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.

 

Labour and their ‘Chinese Surnames’

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So here we go again, an idea thought up in the upper offices of Labour with merit, executed like those making the decisions are in their first day of politics.

I say ‘merit’ because I think many people are in agreement with the idea of foreign money (from whatever country) flooding into our housing market will indeed put pressure on locals (of any ethnicity)  when it comes to buying houses. A register of international buyers is not an idea that any political party opposes and in fact National will eventually bring in and then take the kudos for doing so.

However good ideas every day, whether their good business ideas, good relationship ideas, good political ideas or any kind of ideas, fall over due to those trying to impose them. Usually with political ideas it’s the execution that fails that party and this is a classic example of that. There is also the consideration of those opposing Labour and their ability to change the narrative of the issue which National has done perfectly, but not without help.

My sources inform me that Labour gave the policy to the New Zealand Herald several days before they released it, embargoed, to fact check and prepare themselves to write about it once Labour made the issue known publicly and I am reliably informed that the Herald then leaked the information to National. What this did is give National the ability to get ahead of what Labour was doing and formulate a strategy to combat what Labour was trying to say. For future reference National poll everything, they research and get public opinion on everything which usually takes two days. If in the future National comes out with a cast iron position on a major Labour or Greens policy that is not yet in the public domain then it’s a pretty safe bet they have been leaked the information and have already tested it.

In saying all of that the way Labour has handled this information is sloppy and amateurish and even though National got ahead of the release, it still only too Lisa Owen on The Nation 8 minutes to accuse Phil Twyford and Labour of playing the race card all without the polling that National did, she came to the same conclusion.

The conversation about international money influencing our housing market is valid…very valid…but what Labour has done is basically give a green light to every red-neck, right wing, talkback calling bigot fodder to continue to treat the Asian community like second class citizens. If you don’t believe me just have a read of, Masterton native, Raybon Kan’s article from Wednesday.

And now we have groups like HouGarden.com, one of NZs biggest websites for Chinese immigrants to find property in NZ, stating that Chinese buying in NZ are looking for better education opportunities for their children, not investments as there are much better investments elsewhere. Their evidence for this is that when people are on their site some of the most searched words were “school zone, double grammar zone, Maclean, Westlake, Rangitoto and Auckland Grammar.” This again is a terrible news item for Labour but not quite as bad as the leaker of the information from Barfoots now losing his job…wonder how that will sit with the core Union member Labour supporter.

Finally, I am also dismayed that no one yet has actually offered a solution to the housing bubble in Auckland. So Labour is promising to ban international speculators, fair enough, but my question, as always, is “then what?” The average house price in Auckland is approaching $800,000 (see why we moved to Dunedin) and if this move ends up ‘correcting the market,  then what about all those people who have bought in this market and just had $200,000** wiped off their equity…what about them? Or if the prices of houses still remain near $800,000 on average how are first time home buyers going to afford that?

An idea with merit that at it’s core most would support, executed poorly: Labour 2015

PS – Got $800,000…come to Dunedin

Better yet…got $400,000ish…come to Dunedin

Or how about, just for fun, $200,000ish

** arbitrary figure

Time for the big broom

21 months ago I made a prediction that Labour would win the 2014 election. I was wrong.

I am shocked though, to look back over the last 18 months and see what a dive Labour has taken since David Cunliffe took over as leader. In my post calling the election for Labour I also made this point.

Cunliffe is liked by many in the left of Labour, but not the centrists and not the public. Going with David Cunliffe would gift the next election to National.

Maybe I wasn’t so wrong in that post overall.

Here are some graphics from TVNZ from the last poll of 2012

Under David Shearer this was the Party Vote in December 2012.  A win to the left block

Labour polls 2012

Under David Shearer, PM John Key is not quite so popular

preferred PM 2012

What this means is that under David Cunliffe Labour has grown their support down 10% and lost the election in, as David Shearer said this morning on Q&A, tragic fashion.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but I agree with Matthew Hooton, if Labour had stuck with David Shearer there would be a Labour led government today and that’s the problem.

Labour is broken and needs fixing, Labour may well have just lost the 2017 election, Labour may need to grow there nut even smaller though resignations and by-elections, to look to 2020 if they have have any chance of becoming the power they once were.

The solution for Labour.

Well I think there are solutions for Labour, but the first thing to acknowledge is what a horrific state they are in. Here are some statistics for you that are accurate minus the special votes.

National’s overall vote 1,010,464 beats Labour on 519,146

Labour won 21 General Electorate seats (plus 6 Maori seats and 5 list ‘seats’). Of those 21 general seat, National won the party vote in 16 of them and in Dunedin North Labour only has a party vote majority of 24.

That’s right in…

  1. Christchurch East
  2. Dunedin South
  3. Hutt South
  4. Mana
  5. Mt Albert
  6. My Roskill
  7. Napier
  8. New Lynn – David Cunliffe’s electorate!
  9. Palmerston North
  10. Port Hills
  11. Rimutaka
  12. Rongotai
  13. Te Atatu
  14. Wellington Central
  15. West Coast/Tasman
  16. Wigram

Voters put in a Labour MPs, but voted for National to run the country.

