Sunday 17 September 2017


Let's Do This Now! New Zealand is poised to repeat the circumstances that produced the shock British election result of 2015. Those with a retentive political memory will recall how both the pollsters and the pundits were predicting an extremely close election which could very easily see the Labour Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, moving in to Number 10 Downing Street as Britain’s next prime minister. Didn’t happen.

IF, ON ELECTION NIGHT 2017, you end up staring at the numbers in horrified disbelief. If National proves the people at Reid Research are the best pollsters in the business. If the Jacinda Train runs out of puff several percentage-points short of being able to form a government. If the Greens: the dear, earnest, tree-hugging Greens; fall below the 5 percent MMP threshold. If, after all these calamities, you’re casting about in your anger and your grief for an explanation, then reclaim from the back of your mind this crucial piece of information from Elections New Zealand.

As at 15 September, just over a week out from Election Day, “nearly 20,000 fewer young people under 30 [have] registered compared with 2014”.

Got that? Notwithstanding the fact that the leadership of the Labour Party has passed to a young woman of 37. Notwithstanding the fact that Labour is promising to enact a suite of policies aimed directly at addressing the problems besetting young New Zealanders. Notwithstanding the fact that the most future-focused of all New Zealand political parties, the Greens, are at serious risk of being ushered out of Parliament altogether. Notwithstanding all of these things, fewer citizens under 30 have registered than three years ago!

New Zealand is poised to repeat the circumstances that produced the shock British election result of 2015. Those with a retentive political memory will recall how both the pollsters and the pundits were predicting an extremely close election which could very easily see the Labour Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, moving in to Number 10 Downing Street as Britain’s next prime minister.

Didn’t happen.

As polling stations across the British Isles closed their doors, and the counting began, the BBC released an exit poll indicating a comfortable win for the British Conservative Party. Pundits and Opposition politicians alike were dumbfounded. When all the polls were predicting a close race – and some a Labour win – how could the BBC’s exit poll possibly be true?

The Tories knew the answer. They had cottoned-on to what was happening weeks before. All those young Britons who’d happily told the pollsters that they supported Ed Miliband and Labour were by no means as committed to making their way to a polling-booth and actually voting for them. Older voters, on the other hand, were borderline obsessive when it came to exercising the franchise. And guess what? Around three-quarters of them were Tories.

Two years later, back here in New Zealand, the chances of something very similar unfolding are distressingly high. Just consider these additional stats from Elections New Zealand:

“So far, 97 percent of people over 70 have enrolled to vote, but as the age drops, so does the percentage. Only 75 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 29 enrolled to vote and that proportion dropped to 67 percent for 18 to 24-year-olds.”

Combine that data with the latest Colmar Brunton poll’s finding that 67 percent of voters aged between 18 and 34 told the pollster that they were intending to vote for the Labour Party. 1New’s political editor, Corin Dann, has described this as a “youthquake” – and if 18 to 34-year-olds voted in anything like the same numbers as the over-60s, then he’d be right, and Labour/Green would cruise to a stunning election victory.

But, will they? In 2014 around 200,000 young New Zealanders declined to cast a vote. If that degree of abstention is repeated in 2017, then the same gasps of disbelief that greeted the BBC’s exit poll in 2015 will likely be heard here as the Early Voting figures are released on the evening of 23 September. Youthquakes are not born of young voters’ stated intentions, they only occur when young people get themselves to a polling station, step into a booth, fill out a ballot-paper, and drop it into a ballot-box. Jacinda will not become prime minister by millennials liking her on Facebook. To effect a change of government, it is absolutely necessary that young New Zealanders vote.

Among all this doom and gloom there is, however, some good news.

When the Tory British Prime Minister, Teresa May, called a snap election earlier this year, the pundits and pollsters were determined not to be caught napping a second time. If younger citizens, in spite of declaring their support for a political party, don’t actually make it to the polling booths, reasoned the pollsters, then we must adjust our raw results to take account of the high level of youth abstention.

