From B-Rabbit to B-ugger off. The rise and fall of Metiria Turei

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When Metiria Turei spoke of how when she was a solo mum she lied to her Work and Income case worker about how many people she was flatting with, and so, what her accommodation costs actually were I thought ‘risky move’. However the move ended up being genius for a couple of reasons.

The first was that there was a ground swell of support behind Turei from those who have been on benefits and those who sympathise for lower income families. It also gave us the incredibly popular #IamMetiria hashtag. The second was that it’s difficult to criticise someone who is looking to get some extra money to feed their kids…without looking like a bit of a cock and so what you saw was very few attacks from the right about her statement. Also it it very unlikely that anyone in parliament has not fudged some government department somewhere, at sometime, to their own ends and help them financially. Whether it was a student allowance, or a business write off, or a cash job, or a family benefit most, if not all of NZ adults, will have done something…so if you’re going to throw stones at Metiria you better be ‘sinless’

In her inadvertent honesty, Metira Turei had pulled off a ‘B-Rabbit’ moment. You remember B-Rabbit, he is Eminem’s character in the movie 8 Mile. In the movie rappers come together to battle, freestyling lyrics that cut down their opponent to size, mock them, and leave them a (proverbial) bloody mess on the floor. Well in the films finale, B-Rabbit flips the table and mocks himself viciously (NSFW).

I know everything he’s ’bout to say against me
I am white, I am a fucking bum
I do live in a trailer with my mom
My boy Future is an Uncle Tom
I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob
Who shoots himself in his leg with his own gun
I did get jumped by all six of you chumps
And Wink did fuck my girl
I’m still standing here screaming, “Fuck the Free World!”
Don’t ever try to judge me, dude
You don’t know what the fuck I’ve been through

B-Rabbit, 8 Mile

At the end of the battle, B-Rabbit’s opponent has nothing left to throw at him and bows out of the competition in silence.

With the admission of benefit fraud Metiria Turei has put her ugly, uncomfortable truth on the table and left nothing for her opponents to throw at her.

I am interested to know whether the admission was a planned event, or an off the cuff statement which landed well with the public. If it was planned then that person needs a pay rise, if it was an off the cuff statement then Turei, and the Greens, hit that one thing that every politician aspires to, a grassroots movement, with a catchy slogan and a viral element.

However, as they say, a week is a long time in politics.

The feeling I get is that perhaps the ‘B-Rabbit’ moment was unplanned, yet very successful so, after it came out that she had committed electoral fraud, maybe Turei thought speaking openly and honestly about falsifying an address she was living at, to vote in an electorate she wasn’t entitled to, would add to the grassroots viral movement. It did not.

Falsifying ones address for the sake of voting in an electorate you are not entitled to is serious and very few people will have done it or at the very least, will have done it to add a vote to a specific candidate. Maybe people have moved and not updated their details etc…but Turei has admitted she did it to specifically vote for someone she was not entitled to. It was a calculated move to defraud the electoral system.

It’s also something that every politician can now put in their cannon and fire it at Turei without fear of reprisal.

We now hear that tonight the Greens are in turmoil with the resignation of two MPs who insisted that Turei resign over these two stories combined. I suspect if the latter had not come out there would have been no insistence by some for Turei to bugger off.

So where to from here?

If there are more Green MPs that insist on Turei resigning, then there will be significant issues for the Greens heading into the next six weeks…not ‘not getting into parliament‘ issues…but, along with the rise and rise of Jacinda Adern, the ‘dropping from 15% to 9%‘ kind of issues.

Voters do not like a sense of trouble in the camp close to an election, just ask Colin Craig, so if this story is not quashed very, very quickly it will be very, very bad for the Greens. How bad only time will tell.

Jacinda says “let’s do this!”

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Jacinda Adern talks to The Slightly Correct Political Show in 2014

Last week I wrote that Andrew Little’s decision to make public that he had thought about resigning was catastrophic for Labour as it showed weakness, which is something voters do not want to see in a future leader, the day after I wrote that piece Andrew Little resigned and Jacinda Adern took over as leader of the NZ Labour Party.

I think it is fairly obvious that if Little had stayed leader catastrophe awaited Labour at the upcoming election, however with Adern at the helm we might be up for a more interesting run.

As embarrassing as Labour’s poll results have been over the last few weeks, hovering around the mid 20s, there was still a mathematical chance that they could join forces with NZ First and the Greens to form a government. This means if under Adern’s leadership if Labour can achieve a small bump in the polls the chances are greater still that a left wing bloc, Labour led government could be a reality in the upcoming election.

