Labour denial and delusion continues

NZ Herald asks What’s wrong with Labour? Len Richards, Service and Food Workers Union organiser, provides some explanations, but not in the way he intended.

What went wrong?

More than a decade of dirty politics aimed at demonising and destabilising the Labour Party by well-organised and well-funded opponents have taken their toll.

The ‘dirty politics’ excuse is wearing thin. Attempts at “demonising and destabilising” opposing parties have been a part of politics forever. Nicky Hager overplayed the ‘dirty politics’ hand to swing the election and failed – it helped National more than the left.

I don’t like dirty politics but that’s a criticism aimed as much at Labour and the left as National and the right.

The opinion polls reflect the public mood deliberately created by the spin doctors of the right, and the very poor election results for Labour over the last three elections reflect the polls.

“The polls are rigged” is another tired old excuse. Like David Cunliffe Richards is avoiding responsibility, but poll conspiracies tend towards nut-job territory.

In response, our last two campaigns were run by many electorates as if MMP did not exist. Labour tried to win electorate seats rather than the party vote.

Blaming some electorate MPs is indicative of the factional rift that is tearing Labour apart. It’s up to the party leader and organisation to lead the campaign for party votes.

This time Labour received 200,000 more candidate votes (34 per cent) than party votes (25 per cent).

Perhaps that’s an indication that while some candidates are well supported by voters the party as a whole was not seen as a viable lead party in Government. Failure from the top again.

With 34 per cent of party votes we would be in government.

A forlorn “what if”. If Labour had got 34% instead of 25% (a huge reality gap) with Green’s 1-11% they would still have relied on Winston Peters to choose Labour over National.

How can Labour fix it?

A leadership change now will do more harm to Labour than good. David Cunliffe is more than a match for John Key. Our problems lie elsewhere.

The current lack of leadership – Cunliffe barricaded himself at home after the election, emerged to take a battering from his caucus on Tuesday and then disappeared back home for the rest of the week.

Cunliffe was far from a match for John Key, talking over him in a few debates didn’t win anything.

(NZ Herald)

Heads in the sand won’t revive Cunliffe’s leadership. Who wants a Prime Minister who goes into hiding “to contemplate his future” when the going gets tough? Cunliffe was unpopular with voters last Saturday. That has likely deteriorated significantly since then.

Labour’s policies are not “too left wing”. We lost votes to NZ First because Winston Peters outflanked us on the left. Labour pulled its punches.

Peters outflanked Labour on the left and right.

Labour needs to build its base among the people it represents. We need to turn outwards, to recruit, and to organise.

Yep. Should have been working on that after their 2008 defeat. Now it’s hard to know what people Labour represents apart from some out of touch unionists.

We need to go on the offensive and put up a credible alternative to the domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost. And campaign for the party vote.

“The domination of society by the pursuit of profit at any cost.” Out of touch with reality unionist. There’s a few on the left who believe this bull but most voters don’t see it as anything other than ideological nonsense.

If a business pursues profit ‘at any cost’ it will probably cost them their business.

Is the party prepared to do it?

The party showed over the last period that it is prepared to take a strong stance. The change in rules to democratise the election of the leader and the election of David Cunliffe is evidence of this.

This resulted in the election of a leader that didn’t have the support or confidence of his caucus. That’s proven disastrous for Labour in the election and this week.

The party needs to continue to stand firm and deal with its internal discipline problems.

Deal with it’s internal discipline how? Sack the majority of caucus? That’s not even possible, they are elected for another three years.

Whippings and unityI posted this when things were much better in Labour.

The Labour Party has a rock-solid social base. We can take heart from these supporters who gave us more than 60 per cent of the party votes in some electorates.

Rock solid?

  • 2002 – 41%
  • 2005 – 41%
  • 2008 – 34%
  • 2011 – 27%
  • 2014 – 25%

Very few electorates gave Labour more votes than National last Saturday.

As the problems of a system in crisis worsen and proliferate, Labour solutions will gain support if we organise and mobilise around them.

This is tragically ironic as the problems of a Labour in crisis worsen and proliferate.

The people see through old Labour and old unions with their forlornly fading fulminations.

