John Armstrong

Tits for hands

Nick Smith really does have tits for hands.

John Armstrong explains:

With the countdown to polling day about to be measured in weeks rather than months, Bill English, while keeping his fingers strictly crossed, has had reason to feel increasingly confident that he will not fall victim to the tide of populism which has engulfed neo-liberal leaders like him across the globe.

The opinion polls still have National enjoying just as comfortable a margin over its rivals as had been the case before the change in prime ministers.

The economy continues to hum along nicely. There is no discernible mood for change.

Enter Nick Smith. The Environment Minister’s extraordinarily inept handling of the acutely sensitive matters arising from the export of bottled water invited the very backlash that English would have thought he was escaping. ? Read more »

John Armstrong points out some cold hard truths over Pike River

John Armstrong has a very good piece at TVNZ about Pike River:

When it comes to the vexed question of whether the families of the men killed in the Pike River disaster will be granted permission to recover the bodies of their loved ones, you can forget it.

It ain’t going to happen. Not now. Not ever. Full stop.

Good to see a media commentator not playing politics with this and dealing with facts.

Even were Solid Energy to have a rush of blood to its head and reverse its current intention to seal the mine’s entrance for good and instead allow a recovery operation to be mounted, the company’s managers would find a prohibition order slapped on them by WorkSafe New Zealand, the Crown agency responsible for administering the new and much tougher law now covering occupational health and safety. ? Read more »

New Zealand Media accused of anti-Israel bias

Despite some people claiming that our coverage of UN Resolution 2334 was a beltway issue of little importance to New Zealand the New Zealand mainstream media eventually decided to cover it. Over the past three weeks, the New Zealand Herald published in total?46 articles, letters and opinion pieces on UN Resolution 2334. It was good that they covered it so well but was their coverage balanced? According to an article on, it wasn’t. Twenty-three items were for the resolution, fourteen were against and nine were neutral.

Mainstream New Zealand media published some opinion pieces which drew attention to?the imbalance and faults of UNSC Resolution 2334 and gave some?historical context for the Arab Palestinian/Israel conflict. The unusual alliance with the undemocratic nations of Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela to sponsor Resolution 2334 led to serious questions within New Zealand and abroad.

A diplomatic crisis with Israel ensued…

…Some commentators have crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israel into anti-Semitism or straight-out lies. Below are a selection of the worst offenders, in chronological order. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ignorant and hateful writing we have seen.

Read more »

Haere Ra John

John Armstrong / via NZME,

John Armstrong has been struggling with his health, and recent organisational changes at the organ he’s been so faithful to were always going to see him put under pressure to take his leave.

Here is a message to the anonymous Herald reader who was so angry with a column I had written that he offered to drive me to the airport on condition I left the country.

Save yourself the bother, mate. I’m out of here. I’m on my bike (or at least, would be if I could get on a bike). Read more »

Paraphrasing John Armstrong: “Geez Labour, do I have to do everything by myself?”

This piece is quite amusing. ?In it Armstrong appears destroyed as the opposition fumble the Saudi Sheep Deal hit

Given the already surreal shemozzle, otherwise known as the Great Saudi Sheep Saga, the likelihood of more embarrassments emerging from official documents should have had National feeling like a lamb to the slaughter on Tuesday afternoon.

Labour and New Zealand First should, by contrast, have been pigs in muck or rather sheep in clover when the papers were released after countless Official Information Act requests.

The next morning’s papers and news bulletins would have been expected to highlight fresh revelations to go with the farm in the desert and sheep flying Singapore Airlines on what might be termed the Shrek Trek from the verdant uplands of New Zealand to the parched sands of Saudi Arabia.

It could have been the script from a Wallace and Gromit movie. But it did not happen.

Sorry John. ?At times, it does feel like you’re the only one trying to bring this government down. ?Have a cuppa. ? Read more »

John Armstrong writes off Peters as being old an irrelevant; doesn?t see the irony

John Armstrong?s columns are all over the place like a mad woman?s poo and are turning ever more curmudgeonly without the wit or courage needed to carry it off.

If anything, he should know that Winston is actually positioning himself for his best result yet. ?Armstrong, not so much.

Unfashionable – and deliberately so.

New Zealand First’s relative popularity resides in its offering the politically dazed and confused a vision of the future based on nostalgia for the relatively recent past.

The party is marooned in a time bubble of the economic boom of the 1950s along with the suffocating social conformity of that era.

Its unwillingness to confront that myth of a better past will ultimately be the death of it as those who lived through those times and who gain comforting reassurance from Winston Peters’ pronouncements pass away. ? Read more »

John Armstrong tries to polish a turd (and fails)

Labour’s sudden willingness to play the race card and blame a glut of well-heeled Chinese investors for sky-rocketing house prices in the Auckland property market is a further indication of Andrew Little’s willingness to trade political correctness for political effectiveness.

At the same time, what kind of Opposition party would look such a gift-horse in the mouth as leaked details of real estate transactions – especially given the Auckland housing crisis is currently the hottest political issue and one where Labour has held the upper hand.

Given the Government’s reluctance to compile such data, Labour could argue it was acting in the public interest.

