Sustainable NZ good in theory but

November 12, 2019

Ever since MMP was introduced, New Zealand has been in want of a party that stands for something and sits in the centre, able to coalesce with National to its right or Labour to its left.

The Maori Party could have been that party, but in spite of being the last cab off the rank when Helen Clark led Labour, and in government at National’s invitation its natural home was towards the left.

The many iterations of United Future rarely stood for anything more than keeping its leader, Peter Dunne, in parliament and government.

New Zealand First, similarly stands for keeping Winston Peters in power and his strong antipathy towards National now makes it a natural ally for Labour rather than a true centre party.

The Green Party could have been that centre party if it wasn’t so red. But its hardline social and economic agenda put it to the left of Labour.

Now a new player the Sustainable New Zealand Party has enterer centre stage:

. . .Sustainable New Zealand is neither left nor right wing but is focused on sustainability.  We are able to work with parties of the left or right to get the best deal for the environment. Sustainable New Zealand’s approach is to work with business to innovate and to correctly price ‘externalities’. We will be led by the science when finding solutions and developing policy. Our future will only be sustainable with technological and scientific innovation.

Sustainable New Zealand’s focus is on being ‘practical environmentalists.’ We will work with rather than against our farmers. We favour a regulatory light-touch where possible but with a willingness to act decisively on core issues. We will foster innovation to transition our economy from one that relies on chopping down, digging up, burning or milking something for economic growth to one that is environmentally-benign and makes us all richer. We know that nothing is free. We need to be prosperous to ensure that we can afford to look after our people and our environment. . . 

There’s a lot to like in that and an environmental party that sits in the middle is a good idea in theory, but will it be strong enough to get at least some MPs in to parliament?

One avenue would be to reach an agreement with either Labour or National to allow it to win a seat, the way Act does in Epsom.

But doing that would compromise its ability to work with left or right.

Besides Labour is very unlikely to sour its relationship with the Greens by throwing a seat to a rival and it would be a big risk for National.

Peter Dunne already held the seat when National voters were asked to back him. They did and had to endure three long terms of him supporting Labour governments before National got back into power. He stayed in cabinet and thwarted National’s agenda several times, most notably its attempts to improve the RMA.

Rodney Hide won Epsom by his own efforts, taking it from a sitting National MP who was trying to hold it. Voters have continued to back an Act candidate in the seat but a majority of them give their party vote to National.

Asking a sitting National MP to throw the seat for a Sustainable NZ candidate, or expecting a new National candidate to campaign only for the party vote is a very different and much riskier strategy.

So could Sustainable NZ make it to 5%?

History would say no.

The Progressive Green Party broke away from the red Greens and fielded 15 candidates in the 1996 election but could muster only .26% of the vote.

No new party has made it into parliament without a sitting MP.

However, small parties generally get punished for their performance in government and the Greens will have lost support from both those who think it’s been too left and those who think it hasn’t been left enough.

If enough of the former were joined by those disenchanted by Labour and NZ First and perhaps some of the blue-greens who’ve supported National it might, but the chances of it doing so are slight.

Sustainable NZ has had reasonable publicity since its weekend launch but that will be hard to sustain and it will need a lot of people power and the money they bring to have any hope of turning a good theory into practical electoral success.


National in drag difficult sell

May 30, 2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


Dunne and dusted

August 21, 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.


Labour’s poll lower

July 15, 2017

The 1 News Colmar Brunton poll released this week was bad news for Labour.

Its own poll is even worse.

Newshub has been leaked poll results from the company that does Labour’s internal polling which show it is in big trouble, two-and-a-half months out from the election.

The results show Labour is on 26 percent support – crashing from 34 percent in May. . . 

National is chugging along as usual – currently on 42 percent – then Labour (26 percent), the Greens (13 percent) and New Zealand First (14 percent). . .

The Roy Morgan poll released last night held better news for Labour:

The overall support for the governing National-led coalition was down 3.5% to 45.5% with National support down 3.5% to 43% while support for their Coalition partners was unchanged with Maori Party on 1.5%, Act NZ on 1% and United Future on 0%.

