Tag Archives: new zealand

Tom Arms’ World Review

Ukraine

Ukraine is tank country. It is part of the flat and fertile North European plain which stretches from the Urals to the North Sea. That very same corridor has throughout history doubled as a military highway for invading armies head East or West.

This geopolitical fact is why Russia started the Ukraine War with a massive arsenal of 10,000 tanks and Ukraine had 2,500.  Since the fighting started nearly a year ago, the Russians have lost about 1,500 of their tanks. But relatively speaking to the initial size of their forces, the Ukrainians have fared worse with a loss of about a quarter of their tanks.

The Ukrainian losses on the tank battlefield, coupled with the importance of armour in the flat terrain, is the reason why Vlodomyr Zelensky is pleading with NATO for more armour.

The three countries that have tanks to spare are the US, Germany and Poland. The UK and France decided ten years ago that another North European war was unlikely and ran down their tank forces. France has only 200 main battle tanks and the UK about 220.

The US is well short of the Russians at 6,612 tanks, but if you add Germany’s 2,761 Leopard tanks and Poland’s fast-growing arsenal, the Ukrainians could match Russia tank for tank.

The problem is that the Germans are reluctant to be seen to escalate the conflict and the Biden Administration needs a strong European (which in this case means German) commitment to justify sending state of the art M1 Abrams tanks.

This leaves Poland, with some help from Finland and the Baltic states, to fill the yawning gap in Ukrainian armoured battalions. In the meantime, Ukraine is preparing for Russia’s inevitable tank-led spring offensive.

New Zealand

Jacinda Adern, has voluntarily, out of the blue, resigned. The prime minister of tiny New Zealand is one of the most respected international figures. She successfully introduced strict gun laws after the Christchurch mosque shooting left 51 dead; led her Labour Party to an historic landslide victory and organised one of the few successful containments of the covid virus. But Ms Adern has decided her work is done and is stepping down.

Now compare the New Zealand leader to other Western politicians who are prepared to lie, cheat and twist the law to cling to power. Britain’s Boris Johnson and America’s Donald Trump immediately spring to mind. Trump with his unfounded claim that he won the 2020 presidential election and Boris with who claimed ignorance of Downing Street parties during the covid lockdown. Ms Adern led by example when she was in office and she is doing same with her departure and is being praised for doing so. Politicians who are concerned about their legacies should take note.

USA

The moral high ground is where every politician wants to be. Donald Trump has never managed more than a foot or two up the mountain and his failure to climb higher was a factor in his 2020 electoral defeat at the hands of “relatively honest” Joe Biden. Now, Biden has suffered a major downhill slide: classified documents have been found where they should not be – in his office and even his garage.  Their discovery has inevitably been compared to the discovery of classified material in Trump’s Mar-a-lago home and led to another special counsel investigation of another president.

However, document-gate does not appear to have adversely impacted on Biden’s popularity. His approval ratings have actually gone up this month from 38 to 44 percent.  Pundits believe that the voters are inured to moral shortcomings but have been impressed that the US is enjoying record unemployment, lower inflation and impressed by the Democrats’ performance in the mid-term elections.

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Ardern: A graceful resignation from an inspiring leader

It came as a surprise. People in the UK and elsewhere woke up to the news that Jacinda Ardern, the admired prime minister of New Zealand is to step down next month. She announced the news in an emotional speech at the Labour annual caucus meeting on Thursday.

I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.

In resigning, Ardern is once again a role model for the world. History is littered with despots and politicians who have clung to power for too long. Hung on when, even if they are not exhausted, citizens are exhausted of them. In this country, Blair, Johnson and Thatcher come to mind and worldwide, too many despots to mention.

Ardern has always been different. Caring not cruel. Dedicated more than ambitious and avaricious. She had earned a reputation as a compassionate and credible prime minister, admired internationally, perhaps more so than she currently is at home. She steered her country through the pandemic, the Christchurch terrorist killings and the deadly Whakaari volcanic eruption.

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Dodds slams New Zealand trade deal

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of dealing a hammer blow to Welsh sheep farmers after news broke that the UK and New Zealand have signed a trade deal. They are worried that lower standard and cheap meat from New Zealand could flood the UK markets and leave the British and Welsh farming industry unable to compete.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

I am extremely disappointed that the Conservative Government has decided to toss Welsh sheep farmers aside in this manner, completely ignoring their concerns and breaking previous commitments to the farming community made by the Party.

