Can the polls be too good?


Three polls in a week have shown an encouraging level of support for National.

First was Roy Morgan:

Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a gain in support for National (45.5%, up 3%) now back ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance (44%, down 1.5%).

Support for Key’s Coalition partners is little changed with the Maori Party 1% (unchanged), ACT NZ (0.5%, unchanged) and United Future 0% (down 0.5%).

Support has fallen for the Opposition with the Labour Party down 0.5% to 30.5%, the Greens down 1% to 13.5%, New Zealand First 6% (unchanged), Mana Party 1% (unchanged). Support for the Conservative Party of NZ is 1% (up 0.5%) and the Internet Party is now at 0.5% (down 1%). . . .

Last night another two polls confirmed the trend:

ONE News/Colmar Brunton:

 The latest ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll has National 10 points clear of the Labour and Greens block with less than four months to go to the election. . . .

ONE News political editor Corin Dann says Bill English’s sixth Budget has been well received and the poll shows National in a strong position, up four points to 51% while Labour has slipped one point to 30%, with the Greens steady on 11%.

New Zealand First is down two to 4.8% and the Conservatives are down one to 1%. But making its first appearance in the ONE News Colmar Brunton poll is Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party which debuts at 1% alongside the Maori Party and Act.

When it comes to seats in Parliament, National could govern alone with 65 seats while Labour and the Greens could muster just 52. The Maori Party would have three and Act, Mana and United Future one each.

However if NZ First makes the 5% threshold then National with 62 seats would need Act’s help to form a government.

Labour and the Greens would have 50 seats combined, but even with NZ First’s six MPs, the Maori Party’s three and Mana’s one, they would still fall short of the 63 seats needed for a majority. . .

3 News-Reid Research:

The Prime Minister and National are riding high on the post-Budget poll bump at 50.3 percent, up 4.4 percent from the last poll – a result Mr Key called “pleasing”.

It’s not so pleasing for Labour though, which dropped below the 30 percent mark, with 29.5 percent – a psychological blow for the party. . . .

Nearly three-quarters of voters – 73.2 percent – say they agree with National’s family package policy and most Labour voters – 67.3 percent – say they like it too. . .

Meanwhile, the Greens have dropped 1 percent to 10.2 percent and support for New Zealand First has grown by 0.7 percent to 5.6 percent. . .

Translating the poll results into seats in the House, National would get 61 – almost enough to govern alone, but with seven seats between its partners the Conservative Party, Maori Party, ACT and United Future it would give the right 68 seats.

Labour and the Greens would get 35 and 12 seats respectively, with Mana holding one seat and New Zealand First, seven.

But the poll results show the Labour-Green left-bloc is now on the back foot. . .

Other poll results:

  • Conservatives 2.3 percent, up 0.4 percent
  • Maori Party: 0.6 percent, down 0.9 percent
  • Internet Party: 0.6 percent, up 0.2 percent
  • ACT: 0.5 percent, down 0.6 percent
  • Mana 0.2 percent, down 0.9 percent
  • United Future: 0 percent, down 0.1 percent

These results are good, but there is a danger they are too good when there’s a tight and tough election ahead:

Prime Minister John Key is predicting a “tight and tough” election with the Government up against a “left wing block” of parties.

Mr Key told more than 250 party faithful at a conference in Hamilton today National could not be lulled into a false sense of security by high polling numbers ahead of the September 20 general election.

He said National was not just up against the lower polling Labour but its left counterparts including the Greens, New Zealand First, and Mana.

“The real risk for us is to underestimate just how close this election will be.

“None of us should be deluded into believing that a big poll lead by National against Labour means we have election 2014 in the bag.” . . .

 If this was a First Past the Post election National could be more confident.

But under MMP it’s not good enough for a party to have more support than its  biggest rival, it’s got to be able to muster at least 51% support in parliament.

And while National is tantalisingly close to that in polls, it is very unlikely to get that level of support at the election.

The danger is that some National supporters might see the polls, be complacent and think the party will get there without their votes.

Labour keeps saying the large number of people who didn’t vote last time were there supporters. Some might have been but some were supporters of National and its potential coalition partners.

Those supporters who don’t vote won’t just be not helping National.

They could be allowing a Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana and whichever other party they need to form a coalition to win.

Partners by choice better than necessity


Prime Minister John Key has made his preferences for coalition partners clear.

He also stresses the importance of the party vote:

. . . “First and foremost, National will be campaigning hard for every party vote it can win, because that puts us in the best position to continue the positive policy direction New Zealand is on.

“Put simply, the higher National’s party vote, the more options we have. . .

National didn’t need to invite the Maori Party into coalition in 2008, it chose to do so.

A higher party vote gives more options for a major party because it would be able to approach potential coalition parties by choice rather than through necessity.

