Popular Prime Ministers

There’s been some interesting charts published of Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition poll popularity.

Dim-Post On popularity:

Helen Clark was a widely respected Prime Minister who won three elections and led Government for nine years. John Key has ranked high in the popularity stakes since becoming Prime Minister.

Clark and Key have tracked very similar paths over their second terms.

Leader’s of the Opposition struggle to get recognition in polls. David Farrar at charts this at Kiwiblog in Opposition Leader in the Preferred PM poll:

Clark languished as low as 2% for her first three years as Labour leader and then shot up, presumably around the time of the 1996 election which Labour came close with 34.68% to Bolger’s National’s 35.05% to be thwarted by NZ First siding with National in coalition.

Key started much higher and kept rising until and after National won in 2008.

Phil Goff started much lower until a late climb for the 2011 election but withdrew from leadership soon after.

David Shearer had modest ups and downs before pulling the plug on a position he never looked comfortable in.

David Cunliffe picked up from there but has slid since. He’s got time to recover and challenge Key in September – but not much time.

Key’s early childhood education cost claim disputed

John Key has made claims about the costs of Labour’s early childhood education policy in Key: No big Budget spend-up (NZ Herald):

Mr Key cited Labour’s promise to increase early childhood education from 20 free hours a week for three and four years old to 25 hours a week.

The policy doesn’t take effect until July 2017 but Labour has costed it at $57 million in the first year and about $60 million after that.

Mr Key said the cost was more likely to be $600 million, $700 million or $800 million.

Rob Salmond at Polity has disputed this in Key in self-parody about lying (mk 2):

So Key thinks this policy will cost at least ten times as much as Labour does. That’s a very big claim.

He does some calculations:

  • The policy is for 5 extra hours free, each week of the year. That’s up to 260 extra free hours per child.
  • The Free ECE funding rates range from $4.91/hr to $11.56/hr, including GST, depending on what kind of centre you are using. Let’s assume everyone is in the top category and gets $11.56 an hour. After removing the GST that the government gets back in the end, the per hour cost could be up to $10.
  • So, at absolute maximum, the policy could cost 260 hours X $10/hr = $2,600 per child. (In reality, of course, it won’t come close to this average.)

Here’s the problem: there are only around 120,000 three and four year olds in New Zealand!

That looks about right from this 2013 census chart:

120,000  x $2,600 = $312,000,000

That, at a maximum, is about half of Key’s lowest claim. It’s likely to be much lower.

Key looks to have grossly exaggerated the potential costs.

 

A sickness within politics

There’s a pervasive sickness that runs through New Zealand politics from top to bottom, from Prime Minister to grass roots. There’s an entrenched culture of nastiness and abusive behaviour that wouldn’t be acceptable in most parts of a decent society, but it’s practiced and aided and abetted by politicians, parties, activists, supporters, traditional media and social media.

Some in politics protest but that’s usually futile – in fact it commonly attracts even more abuse.

The public generally hate it and show their displeasure through the ballot box, with increasing numbers being turned off any participation in politics.

The major parties have long seen nasty attack politics as an essential tool in their arsenals, so there’s often more of a focus on negative, nasty and dishonest tactics than promoting their strengths. Even the normally principled Greens have been drawn into mild forms of it.

Traditional media aid and abet the worst of politics, following their wider ‘if it bleeds it leads’ approach. The media sharks swarm at any hint of political blood. They promote dishonest or speculatory accusations and praise the attackers as effective politicians.

Attempts to demean and discredit are common, aiming to provoke character and career destroying momentum.

It goes far beyond robust debate and holding to account.

Social media has long been touted as a more inclusive way of doing politics but it has taken on the worst of toxic politics, largely because of the involvement of old school party activists.

In an interview on The Nation last October leading political blogger Cameron Slater said:

Well Auckland politics is the same as where any politics is, in that it’s a dirty disgusting despicable game, and it involves dirty disgusting despicable people at all levels. And to have this high and mighty belief that New Zealand politics is clean, it isn’t.

Slater has long been involved in dirty politics and has pushed boundaries with his attacking abusive style. Prime Minister John Key demonstrated an acceptance of this when he said recently that he often talks to Slater. Ironically Slater has made an attempt recently to clean up the comments section of his Whale Oil blog.

