Mar 31, 2011


It appears that Hekia Parata is a liar. From The Gisborne Herald:

Gisborne District councillor Manu Caddie accused her of lying, or “deliberately misleading the public”, in an article in The Gisborne Herald on Saturday in which she said the exploration permit would involve only 2D and 3D data gathering, not drilling.

But Manu Caddie says this was a blatant lie.

The permit signed last year by her predecessor allowed the company to drill one exploratory well within 60 months of the commencement of the permit, he said in a written statement.

To her credit, she later acknowledged her dishonesty:

She acknowledged this morning that the exploration permit granted to Petrobras allowed Petrobras to drill an exploration well.

However, she did no forget to offer a pretext:  

“A decision on whether an exploration well will be drilled is dependent on the outcome of the 2D and 3D seismic survey” she said.

Hekia is in an uncomfortable position. On a personal level, her people (Ngati Porou) are firmly against oil exploration and any consequent activities. However, on an ideological level, the idea of mineral exploitation appeals to Hekia’s neoliberal tendencies. This is possibly an oversimplification, but the choice appears to be between representing the views of her people or toeing the party line. It’s a shame she did not chose the former.      

Winston Peters supports Te Whanau a Apanui

Te Whanau a Apanui have found an unlikely ally:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is backing Te Whanau a Apanaui's protest against oil exploration off the East Coast.

Mr Peters says New Zealanders have no confidence the government has properly weighted the environmental and social risks.

“The key issue is, have we been asked or consulted on this issue and the answer is no. It just went ahead like what Gerry Brownlee tried to do on the national parks, when they got rolled. That’s what they tried to do,” he says.

Mr Peters says the royalty rates are so low that that New Zealanders stand to make very little if Petrobras does discover oil.

Prima facie, Winston is an unlikely source of support. However, this issue touches our nationalist sentiment, naturally it is core New Zealand First policy.

I wonder when the Maori Party will follow suit. No time soon judging by this comment From Tariana Turia:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says it's up to individual iwi whether they want to oppose mining and oil exploration.

Of course it is. But when iwi chose to oppose, and oppose vehemently, then the Maori Party should support iwi.  
“Those who don’t want to have either oil exploration or sand mining, that’s their business. We’re not in Parliament to speak for the hapu and iwi. That’s their job to uphold their rangatiratanga and that’s what they’ve chose to do and that’s their right,” Mrs Turia says.

This is an odd comment. Let’s think back to the ETS. The Maori Party were speaking/acting on behalf of iwi (at their request apparently). The Maori Party acted as a medium between government and the self proclaimed iwi leaders. The same thing happened with regard to mining Maori land. However, different rules seem to apply to Te Whanau a Apanui. The Maori Party has refused to back Te Whanau a Apanui.

Te Whanau a Apanui cannot uphold their rangatiratanga against the might of the New Zealand state. No iwi can, has or ever will. The Maori Party, as the strongest Maori political entity, is obligated to act in the best interests of Te Whanau a Apanui. A failure to act, or a remission of responsibility, is a cop out.    

The Maori Party claim to act on behalf of Maori. Maori, as in the collective. The party quite often speaks of iwi katoa. It is now becoming apparent that this was just fanciful rhetoric. If faced with a choice between political expediency and principle, the Maori Party will side with expediency.  

Sad. That is the only way to describe the Maori Party’s position on this issue. Sad.

Mar 30, 2011

One News: Problem gambling in Kawerau

One News picked up on my problem gambling in Kawerau post. You can access the story here.

When Vaughan McCown, the owner of the Kawerau Pub, was asked whether he thought parents should be playing pokies in the morning he replied:

“…I say no, but that’s my call… and it’s their choice if they come here and play them” (my emphasis)

So McCown does not think it is right to open at 7.30am and have parents gamble. If that is so, why the hell is he doing it? McCown appears to be operating under the idea of profits before people. McCown, as a publican, knows that self control often gives way to gaming impulses. It is exploitation of the worst kind.

I’m grateful One News picked up on this story. I only hope it kicks the community into action.  

Will Whanau Ora be Cut?

I think it is reasonable to assume that the government is currently reviewing the Whanau Ora budget. Having said that Key has signalled, albeit in an ambiguous manner, that there are no plans to cut back the scheme’s budget. From Waatea News:

Prime Minister John Key has warned his support parties that the money is not there to fund their pet projects.

He says while there are no plans to cut back the whanau ora scheme for delivering social services through Maori providers, an expected boost in spending isn't going to happen either.

“There are no proposals to trim back whanau ora. The question is just how much more money goes into the programme. I think as a starting off programme it is doing well. There is a great concept behind it and Tariana is working very hard on it,” Mr Key says.

So Whanau Ora will face neither an increase in funding nor a decrease. Fair enough. However, I cannot help but feel this is an empty assurance. Fiscal pressures are mounting and the government is responding with cuts, cuts and more cuts. One would have thought, given the nature of Whanau Ora, that it would be one of the first projects in line for cuts.

Whanau Ora is, as far as I am aware, untested – beyond one or two local pilots that is. The scheme does not enjoy wide spread political support. The public is generally suspicious, yet largely accepting of the fact that a new approach is necessary, and there is no external pressure for change. Lastly, but most importantly, Whanau Ora is the pet project of a dispensable coalition partner.

Given the above, it is fair to assume that the Nat’s will, or at least can, cut the Whanau Ora budget without consequence. So what is stopping them? The prospect of a second term.

At the moment the Maori Party is expendable. However, after the election the Maori Party will probably hold the casting vote (assuming Rodney falls). The Prime Minister realises that he needs to keep the Maori Party on side if he is to have any chance of forming a government post-election and savaging the Whanau Ora budget would decrease his chances of doing so. Interfering with your long term coalition partner’s showpiece policy is beyond dumb. The Nat’s are a lot of things, but not, politically speaking, dumb.  

What sparked this post is the apparent “rumour” that the Whanau Ora budget is up for the chop. From Waatea News:

rumours that funding for the new service delivery model could be cut by as much as $70 million are causing alarm.

Read this with caution. It has come from Malcolm Mulholland, an advisor to Hone Harawira. Keep in mind that it suits Hone to have such a destabilising rumour in the public domain. But also keep in mind that it is entirely plausible given the reasons I outlined in my third paragraph. 

