sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Whether it be defeating the fascist disease, or eliminating the Coronavirus, history teaches us that not all capitalists are bad, Chris Trotter says

Whether it be defeating the fascist disease, or eliminating the Coronavirus, history teaches us that not all capitalists are bad, Chris Trotter says

By Chris Trotter*

In 1940, the deadly threat confronting Great Britain was not a biological virus, but the deadly political disease of fascism. To defeat this disease, Britain needed aircraft: most particularly the Supermarine Spitfire; arguably the best fighter aircraft then in operation.

 Knowing this, the newly appointed prime minister, Winston Churchill, did not turn to the men of Whitehall, whose bureaucratic inertia had already very nearly cost Britain the war, but to business leaders with a proven record of getting the job done.

 Accordingly, the newly created position of Minister of Aircraft Production went to Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook. Proprietor of the right-leaning Daily Express, the Canadian-born Beaverbrook had a fearsome reputation as a string-pulling go-getter, par excellence. It was this ability to make things happen that recommended him most strongly to Churchill.

Beaverbrook did not disappoint. During the Battle of Britain, when the fate of the British Empire hung in the balance, Beaverbrook’s success in increasing aircraft production was crucial. Lord Dowding, the leader of Fighter Command during the battle, later wrote:

“We had the organization, we had the men, we had the spirit which could bring us victory in the air but we had not the supply of machines necessary to withstand the drain of continuous battle. Lord Beaverbrook gave us those machines, and I do not believe that I exaggerate when I say that no other man in England could have done so.”

The great virtue of a working historical memory is its capacity to draw out of the past situations and identities capable of inspiring those grappling with the challenges of the present. It certainly explains why, when a group of New Zealand’s leading businesspersons last Tuesday (2/3/21) asked the Government to allow the business community to do more to help it defeat Covid-19, Churchill’s appointment of Beaverbrook instantly sprang to mind.

The historical parallel is very far from being exact. Had Jacinda Ardern been channelling the spirit of Britain’s “finest hour”, then she would, like Churchill, have drawn the New Zealand business community more directly into the fight much sooner. Certainly, Rob Fyfe was invited – and  responded instantly – when asked to facilitate the utmost co-operation between government and business during the crisis. From a PR perspective, the “optics” of Fyfe’s appointment were excellent. Unfortunately, the level of co-operation was much less than he and the business community were expecting.

The instinct of the Ministry of Health (as well as the DHBs it relied upon to deliver on the ground) was to hold onto power at all costs. Certainly, it seemed extraordinarily reluctant to allow any outside players into the game.

Nowhere was this dog-in-the-manger attitude more evident than in the Ministry’s refusal to allow the roll-out of the “smart” Covid Card developed by Trade Me founder, Sam Morgan, and the talented team of digital wizards he had assembled. Obstacle after bureaucratic obstacle was placed in front of these experts from the private sector until Morgan, his patience exhausted, simply threw up his hands in frustration and walked away.

One of the reasons for the Ministry’s bureaucratic obstruction was its acute sensitivity to the “privacy issues” raised by the Card’s capacity to track-and-trace the movements of the people carrying it in real time. No need for voluntary QR scanning with the Covid Card. The authorities would be able to track the cardholder’s every move.

The Ministry’s sensitivity wasn’t just a question of whether or not the proposed Covid Card breached the Privacy Act, it was also a vexing political problem. There was a strong feeling among the bureaucrats’ that their political masters would never permit such an invasive piece of technology to be imposed upon the general population.

In this they were, almost certainly, correct. In the early days of Covid, Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues were acutely wary of “losing” the co-operation of the general public. The Prime Minister’s success in, by turns, inspiring, cajoling and convincing the “Team of Five Million” to be “kind” and “Unite Against Covid-19” persuaded her closest colleagues – and the health bureaucrats surrounding them – that Sam Morgan’s Taiwanese-style tracker-card was just too risky a proposition.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to argue that both the Ministry’s and the Government’s fears on this matter were unjustified. If the Year of Covid has taught us anything, it is that New Zealanders are prepared to surrender all manner of “freedoms” to keep themselves and their loved-ones safe. Ever-practical Kiwis would probably have welcomed the convenience of a device that freed them from the irksome responsibility of holding their cellphones up to shop windows and/or signing a register.

