Cracker by Damian Christie


On the trail, pt 1.

With a baby due, um, Wednesday, and a fair bit of work relating to the general election, my procrastination levels have never been higher. Not that there's much I can do re the baby's arrival, but I could probably clean something again, or buy something, or pace a bit. So anyway, some random thoughts regarding the election campaign.

1. Richie McCaw could pretty much win any electorate. Something that Act and NZ First should consider.

2. I'll probably be proven wrong on this one tomorrow (which is the deadline for electorate nominations), but I wouldn't be surprised if Winston Peters chooses not to stand in an electorate seat. He knows he's highly unlikely to win wherever he stands, he's old, he's tired, and no-one likes setting themselves up for a loss like that.

3. The gap between Labour's policy-based campaign and National's Presidential campaign is almost precisely as wide as the gap between Goff and Key's preferred Prime Minister ratings. It's the right thing for both parties to do.

4. Just as the memo from Labour read "don't put Goff's face on any billboards – are you sure we even need him on the Mt Roskill one?", the memo to all National MPs, kindly CC'd to both Don Brash and John Banks reads: "Don't say 'National-led Government', say 'John Key-led Government'. People like John Key, but they're still a bit iffy about National."

5. John Banks is now running Banksie OS 3.2. Bug fixes on previous iteration include removing all those pesky joining words that get in the way of Important Positive Key Words. New sample sentence from a recent debate on Q+A: "Choice, self-responsibility, investment, growth, jobs, financial responsibility."

6. The people of Epsom don’t mind Banksie 3.2. But what they don't like  is Don Brash. And not because he represents the failed policies of the 90s. They don't like him because of his moral failings. With that, and everything else, Act has simply become too big of a dead rat to swallow. Goldsmith will win, even though he's not supposed to (but of course he secretly wants to).

7. The Vote for Change campaign won't succeed. The supposed pontificating within the Vote for Change organisation about which of the various alternatives they will support after due consideration is, of course, complete nonsense. From the outset they have been pushing for SM. Jordan Williams, Vote for Change spokesperson told me weeks ago that they didn't want to confuse people with too much information too early, so they would first campaign for change, and then later announce that the preferred change was SM. I guess it makes sense to do that, but it has meant an awful lot of disingenuous game playing.

8. If a party really doesn't want the electorate vote, I wish they just wouldn't stand an electorate candidate. However I'm told research shows that an electorate candidate increases visibility and hence the party vote. But if that is the case, can't we cut through all this "I think the voters of Ohariu/Epsom should vote for whomever they decide is best" bullshit? I'm really getting sick of politicians NOT saying they want my vote.

9. Changing MMP so that people can't be both electorate candidates and on the party list would stop a lot of that, or at least mean you wouldn't have people like David Parker campaigning for Labour in Epsom, or Gareth Hughes for the Greens in Ohariu, knowing full well they're not going to win, but will get in anyway. On the other hand, such a policy would stop genuine candidates giving it a go in a seat they think they could take – Charles Chauvel in Ohariu, Jacinda Ardern in Auckland Central, Carmel Sepuloni in Waitakere.

I would draw a distinction (although again, I don't know whether either should be excluded from a list place) with the idea of voters kicking out a sitting electorate MP everyone is thoroughly sick of, only for them to return via the list, and a challenger having an honest crack. I don't think someone who loses by a few hundred votes in a well-contested electorate battle could ever be considered to be "rejected" by voters, especially in a plurality result where the winner gets say, 40%, the second place candidate 39%.

10. It will be very hard for Labour to back down from Capital Gains Tax or a retirement age of 67 now that it's policy. Which means in time it will become law. But as someone noted somewhere over the past week, when the babyboomers die off, do you think we could have it lowered again please?

[EDIT: I forgot to say, Backbenches is coming live from the Britomart Country Club this Wednesday for an Auckland Central candidates' special, all welcome, live from 9-10 but get there early...]

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