Trotter predicts

Chris Trotter makes a number of debatable predictions for the year in 2017 in the shadow of Trump (Stuff).

The political consensus at the beginning of 2017 – election year – is that the National-led Government will hold on to power.

Who is in general agreement that National will hold on to power? I think there’s too many unknowns and uncertainties to claim this with any confidence.

National are very likely to comfortably get the most votes and seats in this year’s election, but it’s far from certain whether they will be able to form a similar coalition to this term (with ACT, UF and the Maori Party), or if the need more whether NZ First will join a coalition or let National run a minority government from the cross benches. It’s also possible (but unlikely with Turei as leader) Greens  could enable a National led Government either in coalition or from the cross benches.

Not in its own right, as might have happened had John Key led them into battle, but with sufficient parliamentary support to govern comfortably.

They don’t govern comfortably this term, requiring two of the three minor support parties to back any legislation, and they have been limited because of this.

The most significant political event of 2017, however, could well be the collapse of the Labour Party and the emergence of the Greens as New Zealand’s leading party of the centre-left.

Labour collapsing is a real possibility, and any further decline in their share of the vote could be seen as a collapse. But they could just as likely stay at a similar level of support, or increase their vote a bit (to the high twenties), or recover into the thirties. At this stage i think which of these will happen is impossible to predict with any certainty.

In a way Greens can already be seen by their actions as the leading party of the centre left going by performances inside and outside Parliament. Their party vote seems to have hit a ceiling at about 11%, but even if they increase to say 15% (their target last election) they are likely to remain smaller than Labour.

A number of people have predicted that NZ First grow bigger, causing a drop for Greens to fourth in the party pecking order. I think this is quite possible – NZ First are likely to pick up more ex-National vote than the Greens if the National support declines.

A key factor driving the New Zealand electorate’s flight to the right will be the profound and ideologically toxic influence of Donald Trump’s presidency.

There has been no sign of New Zealand moving much to the right this century.  Both Helen Clark and John Key aimed at the centre and apart from a few policies mostly stayed moderate. Even National’s asset sales were watered down to being only half sales.

If anyone has learned anything yet about the effect of Trump they should know that it’s difficult making predictions about his influence. It’s quite possible Trump as US president will have a negligible effect on New Zealand overall. Or not.

Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman predicts a global trade war, and the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine is filled with disquieting articles foreshadowing an ominous deterioration in the relationship between the USA and China.

The future for US trade relationships and US foreign relations are uncertain. Trump will definitely do things differently – but it depends on how China learns and adapts as to whether problems will escalate or not. Predictions of Trump trashing the economy have already proven to be premature at least.

If the US and China clash New Zealand may manage to stay out of the melée. That could be complicated by Winston Peters – but if there’s trouble abroad and Peters is seen to try and stir that up here it could easily backlash against him in the election.

In a neat division of political labour, NZ First will lead the attack on China while, publicly, National condemns (but not too loudly) Peters’ racially-charged rhetoric. Meanwhile, privately, the conservative supporters of both parties will be encouraged to recognise the inherent electoral synergies of the unfolding crisis. As the countdown to the election shortens, the prospect of a National-NZ First coalition government will begin to acquire the aura of inevitability.

Some voters here like maverickism, but most prefer stable status quo government when it comes to economic matters.

Especially if there is an ‘unfolding crisis’ a National-NZ First coalition government will become more uncertain rather than certain. If Peters ramps up his attacks on China it is more likely to create further division between NZ First and National, and voters tend to avoid this sort of uncertainty.

Amplifying the conservative message among the Maori electorate, the Maori Party will cast the Chinese as a second-wave of colonisers threatening not only tino rangatiratanga but also Pakeha sovereignty. Iwi corporations will be portrayed as the foundation stones of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s economic independence. The incipient government of the centre-right will thus be presented as a National-NZ First-Maori Party alliance.

Is Trotter serious? Or is he taking the piss? Or is he trying to stir something up?

An alliance involving NZ First and the Maori Party seems unlikely given Winston’s previous antagonistic attitude towards a ‘race based’ party.

I think it’s highly unlikely that Winston will present an alliance including NZ First and National prior to the election – he has been staunch in not indicating which way he may go – and even less likely of any NZ First-Maori Party presentations.

The turmoil created by the Trump administration will similarly throw into sharp relief the serious disjunction between the beliefs of the Labour Party and its electoral base. Even if Andrew Little and his advisors were of a mind to join with Peters in attacking China, the reflexive anti-Americanism of his caucus and Labour’s wider membership would drive the party inexorably towards their enemy’s enemy. Immediately, what was left of Labour’s support among “Waitakere Men” would decamp for the Sinophobic right.

That’s more likely to be to  NZ First rather than to National.

