Bridges cherry picking and evasive on poll results

The two polls announced on Sunday gave quite different party results. Not surprisingly Simon Bridges likes the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll has National improving and just ahead of Labour, and is less happy about the Newshub Reid Research poll that suggests a slump in support for National.

The two polls were consistent on one thing, the dismal level of support for Bridges as ‘preferred Prime Minister’, but Bridges has tried to divert away from those results.

RNZ: Political polls ‘simply can’t both be right’ – Simon Bridges

Mr Bridges told Morning Report today that while the polls “simply can’t both be right”, the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll was the most similar to the party’s own polling.

But Bridges gave no details about his own party’s polling, so what he implies on that is meaningless. And while promoting the Colmar Brunton party result he tried hard to avoid any discussion on Colmar Brunton’s 5% for him as leader (Ardern was 45%, Judith Collins 6% and Winston Peters also 5%).

But he refused to comment on what the polls said about his personal rating and whether he had been in discussions with Ms Collins regarding the leadership of his party.

“What matters in polling ultimately is where parties are at, that’s what determines power and we’ve got a situation where there are two polls,” he said.

“It’s an interesting phenomena, a lot of ink has been spilled on it, one of them can’t be right, but ultimately what these polls show is the National Party up, they show a Labour Party down…

He then launched into a political speech, diverting from his inaccurate claim.

National was up 4 to 44% in the Colmar Brunton poll, but that is still short of where they need to be without potential coalition partners.

But National were down 4.2 to 37.4% in the Reid Research poll.  Even if this is a bit of an outlier or a ‘rogue poll’ it is still what should be a very worrying result for National, and for Bridges.

And in both polls Bridges was lower than Judith Collins on a paltry 5%.

And Bridges’ performance in the RNZ interview is unlikely to have helped his lack of popularity.

Is Judith Collins damning you with faint praise there? Simon Bridges:

No. Look, the reality is I’m comfortable with my leadership. I’ve got the great backing of a great team. And I’m focussed on holding the Government to account and our positive plans and policies.

Uninspiring political palaver.

…as I say to you, I’m focused on New Zealanders and what they want. And I think the reality is, you said the polls were damning,  actually what the poll there from Television New Zealand  and which we are seeing as well shows is National up, Labour down, and that’s very easy to understand because Labour is not delivering on it’s, it;s failing to deliver on it’s promises.

The reality is that most New Zealanders are far from focused on Bridges as a potential Prime Minister. Bridges can try to divert all he likes, he is not delivering on likeability, credibility or leadership.

He then launched into more diversion from leadership to his over-repeated political talking points. He then claimed poll success.

“So you believe Colmar Brunton?”

Yeah because it’s very similar to what we are seeing. And you know look there will always be variety in these things, I mean it’s sort of a new phenomenon isn’t it, we’ve seen it in Australia and America and other countries. But I know we have very strong polling and is very similar to what we’re seeing in TV New Zealand, and frankly when you look at this budget…

Diversion again.

“So the Reid Research, it’s is an outlier as far as you’re concerned?”

Well I think you’ve got a situation where you’ve got variation haven’t you, you’ve got one poll is very different to another, they simply can’t both be right.

“Are you also in your poll looking at rating as preferred Prime Minister?

We look at all sorts of things, but I’m not going to talk about that…

“Are you also in your polling looking at rating as preferred Prime Minister?”

We look at all sorts of things, but I’m not going to talk about that…

He was happy to talk about his own polling being ‘similar’ to a more favourably public poll, but doesn’t want to talk about specifics or about unfavourable polling. This just comes across as evasive.

“You said broadly speaking that the polling is reflective in terms of the party vote. Is it also reflective in terms of your personal rating?”

I’m confident and comfortable in my leadership. I’m focused on Kiwis blah blah blah…

“…what about your personal rating?”

My answer is, that’s not what I’m focused on. I’m focused on [repeated political palaver].

“Nonetheless you’re very happy to share…that aspect…Mr bridges we’re trying to talk about polling…

…and I’m trying to talk to you Suzy about what New Zealanders care about.

“I know but the questions I’m asking you about are about your polling…”

And I answered them.

“No you haven’t. You’ve been very open about your party vote, but you haven’t been very open about your preferred Prime Minister status, Why is that?”

I haven’t actually told you a party vote.

He’s correct about that.

What I said it was similar. Because, because what matters in polling ultimately is where parties are at. That’s what determines power….

