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.

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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.

 

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

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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!