Open Forum Sunday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

Trump battles trade and Covid effects, but stokes a bigger battle

It looks like Donald Trump has an uphill battle to retain the presidency. Contracting Covid has been an obvious setback, but trade tariffs imposed by Trump as well as his general behaviour had already made re-election difficult for him.

But militia style battles, encouraged by Trump, may pose major problems post-election.

FiveThirtyEight currently forecasts a 15 in 100 chance of Trump winning in Biden is favored to win the election – and this has dropped from 30% on 1 September, 24% on 15 September and 20% on 1 October just as he tested positive for Covid.

There does appear to be a Covid effect. Reuters: With pandemic dominating U.S. election, older voters turning away from Trump

Many older Americans have turned away from President Donald Trump this year as the coronavirus ravages the country, eroding an important Republican support base that helped propel him into the White House in 2016, Reuters/Ipsos polling data shows.

Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden now split American voters aged 55 years and older almost evenly: 47% say they are voting for Biden on Nov. 3 while 46% back Trump, according to Reuters/Ipsos national surveys in September and October.

Trump won the 55-plus age group by 13 percentage points in 2016, according to exit polls. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, achieved the same margin.

Biden is beating Trump among older voters in Wisconsin by 10 points and drawing about the same amount of support as Trump is with that demographic in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Arizona, according to the state polls conducted in mid-September and early October.

Four years ago, Trump won older voters in each of those states by 10 to 29 points.

But before Covid Trump already had problems in some key states that helped him win the 2016 election.

Reuters: Trump steel tariffs bring job losses to swing state Michigan

President Donald Trump promised a new dawn for the struggling U.S. steel industry in 2016, and the lure of new jobs in Midwestern states including Michigan helped him eke out a surprise election win.

Trump’s strategy centered on shielding U.S. steel mills from foreign competition with a 25% tariff imposed in March 2018. He also promised to boost steel demand through major investments in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

But higher steel prices resulting from the tariffs dented demand from the Michigan-based U.S. auto industry and other steel consumers. And the Trump administration has never followed through on an infrastructure plan.

Biden leads Trump in Michigan by 8 percentage points, according to a Reuters/Ipsos state opinion poll of likely voters conducted from Sept. 29 – Oct. 6, widening his lead from a few weeks earlier.

Nationally, the steel industry has been shedding jobs for the past year – since before the wider economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – and now employs 1,900 fewer workers than it did when Trump took office, according to U.S. Labor Department data. 

While the tariffs failed to boost overall steel employment, economists say they created higher costs for major steel consumers – killing jobs at companies including Detroit-based automakers General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co.

The tariffs had a profound impact on steel consumers, industry experts say. All three Detroit automakers – General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV – have closed a plant in Michigan since January 2018, according to Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research. Both General Motors and Ford reported $1 billion each in increased steel cost in 2018.

Nationally, steel and aluminum tariffs resulted in at least 75,000 job losses in metal-using industries by the end of last year, according to an analysis by Lydia Cox, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Harvard University, and Kadee Russ, an economics professor at the University of California, Davis.

In all, they estimated, the trade war had caused a net loss of 175,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs by mid-2019.

Trump made similar 2016 campaign promises to revive the ailing coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations. But that industry’s employment has dropped 9% since 2016, to about 46,000, as 66 coal plants – nearly a fifth of the U.S. total – have closed. The economic losses come despite the administration’s moves to ease restrictions including limits on carbon emissions and dumping coal waste into streams.

One (loose) group of voters does seem to support Trump.

FiveThirtyEight: How Trump And COVID-19 Have Reshaped The Modern Militia Movement

While established militias are kind of like a heavily armed scout troop — formal organizations with ranks and membership dues and training programs and regular meetings — some academics argue that many people who are falling into the militia movement’s orbit these days are more like loosely affiliated individuals.

So a crowd like the one that showed up in Kenosha can be made up of individuals, even strangers, with little connecting them except a shared interest in gun rights and a sense that they’re the only ones who can protect their community. And in these trying times — amid a pandemic and protests against racial injustice, plus a president who is giving them more public support than they’ve ever had from the national political establishment — those individuals are taking a collective turn in a direction that, experts fear, is likely to result in more violence.

