Having spent an appreciable amount of today surfing the net and reading posts by other political bloggers on the topic of “How I’m voting tomorrow”, some adding “and why”, I have finally succumbed.

So I’m going to tell you who I advance-voted for last week, and why I ruled out the various other options that have peppered my in-box with information in the past few weeks.

Firstly, I’m (as regular readers may know) a voter in the Wellington Central electorate. I’ve blogged enough times about our ‘new kid on the block’, James Shaw, who is standing in Sue Kedgley’s stead as Sue is retiring at this election.

So it will come as no surprise that I have voted two ticks Green, one candidate vote for James and a party vote Green, which has actually been my Wellington Central strategy since I moved back into the electorate before the 2002 elections.

My long-term strategy is actually anchored to a deep distrust of the Labour leaders, and especially Phil Goff who was the relevant Minister of Defence, since the first SAS sortie into Afghanistan, which they have repeatedly lied about in Parliament and media questions.

There have been books written about this period of our recent military history, most recently Nicky Hager’s Other People’s Wars, and also this one, an official 50th anniversary history sanctioned by the SAS and NZDF hierachy. Woops, they should have cross-checked with Hansard to find out where their line of plausible deniablility stood.

I genuinely like Grant Robertson; I know very little about Paul Foster-Bell, but he seems to be a nice young man, if a little like dishwater. I have heard the Libertarianz, ACT, ALCP, Pirate Party and New Economic Party’s candidates speak at various Wellington Central forums, and I have been very much entertained by their presentations.

My view of National as a party has been refined over many years (nay, decades…) of interaction at a local level with Bill and Mary English, whose many children overlap three of mine in ages, and have shared educational institutions with them from primary through to secondary.
I have heard Bill’s spiel about private schools getting a hard deal so many times I could practically give it myself, if I felt motivated. I do not.
It is essentially the selfish howl of an over-entitled man, pleading special interests to those who are similarly selfish and over-entitled, and as a former public servant in the Education field, I have always found that position to be repugnant.

John Key has further compounded the selfish policy ground of National by busily driving the country into the ground, slashing taxes for the rich, while cutting services to the poor, and throwing public servants on to the redundancy scrapheap.
This is such short-sighted policy that I am astounded, until I reflect on the behaviour exhibited by the Coates Government* during the Great Depression – they protected Farmer’s incomes, forced unemployed and starving men into work gangs, sleeping by night in the fields next to the roads they were ‘mending’. This is the Government that lost to Micky Savage’s first Labour Government in the election that led to the institution of the welfare legislation that gave us such a stable and prosperous period in the years immediately after the war – when the generation that are today’s Baby Boomer retirees were brought up.
National appears to have no clue that by giving tax breaks to the well-off, demonising those who can’t find work, sacking public service employees, and bailing out failed businesses who should have been allowed to fail instead of continuing to trade, they have merely repeated the worst of the excesses of the Coates Government.

Those who do not heed history are doomed to repeat it.

The lessons of the past might be well learnt by John Key and his cronies, as he tries to cynically manipulate his way into another term, with asset-stripping as a Key policy for the next three years,and a probable golden parachute lurking outside New Zealand once he’s overstayed his welcome.

Aah, but what about Labour’s future plans? Well, I’ll be interested again when Goff finally gets rolled by Grant Robertson. This election, despite a strong finish, the Labour leader has looked weak, indecisive and feckless, and made me glance wistfully at the “I miss Helen” button that I bought from Unity Bookshop shortly after Helengrad was vacated when her Helenship departed for the UNDP.

*Update:
If you wish to ascertain the accuracy of my statements about the Coates Government, I thoroughly recommend the works of Tony Simpson, “The Sugarbag Years”, published in 1975, and “The Slump”, published in 1990, both available in Penguin NZ editions. Should be available in any public library with a decent NZ History section.
Or you could read any of the biographies of John A Lee, Michael Joseph Savage, Peter Fraser, or indeed anything written about the Coates Government itself. Here ends the history tutorial assignment, don’t post me the answers, I’ll be happy enough if you just educate yourselves.

Before filming commenced

oops obscured the ACT candidate behind Wallace Chapman's head....

Last night was a very busy show.

Hutt South is well-supplied with candidates, and so we heard from six (count’em, six!) political parties, although only five could fit along the bench, with Trevor Mallard and Paul Quinn very closely placed elbow-to-elbow. Holly Walker, our fabulous feminist Green candidate was next along the row, and she was bookended by Rob Eaddy of United Future, and finally Alex Spiers from ACT. The round-up was completed by Graham Coupland from the re-branded Conservatives, which those of us who are older may recognise as the Christian Heritage party of yore.

Damian and Wallace were contending with a very packed house, and then an unexpected and seemingly unwelcome (and, some considered, very rude) interruption by a small but vocal group from Occupy Wellington, who chanted over the top of the presenters while Wallace was quizzing the panel on a policy issue.

There was the usual amount of banner and placard waving, ALCP managed a bit of screen-time for one of theirs, and the campaign against MMP had their placard removed by the producer after some overly aggressive behaviour.

