Thursday 9 March 2017

A Gut Feeling.

Hooked On A Feeling: From having a National prime minister who worked tirelessly at being “Everyman”, New Zealand finds itself saddled with a prime minister who appears to have it in for every man, woman and child unfortunate enough to have been born outside the top 10 percent of income-earners. Have New Zealanders told the pollsters this? Not yet. But that’s probably because they have yet to admit to themselves that their love affair with National is over.
AM I GUILTY of wishful thinking, or are the times really a-changing? If I still took any notice of opinion polls, the answers, respectively, would be “Yes” and “No”. There is, as yet, no empirical evidence of a major shift in electoral allegiances. Unfortunately, in these times, that sort of data only seems to become available after the electoral picture has been radically defaced.
More and more people, according to the psephological post-mortems of both Brexit and Trump, are either refusing point-blank to speak to pollsters, or flat-out lying to them. The burden of representing the popular mood is, increasingly, falling to the well-meaning and the well-heeled; the believers in conventional wisdom; or, more worryingly, to the purveyors of unconventional ignorance.
Which only leaves me my gut – and my gut is answering, respectively, “No” and “Yes”. This is not wishful thinking. A big political shift is underway.
And because this is New Zealand, the shift is being registered in the electorate’s responses to – and the reactions of – its political leaders. Like iron filings scattered on a white sheet of paper and then positioned over a magnet, New Zealand’s politicians are arranging themselves along unseen but irresistible lines of force.
Those who have been following Andrew Little around the country have noticed the change. Where once the Labour leader would turn up to meet and greet embarrassingly small audiences, Little’s entourage are now reporting audiences in the hundreds.
Winston Peters knows all about this particular barometer of the public’s appetite for change. His scorn for polls is based upon their inability to capture the peculiar temper of a political crowd. The way it lets the man or woman standing behind the microphone at the front of the hall know whether or not their messages are getting through. The shiver of recognition with which it greets the telling example; the shocking statistic.
Maybe Crosby-Textor’s polling techniques and focus-group analyses can replicate this. Maybe not. What they cannot replicate is the almost erotic intimacy between speaker and audience, audience and speaker. When that connection is made, the impact on both parties is formidable. The audience’s faith in the politician soars: as does the politician’s faith in himself.
Then there’s the evidence of the ballot-box itself. The Mt Albert By-Election, for example, could have produced a very different result. After all, the electors were presented with two, strong, centre-left candidates, and no candidate at all from the governing party. At least one journalist, who had followed the campaign closely, suggested that the Greens’ Julie Anne Genter was good for 30 percent of the votes cast. In what was essentially a two-horse race, it was a perfectly reasonable expectation.
But it was not the result. Labour’s Jacinda Ardern walked away with nearly 80 percent of the votes cast, leaving Genter with a measly 11 percent. Reasonableness had nothing to do with it.
For Little, himself, it’s as if the impenetrable fog blanketing Labour’s leadership since 2008 has suddenly lifted, revealing a clear pathway to victory. From being ham-fisted and flailing, Little’s gestures have become purposeful and precise. For the first time in nearly nine years, Labour appears to have a leader who sees where he’s going, and knows what he’s doing.
Just as suddenly, the same fog of misfortune which had formerly enveloped Labour has wrapped itself around Bill English and the National Party. The self-assured political touch of John Key has been replaced by ill-considered improvisation and counter-productive communication. English cannot seem to avoid either insulting or upsetting the electorate. If he’s not dismissing young New Zealanders as drug-addled layabouts, he’s informing them that they’ll have to wait an additional two years before becoming eligible for NZ Superannuation.
From having a National prime minister who worked tirelessly at being “Everyman”, New Zealand finds itself saddled with a prime minister who appears to have it in for every man, woman and child unfortunate enough to have been born outside the top 10 percent of income-earners.
Have New Zealanders told the pollsters this? Not yet. But that’s probably because they have yet to admit to themselves that their love affair with National is over. How many of us, after all, are all that keen to admit to a relationship gone bad? In our heart, though, and in our gut, we know that something has shifted irrevocably: that the love has gone.
Inevitably, the day comes when we are no longer afraid to say: “It’s over.” Call it wishful thinking if you like, but my gut is telling me that, for the New Zealand electorate, that day will be Saturday, 23 September 2017.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Wednesday, 8 March 2017.


peteswriteplace said...

The new dawn rising? We'll soon find out Chris. Taken Andrew a while to develop and gain the experience needed to lead a Govt - HE IS JUST ABOUT READY!

jh said...

