Have Green transport promises been costed?

The Greens have announced transport policies for the Wellington local body elections.

Newshub: Greens promise half-price buses for Wellington students

The party is promising a 25 percent discount on off-peak bus fares and a 50 percent discount for students.

Election carrots for students isn’t surprising as that’s a target demographic for the Green

They want more central city and suburban green spaces, free Wi-Fi in all transport hubs, modern electric buses within 10 years and light rail development.

Some of that sounds expensive. And how will they get more central city green spaces?

It’s part of the party’s local election campaign, launching tonight.

I wonder if they will provide details in their launch. Like, how much these policies will cost rate payers. Most students don’t pay rates directly so won’t be worried about local body rates.


Australian election

Australian national politics continues to swing all over the place with ongoing uncertainty. Yesterday’s election showed a big swing against the Government but Malcolm Turnbull claims he can still form a majority coalition government.

It appears that things will remain in limbo until the final count is known on Tuesday.

Number crunching the hung parliament prospect

Mathematically, the coalition and Labor are tied at 67 seats each. 76 seats are required to form a majority government.

There are 11 seats in doubt.  Labor is ahead in six of those and Liberals are ahead in 5. 

Which means there are five lower house crossbenchers who could decide the next government.

So where are we at?  Well we have the very real prospect of another hung parliament.   As The Age’s political editor Michael Gordon writes, “Malcolm Turnbull is facing the worse kind of win”

SMH: Australian federal election 2016: Voters walk away from Malcolm Turnbull, results on knife’s edge

Australian voters used the July 2 poll to deliver the rookie Prime Minister a stinging rebuke, with Liberal seats falling across the country and slashing government’s 90 seats in the 150 member lower house.

Malcolm Turnbull’s audacious double dissolution gamble looked to have backfired spectacularly on Saturday night as voters walked away from the first-term Coalition government in droves, raising the chances of another hung parliament and turmoil in Coalition ranks.

Mr Turnbull’s failure to secure a strong majority from voters represents a significant boost for Labor leader Bill Shorten, who campaigned strongly on the party’s traditional strengths of health and education, ran a fierce scare campaign about privatising Medicare and advanced an ambitious plan to cut negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.

At the end of a dramatic night as the government’s fortunes appeared to slide sideways, Mr Turnbull waited until after midnight to appear declaring the Coalition was set to form majority government in the next parliament, while cautioning that voters would not know the final result until postal votes were counted on Tuesday.

The apparent loser claims victory: Shorten triumphant but Turnbull confident of a majority

Labor Leader Bill Shorten declared the Coalition had “lost their mandate” and “Labor was back.”

While Malcolm Turnbull took hours to appear.  When he eventually emerged from his Point Piper mansion he looked disoriented and stressed.

Looks like another ‘stuff the lot of you’ election where no clear mandate has been given by the voters.

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.

No general election if Boris becomes leader

While the UK Labour Party self implodes in fear of an early election many believe Jeremy Corbyn cannot win the Guardian reports that if Boris Johnson takes over the leadership of the Conservative Party he would not call for an immediate general election.

That puts David Cameron in an interesting position.

No Brexit general election if Boris Johnson wins Tory leadership

Source in former London mayor’s team says he does not believe he needs a new mandate to start negotiating EU exit

Boris Johnson will not call an immediate general election if he wins the Conservative party leadership election and takes over as prime minister, it is understood.

A source in Johnson’s team said the former London mayor, who has been busy seeking the support of high-profile women in the cabinet, believed the result of last week’s referendum was sufficient for him to start negotiating an exit from the EU without seeking a new mandate.

But Johnson has to win the leadership first. He is gathering support.

MPs say Elizabeth Truss, the environment secretary, could throw her weight behind Johnson in the coming days, and that he has reached out to Amber Rudd, the energy secretary.

Rudd is also thought to be open to the idea of backing Johnson, despite clashing with him during the referendum campaign. In a televised debate, she described him as the “life and soul of the party, but he’s not the man you want driving you home at the end of the night”.

