The trend is tight

November 11, 2013

Last night’s TV3 Reid Poll showed:

National is on 46.8 percent. It is still on top, but has taken a big drop of 3.5 percent.

Labour are up 1.2 percent on 32.2 percent. That gain comes from the Greens, who are down to 10.2 percent.

And Winston Peters is on 4.2 percent; not quite at the five percent needed to get back into parliament, but still extremely dangerous.

Among the minor parties, Colin Craig’s Conservatives are at 2.8 percent, well over double the last poll. It’s the highest ever result for the party, and crucially, it is taking votes off National.

Hone Harawira gets a decent bump too, scoring the numbers to bring a second MP to parliament.

But as for Act, it appears they won’t win Epsom and will be out of parliament altogether. . .

The significant movement is the rise of the Conservatives, seemingly taking support from National.
But there’s little comfort for Labour when its gain comes at the expense of the Green Party.
Most movement is within the right and left blocks rather than between them and confirms the trend of most polls which have been showing it’s a very tight race.
As Mike Hosking opined:

Any government with a mid-40s support base in a system with so many parties to split the vote really couldn’t ask for more. They’re as popular today as they were the day they won the house five years ago. That’s impressive. But in a game where you’re not the only team, the other teams have let them down so they have real trouble.

So in another time, in another system, a third term would be a given. But under MMP in 2014, I wouldn’t bet the bank.

However, there’s little comfort for the left either.
The results for preferred Prime Minister show John Key at 40.9%, compared with 10.8% for Labour’s leader, David Cunliffe.
Cunliffe is lower than David Shearer was when the last poll was carried out in July.
The increase in Labour’s vote is within the margin of error although the poll was taken while the party conference was on and it and it was getting lots of publicity.
That will be cause for concern for Labour and strengthen the resolve of the ABC – anyone but Cunliffe – block in caucus.

Cunliffe chickens out, Norman steps in

November 6, 2013

Advertising on the Farming Show used to be the most expensive on the Radio Network.

It probably still is because it’s now broadcast nationwide. It’s listened to by a broad audience and not just beyond town boundaries.

I do an occasional spot on the show and often meet people from all around the country, urban and rural, who’ve heard me.

Host Jamie Mackay has a successful recipe with a blend of farming and wider rural issues mixed with sport, music and politics.

It’s the sort of show you’d think an aspiring Prime Minister would want to appear on but one has chickened out:

There’s a certain irony in the position I find myself in with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

You see, David C has red-carded me.

Meaning, for the first time since 2000, when then Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to a weekly slot, I will not be interviewing the Labour leader on the Farming Show.

Rightly or wrongly, Cunliffe says he won’t get a fair hearing, that we will make fun of him. Heck, we make fun of everyone, including ourselves.

Jamie does make fun of some of his interviewees but the political segments are usually pretty straight. In fact with my ever so slightly blue bias I think he sometimes let Cunliffe’s predecessors and agricultural spokesmen away too lightly.

Had Cunliffe or his media team bothered to listen to the show archives, available here, they’d have known that he’d get a fair go.

I think he has unfairly pigeon-holed me. He needs to understand some of my political history before he consigns me to the National Party lackey file. . .

Brought up in a family where Norman Kirk was admired more than Keith Holyoake, Jamie voted for Social Credit in his first two elections, in 1984 he voted against Rob Muldoon and for Bob Jones, didn’t get round to voting in 1987 and had his first vote for National in 1990.

Even then it was a vote more for a candidate than a party because I liked the cut of a young buck the Nats had dragged down to his home province of Southland from The Treasury in Wellington.

His name was Bill English and he looked like he at least had a bit of spark in him.

However, considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now? 

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. . . .

So here’s my message for PC David C, which unfortunately I can’t pass on personally. 

If you really want to be the next prime minister, get your teeth into some issues that affect middle and low-income NZ – jobs, education, health, and the minimum wage are traditional Labour strongholds.

Attack National where you have an inherent political advantage and where it might have dropped the ball.

On second thoughts, I might save that message for my new Farming Show correspondent, Dr Russel Norman.

I heard Jamie a couple of weeks ago saying Cunliffe wasn’t coming on the show and he said the same thing this week.

I thought he meant just those days, after all what politician would turn down the opportunity for nationwide publicity on the radio?

But no, it wasn’t just couple of instances that didn’t suit his diary, he’s given the show a flat no for the worst of all reasons, that he wouldn’t get a fair hearing and he’d be made fun of.

