Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: The overconfidence man

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  • Idiot Savant,

    In fact, we’ve also done the numbers on third term governments in New Zealand. There have been five in the modern era (under Fraser, Holyoake, Muldoon, Bolger / Shipley, and Clark respectively). Two of the five got a fourth term.

    And they're the oldest ones. Looking back to 1969 - almost 50 years ago - for your political entrail reading probably isn't a good idea. It was a completely different world then.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    If the left wants to win, they’ll have to think hard, and work harder.

    And cooperate across parties. How's that going?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    the public mood is turning against National because of perceived inaction on the big issues facing New Zealanders

    People have been saying this for the last five years. Where's the actual evidence of a change in sentiment?

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    I'd like to see the Nats booted out too, but unfortunately they have big numbers on their side. They have a massive caucus and even if they loose a few, they'll still get by.
    Also, the public still - inexplicably - loves them; remember, National won the party vote in every electorate bar three last year.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    And they’re the oldest ones. Looking back to 1969 – almost 50 years ago – for your political entrail reading probably isn’t a good idea. It was a completely different world then.

    Not to mention the different electoral system, which has a bit to do with why Clark was in power for three terms.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Bar four (Kelston, Mana, Mangere, Manurewa) (plus all the Maori seats).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There is also the issue of a very compliant media. Ministers refuse to talk to the media if there is any chance of a tough interview and they get away with it. I remember a time when there were regular debates between government and opposition spokespeople, and if one didn't show the other got a free go. Now interviewers seem grateful if a minister gives them a couple of minutes to answer some soft prearranged questions.

    The UK election also showed how easy it is to manipulate public opinion in very elaborate and subtle ways to get the result required. Costs money but right wing parties don't seem to have a problem getting big donations.

    Meanwhile those who are really struggling spend all their focus surviving day to day so aren't engaged in voting.

    We really need to use our democracy better.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Tinakori,

    "Key doesn’t actually believe Labour is in do-nothing mode – he just wants the public to believe that. Hence the interview."

    In NBR, behind a paywall? Please, even if half their audience (no matter how affluent) read the article that is still a tiny sliver of the electorate. You are taking the piss, Rob

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Also, the public still – inexplicably – loves them; remember, National won the party vote in every electorate bar three last year.

    A plurality, perhaps. In Wellington Central and Rongotai the Greens and Labour both carved off about 30% of the vote each, with National and other parties splitting the remaining 40%.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    "You were there to do a certain thing for us."

    From memory it was a tax cut for the better off, paid for in the following years by taxing the rest with a GST hike and by dismantling,or privatising, public services and by racking up debt.

    The reinvention is likely to be another tax cut, more likely than managing prosperity for the whole country.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    For me, I expect Key will ditch his underperforming Ministers, copy as many of Labour’s ideas as he can get away with, and go into the election with a new, refreshed team proposing big ideas for New Zealand’s new issues.

    I can see the logic in this but looking at the sitting national MPs there seems a lot of bench warmers with few capable ministers in waiting

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to George Darroch,

    Which suggests they could quite possibly continue to win all but a handful of electorates (or even all of them) and still lose the election.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The Key government has thus far had a tailwind not of their making.

    - firstly the Clark government avoided getting the mainstream banking sector into the sort of trouble that happened overseas, whilst allowing the finance companies to act as a bush league safety valve for that sort of crazy.

    This minimised any bailout costs and left the public finances looking pretty straight.

    - the main OECD economies zeroed out their interest rates after the GFC. Since the NZD runs at a 3% or so risk premium to those currencies, we’ve in turn had low enough interest rates to deliver free money to middle class homeowners

    - up until about a year ago, being China’s farm has been a pretty sweet business and we’re still in the afterglow of that

    Nothing goes on forever, and if that all changes, Key might look a lot more seedy.

    However, I don’t put it past Labour and the Greens to screw up this opportunity. Best case, they’ll probably put themselves forward as managing austerity better. Worst case, they’ll sign up as junior partners in a Ramsay McDonald style coalition.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    I expect Key will ditch his underperforming Ministers, copy as many of Labour’s ideas as he can get away with, and go into the election with a new, refreshed team proposing big ideas for New Zealand’s new issues.