The rise of President Trump, and the tumultuous events of 2020, have made it even more difficult to untangle what militias are doing and what their individual adherents believe. From the beginning of his candidacy, Trump’s rhetoric — his attacks on the “deep state” or the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant insults that peppered his tweets and speeches — have resonated with and garnered public responses from people within the militia movement.

When Trump tweeted about an impending civil war or warned about threats from the left, it brought extremist theories and conversations into the national conversation. 

The pandemic — and the racial injustice protests that have roiled cities throughout the summer — appear to have brought even more people into the militia movement’s orbit. Suddenly, people were at home all day, feeling anxious and fearful about the future and spending a lot more time online. Many in the militia movement chafed at state lockdown orders, and started appearing, heavily armed, at state capitols across the country to protest what they saw as an assault on their individual freedoms. 

Fear and anxiety are predictors of people — particularly young people — turning towards extremism and violence, said Miller-Idriss. In that context, the conditions of the pandemic are a perfect culture for radicalism to grow. “We know from the research that unemployment itself does not lead to greater risk of engaging in extremist behaviors but economic precarity does,” she said. For the last six months, the entire country has lived on the edge of economic and social precarity. What if our institutions crumble? What if we can’t get our normal lives back? Extremist ideologies can offer meaning, purpose and a narrative of control when everything feels out of it.

The president’s rhetoric has fed into that, experts say. By the time he was elected, Trump was a hero to many in the militia movement. “Donald Trump has succeeded in being at once the head of government and the head of anti-government,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a remarkable thing, actually.”

With Trump saying both implicitly and explicitly that militias or even just armed individuals are the only thing standing between America and the chaos of a leftist takeover of the country, the promise of control becomes even stronger. It becomes a call to arms — one that more young Americans, sitting at home without school or even work, may try to answer.

This is a real problem for the US.

Inquirer (1 September): Trump’s promotion of armed militias risks stoking civil war

Claiming to be the law-and-order president, Trump is stoking racial tensions rather than seeking to calm them. He is encouraging armed supporters who show up in racially troubled towns and cities with their rifles at the ready.

He cheered on a pro-Trump caravan of trucks that drove into downtown Portland, Ore., Saturday as “GREAT PATRIOTS,” even though video showed them hurling paintballs and pepper spray and driving into protesters, leaving one dead from an unsolved shooting.

The Atlantic: A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans

Stewart Rhodes was living his vision of the future. On television, American cities were burning, while on the internet, rumors warned that antifa bands were coming to terrorize the suburbs. Rhodes was driving around South Texas, getting ready for them. He answered his phone. “Let’s not fuck around,” he said. “We’ve descended into civil war.”

…Rhodes had been talking about civil war since he founded the Oath Keepers, in 2009. But now more people were listening. And whereas Rhodes had once cast himself as a revolutionary in waiting, he now saw his role as defending the president. He had put out a call for his followers to protect the country against what he was calling an “insurrection.” The unrest, he told me, was the latest attempt to undermine Donald Trump.

In Trump, the Patriot movement believed it had an ally in the White House for the first time. In 2016, when Trump had warned of election fraud, Rhodes put out a call for members to quietly monitor polling stations.

When Trump warned of an invasion by undocumented immigrants, Rhodes traveled to the southern border with an Oath Keepers patrol. He sent members to “protect” Trump supporters from the protesters at his rallies and appeared in the VIP section at one of them, standing in the front row in a black Oath Keepers shirt.

When Trump warned of the potential for civil war at the start of the impeachment inquiry last fall, Rhodes voiced his assent on Twitter. “This is the truth,” he wrote. “This is where we are.”

The race riots have happened since then.

As Rhodes told the people in the crowd to be ready for war, I sized them up. Some looked hardened, but many more did not. One man rested a hand on a cane. When Rhodes asked what their concerns were, several said they feared that rioters would show up in their neighborhoods.

His comments became more inflammatory as he began to warn about antifa and protesters. “They are insurrectionists, and we have to suppress that insurrection,” he said. “Eventually they’re going to be using IEDs.”

“Us old vets and younger ones are going to end up having to kill these young kids,” he concluded. “And they’re going to die believing they were fighting Nazis.”

It could start with a protest gone wrong, he said, or shots from a provocateur. Someone mentioned a young mother in Indiana who’d been shot and killed after reportedly shouting “All lives matter” during an argument with strangers.

“We talk about being attacked,” another man said. “Now, I have a question. What if you’re attacked in subtle and consistent ways over a period of time?”