How precious is that?

A politician who can’t stand the very gentle heat of the Farming Show isn’t going to cope with the much hotter temperature in other media and parliament.

He wouldn’t have been made fun of unfairly on the show but he will be now.

Jamie’s column is in the current edition of the Farmers Weekly which is delivered free to every rural mail box in the country and sold in book stores and dairies. It’s in the FW’s digital edition and on the website (to which I’ve linked above).

It will be on the Farming Show website soon.

I’ve already heard Jamie mention Cunliffe’s no-show and he’ll keep doing it. he’ll probably mention it to his cousin, political journo Barry Soper, who has does a spot on the show each Friday.

Prime Minister John Key has a weekly interview on the show. He sometimes get a little borax poked at him by Jamie and handles it well. His customary good humour and ability to laugh at themselves will continue to provide a contrast with Cunliffe who was scared of a gentle ribbing.

Deputy PM and Finance Minister Bill English, Minister  for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Deputy Speaker Eric Roy,  are also regulars on the show. So are Labour’s Primary Industries spokesman Damien O’Connor and former MP now Vice Chancellor of Massey Steve Maharey. In the past former PM Helen Clark, then-National party leader Don Brash, former Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, former MPI Minister David Carter and Cunliffe’s former leader David Shearer were all on each week.

Since Cunliffe won’t front, Jamie has invited Russel Norman to replace him.

All of these people are or were willing to front Jamie regularly but Cunliffe isn’t.

But worse than this – one of his challenges was to assert himself as leader of the opposition, a position Norman had assumed while David Shearer led Labour.

Instead, he’s handed his rival a free pass to a slot that should have been his own on the Farming Show.

In doing so he’s shown himself a little too concerned with his own image and a little less confident of his own ability than he would like the world to think.

#gigatownoamaru doesn’t chicken out.


Does Cunliffe prefer NZ First to Greens

October 18, 2013

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was de facto leader of the opposition while David Shearer led Labour.

Under David Cunliffe the party is lurching to the left, crowding the Greens and leaving them with less of that political oxygen which comes from media exposure.

Trans Tasman makes an interesting observation about this:

There also seems to be a closer rapport between Labour under Cunliffe with NZ First’s
Winston Peters.
This suggests Cunliffe wants to follow Helen Clark’s tactics, when he gets the chance of forming a Govt, of embracing NZ First, and leaving the radical Greens with little choice except to back him from the sidelines. The difficulty with this is Labour’s own policy of raising the age of eligibility for NZ superannuation from 65 to 67. A bottom line for NZ First is no tampering with the age of eligibility for superannuation.
That’s a policy a lot of Labour supporters won’t be happy with either so it wouldn’t be too big a dead rat for Cunliffe to swallow in coalition negotiations if it meant he could leave the Greens out of a coalition.
That would of course depend on Labour being in the position to form a government and the easiest way to prevent that is to keep National in power.

What else would he do?

September 19, 2013

Trevor Mallard was one of the prominent members of the ABC – Anyone but Cunliffe – Club.

He now has three choices.

He can swallow his pride and the animosity he feels towards the new leader and put party  unity and loyalty first.

He can resign, now or at the end of this parliamentary term and move on.

He can stay and destabilise Cunliffe’s leadership the way the new leader and others destabilised David Shearer’s.

That Mallard didn’t answer his phone when Cunliffe called with the news he was being replaced as Labour’s Leader of the House suggests he’s not going to take the first option.

The chances of his resigning aren’t high because what else could he do that would pay as well as being an MP does, even without the added perk of excursions like his current one to watch the America’s Cup.

That leaves option three and given Grant Robertson didn’t take up the opportunity to be leader he might not be on his own.

 

 


A Freudian slip?

September 18, 2013

Labour’s new leader David Cunliffe had promised to come out all guns blazing but at Question Time yesterday he  tripped over his own tongue:

Hon David Cunliffe: Why, following the call from the chair of caucus—Chorus—did he see it fit—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the member to start his question again.

Hon David Cunliffe: Why, following the call from the chair of caucus, did he see fit— .[Interruption] Why do we not take that a third time?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have called for a supplementary question from the Hon David Cunliffe.

Hon David Cunliffe: Why, following his call from the chair of Chorus— . . .

Given only 11 of his 34 MPs preferred him as leader it’s understandable he’s got his caucus on his mind.

Whether or not it was a Freudian slip, it gave Prime Minister John Key an opportunity he was quick to take up:

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There are two things. One thing is true: I do get a phone call from my caucus, but they all voted for me.

Cunliffe was then silly enough to give the PM a second opportunity:

Hon David Cunliffe: Given his reliance upon reports, what reliance is he placing on media reports that this $600 million botch-up is the end of Minister Adams’ chances of succeeding him as Prime Minister?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I need to be honest. I really do not think our caucus is looking for a new leader right at the moment, but after question time today the Labour Party— . . .

This is something to which only the media and political tragics will pay any attention.

But given his predecessor David Shearer was criticised so often for his lack of fluency, Cunliffe needed to get it right the first time and he didn’t.


Poor listeners, slow learners

September 15, 2013

The Labour leadership circus has given members a chance to send messages to MPs.

Labour leadership contenders say the main message they have got from rank and file party members is that they want the caucus to stop bickering and work together. . .

Anyone with even a passing interest in politics knows the damage done by disunity and that a party which shows it can’t run itself will not be trusted to run the government.

People inside and outside the Labour Party have been saying this since very shortly after Phil Goff took over as leader after the 2008 election loss.

The message got even stronger as David Shearer’s grasp on the leadership was weakened by slings and arrows from his caucus.

If it’s taken the aspiring leaders this long to get that message about unity they’re very poor listeners, very slow learners or both.

If it’s taken them this long to get the message, will they and the various factions in the party heed it?


Labour worse than war zone

September 9, 2013

Quote of the day:

“I always felt, oddly enough, more comfortable in a war zones than I did in the Labour Party— not so much in the Labour Party but in politics. I mean, obviously in politics you’re getting sniped at from all directions. In a war zone, you can generally tell who the good guys are and who are the bad guys.”David Shearer.

That’s a very revealing insight into the Labour Party in spite of correcting himself and saying politics.

There’s nothing unusual at getting sniped at from the other side, it’s the sniping from you own side and not knowing who are the goodies and who are the baddies that is hardest to combat.

That was what Julia Gillard had to cope with while she was Prime Minister and lack of loyalty from her own caucus was what eventually toppled her.

Shearer faced similar undermining from his colleagues which made it impossible for him, or his party, to make any traction.

Whether his successor fares any better will depend on whether or not he can unite his caucus and the party.

Given the number of factions and depth of divisions between them, that could take some time.


The Green retreat begins

August 30, 2013

Green Party  co-leader, Russel Norman, has been very keen to be Finance Minister and just this week he was also suggesting that he and the party’s other co-leader could share the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

But now he’s saying policy gains are more important than positions.

“What we really want most of all are policy gains – that’s why we got into the business,” says Dr Norman.

“We want a smarter, greener, more compassionate New Zealand, and a smarter, greener, more compassionate government. If we can get those policy gains, that’s the key thing for us.”

But he concedes that those gains will be easier to come by if they can get their MPs appointed to high-ranking positions, such as Minister of Finance or even Deputy Prime Minister.

“Having ministerial positions gives you influence and the ability to get the policy changes that you want, so they’re both on the table,” says Dr Norman. . .

This is the beginning of the Green retreat.

The party has made hay while Labour’s been in the shadows under David Shearer.

But whichever of the three amigos, David Cunliffe, Shane Jones or Grant Robertson,  wins the leadership selection, he will be stronger, more articulate and determined to win back the party’s left flank.

The biggest loser from that will be the Green Party and this softening stance from Norman suggests he knows it.


Absent with leave

August 30, 2013

Trevor Mallard scored an own-goal when trying to distract attention from Labour’s leadership contenders using taxpayers’ money to fly round the country campaigning.

It provided Gerry Brownlee with the opportunity to ask whether David Shearer should be collecting the leader’s pay while taking three weeks leave to lick his wounds.

But Shearer isn’t the only Labour MP who’s going to be on full pay while absent from parliament:

Next week all three contenders will be absent from the House as they go on a roadshow as part of the leadership contest which winds up with an election on September 15.

That means we’re not only paying for David Cunliffe, Shane Jones and Grant Robertson to fly around the country, we’re paying them to campaign instead of attending to their duties as MPs in the House.

They might have leave from their whip to be absent but in what other job could they take off to further their own ambitions on full pay?


Hey, look over there

August 29, 2013

One moment, Labour’s three leadership aspirants are being criticised for using tax-payer funds to fly around the country campaigning.

