MoU is MoM

25/08/2017

The Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party did a lot more for the latter than the former.

The Greens had everything to gain at the cost of Labour which only lost.

Often it was less a MoU and more a MoM – memo of misunderstanding

Any pretence the agreement is worth anything is useless now when the Greens have done a u-turn and decided to stand candidates in Ohariu.

They might try to say it is to maximise the party vote, and that will be one motivation. But James Shaw’s refusal to endorse the Labour candidate makes it something more.

One poll shows it has less than 5% support and a couple of others show it above the threshold but at only half the level of support it had a few weeks ago. The Greens without the safety net of an electorate seat are now fighting for survival.

Taking votes, whether they be electorate or list, from Labour, in the process, won’t worry them.

On the AM Show* yesterday morning, host Duncan Garner gave Shaw several opportunities to endorse the Labour candidate and he refused to do so.

The winner in this is National’s candidate Brett Hudson who has worked as a list MP based in Ohariu for three years as a Green candidate will split the opposition vote.

The Green Party has a new candidate in Hutt South, after the previous one pulled out a few weeks ago. That is good news for National list MP Chris Bishop who seriously eroded the majority of Labour MP Trevor Mallard last election.

Mallard is standing list only and Bishop, who has had a deservedly high profile in the electorate in the last three years, was odds-on to take the seat against a newcomer. His chances are even better now the Green candidate will split the vote in this seat too.

All of this begs the question: if Labour and the Green Party can’t play nicely in opposition, what chance would they have of doing so in government?

* Newshub covers the interview here but makes no mention of Shaw’s repeated refusal to endorse the Labour candidate.

 


Dunne and dusted

21/08/2017

Ohariu MP Peter Dunne has announced his retirement.

“The current political environment is extremely volatile and unpredictable. However, I have concluded, based on recent polling, and other soundings I have been taking over the last few weeks, that, the volatility and uncertainty notwithstanding, there is now a mood amongst Ōhāriu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter. This shift in voter sentiment is quite at variance with polling and other data I have seen throughout the year, upon which I had based my earlier decision to seek re-election for a 12th term as MP for Ōhāriu. While I am naturally extremely disappointed after 33 years of service at this apparent change of feeling, I recognise and understand it, and respect absolutely the electorate’s prerogative to feel that way.

“I have therefore decided that it is time for me to stand aside, so the people of Ōhāriu can elect a new electorate MP. Consequently, after much consideration and discussion with those closest to me, I am announcing today that I will not be putting forward my nomination for election to the next Parliament. I do so with considerable reluctance, but I have always understood that holding public office is a temporary privilege granted by the people, and can never be taken for granted. . .

Dunne was a good electorate MP who got support in spite of his party rather than because of it.

A good proportion of that was from National supporters who understood that under MMP, Dunne’s support could make the difference between being in government or opposition.

It would have been galling for them that their votes enabled him to be a minister in three successive Labour-led governments.

It would also have been galling that while he gave National confidence and supply, he often voted against the party on other issues.

One of his initiatives was to extend the length of daylight saving, moving the start to the end of September and the end to the start of April.

That makes early mornings darker for southerners for several weeks than is optimal.

In making the change he appeared not to understand that in autumn and spring we don’t get enough daylight hours to gain any benefit from    having the clocks forward an hour.

It is unfortunate that his resignation comes after parliament has risen. A politician with his length of service would have had an interesting valedictory statement.

This will be the end of United Future which is barely registering in any poll.


Little hints

09/03/2015

Labour leader Andrew leader can’t quite bring himself to tell Northland voters not to vote for his party’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime but he’s dropping little – or should that be Little? – hints:

Mr Little told TVNZ One’s Q+A programme that Labour will not pull its candidate Willow-Jean Prime from the by-election contest, despite a Q+A Colmar Brunton poll showing Mr Peters would win if she was not in the running.

However, he called for left voters to be “realistic” with their candidate choice.

“They’ve got a vote they should use it. If they want to vote to send a message to the Government …

“They are intelligent enough to see how they can do that.” . .

Every election Labour has criticised National for electoral accommodations in Epsom and Ohariu but now he thinks it would be too his advantage, Little is indicating he’s willing to do just that.

He’s throwing his candidate under the wheels of Peters’ bus, not to help Labour or Northland but, as Rodney Hide points out, to get a New Zealand First list MP in Invercargill and give more power to Peter Dunne:

. . . A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit – not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First’s list. That candidate is Ria Bond … from Invercargill.

That’s right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill.

Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That’s how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington. . .

This would not bring down the government but it would make it more difficult for it to pass legislation and give Dunne and the two other government partners – Act and the Maori Party – a lot more bargaining power.

That won’t help Labour this term, nor will it make it any easier for it and its potential coalition partners to gain enough seats to govern next term.

In fact it might make it more difficult because the Little hints make him look downright shifty.

When National campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu it is open about campaigning only for the party vote and it ensures its candidates are high enough on its list to get into parliament.

