Wednesday 12 March 2014

All Over Bar The Counting

House Of Winning Cards? A perfect psephological storm threatens Labour with electoral humiliation and offers National the prospect of an unparalleled and crushing victory.

UNLESS SOMETHING HUGELY DRAMATIC HAPPENS between now and polling day, 20 September, the General Election of 2014 is all but over. The National-led government of Prime Minister, John Key, looks set to be returned for a third term by a margin that may surprise many of those currently insisting that the result will be very close. What may also surprise is the sheer scale and comprehensiveness of the Left’s (especially Labour’s) electoral humiliation.
By which dark paths must one travel to reach these gloomy (for the Left!) conclusions? Simply stated, one has only to follow the basic precepts of psephology (the study of elections and electors).
No matter whether you approach the forthcoming election from the perspective of the socio-economic context of the contest; contrasting styles of political leadership; the policies of the major players; the parties’ organisational heft and their respective financial resources; or the many factors influencing turnout; the advantage lies decisively with the National Party.
Let’s examine each of these factors in turn.
With most opinion pollsters recording three-fifths to two-thirds of voters saying the country is “heading in the right direction” it is clear that the run of generally positive news stories about the New Zealand economy are rebounding to National’s advantage. To those with secure paid employment and/or comfortable incomes, these reports offer no compelling reason for a change of government.
Yes, of course, there are 285,000 children living in poverty and 150,000 people out of work, but by and large these are the most socially marginalised and politically inert members of New Zealand society. They are consequently also the most likely to stay at home on election day. In the absence of the “hugely dramatic” intervention alluded to above – something big enough to propel them back into the electoral process – poor Kiwis simply won’t be counted.
In terms of political leadership, National is especially blessed. Most New Zealanders like John Key. In spite of his enormous wealth, he strikes a staggeringly large number of voters as an “ordinary bloke” who shares their values and understands their aspirations. His stand-up comedian’s ability to use humour as both sword and shield generally frees him from the onerous duties of detailed explanation and justification.
Labour’s leadership problems are the mirror-image of National’s. David Cunliffe is not yet understood or, sadly, much liked by the electorate. He simply doesn’t come across as an ordinary bloke – quite the reverse in fact – and the pollsters have yet to detect the sort of wholesale buy-in to the Opposition leader’s values and aspirations that presages a decisive shift in ideological allegiances. Neither is Cunliffe helped by his bizarre propensity to withhold politically relevant information from the public. Nothing arouses a journalist’s fury faster than a politician’s failure to supply the whole story.
Labour’s policy manifesto has yet to make the critical transition from sea-anchor to mainsail. Among its core supporters there are significant doubts surrounding its proposals to lift the age of eligibility for superannuation; impose a Capital Gains Tax and support (at least in principle) the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Its radical plans for curbing rising electricity prices may produce a surge in popularity as higher tariffs advance in step with Winter’s chill. The risk is that it will be too little and too late.
National’s policy stance, by contrast, is presented as nothing more than the small but necessary course corrections that all governments are required to make. Mr Key’s strategy of making haste slowly on these little things while seeking an electoral mandate for the big things (like partial privatisation) goes a long way to explaining his government’s enduring lead in the opinion polls.
That lead has cemented-in National’s easy relationship with the news media – a rapport which can only now be undermined by a blinding succession of Government own-goals and an equally impressive run of Labour successes. Failing these, not even Labour’s superior on-the-ground campaigning skills can hope to upset a National Campaign Manager of Steven Joyce’s experience. Matt McCarten is a wily battlefield commander, but logistically-speaking Labour is in a parlous state. Money isn’t everything when it comes to winning elections – but it sure helps.
All of which brings us down to the day itself.
Month after month of favourable polls; a leader careful to build his footpaths where people walk; policies which voters either hardly notice or readily endorse; and a war-chest more than equal to the challenge of exploiting all these substantial advantages will not only have National’s supporters in a triumphant temper, but they will also have induced a profound demoralisation among their opponents.
Election Day 2014 – barring that big surprise – will, therefore, likely see National’s supporters marching proudly, as to a political coronation, while Labour and Green supporters, convinced they’ve already lost, deliver John Key an unparalleled National victory and the psephologists a record low turnout.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 11 March 2014.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

Can't say I disagree. Cunliffe has not it seems to me, made any effort to get out the alleged 800,000 voters who didn't vote last time. Matt McCarten might do something with boots on the ground, but I am not at all sanguine. Everybody talks about the marginalised, but nobody seems to do anything about them. Maybe they regard them as the kiss of death. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die :-).

