Covid surging in Europe

BBC – Covid rules: What are the latest three-tier restrictions?

Northern Ireland has imposed new restrictions to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The announcement comes on the back of England’s new three-tier system, announced earlier this week.

Every area of England now falls into three categories – medium (Tier One), high (Tier Two) or very high (Tier Three), depending on the local rate of infection.

Guardian: Wales to ban visitors from Covid hotspots elsewhere in UK

People who live in Covid-19 hotspots in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are to be banned from travelling to Wales, the Welsh first minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said he had asked for the “necessary work” to take place to allow devolved powers to be used to prevent people from travelling into Wales from “high prevalence” areas.

The Welsh government is likely to stop people who live in tier two and three areas of England from travelling to anywhere in Wales. Residents of the whole of Northern Ireland and the central belt of Scotland are also set to be banned.

Stuff: As virus surges in Europe, hospitals in Milan, Italy, are under pressure again

Coronavirus infections are surging anew in the northern Italian region where the pandemic first took hold in Europe, putting pressure again on hospitals and health care workers.

At Milan’s San Paolo hospital, a ward dedicated to coronavirus patients and outfitted with breathing machines reopened this weekend, a sign that the city and the surrounding area is entering a new emergency phase of the pandemic.

Months after Italy eased one of the globe’s toughest lockdowns, the country is now recording well over 5000 new infections a day – eerily close to the highs of the spring – as the weather cools and a remarkably relaxed summer of travel and socializing fades into memory.

Italy is not the only European country seeing a resurgence – and, in fact, is faring better than its neighbours this time around. Italy’s cases per 100,000 residents have doubled in the last two weeks to nearly 87 – a rate well below countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Britain that are seeing between around 300 to around 500 per 100,000. 

National, Greens may boost Labour vote

National continues to warn of the dangers of a Labour government pushed into implementing radical policies by the Greens, while the Greens keep saying they would push Labour into being ‘bolder’.

This may have the reverse effect to what both parties want – more people voting for Labour to reduce or eliminate Green influence. And going by recent polls there’s a real possibility Labour could get enough votes to either govern alone, or if they choose to govern with a majority but with a weakened Green Party in coalition.

Voting for National will probably do nothing but reduce their embarrassment a bit, they look a long way from challenging Labour even with ACT.

Voting Green will increase the chances of them making the threshold, and if the manage that it will increase the chances of Labour requiring Green support and increase Green leverage in policy negotiations.

ODT: Labour ‘cannot govern alone’: Greens

The Greens are warning their supporters that Labour “cannot govern alone”, and their party is the only one bold enough to meet the challenges New Zealand faces.

And, despite repeated rebuffs by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw say a wealth tax is still firmly on the table if Greens negotiate with Labour post-election.

“They can say what they need to in an [election] campaign,” Davidson said when asked about Ardern’s repeated flat-out rejection of the plan.

That keeps feeding National ammunition to attack Labour with, which Judith Collins has been doing.

Davidson said the fact that National has been hammering this policy so hard was a “sign of their desperation”.

“It has become alarmingly clear that the priority of National, and the other smaller parties, is not to keep us safe … but to divide us, and to make us scared, in the pursuit of power,” she said during her speech.

In his speech, Shaw made something of a call to action to his supporters.

“At this election, I can confidently say that the Green Party is the only party putting forward proposals that are actually bold enough to meet the scale of the challenges we face.”

And Davidson took it further: “Labour cannot govern alone.”

“Unchallenged decisions can mean bad decisions, and with the Greens at the decision-making table, we’ll make sure that we truly face the challenges we’ve been ignoring for too long.”

This is a contrast to last election when Greens went out of their way to play down concerns about what influence they might have on Labour in government.

Green survival depends on getting 5%, so they are having to compete with Labour for votes.

Collins has kept trying to hammer Labour, repeatedly insisting that the Green wealth tax would be a certainty. RNZ: Judith Collins says Greens ‘unemployable’ in latest wealth tax attack

Collins has spent much of her time in recent days warning voters about the Greens’ proposed wealth tax, arguing Labour leader Jacinda Ardern would break her promise not to introduce it.

Regardless of National’s position, Ardern says not is not the time for experimental taxes.

“One of the reasons we have ruled out the Green Party policy is because no other country has this form of taxation. Now is not the time to be experimenting with tax policy when we need to focus on our economic recovery.”