Sorry to Len Richards for picking on him but he’s symptomatic of the entrenched old guard at The Standard and elsewhere in social media and the Cunliffe residence.

Labour needs something different, new and forward looking. That won’t happen if they continue to be dragged down by denial and delusion.

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.

Gagging social media on election day

Now we have heavily promoted advance voting for two weeks leading up to the election, during which time campaigning for votes is full on, it’s more than a little anachronistic that on election day itself publishing anything that may influence how someone votes is forbidden by our electoral law.

This was originally an exclusion on media advertising or reporting. That is now extended to not only blogging but to all social media commenting.

Up until Thursday night (Friday’s figures haven’t been posted yet) the Electoral Commission report that 557,174 people had advance voted and they expect the final figure to be around 700,000.

In the 2011 election 2,278,989 voted. If a similar total votes this time that means about one third will have advance voted while campaigning and vote soliticiting was very active.

So it’s odd that the rest of us are protected from influence in election day.

The Electoral Commission states:

ELECTION DAY RULES FOR CANDIDATES, PARTIES AND THIRD PARTIES

This guidance has been produced to help candidates, parties and third parties comply with the law by setting out the general rules for behaviour on election day and during the advance voting period.

Any activities (including advertising) promoting the election of a candidate or party, or attacking a party or candidate, are prohibited on election day before 7pm (Saturday 20 September 2014) and are a criminal offence. The full list of prohibited activities is set out insection 197 of the Electoral Act which effectively prohibits anything that can be said to interfere with or influence voters, including processions, speeches or public statements.

Summary of the rules for candidates, parties and third parties

On election day you must not:

  • Display any hoardings – all election signs must be taken down or covered up before election day.
  • Display any other election advertising – cover up or place away from public view vehicles advertising parties or candidates (this includes flags and bumper stickers).
  • Distribute any campaign material.
  • Distribute or display anything showing political party or candidate names.
  • Post election-related material online. This includes election-related posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. 
  • Take part in any election-related demonstration or procession.
  • Wear or display clothing that promotes a political party or candidate.
  • Conduct opinion polling of voters.

In relation to websites and social media:

Social media on election day

There are additional restrictions on election day.  On election day (from midnight on 19 September until 7pm on 20 September) there is a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for. 

Election advertising does not have to be removed from social media so long as:

  • the material was published before election day
  • the material is only made available to people who voluntarily access it, and
  • no advertisements promoting the page or site are published on election day.  

If you use social media, do not post messages on election day that could breach these rules.  The Commission recommends candidates and parties temporarily deactivate their Facebook campaign pages to avoid the risk of supporters committing an offence by posting on your page.  For other forms of social media where others can post comments the Commission recommends that where possible security settings are changed so that other people cannot post messages before 7pm on election day. 

Posts on social media that are not connected in any way with the election can of course be posted on election day.

So as long as you post something prior to midnight on election eve it’s fine, even if it is prominently displayed during election day. But you supposedly can’t post anything on election day.

While most of the Electoral Commission advice relates to parties and candidates “a general prohibition of the publication of any statement that is likely to influence which candidate or party a person should, or should not, vote for” implies that these gagging rules apply to everyone.

To an extent this is understandable, if individuals were allowed to promote party and candidate voting then parties would find ways to sneak around the rules.

But when an increasingly large proportion of people vote while campaigning is in full swing this seems anachronistic.

I wasn’t going to tell you who you should vote for anyway. Just make an effort to vote if you are inclined towards voting.

Coalition possibilities many and varied

The polls show that the election is up for grabs with a number of coalition possibilities, depending on the final vote of course.

Tracey Watkins summarises the state of play at Stuff and details Possible coalition line-ups after election.

National’s options:

❏ National in coalition with NZ First.

Key’s preference would be to have Winston Peters on one side of him and allies including ACT, UnitedFuture and the Maori Party on the other to give himself options to move to either the Left or Right. But Peters is jealous of his rivals and might make it a condition that the others be kept out in the cold. Key has made it clear the deputy prime ministership would be on the table, but Peters’ previous record as foreign affairs minister would make that an obvious job. Senior Nats have also mused about the Speakership but Peters has so far rubbished that. National would have to make some concessions on foreign investment but could probably live with modest tinkering. Peters has also put tackling exports, immigration, poverty and unemployment on his shopping list. A key sticking point might be tax cuts – National has promised them in its third term, Peters say they are unaffordable.

