National, Greens may boost Labour vote

National continues to warn of the dangers of a Labour government pushed into implementing radical policies by the Greens, while the Greens keep saying they would push Labour into being ‘bolder’.

This may have the reverse effect to what both parties want – more people voting for Labour to reduce or eliminate Green influence. And going by recent polls there’s a real possibility Labour could get enough votes to either govern alone, or if they choose to govern with a majority but with a weakened Green Party in coalition.

Voting for National will probably do nothing but reduce their embarrassment a bit, they look a long way from challenging Labour even with ACT.

Voting Green will increase the chances of them making the threshold, and if the manage that it will increase the chances of Labour requiring Green support and increase Green leverage in policy negotiations.

ODT: Labour ‘cannot govern alone’: Greens

The Greens are warning their supporters that Labour “cannot govern alone”, and their party is the only one bold enough to meet the challenges New Zealand faces.

And, despite repeated rebuffs by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, party co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw say a wealth tax is still firmly on the table if Greens negotiate with Labour post-election.

“They can say what they need to in an [election] campaign,” Davidson said when asked about Ardern’s repeated flat-out rejection of the plan.

That keeps feeding National ammunition to attack Labour with, which Judith Collins has been doing.

Davidson said the fact that National has been hammering this policy so hard was a “sign of their desperation”.

“It has become alarmingly clear that the priority of National, and the other smaller parties, is not to keep us safe … but to divide us, and to make us scared, in the pursuit of power,” she said during her speech.

In his speech, Shaw made something of a call to action to his supporters.

“At this election, I can confidently say that the Green Party is the only party putting forward proposals that are actually bold enough to meet the scale of the challenges we face.”

And Davidson took it further: “Labour cannot govern alone.”

“Unchallenged decisions can mean bad decisions, and with the Greens at the decision-making table, we’ll make sure that we truly face the challenges we’ve been ignoring for too long.”

This is a contrast to last election when Greens went out of their way to play down concerns about what influence they might have on Labour in government.

Green survival depends on getting 5%, so they are having to compete with Labour for votes.

Collins has kept trying to hammer Labour, repeatedly insisting that the Green wealth tax would be a certainty. RNZ: Judith Collins says Greens ‘unemployable’ in latest wealth tax attack

Collins has spent much of her time in recent days warning voters about the Greens’ proposed wealth tax, arguing Labour leader Jacinda Ardern would break her promise not to introduce it.

Regardless of National’s position, Ardern says not is not the time for experimental taxes.

“One of the reasons we have ruled out the Green Party policy is because no other country has this form of taxation. Now is not the time to be experimenting with tax policy when we need to focus on our economic recovery.”

Collins would not budge, saying she believed her concerns were very real, and rejecting the claims of desperation.

“No, I think they’re very real … she shouldn’t go into name calling. “

She took her attacks on the Green Party further still, saying the Greens “didn’t really pay taxes before entering Parliament”.

“Well, most of them are unemployable I always thought. The whole lot of them. Don’t mean to be nasty but there we go, it’s the truth.”

She says having co-leader Marama Davidson as deputy prime minister “would be challenging for the country”.

The role of Deputy Prime Minister has no more power than any other Minister. All they have to do is occasionally fill in for the Prime Minister. Winston Peters did it this term and simply carried out a caretaker role. He had far more power in coalition negotiations.

I’m not a fan of Davidson at all, but I have no concerns with her becoming Deputy PM.

There is also one MP who is still supporting Collins:

But that’s false. Voting National instead of Labour would increase the chances of Greens having more influence. Voting Labour instead of National is the most effective way of reducing Green influence.

Taxpayers’ Union surrogate election campaigning

A Taxpayers’ Union surrogate has mass mailed letters trying to stop people from voting for the Green party.

The TU claims to “represent the common interests of all taxpayers and to provide them with a voice in corridors of power”, but obviously they don’t represent the interests of all taxpayers. This campaign they are looking to me increasingly like political activists, and little more than a surrogate for the Act Party.

Connections between the TU and Act and National were detailed here: A web of connections between the ACT Party, Taxpayers’ Union and National Party

The TU recently a surrogate surrogate campaign directly targeting the Green Party – Taxpayers’ Union Launches Major Direct Mail Campaign Against Green Party’s Proposed Asset Tax

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is today launching the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership to fight against the Green Party’s proposal to implement an asset tax.

Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership spokesperson Islay Aitchison says…

The website does have an authorisation statement:

Authorised by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union – for the Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership 

Islay Aitchison is listed on the TU ‘Our Team’ web page as “our part-time research officer”.

A letter from with Campaign for Affordable Home Ownership and with her signature has been mass mailed:

But there is no sign of the TU nor an authorisation statement on the letter, even though the letter would appear to be a form of (deceptive) election advertising.

From the Electoral Commission: What is election advertising?

An ‘election advertisement’ is an advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not vote for a:

– candidate
– party
– type of candidate or party the advertisement describes by referencing views they do or don’t hold.

All election advertisements must include a promoter statement. This rule applies at all times, not just during the regulated period.

Promoter statements must be clearly displayed in election advertisements. For audible election advertisements, the promoter statement must be as easy to hear as the rest of the advertisement.

Not including a promoter statement is an offence which could lead to a fine of up to $40,000.

If you put out advertising about a candidate, party or election issue, but are not a candidate or party yourself, you’re a third party promoter.

The Taxpayers’ Union is registered as a promoter for the 2020 General Election and Referendums, but not their surrogate campaign for home ownership.

I expect that someone will have brought the letter to the attention of the Electoral Commission.

There is also questions being asked about the mailing list used for the letter. The TU membership database is not likely to contain many potential Green voters.

From Martin @dannedaerd

Can confirm. And they’ve got the mailing list improperly – looks like they pulled a list from LINZ data, where you have to confirm you won’t use it for DM purposes.

The address I got mine from isn’t an address I’ve lived at and will not appear on any list – apart from ownership

I guess that will be checked out too, but nothing is likely to happen until well after the election.

Deterring people from voting for the Greens would potentially benefit National and ACT – if the Greens don’t make the 5% threshold (and Chloe Swarbrick doesn’t pull of a surprise win in Auckland Central) then the left loses a lot of votes, and forming a government would come down to Labour versus National+Act.

The TU has properly put an authorisation statement on this:

The TU are clearly ‘pay less tax’ activists, and that would obviously align them with National and in particular Act.

David Farrar is a founder of the Taxpayer’s Union. It’s been interesting to see his posts at Kiwiblog this campaign. He has been targeting Labour in a series of posts, the last one being Labour’s Failures Part 11 – Renewable Electricity.

Kiwiblog has also featured promotions for both the Taxpayers’ Union and the Act Party. Three consecutive posts on 5 and 6 October:

Also on Tuesday was a post promoting the Taxpayers’ Union Scorecard: Taxpayer Scorecard

This omitted the authorisation statement from the graphic:

So it looks like Farrar is advertising for the Taxpayers’ Union who are effectively advertising for ACT.

Yesterday on Kiwblog: Huge tax cuts in Australia with a comment from Farrar:

“Sadly we have a Government here that believes the only acceptable fiscal stimulus is them deciding to spend more money, not giving taxpayers more of their own money to spend.”

Curiously Farrar, who has had close connections to National, is hardly posting any sort of party promotions – since Saturday the only National directed posts are on specific candidates:

Auckland Central – it doesn’t matter whether the Labour or National candidate win, but it does matter to National and Act if Swarbrick wins for the Greens.

Also curiously, there are only two posts at Kiwiblog in August tagged with Judith Collins, one in September and none so far in October:

Farrar and the Taxpayers’ Union seem to be most interested in keeping the Greens out and getting Act in, but the way things are looking they are likely to be unsuccessful.

A web of connections between the ACT Party, Taxpayers’ Union and National Party

Ex ACT party researcher Grant McLachlan has posted what he knows about the ACT Party and it’s many political connections with people with National Party and also with the Taxpayers Union and other activist groups.

Astroturfs: Act Three of ‘Dirty Politics’

Artificial grassroots organisations – nicknamed ‘astroturfs’ – are designed to mask the sponsors of a message or organization so to give the impression that there is support from grassroots participants. Often, they help politicians to find and mobilize a sympathetic public and create the image of public consensus where there is none.

The story of astroturfs is a hot mess of money, cliques of right-wing schemers, and dog whistle politics.

Astroturf origins

The history of astroturfs in New Zealand is closely associated to the history of the Act Party.

