Bryce Edwards: Labour’s version of conservatism is no longer popular

Dr Bryce Edwards writes:

New Zealand now essentially has two conservative major parties for the public to choose from. Unfortunately for one of them – the Labour Party – the public increasingly prefers the more authentic conservative option, National. This can be seen in the latest opinion poll showing National continuing to storm ahead of Labour.

According to last night’s Newshub-Reid Research poll, National has nearly a third more support than Labour – 41 per cent compared to just 32 per cent. As a result, Labour is currently projected to lose something like 24 of its MPs at the next election, and be turfed out of power in what could be a landslide reversal of the 2020 victory.

Five years of cautious managerialism

Labour’s five years in power have been incredibly conservative, despite the radical times. Very little in the way of far-reaching reform has been pushed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and few radical policies have actually been delivered. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards: Labour’s version of conservatism is no longer popular”

Thomas Cranmer: Twitter and the Monty Python Business Model

Elon Musk continues to develop the new free speech model for Twitter, drawing on comedy for new ideas and as a way of deflecting political criticism. Jacinda Ardern’s approach involves less humour.  THOMAS CRANMER examines the contrast…

On Sunday I asked the question: would Twitter unfollow the Prime Minister given that, on the face of it, Musk and Ardern have very different ideas of how the public square should operate?

As it turned out, it was a question that the Prime Minister was also pondering. When questioned on Tuesday about Twitter’s change of ownership, Ardern observed that “it is fair to say we are in a bit of unknown territory at this point”. They had, it seemed, changed their relationship status to “it’s complicated”. Despite this setback Musk and Ardern both had a busy week, with each of them progressing their own vision of how public discourse should be moderated.

In a previous article, I observed that humour was central to Musk’s view of free and open debate and this week saw confirmation of that. It started on Tuesday with him toying with the idea of asking twitter users to pay $20 per month for a blue check as a means of verification. When the author Stephen King unceremoniously shot him down, Musk’s response was to lower the price:      Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: Twitter and the Monty Python Business Model”


Political  commentator CHRIS TROTTER writes –

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS! Gerald stared at the words on the screen as if, somehow, he could make them blink first.

“What’s up?” Gerald’s co-worker, Elise, swivelled towards him, eyebrows raised interrogatively. Gerald was usually such a quiet and studious worker that she found his angry outburst just a little bit shocking.

“See for yourself”, Gerald replied, turning his screen towards Elise.

“Hmmmm.” Elise settled back in her chair with a thoughtful expression. “That is certainly an unusual brief. Not the Boss’s style at all. What do you suppose has led her to issue such an odd assignment? Continue reading “0-800-STASI”

THOMAS CRANMER: Te Urewera is not co-governance – it is Tuhoe-governance (and Mahuta is tapping into it for Three Waters)

Protests led by Tūhoe elders have brought the media spotlight back to Te Urewera as the governing body removes 48 huts.  Some consider this to be co-governance and it’s the model which Nanaia Mahuta is applying to her Three Waters reform.  But THOMAS CRANMER – who urges us to take a hard look – says we will find it is far from co-governance.  He writes: 

 Te Urewera is back in the headlines and it is important to consider why that is the case. Increasingly it is held up by the government and its supporters as an example of co-governance in action. A governance model put in place by the Key government in 2014, and a working example of why co-governance is not new nor particularly controversial.

It is also used as an example of effective Crown-iwi partnership when the Three Waters co-governance model is criticised and it forms the governance model which is currently being rolled out in the Milford Sounds and elsewhere across the country.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Te Urewera is not co-governance – it is Tuhoe-governance (and Mahuta is tapping into it for Three Waters)”

THOMAS CRANMER: PM’s urge to get to Antarctica reminds us of NZ’s connections with the ice (mythical and otherwise)

TV3 today reported that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stressed the importance of New Zealand maintaining its strong connection with Antarctica as other countries contest territory in the region.

Ardern, who is visiting Antarctica, spent yesterday visiting areas away from Scott Base, including the Terra Nova and Shackleton huts, and the Dry Valley

THOMAS CRANMER earlier this week said it is unclear why she wanted to skip Parliament to visit Antarctica – but he noted it does bring to mind last year’s research regarding Maori voyages and the little noticed response from Ngāi Tahu.


 For reasons known only to her closest advisors, the Prime Minister seems intent on missing this week’s sitting of Parliament in order to travel to Antarctica – a place described as “the coldest, windiest, remotest place on Earth” by Antarctica NZ general communications manager Megan Nicholl. According to Grant Robertson, the man who deputizes for Ardern during her absences abroad, “it’s the kind of visit the New Zealand Prime Minister should make”.

For the rest of us, we are left to scratch our heads and speculate. The stated reason of marking the 65th anniversary of Scott Base seems, on the face of it, a tenuous excuse to make a very climate unfriendly return flight on a C130 Hercules particularly at a time when there are so many pressing issues on the domestic political agenda. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: PM’s urge to get to Antarctica reminds us of NZ’s connections with the ice (mythical and otherwise)”

Bryce Edwards: The Increasing speculation about Jacinda Ardern quitting

Bryce Edwards writes:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern flies to Antarctica today, and her media spin doctors will be hoping for some good photo opportunities to lift the leader’s popularity. But they will be asking a lot.