❏ National in coalition with Colin Craig’s Conservatives.

National’s preference would be a deal in which the Conservatives offer confidence and supply but don’t receive any ministerial portfolios. Craig has previously suggested this would be his preference as well, but a rush of blood to the head once the corridors of power are opened to him could see the Conservative Party leader attempt to drive a harder bargain. If forced to rely on Craig Key’s preference would be to keep his distance – meaning he might try to strike a deal with Peters as well. Craig has made binding referendums a bottom line of his support but has left the door open for a way around that by allowing for a financial veto.

❏ National and the Greens.

The Greens and Key have all but ruled this out  – but after a mad election campaign anything is possible. If the Greens were able to wring significant concessions and pivotal portfolios out of National would they cross the line? Unlikely, maybe even impossible – but never say never.

In 2011 National got 47.31% of the vote and were able to make a majority with two seats from ACT and UnitedFuture. A repeat is a possibility  but it would be a little surprising if National equalled or surpassed their record high of last election.

Labour’s options.

❏ Labour and the Greens.

On current polling Labour is too weak to make this option viable. If it got across the line the Greens would want significant concessions and key portfolios including finance. Cunliffe has ruled that out but would have to concede economic development or similar. New Zealand might also see its first co-deputy prime ministership.

Labour and the Greens are promising sweeping reforms on everything from taxes, to the way the Reserve Bank operates, regulating the housing markets, a massive programme to build affordable houses and more interventionist policies to encourage the growth of a smart, green economy. A capital gains tax to rein in the housing market, raising the pension age and universal KiwiSaver all signal a big shift away from the status quo.

❏ Labour, the Greens and NZ First.

The last time Labour was in government with NZ First the Greens were locked out of any power sharing deal at Peters’ insistence. They are much too strong to allow that to happen this time round and Peters’ rhetoric around the Greens has mellowed in recent times in recognition of that reality. On policy, this grouping seems reasonably compatible – they are in sync on issues including foreign investment and monetary policy, but Peters would refuse to deal unless Labour scrapped its plan to raise the age of eligibility for superannuation.

❏ Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Internet-Mana.

If Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau seat Labour may not have the numbers to govern without the Internet-Mana Party to get it over the line. Cunliffe has stressed that he has no intention of doing a coalition deal with IMP but is banking on having the minor party’s votes all the same. He is banking that it will have nowhere else to go since it is unlikely Harawira would ever back a National government.

Voter’s options: many and varied – if you haven’t voted you can help make something happen.

Final pre-election poll results

All five polls have been published in the final week of the election campaign.

Stuff/IPSOS
No polling period given, poll date 17 September

  • National 47.7% (-5.1)
  • Labour 26.1% (+3.7))
  • Greens 12.0% (-1.0)
  • New Zealand First 6.6% (+2.2)
  • Conservative Party 4.5% (+0.9)
  • Maori Party 1.0% (+0.7)
  • Internet-Mana Party 0.9% (-0.5)
  • Act NZ 0.3% (-0.4)
  • United Future 0 (no change)

Poll results and poll report: Tight race ahead for Key and Cunliffe

Our poll provides a maximum sampling error of +/-3.1%-point, at the 95% confidence level. This means we can be 95% confident that the survey results are within 3.1% of the result had we surveyed the entire population of the NZ population, when the analysis is based on all respondents surveyed.

One News/Colmar Brunton
13-17 September

  • National 45.1% (-1)
  • Labour 25.2% no change)
  • Greens 12.5% (-2)
  • New Zealand First 8.1% (+1)
  • Conservative Party 4.4% (+0.4)
  • Maori Party 1.6% (+0.8)
  • Internet-Mana Party 1.8% (+0.4)
  • Act NZ 0.6%
  • United Future 0

Summary and Detailed Report (PDF)

The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level. This is the sampling error for a result around 50%. Results higher and lower than 50% have a smaller sampling error. For example, results around 10% and 5% have sampling errors of approximately ±1.9% points and ±1.4% points respectively, at the 95% confidence level.