I, personally, am in favour of Whanau Ora. The scheme is practical and necessary. It is universally accepted that New Zealand needs a new model, the question is whether or not Whanau Ora is the right model. It would be a tragedy if the government decided to cut funding – the scheme was under funded in the first place. Ultimately, everything is up for review. But is Whanau Ora really, for want of a better term, superfluous? I don’t think it is.  

Problem gambling in Kawerau

I do not expect people who trade in human misery to have any sense of civic duty, but this is morally contemptible. From the Whakatane Beacon:

The owners of the Kawerau Hotel want to open at 7.30am seven days a week so parents can play pokies after dropping their children off at school.

In an application for a full liquor licence in December, the McCowns said opening at 7.30am would not promote excessive drinking. Instead it would allow parents to use gaming machines after dropping their children at school at 8am.
“If we do not open early we will not get them servicing our machines, parents will just go straight home, have a coffee, do housework and will not come back out until it is time for them to pick kids up from school at 3pm.”

Clearly McCown has spent no time on planet Earth. In most cases gambling does not exist in isolation. Alcohol and cigarettes are often used to cope with the anxiety and depression that gambling, particularly problem gambling, triggers. A 2003 study found that 74% of regular pokie players drank while gambling.

Opening at 7.30am is a sure way to promote problem gambling. It is a form of predation. If the opportunity to gamble in the small hours of the morning exists, then problem gamblers will take that opportunity.

The above quote from McCown says it all really. This is a blatant attempt to increase revenue by exploiting human frailty. Sick. 

Mr McCown did not think longer opening hours would encourage problem gambling, nor would having more gaming machines in Kawerau.  
Mr McCown said the more money that went into the machines, the more would go back into the community through The Lion Foundation – though his own returns were capped.

Longer opening hours will increase accessibility. A restriction on opening hours is one of the few barriers to excessive gambling. In 2008 Kawerau residents spent more money on the pokies than any other town/city in New Zealand. I find this extremely sad given that the median income in Kawerau is just over $17,000 – the lowest in the country. The pokies wreck havoc in Kawerau. Crime, family violence, ill health, family breakdown, poverty and suicidal behaviour can be linked to problem gambling. Kawerau is lucky in one respect though. The Council has adopted a “sinking lid” policy i.e. a cap on the number of gaming machines in the town.

I hate the argument that the more money gaming machines make the more money that “would go back into the community”. This is sick logic. Pokie machines are like a cruel tax on the poorest in society. Where money is sucked from the poorest and then redistributed to pay for some middle class kids new soccer field. The amount of money actually repatriated is minimal as well.   

At peak hours most days he has up to 38 people waiting in the gaming room for a machine. More machines would “reduce the aggro” from people waiting.

More machines will mean more people get a go at pissing away their livelihoods, their childrens wellbeing and the wellbeing of the community.

He would continue to advocate to be allowed more machines, and said if the council continued to block him he would start using machines that supported trusts of no benefit to Kawerau.

Blackmail. Classy.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey said the extended hours idea was “crazy”, though not without precedent in New Zealand. Mr Ramsey said 40 per cent of revenue from pokies came from problem gamblers. 
Extended opening hours would only increase accessibility to the machines. Kawerau is consistently among districts with the highest gambling spend per head of population, according to Department of Internal Affairs statistics.

That’s right.

Mr McCown did not think Kawerau had gambling issues and the district’s leaders should focus on “bigger problems” such as fighting and domestic violence.

Yup, McCown is obviously braindead. I wonder if he knows that a woman whose partner is a problem gamber is 10.5 times more likely to be a victim of violence from her partner than partners of a non-problem gambler. Problem gambling and domestic violence tend to go hand in hand. I guess he missed the memo. I wonder if McCown also knows that Kawerau actually does have a gambling problem. Consider this:

In just three months, between April and June this year the 72 pokies in the Kawerau district took in $111 for each of the district's 6921 people: men, women and children — so if you take babies and children and all those who don't gamble out of the equation, just imagine how much some people are pouring into the machines.

And this:

From April, when the monitoring system was installed, to December last year, Kawerau residents put $2,388,710 into the town's 72 gaming machines. That means Kawerau's 7000 people spends on average about $455 each a year on pokies.

And this:

Kawerau is still ranking in the national top four, for poker machine losses. The town's spending dropped by $25,000 in 2009. But it still notched up well over $600,000 dollars. Kawerau was once rated the area with the most gambling problems and losses.

Kawerau has a massive problem with the pokies. If I had my way I would ban them all. This probably won't happen though. So the next best thing is to obstruct McCown and his ilk - tell him he and his machines have no place in Kawerau. The sooner he fucks off the better.

Mar 29, 2011

Annette Sykes vs. Te Ururoa Flavell

I am glad that Annette Sykes is still considering running against Te Ururoa in Waiariki.  From Waatea News:

Former Maori Party adviser Annette Sykes says her local MP Te Ururoa Flavell has betrayed Te Arawa people with his support of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

The Rotorua lawyer says Mr Flavell was sent to parliament by the Waiariki electorate to roll back the confiscation and discrimination of Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act.

But she says the work he did on the new Act failed on that count.

“None of those compromises justify in any way the confiscation of the lands of the people of Te Arawa from Matata to Maketu and for me it’s a betrayal of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi is established but also the foundations on which the Maori party established,” Ms Sykes says.

She is considering standing against Mr Flavell in Waiariki if former Maori Party MP Hone Harawira creates a new Maori political party.

As a Kawerau boy, I like to think I have a deep understanding of the Waiariki electorate. The seat is winnable, but winning will require a huge effort. At the last election Te Ururoa enjoyed near unanimous support with 68% of the vote. This is an almost 10% increase on his 2005 result. However, the circumstances this time around are vastly different. The political landscape is about to change with the formation of Hone’s new party and the relationship between Maori and the Maori Party is strained.

Say what you will about the Maori Party, but bear in mind that they are not amateurs. The party maintains campaign infrastructure in all of the Maori electorates, for example a ready pool of volunteers, key Marae/Runanga contacts, mailing lists, enrolment statistics, street by street voter analysis etc… Te Ururoa is also, in my opinion at least, a commendable electorate MP. Although he has performed disgracefully with regard to the MCA act – he remains committed to Waiariki.

