Predictable result

In the main the election result and sub-results were quite predictable.

Polls were a reasonable indicator but only look backwards so show trends that have happened. They can’t predict to late campaign shifts that are common.

This election was peculiar in that many decisions were put on hold until Kim Dotcom’s big reveal. When it came to nothing it strengthened resolve of swing voters to ensure National retained it’s hold on Government.

Labour dropping below poll results was not surprising. They were obviously not going to do well and non-committed voters either change their minds or simply don’t bother voting.

Claims like “but Cunliffe ran a good campaign” have been proven wrong. As David Shearer said, the end result was tragic for Labour. Cunliffe may have appeared to be campaigning strongly but he puts on a variety of acts. While they might be slick acts voters see through this lack of genuineness. Cunliffe also has a problem that is probably unresolvable – too many people simply don’t like his persona (or personas).

Greens will be disappointed to have struggled to maintain their level of support while Labour were shedding votes. Greens weren’t able to pick them up. This suggests that 10-12% is the upper limit for them. This also shouldn’t be surprising outside the Green bubble. People like to have a party promoting environmental issues but most don’t like the extreme Green stances like no drilling, no fracking, no motorways.

And Greens misread public sentiment if they think that handing out more money to poor people with no responsibilities applied will be popular. Middle New Zealand see this as imposing costs and taxes on them. Socialism is fringe ideology these days.

Winston Peters is adept at picking up protest and shedded votes. NZ First gained vote, gained MPs but otherwise gained nothing. Most of the 91% who didn’t vote NZ First will be happy with this outcome.

The 5% threshold always looked a very high hurdle for Conservatives and so it proved. This was a failure of MMP. The threshold should be no higher than 3%. I don’t personally support the Conservatives but their missing out is a travesty of democracy.

Hone Harawira losing his electorate was a bit of a shock but not really surprising given the severely compromised position of Harawira and Mana hitching their ambitions to Kim Dotcom. Dotcom’s expensive disaster was Harawira’s failing.

Internet-Mana was always a high risk alliance. They might have succeeded as a combined party but Dotcom realised too late that his brand was toxic and he couldn’t resist being prominent. His final week failure to deliver on his promises to hit John Key compounded the problem.

Laila Harre severely compromised her credibility and was still blind to this yesterday, blaming everything but reality. Her political future is very limited.

The Maori Party lost two of their three electorates as widely predicted. For the first time they had sufficient party vote to pick up a list seat to go with Te Ururoa Flavell’s retained seat. Flavell was a minor star of the campaign but will have a difficult job keeping the Maori Party afloat.

David Seymour retained Epsom as expected but also as expected ACT failed as a party. Jamie Whyte failed to step up as leader in a challenging attempt to rebuild a battered brand.

Peter Dunne held is Ohariu seat. That didn’t seem to surprise anyone but unrealistic Labourites from the electorate. As a party United Future was nowhere to be seen, and accordingly votes were nowhere to be seen, dropping to a third of the low return they got in 2011.

Just two more seats for National but this strengthens them substantially, giving them a majority vote on their own as long as they don’t lose any seats this term. They also have ACT, Dunne and Maori Party support options on standby.

Just two less seats for Labour and this weakens them substantially. The result is tragic for them and the outlook is no better. They have done very little to move on the old guard and bring in new talent. They seem out of touch with their constituency of last century. They have yet another failed leader with no obvious replacement. This was also predictable.

Labour have failed for six years to rebuild from the Clark/Cullen era. Unless someone out of the ordinary steps up their future looks bleak.

National campaigned on ‘steady as she goes’ and the voters delivered the platform for National to be a little more politically steady than expected providing outstanding issues don’t impact too much.

Judith Collins has already been sidelined and is expendable should inquiries further damage her.

Now the election is over ‘dirty politics’ should be addressed by Key. And by Labour. And to a lesser extent by Greens. Peters won’t change from his habit of attack without evidence but he will be largely impotent unless the media keep pandering to his baseless allegations.

Some embarrassments may emerge for Key and National out of surveillance and GCSB issues but they look to have been overplayed, and most people accept the need for some surveillance protection.

The simple fact is that most people don’t feel threatened by surveillance and they are concerned about about terrorism.

And it’s ironic that the supposedly net-savvy who campaign strongly against surveillance must be aware that the Google and Twitter and Facebook social media tools they willingly use are tracking what they do far more than any government.

