant academics you might be getting somewhere.

The only thing I can add to Andrew Geddis points, is that I’d also like you to substantiate, your claim that Bryce is an Alliance Party “supporter.” Speaking as a national officer of the Alliance Party, I would like you to provide evidence of your above claim. Which may be hard, as it is of course nonsense.

What’s more, I’ll be going back to my (private sector) Labour-affiliated union and raising this A-grade garbage with our leadership.

Chris Trotter says:

I would like Trevor to confirm that he currently plays a key role in devising Labour’s election strategy.

After reading this post, I would like to ask the readers of Red Alert – why?

Morgan Godfery says:

Speaking from experience, New Zealand Politics Daily (NZPD) is an incredibly useful tool for students and bloggers. Although Bryce may, at times, attack Labour (and often the Greens) you cannot doubt his sincerity as a lefty. I have subscribed to NZPD from day one and Bryce fully disclosed the need for sponsors to continue the service. I, personally, was glad to see David, Matthew Hooton and the PSA jump on board. Bryce is, in my opinion, a man of integrity and would not allow the NZPD sponsorship arrangements to tar his excellent commentary.

Chris Trotter weighed in further later in the evening:

Chris Trotter says:

Trevor, you used to be an asset (of sorts) to the Labour Party. Today’s efforts make you a liability.

Why on earth are you standing for re-election?

Ouch! But it wasn't just Red Alert where hackles were raised. Robert Winter from Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow blogged:

Bryce Edwards and Liberation

I've never met the guy, have no idea of his political antecedents, but he may like the Verlaines, which can't be bad, and appears to like a drink, which is understandable if you have Emersons on your doorstep. I read his pages. I occasionally follow up stuff that he's found that interests me. I do not feel to be harangued by him (I may simply be very naive). Trevor Mallard's dig over on Red Alert is unfathomable. The same applies to Tumeke, which has also launched in. I have no idea if this is a pincer attack, but all parties should settle down and focus on a National government that is doing us, and will do us more, harm.
I'm always struck by our capacity to feud in the Left with far greater intensity and fervour than we sometimes attack the Right. Been there, done that with gusto, and it's a shocking waste of effort and intellect.

Once again, I wonder about the value of Red Alert, which has allowed the eye to wander from the ball again.

And Imperator Fish also questioned the value of Red Alert, saying:

I wrote this post about a month ago. It seems more relevant today than ever.

While most of the general populace don't read Red Alert or even know it exists, the opinion-makers certainly do. The site is read by journalists, political commentators and bloggers.

Recent efforts by some on the site have been (to put it diplomatically) unhelpful.

Am I (still) right? Should the plug be pulled?

Trevor Mallard did Labour's brand huge harm yesterday. It hasn't been necessary for us to parrot what any right-leaning blogs are saying (and there's plenty to choose from!); the condemnation from the Left, with the exception of Tumeke who had probably been handed the tasty morsel, has been widespread enough to reinforce the view that Labour's campaign manager made his biggest whoopsie yet. And it is understood that at least one of the people named by Mallard is considering legal action. Neither Trevor Mallard nor the Labour Party is protected by parliamentary privilege for statements made on Red Alert.

And if ever there was a time for silence from Trevor Mallard, this week was it. The Erin Leigh story isn't going to go away.