MyThinks: newer and improveded

From time to time in the world of pseudojournalism, there comes a point when a lack of funds forces one to take stock and reassess one’s place in the world.

Recently the crew at MyThinks has been doing a lot of soul-searching. We began by going back to our core values with this simple question: why do we exist and how does our existence impact on those around us, the community and the wider cosmos?

We were unable to answer that question, so we changed it to: how can we get more clicks?

For some years now MyThinks has delivered quality thinks in a concise and satirical way. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to point out the sheer hypocrisy of National Party and ACT politicians ahead of our own needs to earn tens of dollars from Google advertising. Sure, pointing out that Steven Joyce’s “pretty legal” defence of breaches of the Copyright Act was more ridiculous than, say, a Seymour twerk is important for the fabric of political discourse in New Zealand, but it doesn’t generate the clicks.

In recent weeks the answer to our question became clear to us very, very quickly indeed. We need to be more like Stuff or the New Zealand Herald. We need to have more stories about dogs who can bark the alphabet, or parrots that can utter, on cue, a vast range of expletive-laden poems. We need to feature wall-to-wall Royal Wedding analysis which we can resurrect at any time, particularly if the royal couple announce plans for a visit to New Zealand. Videos of angry motorists. Boobs on bikes. Anything that will up our clicks is on the menu. We might even do what Kiwiblog does and open up our comments section to only the most racists of New Zealanders. Or maybe a couple of guest posts from convicted criminal and tough-on-crime muppet David Garrett. I’ve heard that’s working out pretty well for them.

Sure, wedged in between the dancing badgers and the spiderman racoon there is bound to be the odd mention of National Party policy or Simon Bridges’ latest attempt to criticise the government for trying to do something about the mess they left us in when they won last year’s election. However, Stuff and Granny Herald have proved to the world you no longer have to be a purveyor of quality journalism to get people to browse through your website.

We also thought we could make it look a bit prettier. So we’ve done that too.

Until next time, here are some kittens. #toomuchcuteness

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Judith Collins rips into Labour over housing

Housing Spokesperson for the election-winning National Party, Judith Collins, has today ripped into the Labour coalition over its plans to create a new Ministry for Housing and Urban Development.

Collins, who appeared unafraid to mix even the most unrelated of metaphors, said Labour’s plan was window dressing on a pig that was shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

“It really is a pointless exercise,” said Ms Collins from her new, and very much smaller, opposition office, “and that little sweetie Phil Tryford will try anything, that’s why I call him, quite wittily I think you’ll agree, Phil Tryford. Geddit?”

Ms Collins said the Labour Party needed to take a leaf out of the previous National Government’s book.

“Labour are trying all these things like Kiwibuild, doing deals with Unitec, and now this new Housing Ministry,” said Ms Collins, “and they really should be looking at what National did while they were in power. Nothing. We had nine years in government and we did absolutely nothing to deal with the housing crisis. Sure, I can call it a crisis now, but back then it was a ‘challenge’ or an ‘issue’ or a ‘slight quandary.’ I suppose we did end up offering homeless people a stay in a nice motel, but that was only because there were lots of working people living in their cars talking on the news about how hard their lives were and that was making us look bad.

“Labour is doing far too much for housing,” said Ms Collins, “you’d think they were trying to solve the problem or something.”

The Labour Party and Phil Twyford were unavailable for comment because they were out doing things to solve the housing crisis.

That 70s Show: starring Scotty Simpson

So far this year MyThinks has been given exclusive access to a number of National Party strategy meetings. This week has been no exception with our intrepid reporter attending a briefing of the party’s workplace relations spokesperson Scott Simpson. Here is a transcript of that meeting. 

PR Consultant: Thanks for coming Scotty.

Scotty: No problem at all.

PR Consultant: So we all know this week the government will be announcing a review into workplace relations.

Scotty: Yup.

PR Consultant: And we’ve heard on the grapevine that former National Party PM Jim Bolger is going to head that review.

Scotty: Yes… absolutely. Jim’s a fantastic man. A legend in the party. He’ll be on our side and I’m sure he’ll deliver us the decision we want.

PR Consultant: Oh no no no no no no no. Oh dear me Scotty, have you not heard? In recent years Jim’s been talking about “regret” over what his government did. He’s also been talking about “fairness.” Notice how I’m using air-quotes with those words. That’s how serious this is.

Scotty: Oh… god. What are we going to do then?

PR Consultant: Don’t worry Scotty. We’ve got a plan.

Scotty: What is it?

PR Consultant: Well… you’ll be doing the media rounds and we’ve worked out something you can say to the media.

Scotty: Ok.. what is it?

PR Consultant: Oh… it’s gold. Every time you are asked about this industrial relations review, we want you to say the following sentence: Jim was actually the Minister of Labour back in the 1970s, so I guess he’s particularly well-placed to lead an initiative that will take us back there.

Scotty: So you think that’s going to work?

PR Consultant: Absolutely. We’ve focus-grouped the hell out of it and people love it.

Scotty: What people?

PR Consultant: The people trapped in the focus group room.

Scotty: Ok then… What else should I say?

PR Consultant: Nothing.

Scotty: Nothing?

PR Consultant: Nothing.