It was difficult to win an outright majority under first past the post, no party has managed it under MMP.

The PM’s first preference for coalition partners is those he has worked with successfully already – Act, the Maori Party and United Future.

“I know that post the 2014 election, National will almost certainly need to work constructively with other political parties to form a stable Government.

“Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.

“Looking ahead, it is most likely that the nature of these working relationships will be via Confidence and Supply Agreements, as these have worked well in the past two Parliamentary terms.

“In the end it is the public who largely determine the make-up of the Government by voting in parties to Parliament,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future. . .

By making this clear voters have a better idea of what they might be getting.

“I believe there is also a scenario where it would be possible to add the Conservative Party to this group.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

“We also have policy differences with the Conservative Party, however it is likely that there would be enough common ground to work with them in Government.”

Voters also know what they won’t be getting if National is able to form a government:

In terms of other parliamentary parties, Mr Key ruled out working with Labour, the Greens and Mana on the basis that there is insufficient common ground to achieve a stable and successful working relationship.

“These parties represent a far left wing agenda that we do not believe is good for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

Labour is a bit confused about how left it is, not helped by a leader who sways further left with some audiences than with others.

With regard to New Zealand First, Mr Key said that he believed a post-election working relationship was very unlikely; however he would not rule the possibility out ahead of the election.

“In 2008 we ruled them out because we were unable to reconcile some of their statements on the Glenn donation matter. Six years has passed and, should New Zealand First be returned to Parliament, we would not rule out a discussion after the election.”

This has excited the media but it is clear New Zealand First would be a last resort.

Whether or not National is in a position to form a government and which parties it will need, or be able to choose, to invite into coalition is up to voters who now know which parties are preferred, which could be considered and which would be ruled out.

The more votes National has, the more options it has and the the more stable the government will be.

On current polling it would certainly be a lot more stable than a Labour/Green government with other parties in tow through necessity and therefore able to exert a much stronger influence than if they were in government by the bigger party’s choice.

Who do you trust?


Duncan Garner critique’s Prime Minister John Key of the fifth anniversary of his government.

He gives him 7.5/10 and concludes:

Your choice is between John Key and Bill English with a few rag-tag minor right wing parties – or David Cunliffe and Russel Norman – with perhaps Winston Peters in tow.

Who do you trust?

To which a commenter answers:

Let’s not forget his development into a well respected leader in the region as the last APEC conference in Bali showed. And he’s the only Commonwealth leader to ever have been invited to Balmoral – surely that’s worth an extra point 🙂

Given all the challenges that have been thrown at Key over the past 5 years, easily a 9.5 out of 10. The answer to your last question is a no-brainer, Cunliffe and Norman in charge is a very scary prospect and when voters enter the booth in November 2014 I think in their hearts they’ll know Key and English are the people to trust. Key to win by a nose next year.

The outcome of next year’s election is very finely balanced.

Labour has more potential coalition partners but it’s still not very strong itself and the prospective of  its possible partners in government may well put off more voters who might be considering voting for Labour.

National has fewer potential partners but is stronger itself.

A still weakened Labour with a strong (for a wee party) Green Party plus  any or all of New Zealand First, Mana, the Maori Party and possibly Peter Dunne is a much more radical and less stable option than a strong National Party with two or three partners.

#gigatownoamaru is backing itself but welcomes support from anywhere to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first gigatown.

Green Party to contest by-election


The Green party has opened nominations for a candidate to contest the Ikaroa Rāwhiti by-election.

The party has only ever won one electorate. that was a general seat and the party didn’t manage to hold that.

The chances of its winning the by-election are slight.

The interest will be in whether it manages to mobilise voters and which party it takes votes from – Labour, the Maori Party or Mana.


If they can’t run a conference . .


Quote of the day:

“Let’s face it, the Labour Party can’t even run a conference, how on earth could they run the country?

“What they’re demonstrating is they just fundamentally do not like each other and it’s no great surprise that a lot of New Zealanders don’t like what they are doing,” he said. John Key.

The polls show a Labour/Green/New Zealand First/Maori Party/Mana coalition with a similar number of seats as National and its potential coalition partners.

But the public usually waits for a party to perform well in opposition before it’s trusted in government.

Labour has been overshadowed by the Green Party and NZ First in opposition. Now it’s disunity is on display, and will continue to be so at least until February, it’s shown it can’t even run itself.

“I always treat whoever the leader of the opposition is with respect … but the simple bottom line is if you go and have a party which is going to be internally consumed, which will be the case whoever wins, in the end it’s a really bad news story for Labour.

“The only winner out of this will be [Greens leader] Russel Norman.”

It certainly won’t be New Zealand which deserves politicians who put their energies into serving their constituents rather than mismanaging themselves.

Word of the day


Mana – (Maori) prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma; an impersonal force or quality that resides in people; supernatural force believed to dwell in a person or sacred object.

Some words don’t translate exactly from one language to another. My understanding is that mana means more than any of the English words in isolation.

Epsom stitch-up?


Labour is accusing National of a stitch-up in the selection of Paul Goldsmith as the Epsom electorate candidate.

National has the most democratic selection process and most difficult to rig of any party in New Zealand.

At least 60 members in the electorate, who have been in the party for at least 6 months, choose the candidate by preferential voting.

It would be impossible for National’s board or leadership to influence selection. Such is the feeling about the importance of local selection, any attempt to sway the vote would almost certainly have the opposite affect.

It’s more than a bit rich for Labour to make this accusation against National when its selection process can be not just swayed but determined by unions and/or the party hierarchy.

It’s even richer if the rumour Kiwiblog reports is true – that Labour’s leadership and council have selected list MP David Parker as their Epsom candidate.

Keeping Stock has another example of Labour’s leadership exerting its power in last year’s selection for Mana.

Can’t vote if not enrolled


People helping with Hekia Parata’s campaign and scrutineering  in the Mana by-election last year came across a good number* of people who wanted to vote for her but couldn’t.

They had opted to be on the Maori roll last time they had the choice and those who do so can’t swap to the general roll between elections.

The matter of supporters not being able to vote might also trouble candidates in the Te Tai Tokerau by-election because either they’re on the general roll or not enrolled at all.

Duncan Garner writes:

I have just spoken to the pollster of the Maori TV Poll. He says Harawira may face a further and much more serious problem. Many of those identifying themselves as Harawira supporters are not enrolled on the Maori roll. This will mean that many can’t vote next weekend.

If people are on the general roll they can’t swap to the Maori roll but if they’re not enrolled at all they can enrol until next Friday and cast a special vote. However, I think both Labour and the Maori Party would be better placed to mobilise people who aren’t enrolled to do so then vote than Harawira and his supporters.

Garner’s not the only one to think Harawira’s in trouble. Brunette at Roar Prawn has become addicted to iPredict and is backing labour’s Kelvin Davis:

And the stocks are climbing all the time.
Due in large part to some people finally realising that Hone’s support does not run that deep and most Maori in the Far North are sensible enough to see that he is not the man to take them to the promised land.

* good number = vague amount based on anecdotes.

The mana of mana


The French like to keep their language pure and aren’t keen on borrowing words from others.

Speakers of English aren’t so fussy, taking words from many other languages because often there isn’t one which expresses what we want to in our mother tongue.

One such word is mana. The closest I’ve come to finding a single word to express something close to what it means is honorificabilitudinitatibus .

It’s defined as with honour, characterised by honour, deserving respect. But honorificabilitudinitatibus is  far too much of a mouthful to use when mana expresses the meaning at least as well and far more simply, at least to those of us familiar with the New Zealand vernacular.

Given it’s meaning I wonder about how appropriate it is to use mana as the name for a political party. Hone Harawira’s new vehicle for radical Maori and left wing ideology isn’t the first  Mana Party. Mat Rata formed Mana Motuhake when he left Labour in 1980 and I think there’s been at least one other party calling itself Mana.

It’s a name that behoves the members of a party which uses it to keep to high standards and so far those associated with the newest one haven’t done that.

Hone Harawira started by lying to Duncan Garner about his intention to call a by-election and although he apologised for that, it wasn’t a good first step.

He then got hyperbolic in comparing Act leader Don Brash to Hitler and followed that by praising Osama bin Laden as a freedom fighter. He apologised for that as well but too late to prevent the impression he hasn’t got the very necessary attribute for leaders of engaging his brain before opening his mouth.

Then his mother and sister demonstrated that they fall well short of the standards acceptable for anyone who might be said to have mana with their prolonged shouting and swearing at Saturday’s Maori party hui.

Richard put it well in a comment on yesterday’s post:

The lack of respect will be noted if not explicitly commented on- that is not the way its done.

So far almost everything the party and its front people have done hasn’t been the way it should be done and has been the opposite of anything which might be considered worthy of the word mana.

Was apathy the winner?


