On the campaign trail in Dunedin North with Victor Billot

Alliance Party blog

Archive for September 2008

Prog Rock

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The ugliest website in the world award must go to the Progressive Party. They used to have quite a nice one until recently but now have created this ugly beast of a thing that looks like a dial a pizza site from the late 1990s. They have amazingly even done worse than ACT whose website has the hue and consistency of regurgitated custard and New Zealand First, whose website looks like a fanclub for an ageing Latin American danceband singer . . . which is fairly accurate on reflection.

The Progressive Party is quite simply a waste of time. They have no policies distinguishable from Labour, their leader performed a good job fifteen years ago but is now to all effects and purposes a loyal Labour Party MP in all but name. They don’t achieve anything because they can’t be seen to disagree with Helen Clark. In fact, they serve only to block the regeneration of a real, democratic socialist party like the Alliance. I can say this because in my time I delivered lots of leaflets for Jim. Many thousands. The guy turned out to be a terrible disappointment. He should rejoin Labour, but he won’t, because he can’t handle not being the main man. Even if its the main man of the Progressive Party . . .

They had a young guy run in Dunedin North last time, whose name I forget and who gave one terrible speech at the University. He kept on telling me I had to “play the game” to “get anywhere.” With ideals and radical fire like this, the Progressive Party is neither Progressive nor a Party. More meaningless and a dull, dull time.

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September 30, 2008 at 10:16 am

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Success! Victor is on the panel for education debate

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I received a phone call this afternoon from NZUSA co-president Liz Hawes who gave me a formal invitation to join the panel at this Friday’s education debate (3pm at the Dunedin Teacher’s Column Auditorium).

I have accepted with thanks and look forward to speaking at the debate for free education for all.

Thanks also to OPSA who earlier offered to take me along as an official guest.

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September 30, 2008 at 4:42 am

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Let Victor Speak . . . at the education debate

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Update 2: I have been invited to join the panel!

Update: I have a campaign group for this issue on Facebook

The OUSA and OPSA, the two Dunedin student associations, are hosting a student debate. Victor Billot will not be allowed to speak in favour of free education – at this stage. Let’s change the mind of the people who run these things! I want to speak and I want a place on the platform.

Here’s the background from OUSA President Simon Wilson in the latest Critic:

“This Friday 3 October, starting at 3pm, OUSA, OPSA (the Otago Polytechnic Students Association) and NZUSA (the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations) will be hosting a Tertiary Education Debate in the Teachers College Auditorium. So far Pete Hodgson (Labour,) Meteria Turei (Greens)
and Hilary Calvert (Act) have confirmed their attendance. We will have a representative from the National Party and there should be someone there from the three other parties with MPs in parliament as well. The MPs will be debating the future of tertiary education in New Zealand. They will be given a short time to speak and then you will have a chance to ask your questions.
I look forward to seeing you there.”

Gee – my invitation seems to have got lost in the mail.

There’s going to be representatives from Labour – who introduced user pays education in the 1980s – and National – who hiked fees in the 1990s – and did I mention Labour, under whose rule student loans have crashed through the $10.3 billion barrier.

In fact, it seems all the parties who support user pays education in one form or another have got an invite.

But that leaves out one party. The Alliance. Who support free education.

We pay for this through progressive taxation. It means people like John Key and Helen Clark will have to pay a bit more tax . . . like well off people used to . . . which is why we used to have free education. Read the rest of this entry »

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September 29, 2008 at 4:02 am

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TV spot

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September 27, 2008 at 12:06 pm

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On the waterfront

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At Port Chalmers today for my work I was part of an International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspection of a flag of convenience container vessel to check on crew’s wages and conditions. I also caught up with some of the workers in the messroom and discussed the election campaign. Here I am with Maritime Union national president and Port Chalmers watersider Phil Adams (left) and ITF New Zealand co-ordinator Grahame McLaren (right.)

Below is a photo of onboard one of the vessels later tonight.

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September 24, 2008 at 6:27 am

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Fiery campaign?

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Every election campaign, we go around and put up our signs. And every election campaign, bogans go around and smash ’em over. There is no political reason for this, I’m pretty sure, more a kind of pervasive stupidity that seems to be par for the course.

On the lookout for sign damage today though I came across a new phenomenon in the quiet suburb of Green Island: a burned out sign belonging to Labour candidate Clare Curran. A case of spontaneous combustion – or maybe the campaign is heating up?

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September 23, 2008 at 6:24 am

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Sign O The Times

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The signs are going up around town and today Harry and I covered South Dunedin.