Scotty: What is they ask me different questions that need other words to answer them? How am I going to answer those?

PR Consultant: Just say exactly that line. Nothing else. We want you to stay on message and saying anything else will potentially seem like you’re thinking for yourself.

Scotty: Fair enough. So I just repeat that line?

PR Consultant: Yes. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Scotty: And you’re sure people won’t get sick of me saying the same thing all the time? Won’t that just make me look like a tired opposition MP trying his hardest to get some airtime with a clever, but ultimately meaningless line.

PR Consultant: No. It’s a cracker. It plays to our base and it’s a little bit cheeky.

Scotty: Ok then… that one’s in the bank. Anything else I should know?

PR Consultant: No.. just remember: repeat the line and no thoughts of your own.

Exclusive: National Party strategy convergency

Recently the National Party invited MyThinks to their latest strategy meeting entitled, “The Party Strategy Convergency.” Apart from being a grammatical mouthful, this meeting brought together all the bright lights and blue sky thinkers of the election-winning National Party. Followed several hours of meeting, a keynote address was delivered by Sir Archibald Fountain-Penne.

Good afternoon everybody. Thank you all for coming to this strategy convergence. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, what is said in this room, stays in this room.

I can tell you, over the past few hours we’ve listened to all your ideas, ignored them, and I am here now to give you the official National Party talking points when you are confronted by any media questions.

When you are asked by any journalist about any policy the National Party has been in charge of over the past decade, it’s important to use the language of disaster. Our housing issues are now a housing crisis. The challenges we faced in health are now called a health crisis. Any problems in education or the economy are called the education crisis or the economic crisis. Other words you could use are catastrophe, calamity, cataclysm or disaster.

Of course, when National were in government, these words were resisted, and rightly so. The last thing you want is people thinking your running a series of disasters. It’s not nice to be called useless, incompetent, disastrous, dreadful, awful, appalling, horrific, horrifying, horrible, horrendous, atrocious, abominable, abhorrent, frightful, fearful, shocking, hideous, ghastly, grim, dire, hateful, unspeakable, gruesome, monstrous, sickening, heinous, or vile.

The great thing is this: the government is now dealing with all the issues we were dealing with as a result of our own policy errors. That’s not the important thing. The important thing is we sell the idea that this government is failing. Sure they are failing at fixing up the range of messes we left, but that doesn’t matter. Voters are stupid. Why else would Winston still be getting votes? Why would 44% of New Zealanders still be supporting the opposition?

Another thing you can do is suggest we were only “following advice.” This is a great argument. Mainly because it puts the onus for our failures on the bank of faceless public servants. I mean, how were we meant to know? We were only following the very best advice. We are only mere politicians. We can’t be expected to know everything about everything, can we? Of course, the fact we were in charge of the policies that led to the development of the advice we were given does not need to come into it. Just repeat to the journalist you were following advice.

Lastly, if you are new to the portfolio, you can always blame the previous person in charge. This works better than anything else because, more often than not, the former politicians will remain exceedingly quiet on the issue. Who wants to be that former MP making their way in the private sector standing up and admitting to abject failure. That doesn’t look good on the front page of the CV.

Remember, the underside of a bus is best seen by the person you shove beneath it.

Thank you all for listening.

Paula Bennett and the policy that never was, except when it was

Good afternoon my fellow New Zealanders. I, Paula “The Westie” Bennett, have been asked by this obscure blog to post some words from my brain hole. Far be it from me to remain quiet on any subject, I have accepted this challenge and I now sit her in a chair typing words into a document that will, at some point in the near future, be uploaded to this blog I’ve never heard of.

You know, as deputy leader of the opposition, I see a lot of nonsense coming from the coalition government. Take the recent announcement from Sir Peter Gluckman about methamphetamine contamination. From the reaction of Phil Twyford, it looks like he may have been dabbling a bit himself (although I wouldn’t know what that would be like having never taken any drugs of any description OR misrepresented my situation to Work and Income at any time – and I will sue, to death, anyone who says anything to the contrary). Twyford has been all over the place.

What are the government doing? They know what they have to do. Compensation for any Housing New Zealand tenantwho has been evicted or private landlord who has ended up out of pocket from this nonsensical policy.

Even though I was minister at the time and I was responsible for making all manner of policy decisions for and appointing senior public servants to Housing New Zealand, at no point did I exercise any ministerial control over the department. I certainly never suggested that people and babies should be evicted from their homes. And even when I did so those things, I was just reporting Housing New Zealand policy which, as I’ve already said, I and the National Party had absolutely no control over in the slightest. How could we be responsible for this? It’s the government’s fault and we are not the government.

It’s clear the government have been caught short by this research and now they have over 200 state houses that are back on the market for people to live in.

I thought it was important people had all the facts before they jumped down my party’s throat saying we caused this crisis and it was our hysterical dog whistle politics that lead to this eviction policy. It wasn’t. In all the time we were in power we never had one single policy that stemmed from our dog whistles – except for the three strikes policy, and our benefit sanctions, and this one. But apart from that, we had no policies.

I think you know what I mean.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another important engagement. There is an important walk-on role I have to play on the Jono and Ben show because when you’re deputy leader of the opposition you have to take what you can get.

P xx