The Voters Deserve Honesty

When Don Brash failed by a hair’s breadth to become Prime Minister in 2005, it could be said that New Zealand dodged a bullet. Despite his undoubted intelligence, Brash would have been a disastrous Prime Minister, polarising opinion and splitting the country in the cause of extreme social and economic policies. I was certainly not […]

The Socialist Way – A Review

The Socialist Way edited by Roy Hattersley and Kevin Hickson, Palagrave Macmillan, 2013. This stimulating and thoughtful collection of essays from across the British Labour movement is long overdue. Throughout what must now be regarded as the New Labour years of wasted opportunity, criticism of the performance of the Blair/Brown government was understandably muted. Now, […]

Doing What The Big Boys Tell Us

It is surely now clear that this government sees our economic future as being dominated by big international players. Little account is taken of the “little people” – the unemployed, the low-paid, the wage-earners, and their families – or of their contribution, both actual and potential, to a successful economy. Otherwise, the government would not […]

Political Ambition Knows No Bounds

Politics is a funny business, sometimes producing unintended consequences, sometimes revealing human weaknesses that would be better remaining hidden. A case in point was the unresolved dispute about the leadership of the Maori party. Few could have imagined that the issue could have produced such a bewildering outcome. The Maori party, like the Greens, had […]

Maori Politics Are Not A No-Go Area

For many pakeha, the Treaty of Waitangi is an exclusively Maori domain. It is seen as simply a mechanism for the pursuit of Maori grievance. This indifference to our defining constitutional document means that our country is weaker and less united than it should be. Similarly, Maori politics are seen as solely a Maori concern […]

The “Best” System?

In 1974, as a newly elected MP for Southampton Test in the British Parliament, I was interrupted mid-speech on one occasion by a Liberal from the benches opposite. “How can you claim to speak for the people of Southampton,” he demanded “when you got only 39% of the vote?” “Who would you replace me with?” […]

The Don and Rodney Show

Rodney Hide’s declaration of allegiance to the man who had just cut his political throat was, I suppose, only marginally less bizarre than Don Brash’s compulsion to lead something, anything. One suspects that, if he had been thwarted in his drive to lead a political party, he would have announced his intention to found a […]

The General Election Judgment

A three-year electoral cycle may have its detractors – and, many would say, with good reason – but it is usually popular with first-term governments. The record shows that three years is not really long enough for voters to reach a definitive view that a recently elected government has failed, and the benefit of the […]

Good Government Matters

Government over recent times has got itself a bad name. Politicians are of course always regarded as fair game, particularly by media whose proprietors often see themselves as competitors for power, but the critics’ task was of course made immeasurably easier by the expenses scandal. The damage suffered as a consequence of that self-inflicted wound […]

Will We Ever Learn?

Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis The G20 meeting in Toronto in June was remarkable in only one respect. The familiar protests, the police in the streets, the hob-nobbing of the leaders were all on show. But, what was extraordinary, if not unexpected, was the speed with which most of the world’s most powerful leaders […]