The Ministry of Health and the Government had another, even more compelling, reason for declining to involve the business community too closely in the fight against Covid-19. Almost from the very beginning, some business elements took very strong exception to the Labour-led Government’s “Elimination Strategy”.

The notorious “Plan-B” group was widely perceived as a “front” for those industries most likely to be damaged by the Government putting the country into “Lockdown”. The quest for the chimera of “Herd Immunity” – exemplified most powerfully by the Swedish Government’s ultimately calamitous response to the pandemic – was regarded by many as proof of neoliberal capitalism’s callous (not to mention “ageist”) disregard for human life. Trump’s America confirmed these perceptions with decisions as bizarre as they were terrifying.

The problem confronting Rob Campbell, Joan Withers, Patrick Strange, Prue Flacks, Scott St John, and other business leaders, is that the Ministry of Health’s refusal to share power was not validated by its growing operational effectiveness as the nation’s principal defender. Multiple Ministry and DHB failures, from the unavailability of PPE, to failings at the border, and serious deficiencies in communicating clear and accurate information to the public, have all contributed to the feeling that New Zealand’s indisputable success at beating the virus has, all-too-often, been more a matter of good luck than good management.

But, if we have already passed through our equivalent of the Battle of Britain – without the assistance of a Beaverbrook – the war against Covid-19 is very far from being won. The quiet, but forceful, advocacy of Rob Campbell – so impressively on display in his Q+A interview with Jack Tame – makes it clear that there is a very large reservoir of expertise and good-will among the overwhelming majority of business leaders who were never persuaded by the arguments of the Plan-B special-pleaders.

As the big German corporations are already demonstrating, and our own are ready to confirm, the private sector can, at the very least, offer decisive logistical assistance to the huge task of vaccinating the whole population.

The “group of business leaders” argument: that the more experience and expertise which can be gathered around the national decision-making table, the safer and swifter our path out of Covid will be, and the more secure and prosperous New Zealand’s post-Covid future; is very hard to gainsay. New Zealand’s leading businesspersons are not claiming a monopoly on wisdom, merely that getting things done is what they’re good at – and they’re all keen to get started.

*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. He writes a weekly column for His work may also be found at

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Great stuff Chris


Business is the art of making money, indeed that is all they are allowed to do legally, in many jurisdictions.

Beaverbrook - and Kaiser - were able to do real things with real stuff; that is quite different.

And the problem today is one that Trotter, the Government and all but fringe business, ignore; the Limits to Growth and what we are going to do about them. Trotter has glimpses now and then, through a glass darkly, but mostly he's from yesterday. As are they all. We need de-growth now, and what business person knows ANYTHING about that?


I doubt any successful business person knows anything about de-growth, because it's moronic. The latest ploy of the socialists, desperately trying to curtail capitalism's run-away success. If a business can solve problems more effectively than government, and make a buck in the process, that's a good thing. The profit motive drives efficiency, speed to market and quality.

Good article. Jacinda core belief system is socialism, she would be reluctant to allow business to demonstrate superior competence to central government.

Nuts argument.

That buck expects to be spent.

On what?

More of the planet, is the answer.

And that process is overshot. Depending on your desired per-head desired consumption-level, 6-7 billion overshot population-wise NOW.

I'm guessing you learned Economics, somewhere back down the tracks?

Yawn. 20th century thinking. We're off to Mars and beyond. Ask Elon.

Elon another idiot trying to get to an uninhabitable planet he wants to try and make habitable to save the human race while we turn a perfectly habitable planet into an uninhabitable planet. Great logic there. Love those pictures from the Mars Rover though but it doesn't look like a great destination to rush off to try and save humanity if you ask me.

Broaden your horizons a bit Carlos. Industry in space, asteroid mining, heavy metal mining on planets and moons. We can protect our planet while using the rest of the solar system for the dirty stuff.

We took our first flight in 1904. Now we've flown a robotic car to mars with a little automated helicopter in it! With all our billionaires looking to space now, I can't even imagine what humanity will be doing in another 100 years!

It's ok, we can leave you socialists/greenies/commies in Venezuela to eat your dogs and cats.

You have a slight energy problem.

How much tonnage have we ever gotten into space?

Oh, and getting billionaires into space takes the same energy it takes to get paupers there. Methinks you're valuations are a little awry.