Little isn’t being open, he’s trying to have a bob each way. He hasn’t clearly said voters should ditch Prime for Peters but nor has he said they shouldn’t. Yet he’s prevaricating enough to handicap his candidate and there’s no list seats up for grabs in a by-election to compensate her for her wasted efforts.

And what’s in this political playing for the people of Northland?

. . . Peters is 70 this year. It’s a long way from Auckland to Northland. It’s even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He’s late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

Little is willing to sabotage his candidate to help Peters who will have neither the will nor the energy to service the large Northland electorate and its many communities while also attending to the demands of party leadership.

We can but hope the people of Northland will have learned from Tauranga voters who saw through him and send both him and Labour a message: they need an MP who lives in the electorate who will be in government and who will represent them well and work hard for them.

There’s only one of those standing – National’s Mark Osborne.

 

 


GIMP but not LIMP?

03/06/2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been dancing on the head of a pin when asked his view on the Internet Mana Party.

That suggests he’s testing the wind before he works out what he thinks.

Several other Labour MPs have already made up their minds they don’t like it.

Senior Labour Party MPs have used social media to attack the alliance struck between Mana and the Internet Party.

Former leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer, and Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins, are among those who have objected to the deal. It could see MPs from Kim Dotcom’s fledging political vehicle enter Parliament on the ‘‘coat-tails’’ of a victory for Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau.

The strong opposition from within Labour could make post-election coalition talks tricky.

Goff says he feel strongly about Dotcom’s ‘‘pure political opportunism’’, citing his previous donations to ACT MP John Banks, now the subject of a court case. ‘‘He wants to be able to influence and control politicians.’’

Goff says he was previously ‘‘very critical’’ of National for exploiting MMP and failing to implement recommendations from the Electoral Commission to abolish the provision.

‘‘I’m scarcely likely to endorse another rort …I’m being entirely consistent,’’ he said. . . .

Interesting no-one in Labour called it a rort when National voters in Ohariu kept Peter Dunne in the seat which made him a Minister in the Labour-led government.

Goff says he made his feelings clear to the Labour caucus. ‘‘It will be the decision of the party leadership…but I see problems in creating a coalition where the philosophies and principle of people that you are trying to enter into a coalition with is unclear because they seem to be coming from diametrically opposed positions.’’ . . .

Coalitions are by nature unstable even when they have something positive in common.

A coalition built on nothing more than a hatred of John Key and determination to oust National would be a recipe for instability.

Those  views were also reflected in a passionate Facebook post at the weekend. Shearer also used the social media site to write that although he wished the Internet-Mana ‘‘marriage’’ well, he knew ‘‘it’s going to end badly.’’

And on Twitter last week, Hipkins posted: ‘‘The good old days, when political parties formed from movements. Now all it takes is a couple of million and some unprincipled sellouts.’’

All three MPs were linked to the Anyone But Cunliffe [ABC] faction – who were opposed to David Cunliffe assuming leadership of the party. However, a Labour source played down talk of more division, saying all three were close to Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis.

Davis himself posted on Twitter: ‘‘Bro, I think of the people of Te Tai Tokerau, not Sergeant Shultz.’’  He was referring to Dotcom’s German origins. . . .

More than half the caucus is in the ABC faction which makes the party itself unstable.

On present polling a left-wing government would have to consist of Labour and the GIMPs – Green, and Internet Mana parties.

A concerted effort by Labour backing Kelvin Davis to win Te Tai Tokerau would seriously challenge Harawira’s hold on the seat.

If the ABC faction prevails it won’t be LIMP – Labour and the Internet Party and that would leave the GIMPs facing a huge battle for power and relevance.


Wee parties spread too thinly

28/11/2013

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes has been given an exemption from the party’s rule that candidates must contest electorates.

Instead, he will run in 2014 as a list-only candidate so he can focus on boosting the party’s youth vote. He stood in Ohariu in 2011, but the party has chosen Tane Woodley to stand there next year.

Most parties allow a few people to stand as list-only candidates and if Hughes was pulling out of Ohariu and not being replaced it would seriously threaten Peter Dunne’s hold on the seat by boosting Labour votes.

But since another Green candidate has been selected this isn’t a strategic move.

The announcement comes straight after yesterday’s news that the party’s co-leader Russel Norman is being challenged because the party had too few MPs in Auckland.

The Green Party is the biggest of the wee parties but both these stories indicate the problem they all face with fewer MPs and members.

They’re spread too thinly and can’t hope to have nation-wide representation in a geographical or a sector sense.


You can never go back

09/10/2011

Last Saturday during a conversation with a former MP the topic of a return to parliament came up.

He said, “You can never go back, even if you try it’s never to the same place.”

Sir Roger Douglas’s valedictory speech in which he spoke of his achievements in the 1980s when he was Finance Minister in a Labour government and said nothing of the last three years as an Act MP, is proof of that.

The former MP added, “John Banks will discover that too.”

But if current polling of the Epsom electorate is a true indication of what will happen on election day, it is possible that he won’t get a chance.

The poll shows National candidate Paul Goldsmith is well ahead of Banks, even though he’s campaigning for the party vote not both.

That might change in the next few weeks but it is possible that Banks won’t win the electorate and with the loss of that seat Act’s hopes of staying in parliament will almost certainly go too.

