Political polls for 2018

Political polls for the year haven’t shown any drastic changes, with Labour and National swapping the lead a few times after Labour had risen to be competitive late last year after the election.

I presume there will be no more political polls for 2018. Colmar Brunton (for 1 News) are the only ones left doing polls, and they have just published what will be their last one for the year.

Reid Research (Newshub) did just two polls this year, in January and May. Roy Morgan have up given doing New Zealand polls. Their last poll was in November 2017.

Labour looked dire mid 2017 but Jacinda Ardern’s leadership turned things around for them enough for them to  be able to form a government, thanks to NZ First.

NZ First have remained in the MMP danger zone, peaking on the 5% threshold but dropping as low as 2.4% (in May).

After polling mostly in the 10-15% range in the first half of last year Greens dropped drastically after the Turei fallout, and through this year holding their support just over the threshold in the 5-7% range. So their support has halved from the support they got for most of last term.

It seems normal for coalition support parties to struggle to maintain support.

After the latest poll Ardern was criticised for claiming that Labour “finishing the year stronger than we started it”, but she is correct, sort of, by a small margin and she is comparing two different polling companies.

Reid Research did an unusually early poll in the political holiday period 18-28 January, and had Labour on 42.3%. In May they had Labour on 42.6%.

Colmar Brunton’s last poll (24-28 November) had Labour on 43% (rounded so could have been as low as 42.51% or as high as 43.49%). However Colmar’s first poll of the year (10-14 February) had Labour at 48% so Labour have dropped back from that Colmar high.

Ardern also said “polls do move around a bit these are all still within the margin of error” –

We can only see trends from Colmar – here are Labour’s results for the year.

  • 10-14 February 48%
  • 7-11 April 43%
  • 19-23 May 43%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  42%
  • 15-19 October 45%
  • 24-28 November 43%

The 48% for Labour looks to be a polling outlier – it could have been accurate at the time, but Labour settled in and remained in the low forties for the rest of the year. While they will be disappointed to be trailing National this is a fairly solid result for them, considering their pre-Ardern polling had them dropping in the twenties. Colmar had them trending down to 24% in July 2017.

National’s results from Colmar this year:

  • 10-14 February 43%
  • 7-11 April 44%
  • 19-23 May 45%
  • 28 Jul – 1 Aug  45%
  • 15-19 October 43%
  • 24-28 November 46%

They were behind Labour in February and in October (affected by the Jami-Lee Ross mess) but this is remarkably consistent for a party in Opposition, and with new leader Simon Bridges (since 27 February) who is struggling to make a mark.

Looking at the Labour and National polling for the year there is little in it, and little significant change in most polls.

Media have tried to make big stories out of their polls, but the reality is quite mundane.

I think we have a real problem with how polls are reported. Obviously media try to get bang for their bucks – polling can be expensive – but they usually make mountains out of mole polls, often blatantly misrepresenting what individual polls mean.

Media try to make each of their polls look like some sort of mini election, which is nonsense. They can only be approximate indicators of support, and the year after an election most of the people care little about politics most of the time.

If media were doing proper journalism they would report on the political polling without sensation and misrepresentation. And mostly that would be (and should be) quite boring.

How should the media get value for the money spent on polls? Perhaps they should also poll on things of real public interest at the same time, and make their big stories about that.

1 News blew that opportunity in the last poll. They did ask a one-off question – Should Simon Bridges boot Jami-Lee Ross from Parliament using waka jumping law?

The results of that mean nothing (and were inconclusive, with 31% saying they didn’t know). Most people have moved on from one MP self-destructing – actually most people probably took little notice when the media were going hard out with headlines.

1 News would probably like to encourage National to chuck Ross out of the waka (that would be out of parliament, they have already chucked him out of the party) because that could be headlined as a sensational political somersault or something.

Rather than aiming for short term headlines 1 News could do a really public service (they are a public media company after all) doing a series of meaningful polls on issues that really matter to people, but it would take months if not years to get a return on their investment. They seem too obsessed with short term ratings and clicks.