You don’t need to get much tonnage into space. So long as you can get people up, we can mine most of the materials we need in space. We already have a huge nuclear fusion energy source to draw power from in space that is scheduled to last a few million more years.

I think the calcs were 1 million tons to Mars surface for a 100% self sustainable economy (By sustainable PDKIWI I mean not reliant on Earth for any resource).

So 10000 Starships round trips at 100T each.

Do-able currently, not taking into account future space propulsion with higher specific impulse therefore using less resource from Earth.


Red Mars/ Green Mars is a nice bit of scifi dealing with terraforming Mars

"The profit motive drives efficiency, speed to market and quality." Efficiency? Speed? Yes, business has been very efficient at burning through the planet's finite resources as quickly as possible. Quality? Is planned obsolescence part of that?

Heavens npc, 'Jacinda core belief system is socialism', she is no socialist in most people's reckoning. Check out her government's record on poverty, housing crisis, house prices. A raised minimum wage and a better holiday entitlement are not the signs of socialism. Re-nationalising power generation would be. No chance of that. They are virtually National. They just want power.

The people of New Zealand won't allow her to go full lefty socialist, but that's where she comes from. Socialists want power. Couldn't agree more.

This is an interesting comment npc. Why when the planet is sending us clear signals that we are over-stepping it's limits would you think de-growth is moronic? How can unlimited growth continue in a finite system?

.. answer above. We're no longer confined to the planet. We'll get more efficient with what we have here.

Elon Musk hasn't got anyone living on Mars yet, or even the moon. We don't even know if our current technology will allow a full blown colony survive on the moon let alone Mars. That is decades if not centuries away. So for now we are still confined to the planet. I like your optimism, but it is akin to planning a trans Atlantic flight in the Wright Flyer.

That took a full 25 years. It took 25 more for the soviets to land something on the moon 20 years after that we landed our first Mars probe. It is quite conceivable that we could build a space colony within the next decade.

We landed on the moon over 50 years ago now we are making a huge deal of simply iterating on the same designs we had aka capsules, ISS is the space colony trial run and it takes an enormous amount of resources just to support a handful of people.

Probably comes back to the private vs public efficiency debate above...

No, comes back to the thoughtful versus the fruitcake, I think you'll find.


So,what you yearn for is free-market( a contradiction in terms by the way) capitalism, red in tooth and claw. You want a return to Friedmanism where a company's ONLY responsibility is to its shareholders. Trickle-down economics- the laffer Curve-small(very) government and perhaps throw in the Kuznets Curve too.
All nonsense, shown to be nonsense, but don't let that stop you.

What a load of rubbish.
There is no doubt the Health system is full of dedicated professionals however they are surrounded by government bureaucracy.
Why does this country need 21 DHB full of boards and managers? Look at the last DG of Health.... numerous projects with massive cost overruns including doing up his own office! Private industry could have done most of these projects for half the cost and made a profit. Nothing wrong with profit if you are being rewarded for increased productivity or efficiency.

Problem is NZ business knows very little about productivity. It's well documented.

Chris's column has nothing to do with the merits or otherwise of economic growth, he's simply pointing out that business people know how to get things done efficiently whilst bureaucrats, navel gazes and naysayers (looking at you) struggle with making the risky calls required to get things moving.

Love it.

Naysayers, risky calls, moving.

As good an example of pre-held bias as I've come across in a long time.

Interesting that CT, given his celebrated connection with the left, did not think to associate Ernst Bevin with the success that was achieved by Beaverbrook et al. A remarkable team at play there and then, participated equally valuably to the tremendous effort and achievement.

CT gives a good view of the MoH. My experience from working at a DHB is that qualified Health professionals as a group generally consider themselves to be a superior life form, and the rest of us mere mortals have little to no hope of ever understanding the complexities of medicine. This is of course utter bunkum, but never the less that is how they view us. Hence they successfully hold the country to ransom when ever the Doctors pay round come around.

Just a closing comment; CT is comparing apples with oranges when he proposes about the Supermarine Spitfire; "arguably the best fighter aircraft then in operation." As a current pilot, aircraft engineer, ex-military aviation nut, this debate is only taken on by the knowledgeable. The spitfire while highly manoeuvrable and the darling of the Battle of Britain, wasn't even the most successful in that battle, the Hawker Hurricane was. The Spitfire's limitations meant other aircraft such as the Mustang, Typhoon and Tempest, and Thunderbolt all had a decent go at putting the Nazi Genii back in it's bottle.

