Debates – from awful to very good

The US presidential debate yesterday was awful. It was an indictment on the presidency, on the state of politics in the United States, and the state of an increasingly divided society. I watched it all and found it quite depressing, with the only positive being I don’t have to live or vote there.

The debate last night between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins was a huge contrast to the Us debate, and an improvement on their first debate last week.

Ardern was more lively and animated, being prepared to move away from scripted stiltedness and ad lib, something she usually does very well. I think she did well enough to please most people who currently support her.

Collins also played to her own strengths, and was prepared to be herself. That will have pleased her supporters, but some Ardern fans were repelled by her intwrupting, talking over and her perceived bullying style.

There are no winners and losers of political debates, there are only winners and losers of elections. I doubt that this debate will have changed many minds, it will more likely have confirmed voters’ impressions of both leaders.

The winner for me was New Zealand democracy (both Collins and Ardern said the time was not right to rename the country Aotearoa). It was a lively and informative debate.

I was particularly pleased that the last ten minutes of the debate highlighted as much disagreement as disagreement between Ardern and Collins, and they even managed a few laughs. This was a huge contrast to another debate yesterday.

While he was off target occasionally a lot of credit has to go to moderator Paddy Gower. I didn’t expect to quote Sean Plunket on the debate, but here goes:

Debates are part of a campaign process, they aren’t deciding battles.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom) from Ardern steps up but Collins holds her own in second debate:

The second leaders’ debate of New Zealand’s election may not have been perfect, but it was a distinct improvement on the inaugural match-up last week – and immeasurably better than the American presidential debate which served as a bizarro curtain-raiser of sorts on Wednesday afternoon.

That both Collins and Ardern brought higher energy levels was a tribute to the moderation of Gower, whose hosting of a 2017 debate likewise proved a step up.

Where TVNZ’s John Campbell was somewhat ponderous, the former Newshub political editor offered up a sharper and tighter style.

His repeated use of specific scenarios gave less room for the leaders to revert to their standard talking points, even if it sometimes tilted too far into absurdity – as when Ardern and Collins were both pressed to back “meat-free Mondays” for New Zealand.

But as a result of Gower’s approach, voters got a far clearer contrast between the ideologies and styles of the two leaders than could be said last week.

He also secured some newsworthy snippets, including Ardern seeming to promise a climate emergency declaration and Collins pledging to claw back taxpayer money from businesses that had claimed the wage subsidy, only to lay off workers and declare record profits.

The winner is almost irrelevant, although for the record it seemed close to a draw – certainly each side had enough moments to gee up their supporters.

This debate did seem to inject some life into a fairly listless campaign.

A couple of interesting bits from the debate:

Collins gave ACT leader David Seymour a big shout out, saying he would be a good deputy PM.

Ardern supported James Shaw’s much derided decision to fund a private Green school.

For me a big issue this election is not the leaders but the lack of quality in party lineups, but that is a fairly even problem across the parties.

With several recent polls giving us an idea where party support lay over they past couple of weeks I think the deciding factor will be tactical voting.

While National seems to have stemmed their slide Labour should comfortably either win a majority on their own or with the Greens.

I think quite a few could vote tactically, some to try to bolster the Green vote and leverage to swing the Government left, while there’s signs that others may move their votes from National to Labour to try to reduce or eliminate Green leverage to keep the next Government more in the centre.

Mark Jennings (Newsroom): Gower gets the debate into top gear

It’s unanimous. This was an enjoyable debate, a better debate, and finally, a debate that produced some answers.

Newsroom managed to find six and asked them if they had been swayed to either National or Labour.

All said that the debate had left them more undecided than ever. One said he had been leaning slightly towards National but “Jacinda pulled me back to the middle “

Most said they were thankful the debate was a lot better the “train wreck” of the Trump v Biden contest earlier in the day.

All agreed that commentator Trish Sherson summed things up well when she told Tova O’Brien in the post-debate analysis “I think New Zealand is lucky it’s had had a debate of this quality tonight with leaders of this quality.”

I agree.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

26 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  1st October 2020

    Tying Labour to the unbelievable Green School for the one percenters doesn’t seem like a vote winner to me .