NZ Herald/Digipoll
11-17 September

  • National 48.2% (-0.4)
  • Labour 25.9% (+1.3)
  • Green 11.1% (-0.4)
  • NZ First 8.4% (+0.3)
  • Conservatives 3.3% (-0.5)
  • Internet-Mana 1.0% (-1.3)
  • Maori 1.1% (+0.4)
  • ACT 0.5% (+0.2)
  • UnitedFuture O.2% (+0.2)

Pre-poll report: DigiPoll: Conservatives fail to make 5 per cent threshold – again

Poll report: Moment of Truth gifts Team Key a late bounce in polls

The poll of 775 eligible voters was conducted between September 11 – 17 The Party Vote is of decided voters only. Undecided voters were 5.6 per cent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

“The Moment of truth” split:

The Kim Dotcom-inspired event in Auckland’s Town Hall that was supposed to end John Key’s career gave the National Party an immediate bounce in support this week, according to polling for the last Herald DigiPoll survey.

With 60 per cent of the poll done by Monday night, when the event happened, National was polling at 47.8 per cent, down on last week, said DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak. From Tuesday it jumped to 49.1 per cent.

3 News/Reid Research
September 9-15

  • National 44.5% (-2.2)
  • Labour 25.6% (-0.5)
  • Greens 14.4% (+1.4)
  • New Zealand First 7.1% (+1.2)
  • Conservative Party 4.9% (+0.2)
  • Maori Party 1.1% (-0.2)
  • Internet-Mana Party 2.0% (0.3)
  • Act NZ 0.1% (-0.2)
  • United Future 0.1%

Report: Poll: Winston holds balance of power
(it’s far to close to call specific outcomes with Conservatives on 4.9% which is teetering either way)

Poll of 1000 voters was taken between September 9 and 15 with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. 

Result table: http://www.reidresearch.co.nz/TV3+POLL+RESULTS.html

Roy Morgan:
September 1-14

  • National 46.5% (+1.5)
  • Labour 24.0% (-2.0)
  • Greens 13.5% (-2.5)
  • New Zealand First 8.0% (+2.0)
  • Conservative Party 3.5% (no change)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (+ 1.0)
  • Internet-Mana Party 1.0% (no change)
  • Act NZ 0.5% (-0.5)
  • United Future 0.5% (+0.5)
  • Independent/ Others 1.0% (no change)

Roy Morgan rounds to the nearest 0.5%

Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 935 electors from September 1-14, 2014. Of all electors surveyed 5% (up 1.5%) didn’t name a party.

D-Day versus Key-Day

Tonight Kim Dotcom will have his big time in his own spotlight, an event he calls “The Moment of Truth”. He is trying to place himself on the same pedestal as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden – they have one thing in common, they are all being sought by countries for extradition and prosecution, but beyond that Dotcom is an odd associate.

John Key has created a climate of doubt that it will be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so media will not just be broadcasting the supposed revelations unchallenged, they will be looking for Key’s response. That was a smart play by Key who has had months to prepare for this.

Dotcom may have sidelined himself by bringing Glenn Grenwald to New Zealand to headline his show with supposed revelations that our GCSB has been undertaking mass surveillance on us.

Greenwald is usually labeled a journalist – and his Pulitzer prize is often mentioned – but he is also a side taking political activist. In his own words in a recent interview for Metro:

I’ve been very clear that I’m not neutral on the question of mass surveillance. It’s dangerous and I oppose it. I’m supportive of political parties around the world that have made it an important part of their platform to work against it, whether it be the Green Party in Europe or the Green Party here, or the Internet Party, or the Techno Pirate party in Sweden.

He has deliberately chosen to reveal what he claims during our election for “maximum impact”.

I think it’s entirely legitimate for a journalist to think about how to maximise public awareness of the reporting that you’re doing. And I knew that by physically travelling here, at this time, when the citizenry is most engaged politically, that would present an excellent opportunity to bring as much attention as possible to these matters.

That sounds more like political activism, and interference in a country’s democratic process.

