Labour slump in Roy Morgan poll

The November Roy Morgan poll has National on 49.5%, very similar to their recent Colmar Brunton result, but Labour has slumped to 23%, the lowest they have been since just after the 2014 election.

Greens have picked up a bit of Labour’s loss but combined they are on just 37.5% so their MoU looks like being a bad move (and this is backed by news reports that Labour members are deserting because of it).

  • National 49.5% (up from 48)
  • Labour 23% (down from 26.5)
  • Greens 14.5% (up from 11.5)
  • NZ First 8% (down from 10)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (no change)
  • Act Party 1% (up from 0.5)
  • United Future 0.5% (up from o)
  • Conservative Party 0.5% (up from 0)
  • