Laws opines, I overturn.

I aimed to be in bed early, alas reading the latest column by Michael Laws entitled Journalists can’t handle the truth, compelled me to continue to fight Morpheus and write a terse riposte. Laws opinion piece can be found here.

First of all I have to point out that even if Michael Laws is of average intelligence, he is significantly challenged in the business of cobbling together a clear argument. How someone so spectacularly stupid can be a featured columnist for the Sunday Star-Times vindicates my low opinion of both. He begins with a whine about how we as voters do not have faith in the leaders we elect. He says this is “One of the great dichotomies of democracy”. Well, to begin with it is not a dichotomy its a paradox. As is his assumption that we avidly consume the news while maintaining a grudge against the media. Again this is a vague paradox, not a dichotomy.

The central fallacy of Laws’s snotty piece is his haughty pronouncement that the job of journalists is to “… relay the facts and let us make up our own minds”. Journalists are not courtroom stenographers, and no piece of information in public life can reach the ears (or eyes) of the humble voter without some degree of spin and prior interpretation. It is simply erroneous to cry havoc over a journalist seizing upon a piece of data and using it as part of an argument. In the squalid world of Laws’s feeble imagination there would be nothing readable, and every tedious article of mindless fact relay would be an insult to most of the public who posses the fortitude to sort through fact and opinion, reaching conclusions on their own anyway.

Its very surprising that two terms as an MP, a smattering of years as an incompetent mayor, and his constant vitriolic mouthing off on radio has left Michael Laws with no appreciation of the role of the media. As with anyone who gets their botox in a clump over an incidence of hypocrisy, Laws forgets that everyone is hypocritical, and we all manage to maintain two sets of books while continuing to operate without the obvious effects of cognitive dissonance.

As for Laws clumsy attempt at pumping up his deflated article by referencing George Orwell’s Animal Farm, see if you, dear reader can make heads or tails of it, I cannot see his point. It is outrageous to me that he goes after journalism in this half-baked fashion, since I (or anyone else) could defend it with ease if his attack was more coherent. Just don’t dare mischaracterise the profession, as it is one I hope to join it just pisses me off.

ALP No Roadmap For NZ Labour

With the inevitable switch around of Australian Prime Ministers in June, the movement to oust NZ Labour leader David Shearer before the 2014 election, may to some extent face renewal. The reasons are obvious, the latest poll results show a dismally flattened Labour caucus looking forward to another term in the airy cold of political irrelevance. Further, the Australian Labor Party under Kevin Rudd (who looks exactly the same as if the Julia interregnum never happened) is enjoying a period in the sun. The election date has been set for September 7 and it looks likely that the government will claw its way back to the cabinet table.
         
However it is vitally important to sustain in the mind the following crucial differences. The pressure on an under-performing government to shed its dead weight in order to keep itself in office, is unequivocally greater than the pressure on an opposition party to change its face and snatch the government benches. From atop the mountain the risk and fear of falling is fundamentally stronger than similar fears at base camp.
         
Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard are not the same fruit as David Shearer and David Cunliffe. The relationship between Rudd and Gillard was close, perhaps not in terms of trust, but close nonetheless. They took Labor to victory in 2007 and were in government as leader and deputy until Brutus’s blade appeared in Julia’s hand. Both have been elected Prime Minister in their own right, in 2007 and 2010 respectively. Shearer and Cunliffe have never enjoyed a close working relationship, their political positions have clear differences, and neither have led Labour to a general election. This diminishes the effectiveness of taking an Australian example to predict developments in New Zealand politics.
         
Where does this leave us? Here is my prediction as it stands at the present point. David Shearer will not be toppled this year, he remains a greater force than Cunliffe (who’s supporters I predict will abandon him soon after he takes the job), and needs to face the test of an election. Labour will loose. It remains half smarmy inexperience, half the sour dregs from the last government. The stars of the Clark era played themselves out of parliament, because they were smarter than the pilot fish left behind. This incarnation of Labour can not, and should not govern. The Key government will scrape through along with their support parties to a slim majority, the cracks appearing now will open into fissures and there will be plenty to make fun of in the next term. I don’t count on John Key remaining for the whole term, and I expect a mess of political corpses at the end. In the meantime Labour’s ghosts (Mallard, Goff, King, O’Conner, Jones, Dyson, Cunliffe) should be exorcised, their brand renewed, and a proper leader elected. Then they will truly be a government-in-waiting.