Thursday 5 June 2014

Keep Calm And Carry On: Why The Left Should Ignore The Next Round Of Poll Results.

Good Advice: The Left should think of the next round of polls as the Right’s all-or-nothing artillery barrage – something to panic them into a headlong retreat. But, as the shells loaded with appalling results burst over the heads, they should simply tighten their helmet-straps and hold tight. The Internet-Mana Party has not yet begun to fight.

BRACE YOURSELVES, COMRADES, for some horrendous poll results. The next round of surveys from Colmar Brunton, Reid Research, DigiPoll, Ipsos and Roy Morgan will almost certainly register a major slump in the Centre Left’s support and a concomitant rise in National’s numbers – quite possibly to 55 percent-plus. Labour and the Greens will both take nasty hits and the Internet-Mana Party (IMP) will be very lucky to make it above 1 percent. Apart from John Key, the only other person likely to be smiling is Winston Peters.
The polls will be bad because the framing of Kim Dotcom’s latest intervention in New Zealand politics has been so near-universally and overwhelmingly negative. From the Right (and Sue Bradford) has come the steady drumbeat that Hone Harawira and the Mana Party have done a “dirty deal” with Kim Dotcom and, in the process, “sold out their principles” for cash.
Amplifying this message, TV3’s political editor, Patrick Gower, has characterised the IMP strategy as “a rort” (a term which normally denotes morally questionable if not downright illegal manipulation) even though what the Mana and Internet parties are proposing is well within the rules and has been a feature of every election campaign since MMP came into force in 1996. Gower’s destructive message has, however, been repeated, ad nauseum, by an endless succession of editorial writers, talkback hosts, columnists and bloggers.
The presence of former Alliance Party politicians and staffers in the IMP – most notably the Internet Party’s choice for leader, Laila Harré – has only reinforced the public’s perception that Dotcom has unleashed upon New Zealand a fiercely left-wing coalition that may yet play a decisive role in determining whether or not John Key continues to be New Zealand’s prime minister.
Labour and the Greens, simply by sharing the left of the ideological spectrum with the IMP, will be judged guilty by association with the controversial German entrepreneur. Accordingly, a broad swathe of moderate and centrist voters, when contacted by the pollsters, will register their knee-jerk objections to Dotcom, Harawira, Harré and the IMP by rededicating themselves unhesitatingly to John Key and the National Party. Or, if that is too big a leap, by making positive noises about Winston Peters and NZ First.
The ill-considered outbursts from a number of right-wing Labour MPs over Queen’s Birthday weekend reflected conservative Labour’s instinctive reaction to this sudden and controversial eruption of a new, well-resourced political force to its left. Precisely because they are conservatives, their gut reaction told them that the voting public’s first response to the circumstances of the IMP’s birth would be to punish the entire Left indiscriminately. Their broadcast statements, tweets, and Facebook postings were crude (and ultimately self-defeating) attempts to persuade centrist voters that they should spare Labour from their righteous wrath.
It’s a pity these Labour MPs were so unwilling to hold their nerve and work their way through the emerging situation calmly and logically. Had they done so, their fears would have subsided as swiftly as they had flared.
The Right has been taking free shots against the IMP and its putative allies on the Left because they know this is the last chance they will get to land unanswered blows before Dotcom’s millions begin to take effect. (And rest assured, they will take effect.)
The Right’s principal movers and shakers know – even if their media minions do not – just how much difference a huge campaign war-chest can make to an election’s outcome. They caught a glimpse of what IMP is capable of in the razzmatazz of Harré’s introduction. They have also heard the rumours about whole floors of brilliant IT-geeks all beavering away; unheard of political applications; unprecedented polling capability. It’s why they’re hoping against hope that the beating currently being administered to the IMP during this period of “Phoney War” will be sufficiently savage to obviate any chance of its recovery. And a big part of that hope is that the more conservative elements of the Left will help them out by getting in a few kicks of their own.
Hopefully, the more courageous elements within the Labour and Green camps will prevent this from happening. The best thing they can do as the Right strikes out blindly at the IMP is to strongly and confidently articulate their own party’s core messages to the electorate.
They should think of the next round of polls as the Right’s all-or-nothing artillery barrage – something to panic them into a headlong retreat. But, as the shells loaded with appalling results burst over the heads, they should simply tighten their helmet-straps and hold tight.
Behind them the IMP is marshalling its troops, stockpiling ammunition and gasoline, and unloading its tanks from their transporters. The Left has only to keep calm, carry on, and remember that blitzkrieg is a German word.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 4 June 2014.


jh said...