And what determines to a large extent where a party is it is it’s leadership.

…ultimately what these polls show is they show a National Party up…

False. One up, one down. And even the up poll is within margin of error stuff –  and importantly, National 44%, compared too Labour+Greens on 48%, meaning they have prospects of forming the next Government alone, and National has little prospect of forming a government even on the favourable poll result.

The discussion waffled around, then:

“What is it like for you to be consistently polling behind Judith Collins in the preferred Prime Minister stakes?”

It is great that we have a fantastic team with Judith, with Paula, with Mark, with many people who are, in fact, wha…

A poor, evasive, uninspiring performance from Bridges. I don’t see him lifting his polling or prospects – he’s stuck in the leadership death zone.

Wellbeing budget – transformative, or just ‘variation on a them’

Peter Dunne has said that most budgets he has seen (34 while an MP)  are just variations on a theme – and he includes this year’s ‘wellbeing budget’ in that description.

@honpeterdunne:

I saw 34 Budgets in my time – twice as many as Parker.

The biggest changes were Douglas’s reforms in 1984; Richardson’s Fiscal Responsibility Act in 1994, and English’s social investment reforms after 2015.

The rest, including this year’s, are just variations on a theme.

Others (I have heard a number of people promote this theme) have said that the this year’s budget is not transformational on it’s own, but sets a framework for transformation in the future.

Glen Bennett (New Plymouth Labour Committee Spokesperson):  Wellbeing budget transformational framework for New Zealanders

This week the Hon Grant Robertson delivered the Coalition Government’s second Budget. This Wellbeing Budget 2019 is different from any we’ve seen in New Zealand.

In the past budgets have had one measure, Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Simply put, GDP measures the value of economic activity within a country, what we earn and what we spend those earnings on.

In Addition to GDP, Wellbeing Budget 2019 is measured across five other key priorities, aimed at improving the wellbeing of all New Zealanders and broadening the Budget’s focus beyond economic and fiscal policy.

The priorities are; taking mental health seriously, improving child wellbeing, supporting Māori and Pasifika aspirations, building a productive nation and transforming the economy.

In the lead up to the Wellbeing Budget, in his Budget Policy Statement, the Hon Grant Robertson said:

“Faced with complex issues such as child poverty, inequality, and climate change, we cannot hope to make the best choices for current and future generations if we do not look beyond economic growth and consider social, environmental, and economic implications together.

“While economic growth is important for creating opportunities, our recent history shows that focusing on it alone can be counterproductive and associated with poor outcomes such as greater inequality and pollution.”

Recently several people have asked me what I see as being transformational about this Government, questioning if it’s just business as usual with nothing innovative or new.

The introduction of a Wellbeing Budget is something that I see as being transformational for New Zealand over a long period of time.

The Wellbeing Budget has challenged those sitting around the Cabinet table to look differently at the funding  they lobby for, to look across all Ministries in a holistic way, measuring their long term goals and aspirations against the five priorities of the Wellbeing Budget.

This can only be good for New Zealand and our wellbeing. I can’t see a quick fix to inequality, environmental challenges, child poverty or our mental health crisis, but this is a start.

It’s a moment in time when our Government is laying out a framework that will be transformational for all New Zealanders, not only in 2019, but for years to come.

Mental Health Foundation: Wellbeing Budget 2019 a good start towards transformation

The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) are pleased the Government are taking mental health seriously by creating a $1.9 billion mental health package, announced in today’s Wellbeing Budget.

“The funding and initiatives set out in today’s budget are a fantastic start, but it’s crucial Government keep up the momentum into the future if we are to create a New Zealand where all people can experience positive mental health.”

But…

Rod Oram: Budget long on rhetoric, short on transformative funding

… the Government chose six priorities for its first Wellbeing Budget, and devised some innovative ways to bring multiple agencies of Government together to work on each.

This approach has brought about the biggest changes in the three priorities focused on people – mental health, child wellbeing and Maori and Pasifika aspirations. The investment will be substantial, particularly on mental health, and applied in some novel ways.

However, the Government has made far less progress in applying the wellbeing methodology to its other three priorities  – the productive economy, the environment and infrastructure investment.

All three are largely business-as-usual with only a few gestures to new and co-ordinated approaches; they don’t get to grips with the massive transformation all three need; and, worse, there are some serious disconnects between them.