Key has upped the ante prior to the show, putting his political credibility and probably his political future on the line. Andrea Vance reports at Stuff:

Greenwald says the Government hasn’t been truthful about the GCSB legislation, which passed into law in August 2013.

Key insists Greenwald is “absolutely wrong”.

“He said the GCSB is undertaking mass surveillance against New Zealanders. They are not. There is no ambiguity, no middle ground. I’m right, he’s wrong.”

He says he has documents, including a Cabinet paper, to back his claims. But he won’t release them until Greenwald reveals what he has. And he accused the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of playing politics, by staging a “sound and light show” with Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom, just days before the election.

Greenwald will join Dotcom at a “Moment of Truth” event tonight in Auckland, where he is set to detail his claims about the GCSB.

Key claims the Snowden documents tell only half the story – that Cabinet signed off proposals for the GCSB to investigate “widespread cyber protection” in early 2012 after two “significant” cyber attacks on Kiwi companies.

But he says that after a year he stopped the work as an internal review unearthed a raft of problems at the agency.

Despite Key’s counter attack Greenwald remains staunch that what he doesn’t know won’t affect the impact of his accusations. He is backing is part of ‘the truth’ being enough truth.

Despite no other world leaders disputing Greenwald’s previous disclosures about other countries in the Five Eyes alliance, Key said: “He’s absolutely wrong . . . he’s releasing hacked information which is presenting a picture which is completely incomplete . . . what I can say to New Zealanders is do not believe them.”

Key looks to be well prepared. It’s not known yet how well prepared Greenwald is to have his allegations strongly challenged. He may have come here thinking New Zealand would be an easy hit after his efforts with the USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

We will have to see what Greenwald produces tonight, and then what Key counters with. Waiting for Key’s response will diffuse the impact of the show tonight.

Dotcom is also going to try and prove Key wrong, but his cases have been overshadowed by his big-noting with international anti-surveillance activists. Whether Key knew Dotcom before he has claimed, just prior to the Dotcom raid, seems relatively trivial.

Dotcom also wants to prove he was granted residency in New Zealand to make it easier for the US to extradite him supposedly at the request of Hollywood.

John Armstrong says that Dotcom’s credibility is also on the line in Dotcom’s last chance to shine.

It is delivery time for Kim Dotcom. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. He must deliver the irrefutable evidence that he has repeatedly promised to show that the Prime Minister has not told the truth.

Dotcom’s “moment of truth” must be a moment of proof. He must prove that the Prime Minister has not been straight with the public, firstly regarding exactly when he became aware of the Megaupload mogul and, secondly, that the intelligence agencies for which John Key has ministerial responsibility have conducted mass surveillance.

There can be no room for doubt. There can be no reliance on the circumstantial. There can be no shifting of goalposts by saying the fuss is all really about New Zealand spying on other countries.

If tonight exposes Dotcom as nothing more than a big-noting charlatan who has attempted to hijack the electoral system, then the public backlash could be withering.

Dishing the dirt on Key in the last week of the campaign may have seemed a clever move when the idea was first mooted within internet-Mana. It may yet be the the final humiliation for the parties of the left in an election campaign that has been turning into a disaster for them.

Key will also be prepared for this.

In founding and financing a political party Dotcom has a stated aim of bringing down Key and the National Government. This already looks like having backfired, with National looking reasonably strong and the Internet-Mana Party failing to attract substantial support.

It’s possible Dotcom will land a big hit on Key tonight, but it could as easily benefit Key and National more than it hurts them, especially if Dotcom’s fireworks are a fizzer.

This campaign circus will make it very difficult for an already failing Labour and other parties to get any worthwhile attention in the final days leading up to the election.

Some on the left are hoping Dotcom will rescue a desperate situation for them. They are betting the election on Greenwald’s cards and have already shown they are prepared to take Glenn’s gospel as the whole truth and the only truth. They are already convinced Key is a liar so will disregard anything he says as usual.

The election that has been taken over by international political activists and a German trying desperately to stay in New Zealand to avoid prosecution in the US.

But voters across the spectrum get to make the final judgement on Saturday. The final polls over the next couple of days may be less able than usual to predict what might happen, they will not reflect what comes out of tonight’s “moment of truth” and the ensuing counter truths and arguments.