Trotsky said...

Excellent post chris almost certain to eventuate, I think National will be very very happy Shane Jones is not leading the Labour party, that would make things interesting indeed. What comes after the election is worth considering, if National are able to rule alone (as you hint) NZ First will pass into oblivion (Winson is on his last legs), will the conservatives pick up his mantle, will ACT, Mana and United survive, we could be heading to Green-Labour on the left with National/Coservative on the Right with the rags of the Maori party in between. This election will be a bit of a watershed with a leaning down of choice and single party forming a majority government, maybe its time to cut the mmp threshold to 3% and retain coat tailing to promote some choice - not likely as labour green and national have a strong self interest in maintaining the status quo.

Martin Connelly said...

Of course surprises do happen - the earthquake got Bob Parker re-elected as mayor when he was all but history. So anything is possible. But, only a person who is totally unaware of what has gone on for the last few years through out the western world,could fail to recognise how well NZ has done recently - and John Key probably deserves some credit for that. (ANd Michael Cullen before him)

Jigsaw said...

Cunliffe simply doesn't resonant with those that Labour must get to vote-he more that Key, appears to be 'a rich prick' and out of touch. Labour's front bench are tired and badly in need of thinning out. What possible attraction can Annette King be to the electorate? The public I think regard this as a sign that there are no candidates even as good waiting in the wings-true of not, that is the perception.In the house its a lot of cat-calling from labour but little of substance.

Richard Christie said...

I strongly suspect whoever wins in 2014 won't do so in 2017.

Interest rates rises and property bubble will come home to roost. A strong likelihood of a second GFC, an inevitable NZ credit rate downgrade driven by Govt's reduced income stream (tax cuts and lost income stream from sold assets) and rising international interest rates exasperating the tightening of the noose - all will create a perfect storm.

Thirty years of neoliberalism has stripped the NZ people of key assets and ensured most revenue generated from these now ends up overseas. It has destroyed our manufacturing base.

Cullen's pay down of debt buffered us against the 2007 GFC but we'll face the next one naked.

We've dug the grave and we will soon be lying in it for real.

Unknown said...

This is a huge assumption to make, looking at the world with eyes wide shut it seems to me.

PaddyManPaulus said...

Pretty much a foregone conclusion. I think Labour, always fond of killing off non-performers, would be foolish to chuck Cunliffe though. The fact is that there is really nothing he could have done and although no one could say he's performed well lately, I don't think they have anyone who could have done much better. Apart from the fact that they're just not ready, Kiwis have grown fond of three term governments. Most of those who care enough about politics in the real world will mostly vote National or someone who is likely to support National. Not so sure about a landslide though; there is a lot of ill-will out there. Personally, I think we can say goodbye to the Maori Party with few regrets considering that they've gotten everything they wanted, and to Mana. The Greens are in for a hell of a nasty surprise and I doubt Winston First will be in any position to be deciding anything important. Just one man blathering of course.... Great post Chris.

sid said...

What a load of shit. The poll trends are fairly close and big things tend to come up closely before elections because people save those things up for maximum election impact. Think brash & the brethren.
I cant help but think you're just trying to be a bit controversial to drum up a response. If so, mission accomplished.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Alistair, people have been writing Winston off for years now. But people still remember the super gold card :-). And he's as cunning as a shithouse rat.

Martin, the New Zealand economy goes in cycles, governments just tag along. If they're lucky, their ascent coincides with a good cycle – if not, not.

Having said that Richard, it's almost a certainty that if National wins in 2014, it will not win in 2017. History shows us few governments get a run that long. At the same time, there aren't huge number of single term governments either. So if Labour wins the odds are it will get at least 2.
I sometimes wonder why we bother to vote :-).

Anonymous said...

Bull Chris, Do the intelligent of NZ want a beer-swilling-opportunist-wannabe(but failed)comedian as prime minister? I'd rather have a slithering reptile replicant as PM than John-the-lying-banksterd.

Davo Stevens said...

Cunliffe lacks charisma as well.

Can the Gnats rule alone? Under our system of MMP that is very unlikely the last threshold they must get over is very high.

