Labour play safe while National, NZ First and Greens chase votes

A common claim is that this election is Labour’s to lose, and they are doing their best to play things as safely as possible to try to maintain the large lead the polls give them.

With National so far behind the most doubt is on whether Labour will get a majority on their own, or if they survive will NZ First or Greens hold the balance of power. If both the smaller parties make the threshold it’s possible Labour have enough seats to play one against the other – two tales weak.

Greens have been trying to appeal to those who want a much bolder, more progressive left leaning government. That may work to an extent, but they are as likely to get votes from those who want to stop Labour getting sole charge.

Newsroom: Labour, Greens clash over emergency housing

Social Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni has hit back at a Green Party U-turn over a rental charge for emergency housing tenants, criticising them for airing their criticisms in the media rather than with her directly.

However social housing advocates say a major change in the way emergency housing operates means the policy is more unfair than when it was first floated – and should be reconsidered.

Meanwhile both National and NZ First have ramped up their attempts to pick up votes, but NZ First is fighting for survival, and National seem to have largely given up competing head to head with Labour, instead trying more to stop a collapse in support rather than seeking an unlikely surge.

While Judith Collins had a better than expected debate against Jacinda Ardern it wasn’t enough to make much difference, especially alongside a poor week for National. They had multiple problems with their economic policy that they had to keep trying to defend, and they also have problems with bad publicity over questionable or misleading claims being made by various candidates.

Luke Malpass (Stuff): National goes hunting for votes on the right while Labour plays it safe

This was the week we found out exactly what the two major parties’ game plan is.

Labour now clearly believes it can win a majority – or thereabouts (although people in the party’s campaign remain pessimistic, citing history). National is now in the business of trying to win votes back from ACT, off NZ First, and off the other social conservative parties, which seem to be making a bit of a run in the polls.

While National has not given up the ghost, it is clear that its aim for the next couple of weeks is to prevent the party going into what its own MPs call the “death spiral”: where potential centre-right voters know National won’t be in government and peel off to other alternatives, defenestrating the party and making the rebuild task much harder.

But ACT, which is now polling at 7 per cent and is the biggest current recipient of the collapse of National’s vote, is now offering something much more consistent, and principled, than National has been able to offer.

ACT’s draft Budget, unlike National’s, added up. It also had some intellectual rigour behind it.

This election remains firmly in Labour’s favour. No-one in National is any longer talking about a ‘’path to victory’’. It’s now about damage control and MPs with even healthy majorities are hunkering down in their electorates, making sure they hold their seats. There’s still three weeks to go and anything could happen, but it’s still Labour’s to lose.

That’s certainly how it looks. National is trying to recover support lost to ACT, and maybe pick up (or stop losing more) a bit of support in the centre.

NZ First have been really struggling. Peters looks a couple of generations out of synch with Ardern. But he is usually a canny campaigner, and yesterday he made a big play, albeit on a well worn topic.

Thomas Manch (Stuff): Winston Peters’ Ōrewa speech is a war-cry to an old, inflated enemy

Winston Peters has reached into the past in the hope of raiding ACT and National votes for his ailing party.

Stuff: Winston Peters unleashes on Labour over Ihumātao in race-relations speech, says NZ First stopped deal three times

NZ First leader Winston Peters has attacked Labour over Ihumātao in a blistering speech, saying he stopped a deal there that would have opened a flood of reopened Treaty claims.

He said only NZ First could “protect” the principle of “one law for all” from “wokeish fellow traveller elites”.

The contested land near Auckland airport has been occupied since 2016. It is currently owned by Fletcher Building who had planned a housing development on the land. The land was originally confiscated by the Crown in 1865. Local iwi struck a deal with Fletchers in 2014 that saw the housing project scaled back, but protestors contend the land should be turned over entirely.

Ardern intervened in July of 2019, saying no new building would happen until a peaceful settlement had been reached.

Peters said this happened without consulting him while he was overseas and it was a “terrible decision” – breaking an agreement the two parties had made to avoid “the sort of politically correct policies that undermined the Helen Clark governments.”

“No consultation was ever done with our party, as by Labour’s agreement with us should’ve happened,” Peters said.

