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Farewell Matt! Unite office, 4pm, Wednesday

3 Mar

David Cunliffe (left) and Matt McCarten (Right) greet on a protest against the government’s anti-union laws

Unite is hosting a farewell for Matt McCarten this Wednesday at 4pm at the Auckland Unite offices at 6a western Springs Rd, Morningside, Auckland. It will be following a Unions Auckland meeting from 2-4pm at the same place on the union movement’s election strategy for 2014.

Matt was the founder of the organisng drive a decade ago that took Unite from a few hundred members to 7,000 members today. Along the way Unite reunionised sectors that had been considered too hard to organise by many – including fast foods, call centres, hotels, security, and language schools.

Matt has accepted a new role as chief of staff for the Labour Party leader David Cunliffe.

This is your chance to tell Matt this is the smartest or dumbest thing you think he (or David Cunliffe) has ever done. There is usually not much in between in discussions on this matter.

My own views on the matter are contained in this blog reprinted fom The Daily Blog.

The McCarten Appointment by Mike Treen

The decision by Labour Party leader David Cunliffe to appoint Unite Union leader Matt McCarten as his chief of staff has been a huge surprise on the left of politics.

The decision by Matt McCarten to accept the appointment is also something of a surprise to those who have seen Matt as one of the most prominent critics of the Labour Party’s failure to articulate a genuine and inspirational vision for the left.
If Labour wins the election Cunliffe’s decision will be seen as the inspired choice of a courageous leader. If Labour loses Matt and Cunliffe will probably be looking for a new job.

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Matt McCarten: Now for something similar …

2 Mar

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald On Sunday)

I’ve got a new day job.

Unfortunately it means I have to give up my Sunday morning conversations with you.

The political world was stunned on Wednesday when David Cunliffe announced me as his chief of staff.

Video
After the political establishment collectively got back off the floor, the inevitable political attacks started.

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Why Polly shouldn’t have that lolly

18 Feb

By Matt McCarten

Future generations will look back with horrified incredulity at how we allowed a cartel of international drug pushers to promote and sell poison legally.

They use our television, radio and print media and buy sophisticated promotions aimed at vulnerable victims. Once hooked on to a lifetime addiction, each will spend up to $100,000 over their lifetime for a product that has a 50 per cent chance of killing them.

I’m talking about tobacco, of course. Heroin and cocaine have a minuscule effect by comparison. The modest change of banning advertising and sports promotion and hiding cigarettes away in stores is applauded. The fight isn’t over but it’s in the home straight.

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Iwi leaders risk losing touch

12 Feb

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from Herald on Sunday, February 9, 2014)

That Iwi Leadership Group made a big mistake on Waitangi Day.

There’s been a lot of criticism over the years that many of them are a bunch of fat cats sucking on the teat of previous Waitangi settlements, living the good life. Staying at the ritziest hotel in the Bay of Islands with all the political and government elites on our national day is never a good look.

I don’t particularly begrudge the iwi leaders staying in the same air-conditioned five star accommodations where the politicians and our VIPs hang out. But they may have become ignorantly arrogant in this privileged isolation from their own people.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson – “pigs might fly.”

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Rose-tinted view cruel fairy tales

5 Feb

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, Februiary 2, 2014)

Winz Office. Many unemployed not receiving unemployment benefit

This Government manipulates statistics to show how well the economy is doing and most of us swallow it.

The manufactured consent is the economy is booming and the number of unemployed is at record lows.

Here’s my unease with the unemployment success story. There isn’t a week I don’t meet jobless people who are seeking work yet receive no support from the state.

Many friends and extended family are hardworking people who tell me they don’t register with Work and Income NZ because they claim they are hounded by officious bureaucrats and made to feel like something icky on the aforementioned’s shoe.

The stories are too numerous to convince me there isn’t a calculated policy to make it humiliating for workers down on their luck to apply for assistance.

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Expediency overrules integrity

28 Jan

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, 27 January, 2014)

Five years ago I was impressed with John Key. He showed real principle during the 2008 election campaign saying he would not lead a government that included Winston Peters. When pressed by an incredulous media, he calmly explained that if to be prime minister he needed NZ First he would step aside and let Helen Clark govern with him. His reason? He didn’t trust Peters.