The challenge for Annette is to bring together an experienced and knowledgeable team and replicate the campaign infrastructure the Maori Party has in place. The next step would be to define the message e.g. A vote for te Ururoa is a vote for National and then focus on soft areas where support for the Maori Party is thin and where tribal links to Te Ururoa do not exist. I am thinking of Kawerau, Tuhoe (Ruatoki, Taneatua), Opotiki, Te Whanau a Apanui (Te Kaha, Omaio), Whakatane and Taupo.

Kawerau is a strong Labour town, in 2005 Steve Chadwick just managed to retain Rotorua thanks to Kawerau voters. Among Maori voters the same is true i.e. support for Labour is strong. I am not sure how the candidate vote went, however I think it is safe to assume that Annette, like me a former Kawerau resident, will have no trouble in winning support. As a staunch tino rangatiratanga advocate she will cruise to victory in the Tuhoe rohe as well. People from Whakatohea (roughly the Opotiki area) and Te Whanau a Apanui (from about Torere to the East Cape) are also furious with the Maori Party. The party has refused to back the people over mining off the East Coast. Te Whanau a Apanui has had to rely on the Greens for political support and groups like Greenpeace for protest/public relations support. A vote against the Maori Party will be almost a reflex action up the coast. I am unsure what way Whakatane and Taupo will swing. But I will say, and this is speculation on my part, that these two centres are marginal. Rotorua will almost certainly back Te Ururoa based on his good record as an electorate MP there. Tauranga is probably anyones game. However, I think neither Annette nor Te Ururoa will win there. At this point I am putting my money on Louis Te Kani, the Labour candidate. Louis is a well respected local barrister and a genuine nice guy. By the looks of it he is held in high regard in the local Labour region as well. Given the MCA act betrayal I am not sure any coastal iwi, like the iwi of Tauranga Moana, will vote for the Maori Party or any Maori Party candidate. While on the other hand the harsh rhetoric of Annette Sykes may turn off many of the working class Maori voters in Tauranga.

It is conceivable that a three way race will benefit the Labour candidate. I do not think this is the case though. As Te Ururoa has drifted right he has vacated the left. Annette needs to focus her efforts towards left leaning voters and tino rangatiratanga voters. Te Ururoa and Loius Te Kani will be left to fight over the limited number of right wing voters in the electorate.

The Maori Party is under pressure following the MCA act and the continuing decline in Maori living standards. Many Maori are looking for a new political vehicle. One would think that Maori would, almost naturally, return to Labour. However, Labour still lacks credibility on Maori issues following the foreshore and seabed raupatu. Labour has yet to repent and Maori will not return until they do. This means the time is ripe for a third way. A new political vehicle. Annette Sykes and Hone Harawira could be that third way. They must keep in mind though that Labour will not remain idle forever and time will soon ensure that the sins of the Maori Party are forgotten. Timing is crucial. Annette and Hone must make a decision soon or risk losing the window of opportunity. Labour will soon reclaim the left and crowd out any competitor. Annette and Hone must act while both parties are in disarray.

So Waiariki is there for the taking. So long as Annette musters a professional team and executes a professional campaign. The Maori electorates are huge, therefore reach is essential. Annette cannot rely on the 6 o’clock news or Maori TV. She must get into every corner of the electorate and push her message hard. This is a terrible generalisation, but most Maori are not informed voters. Voting is often an intuitive exercise. Annette must give them no reason not to vote for her.

For the sake of Maori, the Maori Party must be stopped. The Maori Party is the key to a second term National Government – so the weaker the Maori Party, the less likely we will have a second term National Government. Your people need you, Annette.   

Williams CJ?

Apparently one or two appointments will be made to the Supreme Court within the next year. I have no idea who will be appointed but I would like to see Justice Joe Williams considered. Williams is Maori, but that is not the sole reason why he should be appointed. Appointments should be based on merit and merit alone. However, were a situation to arise where one has two equally qualified candidates, one of whom happens to be Maori, then a compelling case exists to appoint the Maori. As far as I am aware Williams is a well respected legal mind. As former Chief Judge of the Maori Land, former head of the Waitangi Tribunal, the first Maori law lecturer at Victoria and current High Court Justice, Williams is most certainly qualified.

From my quick research into William’s background I think it is fair to say he is undeniably Maori in outlook, yet conscious and accepting of the fact that Maori must operate under a Pakeha framework. He is realistic. I would classify Williams as something of a tino rangatiratanga advocate, however not in an ideological sense. He does not believe in Maori self government and all those other unrealistic expectations and desires. Rather he believes in the pragmatic notion of tino rangatiratanga – enhanced wellbeing as opposed to self rule.

Ultimately, the decision on who to appoint sits with the Attorney-General. I am fairly confident Justice Williams will not be overlooked by either Chris Finlayson or, if Labour is in power, David Parker. It is something of an anomaly that in New Zealand, in 2011 might I add, that Maori are absent in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.   

Mar 28, 2011

Maori MP's page - updated

The month is drawing to an end so I have updated the Maori MP’s page. True to form, Hone comes out ranked number one and, quite surprisingly, Pita follows at number two. David Clendon and Mita Ririnui occupy the bottom places. To see the full list and the accompanying blurb click here.

Harden up, Labour

The more I think about Phil Goff and the events of the past few days the more unlikely it seems, in my mind at least, that Goff will be able to form a coalition government post-election. Ultimately, Goff does not have the ability to bring together and manage a coalition of competing and disparate interests. The Darren Hughes controversy and the Parekura/Nanaia rebuke indicates, in incredibly stark terms, that Goff is a political amateur.

For the sake of this post let’s say Labour’s coalition arrangement post election will be Labour/Winston/the Greens/Hone Harawira. Managing this coalition would be problematic for even the most competent political manager. The four parties share some common ground on economic issues, for example foreign ownership, yet in almost all other respects the four parties differ significantly. There is little ideological common ground between Winston (or should I say New Zealand First) and the Greens/Hone Harawira. The three will almost certainly be at logger heads on almost everything. Take the foreshore and seabed. Nationalisation of the foreshore and seabed is bedrock policy for Winston. The issue will form the basis of his campaign and, assuming he is re-elected, will probably feature in any agreement he signs. On the other hand, the Greens and Hone Harawira will be campaigning on the amending the current act with the intention of strengthening Maori rights. Hone Harawira will accept no less. Which brings me to the question, how will Goff, an appalling political manager, reconcile Winston’s position with the Greens/Hone Harawira’s position. That is assuming Goff even has the ability to pull together a coalition in the first place.