The next, Trevor Mallard comes up with a distraction:

. . . Hon Trevor Mallard: Has Housing New Zealand given any advice to Ministerial Services as to how to recover approximately $10,800 which was not paid when he squatted for over 6 weeks in a $2 million house owned by Ministerial Services?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: When I resigned as a Minister last year, myself and my family stayed in the ministerial house until the end of that term for my kids who were attending school in Wellington. Ministerial Services gave me consent to leave my personal belongings there until I established a new flat in Hill Street. I would note that it has long been the practice where Ministers resign—and as occurs when there is a change of Government, such as after the 2008 election—that families are given a reasonable amount of time to move. The time when my family moved out was less than 2 weeks after I resigned. . .

Mallard is entitled to be called Honourable but there’s nothing honourable about his behaviour.

A farm worker who lives on the job and is sacked, or resigns, is entitled to a period of grace to find somewhere else to live.

MPs families put up with a lot and expecting them to find and shift to new accommodation immediately upon a change of circumstances is ridiculous.

As the supplementary question which followed from Prime Minister John Key showed, he extended far more courtesy to his predecessor than Mallard’s questions suggests should be permitted:

Rt Hon John Key: Is it true that when National became the Government in 2008, I said to the outgoing then Prime Minister that she should feel free to stay at Premier House as long as she wanted, without rent, to allow a smooth transition and to allow her to pack up with her family?

. . . Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The attitude I have felt consistently from the Prime Minister, whether it was for the families and members opposite when they ceased to be Ministers or my own experience, was one of sympathy for Ministers’ families. I had children at school in Wellington, and I appreciated the Prime Minister’s office allowing those children to stay at school for the 2 weeks to the end of term.

The question also provided the opportunity for a finger to be pointed back at Labour:

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder if you would be able to assist the Opposition in its quest to gain these efficiencies for the State by perhaps ruling that if a Leader of the Opposition publicly announces their intention to relinquish that position, and then fails to turn up to Parliament, that they may not also claim the ministerial salary and various other entitlements that go with that job?

Nick Smith did the honourable thing by resigning when he did and his behaviour following that resignation was exemplary.

Unlike David Shearer who has announced his resignation as Labour leader and who’s taking three weeks holiday to lick his wounds, the Nelson MP carried on with electorate work and parliamentary duties on relinquishing his ministerial warrant. He also earned his reinstatement.

Mallard is just playing hey-look-over-there in the hope that it will distract attention from Labour’s prolonged leadership campaign and the costs of that which are being foisted on the taxpayer.

In doing so, he’s once again shown that Labour wants tough protections for workers because it judges employers by its own low standards.

He’s also crossed the line, which MPs do at their peril, by bringing family matters into House.

Keeping Stock has a video of the exchange.


Number four

August 24, 2013

Jim Bolger was Prime Minister when Helen Clark became leader of the Labour Party, and the first woman to lead the Opposition.

She almost won the 1996 election but it was run under MMP and Winston Peters allowed Bolger to remain in power.

Jenny Shipley deposed Bolger and became our first female Prime Minister but Clark won the next election.

Shipley lost the leadership to Bill English but he lost the next election.

He usually gets the blame for that but it wasn’t all bad. It did get rid of much of the dead wood – those long serving MPs who ought to have resigned to let fresh blood contest the election but didn’t. He should also get credit for the rule changes which under his leadership, with the help of then president Judy Kirk and general manager Steven Joyce, made National a much stronger party and laid the foundation for its eventual return to power.

Don Brash ousted Bill, boosted membership and funds, and nearly won the 2005 election.

When Brash resigned, John Key won without a fight, and with a unified caucus helped in no small part by his deputy, English, who was, and is, 100% loyal to the leader and party. Key also had, and has maintained, strong, unified membership and good finances.

When Key won the 2008 election, Clark resigned and handed a poisoned chalice to Phil Goff. He, and the caucus, didn’t learn from what happened with National, kept most of the dead wood and lost the 2011 election.

Goff resigned and David Shearer took over, still saddled with the dead wood, disunity in the caucus, the shadowy influence of Clark and dissent in the wider party.

Labour’s about to elect the fourth leader to face the Prime Minister but changing the leader won’t be enough.

The caucus is still full of dead wood and further damaged by disunity.

Membership is low, it’s not united either and party finances are far from healthy. Clark’s shadow still looms large and there’s also the spectre of the unions which most on the right and many in the centre distrust.