But we can predict they will continue to fight for a free internet that gives them far more public exposure than they ever had. They claim that privacy is paramount in a very public online world.

Otherwise we can predict have much the same Government as we’ve had over the past six years. Most people will be comfortable with that.

It’s harder to predict if Harawira will make a comeback or if Mana will survive their battering and their harsh reality check.

If Dotcom pulls the plug on Internet Party funding it’s demise can be predicted. If that happens it can also be predicted that Laila Harre will find it very difficult to find another party that would risk being tainted by her lack of loyalty and sense.

It is not hard to predict that Labour’s struggle to be relevant and their lack of connection to anyone but some special interest groups will continue.

John Key has shown he is aware of the dangers to National of complacency and arrogance – it can be predicted that some of his MPs will struggle to heed his warnings. But most likely things will continue much as they have.

Poll hits dirt, rewards clean

There can be many reasons for poll movements but whether by coincidence or not the parties most associated by dirty smear politics have all dropped in the latest NZ Herald poll, and parties not associated with dirt have gone up, especially the Greens.

Dirty parties:

  • National 50 (down 4.9)
  • Labour 25.2 (down 1.3)
  • NZ First 4.3 (down 0.3)

Clean parties:

  • Greens 13.7 (up 3.8)
  • Conservatives 2.6 (up 1.4)
  • Maori Party 0.7 (up 0.2)
  • Act 0.6 (up 0.6)
  • United Future 0.4 (up 0.4)

Others

  • Mana-Internet 2.1 (down 0.1)
  • Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis (down 0.1)

Having made that point poll to poll movements are not as important as trends.

Herlad poll trends Aug14

  • National’s last poll result may have been an outlier.
  • Labour continue to trend down.
  • Greens have surged but time will tell if it is temoporary or becomes a positive trend.

Herald poll trends small Aug14

  • Winston Peters has been struggling to sustain a profile in a very competitive media.
  • Conservatives will be hoping they are on the rise but 5% is a long way up from there.
  • Internet-Mana climbed initially but may be leveling off.
  • Maori, Act and United Future will be grateful for any scraps they can get.

The poll of 750 respondents was conducted between August 14 and 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. On the party vote questions 12.5 per cent were undecided.

Source: Greens spring in polls as National takes hit

Polls and election prospects

A number of recent polls have given pointers to where the parties stand with less than two months to go until the election.

National

National have been polling in the high forties through to mid fifties but are expected to drop back a few percent in the final count. They are aware of this and are trying to minimise that drop by playing as safe a game as possible.

They have had some hiccups with embarrassments through Claudia Hauiti (now withdrawn from candidacy) and Gerry Brownlee’s airport security slip-up. Hauiti was National’s lowest ranked MP so she won’t be a loss, and Brownlee has front footed the damage control with what appears to be genuine contriteness.

National have just announced their list with no real surprises. They will say this week what other parties they will be prepared to work with and give a nod to some potential support parties in electorates.

They have yet to reveal much about policies. There main plank seems to be more of the same, steady sensible management of the economy.

That will be enough to win the most seats by far but they are not expected to get enough to rule on their own so their fortunes may be dictated by small parties. They will be hoping Winston Peters isn’t the main dictator.

Likely result range 45-50%.

Labour

The polls have not been good for Labour with the last twelve results being in the twenties, as low as 23%.

David Cunliffe continues to fail to impress as leader. He says his string of apologies are behind him but he is dropping in preferred Prime Minister polls, the latest having him on 8%. Some hope he will show his mettle in leader’s debates but it’s unlikely he will do enough to shine over the seasoned Key.

Media are writing Labour off and talking more about how low they might go instead of how much they might get. There’s good reason for this, they look divided and disorganised.

Labour’s best hope seems to limit the damage and not get any lower than their record low in 2011 of 27.28%. A more common hope is probably that their vote doesn’t collapse.

Likely result range 20-29%.

Green Party

The Greens bounce around in the polls, usually in the 10-15% range.

They look to be the best organised party by a long shot, and seem determined to finally get into Government. They deserve it on their own efforts but they are relying on Labour who will be worrying and disappointing them.

Without Labour improving substantially Greens look like at best competing for attention and influence amongst a mish mash coalition but more likely being denied by Labour’s failure.