Collins would not budge, saying she believed her concerns were very real, and rejecting the claims of desperation.

“No, I think they’re very real … she shouldn’t go into name calling. “

She took her attacks on the Green Party further still, saying the Greens “didn’t really pay taxes before entering Parliament”.

“Well, most of them are unemployable I always thought. The whole lot of them. Don’t mean to be nasty but there we go, it’s the truth.”

She says having co-leader Marama Davidson as deputy prime minister “would be challenging for the country”.

The role of Deputy Prime Minister has no more power than any other Minister. All they have to do is occasionally fill in for the Prime Minister. Winston Peters did it this term and simply carried out a caretaker role. He had far more power in coalition negotiations.

I’m not a fan of Davidson at all, but I have no concerns with her becoming Deputy PM.

There is also one MP who is still supporting Collins:

But that’s false. Voting National instead of Labour would increase the chances of Greens having more influence. Voting Labour instead of National is the most effective way of reducing Green influence.

Claim that Peters was briefed on NZ First Foundation operations

Winston Peters has kept distancing himself and his party from the NZ First Foundation some connections have been obvious, and now it has been claimed that Peters was briefed on the operations of the Foundation.

ODT yesterday: Peters remains upbeat about election chances

Peters said the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the New Zealand First Foundation had not hurt the party.

“The SFO investigation was … forced to go public and say that not one New Zealand First member or party member wasn’t any way anything other than exonerated.”

The SFO did nothing like exonerate anyone. It stated that “neither defendant is a Minister, sitting MP, or candidate in the upcoming election (or a member of their staff), or a current member of the New Zealand First party”.

But Peters wouldn’t respond to questions about whether either of those charged had been party members. And there’s the obvious possibility that party members, MPs and even party leaders could have been associated with the alleged fraudulent actions but not to the level required for charges to be laid.

Also yesterday: Urgent appeal in New Zealand First Foundation donations case dismissed

RNZ, Stuff, NZME and TVNZ have – once again – argued the public have a right to know who the two defendants are ahead of the election polls closing this Saturday evening.

Last week RNZ, Stuff, NZME and TVNZ challenged an interim name suppression order sought in a series of court hearings the media was not present for that currently protect their identities.

The media argued there was compelling public interest in knowing who the accused are before the election is over and any secrecy around the identities impinged on the public’s right to be fully informed before they cast their vote.

The district court ruled against the media; finding one of the defendants had proved an arguable case for name suppression and granting both defendants interim name suppression until their first appearance on 29 October.

After hearing the submissions, Justice Jagose said he found the decision to grant interim name suppression in the case was the right one and dismissed the appeal.

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

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.

Today revelations continue: NZ First Foundation financials presented to Winston Peters one year before scandal broke

NZ First leader Winston Peters and high-ranking MPs were briefed about the NZ First Foundation’s expenses and activities one year before it first made headlines, Stuff can reveal, contradicting Peters’ consistent claims the foundation had nothing to do with his political party.

Stuff has seen an internal party report that, according to a source familiar with the matter, was presented to Peters in November 2018.

The report, dated 21 November 23, 2018 [sic], was written by former party president Lester Gray. It is understood that it was hand-delivered to Peters’ home mailbox in Auckland on Sunday, November 25, ahead of a meeting about the matter.

The report referenced money in NZ First Party’s Kiwibank account as well as money in the Foundation’s ASB bank account. It totalled expenses incurred by the ASB account and classed them as party costs.

It is understood that Gray then briefed Peters, MPs Fletcher Tabuteau and Clayton Mitchell in Tabuteau’s office in Wellington on Tuesday, November 27.

Stuff has also seen a separate memo written by the party’s then acting treasurer, John Thorn, to the “board of directors”, dated May 5, 2017. It reveals that the foundation was originally proposed to be a “capital-protected fund”, meaning contributions would never be spent, only profits from the fund’s investments. It was originally meant to be operated “at arm’s length” from the board.

The memo states the foundation would be modelled on the National Party’s National Foundation, which is a capital-protected fund. It states: “there can be little doubt that the model is legally sound and is operated in a manner that meets all legal and ethical obligations”.

However, previous Stuff stories have revealed the New Zealand First Foundation actually operated as a party slush fund. The capital was spent on all manner of party expenses, including campaign headquarters, office furniture, wages and other campaign costs. Some donors who thought they were donating to the party were actually donating to the foundation.