The election results for Mana show 22,387 people voted:

BUCHANAN, Kelly ALL   37
CRAWFORD, Julian Lloyd ALCP   107
DU PLESSIS, Colin ACT   132
FAAFOI, Kris LAB   10,397
LOGIE, Jan GP   1,493
McCARTEN, Matt IND   816
PARATA, Hekia NAT   9,317

To put that number of votes cast in to perspective, compare that with results for the electorate in the 2008 election:

LABAN, Winnie (LAB) 18,070 53.06
PARATA, Hekia (NAT) 11,915 34.99
GILCHRIST, Michael (GP) 2,288 6.72
COLLINS, Mike (ACT) 628 1.84
GUNSTON, Robin (UFNZ) 472 1.39
MACLACHLAN, Renton (KIWI) 337 0.99
MANU, Tim Salele’a (NZPP) 282 0.83
GOODE, Richard (LIB) 64 0.19
Total Valid Votes 34,056 100.00
Total Votes Cast 34,333 100.81

Compare that with the 2008 results for Waitaki:

Candidate Valid Votes Share (%)
DEAN, Jacqui (NAT) 23,649 60.13
PARKER, David (LAB) 12,610 32.06
BRIGGS, Oliver (GP) 1,916 4.87
FRASER, John (ACT) 516 1.31
MAIN, Claire (JAP) 333 0.85
VAN WIEREN, Hessel (NZDSC) 140 0.36
MacRITCHIE, Norman (ALL) 93 0.24
GUY, Simon (DDP) 70 0.18
Total Valid Votes 39,327 100.00
Total Votes Cast 39,688 100.92

Jacqui Dean got nearly as many votes in 2008 as the total votes cast in the Mana by-election.

Does this mean the real winner in Mana was apathy?

(P.S. sorry about the cumbersome links – when I try to link the usual way I get a message saying error on page).

Turning red to blue a big ask


A win for National candidate Hekia Parata in Mana today would be like Labour winning Bay of Plenty.

That commentators are even contemplating a loss for Labour is a very good reflection on Hekia and the campaign she and the party have run.

Labour started on the wrong foot by selecting a candidate supported by HQ and unions rather than the electorate. The late entry of Matt McCarten which gives another focus for disaffected left voters hasn’t helped.

If Hekia did win, a strange twist of MMP would give National another MP in parliament on the list to replace her and Labour would end an MP down by losing an electorate.

I’m not predicting that, even with a terrific candidate and a faultless campaign, turning a deep red seat to blue is a big ask. But  whatever happens today, Hekia can’t lose – even if she doesn’t take the seat she’s rattled the opposition and anyone who can do that in the heat of a by-election is a winner.

McCarten to contest Mana


TV3  reports that Matt McCarten intends to contest the Mana by-election.

Unite Union general secretary Matt McCarten has announced he will stand in the Mana by-election.

Mr McCarten will hold a press conference at 2pm to announce his candidacy.

That’s very bad news for Labour.

It will split the left vote and it’s also a sign that at least one union isn’t happy with the party it would normally align itself with.

National’s Hekia Parata is still the underdog in this very red electorate but her campaign will be less difficult if some of the other dogs are fighting amongst themselves.

Some members more equal than others


Labour is selecting its Dunedin North candidate this weekend.

Three people have been nominated to replace retiring MP Pete Hodgson, who has held the seat for four terms, are  New Zealand Nurses Organisation national adviser Glenda Alexander. current electorate committee chair and warden of Selwyn College, David Clark ; and former electorate chair Simon Wilson.

Taking part in the selection process will be three Labour Party council representatives appointed by head office, including a Dunedin-based representative; two Labour Electorate Committee representatives, selected on the day; one panel member elected by members attending; and the “popular vote” from members, which will count as one vote.

That gives six panel members and a vote from the floor.

In some selections, Labour’s head office officials have stacked the panel to ensure their preferred candidate is selected.

However, it is unlikely the head office appointees will go against the wishes of Dunedin North members.

The last time that happened, Labour lost the seat to National candidate Richard Walls, in 1975.

What’s the difference between Labour Party members in Dunedin North and those in Mana where unions out-voted members?

Big News has the story of that selection  which is confirmed by this comment from Alex in the North  at Kiwiblog.

If all Labour members are equal, those in Dunedin North must be more equal than their comrades in Mana.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog has more on this.

Parata selected for Mana


National list MP Hekia Parata has been selected to contest the seat of Mana in the forthcoming by-election.

This is a safe Labour seat and no-one is pretending otherwise, but Hekia says she’s ready to run a strong campaign for National.

“I have a sound record of bringing energy, action, and voice to the interests of everyone who lives and works here. I want the best for Mana’s people and its businesses.” . . .

“I come from a family which understands the importance of education. Now, as a mother, I am focused on ensuring that my daughters have good health, an excellent education, and a set of values that will guide them well as proud New Zealand citizens of the world. 

“I want the same opportunities for all the people of Mana.” . . .

It’s a little early for a quote of the campaign but Big News is a contender with this:

Labour’s candidate has been selected too, but they haven’t announced it yet, because the official selection -process hasn’t been completed, and nominations don’t close until tomorrow.

He’s referring to the news that:

  Fran Mould has resigned as Deputy Political Editor for TVNZ , according to well placed sources.

The reason is an agreement in principle that she will replace Kris Faafoi as Chief Press Secretary to Phil Goff, when Faafoi becomes the Mana MP.

That’s what happens when you think democracy means of the party, by the party for the party.

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