To break it down further let’s look at Mt Albert, Helen Clarke’s old electorate now occupied by David Shearer. Shearer won the seat comfortably by over 9,000 votes, but National received 3,000 more party votes that Labour. Aunty Helen would be rolling in her…comfortable UN office lounger.

So this tells us that the public of NZ can get to like and trust an individual Labour MP, but they don’t want Labour to run the country…and that’s the question Labour needs to ask themselves right now…why?

Well that’s the end of David Cunliffe

It has just been revealed that David Culiffe either has had a memory lapse that John Banks would be embarrassed by, or he has lied to the people of NZ.

Labour and David Cunliffe has been hammering National over various issues surround businessman Donghua Liu and now it appears that while slamming National’s connection to ‘money for access’ and Maurice Williamson’s resignation over contacting police about an assault claims against Mr. Liu, all the while Mr. Cunliffe had ‘forgotten’ that he had written a letter of support for Mr. Liu to Immigration NZ. You can see the letter here.

Even up until yesterday the memory failed Mr. Cunliffe

From stuff.co.nz

Asked yesterday if he was concerned Liu was granted permanent residency – against official advice – Cunliffe said: ”Look I am not familiar with the circumstances of that decision. and I don’t think it is appropriate for us to go back and try and re-visit every single immigration decision that has ever been made.

”As far I am aware it was before my time as minister and it was certainly years before there was any suggestion that he made any donations.”

He said there was ”no evidence” of a donation for Liu.  ”It’s historical and it’s purely an allegation.”

Cunliffe couldn’t recall meeting, and when asked if he advocates for residency, responded: ”No, I did not.”

Asked if he was aware it was granted against the recommendation of officials he said: ”Not to my recollection.”

It will be interesting to see what comes of the press conference at 2.45pm, but at first glance you have to think this is the end for David Cunliffe. If not officially, then certainly in the polls and the eyes on NZ.

John Key must be laughing his arse off.

Should he step aside? Probably yes. Will he step aside? Probably no. What will the Labour Caucus do? Probably start in all seriousness to look to 2017.

What’s Kim Dotcom’s end game here?

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I find the idea of Kim Dotcom forming a political party a fascinating plot in this years drama that is the 2014 election.

I want to know what Kim’s end game is, and I wonder if there is a chance that his involvement with the election this year will aid National in being re-elected, so I ponder again what his end game is.

I see now that Russell Norman has asked the same questions as it was revealed on Newstalk ZB yesterday that he twice approached Mr. Dotcom asking him not to form a party as it would split the vote on the left. An astute observation by Dr. Norman who is fast becoming one of the more enlightened MPs we have in parliament.

There is such an interesting sub-text here that will only be revealed if the questions are put to Mr. Dotcom himself.

  • Why are you bankrolling a political party when you cannot be elected to parliament?
  • What are you main ambitions behind the party?
  • Are you wanting a change of government?
  • If so are you not concerned that your party will take votes away from the left, especially some of the Greens youth vote?

Comedian Chris Brain pondered at the end of 2013 during the year in review episode of The Slightly Correct Political Show why the left has held up Kim Dotcom as a hero saying it strange that they would hold up someone as a poster boy who is ‘a free market capitalist who doesn’t believe particularly in protecting intellectual property.’ Think what the left has stood up for in the past term with protests against legislation around movie making, Helen Clark’s famous connection to the art and grants has intertwined the artistic community with the left. That on top of his connections with the right via John Banks and ACT makes this, to me, a salacious part of the political year.

I think it pretty fair to assume that no one from the right of the political spectrum will be voting for the Internet Party, which means that in the very likely scenario that the Internet Party doesn’t make 5% (and they likely won’t) that Dr. Russell Norman is completely correct, it will be youth votes, that would normally be associated with Mana and the Greens and maybe to a lesser extent Labour that will become non-votes perhaps making it easier to allow John Key to get a third term as Prime Minister

So again I ponder what is the end game here. Kim Dotcom has apparently surrounded himself with talented, albeit far far left, political consultants like Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury, who is talented and smart (and a nice guy all in all) but has an overwhelming dislike for the right and is an ideologue and a zealot whose perceptions sometimes clouds his judgements. ‘Bomber’ is someone that John Key could rightfully label someone with a ‘far left agenda’ and my boggle is to see how that can possibly work to oust the incumbent government.

So if we agree (and you might now) that the Internet Party will attract young left voters, and if one of Kim Dotcom’s ambitions is to see a change of government then the stars do not seem to align…so is it that I am wrong thinking the Internet Party will fall short, is it that the Internet Party is deluded in what they are thinking, or is it that Kim Dotcom has an ulterior agenda with his apparent right wing, free market, connections.

Full disclosure. I connected with Vikram Kumar and Finn Batato about helping Mr. Dotcom with some ideas and they’ve obviously chosen to go a different way which is fine…but they way they are now travelling is…confusing…to say the least.