This won’t be helpful for Peters or NZ First in the last two days of the election campaign, but it’s unlikely to do much more damage either at this stage.

Open Forum Thursday

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).

National’s desperate attacks

National have had problems with bad polls and with MP candidates promoting themselves and not the party, and running nutty attacks like Alfred Ngaro – see National MP Alfred Ngaro accused of spreading ‘gross piece of misinformation’ on Facebook.

Judith Collins did something about that – Collins intervenes after controversial abortion post:

Collins said Ngaro’s views weren’t shared by the party.

“You know, he’s someone who passionately believes exactly what he’s put up there and I don’t and and neither does the party.”

Collins said MPs get help with their social media, and in this case it was his own views and shouldn’t have had National Party branding on it.

It sounds like a concession that Ngaro is running his own campaign. That suggests National have poor control over their campaign and their candidates.

On campaigning yesterday: Good day/bad day: The leader walking on sunshine

In the same town, National leader Judith Collins is being undermined by her own candidates. Former leaders Todd Muller and Simon Bridges have been going merrily off-message with full page newspaper ads and billboards showing their photos – but no mention of Collins. Strategy: two ticks for the local candidates

But Collins has taken to attacks in her campaigning as well. Perhaps she sees it as a last ditch effort to save her leadership, as National seems beyond saving this election.

Collins was even more off-message herself, with some provocative rhetoric in which she blamed the personal “weakness” of overweight people for the country’s obesity problems. And the day got worse: she compared exploratory gas drilling to a pregnancy ultrasound scan. That’s a metaphor too uncomfortable to contemplate.

RNZ: Obese people must take responsibility for ‘personal choices’

When told that some had called her comments heartless, Collins said: “Do you know what is heartless? Is actually thinking someone else can cure these issues. We can all take personal responsibility and we all have to own up to our little weaknesses on these matters.

“Do not blame systems for personal choices.”

To an extent Collins is right here, but this won’t win over many votes, and is more likely to lose some.

RNZ: Judith Collins says Jacinda Ardern ‘lied’ about Covid border testing

Collins began her morning campaigning with a transport policy combined with an attack on the Greens’ wealth tax in Grenada, but later turned her attention squarely on Ardern and Covid-19.

She told a public meeting at Waikanae Bowling Club that Ardern and her government had “let Covid in” and Ardern had “lied” about the testing of border staff.

“When she says she went hard and fast she went slow and pathetic, and actually the other thing she did was she lied to us about what was happening and I’m happy to say that on the record – she lied.

“Gee I hope she sues me for it. Happy to prove it.”

Support for Ardern and for Labour surged due too their handling of Covid so it’s hard to see what Collins is trying to achieve here.

RNZ: Judith Collins’ final week attacks ‘bizarre’, ‘desperate’ – pundits

“Her incentives to do that are, she’s looking at bleeding a fair few votes to other parties on the centre right, in particular ACT, and … it’s an attempt to inject some relevance and appear as if the contest is a one-on-one battle between the National leader and the Labour leader.”

“I think that when you start accusing a party leader we know has very high favourability ratings, very high trust levels, calling them a liar, that you’re not going for median voters, you’re not going for those centre voters there.

“You’re really trying to appeal to that base.”

The language being employed by Collins doesn’t “come from a position of strength”, he says.

The problem for Collins is the National base seems to have shrunk substantially. The essential swing voters are unlikely to be impressed by her attacks.

And trying to sound strong when you’re obviously in a weak position is unlikely to fool anyone.

Former United Future leader Peter Dunne thinks Collins’ comments were “a little bizarre”.

“I think they reflect the fact that National’s now not looking to win over uncommitted voters, so much as hold its own base in line, and I think this is what these comments were directed at.”

“I think National now is in a hold-the-line mode, rather than a win mode.”

“This election is very unusual in the way it’s panned out. I think National has gone from earlier in the year, pre-Covid, looking more than likely to win the election, to now looking most unlikely to do so. And I think they’ve had some trouble adjusting to the change in public mood.

“That’s why some of the comments do sound pretty desperate.

The pressure of imminent and heavy defeat seems to be taking it’s toll.

University of Auckland politics lecturer Dr Lara Greaves says it’s been a long campaign and a “very” long year.

She says it’s hard to know if Collins’ negativity is a strategy or not.

“It’s kind of unclear exactly who she is trying to appeal to here. I mean at this point, around half of the voters have voted. It’s not clear whether this is something that a swing voter or fence-sitter would be that into.