I am of the view that it is beyond Goff to even attempt to pull together such an incongruent coalition. If Goff cannot even form and maintain a functioning and effective opposition, how the hell is he going to form and maintain a functioning government, let alone an effective one.

The Darren Hughes controversy has shown, once again, that Goff’s judgement is poor. The Parekura/Nanaia rebuke illustrates that Goff is presiding over a divided caucus as well as an ill-disciplined caucus that is ostracised from the decision making process. The Goffice has adopted a top down approach to political management. The decisions are made at the top, by Goff’s advisors, while the party is informed after the fact and expected to swallow the political poison that results. No wonder there are whispers of discontent. If Goff were to continue this approach in government, he will soon find his partners on the cross benches. 

If Goff cannot control his own party he sure as hell cannot control Hone Harawira and Winston Peters. Ultimately, Goff does not have the political nous required to hold together a coalition of disparate and competing interests. Therefore, Goff needs to go. The left will need a skilled and intuitive political manager if we are to have any hope of forming the next government. I am hesitant to put forward any names, having said that I do like the sound of David Parker and Shane Jones as deputy, or even David Cunliffe at number one and Shane at number two. Broadly speaking, Parker and Cunliffe speak to identity politics while Jones speaks to class politics.

Sadly, Goff has been harshly criticised – I actually think quite unjustly at times. However, Goff is always one step behind and one step out of line with everything he does. The left cannot afford to go into the election with someone so terrible. Labour has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The party has polled at around 30-35% consistently. This indicates their base is solid and probably will not move. Goff is the problem. Labour’s policy resonates with the electorate, the problem is the face, and in some cases faces, of that policy. What is the harm in replacing a leader who is deeply unpopular with the electorate?

Balls up Labour. If not, you deserve to lose.   

Mar 25, 2011

Does Hone really care about New Zealand?

Hone Harawira is appearing more sensible by the day:

(Hone) says rather than considering environmental issues, the Maori Party believes mining is ok if iwi want to mine.

“We need to put that aside and say is mining in the best interests of the people of New Zealand. When they talk about the iwi, the Maori Party just talk about the iwi leaders but the iwi leaders are not actually the iwi, and iwi are very rarely consulted and you will find in most cases where an iwi are actually consulted in terms of the people who live there, they are 90 percent opposed to such activity,”

“We need to put that aside and say is mining in the best interests of the people of New Zealand”. This quote represents a big shift in Hone’s thinking. Previously, Hone focussed exclusively on what was best for Maori, however following the Maori Party split he has adopted a broader approach. In my opinion a focus on the interests of all of New Zealand, as opposed to just Maori, represents a certain maturity. It is also a signal that Hone realises a new party is only viable if he takes a broader approach incorporating the interests of the country as a whole. Therefore, I think this quote lends further credence to my prediction that Hone will form a left wing party as opposed to an alternative Maori Party.  

Stop the drilling

This is reassuring. From Waatea News:

Te Whanau a Apanui has put out the call for a water-borne protest against Brazilian oil giant Petrobras's plans to prospect in the Raukumara basin.

Spokesperson Dayle Takitimu says vessels with links to the Nuclear Free Flotilla, Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, and Coromandel Watchdog are expected to be part of a flotilla leaving Auckland for Cape Runaway on Sunday in the hope of encountering Petrobras survey boats.

She says unlike some other iwi, Te Whanau a Apanui isn't interested in deals with miners.

“It's not about the money or greater ability to invest or joint venture with these companies. Whanau a Apanui just don’t want this activity occurring on our back doorstep when there is so much risk involved,” Ms Takitimu says.

Unlike some other iwi, Te Whanau a Apanui appears to be in touch with what the people want. This, in my opinion, comes down to the fact that Te Whanau a Apanui does not operate under the imposed Runanga model. Te Whanau a Apanui’s governance model shares more in common with traditional approaches rather than the typical western approach that the contemporary Runanga framework emulates. Maori customary practice, I hesitate to call it law, tends to place greater value on absolute consensus. Whereas under the contemporary Runanga framework decisions can be given effect at the whim of the majority. In some cases, I’m thinking of you Tuku Morgan, decisions can be simply imposed. Of course this is not to say that the traditional Maori approach is superior, I actually feel that the opposite is true, it is more accurate to say that the Runanga framework is flawed and some corrupt and misguided individuals are, for want of a better term, working the system.   

Some iwi, Tainui and Ngai Tahu in particular, blindly adhere to notions of economic growth. Cultural considerations are paid lip service while consultation is, for the most part, nonexistent. It appears Te Whanau a Apanui is considering cultural imperatives, e.g. kaitiakitanga, as well as the broader consideration of risk. This is a sensible, and indeed very Maori, approach that I wish other iwi would follow. Sadly, the self proclaimed iwi leaders are captured by a corporate agenda and see nothing beyond power and return.

I am very familiar with the East Coast and I feel personally connected to this issue. I feel that it is entirely understandable that the locals do not want to shoulder the considerable risk. Yes, returns will probably be substantial. But in the case of a disaster, the loss will be significantly greater than any alleged returns. Consider this from Gordon Campbell:

New Zealand has almost no capacity to cope with the impact of a major oil spill, or any adequate and enforceable means of compensation. Given the degree of uncertainty, do we have any way of telling whether the returns will justify the risk.

Putting aside local opposition, the government should be looking at implementing mechanisms to cope with a worst case scenario, as opposed to diving in head first.  
As far as I am aware the government has not consulted local iwi with regard to the exact nature and extent of activities occurring off their coast, the possible returns they may receive and the risks oil exploration, and consequently extraction of course, would pose. This isn’t good enough, but what we have come to expect from National.  

As usual the Maori Party is nowhere to be seen on this issue. Why? Because there is a clash between the flaxroot and the good little indigenous corporates. The Maori Party cannot be seen to be taking sides. Hone is siding with the flaxroot. If the Maori Party were to follow suit then that is an acknowledgment that Hone is right. Furthermore, the self proclaimed iwi leaders, as I have pointed out numerous times, exercise an enormous amount of control over the policy development and the day to day direction the party takes.

I will try and keep on top of this issue and I will blog if there are any developments. This is a big issue and as such it requires a big discussion. Pity we didn’t get one though.  

