This appeared in the February issue of Policy Quarterly, published by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies this week. It is a very brief scan of what State Services Minister and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins proposes for what is now known as the state sector (but for which there is growing pressure to rethink it as a public service) and for Parliament.
Around the time I returned from London in 1978 a businessman punched a young journalist called Colin James. People in politics sympathised with me, some barely suppressing schadenfreude.
That other, punched, Colin James went offshore soon after. No one punched this Colin James (me), at least not physically. The incident reinforced for me the merit for a journalist of humility.
It’s time to anoint the politician of 2017. It has to be Jacinda Ardern.
With accomplished assurance, she took Labour from a 24% poll average and falling in July to 36.9% in the election, 12 points up on 2014.
Don Brash’s 2002-05 18-point rescue of National beats that. But Ardern did it in under eight weeks, combining substance and connectedness. She is not “stardust”, Bill English’s shabby scoff. She is of a rising generation, he of a passing one.
Colin James for Arts Wellington, 23 November 2017
The arts are icing on the cake, not the cake? Not for the new Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. “A strong cultural and creative sector is vital to our national identity and economic development,” she laid down in Labour’s election manifesto.
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%.
National will soon have some finance numbers to get its teeth into. So will Labour. The Treasury HYEFU is on December 14.
The HYEFU is the half-year economic and fiscal update. With it comes a budget policy statement setting out Jacinda Ardern’s ministers’ intentions for the next four years.
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…..
It has been a month for centenaries of revolutions: Vladimir Lenin’s Russian coup and Martin Luther’s challenge to Catholic authorities. Their legacies are very different.
Lenin’s revolution brought to power a brutal Communist autocracy which killed capitalism in one country but also over time trashed the collectivist alternative ideal. Western socialists, including Labourites here, turned to a social democratic accommodation with capitalism.
Here’s a number to make the new government’s day: 48% more people are positive than are negative about where the country is now going.
UMR Research asks people whether “things … are heading in the right direction or are … off on the wrong track”.
Throughout the Key-English time there was a net positive reading, sometimes strongly so.
Senior ministers have been abroad on national business: trade and climate change. Doing such business well needs a firm, broadly agreed national foundation. Can Parliament measure up?
Not if you judge it by the National-Labour petty points-scoring on swearing-in day last Tuesday.
Shadow leader of the House Simon Bridges withdrew National’s agreement the previous day to back Trevor Mallard for Speaker to leverage an increase in select committee numbers above what he had proposed pre-election.