Monday, 18 September 2017


There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going to do:

NAT – 42%
LAB – 39%
NZF – 8%
GRE – 6%
TOP – 2%
MAO – 1.5% (With electorate win(s))
MAN – 0.5% (With electorate win)
ACT – 0.5% (With electorate win)
UNF – 0.5%

Sadly, I don't see Labour riding Jacindamania to victory.  National are banging the TAX-FEAR drum very loudly and it will have its usual effect.  A combination of unforgivable unpreparedness on Labour's part, Ardern's gutsy but naive 'Captain's call' on tax, and some bloodyminded mischief from the Greens will probably see Blundering Bill home.

The Greens will (hopefully) avoid the chop.  I'll do my own little bit for them, though resentfully, for any party that is as tactically incompetent as they have been probably deserves oblivion; but I'll sullenly and resentfully give them my party vote because the environment is more important than them or me.

My wild card is Te Tai Tokerau.  I'm going to say Hone Harawira will surprise everyone by reclaiming the seat.  I've got no evidence to support this whatsoever, and I merely proffer the idea in the spirit of mischief.  Davis has been busy doing other things (like confusing everyone over Labour's tax policy) and may not have given his narrow majority enough TLC to fend off Mana, without the Maori Party splitting the vote.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Stray Thoughts on Jacinda Ardern, Jacindamania, Jeremy Corbyn and Other Matters

So, John Armstrong has a column in the New Zealand Herald, encouragingly titled, "How Jacinda's cunning plan fell apart."

In it, the Wise One pontificates on how Jacinda Ardern's strategy (whatever it might be) is coming unravelled, as she faces attacks on tax and is being exposed as being lamentably conservative:
Once again, Labour has been tripped up over tax policy. The only difference this time is that the major Opposition party has been even more helpful by having a whole range of new taxes in its manifesto.

The tax was the early product of Ardern's Brave New World - a world where she intends demonstrating Labour can make the hard decisions.

It took precious little time for Labour to back off the idea as fast as decency allowed. "Let's do this" became "Let's not do that".

Much of Ardern's amazing rapport with voters has sprung from her being something of a female version of John Key - approachable, open, down to earth, not judgmental, and arrogance-free.

But there is one major difference between them. She has insisted any government she runs will listen and then act. It will lead, not follow.

Of particular note has been her declaration that she will not shy away from tackling the "big generational issues".

When it comes to such issues, they do not come any bigger or more vexed than the fairness of the country's tax system and the affordability of current state-funded pension entitlements. With regard to the latter, she has gone Awol.

She has adopted John Key's pledge to resign as prime minister were the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation to be raised under her watch. Likewise were there to be any reduction in current entitlements enjoyed by those who qualify for the state pension.

For someone portraying themselves as giving voice to younger voters, such a stance is an absolute cop-out. It is little short of betrayal.
While I don’t think it is fair to say her plan has fallen apart, I think the charges that Labour have shown themselves to be tactically naive (who would have though National would attack us on tax-and-spend?! We never saw it coming!) and that Ardern is a Clintonesque triangulator rather than a wild-eyed radical is fair enough.

That’s not a bad thing, by the way – a combination of popularity and populism, with a dash of slight left-of-right-of-centre politics is probably a feasible victory strategy.

It isn't Corbynism - no matter how her admirers and detractors try to portray her as a sort of Antipodean Jeremy Corbyn, sans beard.  Nor could it be.  Corbyn had two years and a very effective organisation (Momentum) at his disposal. Jacinda Ardern has nothing but being Jacinda Ardern.

While I'm no starry-eyed admirer of Ardern - she's not radical enough for me in the crucial areas - she’s already managed to do a lot more than I anticipated. I thought her sudden elevation might get Labour to the right side of 30%, not 40%.

Though that in itself is a worry, as the sudden surge of support can run out just as quickly. Assuming, for the moment, that Labour don’t get to form a government, and Ardern retains the leadership - which she has more than earned the right to do - she probably won’t have the same aura of newness, energy and excitement as she does now, and find it harder to reproduce the effect.

Though Labour might have sorted out their tax policy by then …

Save Mart sackings

Union workers who complained about unsafe conditions at Save Mart stores have been made redundant, soon after John Campbell was invited to the New Lynn store to see the operation for himself. 
Save Mart workers have told Checkpoint they have been exposed to health and safety risks by being denied the use of gloves while sorting through clothing donations made through the big blue bins in many New Zealand neighbourhoods. 
Workers have spoken of finding syringes, broken glass, used sex toys, and clothing covered in blood and faeces, as they sort through the donations. 
WorkSafe said earlier this week it would investigate health and safety standards. 
First Union organiser Graham McKean told Checkpoint that while investigators were at the New Lynn store today, the 10 union members at the store were given four weeks notice of redundancy.
This is going to buried in a blizzard of election coverage.  Almost as if it was intended to be like that.