Another leading blogger David Farrar doesn’t do personal abuse the same but he is often involved in attack politics. He also enables and allows a toxic environment at his Kiwiblog where stalking and abuse are common.

Both Slater and Farrar have close links to National but it isn’t confined to the political right. Personal attacks are common at The Standard and Dim-Post and to a lesser extent at the heavily moderated/censored The Daily Blog.

Lynn Prentice calls the shots at The Standard and often brags about how nasty he can be. This sets the standard. Another Standard author Greg Presland has close links to David Cunliffe. Presland attacks far less now than in the past but he still allows abuse to go unchecked.

In one thread at The Standard yesterday here is some of the abuse that was allowed as normal – it was done by a small number of commenters but this sort of behaviour is rarely questioned (I’ve seen similar degrees of abuse at Kiwiblog). Ironically this was on thread of a blog post complaining about the use of blogs for political smears.

You are a walking smear campaign, a gossiping whispering nasty little insect. Every single comment you make oozes dishonesty like pus from a sore.

Oh look, here’s some weasel slime pretending butter won’t melt in his mouth. What an asshole.

What a passive aggressive, boring, dishonest asshole.

You, Mr George, are really quite a horrible person.

The MSM are a product of human discourse, not the sum of it. Political revolution was possible with a printing press and analogue distribution methods, so it is possible with memes and social media.

Rock-Snot as i said yesterday is a fungal organism that attaches itself to any mode of transport from gumboots to twigs to enable it to enter an untainted waterway from there multiplying to pollute the whole expanse,

Such is Pete George…

You sound like right-wing scum,(now have a whine about abuse why don’t you)…

Your right SSLands, i agree with you that John Drinnan,(why does that name make me think of drain cleaner), should lay off the abuse, and, quite frankly i did not think you had the intellectual where-with-all to have noticed the convoluted writing style of Mr Drain Cleaner,(have you got your Mummy reading the comments and providing you an interpretation tonight),

No, wait…this just in: you’re an asshole Pete.

SSLands, read my comment below at 8.30pm, its al the answer you either deserve or are going to get other than to be told to fiuck off back to ‘wail-oink’ and share your syphillated drivel with the inmates of that particular zoo…

Several blog moderators were active through that thread, at times directly supporting abusive comments. This is just a small symptom of a much wider and deeper problem.

People who would regard themselves as intelligent and reasonable passively and actively allow this and often climb on the bash wagon.

Some see blogs and other social media as a grand opportunity to give ordinary people more of a voice in politics. By becoming infected the sickest and saddest of political behaviour they add to the problem rather than provide a solution.

The language is different to MPs in Parliament, due to anonymity and to a social disconnect.

Presumably most of this abuse would not happen face to face. The more intelligent would not think of allowing and participating in this manner in person, the others wouldn’t have the guts.

The aim is the same as MPs and parties – character assassination of perceived political enemies, although some may just use it as an excujse to be abusive. There’s nothing logical, democratic, decent or positive about it.

If this social and political sickness is allowed to continue then we will continue to have trouble attracting quality candidates and we will have diminishing voting percentages as more and more voters are turned off by the rot.

Unless it is dealt with from the top down – the top of parties and the top of blogs – the sickness will continue to vomit over our political discourse.

Confronting it simply invites more abuse. If I posted this at Kiwiblog or The Standard it is likely it would increase rather than decrease abuse levels.

I believe many MPs don’t like the standard of political and Parliamentary behaviour but they are drowned out and shat on by an entrenched minority of old school politicians who see and use dirt is their strongest weapon.

But this is a major weakness in our politics. It needs leadership to address it but our leaders are a part of the problem. David Shearer promised a better standard of politics when he became Labour leader but it became one of a number of failings for him.

If John Key really wants a laudable legacy he could lead a clean-up of caucus and party behaviour. It would do far more good for our democracy and our country than painting over the cracks of our flag.

Our democracy is flagging badly. Key has proven successful as a political manager but not yet as a leader. He could try leading by example.

Herald Digipoll – National up, Labour crash

The latest Herald Digipoll shows National rising 4 to 50.8% despite the Judith Collins issue happening during the polling period, and Labour is down 6 to 29.5%. This is not good for David Cunliffe, who also drops 5 in ‘preferred PM’ to 11.1, lower than David Shearer ever got.

