Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on Helen Clark’s UN Secretary-General bid

July 1st, 2014

Helen Clark’s informal campaign to succeed Ban Ki-Moon as UN Secretary-General is moving into a higher gear. Her June 11 interview on BBC’s Hard Talk programme has been widely seen as a bid for greater exposure, although she was tactfully modest to interviewer Tim Sebastian about her chances of winning the top UN job. To date, Clark has been more frank with the New Zealand media, which has been a useful channel for her comments out to a global audience. This recent South China Morning Post article for instance – headlined “Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former leader, sets sights on top UN job” – is comprised almost entirely of Clark’s quotes to Kiwi journalists. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Labour’s polling, Rio Tinto, and why the Swiss are worse than Luis Suarez

June 27th, 2014

The latest 3 News poll results has the combined Labour/Green bloc struggling at exactly 40%, still almost ten points behind National’s tally. (The poll recorded a 2.2% drop in Labour’s support to 27.3% and a similar-sized rise for the Greens to 12.7%, as centre-left voters appeared to shuttle between the two.) Some members of Labour’s caucus may even be feeling a bit relieved at these results, given that the polling period coincided with the worst of the Donghua Liu affair. The spin will undoubtedly be that clearly, the absolute rock bottom for Labour is still a bruised but battling 27% so…it can only be onwards and upwards from here. To paraphrase Megyn Kelly of Fox News, this is the sort of thing Labour supporters say to each other to make themselves feel better. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the West’s selective outrage about the Al Jazeera jailings

June 24th, 2014

Yes, the jailing of the three Al Jazeera journalists is an outrage and the judicial process that convicted them was a farce. Reportedly the “evidence” produced by the prosecution that Australian journalist Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues had spread false news and aided the Muslim Brotherhood included a Sky News programme on animal welfare in Egypt, a pop music video by the Australian singer Gotye and some holiday snaps taken by the Greste family. Even so, the highly selective outrage now being expressed in the West will be sending a perverse message to the generals in Cairo. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Colin Craig’s move in East Coast Bays, and the Liu affair

June 23rd, 2014

The dancing-at-a-distance relationship between National and Colin Craig’s Conservative Party has just entered a new phase with the announcement that Craig will be contesting the East Coast Bays seat held by Foreign Minister Murray McCully. For National, this arrangement will preserve the fiction for as long as possible that National will not really be responsible for Craig getting into Parliament. For Craig, the apparent lack of an electorate deal will be the best way to motivate the faithful nationwide to try and hit that 5% MMP threshold. Thus, if and when an electorate deal finally gets unveiled, National will have got more bang for its buck – and more Conservative MPs in Parliament – than a simple, premature deal in East Coast Bays would have produced. All up, it looks like a classic piece of MMP politicking. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on David Cunliffe’s latest troubles

June 19th, 2014

Who knew that David Cunliffe’s speech to last year’s Labour Party conference was not a new beginning, but the last gasp of the credible phase of his leadership? In itself, his 2003 letter to the Immigration Service was innocuous. Yet only a Jesuit could make the fine distinction that Labour is now trying to make between Cunliffe’s inquiry about how long Donghua Liu’s residency application was taking, and outright “advocacy” for that application to be approved. Not surprisingly, such letters are seen by officials as “hurry up” reminders, and are intended to serve as such. This was advocacy; the same advocacy that Cunliffe had just this week denied ever making. Probably he did so unknowingly. Either way though – fool or knave – it’s not a good look. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Labour’s mandatory Kiwisaver plan, and the self-defeating nature of ISIS rule

June 18th, 2014

Labour’s compulsory Kiwisaver plan is its latest love letter to Winston Peters. First came the empty railing against immigration, now the idea of compulsory savings for everyone except those on very low incomes. Back in 1997, New Zealand First inspired a postal referendum on the issue of compulsory retirement savings, and only 8.2% of votes cast supported the idea. So far, Labour leader David Cunliffe had advanced the same supportive argument as Peters put forward in the 1990s: namely, that compulsion would boost national savings. There is little evidence that it would do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on Obama’s need to engage with Iran, and Act’s need to engage with reality

June 16th, 2014

Incredibly, the ISIS Sunni rebels who are currently butchering their way through northern Iraq are being financed by Saudi Arabia – supposedly a Western ally – and their advance is being halted by Shia militia who have been armed and trained by the West’s supposed enemy, Iran. Consistently, the West has been wrong-footed in this conflict. Recent events in Syria had already shown the deep weakness of ISIS when it comes to holding and administering any ground they have seized. The counter-insurgency tactics that have been used successfully against them in northern Syria were devised for the Assad regime by Qassem Sulemaini, the enormously influential leader of the QUDS Force, the elite group within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Suleimani, one of the least known major figures in the Middle East, was profiled in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Sunni extremist state that’s now emerging in Iraq/Syria

June 12th, 2014

Back when they were trying to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration conjured up an entirely fictitious link between al-Qaeda and the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Well, the Americans are now seeing that fantasy come true. The forces of al-Qaeda are over-running northern Iraq for real. In recent days, the Sunni extremists who have stormed into key cities and towns in northern Iraq have sent hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing south, and with good reason; the Iraqi population knows full well just how hideous the rule of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been across the border, in northern Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the John Banks verdict

June 6th, 2014

So John Banks has been found guilty of knowingly signing off a fraudulent electoral return. It is an offence that carries a penalty – two years in jail or a $10,000 fine – that should indicate the will of Parliament that such offences be treated very seriously indeed. At the time, Parliament presumably wanted to deter this sort of dodgy behavior, which undermines the public’s faith in the integrity of local government elections. Since we’re about to enter the home stretch of an election campaign, you’d think the need to protect that faith should be paramount. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Greens carbon tax, setbacks in Syria and Arcade Fire’s gender politics

June 4th, 2014

A footnote to begin with, to do with the big story about the carbon tax policy unveiled on the weekend by the Greens. If you want to know where the Greens got the idea…it was almost certainly from the province of British Columbia in Canada, that enacted such a policy in 2008. Here’s how it’s working now. Pretty darn well, apparently. I claim no reflected glory from the fact that the right-wing Canadian politician who enacted the carbon tax trade-off was called Gordon Campbell, the Premier of British Columbia at the time. Presumably, our Greens will be amused about earning generous rounds of applause from the gallery commentariat for adopting a policy that Gordon Campbell had in turn borrowed from Arnold Schwarzenegger, back when he was the environment-friendly Governor of California. The carbon tax idea got passed into law by the Campbell administration at a terrible time for new taxes, on the brink of the GFC; yet Campbell struck to his guns in the face of initially fierce opposition from the left, who preferred to persevere with the Emissions Trading Scheme. (Just as Labour is doing here right now.) That left wing critique melted away as the carbon tax trade-off went on to win almost universal support from the BC electorate. Read the rest of this entry »