Mar 23, 2011

Nanaia joins the revolt

Nanaia Mahuta has come out against Goff. From Waatea News:

Another of Labour's Maori MPs has broken ranks with leader Phil Goff over working with former Maori Party MP Hone Harawira.
Waikato-Hauraki MP Nanaia Mahuta says Mr Harawira has taken similar positions to Labour on issues such as the 90-day bill, raising the minimum wage, and greater protection for employee rights.

“But the real proof is what happens after election 2011 and I’ve been in politics long enough to know that the wind blows both ways and you can’t rule anyone in and out before that day. That’s the day that matters,” she says.

Ms Mahuta has confirmed she will stand again this year, despite stepping back in Labour's rankings for health and family reasons.

Goff needs to get on top of this – there is clearly a huge amount of dissatisfaction among the Maori caucus. As I blogged a few days, Parekura has already come out against Goff. This means Labour’s most senior Maori MP’s have openly defied the leadership and reneged on the accepted party position. This is nothing but sloppy political management on Goff’s part.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Nanaia’s statement was confirmation that she will stand again this year. This will disappoint the Maori Party. Although Nanaia’s grasp may be more tenuous than previously thought. Make no mistake, Nanaia is an extremely dedicated electorate MP and a well connected and respected member of Tainui, but nothing lasts forever. Fatigue may begin to settle in and a good candidate may, keyword may, clinch an upset. Nanaia can run on her record as an electorate MP (bar her record on the foreshore and seabed) and cruise to victory. So often though there is no correlation between performance and re-election. Success is often a combination of incumbency, personality, reach and circumstance. More often than not ones chances of re-election are situational. Is the public generally favourable towards my/my party’s brand? Does society currently value what I espouse etc… 

Ultimately, I am picking Nanaia will retain her seat based partly on name recognition and partly on the perception that she is a dedicated electorate MP. This time around her connections to the Kingitanga may prove to be a black mark against her given the trouble surrounding the Kingitanga. It is almost certain that Nanaia will not be re-elected on the basis of her involvement on the national scene. She is silent on most if not all issues affecting Maori. I haven’t seen anything from her since I started blogging some three or four months ago. To be fair her focus is her family and good on her for that. 

In any case she will probably win given the state the Maori Party is in. In 2008 the Maori Party brand was at its apex and the party ran incredibly aggressive campaigns in all of the Maori electorates. Even then they could not unseat Nanaia who was, following the seabed and foreshore controversy, exceedingly stained. If politics is indeed situational, and if Nanaia cannot be unseated in the most unsympathetic situation for Labour, then I am not sure she will be unseated this time around. The tide is turning against the Maori Party.    

Mar 22, 2011

The hikoi arrives

I joined the hikoi today as it descended on Parliament. The mood was solemn - a sense of sadness pervaded the group. As the people marched through Wellington a strict silence was observed as a means of acknowledging the intense hurt successive governments have caused. It was incredibly moving both watching the hikoi and then joining it at Parliament. You could feel that the people walked with the wairua of their tupuna and this gave them strength.

The hikoi was, by my estimation, around 500-700 strong. Obviously this is well down on the hikoi of 2004. A respectable number anyhow. The group was, in terms of age, incredibly diverse. It was uplifting to see so many young people. The Greens also had a strong presence, as usual, and a number of sympathetic Pakeha marched with the hikoi. The only politician, or aspiring politician I should say, that joined the hikoi was Rino Tirikatene, Labour’s candidate for Te Tai Tonga.   

As the hikoi arrived we were welcomed onto Parliament grounds by the local iwi. Unsurprisingly there was a huge police presence at Parliament. I like to contrast the heavy police presence at Maori protests with the relatively light police presence at, for lack of a better term, mainstream protests. At one of the mining protests I attended last year there would have been around ten police officers. At today’s protest there were well over 40, including plain clothes police officers.

To my surprise a number of MP’s were there to meet the hikoi. Labour’s Maori team was there, a number of National MP’s including Chris Finlayson, the Greens were there of course. The Maori Party was also present, however they tended to hide behind the Nats. And, as you would expect, Hone met the hikoi as well.

The formalities then began. The old people spoke, and spoke brilliantly at that, and a number of items were ceremonially placed, including the text of the MCA bill, in a casket which was returned to Parliament. This was a symbol of Maori discontent. A number of taonga were also returned to Kaipara and Tamaki Makaurau iwi signalling their regret in supporting the Maori Party. Unfortunately the weather did not permit any speeches from the other side.

It really did sadden me to see the hikoi. Many of those participating were clearly destitute. A number had just walked away from their jobs to support the kaupapa. I heard of a story of a kaumatua who felt so strongly about restoring our mana whenua that he walked with the hikoi all the way from Te Rerenga Wairua to Wellington. By the time the hikoi arrived in Wellington his shoes had worn away to almost nothing. This brings me to a point I want to make. This hikoi was so small, in comparison to the 2004 hikoi that is, because people just could not afford to march. In the current economic environment our people cannot afford to drop everything and march on Parliament. Not anymore.

Hopefully something will come of this hikoi. Not necessarily a backdown on the MCA bill. But perhaps it may awaken Maori political consciousness. This hikoi should not have been for nothing.

Mar 21, 2011

Further proof...

I have been predicting that Hone will form a left wing party as opposed to a new Maori party. Here is further support of that proposition. From Waatea News:

Independent MP Hone Harawira says he intends to honour his separation agreement with the Maori Party and not contest seats it holds.
“It’s looking like there is going to be a new party. It will be announced round about the middle of next month. I can’t say yet when the candidates will be announced. I can say that at this time it is not my intention to stand candidates in the Maori seats against the Maori Party members,” Mr Harawira says.

I think it is fair to assume that any new Maori party would need to contest the Maori seats if it were to have any relevancy as a “Maori” party. The Maori seats give a party mana, or a mandate perhaps, as representatives of Maori. Without even contesting the Maori seats you forego a base to work from and a source of, as I said, relevancy and mana.

Of course things may change but the signs seem to be pointing in positive directions. Hone must know that the only beneficiaries of a three way race in the Maori seats will be Labour.

While I’m on the subject of Hone I just want to briefly discuss this comment:

“I think the concern for Phil has to be that people don’t see him as a credible leader any more. But, I can work with Labour any day, whether Phil’s in charge or Shane’s in charge. As Parekura rightly said, him and I have worked many times on projects in the past and we could do so again. I can do it with any number of his colleagues, so I don’t see it as an issue. It is really just political opportunism on his part,” he says.

