Life and Politics

Occasional comment on politics and the media in New Zealand

Tag: Bryce Edwards

Trotter and Edwards are wrong

by Jake Quinn

Otago University political studies lecturer Bryce Edwards writes the NZ Politics Daily. It’s a fantastic resource. Bryce does what a good blogger should do, he reviews and compiles the days ‘real’ journalism, synthesises it, presents it and offers, briefly, his learned view on it. For those of us following NZ politics from abroad it is an invaluable resource. Moreover, he collates all that material, which for political scientists studying this election is incredibly helpful.

Bryce has been accused of being too tough on Labour and the Greens. I don’t tend to agree with these accusations. Bryce is an academic, he’s sceptical of all parties and politicians generally, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps, as a commentator of the ‘left’ he is expected by some to fight their corner, he does not, this is why I respect his views especially. Today however I did disagree with his take on Chris Trotter’s latest reiteration of his diatribe against Labour and Phil Goff. Read the rest of this entry »


Things you may or may not find interesting

by Jake Quinn

There is a very interesting post and comments thread on Kiwipolitico, started by Paul G. Buchanan or ‘Pablo’ as he is known there, on the lack of public intellectuals in New Zealand. Outside of the many insightful comments in the comments thread itself, it roused interesting responses from both Chris Trotter and Bryce Edwards.

While I’m linking, do also check out this Colin James blog on Labour’s future, which leading up to this weekend’s party conference comes from the rather less pessimistic end of the opinion spectrum, it is definite food for thought.

Similarly thought provoking is Trotter’s Independant article on why National captured Labour’s ‘Waitakere man‘ at the last election.

Update: TVNZ 7, bless them, have a show hosted by Finlay MacDonald on Saturday nights at 9 called Talk Talk. Finlay talks to Judith Tizard in this episode where she talks about losing Auckland Central, the Mt Albert By-election ‘rumours’, coming from a political family, her friendships with Margaret Wilson and Helen Clark, having cancer, the guilt of a life in politics, and confirms that she will not make a decision about coming back into Parliament (she’s next on Labour’s list) until the time comes for that decision to be made!

Bryce Edwards on the death of the ‘left’

by Jake Quinn

A few weeks back, Otago Politics Lecturer Dr Bryce Edwards gave a talk to Dunedin drinking liberally.  He blogged his notes.

Bryce believes that the New Zealand political left is possibly at the lowest point that it’s been at for over a hundred years.  Bryce said:

I’m not going to waste much time cataloging the left’s desperate situation except to say that there are no significant leftwing groups around anymore, the so-called ‘leftwing political parties’ aren’t particularly left anymore, there’s no major journal of the left, magazine of the left, there’s few leftwing intellectuals of any prominence, and few people participate in leftwing protests…

There has also been a significant decline in the level of traditional working class militancy…

In terms of the left’s disorientation, I believe that the left has a major identity crisis at the moment, but that it’s a bigger problem than that – as a society we are having trouble understanding politics at all. The old ways of understanding and explaining politics isn’t really working.

Does a political movement really ever die? Or does what motivated it simply move on?  The left’s goal posts have shifted miles away from where they were 50 years ago.  Socialism, for instance, is now a dirty word (for many) in the Labour Party.

Does this mean that the left is dead? I do not think so.  Socialism probably is, in New Zealand at least, but these days the left is much more defined by issues like war, employment levels and the environment, than it is by stuff like nationalising the means of production or price setting.

Times have changed, communities and their issues evolve and so must political movements.  Decades of social liberalisation have left us with far less appetite for anti-establishment protest or ‘working class militancy’.  We just don’t have anything like enough to complain about any more, and we should count ourselves lucky.