Laila Harre on The Nation

Laila Harre was interviewed by Patrick Gower on The Nation yesterday, Harre stepping down as Internet Party leader

Key points:

  • Stepping down as leader of the Internet Party
  • “I would love to be in parliament.”
  • The Internet Party “could be wound up”.
  • Continuing the merger with Mana “will be up to Mana”.
    “The agreement with Mana was always predicated on the assumption that we be in parliament.”
  • “We completely mismanaged the last month of the campaign.”
  • “…the media chose to focus on sideshows rather than to allow us to present ourselves in the way that we were presenting ourselves. 
  • “What I regret is actually the failure of the Left overall to get its act together in a strategic and tactical way during the election.”
  • “This was always going to be a very finely balanced election outcome. There was no way, no way, never in any polls that Labour and the Greens were going to get sufficient support to form a majority government. That meant we had to rescue progressive votes to.
  • “Labour ruled out just about every other party during the course of the election campaign, and I think that was a big mistake.”
  • On Labour – “They didn’t like us. They didn’t want us, but we were there and they needed to accept that reality.”
  • On Dotcom’s email fizzer – “I believe that Kim, given the opportunity to share everything about that email, would be able to defend his belief that it’s real. Look, I can’t answer that. I wasn’t directly involved…”
  • “What was there for me and for the kind of politics I represent, was the chance to change the government and to get a platform in parliament for some very new progressive ideas.”
  • “Where to from here? Well, for me, being outside parliament as a political party is not a game that I think is worth the candle. What I want to do, though, is continue to promote and connect with the kind of more radical, I guess, policies that we began to introduce into the election. And when I say radical, I don’t mean marginal. I mean radical in the sense of fundamentals. So I’m going on a journey in February with my sister. It’s called ‘Rethink the System’. We’ve got a website. Rethinkthesystem.org. We’re going on a sort of pilgrimage meets activism to connect with people over fundamental social change issues.”

Full interview:

Patrick Gower: Good morning. Good to see you after a while.

Laila Harre: Nice to be here.

Are you still here as leader of the Internet Party?

Yes, I am here as leader of the Internet Party, and at the moment I’m guiding the party through a review of the future. I’ve also made a personal decision that once that review is completed, I will step down from the leadership of the Internet party. All options are then open for whether or not the party continues as an electoral force or moves into some other formation and plays its part in politics in a different way.

So that will be by Christmas? You will step down by Christmas?

Uh… yes. The timeline at the moment is that we will be putting together a couple of options that members will engage on, will vote on and will take from there. I just wanted to make it clear to the members, from whom I’ve had tons of support, and there’s been a lot of good feedback to me personally from members, that continuing as a political party does not— they can’t make the assumption that I will continue in the leadership.

Sure.

I’ve made a firm decision about that.

It’s over; you’re out. What does this mean for your political career?

For me, it means that I’m no longer leading the Internet Party. Whether the Internet Party continues as an electoral party is up to the members. If it—

What about Laila Harre personally? Is this your political career over now?

Who knows? Look… (LAUGHS) rumours of my political career being over have circulated many times over the last, you know, 15 years.

Look, I would love to be in parliament. I would love to be articulating the kind of fundamental agenda and values that Internet-Mana promoted in the election campaign, and I’m not prepared to say never again to being personally at the front line. But I also saw emerging in our election campaign an incredible set of younger candidates.

And I feel a bit like a mother hen here. I want to enable them through my decision to step down to explore all their political options too rather than be trapped in this year’s political entity and this year’s political tactic, you might say — to explore their options more.

It may— it may be, by what you’ve said there, that the Internet party doesn’t continue as an electoral-type party.

That’s definitely one of the options that we’re actively canvassing with members.

It could become a lobby group or be wound up.

It could be wound up. It could— the capacity that we’ve built. Look, we’ve had massive engagement on our policy-development platforms, in our social media—

And the merger with Mana — that isn’t going to continue?

Well, I mean, that will be up to Mana and if the Internet Party continues as an electoral party, the Internet party. Um, the Mana Party are having their AGM in a couple of weeks’ time. The agreement with Mana was always predicated on the assumption that we be in parliament.

So, of course, all bets are off there, but there’s very strong goodwill. And again, for me personally, that was one of the strengths of what we did this year — was engaging our constituency with a kaupapa Maori party, which I think is critical to the future of New Zealand politics.

Let’s reflect on the campaign now, cos we know the story. Internet-Mana went from 2.3% on the 3News-Reid Research poll, higher than that on some other polls, then you started to crash. In the end, Hone Harawira didn’t make it; nobody did. What went wrong?

Um, well, what went wrong was that we completely mismanaged the last month of the campaign. We had amazing momentum before then. The road trip, I think, worked extremely well. What other party just went out there on the front line, engaged with such large audiences?

What was the mismanagement?

I think the kind of beginning of that, really, was Georgina Beyer’s attack on Kim Dotcom, which fed into what became a narrative of a rift and division, and it was one that we just couldn’t knock through the rest of the campaign. It became completely distracting from the release of policy, for instance. I mean, we launched a full employment policy that was second to none and did not get one minute of coverage on, you know, national news.

That’s because Kim Dotcom stood up and talked about hacking,…

Well…

…and Pam Corkery attacked the media on the same—

Well, no, it’s because the media chose to focus on sideshows rather than to allow us to present ourselves in the way that we were presenting ourselves. So, you know, the media made a decision to focus on Kim, and in a very negative way during that period.