The Association of Consumers and Taxpayers was formed in 1993 by former Labour minister Roger Douglas and former National minister Derek Quigley. It started as an astroturf but, in the new MMP environment, decided to form a political party called Act.

McLachlan then goes through history of the Act Party.

Fast forward to 2011 when ACT had five MPs, Rodney Hide resigned and Don Brash took over.

Despite many in Act knowing about David Garrett’s convictions for assault and using the identity of a dead child to obtain a false passport, when it surfaced in the media David Garrett resigned. Don Brash then challenged for the leadership and Garrett’s replacement, Hillary Calvert, gave Brash a narrow victory.

Brash claimed his motivation for the coup was Act and National’s lack of fiscal prudence. Soon after becoming leader, however, Brash and Ansell ran an advert criticising the ‘Maorification of Everything.’

Assisting Brash was former Act MP Stephen Franks and a junior solicitor in his firm, Jordan Williams. It was during the 2011 election that Jordan Williams fronted the ‘Vote For Change’ campaign to get rid of MMP. Jordan’s strategy revolved around uniting supporters of the main parties by stigmatising Winston Peters as the bogeyman of MMP.

The 2011 election was a disaster for Act. Don Brash was a list-only candidate, their support dropped to 1 percent, and John Banks won Epsom to become Act’s only MP. The party touting itself as ‘The Liberal Party’ was now led by one of National’s most conservative former ministers.

It was during this period that Nicky Hager received material which would become the basis for Dirty Politics. Practitioners included Jordan Williams and National Party pollster, David Farrar. In February 2013, they incorporated the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Farrar has well known connections to the National Party – see disclosure statement.

The Taxpayers’ Union promotes itself as a spending watchdog – WE CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER VALUE FOR MONEY FROM GOVERNMENT SPENDING – but they have always looked like a political activist group to me.

They have just had a lame complaint to Broadcasting Standards Authority ‘not upheld’ which targeted Labour Party advertising – NEW ZEALAND TAXPAYERS’ UNION INC AND MEDIAWORKS TV LTD – 2020-116 (22 SEPTEMBER 2020).

Jordan Williams was involved in a political hit job on Colin Craig and the Conservative party, along with Cameron Slater, that has resulted inn expensive defamation proceedings.

The idea of a taxpayer union wasn’t original. Canada had a Canadian Taxpayers Federation since 1990. Act politicos Peter McCaffrey and David Seymour spent years in Canada at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy analysing local and central government accountability.

Dirty Politics was published in August 2014. In September 2014, the founding chairman of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, John Bishop, posted an article titled ‘Taxpayers’ Union has attacked National more often than any other party.’ Since then, the organisation has attacked politicians from every political party except one: Act.

Bishop, a former TVNZ political editor, was the Act Party ‘Constituency Services Manager’, working in Parliament during Richard Prebble’s leadership. His job was to co-ordinate campaigns and tours from within Parliament. At the time, I was a researcher and ‘electorate agent.’

Bishop’s son, Chris Bishop, is currently National MP for Hutt South.

During Bishop’s tenure at Act, Prebble used Parliamentary Service funding to employ a disproportionate number of staff in its leader’s office, using the ‘out of Parliament’ budget meant for electorate agents to instead work in Parliament. A bogus electorate office was set up at Prebble’s private residence on Little Pipitea Street. Despite none of the staff ever working there, we were instructed to say that we did.

I was employed as a researcher in Parliament for 8 hours a week and 32 hours as an ‘out-of-Parliament’ electorate agent.

During the almost three years I worked for Act, I only worked three weeks out of Parliament, which was spent in Newmarket at the party’s head office shortly after that meeting at the bogus office. Following my return from Auckland, I resigned.

Other staff embroiled in this scam included Peter McCardle (who was also juggling elected roles on the District Health Board and Upper Hutt City Council) and Roger Styles (who was also elected to the Hutt City Council and became deputy mayor). Press secretaries included journalists David Young, David Hargreaves, and public relations commentator Trish Sherson.

Trish Sherson is sometimes used as aa political commentator by media – she was a Newshub post-debate panelist on Tuesday night.

Styles and McCardle used Parliamentary resources to research demographic trends of their constituencies. Discovering the ‘gentrification’ of the Hutt South electorate, Styles had ambitions of winning the electorate for National off Trevor Mallard.

