Donald Trump attracts about as much interest over here as he does in the UK. Which is to say – quite a lot. The reaction that I hear in New Zealand, in the media and those I speak to, seems more interested in why he is so popular that in what he might do with that popularity. In the UK the coverage does seem to focus on the surfer, and ignores the wave.

There is the same instinctive distrust of politicians in New Zealand as there is in the UK, and indeed in the rest of the world. This manifests itself in Europe and the USA as votes for parties that might once have been described as protest votes. Except that UKIP gaining 40% of the vote in the last European elections in the UK and Donald Trump gaining 60% of the vote in recent Republican primaries, is too much to be describes as a protest.

Further the traditional parties to benefit from protest votes, Lib Dems in the UK and Green parties more widely, are not benefitting as they might once have done. Something else is happening. Indeed Syriza in Greece and nationalist movements across Europe are picking up votes from what might be described in “old political language” as “the working class”. They pick up votes from the left as well as the right. The unifying themes seem to be; concerns over uncontrolled immigration, and the rise of multi-national corporate power.

So when Donald Trump in the USA or Norbert Hofer in Austria lead the polls we are seeing something more than electorates poking the established parties in the eye. They are expressing a profound dissatisfaction with the system that has been characterised by Douglas Carswell (UKIP) in the UK as “crony corporatism”, covering the commercial and political fields. They are making a positive choice for a different way of doing things.

In the UK this is seen most clearly in the rejection of unlimited immigration of low skilled labour. Our political and commercial leaders continue to see this as an aberration. From this distance it looks more like the new normal.


World’s Best Country

New Zealand has again been rated the world’s best country by readers of the Telegraph in the UK. The article is here. So Kiwi natives who have noticed the numbers of Europeans, especially English and Germans, moving to New Zealand, had better brace themselves for more.

The article rightly praises the scenery. Oddly, it doesn’t mention the weather. Though I suppose if they had done that, there would have been no one left in the country to read their next article.

World from New Zealand

Here in New Zealand, there is absolutely no coverage of the forthcoming EU referendum in the UK. The longstanding inability of the UK to have a simple, free trading arrangement with New Zealand is met with weary resignation.

There is more interest in the newly signed Trans Pacific Partnership, which is the Pacific version of TTIP in the UK. Essentially a trade deal with the USA. It has been signed here and will now go through the normal National Interest Analysis stages in parliament. Though there is substantial opposition, there is little chance of it being rejected in New Zealand. Opposition here, as in the UK, is based on this trade deal being anything but a free trade deal. It represents one of the most egregious regulatory capture achievements by big business so far, to the detriment of ordinary consumers and tax payers. This case is well summarised by George Monbiot here. Hopes that the deal will not go through rest, as they do in the UK, on the US congress.

Separately New Zealand seems to be generally supportive, in a typically laid back and only vaguely engaged way, of Helen Clark’s bid to become the next Secretary General of the United Nations. Helen Clark is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand and is currently head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Sadly debate about whether she will get the job seems to be centred on buggins turn, rather than her suitability. The current Secretary General is Ban Ki-moon. So “Oceania” has just had its turn. This analysis would seem to point to a candidate from the former Eastern Europe, that has never held the role. However, Kofi Annan (Ghana) followed Boutros Boutros-Ghali (Egypt), so maybe Mrs Clark will yet get the job. Whoever gets it you can be sure there will have been all kinds of deals done that you will never hear about. You wouldn’t run a whelk stall this way!


Greece GDP Destruction

The World Bank tells us that GDP in Greece was US$354bn in 2008 and just US$235bn in 2008 . In current money terms the GDP of Greece was around 25% lower in 2015 than it was in 2008. And, it is still falling. There is absolutely no chance that the GDP of Greece will have recovered ten years on from the 2008 crisis.

By 1950 the GDP of Greece had recovered to the level it was in 1939 The GDP of Greece had recovered from the effects of World War II, even though the war did not end until 1945.That is right, the elites in Brussels have wrought more damage on Greece than all the death and destruction of World War II. GDP in the Euro Area as a whole is still below the pre-crisis level in 2008.

The EU Referendum gives us a chance to say “No – we do not want to be governed by people who unapologetically deliver this level of misery.” There has been no apology!