So I expect more of the same form polling next year, another non-election year. It’s a shame we are so poorly served by media who do polling, but I don’t see that changing.

Something worse has become prevalent – online polls run by media. They are cheap, and nasty, very unreliable so they are of no useful purpose.

We now we see these unelected journalists for what they really are?

This is remarkable commentary from Newshub’s ‘national reporter’ Patrick Gower: Simon Bridges is finished

I don’t think that it’s his call to make. It is the business of the National caucus. And if Bridges survives through to the next election, it will be up to voters.

It’s been 62 days since Newshub Political Editor Tova O’Brien got that excellent scoop of Simon Bridges’ limousine expenses.

An excellent scoop? It was a leak of expense information that was die to be released publicly in several days time. The story was not the expenses, which were high but explainable.

The story was the attempt to undermine Bridges by an MP who, later at least, suffers from bad enough mental health problems to seek several months leave from Parliament, and to be committed into mental care with claims of a suicide attempt (that was claimed by Cameron Slater so should be viewed with caution).

Tova O’Brien was effectively aiding and abetting a political hit job – and Gower appears to be doing likewise now.

This was a sophisticated hit from the leaker, setting in motion a political train wreck that’s now at bullet-speed – full-scale political carnage.

I guess it could be called ‘sophisticated’ as the political hit job was done with the collusion of a journalist and a media organisation.

Gower seems to see glee in setting in motion a political train wreck and precipitating ‘full-scale political carnage’ – except that he is over-egging a rotten pudding.

We now we see these elected representatives for what they really are; concerns over possible mental health issues have been tossed aside in the rush to the kill or be killed.

There is no humanity.

What we actually saw was non-elected journalists tossing aside mental health concerns as they shilled for a political kill – and now Gower seems to be ecstatic over the thrill of the kill.

This is alarming from a major media organisation. Is Newshub alarmed about what they have been used for?

Meanwhile, National isn’t addressing the important issues. There are not enough teachers for our classrooms and there’s not enough money in our wallets to pay for petrol.

Actually that’s bullshit. National have been accused more of the opposite – of criticising too many things. They have certainly been trying to address teachers and petrol prices.

The only thing in Bridges’ favour here is that National is short of contenders.

More bullshit. There may be one less contender in National, but they still have 54 MPs as alternatives to Bridges. Ity’;s just that now would be a stupid time to contest the leadership, which would reward the maverick MP and activist journalists for their hit job.

But back to Simon Bridges – this is about him and how he’s not handling the job – or connecting with the public.

This was obvious enough to political observers for months. It didn’t need an attempt to force Bridges out of the leadership role to point that out.

Ironically Bridges has probably strengthened his leadership after Newshub’s collusion in trying to have him dumped.

The only chance National has to get back in power is a deal with Peters.

More bullshit. That’s not the only way for National to get back into power. Currently their coalition options look grim, but under MMP there are a range of options, including:

  • Act could make a miraculous resurgence
  • Greens could support a National led government (unlikely at this stage but it can’t be ruled out)
  • Labour and National could form a grand coalition
  • the Maori Party could return and support a National-led government
  • a new party could emerge and beat the threshold
  • National could split and get enough votes between two parties to form a government
  • National could get enough votes to form a government on their own (they have come close in the past)

Last term Gower often obsessed over National needing NZ First to stay in government. Until the Little/Ardern switch it looked very unlikely Labour would have been able to form a government, so National were in the box seat.

And the way Winston keeps burning Bridges, that will never happen.

That’s why Simon Bridges is finished.

Winston burns anyone when it suits him – and then forgets all his rants and promises and flip flops if it suits him.

It may actually be more likely that Winston will be finished after the next election. There’s certainly a bigger chance that NZ First will crash and burn than National.

It doesn’t matter how many days are left, Simon Bridges, because there is no chance National can win in 2020.