The Maori Party is on it's last legs, pretty much dissolved into the Gnats, Mana may get a bit of traction, United will survive if Key does a deal with Wind-in-the-Willows Dunne. ACT is dead but won't lie down, the Conservatives will always be nothing more than a Ginger bunch.

Going to be an interesting election!!

Anonymous said...

Moron is such a mild word after reading this DRIVEL

Ellerslie Observer said...

Good summary Chris but you ignore one important factor - party unity. National appears to be a unified party happy with their leader. Labour appear to be anything but. The recent leadership contest highlighted the cracks in the Labour caucus between the ABC's and the rest, and the huge gulf between the caucus and the party members. Having both Andrew Little and Matt McCarten in senior positions might be a smart way to appease the unions. It doesn't do anything to attract the middle of the road voters Labour needs, who are wary of undue union influence. The discipline and unity Helen imposed on Labour were, for a while, its greatest asset.

David said...

As long as all these National votes don't complain when they can't swim at their favourite swimming spot,and expect someone else other than themselves to fix them up.

Jan said...

Great piece of analysis, Richard Christie, and you obviously think that very little can turn it around now. Do you think we should hold our noses and bear with the present incumbents for another three years in the long-term interest of getting rid of them for a long time?
It might give the left time to seriously regroup too, of course

Angry Tory said...

The polls have barely moved since 2007

NZ wants to keep what it's got: Helen Clark's Labour government's policies with a prettier face.

In fact, on some very important issues - most obviously Maori Issues, the Flag, Gay Marriage -
Key's National is quite far to the left of Clark's Labour

So yes, this will be another defeat for Labour. The Greens will do better than they have for a while.

But the Left as a whole - represented by National - will do very well indeed.

Brendon Harre said...

I think John Key very carefully timed the election when Cunliffe had taken a few hits and he could make the 'story' of the election being Cunliffe and Labour is not ready for government.

By voters concentrating on these matters he avoids them thinking about National having no coalition partners, the economic problems of the housing bubble and interest rate rises etc.

Despite Chris Trotter's 'expert' knowledge six months is a long time and new stories will be told. Who knows what will happen...

Tiger Mountain said...

DC needs to regrow the beard, wear denim and leather, come out and openly support the 99%ers.
It is go for broke Norm Kirk style time.

At the “end of the day” as a life time activist I and comrades will charge on regardless however ugly it gets. So Chris doom and gloom scenario will be coped with one way or another.

Really all Chris is doing is describing the class position of NZ society in 2014.
A) Fractured, individualised, beaten, worn out, disengaged, unorganised, ill, underemployed
B) Mid to upper level income, tentatively employed, topped up on WFF, scathing of “bludgers”, falsely aspirational, suffering from “last place aversion”
cards maxed out, dislocated.
C) happy people, three of us! living at the beach self sufficient.

Scouser said...

A long way out to make such a brave call.

I pick that the tendency for elections, especially proportional representational ones, to remove major polling leads in NZ is likely to result in the usual close call. Voters are smart enough to see it as National vs Labour/Greens and the usual complacency/concern drivers tend to kick in i.e. if you think your team will win you are less likely to vote and if you think they will lose more likely - unless it appears a foregone conclusion, of course.

With an election in the wind self interest is likely to make Labour bury its internal issues and it will only take a few percent swing from the current polls to change government.

However, and here I agree with much of your thrust, much of the choice of swing voters is based on feel and appearance and the fact that Cunliffe really looks, sounds, feels and smells like he should be leading the National Party and Key, Labour really does tilt the advantage National's way. If we add to that Cunliffe's surprisingly naive inability to play it deadly straight and attempt to manouvre facts leaves blood in the water for the media will be his death knell if he cannot curb this.

We also need to take into account it was Clark and Cullen and it is now Key and English - the electorate like the team act. It is Cunliffe and ?

Anyway, I think all such votes will be close in NZ but sort of agree in that National is more likely to win that Labour/Greens at this point in time.

I cannot see any sort of foregone conclusion though.

Penny Bright said...

Chris - in my considered opinion you have completely underestimated how vulnerable this National/ACT Government is on matters of corrupt corporate control, and corrupt conflicts of interest.

I note that you had NO IDEA about who really runs the Auckland region (the unelected Committee for Auckland) until I brought it to your attention?

You may recall that in the recent Auckland Mayoral election, with no 'team', censored by key MSM, blocked by political phonies like Martyn Bradbury - I still polled 4th, with nearly 12,000 votes,
campaigning against corrupt corporate control of the Auckland region?