The only way that we could have avoided that was to take him completely out of the picture. And of course then there would have been all the stories of ‘what’s happened to Kim Dotcom?’ And ‘has he been side-lined?’ And so on. So we’re kind of in the lose-lose position. Beyond us—

Do you have any regrets in all of this? Cos you must have.

I have absolutely no regrets about choosing to get involved in this project. Back in April— late April when I was first approached to consider the leadership, it was very very clear that Labour and the Greens were not going to make it over the line.

I was utterly committed to a change of government, and in order to change the government, we had to make sure every single progressive vote would count. For that to happen, Internet Party votes had to count. For the Internet Party votes to count, they had to do the deal with Mana. And for Mana to do that deal, they needed a leader that Mana had some confidence in.

Sure.

So I said yes. I put myself into that position, and I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. What I regret is actually the failure of the Left overall to get its act together in a strategic and tactical way during the election.

What do you mean by the failure of the Left overall?

Well, let’s go back to early April when the Greens and Labour pulled the plug on each other. At that time I was on the Green Party campaign committee. I felt that was a terrible error by both parties. I thought it was a major error by the Greens to leak the collapse of that discussion.

You’re saying that you were working inside there at the time and the Greens leaked…

I was on the campaign committee as a volunteer. I wasn’t working for the party, but when the Greens decided to leak the collapse of their discussions with Labour, I felt really concerned about what that meant for the election campaign, because what it meant was what I went through before the… around the 1996 and previous elections, that this was going to become a competition for votes on the Left rather than a cooperation of Left parties to change the government.

Here’s the counter argument, and you know it. Labour and the Greens put the failure of the Left at your feet.

Well, it’s very convenient.

They blame it on Internet-Mana. Andrew Little, all of the Labour leadership candidates all say being connected to Internet-Mana and to Kim Dotcom helped bring the Left down.

I think, actually, what brought, overall… I mean, this was always going to be a very— Can I just give you my view on this? This was always going to be a very finely balanced election outcome. There was no way, no way, never in any polls that Labour and the Greens were going to get sufficient support to form a majority government. That meant we had to rescue progressive votes to. To do that—

I understand all of this. But what also happened was National romped home. It wasn’t close. The Left got thrashed. You guys have been blamed for helping bring down the Left and at the same time there’s an argument that you pumped up the Right. People who were scared of Kim Dotcom. People were scared of Internet-Mana. People didn’t like to deal with Hone Harawira. Not only did you tear down the Left, there’s an argument that you helped John Key win by more.

Well, let’s look at some of the facts here. The Internet-Mana Party deal led to an increase in support for the combined two parties. The early part of our campaign, which Kim was very actively involved in in the road trip, saw a growth in support for Internet-Mana. It was at that point that the Right went fully on attack against Kim, and used Kim and the Internet Party-Mana agreement as the basis for an attack on the Left. At that point, Labour—

And it worked.

Yes, but why did it work? Because at that point Labour and the Greens had a choice. They could either join John Key’s narrative, or they could do the only thing that would have made it possible to get over the line, and that was to accept that putting together a majority in parliament, this time round, that did not have National as part of it was going to depend on working constructively with other parties. Labour ruled out just about every other party during the course of the election campaign, and I think that was a big mistake.

So in summary, those parties not supporting Internet-Mana, those parties trying to distance themselves from you, is to blame for your downfall. You’re blaming Labour—

No, I’m not blaming them for our downfall. What I’m saying is that I think they just played into the Right’s narrative about it. So they fed it. They made it more of a problem. And I think the key to politics is knowing and accepting the environment you’re operating in. They didn’t like us. They didn’t want us, but we were there and they needed to accept that reality.

Let’s talk about Kim Dotcom now. Are you still on his payroll?

No! Goodness, no.

Are you still in contact with him?

Yes. I’m periodically in contact with him.

How?

Mainly by text message. Kim is focussing on his legal issues, obviously. That’s the critical point.

Did you ever seek assurances from him that he was not involved in the hacking, that he was not connected to Rawshark?

I didn’t need to because he was absolutely upfront and direct about that, and I completely accept those assurances, and I also believe that John Key knew, and John Key said now that he knows who the hacker is. I think he knew who the hacker was, and he that he knew it wasn’t Kim Dotcom, and he kept feeding you guys.

Look, we had this conversation during the campaign where he had convinced you that he believed Kim Dotcom was the hacker. I think we now know that he knew right from the start that Kim Dotcom was not the hacker. That was just a complete red herring.

As for the moment of truth when Kim Dotcom failed to deliver. You know, the proof was apparently that email from Kevin Tsujihara. Warner Brothers says that that was a forgery. I mean, do you believe it was real?

I believe that Kim, given the opportunity to share everything about that email, would be able to defend his belief that it’s real. Look, I can’t answer that. I wasn’t directly involved in obtaining it or being involved in the process of—

Either Kim Dotcom’s forged it or Warner Brothers has made it up.

I absolutely don’t believe Kim Dotcom has forged it. I absolutely believe that Kim believes it’s real based on the evidence he has about its origins.

The $3.5 million. What happened to that? Who’s got control of it?