“Potentially she is trying to look towards that National Party base, trying to take some voters from ACT, or some old New Zealand First voters from those segments that are a little more fiery and would view some of those comments she’s made today as a little more acceptable.”

She doesn’t necessarily think it will win over swing voters.

“I think realistically, she’s just trying to save the furniture, and it’s not really clear that this is a good strategy for that.”

National have had a poor term, a poor year and a poor campaign that seems to be a shambles. Those MPs who survive – they may lose up to a third of their MPs – will have a big job to do to repair the damage and rebuild next term.

UMR poll

I can’t find any reference to the polling period, but a UMR poll is being circulated. It is quite similar to the most recent UMR poll 25 August – 2 September on Opinion polling for the 2020 New Zealand general election (result in brackets):

  • Labour 50% (53%)
  • National 29% (29%)
  • Act 7% (6.2%)
  • Greens 6% (3.2%)
  • NZ First 2.7% (3.9%)

The only significant change (upwards) is for the Greens.

Here’s the latest trend chart that doesn’t include this poll (but it will make little difference):

So it looks very good for Labour and Act, borderline for Greens, bad for National and terminal for NZ First.

Up until Monday 1,282,478 people had voted so it would take a massive disaster or miracle to change things much now.

Open Forum Wednesday

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).

Long campaign but still a fairly predictable outcome

The election campaign was extended due to Covid lockdown, and seems to be dragging out, but little seems to have changed in party support over the last few months.

Recent polls have been fairly stable, and with over 1.1 million advance votes already cast it looks very unlikely there will be any major swings in support in the last few days of the campaign.

Labour look like coasting to victory after a cautious campaign. They didn’t have to do much to maintain a big lead, and they haven’t done much. The only question seems to be whether they will get enough votes to be able to rule alone or not, and if they do whether they do whether they will take on a coalition partner (Greens).

Jacinda Ardern and by association Labour have received a lot of praise for their handling of the Covid pandemic, and Ardern has campaigned hard and adeptly on that record.

Greens are still fighting hard for every vote, which they may need to make the 5% threshold, but they aren’t offering anything compelling to voters. Labour have done their best to diffuse any leverage Greens may hope to have. Labour may or may not need the Greens to form a Government, but going by what Labour are saying that may make little difference to policies negotiated.

NZ First look rejected, polling between 1.4% and 2.5% over the last six months. Winston Peters is trying but looks far from confidence – he most often looks grumpy, and has offered little apart from promising to stop Labour doing things. It’s possible all the polls are wrong as Peters always claims, but even if NZ First sneak in over the threshold there is little incentive for Labour to form another coalition with them unless they really have to.

National have had a difficult year, changing leaders twice. They has also have a poor campaign, with Judith Collins failing to make much impression against Ardern, a series of sloppy policy announcements, and electorate MPs putting their own jobs head of the good of the party, sometimes poorly. National seem to have recovered a bit after plummetting to polling in the twenties, but now look stuck in the low thirties. There’s been nothing in their campaign to suggest they deserve moore than that,

ACT have had a good year and a good campaign. Last year they polled mostly less than 1% and just started to rise at the end of the year, rising to 1.6%. They have kept improving through this year, with their last two poll results being 8%. Even if they drop back a bit they will still have a very good result, jumping from 1 MP to 5-10 MPs.

National look to be in a hopeless situation. Even with ACT they are barely getting into the forties, a long way short of Labour. Some wishful thinkers have been saying ‘if Labour drop 5% and National jump 5% it’s all on’ but that looks very unlikely, especially with National lurching from mistake to embarrassment.

What if NZ First defy the polls and make the threshold? National have ruled out doing a deal with Peters, and while Peters has defied pre-election indications in the past it would be aa huge stretch even for him to now form a coalition with National, let alone National+ACT.

So most likely we will have a Labour+Green government next term, with Labour exerting dominance shown already though the campaign. Or possibly a Labour alone Government. It would be a major shock if the result is outside these possibilities.

But…

There is an outside chance the Maori Party manage to pull off one or two surprise wins in Maori electorates. Polls suggest they are close in some – probably not close enough, but Maori voters have been generally much better at tactical voting than the rest.

Labour+Greens+Maori would likely help Labour dominate.

But Labour+Maori would make an interesting coalition. It may embolden the Labour Maori caucus.

Open Forum Tuesday

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).

Open Forum Monday

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).