John Bishop’s son, Chris, would eventually gain the candidacy in 2014 and win the seat in 2017. Chris’ work colleague at Phillip Morris Tobacco, Todd Barclay, entered Parliament at the same time.

So the claim here is that Act Party research led to National winning Hutt South.

Despite John Bishop’s track record with Act, Bishop went on to campaign for the Taxpayers’ Union, ridiculing politicians for double-dipping and misusing taxpayer and ratepayer money.

John Banks became swamped by scandal as Kim Dotcom testified that Banks didn’t declare a donation to his 2010 mayoralty campaign. When convicted, Banks resigned and Act found a new leader, Jamie Whyte. David Seymour ran for Epsom. Whyte argued that incest between consenting adults shouldn’t be illegal and later back-tracked. While Seymour won Epsom, Act support dropped to 0.69 percent.

Seymour initially failed to gain traction and Act floundered around 1 percent in support. National introduced young liberal candidates, including Rodney Hide’s former staffer, Andrew Falloon, and Hamish Walker replaced Todd Barclay.

After being disgraced in 2017 Barclay didn’t stand for re-election. Walker and Falloon were both exposed for poor behaviour this year and neither will stand again in their electorates.

Houlbrooke. You might remember that surname when a Louis Houlbrooke fronted a ‘lobby group’ called ‘Take Back the Clocks’ in 2019 to abolish daylight savings. Or during the 2017 election campaign when Act’s Deputy Leader Beth Houlbrooke said, “The fact is, parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them.”

Beth is Louis’ mother. She rose from Act candidate in 2014, to vice president and party manager in the same year, to deputy leader for the 2017 election.

Louis got his start as Act’s social media co-ordinator and media liaison for the 2014 election, whilst president of Act’s youth wing. Following the election, he was David Seymour’s press secretary for the term.

Following the 2017 election, Beth remained Deputy Leader while Louis transferred to the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union and rose quickly to become their campaign manager.

Louis Holbrooke is still TU Campaign Mananger.

The Taxpayers’ Union strategy changed overnight. Their coffers swelled to an annual budget of $831,848.22 by the end of 2019 and nine paid staff.

Their ‘Our Team’ includes 15 people with various roles.

The Union was on a roll. They renamed their annual awards for the biggest wasters of public money after Shane Jones.

That looks clearly like political activist targeting.

The more that the Taxpayers’ Union attacked New Zealand First, the better David Seymour looked.

Targeting NZ First’s core voters, Act then surprised many members by giving gun lobbyists high list rankings.

Louis helped Beth and Phelan set up Facebook ‘community pages.’ While Act ran a ‘Freedom to Speak’ campaign against Jacinda Ardern’s proposals to censor hate speech, Beth and Phelan censored and blocked criticism and debate. When brought to the attention of Act, Seymour claimed the community pages were ‘private property.’

As president of Act’s youth wing, Louis campaigned against compulsory membership of student unions. Beth and Phelan, however, have both pushed for ‘Business Improvement Districts’ throughout Rodney…

…But none of these examples got a mention at the annual ‘Jonesie Awards’, held in Parliament’s Legislative Chamber. Instead, awards were given to Wellington Mayor Andy Foster for wasting $30,000 on a leadership course, Racing Minister Winston Peters for providing funding for two upgraded training facilities, and a lifetime achievement award to Transport and former Housing Minister Phil Twyford.

(For an event to be held in Parliament, it has to be sponsored by a Parliamentarian. Every ‘Jonesie Awards’ event has been sponsored by National MP Chris Penk, whose electorate includes the Rodney Ward.)

It looks like a web of interconnections between ACT, National and the Taxpayers Union.

With Act, nothing is as it seems. The protests by gun owners in the South Island were ‘attended’ by ‘Firearms Safety Specialist’ and third-ranked Act list candidate, Nicole McKee. The ‘grassroots’ protest, organized by local pistol and deerstalking clubs, was repeated elsewhere.

What is certain is that Act is about money. Several of Act’s major donors live in the Rodney Ward near the controversial Auckland Shooting Club at Makarau. There are strong Act links to that club. Maybe the media should be asking one member why Beth Houlbrooke was demoted? What was Beth’s position on the controversial club?

Act’s backers have mutated Astroturfs from a pressure group, to an attack weapon, to directly protecting the politicians they were indirectly meant to support, to having an unhealthy influence over a minor party. While they evolve, they still operate as dirty politics in plain sight.