…but it has none of the innovation in programmes or serious commitment of money that the other three capitals have. Yet it is this transition to the low carbon economy which will drive our transformation to a highly productive economy, wealth generating and strongly sustainable nation.

So, while this is a good start on the Wellbeing Budget in social areas, the Government has a Herculean task ahead in economic and environmental ones. One simple search of the Budget document illustrates this: The four new capitals used – financial and physical, natural, social and human had just 17 references in the 149 pages of the Budget document.

David Hall (senior researcher in politics at the Auckland University of Technology): Ardern more transitional than transformational:

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saddled herself with the word “transformational”. She used it heavily in the heady days of the 2017 election campaign, although less so in the compromised reality of a coalition government. Still, it is the aspiration she is held to. The 2019 wellbeing Budget is held to it by association.

But how do we know transformation when we see it?

Obviously, transformation must go beyond the status quo. But to be transformative, it must also go beyond mere reform.

A reform agenda recognises that trouble is brewing, that social, economic and environmental trends are on the wrong track. It accepts that major changes to policy and lifestyle may be required. As sustainable development research shows, it does “not locate the root of the problem in the nature of present society, but in imbalances and a lack of knowledge and information”.

It tends to reach for existing policy levers, and to hang its hopes on technical solutions. It reacts to the toughest choices by devising new frameworks for analysing them.

The wellbeing Budget easily goes this far. Finance minister Grant Robertson is entitled to say, as he did in his Budget speech, that this is a government “not satisfied with the status quo”.

A transformative agenda goes further. It sees problems as rooted in the present structure of society. It isn’t only about managing the flaws and oversights of the dominant system, but overturning the system itself. This involves an order of ambition that the wellbeing Budget lacks.

There is another word for change that the Prime Minister sides with: not “transformation” but just transition. This is the idea that socioeconomic change should be guided by principles of justice, such as equity and inclusivity, to minimise the disruption change can bring. The aim of a just transition is to achieve revolution without revolt.

Ardern obviously sees the idea of a just transition as more broadly relevant, contrasting it with the “rapid, uncaring change” of structural reforms in 1980s New Zealand. To my mind, this better captures the temper of this Government – not transformational, but potentially transitional.

But transformation and transition are just simple labels.

Labour ministers and MPs have kept saying that they can’t change ‘9 years of neglect’ (I think an unfair label) with a single budget, but this was their second budget.

Transformation or revolutionary change takes longer than a three year term in an MMP Parliament.

The Government’s third budget will be trying to balance a carefully nurtured image of financial prudence with further signs of transformational intent – as long as they are re-elected.

Much my depend on whether voters chose to keep the transformation-resistant NZ First party in the mix to moderate changes, or dump them and take a risk with a Labour-Green Government. (Returning National to power looks a long shot at this stage but is an option for those preferring more incremental change than Labour/NZ First).

Pollsters comment on vastly different poll results

I think there has been much ado about a couple of poll results, with much more made of the results than they deserve, The polls are of interest but not of great importance in the whole scheme of things.

But it’s worth listening to what the polling companies think.

The Spinoff – Two polls. Two wildly differing results. What happened?

Last night’s polling results had little in common, with the only consistency across both being that Simon Bridges is a very unpopular party leader. In short: the Colmar Brunton poll showed National up to 44%, and Labour dropping to 42%. It showed Jacinda Ardern as preferred prime minister for 45%. The Newshub Reid poll showed National at 37.4%, and Labour at 50.8%. It showed Ardern as preferred PM for 49%.

The Colmar Brunton explanation:

…the divergence doesn’t necessarily mean one is wrong. “Without digging into what Reid’s methodology is and what the details are it’s hard to comment on why there’s a difference,” said Jason Shoebridge, CEO of Kantar, Colmar Brunton’s parent company.

I asked him why he thought there was a difference in the results, and it turns out there’s a simple explanation: “Reid use an online methodology as well as landlines, and we just use landlines and mobile phones. Then there’s a difference of when we were collecting the data – we were collecting later than they were.” Colmar Brunton was conducting their research from the 4th to the 8th June, and Newshub-Reid Research did theirs from the 29th May to the 7th June.

The last Colmar Brunton poll was taken in the days following the Christchurch terror attacks on March 15th, an event for which Ardern was near-universally praised for her handling, so it’s not surprising to see Labour’s popularity declining closer to what it was before the attack. With this in mind, alongside the recent furore around the wellbeing budget, Ardern’s result in both polls could be seen as a win.