Helen Clark defeated outlasted four National leaders and lost to the fifth who had a strong, unified caucus, a strong, unified party and little competition in Opposition from the wee parties.

Labour is about to elect the fourth leader to face Key but he will be fighting fires on several fronts.

He’ll have to unite his caucus and his party and also stand head and shoulders above Russel Norman and Winston Peters who’ve been doing a much better job of leading the Opposition than then man he’ll succeed.

Number four might be able to do what the three before him haven’t, but winning the leadership will be the first and easy step in a steep and challenging climb.


40 + 40 + 20 doesn’t equal unity

August 23, 2013

The Labour Party changed its rules last year.

The leader is decided by the caucus and the membership and union affiliates – 40%, 40% and 20% respectively.

That might sound reasonable to people within the party, it looks very messy from outside.

The Labour Party likes to think of itself as a broad church but it’s really just a collection of factions who see the party as a vehicle to get their policies enacted.

It’s almost certain there will be at least two candidates, possibly more.

It’s unlikely the caucus will be untied on who would be the best leader, it’s even less likely the membership will agree with each other and caucus.

Try convincing the public that the new leader deserves their support although the party and members didn’t agree on him ( at this stage there is no obvious her as a candidate) and union delegates had the casting votes.

One of David’s Shearer’s problems was his inability to unite his caucus and his party.

Winning the leadership could well be the easy bit for the new leader.

Internal unity will be the next hurdle and he will have less than two months to do that before the party conference where members may well wish to re-visit the man-ban.


Labour worse than war zone

August 23, 2013

Outgoing Labour leader David Shearer had a compelling back story.

He’d negotiated his way out of life and death situations in war zones.

. . .  dealing with the armed, desperate and irrational. . . .

. . . He has spent time dodging bullets and bombs . . .

He went from one war zone to another.

. . . negotiated his wife’s hostage release from a Somalian warlord, staring down the barrel of an AK47. . .

But he couldn’t win over the competing factions in his party and was defeated by the internal conflict.

. . .The other thing about war and politics is that you have to bring people together. Often there are issues you can have common consensus around, but you have to bring people together. I had to do that a lot in the Middle East and that built skills that are still important. . .

Skills honed in war zones weren’t sufficient to lead labour.

What does that say about the party?


Shearer falls on sword

August 22, 2013

David Shearer has fallen on his sword.

Shearer said his resignation would be effective once a new leader was elected.

Whip Chris Hipkins said a replacement would be decided in three to four weeks. He said he had informed the party president Moira Coatsworth and secretary Tim Barnett this morning.

Heading into the House with list MP Jacinda Ardern, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said he was the acting leader but he could not say who was acting deputy.

So Shearer thinks he’s staying on until the new leader is selected but his former deputy has appointed himself acting leader.

The caucus can’t even get this right.


Wrong question, right answer

August 21, 2013

In politics it’s never a good idea to ask a question if you’re not prepared for the answer.

Labour leader David Shearer made the mistake of doing that in question time yesterday:

David Shearer: Did he or anyone in his office ever contact the Labour Party to obtain broader support for the bill?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot believe the member is asking that question. If he wants me to answer it, I will get on my feet and do so.

David Shearer: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that was a question. Did he or anyone in his office ever contact the Labour Party to obtain broader support for the bill—did you contact me?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: OK—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear the answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: OK. Yes, Mr Speaker. After one of the Intelligence and Security Committee meetings, I asked Mr Shearer whether he would like to come to my office to have a discussion. We sat down and had about a 30-minute discussion where Mr Shearer said: “Keep this confidential. If you come out and say we’ve done it, that won’t look good and I don’t want you shouting it out about the House.” My deputy chief of staff went to see Mr Goff and also went to see Mr Robertson. On numerous occasions we reached out and at one point—

Grant Robertson: No, no, no. Don’t make stuff up.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If the member really wants to get down and dirty, members of the Labour Party said they did not understand the law.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Bledisloe Cup was on Saturday.

David Shearer: So he is saying that he initiated contact with me after the—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has every right to have his supplementary question heard.

David Shearer: Is he saying that he made contact with me after the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting and that it was my request that he should remember that?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am afraid the member is wrong. I went up to the member after the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting and said “Do you want to come to my office?”, to which the member said yes, and I said that we would probably take the stairs to avoid the other guys. We actually waited for the other members, in particular, Dr Norman, to leave so that he did not see the member coming up to my office.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If members on the right-hand side wish to see the balance of question time, they should respect the position I take when I stand and call for order.