Did YOU as a so-called 'political commentator' Chris Trotter, predict THAT?

Kind regards,

Penny Bright

Anonymous said...

Don't often agree with you but I reluctantly admire your calling a spade a spade. The vast silent majority is in no mood for a change especially to what is currently on offer. They scare the horses.

Not anon.but Timboh

Richard Christie said...

Hi Jan,

I fear any incoming left wing govt will reap undeserved backlash for the inherited structural flaws that will take decades to reverse.

It's almost better the neolibs be in control when the populace finally wakes up to how badly they've been exploited and impoverished.

I have some sympathy with Chris's analysis. The sooner this country hits the wall the better. I don't see any other way of truly opening people's eyes to their new status as serfs in their own land.

Anonymous said...

Chris, you are basically telling me to commit suicide, as mentally ill persons struggling to keep things together 24/7 I am faced with a WINZ regime telling me, as long as I can move a hand, I can do some work, so must be work tested and pressured to look for a job.

You cannot be serious. Are you signing the death warrant of the Labour Party, Greens and others already, without giving them a chance? You seem to have signed up to the enemy, who may pay you, I suspect, so I have lost ALL trust in your commentary and writings now.

What have YOU done to forward the cause of the LEFT or Progressives, I may ask? I see damned little for it.

No, you better shut down your blog, as you have now totally disqualified yourself to speak for a progressive NZ. Sorry, Marcus, one who is at the baton's end of WINZ, being sick but not treated with respect.

Anonymous said...

Why do you not move to Russia, Chris, where your adored leader Putin lives and rules?

You are no help to New Zealand and New Zealanders, you are an embarrassment, indeed, I am sorry!

Sanctuary said...

The first time he went into battle in the US Civil War, Ulysses S Grant led his regiment through heavy fog towards the enemy. He was petrified, and on the verge of ordering a retreat, when they noticed they were at the enemy position and the confederates had fled upon hearing the approaching Union soldiers in the mist.

Grant went on to greatness, because he realised a man who amounts to nothing is a man listens to his fears, a defeatist whose imagination will turn those noises in the fog into a mighty enemy host and so he flees rather than fight.

But a man who backs himself and presses on through the fog of war will, more often than not carry the day. Mr. Trotter, if you find the fog a bit scary, may I suggest a nice, quiet warm room in the rear so as you don't clutter up the front for those more willing to fight.

The Flying Tortoise said...

I'm afraid so...

Clem said...

Chris, You might have made fairly accurate predictions in the past, but this time, I am convinced you are way out of reality. The next government will be a Labour led government. Mark my words and if your prediction is wrong, do come back on Sept 20, apologise profusely and sincerely and if you have even a little modicum of shame, quit commenting on political matters.
I will do the same if I am wrong.

Chris Trotter said...

A fine image, Sanctuary. (I'm an absolute sucker for Civil War stuff!)

In this case, however, I prefer Blackadder:

You look surprised, Blackadder.

I certainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans.

Well, of course we have! How else do you think the battles are directed?

Our battles are directed, sir?

Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan.

Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?

Great Scott! Even you know it!

markus said...

On an earlier thread, I made a tentative prediction that, unfortunately, things may very well resolve themselves thus:

2014 Election Result

Nat 45%, Lab 32.5%, Green 12.5%, NZF 6.5%

Right Bloc 47%
Left Bloc 46%

NZ First holds the balance of power, Winnie becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs in a third-term Key Government (before retiring to the cocktail / big-game fishing circuit in 2017).

The only consolation for the Left being that, as often happens in closely-fought elections, the loser (in this case the Left) win decisively at the subsequent Election (PM Cunliffe in 2017 ?, PM Hipkins ?, PM Norman ?).

