Labour lacks ambition for Otago

August 22, 2014

Labour is promising to create 3000 jobs a year for Otago which shows a distinct lack of ambition when compared with job growth over recent years:

David Cunliffe has committed to short-changing Otago on the job front with his pledge today to create 3000 more jobs in the region if elected, National’s Economic Development spokesman Steven Joyce says.

“In his press release today, Mr Cunliffe announced that Labour’s policies would create 3,000 more jobs in Otago in the next three years. However that would be a major slowdown on job growth achieved in the last five years,” Mr Joyce says.

“In the last five years our policy mix has seen 23,000 extra jobs created in the Otago region according to Statistics New Zealand. That’s an average of 4,600 jobs a year. Mr Cunliffe is proposing to cut that growth rate by nearly 80 per cent with his ‘economic upgrade’.

“On the one hand I understand Mr Cunliffe’s lack of ambition. A Labour-Greens government with at least four big extra taxes and large amounts of extra spending and the high interest rates that go with it would be a massive drag on the Otago economy.

“On the other hand, with their policy prescription I think they would struggle to even create the extra 1000 jobs a year he suggests.

“Under this Government Otago’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.3 per cent – one of the lowest in the country.

“And great Otago companies are flat out creating the Innovation and Knowledge Centre Mr Cunliffe says he wants to create.

“Mr Cunliffe is struggling under the weight of his own lack of knowledge about what is happening in the region.

“I suspect that once Otago people compare their economic performance under this government with Mr Cunliffe’s prescription, they will likely tell him to keep his ‘economic upgrade’.”

The Otago unemployment rate is now at about 3.5%.

That’s getting down to the unemployable – those who either can’t or won’t work for a variety of reasons.

One reason for that is government policies and the economic climate, including low interest rates, have given businesses the confidence to invest and expand.

But that confidence will be severely dented by the anti-business, anti-progress policies Labour and its coalition partners – the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties would impose on us.

They are threatening us with more and higher taxes, greater compliance costs, less flexible employment laws, higher KiwiSaver contributions, higher interest rates . . .

None of those is conducive to business growth and the jobs which rely on it.


TV3 cancels all-leaders debate

August 15, 2014

TV3 has cancelled a debate planned for all political leaders because neither John Key nor David Cunliffe would participate.

If memory serves me right this happened before with Helen Clark and John Key and I think they are right to decline to appear.

It wouldn’t be a debate it would be a farce.

It was difficult enough to get much from the debate with the leaders of the wee parties when they were all vying for attention, adding another couple would only add to the chaos.

MMP requires coalitions but it also requires a major party to lead them.

Putting the leaders of those two head to head could be instructive. Viewers would see the Prime Minister matched with the man who wants to replace him.

Having all the leaders would generate noise and heat but little else.

The debate might be entertaining but it’s unlikely to make a helpful contribution to the democratic process.

 


Older voters not buying Labour’s bribe

August 15, 2014

Labour support is at a new low:

The Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos Political Poll has National on 55.10 per cent, virtually unchanged from July, while Labour has sunk to 22.5, down 2.4 percentage points.

Click here to see full graphics

stuff8.14

The poll, of at least 1,000 New Zealand residents who are eligible to vote, is a kick in the guts to Labour, which has steadily bled support since this time last year.  On today’s numbers it would lose five MPs to just 29, putting even some senior front bench MPs at risk.  

National would comfortably govern alone with 72 seats. The Greens are on 11.3 per cent while Internet-Mana’s higher profile has lifted its support to 2.1 per cent. A surprise mover are the Conservatives, which have jumped to 3.4 per cent, level pegging with NZ First. . .

 

sffmnr8.14

The left block is down, even with Internet Mana. It is taking radical support from within the left and scaring more reasonable people away from it.

Kelvin Davis wouldn’t have a chance on the list at this low level of support for Labour which will intensify his efforts in Te Tai Tokerau.

Ironically it’s David Cunliffe’s yeah-nahing about working with Internet Mana which is damaging Labour. His failure to match his verbal support for Davis over Hone Harawira  is damaging not just the Labour candidate but the party.

The poll was taken from last Saturday until yesterday, so most people were contacted after Labour’s campaign launch and the announcement of free GP visits to people aged 65 and older.

Kiwiblog has the breakdown of respondents supporting Labour :

Labour’s support by demographic is:

  • Men 18%
  • Women 27%
  • Auckland 25%
  • Upper NI 16%
  • Wellington 23%
  • Lower NI 30%
  • Canterbury 14%
  • SI 27%
  • Under 30s 26%
  • 30 to 44 25%
  • 45 to 64 21%
  • 65+ 19%

It is reassuring to see that the older people that Labour is trying to woo have more sense than the party and aren’t buying its bribe.

P.S. I was phoned for the poll but they had already met their quote for my age and location.


Water policy attack on rural NZ

August 11, 2014

Environment Minister Amy Adams says Labour’s water tax is a pointed attack on rural New Zealand and small businesses that operate there.