The reverse manoeuvre – in which Little prevails upon caucus and party to follow National, NZ First and the Maori Party into Trumpism and Sinophobia – would only drive Labour’s younger, more progressive, voters toward the Greens.

I think Trotter is in fantasy land here trying to connect National and the Maori Party with ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’.

And to claim ‘Trumpism and Sinophobia’ would split Labour is even more bizarre.

The classic Labour solution – trying to have a bob each way – risks losing both the conservative and the progressive components of its electoral base.

Labour already seem to be trying the bob each way approach, and have already lost both conservative and progressive parts of it’s electoral base to an extent. An international crisis, should it happen, is more likely to force Labour into being seen as responsible rather than divisive.

The extreme-nationalist complexion of the Trump administration and its geopolitical focus on the burgeoning power of China can only hasten the disintegration of Labour’s electoral position.

I think this is far from certain, and even if it becomes a contributory factor  in further Labour decline it would be impossible to quantify.

It is, however, highly doubtful that sufficient young people will participate in the 2017 general election to significantly offset the emotionally powerful appeal of an unabashedly nationalistic, Sinophobic and pro-American coalition of National, NZ First and the Maori Party.

I think Trotter is trying to create an absurd political meme here, either ignorantly or disingenuously. Fantasy or deliberate fiction.

Neither conservative fish nor progressive fowl, Labour is likely to see its party vote plummet into the teens – and with it any hope of reclaiming major party status.

That’s already possible without any Trump crisis involved.

The baton of progressive politics will pass to the Greens. Real political power, however, will remain with the National Party and its allies.

It may be that Trotter has genuinely given up on the Labour Party. Labour could collapse further.

But NZ First becoming allies with the Maori party seems preposterous. And National joining Winston’s Asia bashing and siding with Trump is more so.

Trying to promote Greens as the progressive baton carrier and the dominant opposition party seems to be wishful thinking, at best.

Trotter’s political propositions were all over the place last year, and they seem even more confused now.

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54 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd January 2017

    The most likely result is small changes at the margins followed by some leadership changes after the election. The next government is most likely to be either a National coalition or minority government. It is very hard to see a workable coalition on the left.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd January 2017

      My pick is for a National-led coalition, but it’s too early to predict its composition.
      How would a minority government work?

      (Pete, 3rd para line 3 looks garbled)

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd January 2017

        Oh, Pete, just had another read, it’s just your ‘the need’ … instead of ‘they need’ that threw me.

        Reply
  2. David

     /  3rd January 2017

    Its a terrible article from Trotter, first there will be no trade war but expect Mexico to be smacked around a bit and secondly by all indicators coming out of the US Trump will be good for business and their economy.
    This constant searching for a NZ angle on Brexit and Trump is a fig leaf for paid commentators to fill column inches and comparing Trump and Winston ! give me a break there are no similarities at all.

    Reply
  3. Re NZF, it’s all on if Winston moves on, and who’s to say that’s not possible.

    Reply
  4. It’s funny how commentators can’t agree on the influence of Trump, other than it’s going to be bad. Yet he won! Where are the articles comparing or projecting him in a positive light?
    Trump presented so many points of view during the primaries that commentators can use him to support any of their own prejudices or bias and still sound like they know what they’re talking about.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd January 2017

      Despite the typically hyperbolic headline, I thought this shortish article this morning in Stuff gave him a reasoned & balanced treatment.

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/88091999/republicans-face-a-dangerous-first-100-days

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  3rd January 2017

        The Republicans have threatened to use the Democrats’ own weapon against them if they block the Supreme Court appointments and remove the super-majority requirement for those appointments too.

        Finding a health care solution will be the biggest first challenge for Trump I think.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  3rd January 2017

          That couple from New England I met at the New Year shindig next door had firm views on that. The husband in particular seemed have a good handle on the problem. They had their own massage therapy business before they retired recently. He said his health care coverage was costing him $600 US a month & it didn’t cover everything. He outlined how complex the food chain is with the private cover health system there, said that the way it works it is going be completely unaffordable in a decade or two, and in his opinion Trump won’t be able to fix it because the whole insurance-based healthcare system is ultimately unsustainable.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  3rd January 2017

            Speaking from a position of ignorance I’m guessing that the problem to resolve is the conflict between affordable compromise medical care and unattainable legal perfection enforceable by law suits. Until the medical profession and their insurers are released from the constraints of the latter US medical care will continue to be unaffordable for many. It’s pretty much the usual socialist regulatory barrier of minimum wages/standards transported into the capitalist system via human rights legal fantasies.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  3rd January 2017