This may be a distinction between ‘dirty politics’ and ‘Dirty Politics’, but there are a number of connections between ACT’s operations, the Taxpayers’ Union operations and National party interests.

McLachlan has followed up with another post.

Why we should have zero tolerance for Act

Sex, drugs, fraud and bullying. What the Act Party doesn’t want you to know this election.

He goes over a number of claims related to sexual harassment and drug abuse associated with the Act Party. Then:

Act now wants David Seymour to be perceived as a ‘fresh face’ and a clean slate. No he isn’t. He’s been around Act since I can remember.

I remember him as being good mates with disgraced former National MP Andrew Falloon when Falloon was Rodney Hide’s creepy staffer.

Seymour was then John Banks’ Ministerial Advisor while John Banks was being prosecuted.

Many who condoned the serious misconduct I’ve described are still active in the organisation. Seymour’s distancing from sexual harassment problems within Act’s youth wing is symptomatic of a party which places more importance on public perception rather than addressing the reality of its toxic culture.

But Act expects voters to have short memories. Seymour talks tough on ‘gangs’ when he and his party acted like one throughout its history. There are no signs that he will be any different as he tries to lure a new generation of voters.

Quite successfully it seems. Act are currently polling at 6-8%. National are still polling poorly so are unlikely to get to form a Government with Act, but if a sizeable ACT caucus gets established and doesn’t fly to bits they may be in a strong position to pull National and the country rightwards from 2023.

More mistakes in National’s economic plan could be inconsequential

There are claimed to be more problems with Nationals numbers in their economic plan.

Last week: National Party admits $4 billion hole in their promised spending

The National Party officially launched its election campaign today, but it was hindered by a $4 billion hole in its flagship economic policy.

The party’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith was forced to concede his numbers did not add up after Labour revealed the significant gap in its costings.

“This is an irritating mistake. We missed it, and our external checker missed it as well, and that’s a mistake that we made,” he says.

Now the party will instead borrow the missing billions, which Goldsmith argues is still far less than what Labour is borrowing.

National Party leader Judith Collins told media after the launch it was inconsequential in the scheme of things.

Two days ago National’s fiscal hole appears to double to $8 billion as Paul Goldsmith denies double count mistake

The hole in National’s alternative budget may have blown out by another $3.9b after the party appears to have double-counted part of its transport programme.

The error has come about after National twice counted $3.9 billion left over from the New Zealand Upgrade package, an infrastructure plan announced by the Government in late January.

In fact, the left over money was put into Treasury’s multi-year capital allowance back in May. In National’s costings, the party had counted the two sums of money separately, when, in fact, the NZ Upgrade programme money now only exists in the capital allowances.

Today the story continues – National says fiscal plan stacks up after Labour insists there’s another mistake

National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith remains defiant the party’s economic plan stacks up – but has had to make another correction after using out of date figures.

Goldsmith says National’s “estimate is that would lead to about half of the people who are getting in the first year getting it in the second year”. The party is looking at a threshold of about $90,000 for an annual household income, he says, but that would be “clarified at the appropriate time”.

A second $88 million error, by using Budget figures for the 10-year ‘Existing Capital Allowance’ instead of the pre-election update, has now been corrected in National’s online plan.

Labour says there is a second $4bn error as National has double counted transport funding.

“Paul Goldsmith is floundering”, Labour’s Grant Robertson says.

“He’s trying to change his plan quietly in the background so he doesn’t have to own up to his leader for another mistake.”

Labour says National has allocated $3.9bn of transport funding under the NZ Upgrade Programme, but that money no longer exists in that programme as it was transferred by the government at the start of this year into a more general capital fund.

It says National has also counted and allocated that money in its general capital fund – so has double counted.

Goldsmith says he doesn’t “accept that at all”.

Whether Goldsmith is right or not this time is of little importance compared to the ongoing exposure of National’s less than competence economic plan.

Collins is probably right. In the scheme of things it is likely to be inconsequential as National look almost certain to not get a chance to implement their economic plan, especially if mistakes keep being highlighted.

National’s bad year continues. They have done a bad job of rebuilding the party after losing power in 2017. Covid hasn’t helped, but multiple leadership changes, disunity, an exodus of experience and an inability to put together a competent economic plan makes most of their problems self inflicted.