“Labour is suggesting that rural New Zealand should pay taxes that no other New Zealander has to pay and should abide by rules that other water users aren’t subject to,” Ms Adams says.

“In fact, under Labour’s plan, the productive sector could be hit with a $60 million bill for every one cent of tax Labour imposes per cubic metre of water.

“You have to ask why Labour is looking to penalise farmers and small, rural businesses by making them and only them pay for water use when the issue of water quality is one that applies across urban and rural New Zealand.

“It’s an out-and-out attack on rural and provincial New Zealand.

“Only a few days ago Labour was claiming they supported small businesses. However, Labour’s water tax, which they are hiding the amount of, would cause real damage to hundreds of small, rural businesses in the productive sector.

“It’s not just costs dairy farmers would have to bear. Sheep and beef farmers in Canterbury, apricot growers in Roxburgh, market gardeners in Pukekohe and kumara growers in Dargaville could all be hit by Labour’s water tax.

“As Irrigation New Zealand points out, an equitable and affordable water tax will be impossible to implement and will cost a fortune to establish.

“If it was really about ensuring efficient water use, why is every other commercial water user, except farmers, exempt?

“A water tax will increase the cost of production which could mean higher costs for New Zealanders for products like milk, cheese and fresh vegetables.

“Improving the quality of our freshwater is important to us all but we must do it sensibly so it doesn’t cost thousands and thousands of jobs across regional New Zealand and impose millions of dollars of costs on communities.

“National’s plan will improve and maintain the economic health of our regions while improving the health of our lakes and rivers at the same time.

“With policies like this, Labour might as well give up the pretence that they care about rural and provincial New Zealand and the small businesses that are at the heart of these areas.”

Labour plans to tax “big” water takes but only those in the country that are used for irrigation.

If water has a taxable value for irrigation, why doesn’t it have a one for other big takes – like power generation and urban water supplies?

Labour isn’t going there because that would be too cost them far too much support.

For all they keep talking about supporting the regions they know they’ve got hardly any support there so it doesn’t matter to them that the tax will add costs to farming.

Unfortunately, while doing that,   it won’t contribute to their aim to clean up waterways:

. . .  IrrigationNZ does not believe that imposing an irrigation tax will lead to New Zealand’s rivers and lakes becoming swimmable.

“This policy fails to recognise the complexities of freshwater management in New Zealand and ignores the billions of dollars of on-farm capital investment which has been put into improving our waterways,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “A ‘fair and affordable’ variable rate water tax will be impossible to implement and will cost a fortune to establish,” he says. “In no other country in the world is irrigated water paid for through a tax.”

“There is much about Labour’s water policy which aims to yield the economic and recreational benefits of New Zealand’s water for all, this is good, but punishing irrigators by imposing a water tax is not the way to achieve this.

“The only robust and long term solution to restoring waterways is on a case by case basis engaging local communities to find solutions.

“It is time that the value of irrigation in terms of food production and creating jobs is recognised in New Zealand, as it is in every other part of the world. There is considerable public good gained from sustainably managed irrigated agriculture.”

IrrigationNZ would like to point out the following:

• Horticulture and viticulture is not possible in New Zealand without irrigation, therefore an irrigation tax will increase the cost of production and will be passed onto the public when they buy their fresh produce;

• irrigation in New Zealand is not free: irrigators pay for a water permit, pay to be part of an irrigation scheme, and operate within strict limits;

• it is inequitable to single out irrigators when hydro generators, commercial users and urban user will not be charged for their water takes;

• a charge on irrigators will reduce money available for mitigating environmental impacts;

• agriculture has been the backbone of this economy through what have been very challenging economic times globally – everyone has benefitted and now everyone needs to be part of the solution for cleaning up our waterways.

INZ is committed to finding a way for New Zealand to develop sustainably managed irrigation schemes within acceptable environmental limits.

“Water is our most valuable renewable resource and we believe that irrigation in New Zealand is essential to protect against climatic variations and to enhance the country’s ability to feed its population and to contribute to feeding the world,” says Mr Curtis.

Federated Farmers says its a thinly disguised anti-farming policy:

Federated Farmers is asking why the Hon David Cunliffe is talking about helping regional economies on one hand, while announcing new taxes on those same regions to knock them back on the other.

“This is a thinly disguised anti-farming policy that is trying to blame farmers and particularly farmers who irrigate, for all of New Zealand’s water problems,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“It is clearly misguided and worse it is opening the divide between town and country when we should be working together.

“They know they cannot bring all rivers and lakes up to swimming standards without rebuilding all urban storm water systems and clearing New Zealand of wildfowl at all, let alone, in 25 years.

“Taxing irrigators in Canterbury and Otago to fix up degraded waterways in other parts of the country seems patently unfair.

“As for the practical effect of their anti-farming Resource Rental policy, it can be summarised in Northland, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty as being principally a tax on horticulture.