Many voters are happy to see Greens in the mix but one negative is there is a wariness (and in some cases fear) of Greens getting to much influence, especially on economic matters. Some Green good, too much Green scary is a common sentiment.

Likely result range 10-15%.

NZ First

NZ First have been polling from a bit under to a bit over the magic 5%.

Most expect them to lift a bit in the run up to voting as happened last year but National will be taking as much care as possible not to hand Winston Peters another opportunity like the cup of tea debacle.

Peters is a seasoned campaigner and the media help his cause because he is good for stories, but time will tell whether there is too much seasoning in the old warrior and too little substance in the rest of the party as the other MPs have failed to impress.

One thing that may make it harder is direct competition for attention  and votes with the Conservative Party.

Likely result range 4-6%.

Maori Party

Poll results have been low for the Maori Party. That doesn’t usually matter because in all elections they have contested so far they have got more electorate seats than their party vote would give them so it has been unnecessary. Last election they got 1.43%.

It’s tougher for them in electorates this time with Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia retiring. It will be challenging for them to retain their current three seats, with some suggesting they might lose most or all of them.

There will be strong competition from the Dotcom financed MANA Party, but they may be helped by Labour’s woes.

For the first time the party vote may matter to the Maori Party, especially if they only hold one electorate seat.

Likely result range 1-2%.

Conservative Party

Polls have been in the 1-3% range. It’s now looking unlikely National will help Colin Craig in an electorate so they may have to get 5% to make it. That will be difficult, especially if Winston Peters competes openly with them.

Formed just before the last election the Conservatives got 2.65% and hope to improve on that. They have had much more exposure but that may have lost as much support as it has gained. Craig still seems politically naive. He has tried to turn the ‘Crazy Colin’ meme to his advantage but that’s a risky strategy.

Conservative fortunes are relying on National’s decision this week but it’s not looking positive for them.

UPDATE: John Key has just stated that National won’t help Craig in East Coast Bays so Conservatives only hope is getting 5%, which looks a big hurdle.

Likely result range 2-3%.

ACT Party

Act has been polling poorly, often under 1%.

Act were in turmoil last election with a very Brash takeover and installing John Banks as Epsom candidate. Banks won to save Act but has had a troubled term.

Act have made a concerted effort to rebuild over two elections. They have split responsibilities between Jamie Whyte as party leader and David Seymour in Epsom. Seymour looks a good bet in Epsom but the political jury is still out on Whyte and Act.

Much could come down to how Whyte looks in the minor party debates. He is intelligent and has good political knowledge but can look to serious and too polite – he hasn’t been forceful enough in interviews.

Act may benefit from being an alternative to giving National sole charge.

Likely result range 1-3%.

United Future

UnitedFuture has been languishing in polls, as often on 0% as slightly above.

More than ever UF hopes seem to rest solely on Peter Dunne in Ohariu. His chances are reasonable there. He has held the seat for thirty years so is very well known. He hasn’t had the best of terms but seems determined to rebuild his credibility.

Dunne looks to have been helped by all the major parties:

  • National have a new candidate who looks likely to campaign for the aprty vote only and has been given an almost certain list position.
  • Labour’s Charles Chauvel resigned mid term and has been replaced by a relative unknown.
  • Green’s Gareth Hughes has withdrawn from the electorate to promote youth and party vote and has been replaced by someone.

Like last election voters are likely to return Dunne and ignore the party. The party seems to be virtually ignoring the party.

Likely result range 0.3-0.7%.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

ALCP rarely feature in opinion polls, but they manage to get votes in elections. In 2011 they got 0.52%.

They are under new management this time and are likely to get some stoner and protest votes but 5% is just too high a hurdle for the influential media to pay them any attention.

Likely result range 0.4-0.8%.

Internet Mana Party

As a newly formed combo IMP have been polling 1-2%. They have a huge budget so will feature in the attention seeking stakes.

And while Kim Dotcom can’t stand as a candidate his attention seeking will keep him to the forefront of party success or failure.

Dotcom is promising a town hall circus five days before election day – he thinks this will destroy John Key and National but it could just as easily backfire.

His personal crusade is to oust the National Government. He is more likley to fracture the left wing vote and scare people off a Labour let government.

IMP’s monetary might will gain them some party votes but may fail in the ultimate aim.

Likely result range 2-4%.

Summary

IMP could be pivotal in the final result but it looks most likely to be a failure for them and a win for National with a few small allies.