Dotcom’s big day has arrived. Key looks confident and well prepared.

We will never get the full truth from either side, but the country will judge Dotcom and Greenwald (most Kiwis won’t have heard of him) versus one of New Zealand’s most popular Prime Ministers ever.

Today is D-Day. Saturday is Key-Day, one way or another.

Two weeks – what can happen now?

A lot can happen in the last two weeks of a campaign, and this election has more drama than Shortland Street, absent the soap (things are still dirty).

It has been common in the past for significant moves to happen late. This campaign has been different with the early injection of the ‘Dirty Politics’ book and ensuing distraction. Political integrity is important but dropping a left handed grenade into a campaign has had unexpected results with an apparent firm up of support for National and Labour slipping.

Kim Dotcom is promising more drama in the final week (his town hall meeting is scheduled for Monday 15) but that may be too late and could as easily help National’s chances as score a hit. A fear of a government dictated to by Internet-Mana could be the Right’s best chance of retaining power.

National seem to have recovered from Dirty Politics (according to polls) but dropped back in the final run up to the last election. It’s expected they will struggle to match last elections record high of 47.31% and will almost certainly need some help from multiple parties to make it again. Polling about double Labour still puts National in the box seat.

Labour don’t appear to have been helped by Dirty Politics and are slipping in the polls. David Cunliffe seems to be failing to impress and was flailing over Labour’s Capital Gains Tax this week. Can Labour areest their decline or will their vote collapse as it did for National in 2002? Not a good position for them.

Greens have had occasional high (16%) and low (9%) poll results but seem to have firmed support around 12%. They will be mindful of their past drops from the polls to their election result but are likely to be excluded from any dramatics so just need to stick to their fundamentals (which they are good at doing) to do at least reasonably well.

Unlike the last two elections when the outcome for NZ First was in serious doubt it seems like they are pretty much assured of remaining in Parliament, although Winston Peters is in a battle with Colin Craig this time which complicates things. There’s a bigger question over whether Peters will be ‘kingmaker’ or will have to make do with sitting on the cross benches again.

Conservatives are very well funded by Colin Craig and are much better prepared than last election. They are improving in polls but the big unknown (until election night) is whether they will make the 5% threshold. It could be a close run result for them – and the outcome of this could make a big difference to coalition options available to National.

Internet-Mana are also very well funded and the initially made promising poll gains but seem to have hit a brick wall. Kim Dotcom looms large over the party and is both biggest benefactor and biggest liability. His final week splash may dent John Key’s chances but it could also see Internet-Mana flounder. They were always relying on Hone Harawira to succeed but also need a few percent to get more than Laila Harre into Parliament. Unless they have a fresh new trick they may be a bit of a fizzer.

Maori Party could be the quiet achiever of this election. They had been written off by some but look in a good position to retain a seat or two at least. It’s also possible they could get a list seat or two for the first time. New leader Te Ururoa Flavell has been a refreshingly candid and natural performer in minor party debates. They could benefit from voters disappointed with Mana’s links with Dotcom.

ACT look to be struggling outside of Epsom. Unless they find a new formula and attract party vote interest they look like they could end up in the unusual position of having a seat in parliament but their leader missing out. They might come up with something but there’s no sign of it yet.

UnitedFuture is more than ever relying on Peter Dunne retaining Ohariu, which looks likely. Otherwise the party is failing to rate. They keep targeting outdoors, hunting and fishing voters but that has been a very unreliable constituency for them.

The other parties are written off before they start by media so have a hopeless task other than to pick up a handful of loyal votes and perhaps some protest votes for parties like Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and The Citizen Party.

Incumbent parties have a significant advantage and that’s helped by media picking and rejecting losers and giving likely winners a big help.

The main factors in the last two weeks:

  • National securing it’s position as a reliable financial administrator and scaring voters off the alternative – balanced against whether a Key/Ede or Dotcom bombshell could be damaging.
  • Labour trying not to collapse (it’s hard to see them suddenly becoming popular)
  • Will Conservatives make the threshold (and to a lesser extent will NZ First survive thew threshold).