National embarrassed by $4 billion mistake

I’m sure National will have checked their fiscal policy numbers carefully, but not carefully enough. Grant Robertson pointed out they made a mistake – apparently National didn’t notice that the Government had changed a Super repayment amount,

This was very embarrassing for National, and for finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith, pretty much stuffing up the the day of their official campaign launch. And it stuffs National’s attempts to portray themselves as better managers of the books.

Richard Harman at Politik: Surging into National’s space

National’s campaign launch yesterday was overshadowed by its Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith having to admit before the broadcast that the figures on which he had based the affordability of his $4 billion tax cut were wrong.

The error yesterday centred on what is supposed to be the heart of its campaign; $4 billion in tax cuts to boost the post-Covod recovery.

National’s tax cuts were to be financed by stopping contributions to NZ Super Fund, but the party had used figures from the May Budget to support their affordability and failed to recognise that Robertson had reduced the estimated contributions to the fund in the PREFU published last Wednesday.

The error might have been avoided had National taken up the long-standing Opposition “perk” of having a Treasury official embedded in the Leader’s office. But the former Leader, Simon Bridges, refused to accept a Treasury official being part of his team.

Ultimately it was an error which while massively embarrassing is unlikely to impact National in any structural sense. The party has never looked like winning the election, so all that it may do is knock a few more points off its ultimate share of the vote.

We will never know what effect it ends up having on the election result, but it makes a difficult campaign harder for Judith Collins and National.

Harman went on to evaluate the fight for votes on the right, claiming the new Conservatives were “on a roll” (the lack of polls makes this hard to confirm), but it’s well known how hard this election already was for National.

The worry now for National must be that if NZ First fails to make it back to Parliament; if the Billy Te Kiha – Jami-Lee Ross Advance Party gets some support and if the New Conservatives continue their surge, then the foundations are there for a populist right-wing party.

What seems possible is that the centre-right space in New Zealand politics, which only a year ago National was beginning to believe it could have to itself is now becoming more contested by ACT and by the populists.

That is one of the potential implications of a lacklustre showing by National at the polls on October 17. And after the events yesterday, that lacklustre showing looks even more possible.

It’s quite possible ‘lacklustre’ may end up being a National disaster.

This sort of coverage doesn’t help: National’s disastrous day:

But there is one optimist:

No post on it at Kiwiblog yet.

Large lead for Labour candidate in Auckland Central

Auckland Central is the electorate where Nikki Kaye beat Jacinda Ardern twice after defeating Judith Tizzard in 2008.

Kaye is stepping down. A poll from Newshub/Reid Research Labour candidate Helen White, who lost to Kaye last election, well in front, with National’s late selection Emma Mellow 16% behind, closely followed by Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.

  • Helen White (LAB) 42.3%
  • Emma Mellow (NAT) 26.6%
  • Chloe Swarbrick (GRN) 24.2%
  • Jenny Marcroft (NZF) 2.2%
  • Tuariki Delamere (TOP) 1%
  • Felix Poole (ACT) 0.9%
  • David Seymour 1.9%
  • Other 0.9%

But: 20.7% of voters still undecided

That’s a different David Seymour.

Jenny Marcroft has effectively been dumped by NZ First, being dropped to 17 on their party list.

For the new poll, Reid Research interviewed 532 people in the Auckland Central electorate via landline, mobile, online and on the street in the first and second weeks of September. The results were weighted to match the electorate’s demographics. The margin of error is 4.2 percent.

That’s a small sample size.

And here are the single electorate party results:

Party votes for Auckland Central in the 2017 election:

  • National 39.15%
  • Labour 37.71%
  • Greens 13.87%
  • NZ First 3.87%
  • TOP: 3.14%
  • ACT 1.05%

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_Central_(New_Zealand_electorate)

The current result looks roughly in line with recent poll trends based on the last election spread.

Newshub: Auckland Central poll puts Labour’s Helen White way out in front

National hopelessness, conspiracy and paranoia

National is in a seemingly hopeless position in the polls, and they are understandably frustrated that this week’s Covid outbreak and lockdowns have stopped them from campaigning in person around the country, and has made it difficult for them compete for media coverage. It is a hopeless situation for them, with little they can do about it.

