Party leaders on the election campaign

Chapters on a Victoria University book reviewing the 2017 election by each of the party leaders.

Newshub – Stardust and Substance: the 2017 election through politicians’ eyes

Accounts of political events by politicians themselves can be worse than useless and should be read with great caution. Politicians are simply too close to what happened to really give any insights into events. They’re also often just too practiced in their own spin to be able to reveal any truly interesting or new information. Too often, politician accounts of election campaigns are simply their attempts to assert their own version of history for the record.

Nonetheless, the accounts of the 2017 election by the political party leaders in Stardust and Substance are all well worth reading. Some are more self-serving than others, and they vary greatly in how much they reveal that is new or useful. But all seven chapters from the party leaders help the reader understand what went on in 2017 to make it such an extraordinary election.

They are generally more self promotional than analytical.

Jacinda Ardern – ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election

There is no doubt that 2017 will remain the most extraordinary year of my life. But a statement like that doesn’t quite capture the fact that what happened this year had layers that extended well beyond me. In that sense, before I go any further I want to acknowledge three people in particular. The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes. Their work is unrelenting. They manage and motivate thousands of volunteers, manage our governing body, and ensure we have the funds to run our campaigns in the first place. I salute them.

Bill English: ‘Confident but paranoid’: Bill English reflects on election 2017

Coming into 2017 I was often asked how National, as the incumbent government, felt about the election. My standard answer was “confident but paranoid”, which, as it turned out, proved to be the right mental setting. One had only to look around the world to see that political events had become a bit more unpredictable. The fact that you couldn’t predict where the unpredictable would occur didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, and of course it did.

I want to give some personal reflections on my involvement in the campaign as a leader. I think that the overriding impression for me was just how much I enjoyed it. As someone who had been unavoidably characterised in a certain way because of my finance role, it did take some time to adjust, and for public expectations to adjust, to my new role as a leader in a campaign. There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed it. First was that there was plenty to campaign for, again unusually for a party that had been in government for nine years. I had been personally strongly invested in many of the issues which were debated in the campaign – the economy, obviously, but also all the social issues, poverty, housing, water quality, and the environment, where we had done much intensive work over many years.

Winston Peters: ‘We chose the harder path’: Winston Peters on election 2017

Eight weeks out from the general election, New Zealand First was poised to challenge Labour’s status as the second largest political party – this was a sign: when things are going great you should be worried most. Polling revealed that we were statistically tied with Labour. From our perspective that day would have been a good one for the country to have voted.

It was not to be.

Labour were sagging badly but I think it is very unlikely NZ First would have overtaken them. Greens were picking uop more of Labour’s losses than NZ First.

James Shaw: When the wheels came off: James Shaw on Election 2017

My worst moment of the 2017 election came the day parliament rose to kick off the formal part of the campaign, about six weeks before election day.

Roughly 10 minutes before I had to give the Adjournment Debate speech on behalf of the Green Party, I received that evening’s Colmar Brunton poll results. We were on 4%, the first time during the campaign that we had dipped below the threshold which would see us return to parliament. And because, in many ways, the adjournment speech kicked off the formal election campaign period, it wasn’t a great way to start.

I finished the speech and my colleague Gareth Hughes came and sat down in the seat next to me. He looked at me and said, “Way to go, giving that speech, knowing what you know.” It was a really tough moment, because at that point it seemed probable that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and that I had just given the last speech in parliament by a Green Party MP.

David Seymour: ‘We didn’t pay enough attention to the brand’: David Seymour on Election 2017.

As a rookie MP and the sole elected member of ACT, I became the party leader and also entered the executive (as parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister of regulatory reform). I am told that nobody has entered parliament this way since the 19th century, when governments typically lasted only a year or two. The task of carrying off these roles as well as serving the Epsom electorate was always going to be large. In the final analysis it was too large.

Farrar’s honeymoon poll bounce scam

A very detailed analysis by   of how claims of a failure to benefit from a ‘poll bounce’ after the after the election was bad for Labour amounts to a dishonest scam by David Farrar in collaboration with Bill English. And how much of the media and blogosphere got sucked in by the meme put out by Farrar (not me though that didn’t rate a mention).

It’s a long post that has some interesting information about polls both recent and historical, making both reasonable and  questionable points.

Sub-Zero Politics: Farrar’s Honeymoon Scam

Introduction

Over recent weeks, National Party agent provocateur David Farrar has managed to profoundly shape mainstream media analysis of the Post-Election Mood.

In two highly influential Kiwiblog posts, Farrar set out to aggressively heighten expectations of the new Ardern Labour Government’s impending Poll performance (What sort of poll boost should the new Government get? November 6, 2017 – published some 2 weeks before the very first poll was released) and then subsequently went out of his way to ignore the first two Post-Election polls,  instead waiting 5 weeks for the third poll to emerge, before declaring that Labour had conspicuously failed to live up to expectations (No real bounce for Labour in first Colmar Brunton poll December 10, 2017).

  1. Incoming governments traditionally enjoy a huge Honeymoon surge of post-Election support.
  2. This massive Post-Election Poll Bounce comes largely or entirely at the expense of the Opposition Bloc and in particular the Major Opposition Party.
  3. Such a Poll Bounce failed to materialise in the immediate aftermath of the formation of  the 2017 Labour-NZ First-Green Government .
  4. This failure is unprecedented in Modern Political History
  5. The reasons for this alleged failure are two-fold: (a) In 2017, “there was no clear vote for change as happened in 1999 and 2008” and (b) Labour “have had a pretty shambolic start to Government” (Dec 10 post).
  6. None of this augurs well for the survival /  longevity / future electoral prospects of the Ardern Govt.

Media UpTake

As so often over recent years, Farrar’s carefully-contrived narrative quickly gained wide currency among MSM Notables. Despite the central involvement of both Farrar and segments of the Fourth Estate in the murky 2014 Dirty Politics scandal, journalists still seem more than happy to take his claims at face value and to widely disseminate them throughout the media.

I didn’t take much notice of the honeymoon non-bounce theory because every post-election period is quite different, and the 2017 pre-election and post-election certainly was, and it takes time for Governments to settle in and for enough poll results to be done to give an idea of trends. I think it will be several months before polls give us a good picture of party support trends.

Swordfish claims (without evidence) that the ‘scam’ was a Farrar/National Party plot:

Obviously, Farrar had closely co-ordinated this whole strategic campaign with Bill English’s Office.

That isn’t obvious. English could simply have picked up on what Farrar had posted and the media had reported. Swordfish could have used the same reasoning to claim that ‘Farrar had closely co-ordinated this whole strategic campaign with journalists and bloggers’.

I’ll skip the detail and go to the start of a lengthy conclusion.

Conclusion

Prominent National Party operative David Farrar has very successfully managed to sell the MSM a bogus honeymoon meme. This, in turn, has generated a whole series of negative headlines for the Ardern Coalition … reinforcing, in the process, some of National’s key attack lines around the alleged fragility and illegitimacy of the new Government.

It’d probably be going a little too far, I think, to suggest that a Machiavellian Farrar brought to bear all the innumerable dark arts of messaging, comms, social psychology and public relations when devising his various rhetorical strategies. That would be crediting his two Kiwiblog posts with a degree of sophistication that they don’t, quite frankly, possess. But in his own relatively crude way, he was able to successfully weave a dodgy little tale of woe for the Govt using his trademark blend of fact and fiction, as always playing on the ambiguity that lies between.

The nub of Farrar’s Honeymoon Scam is this: Both explicitly (Nov 6) and implicitly (Dec 10), Farrar left visiting journalists with the distinct impression that the two previous incoming governments – 1999 Clark Labour and 2008 Key National – had enjoyed massive double figure spikes of support in the very first post-Election Poll. At a bare minimum, journalists went away from Kiwiblog with the impression that these honeymoon surges emerged in the immediate wake of these elections – that is, the first few weeks.

Yet, as we’ve seen, Farrar’s claims were essentially fraudulent.

I don’t have the time or inclination to carefully check Swordfish’s claims against Farrar’s – it’s only polls, and the Government is setting off into the political year as if the polls didn’t matter anyway.

But here are more detailed poll trends of each oh the post election periods being analysed, in easier to follow pictures – the starting point for each chart is the election result.

Post-1999 election polling:

Not many polls and not much sign of a bounce there.

Post-2008 election polling:

No immediate bounce, it wasn’t until a number of polls in 2009 before the trend of poll support for national became obvious.

Post-2017 election polling:

Too few polls and too soon to tell, in very different circumstances.

Take from this what you like, but remember that they are only polls. They are of interest but can be easily over-analysed and are often misleadingly reported by media and by bloggers and by parties.

2017 the best year in human history

Most world news and a lot of international political news we hear is bad or negative. Nicholas Kristof annually looks at the better side of modern life.

Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History

2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity.

A smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before.

The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell.

Every day, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty (less than about $2 a day) goes down by 217,000, according to calculations by Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs a website called Our World in Data.

Every day, 325,000 more people gain access to electricity. And 300,000 more gain access to clean drinking water.

As recently as the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate and lived in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 15 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 10 percent live in extreme poverty. In another 15 years, illiteracy and extreme poverty will be mostly gone. After thousands of generations, they are pretty much disappearing on our watch.

Just since 1990, the lives of more than 100 million children have been saved by vaccinations, diarrhoea treatment, breast-feeding promotion and other simple steps.

The ‘good old days’ were decidedly worse for many people.

If that was, say, the 1950s, the U.S. also had segregation, polio and bans on interracial marriage, gay sex and birth control. Most of the world lived under dictatorships, two-thirds of parents had a child die before age 5, and it was a time of nuclear standoffs, of pea soup smog, of frequent wars, of stifling limits on women and of the worst famine in history.

What moment in history would you prefer to live in?

My lifetime for sure.

So, sure, the world is a dangerous mess; I worry in particular about the risk of a war with North Korea. But I also believe in stepping back once a year or so to take note of genuine progress — just as, a year ago, I wrote that 2016 had been the best year in the history of the world, and a year from now I hope to offer similar good news about 2018.

The most important thing happening right now is not a Trump tweet, but children’s lives saved and major gains in health, education and human welfare.

There’s a lot of bad in the world, and a lot of potential risks, and unlike any time in history humans are easily capable of wiping everyone out and destroying much of the planet.

But generally things have never been better for most people and continue to improve.

2017 second hottest year recorded

There were indications through last year that it was likely to be one of the warmest on record, and that has been confirmed. Climate change/global warming is a growing concern for the well being of Earth and potentially for the future of the human race, which has been rapidly overpopulating the planet.

Stuff:  2017 was Earth’s second hottest year on record

Last year was Earth’s second hottest on record, just behind 2016.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service, the first major international weather agency to report on conditions in 2017, said temperatures averaged 14.7 degrees Celsius at the Earth’s surface – 1.2C above pre-industrial times.

Sixteen of the 17 warmest years have all been this century.

2017 was the hottest non El Niño year, and the third warmest ever recorded.

Scientific American:  The Top 7 Climate Findings of 2017

As the potential effects of climate change are seen around the world – from starving polar bears to record-breaking storms – interest in climate science is soaring. Scientists are digging into the “how,” “why” and “what’s next” of global temperatures, melting ice, emission sources and sinks, changing weather patterns, and rising seas.

The last year has seen major breakthroughs and advancements in climate research. Here are some of the biggest findings reported by scientists in 2017.

Temperatures and carbon concentrations are breaking records

In January, both NOAA and NASA officially confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded. It’s the third time in a row that record has been broken – 2015 and 2014 were both determined to be the hottest years ever observed.

Just two months later, in March, NOAA scientists announced that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are climbing at a record pace for the second year in a row.