Well, that money’s been spent. I mean, let’s remember that that money was spent from pre the launch of the Internet Party in March and committed. I think we could have done a whole lot—

Was this it for you? The dream of a well-funded campaign — the chance of a lifetime. Is that what was there for you, and now maybe you regret it?

What was there for me and for the kind of politics I represent, was the chance to change the government and to get a platform in parliament for some very new progressive ideas. Look, I’ve walked off platforms in this election campaign where I was the only candidate—

And speaking of walking, where do you go from here?

…the only candidate promoting free tertiary education. You know, you had Labour and Green candidates saying user-pay tertiary education was a necessary evil. I reject that. Where to from here? Well, for me, being outside parliament as a political party is not a game that I think is worth the candle.

What I want to do, though, is continue to promote and connect with the kind of more radical, I guess, policies that we began to introduce into the election. And when I say radical, I don’t mean marginal. I mean radical in the sense of fundamentals. So I’m going on a journey in February with my sister. It’s called ‘Rethink the System’. We’ve got a website.

Rethinkthesystem.org

We’re going on a sort of pilgrimage meets activism to connect with people over fundamental social change issues.

Sounds like fun. Really sorry. We’re out of time.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Source: Scoop

Attacker hides behind ‘Notices and Features’

Another pissy fit at The Standard, purportedly about End of the Internet Party? but it is more an attack targeting Patrick Gower:

Duane McGregor @ArdChoilleNZ

@patrickgowernz You’ll have to find another party to shit on.

And…

@fmacskasy

@TheNationTV3 Gower keeps asking about millions spent by Mana-Internet. What about the millions spent by National and ACT, Paddy?

Who is hiding behind the ‘author’ name “Notices and Features’ at The Standard? It seems to be regularly used as a cover for someone making political attacks – someone who doesn’t even have the guts to use their own pseudonym.

From The Standard Policy

See here for an explanation of who writes for the blog. 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.

It looks like a misuse of ‘Notices and Features’.

UPDATE: r0b (Anthony Robins) has admitted doing the post.

I put up this post Pete. Does it matter? Your obsession with The Standard is unhealthy, and frankly creepy.

He had seemed to be one of the more open and up front authors at The Standard, odd he posts things like this under another ID.

Funny he calls sometimes holding The Standard to account “unhealthy’ and ‘creepy’. Some like a pulpit to promote attacks but are not so keen on being challenged on anything.

I don’t have an obsession with The Standard, but as one of the major political blogs I have an interest in what they do as i have with other blogs. I work cross-blog far more than r0b so I don’t see that I’m obsessional about any in particular.

Gower’s leadership ‘yawnfest’

Perhaps Patrick Gower is in the wrong job. He is getting bored with politics, as he repeats several times on Firstline yesterday – Labour’s epic leadership battle a ‘yawnfest’

We’re joined by political editor Patrick Gower here in the studio, how exciting, good morning. How have you found the roadshow?

Well I want to start with an apology for you, Michael, and all the viewers, ah for what a yawnfest ah the Labour Party leadership ah contest has been, and I want to [mumble] I know everyone is just getting up early and it is something people don’t want to talk about.

But believe this, there has been, can you believe this, seventeen meetings for the Labour leadership contest already, they’ve gone around the country and had seventeen meetings.

And I have to tell the Labour Party this, they are not a rock band. They’re not even the Waratahs. They do not warrant a seventeen centre tour of New Zealand.

So I just hate to break to them, ah but for some reason this is this is the contest they’ve chosen to have, it’s in their constitution ah which I’ve been through.

It’s like reading a cross between the Koran and the Bible, it’s only for true believers, in fact it’s more boring than that, it’s ah like reading the Koran in Arabic and the Bible in Latin.

It’s absolutely only for true believers, and I feel sorry, and on behalf of the Labour Party I apologise for their true believers, they’re the kind of people out there forced along to these meetings ah because they’re going through some sort of form of political torture, these are people who have just been out ah knocking on doors, delivering pamphlets in the rain during an election campaign and now the Labour Party, thanks to it’s crazy constitution, ah is forcing  them out again as well as the candidates doing the same ten minute speech around seventeen places in the country.

So ah apologies over, that’s how I’ve found it, a giant bore and a flop.

That is 1:52 into the item and All Gower has said is that he is bored with the Labour Party doing leadership democracy the way they have chosen.

Gower isn’t their target market here, he’s presumably not a party member so he doesn’t get to take part.

Why he thinks he can “on behalf of the Labour Party I apologise”. He should be apologising to viewers for presenting such a pissy pointless rant like that.

If he wants excitement perhaps Gower should get a new job, as a sports journalist or an entertainment journalist, where he rub shoulders on the celebrity circuit. Or he could be a police reporter where he can revel in what the worst of our society can do.

He often tries to create his own excitement in the political field but having found no excuse to blow Labour’s leadership contest up into some sort of over-dramatic scandal he has resorted to creating his own yawnfest.

The discussion moves briefly to Islamic State issues but soon returns to continue his Labour slagging.

…but the Labour Party um do not support trainers at all, they do not support any sort of  intervention in Iraq, they don’t support trainers behind ah the wire as John Key calls it, non combat, so a very very different position to John Key.

Ah a big issue and you have to say if they had a leader in place where they could actually contest this, Tova O’Brien had to actually effectively drag this out of these guys yesterday, they would be a more effective opposition.

Labour has an acting leader, Annette King.

Now the candidates are all divided on the Capital Gains Tax.

Yeah this is one area, and it’s a big one, ah it’s one of Labour’s big policies, they’ve taken it into two elections in a row, ah Andrew Little is on the side of get rid of this thing, we’ve lost two elections, people aren’t buying it.

Ah David Parker and Grant Robertson are on the other side saying let’s have another crack at selling this.

Ah but it’s a sad ah state of affairs when the most exciting thing about the Labour leadership contest is an argument over tax.

Ah, tax is one of the most important aspects of governing. It may not be exciting enough for Gower but it is a big deal for Labour, as it should be.

One of the biggest influences on voters is how policies will affect them, and tax has a big effect on all of us. I don’t think any election has been won or lost (yet) on how excited or bored a journalist gets.

Right, Key’s picked Little as the winner, who have you got your money on?

Ah listen, can’t pick anyone, and neither can the Labour Party, I’ve talked to insiders all day yesterday. They’ve got no idea who will win.

It may be a very open contest but the whole point of it is for “the Labour Party” to pick someone. And that’s what will happen, in the time frame set out by the Party and not at a time that Gower wants a bit more excitement in his job.

What they need is an amalgam of their contenders.

They need ah Maori women ah called Nanai Mahuta, they need that part there, that’s Nanai Mahuta.

They need someone with economic credibility, that’s David Parker, so you need that part of him.

They need someone who can take John Key on in the Parliament with a bit of energy, that’s Grant Robertson.

And they need someone who can reach out and speak to the working population and gets on well with the unions, Andrew Little.

They have them all. It’s called a caucus. It’s not possible for one person to be everything to every bored journalist.

Sorry Labour, you can’t have an amalgam, you have to choose one of them, you can’t have the best bits of them and you have to choose one of them with all the bad bits.

The caucus is their amalgam. A democratic leader has to lead and harness that variety of talent. There have never been many perfect dictatorships.

And Labour is not actually getting in behind any of these candidates, there’s no consensus building…

That’s because they haven’t chosen a leader yet who can then start building a consensus.

…whoever wins it won’t have they support of the whole party, ah and that is probably the biggest problem for them is that they won’t actually get to someone ah who’s the one for them, they’re all pretty average.

This is pretty average political commentary at best. Labour has certainly had problems with a lack of unity behind previous leaders but all candidates have said they see the importance of uniting behind whoever is chosen as their new leader.

Gower is condemning something unknown, in the future.

Sorry Labour.

So we need some sort of science experiment…

Yeah. And Labour won’t, you know, they won’t like what I’ve been saying here, that they need a science experiment and stuff like that, um, because they don’t want to listen to anybody, they just want to listen to themselves, and that is the problem with the whole process.

They’re talking to themselves and they’re bored themselves.

It seems that they are not giving Gower exciting stories so he’s bored. Too bad. It’s not his contest, it’s Labour’s.

The 3 News item closed with…

Each of the candidates brings something the party needs, says Gower, but none appear to be the full package.

That’s about as insightful as saying the weather can be changeable. All leaders have strengths and weaknesses. No MP will ever be “the full package”.

No journalists are the full package either. If any of them get bored perhaps they need to look for a more exciting vocation.

Or keep their yawning to themselves.

Voodoo and madness of Pawn Patrick

While Matt Nippert at Sunday Star Times has broken a huge story detailing big money using bloggers to smear a Serious Fraud investigation – see All the financier’s men – Patrick Gower has an odd column in NZ Herald trying to talk up Winston Peters.

Patrick Gower: Voodoo and madness of King Winston

Welcome to the madness of King Winston.

In Winston’s World, John Key is a voodoo doll he stabs with a pin whenever he gets bored.

This week Winston Peters took a decent jab at the Prime Minister during an interview with me, accusing Judith Collins and her “bag man” of plotting to get rid of Key.

Key dismisses Peters as nutty; Collins, who resigned yesterday, calls him a liar; Peters starts talking in riddles.

Gower seems to have a touch of madness too. His big efforts this week have been a 3 News poll where he tried to talk it up Winston Peters as the king of the election – see Poor poll coverage by Gower and 3 News – and then he scored an interview with Winston Peters – Peters slams dirty politics, then gets dirty.

So while one of the biggest news stories of the year breaks without Gower or Peters at centre stage Gower’s big conclusion:

Peters is again the kingmaker acting like he is King. Key thinks he is the king. One thing is for sure – madness will ensue.

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Winston Peters. Over the 5 per cent threshold, and back as the centre of attention, where he’s happiest.

Message to Patrick – Peters is out of touch. So are you. Too obsessed with each others own importance.

The threshold claim only applies to the 3 News poll, in two other polls since that NZ First has been on 5.0 and 4.0 – that’s far less certain than Gower’s election result proclamations would suggest.

Why is Gower seemingly obsessed with the relevance of Peters?

In yesterday’s big news, the resignation of Judith Collins, someone actually produced an email as evidence. All Peters does is claim he’s right and that evidence will be forthcoming. Gower should know by now it rarely is.

In today’s big news there’s a mass of evidence in a large and serious story.

Gower is trying to claim Peters deserves a throne, two big heads colluding but there’s little headroom for a crown.

It’s just the madness of Pawn Patrick.

 

 

Poor poll coverage by Gower and 3 News

3 News via Patrick Gower covered their latest poll result poorly. They showed either an awful knowledge of how polling works or they deliberately ignored polling 101 to promote misleading headlines.

Their online headline: Latest political poll big blow for John Key

National were down 2.5 to 45% – this will be a concern for National but it is a fairly moderate movement, well within the margin of error.

It probably reflects a reaction to how John Key has handled the fallout from ‘dirty politics’ (poorly) but it’s too soon to tell whether it is a temporary blip or a lasting change in support.

Labour were also down 2.5, to 26.4% – this should be at least as big a concern for them but the online article doesn’t mention it.

The lead paragraph and most of the article is on one theme:

John Key’s nightmare is suddenly real. Tonight’s 3 News political poll shows the Prime Minister can no longer do without New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

That’s nonsense. This is just one poll three and a half weeks out from the election. It is far from certain that the Prime Minister “can no longer do without” Winston Peters.

NZ First were up 1.7 to 6.3% and look a good bet to remain in Parliament but there’s no certainty they will maintain this level of support nor any certainty they will hold the balance of power post-election.

Gower led his 6 o’clock news coverage with…

Yes dirty politics has caused political chaos.

One poll over-reported is not political chaos.

Look at these numbers, National takes a hit down 2.5 to 45.5, this hurts, John Key knows he could be gone on this…

Key already knew (and has said so a number of times) he will be ‘gone’ if the election doesn’t go his way. National 44.5% in January, 45.9% in March.

…but Labour also take a hit, down to 26.4%, that’s a drop of 2.6, voters simply do not see them as an alternative.

What? National could be gone but there’s no alternative? It’s Labour’s lowest 3 news result since November 2011 but hey, that’s not significant.

The Greens go up, one of their best results on this poll…

Up 0.5 (a negligible change in polling terms) to 13.5% which is their best result in the Reid Research records back to Sep/Oct 2010. Trending up since May.

…and just look at this, Winston Peters up to 6.3 percent, over the threshold, Peters is back, and just wait to see the mess that this could cause.

Of course a mess is great for headlines but is far from assured despite Paddy’s best efforts to talk one up.

While Peters is obviously dominant – and Gower seems to have an obsession with him – it is actually NZ First, the party, not just Peters. There is no guarantee Peters will be back, despite Gower’s wishes.

Turning now to the minor parties and the Conservatives, up to 4.6% – obviously picking up a protest vote from right wing voters turned National…

They quite likely got some protest vote but Colin Craig has claimed there jump is due to their campaign mail box drop. Opinion shifts can be for many reasons.

…not over the five percent threshold, remember John Key did not do that electorate deal in East Coast Bays, and won’t he be regretting that right now.

Why would Key regret making a sensible decision based on one poll? If Conservatives can sustain this support it’s quite possible they could keep surging past the 5% threshold. Or their support could drop back again, polls can be temporary and fickle.

Gower reported Key “pleading with his supporters for help” (like every other party does in an election campaign) – Key: “if there’s any National supporter that was thinking about the fact that they might be able to stay at election day leave it up to everyone else, um, maybe this poll will give them a wake up call”. 

As for Internet-Mana, they are steady on 2.1%…

I think that’s quite notable. Internet-Mana were 0.2 in May and jumped to 1.8% in June when they combined and started campaigning, but since then have got 2.3 (July) and 2.0 (early August). Apart from one poll (Stuff/IPSOS having them up to 4% indications are Internet-Mana may have plateaued. Roy Morgan poll fortnightly and have always had them in the 1-2.5% range.

…and the other minor parties simply doing nothing and not worth talking about.

Small party support often moves late in an election campaign but Gower is totally dismissive, choosing to exclude them from any coverage. This makes it very difficult for small parties to be heard.

Turning now to seats in the house, this is worth talking about…

Some of the minor parties could be critical in this so are suddenly worth talking about.

…look at this, National 57 plus it’s allies that we say would get electorate seats, that would not be a majority in a 122 seat Parliament…

It’s far from certain it would be a 122 seat Parliament.

…they would only have 61 seats.

If a lot of uncertain results turned out as predicted by 3 News.

Turning now to the left wing block, they would get to 53 seats. It would all come down to New Zealand First’s 8 seats…

Again, far from certain that this exact result would be replicated in next month’s election.

…they would be needed to give John Key the power to govern, but if Winston Peters went to the left it would be a 61 all draw, now this is a hung Parliament, a tie, nobody could govern.

Apart from the many variables and assumptions involved this wouldn’t necessarily result in a hung Parliament. For example NZ First or Greens could agree to guarantee confidence and supply and remain on the cross benches. As much as Gower would love his poll to be definitive there are many possibilities.

It’s a realistic election night result.

It’s a possible result, but a non-tied or non-hung Parliament is far more likely.

Key would have to give Peters what he wants…

No, they would negotiate, and even on these numbers 57 versus 8 is a strong position. Some concessions would be made but Peters couldn’t dictate everything, that would be democratically ludicrous.

…or Peters could force another election.

Possibly, if Greens don’t step in. But there would be a lot of pressure on Peters to enable a stable Government. If he forced another election he and NZ First would be at high risk of being booted out by voters.

So first dirty politics, and now a political mess.