This is a well crafted statement and I guess it does show that Hone is receiving some sound advice. The comment touches on the well established theme that Goff is not a credible leader of the Labour Party and as such will probably not lead Labour to victory. Hone then goes on to reiterate that he can work with Labour and as a result he frames himself as the reasonable one. Notice also how Hone name drops Shane Jones as a potential leader. Of course this is unrealistic but it is fair to assume that Goff is aware of the narrative the Shane is, or was, a credible threat and the inevitable leader. It goes back to the theme that Goff is merely temporary. Hone then mentions Parekura, clearly referring to Parekura’s early rebuff of Goff re working with Hone. As a result Hone is highlighting the apparent disunity in Labour. Hone then brushes off the whole issue and calls Goff out as a political opportunist thus reinforcing the dominant narrative that Goff’s move was driven not by principle but opportunity.  

Armstrong has it wrong

John Armstrong is, without doubt, an astute political commentator. Having said that I think his latest column is well off the mark. In this post I want to address a few points Armstrong makes. Consider this:

(re MCA Bill) Having thrown out the cuckoo from their nest, they have since largely kept their silence. In doing so, they have kept their dignity.

This is simply untrue. In keeping largely silent the party has lost all dignity and credibility among Maori. Maori in general, and some Maori Party supporters, have and continue to demand a two way conversation with the Maori Party. Significant concerns remain and Maori want to work over those concerns, however the Maori Party has effectively shut the door. The views of thousands of Maori were ignored at the select committee stage, the leadership refuse to substantively justify their stance beyond “it is what we promised” and the only person within the party who had the courage to reflect the views of almost all iwi and indeed Maori is no longer around. I do not see how this amounts to a dignified position. Silence is insulting.

The overwhelming desire of most parties is not to revisit this potential political hornets' nest once the bill is law.

That is one reason why the solution hammered out by National and the Maori Party should endure.

Armstrong is right in suggesting that most parties will not want to revisit this issue. As I have said many times this is one of the reasons I oppose the current bill. If the MCA bill passes then the issue is closed. The foreshore and seabed is electoral poison and neither Labour nor National will swallow it again. Where I disagree with Armstrong is in his suggestion that the solution should endure because no one will want to revisit it. This is weak reasoning and, frankly, a cop out. The electoral interests and desires of two political parties should not dictate policy. In reality it usually does dictate policy, but in terms of the foreshore and seabed issue, notions of justice should dictate whether the issue is reopened. At some point the issue will resurface because Maori are not satisfied. As Maori electoral power increases it will become harder and harder for the government of the day to ignore Maori desires.

Even the Maori Party might well prefer the new status quo be given time to bed-in, regardless of whether the party is propping up a Labour-led or National-led Administration.

I don’t think so. The Maori Party will revisit the issue as soon as the situation allows. For all the false rhetoric the party does not actually like the bill.

The Maori Party knows that no matter what further concessions it might be able to extract from National almost certainly none _ it can never satisfy its critics who demand full and unfettered Maori ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

I consider myself a critic - and a somewhat representative one at that. I, like most Maori, are moderate on the issue and I do not demand full and unfettered ownership of the foreshore and seabed. I demand a fairer and more sensible test to establish customary title. But more especially I demand the same rights as  private owners. It really, really fucks me off that Maori are expected to do with less rights than private, mostly foreign, owners. The private ownership vs Maori ownership issue really highlights what a repugnant, racist country New Zealand is. Why does the Coastal Coalition et. al. believe that Maori will restrict access and mine all the minerals beneath the foreshore and seabed while staying silent on private owners who already do this?

Moreover, Harawira is also fast being consigned to irrelevancy. He refuses to work with National. Now Labour has announced it will not work with him.

Phil Goff may have left people _ including his own caucus _ confused and wondering what happened to his maxim that no one be ruled in or out of postelection deals and accommodations until after the people had decided. Goff, however, can count. And four is bigger than one.    

Harawira will remain relevant so long as he holds his seat – which he will. Any old layman knows that if Hone holds the casting vote then Labour will come knocking. Goff is a notorious flip flopper and he will not pick principle over three years as Prime Minister. Who would? Is Harawira irrelevant if he manages to bring in one or more MP’s? Armstrong also assumes ceteris paribus – that Hone will remain a one man party while the Maori Party will retain their four seats. This is, in my opinion, unlikely. Rahui Katene is unstable in Te Tai Tonga, Te Ururoa is hardly guaranteed to romp home and Pita is vulnerable. On the other hand Hone holds the safest seat in New Zealand and commands the support of 32% of Maori voters. If anything Hone will hold four seats while the Maori Party holds one.

Better that he choose one or other now. Goff's effective choice of with whom he is prepared to work amounts to the biggest olive branch Labour has thrust in the Maori Party's direction.

It will not go unnoticed. Just as Labour's opposition to the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill won't either.

Of course Goff would love nothing more than to work with the right wing Maori Party. Labour governments tend to spurn the left. But anyway, Labours opposition to the MCA bill has nothing to do with principle or common position with the Maori Party. Labour is just searching for a few votes.

By this time next week, the bill will be law or very close to it. Public debate will go into hiatus. No longer will Harawira be able to garner attention and publicity solely through his rejection of the legislation now before Parliament.

He will still try to provoke the Maori Party into fighting the battle over who speaks for Maoridom. Turia and company will ignore him. They can afford to do so. They have already won.

Armstrong should know, in terms of attentions seeking success, Hone rates first (or perhaps second to Winston Peters). Armstrong is wrong in suggesting that Hone will battle the Maori Party over who speaks for Maori. Hone accepts that the Maori Party speaks for Maori and that he speaks for Te Tai Tokerau. But the debate is not about who speaks for Maori. It is about what is best for Maori. Mandate is not the issue, direction is and always has been. Ultimately the leadership cannot ignore Hone because Maori listen to him. If his views are not confronted they will be accepted de facto. If the Maori Party remains silent they fall out of view and they fade into irrelevancy.   

The Maori Party is losing. They have been losing ever since Te Ururoa’s complaint letter. Hone has embarrassed and utterly outplayed the Maori Party. I do not know what Armstrong’s definition of winning is, but if it includes large scale loss of support and potential electoral doom, then yes the Maori Party has won.