One way to tell the accuracy of a poll is how it fits into the over-arching trends, and in general, polls prior to this showed Labour going up and National going down. Shoebridge believes the only true measure of a poll’s accuracy is an election.

that should be impressed on the media who promote their polls as major news.

“Where the stress really comes in is on election night – that’s the real test,” he explained. Political opinion polling is the most high profile work the company does, even though it’s only a small proportion of their business. “We always want it to be as accurate as possible, and we’re confident in our numbers.”

Reid Research was confident but offered no explanation.

Reid Research was not at liberty to release more information to us due to its commercial relationship with Newshub, but said it was confident its poll was correct.

A poll with a small sample cannot be ‘correct’. The only correct polls are elections. Everything else is an approximation with well known margins of error and possibilities of greater errors.

It is almost certain that if another poll was taken this week it would have a different result.

Head of Safe and Effective Justice calls for cross-party consensus

While Chester Borrows was an ex-National MP he is also an ex police officer and lawyer, so was a good appointment as head of the Safe and Effective Justice advisory group set up by the Labour led government.

The group has just released it’s report after extensive consultation – see Te Uepū report – Transforming our Criminal Justice System

Borrows is now calling for cross-party consensus on reforming the justice system.

RNZ: Time for cross-party consensus to transform justice system – Borrows

The head of a group that found racism embedded in every area of the criminal justice system says it’s now time for a cross-party consensus to tackle to the issue.

Māori were over-represented as both victims and offenders of crime, with Māori making up 51 percent of the prison.

Chairperson of the government’s Safe and Effective Justice advisory group, Chester Borrows, told Morning Report the report highlighted the need for “transformational change” and said any political party would be foolish to disregard the report’s contents.

He said the legacy of colonialism had meant Māori entered prison after being socially and economically disenfranchised.

“People tend to think that this is something that is really historic,” he said. “In fact, if you take away the economic base of a community and them under-educate them in a foreign language it’s not surprising that a few generations down the track they are corralled into the lowest decile suburbs failing in every area of the social sector.

“What we have in New Zealand is people don’t really touch the justice system until they’ve been failed by all those other areas such as health. education, welfare, the economy and employment… We’ve allowed that to happen. It’s a pattern and we’ve done nothing about, in respect to prisons, in 30 years.”

The former National minister said it was now time both political parties and government departments came together to untangle the legacy, so that policy and its implementation reflected one purpose. He said a transformational change in the way government and political opposition looked at justice was key to success.

“Any party would be foolish to disregard this report, which is so comprehensive, I think this is where people in the middle of the political spectrum are. The changes that need to be made are fundamental.

“We have no single driver of the justice sector and yet we’ve got five different departments who are in it, all measuring themselves against their own KRA, but not with one single goal in mind and that’s a ridiculous place to be… If they are not all facing the same thing and heading towards a common goal then they are stuck but they start.”

He acknowledged this would be difficult, due to the criminalisation of Māori and a punishment-based focus on the criminal justice system being made political positions at election time. But said the public was now sick of that approach. “It is too important for it to remain political all the time,” he said.

It will be difficult reaching political consensus on major reforms of the justice system, but it shouldn’t be difficult for all parties to work together on this.

Simon Bridges is a lawyer and has been a Crown prosecutor. He could use that experience, and show real leadership by ensuring that National engages positively on seeking reform.

Mark Mitchell is National’s spokesperson for justice. I haven’t seen either him or Bridges respond to the Safe and Effective Justice report. I hope that means they are seriously considering contributing to finding solutions.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – June 2019

  • Labour 50.8% (up 3.3)
  • National 37.4% (down 4.2)
  • Greens 6.2% (up 1.1)
  • NZ First 2.8% (Down 0.1)

The poll was conducted between May 29 and June 7 with a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

The Colmar poll was conducted 4-8 June 2019.

The budget was released on May 29.

Quite different to the 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll – 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll – June 2019

The polling periods were different though.

 

1 News/Colmar Brunton poll – June 2019

Party support:

  • Labour 42% (down 6)
  • National 44% (up 4)
  • Greens 6% (no change)
  • NZ First 5% (Up 1)
  • ACT 1% (no change)
  • New Conservatives 1%
  • The Opportunities Party 1%

Refuse to answer 4%, undecided 10%. Fieldwork conducted 4-8 June 2019

This is a very different result to the Newshub/Reid Research poll – June 2019.

The Reid Research poll was conducted between May 29 and June 7.