If we have learned nothing else from the recent US election, we should now know that the media can play a significant part in helping put politicians names into the heads of voters leading up to the elections. Whilst not the sole reason for his election, it cannot be questioned that the free $5 billion dollars of media exposure given to Donald Trump helped to get him into the Whitehouse. Whilst the US numbers are unfathomable to a NZ audience, the principle is the same.

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Here is Stuff’s front page two days after Adern took the leadership. On that front page there are 9 mentions of her name and stories related to her. Bill English, our Prime Minister, is not to be seen anywhere and whilst the immensity of her coverage has declined, I still would suggest that there are many more ‘Jacinda Adern’ stories hitting our headlines currently that any other party or politician. This is nothing but good news for Labour.

So the question is can her new leadership give Labour that bump, can they hold that bump, and what does it mean for the Greens?

Long story short it is bad news for the Greens, because there is a sector of the voting public that saw no vision and leadership in the raft of dowdy, white, middle class men that Labour had tried since Helen Clark left office who have moved to the Greens. Some of these people will now see youth(ish), vitality and energy in Adern and come back. National had John Key who people ‘wanted to have a beer with‘ and on many levels Jacinda Adern has a similar vibe, she’s fun and friendly and has a good sense of humour and people will be drawn to her. She, along with Simon Bridges, were my political panel for a year in 2012 for a radio show I was doing and I can attest to her skills as being likeable and engaging. I already hear many of you sighing and saying that those are not reasons to vote for someone…and I actually agree…but it would seem that the population en masse will look at someone and some will make a decision based on who the person is, rather than the policies they stand for. Adern has this advantage over Bill English in spades. I have always been of the belief that we tend to vote for the leader…not the party. People voted for John Key more so than for the National Party…people will want to vote for Jacinda Adern irrelevant of the party she belongs to.

So will Labour see a bump. The answer is ‘Yes’

Voters get energised by a party who has disappointed for a long time making a dramatic changes that resonate with those voters. The last time we saw this was probably in 2004 when Don Brash made his now infamous ‘Orewa Speech’. National was languishing in the polls in the mid to high 20s. Brash made the speech, which resonated with the National voter, and within two weeks they were in the mid 40s, ten points clear of Labour. Yes they went on to lose that election, but if that bump had of happened 6 weeks out from the 2005 election rather than 20 months out there may have been a very different result. The change by Labour is not policy, it’s personnel, but the effect will be the same, it is dramatic and has shaken up this cycle significantly…”this is not the way politics is supposed to be done, changing a leader 7 weeks out from an election is madness!” Labour will see a bump from this change, and with only six weeks to go the question is will that bump be enough to change the polls significantly, will it be enough to offset any potential Green demise, and if so will it carry them to the election? I think the bump will definately be significant so the remaining question is will it carry Labour through only time will tell.

Jacinda Adern has re-energised this election cycle. For many political tragics like me who love to keep their eye on the American debacle and have largely been ignoring what’s happening in NZ this year, and now tuned in…as is the rest of the country.

Game on!

Andrew Little close to not making it back into parliament

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It was a shock this evening to hear Labour Leader Andrew Little state he has considered stepping down as leader in the face of bad polling. This statement will be catastrophic for Labour. It’s a message of weakness and double mindedness to potential voters who, whether we like it or not, search for strength when looking for a leader and, as we’ve seen before with Labour when David Cunliffe was “sorry for being a man“, will only go down as more fragility in the Labour Party of the 21st century.

With the latest OneNews Colmar Brunton poll having Labour on 24, maybe Little may not need to step down as, if these polls turn out to be correct, he is on a knife edge of not making it back into parliament at all.

The utmost irony to this story, is that a joint attempt to oust the National Government via a Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Greens, may be the reason Little doesn’t get back in.

The MoU offers, amongst other things, the opportunity for the two parties to work together in seats where the Green/Labour bloc were greater than the National vote. The idea is simple, no Green Party member will stand, the ‘left’ will vote strategically allowing a Labour MP to get in.

Such a move could be critical in marginal seats such as Auckland Central where Labour’s candidate, Jacinda Ardern, came within 600 votes of National’s Nikki Kaye in 2014, while the Green candidate took 2000 votes.

