Sunday, 24 September 2017

Hopey-changey stuff

First of all, people are talking about a 'vote for change' based on the combination of Labour, Greens and New Zealand First.

‘Change’ was not a candidate on the voting paper I saw.

People voted for parties. Those parties need to sort out a coalition / governing arrangement.

Realistically, National are in the stronger position. Winston dislikes the Greens and Labour would have to divide the baubles of office between themselves, NZ 1st and the Greens.

People trying to convince themselves that Lab-Green-NZ 1st is just around the corner are setting themselves up for disappointment. Another one. Gluttons for punishment.

Second, let's be honest about Labour's success.  The Labour-Green bloc is sitting at 41.5%.  This represents a very modest improvement on its performance on 2011 and 2008 (putting aside the disaster of 2014).  Jacindamania didn't really happen, unless something very odd is lurking in the special votes.

Where did Labour's support come from?  Mostly from the Greens and New Zealand 1st, and probably an increase in turnout amongst Labour voters, certainly compared to 2014 ... but it was hardly the tsunami that was needed.

Ardern has, however, done very well.  She deserves the chance to give it a proper go.  The muddled message on tax was damaging.  Her performance in the debates was not as good as her fans think - she resorted to shouting "Who agrees with you?" at Bill English when the tax issue came up, when English was clearly talking about the zero growth in key areas, not Joyce's mythical hole.  It played well with Labour supporters - sock it to him, Jacinda! - but to everyone else it made it look like she was trying to drown the debate on an issue she didn't want to talk about, which, in fairness, she probably was.

There has to be a bit of honest self-examination on the left.

Labour has to look at it why - after nine years of pretty rubbish National government - they are still struggling.  This is not a fundamentally leftwing country that occasionally loses its marbles and votes for National.  It's a right wing country with a bit of a social conscience.  I'm worried that the radicals will start the usual chant that Labour was not bold enough, and would have won if it had been more left wing.  Those are the sort of people who think 2014's disaster was down to 'the media.'  Like I said before, gluttons for punishment.

The Greens have to face up to a very long process of rebuilding.  The demise of the Maori Party and Mana might open up an interesting opportunity for them, particularly if Marama Davidson is confirmed as co-leader.  Will they remain on the left, as the radical wing of the Labour Party or (bearing in mind how Labour has treated them in the past, particularly in 2005) adopt a more centrist position?  The idea is poisonous to a lot of Green voters - but some of them are really Labour voters who want to push Labour left.

I think the Greens supporting National will be too much this time.  But James Shaw is on my radio right now, talking about how Bill English is welcome to call him - perhaps a hint of where Shaw see the Greens in the future.  Their job isn't to deliver disgruntled Labour voters to Labour; their job is to protect the environment.  They can't do that at all from the opposition benches.  They can do something in government.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The 2017 election thread

Pre-Election Witterings (written before polls closed, but not posted until after 7pm)  I gave Ian Lees-Galloway my constituency vote, and my party vote to the Greens.  I wanted to deny National the great city of Palmerston North, and make sure the Greens got into parliament.

As for who forms the government ... I am not feeling optimistic.  Others may have been carried away by Jacindamania, but I have remained dourly unimpressed.

Almost.  It was hard, as the polls seemed to surge ever upwards ... But I felt it would be a struggle for Labour to take the lead, and retain it. The collapse of the Greens and the waning of Winston Peters helped ... But Labour have not made decisive inroads into National's support.

43% seems to be the magic number, allowing a government to be formed with just one significant other.  For Labour, it will (probably) mean they can form a coalition with the Greens (lots of caveats apply) and, perhaps, the Maori Party, and freeze New Zealand first out.  That would be my ideal result.  For National, 43% would mean they can call out to Winston, and their ACT tail-ender.

Unfortunately I think National are more likely to breach 43%.