That’s a pathetic claim from someone who remarkably used to be Newshub’s political editor.

And it hardly even makes sense – he implies that National has no chance regardless of Bridges leading them or not.

This is very poor commentary from Gower.

Worse – it seems that he supports and is ecstatic about collusion between an MP with mental health problems and journalists and media in a concocted coup attempt.

Gower can be dismissed as out of touch and irrelevant, but Newshub look very poor here and have seriously diminished their credibility as politically neutral media.

Bridges and National have problems – that’s normal for any political party. But National at least are likely to survive, and are likely to eventually get back into Government, with or without Bridges.

Newshub have a bigger challenge trying to survive. While the Jami-Lee Ross headlines may have given them a temporary boost to ratings and clicks, it has seriously damaged their already struggling reputation.

Gower hasn’t helped – he has emphasised how low they have stooped on this.

 

Journalism versus political hit jobs

There has been discussion and questions asked lately  about why some media (Newshub and RNZ in particular) have been publishing conversations that had been secretly recorded by Jami-Lee Ross. It has appeared at times as of they are aiding ongoing attacks on Simon Bridges and National on behalf of Ross and/or Cameron Slater and/or Simon Lusk. They have at least aided and abetted the attacks.

Some of the latest headlines on it from Newshub:

That ‘expert’ was an employment consultant, and the issue being covered had nothing to do with employment.

An indication of how agenda orientated these are is that this sort of article is being repeated at Whale Oil – and most other media are not covering it with anywhere near the same attack style.

The Newshub approach prompted an interesting discussion on Twitter:

Matthew Hooton: People complaining that is campaigning to get rid of Bridges don’t understand current media ethics. etc are doing . They think Bridges is too socially conservative so they think they need to protect NZ from him by getting rid of him

Tim Watkin: Matthew, I’m putting this into your ‘wind-up’ category. Because I assume you do actually know what advocacy journalism is… and know that’s NOT advocacy journalism.

Liam Hehir: Advocacy journalism is more like what John Campbell does – or did – right? What do you call it when you simply go out to wreck politicians and degrade public trust in the institutions of politics?

Time Watkin: Advocacy journalism explicitly advocates for a cause or argument. Sometimes for a group of people/victims. It takes a viewpoint & transparently says it’s not balanced. Saying Tova is not balanced is insulting & undeserved. I don’t like lazy insults.

Lawrence Hakiwai: I think what is saying is that there is a clear and obvious attempt by members of the media to unseat as leader of the National Party by using manufactured and imagined crises. The issues this Government faces are real and far more newsworthy.

Tim Watkin: Well if that is what he’s saying, then I think he’s very wrong. (And I’m sure he knows that’s not true). If any journalist in NZ set out to try to unseat a politician they would be fired. Anyone claiming that has never been in a NZ newsroom. Let’s value our independent media.

Matthew Hooton: Don’t make me laugh. Journalists of a certain kind constantly speak privately in terms of “we’re gonna get her/him” as you very well know. This is exactly what is happening in this case.

Russell Brown: On this one point, I agree with you. I hate hearing journalists brag about “scalps”, as if ending a political career is what they’re there for. But that’s quite different to your original allegation. It just happens to weakened leaders, because that’s safer and easier to do.

And I don’t even know that that’s what’s happening in this case. Maybe it’s more about a supply of newsworthy material for people who are under constant pressure to deliver news. That’s why some journalists used to hold their noses and deal with Slater.

Matthew Hooton: “used to”?

Liam Hehir: The nihilistic approach to covering political news here, with its emphasis on corroding trust in institutions & assuming the worst about everyone, will continue to have purchase since at any one time, half the audience just laps it up with little regard to how they felt earlier.

Matthew Hooton: It’s like the thing. A total colossal fuck up of course. But “gotcha” reporting didn’t start speculating on how it all happened (which would be of huge interest) but on whether he would resign (which is neither here nor there).