Support for a potential Labour/Greens alliance was up 4.5% to 44% driven by the 5% rise in support for Labour, now on 30.5%, while support for the Greens was down 0.5% to 13.5%. Support for New Zealand First was down 1% to 8%.

But that poll usually has bigger changes than the others and it’s the trend which matters.

The UMR polls shows a downward trend for both National and Labour.

That’s similar to what happened in 2002 when many voters didn’t think National, the bigger Opposition party, had a chance, but Labour, the main governing party,  didn’t benefit.

Act, NZ First and whichever iteration of what is now United Future was then, mopped up support instead.

This time neither Act nor United Future are gaining but NZ First is.

People tend to bank the good things a government does and the longer a party is in power the more people will take issue with what it does, or doesn’t do.

Even though polls continue to show a reasonable majority think the country is on the wrong right track, that might not be enough to return a stable, National-led government.

 


Election Sept 23

February 1, 2017

Prime Minister Bill English has announced that the general election will be held on September 23rd.

He’s following the example of his predecessor John Key who announced the date early.

This gives certainty for everyone about when the regulated period before election day starts, makes it easier for the people who administer the process and takes the politics out of setting the date.

September 23rd is the first day of school holidays but with the freedom for anyone to vote early that shouldn’t be a problem.

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He also spoke of which parties National could work with in the next term should it be in a position to lead a fourth government:

“Under MMP elections are always close so we will be taking nothing for granted as we campaign for the right to lead New Zealand for another term,” says Mr English.

“We will be fighting hard to win every party vote to ensure we are in the best possible position to form a strong and stable Government that continues to deliver for all New Zealanders.

“However, MMP means we will almost certainly have to work with other parties.  This will likely be in the form of confidence and supply agreements, which have worked well for us in the last three terms.”

Mr English said his preference is to continue working with current partners –  ACT, United Future and the Māori Party.

“Together our parties have provided a stable and successful government at a time of great uncertainty in many parts of the world,” says Mr English.

Mr English ruled out working with the Labour-Greens grouping. 

“They are an increasingly far left, inward looking grouping, with no new ideas who don’t back New Zealanders to succeed.

“New Zealand First is an unlikely partner, however I am prepared to have discussions with them post-election depending on the makeup of Parliament,” says Mr English. 

 


Optional hypocrisy

September 29, 2016

The Green Party has announced it won’t be contesting the Mt Roskill by-election, should there be one.

Not wasting time and resources on a contest they can’t win isn’t stupid but it shows up both the Greens and Labour as hypocrites.

Both have been highly critical of National for not trying to win Epsom and Ohariu to help Act’s and United Future’s candidates.

The hypocrisy is particularly bad for Labour’s candidate who stood in Epsom at the last election.

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Labour and the Greens claimed the principled high ground in their criticism of what they called ‘dirty deals’.

Neither can claim to be so principled and both are guilty of making the wrong choice when faced with otional hypocrisy.


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.


Poll of polls

September 6, 2014

Colin James’ poll of polls:

After this week’s stream of polls, including TV1’s poll published on the evening of September 5, National is back in the box seat with 50.2% on the latest four-poll average.

(Explainer: The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls since mid-June from among: TV1 Colmar Brunton, TV3 Reid Research, Fairfax Media-Ipsos, NZ Herald DigiPoll, Roy Morgan New Zealand and UMR Research, which is not published.*)

Labour plunged to a new four-poll average of 25.0%, its lowest since at least 2008 and probably since the mid-1990s.

The Greens slipped to 12.0% as a high rating in a Morgan poll dropped out of the average.

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National’s lead over Labour and the Greens combined climbed to 13.2%.

The two winners from the dirty politics furore, New Zealand First and the Conservatives, were at 5.6% and 3.3% respectively. Internet Mana was 2.2% and the Maori party was 0.9%. ACT was 0.3% and United Future 0.2%, levels at which David Seymour’s and Peter Dunne’s seats, if they win them would be “overhangs” and push the number of seats in Parliament to 122.

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National’s high rating is unlikely to translate into that level of support from voters and it will almost certainly need some coalition partners.

. . . National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said the party’s popularity following publication of the Dirty Politics book showed a disconnect between what the public and media focus on.

Mr Joyce told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme that despite strong polling, National was not assuming it would govern alone. National was not expecting the kind of result shown in the polls on election day, and having partnerships with several parties created a stronger more stable Government.

“If you just say you need a particular party to get over the line then obviously that particular party has a lot more leverage over the larger party.

“What we’ve shown in 2008 and 2011 if you have options then you can form good strong stable relationships and nobody gets too carried away.” . .

The stronger National’s vote is the more options it will have and the less it can be held hostage to minor players.

Labour is so weak it will be in a very poor bargaining position which would enable potential coalition partners to extract far more concessions in exchange for their support.

Its support could keep dropping if people decide it won’t be able to lead the next government or would have to give away too much to the wee players to enable it to govern .


Election outcome less certain

August 28, 2014

It was inevitable that polls would tighten as the election gets closer and last night’s 3 News Reid Research poll shows that’s happening:

August 19-25, 1000 people polled, margin of error 3.1 percent

National 45 percent, down 2.5 percent
Labour 26.4 percent, down 2.6 percent
Greens 13.5 percent, up 0.5 percent
NZ First 6.3 percent, up 1.7 percent
Conservative 4.6 percent, up 2.1 percent
Internet Mana 2.1 percent, up 0.1 percent
Maori Party 0.7 percent, down 0.1 percent
United Future 0.4 percent, up 0.2 percent
ACT 0.3 percent, no change

Seats in the house:

National 57
ACT 1
United Future 1
Maori Party 2
Right total: 61

Labour 33
Greens 17
Internet Mana 3
Left total: 53

NZ First 8

The Maori Party could go left or right.

But while it has voted against National more times than with it, the choice of being in a stable National-led government supported by Act, United Future and possibly New Zealand First would almost certainly be preferable to it than supporting an unstable Labour, Green, NZ First, Internet Mana coalition.

The Conservative Party is now in spitting distance of the 5% threshold.

Kiwiblog shows that if it makes it into parliament, Labour won’t be able to govern:

Conservatives 4.6%

Centre-Right 59 seats (Nat 57, ACT 1, UF1)

Centre-Left 53 seats (Lab 33, Greens 17, Internet Mana 3)

Centre 11 seats (NZ First 8, Maori 3)

This means National would need the Maori Party to govern, and Labour would need both NZ First and the Maori Party (plus Greens, Mana)

Conservatives 5.0%

Centre-Right 62 seats (Nat 54,  Conservatives 6, ACT 1, UF1)

Centre-Left 51 seats (Lab 32, Greens 16, Internet Mana 3)

Centre 11 seats (NZ First 8, Maori 3)

This means National would still need the Maori Party (or NZ First) to govern, but Labour would be unable to govern under any combination.

As another example of MMP’s perversity, National would have more seats if the Conservative Party didn’t make it into parliament but could be

more likely to govern if the Conservatives do cross the line because Labour wouldn’t be able to cobble together a coalition.


Poll of polls

August 23, 2014

Colin James’ poll of poll :

The first poll taken after the Nicky Hager book launch, by DigiPoll for the New Zealand Herald from August 14 to 20, did not dent National’s polling average, which was 50.8% in the four polls up to mid-August. DigiPoll recorded a drop from its last poll in mid-July but gave a higher figure than the TV3 poll which dropped out of the latest four-poll average.

(Explainer: The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls since mid-June ,from among the following: Fairfax Media-TV1 Colmar Brunton, TV3 Reid Research, Ipsos, NZ Herald DigiPoll, Roy Morgan New Zealand (up to June only one of its two-a-month was included) and UMR Research, which is not published.*)

DigiPoll’s 25.2% reading for Labour dragged Labour’s average down to 25.3%. That average included the Ipsos poll for Fairfax Media, which gave National much more and Labour much less than other recent polls. . . .

The Greens’ average is steady at 11.9%, within a range it has held since the last election. . .

New Zealand First has got close to the 5% hurdle, with a 4.9% average to mid-August, boosted by a high 6.5% in the Roy Morgan poll. Internet-Mana was 2.7%, the Conservatives 2.4%, the Maori party 0.9%, ACT 0.5% and United Future 0.3%. . .

There was a slight lift in the latest Roy Morgan reading (from August 4-17) of whether the country is heading in the right direction. This slight lift is more confirmation that the mood is topping out but it remains very positive. . .

The level of confidence the country is heading in the right direction is important and backs up National’s assertion that it and its policies are working for New Zealand.


A tale of three polls

August 18, 2014

Colin James’ poll of polls on Saturday:

A new Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll published on August 15 again had Labour at a basement rating – 22.5% – and National cruising at 55.1%. But the poll-of-polls scarcely budged because that poll replaced a July Fairfax poll with closely similar readings.

Still, Labour’s average, at 27.1%, while off its mid-July lows, remained dire, though the interviews for the poll straddled Labour’s campaign launch on August 10. Labour will worry whether other polls due in coming days replicate the Fairfax.

National’s average did not change from its 50.3% in last Saturday’s averages. . .

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TV3’s poll had National down a wee bit and Labour up slightly:

Party vote:

National: 47.5 percent, down 1.9 percent
Labour: 29 percent, up 2.3 percent
Greens: 13 percent, up 0.6 percent
New Zealand First: 4.6 percent, up 0.3 percent
Conservatives: 2.5 percent, down 0.2 percent
Internet Mana: 2.0 percent, down 0.2 percent
Maori Party: 0.8 percent, down 0.3 percent
ACT: 0.3 percent, up 0.2 percent
United Future: 0.2 percent, no change

Seats in Parliament:

National: 61
ACT: 1
United Future: 1
Maori Party: 2
Right total: 65

Labour: 38
Green: 17
Mana: 3
Left total: 58

Preferred Prime Minister:

John Key: 44.1 percent, up 0.3 percent
David Cunliffe: 9.9 percent, up 0.4 percent
Winston Peters: 6.7 percent, up 1.4 percent

1000 people polled, margin of error 3.1 percent

The ONE News Colmar Brunton poll showed both National and Labour dropping a couple of points:

. . . It shows National still in the box seat, with 50%, but down 2 points. Labour is also down 2 points to 26%. The Greens have moved up 1% to 11%, while New Zealand First has moved up 1% to hit the magical 5% mark.

But the big mover is the Internet Mana party which has doubled in support to 4%. The Conservatives are steady on 2%, while the Maori Party, and Act remain on 1%.

At 4%, and assuming Hone Harawira hold his seat, Internet Mana could bring in five MPs, including John Minto and Annette Sykes. . .

These aren’t big changes for the major parties and IMP’s rise could help National by scaring those wavering in the centre its way.

However, the message in both these polls is that in spite of the continued popularity of National and its leader, Prime Minister John Key who has almost five times the support of Labour’s David Cunliffe, the election outcome is far from certain.

If there’s a silver lining to the sideshow of the last few days and a softening of support in the polls it is that it is helping National get its message home to supporters that there is no room for complacency.

People who want a National-led government and/or don’t want the alternative of a weak Labour Party propped up the the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana Party must vote and vote for National.


Older voters not buying Labour’s bribe

August 15, 2014

Labour support is at a new low:

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

Click here to see full graphics

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Kiwiblog has the breakdown of respondents supporting Labour :

Labour’s support by demographic is:

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

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

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


Gap just 4% in poll of polls

August 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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This isn’t all bad news.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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


Not good enough

July 28, 2014

Last night’s  ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll  continued the trend of National doing much better than labour and its potential coalition partners:

Less than two months from polling day National has stretched its lead over the centre left parties of Labour and the Greens.