In 1940 the Bf 109 was superior to both the Spitfire and the Hurricane.

ZS - no, it wasn't. It had one particular advantage; fuel injected (no carby) so they could push the stick forward power-on, the Merlins coughed... Otherwise, not in the same league (read Fly for your Life - RRS Tuck test-flew both with Stainforth, swapped halfway through so pilot diff nullified ...)

Murray - Successful numerically, but per-aircraft? You make a mistake economists make........

Number of kills: Hurricane 656, Spitfire 529. Peak numbers in BoB; Hurricane 709, Spitfire 372.

Kills per aircraft therefore: Hurricane: 0.92 to the Spit: 1:42

The Spit went on to develop right through the war, and still flew operationally afterwards. 24 Marks, 2 engines. The Hurricane was obsolete by '42, and had to morph into the Typhoon/Tempest to be a ground-shooter; all it was good for. Spit was harder to manufacture and thin wing was harder to get guns etc into, Hurricane couldn't take speed increases. One was more resilient than the other.........

I'll never forget Bader visiting our school.......

Bf 109 was the most produced fighter of the war and probably for all eternity.

V D Hanson The Second World Wars explains that even through the darkest days of the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic, Great Britain outstripped the Axis in aeroplane production and was replacing merchant ships faster then U Boats were sinking them. Candidly, for all my previous reading, that had never dawned on me. When Hitler launched Barbarossa, despite acquiring all the armament capacity of his conquests, he had less air power than we he commenced the Battle of Britain.

The story of how fighter aircraft production was organised and dispersed in England during WW2 is a fascinating read, especially when compared with the arrogantly overconfident approach of the germans. The RAF was criticised by the men on Dunkirk beaches but in fact 60 were lost trying to prevent the Luftwaffe bombing the evacuation and that's with Dowding sensibly conserving resources for the coming battle of Britain. By time the invasion was being planned Goering and Hitler clearly understood the poms had a potent defence weapon in the spit and that the German airforce would take heavy loses in the coming air battles over the UK.

You have to take into account timelines. The Germans entered the war with the relatively new Bf 109 while the British had Hawker Hurricane which was pretty long in the tooth, as the British found out to their cost in France. Consequently the British had to scramble to produce a new generation of aircraft which included the Spitfire to respond to the Bf 109 and Mosquito to respond to the Dornier. Their success in doing that gave them a technological edge over Germany through the development cycle of that generation of aircraft.

The Hurricane did reasonably OK then though. So too did the ghastly death trap the Bolton Defiant surprisingly enough. For some reason the Luftwaffe were slow to figure out it couldn’t fire forward, probably couldn’t believe there could be anything so stupid.Still it re-emerged as something of a night fighter, but blimey, what an ill conceived design to waste production and lives on.

There were all sorts of aircraft design dead ends that were originally someones great idea. The Fairey Battle is another one that comes to mind. Can't help but feel sympathy to those brave men flying machines that were virtual death traps in combat.

I would have thought the Mosquito more akin to the multi role JU88?

Correct, the JU88 was a bit before the Mossie, but never the less a very good medium bomber. The Mossie's strength lay in the non-strategic material (wood) making it very light and able to deliver much better performance than the JU88. there are reports of Mossie pilots just being able to open up the throttles and pull away from early ME109. the later DB605 powered versions, and FW190 made that less likely but spotting them early pretty much ensured a Mossie could evade them unless the pilot did something silly.

Yes the Messerschmitt was superior to the Spitfire in many ways if I recall correctly. Took a while for the Spitfire to run catchup. No idea how the Germans lost the air battle to be honest.

Arrogance was a big part of it. I seem to remember there was a road block of accurate information from middle management to top management. That's the problem with totalitarian regimes. You get brownie points for telling leaders what they want to hear. Numbers can also be misleading, While the Luftwaffe had superior numbers on paper, many of those planes were bombers, or dive bombers, which were sitting ducks when unprotected by fighters. Then they had other aircraft in the fighter category like the Messerschmitt 110, which was unsuited to that role. I would say given the resources the Germans had, they should have been able to dominate British airspace. Poor intelligence and management was the limiting factor!