Got you interested yet? View the whole episode here on TV7’s on-demand link, and while you’re paying attention, support the retention of TV7 here.

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

Today’s Wellington launch of the ‘Green is for go’ transport policy saw a bus full of Green Party volunteers, candidates and MP’s touring the route of the proposed light rail link from Wellington Bus Station, stopping outside Kirkcaldie & Stains department store, then through to Courtney Place and on to Wellington Hospital in Newtown.

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

At each stop, there was an opportunity for media to catch interviews with the candidates and MP’s, and for volunteers to hand out leaflets detailing the new transport policy to passersby. You can read the gist of the transport plan here, and read MP Gareth Hughes’ press release here.

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

While the bus was in transit, the passengers heard from MP Gareth Hughes (Ohariu) and candidates Holly Walker (Hutt South), Zach Dorner (YG ‘Victoria University candidate’), Jan Logie (Mana), Tāne Woodley (Rimutaka), and our own James Shaw (Wellington Central). Each spoke about the public transport challenges faced by their respective electorates, and the value of added funding for buses, trains and light rail. Jan Logie spoke of the enormous community opposition to the Kapiti Expressway, which has galvanised local residents, and James Shaw took his stand just as the bus rounded basin reserve, describing the extent to which the proposed flyover would overshadow the historic Basin cricket grounds, as well as cutting off Newtown, Berhampore and Island Bay access into the Te Aro/CBD area.

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

This is the famously ‘most fun’ candidates forum in Wellington, in the Green heart of Te Aro. It was an awesome night, the chairs were full half an hour before the stated starting time of 7.30pm, and by the time the candidates had all arrived, there was no standing room, and a build-up of late-comers hanging on the ramp outside the huge windows (all opened fully) peering in and listening to the speakers with assistance from the sound system courtesy of local Aro events manager Martin Wilson.

packed out Aro Valley Hall

packed out Aro Valley Hall

The Candidates speaking were Grant Robertson (L), the sitting MP; Paul Foster-Bell (N); James Shaw (G); Stephen Whittington (ACT); Gynn Rickerby from the Pirate Party, who spoke first as he had to leave for family reasons; Reagan Cutting (Libertarianz); Laurence Boomert from New Economics Party; and the perennial Michael Appleby (ACLP), who is always such a good showman, and well-liked by Aro residents and regulars.

The candidates up against the wall ...

The candidates up against the wall ...

There was a sausage sizzle, popcorn, warm spiced orange juice, macaroons, and eventually mulled wine, all at ‘gold coin’ prices to support the Aro Valley Community Centre; the half-time break saw much chatting and slurping of various cups of beverages, and popcorn chomping.

The questions from the floor were articulate and engaging, asking Labour whether they had any policies to announce that weren’t stolen from the Greens (Grant responded with a list of prior policy launches that were ‘all their own work’), and a few goes at getting Paul to respond on sticky issues, which he pretty much dodged using the Party-approved phrases, deviating only once when asked if he supported gay marriage and gay adoption. (He does.)
James made some excellent capital out of responses to questions directed at other parties, throwing out replies that covered pretty much every policy angle the Greens own, while emphasizing the core three issues of jobs, clean rivers, and child poverty reduction.
The rest were pretty much repeating the same sentences I’ve heard on the past two nights on the Welli campaign trail, with Whittington in particular sounding like a stuck record. Appleby answered every question with a reference to industrial hemp as the wonder agricultural product of the future, saving exports, tourism, and leading to biofuels advances, all of which was received with good humour by a jovial crowd.

The audience were mostly happy and raucous, the timing of speeches was kept strictly, and enforced by water-pistols in time-honoured fashion, while a little girl held sway over the vuvuzela to sound when the speeches ran out of time; this is my home suburb, my favourite place to talk about politics, my favourite event of any election year, and this year as ever Aro Valley did themselves proud.

So, astonishingly, I am going to post a link from stuff, ‘cos they actually did quite a good write-up here, complete with some video shot during the meeting. Enjoy. Welcome to the vibe of ma ‘hood.

This was the one we’d been waiting for, and with the excellent (for Greens) polling figure that came out in Wednesday’s paper (Fairfax), the Wellington branch and campaign team were firing hot.

James is a happy chappy

James is a happy chappy

The line-up was Grant Robertson, sitting MP for Wellington Central (Labour), Paul Foster-Bell, (National), James Shaw (Green), Stephen Whittington (ACT). And so the fun began.

There was high excitement after the experience of the Auckland Central Candidates on last week’s episode, and a little crowd-calming instruction by producer Damian Christie went a long way. There was a lot less shoving, barging and/or disruptive heckling, which is not to say that is was a quiet night, just a slightly better controlled one than the Britomart Country Club threw up. I ended up in a crush of very keen Young Greens, having gone over to talk to someone then found I couldn’t get back through to where I’d been discretely out of the way. Oh, well, the show must go on … and usefully, our Japanese visitor Hiroshi had need of some explanations and translations, so I was glad to be standing beside him in the final count.