    Reply
    • John J Harrison

       /  1st October 2020

      Ray, agreed.
      The other mistake Ardern made was refusing to say which way she would vote on the cannabis referendum.
      Quiet happy to confirm she would vote on End of Life but not legalizing cannabis.
      An own goal.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  1st October 2020

        Its a referendum question for the public to decide, not a government policy question . I imagine the caucus is quite divided on the matter.
        So far my impression is labour has run a lackluster campaign, the slogan is execrable- lets keep moving and the dirge music that surrounds it. Its all done by the numbers by a committee and has no impact.
        It seems the intention was to campaign on the ‘recovery’ and not really make any policy features. That wasnt going to fly when Collins has run around promising 4 lanes here, hospitals there, big business subsidies like glitter.
        Its all false of course – tax cuts plus big spending plus borrowing less isnt ‘being frank with us’ at all. Shes not aiming for government of course but to avoid the next spin of the national leadership roulette wheel. That will be another promise parked – leader resign when polling is below 35% even an election number. She will be like Bridges have to be blasted out office

        Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  1st October 2020

        What’s with the fascination from the right with how Ms Ardern is going to vote on pot,she doesn’t want to influence voters, she has said so.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  1st October 2020

          Watching a politician dodge a question is always good fun, Lurch.

          Reply
          • lurcher1948

             /  1st October 2020

            PG i know at times im a naughty boy,but reading the RIGHTWING Kiwiblog, i read a post, wasn’t to abusive, but typical Jacinda hate, but i think PG might have moderated
            oldpark
            NZs second debate . Crusher Collins crushed Ngasher Ardern . Control Freak Ardern without her many many props like SLB Robertson and the other Clown Mallard as well as her Sycophantic Mainstream Media was really a SLG. Hard to believe NZs would put their lives and family futures in the inept inane Ardern .
            Now that NZs Real Leader and a Real Prime Minister in waiting Judith Collins after the decisive and Nation winning Five Star Performance for Five Million NZs last night in the Second Debate why go past her . It has to be “TWO TICKS BLUE”.

            Thumb up 78 Thumb down 1LOG IN TO REPLY REPORTOCTOBER 1, 2020 8:10AM
            The hatred of Jacinda Ardern by OLD WHITE males is scary,
            PS shes not going to castrate your manhood folks
            PPS Crusher NEVER CRUSHED A CAR

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  1st October 2020

              Collins sent 3 cars to the crusher and then gave up and the boy racer menace continued … she no longer was police minister so they didnt care anymore about it…like a lot of ‘volume crime’ as the police call it , things that will go away( only trouble a few) if they ignore it.

            • Duker

               /  1st October 2020

              Doesnt matter what Farragoblog says , Facebook is the elephant in the social media room
              https://theconversation.com/click-like-share-vote-whos-spending-and-whos-winning-on-social-media-ahead-of-new-zealands-election-144486

              Labour and Jacinda Ardern have the greatest organic reach, with 1.6 million Facebook fans combined (the lion’s share being Ardern’s). The party spent only $41,396 on posts in one 30-day period ending in September.
              By contrast, National and its leader Judith Collins lack organic reach. With only 180,000 fans across their Facebook pages, they need to spend to keep up — $143,825 in the same 30-day period.

              Which one is almost 10x bigger than the other ? Judith and the Nats may as well be on push bikes whiles its Ardern in Hoskings borrowed Maserati
              ( has Collins been asked the Hosks favourite question yet ..Why are you losing ?)

    • Blazer

       /  1st October 2020

      I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t get your or others like you vote….either way.

      Reply
      • David

         /  1st October 2020

        Ardern has tanked the referendum on dope and I am delighted. The fact that she is too scared to take a position (on pretty much anything) and has no confidence in herself to lead a national debate on an issue proves that she is unfit to be a Prime Minister but is brilliant at politics.
        If she governs with the Greens without the excuse of Winston says no she is in for a torrid next term after the vaccine comes out in November and Covid is forgotten.

        Reply
        • Noel

           /  1st October 2020

          “The fact that she is too scared to take a position.”
          Bollocks…she made her position very clear. It’s a referendum of Joe Public and I’m not going to influence it.

          Why we are having a referendum is beyond me. They were elected to govern.