I see Richard John Seddon addressing a group of miners; I see Chris Trotter addressing a left-wing elite.

Chris Trotter said...

Well, jh, that's an interesting comment.

I'm in the middle of reading Thomas Frank's latest book "Pity the Poor Billionaire" which examines the way the American Right turned the anger and confusion generated by the GFC into the Tea Party movement.

One of the core themes promoted by the Republican Right is that the ordinary American is prey not to rapacious capitalists but to a liberal, left-wing elite.

You appear to be attempting the same sort of misdirection.

This posting is addressed to the many thousands of centre-left voters who are about to be bombarded with polling data that is bound to leave many of them feeling deeply demoralised.

I'm attempting to reassure them that the battle isn't over yet.

You are obviously hoping that I'm wrong. Which puts you squarely on the opposite side to that of the angels.

Just so we are clear.

thesorrow&thepity said...

Chris, the German hasn't set up this party out of the goodness of his own heart or because he wishes to give anything to his country of legal exile. If the IMP chimera were to be part of a Labour led coalition he'd want his pound of flesh. Blatantly a well off 'businessman' will be pulling the strings of a minor political party to subvert parliamentary democracy for his own means (hasn't the left complained about such actions before?!).
Is the political left really willing to sell its soul just to get rid of the devil (Key) it knows?
By all means crack your champagne if the left pulls it off, but when this German snake oil salesman comes to collect please tell us if it was really worth it.
There will be a lot of those on the political left who would find out the hard way that a conscious is hard to cleanse once it's tainted!

Scouser said...

So, toning down the call-to-arms and prepare the laager hyperbole ....

The initial perspective of the incongruousness and contradictions inherent in such an unusual arrangement between a wealthy nouveau riche capitalist with a cloud over him with a Maori cum hard left tiny party is being assessed in a highly negative fashion almost universally.

There are several areas of concern

- there are significant doubts about the motives of KDC

- there are concerns that this is the most obvious attempt to 'buy' seats ever in NZ (the Conservatives = Craig spent a fortune and didn't actually succeed)

- this 'flavour' of arrangement and the effects of $ on influencing elections have been heavily criticised from the left and this arrangement is seen as tarred by this and thus hypocritical

- it's a real struggle to understand what the internet and Mana have in common other than a desire to get National out – not exactly the type of motivation to get additional voters off the sofa

If you're sympathetic one would call it pragmatic but the initial majority evaluation is that it is spectacularly cynical. It's also strange enough that it will almost certainly be treated with suspicion anyway i.e. 'it doesn't look right'

I imagine that given time familiarity will improve the general perspective.

I do feel that you're being optimistic of the effects on $ spend on election outcomes without a significant grass roots organisation, which I don't see here. Even Craig's major expenditure only enabled the Conservatives to hit what is their natural support level from a standing start as reflected in their consistent (and low) polling numbers since the last election. ACT had the highest spend per seat by a long way before their fall from grace and it had minimal effects on their seats in the house.

I could even see it backfire as the combined party is now looking even whiter for what is fundamentally a Maori party built around Hone. It certainly makes Hone easier to be attacked by the Maori party who really would like to see him gone.

The above aside, we might see an extra seat on the left of the house because of this, I cannot see 2 or more. With a tight election that might be enough. MMP elections tend to be tight.

jh said...

One of the core themes promoted by the Republican Right is that the ordinary American is prey not to rapacious capitalists but to a liberal, left-wing elite.

You appear to be attempting the same sort of misdirection.

