Missing million and Corbyn fantasies

There are some on the left who seem to think that a magical transformation in popularity when hundreds of thousands of people who have no interest in politics or voting suddenly choose to support one party, and Andrew little suddenly transforms into Andrew Corbyn and changes all Labour’s policies.

Not having anything solid to pin their hope on fantasies are about all they have.

Danyl Mclauchlan:  The myth of the missing million

I used to believe in the missing million – the idea, if not the exact number. Voter turnout in New Zealand used to be around 90%. In 2011 it was 74.21%. Almost eight hundred thousand registered voters failed to vote. Obviously, I felt, these were people who agreed with my political beliefs but refused to vote because none of the choices presented a genuine alternative to the status quo.

I did have a few doubts about the missing million theory. Like:

If turnout is low because people don’t feel the existing parties represent real choice, why was it really high under FPP, when there were only two parties in Parliament and the only votes that really counted were a handful of swing votes in marginal electorates?

If non-voters wanted a radical change to the status quo why didn’t they vote for the Progressive Party or Mana or the Greens, who all, over the years, denounced neoliberalism and campaigned on platforms of radical change to the status quo?

In 2014 the Department of Statistics published a report on non-voters in the 2008 and 2011 general elections based on their General Social Survey – a study of 8,795 residents from randomly selected households. They found that a very high proportion of non-voters were neither woke-but-alienated radicals nor shiftless sexting millennial deadbeats. Instead the single highest predictor of being a non-voter was identifying as a recent migrant to New Zealand.

It is likely that recent migrants don’t know enough about the candidates and parties to make a decision on election  day.

Is Metiria Turei trying to target them with her attacks on Winston’ Peters’ ‘racism’ and her veiled attack in Labour for the same?

“All right,” you might say. “But what about what Jeremy Corbyn has just done in Britain?” Under Corbyn, British Labour openly embraced socialism and rejected the neoliberal status quo. The youth vote surged and he almost won the election! We know that some non-voters are young non-migrant New Zealanders. Why can’t Labour do the same thing here?

This is the argument that left-wing commentators and Young Labour activists have been blogging and tweeting and Facebooking about, and maybe even talking about verbally ever since Corbyn’s near-victory. They might be right! They’re definitely indulging in the Pundit’s Fallacy, in which commentators insist that a political party can win votes by doing whatever it is the commentator desperately wants them to do anyway, and cherry-picking data points to prove it.

Cherry-picking datapoints to support what one desperately wants seems to be common.

But when you look at the political attitudes of non-voters in the New Zealand Electoral Survey, a longitudinal study of voting attitudes and behaviour, the results are not wildly encouraging for the left. When non-voters in the 2014 NZES were asked to rate the National government’s performance, over 70% thought that the government was doing a good job. This doesn’t mean they’d all vote National – 43% of Labour voters also thought the government were doing a good job. But it doesn’t point to the simmering discontent we’ve seen in the British and US elections.

Maybe things have changed since the last election? Maybe there is something in the air? According to Roy Morgan the percentage of people who ‘think the country is heading in the right direction’, is at 62%, almost exactly what it was before the 2014 election. Prior to the recent British election the government’s ‘right direction’ rating was literally half that.

The political situation in New Zealand is very different to that in the UK.

Labour’s strategists seem to feel that they tried the Corbyn route last election, under Cunliffe, who embraced socialist rhetoric and led them to an historic defeat.

NZ Labour seems to be caught between wariness over past failures and the sort of success of Corbyn and Labour in the UK (except they failed).

They are probably closer to Hillary Clinton’s campaign where she should have won easily but stuffed up badly.


Matt McCarten leaves Labour

Matt McCarten is leaving his Labour Party job to run a campaign to get the ‘missing million’ out to vote – he says it is a non-partisan project, but how can he be non-partisan?

McCarten was a controversial appointment as David Cunliffe’s chief of staff, and it was interesting to see Andrew Little retain his services when Little took over the leadership of Labour.  McCarten stepped down from that position in August 2016.

Newshub:  Labour’s chief of staff Matt McCarten stands down

Labour has confirmed its top adviser Matt McCarten will stand down as Andrew Little’s chief of staff. Labour says McCarten will head to Auckland to run a new regional office.

McCarten’s departure is a major blow to the party with the chief of staff role deemed absolutely critical in the political sphere – it is the leader’s strategist, gatekeeper and enforcer.

If that was a major blow what is McCarten stepping down altogether now?

McCarten is highly regarded for his political cunning and strategic skills and is one of country’s political maestros.

That’s debatable. McCarten’s political successes, especially when weighed against failures, are not substantial.

NZ Herald:  Matt McCarten set to move from Andrew Little’s chief of staff to Labour’s man in Auckland

Labour leader Andrew Little is to open a new Labour Party office in Auckland and re-deploy his chief of staff Matt McCarten as Labour prepares for battle in 2017.

​In the past McCarten, a former Alliance Party President, has been involved with the Maori Party and the Mana Party as an advisor.

Little said Labour’s new office in Auckland would open by the end of September and McCarten had offered to head it.

It was part of the planning for election year, including how to target the voter-rich Auckland.

“He wanted to do it. His strength is in the networks and setting up programmes and places for me to go to and getting stuff organised. And that is what I need.”

Little said he would be spending a lot of time in Auckland and needed a base there. It would be formally announced at a Labour function for Auckland businesses, interest groups and movers and shakers on Wednesday.

His new role is “to get the million people who didn’t vote last time to get out and vote.

He says he can’t do that with a Labour badge on, it has to be non-partisan.

How the hell can McCarten be non-partisan?

But he mentions aiming for improving a “progressive voice”, which doesn’t sound very non-partisan.

He says he will be working with unions on this. Unions tried a missing million drive in 2014, without much success.

One of the 800,000?

Labour is targeting the 800,000 people who didn’t vote in the last election (sometimes referred to as the ‘missing million’).

Cunliffe searches for his missing voters

David Cunliffe is trying to reach 800,000 voters, and if he does Labour will win the next election.

They’re the ones who didn’t vote in 2011. They’re in low or middle income electorates and it’s likely most of them would have ticked Labour – if they’d made it to the ballot box.

“At the 2011 election, Labour failed to persuade enough New Zealanders that it was a credible alternative,” Cunliffe posted on the party’s website.
“When National was telling them they would cut them off at the knees, they don’t want to hear from Labour that it would too – just a little nearer to the ankles.”

This is what Labour’s new leader has set about fixing, and it’s why he told the CTU conference this week: “We will be a true red Labour Party, not a pale blue one.”

He’s making the difference between Labour and National very clear, and he’s pitching the message at those missing voters.

Was it one of these non-voters who found Cunliffe yesterday?

Irate man

Angry tirade cuts Cunliffe’s briefing short

A media standup by Labour leader David Cunliffe had to be cut short this afternoon after a man in a car stopped and shouted a tirade of abuse at Mr Cunliffe and the assembled media about unemployment.

The man pulled his car alongside the press pack on the side of the road outside Mr Cunliffe’s electorate office while beeping his horn. “F*** you, f*** Labour, f**** unemployment,” he shouted.

As a member of the media asked another question, the man continued to shout, saying “f*** you man, there’s no future, New Zealand’s dreaming and you’re a dreamer.” He added that National was no better.

“We may as well have a coalition of the f***wits. F*** you all.” He went on to say that the unions were dead “and you destroyed them. Unemployment is not working.”

Video here.

Only 799,999 to go.