Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

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Gordon Campbell on the delusions driving the “Leave” option

June 22nd, 2016

First published on

On the brink of the Brexit vote, the irrationality of the “Leave” option is now apparent. Voting for “Leave” requires (a) a fantastically unbalanced view of the impact of immigration on modern Britain (b) a demonizing of the EU “regulations” that are commonplace within a modern economy and (c) a simple-minded optimism that Britain would not suffer any major damage to its economy, or to the status of the City of London. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the “T” word, and the Spanish election

June 21st, 2016

First published at

Once again, the RNZ news packages from the US and UK this morning underlined the striking difference in the treatment of the Pulse night club killings in Florida and the murder of the British Labour MP, Jo Cox. From day one, the Miami shooter has been described as a terrorist, and his self-identification with Islamic State extremism has been taken at face value – despite the apparent lack of any previous interest in Islam.

In stark contrast, the motives of Jo Cox’s killer, Thomas Mair have been variously attributed to “mental health problems” and to “racism” – despite his prior contact with extremist groups and his courtroom outburst that his name was “ Death to traitors, freedom for Britain!” The role that the virulent hate rhetoric of Britain’s anti-immigrant political organisations played in Mair’s radicalisation have been marginalized in the media discourse, if not ignored entirely. This impulse has been evident from day one. When the Guardian began to discuss the politics of a murder that was clearly intended as a political act, many readers accused it of exploiting the tragedy. Yet when Islam is involved, such ‘exploitation’ is automatic. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the RCEP trade deal and other entanglements

June 20th, 2016

First posted at

So China and the US both have competing trade deals on offer – the TPP for the US and the RCEP for the Chinese – each of which pointedly exclude the other superpower. That fact alone should signal that these deals are not primarily about mere trade access. In their desperation to get the TPP passed, US lawmakers have been describing the contest as an apocalyptic struggle for regional dominance. As President Barack Obama claimed in a recent Washington Post op ed:

America should write the rules. America should call the shots. Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on political smears and begging

June 15th, 2016

First published at

If you’re a ministerial spin merchant can you ‘accidentally’ pass on to a journalist the fact that a prominent critic of your Minister and her government is under Police investigation?

Even in in the event that you did think you were only sharing common knowledge – and in your job, you would be expected to be cautious about such distinctions – the apparent intention remains the same. The status of the info would seem irrelevant –whether it is by affirming common gossip or by planting new information, the process involves undermining the credibility of a person currently being troublesome to the Minister. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on our refugee response, and a TPP rewrite

June 14th, 2016

First published at

The miserly nature of New Zealand’s response to the global refugee crisis continues apace. Yesterday’s announcement of an increase in our intake of UNHCR refugees from 750 to 1,000 refugees will only kick in from 2018, after the recent special intake of 650 Syrian refugees over two years have been cleared. So, do the math. The “ increase” really means that the intake of 1,000 after 2018 will be pretty much the same number of refugees as we admitted this year, once you’ve added 2016’s share of the Syrian special intake to the current 750 UNHCR numbers.

In other words, this is a triumph of spin: an ‘increase’ in the refugee intake that is virtually the same as the status quo, but counted differently. Moreover, since New Zealand requires that 50% of our UNHCR intake is from the Asia/Pacific region, we will actually be taking in fewer refugees from the Syrian/Iraq war zone than we have done of late. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the new Defence White Paper

June 10th, 2016

Column – Gordon Campbell

Once again, government spending on Defence is increasing by leaps and bounds, without any rational cost/benefit analysis. Yep, even Prime Minister John Key admitted this week that “the country can be confident it does not face a military threat in the … Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Muhammad Ali

June 7th, 2016

As with Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali changed the times in which he lived so thoroughly that anyone coming along afterwards will probably struggle to understand the scale of his achievement. At the time, rock’n’ roll had seemed bad enough ; but that could (for a while) be brushed aside as a kid thing, as a passing fad. Boxing, however, was the citadel of old school white conservative masculinity. Entire generations of black fighters had been raised to be a humble and deferential credit to their race, before being put into the ring to fight each other for the amusement of white audiences. Ali knew the deal from the outset, long before he described it in these terms : Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on tobacco politicking, and the TPP death watch

May 31st, 2016

Has Act leader David Seymour got the easiest job in the world, or what? Roll out of bed, turn on the radio and hmm…there do seem to be a lot of problems out there in the world. Must think of something. And so it came to pass that this morning, David Seymour took up his sword and shield to fight for a world that’s about to be denied the rich and vibrant beauty of tobacco advertising. Avast ye hordes of faceless bureaucrats aiming to put tobacco products in plain packets! David Seymour is in the House! Plain packaging may save lives, but does it have to be such a dull way of saving lives? Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on yesterday’s Budget

May 27th, 2016

Budgies, so their Wikipedia page says, are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, and ability to mimic human speech. Which is a reasonably good description of Finance Minister Bill English eighth Budget. Especially when it comes to the mimicry bit about providing an adequate response to this country’s social and developmental needs.

In reality, the $1.6 billion of new investment will be spread desperately thinly, and targeted to virtual extinction. This modest amount will be dwarfed by the $2-3 billion programme of tax cuts that the Prime Minister is mooting for election year 2017. On past performance, those tax cuts will be frittered away on consumer spending… and will only heighten the income inequality exacerbating the social problems that this Budget deliberately fails to address. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the latest allegations against Helen Clark

May 26th, 2016

According to former PM and UNDP leader current Helen Clark, the allegations leveled at her this week in a Foreign Policy magazine article by the prize-winning UN journalist Colum Lynch have been ‘totally fabricated’.

Hmmm. That would be very, very surprising. Foreign Policy is a heavyweight journal. More to the point, Lynch has been the most widely respected journalist covering the United Nations for over a decade. Here’s his bio:

Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations. Read the rest of this entry »