If you haven’t watched the debate between Bill English and David Parker on The Nation over the weekend, you probably should get stuck in to it straight away.
It is very interesting for a couple of reasons. First, when asked about his plan, Bill English was unable to say anything other than, “well… we’ve got a plan.” Host Lisa Owen asked Bill several times to name one thing that his government was going to do to boost New Zealand. I suppose, if one was being kind, one could argue that Bill was saying National is doing many different things together (this is what he said after being pressed).
The only issue I have with the various people arguing this, including panelist Fran ‘Whale Source’ O’Sullivan from the New Zealand Herald, is when David Parker was asked the same question he rattled off a list of policies Labour have planned. It is prudent to note the amount of policy Labour and the Greens have released this election campaign compared with the amount National have released. Sure National have a lot on their website, but it’s not easy to find and apart from their big ‘housing’ announcement (giving more people more money to buy more houses in an effort to bring an end to ) and their tax ‘plan’ today, there has been very little in the way of tangible and meaty policy released and discussed in the media. Everybody knows about Labour’s capital gains tax and the reasons they believe the country needs it. What do we know about National? Oh… you might get tax cuts… if it’s ok to do it. How much? Oh… we don’t know. When? Oh… not ’til 2017.
National’s plan seems to hinge around telling New Zealanders they would rather hear about the issues that matter – housing, health, education and the economy – before attacking Labour or the Greens or Nicky Hager for printing out their emails. They aren’t really that keen to talk about policy. Not keen at all.
The other important takeaway from this interview was Bill English’s inability to draw a line in the sand under the Dirty Politics issue. Lisa Owen asked him point-blank whether he approved of someone trawling through the Labour website and downloading private information. He could have easily said no. That would have put him off side and off message.
The fact Bill stalled and struggled to answer when he was first asked was very telling. It was like he really, really wanted to say yes but his instinct to toe the party line gazzumped his instinct to answer in a way that showed greater amount moral fortitude.
It is such a shame, but not unexpected, that Dirty Politics has fallen off the news cycle somewhat in the last week. It was like Judith ‘Princess Diana’ Collins got the sack and the media went, “oooh sweet, we can stop talking about this.”
Some of us actually have many, many questions that remain unanswered. Media types reading this can click here to read some of those questions. John Key must, he just absolutely must answer them. Not doing so highlights just how ethically challenged the leadership of the National Party are.
September the twentieth is a chance for New Zealand to set up a royal commission into political corruption. Voting for the National Party means that will definitely not happen.
So the latest polls are out. Labour are mid-20s, National are mid-50s, and the Greens are mid-teens.
I tweeted this morning about the vast number (nearly 16%) in the Fairfax Ipsos poll who register as ‘undecided.’ The same figure for Roy Morgan is 5.5%. I’m no polling expert, but I am quite good at the maths. Having one sixth of people not knowing who they will vote for only 2 months out from the election suggests to me that people want to vote for someone else other than Key and his wonderful band of merry joy-bringers, but are yet to be enthused by Labour and the Greens as a viable option.
Also, that means National’s 50-odd% is actually a percentage of DECIDED VOTERS which actually gives them a support figure under 50%.
40% of voters want a change of government. That’s quite a large proportion.
Of course, Farrar is bringing out this old argument again:
However it is hard to see how Labour can credibly form a Government if they get a result in the 20s, even if it becomes mathematically possible.
Although at the moment a change of government is looking unlikely, I would point out that the conservative sector of the vote in Australia has been a coalition for years – made up of the (ironically named) Liberal Party and the country / farming National Party. They even call themselves the Coalition. I don’t hear Tories complaining when that coalition wins power.
Ooooo…. they shouldn’t be allowed to form a coalition because they don’t have the mandate. Labor has the mandate. They are the biggest party.
Yes. It is mathematically possible because you need 61 or so seats to form a majority in an MMP parliament. If you only have 49.003% and all the other parties form a coalition because they decide they have similar ideals then ya-boo, sucks to you.
It’s not Labour or the Green’s fault that National’s chosen coalition partners have self destructed over the course of this parliament and the only one they’ve come close to fostering causes bile to rise in the back of many throats.
Ultimately, when Key and Cunliffe go head-to-head we will see some fireworks and maybe momentum will swing to the progressive side of the spectrum.
Yesterday Labour leader David Cunliffe delivered his first big policy announcement of the year – $60 a week for parents of new-borns. On Sunday the Greens announced their plans for “school hubs” where social services are coordinated through schools. Maybe Labour’s policy targets too many of those households earning over $100,000, but both policies are fresh and redefine the gap between a progressive left and the same-old same-old we’ve been swallowing since I was at high school.
What was very telling, however, was the overwhelmingly rabid reaction of the right-wingers I follow on twitter. The sputtering death gurgle of the neoliberal beast may very well be upon us.
Here’s just a sample of the quality dialogue we will be getting in the lead up to the election.
Steven Joyce (@stevenljoyce) tweeted at 2:21 PM on Mon, Jan 27, 2014:
Labour advises their spend-a-thon would resume immediately. Labour & Greens already an extra 3/4 a billion a year & it’s not even end of Jan
David Farrar (@dpfdpf) tweeted at 1:49 PM on Mon, Jan 27, 2014:
So this policy will pay $60 a week to any Labour MP (except Ldrs, Whips) who has a baby. That’s really targeting to those most in need.
Whaleoil (@Whaleoil) tweeted at 2:29 PM on Mon, Jan 27, 2014:
@CactusKate2 the feral underclass who already vote Labour will be ecstatic they get $60 extra a week for fags, booze and lotto
There are a number of things to consider. Firstly, these people are all successful, intelligent people. I don’t for on second think they actually believe New Zealanders are going to charge straight off to bed and start creating new humans on the promise of sixty bucks a week. Labelling the poor as useless, drug-dependent, booze-fueled baby factories suits their narrative just fine.
Secondly, the sheer repugnance of some of the bleating suggests those on the right are utterly terrified the narrative is changing from “me” back to “us.” Cunliffe and the left are offering New Zealanders something different to trickle up and they don’t like it one bit.
Thirdly, the reactions suggest there’s just a little bit of “this money’s mine. I made it. You can’t have it.” Which is just a little bit rich since they’ve been supporting policies that fleece low income earners for years.
Any way you look at it, this is now a battle of the mouths. Communication is paramount. If Labour and the Greens can project a positive vision onto the electorate they may send them packing.
Then we will hear some real whining.
PS: this looks a bit off formatting-wise because I wrote it on my phone.