Fairfax exclude small parties from poll results

Fairfax released their latest IPSOS poll on Saturday. How did the small parties fare? It’s been difficult to find out.

If you go to Stuff’s See the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll you’ll find detailed breakdowns of support for National, Labour, Greens and NZ First, but nothing at all for other parties (apart from a mention in the projected make up of Parliament.

I did manage to find a mention of all parties in a non-Fairfax report, so they must have shared the results.

So I’ve included all parties here: Fairfax/IPSOS poll good for National.

But in what appears to be the main Stuff coverage of the poll – National on wave of optimism – poll – the Conservative and Internet Parties get a mention (neither are currently in Parliament and the Internet Party isn’t official yet and Kim DotCom has promised to self-destruct it if as expected it fails to poll above 5%) . But there is nothing for Maori Party, Mana Party, ACT and UnitedFuture.

I tweeted my disappointment on the exclusion of over have the parties:

@dpfdpf @tracy_watkins @avancenz @VernonSmall @michaelfoxnz Very poor not publishing full party results.

One of them responded:

@tracy_watkins
Not poor. Party vote breakdown in the paper and on Stuff. Where were you looking?

I didn’t see the print version, but I’ve searched Stuff and can’t find it. I asked Tracey:

I’ve looked on Stuff in all the references to the poll I can find. Can you give me a link?

I didn’t get a reply to that.

The small parties don’t get much support in polls, including this one, and this won’t be helped when major media exclude them. The Fairfax poll coverage favours the large parties and larger small parties.

UPDATE: an Australian tweet with a link to an Australian news site has the full results.

Roy Morgan@roymorganonline

NZ PM’s National could govern alone: poll http://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/nz-pms-national-could-govern-alone-poll/story-e6frfkui-1226827958906  via @newscomauHQ

 

Act take a big risk

Act have taken a big risk in their selection of Jamie Whyte as Act leader and David Seymour as their candidate for the pivotal Epsom seat.

They have left out experienced politician and campaigner and widely respected good bloke John Boscawen and instead have chosen two virtually unknown political novices.

Act’s situation has been precarious for years, particularly with John Banks now in serious in trouble and indicating he will bow out this year. Ironically Banks gave the stand-out speech when Parliament opened for the year  last week.

Feedback on yesterday’s selection (by the Act board, members don’t take part in the selection) from Act supporters and Epsom voters is mixed. Some are very disappointed by the rejection of Boscawen and say they won’t vote Act now. Others are pleased to see the party redefining itself with fresh faces.

It’s difficult to judge how many voters will be attracted by a more ideological Act as opposed to a politically pragmatic party.

With Boscawen staying out of the party president role and substantially reducing his input of his own money plus his fund raising Act nor only have to get a leader and their key electorate candidate up to speed plus build a party virtually carried by Boscawen over the last year it’s going to be a huge challenge.

Whatever the Act board decided would have been a risk. Choosing a balance of down to earth experience (Boscawen) and renewal (either of the other two) would have been their safest option but they have instead taken a bigger risk going for novices.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the Act camble will pay off or not over the next nine months.

NZ Herald report:

Dr Whyte, aged 48, has recently returned to live in New Zealand from abroad and has only recently become active in the party.

Mr Seymour, aged 30, first stood for Act in 2005 in Mt Albert against former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Last election he stood in Auckland Central.

He has been working for a think-tank in Canada and may well have returned permanently had he not been made candidate for Epsom.

So neither have been embedded in New Zealand politics recently.

Act announcement (by acting president Barbara Astill): ACT Leadership and Epsom Candidacy

The Act Board who presumaby made the decisions:

BOARD MEMBERS:
ACT Leader John Banks
President (John Boscawen) -resigned
Vice President Barbara Astill -acting President
Treasurer Lindsay Fergusson
Auckland North Beth Houlbrooke
Auckland South John Thompson
Waikato/BoP Bonnie Leonard
Central Vacant -
Wellington Sashi Meanger
Upper South Gareth Veale
Scenic South Guy McCallum

- as listed on their website

John Boscawen corrects media comments

There has been a mixed reaction to Act’s decision to…

…announce that the person who will stand as the ACT candidate for Epsom is  and the new leader of the ACT Party will be Dr. 

