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.

 

The first to forecast the winner in the 2014 election

https://i1.wp.com/3.bp.blogspot.com/-GqbVz37uqXg/Ty9qg3hSsQI/AAAAAAAAGGc/500mT-VfX1M/s400/David%252BShearer%252BYcjlD9-Ky9nm.jpgI was speaking with my parents on Thursday and the subject of John Key and David Shearer came up, I quickly said that ‘Labour will win the next election’ which was met with a few chuckles…but mostly fear from the lifelong National supporters, however I think they will.

The polls of recent times have seen the rise of ‘the left block‘ and like in Australia the left, for the foreseeable future, will be a Labour/Green alliance. It culminated on Sunday night with TVNZ’s last poll of 2012 having the left block ahead of National. From their analysis TVNZ says…

If those were election results, Labour would hold 45 seats out of parliament’s 120.

When combined with the Greens’ 17 seats, the centre-left would have 62, enough to form a government without relying on any of the minor parties.

I heard a political commentator say a couple of weeks ago that if just 1% more of the Labour base had turned out at the last election, then Labour would have won. If that is the case and the trend towards the left block building and staying between 45% and 50%…then it’s a done deal. Labour will be the next government and David Shearer will be our next Prime Minister. There have been some questions around the February vote to move away from Shearer and towards Cunliffe, this won’t happen…unless Labour has a death wish.

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.

Parties win elections when they appear to the public of NZ to be pragmatic and centrist. John Key used those exact words to describe himself and his vision when the media quizzed him over the potential inclusion of Sir Roger Douglas in 2008 to allay the fears of a far-right governing style. Mr Key said…

“If ACT are hell bent on following a radical right-wing agenda and won’t fit in with a moderate pragmatic agenda then we can’t work with them. They’re ruling themselves out if that’s what they are doing,”

The unions and far-left of Labour like David Cunliffe, the centre sits more comfortably with David Shearer. Labour needs to be seen by the public as centre-left at the next election, with Cunliffe they will not be.

It’s also interesting to see political parties, once elected, then move towards what I would call their ‘natural position’ politically. In 1999 NZ removed what had become a far-right National government and brought in what was then a fairly centre-left moderate Labour. Over the following 9 years Labour moved with their policy and practice, further to the left until the public of NZ again removed what many describe as a far-left government, which worked as we had a moderate, pragmatic, centre-right National under John Key which has since started moving more to the right. So the plan for Labour is that they need to remain as close to the centre as possible, then when NZ freak out over a user-pays, asset-selling, big business far-right government we will toss them out and bring in the moderate centre-left, David Shearer, Labour led party along with their new ‘best buds’ in the Greens and we have a change of leadership.

So let’s be the first to state this officially and publicly (more than just over the dinner table to my parents) that in 2014 National will still be the biggest single party, but will be in the opposition seats as the left block takes the seats of power with David Shearer as the Prime Minister and Russell Norman and Metiria Turei holding some significant ministerial portfolios.