Not that such a rationale would wash with those criticising Labour for playing the race card and accusing the party of shonky analysis of limited data which Labour claims shows that Chinese people accounted for nearly 40 per cent of transactions over a three-month period earlier this year.

Even Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy – who has not always been as quick off the mark as she was yesterday – waded into the argument, saying Labour’s actions were “disappointing” and Chinese New Zealanders deserved better.

Labour may have looked like it was very much on the back foot with media coverage focused on what the party’s critics were saying, rather than what Labour had uncovered.

But the Labour hierarchy probably considers the more criticism the merrier. It keeps the story running.

Labour’s target audience in this instance is the silent majority who will believe Labour has come close enough to confirming what until now had been anecdote.

It hasn’t escaped careful observers that a newspaper and one of its largest clients, Barfoot & Thompson, have been trying to turn lemons into lemonade. ?Every since the leaked (“leaked”?) Barfoot & Thompson data so spectacularly backfired, a newspaper has been trying to calm the horses.

Rather odd, unless you put it in the right context.

And here’s John Armstrong, saying that this whole affair is nothing but manna from heaven for Little and Labour.

The numbers simply don’t stack up.

For Armstrong to sell the idea that racial profiling is a great topic for Labour to get behind as a party as it may gain more votes than it loses shows he’s either well past his use-by date, or he’s working for a newspaper that was part of this well manufactured hit on National… until it backfired and turned it into nightmare for Labour and the newspaper’s major client: Barfoot & Thompson.

Labour has to get people thinking and talking about the party. Last weekend’s real estate expose is just what the doctor ordered.

In that case. ?I’m looking forward to more a newspaper/Labour/Barfoot & Thompson Dirty Media hits. ?Because if there’s one thing I like, is talking about the Labour Party.


– John Armstrong, a newspaper

Bizarre rant from Armstrong on Iraq deployment

I’m getting a bit sick of John Armstrong and his prognostications on defence matters.

New Zealand’s 100-plus contingent of military training specialists plus support personnel have barely arrived in Iraq. Yet the folly of this military (mis)adventure is already rapidly becoming apparent.

Last week’s fall of the city of Ramadi after Iraqi forces capitulated to Islamic State fighters, despite heavily outnumbering their enemy, has shifted the front-line in this sectarian struggle worryingly close to Taji, the huge military camp within which the New Zealanders are based alongside Australian counterparts.

Unless the Isis (Islamic State) advance is halted, the New Zealand Government is going to be faced with a major dilemma at some point in the not-too-distant future: pull the training team out of Iraq and lose face, plus earn black marks from the Americans and the Australians; or stick it out for the sake of good form and loyalty to allies and gamble on things not deteriorating with the risks this brings, including the possibility of casualties.

National’s predicament was neatly summed up by New Zealand First MP and former Army officer Ron Mark in an entry on his Facebook page last Friday.

“Latest update from the US on Isis. Taji is only 91km from Ramadi. The same distance I drive from Carterton to Wellington to attend Parliament. Isis could be in artillery range of our troops in 30 minutes.” He added a question for Mr Key: “What’s our plan, John?”

I’m not sure listening to a former truck mechanic on military matters is wise.? Read more »

Is Audrey Young still embarrassed?

Audrey Young professed that she felt embarrassed by the Prime Minister, when she really should be embarrassed by working for the NZ Herald.

John Armstrong has also provided some more embarrassment for Audrey Young, he has declared that ponytail-gate is over.

Anyone under the impression that John Key had it coming to him in Parliament yesterday – and deservedly so – must be sorely disappointed by what happened. Or rather did not happen.

Those angered by the Prime Minister’s pestering of Auckland waitress Amanda Bailey may well feel they have been short-changed by Opposition parties who yesterday opted not to stretch Key on the parliamentary rack in what was the first opportunity since his return from overseas.

It is not uncommon for predictions that some trouble-struck minister or MP is going to suffer the latter-day equivalent of being hung, drawn and quartered once his or her problem hits the parliamentary fan to turn out to be totally misplaced. All the ingredients for a major stoush may be present, only for things to fall flat in the House.

That was the case yesterday. But it was no accident. The Opposition parties seemed to be going through the motions – when they could be bothered to put any kind of heat on the Prime Minister which, at most, was only lukewarm.

Read more »

Key refuses to release embargoed speech to media – media not trusted to spin it the right way

Golly. ?Look how surly John Armstrong was yesterday

It is not common for the Prime Minister’s office to refuse to supply the news media with embargoed copies of a statement or speech containing a major announcement.

However, requests by media organisations for an early copy of John Key’s speech to Parliament confirming that New Zealand will be sending military personnel to Iraq to train local troops were rebuffed.

Rather than enabling them to have news stories ready to go the moment the embargo was lifted, the media – like everyone else – would have to wait until the Prime Minister spoke in the House.

In adopting such an approach, Key was seeking to go over the heads of the media and talk directly to New Zealanders about the reasons why such a deployment is necessary without his rationale being analysed and criticised before the public had actually heard that rationale.

You have to love the entitlement: ?”Key was seeking to go over the heads of the media and talk directly to New Zealanders”.

The anger is palpable. ? Read more »