The media aren't going to take much interest in it because it is about little poor people, and dangerous subversive lefties at that.  Normal people are only interesting to television news if they come with appealing or dramatic pictures and if they are caught up in some sort of dramatic event.

Save Mart workers losing their jobs?  They aren't dying in a cataclysm and some of them won't even be smartly dressed or terribly photogenic.  Where the 'human interest' in normal, boring people involved in an industrial dispute?

It's massively corrupt - unsafe working conditions, misleading 'charity' campaigning and now probably illegally firing union members. They mustn't be allowed to get away with it.

But I fear they will. Employment litigation beckons, if the bosses at Save Mart aren't compelled to back down. I assume the psychopaths running the company have had some sort of semi-competent advice, rather than just acting on impulse. And their pockets are deep and time is on their side; they can countenance protracted litigation. People living hand to mouth, suddenly having to find new jobs aren’t in that position.

It's a bigger story than the election, in some ways. That's just about how one bunch of corrupt liars is arguing with another bunch of corrupt liars about which set of promises get to be broken.

This story is about real people losing their jobs because their employers are wicked crooks.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Apolling Propaganda

So, there have been a couple of polls, apparently.

One - by Reid research - was pleasing for National.  Another - by Colmar Brunton - pleasured Labour.

Over on The Standard, the former was met with howls of despair and derision. Reid Research, apparently, were fully paid up members of the Illuminati-Space Lizard conspiracy. Stephen Joyce personally wrote in the numbers. Or something like that.

The second poll was give a much warmer reception. Indeed, I think some commentators on The Standard would have married the poll, so entranced were they by its appeal. Someone, writing under the anonymous NOTICES AND FEATURES nom-de-plume, rushed out a marriage proposal glowing endorsement. It proved, apparently, that, "The 3 News poll was a rogue."

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  It does no such thing!

The claim that a Colmar Brunto shows a Reid Research poll to have been completely inaccurate is not correct and whoever is writing under the NOTICES AND FEATURES byline should be ashamed of themselves. I suspect they know they are doing a Bad Thing but decided to put it out there anyway for purposes of propaganda.

Comparing the findings of a Colmar Brunton poll and a Reid Research poll does not show one is accurate and one inaccurate. Even comparing several CB polls to the RR poll does not invalidate it. It merely shows that the two companies have different sampling methods and / or process the data differently and obtain different results.

The only things that would show RR’s poll to be a rogue would be further RR polls that show significantly different results; or the election result itself.

You’ll recall that in Britain, Survation was mocked when its polls showed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party closing in on May’s Conservatives. Other companies showed the Conservatives well ahead. It turned out that Survation was correct and they called the result more accurately than the other companies, by considerable margins. You do not know which polling company has the right formula (or the least wrong, more like) until the real votes are counted. Until then, you can only regard the forecasts with bemused curiosity or phlegmatic disdain.

Do not dismiss the latest RR poll until it is invalidated by further RR polls. The alternative is psephological madness.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

You do not get fundamental political changes in a fortnight

Sorry to be both repetitivie and continue Grinchy, but I feel the all consuming urge to rain, Harvey-like, on Labour's parade.  Yes, it is jolly exciting to have Labour actually ahead of National in the polls - without having to include the Greens and New Zealand First to get there - but let's be sensible for a moment, amid the euphoria.

One poll in twelve years?

That doesn't indicate a profound political shift.  People aren't suddenly casting aside their convictions of the last more-than-a-decade, discovering the joys of socialism capitalism-with-a-bit-of-social-conscience.  If it was about policy, people would have been flocking to Andrew Little's (very, very light) red banner.  They didn't exactly flock.

Ardern is waving the same very, very light red banner.  But now the people are flocking.

For a lot of the electorate, Jacinda Ardern is a new shiny object and they are naturally excited by this new toy.  But otherwise, the 'phenomenon' will be a sort of adult fidget spinner – must-have object of fascination for six weeks, then completely forgotten about.

I suppose the question is, will the fad last up to election day? And are we cynical enough to celebrate an election that is won on ephemeral froth, not policy?

I suspect we are.

'Jacindamania' (ugh!) is personality driven stuff - Ardern's youth and vitality contrasting with the drier, more ... senior ... asspect of English and Little.  A lot of it is media driven hype. But the media will bend whatever way they think the wind is blowing. They are no longer the fourth estate, they are just PR and revenue source for their owners.  Right now, Ardern is hot news and click-worthy.

If she actually becomes threatening to the people that own the media and control wealth, she'll suddenly receive a lot less positive coverage.  So she will become a prisoner of her own success - not able to follow whatever radical instincts she may harbour because her success depends - like Tony Blair - on media image.