“In Marlborough and I guess in parts of Hawke’s Bay plus Wairarapa too, it is a tax on grapes as well as fruit and vegetables.

“For the rest of us, it is a tax on wheat, vegetables and pasture production.

“Independent economic modelling indicates that a Resource Rental on water at one-cent per cubic metre of water takes $39 million out of farms and provincial economies.

“This is all money that farmers are currently spending on protecting rivers and streams. Money that is making the towns of Ashburton, Pleasant Point and Oamaru places of employment for thousands of people. The same provincial economies that David Cunliffe wants to help.

“I don’t understand how you can help those towns by punitively taxing the one thing that has driven some prosperity in those regions.

“The Greens want to beat up dairy farmers, Labour wants to do it to irrigators. When will these people realise that others in New Zealand take and pollute water as well.

“Irrigation may take 57 percent of water used but residential and industrial users take 43 percent according to Labour’s own source document. It seems a bit one sided to continuously blame only one sector of the community for effects caused by everyone.

“As New Zealanders we need to collectively own up to our responsibilities and work together if we are to make a difference.

“Farmers have done that. It is time Labour and the Greens recognised that and argued for policies that encouraged the rest of New Zealand to do so too,” Mr Mackenzie.

A general charge would impose costs on production which will affect profit margins or be passed on to consumers in higher prices for food.

It will also be imposed on those doing all they can to keep water clean – which is the majority of farmers – rather than directly targeting the few who don’t.

Water didn’t get dirty overnight.

It will take time to clean it up but good work is being done already with co-operation between farmers, milk companies, councils and community organisations.

That work won’t be helped by labour’s policy which is merely another of their anti-farming taxes.


Clear choice is right

August 11, 2014

Labour’s pretence at sound fiscal management hasn’t lasted long.

It’s back to the profligate spending promises in its desperation to win enough votes to cobble together a government:

A desperate Labour Party is making promises the country simply couldn’t afford as it tries to buy its way into contention at the election, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

“We are hardly out of the starting blocks for this election campaign and the Labour Party has given up any remaining sense of fiscal responsibility,” Mr Joyce says.

“Today’s announcement of free doctor visits and free prescriptions for the over 65s is the latest in a series of big spending promises.

Mr Joyce says so far Labour has pledged billions and billions of new spending.

“Labour has announced policies that on their own admission add up to more than $16 billion of new spending over four years. And the true total is likely to be higher because some of the policies have been costed incorrectly,” Mr Joyce says.

“And that’s before you add in the Greens and other coalition partners like Internet-Mana.

“New Zealand has yet to achieve its first surplus since the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes – and the Labour Party has broken out the Santa Claus outfits.

“The last time Labour went into spending overdrive in 2008, it pushed floating mortgage rates to almost 11 per cent, it sent the economy into recession before the Global Financial Crisis and it left the incoming National Government with a deficit of nearly $4 billion in 2008/09. It’s clear David Cunliffe has learnt nothing from that experience.

“It’s becoming obvious unusually early in this campaign – New Zealand simply can’t afford a Labour/Greens/Internet-Mana Government.”

 Cunliffe started his speech by saying:

This election is going to be about a choice probably one of the clearest that we have had as a country in a generation.

And it’s not just about two leaders, or even a contest between two parties.
This election is fundamentally about two very different pathways to two very different futures for New Zealand.

It’s a choice between prosperity for all, or only for a few. . .

He’s right about that but wrong about which party will lead a government with the policies aimed to help everyone, and in a sustainable way.

Labour’s policies are about picking winners, over taxing, over spending and adding costs and complexities to businesses which will reduce productivity and profits and threaten employment.

National’s policies will continue to promote sustainable growth, targeting help at those in most need, helping those who can help themselves to do so and leaving people to enjoy the rewards from their hard work.

Labour’s policies might treat a few symptoms.

National’s will continue to deal with the causes.

If Labour leads the next government it will be divided, weak and beholden to the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana Parties to whom it will need to make major concessions.

If National leads the next government it will continue to be strong, stable and united with the need for only minor concessions to support parties.

The right choice is clear  and the clear choice is right – National for stability and sustainable growth in stark contrast to Labour with the mismatched combination of radical wee parties which will undo the hard-won gains of the last six years.
The future is positive for New Zealand, but we need to ensure the country keeps moving in the right direction. #Working4NZ #TeamKey


Gap just 4% in poll of polls

August 10, 2014

Colin James is doing a poll of the four most recent polls each week until the election.

The first one shows that the gap between a National-led government and a Labour-led one is just 4%:

National’s polling average may have peaked during July at 52.5% in the four polls up to mid-July. By end-July it was at 50.3%. That is still a very healthy figure under MMP but if National sheds only 4% by election day, it cannot count on a third term, even with help from ACT, United Future and the Maori Party.

At the comparable time before the last election National was averaging around 56%. It dropped 9 percentage points from there to 47.3% at the election.

(The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls, and will appear as a special series of election columns every Saturday on radionz.co.nz until after the election on September 20.)

james poll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This isn’t all bad news.