National has climbed to 52% in the latest ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll while Labour is down one point to 28%. . .

Labour on 28% is just above its 2011 election result and the Greens have also slipped, dropping two points to 10%.

New Zealand First is steady on 4% and Internet Mana is on 2% while the Conservatives are up one to 2%. Act stays on 1% and the Maori Party is down one to 1%.

When converted into seats in Parliament, National would easily govern alone with 66 seats. Labour would have 36, with the Greens mustering 13 and the Maori Party three. Internet Mana would bring in three MP, while Act and United Future would have one apiece. . .

Both Labour and the Green party have lost support.

It’s possible that hard-line left voters have gone to Internet Mana and soft centre voters have been put-off by the thought of a Labour Green, New Zealand First, Internet Mana Party and have moved right.

This is good news for National and those who want the party to continue leading a government that is working well for New Zealand.

However, it’s not good enough.

The party was polling at similar levels before the last election and slipped.

One reason for that was low voter turn-out.

Labour thinks most of those who didn’t vote were their supporters but there was a disappointing number of National voters who didn’t vote for a variety of reasons, including thinking that the polls were so good they didn’t need to.

There is a danger that could happen again which is why all National candidates and their teams are working hard to maximise the party vote which is the one that counts for forming a government.


More common than sense

July 21, 2014

Winston Peters accused the Conservative Party of plagiarising New Zealand First’s policies.

Common policies isn’t plagiarism but copying a slogan could be and that’s what NZ First has done by adopting it’s common sense as its rallying cry for the election.

Since 2002 when Peter Dunne got the television worm to dance by insisting his policies were common sense, that’s been associated with him and United Future.

Common sense is an appealing slogan but New Zealand First backs it up with policies which have a greater claim to common than sense.

One of these is removing GST from basic food items.

The thought of wiping $15 off every $100 spent on groceries is attractive but it’s not that simple.

Not all of the grocery bill is spent on food and the part that is isn’t all spent on basic items – whatever they are and that’s where the problems, and costs arise.

Exactly what is basic and what isn’t requires definition, that’s open to debate and it all adds complexity and cost to our enviably simple and relatively cheap to administer GST system.

Labour tried to sell removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables at the last election but gained little if any traction. One of the reasons for that was that the biggest gains from that would go to the wealthy who’d save on luxury items.

But the bigger problem with this policy is the cost.

. . . Mr Peters said his policy would save New Zealanders but cost the Crown a whopping $3 billion a year or thereabouts.

“This bold policy aims at the heart of the inequality undermining our society.”

Also “as part of a fair system” NZ First would remove GST from rates on residential property.

“This tax-on-a-tax deceit has to end, and it will,” Mr Peters told around 150 party faithful at Alexandra Park.

He did not provide details on how much that policy would cost, but with local authorities raising more than $7 billion a year in rates, the Crown would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

However, in an echo of Labour’s plan to fund its big-ticket items, Mr Peters said the policies would be funded through “a clampdown on tax evasion and the black economy” which he estimated was worth $7 billion a year. . . .

Inland Revenue already devotes a lot of time and money to detecting and clawing back money lost through evasion and the black economy.

Greater effort would result in greater costs and would be very unlikely to result in a fraction of the billions of dollars that would be lost from the tax take if these policies were adopted.


Paying price for prevarication

July 21, 2014

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

PARTY VOTE:

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

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

SHOULD LABOUR WORK WITH INTERNET MANA IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT:

NO: 59 percent
YES: 29 percent
Don’t know: 12 percent

Labour voters:
NO: 47 percent
YES: 40 percent
Don’t know: 13 percent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Divided they’re falling

June 27, 2014

Two Labour MPs crossed the floor to support the windblown timber bill being debated under urgency yesterday:

Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene backed the Government’s bill to allow the retrieval of trees felled in Cyclone Ita from some parts of the West Coast conservation estate, while their colleagues opposed it.

O’Connor attacked the bill during the debate on the first reading, but the debate was completed by 72 to 46 with National, NZ First, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

At the beginning of the debate Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the damage done by Cyclone Ita was substantial and an environmental tragedy. It left a dilemma about what to do with the wood.

