In praise of erudition

September 27, 2014

National’s candidate for Rongatai, Hon Chris Finlayson writes on his campaign for the elucidation of readers of the Spectator:

Every three years in New Zealand, incumbent politicians must hit the campaign trail. Since 2008, I have chased votes in the Rongotai electorate. My Labour opponent, Annette King, has held the seat since 1996. She is a fine parliamentarian, a thoroughly nice person, and also a distant cousin on my mother’s side. ‘Chris says if he wins Rongotai, he’ll ask for a recount,’ she delights in telling voters. This is supposed to be a joke but, under New Zealand’s mixed member proportional voting system, winning individual seats is not the be all and end all. The number of seats a party has in Parliament is determined by a party vote, and local representatives by a separate electorate vote. As a list MP standing in a traditional left seat my job is to maximise the party vote for National.

The Rongotai electorate takes in Wellington’s rugged southern coast, the Miramar Peninsula and the working class suburbs of Newtown and Berhampore, which are fast gentrifying and turning from red to green. Its furthest boundary is the Chatham Islands, an archipelago around 700km from the mainland. It is a place of isolated natural beauty, rich cultural history, abundant fisheries and distinctively salty mutton. On my most recent trip, the twin-propeller plane was struck by lightning and my stay had to be extended by two days. There is no cellular reception in the Chathams, adding to its attractiveness.

The Newtown debate is usually the rowdiest of the campaign. In 2011, I was shoved by an Anglican vicar as I made my way out. This year, there are ten candidates lined up across the stage facing the audience squeezed into a wooden church hall. The crowd has a very particular strand of rule-bound, suburban radicalism: every mention of ‘revolution’ is cheered, but the audience will not allow proceedings to begin while party signs are blocking the fire exits. Along with Annette, the candidates include Russel Norman, a Tasmanian who relocated to New Zealand to work for the Green Party and now, holding the office of Male Co-leader, campaigns against foreign ownership. He finds himself fighting candidates from the populist Conservative and New Zealand First parties for the xenophobe vote. The Newtown audience thinks I am insufferably right wing but also thinks the same about the Greens and Labour. Dr Norman is accused of dismissing victims of sexual assault. Annette King gets a frosty reception for her party’s track record on Maori issues. I am roundly booed when I say the audience is ‘redistributionist’. More popular are a young man dressed as a shark and representing the Climate Party (his contribution to the debate is ‘learn to swim’) and also the candidate for the Patriotic Revolutionary Front. The PRF wants a benevolent dictatorship and has a leaflet showing a composite picture of Stalin and Einstein as its ideal leader. . .

It’s not just what he says but the way that he says it.

Oh to have the ability to write so eruditely, and also to have been a better Latin scholar.

Can anyone translate his quote (in the paragraph which follows the extract I’ve used) from Horace: parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus ?

I tried Google and got the mountains are in labour, security issues. Even without dim memories of third form Latin I would doubt that is what it means.


Slight right turn

September 23, 2014

When National had its worst election result in 2002 parties to its left and right benefitted.

Act, New Zealand First and United Future all made substantial gains.

On Saturday Labour bled support and the major beneficiaries were National and NZ First.

The Green Party, which would have hoped to gain from Labour’s loss, lost too.

The Dotcom effect – a repudiation of the rort the Internet Mana Party hoped to inflict on us played a part in that, but New Zealand didn’t just vote against that, it voted for something better.

New Zealand made a slight right turn.

Act didn’t do well but National has enough seats, on the provisional results, to govern alone.

It won’t.

Prime Minister-elect John Key has already begun negotiations with United Future, Act and the Maori Party to include them in government.

That will give us a stable, centre-right government.

If Labour and the Green Party learn from this they will accept that their far left, backward, high taxing, high spending, government-knows best policies aren’t what voters want nor what New Zealand needs.


Election results

September 20, 2014

It’s 7pm, polling booths have closed.

Counting of advance votes started at 2pm and should be announced by 8:30.

My predictions (%):

National 48ish

Labour 22ish

Green Party 12ish

NZ First 5ish

Conservative Party 4ish

Maori Party 2ish

Act 2ish

IMP 1ish

United Future .5ish

Official results can be found here.

