Using Ministerial Inquiries to Close Down Debate

As a young MP in the British House of Commons in the late 1970s, I rapidly became aware that half the political stories in Fleet Street originated with the Press Association’s indefatigable political correspondent, Chris Moncrieff. I was regularly button-holed by Chris as I crossed the Members’ Lobby and asked to comment on the latest […]

Growing Inequality Can Be Seen As Clever Politics

Voter turnout has been falling steadily across the western world in recent decades, and not least in New Zealand. We have a proud record of high turnouts in general elections, but even here, we dipped below 80% in 2008 and fell further to a post-war low of 74.21% in 2011. The problem is even more […]

Blame the Officials

Murray McCully draws a substantial salary as a Minister and seems to enjoy the prestige and perks that come with being New Zealand’s Foreign Minister. He doesn’t seem quite so keen on facing up to his responsibilities. What is admitted by all parties to have been a pretty substantial mishandling by the Ministry of Foreign […]

An Impartial Press?

The leader of the British Labour Party, Ed Miliband, is undoubtedly competent, and he enjoys the support of his party, but his poll ratings are abysmal – and that is welcome relief to a Conservative-led Coalition government, whose performance in office has been less than stellar and for whom Ed Miliband’s troubles are the only […]

Is Democracy Too Left-Wing?

There is never any shortage of advice to political parties who seek to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy that to do so would be to court electoral disaster. Any indication of a wish to move away from the status quo will, they are told, be seen as a dangerous “move to the left”. It was Mrs […]

The House Price Spiral

The OECD finding that New Zealand houses are the most overpriced in the developed world will come as no surprise to the young couples locked out of Auckland’s housing market or to those families condemned to substandard housing conditions and high rents. The Prime Minister, however, assures us that there is no crisis; our house […]

Economics Students Demand Better

Economics students are revolting! No, not an admission from the teachers of economics that they find their students less than appealing, but a declaration of war by economics students across the globe who are fed up with the kind of economics they are taught. Students in some of the world’s leading universities, including many UK […]

Ministers Should Not Lie

A politician who has enthusiastically cultivated an image as “Crusher” Collins will not expect much by way of public sympathy when she comes a cropper. Public sympathy will be in even more limited supply when she is seen to blame everyone but herself for her misfortunes. Judith Collins has one loyal supporter, however, in the […]

Yes, There Is An Alternative

Phil Verry was a patriot, a leading businessman and head of New Zealand’s largest sawmilling firm. He was also an innovative thinker. I was privileged to become his friend and colleague, and to help him develop an ingenious refutation of the assertion constantly made by those with closed minds that “there is no alternative” to […]

There Is A World Beyond Politics

Politics is a tough business.  Politicians need a particularly robust temperament if they are to ride the roller-coaster of political fortune for any length of time.  The bouquets, of course, are welcome and enjoyable when they come, but the brickbats – and they can come thick and fast – can hurt.  Politicians, like Shylock, bleed […]