Record low sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctica

Early March is around the time when Arctic sea ice typically reaches its maximum extent. Turns out it was the lowest max extent ever recorded in 2017, reaching just 470,000 square miles. For comparison, the average extent between 1981 and 2010 was about 5.57 million square miles. It’s the third year in a row scientists have seen a record winter low in the Arctic.

Around the same time, scientists observed record low sea ice in the Antarctic.

Sea-level rise is on the upswing

Multiple studies this year suggested that sea-level rise is occurring faster, or may be more severe in the future, than previous estimates indicate. One of the more dire of these was just published last week in the journal Earth’s Future. It suggests that better accounting for some of the physical processes affecting ice loss in Antarctica could double the sea-level rise expected under severe climate change scenarios. Another paper, released in October, came to similar conclusions. It also assumes a severe future climate change trajectory, and it updated Antarctic ice sheet dynamics.

These are some of the grimmer portraits of the future published this year, and their most alarming predictions rely on high-emissions scenarios that are not necessarily guaranteed to occur. But even more tempered studies are suggesting that future sea-level rise could be worse than we thought.

Some have tried to play down the risks of climate change by claiming that CO2 emission and sea level rise predictions were too high – but as scientific knowledge increases it’s just as likely they could have been too low.

Speaking of ice, glaciers are calving like crazy

In July, one of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf and began drifting out to sea.

Just a few months later, in September, Antarctica’s massive Pine Island Glacier – which already pours about 45 billion tons of ice each year into the ocean – calved an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan, or about 100 square miles.

These are some of the most remarkable glacier calving events recorded this year, but they’re hardly the only ones. The U.S. Coast Guard announced this month that the number of icebergs recorded in the North Atlantic this year is nearly double what it was in 2016 – more than 1,000 total observed.

Generally speaking, it’s natural for glaciers to lose large icebergs every now and then. But as both air and ocean temperatures rise, scientists are observing growing amounts of ice loss from both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and increasing instability among glaciers that back up to the sea.

Earlier this year, NASA images revealed a large new ice crack in Greenland’s enormous Petermann Glacier, which has already lost several gigantic icebergs over the last seven years.

Major discoveries about carbon

Using satellite data, researchers found that tropical forests – until recently thought to be one of the world’s biggest carbon sinks – are actually a net carbon source. Due to deforestation and degradation, they’re emitting about 400 million metric tons of carbon into the air each year.

There’s still great uncertainty about many aspects of the Earth’s carbon cycle, particularly when it comes to natural sinks like forests or the ocean.

But scientists are getting better at closing the gap. For instance, a report issued earlier this year by scientists with the Joint Global Change Research Institute suggested that methane emissions from livestock may be 11 percent higher than previous estimates suggested – a value that could help explain an ongoing scientific mystery about why atmospheric methane concentrations seem to be on the rise.

That could have serious implications for New Zealand’s agriculture.

These disasters could not have occurred without warming

…this year marks the first time some of the papers concluded that an event could not have occurred – like, at all – in a world where global warming did not exist. The studies suggested that the record-breaking global temperatures in 2016, an extreme heat wave in Asia and a patch of unusually warm water in the Alaskan Gulf were only possible because of human-caused climate change.

Scientists say these are likely not the only events to occur strictly because of climate change. They’re just the first to be discovered.

Global emissions are on the rise – again

A November report from the Global Carbon Project found that carbon dioxide emissions are growing again after being flat for three years. The findings have dashed experts’ hopes that global emissions had possibly peaked for good.

The research projects that 2017 could see a 2 percent increase in the burning of fossil fuels, bringing this year’s human-caused emissions up to about 41 billion tons of carbon dioxide. The reason for the uptick lies largely with China, the report suggests, where increases in the consumption of coal, oil and natural gas have driven its 2017 emissions up by about 3.5 percent.

China has been reported as working hard on increasing renewable energy use – see How China is leading the renewable energy revolution – so this may turn around.

But there are a lot of other countries and factors involved, so warming and it’s effects, like sea level rise and increased number and intensity of storms, will be of ongoing concern.

Happy New Year

However you see out 2017 and see in new year have a good one.

It will be a quiet one for me.

 

“10 worst things Trump has done in 2017”

Following up as promised Mark Thiessen lists The 10 worst things Trump has done in his first year in office (he hasn’t finished his first year, he has three weeks to go).

10. He has made no effort at bipartisanship.

Trump says this may change:

9. He has spent more time attacking Republicans than Democrats.

Trump needs to expand his Senate majority if he wants to pass his agenda. Yet he spent an inordinate amount of time in his first year at war with members of his own party.

He seems to war with anyone who won’t let him get what he wants or who criticises him.

8. He is empowering al-Qaeda in Syria.

By forging a de facto alliance with Russia and Iran to defeat the Islamic State, Trump is driving Sunni Arabs into the waiting arms of al-Qaeda — which is preparing to replace the Islamic State and is much more dangerous.

The Middle East was always going to be difficult for the US to deal with. One problem solved can be another in the making.

7. He is giving Miranda rights to captured terrorists.

Trump promised to start treating captured terrorists as enemy combatants again, but instead of intelligence-driven interrogation and sending terrorists to Guantanamo Bay, he has continued Obama’s criminal-justice approach to terrorist detention.

That doesn’t sound bad to me, it sounds like a sensible approach.

6. He has attacked the FBI and the intelligence community. 

Trump is right to be angry about leaks of private conversations with foreign leaders and the political bias of some individuals involved in the Russia probe. But the vast majority of those in the FBI, the Justice Department and the CIA are good, decent and honorable patriots who deserve the president’s respect.

Trump should not undermine our institutions because of the corrupt or illegal actions of some individuals.

That last sentence is somewhat ironic, given his ongoing attempts to discredit an investigation into possible corrupt or illegal actions.

5. His noxious tweets undermine his presidency.

He overshadowed his policy achievements, his excellent address to Congress and speeches in Saudi Arabia, Warsaw and South Korea by tweeting about Obama “wiretapping” him, gloating over Arnold Schwarzenegger’s failure on “The Apprentice” and attacking the hosts of “Morning Joe.” Trump fails to understand that the power and grandeur of the presidency are greater than any of the smash-mouth tactics that got him into the office.

His tweets have at times been very risky and stupid for President. He seems to think he has to continue campaigning a year after winning the election, playing to his shrinking base (so not very successfully). He is at ongoing risk of creating a major problem through being a knee-jerk jerk.

4. He fired James B. Comey.

If he wanted a change in FBI leadership, he should have announced it the day after the election. Comey’s belated firing led directly to the Mueller probe, which hangs over the Trump presidency like the Sword of Damocles.

3. He has dismissed Russian interference in the 2016 election.

During his trip to Asia, Trump said he really believes that when Vladimir Putin tells him Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election, Putin believes it. This is patently absurd. Putin directed Russia’s meddling. It is possible to accept that Russia sought to influence our election without accepting that there was any collusion. The fact that a foreign government tried to undermine our democracy should outrage all Americans, regardless of party — including the president.

In trying to defend himself (which is fair enough) Trump appears to be supporting or at least sweeping under the carpet what should be seen as an outrageous attempt by a foreign power to influence the outcome of a US election.

2. He stood by Roy Moore.

His endorsement of an alleged sex predator was morally indefensible and sent a message to women everywhere that Republicans do not believe that credible allegations of a grown man molesting teenage girls are disqualifying.

He backed Moore and lost, not a good look for Trump on it’s own, but backing an alleged predator, on top of Trump’s own questionable past, sent awful signals.

1. He has failed to condemn the alt-right.

His “many sides” response to Charlottesville was shameful. There a lot of things about the presidency that are hard, but condemning neo-Nazis isn’t one of them. While Trump eventually did so, as white nationalist Richard Spencer pointed out, “Trump has never denounced the Alt-Right. Nor will he.” Sadly, Spencer is right. Trump’s failure to condemn the right’s fever swamps hurts his presidency and the conservative movement.

Trump has left himself open to more problems from the Alt-Right.

Trump should be celebrating a year of achievement, but instead his administration is hemorrhaging public support. When Trump took office, he had 45 percent approval. Yet today — despite policy successes at home and abroad, economic growth exceeding 3 percent and unemployment at a 17-year low — his approval has dropped 10 points to 35 percent, the lowest of any modern president at this time in his administration.

Actually Trump’s RCP approval rating has improved a bit leading into the close of 2017, back to about 40% (-16%), but it is still not good for a first year president.

Any presidency will have positives and negatives, but for Trump the bad, the obnoxious and the failures continue to generally overshadow his successes, and continue to make his presidency a high risk game of reality politics.

One of the worst mistakes Trump makes is not learningf from his mistakes.

See also:

A year of hard leanings

Graham Adams reflects on 2017: A year of hard truths, published in North & South and now also online at Noted, begins:

2017 is the first year since 2008 that we have had to cope without John Key at the nation’s helm. It hasn’t been easy. After eight years of being soothed and distracted by our showbiz prime minister, he suddenly resigned last December and we finally woke up to what had been happening while we weren’t paying attention.

It’s been a rude awakening – and one that shaped the election, resulting in a new government of Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens, dedicated to rectifying the shameful tally of social and environmental problems built up over nine years.

Key had managed to keep a lid on growing concern over a host of problems such as high house prices, homelessness, polluted rivers, and the effect of mass immigration on infrastructure, but the jig was clearly up at the end of last year. Louder and louder criticism was being aired, including from business leaders.

Key had gone as far as he could as the pump-and-dump prime minister. He managed the economy as if it was a business he was looking to sell in a few years rather than a long-term investment. Anything that brought in money was fine by him – whether it was over-intensive dairy farming, third-rate education for overseas students, foreign trusts hiding ill-gotten loot, asset sales (including state houses), offshore buyers snapping up land and houses, or massive immigration.

I don’t know of Adams, and Noted doesn’t note his background or political affiliations, but at least it’s clear he is not politically balanced from the start.

The article ends:

It is a hard truth for us to accept but the belief that our nation is exceptional (the best little country in the world!) is increasingly true for as many dismal features as it is for uplifting ones. But, after nine years of the National-led government denying that any of our myriad problems constituted a crisis, we are finally talking about them and the new administration is looking to address them.

That’s got to be good.

Not so good if anyone wanted a good balanced review of the year, they would have been disappointed, but at least they would have been in no doubt about where Adams’ political preferences lay.

Drilling down on his name:

Graham Adams is North & South and Metro’s former chief subeditor and film critic, now a regular online contributor.

Some of his other efforts this year:

Most retweeted tweets of 2017

2017 isn’t over yet but the most retweeted tweets of the year are already announced. Some of them are a result of campaigns to get retweets, two for a good cause, #1 inane.

Interestingly Donald Trump isn’t included, but Barack Obama features thrice (#8, #5 and #2).

10.

9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

Source: http://time.com/5048929/most-retweeted-tweets-2017/

Briefings to Incoming Ministers

The Briefings to Incoming Ministers (170+ documents) were published today:


Briefings to Incoming Ministers (BIMs) are to be made public today in one block, in another sign of the Government’s commitment to be open and transparent, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins says.

More than 170 documents will be published at midday on the Beehive website. They include BIMs for public sector agencies and Crown Entities, as well as supporting documents.

“The comprehensive release of BIMs in one go and in one place provides the public with a full picture of the issues the new government faces.

“While the documents contain a huge amount of information, we considered this to be a better approach than releasing BIMs one by one over time, which has happened in the past. It gets everything out in the open at the same time.”

“The documents reveal significant challenges, particularly in health, housing and social development. We will meet these challenges head on.

“They reinforce the need for urgent action in some areas. In our first 100 days, we’re already delivering meaningful change.”

The documents released are in the following categories:

NZ Herald: Briefings to incoming ministers: Highlights

Quote of the year finalists

Massey University’s NZ Quote of the Year 2017 finalists:

Vote here.

Thanks for the link Duncan.