  • National 50.8% (up 4 from Dec 2013)
  • Labour 29.5% (down 5.9)
  • Greens 13.1% (up 2.3)
  • NZ First 3.6% (down 0.3)
  • Conservative 1.3% (no change)
  • Act 0.8% (up 0.8%)
  • Other 0.5% (up 0.1)
  • Maori 0.2% (down 1.1)
  • Mana 0.1% (up 0.1)
  • Undecided 11.4%

750 eligible voters were polled from Thursday March 6 to Sunday March 16. That was a period of major negative coverage of Cunliffe but only some of the Collins milk issue.

The margin of error is 3.6% (presumably at a confidence of 95%) – note that +/-3.6 only applies at a polling level of 50%, see Poll ‘margin of error’ explained.

Preferred PM:

  • John Key 66.5% (up 4.6)
  • David Cunliffe 11.1% (down 5.4)
  • Winston Peters 6.5 (down 0.8)
  • Russel Norman 4.5 (up 1.1)
  • Helen Clark 3.3 (up 0.1)
  • David Shearer 1.1 (up 0.3)
  • Shane Jones 1.1 (up 1.1)
  • Jacinda Ardern 0.8 (up 0.2)
  • Metiria Turei 0.6 (down 0.3)
  • Grant Robertson 0.5 (down 0.2)
  • Tariana Turia 0.4 (unchanged)
  • Annette King 0.2% (down 0.5)

Key is far more supported than National (16%).

Cunliffe is far less supported than Labour. Cunliffe+Clark+Shearer+Jones+Ardern+Robertson+King=18.1%

Russel Norman rates significantly higher than Metiria Turei – in the draft Green list released yesterday Turei was ranked number 1 for Greens so that would presumably put her at the top of the list for a position in a Labour/Green coalition. I’d expect Greens to be pushing for a deputy PM spot, especially on these poll results.

Comprehensive poll results including regional and gender breakdowns at NZ Herald – National, Greens up, Labour at new low.

Flag, pavlova and racehorses

There has been a lot of discussion following John Key saying if National are returned to government they will initiate a process to consider whether to change the New Zealand flag or not. Labour and the Greens have said they would support this or do likewise if they get into government. See Do we want a new flag?

ABC Online says Australia urged to follow New Zealand’s lead on flag rethink:

New Zealanders are likely to go to the polls to vote on a new flag, in a move that has prompted renewed debate about changing Australia’s national flag.

Those pushing for a change to Australia’s flag believe Mr Key’s comments will be a boost for the domestic campaign, declaring it would make Australia “look stupid” if the status quo remained.

If we want a pavlova and a racehorse on our new flag we’d better get in quick in case the Aussies beat us to it.

But that may not stop them claiming them for themselves, again.

Do we want a new flag?

If John Key is returned as Prime Minister in a National led government he is promising to look at whether we want to change our flag.

And both the Green Party and Labour have said they would keep the same process suggested by Key should they form the next government.

Key  announced it this morning and explained a preferred process for selecting a possible alternative then deciding by referendum whether to change or keep the current flag in a Speech at Victoria University.

For more than a hundred years the New Zealand flag has served us well, and we in turn have served it well.

It has given us an identity.

We have given it our loyalty.

But the current flag represents the thinking by and about a young country moving from the 1800s to the 1900s. A time before commercial air travel. A time when we had less of a role in the Pacific, and a time before Asia registered in our consciousness. That was a time before the rise of superpowers and before we had forged a formidable reputation on the battlefields of Europe. It was prior to the first tour by the New Zealand Rugby Union to the UK, and when our forebears thought their colonial protector would always be there for their descendants.   

When you think about it, those who had a hand in the flag’s design did well to include symbols that have endured for more than a century.

But it’s my belief, and I think one increasingly shared by many New Zealanders, that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolises a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed.  

The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom.

We retain a strong and important constitutional link to the monarchy and I get no sense of any groundswell of support to let that go. Nor could we or would we dispose of the cultural legacy which gave us a proud democracy, a strong legal system and a rich artistic heritage.

Each of these we have evolved and interpreted in our own way as an independent nation.

I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag.

Some people say that we should look at the flag only if we’re also reviewing our wider constitutional arrangements.

I don’t agree.

