New poll still shows Labour in the lead


A new Colmar-Brunton poll that came out yesterday still showed Labour maintaining a lead strong enough to form a Government on its own.

No one should be too surprised that the polls have narrowed. I expect that they will narrow further in the coming weeks, before being determined by how well the individual parties perform on the campaign trail; how good their policies are and whether any high profile Members of Parliament make a damaging gaffe.

Yesterday’s Colmar Brunton poll had the following results:

  • Labour = 50% or 62 seats
  • National = 38% or 45 seats
  • Greens = 6% or 7 seats
  • N.Z. First = 2% 2 seats if an electorate seat won; out of Parliament if no electorate seat won
  • A.C.T. = 1% / 1 seat if David Seymour holds Epsom
  • Maori = 1% / 1 seat if it wins Maori electorate
  • New Conservative = 1% / Out of Parliament

National has made some inroads because that peak of 59% for Labour was never going to hold up, much as the left would have absolutely loved it to. But National are still a long way behind Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party. Adding seven Green seats would give them enough to push through some of the more controversial measures that would help improve the gaping social inequality in this country. I imagine though that polling will tighten further in the next two months assuming National do not make any really big mistakes.

For National to make inroads into Labour, Michael Woodhouse needs to be put in his place quickly, because he is shooting off claims that have no substance and smack of desperation. Nikki Kaye needs to be reassigned to another role – perhaps as Senior Whip and perhaps given Education or something significant to keep her occupied. Todd Muller needs to come up with an original policy platform that does not involve the same tired old tricks, that would have worked long ago if they were going to work at all. Failing that, Labour will be the closest it has ever been to forming a stand alone Government.

For the Greens, whilst they would still be in Parliament, this might be another reminder of how far they have fallen since Metiria Turei admitted to benefit fraud. The party that I thought might – prior to the admission – pick up 16 or 17 seats in 2017 – has not really been the same since. The admission was one thing, but failing to be able to say it had already been addressed with Work and Income New Zealand cost the Greens thousands of voters who they might not get back.

For New Zealand First, a party I used to have a lot of time for, all the current poll is doing is continuing to show that its toxic combination of internal politics and divisive Members of Parliament, are undermining the good work done by the grass roots. Winston Peters might be the person no one should write off, but what if people decided that New Zealand First is really Winston First, as a National party member I once had a debate with, suggested?

As for David Seymour, A.C.T.’s vote have pretty much terminally collapsed outside of Epsom. He is pretty much a one man band trying to do everything. As such he has to get the party to help him chose which battles to fight and which ones to steer clear of. If in the unlikely case he does pick up extra votes, you can think his work around euthanasia and a decision to support the abortion legislation for that.

With this in mind, here is how I envisage an election today would have gone:

  • Labour 47% = 57 seats
  • National 38% = 46 seats
  • Greens 7% = 8 seats
  • N.Z. First 5% = 6 seats
  • A.C.T. = 1% = 1 seat
  • Maori = 2% = 2 seats – I do not think Labour will hold all of the Maori seats

New Conservative will most probably suck up the conservatives who have lost faith in National, but the 5% threshold or a seat in Parliament will be too much for them. Any disgruntled Green members may look at Social Credit, which has been placing expensive colour adverts in the Sunday Star Times.

Can the Maori Party revive?


In 2009, the year after it was ousted from the New Zealand Parliament in the General Election, New Zealand First faithful gathered to do two things:

  1. Assess the damage caused by being ousted from Parliament
  2. Decide how to move forward based on the assessment of the damage

No one said it would be easy, and it was not. But New Zealand First made it happen and in 2011 picked up 8 seats. Winston Peters and Deputy Leader Barbara Stewart led six newcomers into the House of Representatives much to the chagrin of National. Nearly a year after the 2017 General Election, the Maori Party must be wondering the same thing: can it pull itself back together and if so, where to from here?

The Maori Party has many challenges lying before it. They range from the basic ones around how does a party ousted from Parliament rebuild with severely limiting resources, through to how to attract new members and whether or not the Party’s constitution is in need of an overhaul.