Here we go. These days the Hurricane is acknowledged as the mainstay of the RAF during the BoB, and it was produced all the way until the end of the war, the final version being the Mk XII with Hispano canon in the wings. I largely agree though that it was pretty much obsolete soon after as it's thick wing limited its top end performance. The spitfire, apart from some specific short comings matched or bettered the ME 109 in most areas, only the FW190 gave it some real pause and lead directly to the development of the Mk 9 with the two stage two speed supercharger on the Merlin.

Interestingly even when Luftwaffe pilots got shot down, they wanted it to be by a Spitfire and not a Hurricane (Zach, the ME 109E was acknowledged as being superior to the Hurricane). Also don't forget that when Reichsmarshal Goering asked General der Flieger Adolph Galland what he needed to defeat the RAF, the response was a squadron of Spitfires!

PDK, the Hurricane did not morph into the Typhoon. The Typhoon was a new design taking Hawkers expertise, and manufacturing capability into new design techniques. The Typhoons lineage did lead to what many claim as the greatest of all propellor driven fighters ever produced; the Hawker Sea Fury, but this came along after the war.

My tuppence worth. The Typhoon was much than just a ground strike fighter plane. Christchurch pilot Desmond Scott is due testament to that. In it he was equal to both ME 109 & FW 90. Record speaks for itself.

OK - same brains same drawing-boards though.... - the tails fell off the early ones, from memory. And they filled up with monoxide? I'd have to go back and refresh....

Yes. Lovesey was pretty smart. I always wonder at the spindliness of British cars (I drove a '48 Wolseley 18 for years, as a youngster) and compare the ability to produce the Merlin just when it was needed....

Tuck stayed a night with Galland between being shot down and going to prison... realised they'd shot each other's No2's down.....

Galland is believed to have been strongly supportive of the postwar ratline organisation that assisted heinous nazis such as Mengele to escape punishment.

Yes the tails did fall off. It took them a while to figure that one out as it was metal fatigue in a counter balance in the elevator control circuit, and when it broke, severe flutter pulled the tail off. And Foxy is correct the Typhoon and Tempest were amazing machines, although like the Hurricane, the wing section of the Typhoon was too thick for it to really get good performance, but that was rectified on the Tempest. The engine, the Napier Sabre 6 was a huge behemoth of a maintenance monster that wasn't too reliable, but 2000 HP and a 300 Kt cruise put these aircraft out in front of almost all their contemporaries. By the time the Typhoon, and most certainly the Tempest came along the Luftwaffe was pretty much beaten, consuming low experienced pilots with a voracious appetite, but the few air to air combats indicated that these aircraft were likely up with the best.

And carbon monoxide issues, very much so. Pilots had to put their oxygen masks on before starting the engine. Firewall leaks and cockpit/canopy designs all contributed.

By all accounts during the war and after, Adolph Galland was a total gentleman. One of the very best, a Knight of the Air. Galland got to fly one of the ME 109s (actually CASA built ones with Merlin 500 series engines) they had for making the movie the Battle of Britain, the only two seater at the time.

I can't bear looking at those 109s in the film Battle of Britain. They just look totally wrong and lame with the Merlin engine. The engine should be inverted.

Yes the Daimler Benz DB600 series was a wonderful piece of engineering, very much like the Rolls Royce Merlin in many respects. The Germans had their own genius when it came to engine development, and i do agree that the CASA built 109s look a little strange, but apparently they actually performed better than the DB engined ones.

Read R S.Tuck’s biography Fly for your Life in my teens . Wish I still had a copy. Recall he went from Spitfires to Hurricanes and initially dismayed, but he came around. The Hurricane could take more punishment and was actually a better gun platform. One ghastly problem with the Hurricane was the fuel tank flames from which would be sucked into the cockpit when trying to bail out. Strangely enough in 1987 I was driving north on the M1 and on my right were jet fighters doing take off and landings at some base, and over the radio came the announcement of his death.

Scary thing about both the Spitfire and the Hurricane was that fuel tank just ahead of the cockpit. they were not self-sealing so any hits meant a fuel leak into the cockpit. That weakness alone gave a basis for a Kiwi's rise to fame - Archie McIndoe and his pioneering treatment of burns injuries. There were some horrific ones that pilots in the BoB suffered.

Robert Stanford Tuck's biography is just one of very many I have read. I recently worked with a recent immigrant from South Africa, with a surname of Malan. I enquired of her knowledge of her family history to see if she was related to another very famous BoB fighter pilot; Sailor Malan. Unfortunately she did not know.