Having said that, I really want to see how the polls pan out over the next 3 months because it's important not to be too influenced by National's current polling (and, of course, they've had a recent spike in support that may not last long). I've done some analysis (part of which I've posted elsewhere) in which I've calculated National's monthly poll average for the 08 and 11 Election years and then compared it (in parentheses) with National's actual Party-Vote result at the Election later that year: (so, for example, the Nats averaged 52% in the opinion polls of March 2011 and that was 5 percentage points higher than the proportion they in fact received at the 2011 election):

National 2011

March 52% (+5), April 54% (+7), May 52% (+5), June 53% (+6), July 53% (+6), August 54% (+7), September 55% (+8), October 54% (+7), Early November 52% (+5), Late November 51% (+4), 2011 Election: 47%

National 2008

March 49% (+4), April 51% (+6), May 52% (+7), June 54% (+9), July 51% (+6), August 49% (+4), September 49% (+4), Early/Mid October 48% (+3), Late October/Early November 46% (+1), 2008 Election: 45%

So, all things being equal, I suspect you can probably subtract 4-7 points off National's current polling (averaging roughly 49% at the moment). In my analysis at the start, I subtracted the lower of those figures.

It's important not to assume, however, that this 4-7 points can simply be added on to the Left Bloc vote. Some of it goes to National's minor support parties on the Right (they appear to receive a little boost after Key's teacup luncheons) and some to NZ First.

Anonymous said...

All this shows is that democracy isn't what it's cracked up to be.

Trotsky said...

Guerilla Surgeon, Im not writing of Winston and I concur he is the master and understands his constituency well, however he is 69 and smokes heavily, Ive worked round Parliament (not for Parilament mind you) for over 20 years and Ive notice his profound physical degeneration over the last few years, if as Chris predicts National are able to rule without him, by the next election (2017 or 2018) he will be filling adult nappies and hanging on the zimmer frame - not leading a political party. Political Houdini he may be - but not a biological one. Thus my prediction we will soon return to effectively a 2 party system green-labour vs National-Conservative. Time to lower the threshold.

Anonymous said...

But then again, a lot can happen in a day to change the political landscape - just ask Judith, Nathan Guy and Maurice Williamson!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I take your point about Winston Alistair, but my father smoked and lived until he was almost 90. There was certainly some physical degeneration, but you would probably remember that Winston Churchill was a figurehead for some time after he became really too old to run anything except a bath. You may be right, but I suspect that he will be propped up in front of TV cameras by members of his party desperate to stay in government. And let's face it, he's done politics for so long he can now do it in his sleep :-).

paul scott said...

Yes very tidy post Mr.Trotter. You did somewhat delve into the personality of Cunliffe, and he isn't a shade of John Key. I think from where you are you do not see our general antipathy to Green.
Helen knew this even with the likeable and admirable Rod Donald, but Norman is unlikeable as is Cunliffe.

Anonymous said...

So why bother to vote at all if we havent got a chance?

Robert M408 said...

Well of course it's really a contest between the real National Party, the Harvard Boys- Cunliffe and Shane Jones and 60% of the Labour caucus and the populist County Party of Collins, Tolley, English and Smith(2) past and present.
But given the current National Government and notably, Collins seems to have a complete lack of grasp, that NZ actually has a constitution, that we claim to believe in the rule of law, unlike China or Russia and that our actual allignment both by declaration, history and ethincity is with the West, the USA and Australia. The Naive and left wing National Cabinet seems to be basing its and our entire future with trade with a tyranny, the military dictatorship of China, which has even less concept of a legal order, law and the fact, truth than, Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany. Collins and Grosser exist in a fluid world were there are no fixed truths, anything can be denied, contested, obscured- their is no fixed truth only the untruths needed to sell product and obscure last weeks 'truth'.
Given the more famous , Harold Wilson one liner's " a week is a long time in politics" and " I am a bolsevick is a tsarist cabinet, I doubt if National will last much longer, given its brand and Act is a fraud on the trade description act. Neither Party believes in limiting the power of the state or reducing government expenditure or giving the voter or consumer the power to make their own choice on what school what drug legal or illegal they intend to consume.

RobertM 408 said...

Alistar, Winston just needs a new wife. Watch the astounding form EMK showed in the debates against Romney in 1994. The new wive, Victoria Rekie a lawyer daughter of a Louisana's youngest ever judge (1945), a lady who claims all her grandparents were of Lebanese descent, extraordinary in the Long dynasty controlled corportate state, brought the fire to EMK to smash Romney, from the go. And if you want, demogoguery just watch Huey Long on youtube. It would make a suberb Act/Ansell promotion and secure a landslide. A new lady in a politicians life usually produces a lot of fire- eg David Parker. John Major, Bob Hawke,etc.Not to mention Shane, Jones of course, the boys on fire.

Kat said...