Russell Brown: To be fair, the gotcha was the key message of the Opposition party. National doesn’t *actually* think ILG has committed a resigning offence, but must be delighted that the more biddable commentators have bought into the idea.

Whether the sort of journalism being discussed is a result of pressure to produce headlines and clicks with a fast turnover of stories, or whether some journalists get sucked into the thrill of the political kill (there is probably some of both) this is a serious issue facing both journalism and politics in New Zealand.

One symptom is media making virtual demands that politicians resign over embellished stories that can look more like hit jobs than reporting.

Jacinda Ardern interview on the Nation

An interview with Jacinda Ardern will be on Newshub Nation this morning. I think she has already left for a visit to the US and United nations, so I presume this is a pre-recorded interview.

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to the United Nations, Lisa Owen sat down with to ask who holds the power in her Government and whether Labour will campaign with its current partners in the next election

I’ve got more important things to do this morning. I’ll post details of then interview later in the day.

“We need to be honest about the descriptors…” – yeah, right. Most political journalists pointedly still refer to it as a ‘Labour-led government’ but Ardern and Labour MPs go out of their way to avoud saying that.

“I’ve many many times called us the purest form of MMP government that we’ve ever had” – repeating nonsense doesn’t stop it from being ridiculous nonsense.

Lisa Owen: In your year as Prime Minister have you at any point misled the public?

Jacinda Ardern: “I certainly, ah, I certainly set out to never mislead the public. Wil I make mistakes? Yes, but never is that my intention.”

Lisa Owen: And you haven’t misled the public in your year in the top job.

Jacinda Ardern: “It is never my intention, ah you know, I’m never going to say I’m not fallible and make the odd mistake, but i never set out to mislead”.

Even if she never sets out to paint a less than fully open and transparent picture, she has been caught out not being fully open and transparent and she has not done a god job of rectifying mistakes if that’s what they are.

 

Bridges steps up after Ardern drops out of Newshub Nation

Yesterday Jacinda Ardern pulled out of two scheduled interviews, citing ‘a diary problem’.

Newshub:  Prime Minister pulls out of Newshub Nation and Q+A weekend appearances

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her planned appearances on both Newshub Nation and TVNZ’s Q+A this weekend, saying there was an issue with her diary.

Ms Ardern’s chief press secretary told Newshub Nation on Wednesday the Prime Minister would not be appearing on the show because he got the date of the interview wrong.

“There’s been bit of a diary issue in my team. There’s no question I remain very much available for any issue of the day,” Ms Ardern said on Thursday.

“This was a simple diary issue.”

Justifiably that was views with some scepticism.

It’s the third time the Prime Minister has pulled out of a scheduled interview with Newshub Nation in the past year. The other interviews were planned for August and February.

The Government is dealing with fall-out from Clare Curran’s resignation, the inquiry into Meka Whaitiri allegedly assaulting a staff member, and apparent ructions over employment lawthe refugee quota and Crown-Maori relations.

Failing to front up leaves Ardern open to accusations of avoiding scrutiny when the going gets tough, again justifiably.

Pulling out of prime interviews tends to annoy media. Newshub have responded with:

National Party leader Simon Bridges will appear on Newshub Nation in Ms Ardern’s place.

Ardern and her spin machine can hardly complain about that.

That could be misleading, Bridges is not “currently polling at just ten percent”, unless Newshub have just done a new poll. The last Newshub,Reid Research poll was 17-24 May (9%) and the last 1 News/Colmar poll 28 July – 1 August (10%). A lot has happened in politics since then. Ardern returned as Prime Minister after the last of those two polls.

This is an opportunity for Bridges to take advantage of Ardrn’s absence, if he is capable of doing that.

Simon Bridges says he ‘doesn’t take it lightly’ that he is only polling around 10 percent as leader but says ultimately it’s the party vote that count.

He’s right, but will continue to be battered by low leadership polling.

He says he ‘doesn’t really think about’ the person who leaked his expense.

The questioning around polls, leadership and the leak were largely a pointless exercise.