          Reply
          • Jack

             /  1st October 2020

            Just the fact that Jacinda thinks she could influence anyone but a young adult Neve regarding the cannabis vote puts her secret arrogance on full display. Most Kiwis won’t take kindly to her attempts to tell us how to feel and what to think.
            Jacinda should be able to front up with an answer and feel comfortable that all her team can individually make up their own minds regardless of her stance.
            Jacinda keeps up her hope that voters will feel sorry for her. Useless leadership.
            On the other hand, Judith is secure in herself and not afraid to show voters what their choices are regarding leadership.
            Jacinda hides. She’s very precious. Would be an excellent deputy to Judith though. Jacinda has got time to learn and a heart that could change

            Reply
            • Jacinda’s flattering herself if she thinks that saying what she thinks about cannabis will influence voters.

            • Duker

               /  1st October 2020

              Did Key say what was his choice in the 2011 voting system referendum ( his government pushed for the referendum but my memory tells me he
              sat on the fence) or the anti smacking one in 2013

          • Duker

             /  1st October 2020

            Not by you obviously.
            labour had 37% of the vote at election time , its a chance for tricky questions to have 50% plus of the public support or not.
            we had one in 2011 for voting method and 2016 on ‘a flag’ , plus citizens referendums on corporal punishment-2009 and asset sales-2013

            Are you saying national didnt govern then either and ignored them when the citizen ones went against what they wanted ?

            Reply
  2. duperez

     /  1st October 2020

    All the eggs of picking a Government being possibly relegated to the ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ of a ‘debate’ says it all.

    The US one is scorned for the circus of the intrusion and disorder. The first NZ effort was rubbished because it was too tame. Already from the second there is praise because it was more ‘fiery.’

    Universally we say want good government. Is the way to get to the best of that through blood sport and our need for ‘exciting’ sport?

    The answer doesn’t really matter. The model we’ve chosen fits that of the rest of our lamented and loathed media approaches. The process of choosing a government is just another commercial opportunity and clicks and eyes are all that are needed.

    At least some of the reaction in the US was from the eye in the sky observation perspective. Shock does that. At least there are voices saying “What the f are we doing, how has it come to this?” I don’t think we haven’t got to that stage yet. There is still the bloodsport lust to be satiated and other Lowest Common Denominator Avenues to roll down.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  1st October 2020

      I only saw the last half but my impression was that it was a good debate because it allowed the personalities and wit to shine through as well as fielding curly questions. I have to say Gower did a very good job much exceeding my expectations.

      Reply
  3. NOEL

     /  1st October 2020

    I believe this analysis from the last election hasn’t changed this time.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96466137/leaders-debates-very-few-votes-change-but-do-they-still-matter

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  1st October 2020

      It gives all those who want to die in the ditch with Judith a chance to pay for better spot in the queue.
      Their vote collapsed months ago, like they say about car batteries they die off over the
      hot summer and winter is just when they get buried. The ‘winter of an election’ is nigh

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  1st October 2020

      Second highest viewing figures ever behind Trump vs Clinton. Blood sport is always popular.

      Reply
      • duperez

         /  1st October 2020

        And that is what pushes it and will grow it for all the peripheral disdain about in the immediate aftermath. And will have us mimicking them.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  1st October 2020

          Other way around I think, dups. They are mimicking “us” which is why it is popular. The debate just mirrors the social media and MSM brawls.

          Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  1st October 2020

            True, although as per conservative commentator George Will, the problem with Trump bringing that level of discourse to the office of POTUS is that once you’ve let the genie out of the bottle, you cannot put it back in. Instead, it becomes another voice, and a very powerful one, dragging things down.

            Still, some thought the issues were too serious and the stakes too big to lose “nobly” in the manner of John McCain and Mitt Romney.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  1st October 2020

              “Red-faced. Shouting. Interrupting. Ignoring. That describes Trump at last night’s debate. Turns out it also describes what he’s like in the Oval Office:”
              That’s how the (…….) Spends his day at work
              “Trump doesn’t let anyone else speak. He really doesn’t care what you have to say. He demeans people. He talks over them. And everyone around him thinks it’s getting worse.”

              The Woodward book wasn’t called Rage for nothing, he’s becoming more unhinged

  4. Duker

     /  1st October 2020

    Collins has stepped up the promise everything to everyone…Whangarei will be getting a floating dry dock…sort of. Did that work for Peters and Jones… who knows but it cant be bridges this time round and its a port something.
    Shes a desperate woman and getting more so, sources say its ‘no team effort’ in the campaign with ‘herway’ the only way

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s