This is dirty poll reporting with a mess of assumptions and poorly considered assertions.

The report then showed sound bite edit of interviews with Key, Cunliffe, Peters, Craig. Typically Russell Norman described it sensibly as “dynamic is how…it’s dynamic at the moment”. Not in Gowers world, just before this Gower repeated his hung Parliament dream. Then 3:45 into the item Gower says:

But the political reality is it comes down to Winston Peters prefers as Prime Minister…

That’s just one amongst a number of possibilities so it’s far from a reality.

…he could choose Key or force a new election.

Dirty politics changing everything.

Not really, two or three months ago when NZ First rose to 5.1% Gower was just as adamant that that changed everything.

So Key has suffered a blow from dirty politics but it is not fatal, he could still govern on this, he’d just need Peters would be unlikely to force another election knowing he would be punished by voters and probably annihilated if he did…

Why mention that now rather than in earlier predictions? 

…but just imagine the negotiations, a true nightmare scenario.

Gower’s nightmare is he would be shut out of the negotiations and would have to wait a week or two for a dramatic story.

And remember Labour on 26%, that’s a shocker, they are actually going backwards here.

So if they are going backwards by the time we get to the election the actual result could be different to Paddy’s poll?

Yet voters clearly think that Key has not handled dirty politics properly…

The poll does nothing to prove that.

So, dirty politics, a crazy campaign, and now chaotic results.

There is no result until September 20. The only thing that’s chaotic here is Gower’s reporting of just one of many pre-election polls.

Remember that polls ask “who would you vote for if an election was held today” – and the polling period is already historical. Polls don’t try to predict how people would vote on election day, they can’t look into the future. Neither should Gower.

There are 24 days to go.

That’s one accurate thing Gower has reported. He mentioned ‘dirty politics’ throughout his report but ignored this only fact in making all his dramatic projections.

Well informed voters rely a lot on media coverage. Reporting like this is grossly misleading and serves voters very poorly. It serves our democracy very poorly.

Gower is playing dirty politics with our election, putting his own ill-informed dramatics ahead of reason, facts and polling basics.

A political editor should be much better than this. 

UPDATE: And Gower is just now talking on Firstline admitting he got previous predictions wrong, particularly regarding Colin Craig and the Conservatives. He has mentioned that Conservative advertising may have affected this poll result.

 

Key coy on Conservative accommodations

Will John Key and Colin Craig arrange a manky marriage?

Key was pressed by Patrick Gower to give his views on Colin Craig and the Conservative Party yesterday on The Nation.

Key emphasised that if National gave Conservatives any assistance they would be “transparent with New Zealanders and up front” (later in the day he indicated it would likely be advised about the end of July).

Patrick Gower started the interview by asking, given the level of opposition, does he really want a deal with Colin Craig?

John Key: First thing I’d say is we want to be the government post 2014 election. And I think New Zealanders do understand that involves doing deals or accommodations and actually cobbling together 61 seats. So in terms of will we specifically outline a deal with the Conservatives or United or Act, well we’ll announce that in a few weeks’ time you know, some grace time.

Patrick Gower: So yes or no to the question. Do you want a deal with Colin Craig, yes or no? Because even your own voters, one in every two National voters does not want a deal with Colin Craig.

John Key: Well I truthfully can’t answer that question. I can say there’s merits for both sides of the argument and we’ll take it through a process which will obviously include the president and the sort of kitchen cabinet. And we’ll do that relatively soon. But I can’t be absolutely sure of a definitive answer, I don’t want to mislead you but – but what I can say is realistic enough to know despite the fact that we are polling well a lot can change in an election campaign and we are likely to have to do a coalition deal.

When pressed by Gower to tell him “one good thing that he’s done this year”  Key avoided the questions.

Let’s look at it this way then. Colin Craig, tell me one good thing that he’s done this year?

Well I don’t want to critique his performance because that’s just simply not my job.

No, but it’s not a critique it’s, what’s one good thing you’ve seen him do?

Well not so sure that’s really the answer that I need to look for I mean the answer is –

But it is if you want to do a deal with him you’ve got to be able to say this is – here’s something good that he’s done.

Well he has a legitimate voice for some New Zealanders. It might be a position that’s quite a far away from me when it comes to social issues but there are plenty of New Zealanders that would support his view on smacking or gay marriage or whatever it might be. It’s not where I’m at personally but I understand that position.

But you can’t actually name something that you’ve seen and then you’ve gone ‘hey that’s pretty good’.

I don’t follow everything he does but what I’m saying to you is that we live in a world where we have to put together 61 seats. Realistically could we work with him if we go into Parliament? Let’s just argue, he either wins a seat or he gets 5%, the answer is yes I think we could because we’ve worked with lots of other different parties as well.

Gower then stated “it’s not about what the Conservatives can do for New Zealand, it’s about whether they can help you win”.

Key replied:

But that’s true of every major political party.

In the end whether you’re Labour or whether you’re National, you’ve got to work out how you get that race of 61 seats. Now in putting together those groups you have to answer the obvious question, do we have enough in common or do we believe we’re malleable enough to actually work together for the betterment of New Zealand.

Because the other alternative is everybody gets stubborn and we say oh no, we don’t have 50-percent so guess what we’re going back for another election. Well New Zealanders don’t want that, that’s for sure. There’s a couple of problems in doing that.