But first things first. Who is going to lead the party? Right now both of the co-leadership positions (Maori Party constitution requires a female and male co-leader)are vacant. Will Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox want them back? Good question. If not then who will take over? There are no obvious candidates to do so at the moment as these were in many respects the two most charismatic, capable and certainly the best known of all the Maori Party leaders over the years.

The Maori Party will have significant challenges to address in terms of who does it represent. One might say that the answer is in the name, and whilst there is truth in that, when one looks at the diverse range of settings Maori find themselves in, the answer is certainly not as simple as one might want to think.

  • Will northern Maori, with issues pertaining to the Treaty of Waitangi and adherence to it by the Crown, Maori and non-Maori alike put their foot down and demand concessions from the leaders
  • Will Ngapuhi come to the table with realistic expectations about what to get out of a settlement as the last major Iwi to commence negotiations
  • Would it want a reconciliation with former member and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, son of the notorious Titewhai Harawira?

In many respects I was not surprised that the Maori Party collapsed at the last election. Past efforts at having a Maori Party in Parliament have collapsed as well. It also did not help that a resurgent Labour feeling the Jacinda-mania warmth picked out all seven seats, having finally convinced Maori that, yes, it has learnt the lessons of the Helen Clark Government. But the major reason that the Maori Party failed at the 2017 election was that internal warring. a general failure to address issues more pressing than the Treaty of Waitangi, such as crime, joblessness, suicide and addiction rates – all the statistics no one wants to be represented in, in other words – and nine years with National, were just too much for many to stomach.

With 2011 still two year away there is still time to rebuild. But it would be wise to start the planning now.

 

M.M.P. not to blame for decimation of minor parties


Once again we are seeing the detractors of Mixed Member Proportional voting trying to suggest that the system is flawed and that New Zealanders want a new one.

The election on 23 September 2017 resulted in the decimation of the minor parties. Of that there can be no question – it was a dreadful night for them.

For some of the parties, their demise was was natural – Greg O’Connor, who used to be a top policeman in New Zealand stood for Labour in Ohariu electorate. This is the same electorate where United Future self destructed with the resignation of long serving M.P. Peter Dunne, whose departure left no one with any street credibility left in the party..

Likewise Gareth Morgan’s The Opportunities Party fatally shot itself when Mr Morgan described Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern as lipstick on a pig. Perhaps not being a cat lover with a declared vendetta against them, also cost him many votes as cats make wonderful pets for those living alone or who are elderly – and at the same time, as my family discovered with our three cats, excellent bird killers as well. Mr Morgan’s party had been seen by some as the next big opportunity to create more of a peoples movement and Mr Morgan – like Colin Craig with his Conservative Party – threw huge sums of his own money at the election

A.C.T failed to get to 30,000 votes whereupon with its leader David Seymour retaining his Epsom electorate seat, it would have been able to bring Deputy Leader Beth Houlbrooke into Parliament. Many will say the A.C.T. brand ¬†was probably destroyed by its M.P.’s conduct in the first term of the Government of Prime Minister John. Certainly since then it has consistently polled at no more than 1-2% in the polls.

The Maori Party was the victim of a resurgent Labour vote in the Maori electorates, where former weatherman Tamati Coffey defeated co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell as all seven electorates swung back towards the Jacinda Ardern inspired Labour. Some will say their decision to go with National for three consecutive terms probably undid their chances of making up with the centre-left. Three consecutive terms with no notable progress on the hefty issues of school truancy, getting people on benefits into jobs or training, to say nothing of Maori being disproportionately rated in crime statistics has created many a disgruntled voter.

But there was nothing wrong with this. It was simply the Mixed Member Proportional system at work. People wanted more Labour seats in Parliament. The Greens had botched their campaign with Metiria Turei’s acknowledgement that she misled Work and Income New Zealand. New Zealand First didn’t run as convincing a campaign as they could have and it was time to make United Future and the Maori Party pay for their support of National. Those extra Labour seats had to come from somewhere.

