Friday 6 August 2021

Dancing With The 400,000 You Came With.

The Dancing Queen: The lesson delivered was as old as electoral politics itself: Dance with the person you came with. Or, more prosaically: before looking after anybody else, a wise political leader looks after the people who brought her victory.

LABOUR’S 2005 WIN was, in the Duke of Wellington’s words, “a damn near run thing”, and Helen Clark knew it. For most of Election Night the blue line on TVNZ’s Party Vote graph had been ever-so-slightly above of the red. Broad grins spread across the faces of National’s strategists: Don Brash was going to do it! But then, unbelievably, at the last minute, the red line tilted upwards and crossed the blue. The “big South Auckland booths” had come in – and saved Clark’s government.

It would be heartening to record that Labour never forgot the help it received from the Pasifika and Maori voters of South Auckland. Certainly, Clark left her caucus in no doubt, when it met in the aftermath of their narrow victory, that the loyalty of the brown working-class would have to be rewarded. Bread and butter policies – not liberal crusades – must be the order of the day.

By 2008, however, Labour came across as a party more interested in helping Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking legislation across the line, than in building enough state houses to accommodate South Auckland’s poorest families. National’s new leader, John Key, cleverly underscored this perception by visiting the economically-stressed residents of McGeehan Close in Clark’s own electorate. His message was clear: “I haven’t forgotten the brown working-class.”

The lesson delivered was as old as electoral politics itself: Dance with the person you came with. Or, more prosaically: before looking after anybody else, a wise political leader looks after the people who brought her victory.

If Clark didn’t pass that lesson on to Jacinda Ardern, then she should have. And, if she did, how could Jacinda have forgotten it? Because, nearly a year into her second term, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Jacinda is in danger of forgetting who, by delivering her Government its unprecedented parliamentary majority, brought her to the dance.

Conservative political commentator, Matthew Hooton, has put the number of habitual National Party supporters who crossed over to Labour in the 2020 general election at approximately 400,000. It was to this enormous number of voters that Jacinda was speaking on election-night when she promised to govern “for all New Zealanders”. Like Clark in the aftermath of 2005, the present Prime Minister, at least initially, seemed to understand that the hearts and minds of these temperamentally conservative voters were precious. Having won them, she could not afford to lose them.

It did not require a rocket scientist to explain how those 400,000 hearts and minds had been captured. Just one hyphenated word will do the trick: Covid-Nineteen. So long as Labour continues to keep New Zealanders safe from the Coronavirus, those former National Party voters who lifted Labour from 37 percent in 2017, to 50.1 percent in 2020, will not be dancing with anyone else.

If someone hasn’t affixed a post-it note saying: “It’s the pandemic, stupid!” to the PM’s computer-screen, then, quick, do it now!

Because there’s something happening out there in the electorate. It’s probably too much to call it disaffection, but one wouldn’t be drawing too long a bow to call it unease. With the Delta variant of Covid-19 raging across the planet, the Australian bubble on “pause”, and the percentage of vaccinated Kiwis alarmingly small; this government is just one significant community outbreak away from an electorally catastrophic loss of confidence.

Because it’s not as if it’s doing superlatively well on all the other battle-fronts of the political war.

Homelessness and housing affordability are no closer to being brought under control. Only last week the Child Poverty Action Group released a report blaming the Government’s “inadequate” Covid-19 social support measures for tipping a further 18,000 children into poverty.

In the midst of a “Climate Emergency” we are importing more coal than ever, and burning it to keep the lights on.

It is also apparent that, very slowly, the volume of discontent over everything from the “Ute Tax”, to He Puapua, to “Hate Speech” legislation, to contracting the Mongrel Mob to fix the problems created by … the Mongrel Mob … is rising.

While New Zealanders can lift their eyes to the rest of the world and see only danger and derangement, Jacinda’s 400,000 Tories will waltz with her in breathless gratitude. But, just let that danger and derangement cross the border, and see how fast everybody’s dance partners change.

POSTSCRIPT: This essay was penned prior to the release of the latest Roy Morgan and Newshub-Reid Research polls. The sub-40 percent showing of Labour in the former, and the nearly 20 percent drop in support for the Government in the latter, merely confirm the analysis that Labour is in danger of forgetting who its friends are. - C.T.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 6 August 2021.


Anonymous said...

Stuff online 6th August - senior Hawkes Bay police officers not happy.

“Now you want to tell us that nearly $3 million worth of our blood, sweat and tears is going to be allocated to a scheme that only allows the individuals who are responsible for causing the harm to be enrolled in it, to the detriment of more worthy causes, and then tell the country that the Hawkes' Bay Police support it. I need to call BS on this because the bulk of us don't support it,” Moorhouse wrote.