This was a different kind of crowd than Rhodes had drawn to the VFW hall. Many were in their 20s and 30s and had come in uniforms—some Three Percenters wore black T‑shirts and camouflage pants, and members of another group stood together in matching woodland fatigues. From the latter, a man climbed onto the flatbed and introduced himself as Joe Klemm, the leader of a new militia called the Ridge Runners.

He was a 29-year-old former marine and spoke with a boom that brought the crowd to attention. “I’ve seen this coming since I was in the military,” he said. “For far too long, we’ve given a little bit here and there in the interest of peace. But I will tell you that peace is not that sweet. Life is not that dear. I’d rather die than not live free.”

“Hoo-ah,” some people cheered.

“It’s going to change in November,” Klemm continued. “I follow the Constitution. We demand that the rest of you do the same. We demand that our police officers do the same. We’re going to make these people fear us again. We should have been shooting a long time ago instead of standing off to the side.”

“Are you willing to lose your lives?” he asked. “Are you willing to lose the lives of your loved ones—maybe see one of your loved ones ripped apart right next to you?”

Guardian: ‘Our worst nightmare’: will militias heed Trump’s call to watch the polls?

In the final minutes of last week’s televised presidential debate, a few days before he tested positive for Covid-19, Donald Trump was asked by the moderator, Chris Wallace, whether he would call on his supporters to stay calm and desist from civil unrest in the immediate aftermath of next month’s election.

Trump pointedly declined the invitation. Instead, he replied: “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I’m urging them to do it.”

For those who monitor the activities of far-right militia groups and white-supremacist paramilitaries, Trump’s remarks were as welcome as jet fuel being used to quell a wildfire.

“The militias will absolutely seize on [Trump’s comments],” said Steven Gardiner, who tracks militias at the progressive thinktank Political Research Associates. “The possibility of armed factions with military-style rifles showing up at polling places is very troubling.”

FBI background checks – a direct indicator of gun sales – almost doubled year-on-year this summer, a reflection of the jitters that abound. As America arms itself, deadly weaponry is increasingly finding its way on to the streets, borne by self-styled private militias and culminating in violent clashes that have caused bloodshed in several US cities.

With the most ferociously-contested presidential election in modern times now less than a month away, there are signs that heavily-armed militia groups, many of them finely attuned to Trump’s every whim, are setting their sights on the ballot.

Burghart’s research group has been tracking the escalation of militia activity especially in key swing states. In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in particular, groups have been detected discussing what they call “voter integrity” efforts on polling day.

“We anticipate that after Trump’s call to arms at last week’s debate we’ll see a lot more activity from here,” Burghart said.

In Montana, a popular base for libertarians and militia members, there are similar signs of militia groups assiduously retweeting Trump’s falsehoods about mail-in voting fraud, circulating the lies widely among themselves.

Burghart’s research group has been tracking the escalation of militia activity especially in key swing states. In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in particular, groups have been detected discussing what they call “voter integrity” efforts on polling day.

“We anticipate that after Trump’s call to arms at last week’s debate we’ll see a lot more activity from here,” Burghart said.

In Montana, a popular base for libertarians and militia members, there are similar signs of militia groups assiduously retweeting Trump’s falsehoods about mail-in voting fraud, circulating the lies widely among themselves.

It’s not just the rightwing paramilitaries that pose a mounting danger. Anti-fascist and radical left groups have shown a growing recourse to guns too, as was seen with the shooting by a self-styled anti-fascist activist, later himself killed by police, of a member of the pro-Trump group Patriot Prayer in Portland last month.

The arming of African American and anti-fascist factions has contributed to the volatility of the times. But the overwhelming bulk of militia activity falls firmly on the other side of the country’s widening racial divide – with the overwhelmingly white far-right.

It’s a daunting task, made none the easier by Trump. “When he talks about ‘poll watching’ and fraud, and refuses to urge his followers not to engage in civil unrest, that’s a thinly-veiled dog-whistle for armed groups to coalesce.”

It isn’t just an election at stake in the US. It isn’t just democracy at stake.

And the risks are real. Reuters: F.B.I. Says Michigan Anti-Government Group Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Authorities charged 13 men, some of whom were accused of plotting to storm the State Capitol building and planning to start a civil war.

Storming the State Capitol. Instigating a civil war. Abducting a sitting governor ahead of the presidential election.