I think Labour will be hamstrung by it's past and it's association with the Green party. Not long ago Little said house prices were entirely due to lack of supply, so he's still trying to have a bob each way.

Kat said...

Well you have the three term electoral cycle history as a benchmark so it is reasonable to expect a change of Govt in September. The cunning yet cowardly actions of the fake 'Everyman" Key in quietly handing over the reins of a stage coach heading for the cliff will go mostly unchallenged. Poor old Bill the fall guy, if he had been smart he would have forgone his fifteen minutes of fame, told Key he can keep driving, and jumped himself. Key will be grinning from afar and the Nats will be furiously casting about looking for another "Everyman" to helicopter in to rescue the party.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
What policy change do you detect should be a change of government? OK so they've changed places on super entitlement age since the last election, what else? What's the difference?
During the first term of the Lange government, to my own amazement I joined the Labour party. This was because I reasoned that with Jim Anderton being the only public identity expressing my own horror at what the executive wing was doing to the country, that there must be an enraged core of party members around him that probably constituted the most likely political force in the country to reverse or arrest the destruction.
I persuaded the local leader and candidate to write to the national exec to have the policies discussed at the next AGM but she was firmly closed down. The support for Jim was minimal within the party then so he started the NLP and I joined up in Wellington . Just as you did and for the same reasons.
Notwithstanding that the Lange originals have now retired, labour has never shown the slightest inclination to reverse those fundamental changes to neoliberalism ,and until they do I don't believe they deserve the support you give them.And irrespective of Jacinda's winning smile they don't deserve to be the government again . I think it is policies that matter, not who is promoting them, and the democratic thing to do is to vote for whoever has policies that come closest to what you perceive as most important, irrespective of their chance of wining the benches. At least while there is nothing of significance to chose between.
Way back then with the oil shock causing rampant inflation in many countries most people though shocked, resolved to give the Rogernomics a chance, like with an unplanned pregnancy they mostly made the psychological adjustment to live with it and hope for the best. Now the pregnancy has produced "Rosemary's Baby" and many people are articulating their dismay.
They broke it. They should fix it.
David Stone

Comorant said...

The Key shine is fading and even getting a little bitter, however I think that it won't have come into full effect come election time and National will see another term. If Labour were a bit more convincing, they would take them.

BlisteringAttack said...

Certainly you get the sense that Key knew that a 4th term was impossible so as the devious prick he is handed the poisonous chalice to poor old Bill English.

If Bill English had an gram of moral strength he would have handed the poisonous chalice to someone else.

One electoral hiding in a lifetime should be enough.

Kat said...

Labour can't afford to parade policies that are not 'vote winners' before the election. And they must be 'vote winners' across a broad enough spectrum to attract that fickle NZ electorate that decides all elections. One point I agree with Chris is his comments about keeping them honest once they get across the line. I suspect a Labour/Green/NZ First govt would be reasonably self regulating given the mix. Its going to be difficult to just reverse every bad policy that has ever been put into place over the past forty years. However a good start would be a fresh start and the current National govt are definitely not the fresh team.

pat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendon Harre said...

Humorous article from back in October about inaccurate polls between Hillary and Bernie. The article is not so funny now though....

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Perhaps they can now draw some inspiration from the elections in Western Australia. Where cost of living in housing prices seem to have played a major part. Though God knows compared to New Zealand housing prices aren't that bad. Maybe Kiwis are just more apathetic.

jh said...

he VVD was only able to win by posing as Wilders-lite and pretending to be a nationalist party. Though the media will scream that he is finished, Wilders has a stronger presence in the legislature.

Perhaps more importantly, the Left, as shown by the rise of the Green Party and the “Denk” Party, a party explicitly for Muslim migrants, is now characterized purely by anti-white animus and a lust for population replacement [Live Wire Dutch Elections: Collapse of Mainstream Parties Not Matched By Expected Wilders Surge, Breitbart, March 15, 2017].

Now that the Muslims the white leftist parties (expected to act like obedient pets) are abandoning the likes of Labour, the political system is collapsing. The bread-and-butter economic style issues which used to keep parties like Labour in power are falling away.

Unless the PVV’s followers simply abandon it out of disappointment, Wilders is still at the center of Dutch politics and is well placed to capitalize if there is a crisis. Meanwhile, the center-left has all but disintegrated. All that is keeping the project limping along are the center-right conservatives who had to act tough in order to win the election, making promises they had no intention of keeping.