If It’s So Broken, Why Won’t Someone Fix It

The other day the twitterverse was awash with talk of Russell Brand. Since he is of the celebrity ilk, this is no surprise. Katy Perry and all that.

Then someone put up a link to this:

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman (I was trying to think of a televisual New Zealander I could liken him to. Alas, there is none.) questions Brand about his guest editing of the New Statesman magazine and never having voted.

Paxman was more or less saying that Brand couldn’t complain about the system if he wasn’t willing to vote. Another way he said it was, “Why should we listen to you if you can’t even be bothered going out there to vote.”

Brand was countering Paxman with the argument that the system of Westminster democracy is so broken serving just a few massive corporates and such a tiny fraction of the population that a vote within that system is actually a vote for the system.

As much as Paxman tried to steer the interview, Brand wouldn’t allow it. He is not voting because of his absolute indifference towards

When Paxman asked what Brand was doing when he was 18, he replied he was a drug addict because he came from the kind of conditions that he says are exacerbated by the current political system. He says people don’t want to engage because they are not represented by the current political elite.

The apathy doesn’t come from us the people, it comes from people running the system. Where there is profit, Brand says, there is deficit. This deficit has led to a massive underclass of people who don’t see any hope coming from or receive anything to improve their lives from those in power. That’s why they, and he, don’t vote. Why would you? The system gives you nothing so why vote for it.

Here is Russell Brand’s 4500 word manifesto which appeared in the edition of the New Statesman he edited.

He calls for a revolution.

New Zealand just had a series of local body elections with turnouts so poor that more people watched the current series of The Block than bothered to post in their vote.

According to our own Electoral Commission, 29% of people are just not interested in politics. I would imagine politics not being relevant to their daily existence being the root cause of that.

Politics has never been interested in them.

It’s not that we are apathetic, it’s just that the choices we have on offer are so unbelievably poor or so far apart from what we believe a good and functioning society should be that we are not wanting to take part.

If you give us something to vote for, we will vote. If you keep everything for yourselves, then you might as well keep the system for yourself as well. I’ll just get on with making sure my kids are fine thanks.

Mr B.

PS: Since the current capitalist paradigm is built on oil and money, I’ve often wondered what would happen if we all just decided that money wasn’t important any more and we just stopped spending it. Does that make me a communist?


Russell Brand’s 4500 word manifesto – New Statesman, 24 October, 2013

Newsnight Interview with Russell Brand – BBC Newsnight, October 2013

Electoral Commission Survey of Voters and Non-Voters, 2011.


School Daze

Sometimes we look back on our school days with a sense of fondness. I am no exception to that. Not because the majority of those schooling times were in the late 70s and early 80 (a time when hair, both facial and otherwise, was groomed and flambeed within an inch of its natural life). Meatloaf topped the charts with one of the greatest selling albums of all time and I was in love with the blonde one from ABBA.

During the 80s (insert Billy Idol and/or Joel reference here), a significant portion of my high school years were spent at an unnamed all-boys school in Gisborne. At the time my family were living on the East Cape in a small hamlet called Tokomaru Bay where my father was principal. Because of this I was required to spend my weeks and many of my weekends in the boarding hostel.

High school is that wonderful bridge between primary school and university whose job it was to completely deplete any confidence built up during those pre-form 2 years (Gen-Ys will need to look up “form 2” on the Google).

If you think back to all that confidence-sapping bullying that occurred during your secondary years there were generally two or three major ring-leaders. Usually a fat one (self-confidence issues), a sport one (God’s gift) and if you were unlucky enough to attend a co-educational institute (our hostel was such), there was the girl one (usually the most evil).

Last week I watched the Len Brown affair with interest. The Ngati Whatua dalliances of this high-profile public servant were by-the-by. What has been most interesting is the main-stream media, usually unquestioning and accepting of the contents of any press release, who have taken to digging and delving into this story to find (SHOCK! HORROR!) that the release of the information was politically driven by Len’s opponent and his team.

Of course, Palino and many, many, many National Party insiders have “distanced” themselves from the story. Is this about the parliamentary wing trying to look normal and reasonable.

The story was broken by those insightful minds behind the Whale Oil blog. Cam Slater and Stephen Cook.

Cam has been all over the media this week attempting to justify himself and his decision. His story changes more often than my son’s underpants (that is a reference to our current toilet-training regime if you missed it).

Although he sounds so reasonable when he’s interviewed, however you only have to read his blog and the associated comments to realise how damaged he and his followers. What comes out of his mouth is vastly different to what comes out of his fingers. I appear to be turning him into Gandalf and I don’t mean to.

When it all comes down to it, he has been a party to the bullying of a young supporter of the same party he was born into. Others in the same party have decided to bully and harass someone into revealing something they didn’t really want to. He writes very aggressively and I can only imagine what he was like at school. Since his daddy is a past president of the National Party, I suspect he did not attend Papatoetoe High.

But aggressive, or at least passive aggressive is how the National Party work.

Fail in your bid to sell an energy company to people who already own it? Blame the Labour / Greens rather than the fact the market having no appetite for the sale. How did they do this? Minister of the Whole World Steven Joyce called them socialists and communists.

Name calling – the first port of call of the hardened bully. Wait until election year when they start texting abuse to Russell Norman in the middle of the night.

I expect to now be on the black list.

Mr B.

What Happened to Me?

Hi. I’m Mike. It’s been 6 weeks since my last blog…

Most evenings I sit on the couch watching the excuse for “news” we seem to be getting from the networks here.

This round of local body politics the issue that has really got their juices flowing is the inability of some people in central Auckland to run their lawn-mower up and down three extra times on a Saturday afternoon.

Just like the unnecessary lead saxophone break in an 80s pop song, you can count on our mainstream media to give us something so inane night after night after night and then have the audacity to call it news.

But I digress.

I was a prolific poster at the start of the year. Things were getting me so angry. The Tory overlords with their “mandate” to rip our country apart just kept getting worse and worse and worse.

Then full-time teaching kicked in and the ability of my function to brain properly diminished rapidly.

Most nights I would blog after watching something stupid on the stupid news. Now I just watch the news, sigh, and change the direction of my feet on my foot-resting stool.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still outraged. It’s hard not to be when a government fails to create jobs and then crows about kicking a few thousand beneficiaries off benefits into that very same market. That is totally outrageous. How do they get their money now? What happens to their children? What happens 5 years down the track after the stress related with extreme poverty or living in a converted garage starts to manifest itself in the wayward and anti-social behaviour of said children.

Oh, that’s right. Garth George will just lock them up in his multi-purpose prison/charter school.

There appears to be very little compassion being given by our government to the most vulnerable. There are, however, millions in compassion being given to a range of multi-national corporations.

Because, for years, they have been at the bottom of the heap. It’s about time they were given a leg up.

Again I digress.

Something has happened recently. Hope.

David Cunliffe won the Labour Party leadership contest and started talking sense.

Phillipstown School in Christchurch won a High Court case agains the government’s plans to close it based on their sham consultation (here’s what we’re going to do, what do you think, now let’s do it anyway). As other school leaders in the city have pointed out, “doesn’t that make our school closure unlawful because we went through the same process?”

Hekia is currently consulting Crown Law and is unavailable for comment.

The next 12 months will be a very interesting time for we who believe in a slightly more egalitarian existence than all the haves.

Enjoy term 4 (remember reports are coming up!!).

Mr B