Negotiating after the election to put together a workable Government is much different to gifting a safe National seat to the leader of another party who otherwise has little chance of getting into Parliament.

It’s not just on social issues that Craig is ” quite a far away from ” Key. His anti-asset sale stance and some of his other economic policy ideas would be quite far from National’s. As would Craig’s (anti) Treaty of Waitangi policies.

It’s also likely the Conservative binding referendum bottom line is quite far away from what National would agree to.

Key hasn’t given any reason how National and Conservatives would be compatible.

The Conservative web page highlights:

It’s Time To Stand for Something

Had a guts full of National’s abandoning their principles? Had enough of their arrogance? Had enough of them ignoring referendums; like the one on asset sales and the one on anti-smacking? Had enough of Bill English’s borrowing habits? Had enough of the two waka Government?

Aggressively attacking National and highlighting major policy differences doesn’t sound like it’s standing for anything positive.

National and Conservatives colluding in an electorate jack-up and colluding in coalition with such significant differences would be very cynical politics. It would look like an arranged love-less marriage between incompatible religions.

Will voters stand for this?

An interesting scenario – if Craig gets voted into Parliament after being gifted a safe electorate, but National don’t need Conservatives to make up the numbers, would Key still include Conservatives in a coalition and make Craig a Minister?

And would Craig abandon his principles and stand for nothing except getting into Government?

Labour on immigration – slash to “sweet spot” somehow

David Cunliffe talks about seeking a “sweet spot” for a predictable and steady net immigration flow, without being specific about how Labour would do it.

Cunliffe seems more intent on seeking a sweet spot in voter approval on immigration while ignoring the practicalities..

Patrick Gower: Good morning David Cunliffe and you heard the Finance Minister Bill English there say that the Government is happy with immigration settings. That is despite some of the highest figures ever – people flooding into Auckland and no-one leaving. What are Labour’s thoughts on New Zealand’s current immigration settings?

David Cunliffe: Well I thought the minister missed the main point which is the responsibility of any government is the total flows and New Zealand is well served when we get enough new migrants to fill our skill gaps but not so many that it overwhelms our housing market or the ability of our schools and our hospitals to cope. And we always used to try to manage to a zone of say between about five and 15-thousand net positive. They’re looking at 41, 42-thousand, that is just too much and it will overheat the property market even further.

Total net immigration is dependent to a large extent on how many New Zealanders leave and return. That is a major part of the immigration that can’t be controlled by the Government.

The Treasury central forecast in Immigration is that it will peak at 41,500 in the September quarter, just under the 2003 record high of 42,500. This chart shows how much net immigration fluctuates:

The forecast is for it to peak and drop significantly.

So what would Labour do? Too much, you’ve said immigration settings are too high, what would Labour do?

We would manage net migration flows as far as possible to a steady, positive, predictable level that is sufficient for our housing market and our schools and our hospitals to cope with.

It’s easy to control new immigrant numbers but impossible to control and difficult to predict the number of outgoing and incoming New Zealanders.

How would you do that because you want to come down from about 40-thousand to about 15 [thousand]?

Yeah, well the easiest way to do it is to look at the numbers that are able to come in under different categories and just to manage the points system so you take the very best and the ones that are most suitable for the skill gaps and then you turn it back up again as either the homecoming Kiwi flow reduces or the economy starts to cool and you just have to manage it a bit counter-cyclically. Let me say also Labour has always been committed to an open and multi-cultural society and we welcome the contribution that our migrant communities make.

Absolutely but what you’re talking about here in layman’s terms is a Labour government restricting immigration straight off the bat?

No, I’m saying that you must have a flow which is steady, positive and predictable. What under National you get is a yo-yo effect from nothing much if they think that’s politically expedient to open slather as it is at the moment. That means that you may well have the Winston Peters factor coming in and talking that up and I think neither is actually right. What you want to be is somewhere in that sweet spot in the middle where you’re assisting our business growth with the right skills that fill the gaps and yet not too much for our schools and hospitals.

Past fluctuations show that “steady, positive and predictable” would be difficult to achieve. Impossible in practical terms.

Yes but you get to that by restricting immigration don’t you?

You get to it by managing the total into a zone that is in the middle, that’s right.

Yes and you’re talking 10, 15-thousand less migrants to get it?

No, I haven’t put a number on it. Obviously if you’re starting off at plus 40-thousand levels you’ve just got to move gradually because you can’t turn the tap off completely, you’d have a big skill shortage.

It wouldn’t be starting at “plus 40-thousand levels”, that’s a predicted peak.

What about the Winston Peters idea of getting migrants and immigrants to move straight to the provinces – do five years in say Whanganui or Oamaru? What about that kind of policy?

We believe that people are communities not commodities so you can’t just force someone to go and live somewhere you know, they’re not objects, they’re human beings, they have families that they might be trying to reunify with, they have communities that they want to be part of so that sounds on the face of it not the easiest thing to administer. What however there are opportunities to do is to build on things like the voluntary bonding programmes which actually both governments have done where in specific careers you give people the opportunity to relocate, maybe in exchange for some career benefit for them as we do with students who get tertiary fees remission.

So you won’t go there with Winston Peters’ policy?

Look our position, and of course post-election negotiations are post-election, is that we would try to encourage strong regional development and job growth but we’re not going to force people to live in particular towns.