It was a master stroke and contributed more to National’s victory over Clark than people realise. Peters was deeply unpopular. His twinkling charm had been replaced with a shifty sneer. Key’s announcement followed Peters’ denial he had received money from Owen Glenn, when in my opinion he clearly had.

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Dotcom’s bid doesn’t compute

21 Jan

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, 20 January, 2014)

I’m a democrat so I will always support any political initiative that gets citizens involved in the running of society.

I wrote in this column some months ago that Kim Dotcom would launch his own party. He has the profile, charisma, money and motivation. He also has a ready-made potential constituency. His claim of having 15,000 internet followers signing up to attend his launch party is impressive. Dotcom is a media showman and will be treated seriously by the fourth estate – initially anyway.

Bob Jones was the last non-politician to successfully form a political party to unseat a prime minister. Dotcom wants to do the same. The difference is that in 1984 Robert Muldoon had had three terms and was tired and deeply unpopular. Jones’ call for free-markets against Muldoon’s “state socialism” was a siren call that gained him 12 per cent of the vote, ending National’s reign. None of those factors apply today.

Cynicism suggests Dotcom’s motivation is more about ego and self-interest.

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Facts to arm voters at the polls

14 Jan

“Labour and the Greens require Mana’s Hone Harawira to retain Tai Tokerau and bring in a couple of others. Co-operation to take Waiariki away from the Maori Party is critical to them.”

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from the Herald on Sunday, January 12, 2014)

This is election year, and here are 10 things punters around the watercooler tomorrow should know.

1. Polling indicates all party support levels are pretty consistent. Past elections show polling numbers don’t change a lot in election year. Therefore the election will be close and determined by the minor parties’ fortunes.

2. The respected Pundit website’s poll of polls shows National is likely to get 58 seats and Labour and the Greens 59 seats. The minor parties get six MPs: Maori Party three; Act 1, United Future one and Mana one, making 123 MPs in total. NZ First and Conservatives fall under the threshold.

3. If the above happens on election day there will be an “overhang”, and any prime minister would require support from 62 MPs to govern. John Key wants the Maori Party and either Act or Peter Dunne. David Cunliffe obviously needs the Greens. Mana needs three MPs to get the left across the line.

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Just one MP may call the shots

9 Jan

It’s on the bus for parliamentarians who lose their seats – and their perks

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from Herald on Sunday, January 5, 2014)

I know you may think it’s too early to think about politics, particularly as we are all in switch-off mode after the Christmas and New Year stress period. How many resolutions have you broken so far? Are you looking to your 2014 career prospects with dread or optimism?

It’s election year this year. It’s life and death for our politicians.

When the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, every MP – apart from the handful of MPs voluntarily resigning from Parliament – would have thought: “I want to keep my job and perks”. Then they would resolve to get themselves better prospects in 2014.

Here’s the challenge for them. Under our adversarial electoral system, for any MP to get a job, someone else has to lose theirs. For any MP to get promoted, someone has to lose their job. All MPs must watch their backs to keep their jobs (they really are trying to knife each other) and they have to kill someone to get their next promotion. It’s a kill or be killed environment.

Opposition parties’ official job really is to defeat the Government parties. If they are successful, the Government ministers lose their power, perks and pay. Their staff go, too. Instead of having a chauffeur on call they have to catch cabs. If they lose their seat they get to wait for a bus. For many politicians, the thought of getting a real job is worse than death and they’ll do anything to prevent it.

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Insult to send tour supporters

16 Dec

By Matt McCarten

(Reprinted from Herald on Sunday, 15 December 2013)

What an insult that John Key appointed Jim Bolger and Don McKinnon as part of a five-person New Zealand delegation to Nelson Mandela’s memorial services.

Both were members of a National government that supported apartheid and labelled Mandela a terrorist. They cynically used the Springbok rugby propaganda tour in 1981 to whip up the redneck base for electoral purposes. On the back of the carnage the tour caused, their party called a snap election and scraped home by one seat.

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