              No it sounded more complicated than that. He certainly was no Obamacare or Clinton supporter and definitely not a socialist. He says there’s a never-ending cycle of cost increases throughout the entire system that will always end up raising premiums ahead of income levels for the majority of users, leaving scores of people with having to reduce cover & face getting bankrupted if something goes wrong in with their health in an area not covered. They’ve travelled the world & he says state-funded health systems seem better at controlling costs, in his opinion.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd January 2017

              That’s not a story that makes any sense to me. Simply, state-funded health systems have built in rationing and are immune to court interventions. The US needs to look at the legal interventions and the monopoly protections it gives the medical industry. Seems to me these are the real source of the cost spirals.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd January 2017

              lt sounded every bit as complicated as their tax system. He was just starting to elsborate for me when my neighbour’s missus started gleefully demanding more attention. She’s 44, Chinese, with an accent that requires concentration & polite interrogation for elucidation, sharp as a knife, but with the personality of an excitable 10 year old girl at the swimming pool when she’s gets tiddly, & I realised we’d all been ignoring her, & her hubby, our generous hosts, so we switched to trivia. If I see him around before they go in a couple of days, I’ll get him to elaborate.

              Gotta go, dad’s birthday today & I’m bringing him home to ma’s for the day.

          • David

             /  3rd January 2017

            “because the whole insurance-based healthcare system is ultimately unsustainable.”

            Why? Insurance based health care works in dozens of countries, including all the best regarded systems in the world, i.e. France and Singapore.

            The current US system is a byzantine mess of government mandates, state based restrictions on trade and government funded system (medicare, mediaid, VA etc).

            Reply
        • Gezza

           /  3rd January 2017

          Yes they sound sensible. Stopping the arming of all sorts of agencies who shouldn’t even require them especially.

          “The EPA doesn’t need 1,020 lawyers to harass the private sector.” On that one, I wouldn’t be surprised if they probably do

          Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  3rd January 2017

      Hitler ‘won’ too, Duncan.

      Trump’s win demonstrates the flawed Electoral College system that allows someone to win when millions don’t want that person.

      Reply
      • David

         /  3rd January 2017

        The fact Obama won when ten of millions didn’t want him to be president demonstrates the flaw of democracy.

        Reply
  5. Brown

     /  3rd January 2017

    “… seem even more confused now.”

    That’s Trotter for you. His world view doesn’t fit reality and he’s struggling with the contradiction between them. If only he was in charge then he would do socialism the right way and all would be fantastic. We would come to love cabbage soup and queuing for everything.

    Reply
  6. The corruption of language as a political tool is nowhere exemplified better than calling progressives progressive. Just because it’s change doesn’t make it progress. The “radical right” and the “radical left” both want change but the left in this instance have been far smarter in defining themselves as a more desirable option.

    Reply
    • Yes, a yearning for socialism of the seventies (that never existed in relaity, more pre eighties ‘neo-liberalism’) is hardly progress.

      Reply
  7. National have become so similar to Labour that there is a sizable market for those on the right economically. The question is, will they be happy to move to ACT which is socially liberal. Previous elections have suggested that new parties have a better chance on their second attempt as voters shy away from first-time wannabes. I wonder the chances of the Conservatives if they can convince Joe Public that theyve moved on from the Colin Craig debacle – if they should be so inclined, of course.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd January 2017

      It’ll be interesting for the Conservatives all right. I’ve always thought them a fringe party anyway & I don’t think they’ll be able to recover from the Colin Craig debacle. Certainly not in time for this election.

      Reply
  8. Ray

     /  3rd January 2017

    I notice in this fantasy world no one ever imagines what happens if/when Winston Peters drops dead.
    I doubt if he will make old bones as his life style isn’t helping.
    Certainly on his death his Party will be vastly reduced, if not disappear despite who is wheeled as the new leader.
    Where will those votes go?
    Discuss.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd January 2017

      They could go to Morgan – from one b.s. artist to another. Though Morgan doesn’t have Winnie’s smile for the ladies.

      Reply
      • Gareth Morgan doesn’t have the chops to be a political leader in the broadcast age… unphotogenic, snarly and obviously convinced of his intellectual superiority. Some of the online interactions he has had have highlighted his lack of charisma, EQ and inability to connect with people

        Reply
    • Winston has Shane Jones lined up as the successor is the big meme. Jones has the common touch in his oratory though how his being a chosen one off the Marae sits with Winston’s no race based privilege rhetoric is any ones guess given Jones long history in Iwi Treaty negotiations and corporations…

      Reply
    • PDB

       /  3rd January 2017

      I can see a more centralist Labour type party emerging that encompasses some of NZl First’s rhetoric, after all I’d suggest quite a few ex-Labour party supporters are making up a decent % of NZl First’s current supporter base. Shane Jones could be a good leader of such a party and it would have more appeal across the country than Winston currently enjoys. It would capture some fringe National party support too. NZL First would fade away with Winston gone.

