When the “losers won” – and the loser lost: the first post-baby-boomer election

Background notes for Victoria University post-election conference
Colin James, 6 December 2017

This was the election the “losers won”, the National party and its devotees, apologists and puppets grumped when Winston Peters and his New Zealand First party decided to coalesce with Labour. National got 44.4% of the vote to Labour’s 36.9%.

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The Mark Twain syndrome – why cities might rule (sometime)

NZIIA Masterton 17Nov29

The Mark Twain syndrome – why cities might rule (sometime)
Colin James to Masterton branch, New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
29 November 2017

Mark Twain quipped that a report of his death was an exaggeration. The same is often said of the sovereign nation-state. But Mark Twain did die, 13 years after the exaggerated report.
Death reduced Mark Twain to putrefaction and sustenance for creatures of the dark. His words live on, a disembodied testament to our human need and yearning for ways to knit belief that we have meaning and are distinct from and superior to all other living things in this temporary, 10-billion-year habitat whose sun will one day go out.
We invest similar belief and hope in our governing constructs. But, like Mark Twain, they are not immortal. Multiple empires and multiple lesser satrapies and realms have disintegrated and dematerialised through the past three of four millennia…..

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Green is the new blue. Can blue be the new green?

[Comments to Bluegreens forum with environmental organisations]

Green is the new blue. Or will be for those who want to be politically relevant in the 2020s.

When the Green party started out as the Values party in 1972, green was a “nice-to-have”. It was local. It mostly didn’t get in the way of expanding gross domestic product – except when tweed-jacketed conservatives joined with radicals to block the high dam on Lake Manapouri in 1970, as they did again in 2010 when Gerry Brownlee wanted to dig up conservation land for minerals and metals.

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Keep the revolution rolling? Or bring back the cardigan?

Colin James, Australia New Zealand School of Government seminar, Wellington,
5 August, 2016

This is work and thought in progress. Constructive comments welcome to ColinJames@synapsis.co.nz.

A public service serves the public, or should. It is, or is supposed to be, the instrument of the collective public will and interest. When the public changes, or changes its mind, so logically does, or should, the public service.

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Lives are local

Colin James sum-up comments to Inspiring Communities conference
Wellington 22 June 2016

You are doers. I am a be-er/talker. You are insiders. I am an outsider. So I should stop now and let you get on with the “messy” business you do, as Nichola Brehaut put it.

But perhaps I should pick up Nicola’s “messy” point. “Messy” is democratic and your disparate actions in response to the people around you are the essence of democracy. Doing things democratically, as you do, may, as Nicola also said, take a little longer but it leads to better outcomes – “hoods” can become “goods”, Stone Soup told us.

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When the cord breaks: the fourth Labour government

Talk by Colin James to Christchurch Labour, 19 May 2016

“The moment of conception is a barrier surpassed, birth a boundary crossed. Gunter Grass’s Oskar, the mettlesome hero of The Tin Drum, narrates in real time his troubling passage through the birth canal and his desire, once delivered into the world, to reverse the process. The room is cold. A moth beats against the naked light bulb. But it’s too late to turn back, the midwife has cut the cord.” – Francis Stonor Saunders, “Where on Earth are you?”, London Review of Books, Vol 38 No5, 3 March 2016.

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Advance Australia Fair?

Introductory comments by Colin James, Wanaka Aspiring Conversations, 24 April 2016.

Tomorrow is the centennial Anzac Day, the day when we first paused in our daily lives to grieve the killing at Gallipoli and find meaning. (Worse was to come in France and Belgium.) We were on that day in 1916 two dominions linked in battle for our empire.

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