Tomorrow it will be five years since Ardern was sworn in as Prime Minister. At that time she was incredibly popular, and her support kept rising, hitting its heights in 2020.

That tide has certainly turned in recent months, and there are signs that Ardern is headed for a very difficult time as Prime Minister in the near future. Economic and social factors may get much worse. And the prospect of Labour’s popularity declining further is possible, especially as difficult reforms throw up problems. Re-election in 2023 has never seemed more in doubt.

Unsurprisingly, there has been an upswing in speculation about how long Ardern will stay on as leader and prime minister. The idea of her stepping down before the next election is gaining traction, despite there being no obvious candidate in the Labour Party who could do a better job than her. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards: The Increasing speculation about Jacinda Ardern quitting”

Lindsay Mitchell on joining the right dots and on the sobering outlook for people who will be lifetime beneficiaries

THE Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister has been braying about the Government lifting “about 66,000 kids out of poverty in the past few years …” 

In its latest annual report the Ministry for Social Development takes pride in its focus on getting people jobs resulting in 226,836 clients moving off benefit into work in the last two years (“our highest recorded result”).

But social commentator LINDSAY MITCHELL points out that 415,266 benefits were granted in the past two years, when more benefits were granted than cancelled.  She writes: –  

The Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister says:

“We’ve lifted about 66,000 kids out of poverty in the past few years …”

What he neglects to add is they have also consigned about 37,000 more to life on a benefit bringing the total to over 209,000. Continue reading “Lindsay Mitchell on joining the right dots and on the sobering outlook for people who will be lifetime beneficiaries”

Thomas Cranmer: It’s Stop Work on Three Waters!

Newly elected Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has declared Three Waters ‘doomed’ as Watercare is ordered to stop work and S&P announces it will take no new credit-rating decisions until after the 2023 general election, which it calls ‘vital’.  This article continues a series by THOMAS CRANMER, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes

The local government elections have been widely viewed as a referendum on Three Waters but in reality they also appear to have triggered a series of announcements which dramatically call into question the viability of the controversial project.

It was no coincidence that, in the aftermath of those elections, with anti-Three Waters councillors in the ascendancy, Standard & Poor’s made its announcement that it would not be making any adjustments to the New Zealand Government or local authority credit ratings until after the 2023 general election. At first glance that may not appear significant but if you look at the detail of the message it becomes eye-opening.

 By way of background, Standard & Poor’s is the global ratings agency which reviewed the proposed Three Waters structure last year in order to issue an indicative credit rating for the water services entities. Then earlier this year it issued another report setting out indicative credit rating implications to Auckland Council and Wellington City Council of implementing the proposed reforms. This is normal practice for these types of financings.

The government pays S&P a fee and it provides them with indicative ratings based on various hypothetical scenarios. Those ratings then form part of the marketing material which is provided to potential lenders.

During this marketing phase it’s important to generate positive momentum behind the lending opportunity in order to attract a sufficient number of influential lending institutions for the financing to be a success. Any negative ‘noise’ around a potential deal coming to market can severely jeopardise its chances of success.

Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: It’s Stop Work on Three Waters!”

Bryce Edwards puts a spotlight on Hamilton West: Here comes an unpredictable and intense by-election

DR BRYCE EDWARDS,  director of the Democracy Project, looks at the political climate in Hamilton West as  the political parties prepare to campaign for support in a by-election.  He writes: 

Get ready for a hard-fought and intense by-election in Hamilton West, triggered by the resignation from Parliament of former Labour MP Gaurav Sharma. Both Labour and National are going to throw everything at winning this by-election.   Complicating matters, there will be a number of minor parties and fringe elements – Sharma included – that might have a big impact on the result.

At this stage, the outcome is entirely unpredictable, with both Labour and National having good reasons for desperately needing to win it, and with some good reasons to expect success. But it’s likely to be a very close race, and a number of vital factors could determine which way victory goes.

The National Party is the frontrunner 

National is surely seen as the frontrunner in the by-election, due to the party’s hold over the seat in 4 out of 5 preceding elections, together with the fact that the Labour Government is currently in the doldrums.

As always, Opposition parties seek to turn by-elections into referendums on the current performance of the incumbents – and at present there is a lot about the Labour Government for the public to be dissatisfied about. This was evidenced by last week’s local government elections, which have also been described as a referendum on the current government. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards puts a spotlight on Hamilton West: Here comes an unpredictable and intense by-election”

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Debt that will tear us apart

According to the government’s own projections, the Three Waters debt will only grow over time. We will never escape it and eventually it will tear the country apart.

This article continues a series by THOMAS CRANMER, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes:

The financing of Three Waters has been almost entirely overlooked by financial analysts and media commentators despite the fact that the massive debt required to fund the planned shakeup of our water infrastructure could be as risky for the nation’s finances as Muldoon’s Think Big projects of the 1970s-80s. 

Research provided to the government has calculated that between $120bn to $185bn in investment is needed to maintain and improve New Zealand’s water infrastructure. What has been left mostly unsaid is exactly how much of this will be funded by debt and how it will be repaid.

The information we do have, however, is hardly reassuring. Government documents show the debt will keep growing and there are no plans for it to be repaid in the foreseeable future. It is effectively perpetual debt on a massive scale. Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Debt that will tear us apart”