      Labour has sold its soul to the Greens and its support would be further eroded by such a party being formed.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  3rd January 2017

        Do you seriously think Shane Jones is leadership material PDB? I can’t see it. I think his talents are undemonstrated & overestimated. I don’t think he’s got the stamina or smarts to pull together and drive a centralist NewLabour party, nor the comms skills or wit to survive media questioning.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  3rd January 2017

          the Nats certainly thought so Gezza,hence his cushy job offer.Its the ‘common man ‘ appeal,anti P.C,a bit of porn ,a beer with the boys and a bit of biff and rugger.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  3rd January 2017

            True, good point. I still think he’s style over substance & couldn’t successfully build a serious competitor party to Labour.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd January 2017

              Surely that eminently qualifies him to take over from Winnie?

            • Gezza

               /  3rd January 2017

              I don’t think he’s got the Machiavellian rat-cunning of Winston or the sophisticatory elegance to keep his support base on board without completely understanding what his real philosophy or policies are.

              And although I take Blazer’s point above, I always thought that in part the Nats’ move to manouver him out & into an extravagantly cushy sinecure was just as likely to be motivated by a simple desire to add to Labour’s demoralisation by simply showing how shallow & easily bought one of their supposed future big hitters actually was.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd January 2017

              his ego is at least as big as ..Winstons.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd January 2017

              More likely it was part of Key’s strategy to keep Labour galloping happily into the unelectable Left corner.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd January 2017

              @Al,Key had no strategy…Crosby Textor the firm he swore he wouldn’t use was responsible for…that.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd January 2017

              Don’t believe it.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd January 2017

              @Al & Blazer. Me neither. I think Key ran his advisors, not the other way round.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd January 2017

              @Al,believe it or not…plenty of evidence….and didn’t come cheap.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd January 2017

              @Gezza,seriously!I guess you think Reagan and Bush wrote their own speeches ..too!BOL.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd January 2017

              No. But Key’s no Ronnie or Dubbya.

            • Blazer

               /  3rd January 2017

              @Gezza,Key was parachuted in ,given his lines,did a wonderful job of smile and wave and act the fool,kept to the script and ejected to save his reputation with Wall St.Doubt he even had the time or the inclination to form strategy.Crosby worked for the Nat-Libs in Oz and the Tories in the U.K. and is acknowledged as a political guru.

            • Gezza

               /  3rd January 2017

              I see him as a genuine neo-lib acolyte but also as something of a whimsical dilettante Blazer. Too schoomzy with big money & Wall Street but a bit of a flippy flopper. That said, if we get a bombshell or two of irrefutable revelations about his true manipulable evil vileness in the next few months, I’ll be reasonably happy to be proven wrong.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd January 2017

              Another of your Lefty fantasies, B. What’s one more, anyway?

            • Blazer

               /  3rd January 2017

              @Al, plenty of evidence available …you can accept it or reject..it…heres another tarnished hero…more than meets the eye,hoodwinking the public is an art form…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd January 2017

              I know I can reject it, B, because I do, very happily. As for Churchill – a great man and character with human flaws as we all have.

  9. duperez

     /  3rd January 2017

    “I think Trotter is trying to create an absurd political meme here, either ignorantly or disingenuously. Fantasy or deliberate fiction.” Surely there is no surprise at this and those in the other references to Trotter’s motivation?

    When he finishes his apprenticeship he may graduate to the Farrar style of doing the same thing but having it look different!

    Reply
  10. Time will tell how much of what Trotter is “predicting” will eventuate.

    It’s fair to say that he is certainly lamenting the state of his beloved left.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  3rd January 2017

      Reverse psychology by Trotter…………when you’re desperate to return to the ‘good ole days’ of unions holding the country to ransom and govt intervention in everything we do then you’ll try anything.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  3rd January 2017

        yes Reaganism/Thatcherism has worked so well eh?Trickle down b/s,we now have a rentier society, where the money created out of thin air is given to the very wealthy to ‘invest’ at the expense of productivity and a fairer society.The Natz promote public/private partnerships=the public take all the risk,and the private take all the profits.Applying it to housing is scandalous.

        Reply
        • Worse than anything else is the brainwashing Blazer, IMHO, the acceptance and application of (so-called) ‘free market’ principles to public services – health, education and welfare – infrastructure, bureaucracy – especially Treasury – and, in a warped sort of way to politics and policy making itself – the way in which money buys influence through ‘think tanks’, lobbying, political party donations and the like …

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  3rd January 2017

          I could agree with you there, B, if the bigger scandal wasn’t the RMA and building regulations that created the disaster that they claim to be addressing.

          Reply

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