“I have seen no evidence from any gang or their leaders that they wish to distance themselves form the wealth they are generating from peddling this poison in our community. I have witnessed nearly four decades of harm from these individuals, and I desperately want to continue to believe in what I do for these organisations. There must be a better way to do this.”

Trev1 said...

Homelessness and poverty have only worsened under Labour but they are focussed instead on Woke enthusiasms like banning free speech and lengthy prison sentences for parents who deny hormone blockers to their pre-pubescent children. The COVID panic has played well for them but even there the fear that motivated many middle-class women to give two ticks to Labour is dissipating as the rest of the world reopens. Do they really think a reversal on the insane Auckland harbour bike bridge will save them while people are waking up to the theft of their right to freshwater ? New Zealanders overseas can't reunite with family because MIQ is booked out for months yet billionaires get ready access . Everything Labour touches turns to mud. No wonder a sensible fellow like Faafoi has headed for the hills.

greywarbler said...

“I have seen no evidence from any gang or their leaders that they wish to distance themselves form the wealth they are generating from peddling this poison in our community.

That resonates with me when thinking about the present economic system and how it is using our ordinary housing stock as casino chips by the elite to gather wealth for themselves. This poisonous approach is being peddled as a legitimate investment good for NZ, in our community. Do you see Anonymouse how a slight change of perception can produce a different image in your house of mirrors!

John Hurley said...

Top of my list of discontent is the soft power bought with taxpayer money. $60m to Spinoff (for example).

CXH said...

I think putting the success at the election down to purely covid is wrong. National imploded and voters wanted a government that could govern without being hamstrung by a minor party.

They wanted a government that would be transformational, as was claimed in the brochure. Unfortunately they have been left to dance alone, abandoned on the dance floor. A better partner has beckoned to Jacinda and she has turned her back. Sadly an opportunity lost for New Zealand.

Nick J said...

Sort of reminds me of Pythons Holy Grail, "Strange women laying in lakes distributing swords is no basis for constitutional government"... In Jacindas case Covid afforded her divine right. It is not a credible or durable thing. When those former Nats stop panicking about imminent viral demise to a plague virus, and sit comfortably immunised their basic nature will return. Worse for Jacinda the Nats will then look to the disaffected who cant afford homes or get state housing... there will go the votes and with them Jacinda.

Or alternatively Labour might stop with the caring politics of woke and actually deliver to physical needs of their core constituency, houses, doctors, workplace skills and prospects, cheaper food, better wages. Deliver that and ex Nat votes won't be needed.

greywarbler said...

I've got a great idea for a new direction of thought that counters that of Anonymous at 13.05. Once people have reached a stage of sufficiency-plus, meaning having the basics in life to a reasonable standard with affordable breaks for pleasurable or interesting diversions, then spend time on not trying to increase one's wealth, but go for social investment.

Increase the amount of social interaction and group activity in things that are enjoyable with community and good results for all people. Get away from the isolated life in the big house on the hill, going to the Gold Coast for holidays, buying bigger cars, being materialistic to the core; don't go away to shop, shop near home, buy from local artisans, eg pre-order and pay a deposit for a garment for the next season. Take a holiday at an organised tree-planting camp with a group that includes musicians, chefs and sporting organisers - have a go at everything, learn to cook gourmet dishes. It won't be a new idea for some, already being done I am sure. But let's make it mainstream and keep adding fibre to the 5 million tug-of-synergy (not war!)

Wealthy and tech-oriented people need to be able to do physical things manually, and not just tech-bound stuck in finance, IT, or selling real estate, dealing with perceptions all the time. Make something, do something, with your hands alongside. looking at others from the wide community, not just look and think-alikes from one's own cohort.

Kat said...

It is blindingly obvious that Jacinda and her govt are "looking after" and "dancing with" the "brown working class" much to the chagrin of the anti brown brigade who are currently being stirred up with the blatant dog whistling from the leader of the opposition.

David George said...

All good Grey, Rotary is like that. Putting back, supporting your community and so on.
You do seem a bit confused though; what anonymous put up was part of the comments from a senior Hawkes Bay police officer. Here's the full article.

Both Ardern and (Poto) Williams claimed (lied) this programme (AKA Mad Idea) was supported by HB police. Apparently not:

Stuff has spoken to numerous officers who were stunned to hear of the funding.

In a letter to the editor of the Police Association magazine, Detective sergeant Mark Moorhouse, a supervisor in the Hawke's Bay Organised Crime Unit has put into words how he and his colleagues feel.

He said claims by politicians that Hawke’s Bay police supported the programme was “BS”.

sumsuch said...

Robertson would speak for ' all NZers' in reference to those Tories. By which we back-armed him into doing a mite for the '84 needy at last.