National’s continued high polling could have led to complacency from supporters who thought they didn’t need to vote or could afford to play with their party vote and from people who want National to win but not too well.

Another important election pointer also looks to have gone through a peak in July: Roy Morgan’s measure of whether people think the country is going in the right direction or the right direction. Those saying “right direction” were at 60% in late July, down from measures ranging from 63.5%-65.5% through the previous two months.

But that is still a very high reading. In a first-past-the-post election it would point to an easy re-election for an incumbent government. It is one reason why National continues to poll so highly.

 

This isn’t an FPP election and while the positive view of the direction the country is heading in is good for national it isn’t good enough for complacency.

The contrast between a stable government led by a strong National Party and an unstable government led by a weak Labour Party which gives lots of bargaining power to the ill-assorted parties they’d need to have on board is stark.

But there is still a lot of work to do to convince enough voters to do the right thing – in all senses of the word.

It might help if more people realise that David Cunliffe’s yeah-nahing over whether or not Internet Mana will be in a government he leads is just words which don’t speak nearly as loudly as the actions of his candidates:

 

mana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The marriage between Internet Mana and Labour which John Minto thinks is made in heaven  would be hell for New Zealand.


110% yeah-nah

August 8, 2014

David Cunliffe still can’t give a clear yes or no on whether he’d deal with Internet Mana Party:

He says he wants voters to give Kelvin Davis two ticks but then Paul Henry asks about IMP  and says: (6:45):

“. . . You can do something about this.

No-one else in politics can do this. You can stop that party from getting in by thoroughly supporting Kelvin Davis . . .”

They then talk over each other and Cunliffe says:

” . .  110% we want to win that seat. . . “

But watch the wriggle room he leaves next when Henry says:

“You want Internet Mana out?”

Cunliffe replies:

“I wanna win that seat. . . “

That sounds like a yes but it isn’t a straight no.

It’s 110% yeah-nah, again.

He’s 110% sure he wants to be Prime Minister and if having IMP in his government is the only way that will happen we can be 110% sure it will be.

 

 

 


Will he, won’t he?

August 6, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe has said several times that it would be highly unlikely that the Internet Mana Party would be part of a Labour-led government, but he wouldn’t rule anything out until after the election.

Yesterday he changed his tune and said on Breakfast:

“. . . We’ve ruled out working with Mana in government  as well. I’ve said yesterday, I’ve said before Mana will not be part of a government I lead fullstop.”

That seemed to shut the door but  the story on RadioNZ opened it again:

. . . On Tuesday he took that a step further, saying Internet-Mana would not be part of a Government that he leads. However, that still leaves the door open to a confidence and supply agreement. . .

That leaves the question of will he or won’t he do a deal with Hone Harawira and the rest of Kim Dotcom’s puppets without a definitive answer.

He could remove any doubt by showing he supports Labour’s candidate in Te Tai Tokerau, Kelvin Davis, in his quest to win the seat.

Until, and unless, he does that voters should take into account that the chances he will come to some sort of deal with Internet Mana – together or separately – are far greater than the chances he won’t.

He is desperate to become Prime Minister and with his own party polling so poorly he’ll need every other party he can get to cobble together a majority.

He’ll do anything he can to get what he wants, even if it means sacrificing his own candidate to ensure Harawira holds his seat.


Cunliffe yeah-nah on Mana

August 5, 2014

Last week David Cunliffe refused to rule out working with Internet Mana.

Last night TV3 reported the Labour Party had told Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis to shut down a website aimed at his rival for the seat, sitting MP and Mana leader Hone Harawira.

But this morning Cunliffe told TV1’s Breakfast: (@ 2:28)

“. . . We’ve ruled out working with Mana in government  as well. I’ve said yesterday, I’ve said before Mana will not be part of a government I lead fullstop.”

Has he or has he not ruled out Mana?

If he has why is Davis being told to pull his head in – and his website off-line – and why isn’t Labour supporting its candidate in Te Tai Tokerau?

A strong campaign there would unseat Harawira and Mana would go with him in spite of the millions of dollars Kim Dotcom is throwing at it.

While Labour is yeah-nahing about whether or not it will work with Mana and whether or not it wants to win the seat, Davis is in no doubt.

