Blog moderation and hypocrisy

There’s been a bit of a spat on Twitter about lack of moderation at Kiwiblog, with a number of people joining criticism of David Farrar’s hands off approach to moderation.

It’s well known that Kiwiblog comments can at times get very abusive. I’ve commented there a lot in the past and often confronted the worse of the abuse, and have been abused and lied about there quite a lot, sometimes in reactions to confronting them. Several times I reported abuse to DPF, and on one occasion  I had him remove defamatory comments, which he did as soon as I contacted him.

I have also been subjected to a lot of abuse and mob attacks at The Standard, and have been banned from there several times for confronting some of that.

So I was a bit bemused when Stephanie Rodgers joined in put me up alongside Farrar in the Twitter spat.

SRTwitterModeration.jpg

There’s a bunch of irony and hypocrisy in that.

King Kong is a regular abusive figure on NZ blogs. Yet you never see them on mine, because – radical – I moderate them.

Yes she does ‘moderate’. But one person’s moderation can be another person’s message control or even censorship.

Bloggers like DPF and Pete George want to pretend it’s hard to moderate out abuse, and it simply isn’t.

Rodgers has made that up about me. It can be easy to moderate out abuse.

What is difficult is getting the balance right between enabling and allowing free speech and free discussion but minimising abuse and personal attacks.

It can be particularly difficult to keep their own views and disagreements separate from moderation.

Likening my moderation to DPF’s  shows quite a degree of ignorance.

DPF’s moderation is very hands off. He relies on people reporting abuse to him, and rarely engages in comments threads. With the number of comments at Kiwiblog it would be a huge job to vet each one.

I am actively involved in moderation here as much as time allows. I actively discourage abuse and act on it whenever I see fit. It isn’t required often, apart from the occasional burst from individuals, because the regulars here understand my aims and support and help achieving a reasonable balance between robust comment and debate but avoiding personal attacks.

It’s imperfect, and it is hard, nigh on impossible, to please all of the commenters all of the time. But it moderation is a continual effort for improving the commenting environment.

You just have to give a damn about not publishing pointles personal attacks – instead of actively encouraging them.

This looks like blind hypocrisy from Rodgers. As has been noted here in the weekend there was a typical mob attack on me at The Standard in the weekend, starting here.

That not only involved abuse, it was an obvious attempt to discredit, shut down, shout down and get me banned by someone some of the numpties there – a number of familiar names.

And Rodgers joined in. That’s a form of active encouragement.

For people like Rodgers moderation seems to be a tool to shut down comment they disagree with and shut out people they don’t like, but to allow attacks when it suits their prejudices and agendas.

it helps not to nurture a commenter base made entirely of deplorables.

But then who would comment on DPF’s obvious flamebait?

Rodgers seems to be blind to the culture of the commentariat she is a part of at The Standard, where flamebait and deplorable abuse are allowed by moderators like her.

Worst designed government in the world

David Farrar summarises an old post at Vox (January 2015) on 3 reasons why New Zealand has the best-designed government in the world.

Does NZ have the best designed Government in the world?

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House. He argues Upper Houses tend to be useless and undemocratic.
  3. NZ’s Constitutional Monarchy which provides a Head of State with no legitimacy to interfere in domestic politics

I’d don’t agree with all his arguments but he makes a good case. I’d add a 4th. No state parliaments. No disputes over what is the role of central government and state governments, and no duplication of multiple police forces, education ministries etc.

I don’t think the Constitutional Monarchy matters, we could do without that without noticing much difference, but the first two are valid.

Our system of Government is certainly a lot better than the US version of State, Congress, Senate and President.

In comments there’s a few other suggestions so I’ll start a new list.

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House.
  3. No State parliaments.
  4. No constitution.
  5. No Supreme Court that overrules the legislature.
  6. We are a small country with a small population.
  7. We are a geographically isolated country.
  8. We have a Bill of Rights.
  9. We are well educated.
  10. We have an Ombudsman and an Official Information Act, and a Privacy Act and a Privacy Commissioner.
  11. Social institutions and sound traditions of democratic rule and good governance.
  12. Low corruption.
  13. Little social tension.