Daylight again
Following me to bed
I think about 2011
And the fading of the red

I think I see a valley
Covered with bones in blue
All the rotten Nacts that won't get back
Been chasing after you

Hear the past a calling
From the Savage side
When everyone's talking and no one is listening
How can we decide?

Do we find the cost of madness
Beamed right into town?
The MSM will swallow you
Send your vote down

Victor said...

You make a good case, Chris.

But I think it's a bit early to call the result.

A strange characteristic of PR in New Zealand is that support for minor parties tends to strengthen as polling day approaches.

My understanding is that, in most countries with PR, the reverse process happens.

So there's still a number of wild cards that could change things.

But, I agree, Labour has a steep hill to climb.

Anonymous said...

Chris, just one question. Why do you think Cunliffe will no longer be leader if Labour lose this election? Won't he be able to win another leadership battle based on his strong support in the unions and in the Labour membership?

Chris Trotter said...

Umm, I don't think I made any reference to that particular issue in the posting, Andrew.

What happens after the election vis-à-vis David Cunliffe will depend on whether the rank-and-file and affiliated unions believe the loss was entirely attributable to a failure of leadership, or, represented a collective failure of will and imagination on the part of the entire caucus.

If it's the latter, Cunliffe may well hang on to the leadership while the party embarks on a major house-cleaning exercise.

For how long he would hang on I simply don't know. (It's not as if he couldn't begin a much more lucrative and way less stressful career somewhere else.)

Unknown said...

Don't agree. The media would portray this scenario and would suit you too? They say governments lose rather than oppositions winning.Could be a left walk-over. key is completely out of touch.
Cunliffe has six months to learn and get his act together.

Anonymous said...

No, it was this post

I just think the Cunliffe staying leader issue ties in a bit to this article; its won't be the disaster you imply it to be if National win.

Cunliffe is Key's equal as a political opponent - he just has an incompetent and disunited caucus.

I really think he'll stay if Labour loses.

I also think that a 'likeable bloke'(or sheila)-type leader isn't totally necessary for a 3 term transformative government. Look at Helen Clark.

Jigsaw said...

Whoever anomymous is here he/she is much more inclined to use terms of abuse than mount any coherent argument which is a shame....unless that's all there is of course....

Jigsaw said...

I think Alistair Young hit it exactly about Winston. Those of you who watch parliament regularly must surely have noticed that 1.He really hasn't got it together as he used to..blames the microphones etc
2.The motlety crew around him won't survive a minute without him. 3.Physically he might live to 90 but his time as leader of a political party is extremely limited.
4.The fact that the speaker can turn off Winston's microphone is a handicap he just can't find aw way around.
Gosh Chris-the left obviously hates hearing the truth! September 20th will be a date with reality.

jh said...

Here's a good example of what's wrong with labour. They are a step out of the working class and their poo-poo-s don't smell:
The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and "rub the Right's nose in diversity", according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett.

He said Labour's relaxation of controls was a deliberate plan to "open up the UK to mass migration" but that ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its "core working class vote".

As a result, the public argument for immigration concentrated instead on the economic benefits and need for more migrants.

Critics said the revelations showed a "conspiracy" within Government to impose mass immigration for "cynical" political reasons.

Mr Neather was a speech writer who worked in Downing Street for Tony Blair and in the Home Office for Jack Straw and David Blunkett, in the early 2000s.
I doubt "Aotearoa" is different. Labour is fishy.

Victor said...


"Cunliffe is Key's equal as a political opponent - he just has an incompetent and disunited caucus."

I agree with you but would tend to call the caucus incompetent, disunited and disloyal.

It's rarely an accident when a capable person suddenly appears to be stuffing-up on a regular basis.

And it's also my observation that capable, issues-driven and ideas-driven people tend to be pretty hopeless when it comes to working out who's going to stab who in the back, let alone how and why.

'H1' was something of an exception to this rule but, in any event, she had 'H2'.

Cunliffe needs someone who is just as capable as he but with a different skill set and sensibilities to mind his back for him.

"I also think that a 'likeable bloke'(or sheila)-type leader isn't totally necessary for a 3 term transformative government. Look at Helen Clark."

Agreed. Cunliffe has sacrificed a degree of credibility by his cosmetic proletarianisation.

What Labour and New Zealand needs are coherent social democratic policies that clearly differ from those of the neo-liberal consensus.