What fighter did the the three top-scoring fighter aces of all time fly? The Bf 109. Spitfire and Bf 109 were very close in performance but Bf 109 was faster and better in the zone where most battles took place. It had an edge over the Spitfire in 1940 except over Britain it had only ten minutes of combat time due to fuel running low, a problem the Spitfire didn't have due to being local. Spitfire possibly had more potential for improvement after that. The best Spitfire at that time was probably the one the Germans captured in the Channel Isles and replaced the engine with a Bf 109 unit.

The German aces as individuals certainly tallied up far more than the Allied counterparts, but that includes the early Polish campaign and the time in Russia when they did have superiority in numbers. Not sure if there are though anywhere stats of only fighter vs fighter? May have this wrong but recall reading that 90 % of planes shot down was achieved by less than 10% of pilots?

Try DP 845


I think you will find the RAF lost more fighters than the Luftwaffe did though, which is curious. The figures are hard to find, which is suspicious but it is something like 1017 to 873. The RAF were on their last legs when the Luftwaffe turned its attention to bombing London. This is a well known story.

The RAF did surprisingly poorly considering they had radar, broke the enigma code, were fighting on home turf, had excellent fighters in the Spitfire and Hurricane, could bail out over Britain at the slightest trouble and often faced the very slow Junkers 88 87. There should have been an enquiry.

Hugely anecdotal but my mother lived in Kent at the time and said she only saw British fighters getting shot down.

Going from distant memory, two books Peter Townsend’s Duel of Eagles and Len Deighton’s Fighter, sadly no longer possessed, but think one or both had a day by day blow by blow of fighter losses each side. My recollection was that the RAF was ahead on tally.*Yes the switch from attacking radar stations and airfields to London was a godsend for the RAF. Planes were still being replaced fast enough but pilots were running out. ps Junkers 88 not that slow, but Junkers 87 certainly was.

*ps.digging around a bit more, it is certainly not as you say clear cut by any margin that the RAF fighters prevailed by numbers downed,and can only agree, the priority of a legend being preserved is undoubtedly the reason.

Oh yes I meant Ju 87 instead of Ju 88, always get those two mixed up. Around 313 Ju 87s downed during BoB.

Little unfair comparison. Luftwaffe pilots had virtually no break from operations. In addition all the top scoring pilots got their tallies on the eastern front against Russia. Erich Hartman at 352 was acknowledged as an extreme expert at bring down the Russian IL2 Sturmovick, a heavily armoured attack aircraft whose only weakness was the oil cooler under neath and to the rear of the engine. The pickings were extremely rich on that front. On the western front there were much less targets and the requirement for some acquired skill much higher.

Thinking about the Battle of Britain fighter vs fighter it does reveal an unclear picture about combat superiority between the opposing forces. But in these stats of RAF losses will be included flying accidents, mechanical failures, and losses to gunnery from the Luftwaffe bombers. As well the RAF targeted as first priority the bombers, leaving them somewhat open whilst so doing, whereas the Luftwaffe themselves of course just went against fighters.

The Germans had the same issues as well with flying accidents, mechanical failures, losses from the guns of British bombers ( a lot of British bomber crew were lost in the BoB) and also ground fire. German pilots were ordered to stay close to the bomber formations which restricted them from free fighting which cost them dearly. Imagine having to stay close to a swarm of Ju 87s as well as running low on fuel. In war attackers generally need to greatly outnumber capable defenders and the Luftwaffe had many disadvantages.

compliments to a fellow student, this has been a great dialogue, even if off the actual thrust of the column itself. just a note, in case you haven’t already, but V Hanson’s The Second World Wars is a great volume of the big picture of WW2. Certainly went far beyond my previous reading, correcting and adding knowledge. Large section dedicated to air combat. Copies on Amazon or EBay easily found.

i agree Foxy, this little diversion has been great fun.

Notwithstanding you being factually correct I'd suggest the Spitfire was far better known in later years and hence selecting the Spitfire for an article like this was correct.

Interesting. The article was about the NZ response to covid. The writer made the mistake of using a WW2 analogy to make some point. 90% of the discussion centres around the WW2 analogy and everyone forgets the point of the article. My 2 pence worth is that, Beaverbrook or no Beaverbrook, the brits and commonwealth should be eternally grateful for Hitler's decision to have a crack at invading Russia.