Unfortunately leader Judith Collins and her deputy and National’s campaign director Gerry Collins are making things worse with some of their policy promotion choices, and seem to be heading into conspiracy territory.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): The paranoid style in New Zealand politics

“We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”- Richard Hofstadter, ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’, 1964

Nothing wrong with asking questions, is there? Where’s the harm in that? ‘They’ haven’t turned that into a crime as well, have they?

Such was the tone of the National Party’s press conference on new community cases of Covid-19, in an ill omen for the tenor of the campaign for our next election – whenever that proves to be.

National leader Judith Collins offered a small hint of her likely approach when news of the four South Auckland cases broke on Tuesday night, saying the return of the virus would “come as a shock to all New Zealanders who believed what we had been told – that we had got on top of this virus”.

If there were any reservations about going negative, they were not on display as Collins and her deputy leader Gerry Brownlee instead doubled down on Wednesday afternoon.

Asked about the Government’s timeline, Collins said she was “hearing a lot of rumours”.

Several minutes later, her deputy leader Gerry Brownlee outlined – unprompted – an allegedly suspicious series of events in recent weeks, as if joining the pieces of the puzzle with string on an overloaded pinboard.

“The messaging around a possible further outbreak of Covid-19 began … about 10 days ago; on top of that there was the issue of masks, we were encouraged to start purchasing masks to have them available in the emergency kit.

“Dr Bloomfield went a bit further, in one interview I saw suggested that people might wear a mask for one day a week, just to get used to the idea of wearing masks.

“Then you saw the Prime Minister’s visit to the mask factory … along with Dr Bloomfield, after 103 days of no community transmission having a test himself – all very interesting things to happen a matter of hours before there was a notification of the largest residential part of New Zealand going into Level 3 lockdown.”

Pressed on what exactly he was implying, Brownlee replied with a smirk: “I’m just outlining facts … it’s an interesting series of facts.”

Exactly what those facts were meant to prove was left unsaid – although leaving it to the vivid imaginations of tired and scared New Zealanders was perhaps the point.

Then, outlining her desire to delay the election to November or even next year, Collins appeared to borrow from Donald Trump’s playbook in casting aspersions on the trustworthiness of postal voting – despite the fact New Zealanders can already apply to cast a ballot by mail.

“This is a serious issue, it is not a laughing issue, it is not something to joke around, and it’s certainly not something to have just put in an envelope and sent off with no verification as to who anyone is.”

Jacinda Ardern certainly has a big publicity advantage over her campaign opponents, but heading into paranoia and conspiracy territory is a hapless and probably hopeless approach for Collins and Brownlee.

This is on top of tired old policy position announcements like getting tough on gangs and building more roads, as well as the very disappointing National caucus position opposing cannabis law reform.

The line of attack from Collins and Brownlee comes from a darker place, and it is hard to know which is worse – that they genuinely believe in some sort of grand cover-up, or are prepared to stoke such sentiment out of political expediency.

To be clear, there is plenty of ground for legitimate criticism of the Government’s response.

Information about the locations visited by the new positive cases has dribbled out slowly and inconsistently, leaving those who may have been a casual contact on edge.

Ardern’s refusal to engage in “hypotheticals” about the likely extension of Auckland’s lockdown, given the 14-day incubation period that we have all learned about, seems overly cautious and potentially counterproductive in preparing people for a long haul.

But making ominous references to “interesting facts” does nothing to address those concerns, and runs the risk of undermining public buy-in for a longer lockdown, should one be required.

These are very poor attempts to hold the Government to account.

And they are unlikely to be rewarded by voters.

UMR poll August 2020

The UMR polls seem to be getting published now with a reasonable amount of detail and history. The latest poll results done from July 29 – August 3) (with comparison from their 26 May – 1 June poll):

  • Labour 52% (down from 54)
  • National 28% (down from 30)
  • ACT 5.9% (no result to compare to)
  • Greens 5.4% (was 4)
  • NZ First 5.1% (was 5)

That’s fairly consistent with other polls, which means great for Labour and ACT, awful for National, marginal for Greens and better than other recent polls for NZ First, this must be the poll that Winston likes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 61%
  • Judith Collins 20%

Source: https://thestandard.org.nz/umr-poll-august-2020/

Collins is rating much better than Simon bridges and Todd Muller but is a long way behind Ardern, and i think will struggle to get much closer going by her recent performance.