Greens are the least tainted and best organised party holding firm but look like being wholly dependent on other parties, and their biggest hope, Labour, may have already decided Green’s fate.

And possibly the biggest factor is which voters will turn out to vote and which ones will give up in disinterest or disgust.

Party opening addresses

ACT Party:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R071SJYRxiU

Internet-Mana Party

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OYTACE7X9KI

Green Party:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3Nqisrbw8IA

Labour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=H0hmCt_OPrM

National Party

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=945177312164531

NZ Independent Coalition

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rySAF433HZQ

UnitedFuture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=M0uaEHuxOVQ

Democrats for Social Credit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejXml70cVpE

Haven’t found yet:

Maori Party

NZ First

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.

Standard election authorisation notice

The Standard is trying to cover electoral advertising rules by having it’s own authorisation notice. This may not cover all authors and posts.

The Electoral Commission on the ‘regulated period’ for the upcoming election.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REGULATED PERIOD

The regulated period for the 2014 General Election will start on 20 June 2014 and ends with the close of the day before election day (19 September 2014).

What is the significance of the regulated period? This can be a source of confusion. The answer is that it is significant for election expenses and Parliamentary Service funding.

In terms of election expenses the regulated period is the period during which the expenditure limits for parties and candidates operate. Currently these limits are: $25,700 for candidates and $1.091 million plus $25,700 per electorate contested for parties.

However, it is not the only time that the other rules regarding election advertising apply. The requirement for a promoter statement and the requirement for written authorisation to promote a party or candidate apply at all times.

A post in typical lprent fashion at The Standard:

Time to do the authorisation notice

This site frequently has opinions from authors and comments promoting promoting political positions and telling people who they should vote for or not vote for, and why.

Because of whining in previous election periods by some of the more obnoxious fools around the blogosphere, you’ll notice that we now have a notice at the bottom of the site.

Here’s an example of some whining by an obnoxious fool (love the irony) coming up to a previous election period, in July 2008 – Why is Labour so hypocritical on transparency?

Then in 2007  burst into life. They would have you believe it is a totally independent collection of activists who just happen to not like National. The reality is somewhat different.

The Standard says they are all independent bloggers. However the following e-mail has been forwarded onto me:

From: xxxxxxx xxxxxxx
Date: 11 June 2008 12:24:42 PM
To: labourmembersofparliament@parliament.govt.nz
Cc: pm@ministers.govt.nz, mike.williams@labour.org.nz
Subject: The Standard Blog

Dear all

I have a serious issue to raise with you all. It has come to my attention that two Ministerial staffers – Chris Elder and Andrew Kirton, both political employees – are blogging anonymously at the Labour-hosted, anti-John Key blog the Standard, http://www.thestandard.org.nz.

Given that a large number of these posts (most notably those by Chris Elder or all_your_base, a communications staffer on the ninth floor) occur during office hours, do you all believe it is appropriate that political employees are spending their time blogging anonymously? Is this approved behaviour?

Kind regards

xxxxxxx xxxxxx

After I was forwarded a copy of the e-mail by a parliamentary staffer, I asked the e-mailer the basis of the information, the e-mailer replied “A young Labour person I know who is also a blogger”

It has in fact long been speculated that Elder blogged as All-your-base as this was allegedly a favourite saying of his (referring to the tag line of a famous hacking group). He has denied being involved with The Standard, and it is of course impossible to prove or disprove without computer logs.

But it is likely that two of the bloggers are Beehive communications employees, and a third is the Labour Party Head Office Communications Manager. A fourth and maybe a fifth are employed by the EPMU – Labour’s largest affiliated union.

The Standard still promotes itself as a collective of independent activists, although admitted at one stage

We set The Standard up as an independent left-wing blog in August last year. As you probably remember by about November our traffic had got so large our server was crashing every day, sometimes for hours at a time. We put out a call and at the end of last year someone from Labour emailed us and offered us some temporary server space until we worked something out.

They have worked that out long ago and have also worked out a number of operation matters. Pseudonymous authors have come and gone. Like ‘Zetetic’, who coincidentally posted not long after lprent.

John Key on Iraq in the Herald today:

We are not a country out there looking for a fight.