    Well, in today’s mail my wife and I received a personally addressed, tidy and colourful letter signed by John Key on behalf of the National Party. It makes a big deal about National’s success with (1) free GP visits & prescriptions for under 13s, (2) jobs & higher incomes, (3) “better education”, (4) “helping children living in hardship”, (5) warmer, drier & healthier homes, (6) breakfasts in schools, (7) grants for first-home buyers, (8) “more paid parental leave”, (9) improved mmunisation, and (10) more money in your pocket.

    As I see it, at least 7 or 8 of those headlines are stomping directly onto typical favoured opposition territory.

    Then there’s the tear-off slip to ask me what my priorities are for the future. I get to write my own name and address or postcode, but there’s a tiny 9 digit number at the end of the tear-off form, so I presume there’s scope in the system for them to match my name and address with my apparent political preferences, no matter who I say I am or where I say I’m from.

    Not long ago we also received a personal letter from Brett Hudson. He’s the National list MP who stood in our electorate, basically to say “you should vote for Peter Dunne instead of me”. I haven’t read his letter yet, but National seems to be on a bit of a marketing drive around here lately. Or maybe they've simply noted on the electoral roll that we shifted here recently, and more targeted data about us is needed.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tinakori,

    “Key doesn’t actually believe Labour is in do-nothing mode – he just wants the public to believe that. Hence the interview.”

    In NBR, behind a paywall? Please, even if half their audience (no matter how affluent) read the article that is still a tiny sliver of the electorate. You are taking the piss, Rob

    Rob might be if NBR was the only place Key was saying it. But it was his main line in Parliament this week too: howling about how the Opposition hadn't released any policy this year.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    History doesn't help us much here. In 1996 voters were playing a new game of MMP and the rules were unfamiliar ("Party vote? Sure, I'll have one of those as well!"). The result can be interpreted any which way - an anti-National majority, a conservative majority, a plague on all houses protest, etc. It's hard to argue that people (specifically, swing voters) were giving Bolger a third term. Or giving anybody else anything, except a raspberry.

    In 2005 Don Brash probably won it for Labour. So there's a possible lesson there: don't screw up. You'd think Labour had at least worked that one out by now.

    More to the point, the history of third terms tells us nothing about politics in these strange, superficial times. Key and his cabinet can do more or less anything, and who's going to tell us? I don't know how we can judge political fortunes in a media world without interviews, debates, speeches, or anything deeper than dancing with cats.

    With Helen Clark and Jim Bolger, "having a beer" with the PM seemed an unlikely thing, but an insignificant thing. Now it seems to be the only thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    NBR called it “The Confidence Man.”

    Is that supposed to be a vote of confidence or a clever play on themes or summint??
    Back in my day.... it meant a Con man...N2BT

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    National won the party vote

    Nope. Labour lost the party vote.

    The key fact of the last election is that National gained almost no extra support in total votes. What happened is Labour voters stayed home.

    Yes the effect was the same, a National government, but realizing that Labour lost support is a critical step in changing the outcome of the next election.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to izogi,

    in today’s mail my wife and I received a personally addressed, tidy and colourful letter signed by John Key on behalf of the National Party. It makes a big deal about National’s success with (1) free GP visits & prescriptions for under 13s, (2) jobs & higher incomes, (3) “better education”, (4) “helping children living in hardship”, (5) warmer, drier & healthier homes, (6) breakfasts in schools, (7) grants for first-home buyers, (8) “more paid parental leave”, (9) improved mmunisation, and (10) more money in your pocket.

    That's brilliant advertising. Attack your enemies strengths - it doesn't matter that you're doing token amounts in any one of these areas, because the opposition is left with few options other than to say that you're not doing enough. That looks churlish.

    The central achievement of this government has been to maintain a narrative about 'economic credibility', while shutting down criticism areas in which they are demonstrably weak. That fails when the gap between expectation and reality is large and uncontestable, as it is with poor quality housing. But give the government six months or a year and they will have developed a strategy that puts small amounts of money into that or any other problem, which will be followed with consistent messaging about how this is part of a comprehensive fix.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to izogi,

    The Flimflam Man...

    Well, in today’s mail my wife and I received a personally addressed, tidy and colourful letter signed by John Key on behalf of the National Party.

    I hope National paid for the postage and it wasn't delivered for free as a legitimate communication from Parliament...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    @I/S

    Looking back to 1969 - almost 50 years ago - for your political entrail reading probably isn't a good idea. It was a completely different world then.