I just don’t know what’s going to happen from here…but I am intrigued!

“Yes to Colin…and mmmaybe to Winston” says Mr. Key

John Key will signal in a speech in few minutes that if the people of NZ want to continue with the status quo he’s happy to oblige. Mr Key will say that “given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.”

Mr. Key also sees a scenario where the Conservatives could be an option even though he’ll acknowledge that they have “policy differences” it doesn’t mean they also couldn’t find some common ground.

Unsurprisingly the Prime Minister will rule out Labour, The Greens and Mana as potential coalition partners however with regards to NZ First there is the hint of a slight softening. Mr Key will say that a “relationship was very unlikely” but ultimately he will not rule out the possibility entirely prior to the election.

See the full speech from JohnKey.co.nz below

Prime Minister John Key today set out his decision on which parties National will consider working with following this year’s General Election.

“MMP makes it likely that every election will be a tight contest,” Mr Key says.

“That means it’s also likely that following the election we will need to work collaboratively with other parties to form a stable Government.

“First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

Colin Craig on Radiolive

Colin Craig just spent an hour on Radiolive with Wallace Chapman. It was very entertaining and it was great to hear Craig’s comments and interactions with the listeners.

It is an interesting time in the media as they are all over the Conservative Party story and links to National. I wonder, as did a caller to Chapman post Craig leaving the studio, if the media has nothing better to do at the moment so look for stories where there is none.

The Conservative Party could definitely be there or thereabouts after the next election and indeed could become a coalition partner to prop up a third term National Government, but the confident talk of “We’ll definitely be there” needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. There was internal polling at the last election that had Craig and the Conservatives convinced they’d win Rodney in a landslide which they ended up losing by more than 12,000 votes. I don’t say this to say they won’t be there, just as a reminder that polls ‘aint always accurate. Poll results go both ways as well, just ask Winston Peters.

On the topic of Winston Peters, having done talkback and talk radio for close to a decade I have to say that the supporters of Colin Craig, their angle on the world, and the repetitive themes that come from them do remind me a lot of NZ First supporters. I wonder if the Conservatives will go head to head with NZ First for these votes which could lead to a few scenarios.

  1. NZ First losing all it’s share and it disappears again.
  2. NZ First takes voters away from the Conservatives once Winston starts the ‘Foreshore and Seabed’, ‘Immigrants are evil’, ‘Everybody is against the elderly’ campaign which is sure to come.
  3. Or will they spread the potential vote too thin, and end up keeping each other out of politics by splitting the vote.
  4. Or I guess you have to ask for fairness, will the both get in…which would make for fun political observing in 2014/15 as Craig could try to out-Winston Winston!

One of the messages I enjoy from Colin Craig is that he wants to be, and thinks all politicians should be, representative of their constituents. I agree. The problem the Conservatives are going to face is who their constituents actually are.

Here are a couple of examples from today’s hour on Radiolive

These are the constituents that Colin Craig and the Conservative will be representing. I don’t know about you, but if I were in politics I don’t think I’d want ‘Michael’ to be my spokesperson, or writing my bumper stickers but if we did they’d be something like…

  • “We don’t believe in Aotearoa – Vote Conservative”
  • “We believe in Equal Rights for all (especially those of us with current privilege) – Vote Conservative”
  • “We want to smack our kids – Vote Conservative”

Or maybe Esther would be a better way to go…

  • “We used to live in harmony, except those of us who didn’t and had things like our language and practices oppressed – Vote Conservative”
  • “All that land we took off you, that you got back, well you should now agree to give it to everyone and let bygones be bygones – Vote Conservative”

I wonder if the Conservatives are setting themselves up to be a far right alternative to ACT. This is of course a valid voting block with an audience large enough to get the Conservatives into parliament.

I have spent some time at Conservative HQ, I actually offered to help them with their message, but it was plain to see then, as it is now, that as long as they can get across the 5% threshold appealing to the group of NZers that would adhere to the above thoughts then they’d get in, and of course there is a market for those thoughts.

So we shall now see if the media continues the narrative of Colin Craig being the next king maker, or if next month they will be back to Winston and the Maori Party then in 12 months we’ll all know if they were correct or not.

Winston Peters pointing the bone…again

Winston Peters has been pointing the bone at the National Government over the Aratere Ferry in a tweet this morning that follows several months of blaming National for the poor performance of this marine vessel

Winston Tweets

Winston Peter was in Government alongside the National Party in 1998 when the Aratere was purchased from Spain, in fact at the time of purchase he was the treasurer (December 1996 to August 1998).

I wonder if Winston is using this to score points when from 1999 this ship has been labelled ‘El Lemon’ by the crew. If it was that bad in 1999, surely he, as a part of Government and the treasurer when purchased, should hold some responsibility for buying this piece of junk.

I have to say we are used to Winston using the elderly, or immigrants, or anybody to further his political narrative, but he’s now using a ferry to score points. Wow!

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