He said NZ First “went to the wall” to stop a deal happening but if Labour were re-elected with the Green Party or by itself a deal would go through.

“We said no to Labour. Not once. Not twice. But three times,” Peters said.

“If Labour governs after the election, by themselves (heaven forbid), or with the Greens (God help us all), then they will do a deal at Ihumātao. Nothing is more certain.”

“If the Crown weakens its resolve after the election you just watch the flood of action on previously settled Treaty claims.”

“So if you want a future free from the past and free of guilt choose the only party that can stop Ihumātao and its domino effect and fallout. If you don’t want a new wave of claims on previously settled Treaty claims it’s in your hands. If you want to live in a country where there is ‘one law for all’ only New Zealand First can protect you.”

Peters said National were “nowhere” in the race and a vote for ACT would be wasted.

So shots fired from Peters in all directions. His anti-Ihumātao outburst will appeal to some, but it’s hard to know whether it will swing enough votes NZ First’s way. Peters has struggled to shed an image of being not just yesterday’s man, but last century’s man.

And voters will remember that he didn’t deliver on much of his rhetoric from the last campaign, nor for his enabling of a Labour led government.

Another relative youngster has also been outperforming him.

ACT leader David Seymour said Peters had created the problem by making Ardern prime minister.

“Peters could have promoted one law for all in Cabinet for three years, instead of rolling it out three weeks before the election,” Seymour said.

“This is all too little, too late.”

I wouldn’t rule out a last ditch scrambling out of a political and poll ditch, but times have changed since previous Winston inspired houdini acts. He used to be able to attract a lot of favourable and free media publicity.

After yesterday’s speech Peters got some coverage but he was well down the TV headline pecking order last night, and he is hardly dominating today’s news cycle.

On top of that, most people hardly or don’t follow mainstream media any more. Peters hasn’t adapted much to social media – even National are using new media a lot now.

Labour and ACT are doing what they need too do successfully. Greens may have recovered a bit of essential ground.

National and NZ First are scrapping for any support they can find, and the going is tough. They should also be wary of advanced NZ and New Conservatives picking up some fringe support off them.

It’s three weeks until the election. Maybe the campaign will get interesting, but it’s hard to see Labour losing, it seems more a matter of how well they win.

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  1. John J Harrison

     /  26th September 2020

    Pete, hard to fault your synopsis.
    What many are waiting for is the SFO report into financial chicanery by both Labour and N Z First.
    The latter has more to be concerned than the former.
    ACT is roaring and is taking voters from both NZ First and Labour.
    The latter’s 5% drop in the latest poll is testament to that.
    The voters did not swing to either National or NZ First.
    Good bloody riddance to the charlatan that has plagued our political scene for far too long..
    It will be a closer election than some surmise.
    Picking ACT to hoover up 10%.

    • If ACT get 10% that will probably be at National’s expense.

      • John J Harrison

         /  26th September 2020

        Sure, that’s possible.
        But another debate “ fail “ by Ardern or another breach of our border necessitating a further lock down will adversely affect Labour’s lead.

        • duperez

           /  26th September 2020

          It sure will. The euphoria of the mid 30s will be a sight to behold.

          By any ordinary measure the ‘financial chicanery’ of NZFirst is irrelevant. They will be history and those relishing and trying to recall what the party donations fusses with three major parties were about will be on some planet somewhere else with their ‘biggest scandal ever.’ Their venom will be distributed to whichever party is next up on the legal block.

          Some will get to relish at least that the amounts involved in the claims of ‘financial chicanery’ were substantial, real stuff, at the sort of level you’d expect of a great party.

        • lurcher1948

           /  26th September 2020

          JJH i’m surprised, you didn’t say”pretty please” in the hope of a poor second debate and a COVID breach, but deep in your heart you know it isn’t going to happen

          • No one would want a new breach, but if you think it can’t happen, you are fooling yourself. We have been assured before that testing was going on when it wasn’t. One can only hope that Labour have learned their lesson and that we don’t end up like the UK.

    • Blazer

       /  26th September 2020

      You are a very wishful thinker J.J.


      Yesterdays diatribe was an indictment that confirmed your devout bias.

