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League, socialist action and social justice

  • August 9th, 2008

A busy Saturday afternoon.

I’d previously committed to Joel Cosgrove’s Aro Street private election forum, followed by the St Andrews Church Social Justice forum..

When the Grand Final of Wellington Rugby League’s premier division was postponed to this weekend I had a dilemma. As WRL Chairman I desperately wanted to be there, but I try not to renege on committments. In the result I had to leave Porirua Park before the clash of the titans.

I’m sure the Hon Winnie Laban handled the League prize-giving (as Patron) without being feeling disadvantaged by my absence.

Jousting with the Aro Valley left has its charms but they are not intellectual. Too much righteous faith and too few with an objective interest in knowledge to offer sustained challenge. Still, this was a new generation. As Joel had promised, the audience did want to hear the answers, even if many only wanted to reassure themselves that their their prejudices were properly aligned. To me the extreme left’s sorriest characteristic is defining themselves by their hatreds, rather than their purposes.

The people at St Andrews were more focussed on the poor.  I came in part way through thoughtful comments by Alan  Johnson of Manukau, exploring the traps for their clients in ready access to vices like the pokies. He seemed to be challenging the audience to support limitations on personal freedoms, but with clear wariness about the consequent risks of paternalism. I would like to have heard more.

The politiican question session involved four parties – Green, Labour, United Future and National. It was well chaired by Rev Margaret  Mayman.

It was the first time I’d seen  the Green’s Russell Norman in action. Russell waxed rhetorical on a question about housing affordability. I interjected when he told the audience that the Building Act (before the Labour/United Future/Green changes) had not been concerned about buildings being weather proof.

The consequent exchange struck a note of sharp contrast with the panel’s general agreement on the seriousness of the stresses looming for the lowest income New Zealanders as energy and food costs rise.  A member of the audience described it as "unedifying".

Maybe. But the word derives from the same root as ‘education".

I think that audiences can learn more in those moments of head on conflict, about the real difficulties of politics and the importance of personal relationships, than in hours of honeyed words carefully workshopped through focus groups.


  • Lindsay
  • August 11th, 2008
  • 9:21 am

Alan Johnson from the Salvation Army.

He delivered the presentation in Palmerston North in the morning. It was well-researched but challengeable on more than one front.

His way forward is ‘reciprocity’. If charity or the state provides, the recipient must give something back. Whatever is in their capacity. That still doesn’t get us past the entitlement/world owes me a living mentality that currently pervades welfarism thanks to the Left, whose tenets Mr Johnson seemed to have considerable sympathy with.

And capitalism already presents us with the greatest voluntary trade/exchange system. The trade of labour for money.


I did not hear the first half of his address, but it is reassuring to hear that he at least has not backed away from the old Salvation Army demand for reciprocity.

  • Lindsay
  • August 11th, 2008
  • 4:39 pm

Given he described how people turn up to the Manukau foodbank in V6 or even V8 cars, a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he wonders if they are helping these people or just encouraging profligacy/dependency, I was under the impression he believes they have lost the concept of reciprocity but wants it restored.

  • sally
  • August 12th, 2008
  • 10:02 am

By “interjecting” I assume you mean the jibe about Rod Donald’s death?

That’s gutter politics, even by your already-low standards.

[It was no jibe – it was an unwise, but genuine, comment on the contrast between what was happening, and what I expected from the greens]

  • sally
  • August 13th, 2008
  • 2:39 pm

My comment of 10:02 seems to have mysteriously disappeared – you know anything about that Stephen?

Luckily I have a screen shot and the text – maybe you’d care to answer my question? Or perhaps I should ask it at the next candidate’s debate?

Serious question for you Stephen:

If (and that’s a big if) you get back into Parliament, will you delete constituent emails that you don’t agree with, just like you’re deleting blog comments you don’t agree with? For instance, you’ve deleted two of Sonny Thomas’ comments in the last couple of days.

And don’t use the “they were defamatory” argument, because Sonny’s first email was similar to the article in the Dom Yesterday (which would mean you’re taking legal action against the Dom – you know – just to be consistent) and the second comment was critical of you for deleting emails (which, just to prove his point, you deleted).

[Are you sure you are not Sonny Thomas?]

  • sally
  • August 14th, 2008
  • 4:25 pm

Good to see you felt my last comment didn’t need to be deleted.

Sonny Thomas is a big Islander. In contrast, I’m much smaller with an internet tan like youself. We are very different people, I can assure you.

Now stop stalling and answer my question.

  • Lester
  • July 28th, 2009
  • 12:29 am

I’m really glad you didn’t get elected for wellington central. You praised St. Andrews for focus on the poor, and look at your disgusting policies lowering wages and diminishing workers rights.

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