Judith Collins rules out NZ First, rules in ACT

National leader Judith Collins has already confirmed that National will not consider doing a governing deal with NZ First after the election, but has now strongly endorsed the ACT party and specifically David Seymour in the Epsom electorate.

ODT (NZH): Collins rules out working with NZ First

National leader Judith Collins appears to have ruled out working with NZ First after the election – and says Winston Peters and his party are probably on the way out anyway.

…Collins has slammed the door shut on the chances of reversing the decision not to work with NZ First.

“We have made that very plain as a caucus and as a party, and I know a lot of our party supporters and voters certainly wanted us to do that,” she said today.

“I’m pretty clear – the caucus has decided it. That’s the caucus view.”

“It’s really important to understand the caucus has said that they don’t want to do a deal with Winston Peters. There is no reason that I know that we are going to change that.”

Yesterday from Stuff: Judith Collins calls for Epsom voters to back ACT’s David Seymour

Judith Collins has explicitly asked voters in Epsom to back the ACT party’s David Seymour, sidelining her own finance spokesperson as part of a longstanding arrangement with the libertarian party.

Collins, the National leader, on Monday said she was asking voters in the Auckland electorate should to vote for Seymour for their electorate MP, saying she would “welcome him being part of a National-ACT Government”.

“I don’t need to have little cups of tea or anything, because everybody knows that David Seymour and I work very well together”

“I’m asking the people of Epsom”.

“I think it’s always important to be respectful of people and their votes, and I’m very, explicitly saying that I believe that a National-led Government is going to be best served with ACT as our partner.”

“I’m very happy to say that we want the party vote, please, in Epsom, please, and in this particular electorate you can give the first tick, for the electorate, to David Seymour.”

This was fairly obvious but at least this is explicit and open National support for Seymour in Epsom and for the ACT Party as a governing partner, far better than the charades and signalling of past elections.

National’s passive Epsom candidate since 2011 Paul Goldsmith said:

“It’s the party vote that counts. That’s my focus”.

He has always had to avoid campaigning for the electorate vote while seeking the party vote.

There has been reports that electorate polls show Seymour looks comfortable and should retain the seat.

Seymour, leader of the ACT party, said the media could focus on such endorsements, but he was “listening to the voters”.

“What they’re telling me is that the world has changed and we need a plan for a faster recovery with lower taxes and less debt,” he said in a statement provided by a spokesman.

Asked if Collins’ endorsement guaranteed ACT would work with National, Seymour said: “National is the only party ACT could work with right now.”

That’s stating the obvious. None of Labour, Greens or NZ First would consider doing a governing deal with ACT.

“We can’t work with a Labour Party that has the most disastrous public policy record in living memory.”

Seymour has feuded with Winston Peters through the term, who a couple of weeks ago challenged him to a fist fight – it was lame and never going to happen but Seymour has kept getting under Winston’s skin. It won’t help that ACT is getting double the support of NZ First in polls.

So as expected one option for the next Government is a two party National + ACT coalition. ACT are currently doing well in polls and should get several MPs in Parliament this time, but National are struggling, polling 20-30% behind Labour.

I think that is likely to close up a bit but the gap looks far to big to close for National unless there is some significant development, like Ardern resigning and Phil Twyford taking over the Labour leadership.

Northland electorate may be lost saviour for NZ First

With NZ First polling well below the 5% threshold (except in Winston’s claimed but never revealed polls) an alternative way of keeping them in Parliament is for Shane Jones to win the Northland electorate.

Jones has actually said that if voters want NZ First back in Parliament they should vote for him in Northland. But he has never yet won an electorate (this is the third he has stood in).

And a 1 News/Colmar Brunton poll on Northland doesn’t look promising for Jones or NZ First.

Candidate votes in the 2017 election:

  • Matt King 38.30%
  • Winston Peters 34.81%
  • Willow-Jean Prime 21.61%

Jones has puled out of a Q+A interview this morning saying he had another engagement after previously committing to the interview.

Interesting to see National (41%) close to Labour (38%) on the party polling there – that looks ok for National compared to recent polls, but it isn’t flash compared to the 2017 election result:

  • National 46.35%
  • Labour 30.12%
  • NZ First 13.17%
  • Greens 6.05%
  • Conservatives 0.37%
  • ACT 0.47%

NZ First party vote is well down on that at 7%, and they are headed off by ACT jumping to a remarkable 8%.