John Key on Iraq 2003:

That links to a video on Youtube that was first uploaded leading into the 2008 election by ‘greenwoman’, who loaded seven videos around that time all critical of John Key. Zetetic must have a good memory.

Back to the lprent post that warns of the consequences of “comments left on our site”:

Thereafter I will consider that that comments left on our site about our conformance to the Electoral Act 1993 and the Broadcasting Act 1989 about any content on site will in themselves constitute unwanted advertisements on our site, and I will take the appropriate action. This is logical extension of our existing policy about handling people who try to tell us how to run our site.

Perpetrators will have their comments deleted and will be banned until after the election.

It’s interesting doing a search at The Standard on ‘banned until after the election’. The most serious offences tend to be challenging what authors post, speculating on the identity of authors and (allegedly) diverting from the message that authors want to promote.

From The Standard ‘About':

We write here in our personal capacities and the opinions that are expressed on the blog are individual unless expressly stated otherwise (see the policy). We do not write on behalf of any organization.

That links to:

The authors write for themselves with the following exceptions.

  1. If we are putting up material from a guest poster, then it will go up under “Guest Post” and may or may not have a name or pseudonym attached.
  2. If the site is reposting material from another site with no opinion or minimal opinion from an author, then it will go up under the name of “The Standard” (aka notices and features).
  3. There are some routine posts like the daily OpenMike that will also go up under the name of “The Standard” (aka notices and features) because they also offer no opinion.

The bar is high because we like robust debate, but there is a bar.

One could imagine their barn door:

The bar is high because we like robust debate, but there is a bar on debate we don’t like.

There’s been a number of other coincidental posts from the independent authors recently. Try this search:

http://thestandard.org.nz/?s=david+farrar&isopen=block&search_posts=true&search_sortby=date

lprent has frequently been accusing David Farrar of being a paid operative of the 9th floor of the Beehive.

It’s interesting that lprent has decided to put a blanket ‘authorisation notice’ on The Standard. But that’s under his own name.

The key messages are:

  • Publishers and broadcasters must ensure that election advertisements or election-related advertisements published at any time, in any medium, contain a promoter statement.
  • Publishers and broadcasters must ensure that any election advertisement that promotes any candidate and/or party has  been authorised in writing by the candidate and/or party secretary(s) before it is published/broadcast.

(Part 1 Election Advertising)

But lprent is registering as a ‘3rd party promoter':

1.3         Registered promoters

Any individual or group who is a third party promoter who spends, or intends to spend, over $12,300 (including GST) on election advertising during the regulated period (20 June to 19 September 2014) must register with the Electoral Commission. 

The following cannot be a registered promoter:

  • a constituency candidate,
  • a list candidate,
  • a  party,an overseas person,
  • a person involved in the administration of:

                – the affairs of a candidate in relation to the candidate’s election campaign, or

                – the affairs of the party.

http://www.elections.org.nz/third-party-handbook/part-1-third-party-promoters-and-parliamentary-elections

So he must not be involved in the affairs of any candidate or party (he has previously been involved with Labour and with Helen Clark).

What I don’t know is how lprent’s site authorisation statement affects anything that could potentially be posted or commented at The Standard by candidates, parties or persons involved in the administration of candidate or party election campaigns.

But it seems logical to me that parties, candidates and any person involved in the administration of campaigns would still need their own authorisation statements.

If they were being honest and transparent. lprent concludes his post:

In my opinion this policy should neatly eliminate some of the nuisances that we have had in previous elections.

It would be a nuisance if an author or commenter who disguises their connections and their intent by using a pseudonym would have to use an authorisation statement.

The use of pseudonyms at The Standard is strongly defended. It is explained that it doesn’t mean they are anonymous, the identities are known to the blog administrator.

So lprent should know which authors and posts may not be covered by his own authorisation statement, if any. He said:

So if you think that there are issues to do with how we have done this, you now have between now and prior to the start of 20th of June 2014 to comment in this post and only this post.

I can’t comment on his post, I’m currently banned from commenting at The Standard, but lprent will see this post. He could clarify by stating that any post at The Standard by anyone or on behalf of anyone associated with a candidate or party campaign will have it’s own authorisation notice.

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