He posted on Facebook last night:

I was on 3 News tonight because my campaign team had a look at a proposed website designed to take down Kim Dotcom and stop him from buying the seat of Te Tai Tokerau with his $3million dollars.
We explored this concept, debated it, then along with the Labour Party hierarchy decided it wasn’t in line with our Vote Positive messages and ditched it.
It was all about Kim Dotcom.
This is the same Kim Dotcom who donated $50,000 to far-right wing disgraced politician John Banks.
This is the same Kim Dotcom who said the police turning up at his front door was as bad as the suffering Maori have endured for close to two centuries.
This is the same Kim Dotcom had nothing to do with Maori until he found a way to take advantage of some to try to keep himself out of an American jail.
This is the same Kim Dotcom who’s garage is bigger and flasher than 99% of homes in Te Tai Tokerau, and still cries ‘poor me’.
This is the same Kim Dotcom, who if he really cared about the people of Te Tai Tokerau, would have got out with all the Labour volunteers after the floods and storms and distributed food packages to those who needed them instead of staying tucked up in the mansion.
This is the same Kim Dotcom who turned up to hui up north in a limousine while kaumatua and kuia rode in a rattly bus.
This is the same Kim Dotcom whose interference in Te Tai Tokerau politics was described as a disgrace to over 300 people at the Ngati Hine hearings in Pipiwai yesterday.
I make no apologies about looking at a website that asked the public to donate $5, $10 or whatever they wish to koha, to bring down a fake.
I’m just an ordinary Maori living up north trying to stop the biggest con in New Zealand’s political history from being pulled against my whanau, my hapu, my iwi.
I make no apologies if there’s another Maori politician in the north feeling pretty sensitive about all the criticism he’s copping from hapu throughout Te Tai Tokerau because of the con job.
I’m prepared to cop the criticism from him because it’s just the price a person pays when he stands up for his people and his principles.

Davis is quite sure he wants to win the seat, and on current polling he’d have to if he wants a seat in parliament because his list placing isn’t good enough win a seat that way.

But it’s difficult to know whether his leader and his party are as keen.

The only thing we can be sure about  is that Labour is unsure.

It’s as confused and divided about this as it is about its campaign, its direction and its leader.


Mana wants two electorate deals from Labour

July 31, 2014

Internet Mana candidate Annette Sykes says Labour’s done a secret Epsom-style electorate deal with Hone Harawira.

She’s also calling on Labour to do a deal for her – in the Maori seat of Waiariki.

Labour is denying the claim however, saying all seat deals are off.

Internet Mana is an unusual political beast, but whether you think it’s a roadshow or sideshow – it’s Parliament-bound on Mr Harawira’s coattails.

His lieutenant, Ms Sykes, says Labour’s done a deal which will help ensure he wins Te Tai Tokerau.

“I think it’s already happening there,” says Ms Sykes.”It’s been informally signalled.”

The Veteran, at No Minister, says Labour’s conspicuous by its absence in Te Tai Tokerau, indicating it’s conceded the seat to sitting MP and Mana leader Hone Harawira.

David Cunliffe’s refusal to rule Internet-Mana out of a government he leads has  torpedoed Kelvin Davis’s chances of winning Te Tai Tokerau.

Whether or not there’s a formal deal, that is effectively an electoral accommodation Harawira.

Sykes can’t be blamed for asking for a deal in Waiariki too, if only because asking is getting her publicity she’d otherwise struggle for.

 

 

 


Too desperate to rule out Dotcom

July 30, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe had a chance to take the moral high ground and he blew it:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has denied he has double standards for refusing to rule out relying on the Internet Mana party to form a government despite deriding National for its coat tailing deals in Epsom and Ohariu.

Mr Cunliffe has accused National of manipulating voters by using the coat-tailing provisions to try to boost its support partners’ chances through electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu.

However, he will not rule out calling on the Internet Mana Party if needed to form a Government.

The Internet-Mana alliance was set up to try to get the Internet Party into Parliament on the back of Hone Harawira’s seat, Te Tai Tokerau.

MMP allows parties which win an electorate seat to bring in other MPs even if they do not reach 5 per cent of the party vote.

Prime Minister John Key said Mr Cunliffe would try to form a government with the Internet Mana which had a similar deal and Labour had tried similar deals with Alliance and Green MPs in the past.

“A little bit of consistency would be good.” He believed voters knew MMP well enough to make the choices they considered best.

The PM has been open about which parties he is prepared to have in a government he leads and which he won’t.

He’s given voters the information they need to make a fully informed choice and it’s up to them how they exercise that choice.

But Cunliffe is taking Winston Peters’ line in refusing to confirm exactly what he’ll do, or not do, until after the election.

Mr Cunliffe said he had made it clear it was “extremely unlikely” any Internet Mana Party MPs would get ministerial positions, or even lower level associate or undersecretary roles in a Labour-led Government.

But he would not rule out policy concessions in return for their votes, saying that was a matter to discuss after the election. “We will talk to whoever the voters serve up.” . .

That’s another yeah-nah position.

Labour’s consistently polling below 30% an is very unlikely to have a strong foundation of voter support from which to bargain.

Mr Key said he doubted Labour would not include Internet Mana in Cabinet if it was needed to form a government.

“The reality is David Cunliffe about 10 months ago came into the job of Leader of the Opposition and said he was going to deliver a result in the high 30s for Labour and that would see them as the next government. Then he downsized that to the low 30s. In recent times, he’s been saying Labour in the 20s could still theoretically become the government. What we know is when you’re Leader of the Opposition you’re desperate to become Prime Minister and will probably do anything. He’s in the camp of forming an alliance with anybody to get over the line.” . . .