Those were among the plots described by federal and state officials in Michigan on Thursday as they announced terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges against 13 men. At least six of them, officials said, had hatched a detailed plan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who has become a focal point of anti-government views and anger over coronavirus control measures.

The men spied on Ms. Whitmer’s vacation home in August and September, even looking under a highway bridge for places they could place and detonate a bomb to distract the authorities, the F.B.I. said. They indicated that they wanted to take Ms. Whitmer hostage before the election in November, and one man said they should take her to a “secure location” in Wisconsin for a “trial,” Richard J. Trask II, an F.B.I. special agent, said in the criminal complaint.

That’s quite alarming. Sadly, predictably, the stoker-in-chief continues fomenting devision.

And:

It could become a very ugly election, and it could also get a lot worse, especially if Trump loses the election.

Open Forum Saturday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

More details on NZ First Foundation SFO charges

More details on the charges against two people in relation to NZ First Foundation handling of NZ First Party donations have been revealed, but the identities of the two people charged are still suppressed pending a reserved decision.

RNZ: Pair charged after SFO’s investigation accused of using ‘fraudulent device’

The pair charged after the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation are accused of using a “fraudulent device, trick or stratagem” to secure more than $700,000 then used to pay expenses for the New Zealand First party.

Two people have been charged with obtaining by deception after the SFO’s investigation into the foundation and its handling of donations.

Charging documents released to RNZ today show the two defendants used more than $700,000 in a “fraudulent device, trick or stratagem” to pay expenses for the New Zealand First party.

It was more than $740,000 of donations.

They say the pair used deception to obtain control over $677,885 deposited into the bank account of the New Zealand First Foundation account between 21 April 2017 and 14 February 2020.

The defendants are also charged with using $68,996 deposited into a bank account of a company run by one of the defendants between 31 October 2015 and 20 October 2017.

“Those undeclared funds thereby become available to [a company run by one of the defendants]/New Zealand First Foundation to use as the defendants saw fit, and were used to pay expenses of the party and to develop a fundraising database for the benefit of the party and [a company run by one of the defendants].”

The New Zealand First party took the SFO to the High Court last month seeking to suppress the announcement of the charges and the existence of their court action until after a new government has been formed.

The court ruled against the party, saying there was “a significant public interest in the New Zealand voting public being informed during an election campaign about criminal charges of serious fraud against people or organisations related to political parties”.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has said his party has been completely exonerated by the investigation and stressed the foundation and party are entirely separate entities.

Peters repeated his ‘completely exonerated’ claim in last night’s leaders’ debate but that looks ridiculous.

He also said last night:

“I have welcomed the Serious Fraud Office inquiry from day one, and I welcome its outcome. Let me tell you one thing – I’ve got rid of two former Serious Fraud [Office] leaders – two, not one – and I’m not concerned about this at all.”

That also sounds like nonsense to me considering the lengths the party went to to try to hush up any mention of the case.

Meanwhile Labour is having their own problems: Ginny Andersen tells voters she’s been cleared by Commission, but Labour hasn’t

Labour’s Hutt South candidate, Ginny Andersen, has been cleared by the Electoral Commission for any potential wrongdoing in a local electorate scandal.

However, the Electoral Commission is still looking into potential wrongdoing by the Labour Party which has not declared the very low rent it has received for its Hutt South office as a donation.

Advance NZ failing to advance

Advance NZ, the umbrella party set up by independent MP Jami-Lee Ross to try to benefit from social media popularity of Billy Te Kahika, looks like it has fizzled well short of the 5% threshold, and Te Kahika looks to be a long way from challenging in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

The party has only featured in three party poll results – 0.8, 0.6 and 1 (rounded). If they won an electorate at those levels they would get no more seats off the list, but there chances of winning an electorate look very slim.

Māori News: A third of the North undecided – Te Tai Tokerau poll results

Following the pattern of the other Māori electorate polls so far, the incumbent is leading as the preferred candidate for Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

Curia Market Research polled 500 people…

  • Kelvin Davis (Labour) 36%
  • Mariameno KapaKingi (Māori Party) 18%
  • Undecided 32%
  • Other 7%
  • Billy Te Kahika 1%

As is common Advance NZ are banking on all undecideds voting for them, but this rarely happens. The voter turnout in 2017 was 69.4%, so about 30% didn’t decide then.