      • John J Harrison

         /  26th September 2020

        Blazer, hopeless.
        Your bias is clearly evident as is your failed deflection.
        You never supplied a single instance of Labour ending a term with nothing but a gargantuan deficit.
        Surpluses are a foreign concept for Labour – and you know it.

        • Blazer

           /  26th September 2020

          ‘The Crown accounts for the year to June 2019 show a $7.5 billion surplus. This is due to the stronger economy, and also includes a number of one-off factors including revaluation of the country’s rail assets.

          Net debt has fallen further to sit at 19.2% of GDP, down from 19.9% a year ago and below the 20% target in the Budget Responsibility Rules.’

          The Clark/Cullen years produced straightline surplus….fact.

          The Key/English years produced straightline deficits…fact.

          Suck it up.

          • John J Harrison

             /  26th September 2020

            Blazer, that was thanks to National’s stewardship in their last term.
            Please provide the correct figures at the end of Labour’s terms.
            Not your mere hyperbole.

            • Blazer

               /  26th September 2020

              Providing correct figures to you has been done before and you refuse to accept them.

              Now you are trying to cherry pick small windows to bolster your ludicrous position that National have a legacy of surplus,when the truth is
              exactly the…opposite.

            • John J Harrison

               /  26th September 2020

              Blazer, so , in not a single instance has Labour ever left a surplus after ending their term.
              Thank you for confirming same.

            • John J Harrison

               /  26th September 2020

              Blazer, read it.
              Indeed a glowing picture is painted of National’s handling of two earthquakes and the GFC.
              Key and English were world class in steering us through both natural disasters and a global financial crisis.
              Still awaiting your reply of Labour ending their terms with nothing but gargantuan deficits.

            • Blazer

               /  26th September 2020

              Bill English said , on Dec 18 2008:

              “I want to stress that New Zealand starts from a reasonable position in dealing with the uncertainty of our economic outlook.” “In New Zealand we have room to respond. This is the rainy day that Government has been saving up for,” he told reporters at the Treasury briefing on the state of the economy and forecasts.

            • Duker

               /  26th September 2020

              There is no surplus ‘left’, every government spends it all.
              The word surplus covers most but not all of the budget called ‘operational spending’ and using accrual accounting.
              On a cash basis English was still borrowing $5-6 bill right up till they were voted out.
              The 2000-2008 Labour govt did leave a fund , the Cullen fund which it started in 2003, where it parked some money every year over and above the paying down of debt and is now worth $45 bill.
              Key and English stopped putting money in Fund and didnt pay down the debt at all, ratcheting it up to over $85 bill.
              The Cullen Fund is now NZs biggest taxpayer too boot, which has caught out Goldsmith yet again.
              The evidence is the previous labour government paid down debt and started a fund now worth $45 bill for future super costs.
              National thought NZ wasnt borrowing enough when Key became PM , and it came to pass, they just used the borrowed money to fund tax cuts and didnt get any real economic gains from that, which is what Collins & Goldsmith want to repeat. The economic growth after 2015 came from a flood of migration.

            • Duker

               /  26th September 2020

              Heres a graph of the ‘Crown residual cash’ from 1997 -2019, also called operating balance

              Positive residual cash from 2001-2008 , only once after that in 2017

    • Patzcuaro

       /  26th September 2020

      I can’t see Labour voters going to ACT, more like some centre voters moving from Labour to National and then those on the right wing of National moving to ACT. The net result is the same.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  26th September 2020

    The only thing worse than a Labour Govt failing to implement its promises would be one that does implement its promises.

    Winston may go down in history blamed for both.

    • Duker

       /  26th September 2020

      Still have the 2027-28 booked for the new Auckland Harbour tunnel that Key in 2013 promised would be completed by then ?
      How was ending Treaty Claims by 2014 …..then 2016 …then ? worked out for you along with the abolition of Maori seats
      Catching up with Australia?….. The Rudd / Gillard governments avoided recession, cant have been too hard for Key/English then.
      Special Housing areas was supposed to cut through Auckland Council red tape for Resource consents…and it did , however all those consents were left to gather dust as few houses were built on them…..along with other large areas zoned for urban, which disproved the claim not enough land is zone urban. – the land bankers love urban zoning as it increases value multi fold overnight and they then just sit paddocks for another 20 years.


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