The budget was released on May 29.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 45% (down 6)
  • Judith Collins 6% (up 1)
  • Simon Bridges 5% (no change)
  • Winston Peters 5% (no change)

This is sort of interesting but doesn’t mean a great deal. National back up a bit, Labour have eased off an unusual high at a favourable time for them and Ardern.

 

Media hacks criticised for obsession with Treasury non-hack story

Is there no other political stuff worth reporting on? Or is the prospects of a high level resignation or sacking too attractive to let go of?

This all happened a week and half ago but the story is still prominent. However criticism of the story obsession  is starting to emerge. “It’s ridiculous that pundits are calling for heads to roll. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a big deal. ”

These sorts of stories continue:

Derek Cheng (NZH) – Jacinda Ardern: Finance Minister’s job is safe

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not saying when she found out about an urgent attempt from the Government Communications Security Bureau to stop Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf from saying his department had been hacked.

But Ardern said this morning that Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s job was safe.

The National Party is calling for senior ministers to come clean over when they knew about the GCSB’s concerns, and why Makhlouf’s “hacking” description – and Robertson’s subsequent “hacking” description – wasn’t corrected earlier, or stopped in the first place.

Derek Cheng (NZH) – Budget Bungle: the Govt was told there was no hacking but kept tight-lipped

The Government did not correct or clarify the description that the Treasury’s computer system had been “hacked” for an entire day despite being told by its cybersecurity experts that no hacking had taken place.

On the same day – Wednesday last week, the day before Budget day – the National Party also refused to reveal how it had obtained confidential Budget information, instead accusing the Treasury and Finance Minister Grant Robertson of unfairly smearing National.

Robertson said yesterday that the Government was being tight-lipped because the Treasury had called in the police, but he was also unlikely to want any further distractions on the eve of the Government’s much-hyped Wellbeing Budget.

Instead Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Robertson spent that Wednesday answering questions about hacking from National MPs in the House, while changing the language to say that the Treasury had been “attacked”.

National is demanding answers after the Herald revealed that Andrew Hampton, head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, made an urgent call to GCSB Minister Andrew Little in an attempt to stop Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf from publicly saying that his department had been hacked.

National deputy leader Paula Bennett said it was inconceivable that Little didn’t pass that information on to Robertson and Ardern straight away, and they should have immediately revealed the advice that there had been no hacking.

“If Mr Robertson received the information from Andrew Little after he released his statement, he should have immediately corrected it,” Bennett said.

Zane Small (Newshub) – Budget 2019 scandal: Beehive allegedly warned Treasury wasn’t hacked

But others are seeing things differently.

Alexander Stronach (The Spinoff) – Where you’re getting the Treasury budget data breach story all wrong

The Treasury data breach has been a shitshow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger disconnect between the experts and the pundits, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a security guy, for what it’s worth: I’m a writer at a tech firm, but I’m fascinated by security and over the last few days I’ve been talking to people who actually know their stuff. Almost unanimously they’re calling this a breach. Almost unanimously, the pundits are off shouting that it’s “not a hack!”.

Right from the start, I’m setting a rule: we’re not going to talk about “hacking”. It means totally different things to the IT sector (anything from coding at all to randomly kludged spaghetti code that really shouldn’t work) and the public (a man in a trenchcoat saying “I’m in!”), and most InfoSec types shy away from it anyway. I’m not going to bore you with the whole hacking vs cracking debate, but we’re going to call this thing what it is: a data breach.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s bad. Somebody dropped the ball, and somebody else put a knife into it.

Still, I don’t believe Simon Bridges has committed a crime, nor has he committed breach of confidence. He has violated his CERT obligations, which at worst means he’ll get a strongly-worded nonbinding letter from MBIE telling him not to do it again. He did a bad thing, but not all bad things result in him being removed from parliament in a paddy wagon. To quote one of my anonymous sources: “he’s an asshole, not a criminal.”

It’s ridiculous that pundits are calling for heads to roll. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a big deal. Grant Robertson shrugged and moved on. The Treasury were right: what harm could somebody actually do by using that exploit? Release a half-complete version of the document a day early?

By the by, it’s not dodgy or extreme that anybody called it a ‘hack’. If there’s a problem with the word, it’s not that it doesn’t mean this, it’s that it does mean this because it’s a vague word that means wildly different things to different people.

What’s really happening is that the pundits smell blood in the water, and they don’t care what actually happened—they just want an excuse to sink their teeth in.