Our status as a constitutional monarchy continues to serve us well.

It’s an arrangement that provides stability, continuity and keeps our head of State above party politics.

However, this country, the way we see ourselves in the world and the way others see us, has changed dramatically in the past century. Our flag does not reflect those changes.

I acknowledge that New Zealanders have a range of views on the idea of changing the flag. I also acknowledge that significant change can be difficult and unsettling for some people so this is not a debate to undertake lightly, or quickly.

But my personal view is that it’s time our flag reflected that we are a sovereign and successful nation that rightfully takes its place among developed economies in the 21st Century.

It’s my contention that when we engage internationally, in forums ranging from secondary school debating to the United Nations, or from age-grade representative sports teams to the Olympics, we should be represented by a flag that is distinctly New Zealand’s.

A flag that is only New Zealand’s.

A flag that is readily identified by New Zealanders, and with New Zealanders.

I believe the current flag is not that flag.

I believe that not only can we do better, but that this is the right time to get on with it.

At the same time, I acknowledge there may be many New Zealanders who want to retain the existing flag, and that will be one option.

I have given careful thought to this.

Back in 1965, Canada changed its flag from one that, like ours, also had the Union Jack in the corner, and replaced it with the striking symbol of modern Canada that all of us recognise and can identify today.

Fifty years on, I can’t imagine many Canadians would, if asked, choose to go back to the old flag.

That old flag represented Canada as it was once, rather than as it is now. Similarly, I think our flag represents us as we were once, rather than as we are now.

By law, the flag can be changed by a simple majority of Parliament but, as I’ve previously said, I do not believe that such a decision is one that MPs should take for themselves.

A flag that unites all New Zealanders should be selected by all New Zealanders.

This decision is bigger than party politics.

I would like us all to talk about it, but I do not think that it should dominate or distract from the other debates that occur in an election year.

We have a lot to do, a lot of ideas, and a lot to talk about, so the Cabinet has agreed that we should look at the steps that New Zealand would need to follow if it were to formally consider whether to change the flag. However, we will leave the real work until the next term of Parliament.

That also means that it will be under our existing flag that we will commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.

At dawn on April 25, 2015, here, and on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and at New Zealand diplomatic posts around the world, we will lower to half-mast the same flag under which our forefathers fought so valiantly, so far away, a hundred years ago.

It is under the existing flag that we will remember the sacrifices made by New Zealanders in battle, and the sacrifices made by their families.

I do not under-estimate the significance of the flag to New Zealand’s servicemen and women and their families, but being respectful of our history does not lock us permanently in the past.

Organisations like our armed forces have undergone significant change over the generations. What does not change is their willingness to defend on behalf of all New Zealanders the values that define us and which we cherish.

Those values and our commitment to uphold them will not be compromised or eroded in any way by a change of flag. From time to time, countries do change their flags. If we do it, we won’t be the first and we won’t be the last.

If New Zealanders choose a new flag, it will serve us in times of celebration, and in times of mourning.

It will be the flag that is hoisted at a medal ceremony as we celebrate the achievement of an individual or team that has done our country proud.

And it will be the flag that is lowered to half-mast as we mourn together the passing of a New Zealander who has made a significant contribution to the affairs of our nation.

It will be the flag that serves us on every occasion because, in the end, the flag is a symbol of our unity. Our allegiance to it symbolises the bond we share for each other, and for this country that we have the good fortune to call home.

If we choose well, it will become internationally recognisable in a way that our current flag is not, despite more than a hundred years of use.

As I say, change can be difficult but it’s also remarkable how quickly the new becomes familiar.

A flag can never be all things to all people. As we consider alternative designs, there might be some people who want a stronger representation of our Maori heritage, or of our flora and fauna. The colours we might choose to represent us are, right now, far from certain.

Long decades of sweat and effort by our sportsmen and women in many codes over countless competitions give the silver fern on a black background a distinctive and uniquely New Zealand identity, and a head start in our national consciousness.

For example, it’s our silver fern, rather than our flag, that’s etched in the crosses marking the final resting place of all New Zealanders who are interred in Commonwealth War Graves overseas.

Interestingly, it’s the maple leaf that’s etched in the crosses of Canada’s fallen in those same cemeteries.

I admit to liking the silver fern but I’m also open to other ideas and designs.