The other day I predicted Nats on 43% and Labour on 39%.  Banging those figures into the elections calculator gives the following parliament:
  • ACT New Zealand - 1 seat
  • Greens - 9 seats
  • Labour - 47 seats
  • Māori Party - 1 seat
  • National - 52 seats
  • NZ 1st  - 10 seats
Which looks unpleasantly like a National-NZ 1st-ACT coalition government.  I don't think Winston will have a bar of a coalition with the Greens.  He will probably go with the largest party and the simplest (and most flattering for him) arrangement.  That probably means National.

Diligent lurgee watchers will note I've abandoned my hopes of Hone Harawira and Mana staging a comeback in Te Tai Tokerau.  If he does pull it off it may create an overhang; but given Labour's churlish attitude towards Mana, it probably doesn't make things easier for them.

7.03 Listening to coverage with John Campbell.

7.06 Lprent (who told me off for advocating eating the rich, earlier in the day) has an election thread on The Standard.  I imagine it will be a bit livelier than this one.  But mine is best.

7.09 1.8% counted!

7.10 2% counted!  I can't keep up!  Alas, my prediction is very on-the-nose thus far.  I remember 2005, where Labour started well behind and slowly dragged it back, eventually crossing over in the final few votes.  Subsequent elections have been far more static, with the initial figures hardly changing.  I hope for the former, expect the latter.

7.14 I can't hear him, but I can see Mike Hosking.  And Michelle Boag.  This may be more than I can endure.  Time to break out the whisky.

7.20 If my prediction and the early results hold, the left will have to take a long honest look at itself.  This is the National Party shaping up for a forth term, and retain its vote share inspite of losing John Key.  Blunty, they have to acknowledge that this is not a leftwing country that has inexplicably voted for National for a decade; it is a rightwing country that occasionally does the decent thing.  Labour and the wider left will have to reconsider what it stands for.  This isn't how I want things to be, but it is how I think they are.

7.24 Blaming New Zealanders for rejecting Labour - if they have - is to miss the point.  If you can't win against a government that's been hanging about like a bad smell for 9 years, then you have to ask some pretty fundamental questions of yourself and your strategy.

7.26 Winston Peters tells John Campbell he'll only talk once the results are in.  Then shut up, you grisly revenant.

7.29 David Parker is picking up votes in Epsom, inspite of exhortations to the left to vote for National's Paul Goldsmith. My guess is it is ACT supporters getting confused because the Nats were voting Seymour, and the left were voting for Goldsmith.

7.31 Aotearoa Legalise Cannibas on 0.2%.  ACT on 0.4%.  Time to get rid of those absurd fringe parties that no-one really cares about.

7.36 12% counted and - hideously - National are surpassing my prediction.  Currently on 46.5%.  If that is maintained, they'll barely have lost ground from 2014.

7.47 National SLUMP to 46%, with 17% of the vote counted.  Labour SOAR to 36.5%  And Jacinda Ardern is burying Melissa Lee.  Good.

7.56 Stuart Nash ahead in Napier.  I hope he is not entertaining any notion of a leadership challenge.  Ardern has earned a full stint.

7.59 National creep up again, to   46.2%, with 20% counted.  Labour slip a bit to 36.3%.

8.00 I am disappointed.  I hadn't expected Labour to beat National, but it looks like their support has waned in the final days.  Unfortunately, it looks like New Zealand have selected the known Devil over the swanky new one.  Frustratingly, in spite of running against a corrupt, tired and dull government that has more than outstayed its welcome, Labour have failed to do anything more than capture the Green votes lost after Turei's moment of madness.  Still time for things to change, but it's hard to see Labour and Greens putting on 6%.

8.10 there's only one thing for it!  Deploy sentimental 80s soul-lite!

8.12 I'm glad I can only see Mike Hosking.  I don't think I could bear his smugness if I could hear it.

8.17 It looks like David Seymour has got Epsom, so unfortunately ACT will survive yet again.  Frustratingly, David Parker won well over 1300 votes; Seymour's current majority is just over 900 votes.  If the lefties had voted tactically they might have been able to make 2017 the final ACT (see what I did there?)