Mar 18, 2011

Goff needs to step up

An interesting piece from Waatea News:

Labour's Maori affairs spokesman Parekura Horomia has indicated Phil Goff's blanket refusal to contemplate Hone Harawira as part of a future coalition government isn't supported by all his colleagues.

Mr Goff says while he made the decision himself, it was unanimously backed by the Labour caucus.

Goff should be worried that Horomia, a senior figure within the party, has decided to essentially break ranks.  This signals that there is a significant amount of dissatisfaction among caucus, especially the Maori caucus, in terms of the decisions Goff is making. A capable leader can in most instances contain dissatisfaction, however Goff is struggling to keep caucus onside. Ultimately, it is a failure of political management on Goff’s part. On current calculations Goff will need the Greens, New Zealand First and Hone Harawira to have any hope of forming the next government. However Goff cannot expect to manage a coalition of competing and disparate interests when he cannot even control his own caucus. MMP requires deft political management skills – Goff is yet to display such skills.

Goff has had a hard time over the past two and a bit years. I know I would hate to be him right know. Having said that the flak he has received is in many cases justified. He is always making the wrong call, stepping in the wrong direction and slaving away behind public opinion. Goff is applying the smile and wave principle. The problem is smiling and waving is the province of John Key. New Zealanders don’t want two John Keys. They want a genuine choice - an old fashioned contest of ideas if you will. Sadly, Goff is far to timid to offer that. Goff is opting to play it safe. Recycle the standard PR lines, apply the standard theories, play by the book essentially. The standard approach to propaganda is insufficient. One would think that Goff and his idiot advisors would have realised this by now. In any case I hope they wake up before the election. Don’t just gift the election to John Key.    

Mar 17, 2011

The case for Maori representation in local government

The Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says all local governments need dedicated Maori seats.

That's one of the main recommendations in the commissioner's annual report to parliament on the state of race relations.

He says the seats are needed to tackle the institutional discrimination against Maori that is still rife throughout the country.
“I'm not that confident many of them will because they will either use that stuff, as they have before, about ‘no privilege’, but actually the Maori seats are provided for in legislation, they work really well in the Bay of Plenty Regional Council,” Mr de Bres says.

The creation of Maori seats would also help address the concerns of the United Nations which wants the government to include Maori more in decision-making at all levels.

I couldn’t agree more. I have blogged previously on the issue of Maori in local government. Rather than paraphrase what I have already written I will reproduce the relevant parts here:

Politics in LG differs significantly from the style of politics practised on the national stage. LG is characterised by political consensus as opposed to political conflict. This is primarily due the absence of party politics which is often viewed as unnecessarily divisive. Essentially the political independence of representatives in LG allows for a non-partisan approach to issues facing the community. This gives rise to a predisposition for pragmatism in preference to ideology. So far so good, right?

The make up of LG should be a concern for Maori and proponents of diversity. The make up of LG largely determines whose interests will be served. Currently, LG is dominated by land owners and business owners who are overwhelmingly white, middle class and male; arguably as ratepayers they could be seen as having the most tangible interest in LG, however more often than not their interests dominate council priorities at the expense of the rest of the community. With this sort of makeup in LG there is a greater focus on material projects such as sewerage systems and roads whilst a reduced focus on the provision of amenities such as parks and pensioner housing. For example, consensus is more likely to come about on issues such as rates rebates for business owners whereas consensus on issues such as pensioner housing will be a lot harder to reach given the makeup and interests of council. This is where consensus politics fails in my opinion. Without diversity of opinion and perspective, a one eyed approach if you will, consensus will only be reached on issues that are within the understanding and interests of the decision makers. Consensus politics also makes it hard to identify who is responsible for certain policies. Therefore, voters find it difficult to punish or reward candidates. This translates to poor electoral accountability in my opinion.

So how does consensus politics affect Maori? Often LG fails to adequately address Maori issues and take into account Maori views. This failure is often masked by consensus politics and the lack of large scale controversies that would follow such behaviour if it occurred on the national stage. Councillors can easily dismiss Maori issues and views on the basis that a consensus has been reached and no controversy will ensure because, usually, the only media taking note is the local newspaper.

Often the views of LG are informed through the prevailing beliefs of the community. Perhaps this is largely good for the community but I do not think it is good for Maori. Many communities are rather unsympathetic towards Maori concerns and views. Their understanding of Maori issues is largely informed by their, and I do not mean this harshly, narrow worldview. Sadly, Maori issues are not approached with any great insight or perception and councillors usually reflect this superficial understanding. Furthermore, unlike an electorate M.P, LG politicians usually only interact, in a political capacity, with like minded people, for example their church group. Therefore, their political judgements are informed by people with similar beliefs and backgrounds. This is not conducive to representative government.

Maori are continually excluded from local government and this exclusion is the chief cause of voter apathy. The representation of only a certain section of the community is undesirable. This problem could be addressed through the creation of Maori seats in LG. Maori seats give effect to the Crowns treaty obligation to act in partnership with tangata whenua and acknowledges their special status and role as kaitiaki. Maori seats also ensure diversity of viewpoints in LG. However, I am not in favour of Maori seats on all Councils – I favour having Maori seats only on regional councils and the Auckland supercity. The model pioneered by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has been a success and should be emulated.

I should probably add that I now believe that Maori seats should be included on all councils – not just the Auckland Council and regional councils.   

Brief thoughts on the Native Affairs' poll

Monday’s episode of Native Affairs was incredibly interesting. The show commissioned a poll that surveyed Maori on a number of issues including the Maori Party/National Party coalition and Hone Harawira. In this post I want to give my brief thoughts on the results of some of the questions the poll posed.  

Interestingly, support for Labour remains strong at 37%. This is encouraging for the party considering the invisibility of many of their Maori MP’s. I think this reflects Labour’s core support. Remember that Labour polled at around 50% on election night, therefore it is probably safe to assume that many Maori voters have swung towards National (22%) and New Zealand First (5%). The Maori Party is sitting on 32% which, in light of the Hone Harawira saga, is encouraging for them. I find it hard to explain why the Nat’s are polling so high among Maori. I would suggest though that telephone polls tend to reach middle class voters who do not work shifts and with phone connections, obviously. It is safe to assume support for the Nats is highest among middle income Maori. Furthermore, the relationship between the Maori Party and the Nats lends them some credibility with Maori. New Zealand First has always done well among Maori and I am not surprised to see that Winston, or should I say New Zealand First, is polling at a respectable 5%. Winston’s, for lack of a better term, Maori boy charisma is fairly attractive and his nationalist rhetoric goes down well with many working class Maori. Sadly, the Greens are polling at a mere 3%. This is utterly perplexing. The Greens are the only party with any credibility on Maori issues and Green policy is, in my strongly held opinion, best for Maori. Meteria Turei, a wahine Maori of some mana, is also the party’s leader. I really wish Maori would swing behind the Greens rather than slave away supporting Labour when Labour is offering nothing.