David Shearer: In the course of that discussion, did he say to me that he did not really care whether we supported it or not because he already had Peter Dunne over the line?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I did not say exactly that I did not care. What I—[Interruption] No. I will paraphrase the words roughly. What I said was that we had the numbers to pass the legislation and I knew that if for political reasons he was just going to carry on the way he was going because Grant Robertson was calling the shots, fair enough—we would just get on and do it. The member also said he wanted a sunset clause, and I said you have got to have rocks in your head if you want to have that, because if you ever want to be the Prime Minister, you will never get the Greens over the line.

Shearer asked the wrong question and gave the Prime Minister the opportunity to give the right answer.

Labour had an opportunity to look like a government in waiting over the GCSB Bill but chose to play politics instead.


Information beats confrontation

August 20, 2013

John Campbell’s confrontation with John Key on Campbell Live last Wednesday was a wonderful example of how not to do an interview.

Campbell was crusading, confrontational and angry. He made his views on the GCSB Bill blatantly obvious.

This morning Rachel Smalley’s interview (not yet online) with the Prime Minister was a complete contrast.

She was calm, measured, and gave no indication of her views on the issue.

She was after information, not confrontation, and she got it.

That included a repeat of the explanation of what access to metadata will mean under the new law:

Mr Key says the cyber-security function is to “protect” information, rather than accessing content.

He says the GCSB will be able to look at some email metadata, but that will not include addresses, the times emails were sent or received, or their content.

“Essentially it flows through a filter, and as it flows through that filter, it doesn’t record for anything other than a hundredth of a second,” he told media.

“It’s looking for the viruses which are coming into the system – it’s not looking at content, it’s not looking at who sent the email, it’s simply looking for the viruses and we don’t record … where the emails came from, who got them, any of that sort of stuff.” . . .
Mr Key is categorically ruling out “wholesale surveillance” of emails.
In cases where the GCSB wants to access the content of New Zealanders’ emails, Mr Key expects the agency to apply for very specific warrants, and seek the New Zealander’s consent, unless there are very good reasons not to.
Parliament’s intelligence and security committee will be able to see what type of warrants are being signed off and ask questions about those.The bill’s most controversial provision makes it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of the SIS, Defence Force and police, if they have a warrant.

Whether or not viewers were reassured by what the PM said will almost certainly depend on their bias.

A lot, though not all, of the opposition to the Bill is politically motivated and Labour has made the mistake of opting for short-term point scoring rather than taking the opportunity to look like a government in waiting.

The wee parties can do what they like knowing they’ll never lead a government but sooner or later Labour will.

It could have looked like it was fit to do so by working with the government to address legitimate concerns about the legislation.

Instead of which it’s just playing me-too to the Green and Mana Parties and New Zealand First with David Shearer just another opposition party leader like Russel Norman, Winston Peters and Hone Harawira.


It’s the party vote that counts

August 13, 2013

Anyone who was involved in the National Party during Judy Kirk’s time as president knows it’s the party vote that counts.

She never lost an opportunity to remind members of that.

That was one of the reasons the party reorganised and began running centralised campaigns. These made it clear to voters that while the party wanted them to tick National twice,  if they were going to give us only one tick it should be the party vote one.

The party didn’t abandon electorates though, with the exception of Epsom and Ohariu where, for strategic reasons, National supporters got the message to split their votes.

The wee parties don’t usually try to win electorate seats.

They don’t even field candidates in most of them and where they do they make it quite clear it’s just the party vote they’re chasing.

Labour has rarely done as well in the provinces, and now it looks like the party won’t even try to regain the seats it’s lost.

In the Listener cover story regaining the love Labour’s lost, Ruth Laugesen writes:

Labour is firmly focused on boosting its party vote, possibly at the expense of the electoral seats.

To win back the Beehive, Labour must win hundreds of square kilometres of territory in the heartland. But as Labour rebuilds its party organisation towards the next election, winning electorates appears to be taking a back seat. . .

Is there anything Labour is doing specifically aimed at winning back electorate seats? There is a long pause. “Winning back seats. It’s always good to have … The electorate seats are important, so there will be seats that we are actually going to be ensuring that there’s a strong two-tick campaign, but it’s a party-vote and a candidate-vote campaign. We may have had some people focusing more on the seat than we would like in the future.”