Friday, 1 September 2017


Over on the Standard, the generally level headed Anthony Robins has rather let the most recent Colmar Brunton go to his head, bravely declaring that we're in a "new political world" (see what I did there?).

At risk of sounding like the perennially Grinchy culturally dislocated Scotsman I am, I have to disagree. It’s the same vacuous, image driven world that it was before. If anything, it’s worse than before.

It’s a sad testament to how shallow our political culture is that replacing a few dour blokes with a sparklier younger leader(1) gives you an almost overnight 20 point boost. It shows us how facile most of people's political decision making is. There isn't much to distinguish Ardern's Labour party, politically and policy wise, from Little's, or Cunliffe's, or Shearer's, of Goff's. They are all run of the mill social-democratic parties offering a fairly insipid bunch of policies so as not to frighten the horses.

The implications of the 'Ardern effect' are a bit troubling to anyone who takes politics too seriously and doesn't want to see it descend into a vapid popularity contest where YOUTH and ENERGY and so on are all that matters. The dramatic improvement in Labour's position under Ardern suggests that policy and ideology and even any sort of strategy beyond having an attractive front of shop is pointless.

Now, it is likely at this moment someone, somewhere is thinking, "Ah, but Jeremy Corbyn ...".  I don't think the comparison to Jeremy Corbyn really holds up.  First of all, Corbyn had been in position much longer and had, effectively, his own campaigning organisation, the much maligned but frighteningly effective Momentum.

Second (or is it third) he had a clear set of policies in his equally derided manifesto - policies which turned out to be as effective in engaging voters as Momentum.  The most dangerous words in leftwing election campaigns are 'poorly defined tax and spending plans'; Ardern and her deputy can't even articulate a consistent message on tax.  What policy Labour has announced is characterised by timidity, not courage.

Also, Corbyn probably benefited from his outsider and underdog status.  He didn't look or behave like a member of the political elite, and his status as a hate-object to Labour and the tabloids probably benefited him as much as it harmed him.  Ardern lacks thirty years of recalitrance and rebellion before she can hope to attain Corbyn's slightly barmy appeal.  She probably also needs to be in Britain for it to really work, as well.

Finally, a word of warning.  The media are not and never will be our friends.  What comes up must come down. The media will have hatchets ready. Expect “Has Ardern’s Bubble Burst?” and “Polls Drop As Voters Face Choice” headlines at the first dip in the polls. The media are more interested in a good knifing than they are in soothing the agitated sensibilities of leftwingers, so the moment they sense it might be worthwhile turning on Ardern, they will. Right now it suits the narrative to talk her up, but that will not last. The story is the story.

1 - My original post on The Standard read "a sparkly young thing," which lead to an entertaining diversion about my patronising, toad-like qualities. I like toads, for what it is worth.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Winnie the Sinnie

So, apparently, Winston Peters has been in a spot of bother this week - either a hapless wronged soul or a fiendish bauble grabber who wanted a bigger slice of superannuation.

Over on The Standard, the redoubtable swordfish - anyone who names themselves after a Tom Waits album is alright with me - brought an analysis posted on Politik NZ to my attention.  Apparently, some Dark Forces within National have spotted that if the Greens fail to make the 5% threshold, and Gareth Morgan's TOP take a couple of percent, the combined wasted vote will mean National will manage to govern alone, or with minimal help from the Usual Suspects.
Also fuelling National's strategy is polling it has which shows the Greens on around three per cent and Gareth Morgan’s Opportunities Party on two per cent.

That was reinforced yesterday with a One News Comar Brunton poll showing the Greens on 3.6% in Whangarei.

The strategy then is clear; to try and boost National's vote --- thought to be in the mid-40s – by two per cent or so, and then to rely on a high wasted vote from the Greens, TOP plus ACT to reduce the percentage it needs to get half the seats in Parliament.

Last election the so-called wasted vote was 7.15%; that meant that to get half the seats in Parliament a party needed to get 46.4% of all the votes.

National got 47% and got 60 seats but because there was a one seat “overhang” caused by Peter Dunne it didn’t quite have a majority.
From here, it follow logically, that  smearing Winston Peters is a political power play.  He isn't needed as a coalition partner, and if NZ First can be beaten down a few points, with some of that support switching to National, Bill's yer uncle.

It's an attractively Cunning Plan, but I think National would have to be a bit daft to try that strategy, to be honest. It relies on the Greens not getting into parliament, alienates a significant potential partner and relies on Boring Bill managing to be more appealing to voters than John Key, and on Ardern not having much of an impact.

Of course, this is New Zealand politics we’re talking about, which seems to be going through one of its mad phases, so who knows?


There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going...