The West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill
had to be passed urgently as the beech which could be recovered would be too rotten by spring, other wood would last longer and this could be recovered over the five year life of the bill.

It would have been complex to allow the timber retrieval under existing rules and the bill would exclude the high conservation value areas such as National Parks, but it would be allowed in some of the conservation estate. There would be conditions over safety and environmental protections.

Smith said arguments the removal of timber would prevent regeneration was wrong because only a small amount would be recovered. He said Labour was split on the issue and claimed West Coast MP Damien O’Connor could cross the floor.

The wood would provide jobs in the West Coast, Smith said.

Labour’s Ruth Dyson said the bill was not a serious attempt to help West Coast, but a political stunt. The Conservation Act provided for storm felled timber to remain on the ground, so forests could regenerate.

If the bill would provide long term jobs on the West Coast, Labour would support it, but there was no commitment in the Bill to this.

Dyson said the bill would rule out Resource Management Act provisions and it would “devastate” the timber sector who had permits to log native timber as the market would be flooded.

West Coast MP Damien O’Connor said he would support the bill if it guaranteed the jobs created by the log retrieval would stay on the West Coast. The Government wanted the logs exported from his electorate, he said.

There was potential from the logs on the ground, but it would be dangerous to retrieve and much of it would have to be helicoptered out.

He had some “interesting and robust” debates with his colleagues; he believed the logs could be removed without environmental damage. O’Connor said he believed only the rimu would be worth extracting and they would be extracted by logging crews from outside the West Coast and processed elsewhere.

The Greens totally opposed the bill as it believed all the conservation estate should be protected, Eugenie Sage said.

NZ First MP Richard Prosser said the bill should not be passed under Urgency, but it would be supported to committee stage where it wanted changes to made. NZ First wanted the jobs created to go to New Zealand companies and preferably West Coast ones with no logs exported and 25% of royalties to go back to the region. It also wanted the RMA to apply to the operations.

Maori Party Leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the cyclone had caused terrible damage, but this was nature at work. Local Maori felt the felled timber should be used without wasting it. The timber would not be taken from National Parks or other high value conservation land and the conditions would ensure a small proportion of logs were removed in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

After the vote on the first reading MPs moved immediately to the second reading.

The bill completed its second reading by 65 to 51 with National, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

NZ First reversed its initial support in the first reading. . . . 

O’Connor  noisily declined a place on Labour’s list before the last election, he’s back on it this time but if he’s prepared to demonstrate the internal divisions in the party so dramatically he would have been better to keep off it again.

The two Labour votes weren’t needed to pass the Bill so the floor-crossing was playing to the gallery in the electorates they hope will vote for them.

That might help them stay in parliament but confirmation of disunity  will make it more difficult for them, and their party, to get into government.

National is united and standing tall, Labour is divided and falling in the polls:

Support for the Labour Party has dropped 2.2 percent to 27.3 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll – lower than its share of the vote at the last election.

The poll surveyed 750 eligible New Zealander voters between June 19 and 25, amid the controversy over businessman Donghua Liu’s alleged donations to Labour.

Labour leader David Cunliffe received his lowest rating since taking over the role in November last year. Only 26.3 percent of those surveyed think he is performing well as leader of the Opposition.

National is meanwhile polling at 49.7 percent, down 0.6 percent from the last poll – but still indicating it could govern alone with a 63-seat share of a 122-seat Parliament.

John Key has been given his highest rating as preferred Prime Minister since November 2011, with 46.7 percent support.

On this question Mr Cunliffe is polling in single figures, down 0.2 percent to 9.6 percent.

Mr Key has also received his highest rating since November 2011 when it comes to people who think he is a capable leader – 82.3 percent say he is.

NZ First received only 3.6 percent of the vote, dropping 2 percent from the last poll and placing them under the 5 percent party vote threshold for getting into Parliament.