Predicted results from the Election Data Consortium are here.


Moment of strewth sinks IMP?

September 19, 2014

Kim Dotcom’s moment of truth turned into a moment of strewth, is that all there is?

Rather than sinking Prime Minister and the National Party as he had hoped, the Herald DigiPoll showed it did the opposite:

The Kim Dotcom-inspired event in Auckland’s Town Hall that was supposed to end John Key’s career gave the National Party an immediate bounce in support this week, according to polling for the last Herald DigiPoll survey.

With 60 per cent of the poll done by Monday night, when the event happened, National was polling at 47.8 per cent, down on last week, said DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak. From Tuesday it jumped to 49.1 per cent.

A similar trend was seen in the preferred Prime Minister polling. Before Monday, Mr Key was polling at 63.4 per cent. From Tuesday it jumped to 66.4 per cent.

Mr Key who has led a minority National Government for six years is seeking a third term in tomorrow’s election against a Labour Party that has been led for only a year by David Cunliffe.

Mr Key told the Herald last night the results on Saturday “may well prove that a campaign led by Kim Dotcom based mostly on revenge will serve to only reduce the likelihood of a change of Government”.

While the moment of strewth helped National, it harmed Dotcom’s puppet party and might even be enough to sink it:

Today’s poll also has the internet-Mana strategic alliance funded by Mr Dotcom sinking. It would get no extra MPs into Parliament on the coat-tails of Mana leader Hone Harawira keeping his Te Tai Tokerau seat – and even that is looking shaky.

Mr Dotcom has spent $4 million on setting up the party and funding the campaign.

The poll has the Conservatives on 3.3 per cent, and would not be in Parliament. It has yet to register over the 5 per cent threshold on any major political poll this election.

Today’s poll has National on 48.2 per cent, down a little from last week when the seven-day polling is totalled.. .

This is only one poll and it shows the race is still tight.

The Stuff/Ipsos shows an even tighter race:

Today’s Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll is almost a photo finish of the 2011 election result, which delivered a National government with a slender majority despite John Key’s near record popularity.

Click here to see full results

On today’s numbers, National is as popular as ever and would be back in business at the Beehive on Monday with a government that looks almost exactly like the last one.

But a turbulent few weeks on the campaign trail have made the result less certain and the electorate more volatile. The poll registers a big swing against National which, if carried through to tomorrow, could make the race much tighter.

So too could any stumble by John Key’s allies in the Maori seats or Ohariu, which would see the Maori Party and Peter Dunne out of Parliament.

The bad news for Labour is that the swing has mostly benefited NZ First and Colin Craig’s Conservatives, who have been jockeying for position in the Centre.

National blames that on strategic voting by its supporters wanting to get Conservatives over the line to give National coalition options. But NZ First may be just as likely picking up disaffected Labour voters. . .

This poll shows National on 47.7%; Labour on 26.1%; the Green Party on 12%; New Zealand First on 6.6%; Conservative party on 4.5% and Internet Mana on just .9%.

If this level of support carries through to the election we could still have a strong, stable National-led government.

But even a small swing away from National could leave us saddled with a weak Labour-led government cobbled together with the support of the Green and New Zealand First parties and whoever manages to get across the line with Internet Mana.

National has never taken the election result for granted and these polls will ensure that candidates and volunteers the length and breadth of the country will be continuing to work hard to ensure that when the polls close tomorrow they’ve done all they can to convince enough voters of the importance of keeping the government that’s working for New Zealand.

Whether that’s enough, won’t be known until the counting’s done.


25ish + 7ish = too few

September 16, 2014

Winston Peters is mulling over a Labour New Zealand First coalition:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said today that voters should consider a Labour-New Zealand First as a potential alternative Government, not Labour and Greens, in what is the most definitive statement from him yet on post-election options.

That suggests that would keep the Green Party away from the cabinet table in any Labour-Led Government as he did in 2005.

He expressed respect today for both Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker and for Finance Minister Bill English and said: “I see both of them as capable of being Ministers of Finance.”