But yes we are Chris. A recent TV3 poll said 62.4% want some sort of immigration control. There has been considerable expert opinion that immigration has not (after twenty years) made us better off (and may have made us worse off) and while there might still be large positive or negative effects “The lack of evidence is not symmetric”. Apart from rapacious rentier capitalists who has kept the lid on opposition to immigration: the liberal left-wing elite.
Amongst the left-wing elite you have those to whom the ordinary person (worker) is the other. They cannot except people as they are and that is reflected in their perfectionist political viewpoint. So Shane Jones is not a suitable MP because he watches blue movies and compares women to geldings but they love the drowning people of Kiribati who are faultless (despite a population density similar to HK or Tokyo).

Trotsky said...

Your missive is accurate, there can be no doubt of the power of money in electoral campaigns - Colin Craig proved that last time round (and will do so again this time round). I doubt IMP will do well in the election - for the same reason ACT wont - the gospel is to far from the medium voters (and Harawira is repulsive to all but the most extreme of voters).

My problem with the arrangement is the sheer cynicism of it. Rich German facing deportation buys a power and money hungry marginal political party
who when they win power get the puppet minister of justice to overturn the court rulings and gift him clemency from deportation - clear violation of the wall between the judiciary and politicians, which with enough money and cynicism can be breached by the power wolves via they're left wing political puppets, goaded on by servile cheer leading bloggers who should know better.

Mark Unsworth said...

Dear Chris
I am disappointed in your flood of blog attacks on the centrist groups within the Labour Party,many of whom are the brightest and the best of the caucus.
The Chris Trotter I know and respect always stood above the petty beltway nonsense and gave his learned but left biased views on political matters at a higher level.The historical and political lessons and ramifications were always taken on board and calls made here in NZ were put into a context with past experience .Of course I didn't necessarily agree with every point made but I enjoyed the debate.
Now ,when it could easily be argued that a treasured part of our political safeguards,a Maori seat.has been used and abused by becoming a gateway for a convicted foreign fraudster and embezzler to gain influence in NZ politics.Is that what iwi expect their constitutionally enshrined maori seats to be used for ?
Now ,for the first time ever the far left has a paymaster and it seems that the normal due diligence that you would expect before accepting a cheque has flown out the window.Laila tells the tv interviewer that Dotcom's past crimes and indiscretions which include not paying how workers,don't count as they happened before she met him! Would that mean if his sins including murder,rape or child abuse they would also have been ok as long as it happened before she got involved ?
And where was Chris Trotter when others quite rightly questioned the morality of a fruadster buying his way into opolitics here? I suggest that if it had happened onb the right of politics you would have provided us with a feel written treatise ,full of historical examples of the dangers of such action .But it seems to me ,and I hope I am wrong,that the unusual and rare situation that the left has found itself in -namely being well-funded,has blinded you to the ethics of the situation.
Rather than take a serious look at what is happening ,you have lashed out at all and sundry within labour,attacking Cunliffe but saving most of your venom for those centrist within labour who,like many in NZ,think this deal stinks.
I appreciate your zeal for a left-leaning political win but perhaps the people you attack ,apart from questioning the morality of last weeks move ,also wonder if all their efforts should be devoted to gathering the perhaps 5% of voters who support far left policies when John keys mob seem to have 50% ,some of which could be stolen.
Could we please have the old Chris Trotter back.The one who lectured the right on ethics and morality not the one who looks to have been blinded by a bag of gold

Guerilla Surgeon said...

It's going to be interesting. I've always wanted to see what a minor party could do with lots of money. Even had fantasies about it :-). In the U.S. they claim it makes no difference, but I suspect it does – quite a large difference. Still I could be proven wrong. As I said, going to be interesting.

CarbonGuilty said...

One of the things key did well in the last two elections was to make clear he would not deal with Peters, as he is dodgy. Bold, and it worked. Cunliff, I predict is thinking seriously of saying the same about IMP.
Now that Backs is guilty, it taints Dotty too. Since Dotty is now guilty of conspiracy to defraud by agreeing to write out 2 cheques instead of one. So both the Nats & Lab have the opportunity right now to take the high ground and say no more coat tailing. Both could gain from that.
Next we will see Key propose a coalition with the Greens based on dumping the ETS and introducing a carbon tax. Stranger things have happened.

Mark Unsworth said...

PS - I only read Whale Oils blog after I had written my response

Anonymous said...

