Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on the latest arm-wrestling bout over Greece’s austerity crisis, and Father John Misty

February 13th, 2015

This morning’s meeting between Greece and Europe’s finance ministers seems to have broken up without any substantial agreements being reached, beyond a bit of bridging finance for Greece until next week’s meetings. The crucial date remains February 28, when the bailout package effectively expires. Lets not forget how damaging the last few years have been for Greece Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on how Iraq’s visiting Foreign Minister embodies an Iraq that’s not worth fighting for

February 12th, 2015

When Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari makes a whistle-stop visit to Auckland on Friday, he will be issuing a formal invitation for New Zealand to get militarily involved in Iraq, something that’s already a virtual fait accompli. One rationale for our involvement that Prime Minister John Key has repeatedly given is that the new government in Baghdad is now more inclusive, and won’t be repeating the sectarian mistakes of the past that have driven the Sunni population into the arms of Islamic State.

Key is dreaming. As Prime Minister of Iraq in 2005 and 2006, al-Jaafari was the main architect of the sectarian divide, and nothing much has changed today. At the time, al-Jaafari was propelled into the top job in the mid 2000s largely because of his closeness to the murderous Shi’ite militia leader Moqtada al Sadr, and the bloody sectarian paralysis that eventuated was the main reason the Americans eventually asked al-Jaafari to stand down as PM. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the government’s reluctance to treat the enemies of Islamic State as its friends

February 11th, 2015

While the government attacks the left’s alleged reluctance to respond militarily to Islamic State, it continues to be strangely timid about another aspect of its own response. Question: under our anti-terrorism legislation, is it legal or illegal for New Zealanders to donate funds online to the Kurdish organisations who are doing the bulk of the actual, effective fighting on the ground against Islamic State ? Bear with me while I set out my failed attempt to get a straight answer from the government on this point.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Maori “separatism” bogey

February 10th, 2015

Leadership requires the leader to set aside self-interest. It is a concept that sometimes seems quite alien to Prime Minister John Key – who has reached instinctively for the most inflammatory card in the race relations deck – “separatism” – to gain short-term advantage from some innocuous Waitangi Day comments made by Labour leader Andrew Little.

Reportedly, the inspiration for Little’s line of thought was a Waitangi Tribunal finding last November. According to the Tribunal, Northland tribes had not fully ceded their sovereignty when they signed the Treaty in 1840. As the Tribunal indicated, the nation’s founding document appears to have been based on a mutual misunderstanding. Britain thought it had acquired sovereign authority over the whole of New Zealand but in the Tribunal’s opinion, the chiefs who signed the document had believed they would keep their full traditional authority, with Britain’s role being restricted largely to keeping the influx of rowdy settlers in line.

This being the case, a careful exploration of what that never-ceded sovereignty might mean in a modern context is not only desirable, but incumbent on the Crown. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the reluctance to support the Kurds against Islamic State

February 9th, 2015

The boundary line between our troops having (a) an ‘advise and assist’ role in Iraq and (b) an actual combat role – which Prime Minister John Key insists they will not have – would seem sheer wishful thinking. The Canadian special forces in Iraq operate with a similar theoretical distinction. Yet in mid-January, the Canadians clashed with Islamic State forces in what Lebanon’s Daily Star reported as being ‘the first confirmed ground battle’ between Western coalition troops and IS: Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the government’s narrow conception of Waitangi Day

February 5th, 2015

Come Waitangi Day each year, Treaty settlements have become a de facto scorecard for New Zealand’s progress in race relations. It is not a good measure. That kind of approach not only places the sources of disadvantage in the past and the onus of guilt on previous generations, but it assumes that any grievances can be resolved with a lump sum payment while business-as-usual proceeds merrily on its way. At Monday’s post-Cabinet press conference for instance, Prime Minister proudly cited the latest available tally: his government, he said, has signed 46 deeds of settlement in the past six years, while the Clark government had signed only 16 settlements in nine years… Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on a desperate health system merger of lab testing services

February 4th, 2015

The economic version of the sound of one hand clapping is a “market” with only one provider – and that is exactly what the three DHBs in the Wellington region now seem about to create, as they chase after cost saving “efficiencies” in laboratory testing.

On March 6, the three district health boards in the Wellington area are due to make a final decision on changing the way they purchase pathology services i.e. the laboratory testing of blood and tissue samples. This is an absolutely crucial cog in the health system. Over 70% of the healthcare decisions for diagnosis and treatment are based on laboratory results. Historically, it has been common for some labs to serve hospitals – and some to serve GPs, via what is called “community lab testing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the freeing of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste

February 3rd, 2015

Well, so much for all that enthusiasm about free speech in France. A couple of weeks ago, a 16 year old student was taken into police custody in Nantes for posting on Facebook a cartoon ironically commenting on one of Charlie Hebdo’s more notorious cartoons. Briefly, when dozens of unarmed Muslim Brotherhood protesters were shot down in Egypt a couple of years ago, Charlie Hebdo ran a cartoon of a bullet-riddled Moslem saying “This Koran is shit – it doesn’t stop bullets!” Hilarious. Well, the Nantes student posted an image of a bullet-riddled Charlie cartoonist saying much the same thing – that Charlie Hebdo is shit because it doesn’t stop bullets, either. For his pains, he has been jailed for “making apologies for terrorism.” That’s the sort of thing that happens when the guy saying ‘Je Suis Charlie’ is a cop. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Russel Norman resignation

February 2nd, 2015

While not the decisive factor, last year’s election result must have made it easier for Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman to finally call it a day. After three years of solid campaigning on social justice, economic and environmental issues – and amidst another round of self-destruction by Labour, its ally and rival on the centre-left – the Greens had realistically expected to end up close to 15 % on election day. Instead, it barely held its own, and failed to increase its vote. Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Campbell on the Eleanor Catton rumpus

January 29th, 2015

If anyone was in doubt about the accuracy of the comments made in India by Eleanor Catton, the reaction from some quarters here at home has gone a long way to proving her point. By ‘some quarters’, I mean (a) RadioLive host Sean Plunket who called Catton a “traitor” and (b) Prime Minister John Key who dismissed her views as being those of a typical Green Party supporter, which is apparently almost as bad. Read the rest of this entry »