“This is not indicating a choice,” he said “but the media seem to have overlooked one option entirely, a Labour-New Zealand First combination on coalition or confidence and supply.”

In Colin James’ latest poll of polls Labour had 25.2% support and NZ First had 7.1%

That comes to only 32.3% which is well short of the 50% plus one seat needed for a majority.

It could of course try to be a minority government but that would require a lot of negotiating to get any legislation passed and the other parties who are hoping to be in government wouldn’t necessarily be feeling generous.

In 2005, Helen Clark led a minority Government with the support of New Zealand First, United Future, and the Greens on confidence and supply but at the behest of Mr Peters, restricted ministerial posts to only himself and Peter Dunne of United Future. . .

Lest we forget, that’s the government that spent wildly and put the country into recession before the rest of the world.

Many NZ First supporters would prefer the party went left rather than right so all Peters is doing is playing to the gallery.


Labour’s last stand peak spending

September 15, 2014

Labour announced its final policy yesterday and in doing so took the left to peak spending

The Labour Party have decided to go for broke and heap more spending commitments on the Left’s spending pile in a vain bid to turn around their flagging polling numbers five days out from the election, National Party Associate Finance spokesman Steven Joyce says.

“Their latest ‘idea’ today to create a new ‘investment fund’ from the dividends of state-owned enterprises is just another way of pre-committing money that has already been committed by Labour a few times over,” Mr Joyce says.

“Dividends received by the Government from state-owned enterprises are already being used to pay for public services like education and health and to pay down debt. They can’t just keep being spent again and again. On top of that, the so-called ‘strategic investment’ language is quite obviously code for spending money on experimental cleantech investments that have lost money the world over.

“When you strip it back, what Labour have come up with today is simply another $400 million in pre-committed spending – no more and no less. That takes their four year commitment to $19 billion, before you add on the Greens plan to spend at least another $12 billion, and Dotcom’s plan to spend tens of billions more.

“On top of that you have to add all the uncosted pledges of the Labour Party – to pay higher student support, to pay more to ACC claimants, to re-establish the ‘dole for artists’ scheme, and so on.

“This approach would push up interest rates for households and businesses and stall the economy – as we saw under the previous government six years ago when floating home mortgages were almost 11 per cent at the economy flat-lined.

“The Left’s appetite for looking like Father Christmas to the voting public has no limit.

“The only thing we can be absolutely sure of in regards to Labour, The Greens and Dotcom is that if they win next Saturday’s election we would very quickly become a much poorer New Zealand.”

Labour’s sovereign wealth fund is another of those policies which confirm the view it thinks governments are better spending other people’s money than they are.

The last six years have been harder than they would have been had the last Labour government not taxed and spent the country into recession before the global financial crisis.

We’re now on track to surplus and it’s National’s careful management that’s got us there.

The recovery and the social and economic dividends which depend on it would be short-lived should the government change.

 


Who loses from non-voters?

September 12, 2014

The common perception that centre-left parties like Labour and the Greens are hit much harder than National when their supporters do not turn up to vote does not hold up in light of polling analysis released today by the Election Data Consortium.

The Consortium is made up of polling company Roy Morgan and data analytics company Qrious. The analysis shows 36 percent of those aged between 18 and 24 who are enrolled but state they are unlikely to vote, indicated they preferred National. In comparison, younger non-voters indicated 39 percent of them preferred Labour and 19 percent supported the Greens.

“This is lower than National’s general polling support across all age groups but higher than many people probably believe the party receives from this block of potential voters,” says Qrious spokesman Cyrus Facciano.

“The rule-of-thumb is that lower turnout by young voters is automatically bad for the centre-left. That is true to some extent – but it is nowhere near the election-turning block of votes that some make it out to be.”

nonvote

The pattern is similar across other ages, though these groups are more likely to vote than younger people. In the 35 to 49 age group, 39 percent of non-voters said they preferred National. . .

 

This is why National candidates and volunteers are putting so much work into letting supporters know the importance of voting.

The election is not a foregone conclusion and people in or leaning towards the blue end of the political spectrum who don’t vote could allow a Labour/Green/NZ First/Internet-Mana coalition into government.


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