Just now, I think it's over for the human species by 90 % of measures. Joy in excrement from here on out. Failure. The only failure I regard respectfully.

David George said...

Yes Kat, it does look like that, perhaps she is afraid of a big swing to Te Paati Maori, perhaps she thinks no one will notice or care how far she's tipping the playing field. The odious tactic of shaming people into silence will have a very short life, especially if Winston gets going.

I do know that there's a lot of concern about the institutionalisation of political power along ethnic lines and where it inevitably leads: NZ, the Lebanon of the South Pacific? Never mind dog whistles, the opposition parties need to forthrightly and courageously hammer this issue, leave no one in any doubt that it is dangerous and destructive.

True story: A friends son was booked for surgery at Kaitaia hospital. He turned up on the day but was sent home with the explanation that they were only taking Maori patients. His Maori wife or kid would have received treatment, not him, not brown enough. Pain and suffering are racist now? Do you think people are OK with this?

Unknown said...

Kat said...
It is blindingly obvious that Jacinda and her govt are "looking after" and "dancing with" the "brown working class" much to the chagrin of the anti brown brigade who are currently being stirred up with the blatant dog whistling from the leader of the opposition.
Lewis and Porters Pass are closed according to Waka kotahi

Anonymous said...

"Soft power" ? Call it for what it is - a Ministry of Propaganda.

swordfish said...

"Conservative political commentator, Matthew Hooton, has put the number of habitual National Party supporters who crossed over to Labour in the 2020 general election at approximately 400,000."

Don't know about "habitual" ... but I'd put the entire number of 2017 Nats swinging to Labour in 2020 at around 270K rather than 400. Obviously, the number of core / habitual Nats moving to Labour will be quite a bit lower than 270K.

thesorrow&thepity said...

This is now the 4th successive government that will do a 9 year political cycle (barring an unforeseen snap election).
The political tides have changed not because the challenger offered better, but simply that the electorate had had enough, & that the incumbent had worn out it's stay.
But really, what different direction has any party offered the nation in the last 40 years?
Your previous article on climate change (good to see Chris that you've finally seen the light on the ineptitude that is Meagan Woods) actually indirectly shined a light on the problem of NZ's "9 year itch"..... proper infrastructure takes planning & longterm vision. Sadly Huntly is still in operation today because none of the successive 9 year do nothings had any plan beyond their own self interest.

Each governments final 3rd of their 9 year somnambulism is always to serve the interest group they're aligned more with. For Nats, money changers & big dairy. For Labour its the political mandarins (so called 'public servants')... & also... big dairy.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

John Hurley said...

A group drops pamphlets and (naturally) someone does the offended - highly move.

I don't necessarily agree because I don't think TOW was an clear agreement on the nature of modern NZ and indigenous has a double (UN) meaning. Also when you ask "was colonisation good for Maori?" you need to qualify it (a) are humans suited to industrial society materially and psychologically and (b) what is the status of said person in today's society.

More worrying for those who lean to the right politically, Christopher Luxon of the National Party said that “this anonymous document being circulated is inflammatory. We condemn any organisation or publication that denigrates any group of New Zealanders whether they be Maori or one other of the 200 plus ethnicities represented here in New Zealand”.

Luxton: "Business has lifted millions of people world-wide out of poverty". Right there is the license to throw NZrs who aren't in the loop under the bus = John Key, Mike Moore Helen, Clark Ardern, Green Party.

Colossal populations in other countries aren't caused by us. Much as JA gave hugs over dawn raids those tiny islands were undergoing a population explosion "in a Malthusian sense than any other place on Earth" - (WD Borie 1960)."R" selection - like insects.

He praises the fact that tourism is as big as dairy but real wages in tourism and hospitality have fallen while it is hammers pounding in the construction industry and property prices skyward.

"Economic; social; eco" You can see their activism will have to fit in - it will be a comfortable fit but who would it fit in with a small activist group or government?
Hence they get to be part of the solution and partners with government and media (media are also corporate focussed).

Alwyn Poole said...

Dear Chris
I education they have long forgotten who their friends are, A quick browse throw the Metro academic analysis of Auckland schools is like an electoral map as Labour continues to do little/nothing to life achievement for Maori, Pasifika and children with diverse needs.

David George said...

Greywarbler, here's a beautiful wee clip that, among other things, extols the value of what you are saying re helping others

"Doing things for other people is actually more rewarding than virtually anything else you can do".

sumsuch said...

The Sorrow ... it is interesting . Being somewhat serious gets you 12 years. I wonder what serious would get you? Entirely ridiculous, the come around, go around Labour in this utmost serious time. I enjoy this brilliant moment, despite the lack of brilliant intelligence or force, despite it cutting off my old age in mucky muck scuffling for slight continuance.

Trotter, 10 years older, gets an out.