Accordingly, the overwhelming majority of polls released prior to the June British election showed the Conservatives increasing their parliamentary majority. Many of the British pundits went further – predicting a massive collapse in Labour support across the country.

Didn’t happen.

Young British voters had learned from the experience of 2015. They understood that if Jeremy Corbyn’s “For the Many, Not the Few” manifesto promises were ever to be honoured, then they would have to get out and vote for them. Which is exactly what they did – in numbers far surpassing the youth turnout of 2015. Support for the Labour Party surged. Teresa May lost her parliamentary majority.

The moral of the story is pretty bloody clear: VOTE!

You can enrol, and vote, at your nearest Advance Voting polling station (check out their locations at ) right up until 22 September. It is NOT possible to enrol on Election Day itself (Saturday, 23 September) so – VOTE EARLY.

And once you’ve enrolled and voted, make sure everyone you know, who’s 18 and over, and wants to change the government, GOES OUT AND DOES THE SAME.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Saturday, 16 September 2017.


greywarbler said...

Something on Radionz this morning (Sunday) may apply. A guy talking about 'millenials' saying that they can be clever, talented, but look for instant gratification. They change jobs after only three months. It isn't what they are looking for they say. They go somewhere else and repeat the process. He says they are idealistic and not prepared to stay with something and really try it out and see what is good that doesn't show up immediately, and work their way into the job.

In other words they think in theories, have a cargo cult mentality, think of 'what's in it for me'. So not showing determination to build something for themselves and work in with the workplace and show loyalty to the company would seem to be a big part of their style. And employers looking for talent talk about only accepting people who 'fit' so they have unreal ideals also instead of thinking whether this person offers a different facet.

Perhaps dismissing others ideas without giving them a try, instant negativity of something different because it doesn't fit the ideal, if that is a common attitude, then perhaps this carries through to voting for the best of the confusing political parties with their confusing assertions.
You can never get an ideal Party, they won't tackle what's important to you, or muck up the process. So who to vote for would be the question.

In the interview the comment was that after the young talented change jobs six times and still are unsatisfied, they lose faith in their own talents, rather than realising that the process is wrong, not themselves. How can you vote when you are so unsure about everything - may be the dominant thought.

Here is the link you may find this illuminating.

Simon Sinek: Why you should "Find Your Why" at work
From Sunday Morning, 9:40 am today
Listen duration 17′ :51″

Simon Sinek is an optimist and a motivational speaker who believes in a brighter future for humanity. He took on the subject of millennials in the workplace and his Ted Talk about that, as they say, 'broke' the internet.
His "Great Leaders Inspire Action" Ted Talk is the third most-watched of all time.

And rather than think of millennials as a burden in the workplace, he says workplace leaders need to work out how to keep that generation engaged. Simon Sinek has also written three best-selling books and his latest - Find Your Why - offers practical ways for work leaders to find purpose for themselves and their teams.

Patricia said...

I read somewhere that 39% of all voters are the 'whats in it for me' voters. That explains Nationals never ending tax cuts. Nobody in that group thinks past instant gratification. And, unfortunately, thatt group covers all generations. How you change that view point I do not know.

GJE said...

All so true...can't help but think ourvoting system is well past it's use by date..why not vote with a Facebook like..

Anonymous said...

" 97 percent of people over 70 have enrolled to vote "
I have enough hope to suggest that a large enough number of voters in older age brackets - of which I am one - will vote for their children, and their grandchildren. Could be forlorn hope, of course.

greywarbler said...

Further to my earlier comment musing on youngish non-voters, I have realised that this constant self-deprecation by many of the brightest and highest educated in this modern society is discussed in the book Affluenza, by Oliver James.

On the cover of my copy it says:
Affluenza -
n - a contagious middle class virus causing depression, anxiety, addiction and ennui...
And description of the book Affluenza: a global tour of infected minds by a renowned psychologist in search of the secret of being successful and staying sane.

As for the young who are being driven insane by unemployment and containment with no observable path to finding worth and a settled life with satisfaction, comfort and enjoyment, and being told they will never be successful at anything?? That perception will alienate them from voting and the anomic sector amongst us is bound to grow and end up where, doing what??