That’s a no to agreeing with an NZ First “bottom line”.

Sure so looking at this you are prepared though to restrict immigration in order to help the housing market, particularly here in Auckland?

Well look there’s nothing new at all in the idea that immigration flows should be managed into the sweet spot that supports business growth but doesn’t overwhelm our society’s opportunity to integrate those people or our schools and hospitals’ ability to cope.

Bill English says there there’s nothing wrong with New Zealand’s immigration settings. He’s wrong in your eyes?

I think he’s being a little blind to the wider social and economic effects because basically people are going to be paying higher interest rates on their mortgage because Bill English won’t see the whole picture on immigration.

It’s easy to see the implications of a surge in net immigration. It’s much more difficult coming up with a way of achieving a steady and predictable “sweet spot”.

Cunliffe seems to be trying for a sweet spot in voter approval without addressing the practicalities and the difficulties in managing immigration flows.

Sad face of politics

One of the things I like least about politics is seeing politicians humiliated and having to deal with it in a very public glare, regardless of the reasons for their fall. It’s a sad face of politics.

Associated with this is a distaste for the glee and smugness of opponents, journalists and people in social media at the misfortunes and embarrassment.

We’re getting a double does of all this at the moment with Judith Collins and Maurice Williamson. Both are largely responsible for their situations, but I wonder how much of that is due to missteps and how much is misfortune. Most politicians would struggle to maintain perfect records and most would  have difficulty dealing with the degree of scrutiny they receive.

Holding to account by opposition politicians is an important part of democracy. The degree to which some politicians and their staff go to destroy careers regardless of the relative seriousness of circumstances is not pretty. Winston Peters has a long history of dishing out dirt and rubbing it in, or trying to.

In Collins’ case an otherwise decent looking man, Grant Robertson, seems to be revelling in the ritual burning of a witch as the culmination of what at times looks more witch hunt than holding to account. I wonder how he feels when he reflects on the carnage. If he reflects.

Many people in social media, especially those who are anonymous/pseudonymous, enjoy putting the boot in. Abusing, discrediting, lying seem to be the main online occupation of some. So it’s not surprising to see applause, derision and ongoing hostility when a victim succumbs to the pressures of their job.

(For the record I have not liked the bloodsport part of politics no matter what party or leaning the political victims belonged and I have spoken against the excesses for years.)

Journalists are major players in the holding to account. When they smell political blood they can be relentless, merciless. I guess they have to be.

Some of them seem to really enjoy it when they claim a victim. To some it seems to be just business as usual. But it can be surprising and disconcerting to see some of the gloating.

One image that stood out for me last night was on 3 News last night when Patrick Gower was discussing Collins and Williamson with Hilary Barry.

Gower has a record of being a media hound with fangs. His self congratulatory look of satisfaction is normal. It was very ironic of Gower to blog:

Collins’ gutter politics a liability for Key

Judith Collins is engaging in gutter politics and John Key has let her off with a slap on the wrist with a wet Oravida donation receipt.

Gower in Parliament

While Collins was totally out of order with her attack on Katie Bradford gutter journalism jumped out at me from that comment. Collins overstepped once, journalists often test the limits of the footpath they tread on.

What stood out though was Barry, who normally anchors 3 News with decency and usually looks reasonable and nice, rubbing her hands together and appearing to celebrate the political discomfort with glee.

Gower and BarryJudith Collins says apology was ‘genuine’

Barry seemed very happy with the story they were able to tell. To me it was a very sad face of politics.

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.

Bradbury’s right, journalists can be ‘tricky’

In Tricky Patrick Gower at The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury makes several points claiming Patrick Gower has made too much of his story about David Cunliffe’s late declaration of an investment trust.

This second trust issue is minor for Cunliffe albeit of some interest among the other issues of the week, Cunliffe’s leadership campaign trust, his flash house hypocrisy and the sending IT policy stuff-up.

I can’t work out what is happening with Patrick Gower. He seems to either be conducting a live job interview to be John Key’s next Press Secretary or the National Party have a few of Paddy’s family held hostage somewhere under threat of grammar lessons with Chris Finlayson because this story about Cunliffe’s ICSL Trust is bullshit.

I don’t think it should be ‘Tricky Cunliffe’, I think it should be ‘Tricky Paddy’.

That’s a bit of typical Bomber hyperbole plus a bit of humour, and I don’t think Gower is favouring Key nor National, but he is making a story more dramatic than it warrants. It’s what he does regardless of what party the target belongs to.

It is the manufactured framing by Gower that is the issue here, the attempt to validate that narrative by musings on values is deceptive at worst and useful idiot at best. 

I agree with Bradbury on this.

Some journalists try to have too much influence on news and politics, and they are not accountable to voters. It can adversely affect any politician or party who gets in the firing line.

Political careers can soar or crash and burn at the whim and heavy handedness of the media. Cunliffe is copping a lot of flak, mostly brought on by his and his party’s ineptitude. ACT leader Jamie Whyte learned how brutal the media spotlight can be.

Our top politicians need to be examined and held to account and the media take a lead role in this.

But when they over do things it can have  a corrupting influence on our democratic process.

Journalists need headlines like politicians need votes. Both sometimes ignore decency and democracy when trying to achieve their respective targets.

Both sides of the media battle can get a bit too tricky with the truth.

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