The third candidate John Boscawen will obviously be disappointed. David Farrar at Kiwiblog posted in Whyte and Seymour elected:

One has to pay tribute to John Boscawen who has stood with ACT through thick and thin. It was noble of him to offer himself for the leadership and Epsom, and it is understandable that he is stepping aside.

John Boscawen has commented at Kiwiblog:

David, let me use your blog to correct a few comments in the media.

I am “not cutting my ties with Act”. I have been a continuous member of Act since 1995 and I expect to remain so. Act’s values are my values.

I told the media I fully support the Board’s decision to select Jamie and David and I wish them all the best. I hope they are successful, very successful and no one will be more pleased to be proved wrong than I.

However one of the reasons I stood was because I believed the strategy of a splitting the roles was flawed and risky. I also believed we must never take the Epsom seat for granted and I believed that with my greater profile and former parliamentary and ministerial experience I was the candidate most likely to retain Epsom. And to be recognised by the media as likely to do so as early as possible in the campaign. I also believed that my strategy was the best chance for David and Jamie to get into parliament, and I still do today at 5.20 on February 2nd.

Given however that I had a different view to the one chosen, I told the Board yesterday that I would consider a rejection of my proposal to be a vote of no confidence in me, and that I would have no alternative but to stand down as president. No self respecting person in the same circumstances would do otherwise. It is also only fair to Jamie that he has an opportunity to select a person who could stand for election as president. He needs someone heading the party who he can have full confidence in.

Secondly, I also told the Board that while giving my own money was one issue, asking others to support a strategy I so strongly disagreed with would preclude me from asking others to support the party financially with any credibility and integrity. I have said that I am happy to sit down with both Jamie and Treasurer Lindsay Fergusson and fully brief them on donor relationships

Centre/right party preferences

After John Key’s heads up for possible coalition partners Dave@caffeine_addict has detailed all the party preferences.

John Key: “Yep!” to Peter Dunne and ACT, “Yes” to Maori Party, “Yeah OK”, to Colin Craig, “maybe” to Winston Peters.

Dunne: “Yep!” to Key, “Yes” to Maori Party ” Nope ” to Winston and Colin Craig, “maybe” to Act.

Colin Craig: “Yep” to everyone.

ACT “Yep” to Key, “Yes” to everyone else, if Key agrees.

Maori Party “Yes Sir” to Key, “Yes” to Dunne “No” to Winston, unless Key says yes, “Whatever” to Colin Craig.

Winston: “Yep” to everyone who agrees with him, “Yes” to those that might, “OK, then ” to those that won’t.

Party prospects for 2014

National will try to keep what they push through Parliament as uncontroversial as possible and be promoting the improving economic outlook as much as possible. They will sell Genesis shares and then try to consign their Mixed Ownership Model to the past. A number of their MPs have already announced their retirement at the next election, leaving openings for new talent.

Their ideal aim would be to get a majority on their own but this is very unlikely to happen (and National know this). Last election their +50% poll support eased back to a near majority but the electorate ensured they would need other party support. Their options for other parties this time are looking shaky but options are likely to emerge.

John Key will continue to hold up National support. He remains popular and despite some mistakes and lapses is mostly a masterful politician with an ordinary touch.

National would be doing extremely well to match their 2011 result (59 MPs) but are likely to ease back off this unless coalition options look unlikely and voters are scared too much by a lurch left alternative.

Labour have struggled to recover post Clark/Cullen. Goff never enthused the electorate and the Shearer experiment was a failure that took to long to rectify.

David Cunliffe did well to win the leadership battle but he has struggled to define himself clearly. He has become known for yeah/nah and talking out of both sides of his mouth to different audiences. This highlights one of his biggest challenges, how to satisfy the more left leaning party activists but attract the bigger centre-left vote. Tying Labour’s chances closely to the Greens makes this more challenging.

Labour are still very light on policies and what they have announced don’t look like election winners. Their power policy looked more like an anti-National anti-asset sale keep up with the Greens reaction rather than a well thought through policy. Their massive house building programme will worry voters about spending despite Labour’s claims the policy will eventually self-fund, and it also has a risk of appearing to be a housing lolly scramble that will only benefit the lucky.

Cunliffe had a few months to find his way followed by a timely holiday break. He has most of the year to define himself, his leadership and his party. Finding the right tone and an electable balance will test him.