So I come to this debate advocating change, and with a personal leaning towards the silver fern, but I also want to listen to the debate, and see the possibilities before making up my mind on my preferred design.

I urge others to do the same.

For people who have doubts or concerns, I want to give a clear assurance and commitment that retaining the current flag is a very possible outcome of this process, and there will be no presumption in favour of a change.

I would like us to enter this discussion with open minds and a shared sense of purpose and privilege about our task.

Most important, I think, is that the designs from which we eventually choose are unique, confident and enduring.

We want a design that says “New Zealand” in the same way that the maple leaf says “Canada”, or the Union Jack says “Britain,” without a word being spoken, or a bar of those countries’ anthems being heard.

We want a design that says “New Zealand,” whether it’s stitched on a Kiwi traveller’s backpack outside a bar in Croatia, on a flagpole outside the United Nations, or standing in a Wellington southerly on top of the Beehive every working day.

It’s really important that consideration of a new flag includes genuine input from New Zealanders. All voices need an opportunity to be heard.

It’s also important, in my view, that these discussions and debates happen outside party politics.

So next term, should I have the privilege of remaining as prime minister, soon after Parliament re-commences I will write to the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament. I will ask them to nominate an MP to join a cross-party group to oversee the flag consideration process.

That cross-party group will have the task of recommending the best referenda process to follow. For example, it would look at the question, or questions, that would need to be asked in a referendum.

The cross-party group of MPs will also be involved in nominating New Zealanders from outside Parliament to form a steering group, which will have primary responsibility for ensuring that the public has the opportunity to engage in the debate.

One of the tasks of that steering group will be to seek submissions from the public on flag designs.

As I said, the role of the MPs’ group will be to make recommendations on the best way to proceed so I can’t give you more details about the process just yet.

But I can make the commitment that there will be genuine public engagement, including the opportunity for people to submit designs and suggestions, and that ultimately the decision on whether or not to change the flag will rest with New Zealanders themselves.

I would like to see the referendum process completed during the next Parliamentary term, so it does not intrude on the 2017 elections.

Cabinet has asked officials to give advice on the best way to set up these various processes.

Finally, I want to say that I am not putting the flag debate on the table today.

It’s already on the table, and it’s been there quite a long time.

But until now the debate’s been mostly conducted via letters to the editor, editorials, opinion polls and by a few passionate adherents of designs that some people happen to champion.

My purpose today is to say that this debate is too important for it to continue rumbling on in such a casual and ad hoc fashion.

The time has come to discuss the flag formally, carefully and respectfully, allowing all New Zealanders to have their say.

Only by doing that will we arrive at a point where we have an answer that we will all then be bound by for a long time.

If together we support a new design, then it will be with the understanding that it will serve and represent us for the rest of our lives.

If, on the other hand, we reject change then my view is that the people will have spoken and the idea should be shelved for a good long time.

I have raised this now because as Anzac Day approaches, and we turn our minds to the countdown to next year’s centenary, we will reflect on our past but also think about our future.

In my view, that’s an appropriate time to write one small but significant new chapter in our national story by re-considering the flag.

It’s my observation that each generation of New Zealanders is becoming more confident about asserting their Kiwi identity. That’s because we’re increasingly comfortable in our Kiwi skin.

When we go out in to the world, we do so with a strong sense of where we come from.

Our flag should reflect that.

I urge you all to think about it, and to have your say when the time comes.

For my part, I will embrace the opportunity for us to come up with a New Zealand flag that reflects and celebrates our New Zealand-ness, and that inspires us to do the same.

Then, I think, the flag will be serving us in the same way that we serve it.

The Green Party has quickly come out in support of this - Green Party welcomes flag decision.

The Green Party is welcoming today’s announcement by Prime Minister John Key regarding a process for reviewing the flag, and will adopt and maintain that process when there is a change of government at the next election.

“The flag is an issue for New Zealanders, but it’s appropriate that it’s not the focus of this election,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“When there is a change of government this election, we will also proceed with the process outlined today.

“This process looks reasonable, and it’s good that it will be treated dispassionately outside of the political realm of the election period.

“The Green Party supports a robust public conversation about changing New Zealand’s flag.”  

If National form the next government Green support would be enough for them to proceed with the flag debate process.