N.Z. 2017 election in home straight: the final five days


So here we are. The final five days of campaigning are about to begin. The last rounds of flyers will be doing into letter boxes. The last radio chats will be held. The last public addresses will be before Friday. On Friday the election hoardings will be dismantled. The websites will be prepped for being taken offline by 0000 hours on Saturday. Final plans will be getting laid down for the election night celebrations/commisserations.

For A.C.T. the priorities will be rounding up enough voters to give David Seymour an A.C.T. Member of Parliament (Beth Houlbrooke)to share the workload with. Their messages will be familiar ones – simplifying and lowering the individual taxes; removing what they view as unnecessary red tape such as the Resource Management Act.

At this stage A.C.T. look like they might pick up a second M.P., which for them would be a major achievement.

For National, the priorities will be pushing the same messages about stable government; Jacinda does not know what she is doing and long term commitments. It will be trying to shore up votes on housing, economy, jobs and education. Mr English’s wife Mary, who works in the medical profession will be a useful asset winning over female voters.

At this stage I think National is trailing Labour. It will probably get 46 seats probably not be able to form a Government even with A.C.T. and New Zealand First on board.

For Labour, containing the ongoing attacks over their taxation policy, which is on their website will be the major focus. Labour will be continuing to focus on Ms Ardern’s positive message “Lets do this”, and continuing to keep up the pressure on housing, social welfare, health and jobs.

I think Labour is leading and will probably get 49 seats. It will need New Zealand First and possibly the Greens to get enough seats.

The Greens are still dealing with the fall out from Metiria Turei’s admission about her lying to Work and Income New Zealand regarding a benefit she was on. Their leader James Shaw has much work to do and is handicapped by the fact that normally Mrs Turei would pick up a substantial workload. Their messages will be about transport, clean water, housing and health. How much the public is willing to forgive them will become clear on 23 September 2017.

I expect the Greens will get 9 seats in Parliament. Unfortunately some talented M.P.’s are likely to pay a price for Mrs Turei not being honest and paying up at the same time, which would have limited the damage.

The Maori Party M.P.’s Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell have been fairly quiet in the campaign. That might be a result of having only two M.P.’s to work with rather than any slackness on their part. Their priorities will probably pushing on with the Treaty of Waitangi settlements and – I hope – some progress on addressing the dismally high participation of Maori in youth crime, unemployment and truancy.

I expect that the Maori Party will get 3 M.P.’s. In other words Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell will be returned to Parliament, but with a new face.

Last but not least, New Zealand First occupy a role they are familiar with, and I suspect they will gain more familiarity with in the next couple of weeks. Labour’s surge in the polls as a result of the Jacindanami, means it is now a serious alternative provided the remaining week in the election campaign goes okay. New Zealand First‘s familiar messages about house ownership, immigration and jobs are coming out once again, albeit probably more strongly than in the past, spurred on by a dissatisfied public wanting change.

Winston Peters is a wily old fox and has been around the halls of power for long enough now to know how M.M.P. works. He knows, provided his party does not make any election killing gaffes, it is set to be king maker again. The question is how big will the king maker be? My guess is 12 M.P.’s.

Jacinda overtakes Bill; Labour overtakes National


This is a deliberately short article. The article is short because the results and commentary says all that is needed to on it’s own.

Leader of Labour/Leader of the Opposition, Jacinda Ardern has overtaken Prime Minister Bill English in the preferred Prime Minister poll. Likewise Labour has overtaken National for the first time in 12 years. Not since the days of Dr Don Brash and his infamous Orewa speech have so many New Zealanders made such a conscious decision to change the political party they support.

This overtakes a prediction that I made a week ago of Labour reaching 40%, and my belief that Labour would get at least 30% even with former leader Andrew who deserves accolades for seeing the light. It far exceeds the dire predictions of former National Party members who have moved to New Zealand First that Labour would struggle to reach 25%.

You can see the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll here.