Anomic - definition of anomic by The Free Dictionary
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend: Adj. 1. anomic - socially disoriented; "anomic loners musing over their fate"; "we live in an age of rootless alienated people" alienated, disoriented.

greywarbler said...

Anonymous at 9.56 18/9
Over 70's tend to think of themselves, their children and their grand-children in that order. But nothing much else. They find any anomalies in the system that provides for them and their interests, as being caused by personal faults in those who are suffering. It's an old tried-and-true commonsense approach that doesn't require further consideration or cleaning off despite it being coated with dust and even specks of blood.

Your hope is echoed in this bible quotation which thinks about illumination and understanding often not reached in life:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13: 12-13)

greywarbler said...

Here's a song from the left, could apply to Greens or Labour.
If you Leave me Now from Chicago.

If you leave me now, you'll take away the biggest part of me
Ooohh no
Baby please don't go
And if you leave me now, you'll take away the very heart of me
Ooohh no
Baby please don't go
Ooohh girl I just want you to stay

A love like ours is love that's hard to find
How could we let it slip away
We've come too far to leave it all behind
How could we end it all this way
When tomorrow comes and we'll both regret
The things we said today


Bushbaptist said...

The World is about to End...

On September 23rd.

Damn that makes our Election on the 24th somewhat irrelevant! Oh well, I have voted anyway!

lurgee said...

As polling stations across the British Isles closed their doors, and the counting began, the BBC released an exit poll indicating a comfortable win for the British Conservative Party. Pundits and Opposition politicians alike were dumbfounded.

Point of order: the exit poll did not forecast a 'comfortable win' for the Tories. It predicted they would win 316 seats. The target for victory - an outright majority - was 326.

The poll forecast a hung parliament, which is what the 2010 election produced.

The Tories essentially ate their long suffering coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, alive, stealing large swathes of their vote share. Labour staged the same.

But it was no sort of 'comfortable win.'

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Little of topic I know, but I noticed that Labour and National have now started using those bloody idiotic robot phone calls that seem so common in the US. I tell you what, if I was trying to make up my mind between two parties and one of them made robot phone calls and the other didn't............

Chris Trotter said...

To: Lurgee.

You are absolutely correct, Lurgee. My apologies to readers. The BBC's exit poll did indeed predict the Tories winning only 316 seats. In the end, however, the Tories won 330 seats - a narrow, but perfectly serviceable, majority.

Victor said...

A few thoughts on the UK general election of 2015:

Whilst it’s true that the Tories won and Labour lost, it’s not the case that the Tories directly defeated Labour.

Only three seats changed hands between them, with, from memory, two going from Labour to Tory and one going in the other direction.

But Labour was almost totally wiped out in Scotland by the SNP, whilst the Tories took the overwhelming majority of seats that the Liberal Democrats had won during their sustained surge of the previous decade.

So it was a very different election to our current one and, given the contstraints of FPP, I’m a bit sceptical over whether a Youth Surge would have made much difference. Indeed, in Scotland, it would merely have rendered the SNP’s victory even more overwhelming.

And, of course, Cameron’s sudden command of a majority meant that he could no longer rely on the Lib-Dems to block the Brexit referendum he’d foolishly proffered his party’s idiot faction. So his was a decidedly Phyrric victory.

Chris is undoubtedly correct, though, concerning the critical role a Youth Surge or its absence will have in this election. And I must confess to some bewilderment as to exactly why young people don’t vote in such large numbers as members of older age groups.

“When I was a lad”, I could barely wait to vote. But, given the UK’s characteristically long parliaments and the fact that the age of eligibility was 21, I had to hold out till after my 24th birthday (in 1970) before I had the opportunity to exercise my democratic rights.

So why are today’s young people so different? I can’t seem to find an explanation that stacks up.

David Stone said...

