Chris Trotter has played an incredibly valuable job New Zealand politics, keeping alive some sort of critical left analysis within the mainstream media for the last 20 years. He’s a free-thinking guy with a fascinating mind and I always look forward to reading his opinion pieces. More so than most, however, Trotter’s work is incredibly uneven, and some of his columns have exasperated me. Others on the left see him even more unkindly than myself (especially in the old Alliance party), but often that’s because of the mistaken notion that ‘the left shouldn't criticise the left’. And as Trotter would correctly reply, ‘where would we be if we didn’t learn from our mistakes - nothing should be beyond critique’. But as I've said before (here and here), I think that Trotter’s output has suffered during the last year or so from a strange softness for the Labour Party. Wellington insiders say that Prime Minister’s office had a deliberate strategy of trying to neutralise Trotter by coopting him into their discussions and social activities. But as Trotter points out in his most recent, dire column, Check the Left's score, Matt, he now has the solidarity (or competition?) of three other astute media commentators: Matt McCarten, John Minto, and Laila Harre. Yet in the same column he strongly criticises McCarten’s excellent critique of the new KiwiSaver. Trotter’s illogical allegiance towards KiwiSaver is a bit of a mystery. My best bet is that like many on the left, Trotter pines for the good old days when Labour (or any party) had some ‘big ideas’, and this is him clutching at straws and believing that some such thing has finally arrived – and to hell with pesky arguments that the new ‘big idea’ is actually going to be bad for the poor.