Labour also have to grapple with the harder left and much closer association with the Greens – they have changed over this term from a major party competing one-to-one with National to a party dependent on the Greens as a minimum and possibly also Mana and NZ First.

Even if Cunliffe manages his own party’s political mix well Labour has to also hope that other parties to their left don’t scare the voters too much.

Labour should improve on their last election record low result (27%), but they have already conceded they won’t compete on their own with National. They will do well to make the high forties.

The Green Party Improved very well in their last term to fourteen MPs and had hoped to continue an upward trend, but polls have shown this may not be easy for them. They have pretty much flatlined – and this has been substantially helped by Labour’s lack of traction. If Labour rise then Greens will struggle to go up with them, they could even slip a bit.

The Green rise has created a problem. They have changed from a quirky environmental party with substantial partial support to a power player with aims of major financial influence in the next government. This scares many voters who otherwise like to see someone speaking up for the environment.

Russel Norman did well to appear as the de facto opposition  leader through most of the year but slipped back as Cunliffe stepped up. Norman has fought some good fights but there’s significant resistance to his economic leanings.

Co-leader Metiria Turei highlights a major Green contradiction – an obviously well dressed well fed academic upper middle class party fighting for the poor and fighting against poverty. They appear to be speaking for but not with their target constituency. Do-gooders out of touch reality.

And even on their environmental campaigns Greens are annoying some of their potential support. Most people don’t see a prosperous future for cyclists without jobs.

Green ideals of green energy and green jobs and green printed money look like little more than slick marketing.

And too much talk of taxing more to hand out more, of equal everything regardless of effort, is worrying many people.

Greens may do well to hold their number of MPs but may be disappointed in a lack of improvement, especially if Labour reverse their lacklustre efforts and make a bold showing.

NZ First are an unknown – will they make 5% or won’t they? Apart from Winston Peters their MPs haven’t made much of an impression, living in their leader’s shadow toeing his line ensures that.

Peters is showing his age and his lack of being anything other than a scattergun spoiler with far more failures than successes. Even his success last year were hardly election saving, some scored him for his attacks on Peter Dunne but his failure to back up his accusations with any evidence at all left a major taint.

In Parliament Peters is still prominent but it isn’t always pretty. He often seems to be struggling. He is fading.

And Peters cannot bet on being gifted the media attention he wangled over the cup of tea fiasco last election. His opportunism requires opportunities and he may not get them on a plate next time.

Last term Peters could devote all his time to campaigning. This time he has to share that with appearing to be credible in Parliament and running a party. It will be tough for him, and his toughness is waning.

Making the threshold is possible but will be difficult, especially if voters are scared off a Peters dictated coalition.

The Maori Party continue to struggle. They have to battle against their close association with the current Government even though they more often vote against National. And they have struggled with leadership transition.

Te Ururoa Flavell will have to step up as Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia retire. And the party will have to compete against strong Labour attacks on their electorates.

They should hold a seat or two, but that would be slipping from their current three.

The Mana Party should be safe with Hone Harawira’s seat and could manage to rise to also get a list seat but that’s as far as they are likely to get. On numbers that may not be a big improvement but it could put Mana into a powerful position of having the votes that decide a coalition, and also the votes that decide a lot of legislation if a Labour lead left bloc succeed.

This may help Mana’s chances of improving their party vote. But it may also make it harder for a left bloc to get enough votes to form a coalition – there is much wariness of a possible Labour-Green government but those concerns increase substantially with Labour-Green-Mana.

The Act Party is in disarray again. John Banks was a ring in that managed to succeed, but he is now dropping out under a major cloud. As has been the case for the last couple of elections Act is being written off by many.

But they have a chance of surviving. John Boscawen is working hard in the background and is determined to revive their fortunes.

If Act can come up with a viable candidate for Epsom they could hold that electorate (with National’s help). And if that candidate looks genuinely Act and they can put up a strong list they could be seen by voters as a legitimate alternative to National to get another seat or two. But it’s a big task.

United Future are again totally reliant on Peter Dunne. Last year was disastrous apart from the surge in membership, but if the party doesn’t get it’s act together that may hope may have been in vain.

Dunne has a reasonable chance of holding Ohariu. This will depend a lot on how much help he gets from National (it seems likely he’ll get some) and how strong a candidate Labour pout up and how strongly they contest the electorate. Greens have effectively left the electorate up to Labour by withdrawing Gareth Hughes from contention reducing the chance of splitting the left vote.