Here’s my analysis of the election signage I’ve seen so far:

National (or more appropriately the Party for Global Corporate Shareholders) seem to have an inconsistent approach to signage. In Auckland they’ve got large, pale blue advertising hoardings paid for by their mates in the Business Roundtable who are itching for a chance to put the boot into workers again properly. (It’s been nearly a decade and they’ve had to put up with only a high degree of inequality and moderately fat dividends.)
However despite all the cash the hoardings are only average, which proves that money can’t buy style.
In Dunedin they have concentrated on smaller signs with pictures of John Key looking like one of those guys who are responsible for the world financial meltdown next to Conway Powell looking like a heavily made up candidate dumped to number 58 on the list. Which is, in both cases, entirely accurate.
I looked up Conway on the ODT and got this hilarious result

Labour” (should that be Liberals) billboard’s are graphically superior and quite effective with a couple of big ticks. Interestingly they don’t bother to say what they actually stand for. Which is a good question – what do Labour stand for? They have obviously decided that there is no point running a campaign on their flip flop, bob each way, $10 billion student debtfree trade with the Burmese military dictatorship policies so have concentrated entirely on “vote for me” class president style billboards. 

The Greens have recovered from their disastrous, unreadable 2005 signage by going for some planetary consciousness branding, but it still is pretty unreadable. I’ve heard rumours that they have done a makeover on Russel Norman.

I noticed a couple of Democrats for Social Credit signs as well. They are very small and seem to feature what looks like a giant flapping turkey.

Apart from that there are no ACT signs, no NZ First, no Jim Anderton Progressive Coalition did I tell you my name was Jim Anderton Party signs, no United Future or no Christian fundamentalist witchburning Party signs anywhere.

C’mon guys, if a grassroots, member-driven party with no big business handouts like the Alliance can get its signs up in Dunedin, why can’t you get your act together?

(I did however see some ACT signs in Auckland – I guess ACT are a very Auckland party. They seem to have chosen a kind of jaundiced yellow as their campaign colour. Now where have I seen that colour before . . ?)

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September 22, 2008 at 5:16 am

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Close encounters of the Winston Kind

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Imagine my surprise today as I strolled into Otago University for a lunchtime interview with Critic magazine. A crowd was gathered around and I pushed through the spectators towards a strangely familiar voice.

There he was in pinstriped resplendence, the Minister for Racing, Deputy Dubious Donation Demon and allround remnant of a past glorious age of New Zealand politics where dinosaurs trod the earth . . .

Winston Peters.

Peters, like Lange, Muldoon, and Napoleon, is a short man. Let’s leave aside the psychological implications of this, and instead admire his bouffant, remarkable hairstyle which seems to have gone grey very quickly.

The assembled students stared blankly at him as he rambled on, obviously in a relaxed mood, sporting a cheeky grin and trailed by a throng of media supplicants hoping for some history making moment.

Question time caused some problems as the intellectual elite of tomorrow looked on like a herd of sleepy ruminants and the silence became a little embarrassing. Peters is a man used to fending off rabid journalists and fraud office operatives, and was not prepared for the resounding lack of interest from the young scholars.

So, feeling sorry for him, I asked a question. The Student President looked depressed as I strode forward and introduced myself. I gave Winston a bit of a ginger up and it was heartwarming to see the Old Warrior light up as I gave him someone to focus on in a good old fashioned slanging match. He patronized me and I told him he was on the way out, then I asked my question, and he performed a magic Houdini trick of telling everyone all the good things New Zealand First had done.

None of this was anything to do with my question, and indicates perhaps his continuing fascination for the Fourth Estate, who have devoted an entire election campaign to his pantomime act while refusing to engage in any serious debate on trifling issues like $10 billion student debt, free trade with China and the global recession.

Afterwards I went off into the Student Cafe to do my Critic interview, where I watched a streaker run past Winston and the crowd – a suitably surreal moment that I would entitle the Naked and the Politically Dead in homage to Norman Mailer – if it wasn’t for the fact that Winston will invent some transparently obvious ruse in the week before the election.

For example, blaming leaky house syndrome on Martian immigrant lizards from Asia – and comfortably romping home with the last minute “dense” voters, who will fasten on his words as the answer to all of life’s problems. That’s our Winston.

Written by Victor

September 19, 2008 at 5:09 am


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I always appreciate honesty, and Rickey Ward is a honest man. Rather than all the rhetorical bull s. of John Key, Mr Ward has summed up the current debacle of the world economic crash with a simple analysis.

Mr Ward, who is joint domestic equities manager at Tyndall Investment Management, said sharemarkets were being driven by fear and New Zealand was no exception.

The old saying in the markets is that they’re driven by greed and fear,” Ward said. “We’ve seen the greed three years ago when the market just kept rallying, now you’re seeing fear.” 

Now for the million dollar question: why do we entrust our future, and the future of the planet, to people like this, and to a system like this?

Answers on the back of a postcard to PO Box 339, Dunedin. The winning entry receives an autographed copy of the Alliance manifesto.

Written by Victor

September 17, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Making movies

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I returned last night from Auckland and working on the Alliance opening address for TV. The filming and editing was done by a small team at TVNZ who did an efficient job. I came up with the concept and from the early edits I saw I am pleased with how it came out. I was also pleased to use some music and creative contributions from friends in the ad. Democracy in action – it appeals to the indie punk rock DIY attitude. No corporate sponsors or ad agencies running this one!

I understand the finished product will be on TV around 8 October. 

Here’s a pic of me helping out on the set by waving around a large piece of polystyrene.

Written by Victor

September 17, 2008 at 11:18 pm