Epsom voters, like those in Ohariu, have voted  tactically in the last few elections, giving the wee party candidate their electorate vote and their party votes to National.

Even though it’s the party vote that counts and they have a National list MP, it isn’t something party members enjoy.

The poll suggests that other voters in Epsom are getting sick of it too and will have to be given some very good reasons to continue splitting their votes.

Should the election defy the poll prediction and send not just Banks but Act party leader Don Brash back to parliament, Dr Brash will also find that he can’t go back.

Being leader of a wee party on the way down is very different from leading a major party ont he way up.


No Dunne deal for Labour?

25/07/2011

The NBR reports that Peter Dunne won’t be Revenue Minister if Labour is in a position to be offering cabinet posts.

After Mr Dunne called Labour’s proposals, “a load of nonsense,” Mr Cunliffe made it clear Mr Dunne’s lease with Labour had expired.

“There goes Peter Dunne’s job as Minister for Revenue in any future Labour government,” Mr  Cunliffe said.

Passing quickly over the slim chances Labour will be in a position to offer anyone a cabinet seat after the election, being criticised by that party might not do Dunne any harm in his electorate.

It has rankled with National supporters in Ohariu that they put Dunne into parliament only to have him prop up a Labour-led government for three terms.

Labour isn’t in a position to rule him out altogether, but being unpopular with that party might make him more popular with his own constituents.

 


Voters not parties determine who wins electorates

17/01/2011

Most voters don’t want the National Party to stand aside in Epsom and Ohariu to help coalition partners if a Horizon poll conducted for the Sunday Star Times (not online) can be believed.

In Epsom, only 16% think National should stand aside, with 55% saying it shouldn’t. The bulk of Act (53%) want National to stay out of the electorate.

In Dunne’s Ohariu electorate, 48% want National to field a candidate, 16% want it to stand aside and 36% don’t know. Of National’s 2008 voters, 54% oppose the party standing aside for United Future.

This is a sorry reflection on the respondents’ understanding of MMP and recent history.

It’s the voters in the electorate who’ll determine who wins the seat not National.

National fielded candidates in both seats in 2008,  and previous elections, it was the people in those electorates who voted tactically who gave the seats to Rodney Hide and Peter Dunne.

Having Act in this parliament gives National the ability to govern with its support although at times it has turned to its other coalition partner, the Maori Party, to pass legislation Act didn’t favour.

It’s debatable whether there is any advantage to National in having Dunne in parliament.

If around half those who voted for the Green candidate had voted for the Labour one in Ohariu in 2008 Dunne would have lost his seat and United Future would have gone with him. The votes which that party received would have been distributed among the other parties in parliament and National would have got another MP.

From 1999 – 2005 votes for Dunne enabled him to prop up the Labour-led government.

Dunne’s hold on the seat was strongest in 2002 when National was at its weakest, since then his majority has slipped and the electorate could now be regarded as marginal.

Hide had a bad year as party leader last year, although he performed well as a minister. If he’s worked hard in his electorate the people of Epsom might overlook his use of the perks he’d campaigned against and return him to parliament.

As in previous elections they’ll work out what to do themselves regardless of any nods or winks from National.


Does iPredict understand MMP? – UPDATED

15/12/2010

iPredict’s weekly election update #7 had good news for those of us political tragics at the blue end of the spectrum:

John Key will lead a National/Act/UnitedFuture government with 62 seats and a two-seat majority in a 122-seat Parliament after the next General Election, this week’s snapshot of New Zealand’s prediction market, iPredict, suggests. Were the Maori Party to continue supporting this National-led government, the government would have 67 seats and a 12-seat majority. . .

. . .Forecast party vote shares are: National 44.5% (down from 45.6% last week), Labour 35.4% (up from 34.4% last week), Greens 7.8% (up from 7.5% last week), New Zealand First 4.1% (down from 4.6% last week), Act 3.6% (up from 2.8% last week), Maori Party 2.5% (down from 2.7% last week) and UnitedFuture 1.1% (up from 0.3% last week).

But I think there’s a mistake in the writer’s understanding of MMP: 

For the first time, UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne is forecast to be re-elected in Ohariu, with 37% probability compared with 35% probability for National to win the seat and 30% probability for Labour. . .

. . .   The result in Ohariu does not affect the likelihood of a National-led government, with National having 56 seats if Mr Dunne wins his seat and 57 seats if he does not.

It’s the party vote not electorate seats which determine the number of MPs a party has in parliament. If National got 44.5% of the vote it would get that percentage of seats in parliament regardless of whether or not it won Ohariu. Winning the electorate seat would mean it would have one less list seat and so would end up with the same number of MPs.

If Dunne lost the seat the party votes for United Future would be redistributed among all the other parties. That’s not many but if he commits to supporting  a National led government rather than a Labour one it would give the centre-right one more seat if he wins than if he doesn’t.

The iPredict website is here.

UPDATE: Comments from Matthew and Graeme below show iPredict was right, I hadn’t taken into account National getting an extra list seat if UF didn’t get an electorate or 5% of votes.


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