Same old #NZPol, I guess.

Richard Griffi (Stuff) – Blown Budget secrets shine light on overblown reactions

It is not difficult to understand the ministerial angst and aggravation generated by the political theatre that disrupted last week’s Budget announcement.

Understandably, the authors and interpreters of the ‘Budget Secret’ production still revel in the drama despite the overall predictability of the political imperatives.

A nightmare for the Treasury benches is an invasion of the stage by the clowns from the back row of the auditorium waving the script and stealing the lines, leaving the man in the top hat puce with anger. But, so it was for Grant Robertson.

Enter, stage-right, an over-excited Simon Bridges supported by loyal side-kick Paula Bennett. They proceeded to blow whistles, point fingers and range through a range of emotions from triumphant to outraged and back again.

From a distance it did all seem a tad over the top but maybe you had to be there.

The usually pragmatic Robertson rose to the bait. He over-reacted while bit players ran in circles claiming the sky was falling.

It may be naive suggestion but surely a flexible, relatively young nation can do better than blindly follow the tenets of political behaviour originally constructed by a different Parliament on the other side of the world by politicians representing a very different constituency in very different circumstances.

Does the Opposition always have to find everything the Government puts in place the work of the Devil, and does the Government leadership always have to dismiss everything the Opposition does as trivial and without consequence?

And am I really asking myself this question?

He shouldn’t have to ask it. The Government and the Opposition should be asking themselves whether they are acting like representatives and leaders.

 

 

The pre-budget political circus symptom of a bigger problem

The politically created and media stoked pre-budget circus over insecure Treasury data was a symptom of a growing problem.

Treasury, the Government (in particular Grant Robertson), and the National opposition all came out looking worse to the public.

The circus demonstrated how out of touch with ordinary New Zealand politicians and the media are getting.

Bernard Hickey suggests: Our political metabolic rate is way, way too fast

No one comes out the Budget 2019 ‘hack’ with any credit, Bernard Hickey argues. The ‘scandal’ is symptomatic of an accelerating and more extremist form of politics in a social media-driven age of snap judgments and tribal barracking.

I turned on Radio New Zealand’s First at 5 programme, expecting and wanting to hear the latest burp and fart in the saga.

Instead, I heard presenter Indira Stewart asking some year 13 students at Tamaki College in South Auckland about what they wanted from the Budget, and comments from the tuck shop lady Nanny Barb about the kids at the school arriving hungry and needing breakfast. Listen to it here.

It stopped me in my tracks.

Year 13 students Lu Faaui, Uili Tumanuvao, Sela Tukia, Francis Nimo and Efi Gaono thanked Nanny Barb for their meal. They talked about what they wanted from the Budget. They had been forced to move out of state houses in Glen Innes (Tamaki Regeneration Company) to South Auckland and their parents were working multiple jobs to pay for private rentals.

They were paying $40 a week to travel across Auckland each day to Tamaki College.

“Just like Sela said, it’s forced us to move out of GI (Glen Innes) and yeah my family just decides to cope with it. It’s made my Dad work even more hours. My mum gets two jobs, my sister gets two jobs. I mean, money is money you know,” said Lu.

What they didn’t care about

They didn’t care about how an Opposition researcher had done 2,000 searches on a Treasury website to try to find Budget 2019 information four days ahead of its release.

Or that Simon Bridges had then recreated 22 pages of Budget information and released it to the public to highlight Treasury’s IT system flaws and embarrass the Government. They didn’t care or even know that the Treasury Secretary had jumped to the conclusion the information was ‘hacked’ and needed to be referred to the police.

Or that Grant Robertson had made the mistake of trusting Makhlouf and leapt to lash back at Bridges by suggesting illegal activity. Or that Bridges had then accused Robertson of lying and the Treasury of being incompetent, and that it was a deliberate smear and a threat to democracy.

They did not hear the Opposition Leader jump the shark by saying: “This is the most contemptible moment in New Zealand politics.”

Really? Worse than Muldoon outing Colin Moyle? Or the Dirty Politics revelations? Or Jami-Lee Ross’ allegations?

All those teenagers wanted was affordable and convenient housing and transport so they could easily go to school and their parents didn’t have to work so hard.

That sort of thing is reality for many people who don’t care for posturing and point scoring, which turns most people off politics.

This is how politics works now

If I had time and they were still interested in talking to me, I’d explain how politicians and the media operate now.