If Greens help Labour form a government it will depend on whether Labour agree to follow through with this with the Greens.

I personally would like to see a flag change but more importantly I think we should have a good debate, consider a possible alternative flag, and then decide whether we keep our current flag or change to a new one.

Gower asks tricky donations questions

The debate about political donations took a tricky turn on The Nation this morning. As a result of Patrick Gowers tricky questioning activists are calling for John Key to identify all people who donate to National. They don’t seem to have thought this through to it’s logical conclusion.

Patrick Gower manoeuvred John Key into a tricky position. He first got Key to confirm that he thought David Cunliffe should reveal who the two donors were that declined to be identified. Then Gower pointed out that Key had been at National Party fundraising dinners where $5,000 ticket prices for a meal were effectively donations.

Key claimed that it was different, that he had nothing to do with the donations and that it was within the rules. But handled to questions adeptly as he usually does but he looked a tad uncomfortable as he (presumably) realised he had been skewered.

Key not talking about fundraising dinner

Fancy fundraising dinners raising thousands of dollars from undisclosed donors aren’t “tricky”.

Spoiler alert! On 3 news tonight Gower will emphasis his tricky wee points win over Key and highlight the fact that National have anonymous donors, which looks a bit tricky. It’s often obvious from Gower’s interviews what story he is angling at. That’s how he works.

But it gets trickier than this.

There was an immediate reaction on Twitter, pointing out some hypocrisy from Key. That’s a fair call, to an extent.

Blogs have followed up with the attack on Key.

Martyn Bradbury at The Daily Blog in Guess who’s coming to dinner – questions about Key’s $165 000 fund raisers:

Key has said of Cunliffe that he had to be transparent over the donations ‘‘or he’s going to be guilty of being labelled as having a secret agenda which none of us can verify one way or another’’. Well Mr Key, by your very own words, don’t you have to reveal who your donors were and if they aren’t prepared to be named, do as Cunliffe has done and pay back the donations?

And ‘Zetetic’ (who has jumped back into action for Labour this week) at The Standard in Give us the names or pay the money back, John:

David Cunliffe had a trust set up for campaign donations. The structure kept donors anonymous and was within electoral rules, but was a bad look. He named three of the donors and paid the other two back. Total donations equaled $17,800 with $8,300 of that returned.

At the time, John Key called for Cunliffe to name his anonymous donors (even though the money was returned to them).

John Key received 21 five thousand dollar campaign donations (total $105k) via a dinner, and another $60k through another. He acknowledged there have been many other dinners.

Paddy Gower asked him to name these anonymous donors on the Nation this morning, Key refused.

By Key’s logic he now has to either pay back the $165k – and all the other secret dinner money – or name the donors.

Not to do so wouldn’t just be tricky, but hypocritical.

The money or the secret names John. You can’t keep both.

Those wanting to divert attention from Cunliffe and turn the heat on Key need to be careful. For one thing, the circumstances are different between Key and Cunliffe.

Zetetic makes a false claim. Key did not receive any donations. He attended the dinner and would have been the main draw-card, but any donations were paid to the National Party (via president Peter Goodfellow).

In contrast Cunliffe’s donations were for him personally, for his leadership campaign.

And Cunliffe with Labour have made a big noise about shutting down secret donation trusts. And have legislated against them. So Cunliffe’s hypocrisy is greater.

But that’s not the trickiest part of this for Labour.

If Labour activists and other political activists like Bradbury insist that Key divulges the identity of National donors, even though the size of the donations is less than the amount where disclosure is compulsory, then if they want to avoid double standards and hypocrisy they should insist that Cunliffe identifies all Labour Party donors. And Norman/Turei identify all Green donors. And Harawira identifies all Mana donors.

In Zetetic’s words, “not to do so wouldn’t just be tricky, but hypocritical” - far more so than Key.

Reading Winston’s mind

Odd claims by Winston Peters aren’t unusual, but one he keeps making simply doesn’t add up. He makes an absurd excuse for not revealing likely post-election intentions to voters.

He can’t read the mind of voters before the election. But neither will be be able to read their minds after the election. And if he could it would make no difference – he will do as he pleases anyway.