Cunliffe will be desperate to be Prime Minister and if the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties have enough sets to enable him to cobble together a coalition of the losers he’ll make any concessions he needs to be in government.

He had a chance to show strength as the PM did when he ruled out Winston Peters before previous elections.

But Cunliffe’s too desperate to win at any cost to rule out Dotcom and the Internet Mana Party he funds and controls.

However, rather than helping Labour into government it could well set them even further back.

Moderate voters who are undecided will be repulsed by the spectre of Labour and the GIMPs.

The rules allow the smaller of the bigger parties and an ill-assorted bunch of also-rans to form a government but that’s unlikely to be the sort of government most voters would find palatable.

They have the the prospect of a strong and refreshed National Party likely to need only minor support from other parties who have proven to work well in government  or a weak and stale Labour Party requiring major support from an unproven and disparate assortment of parties.

It’s a choice between progress and stability on one side and regression and instability on the other.


Gotcha doesn’t get voters

July 29, 2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


What matters

July 26, 2014

Early in the week Labour leader David Cunliffe issued some more apologies then vowed to stick to what matters.

If we’re to take him at his word, what matters is who’s hosting the TVNZ debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

What matters isn’t that people in the media are biased but that we know what their bias is.

When we listen to John Campbell we know his personal bias is left.

When we listen to Mike Hosking we know his personal bias is right.

That is something we can take into account when thinking about what they say and how they conduct themselves and any interviews they do.

That is far better than having people in the media with a bias who aren’t overt about it and, deliberately or not, let it influence their work.

That’s when bias matters in the media.

But this issue isn’t what matters in politics and once more Cunliffe has fallen into a hole of his own making by complaining about something that doesn’t matter which leaves no oxygen for the big things that do – the economy, education, health and welfare.

 

 

 

 


It’s not about the scarf

July 24, 2014

David Cunliffe has said a lot of sorrys recently, the latest and silliest is for his scarf:

. . . After being criticised for his red scarf, Mr Cunliffe says he won’t wear it as much.

“You know what – I reserve the right to put it back on occasionally,” he says. “But it won’t be on every day… I quite like the colour red.” . . .

If anyone’s vote is influenced by a scarf they deserve what they get.

It’s not about the scarf, it’s about the fact that it looked like part of a costume for a part he’s playing and his wearing it seemed  affected as a lot of what Cunliffe does and says does.

One of the big criticisms of him is that he’s a different man to different audiences and that he’s not comfortable in his own skin.

When he gets down to being sorry for his scarf, is it any wonder?

 

 


Paying price for prevarication

July 21, 2014

Last night’s 3 News-Reid Research poll gave Labour more bad news:

PARTY VOTE:

National: 49.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
Labour: 26.7 percent (down 0.6 percent)
Green: 12.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
NZ First: 4.3 percent  (up 0.7 percent)
Conservative: 2.7 percent (down 0.1 percent)
Internet Mana: 2.3 percent (up 0.5 percent)
Maori: 1.1 percent (down 0.4 percent)
United Future: 0.2 percent (up 0.2 percent)
ACT: 0.1 percent (down 0.3 percent)

The reason’s for Labour’s poor showing are many, but one of those is Cunliffe’s prevarication over whether or not he’d do a post-election deal with the Internet-mana Party:

SHOULD LABOUR WORK WITH INTERNET MANA IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT:

NO: 59 percent
YES: 29 percent
Don’t know: 12 percent
-
Labour voters:
NO: 47 percent
YES: 40 percent
Don’t know: 13 percent

Cunliffe’s following the Winston Peters’ line on this – he’ll play the cards the voters deal.

But by doing this both men are leaving voters without information they need to cast their votes with confidence.

John Key told everyone months ago which parties he would and would not work with.

People know  what they’d get if they give National their party votes.

In contrast, Cunliffe and Peters continue to prevaricate which leaves voters having to take a gamble.

If they give Labour their party votes they can’t be sure they wouldn’t be helping the Internet-Mana Party into government and if they vote for New Zealand First they have no idea if Peters would move right or left.

In spite of what he says about the possibility of staying on the cross-benches, the lure of some baubles would almost certainly persuade him to change his mind.

A vote for either Labour or New Zealand first is a vote for uncertainty and instability.


It’s still the trend that matters

July 20, 2014

Labour has lost four points in the latest Herald DigiPoll, slumping to 26.5%,  its worst level of support in 15 years.

 . . . On this poll of decided voters National would be able to govern alone comfortably and gain another 10 MPs.

National has jumped 4.5 points to 54.9 per cent. A Stuff/Ipsos poll earlier this week also put support for National at 54.8 per cent.

Prime Minister John Key is more popular than he has ever been, scoring preferred prime minister on 73.3 per cent, compared with Cunliffe on 10.5 per cent and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters on 5.5 per cent.

The second-most-preferred PM out of Labour MPs is David Shearer, with 2.2 per cent, followed by Jacinda Ardern on 1.4 per cent. . .