But, to convince a population brainwashed by three decades of neo-liberal hokum and in thrall to the media's penchant for character assassination, such views need to be espoused by an obviously smart guy in a smart suit, with boardroom credibility. And that's what I hoped Cunliffe would supply.

Instead we still seem to have National-Lite but espoused by a man with an embarrassingly banal taste in casual shirts, who can't make up his mind whether or not to shave.

Again, it seems to me that Cunliffe has been let down by his assumed friends.

Jan said...

Jigsaw, I think you are being a little hard on Anonymous. If you read him carefully, it appears he has a lot on his plate coping with WINZ. Fighting a antipathetic monolith like that doesn't exactly bring out the best in people. Perhaps you should cut him some slack because it may be that for him a change in government is very personal. It's easy to be sanguine when your very being doesn't depend on the outcome

D'Esterre said...

@ Richard Christie: "Thirty years of neoliberalism has stripped the NZ people of key assets and ensured most revenue generated from these now ends up overseas. It has destroyed our manufacturing base.

Cullen's pay down of debt buffered us against the 2007 GFC but we'll face the next one naked."

Indeed. It may well be to Labour's long-term advantage not to win this year. Although, having watched the political circus over many years, I suspect the result will be closer then Chris Trotter suggests.

Confident prognostications of an outright win for the current government have been gloriously wrong before.

Property isn't the only bubble here: the stock market has some issues in that regard as well. There's no telling when these bubbles will burst; if it happens before the election, all bets are off.

Unknown said...

One thing is for certain regarding Winston,aside from his unpredictability,this election shall be his last,win or lose.He is obviously not as quick on his feet as he was,mind you who of his age is,yet his mind is sharp and his political nous is second to none.And for certain he will be pulling a minimum 5% of the vote, come this election.Why do you think that every turn the P.M.gets he is targeting him.

Anonymous said...

If we can get a large minority of the 800,000 to vote who didn't vote in the last election the the Natzi sell out corporate scum are history though their damage will live on. It's political apathy which is enabling these scum to win along with a presstitute msm saying there's no hope! Rubbish!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I doubt those 800,000 ex-voters will do a great deal. They have become cynical, as they have been ignored by successive governments since 1984. It might be easier to get them out if our politicians actually believed in something. I would like my politicians to believe in something – other than selfishness, political expediency, or even just what's possible. Even my right-wing politicians :-). I think they have lost sight of – ideology if you want to call it that – I prefer not to call it a vision :-). I know politics is supposed to be the art of the possible, but I want something beyond that. I realise that there are times when you can only do what you think is possible, but is that all you should try to do? Our politicians are not aiming high enough. Any of them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your reply Victor. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Do you also think that perhaps the Labour Party can undergo a qualitative change in the stances (on neoliberalism) of its caucus members?

I heartily agree with you that Labour's leader needs to be someone with boardroom experience and a keen sense of how a market economy works.

Also, do you think it is strange that Cunliffe has picked David Parker as his deputy leader? Isn't he quite Blairite/third way?

I really think we have finally got a Labour leader with some substance. I think, from what I have seen, David Cunliffe encapsulates what the Labour Party historically have had to offer. This is a unique Kiwi brand of social democracy. I also think this is something the Greens lack. What they represent culturally is too far outside the ballpark of what most NZers are.

Also, Victor, do you think it is too late for Cunliffe to do some cleaning out of the party for the sake of having people who are more philosophically committed to the new direction for the party (which Cunliffe represents)?

Anonymous said...

It appears that Chris is throwing it all in, before the battle has really started. That is not very helpful, to put it mildly. Today I heard him alongside Mathew Hooton (the "smart alec hooter brain"), saying, he expects Labour to drop even below the 29.5 percent of the latest Herald poll.

Chris, have you been offered a big and high paying contract with one of the privately owned, well paying corporate media outlets, to now change sides and rubbish Labour's chances?

Cunliffe has his faults, so do others, and who else would be a competent leader now, certainly not Jones, who is so toxic, and a hypocrite, only interested in his own promotion.

It would be wise to at least give Cunliffe and Labour a chance now, the debate about what, if and why can start late in the night on 20 September 2014, if need be.

Just perhaps restrain your personal negativity until then, and try and be a bit more objective, please.


Jan said...