Then you miss the bigger picture. WW2 was a continuation of WW1; both reflect a need to access resources and competition for same. And there were around 2 billion present, on a much-fuller planet. e are in much, much bigger shyte,

And you might like to think that it is good to have a cohort who think strategically/physically; we'll be in demand.

I really enjoy the economics debates, but more I have enjoyed this diversity as well. But your point is well made, Hitler always wanted to take the communists down. His failure would ultimately cost the world a lot. But the west would never have been able to tolerate his regime in power either.

The Spit was the darling of the media for many reasons, and deservedly so. But like so many topics the detail is rich and varied.

The New Zealand government doesn't typically embrace public-private efforts. I recall that Irish company, Fast House, who offered to build 3500 houses for Housing NZ but got turned down in favour of local suppliers even though that would substantially slow efforts.

Eventually success breeds complacency, whether in business or government. Covid-19 may have saved this Labour government by virtue of being incumbent but I expect a much more competitive showing next time out.

The government, and even more so local government, has a penchant for employing consultants. This is mostly for the purpose of duck shoving responsibility. The consultant will have a disclaimer precluding liability if/when things go pear shaped and the government can claim they were only following advice that turned out to be bad. Local councils have perfected the art in particular.

Consultancies also offer a lucrative career post public service.

Capitalism is precisely what's bringing the new wave of fascism to the world, they don't like calling that themselves now of course but they are the result of decades of growing inequality which they are very good at exploiting. Regarding COVID vaccines, this is a perfect example of how private companies even large ones need the public support when it comes to achieving something really big in a short period of time, now we find ourselves scrambling for vaccines, protected by private patents, which were funded with mostly public investment.

Remember when capitalism briefly failed in 2017?

God that Sam Morgan's Covid Card idea would have to have been one of the most expensive disasters of all time if implemented. Just the trial alone cost $10m. He says it's the ministry's fault but it was a flawed and better replicated idea from the start.

JLM... maybe we should just have given the mega rich owner of that Queenstown bungy another $10M instead?

Get McKinseys in, hahaha

One of the reasons for the Ministry’s bureaucratic obstruction was its acute sensitivity to the “privacy issues” raised by the Card’s capacity to track-and-trace the movements of the people carrying it in real time. No need for voluntary QR scanning with the Covid Card. The authorities would be able to track the cardholder’s every move.

This is just total tripe, it doesn't work like that at all. The data is stored on the card itself, it can't be accessed remotely or in "real time" by anyone - the only way to get the data off the card is to physically surrender it to a ministry of health official. Furthermore the data is automatically deleted after 14 days (although I imagine that might be tunable and the government could have opted for retention of up to 16-18 days, as an extra margin).

that Sam Morgan’s Taiwanese-style tracker-card was just too risky a proposition.

It never worked the way Taiwan's systems work, so again, garbage.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to argue that both the Ministry’s and the Government’s fears on this matter were unjustified.

Given that it never worked the way you're portraying it to, I doubt they actually had such fears at all because they would have understood the technology and how it works, whereas you clearly do not.

I agree with CT over obstructive tactics used by government ministries Encountered the same thing a few years ago when working for private contractors who had been co-opted by the minister to assist his ministry with the roll out of a politically sensitive project. Officials resented our presence, would not share information and did everything they could to show us in a bad light. The consensus was that they were terrified that we would deliver service at a lower cost than they were able to.

Maybe if there was, is to be a vaccine pack that can be ordered online, via Amazon or another online store.With a 3 day delivery may be a way to remove the middleing-bureaucracy.
Self jab or take to your local doctor! Cut out the middleman.

What CT says about the bureaucracy and other commentators here also applies to a johnnie from the private sector was employed before Covids to sort out part of the housing problem. Unfortunately don't recall exactly what. He was put in charge at CEO level status I think. (someone with a better memory can amplify). Lasted about 6 months or so. It was because he may have been a bit abrasive and I think others put in the same position could equally well have been abrasive given comments about stalling and other delaying tactics by the established bureaucracy.
Suspect he was paid off and no doubt a confidentiality agreement prevents any public knowledge of what realty went on. Maybe there is a statute of limitations on this and just before the next general election would be useful having it lifted.

Great article. Welcome to the team of enlightened minions.