Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

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Gordon Campbell on the fallout from the Barclay tape

June 22nd, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Todd Barclay – soft exit or hard exit? Anyone feeling that the watchdog roles of the media and Parliament have seen justice done to the scoundrel behind the taping scandal…well, maybe they should think again. This is hardly a case of cleaning out your desk and being turfed out onto the pavement. As others have pointed out, the disgraced Clutha-Southland MP will remain on the public payroll for three months until the election, and for three months afterwards. Since the pay rate for backbench MPs is $160,000 a year plus allowances, that amounts to a circa $80,000 payout for what looks very much like criminal behaviour, and for consistently lying to his electorate and to the wider public. In the meantime, the National Party that covered up for Barclay will be happy to use his tainted vote in Parliament to help pass its legislative agenda into law. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Todd Barclay cover-up

June 21st, 2017

Column – Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on the Todd Barclay cover-up (and the GCSB’s support for Groser) Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on our refugee intake, and Uber’s woes

June 20th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

On figures released this week, there are currently 65.6 million people worldwide who have been displaced from their homes by war, famine or other external causes. Faced with this explosion in the global need for sanctuary, New Zealand announced plans last year to increase our intake of UN assisted refugees from 750 to 1,000, as from 2018. This marked the first (belated) increase in our refugee intake in 30 years.

Moreover, the extra $25 million allocated to meet this puny increase seemed pretty ironic. As Brian Rudman pointed out at the time, in 2015 we allocated slightly more – $25.4 million – to support the 143 soldiers that we happily sent to Iraq to train one side of a conflict that’s generating the refugees still pouring out of Iraq and Syria.

Needless to repeat: on a refugees per capita basis, we are put to shame by almost every other developed country, including Australia. We also have the wealth to cope with far more refugees: New Zealand’s intake of refugees on a GDP basis is put to shame by those far poorer countries (eg Lebanon) that have taken in floods of refugees from the Middle East over the course of this decade. Yet at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Bill English once again claimed that the current quota is all we can manage, at least until adequate resources are in place to help refugees to successfully resettle here.

Not that’s he rushing to boost those resources, mind. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell: The lessons of the London tower block fire

June 15th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

As details emerge of the deadly fire at Grenfell Towers in north Kensington, it has become clear that the tenants group at the tower block had repeatedly warned the authorities about the fire risk – the record of neglect on fire alarm batteries alone dates back to 2004. These warnings included concerns about the inadequate exit route for tenants and the equally inadequate access route for firefighters. According to news reports, some 20 fire engines attended the blaze yesterday. On the prior evidence, the access routes might well have struggled to cope with four to six. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on anti-immigration gambit Labour, & Israel

June 14th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Calls for a crackdown on public money being wasted on low quality educational courses? That’s always a perennial topic in any election year. Back in 2005, it was National’s education spokesman – a guy called Bill English – who led the charge against the Clark government over the spending on low quality courses in twilight golf, self esteem training and the like at a time when the construction industry was said to be crying out for more funding for trades apprentices. Back then – over 12 years ago – the Labour government of the day promised to clean up the sectorRead the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the lessons from Corbyn’s campaign

June 12th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek. The clock is ticking on its Article 50 exit. Triggering article 50 at the end of March before seeking an electoral blank cheque must have seemed a good idea at the time. (The article 50s decision was a dogwhistle to Ukip voters meant to show the Tories were keeping their Brexit promises.) But the sequence has proven to be a colossal bungle by the accursed Theresa May. Who knew that the election wouldn’t be about Brexit, but about Briatin’s decaying social services?

May lost her majority, fatally weakened her mandate and – by her wretched performance on the campaign trail – drove Ukip voters straight back into the arms of Labour. As the Observer pointed out, two successive Tory Prime Ministers in the past 12 months have put Britain’s future at risk for their own party political advantage – and both times that gamble has failed, while damaging the country seriously in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Tillerson’s problems with Trump

June 7th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

Photo: Mark Tanturm

Yesterday, as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his flying five hour visit to New Zealand, Foreign Policy magazine put its finger on why other leaders in the Asia-Pacific region have been left feeling deeply sceptical about the mission of re-assurance by Tillerson and US Defense Secretary James Mattis. The duo were “admirable, but not convincing” – because they obviously don’t speak for the President they serve. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Rex Tillerson visit

June 5th, 2017

Column – Gordon Campbell

A visit to this country by a serving US Secretary of State is such a rare event that Rex Tillerson will be welcomed in style in Wellington tomorrow – even though the former ExxonMobil CEO could fairly be described as the least influential person in … Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the causes of poverty

May 31st, 2017

First published on Werewolf

One of the enduring myths of the conservative right is that poverty is primarily a state of mind, and that welfare assistance only corrodes the mindset necessary for people to pull themselves out of poverty. Such views have been given a new lease of life by Ben Carson, head of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. “You take somebody with the wrong mind-set,” Carson said in a radio interview last week: “You can give them everything in the world. They’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.” In similar vein, Carson has suggested that public housing shouldn’t be heated too cosily lest that too, should promote a welfare dependent mindset.

Last week, Carson’s views received some grudging support on RNZ’s own conservative radio show, The Panel.

In fact, as the New York Times pointed out in a rejoinder, the research evidence indicates that Carson may have confused cause and effect, and got them around the wrong way. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the twists in the UK election

May 29th, 2017

First published on Werewolf

The main reason Theresa May chose to call a snap election for June 8 in Britain was because the Tories firmly believed that a British Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t and wouldn’t pose any threat. Instead, the Conservatives’ original 21 point lead has come tumbling down in one recent poll, to a mere five point gap. Margin of error territory, in Britain. Although the chronic unreliability of British political polling is something that polling expert Nate Silver warned us about from the very outset. Read the rest of this entry »