You are wilfully and spectacularly missing the point. Kim Dotcom is a foreign convicted criminal who is using his $ and the NZ electoral system to his own ends.
National having 'cups of tea' with Act is a cynical (mis?)use of the electoral system, but it is not the same as deliberately being funded by a foreign convicted criminal.

You (and presumably Harawira, Harre, Minto and co) seem to think you are using Dotcom's millions for your own ends. You are quite wrong. He is using you. And once he has used you, as he used John Banks, he will cast you aside.

And in what way is Kim Dotcom's left wing? If anything, he seem libertarian.

Did you see Harre on the Sunday morning political shows last week? I'm sure you did. She couldn't state what the IMP stands for (other than The Kids Wants The Internet), or why she had joined it. I'm told she doesn't need the paycheque. Perhaps it is the lure of the limelight.

Honestly Christopher, do you actually believe any of this stuff ? Or do you just say it because it is controversial and gets you attention. Can't blame a blogger too much for doing that, I suppose.

Jigsaw said...

The left wing elite jh? Such a tiny congregation!

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you have trouble accepting the poll results, Chris. They've been pointing this way for a very long time now. National is almost certain to win the election and may well win an outright majority. To take any other view is magical thinking.

I don't know that the left can really do anything about this. The left has been right on nearly everything in the last ten years or so, from the folly of the Iraq war to the follies of neoliberal capitalism. Yet results at the ballot box have been either mixed or poor.

I think it's just time to accept that winning the argument matters very little in democratic politics. I'm not sure whether this has always been the case, but the internet revolution has certainly thrown it into sharp relief. Facts don't really matter in contemporary democracy, and nor do principles.

This is really what democracy looks like, and the sooner that's accepted, the sooner people can move on. Expecting genuine, worthwhile change from our current system of government is completely bonkers.

Unknown said...

I stand in the polling booth with marker pen poised, about to cast a party vote for Internet/Mana. But Internet/Mana does not appear on the voting paper. Internet and Mana are two separate parties. Which one should I mark in order to get the desired result?

Tiger Mountain said...

The exact percentages in the Roy Morgan were posted on TradeMe two days ago before it was public. Even some of the usual suspects there questioned the validity due to no link and no sign of it on the Roy Morgan site. So we are being played by the pollsters and some tory insiders that can’t restrain themselves.
9 (Chris you are mention on P4 of comments I think)

TradeMe “Community” is part of the unofficial but influential National Party networks like Fed Farmers, Lodges, sports clubs and ‘tradies’ circles.

Anyway the important thing is to keep on keeping on with the various enrol and vote campaigns such as NZCTU’s “Get Out and Vote” and Labour’s “I’m IN”. And people will be needed at Glen Innes Auckland shortly to assist Mana Movement’s resistance to the war on the poor re state houses.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Mark Unsworth

The "best and the brightest", Mark? Seriously!

Stick to the stats, mate, your political character assessment sucks.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Anon 10.39. As of yesterday Banksie is a domestic convicted criminal. And now all you are guilty of is xenophobia :-).

Victor said...

"Blitzkrieg" is indeed a German word. But so is "kaput".

Anonymous said...

Mark -

Crocodile tears. Waffle. And the Maori seats? Gone with a simple majority vote in the house. Not sacred at all.

Didn't enjoy yr elevated weirdness.

Olwyn said...

I feel I have to respond to Mark Unsworth's comment. Why do you think Hone has made an agreement with the IP? One reason might be because he is hungry to advance some of his policies - policies which are largely focussed on the plight of the poor and dispossessed.

National is hungry too - its constituents do not want to lose the gains they have made under John Key's government. Why do you think Key is still polling well, given his lies, his equivocations and his obvious cronyism? I suggest it is because those who have gained under his watch believe that he has their back, and that they in some way number among his cronies. People do not worry so much about dodgy dealing when they think it is done by their team and on their behalf.

What is unclear about some of the so-called centrists in Labour is what they are hungry for, and who exactly they are willing to stick up for.

Chris Trotter said...

+ 1

CarbonGuilty said...

Hey guys leave Chris alone. It's for conservatives like me to abuse him, vituperatively even.
He's doing a good job. For us.