This is another sign of Labour’s weakened state – too little money, too few members and probably too few credible candidates to fight a true two-tick nationwide campaign.

It is the party vote that counts in forming governments.

But abandoning the provinces means that when the party eventually returns to power, as sadly sooner or later it will, it will have little connection to, or knowledge of, great swathes of the country.

Under a Labour-led government the party vote will count and people outside the cities won’t.

We know they don’t understand farming but it’s still the mainstay of the economy and there’s a lot of other things happening outside the main centres which can’t afford the damage a left-wing urban government could inflict on them.

It will be even worse with a strong Green Party influence as well.

A government without connections to and an understanding of the provinces and their needs and concerns isn’t one which will be governing for the good of the country in both senses of the word.

Update:

Spot the irony – in today’s ODT Labour leader David Shearer is quoted:

There was no doubt the regions had been neglected in favour of the country’s major cities, he said. . .

He’s wrong that the regions have been neglected by the government but it looks like that is what his party is going to be doing in next year’s election campaign.


When the ex comes back

August 7, 2013

In even the best relationships it can be a bit difficult when the ex comes for a visit.

It’s hard for the new partner not to feel second-best and that the ex is more articulate, more respected, more popular.

Labour leader David Shearer would be forgiven for feeling a bit like this when Helen Clark, the woman he succeeded, returns to New Zealand and is fêted by the media.

This week he has even more reason to feel that way because in the interview on Q & A she undermined the opposition to the GCSB Bill.

. . . Helen Clark told Corin Dann that there is a need for a GCSB and she’s urging dialogue across the political divide.

“The answer is yes, you do, because you need that foreign intelligence, and not least for safety and security reasons. I think the real issue is, is there a gap in the law, which the Kitteridge Inquiry apparently found that there was, and if so, how do you deal with that and do you take the opportunity at the same time to write in more controls to protect the privacy of the individual? That, as I see it, is the debate raging at the moment.”

Ms Clark says when her government brought in the 2003 GCSB legislation ”that actually took GCSB out of the shadows and made it a government department with its own Act, which was good. But, you know, in retrospect, as Miss Kitteridge has found, perhaps there was a gap in the law. So that has to be dealt with, but I think it’s really important to try to reach across the political divide when you’re dealing with these issues.”

Ms Clark says, “Try and take the politics out of it and look at what do we as Kiwis need to protect our interests and how do we protect the privacy of individual Kiwis who should never be caught up in a giant trawling exercise across their communications.”

Shearer and Labour had the opportunity to be the grown-ups in opposition by acting like a government in waiting on this issue.

Instead they’ve just been playing political catch-up to the Green Party and Winston Peters who know they’ll never have to lead a government.

They’ve missed their opportunity to get better legislation and because of that have been wasting their time and our money filibustering on the Bill which will eventually pass anyway.


Who’s behind Labour for Victory?

August 3, 2013

Who’s behind this?

Published on Jul 24, 2013

Labour must be competitive in 2014, for the good of New Zealand.

We cannot afford 3 more years of the National Government, or three more months of defective leadership in the Labour Party. It is time for the Labour Caucus to end the Shearer leadership.

It says it’s authorised by Labour rank and file, Wellington.

But is it the rank and file who are behind it or is it part of the destabilisation campaign from within the caucus?


Spoilt for choice

August 2, 2013

 Colin James has been crystal ball gazing:

Political analyst Colin James has tipped environment minister Amy Adams as a potential ‘dark horse’ successor to John Key, in a speech to the New Zealand Contractors’ Federation’s annual conference.

National is in the fortunate position of having a leader who enjoys the confidence of his caucus, party and the wider public so the issue of succession is not a pressing one.

Should it need to find a successor, the party would be spoilt for choice with a talented caucus. Amy is one of many who would be up to the very tough task of following one of the country’s most popular leaders.

The contrast with Labour couldn’t be starker.

Its leader doesn’t have the confidence of his caucus, party or wider public.

Its caucus isn’t awash with talent and it’s so divided it can’t find a successor on whom they can agree to replace David Shearer in spite of his unpopularity.

Mr James also told delegates at the event in Queenstown that his gut feeling was that there would be a third term National government, but the civil construction industry should plan ahead for the “90 per cent probability of a Labour/Greens based government in 2017.” . . .

Winning a second term isn’t a given but it’s more common than not.

A third term is much more difficult, a fourth is rare and has yet to happen under MMP.

 


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