I think everyone is less enthusiastic about any particular party than they used to be; but our age group keep up the habit, and feel the responsibility even though we may be sceptical of the choice we settle for. Young people without the habit see no one out there that they believe has a plan that they can see working for them. They don't feel represented and they don't trust, with good reason. But look how they got behind Corbyn when they felt someone was on their side. They would vote if someone came on the scene with a message and a personality the believed in and trusted.
Cheers David J S

greywarbler said...

I don't know if we all understand the deadening effect that neo lib economics and its dogma about society has had on the young. They tend to be cold to others who are outside their frame of reference, uncharitable to those in difficulties, anxious about themselves succeeding, very goal oriented, have a surface charm and PC behaviours that are rites of passage in our society. There isn't a commitment to the idea of a happy, co-operating country with reasonable equality and opportunities and togetherness, to building a NZ to be proud of, and only turning out when their sympathetic emotions are caught up in some way. While generally we aren't hostile, we aren't deeply friendly either.

Our aggressive driving, unwillingness to request changes for the better, leads to acceptance of the status quo and then actually a hostility to those looking for improvement. A 'who do you think you are' subservience to the system. So if the young are embedded in the system and nobody acceptable to them who they identify with can project a different way, they probably won't bother to vote. Jacinda looks like someone who has got charisma, but the more she has to rein in those mind-popping ideas (not reign in as I see so frequently lately, it seems a common term at present)
the less her image will shine until it gradually dulls down.

These aren't particularly intellectual and wise types of people, they are the sort who will get emotional about whether they are going to get overseas wages in the making of a possible block-buster film that could be made in NZ and start a major new permanent industry here. Like old-time unionists, it was all about me and us here and now, without using one's intellect and wiles to tie reasonably large and secure advantages going into the future. Peter Jackson had to get the government behind him to lassoo the dream and bring it to this part of middle earth. That's the generation affecting the really young, that we are hoping will bring themselves and their brains to the ballot box. We could be lucky.

Victor said...

David Stone

I've only rarely been particularly enthusiastic about any political party. Nor have I ever felt part of a group or generation that's particularly favoured by any specific tribe of politicians.

In retrospect, of course, I have a lot for which I should be grateful to Harold Wilson. But it didn't seem like that to a generation that didn't believe in trusting anyone over forty. Yet we voted all the same.

I think it's fair to say that I've always cast my ballot out of a sense of responsibility to choose between what is normally the lesser of two evils for the country as a whole and out of respect for those who made my vote possible, often at the price of their very lives.

To my mind, those are motives based on common sense and common decency. And sometimes I've voted against my own best interests, as I'm sure you will have done from time to time.

Unless you write the manifesto, elections are almost always about choosing the least bad alternative and always have been. What's changed in that regard?

And, obviously, if you belong to an age quartile that doesn't tend to vote, no-one's going to pay much attention to you. Equally obviously, the way to change that situation is to vote and to persuade others of like mind and age to vote in the same direction.

Moreover, whatever his achievements, Corbyn didn't win the last UK election, despite being up against a far inferior campaigner to Bill English and a government that, in its own terms, had a far worse record.

In addition, of course, many of the young people who voted for Corbyn seem to have done so under the misapprehension that he was opposed to the way Brexit had contributed to the narrowing of their life choices.

Of course, if they'd have thought about that a year earlier, all might have been different.

Furthermore, Youth Quake or no Youth Quake, NZ Labour seems set to do at least as well as UK Labour did back in June.

So, as far as I'm concerned, the mystery remains as to what goes on in the minds of the young.

If you have alternative explanations, I'd be glad to hear them.

Better still, I'd like to hear about it from a genuine youthful non-voter. But I'm not holding my breath.

David Stone said...

I don't think I can help with a youthful non voter. There might be one we seldom see in our extensive collection of children grandchildren nephews and nieces , as meth has taken over one life, but I'm pretty sure all the rest will be voting. Mostly Green though a few will be persuaded by Jacinda esp. one or two in her electorate.
Beyond that I completely relate to your comments.
Cheers David J S

Victor said...


It looks as if your family will itself be a Youth Quake.