Hone does not register in the above question, however when respondents were asked whether they would support a Hone Harawira led party 32% said yes while 52% said no. This is extremely significant. As stated the Maori Party is currently sitting on 32% support. How much of that 32% represents the 32% that would vote for a Hone Harawira led party? Most I would say. If Harawira could translate that support into votes on election day then he could well bring in a number of MP’s. The Maori Party, and National for that matter, should be very worried. On these numbers Hone could split the Maori vote and theoretically annihilate the Maori Party. For me, this is all the confirmation I need that Hone will form a new party. Furthermore, in an interview during the show Hone claims to have financial backers in place. Finance was the last hurdle for Hone. The machinery is in place, thanks to the Unite Union, the rank and file is prepared, the advisors are in place, the staffers that left the Maori Party have joined Hone and now, according to Hone, the financial backers have been found. Brilliant.

The poll also asked respondents what their main areas of concern were. 71% said unemployment was a major concern, no surprises given the stratospheric Maori unemployment rate. 66% said the cost of living, this is also not surprising given the astronomical rise in petrol prices and food prices and the CPI as a whole. 62% said GST was a major concern, some items have almost doubled in price following the rise in GST so, again, no surprise. Interestingly 59% said privatisation was a major concern, this will give Labour hope that their message is resonating. 53% cited tax cuts for the rich as a major area of concern too. These are issues that the Labour Party and indeed Hone Harawira can run hard on. On the other hand the Maori Party can not because they are implicated in all of this by virtue of their association with the Nats and in some cases their endorsement of the above concerns, for example GST. The two bottom issues were treaty settlements and the foreshore and seabed. This is unsurprising but pertinent. This indicates that the election will focus on bread and butter issues (cost of living etc). The foreshore and seabed and treaty issues can be relegated without consequence – or with little consequence. This is good for Labour given that the party has no credibility on the foreshore and seabed issue yet a huge amount of credibility on unemployment.

Now I just want to address two points unrelated to the poll. Firstly, Hekia Parata is an arrogant and angry person. She is truly toxic when it comes to debate. She lacks civility and any sense of reason. I was particularly pissed off when she claimed that it is merely a “perception” that people are worse off under National rather than a tangible reality. It takes an arrogant person to disregard and belittle the feelings of a great number of people. Secondly, Hone was wearing jandals in his interview. I liked that.

So I encourage you to watch the program for yourself. It was one of the most informative political broadcasts of the year.   

The Hikoi's coming

As I expected (and predicted) the hikoi protesting against the MCA bill is off to an underwhelming start. This is hardly unexpected given Maori concern is primarily focussed on the cost of living and the like. There is really an inherent intangibility in the notion of mana whenua. Some Maori, mainly urban Maori disconnected from their culture, find it difficult to capture and hold any depth of feeling towards such an issue. This is disappointing yet entirely understandable. To some extent Maori values, such as mana whenua, are a result of cultural conditioning as opposed to some sort of genetic hardwiring. With this is mind it is understandable that the hikoi is off to a slow start in Auckland.

Having said that it is reasonable to expect to see an increase in numbers as the hikoi passes through coastal rohe where tino rangatiratanga is strong. I do not expect the hikoi to surpass, in terms of size, the hikoi of 2004. I do expect to see a large increase in numbers though.

One would think that given the huge rate of Maori unemployment, stagnant wages, the rise in GST and tax cuts for the rich that Maori would be hitting the streets in their tens of thousands. Though as we can see this is not occurring. I think this is not occurring because the MCA bill is the wrong issue. As I said many Maori find it hard to connect with the issue, but more importantly most Maori who protested against the Foreshore and Seabed confiscation of 2004 are now members of the Maori Party. This is their bill so naturally they are not going to oppose it.

I look forward to meeting the hikoi in Wellington and I can’t wait to see the Maori Party, and Labour for that matter, react to it. Something tells me the Greens will be the only ones who show up on the day.

As an aside Tim Selwyn has done some outstanding work re the MCA bill. See Tumeke.   

Poor Phil

Poor old Goff has taken a beating over his decision to rule out working with Hone Harawira and rightly so. Without doubt it was a silly call, however from Goff’s strategic perspective it was a sound move. We must remember that Labour’s support has hovered between 30-35% since the 2008 election. This indicates that Labour’s core vote is solid and Goff’s underwhelming performance will not move that support. Therefore, Goff must target the elusive middle. Ruling out Harawira was a dog whistle to middle New Zealanders (i.e. swing voters) who find Hone, for lack of a better term, personally offensive. Take this comment from Goff:

There's so many things that Hone Harawira has said that are extremist, that I find totally incompatible with my beliefs, my values and those of the Labour Party.

This is well crafted rubbish. One will find that Harawira’s stance on GST, the minimum wage, workers rights, the environment and so on are totally compatible with Labour policy and also Labour values. Goff is of course referring to Harawira’s white mofo comments rather than his substantive beliefs.

Sadly for Goff his intended target, the middle, can see right through his hollow rhetoric. They can see that this is just desperate politics. If Goff is to rule out Harawira on the basis of his perceived racism why not rule out anti-immigration anti-Asian Winston Peters? If Goff is to rule out Harawira on the basis that one cannot form a stable government with him why not rule out Winston? How many times has he been sacked? Three.

But perhaps what is most worrying about Goff’s call is the fact that he did not consult caucus. A decision of this magnitude should come about through consultation with caucus, especially the Maori caucus, however Goff chose instead to make the call based on advice from his inept advisors. Over and over Goff acts on the advice of his PR “experts” whose only ideas seem to be to emulate everything John Key does. This approach is not working and the Labour caucus knows this.  

Ultimately, Goff wants the middle, but the rate he’s going he will lose his base before he gains the middle. So I am glad this move backfired on Goff. It is cynical and stupid. Straight stupid.