8.22 Labour still slipping ... now on 36.1% with 25% counted.  National steady on 46.2%.  If Labour drop too far 36%, my earlier warning to Stuart Nash might not be enough.  The whiff of power does strange things to people.

8.25 TOP must be finished.  Gareth Morgan won't have the patience to spend years trying to build up a real party. So, United Future gone, the Maori Party gone, Mana gone, TOP never got there ... Why does ACT have to survive this Massacre of the Minor Parties?

20.32 Labour SLIDE to 36% dead, with 28% counted.

20.38  Labour back up to 36.1%.  Put the leadership bid on ice, Stuart!

8.44 Hone Harawira 1800 votes behind Kelvin Davis.  Mana are finished.

8.48 And now it's National on 46.4% versus Labour in 35.9%, with 31% counted.  This is like 2005 in reverse - the gap is widening as the night wears on.  Basically Labour have cannibalised the Greens.  The actual balance between the right and left blocks hasn't changed.

I'm going to say it - Jacindamania was an illusion.

8.59 Said it before, but it bear repeating - Jeremy Corbyn had two years to get himself dug in and a highly ffective campaigning organisation effectively under his control. Jacinda Ardern only had the useless Labour Party.

9.00 So, a dreadful hour.  Labour slipping and National slowly moving upwards with 41% counted.  The Greens looking safe, thank goodness.  But the other minor parties seem to have been annihilated.  Apart from ACT, which seems to be as unkillable as Michael Myers.

9.18  The whisky is starting to kick in.  I'm numb.

9.25 We've got 57% of the vote counted.  National are still going up, now on 46.7% and 58 seats, with Labour down to 35.5%.  I thought I was being a miserable pessimistic Grinch, predicting 43/39.

9.39 We've got 66% of the vote counted.  National now 46.6% and Labour still 35.5%.  Greens stuck on 5.9%.  Really disappointing result, to be honest.

So it looks like National will need NZ 1st, as all their other options have been annihilated. They are welcome to him. Everything Winston touches turns to excrement. It would almost guarantee a Labour-Green victory in 2020. Whereas a Lab-Green-NZ 1st coalition would see Bill “Third Time Lucky” English installed as PM in 2020, with a majority of about 120.

9.57 Labour creep back up, a whole tenth of a percent.  But there isn't going to be a late surge liek there was in 2005.  Not with 78% of the vote counted.  National 46.5%, and Labour 35.6% .  The Greens slip a bit more, to 5.8%.

10.00 Another hour of scour.  Virtually no change in the relative position of the parties.  Everything seems to be pretty much locked in.  This may be the final posting from lefthandpalm, for tonight.

Get in the mood!

Can't believe it has been 20 years since Okay Computer.


Since we can't talk about the 'lection, here's a poem, written by John Cornford during the Spanish Civil War.  He fought for the POUM, the anti-Stalinist militia which Orwell was part of.  Unlike Orwell, he didn't return to Britain.  He died, aged 21.


Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.

The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn is near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.

On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.

And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don't forget my love.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


Still, the Greens look safe. That's SOMETHING.

And if NZ First don't get back in (assuming Winston loses Northland and they slip 0.1% more ... Well, I'll try very hard to lament the undemocratic wasted vote while punching the air and and dancing like a jalopy.

IF (big if) the poll is realised on Saturday and we end up with English & Co back in charge again, then Labour have to think pretty hard about why it happened. Putting it down to the greed / stupidity of the electorate isn’t going to help.

Labour have to think why (if) they opted for National. After all, last week the voters were smart and engaged because the Colmar Brunton poll showed them supporting Labour.

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.

Mutterings about Musk

Going to try to get into the blogging thing again (ha!) what with anew PM, an election coming up and all that. So today I thought I'd st...