Dunne will have a big battle on his hands but seems determined to have a go at redeeming himself. He may succeed.

But United Future continues to have a major problem appealing to voters. The party is not doing a good job of even appealing to their new member base. Unless there’s a major change in approach, or unless they manage to recruit more high profile electable candidates, United Future will remain, at best, a single MP party.

The Conservative Party currently has every opportunity of making a mark. John Key has indicated he may boost their chances to help National, and late last year the media flocked to Colin Craig. This gave the party a huge lift in exposure, but it wasn’t always good exposure. The party didn’t lift in the polls.

How much help National give the Conservatives will determine their chances, especially if Craig is given a win-able electorate by National. That could get them one MP. And it could help their chances of making the 5% threshold. But that is still a huge target for an MP-less party that has stayed in the 1-3% range in the polls.

If money can buy power then Colin Craig make make it, but a huge budget failed last time. This time round it’s too soon to call.

The Civilian Party is a wild card. It has been promised by Ben Uffindell, riding on the success of his satirical blog. Starting a political party from scratch is a much bigger task, but Uffindell has proven he is innovative and smart, and has made a lot of friends in the media.

Uffindell’s biggest challenge will be motivating a younger constituency to vote, and to vote for non-status quo. How he approaches this will be interesting. How the party is positioned may matter in the balance of votes, even if The Civilian Party fails to make the threshold.

There’s huge disillusionment in New Zealand politics. If Uffindell sell something different and tap this huge voter base it could get interesting. Of course this depends on whether Uffindell launches a serious party or not.

Offering something entirely different has far more chance of interesting a few of the many who opt out of voting, and The Civilian Party may have a much better chance of doing this than the Labour-Green approach of convincing the dis-enfranchised that the same old socialism is worth voting for.

It will be an interesting year. It could be very interesting.

Can Hide save Act?

Now it’s official that John Banks won’t stand again next year Act can be open about seeking someone capable of winning Epsom and rebuilding Act in Parliament.

Inevitably Rodney Hide is one of the first to be touted. He has recent experience in both Epsom and Parliament and would be the person most likely to succeed. If he is willing. Backed by a background John Boscawen he would give Act supporters real hope – and he would also give John Key hope that there was a realistic chance of retaining a right wing partner.

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide’s fans keen for a comeback after Banks’ departure

Former Act leader Rodney Hide is being courted by supporters in the party to make a comeback in Epsom to replace outgoing leader John Banks, the Herald understands.

Several sources told the Herald Mr Hide had been approached recently and urged to consider a return to Act and to national politics.

One insider said Mr Hide would be nominated by Epsom party members whether he liked it or not. Mr Hide did not return calls yesterday.

It would be extremely difficult for a political novice to lead a party, campaign in and win an electorate, and establish themselves in Parliament. Banks succeeded in Epsom but after a decade’s absence and no colleagues to work with he found it very hard in Parliament. It didn’t help that he was not a yellow blooded Actoid.

Rodney Hide is certainly Act’s best hope for survival. If he can’t be persuaded to return to national politics Act will find it very difficult to keep a toe in Parliament’s door. They might find someone else with enough profile and ability to pull off Epsom but that’s only the first step to recovery.

Interestingly on Firstline this morning John Boscawen was asked if he would have another go and he avoided the question, talking around it.

“I made the decision prior to the last election not to seek re-election in 2011, and that wasn’t a decision that I regretted.”

Hide backed by Boscawen would have immediate respect and a decent chance of success.

Helen Clark supporting the GCSB amendments

Helen Clark was interviewed on Q+A this morning and was asked about the GCSB.

She confirmed that she saw GCSB security as essential. She acknowledged that the Kitteridge report had identified a hole in the GCSB legislation she had implemented in 2003.

And she seemed to pretty much support the amendments as proposed by National, along with the amendments negotiated by Peter Dunne.  This clarifies in law what had been assumed and had been done in practice. And it adds better oversight, with regular reviews promised.

Her only criticism was that it hasn’t involved a cross party effort with less playing politics.

Three parties have involved themselves in improving the legislation – National, Act and United Future (although National have been playing a bit of politics too).

There is still time for the other parties to engage positively. It’s there choice.

I’ll add video and transcript links to Clark’s interview when they become available this afternoon.

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