No seriously, I do want the Greens to get real and move to where the environment belongs, in the centre. But they will not, why? They are not true greens at heart, they are Reds. True greens are conservatives or at least apolitical.
But if Key & da Greens did a deal on climate policy (they say it's the most important issue in the universe, ever: so prove it folks) then Labour could have 3 more years to regroup the left under one broad banner and win the support of near all of it. Dotty will have been deported by then; Key will retire as the best leader ever; Harre, Sykes, Minto & Bradford will retire at last thank heavens, having wasted their lives entirely; Banks will be long gone and Peters will have dementia. So all well be well.

SHG said...

floors of brilliant IT-geeks all beavering away

So far my experience of the Internet Party is that it's technically incompetent with no communications skills.

Swept up in the excitement I went to the IP website, filled out the membership form, entered my credit card number for the membership fee, submit, "here's your transaction number", waiting waiting waiting... timeout.

Nice work Internet Party, can't even handle a single simple transaction.

So I sent them an email asking if my application had been received. No response. And again. No response. Tried again the next day. No response. I think my last email said "For an Internet party, you sure suck at the Internet".

Pete George said...

Aunty Anne - If a MANA or Internet party candidate is standing the will be listed alphabetically on the right of the ballot paper under their own party name.

On the left side the parties are listed - beside any Internet or Mana candidate it will be blank. Under all the candidates associated wuth list parties will be an alphabetic list of parties not standing candidates.

If Greens don't stand a candidate (they didn't in Te Tai Tokerau in 2011) Internet-MANA will be below them.


Andy C said...

Chris , A serious question. KDC has supposedly dropped his millions, although we will only know if that's actually true until much later, into the IMP. What do you actually believe/Hunch/Wild guess will be the actual change in the party vote. Obviously its a way off yet. But would 4 Million buy a 5% swing ??
I am genuinely curious because if there is a negligible swing to IMP after spending that amount, then we can throw the spending limits out the window because we've proved they don't have any effect.

Mark Unsworth said...

Ok Chris - in your next blog can you please give us your assessment of the far left v the centrists in Labour noting the stars and future leaders in the former group

Mark unsworth said...

Olywn - If Key is polling around 50% at the moment that's a massive hunk of the population he has as "cronies "

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Oh come on. Huge chunk of keys popularity is due to the fact that he IS Prime Minister. You've only got to look at Helen Clark's sudden jump in popularity after she became Prime Minister. She went from nothing to very popular. You get all the publicity as Prime Minister you get to be seen on TV will stop people interview you a lot. Your name is out there, even if you are just a turd rolled in glitter. :-)

Olwyn said...

Mark - I did qualify the crony claim with "in some way." Those supporters too low on the food chain to count as cronies very likely still think Key is on their side.

The people whose security and well-being have been neglected, sometimes to the benefit of Key's people, do not have the assurance that Labour is on their side to an equivalent degree. And the angry response from some of Labour's "centrists" to the Mana-IP accommodation can only serve to add to their misgivings.

It is the job of a major political party to shift the centre on behalf of those they represent, not pander to an existing centre.

jh said...

The left wing elite jh? Such a tiny congregation!
Entrenched in academia turning out journalists and public servants? Making a bee-line into politics (Keith Locke becomes a Green and like minded clique follows)? Political Class? Elite theory?
I think modern media has distanced the ordinary person from government and accentuated the "opinion maker". The expert gets the last comment but the expert has (and has had) a completely different life experience from the inarticulate retard.

Unknown said...

@Pete George, many thanks for that link, it was very helpful.

Unknown said...

Some should check out the hopefulls for the Internet Party,quite diverse bunch some 20 of them.

Labours,high moral ground regarding coat tailing in my opinion, is one of the dumbest political moves in a very long time ,given that polls aside, this election is going to be a very close one and if the result is not in their favour Cunliffe!s leadership will be called to question and if the right leaning within the caucus have their way he will be dog tucker.

What direction will they be taking if they lose after having fought on a centrist/left soap box will be interesting,given that the caucus, who in the past decided their direction without input from the Party rank and file, who now are in a position to decide the direction of the Party.