There’s a few contrarians but their arguments don’t stack up.

New Zealand has more of an evolved system of Government rather than being designed, and there is certainly room for improvement in the structure of government and the implementation of government and opposition (who politicians use and abuse it), but our form of democracy is in practice better than most.

S.Russell remodels an old quote:

Ridiculous! New Zealand’s system of government is terrible. Its only redeeming feature is that all other systems implemented anywhere in the rest of the world are worse.

 

 

Poll reactions

I think just about everyone will have been surprised by the latest poll -it was a  Roy Morgan shock.

Saying you do or don’t believe in this or that poll is a mugs game. They’re numbers not deities. But. National up 10 to 53% in July RM poll.

Look it’s probably a rogue poll. should relax. And stick with to election.

While the Roy Morgan poll may be exaggerated, its is perhaps timely to recall the numerous stories saying Labour has made real traction.

So under is polling 5% lower than under – makes you wonder

10% shift in any one poll in any direction always a bit O RLY.

latest Roy Morgan is fairly wow.

David Farrar (National’s pollster) at Kiwiblog: Latest poll

After a month of headlines of the Government in crisis and how Labour has them on the ropes and this is a turning point, the poll shows a massive 10% vote shift for National.

A few pundits may be regretting their columns.

Now as I commented on Twitter I don’t think there has been a 10% increase in support for National in one month, which would be 250,000 more New Zealanders suddenly deciding they will vote National. Roy Morgan is known as a yo-yo poll as it does tend to have fairly regular large increases and decreases. So it is probably the case that either their June poll was too low for National or the July poll too high – or both.

But regardless of how large the movement has been, it is beyond doubt that in a month of relentless negativity in the media, National has gone up in the Roy Morgan poll.

Labour at 25.5% is 5.5% lower than they were three years ago in the same poll. And if you compare it to how National were doing in Labour’s third term, well National in July 2007 was at 49%!

Nothing on the poll at The Daily Blog yet but a week ago Martyn Bradbury posted BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: UMR SECRET POLL – National 41% Labour/Greens 45%

Since the Memorandum of Understanding, the First Past the Post mainstream media have had to start reporting the results as MMP ones. This perception change now allows Opposition voters to see they can win.

Combine this with a Housing crisis that is nearing meltdown, a Government caught up in its own  sophistry and a flat footed media who now have to keep up with a 5th estate news media that is countering their narratives far more effectively than they can spin them.

National is in trouble, and watch how Judith Collins will move to eliminate Paula Bennett first and Key second as the reality of National’s policies finally catch up with John Key’s vacant aspiration.

Once these private internal polls start becoming reflected in the TVNZ and TV3 Polls, National will start to implode with a power struggle.

Whale Oil hasn’t posted on it yet but tend to be slow with posts on new developments that aren’t their own ‘breaking news’.

It’s not surprising that there is no post about the latest poll at The Standard yet, but there has been some comments in Daily Review.

Weka:

It’s not about whether the poll is good for a party or parties, it’s about the degree of shift and whether that is meaningful. How big was the one last month?

People who understand polling say to look at the poll of polls for trends rather than relying on any single poll. That’s why I’d like to see the next one, or other company polls.

Paul:

Seems to make no sense at all.

Anne:

Yes it does. When did you last see any of the Opposition party leaders on the 6pm TV news? Weeks ago, and then only for about 10 seconds each time. I actually recall seeing Andrew Little’s response to one question being cut off after 4 or 5 words so it was impossible to know what the answer really was.

And how often do you see John Key on the TV? Every bloody night. Since I can’t bear the sight of his supercilious dial, it means I can’t watch the news any more.

So, when the sheeples only see John Key and rarely see or hear about anyone else then its not surprising they mindlessly answer National.

