‘Let’s keep moving’ and the Jacinda movement

The Labour Party are launching their election campaign this weekend. It’s no surprise to see it based on Jacinda Ardern – framed as ‘Jacinda and our movement’.

But their ‘Lets keep moving’ campaign slogan seems a bit uninspiring.

Today Jacinda Ardern announced our slogan for the 2020 election campaign. Our plan to rebuild New Zealand is already in action, so on September 19 let’s keep up this momentum, and let’s keep moving

Ardern’s personality and charisma drastically turned the Labour campaign around from pending disaster to recovering enough to be able to form a government in 2017, and her popularity kept the party polling up through this term, until both soared on the back of Ardern successfully fronting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their Facebook launch promotes the slogan and Ardern:

As does their new pinned post:

 

The slogan has been spun off their Covid recovery promotion from last month:

Getting New Zealand moving again: June 2020

We wrapped up the first half of 2020 with a busy month, taking additional steps to support New Zealanders as we continue with our economic recovery. We rolled out targeted packages to support key industries like tourism and construction, helped create jobs in the environmental and  agriculture sectors, and set out our plan to support Kiwis to retrain and upskill with free trades and apprenticeships training.

Ardern was always going to be central to the Labour campaign. If Covid remains under control recovery from the effects of the lockdown will also continue to be promoted.

An unknown is how the New Zealand economy will look in two months as the campaign climaxes and an extended voting period begins.

If there is a surge in job losses after the wage subsidies run out that could impact but the effects of that may not be clear until after the election.

Ardern will give her conference/campaign opening speech this afternoon.

Trump campaign ads with Nazi symbols

I had seen mentions of this story and thought it may have been a but over blown, but on looking at it in more detail it looks more bizarre and more concerning than I had thought.

RNZ: Facebook pulls Trump re-election ad featuring ‘Nazi’ symbolism

Facebook has removed ads from Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign that featured imagery the social network says violates its policy banning “organised hate”.

The ads featured an upside-down triangle, which anti-hate groups said was strikingly similar to notorious Nazi symbols denoting political prisoners in World War II concentration camps.

“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organised hate,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Variety.

“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”

The triangles are bad enough. But seems that it’s worse than that.

It has been reported that there were 88 ads posted on Facebook (now taken down).

ADL General Hate Symbols: 88

88 is a white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler. One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis. One can find it as a tattoo or graphic symbol; as part of the name of a group, publication or website; or as part of a screenname or e-mail address.

And from Facebook takes down Trump ads featuring symbol used by Nazis to mark political prisoners

Additionally, the first sentence of the ad has 14 words, a number that is used as shorthand for a famous white supremacist slogan and often combined with 88.

It is entirely possible that the numbers of ads and words in their first sentence are a coincidence, and the Trump campaign declined to comment.

It would seem odd if all of that is a coincidence.

Tamihere/Fletcher Auckland mayoralty bid: “Shake it up and sort it out”

As widely indicated since yesterday, John Tamihere has launched a bid for the Auckland mayoralty, alongside current councillor Christine Fletcher. If Phil Goff stands for re-election this will be a challenge to him, especially if it splits the left leaning vote and a credible centre or right leaning candidate also contests the election.

Stuff:  John Tamihere and Christine Fletcher team up to challenge Auckland Mayor Phil Goff

Two-term Labour MP, former talkback host, and social agency leader John Tamihere has launched his bid for the Auckland mayoralty.

Tamihere has teamed up with former National MP and Auckland City Mayor, and current councillor, Christine Fletcher, in an unusual move to campaign with a ready-made deputy-mayor.

Tamihere pledged to “open the books and clean the house”, and said it’s not clear how ratepayers money is being spent.

Tamihere has called for more democratic control over public assets and wants to appoint councillors to the boards of all council-controlled-organisations such as Auckland Transport. That would require a law change.

The only endorsement so far on the campaign website, is from Tamihere’s running mate Christine Fletcher.

After promising yesterday…

There is nothing more on twitter yet, but he has a presence on Facebook:

The launch:

The campaign website: JT For Mayor


1. Open the Books and Clean the House

Aucklanders pay billions in rates and charges, but where does all that money go? Auckland has ended up with the most council staff ever, the biggest wage bill ever – and yet the most out of touch and secretive management ever. I will open all the doors and open all the books. We will find out who the billions are being paid to, what it’s being spent on, and why.

2. Return Democracy to Neighbourhoods

Too much power in our city is controlled by faceless managers in central Auckland. Control of the city must go back into the hands of the people. I will return local resources and decisions to local elected boards and their communities.

3. Bring Public Assets back under Democratic Control

Three quarters of Auckland Council’s assets are controlled by bureaucrats with no accountability. I want all Council owned organisations under democratic control. As a first step I will appoint elected councillors on every Council business board to ensure openness and oversight.

4. Crack down on Waste and Incompetence

Aucklanders deserve accountability and high performance from their Council. I will establish an Integrity Unit to investigate corruption, unacceptable conduct, and incompetence. This unit will report directly to me as your mayor. Aucklanders can be confident that their serious complaints will come to my desk for action.

5. Proper Partnership with Central Government

Aucklanders pay a huge part of the government’s costs. So why are Aucklanders forced to pay an extra fuel tax when no other region does? The present mayor should never have agreed to that. The huge infrastructure pressure on Auckland is the direct outcome of Central Government’s unplanned immigration, and Auckland ratepayers shouldn’t have to pick up the entire bill. As the new mayor representing a third of the country, I will expect a more equal partnership especially with transport and housing.

Labour’s fiscal plan was never realistic

Labour campaigned with a fiscal plan last year, and it was the centre of a controversial claim by Steven Joyce that demonstrated an $11b fiscal ‘hole’.

The reality is that the fiscal plan was not a plan as it could never have been implemented – there was virtually no chance of Labour governing alone. And this is Labour’s excuse for budgeting $12b more than specified in their plan, the cost of governing arrangements with other parties.

This is an obvious reality of single party campaign policies in an MMP environment where single parties have never governed alone, so it may be more a problem of how parties (and media) portray campaign policies.

NZH: Labour’s first Budget vs its campaign plan: Does it match up?

A comparison of Labour’s campaign fiscal plan with its first Budget shows things are not tracking quite as Labour planned during the campaign, something it put down to its coalition agreements and higher costs than expected.

Analysis by NZ Herald data journalist Keith Ng shows total Crown spending is forecast to be almost $12.5 billion higher over the five years to 2021/22 than Labour forecast in the “fiscal plan” it campaigned on in the last election.

That takes it to $24 billion more than National had planned over that period.

Labour campaigned on its fiscal plan against criticism from National that it had not allowed enough to cover the costs of its policies as well as increases in Government spending such as wage increases.

The higher spending also indicates the cost of securing the support of NZ First and the Green Party was higher than Labour allowed for in its fiscal plan and some policies were costing more than expected.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Budget should not be compared to Labour’s fiscal plan because it was based on Labour Party policy while the Budget reflected the Government arrangement with NZ First and the Greens.

In one way that’s a fair claim by Robertson. Labour was never likely to govern alone.

But did Robertson make it clear that his fiscal plan was not a plan?

He could not know which parties Labour may combine with to form a Government. But he must have known his fiscal plan would never remain intact in an MMP government, and should have expressed it with that clear proviso.

Will this happen next election? It’s likely to be glossed over again, or at least Labour may try that, but having been in Government with two other parties it should be much harder to get away with.

Unless Labour campaigns with the expectation that NZ First and Greens will miss the cut and won’t impact on Labour’s fiscal plan.

 

 

 

Trump ‘campaign spy’ claim refuted

As has become normal, Donald Trump made a big claim via Twitter on Friday based on what appear to be nothing more than vague rumours.

And as usual, this seems to have been somewhat embellished.

NY Times: F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign “for political purposes” even before the bureau had any inkling of the “phony Russia hoax.”

In fact, F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.

No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.’s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal.

Trump has never been bothered much about evidence when making accusations and claims, but he is demanding an investigation

Fox News: Trump to ‘demand’ Justice probe whether feds spied on campaign for political purposes

Promoting a theory that is circulating, Trump quoted Fox Business anchor David Asman and tweeted Friday: “Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit.”

But Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani cast some doubt on that.

On whether there was an “informant” in the 2016 presidential campaign, Giuliani told CNN, “I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,” though he said they have long been told there was “some kind of infiltration.”

Perhaps another investigation would clarify the extent of the FBI attention given the trump campaign, but it would also add another ring to the Trump circus.

How solid are campaign policies and pledges?

A lot of attention is given to policies and pledges and promises and hints during election campaigns. Parties argue for their own ‘if we are in Government’ pitches and examine and criticise opposing parties’ promises.

But how much weight should we put on campaign statements? The way MMP works, especially when there is a balance of power play like now, parties have to compromise, they have to give up some of their own policies and accept others.

Already we have seen that Peters appears to back off Maori seat referendum pledge.

If he stood by that pledge it would rule out governing with Labour (or so Labour have said before negotiations begin) so what would reduce his bargaining power substantially.

The way our MMP works all policies are negotiable after the election.

The cynical amongst us might think that some of the ‘promises’ are made to be broken by a junior party accommodation.

Greens knew that would have to have Labour to get into Government, so would have to give up some of their own policies and accept some of Labour’s.

Even though Labour and Greens had a Memorandum of Understanding to present a combined bid for government a core part of that agreement was to be able to have different policies. Even if Labour+Greens had been able to form a government on their own neither would be able to fulfil all their promises.

Peters has already made an adjustment, and with only 7-7.5% of the total vote will have to accept that many of the NZ First policies won’t (or shouldn’t) hold sway no matter which way they go.

There should always be big caveats considered on all campaign policies and pledges.

This is the last day of the campaign!

Today is the last day of the election campaign for 2017. I’m sure many politicians, candidates, journalists and others such as myself will be relieved when it’s over.

All billboards and other public advertising must be removed by midnight and out of sight by election day (ridiculous given the number of advance votes these days), so campaign teams will be busy today cleaning up their efforts to entice voters.

If you want to promote any candidates or parties here get it done today, because you won’t be allowed to tomorrow because of electoral law.

I won’t be doing any posts on New Zealand politics or the election during the day on Saturday, to reduce the risk of anyone breaking the law and putting the site at legal risk.

I will put up an election night post for anyone who wants to comment after voting closes at 7 pm.

“…this whole election has just been a giant fucking kick to the guts?”

Inevitably there are people who are disillusioned by election campaigns as they become aware their ideals are a long way from being realised.

From Reddit: An election of disappointments…

Far out. Is anyone else feeling like this whole election has just been a giant fucking kick to the guts? This is the first election that I’ve followed closely (during previous ones I’ve been too young and distracted). But yeah, this whole lead up to the election has continually pushed me further down a path of disappointment in politics.

Before the election campaigning started, the state of NZ was pretty disappointing. Huge inequality, super high imprisonment rates, high child poverty, tax loop holes that were massively perpetuating inequality, disproportionate housing prices, high suicide rates, environmental destruction/pollution… you get the picture – NZ certainly had room to improve.

Initially it was looking like another National win. Disappointing, more of the same inequality perpetuated…

Then the Greens (who were, in my opinion, a shining light of hope in that at least the environment might get some wins) started pushing their environmental policies to the back benches, in their attempts to win more votes through social/economic polity. On top of that, the Greens then fell victim to some silly nonsense that was blown out of proportion by the media. Disappointing that the media did that, and that the general public reacted the way they did…

It was great to see Turei standing up for her values, and to see a bit of an up-rising of people in similar (oppressed) positions. But then she gave up, and stood down… disappointing.

Then Labour changed their leadership (but kept 90% of the same policies), and the public started frothing at the loins. It was heartening that we might be able to take a small step toward more equality with Labour’s policies, but disappointing that the public could be so shallow as to have their vote swung by a new face alone.

And now, for fuck’s sake, Labour has bowed to National’s pressure and the size of the possibly small step in the right direction (toward more equality) just got 100x smaller… we’re now all staring down the barrel of the same old gun of perpetuating inequality no matter which major party wins… disappointing as fuck.

The one true beacon of hope in all of this, in my opinion, has been TOP. A fresh party with fresh policies that are actually based on evidence and expert input. But again, disappointing that the general public seem to be too blinkered to even take the time to consider an alternative…

I guess I should just be happy that I’ve been lucky enough to have had the amazing opportunities that have placed me above the half way mark, and I’m on the lucky side of the perpetuating inequality… but still, it feels like a kick to the guts. NZ can’t really win this election.

Are all elections this disappointing?

Can anyone point out some positives for me? Please?

Parties and candidates can’t please all of the people all of the time.

But in their desperation to appeal to all voters do they end up disappointing everyone?

I’m certainly disappointed by the quality of this campaign, by what is on offer and how it has been offered.

ACT campaign launch and education policy

The ACT Party has launched their campaign today and at the same time has announced new education policy – better pay for better teachers.

ACT announces better pay for great teachers

“Good teachers help children grow, develop, and reach their full potential which is vital to their future success,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Unfortunately, because of union contracts, teachers hit maximum pay after ten years, schools can’t reward successful teachers, and teaching is not regarded as a strong career choice for our brightest graduates.

“Right now the best teachers earn the same as the worst teachers. Graduates are deserting Auckland schools or deserting teaching altogether. Teachers can only earn more by taking on administrative work, and spending less time actually teaching kids.

“ACT says this is crazy. We want the best teachers to stay in the profession and in the classroom.

“With the current government surplus at $3.7 billion, ACT will give principals $975 million to pay good teachers more, without cutting government services or raising taxes. But the schools will only be eligible for this funding if they abandon nationally-negotiated union contracts. This will make it easier for principals to replace bad teachers with great ones.

“ACT’s Good Teacher Grants will boost teachers’ pay by $20,000 on average, and elevate teaching as a profession, to attract the best graduates to teach our children and keep the most capable teachers in the classroom.”

Speech and policy explainer : Pay Good Teachers More

ACT BELIEVES

New Zealand kids should be taught by highly skilled professional teachers. Education is the most important gift we can give our children, to give them a head-start in life.

It is wrong that the best teacher and the worst teacher are paid the same. Incentives matter, it’s wrong that the only way for teachers to increase their pay, in many cases, is to take management hours and spend less time teaching kids.

Teachers, as salaried professionals, are undervalued. To attract the best school leavers and graduates into teaching as a profession, we have to lift the overall salary range.

ACT’S RECORD ON EDUCATION

ACT’s proudest achievement is in introducing choice into education. We championed Partnership Schools which are seeing Iwi, Pasifika Groups, community groups and others running new-model schools which are changing kids lives. We don’t believe that one size fits all in education.

Our policy has been to increase support for independent schools – they save taxpayers money, and provide parents with choice in the type of education they get for their children.

OUR POLICY IS TO PAY GOOD TEACHERS MORE

This policy will add $1 Billion into the funding that is available for teacher salaries. On average we will increase teacher salaries by $17,700 per teacher. This will enable the best teachers to stay in the classroom, and elevate teaching as a profession.

The Government surplus sits at $3.7 Billion. That means this policy is affordable and we can deliver improvements in teacher quality alongside tax cuts, while maintaining all core government spending.

We will enable schools to opt out of union contracts. This will mean they gain the flexibility to recognise great teachers by paying them more and rewarding their achievement.

Schools will be able to pay more to attract teachers to fill specialist skills shortages – in areas like science, technology, Te Reo and international languages.

 

What now for the campaign?

Bill English has proven capable of being a good enough Prime Minister. Jacinda Ardern stepped up in last night’s debate and showed that she can look Prime Ministerial.

Ardern wasn’t flawless in the debate, and English hasn’t been flawless as PM. Both have obvious vulnerabilities, personally and through their parties.

Polls show that Labour and National are statistically level pegging, with yesterday’s Colmar Brunton giving a slight advantage to Labour (43%-41%).

What now for the campaign?

Labour have obvious momentum and could keep rising, or they may have peaked and could settle back. National could slip some more, or when it comes to the crunch voters may be attracted back to the safer option. We’ll have to wait and see.

National have a good record on some things, especially on economic management during some difficult years. They also have valid criticism for their less than capable efforts on housing, and health is a major concern for voters who see growing problems. They have also accumulated a number of stuff ups and embarrassments that have taken their toll.

Labour has finally found a leader that appeals to voters. Ardern has turned around her party quite adeptly and dramatically. But they still have a weak looking caucus.

We now have three weeks and a day until the election, but advance voting opens in 10 days (on September 11). Not much time left, but going by a tumultuous campaign so far any number of things could still happen.

Barring any more major surprises I think the crux of the election will come down to three things in particular.

 1. The tide of change versus staying with what we know.

 2. Tax cuts versus uncertainty over possible tax changes and increases.

The National Government have already scheduled tax cuts from next April which amount to about $1,000 in the hand per average wage earner.

Labour have said they will wipe those cuts, they have announced a number of tax increases, and they won’t say what they will do with a capital gains tax (the implication is they will introduce a CGT with exemptions).

 3. Many voters will be having a good look at potential coalition arrangements and what that may mean beyond a single party’s policies.

On current polling:

  • National could only form a coalition with NZ First.
  • Labour could also form a coalition with NZ First.
  • Labour are close to being able to form a coalition with Greens and Maori.
  • Greens are close to not making it back into Parliament.

If National slip more, and/or if NZ First slip more (they have been trending down in the polls) then National may have no coalition options.

If Labour gain more and Greens survive then Labour could have a choice between NZ First and Greens.

An obvious advantage to Labour, but events and polls may have some more twists yet.