Ross chose to not stand in Botany where he is the current MP (he was elected as a National candidate), so Te Tai Tokerau and the threshold are the only chances for Advance NZ, but they look a long way from either.

Te Kahika has excited a few thousand enthusiastic supporters but it takes at least 130,000 to make the 5% threshold and they look nowhere near that level of support.

Small party leaders’ debate

Five smaller party leaders had a debate on TV1 last night. It was for just an hour (the multiple Ardern v Collins debates are for one and a half hours) and with numerous advertising breaks there was probably just forty minutes for the five to try to swing some votes their way.

David Seymour – ACT Party (2017 election 0.5%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 7, 6.3, 8, 8)

Seymour is now a practiced campaigner and usually spoke well. A funny moment was when he exclaimed that Peters )”said I am out of date”. While some of his policies probably be widely supported they will resonate with enough to have get votes. He has done well to lift ACT to current levels.

James Shaw – Green Party (2017 6.3%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 6, 6.5, 7, 6)

This debate was Shaw’s turn (Marama Davidson did the Nation debate) and he should have pleased Green supporters. He spoke clearly and sensibly to more than the Green constituency), and even pulled the debate back on topic. A good performance that should help Green chances.

Winston Peters – NZ First (2017 7.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 2.4, 1.9, 1.4, 2)

Peters looked out of sorts and out of place – not so much fish out of water but more like a crocodile in a pond of the past. He mentioned last century much more than what he do if re-elected. He tried to play as an underdog, perhaps hoping people will forget his top dog performance in installing the Labour-led government along with pork barrel policy funds that seem to have fizzled. He again claimed nonsensically that everyone in the party had been completely exonerated by the SFO prosecution of NZ First Foundation.

Peters has swung back to campaigning as ‘we the government have done well” rather than attacking Labour and saying he would restrict them (again), but didn’t look really that energised or optimistic, more aged, jaded and fading.

John Tamihere – Maori Party (2017 1.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.9, 1.5, 0.8, <1)

Made some good points about education for Maori but waffled fairly aimlessly too much, or maybe i am just not his target market. Seems resigned to not getting into Parliament via the list, with all his party hopes on winning one or two electorates (reports are they are close in polls in at least one).

Jamie-Lee Ross – Advance NZ (2017 didn’t stand, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.8 NR, 0.6, 1)

Interesting that he fronted up, presumably due to his political experience, but he is tainted goods and is absence the charisma of Billy Te Kahika. Tried when he was given the opportunity to speak but won’t have impressed many, probably not even supporters of his composite party. Claimed that Covid was similar to the flu, that line has been discredited many times. Looks like a futile exercise with Advance NZ not rising above one in polls despite significant social media support.

So with just Shaw and Seymour looking good this fits with the likely outcome of a Labour, Green, Act and National parliament, with the Maori Party a long shot for an electorate seat or two.

Up until the debate last night over half a million people will have already voted. It’s hard to understand why this debate was held so late in the campaign. It looks like most people who might vote are already decided.

Open Forum Friday

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – little change

A 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll (with the previous two polls from 17-21 September and 23-27 September in brackets):

  • Labour 47% (48, 47)
  • National 32% (31, 33)
  • ACT 8% (7, 8)
  • Greens 6% (6, 7)
  • NZ First 2.4% (2.4, 1.4)
  • TOP 2% (1.1, 1.0)
  • New Conservatives 1% (1.6, 1.4)
  • Advance NZ 1% (0.8, 0.6)
  • Maori Party 0.2 (0.9, 0.8)

Polling period 3-7 October 2020.

Very little change there from two weeks ago. Party support seems to have set in with little moving it.

National+Act on 40% still well short of challenging Labour or Labour+Greens.

Greens look ok but will still be worried about the threshold, especially if they underperform polling as they have done in some elections. And Labour may stop them picking up as many overseas votes.

NZ First still look to have failed to fire this time. Today’s news of the NZ First foundation in court again won’t help.

New Conservatives claimed to be polling around 4 but no published poll comes anywhere near that.

Advance NZ aren’t \making much progress.

Don’t know or refused 13% (up 2) – but these tend to not change the numbers much.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 50% (54, 54)
  • Judith Collins 23% (20, 23)
  • David Seymour 2% (2, 2)
  • Winston Peters 1% (2, 1)

Don’t know or refused 17% (up 3).