The NFU has also criticised the deal saying it had heard next to nothing from the government on how British agriculture is expected to compete with either Australia or New Zealand which both face less regulation than their British counterparts.

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Daily View 2×2: 30 April 2020

2 big stories

So, will Matt Hancock reach his target of 100,000 tests today? And even if that capacity is reached, will they be carried out? It’s not looking terribly optimistic when even NHS Providers, which represents foundation trusts in England, dismisses the 100,000 target as a “red herring” that distracted from the failures of ministers.

Setting targets and missing them is bad enough, but setting meaningless, and possibly even misdirected ones, and msssing them anyway, seems to be the story of this Government’s handling of the crisis.

It’s a sign of the general uselessness of the British print media that, for …

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If Jacinda Ardern can do it, why can’t Johnson?


Embed from Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a complete lockdown of her country from Wednesday. Only essential services people will be allowed outside their homes.

New Zealand currently has 102 reported cases of Covid-19, with zero deaths from the disease.

The UK currently has 5,683 cases with 281 deaths. (Figures from John Hopkins University).

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Referenda need not offer binary choices

It might well be that the United Kingdom, or its successor rump state of England and Wales, will be relying on the skills of the New Zealand’s trade negotiators to help shape the Brexit agreement with the EU. Amusingly, these might be the same people who are also representing  New Zealand and Australia in areas where those two countries collaborate to reach common terms with the post-EU British / English-Welsh state.

That’s a mouthful of a paragraph because it’s a mind-blowing idea, or should be.

But it would unlikely to have become reality had it been thought about before the Brexit referendum.

Unfortunately, we have somehow got it into our heads that referenda are binary, yes / no questions.

But they needn’t be.

And we could have learned that lesson from New Zealand before forcing many people to choose between the status quo and an option that was, really, many options, none even remotely defined.

Last year and this, New Zealanders voted in two referenda designed to address one issue: to keep the current flag or replace it with a different design.

In developing the question to be put to the electorate, prime Minister John Key, his advisors and the parliamentary committee tasked with establishing the rules under which the referendum would happen realised that a simple yes / no option along the lines of “would you like to replace the current flag of New Zealand with a new design?” might well have resulted in a yes vote. There would then have followed a lengthy period of bitter argument about what the resulting flag should look like, at the end of which a significant percentage of the population who had voted for change might well have ended up wishing after seeing the new flag that they had voted, instead, to keep the current one.

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In praise of…New Zealand’s referenda culture

This summer, the global news media was not at all rocked to its foundations by news of New Zealand’s forthcoming referendum on a national flag.  The centre-right National Party led by John Key is in the middle of a (possibly misjudged) bid for centre-ground opinion by pursuing a symbolic rebranding of the nation. In a country with a complex colonial legacy, this is arguably opening a can of worms – but maybe a necessary one.

I’m in no position to assess the relative merits of the many flag proposals, but I am intrigued by the process. A long-list will be …

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Edward McMillan-Scott MEP writes… 100 years on from World War I, let’s remember the EU’s role in spreading peace and democracy

Anzac day License Some rights reserved by Ian McKenzieToday is Anzac Day, when we remember those Australians and New Zealanders who fell fighting during the First World War side by side with British soldiers, and the senseless sacrifices of millions of men and women who died across Europe and the rest of the world.

This year will see the one hundredth year anniversary of the First World War and it should give us time to pause and reflect on the tragedies of the first half of the twentieth-century.

As we do …

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New Zealand Parliament rejoices at passing of same sex marriage bill

Something made me cry today, and it involved a bunch of politicians in what is normally a solemn ritual.

It took place in the New Zealand Parliament when MPs voted in favour of same sex marriage. In the House of Commons, you might, if you’re lucky, get some order papers waved. Having said that, I hear tales of The Land and Lloyd George knew my father being sung in the Lords voting lobby by certain of our peers late one night.

Anyway, look at this place – real warm  celebrations. Hugs, kisses, flowers and the spontaneous rendition of a Maori …

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10 lessons for winning an AV referendum

An excellent post from Neil Stockley:

Holding a public vote on changing the voting system is a radical step for the UK. But it has been done before. In 1993, my home country, New Zealand held the second of two referendums to decide how to elect MPs. An established Westminster democracy voted by a 54:46 per cent margin to get rid of first past the post (FPTP) voting and put in its place the German-style mixed member proportional (MMP) system…

Of course, the UK in 2011 will not be New Zealand in 1993 and, for that matter, AV is not a proportional voting system. But I

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