Guerilla Surgeon, I am interested in your last post where you talk about politicians and ideology. There have been a few politicians who have been ideologically driven since I became politically aware in the 70's, but it appears to me they soon got sorted!. I can see some now who I think have ideas that encompass a world vision and policies that are 'for the greater good', but certainly none on the right. In fact, apart from a few sweet old 'gentlemen farmers' who labour under the delusion that farmers get a better deal under National, I am totally unaware of any right wing politician who I would have said had the ideals of an alley cat. Can you tell me, because I genuinely can't get it myself, exactly how someone ideologically right-wing would think nowadays? I've always thought of it as a contradiction in terms.

Trotsky said...

Trotter publishes this prediction on 12 March, 6 days later they bomb to 29% in herald digi poll, with cunliffe dropping to within spitting distance of Winston as preferred prime minister, I want a copy of your crystal ball Chris I could make a fortune on the share market with your predictions ;-)

Chris Trotter said...

To: Harry

If only, Harry. If only.

I'm simply trying to call it as I see it.

Given how much energy I put into getting Cunliffe up, I reckon I'm entitled to express some dissatisfaction with his performance.

To: Alistair,

Just make out a postal order for $1 million, pop it in the mail, and we're away ;-)

Unknown said...

Agree with the bulk of this actually. From the UK, only been here for 7 years so still getting to grips with the nuances. Agree middle classes are the problem with Labour. No one likes to see lack of opportunity for the poor and most people have at least an appreciation for social justice.

However, difficult to square that with a blow out in welfarism and Capital Gains, which is most people's only way of investing in this country and getting on.

A party returning to hard trade unionism doesn't seem like too much of a step forward in the 21st Century and also agree Cunliffe looks like he is still finding his feet, if I was being generous. State of the Nation came over as a bit of a damp sqaub.

Does NZ need a Third Way?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jan, the ACT party had an ideology before it went all populist. I despised it but at least they believed in something. And if you look at the American situation, there's libertarian ideology there, stupid though it may be. Tends to centre on less government interference in people's lives, which can be a good thing in some areas but even so. I always thought act was the only party with the guts – though probably for their own political reasons – to say that Maori test their rights to the foreshore and seabed in the courts. Because it was a property right. Now you might think there is a certain amount of cynicism there because there's no way it was ever going to happen, but it was put forward ideologically. And they used to have a vision that's the word you like to use of what New Zealand society would look like under an ACT government. I wish Labour had the same. I wouldn't mention the Greens and ideology in the same breath. Apart from the environment they have very little.

Robert said...

Josie Pagani, suggested Labour Policy isn't the problem, but maybe it is. Increasing the age of superanuation entitlement is always a bad move, and Reagan and Thatcher would never have made that mistake. Shipley lost when Matthew Hooton and Brash talked her into increasing the age of entitlement. In a country where a lot of people see the only real way of making money as doing up and selling houses, a capital gains tax is also not a terribly good idea. I remember attending a political meeting with H. Clark speaking in 1998, a builder asked a question or rather made an assertion those who worked as builders, carpenters, freezing workers, raising super to age 65 or 67 was totally unfair. Of course Cunliffe intends to make, alternative provisions, but it isn't percieved as fair, and nobody likes to be the beneficiary of second grade alternative visions. The Labour platform is too gay and feminist and Shane is far too exciting for the general public, its not the porn or hot goodlooking wahine partner, just Shane's generally reckless rhetoric. When Judith Collins praises a Labour politician you know she percives, Shane as a winner for the Nat fundamentalist right.

Victor said...


Thanks for your kind words.

I must say though that, however much I enjoy expostulating, I don't think my views count for a great deal, as they're not based on any insider knowledge but merely on watching TV, reading the Herald and other bad habits.

But, for what it's worth, I think it might be too late for Cunliffe to stop the rot.

Most people react to specific politicians in a largely visceral way and are highly influenced by the semi-subliminal messages sent out by the media. And then "groupthink" takes over, as does the "give a dog a bad name" syndrome.

That's why presentational aesthetics are so important, albeit that many intellectuals would like to pretend otherwise.

Moreover, assuming Labour is able to plaster a majority together, with help from either the Greens or NZ First, the neo-liberal narrative would still be fixed in people's minds and would constrain what could be done.

So Cunliffe needed to get weaving months ago to de-throne that narrative. And he needed to win both hearts and minds.

But how could he do so, given a caucus divided between a right wing that's essentially still neo-liberal and a left wing that doesn't seem all that interested in economics?

Anyhow, I hope that I'm wrong with respect to all the above.