NZHerald

By my reckoning there are four seats that where is may be relevant. Auckland Central, Christchurch Central, Ohariu are definite possibilities and Maungakiekie is a coin flip. What that means is that if we assume that all current Labour MPs hold their seats (and that is a pretty big assumption) and because of the MoU and with a little bit of luck they flip the four new seats, it will give Labour 30/31 electoral seats.

So why is this trouble for Andrew Little I hear you say? It’s because of how MMP allocates List MPs.

If you’ve heard people say that ‘the only vote that matters is the party vote‘ that’s because it’s the party vote that decides how many MPs you get into parliament. Which MPs are then decided by those who win electoral seats, followed by those on the list.

So for argument’s sake, if there are 100 seats in parliament and Party A gets 40% of the party vote, then they have 40 MPs. If Party A has won 30 electoral seats then the last 10 come from the list. If they have won 25 seats then 15 come from the list and so on… If they win 42 seats, that’s how we get an ‘overhang’ in parliament as their seats outnumber their party vote.

Andrew Little is not an electoral MP, he is only a list MP, he is #1 on the list however should this polling be correct, and Labour get 24% of the vote (120 MPs x 24%) that would only equate to 29 MPs…so if 30/31 MPs come from electoral seats, then none come off the list and Mr Little, the leader of the opposition, is not in parliament.

Now I am not suggesting that these poll results will be the final vote results, if we’ve learned nothing else from Donald Trump it’s that the polls are not always to be trusted…but typically with NZ First performing better than polling indicates, the Greens performing worse and Labour performing about what the polling says historically then what it means for Labour, and Andrew Little in particular, is that you have about 8 weeks to figure it out.

 

Goodbye ACT. John Banks to stand trial

It began with Kim Dotcom and ends with John Banks facing charges over “over allegations that he falsified his 2010 mayoral campaign return.”

What will this mean, well surely if the deal wasn’t sealed before it is now that ACT is gone from the 2014 election making it even harder for National to be re-elected. ACT and the Maori Party are somewhat in disarray and no matter how keen and confident they are I don’t think the Conservatives are able to step into the fold to take ACT’s place.

John Banks gone, ACT gone, Maori Party to lose a couple more seats, no coalition partner to take their place. Greens increasing everyday and Labour a small resurgent period since Cunliffe comes on board makes it an interesting 12 months.

I called it several months ago albeit with some different variables but I’ll stand by it and say it again now. Labour to win in 2014.

UPDATED 5.30pm

John Banks has resigned from all this ministerial portfolios

The hubbub on the ‘Food Regulation Bill’

I have to be honest, this is a new ‘issue’ for me, I only really first heard about it last week so am pretty green on the whole thing. I am going to investigate it over the next few weeks and will come back to you, but these are my initial thoughts and explanations to you about the Food Bill (160-2) 2010.

There is concern amongst some that the implementation of this bill with result in regulators turning up to places like farmers markets to ‘regulate’ what is going on. Those that oppose it say it will “seriously impede initiatives like community gardens, food co-ops, heritage seed banks, farmers markets, bake sales, and roadside fruit & vegetable stalls.” Those that support it say it won’t.

There is a petition here for people to sign who are opposed to the bill, but I gotta say you should only sign it if you have done the work to understand this issue fully and not believed the apparent rhetoric coming from either side of the debate.

Those who are in support of the bill are saying that it will make our food ‘point of sales’ safer and cleaner, companies that are putting millions of dollars into developing new seed technology are also in support of the bill as it gives them more security around their patented product.

I have to say one of the more balanced articles I have read is from then Green Party MP Sue Kedgley where amongst other things Ms. Kedgley addressed the concern of small time vegetable operators being captured in this legislation unwittingly by saying that the authorities that will be responsible for implementing the law “will be able to exempt entire categories of groups, such as those engaged in bartering or selling direct to consumers at Farmers Markets from coverage of the bill, and this is their intention.

Isn’t that the end of the conversation?

Maybe not, and here is why.

I have been listening to the rhetoric for the past week…and if you replaced “private citizens with veggie gardens” with the word “parents” then what you’ve got is the anti-smacking bill ‘debate’ all over again. Where people were concerned about the technical possibility of what the law could do, and ignoring the reality of how it will be implemented.

All those parents getting thrown in jail for touching their children’s shoulders hasn’t happened has it?

Sue Kedgley seems to be saying there are some gaps in this legislation that need to be addressed, and it’s likely they will.

However in saying all this I’ll come back to the point that these are just my first meanderings on this issue and I am happy to hear more from you as to what I’ve missed, and what I have right (if anything).