Johnson wants to demonstrate he can attract the support of remain campaigners and the liberal wing of the party, with early support from the skills minister, Nick Boles.

However there are other contenders and there could be a strong ‘not Boris’ resistance.

But a number of female MPs, including those passionate about the party’s modernising agenda, have revealed they plan to back Theresa May’s campaign.

One politician described May, the home secretary and remain supporter, as someone with the “work ethic of Thatcher” and said she was one of the few people with enough authority to carry the country into Brexit negotiations. Another said they never thought they would be taking her side, but were desperate to block a “Johnson coronation”.

There hasn’t been long for contenders to consider their chances and round up support – less than a week.

The leadership contest, which closes for nominations on Thursday, has triggered a frantic atmosphere, with MPs rushing around trying to secure the support of colleagues for their preferred candidate. May supporters are each trying to speak to a number of designated MPs in a satellite operation.

Several cabinet ministers are insisting they have still to make up their mind, with some saying they will seek meetings with candidates before deciding.

Rumours swirling around Westminster suggest Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister who campaigned to leave the EU, could be a key figure who might herself run, but is also being courted by various candidates including May.

One list appeared to suggest the home secretary had the edge with numbers, followed by Johnson, but also revealed support for both Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, who is considering her position, and Crabb.

Former defence secretary Liam Fox has already confirmed himself as a candidate, while Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is also canvassing support.

The chancellor, George Osborne, ruled himself out, saying it was clear he could not provide the unity the party needed.

The Conservative aim is to have a new Prime Minister by 2 September. That’s quite a while to have the leadership of the country in limbo in one of the most difficult times for the UK in the last half century.

Whoever ends up in No 10 will be faced with the task of extracting the UK from the EU, after Cameron said he would not initiate the process before handing over the reins, despite pressure from Brussels for a swift departure.

Extracting the UK from the EU will be the easy part. What happens after that will be a huge challenge for whoever becomes the new Prime Minister and whichever party wins an election that may or may not be held.

Someone on Twitter yesterday said that the UK was like a dog that had been barking at passing cars for a years and had finally caught hold of a bumper bar – and has no idea what to do with it.

Similar US polls, different headlines

Two presidential polls from the US with similar margins between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump but quite different headlines.

RNZ reports on a Reuters/IPSOS poll (and oddly doesn’t give the actual percentages):

Trump gains on Clinton after Orlando shooting

Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump in the US presidential race has narrowed since late last week, according to the results of the first Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted since the Orlando shooting rampage on Sunday.

The poll, conducted from Friday to Tuesday, showed Mrs Clinton with an 11.6-point lead over Mr Trump, down from the 13-point lead she had in the previous five days.

A change of 1.4% is statistically barely significant.

The online poll included 1063 likely voters and had a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of about 3.5 percentage points.

So the ‘narrowing’ is fairly meaningless. The margin of 11.6%  remains a healthy lead for Clinton.

CNN reports a similar margin quite differently.

Poll: Clinton leads Trump by double digits

Hillary Clinton has a 12-point lead over Donald Trump nationally, a new Bloomberg Politics poll shows.

Clinton has 49% support to Trump’s 37%, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 9%, according to the poll of 750 likely voters. The poll was conducted Friday through Monday and released Tuesday evening, meaning many of those polled were surveyed before the Orlando terrorist attack.

So a near identical margin deemed to have been relatively uninfluenced by the Orlando shootings.

It’s a much larger lead than Clinton held in national polls conducted in May and early June, prior to Trump’s accusation that the federal judge in the Trump University lawsuit is biased because his parents were born in Mexico and Trump is advocating a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

So Clinton’s lead has increased recently.

Particularly damaging for Trump: 55% of those surveyed said they would never vote for him, compared to 43% who said they’d never back Clinton.

Getting the last 5-10% he needs is going to be challenging for Trump.

The poll also asked voters to what degree recent Trump and Clinton controversies “bother” them.

Things that bothered voters about Trump:

  • 55% were ‘very bothered’ by Trump’sremarks
  • 72% were bothered by Trump’s accusation that the federal judge in the Trump University lawsuit is biased because his parents were born in Mexico
  • 71% say the Trump University lawsuits bother them
  • 67% said they’re bothered that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns
  • 81% are bothered by his attacks on women such as Heidi Cruz and Carly Fiorina
  • 66% said they are bothered by his attacks on Mexicans as “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists” and and his plans to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants
  • 66%, say they’re bothered by his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States

There’s a number of heavy negatives for Trump.

Clinton has her problems too.

  • 70% said they’re bothered by her use of a private email server
  • 73% said her paid speeches to Wall Street banks bother them
  • 72% say the Clinton Foundation’s acceptance of foreign countries’ donations during her tenure as secretary of state bothers them

It’s not hard to see why the left prefer Sanders to Clinton.

“Clinton has a number of advantages in this poll, in addition to her lead,” pollster J. Ann Selzer, who ran the poll, told Bloomberg. “Her supporters are more enthusiastic than Trump’s and more voters overall see her becoming a more appealing candidate than say that for Trump.”

So that looks like a clear advantage to Clinton at this stage but the number and degree of negatives could prove damaging to either candidate.

This presidential election looks like the least worst candidate may end up not losing.

UK local elections

Missy has a brief round up of yesterday’s  UK elections:

  1. Scotland is the most interesting, Labour got a drubbing, and are for the first time the third party, and the Conservatives are now the leading opposition party. Most notable however is that the SNP did not win an outright majority (Scotland has Proportional Representation), the SNP have ruled out a formal coalition so will now rule as a minority Government. What this means is the Nicola Sturgeon’s assertion (despite everything promised 2 years ago), that Scotland will have a second independence referendum, is pretty much scuttled. She will not have the majority required to pass anything in parliament to force a referendum.
  2. Sadiq Khan is the new mayor of London.
  3. Despite the predictions, and a drubbing in Scotland, Labour did not do as badly as expected, but have still lost a number of seats. What may save Corbyn is that Khan won the London Mayoralty.

I haven’t read all of the results or analysis, but that seems to be the main highlights. I note today that a member of the shadow cabinet has said that voters do not see Labour as a credible party under Corbyn. Corbyn, however, is determined to hang on.

The Telegraph: UK local elections 2016: Labour are ‘not credible’ under Jeremy Corbyn says shadow minister – but he refuses to resign

Guardian: UK elections: Sadiq Khan ‘has won’ London mayoral race – live updates

UPDATE: Also from Missy:

Just looking at TS post on the UK elections, and there is of course the usual spin on how it isn’t that bad for Labour as predicted (of course the pollsters in the UK have shown that they really aren’t that great), but I did find this comment interesting from Whatever Next:

“Yep, Cameron has managed to alienate Scotland after 400 years of unity, nice work Dave, whataguy”

He seems to think that Cameron has alienated Scotland, yet the Conservatives have improved their representation in Scotland, and the SNP has decreased their vote and seats, surely if Cameron had alienated Scotland the Conservative vote would be even lower, and the SNP vote would have been higher to at least match – if not surpass – the record number of seats of 2011? Am I missing something with this guy – or is he just delusional?

Online voting trial ruled out

A planned trial of online voting in this year’s local body elections has been dumped.

Eight councils had been interested in trying online voting but Internal Affairs Minister Louise Upston has kicked it for touch, saying there is not enough time. It has been considered for years so I don’t know how time has now become a factor.

NZ Herald: Online voting not on the cards this year

The Government has pulled the pin on a trial of online voting in this year’s local body elections, saying it could not guarantee the security of the system in time.

Internal Affairs Minister Louise Upston announced the plan for some councils to trial online voting would not go ahead because time was running out for councils to prove voting system addressed concerns about security and vote integrity.

“Due to timing restrictions, preparations for the proposed trial have not yet met the legislative requirements and cannot guarantee public confidence in the election results.” She said security testing was planned but had not yet taken place. “Without seeing the results of testing we cannot be confident the systems are secure enough and the trial could not be authorised.”

Eight councils were interested in trialling online voting — Selwyn, Wellington, Porirua, Masterton, Rotorua, Matamata-Piako, Palmerston North and Whanganui.

Ms Upston said those councils which had signed up for the trial would be disappointed. However, the time pressures involved would increase the risks of any trial. “Maintaining public confidence and understanding of local electoral processes is more important than trialling online voting this year.”

The Government was open to looking a proposals for online voting in the future.

I doubt if it would be trialled in a General Election, so that’s another three years to wait until the next local body elections, unless it is tried in a referendum.

The Government first agreed to allow councils to trial online voting in December 2014 after a working party found online voting was feasible. It set out requirements to councils for a trial in November last year. That included full testing of the system, including testing to ensure votes could not be interfered with as well as an independent review. That work was to be done by June, but Ms Upston said it was clear that could not happen.

It’s difficult getting public interest in local body elections and online voting was seen as a way of improving that.

Online voting sounds good in theory but the practicalities are more of a problem.

Labour stuck between a Green rock and an NZ First hard place

The Labour Party is foundering in election and poll support and floundering between the Green Party and NZ First.

Up until and including the 2014 election Labour went it alone, hoping to get a high enough vote to cobble together a coalition.

Since then they have sent out signals that they have given up trying to be a major party in a head to head contest with National and instead hope to win back power with the support of both the greens and NZ First.

This in itself is a major shift in status.

Following their three election wins under Helen Clark’s leadership Labour formed coalitions with Alliance, Progressives, NZ First and United Future.

Greens were excluded, notably in 2005 when Labour chose to snub them to get Winston Peters’ support.

But now, after a poor 2014 election getting only 27% and continuing with similar levels of support in polls Labour has been forced into looking for pre-election alliances to try and convince voters they are a credible government-in-waiting.

Labour and Greens have shown some signs of working together and have made noises about forging some joint policy positions.

But Labour probably needs something like 40% to be able to succeed with only the Greens. Polls put the Greens mostly between 10% and 15% but they tend to rise when Labour recedes.

A Labour-Green government doesn’t look likely. And even if the two parties jointly looked like getting enough support there seems to be electoral resistance to a government

And Labour seems to accept they will have to depend on the support of NZ First as well as Greens if they are to form the next government.

But it’s well known that Peters doesn’t particularity like the Greens, and is unlikely to want to play third fiddle to Labour and the Greens in a coalition.

NZ First support is rising. If they beat the Greens in next year’s election Winston would be second fiddle, but he still may resist playing a similar tune to the Greens.

Another problem is that while the Greens are keen to present themselves alongside Labour as a joint alternative to National Winston has made it clear he won’t play along.

Stuff reports: Winston Peters says no chance of joint policy with Labour, despite Andrew Little’s claims

NZ First leader Winston Peters doubts it was “deliberate” but says Labour leader Andrew Little is wrong to say there are plans for the two parties to jointly campaign on policy.

Earlier on Sunday Little said he was talking with both the Greens and NZ First, separately, about issues where there is common ground that they could campaign on ahead of next year’s general election.

He said the public would know “well in time for next year’s election” where all three parties line-up and where there are differences.

“In terms of specific joint policy announcements, we’re certainly not there yet, but between now and the next election I certainly wouldn’t rule out (joint policy) with either of those parties.”

But Peters says his position not to discuss potential coalition governments, or joint policy, hasn’t changed in 23 years and he “won’t depart from that now”.

“We row our own boat and we formulate our own policy.”

One thing Peters has remained staunch about is not giving any indication which way NZ First might swing in coalition negotiations.

National haven’t needed to consider NZ First as an option after each of the last three elections. It is more likely they may need NZ First to successfully form a fourth term government.

Peters knows this well and will want to keep his options open right up to next year’s election.

So Labour can’t campaign as a Labour-Green-NZ First alternative.

Their difficulties don’t end there.

They are left trying to present a joint Labour-Green alternative, and have said they will offer joint policies.

But this pulls Labour left and towards the Greens, which will make them less attractive to both voters as a whole and to NZ First.

I very much doubt that Peters will want to be seen as a tack on to Labour-Greens.

So if Labour are to get a chance to form the next government they may have to throw out all their joint policies developed with the Greens in order to make any headway with NZ First.

Greens are determined to finally get into a meaningful position in government and won’t be happy with that at all.

On top of this Peters seems to look with disdain at party leaders who have barely been in Parliament for five minutes – and both Andrew little and James Shaw have only become party leaders this term.

Metiria Turei has been around for longer, first getting in to Parliament via the Green list in 2002 and becoming co-leader in 2009, but I haven’t seen any sign of a rapport between Peters and a former candidate for the McGillicuddy Serious or Legalise Cannabis parties.

Peters rightfully sees himself as an elder statesman but may think that that should equate to leading a coalition – and leading the country.

Little has a huge challenge ahead of him to try and negotiate this political minefield and present himself and Labour as a credible alternative.

It looks like Labour are caught between a Green rock and a NZ First hard place.

Teapot tapes and media collusion in politics

In The Big Read:David Fisher has written about Teapot tape – the real story of 11-11-11, which details what happened, and of particular interest is the herald’s involvement and how they saw what unfolded.

From Fisher’s account it’s not hard to see how Key and his team were highly suspicious of how and why the recording was made. It is now officially accepted by Key that the recording was accidental, which is plausible in the context of a frenzied media scrum and the use of new technology used by a video novice.

It raises one important question in particular about how TV3 and Winston Peters appear to have worked together in an election campaign that may have had a significant impact on the election result.

A few points of note:

In a piece by political reporter Isaac Davison, which described the event as “the most eagerly awaited conversation of the election”, Mr Banks said he wasn’t bothered about any recording because he and Mr Key discussed “pretty bland stuff”.

It may have been “the most eagerly awaited conversation of the election” for journalists going by the circus they made of it (and helped make happen through public pressure on Key) but did the people of New Zealand really care about it?

I thought the whole thing was trivial and farcical and a blot on media and politics.

It was a staged meeting which was equal parts media and political circus. The meeting was the Prime Minister’s signal to his National Party supporters in the electorate that they were free to vote for Mr Banks as the local MP.

If enough people did so – and they did – it would secure a coalition partner for the National Party and assist in forming a government.

I give Epsom voters a lot more credit for thinking for themselves without needing manic media signalling. After all they has already elected Rodney Hide in the two previous elections. Key wisely avoided a repeat in 2014 and David Seymour still managed to get elected without the same media madness.

It’s bizarre, looking at the footage and photographs now, that no one noticed Ambrose’s little black bag with its recording device inside on the table next to the politicians.

Perhaps it is a bit bizarre but not really surprising considering the frenzied focus on what was little more than a nod and a wink, except for the mad scramble for media headlines.

There was also disbelief at the claims it was a “News of the World-style” operation. I – and others involved in the story – were astonished at the claim, disbelieving and simply speechless at having actions and motives ascribed which bore no resemblance to what happened.

It’s not as if the media are ever guilty ascribing actions and motives that bear little resemblance to what happens.

Ambrose, though, was deeply upset. He became the focus of the attention that followed after Mr Key made a police complaint.

Not surprising he was upset, but it also shouldn’t be surprising that Key was also very upset – although the police complaint wasn’t a smart reaction.

The issue didn’t go away, either, after he gave a copy to TV3 and it started reporting on the content of the conversation, albeit via claims being made by NZ First leader Winston Peters.

I think this is an aspect of the story that should get much more scrutiny.

Did TV3 feed Peters content of the recording?

They gave Peters’ election meetings special attention, I remember one in particular in Invercargill that TV3 promoted in advance and then covered.

It appeared to be deliberate media-political collusion and may have had a significant impact on NZ First getting back into Parliament. They got a late surge to get them over the 5% threshold, partly at least thanks to publicity given to Peters by TV3.

The circus over the cup of tea meeting was a headline hinting circus with many media involved. It is disturbing to see how much they try to influence election outcomes.

As Barry Soper says in A real storm in a tea cup:

But it was the media melee and the fact that a recording device was left on the cafe table that got all the publicity, derailing the campaign for at least a week.

It was the media that derailed the campaign in 2011. I think there’s no doubt they changed the outcome of the election so some extent.

When media collude with politicians to give them a campaign advantage this raises serious questions about how our media can influence elections in order to create headlines for themselves.

Who will challenge media on how they manipulate politics for their own purposes? It’s not likely they will call themselves on it.

Trumped up violence

Donald Trump has successfully tapped into widespread anger at the political establishment in the US.

But he has also wound up the anger levels, and that is breaking out into violence. Trump has appeared to have encouraged violence.

A supporter punched a protester last week, and it’s being reported that Trump is going to help fund the attacker’s legal defence – Trump looking into paying legal fees for man who allegedly sucker-punched protester.

Trump’s campaign may now be reaping what he has sowed. Can he put out the flames? Or is he happy to keeping pouring petrol on his fiery campaign?

Washington Post: Trump has lit a fire. Can it be contained?

An already ugly presidential campaign has descended to a new level — one where the question is no longer whether Donald Trump can be stopped on his march to the Republican presidential nomination, but whether it is possible to contain what he has unleashed across the country.

Violence at Trump’s rallies has escalated sharply, and the reality-show quality of his campaign has taken a more ominous turn in the past few days.

The racially tinged anger that has both fueled Trump’s political rise and stoked the opposition to it has turned into a force unto itself.

But Trump should not be viewed in isolation or as the product of a single election, President Obama said Saturday at a fundraiser in Dallas.

Obama said those who “feed suspicion about immigrants and Muslims and poor people, and people who aren’t like ‘us,’ and say that the reason that America is in decline is because of ‘those’ people. That didn’t just happen last week. That narrative has been promoted now for years.”

This year’s presidential campaign, however, seems to have fallen into a bottomless spiral.

Trump’s Republican opponents are starting to speak up about the violence.

“I think it is also true that any campaign, responsibility begins and ends at the top,” Cruz said.

“Look at the rhetoric of the front-runner in the presidential campaign,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Saturday. “This is a man who at rallies has told his supporters to basically beat up the people who are in the crowd and he’ll pay their legal fees. Someone who’s basically encouraged the people in the audience to rough up anyone who stands up and says something he doesn’t like.

Trump blames others.

“My people are nice,” Trump said at his rally in Dayton. “Thousands and thousands of people, they caused no problem. They were taunted, they were harassed by these other people. These other people, by the way, some represent Bernie, our communist. . . . He should really get up and say to his people: ‘Stop. Stop.’ ”

No sign of Trump saying “Stop”.

Blaming others for what you yourself are doing is an old political strategy, but it may be difficult for Trump to look credible beyond his baying crowds.

Sanders retorted in a statement issued by his campaign: “As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organize the protests.”

“What caused the protests at Trump’s rally is a candidate that has promoted hatred and division against Latinos, Muslims, women, and people with disabilities, and his birther attacks against the legitimacy of President Obama,” Sanders added, referring to Trump’s false assertions that Obama was born in Africa and was therefore disqualified to be president.

Trump has sowed, he had benefited from raising anger levels, but can he manage the reaping? Or will it grow more out of control?

Political morals in the US have gone from low to plummet.


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