So she thinks it’s the media’s fault.

mickysavage:

It is a real rogue. Go outside and talk to ordinary people and work out if they think the Government is doing a good job.

Colonial Viper:

Effect of the Labour/Greens MOU now being felt. Also National’s proactive *cough* steps in the housing market.

instrider:

I couldn’t have scripted this better – Labour leaks and overhypes mysterious internal polling. Standardistas climb on board with the fervour of the righteous welcoming the second coming, ignoring all that has gone before. And then like perpetual Millerites they wake up to a new rouge/rogue dawn another 10 points behind. It’s a better show than plagiarism at the republican convention.

adam:

Every month I’ve been saying this.

FORGET THE DAMN POLLS!!!

Outside of an election, they are nothing more than a sad tool of lazy journalists too slack to do any real journalism.

Do I need to mention the scummy PR people trying to set the agenda for there client.

But Roy Morgan isn’t run by journalists, they are a professional polling company.

And on Open Mike, schwen:

OMG! What a disaster! How could this have happened so quickly when the UMR poll showed the Green/Labour MOU was working so well?

swordfish:

Yes, very droll.

Heading on back to reality for a moment …

… UMR Poll has an impressive track record for accuracy …

http://thestandard.org.nz/daily-review-21072016/#comment-1206926

UMR do internal party polls for Labour and the poll details are never published. And it’s only favourable results that tend to be ‘leaked’.

Last week on The Standard: The times they are a changing

Dedicated to the latest UMR poll that Bomber reports has Labour on 33%, the Greens on 12% and National on 41% …

The polls they are a changing and it’s over a year until the election.

Obsession with poll ‘predictions’

There seems to be an increasing obsession for media and pundits to view and use polls as predictors of the future.

When pollsters also become to focussed on the future then I have serious concerns about the purpose and usefulness of polls.

Ina guest post at Kiwiblog – Five Key Takeaways from Brexit   – KIA says:

5 – The polls were wrong … again
6 out of the 8 major polls picked a Remain result on the eve of the vote and the 2 that picked Leave had Leave only just winning versus the 4% eventual lead.

The polls weren’t wrong. They attempted to measure public opinion at the time they were taken. There is no way of measuring whether they were right or wrong.

I thought that polls were not designed to be predictors of the future sample measurements from the past.

If pollsters manipulate their polling and polls to try and match a future election or referendum then their margins of error should reflect this. The 95% probability is supposed to be based on their polling, not voting at a different time by a much bigger sample.

I can understand pundits and journalists trying to misrepresent what polls are, but if pollsters become obsessed with or feel pressured about who is supposedly the most accurate at predicting something in the future then I have serious concerns.

Polls aren’t wrong. They may be inaccurate at the time they were taken (and statistics and margins for error and being based on 95% probability account for this), but they don’t count votes on election day.

Pundits are wrong when they try to use polls to ‘win’ on future predictions.

Farrar on why Brexit won

David Farrar makes good points (despite the hammering he gets from the left he is still an astute political observer) about why he thinks the Brexit vote won in the UK in  Three reasons Brexit won

1. Democracy

The EU overall has been a force for good with many benefits for many people. However it is not what most would regard as a democratic government. The heart of democracy is that the people can sack a Government they have got weary of.  There was no real way for the people of Europe or the UK to sack the EU Government when they think it has got it wrong and needs to go. Without such a pressure release valve, discontent grows and grows.

The concept of an EU is good. The structure of the EU is bad. It may have worked when they had nine members, but not for 28.

A particularly good  point. Voters in the UK or any other member country can’t kick out the EU governors if they don’t like what they are doing.

2. Borders

The whole point of nation states is to have control of your borders and your population.  This is not racist or xenophobic. The elites who think it is, are out of step. You can be pro-immigration, but against uncontrolled immigration.

The UK as part of the EU has almost no control over who can live and work in the UK. 500 million people in the EU all have the right to move to the UK and work there if they wish to. Of course it also gives UK people the right to work and live in the EU – and that was a great right for many UK citizens.

Immigration – and a lack of control over it – has become very contentious.

3. EU regulations

A decade ago most of the angst against the EU was the endless regulations coming from Brussels that were ridiculed and resented. However I think this was a minor factor when it came to the vote. The Tories in 2005 campaigned on these, and lost. While people agreed with them, they didn’t think it was as important as issue as the economy, the NHS, schools etc. For the hard core activists, this was red meat, but less important to the majority of the public.

The bigger the governing body the bigger the bureaucracy.

Winston for PM – Kiwiblog v The Standard

Tracey Watkins at Stuff: Arise Sir Winston, Prime Minister of New Zealand?

If you think that’s a stretch (and Peters has run with conspiracy theories on less), here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.

It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.

Election night 2017 might be now or never for Peters, given he will be 72 by the time the next election rolls around.

Which is why the Labour-Greens cooperation agreement announced this week might be the game changer everyone is talking about, but not in the way they think.

Because it may bring Peters’ dream within his grasp.

David Farrar quoted that and posited at Kiwiblog: Will Labour agree to make Peters PM?

Let’s say the election delivers a result of National 45%, Labour 23%, NZ First 15%, Greens 10%.

NZ First holds the balance of power. Peters demands to be made PM. National says no. A party on 45% is not going to give up the top job. Labour however has just 23%. They are desperate to be in Government.

Bang you have Winston as PM.

Anthony Robins has quoted the same from Stuff and countered Farrar: Will National agree to make Peters PM?

Let’s say the election delivers a result of National 41%, Labour 33%, Greens 15%, NZ First 11%.

NZ First holds the balance of power. Peters demands to be made PM. The Greens say no, so Labour couldn’t do it even if they wanted to (which they wouldn’t). But National are desperate to cling to power.

Key gets shipped out to Hawaii and bang you have Winston as PM.

The suggested results…

  • National 45%, Labour 23%, NZ First 15%, Greens 10%
  • National 41%, Labour 33%, Greens 15%, NZ First 11%

…are both quite feasible, but which is more likely given current polling?

National are likely to fall from their 47.04% from 2014 (they were 44.93% in 2008 and 47.31% in 2011).

Labour could be anywhere between 20% and 40% (interesting that Robins suggested 33%) but have dropped in every election this century from 41.26% (2002) to 41.10% (2005) to 33.99% (2008) to 27.28% (2011) to 25.13% in 2014.

Greens peaked at 11.06% in 2011 dropping slightly to 10.70% in 2014.

NZ First: 10.38% in 2002, 5.72% in 2005, 4.07% in 2008, 6.59% in 2011 and 8.66% in 2014.

Regardless of the actual numbers it looks likely National would require NZ First to form a government next year, and so would Labour along with the Greens.

So who’s suggested outcome is more likely, Farrar’s or Robins’?

Stable Government seems to benefit substantially from both a strong leader (Clark, Key) with a dependable same party co-leader (Cullen, English).

Anyone wanting a stable Government with medium term prospects should rule out Peters because Peters.

 

Filling the Fairfax/NZME gap

Talk of a merger between Fairfax and NZME has prompted discussion about opportunities to fill the gap left by an expected further contraction of MSM news and analysis.

The Daily Blog was launched as a left leaning alternative several years ago, and Waatea news (also driven by Martyn Bradbury) is trying to provide a new way towards a so-called 5th estate. While Waatea is useful it is not providing much new nor balanced.

Regan Cunliffe is still hoping to launch Freed. With a close association with Cameron Slater that will be seen as right wing whether it is or not.

Scoop continues to fund raise for it’s crowd funded model.

In a Scoop post Gordon Campbell on the proposed media merger:

To state the bleedingly obvious: the blogosphere does not have the resources to compensate for the reduction in competition (and the loss of journalistic resources) that will be the inevitable outcome of this merger.

Why not? Sure, online startups are lively, thriving and multiplying : there’sScoop, The Spinoff, the Daily Blog, , the Hard News stable, No Right Turn, The Standard, Pundit, the Dim-Post, Eric Crampton’s Offsetting Behaviour,Paul Buchanan’s 36th Parallel….to name just a few. Theoretically, the merger opens up a market opportunity for them. In reality, all of them will be damaged by the merger.

How come? Well for starters – and as this RNZ report explains here – and also here the blogosphere is poorly positioned to pick up the slack. It is run on a shoestring. It has few resources – or no resources at all, in most cases – to do news gathering. Its strength lies in its analysis and commentary; an essential role that the mainstream has carried out timidly, or not at all. In other words, a genuine symbiotic relationship currently exists between the blogosphere and the traditional . We rely on their news gathering and increasingly, they rely on our analysis and commentary. So… if there’s a decline in news gathering capacity, this will damage the ability of the blogosphere to carry out its valuable contribution to the public discourse.

David Farrar responded to that suggesting he was considering expanding Kiwiblog and has followed that up with Can blogs pick up the slack?

…I have been thinking about what I would do if Stuff and NZ Herald combine and go behind a paywall. The initial impact would be a hassle. Rather than quote stories from their sites, and comment on them, I’d might have to use other sites such as Radio NZ or Newshub. But they have far fewer stories.

But the other thing I can do is start reporting the news more directly. 80% of stories seem to originate for PRs. I know this as I now get all the PRs. They tend to go into a folder I check once a day or so (if I have time). It is rare I’ll do a story based on a PR, as easier to quote a media story already summarising it.

But if two million NZers get blocked from most content on the Herald and Stuff sites, they’ll look elsewhere for it. I doubt many will pay for it.

I could hire someone to write a few news stories a day on interesting NZ issues. I already have good sources for overseas news.

I could also hire someone to cover parliamentary news and try and get them accredited to the press gallery.

Hiring people costs money, so the business aspects of that would be a risk.

If DPF has a crack at it I’m sure who would do something worthwhile and aAny addition to news and analysis is a good thing, even if I can hear the spluttering from TS and TDB from down here.

How ever well DPF does it Kiwiblog News will be deemed by some to be a National/right wing/Crosby Textor mouthpiece with a Dirty Politics smear.

What’s missing from these options is a relatively neutral (politically) approach.

I’ve considered what else I could do to expand on what we’ve established here but I’m not in a position to put in much more timer or resources. It’s already equivalent to probably a half time job, albeit unpaid. It will be quite a few years before I can retire and put full time into it.

Trying crowd funding or attracting and managing volunteers also diverts time and attention.

I could only manage it if I could give someone a specific task, like reporting on Parliament, or reporting on political media releases, or reporting on political social media, or aggregating blog posts and Facebook posts, and leaving them too it.

Farrar has already tried some of that and it hasn’t really taken off. There are not many people around with the political interest, time and passion to give it heaps.

Perhaps we just have to accept that media will continue to both consolidate and fragment, and international players like Google and Facebook will increase their growing domination.

Non preferred PM

David Farrar on Facebook:

Little factoid, as I’m compiling my monthly polling newsletter.

Andrew Little’s Preferred PM rating is one half of what David Shearer’s was three years ago and one quarter of what John Key was nine years ago as Opposition Leader.

Key in 2007 – May polls had him at 32%, 45.5% and 38%, better than Helen Clark in each. A quarter is 8-11.5%.

Shearer in preferred Prime Minister polls in 2013:

  • 15.0% – One News Colmar Brunton 13 February 2013
  • 18.5% – Herald-Digipoll 21 March 2013
  • 12.4% – Herald-Digipoll 12-23 June 2013
  • 12.1% – 3 News Reid Research 9-14 July 2013
  • 13.0% – One News Colmar Brunton 27-31 July 2013

Half of 12-18% is 6-9%

David Cunliffe from September 2013 to September 2014 ranged from 8 to 18.2%

Andrew Little preferred PM at Colmar Brunton over the last year:

  • 9% – May 2015
  • 8% – July 2015
  • 10% – August/September 2015
  • 8%- October 2015
  • 9% – February 2016
  • 7% – April 2016

 

 

Bigger cots for rental homes?

David Farrar posts Little thinks increased cots don’t get passed on at Kiwiblog – yeah we all make typo mistakes, I don’t think he means that rental homes should have bigger cots for bigger babies.

But he has a point. He quotes from Newshub  Healthy Homes Bill won’t up rents – Little

Andrew Little says it’ll only be “greedy landlords” who hike rents on the back of his proposed Bill to insulate and warm homes.

But Mr Little rejected suggestions the new requirements would lead to an increase in rents, saying landlords will have plenty of time to absorb the cost.

“That in my view, is a cost landlords will be able to bear over that time, given the increasing value the property will enjoy over that period.

“This does not need to lead to hikes in rents, and only greedy landlords will be seeking to hike rents for this reason.”

Farrar responds:

This reflects the mentality of someone who has never run a business. Like many unionists Andrew seems to think that it doesn’t matter if costs go up, as owners can wear it and won’t increase their charges.

If you force landlords to spend $5,000 more on a property, then that cash needs to come from somewhere.

Farrar is right. I don’t know if Little is naive or ignorant of basic business economics, but in general it’s inevitable that increased costs will result in increased charges.

But both Little and Farrar miss a key point.

If a landlord pays to install insulation and better heating (usually a heat pump) then it’s likely they will put rent up to covered their increased costs.

So the renter may have to pay more for rent. It should only be a little more. But their reduced costs for heating and potentially for medical costs should easily compensate for that.

There may be some landlords who baulk at putting more money into their rental properties, or simply cannot afford to pile more money into their investment. So some landlords may sell up.

This is a different issue but also potentially an important one. Another landlord will buy the property and may charge higher rent. Or a home owner may buy the property and live in it, reducing rental stock. If a number of landlords quit property investment then reduced supply could also force rents up.

It’s a lot more complex than suggesting that only “greedy landlords” will put up rents.

Poll driven Government

How poll-driven is John Key and the Government? To an extent, but I think by how much is overstated. Probably substantially overstated.

It’s common to see suggestions and accusations that Key and the Government make on-the-hoof issue responses and policy decisions based on opinion polls and focus groups.

For example general insinuations like this from Heather du Plessis-Allan.

…John Key, the PM whose only firm belief is a country should be run like a policy popularity contest.

More specifically like this from Martin Thrupp:

Overall it does come back to the understanding and outlooks of the public, both because our political leaders are elected and because today’s governments are so poll-driven.

Tim Watkins in Cure for third-termitis? A dose of the polls:

The big lesson from this past year of politics is that National under John Key (and Joyce) is willing to turn on a dime and do as many u-turns as polling tells them are needed, to stay popular. More than ever in its third term, National will bend like a Len Lye sculpture to match public opinion, even if it makes them hypocrites.

Last September Bryce Edwards focussed on poll driven politics – Political roundup: A Government that listens too much:

A poll-driven government

Ex-Act leader Rodney Hide has a very thoughtful and damning critique, complaining that “Policy is now made by public feel. Every decision is open to review and reversal especially if the pushback is from middle voters” – see: It’s polls, not policies, that count in politics.

“The polls matter. They are all that matters. Middle voters by definition have no interest in political philosophy or principle. They have no interest in policy debate or argument. Their political support is fickle. Political power is decided by those who have the least interest and who are moved by the shallowest of reasons.”

On the left, there’s also an increasing awareness of just how poll-driven this government is. On The Standard, Greg Presland reflects on how the Government deals with problems: “When a crisis erupts National looks messy. It takes a few days for them to take soundings and work out what politically is the best line to take. This also describes National’s second problem. They look like they are opinion poll driven fruit loops. Everything seems to be on the table as long as it may be popular as opposed to right” – see: Twelve long months.

And then Green MP Gareth Hughes in his open speech in Parliament this year:

On Election night 2011 you first thanked your pollster.

You are our most poll-driven PM ever, yet after all these years we still don’t know what you stand for bar the jokes and three line slogans.

So is Key dictated to by the polls, or has it become a lazy diss. At other times there are claims Key is dictated to by the USA, and at other times again by world bankers. It can’t be all of them.

It came up again last week after Key had switched from claiming there was nothing to worry about and nothing to do about overseas trusts and tax avoidance to announcing an expert review of the issues being raised by the Panama papers.

Danyl at Dim-Post in Panama Papers thoughts said:

In terms of Key’s reversal from last week on whether our trusts need investigation, I wonder if National now have a formal process in which they respond to breaking stories like this.

  • Phase one. Deny everything while blaming Labour.
  • Stage two. Poll.
  • Stage three. If the polling hits some pre-arranged benchmark then reverse your position and/or announce an inquiry.

But in this case the time frame raised doubts – Key was confronted by the Panama papers in Parliament on Tuesday two weeks ago, and had recruited tax expert John Shewan  by the weekend and announced the tax review last Monday.

Polls must take time to organise, to carry out – generally polling is done over several days – and to analyse and report on.

The pollster Key thanked on election night was David Farrar. I asked him this:

There’s been the usual claims of flip flops, u turns and being poll driven over the trust and tax review.

Are you able to tell me whether Key reacts to issues that blow up with polls or focus groups that he then uses to decide how to deal with them?

It would seem to me that doing a useful sort of poll and then organising someone to run a significant review might take longer than a few days.

Can you give me any idea about whether reactive on-the-fly polling is done?

He wasn’t able to give me specific information but answered in general:

I can’t comment in detail except to say polls and focus groups take considerable time to arrange and do, and generally if you see any shift in position on an issue within say a week, it will not have had any formal research done on it.

That’s believable. It doesn’t take much thought to see that a credible poll can’t be run overnight. Online polls are done quickly at the whim of media but have no scientific basis to them and are highly unreliable. In any case private polling can’t be done that publicly without being noticed.

Farrar also commented:

 People forget that most politicians are quite adept at working out the public mood, without formal research.

Key mixes with a lot of people. His office has a large staff, a number of whom are employed to research, and a number of others are employed to monitor media and public opinion. He and his Ministers also have access to many advisers in various departments, and collectively with all their MPs have contact with many people throughout the country.

Key also seems to have a good feel for which issues can be ignored or fobbed off without cause any damage, and which issues deserve attention and in some cases changes of approach to dealing with them. This being in tune with the political winds is one reason for his and National’s continued relative popularity.

So while internal polling seems to be an important part of Key’s success, important enough to publicly thank Farrar on election night, there are many other ways for Key to gauge both public opinion and expert opinion.

And expert opinion on things like foreign trusts and tax avoidance must be more useful to a Prime Minister than public opinion, whether sensed or measured by poll or focus group.

And, while polling is very unlikely to have figured in Key’s u turn on a trust/tax inquiry, in general is keeping tabs on public opinion a bad thing?

In response to Danyl’s dim post Tinakori commented:

My god, a government that often listens to public opinion and/or waits to see if there is substance in an issue. Is that weird or what? Surely you don’t expect a government to announce an inquiry into a subject the moment it becomes a news story or an issue in Parliament. The public sector would be engaged in nothing but inquiries if that were the case. Some issues resonate and some don’t. Some issues have substance and some don’t. Some issues have legs and others don’t…….

Prime Ministers and Governments will be damned if there’s a perception they are out of touch and ignoring the public.

And they will be damned if there’s any perception they waver in the wind of public opinion.

Key has probably had a poll done that has told him to ignore any unsubstantiated claims that he is poll-driven /sarc.

Listening to public opinion is hardly going to bring down a Government because it is become too out of touch.