Despite a rainy night, the bar was full to standing-room-only levels, and there was a lot of coreflute signs in the hands of youth wings of every party – except for ACT, who had a very hastily handmade wooden number, stencilled with their logo, with an authorisation written on in Vivid marker. Interesting, I wonder whose trust fund ran out of publishing funds at the last minute?

The first round was “Why I should be the MP for Wellington Central”, with social housing, economic growth and child poverty coming up for Robertson & Shaw, with some blustering from Foster-Bell posturing John Key as the saviour of the nation while avoiding supporting any actual policy, and then Whittington gave a set-piece reminiscent of his spiel at the WYFC forum last night.
Best quote from this round goes to James Shaw, once again, “twelfth level elven war-mage” (view from 4.56 mins to get this in context…) which provoked cheering and chanting from YG supporters, and even a risqué quip from Damian (5.19..). James’ suggestion for an ACT party sign on the Wellywood site was a close second (5.45…).

So as you may have guessed from the timing marks I’ve quoted, there’s a lot of very good moments stacked up in this episode. See it here on TVNZ7 On-demand.

If you’ve been enjoying Back Benches this year, despite my erratic posts, do also go to the petition to save TV7, which is the subject of cuts at TVNZ due to ‘budget restraints’ imposed by the overseas owners.
Public service broadcasting in Aotearoa/New Zealand is under threat of cuts and privatisation, it’s time to stand up and say we want it, we need it, and we’re going to fight for it, including by voting out this National Government on November 26th.

Ladies in the House!

November 9, 2011

The Wellington Young Feminists Collective ran a very well-attended candidates forum last night, held in the mezzanine meeting room at Wellington Public Library, titled “Ladies in the House”.

“Come and hear what your candidates are planning to do for local women and ask them the questions that matter… like why there only two female Wellington Central candidates. Or why abortion is still in the Crimes Act. Or why after the 2008 election only 27% of electorate MPs were women.

Women’s issues are everyone’s issues. Let’s make them election issues.”

So, who was there? Candidates invited were:
Paul Foster-Bell (National Party Candidate for Wellington Central)
Jordan Carter (Labour Party List Candidate)
Stephen Whittington (ACT Party Candidate for Wellington Central)
Holly Walker (Green Party Candidate for Hutt South)
Jan Logie (Green Party Candidate for Mana)
Ben Craven (NZ First Candidate for Wellington Central)

and they were ably MC’d by Bryony Skillington.

There were indeed questions put about the Crimes Act, abortion law in general, health policy, domestic violence, how to get more women elected, whether parties would keep the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, poverty in general and child poverty in particular, and since my notes from the hour and a half ran to seven pages, I’m not going to detail all the answers that were given, suffice to say that Ben Craven was clearly well out of his depth, and not any kind of asset to his party affiliation in his ineptitude, which gave a lot of unintentional humour.
Paul Foster-Bell read out his set-piece answers very coherently, but you could see the gloved hand controlling the puppet.
Stephen Whittington, to his credit, gave some very unpopular answers but at least stuck honestly to his own, well-known beliefs. Prolly not gonna help ACT get any more women voters, but then they don’t seem to want a world where women are enfranchised and empowered, so I guess they’ll take as long as they need to come to grips with 21st C realities.
Now to the two women candidates – our own Green party women, Holly Walker and Jan Logie. Both spoke strongly on policy platforms, and gave well-considered answers to questions asked by the audience. Holly handled gender pay gap and child poverty issues, while Jan spoke mostly about gender violence.

Linky roundup: Radio NZ here, Wellington Access Radio here, Jan Logie’s speech here.

Update: Wellingtonista did a far better review of the guts of the forum here, which proves my personal point that I can afford to be lazy every now and then when I know someone else has got my back 😉 Big ups to the Wellingtonista team.

Le Matt Juste

The right person in the right place

Chris Perley's Blog

Thoughtscapes - people, place, policy, potential. Realising our potential when we synthesise across yesterday's silos of people, economy and place. Think like the mountain, not the specialists who see what they have only come to see.

Cogpunk Steamscribe

One writer's journey into the world of Steampunk

streetsofcolombo

“The only truth is music.” ― Jack Kerouac

Michael Roberts Blog

blogging from a marxist economist

warning:curves ahead

Vintage style for the modern dame

WhaeaJo

Ōku whakaaro e pā ana ki te mahi ako

Kia Ora Gaza

KIWI AID TO GAZA --- Please donate generously

Hikurangi Enterprises

Naumai, haramai.

energyfutureslab.wordpress.com/

Multi-disciplinary research developing a sustainable energy supply

Flip That Script

We can always re-write the scripts we live by. If we aren't discussing them, then we aren't thinking.

Auckland Peace Action

Working to end NZ support for war and the global arms trade

Katherine Dewar

Ruby and the Blue Sky author site

Michael Tavares

@TheWildernerd

Bored with a record shop.

Ever wondered what goes on when the proprietor of secondhand record shop at the butt end of the world chucks in the towel and goes back to having a life??

Monkeywrenching

Nandor Tanczos on politics and culture in Aotearoa New Zealand