However the Green Party are up 2.5 percent to 12.7 percent, and the Conservative Party are back up at 2.8 percent – equalling their highest-ever poll result so far.

Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom’s project Internet Mana debuts at 1.8 percent.

The full results are here and give a total of 69 seats to National and its coalition partners and only 53 to the combined left.

It is very unlikely the results will be this good for National in the election but with less than three months until the election there’s not much time for Labour to get better.

And if they keep looking divided they’re more likely to continue falling than start climbing.


It’s only one poll

June 6, 2014

The latest Roy Morgan poll continues the positive trend for National:

. . . Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a strong gain in support for National (52.5%, up 7%) now at their highest since before the last New Zealand Election and well ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance (38%, down 6%) – almost matching their performance at the 2011 New Zealand Election at which the two parties polled a combined 38.5%.

Support for Key’s Coalition partners has also improved with the Maori Party 1.5% (up 0.5%), ACT NZ (1%, up 0.5%) and United Future 0% (unchanged).

Support has fallen significantly for all Opposition parties with the Labour Party down 1.5% to 29%, the Greens down 4.5% to 9% (the lowest support for the Greens since September 2011), New Zealand First 4.5% (down 1.5%) and Mana Party 0.5% (down 0.5%). Support for the Conservative Party of NZ is 1% (unchanged) and the Internet Party is 0.5% (unchanged).

If a National Election were held now the latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows that the result would be a landslide victory for the National Party and a third term for Prime Minister John Key. . .

But wait, there’s more good news:

The latest NZ Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has also improved considerably – up 8.5pts to 140.5pts with 64.5% (up 4.5%) of New Zealanders saying New Zealand is ‘heading in the right direction’ compared to 24% (down 4%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

Gary Morgan says:

“Today’s New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll shows a strong positive response to the predicted Budget Surplus of $372 million handed down by Finance Minister Bill English with National surging to 52.5% (up 7%) – it’s highest since the last New Zealand Election. National has surged to a huge lead over a potential Labour/ Greens alliance (38%, down 6%).

“The closer the election, it appears the less support there is for the main opposition parties with support for Labour (29%, down 1.5%) now stuck below the level that prompted the resignation of previous leader David Shearer for most of 2014. The initial surge provided by David Cunliffe has well and truly worn off. In addition the Greens (9%, down 4.5%) have slumped to their lowest level of support since before the last New Zealand election after announcing last weekend a proposal to introduce a Carbon Tax in New Zealand in place of the current Emissions Trading Scheme.

“Last week’s merger announcement of the Internet Party (0.5%) and Mana Party (0.5%) to contest this year’s election offers both parties a better chance of attaining the 5% threshold required to elect a slate of Party List MPs. However, the combined support for the two parties has never exceeded 2%, and it would appear unlikely the merged party can bridge this gap in the next few months.” . . .

Polls can be too good, of course.

This level of support for National could make supporters complacent.

Some might think they can afford to vote for another party, others might not bother to vote at all.

However, while it continues the positive trend for National of other recent polls, it is only one poll and the one which is usually regarded as the least reliable.

But is it?

Thomas Lumley at Stats Chat, says it’s not:

. . . In fact, there’s not much difference between the major polling companies in the variability of their estimates. . .

There really is not much to see here. So why do people feel that Roy Morgan comes out with strange results more often? Probably because Roy Morgan comes out with results more often.

For example, the proportion of poll-to-poll changes over 3 percentage points is 0.22 for One News/Colmar Brunton, 0.18 for Roy Morgan, and 0.23 for 3 News/Reid Research, all about the same, but the number of changes over 3 percentage points in this time frame is 5 for One News/Colmar Brunton, 14 for Roy Morgan, and 5 for 3 News/Reid Research. . .

What that shows is voter preference is volatile and that more frequent polls reflect that volatility.

That’s why it doesn’t pay to get too excited about a single poll, or even several with the same trend.

The volatility of support merely reinforces the oft repeated phrase, there’s only one poll that counts.

 

 


Can the polls be too good?

May 26, 2014

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.


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