Bridges stepped up as well as a damp blanket can.

Nation interview – Marama Davidson

Green co-leader is calling for an enforceable warrant of fitness for rental homes – a regime that will check out rental properties before they can take on tenants.

She said this policy hasn’t been costed, and it is Green policy so won’t necessarily get Government support.

When challenged on the apparent dominance of NZ First in policy achievements Davidson repeatedly rattles off Green achievements.

She says that the Greens always have been and remain a strong feminist party when challenged over her ‘c-word’ campaign – she seems to have learnt from that misstep and responded fairly well here.

Green candidate John Hart:

Interesting question from to about whether the Greens are an equal partner in Govt, based on NZ First and Green wins. So much depends on what each base wants, is willing to budge on, not just the number or $ value of policy wins.

But it would be fascinating to see an attempt at an objective metric

Nation: Shane Jones on new “infrastructure entity”

‘Infrastructure entity’ is an odd description for a new layer of bureaucracy.

On Newshub Nation this morning:

This week Minister Shane Jones announced an independent commission to tackle New Zealand’s massive infrastructure deficit. Simon Shepherd asks him how the agency can avoid becoming another layer of bureaucracy

Beehive blurb:


New infrastructure entity to help drive economic growth and wellbeing

A new independent entity will be established so New Zealand gets the quality infrastructure investment it needs to improve long-term economic performance and social wellbeing, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has announced today.

Speaking at the annual Building Nations Symposium in Auckland, Shane Jones said the new entity would provide greater certainty to the industry and better advice to Ministers to ensure adequate, long-term planning and investment happens.

“When we first came into Government, it quickly became clear that we’re facing a major infrastructure deficit with no plan to tackle it. We’ve struggled to get a clear picture from officials of its scale, when it would hit us the worst and in which sectors.

“Treasury is currently unable to properly quantify the value of the deficit we’re facing – it doesn’t hold accurate or up-to-date information about all infrastructure projects across all sectors and advises that agencies themselves may not necessarily know the extent of their future capital needs.

“This is just not good enough. This Government has a firm eye on the future and not just the next few years. We’re determined to improve economic performance, and social and environmental wellbeing for generations to come and getting on top of our infrastructure challenge is key.

“That means ensuring New Zealand can make the timely and quality investments in vital infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, transport networks, water and electricity. And it means being open to innovative solutions to sourcing the capital we need.

“We’ve listened to industry and local government – they need greater visibility of our infrastructure needs. 

“This new entity will provide that certainty so we can make the right investments, in the right places and the right time.

“We’re already making a significant dent in our infrastructure deficit. Net capital spending in the next five years will be more than double that of the previous five years with the Government investing about $42 billion through to 2022.

“This is a good start, but we need to do better over the long term and I’m confident the new infrastructure entity will help us really sharpen our planning for the future.

“Treasury will now lead the development of the detailed policy working alongside key industries and I’ll report back to Cabinet early next year with options on how to structure the new organisation,” Shane Jones said.

It is anticipated the new infrastructure entity will be operational by late 2019.


That was quite a different Shane Jones to what we usually see in Parliament. He didn’t stray into flowery crap. It was a fairly forthright performance, saying what he wanted to do, saying what he couldn’t do because of limits imposed by government agreements (especially in the spending cap), he criticised past governments including his then Labour government under Helen Clark, and also (t an extent) praised National initiatives and cooperation.

Apparently the ‘infrastructure entity’ was a National policy that Jones has taken on.

Shane Jones says this infrastructure agency should provide “greater credibility, more certainty, more confidence” for the construction industry

“I’ve got zero patience for the iwi leaders group, I’m more interested in the Indians and the cowboys because they’re the ones who vote for me” – Shane Jones on consultation with Māori freshwater advisory group

Bridges expenses leak – sow’s ear out of public purse

It’s hard to work out what the aim of the leak of Simon Bridges’ expenses was, given they will be officially released soon anyway. And it’s hard to get very excited about the media overkill of the story.

It raises more questions over the motives of the leaker and the journalist than over Bridges’ expenses.

RNZ – Bridges: National caucus didn’t leak travel expenses

Opposition leader Simon Bridges is standing by his MPs, saying he doesn’t believe one of them leaked his travel expenses to media.

Mr Bridges is defending the roughly $84,000 he clocked up travelling around the country in a Crown limousine between April and June.

He said he might never get to the bottom of who leaked the information before it was due to be published but said it was not his caucus.

RNZ – Bridges’ expenses leak: Prime Minister claims Labour had no part

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she asked Ministerial Services to clarify exactly who had access to the National Party’s expenses, and it had been confirmed to her that only the National Party caucus did.

“We’ve had it confirmed that no-one in Labour ever actually had access to that information and it would be improper if we would have,” she said.

“The only groups as I understand who will have had access will be the opposition themselves and the Speaker.”

Mr Mallard denied being the source of the leak and was personally looking to ensure the information did not land in the hands of anybody it should not have.

A number of MPs have denied leaking the information, but that’s hardly news. I don’t recall any MP ever admitting leaking.

Newshub reporter Tova O’Brien has copped some flak for breaking the story, with accusations she has been a party to a political hit job.

Stuff Editorial: Simon Bridges expenses leak seems like a bit of a ‘beat-up’

Quite apart from the fact we have no firm idea who leaked National Party leader Simon Bridges’ expenses, ahead of their official release by the Parliamentary Service next week, it’s difficult to know exactly what the leaker hoped to achieve beyond a lot of shoulder-shrugging.

On Tuesday, Ardern was quick to say she could “categorically rule it out” when asked if the leak came from her party, pointing out that the only groups with access to Bridges’ expenses were National, and Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, who did not attend Labour caucus meetings. That was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Service, which naturally has access to the information as the agency responsible for releasing it.

Bridges was quick to say the leak had not come from his caucus, though he conceded he did not have “perfect information on that”. Mallard said he had launched an inquiry into the source of the leak, and also cast doubt on the accuracy of the figures.

But assuming they are accurate, and Bridges, with his reported tally of $83,693, indeed spent $35,000 more on travel in a Crown limousine over the past three months than then-Opposition leader Andrew Little did in the corresponding period last year, so what?

It’s widely known he has just completed a 12-week “national town hall roadshow”, holding close to 70 meetings around the country.

As the first person chosen to lead his party in opposition after a long period in government, that seems entirely reasonable.

Which suggests that the story loaded with clickbaity phrases like “spending up large”, “splashing cash” and “travelling the country by road and in style” is a shabby way of making a sow’s ear out of the public purse.

Nation: Grant Robertson on the state of the economy

I think he easily met this target.

The Finance Minister says he shares some of the business community’s concerns, such as global trade tensions and their impact on our economy.

…strikes are the result of “nine years of frustration with previous government”

…says “we want our government agencies to have best practice procurement… we have put the word out to our Ministries that they should be abiding.

 

Nation: Nigel Farage interview

Nigel Farage has been controversial in the UK, especially in relation to Brexit.

He will visit New Zealand in September: Nigel Farage coming to Auckland

Nigel Farage, the politician who led the successful Brexit campaign in the UK, is coming to Auckland in September as part of an Australasian tour.

The former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) will be on his An Entertaining Evening With Nigel Faragespeaking tour. Ticket prices start at $49 for students, while general admission is $89, then it’s $295 for a meet/greet ticket, and $495 for a backstage pass.

A promotional email from Australian celebrity management organisation Markson Sparks described Farage as the “world’s most charismatic politician”, who “changed the world of politics as we know it”.

An odd item from Newshub yesterday: Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage forced to deny he dyed his hair to emulate Trump

Newshub Nation today:

This is the civility argument, at least to some degree. The Left can call him a monster but that’s not what many people will see. And that then means those people are then attracted to him.