I’d show them my twitter feed and how news and commentary have ramped up into a blur of headlines, memes, click-bait, extreme views, abuse and a desperate game of trying to grab the attention of a distracted media and whip their own social media bubbles into a frenzy.

The best example of how this increased metabolic rate of politics has warped the public debate is to point to what has happened in America and Europe, where increasingly polarised politicians shout at each other from their own bubbles of supporters and nothing changes. Meanwhile, other forces keep screwing the scrum of democracy to further their own interests.

The end result is a disengaged public, policy paralysis, a lot of noise and not much light.

It isn’t unusual for politicians to be out of touch with ordinary people living ordinary lives.

But the media a real concern – they are supposed to shine a light on politicians and Parliament, hold them to account and inform the public.

too often they seem too intent on lighting the fires, or at least providing the petrol and inflaming things way out of proportion to their importance.

I understand how it happened and I’ve been living in it now for a decade. A political firmament driven by social media, sound bites, cheap shots and one-day-wonder stories is not going to solve the problems of South Auckland or Tamaki.

Everyone should take a chill pill, stop jumping to conclusions for a quick political hit and instead think beyond the beltway to the real world and long term concerns of citizens.

What’s the chances of this happening? I see no sign of it.

 

A pretty disappointing Leader of the Opposition

I’ve been busy on other things so have only seen bits of the political circus this week, but my impressions of the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges, tend almost all towards cringe.

He has done nothing to give me any confidence in his ability to be a credible leader. Actually, this week he has reduced my confidence (it was already quite low).

Sure Bridges and his team and some supporters may think he has scored some political hits, but I don’t think he will have impressed many voters, especially voters who matter for electoral success. I think more likely the opposite.

There is an often quoted saying that the Leader of the Opposition is the hardest job in politics, but I think that’s a cop out. It can’t be that hard to not keep looking like a childish jerk.

Is there a problem with political polling?

There is growing concern about political polling.

The Australian election result a week ago defied the polls. The Brexit referendum, Donald Trump elected president of the USA and the New Zealand election in 2017 all delivered different results to what polls were predicting.

I think the biggest problem here is the word ‘predicting’. Media has become obsessed with trying to predict election results. Polls are only designed to be approximate snapshots of voter leaning or intent, with typical statistical margins of error of 3-4% (as at the time the poll was taken, not on the election date).

ODT:  Is there a political polling problem?

In each of these examples, the Left has appeared stronger in polling data than the Right and, more importantly, the Left has polled higher than what the electorate has ultimately delivered.

It is worth noting that, in the above examples, polling data was very close to the final results. A little swing this way or that, added to margins of error, could be all the explanation required.

Don’t forget movement on voting intentions as voters close into making an actual decision on election day.

There is a school of thought, however, suggesting there is a trend at play here. The theory posits much of the major media organisations around the country and the world are staffed – at least on the “shop floor” – by a majority who swing left politically.

Is it possible an element of that presumed political thinking comes through in reporting?

There are two separate issues – polling, and reporting of polls.

Is it possible consumers of that news then feel it is more acceptable, when asked, to align themselves to the tone of the news stories and causes of the day, rather than more conservative views which may out them as morally outdated?

Is it possible the highly visual social campaigning undertaken by some on the political left – current strikes and marches are a fair example – compel those polled to err towards the left? And that, months later, in a private voting booth with just themselves, their personal views and a list of options in front of them, they opt for their own views – even if those views are more conservative than they’re willing to admit out loud?

There could be many reasons why this apparent trend in polling is resulting in a mistaken skew leftwards. It could well be the sample size listed in this piece is far too small to be worth analysing. Perhaps there is no issue at all.

I think there is very little issue. Polls don’t decide elections, media don’t decide elections (despite them appearing at times to do their best to influence them rather than report on them) – voters decide elections. It isn’t a contest between pollsters and voters.

Political arguments, intellectual disagreements and challenges to our world view are generally tiring and difficult. Is that what’s at play here?

Is the Left winning the publicity and polling battle, but losing the war?

That’s a different issue again.

And it isn’t entirely accurate – in the last New Zealand election the slightly more right leaning National Party won the election battle, but lost the coalition war to Labour, NZ First and the Greens.

There’s too many variations and variations to make any sort of statement about problems with political polling.

The best solution is to polls as approximate indicators of support prior to elections, and to ignore most media overstatements about their importance.

The media need to learn that they don’t decide election results beforehand. Voters have the only say.