Stuff’s Today in Politics:

Key running scared says Peters

Winston Peters says John Key is ‘‘attempting to master the art of mind reading’’ after the prime minister said he thought NZ First would choose to go into government with Labour and Greens. ‘‘It is doubtful that Mr Key has read not only the minds of the NZ First caucus and party members, but those of Kiwi voters as well.

It’s much more likely that National’s own polling is showing they are bleeding voters to NZ First, and he is now running scared.’’  Peters said.

Claiming that Key is running scared is whacky Winston waffle, but nothing more than preposterous posturing.

And of course Key can’t read the mind of NZ First caucus and party members, nor Kiwi voters.

Peters keeps refusing to give voters any idea what he would do post-election, using the excuse that he won’t pre-judge what the voters say in the election.

But after the election Peters won’t be able to read the minds of voters. He has no way of knowing whether they would prefer NZ First siding with National or Labour/Greens.

So fobbing of questions about his preferences or intent is just avoiding asking legitimate questions – the answers to which the voters should know before they vote.

Reading the mind of the NZ First caucus and party members is pointless – they don’t get to decide anything, that’s all up to Winston.

So Key is right to try and read Winston’s mind. And read his speeches. And read his accusations. (But not read any evidence because there isn’t any, he doesn’t back up his bluster.)

And it’s not difficult to read that trying to negotiate and work with Winston is likely to be a fool’s errand.

 

We shouldn’t “just accept it” Mr Key

Prime Minister Key is saying dirty politics should just be accepted. He is effectively saying that making false accusations, telling lies, personal attacks and trying to undermine the Government and damage the country should be just accepted as a part of politics.

That’s very disappointing.

Dishonest politics is poor politics, and the people keep speaking with their non-votes. Increasing numbers of people are turned off the ballot box due to the shoddiness of political behaviour.

Stuff report Norman shouldn’t apologise – Key.

Prime Minister John Key is firmly in the Green Party camp over political free speech and threatened legal action by Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

“I don’t know the ins and outs of all the comments, but essentially this is politics – it’s a rough and tumble,” Key said.

“The last week we had Winston Peters saying apparently, I had something to do with Huka Lodge, all of which was not true, but if I spent my life trying to sue people who said things I don’t like about me I’d be in the courts every single day.

“It’s just the nature of the business, you need to harden up a bit and just accept it.”

Well John, I don’t just accept it.

Dishonesty and pettiness should not be shrugged off as just the nature of the governing business. Leadership should mean leading by example – good example.

Passion and robust debate are essential components of politics. But dirtiness and nastiness are unnecessary and negative.

Throwing shit in the House leaves a stench.

  • We live in a modern age where generally the world is cleaning up it’s act with fewer wars and deaths by conflict.
  • Sport keeps cleaning up it’s act, stamping out foul and cheating behaviour. A decent society demands it.

So why should our leaders “just accept” the worst of political behaviour. Because it’s easy to just join the fray and throw dirt back.

It is harder to make a stand against it and set a decent example.

I don’t just accept it John. And neither should you. Harden up and do something about it. Why don’t you try leading on this? Is that too hard?

Greens want in on Key-Cunliffe debates

Radio NZ reports that the Greens have asked TV1 and TV3 to include them in the main leaders debates in this year’s leadership debate.

The Green Party wants television networks to include one of its party leaders in the main leaders’ debates in the lead-up to the election – alongside John Key and David Cunliffe.

The Greens have made a formal request to TV One and TV3 for a co-leader to join the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, rather than take part in the minor parties debate – which has been the typical election format.

The Greens say their 12 percent polling position puts them in a different league to the other smaller parties which are polling around 5 percent or less.

The timing isn’t the best for the poll claim, today’s One News/Colmar Brunton poll has greens down from 14 to 8%. That may be a one-off aberration or temporary, although they might not bounce right back up.

But that’s a side issue.

Should Turei or Norman join in with the main leader’s debates? There’s some justification. While Greens are polling about 1/3 of Labour levels they have been as active in opposition, probably more active. And Greens have ambitions of being a major player.

But there are things against this too, including:

  • Media like the presidential two opponent format.
  • If they let the Greens step up to the big time in debates Winston Peters is certain to claim a right as well.

But perhaps the biggest issue that requires some careful thought – it would effectively mean that Key was up against double barrelled opponents of Cunliffe plus either Turei or Norman.

Would two against one be a fair contest?

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