Last weekend MyThinks were lucky enough to be invited behind closed doors at the Labour Party annual conference in sunny Palmerston North. Although much of the conference was closed to the media, we were lucky enough given special access to workshops and policy development forums across the weekend. Our reporter chose to spend Saturday afternoon at the Chris Trotter Memorial Debate hosted by a cardboard cutout of Jim Knox. Here is his transcript of the discussion.
KNOX: Welcome everyone to this inaugural Chris Trotter debate. The topic for today’s discussion is: Labour Debates – now and in the future. We are joined today by half a dozen delegates from around the country all here to debate Labour debates. Debating debates we’ve had in the past; debating our present debates; debating any future debates we might debate in the future. Let’s start the ball rolling. Who wants to begin?
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: I would like to begin by affirming your introduction to this debate. You’ve both introduced the debate and welcomed us all here, which is more than I can say for the New Lynn branch who wouldn’t even stump up with a gingernut when I was up there last weekend.
NEW LYNN DELEGATE: (shouting) Countdown was closed! Rats!! How many times do I have to say it!!!
KNOX: Alright. Calm down everyone. Don’t peak too early.
NEW LYNN DELEGATE: I’ll peak when I want. I’m the damn electorate chairman for Cunliffe.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: I’m sure you wouldn’t be this angry if you had a robust supply of gingernuts.
(sounds of wrestling and swearing heard on tape)
KNOX: Alright you two. Settle down. I’ve got a krispie in my pocket. Will that do?
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: I had my mind set on gingernuts.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: Oh, for chrissake. I bet National don’t get this sort of grief from Sky City. In fact, I bet they all get envelopes full of cash all weekend at their conference.
KNOX: I wouldn’t know but this is Palmerston North so I reckon if you have any cash on you at the moment you better keep a close eye on it. Look, people, we’re off track. Who agrees with me that the current debates the Labour Party is having are some of the best debates we’ve ever had?
TIMARU DELEGATE: I agree.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: I disagree.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: My head says yes, but my heart says no so I’m going to have to agree and disagree.
NEW LYNN DELEGATE: Rats!!
ALL: I agree.
KNOX: So who’s agreeing and disagreeing, just for our records?
TIMARU DELEGATE: I agreed.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: And I disagreed.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: And I neither agreed nor disagreed because there wasn’t anything that I felt I could really agree or disagree with.
TIMARU DELEGATE: I agree that you couldn’t agree or disagree.
KNOX: Ok, so that’s two agrees and two disagrees. That is, if I count your “neither agree nor disagree” as one agree and one disagree.
PAPATOETOE DELEGATE: No. I disagree. If I neither agree nor disagree then I’m not agreeing OR disagreeing. You can’t just put me down for an agree or a disagree. I don’t agree with that. If anything, they cancel each other out. Agreed?
TIMARU DELEGATE: I disagree. You can’t just sit on the fence. You have to either agree or disagree. You can’t just say, “I neither agree nor disagree.” That’s totally disagreeable.
PORIRUA DELEGATE: I disagree. If any person wants to sit on the fence they are totally within their rights. This is a free country. You don’t have to agree or disagree with anything. If you want to “neither agree nor disagree” then that, in my humble opinion, is entirely agreeable….
Editors Note: the discussion covered most of the afternoon session and, following a short break for gingernuts, continued well into the night. We pick up the coverage as the discussion comes to a close at 12:53am.
KNOX: So it’s agreed then. No matter what the discussion, policy or proposed election platform, any delegate can choose to either agree or disagree or neither agree nor disagree. Agreed?
KNOX: I now call this meeting to a close.
Finance Minister Bill English today announced he had lost a load of weight. The former leader of the National Party branch of Weight Watchers said he had lost nearly 10 kilograms. The announcement was made at an official weigh-in in the Mhairi Duckworth room at the Thorndon Bowling Club.
Today’s announcement was significant. English has struggled with his weight for many, many years. His troubles first began just after puberty when he suffered what experts later called a “hormone imbalance” and he put on over 90kgs in little under three weeks. After years of being tormented by local bullies English discovered local politics.
“I initially joined the National Party as a 147kg sixteen year old,” English told My Thinks following the weigh-in, “I was looking for acceptance and I was taken in by local hero and Minister of Railways Peter Gordon. He offered me all the support and biscuits I needed during such a dark time in my life.”