Up to yesterday 478,860 people had already voted.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election

There is a small party debate on TV1 tonight from 7-8pm, not sure why it is shorter than the two leader debates with more leaders participating.

Taxpayers’ Union surrogate election campaigning

A Taxpayers’ Union surrogate has mass mailed letters trying to stop people from voting for the Green party.

The TU claims to “represent the common interests of all taxpayers and to provide them with a voice in corridors of power”, but obviously they don’t represent the interests of all taxpayers. This campaign they are looking to me increasingly like political activists, and little more than a surrogate for the Act Party.

Connections between the TU and Act and National were detailed here: A web of connections between the ACT Party, Taxpayers’ Union and National Party

The TU recently a surrogate surrogate campaign directly targeting the Green Party – Taxpayers’ Union Launches Major Direct Mail Campaign Against Green Party’s Proposed Asset Tax

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is today launching the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership to fight against the Green Party’s proposal to implement an asset tax.

Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership spokesperson Islay Aitchison says…

The website does have an authorisation statement:

Authorised by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union – for the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership 

Islay Aitchison is listed on the TU ‘Our Team’ web page as “our part-time research officer”.

A letter from with Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership and with her signature has been mass mailed:

But there is no sign of the TU nor an authorisation statement on the letter, even though the letter would appear to be a form of (deceptive) election advertising.

From the Electoral Commission: What is election advertising?

An ‘election advertisement’ is an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote for a:

– candidate
– party
– type of candidate or party the advertisement describes by referencing views they do or don’t hold.

All election advertisements must include a promoter statement. This rule applies at all times, not just during the regulated period.

Promoter statements must be clearly displayed in election advertisements. For audible election advertisements, the promoter statement must be as easy to hear as the rest of the advertisement.

Not including a promoter statement is an offence which could lead to a fine of up to $40,000.

If you put out advertising about a candidate, party or election issue, but are not a candidate or party yourself, you’re a third party promoter.

The Taxpayers’ Union is registered as a promoter for the 2020 General Election and Referendums, but not their surrogate campaign for home ownership.

I expect that someone will have brought the letter to the attention of the Electoral Commission.

There is also questions being asked about the mailing list used for the letter. The TU membership database is not likely to contain many potential Green voters.

From Martin @dannedaerd

Can confirm. And they’ve got the mailing list improperly – looks like they pulled a list from LINZ data, where you have to confirm you won’t use it for DM purposes.

The address I got mine from isn’t an address I’ve lived at and will not appear on any list – apart from ownership

I guess that will be checked out too, but nothing is likely to happen until well after the election.

Deterring people from voting for the Greens would potentially benefit National and ACT – if the Greens don’t make the 5% threshold (and Chloe Swarbrick doesn’t pull of a surprise win in Auckland Central) then the left loses a lot of votes, and forming a government would come down to Labour versus National+Act.

The TU has properly put an authorisation statement on this:

The TU are clearly ‘pay less tax’ activists, and that would obviously align them with National and in particular Act.

David Farrar is a founder of the Taxpayer’s Union. It’s been interesting to see his posts at Kiwiblog this campaign. He has been targeting Labour in a series of posts, the last one being Labour’s Failures Part 11 – Renewable Electricity.

Kiwiblog has also featured promotions for both the Taxpayers’ Union and the Act Party. Three consecutive posts on 5 and 6 October:

Also on Tuesday was a post promoting the Taxpayers’ Union Scorecard: Taxpayer Scorecard

This omitted the authorisation statement from the graphic:

So it looks like Farrar is advertising for the Taxpayers’ Union who are effectively advertising for ACT.

Yesterday on Kiwblog: Huge tax cuts in Australia with a comment from Farrar:

“Sadly we have a Government here that believes the only acceptable fiscal stimulus is them deciding to spend more money, not giving taxpayers more of their own money to spend.”

Curiously Farrar, who has had close connections to National, is hardly posting any sort of party promotions – since Saturday the only National directed posts are on specific candidates:

Auckland Central – it doesn’t matter whether the Labour or National candidate win, but it does matter to National and Act if Swarbrick wins for the Greens.

Also curiously, there are only two posts at Kiwiblog in August tagged with Judith Collins, one in September and none so far in October:

Farrar and the Taxpayers’ Union seem to be most interested in keeping the Greens out and getting Act in, but the way things are looking they are likely to be unsuccessful.

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