Labour’s total support is down from 30.5 per cent in June, but it is disproportionately down among male voters, with only 23.9 per cent of men backing Labour, compared with 29.1 per cent of women.

Political commentator Chris Trotter said the poll indicated Labour was “more or less bereft of hope”.

“Labour is in an extremely parlous position, and the situation is deteriorating.” 

And the news gets worse for the left:

Contrary to other polls, the DigiPoll had the Green Party losing popularity, which was also bad news for Labour and the left’s prospects. . .

A single poll could be a rogue one but a trend has to be taken more seriously and the left will even though this support reflects the views of those who have decided:

. . . Undecided voters were 11.5 per cent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. . . .

It’s still the trend that counts and the trend is very good for National but it’s still a couple of months to the election and the result of that, trend not withstanding, is still not certain.

The left might be panicking but there is absolutely no room for complacency on the centre-right.

However, there is


Will unions let Cunliffe lead Labour back from left?

July 13, 2014

Both Matthew Hooton and Fran O’Sullivan think Cunliffe is trying to lead Labour back from its lurch to the left.

That would be a sensible move because the swinging votes are in the centre and many of those voters are strongly averse to the thought of Labour’s leftwards lurch and it being dragged even further left by its potential coalition partners.

But Labour is beholden to unions for money and people power, and Cunliffe is beholden to them for his leadership.

They won’t be keen on more centrist policies.

In the print edition of the NBR Michael Coote writes:

. . . The phony war raging around David Cunliffe’s leadership of Labour overlooks that the trades union movement has reassumed a decisive role in selecting the head of the party’s parliamentary wing.

Mr Cunliffe is the choice of the unions, Labour’s primary funding source.

If Labour’s predominantly bourgeois parliamentary wing defenestrated its born-again proletarian Mr Cunliffe, its unionist bankrollers could simply cut off the cashflow and let the class traitors turn on the gallows. . .

Even if Cunliffe did manage to lead a lurch back to the centre how long could he hold that position if he was leading a government beholden to the Green, Internet and Mana parties?

They are full of radical left-wingers who will exert every bit of bargaining power they have to implement their hard left economic, environmental and social agendas.


What they’ll need to do

July 12, 2014

Vernon Small muses on one of MMP’s downsides – the need for coalition partners:

. . . In Cunliffe’s case, he can be relatively certain Internet-Mana will be there.

His bigger concern is the political Centre’s negative views of Harawira, his Left-wing allies and Internet founder Kim Dotcom – and more generally about the increasingly fractured Centre-Left vote.

Labour’s vote softened measurably after the Internet-Mana deal became known. It believes that was not because the new party took Labour votes but more because it was a bridge too far for floating voters to contemplate a four or five-way alternative government.

And Labour knows – because it has already started – that National will use that against it.

It is a difficult line for Cunliffe to walk. He needs to emphasise the stability of a three-way deal with the Greens and NZ First – both of which have the advantage of being parties that win in their own right and will, if in Parliament, have achieved more than 5 per cent support. He can contrast that with National’s vassal parties, there only at Key’s favour.

Voters could choose a weak Labour Party propped up by the Green and NZ First parties with the added frightener of Internet Mana or a strong National Party with two or three very small coalition partners.

That’s a choice between instability, uncertainty and backwards policies from the left or stability, certainty and forward momentum from the centre right.

But strategising at the party’s weekend Congress pointed up the problem. Labour was stacking up its potential pluses just to get over the line.

It could push up to about 30, with a good ground game and organisation, the Greens bring about 12 per cent, NZ First would add another 5-6 per cent and Internet-Mana would add the final cherry on top. Presto, 51 per cent.

Over at the National conference the previous week, the mirror-image argument was being played out by its strategists.

Achieve close to 50 per cent and we govern alone. Fall to the mid 40s, and Labour with its allies could get the numbers. Subtext? Deals with our minor allies may be crucial, so brace yourself for Key’s announcement of deals with the minnows.

Memo to Cunliffe and Key: if you are counting them into your thinking, so will the voters.

Memo to voters: look less at what they say they will do and more at what they may need to do to win power.

A weak Labour Party would have to do, and concede, a lot more than a strong National party would.

We're for stable government.


Silly or weak

July 11, 2014

One of the challenges for the leader of the opposition is to look like a Prime Minister in waiting.

It’s one which David Cunliffe has yet to master, and his silly apology for being a man was another example of that.

 Trans-Tasman points out:

. . . The Labour Party election year congress dominated the first part of the week, with Cunliffe’s rather strange apology for having both an X and a Y chromosome. It was all very well for Labour’s apologists to splutter – as they did – about the apology being taken out of context. The only context which matters is Cunliffe wants to be PM of this country, and is campaigning ferociously to get the job.

In this context, the apology made him look either silly or weak. People don’t, by and large, go for leaders who look silly or weak. And, looking back, the thought of, say, Norman Kirk, Peter Fraser or Michael Savage apologising for being a man boggles the mind a bit. . .