The future Finance Minister and one-time party leader spend years in a dieting yo-yo tailspin. He tried diet after diet after diet before finally finding the one that led him to shedding all those pounds.
“The weight really came off when I started in my job as Finance Minister after the 2008 general election. As I started restricting resources and funding from the public sector, somehow my body started restricting resources to itself. The more assets I sold, the more weight I lost. It was like I could do no wrong. I lost 10 kilograms the week after we realised what a dog Novopay was.”
Bill English is now a lithe 85kgs and has been able to do up his own shoe-laces since late last year. When asked if they would be giving Gerry Brownlie any role in the finance portfolios, English’s reply was short and simple:
Minister for Bridges, Simon Bridges, is denying breaching the Cabinet Manual in relation to the bridges policy announced during the recent Northland by-election.
Papers released under the Official Information Act suggest Bridges sought bridge information on several bridge sites in Northland as the National Party attempted to build bridges with an electorate ebbing towards Winston Peters.
Bridges said, “the information on bridges was received in my capacity as Simon Bridges, Minister of Bridges, and not in my National Party role as JohnKeyWannabe.”
The opposition was scathing in its assessment.
“This is a bridge too far from Bridges,” opined Damien O’Conner the Labour Party spokeperson on small to medium river crossings,”National has burnt their bridges in Northland; now Bridges trying to bridge the gap with bridges. ”
Winston Peters was equally critical. “I am the greatest of all time! You know I’m bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock; injured a stone; hospitalised a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
When asked about the Ausitor General looking into his bridges, Bridges said, “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Prime Minister John Key spoke today outlining his government’s plan for sending in troops to Sky City.
The government has been concerned about the brutal group and their distressing methods of business for some time. Late last year Steven Joyce, Minister for Business, Innovation and Extermination, said that the government would not bow down to the terror group.
The National Party leader gave an impassioned speech to parliament.
“Sky City’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against the group. This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.
“New Zealand is already considered part of the coalition because we have previously signed certain deals with the casino operator which they are unable or unwilling to keep.
“The Government has been carefully considering its options to expand our contribution to the high rollers lounge offering humanitarian aid to those uber-wealthy hostages currently being held there.”
The Prime Minister was adamant this was absolutely the right thing to do.
“Mr Speaker, New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values. We stand up for what’s right. We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally and here at home. We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened. We have carved out our own independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it. We do what is in the National Party’s best interests.”
John Key said we could not be complacent and it was time the country stood together to fight against the scourge of Sky City.
I am at a crossroads with this blog. Last year was quite confronting for reasonably thinking people such as myself disgusted with what the Beehive leadership was doing to our democracy.
Yet, as the many millions the National Party spend on daily polling of “ordinary” New Zealanders, it turns out that yes, indeed, the things they are most worried about are those everyday things like health, education, housing and stuff. Using the SIS to further the political ambitions of the governing party, not so worried about.
For National to receive nearly 50% of the party vote (of those people who voted, mind) is confusing at best. Voters either believe John Key and his party, or they trust his lies more than the lies of someone who hasn’t been elected yet.
It all really comes down to a few questions: what is the point? Am I just writing this blog to make myself feel better – to vent my fury by taking swipes at those people who I truly believe will ruin this country for most of us? Am I actually changing anything with my words? What does spending all this time and energy satirising and lampooning the establishment actually achieve? Am I wasting my time preaching to the converted?
Over the holiday period while spending time in Manapouri with the people I love it dawned on me that, despite some of my posts being full of a great amount of hilarity, the are rarely positive. That is, they are satirical pieces that, if they were on twitter and 140 characters or less, would probably be defined as trolling. Yes they are dressed up with all manner of gaggery and hilarious tomfoolery, but they are, none the less, a negative force.
At the end of the day, lampooning the National Party in this country will get you slated through Whale Oil, Kiwiblog and the sharp mind of Lord Steven Joyce, Grandmaster of the Everything.
Never will they engage in legitimate and reasonable argument with you if there’s any hint that your argument is legitimate and reasonable and on the moral side of the equation.
So again I say, what is the point?
If I put my time and energy into something more positive than trying bring down a disaster of a two-track government, then maybe I’ll be less outraged about everything.
Apathy is winning this race.