    That's true, but if you look short term you're approaching n=1 for your data.

    @ScottY

    People have been saying this for the last five years. Where's the actual evidence of a change in sentiment?

    We've needed a David Farrar of the left for that for a while. Any takers? I'm a bit busy.

    @Tinakori

    Please, even if half their audience (no matter how affluent) read the article that is still a tiny sliver of the electorate.

    We're reading the gist of it here without having to get behind the paywall. It will be re-reported by others - but it's a safe sandpit for Key, and a good way of showing whose opinion he wants to sample first.

    @simon g

    History doesn't help us much here.

    It might not, but it's close to all we've got, besides mostly ideological wishful thinking. The only other pool of data that is large enough to qualify for the term but doesn't suffer from being to old is to compare with other nations. And that's got the same issue of comparing completely different systems and demographics for hints as to the future of our own.

    I don't know how we can judge political fortunes in a media world without interviews, debates, speeches, or anything deeper than dancing with cats.

    We need data. We need a David Farrar of the left.

    More to the point, the history of third terms tells us nothing about politics in these strange, superficial times.

    I don't know about that. Again, what else do we really have to base rational thought about politics on? There's a lot of lessons in third terms, and I fully expect Key is looking into them with good advice. His opponents should do the same, even if it's not perfect.

    One thing we're already seeing is that the agenda is being set by the Left. That happened to Labour in their last term, in reverse. I'd go so far as to say that Brash was beginning to set the agenda even before then - we'd never have had the debacle of the F&S Act had Labour felt unassailable. That changed the political landscape here quite dramatically. National faces a very similar danger, that a breakaway faction within its own base could form around a very divisive issue.

    @Bart

    but realizing that Labour lost support is a critical step in changing the outcome of the next election.

    Who really doesn't realize that? The question for people who really want to see the back of National is not what happened, but what should now be done. Labour gaining those votes back is not the only possibility. They could also be targeted by other groups. Or the aim could be to make National stalwarts stay home. But yes, it's certainly important to realize that political disengagement is almost starting to be more important than engagement in the tactical battle for the government. Perhaps the idea might be to try to get conscientious Nats to see more clearly just how stark our long-tailed poverty problems are getting in NZ. They may never be able to stomach voting Labour or Green, but they might just be able to stomach staying home on election day, just this once.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    flinching at the close...

    They may never be able to stomach voting Labour or Green, but they might just be able to stomach staying home on election day, just this once.

    Yes, here's hoping the average National voter doesn't have the stomach for the kill, when they wake up and realise the future National will be denying the generations to follow.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Or they convey their feelings to the party and even if we get another National government, it's one that really does consider rising poverty to be an important problem that they have significantly failed to address, and begins to do something about it. That's democracy working, and that's the Opposition doing its job.

    I'd suggest that skyrocketing house prices are a pretty significant issue, not just in the poverty they create, but also in the way they overshadow truly productive industry. But I don't know that this is an appeal that will really work for the core National demographic since they're probably very much beneficiaries of the other side of that, the crazy wealth creation from nothing more than being lucky or old, or both. I find it hard to personally feel guilty about property making me rich - that's part of why I bought it, after all, and it carries massive risks with it that I consciously signed up for.

    But I can feel bad that there are very large numbers of NZers who don't even have a roof over their heads at all, that WINZ is currently putting people up in hotels at the same time as standing them down on the dole, because decent rentals have become unattainable on National's watch, but the culture of punitive social welfare policy has become entrenched. There's a level of crazy inefficient fuckedupness about that which I think would probably churn many a compassionate conservative's stomach. My Mum is now working at CAB in her retirement and is getting pretty damned frequent calls from people in extremely desperate situations, sleeping rough or in cars. This is not the NZ I grew up in, nor one any conservative I know really thinks is improved for that, even for them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    We need data. We need a David Farrar of the left.

    Well then how about inviting David to switch loyalty. He could be bought and you could trust him implicitly. Remember in Keys acceptance address after the last election, David received the first rousing thankyou? He won the election.
    So who will support the call for David to become the Leftward Weasel?

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ianmac,

    Well then how about inviting David to switch loyalty

    Why bother? It's actually a good thing, what he does. Keeping National abreast of the public mood is probably why they're swinging to the left already. And it's not rocket science. There's room in the NZ market for 2 of him.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

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