Labour was once the party of the working man – and woman.

It’s strayed a long way from those roots.

That’s reflected in its loss of support in successive polls – and it’s showing up in other places too:

Hat tip for tweet: Keeping Stock

As for the issue which has been lost in the slipstream of the stupid apology, Peter Dunne writes:

. . . Meanwhile, the scourge of domestic violence continues across all communities, sadly without discrimination, right across the country. Let there be no doubt about the severity and complete unacceptability of any violence against women and children in our society. That has to stop – now – and, as the major perpetrators of that violence, men have to face up to their responsibilities in addressing it. Bold action, across the board, is required right now – not simpering, gesturing apologies for a biological fact that cannot be easily altered.

We need to take the wraps off domestic violence and expose its prevalence wherever we can. Police revelations there are around 200 reported cases every day of the year are part of that. Our aim has to be to make any tolerance of domestic violence as unacceptable as drink-driving and smoking have been made in earlier times, so that underlying social attitudes are changed. . . .

 The last thing we need is the absolute trivialising of a serious social problem by fake and insincere apologies, designed more for a headline, than to do any meaningful good. The women and children of New Zealand who live in constant fear and suffering because of domestic violence deserve a far better response than that.

And I make no apology for saying so. . .

Dunne has no need to apologise for taking a serious issue seriously.


Fish out of water

July 9, 2014

One of the strengths that Prime Minister John Key has is that he is comfortable in his own skin.

He knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for and has no need to apologise for it.

That gives him the confidence to be comfortable in front of almost any audience.

Claire Robinson writes that this can’t be said for Labour leader David Cunliffe:

Can I begin by suggesting that at a personal level David Cunliffe is not really sorry he’s a man right now. In fact I’m sure that he’s quite pleased to be a husband and a father. It’s not something that he would give up, never, ever. I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse. Can I also suggest that there’s nothing for him to personally apologise for, at least in terms of domestic violence, because as far as we know he hasn’t done anything to be guilty of in that department.

So if his apology was not personal, was it political? On the surface yes, as a message targeted at female voters; . . .

But no, it wasn’t political in that as a statement it appeared to be more ad-libbed than scripted; loose lipped rather than tactically crafted for best effect. Did David just sense the love in the room and on the spur of the moment decide it was safe to unleash his inner-feminist? Many women and men on social media seem to think so; arguing it was courageous calling out the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.

But that is quite out of character for David. Feminism isn’t his strong point. Otherwise he would have known that it’s way too simplistic to attribute the cause of sexual/domestic violence to sexism. That David reducts the issue to the ignorance and inability of men to “man up”, suggests a superficial understanding of what is a deeply complex, and insidious reality. Moreover, if David was truly aware of what happens in abusive situations he would not have used the apology in the communication of his message. He would know that victims of repeated domestic violence are also victims to the apology. The apology is what repeat abusers do to hoover their victims back to them; a psychological handcuff to prevent them from breaking free, thereby perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Over time victims of abuse learn to distrust the apology because it means nothing.

Apologies are part of the pattern of abuse and one of the weapons abusers use to manipulate their victims.

What is in character, however, and is the most plausible scenario, is that he walked into that room and immediately recognized he was a fish out of water. His fight or flight brain jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to a group of hostile man-haters (stereotypical assumption when confronted by a bunch of feminists). To reassure that he had come in peace he instinctively dialed up a number of clichés from his study of American political behaviour, and in one fell swoop conflated Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark (down-with-the-homies), with the political apology that American politicians frequently use when they have done something wrong and need to appear vulnerably human and remorseful. It wasn’t a genuine apology; it was a cliché’d response to his own personal discomfort. Which is why so many felt that it lacked authenticity and sincerity, and why it came across as insulting. It is yet another example of the yawning gap that exists between the real David and what uncontrollably falls out of his mouth.

One of the criticisms often levelled at Cunliffe is a lack of sincerity. He often looks and sounds like he’s saying what an audience wants to hear not what he really believes.

If David had come in authentically saying, I’m feeling like a fish out of water, forgive me for not being an expert in this area, but we have been consulting with real experts and I hope you will agree that Labour’s new policy is going to go some way towards dealing with sexual and family violence, he would have been credible and convincing. And he would not have potentially offended a lot of the male voters he needs to stave off disaster in the polls. . . 

You can’t fake sincerity and the more Cunliffe tries the harder it is to work out exactly who he is and what he believes in.

If discomfort with his female audience led him to show he was buying into the hard-line feminist all-men-are-rapists line, what would discomfort in front of a group of the working men who were once the foundation of his party lead him to say?

The Prime Minister doesn’t try to be all things to all people and that’s one of the reasons for his popularity.

What you see is what you get.

With Cunliffe different audiences get different messages from a different version of the man and it’s impossible to know which he really believes and who he really is.

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,314 other followers

%d bloggers like this: