Small party leaders’ debate

Five smaller party leaders had a debate on TV1 last night. It was for just an hour (the multiple Ardern v Collins debates are for one and a half hours) and with numerous advertising breaks there was probably just forty minutes for the five to try to swing some votes their way.

David Seymour – ACT Party (2017 election 0.5%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 7, 6.3, 8, 8)

Seymour is now a practiced campaigner and usually spoke well. A funny moment was when he exclaimed that Peters )”said I am out of date”. While some of his policies probably be widely supported they will resonate with enough to have get votes. He has done well to lift ACT to current levels.

James Shaw – Green Party (2017 6.3%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 6, 6.5, 7, 6)

This debate was Shaw’s turn (Marama Davidson did the Nation debate) and he should have pleased Green supporters. He spoke clearly and sensibly to more than the Green constituency), and even pulled the debate back on topic. A good performance that should help Green chances.

Winston Peters – NZ First (2017 7.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 2.4, 1.9, 1.4, 2)

Peters looked out of sorts and out of place – not so much fish out of water but more like a crocodile in a pond of the past. He mentioned last century much more than what he do if re-elected. He tried to play as an underdog, perhaps hoping people will forget his top dog performance in installing the Labour-led government along with pork barrel policy funds that seem to have fizzled. He again claimed nonsensically that everyone in the party had been completely exonerated by the SFO prosecution of NZ First Foundation.

Peters has swung back to campaigning as ‘we the government have done well” rather than attacking Labour and saying he would restrict them (again), but didn’t look really that energised or optimistic, more aged, jaded and fading.

John Tamihere – Maori Party (2017 1.2%, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.9, 1.5, 0.8, <1)

Made some good points about education for Maori but waffled fairly aimlessly too much, or maybe i am just not his target market. Seems resigned to not getting into Parliament via the list, with all his party hopes on winning one or two electorates (reports are they are close in polls in at least one).

Jamie-Lee Ross – Advance NZ (2017 didn’t stand, Sep-Oct 2020 polls 0.8 NR, 0.6, 1)

Interesting that he fronted up, presumably due to his political experience, but he is tainted goods and is absence the charisma of Billy Te Kahika. Tried when he was given the opportunity to speak but won’t have impressed many, probably not even supporters of his composite party. Claimed that Covid was similar to the flu, that line has been discredited many times. Looks like a futile exercise with Advance NZ not rising above one in polls despite significant social media support.

So with just Shaw and Seymour looking good this fits with the likely outcome of a Labour, Green, Act and National parliament, with the Maori Party a long shot for an electorate seat or two.

Up until the debate last night over half a million people will have already voted. It’s hard to understand why this debate was held so late in the campaign. It looks like most people who might vote are already decided.

Debate reactions

There seems to be fairly consistent reactions to last nights leaders’ debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins.

1 News had done their best to talk the debate up as a much anticipated big event but it fell flat.

Collins did a bit better then expected and a bit better than Ardern but not enough to lift National much if at all from poor polls, 31% in the latest 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll.

Ardern was clearly below her best, she looked tired, and she chose to stick to wordy prepared talking points, and she failed to present her strength, an empathy with ordinary people. Too much political and bureaucratic jargon. But she was ok and didn’t do badly enough to change many if any minds.

John Campbell was poor. He tried to take the stage and speak for the leaders too often. He has been to long doing chat style TV shows where he gets to say what he likes.

Some fairly consistent responses from journalists:

Mark Jennings (Newsroom): The leaders’ debate: An unmemorable watch

The first leaders debate was expected to fire some life into a so far ho hum campaign. But, as Mark Jennings writes the Jacinda, Judith and John show fell flat.

To be fair to Collins, she was the one who gave it a go and scored a few hits.

Ardern’s lack of energy was unusual. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that she was in the same building 12 hours earlier. Ardern had appeared on the breakfast show at 7am which means she was probably up at 5.30. Add in a campaign day and it’s hard to peak for a 90-minute debate that kicks off at 7pm.

The group of journalists watching in the Atrium all felt the debate had been underwhelming.

RNZ’s political editor, Jane Patterson: “I think it was one of the flattest debates I’ve seen. Jacinda had no energy…she is tired.”

The Spinoff editor, Toby Manhire: “Everyone is just knackered, just knackered. I think Collins won but not in a way that will move the dial”

Politik’s Richard Harman: “I thought this debate might produce a focus but there was nothing there. People expect Jacinda to be so good all the time – she can do better than she did tonight.”

Steve Braunias, writing for The Guardian: “I thought Collins did well but she is a funny old bird.”

Sam Sacdeva (Newsroom): Collins edges Ardern, but Labour’s formidable lead remains

There were no knockout blows in the first leaders’ debate of the 2020 election, and while Judith Collins may have just had the better of Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s continuing strength in the polls gives the Prime Minister some breathing space.

Neither Campbell, Ardern nor Collins brought their A-game, understandably so given the general sense of fatigue that has shrouded this odd campaign.

The National leader probably edged the encounter, in part thanks to the lower bar that attaches to being the underdog and in part to a spikiness that contrasted favourably with the passivity on show from the Prime Minister.

But it is hard to see many, if any, votes moving between the two major parties as a result of the muddled proceedings – and the minor parties may yet have some hope of peeling some support away in the coming weeks.

The National leader spent more and more time on the front foot, cutting into Ardern’s answers and audibly sharing her displeasure when she felt the Prime Minister had dodged a question or given a poor response.

That did not mean she was perfect, far from it. Collins’ answers to some questions were vague in the extreme – she said National would create jobs by putting a greater emphasis on the tech sector, but pressed by Campbell on how exactly that would occur, then claimed the jobs were already there.

But overall, she offered up a level of aggression commensurate with her party’s position in the polls without tipping over into needless hostility.

In contrast, Ardern seemed strangely defensive, even accounting for her role as the incumbent.

Ardern has largely delegated the rough and tumble of politics on the campaign trail to senior ministers like Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Megan Woods who are more than willing to pick up the cudgel.

But they cannot tag in for her on the debate stage, and while she may have calculated she was better off not allowing Collins to drag her into a bare-knuckle brawl, she seemed disengaged as a result.

When Ardern did press the case for Labour’s re-election, it felt somewhat abstract.

Luke Malpass (Stuff): Leaders’ election debate verdict: Jacinda Ardern lost, but Judith Collins didn’t win it

Jacinda Ardern lost the first leaders’ debate, but Judith Collins didn’t win it.

Collins proved her worth to National tonight: it is unlikely she lost any votes.

Ardern, for her part, a now hardened political professional, seemed determined to avoid creating a viral Internet meme out of the night. If that were the intent, she achieved it.

Collins came out with nothing to lose: swinging, heckling, interrupting and taking the fight to the Labour leader. In response, Ardern largely stuck to her talking points, emoted and generally reflected Labour’s risk-averse campaign.

The tactic from Collins seems to try to get under Ardern’s skin, while Ardern seemed to be trying to be relentlessly optimistic and nice – presumably to draw a contrast between the two. She consistently hewed back to Labour talking points.

Both leaders fell back to entrenched positions and didn’t answer a lot of questions.

This is more of a risk for Ardern, whose trademark is authenticity. She appeared both flat and unusually unenthusiastic. 

The Spinoff – Leaders’ debate #1, election 2020: the verdicts

Toby Manhire: Everyone is knackered

Given that most of the country, most of the Covid-battered world, is basically just knackered, is it any surprise that tonight’s opening debate felt a bit knackered, too?

Things never quite fired up. So the when Campbell, who did a good job at keeping things rolling, at one point observed, “You sound like you’re both on auto-pilot,” he was mostly right, except that would have required leaving the ground.

That sums up the whole election campaign to date.

Trish Sherson: Collins was pitch perfect

Morgan Godfery: Ardern is impossible to beat

It’s not worth quoting either of them.

Ben Thomas: Ardern was strangely hesitant

Ardern was strangely hesitant. National leader Judith Collins started off slowly, with the fixed smile she’s worn for much of the campaign. But she soon warmed to the task, and seemed to effectively niggle and provoke Ardern with more of her traditional toughness.

Collins won, as underdogs often do in the first debate of a campaign, but faces a long road ahead.

Justin Giovannetti: Who’d have been swayed?

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern found herself often on the defensive, forced to explain why her party hadn’t lived up to the promises it made three years ago. Her answers were often technocratic and lacked warmth. Someone who has been called one of world’s best communicators struggled to explain her vision.

National’s Judith Collins was the better debater and certainly the better interrupter. Going in tonight her party has been sliding in the polls. Voters who have dismissed Collins were introduced to someone who spoke plainly and clearly.

Your take on the debate might come from where you watched it. If you were in the comfort of a warm home you own and worried about losing your job, Collins may have spoken to you. If you were in a rental apartment you can barely afford, losing a battle with mould, she probably left you seething.

Madeleine Chapman: Mālō, Judith

Debates are where many, many words are said and only the zingers are remembered. Unfortunately tonight’s debate was, quite frankly, quite boring. The only line from Ardern that stuck with me was “John, if I may” and “if I may, John”.

And from Collins, “I’ll tell you what, John” and “John, I’ll tell you what”. In a huge loss for anyone under the age of old, both leaders argued about who could commit the hardest to not taxing property. In my mind, we all lost tonight. 

I don’t think we lost anything. We just didn’t win anything, nor did we gain much insight into Labour and National policies.

This was just the first of four leaders debates. Can we be bothered watching any more?

Ages of leaders

John Key was 47 when he became Prime Minister in 2008, and resigned when he was 55. Bill English is the same age as Key, now 56.

Ages of current leaders:

  • Jacinda Ardern (Labour) Prime Minister – 37
  • Kelvin Davis (Labour Deputy Leader) – 51 in two days
  • Simon Bridges (National Leader) Leader of the Opposition – 41
  • Paula Bennett (National Deputy Leader) – 48
  • James Shaw (Green Leader) – 44
  • Julie Anne Genter (Greens) – 38, or Marama Davidson (Greens) 44
  • David Seymour (ACT Leader) – 34
  • Fletcher Tabuteau (NZ First Deputy Leader) – 47

And there is one notable difference:

  • Winston Peters (NZ First Leader) Deputy Prime Minister – 72

UPDATE: I have been sent this information by email.


The post today ‘Ages of leaders’ made me think of the changed face and faces of Parliament over the years.

I can’t add two photos which show that quite dramatically so send you this contrast 1957 and 2017, a tidy 60 years.

New-govt-2017.jpg

In the age stakes Winston Peters would have been a ‘middle of the road’ face in 1957.

CEO’s rate ministers and party leaders

In the NZH ‘mood of the boardroom election survey’ CEO’s rate the performance of ministers and party leaders.

On a 1-5 scale where 1 = not impressive and 5 = very impressive:

  • Prime Minister Bill English: 4.13
  • Finance Minister Steven Joyce: 3.71
  • Education Minister Nikki Kaye: 3.62
  • Minister of Justice Amy Adams: 3.58
  • Paula Bennett: 3.56
  • Chris Finlayson: 3.49
  • Simon Bridges: 3.18
  • Anne Tolley: 3.11
  • Todd McClay: 3.05

I can’t find a rating for Jacinda Ardern. Odd.

Other party leaders:

  • David Seymour (ACT): 2.85
  • Winston Peters (NZ First): 2.76

Winston won’t like that.

The other leaders: James Shaw (Greens), Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox (Maori Party), Gareth Morgan (The Opportunities Party) and Peter Dunne (United Future, who bowed out before the survey was completed) all rated at less than 2.5/5.

From A strong mood for change among business leaders

 

 

Leaders debate #2

Tonight Jacinda Ardern and Bill English have their second leaders debate of the campaign.

This one is being run by Patrick Gower and Newshub, and is being broadcast at 8:30 pm, and will also be live streamed:

Livestream: Newshub Leaders Debate

The first debate last Thursday seemed like a feeler for both of them. There could be more tactics used tonight.


First segment done – a lot feistier this time, more challenging of each other’s policies. Also too much rehearsed recital from both but it’s hard to limit that.

Most talked about line – when English was asked what his best attribute was for being Prime Minister, excluding experience, given he lost badly in 2002.  “I got back up again.”

The clapping and cheering interruptions are annoying, stopping the flow.

Certainly more combative this time.

The main difference overall is ploddy old actuals versus vague aspiration and vision.

First debate – Ardern v English

 

—The first leaders’ debate in the 2017 campaign will be live on TV1 tonight at 7 pm, and will also be on Newstalk ZB.

It was a much anticipated test of both Jacinda Ardern and Bill English, and interest has just been ramped up after a Colmar Brunton poll has Labour just tipping National off top spot, 43-41, still margin of error territory but a major vote of confidence for Ardern..

Labour have all the momentum at the moment. English will have a big task to stop it and turn it around. Ardern is likely to be cut some slack in her first big debate.


The first round started fairly even but when English warmed up he got the upper hand on tax, but Ardern is hanging in there.

Round two on housing and employment English got lost and Ardern finished more strongly.

And so it went on.

Ardern was well prepared and well versed, often passionate, but tending towards a bit airy fairy. Overall a good performance, especially first up.

English wasn’t always fluent. He knew his topics well but got into a bit much depth and detail at times. Overall ok but he didn’t stand out as he probably needed to do to stem the bleeding.

There were a few strengths and weaknesses from both but fairly minor overall.

No obvious bad mistakes or major hits. No winner or loser, that’s just the first round.

They both conducted themselves cordially and there were no personal attacks or antagonism – if this respectful approach to politics spreads our democracy will be much the better for it.

So the campaign will continue with uncertainty about the outcome of the election.


The most common reaction on Twitter was how refreshing it was to see a civil debate, with both Ardern (especially) and English contributing.

I think this is a quote from English afterwards:

‘The whole atmosphere was quite civil, people don’t want low level politics’

In last night’s finance debate the audience made it clear they weren’t interested it being hijacked by the Peters super saga, they wanted a debate on economic issuees.

Why are so many party leaders resigning?

I don’t whether there are comparable times in the past, I can’t remember any, but we seem to have had a remarkably high turnover of party leaders this term.

Tracey Watkins: Politically Correct: The blitzkrieg campaign continues

Why are so many party leaders resigning?

Good question. Dunne’s departure leaves just Winston Peters and the Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell standing from the 2014 election. In this term of Parliament National, ACT, Labour, the Greens and ACT have all had a change of leader.

Those party leaders who have stepped down this term:

  • David Cunliffe resigned as Labour leader on 27 September 2014, and left Parliament in April 2017.
  • Jamie Whyte stepped down as ACT leader in October 2014 after failing to get into Parliament.
  • Russel Norman announced he would stand down as Green co-leader in January 2015, and resigned from Parliament in October 2015.
  • John Key stepped down as National leader and Prime Minister in December 2016 and left Parliament in April 2017.
  • Andrew Little stepped down as Labour leader on 1 August 2017. He remains on Labour’s list for this election.
  • Metiria Turei resigned as Green co-leader on 9 August 2017, and also withdrew from the party list. She is still standing in the Te Tai Tonga electorate but her chances of returning to Parliament look slim.
  • Peter Dunne announced on 21 August 2017 he would not stand in the September election, retiring as a 33 year MP and United Future leader.

Leaders of five parliamentary parties have had leaders step down during this term. In addition:

  • Marama Fox became co-leader of the Maori Party in October 2014 after she became an MP through the party list.
  • Laila Harre stepped down as leader of the Internet Party in December 2014.
  • Colin Craig stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party in June 2015.

The remaining party leaders:

  • Winston Peters (NZ First)
  • Hone Harawira (Mana Party)

NZ First changed deputy leaders during the term, as did National and Labour.

This is a massive turnover of leadership. Why?

Dunne says he has not seen a more turbulent period in New Zealand politics since the Muldoon years. It all adds up to a volatile election and a sense that change is in the air.

And as Dunne also says: “No-one wants to outstay their welcome”.

Norman, Key and Dunne decided it was time to end their political careers.

Little and Turei were more pressured by circumstances.

And this may not be the end of leader churn.

If National lose the election it’s hard to see Bill English staying on.

If Hone Harawira loses again this election his political career must be just about over.

Winston Peters must be getting close to the stage of retiring, whether NZ First get into government or not.

This to an extent is coincidence of timing. Last term Labour changed leader twice, and ACT got a new leader, but otherwise parties were relatively stable.

 

Cunliffe versus Key – debate #3

Another debate, another round of media obsessed with declaring winners and losers, another reliance on ‘polling’ that is so unscientific it should be eliminated as potentially misleading.

The debate revealed little other than more practiced lines.

Both Key and Cunliffe sounded competent enough at media presentation but both talked over their opponent and squabbled childishly too much.

There was not much indication of how a National led or Labour led Government might look.

The quality of the respective party candidates was totally absent from consideration.

How potential coalitions might look and might work was not examined at all. One party’s policies matter but what might be negotiated post-election is also critical.

What are the chances ACT push National into bringing forward their proposed tax cuts to early in the next term rather than in the third year?

Would Greens push Labour to increase the top tax rate to 38%? The minimum wage to $18?

What Cabinet position might Winston Peters negotiate? Russel Norman? Colin Craig?

I have no more idea now than before any of the three debates Cunliffe and Key have had so far.

I’m no closer to deciding who to vote for.

I doubt many people will have changed their minds after watching last night’s debates.

Pundit perceptions can be quite different to normally how disinterested voters see things.

John Campbell did a reasonable job most but struggled to control the squabbling for superiority (or sneerority)  at times. He closed the debate with a bizarre speech that tried to liken voting in New Zealand in 2014 with standing in front of a tank in China in 1989.

The fourth debate on Sunday is likely to reveal nothing other than more practiced pontificating.

Craig gets in on The Nation debate

TV3 has backed down to legal pressure from the Conservative Party and has agreed to include Colin Craig in the small party leaders’ debate on The Nation tomorrow.

TV3 to include Colin Craig in minor party leaders’ debate

TV3 has opted to include Colin Craig in the minor leaders debate, rather than hold no debate at all.

The Conservative Party leader took his case to the High Court, and has this afternoon been granted an interim injunction against the media organisation.

At court, TV3 initially opted to go ahead with no debate, rather be forced to include the politician.

But it’s now changed its mind, and Mr Craig will join tomorrow’s debate.

Good on Craig for pushing for the right to be included. Too often media organisations get away with arranging what suits them rather than what is best for fair democracy.

Brendan Horan is now trying to push for inclusion as well.

@TheNationTV3 given that I’m a current MP and the leader of the NZIC I hope to be there too.

I’m a leader of a political party that was represented in Parliament.

He might have left his claim a bit late.

lprent analyses Labour leadership

I’ve had the occasional joust with lprent at The Standard, and have criticised some of his lengthy self absorbed lectures. I have also severely criticised his “moderating” at The Standard and his active support of a very uneven playing field.

But he has a bit of experience in politics, and occasionally he has something to say that’s not about programming and is interesting.

Yesterday he posted his views and voting decision on Labour’s leadership. There was some very good analysis that I mostly agree with in My votes.

I voted for Cunliffe, Robertson, and Jones in that order. My reasons are in this post. It is unnecessary for people to speculate on additional motivations.

But if Clare Curran, Trevor Mallard*, Patrick Gower or anyone else wants to run a politically based smear on me like they did on Jenny Michie, Mike Williams, and others then I’m perfectly happy to tear them a new rectum through their political credibility over the next decade.

Ok, after his initial declaration he can’t help threatening from the safety of his fiefdom, but most of the rest is an interesting read.

Especially interesting for someone who has pledged to vote for Greens next election.

I agree that Labour have to go for Cunliffe this time round, but then they will have an enormous challenge sorting out their internal discord.