Sunday, 2 November 2014

Rugby, Rowing and Blur

It's as if cupidity has mated with stupidity and its awful offspring have taken over New Zealand. The talking heads are busy filling in the most recent paint by numbers picture of John Key as a gracious, inclusive - almost humble - 'man of the people' who spoke from the heart in his victory speech and who has learned his lesson about unwise contacts with unscrupulous bloggers.  

So anxious is Key to represent all New Zealand he's even going to address child poverty - after he's sold off enough state houses to offset the drop in milk profits and pay for TeamNZ to contest the America's Cup.

Some in the media are shifting their feet. They are perhaps a tad uncomfortable with what Labour's comprehensive loss will result in and are a bit anxious about the part they played in that defeat through their acts of omission or commission.  Other, less sensitive and more overtly ideological souls are openly revelling in being on the winning team. The resultant spectacle is unedifying to the point of needing a health warning.

Speaking of health warnings, Cameron Slater is desperately trying to reinvent himself as person of courage and integrity and his mates are busy persuading their witless supporters to fork out large sums of money to 'take down' those who exposed Whaleoil's bile-full excesses.  

The usefully vacuous Paula Bennett is being carefully groomed, rebranded and promoted as future National Party leadership material. It is a terrifying prospect.

And Labour still shows no signs of doing a Lazarus after its media assisted political suicide. 

The election was a resounding victory for dirty politics. The exposure of a series of scandals that should have lost the election for Key and Co, ended up hurting the opposition.  Seemingly sensible and decent people were persuaded it was politically and morally wrong to buy or read 'that book' because it was the product of a 'left-wing conspiracy' and based on stolen material.  

Not having read the book, or even accurate commentaries about it, they were easily persuaded that the dirty politics were the Left's creation and intended to sully the whiter-than-white reputation of John Key. 

In fact, looking at how well it all turned out for Key & Co, one could almost be forgiven for thinking Dirty Politics was a big rightwing master plan. But, however cunning and devious rightwing political plotters are, they really aren't that clever.  They could not have been as successful in sliding out from under Hager's revelations had they not been facing a fractured opposition, sections of which were engaged in the political equivalent of self-harming.

Election material that had David Cunliffe's image or name alongside candidates was seldom seen. Exhortations to give party votes to Labour were notable for their lack of prominence. The message sent out to the electorate, which dovetailed nicely with that of a largely hostile media, was 'a lot of us don't trust our leader'. 

Other than attacking Cunliffe and Labour's 'five new taxes', National's winning strategy was to be as vague as possible about policy, to promote Brand Key as synonymous with National, and to link Key to international sporting successes - a winning trifecta of rugby, rowing and blur.

Rowing is not quite as far removed from the lives of ordinary Kiwis as America's Cup sailing, but it is an elite sport. It's appeal is that it is one at which Kiwis excel.  The image of a slick, professional rowing eight heading towards the right juxtaposed against a lumbering rowboat going in circles was used to denigrate and demoralise the opposition and to fuel  the Right's tendency towards swagger and triumphalism.

Rugby is the country's unofficial religion.  Whoever can coat tail the All Black brand is onto a winner.  Key's expressed preference for the black flag with a silver fern to replace the current flag was not accidental. Nor was posing on the cover of Rugby News in an All Black shirt at the head of a phalanx of All Black forwards, including Ritchie McCaw. McCaw's 'yes you can'  text to Key at the opening of National's election campaign was an unofficial endorsement of Team Key by the All Blacks.  Key's gauche claim to want to be reincarnated as Ritchie McCaw would have been mocked mercilessly had David Cunliffe made it. The election day pro-National tweets and Facebook posts by former and current All Blacks and elite rowers to their thousands of followers would have resulted in a media firestorm had they been in support of Labour. 

And so, we are left with Captain Key still in charge of the ship of state. It doesn't really matter to him if she's dragging her anchors and drifting onto the rocks.  He's got his life raft well stocked and fuelled and can abandon ship any time he chooses, as can his uber-rich supporters. It's the rest of us need to be worried about how badly our ship will be damaged when the next big economic storm hits.

The Neo-Liberal Agenda

1. Remove controls on the movement of capital. 

This is the foundation stone of the project. It will enable the global free market to create wealth that will trickle down to the base - thus enriching everyone. 
(Note:  It is  critically important to obscure the fact that wealth will do the opposite, i.e. accrue exponentially to the rich. See Agenda Item 4)

2. Mechanise any large scale production that is to remain in the developed world and relocate labour intensive production to countries with more amenable labour costs and environmental laws.

This process is essential to the increase of profits as it will enable the reduction of labour costs and reduce Health & Safety and environmental overheads.  It will also break the backs of the industrial trade unions.
Market on the basis of the drive for  "economy, efficiency and effectiveness".  
(Note: It is necessary to have achieved all elements of agenda item 3 before embarking on this.)

3. Undermine the Left and organised labour. 

Use all available anti-communist / anti-socialist memes.  
Create and publicise examples of 'loony leftism', 'political correctness', the dominance of the 'Left Elites' in media and academia etc.
Label Trade Unions and Left as the 'enemy within' which is conspiring to undermine traditional values.   It is of course important to remain vague about what traditional values are for fear of alienating some sections of support. 
(Note: It is essential to have achieved Agenda Item 4 before embarking on this.)

4. Control the mass media.

Use new technology to break the print unions which will leave journalists vulnerable. 
Make journalists responsible for as many other jobs as possible.
Narrow the range of raw news from agencies.
Dumb down news content.  
Sell off as much of public funded media as possible.
Promote the meme of the Left's control of the media to justify stifling of dissent among liberal journalists and commentators.

5. Depress pay and conditions for domestic working class.

Abandon collective agreements and introduce individually negotiated (confidential) contracts which will promote competition (and distrust) between workers. 
Aim for extensions of the working day and abandonment of overtime payments. 
Devolve health & safety responsibility to workers.
Utilise contractors as much as possible and off-shore where possible. 
Aim to make workers responsible for as much of the costs of their employment as possible.
Introduce 'flexible' working conditions and market these as a benefit to workers e.g. contrast with rigid hours of work demanded in traditional industrial / factory operations. 
Ultimate aim is full casualisation ie. zero hours contracts.

6. Ensure there is a well paid and politically loyal middle class.

This is vital to ensure political stability and the length of tenure of governments committed to the project.
It stimulates consumption, promotes the ideology of meritocracy and provides useful buffer zone. 
It is especially important to reward the top echelons of the public sector and the link to pay rates in the private sector  can be used to justify this.

7. Open the public sector to competition through the contract culture. 

Sell this to the public as improving public sector efficiency, effectiveness and economy through the  application of private sector methods and values. 
The anticipated reality is that local taxes / rates will increase and quality of services decrease which can be managed so as to ensure Item 8 works to our advantage. 

8. Prevent local government from being a locus for political opposition to the global project.

Use amalgamations or partitions, boundary changes etc to ensure greater central government control.
Increase compliance demands, strengthen the management/governance split and contract culture. 
Sack any elected authority which promotes a left wing agenda and /or blocks business interests.
Surcharge any uncooperative elected officials if harsher lesson is needed.

9. Sell off publicly owned assets.

Market this as opening up investment opportunities for ordinary citizens and claim that the resulting competition will yield better quality services at lower cost. 
When that does not eventuate, claim the market is not yet free enough or blame it in any vestiges of workers' rights etc.

10. Encourage cults of personality in elections. 

Focus on positive family-centric images of the Head of State and key politicians. 
Link the chosen candidate wherever possible to popular celebrities and sporting icons as their success reflects back on the Head of State.

11. Encourage identity politics.

Portray IP as alternative to/competitor with the traditional labour movement.
Promote the idea of the labour movement as unprogressive and unresponsive to the rights of women and minorities. 
Continue to make concessions to demands for extensions of individual freedoms whilst making it harder for people to exercise them.

12. Denigrate environmentalists 

Use sympathetic scientists, PR / advertsiing specialists and lobbyists to counter and misrepresent green arguments eg. snails-before-jobs' etc and devise, disseminate derogatory labels e.g. 'tree-huggers'.'

13. Consolidate global debt culture.

Make nations dependent on World Bank / IMF loans that are dependent on government implementing measures to privatise corporate profits and socialise corporate debt.
Ensure governments implement required austerity measures and are briefed on how to blame the need for these on the Left.

14. Extend private debt.

A key support of the global project is the extension of private debt. Not only does this debt yield excellent returns, it promotes consumption and, most importantly, it is a set of shackles people don freely and may even be persuaded to wear proudly.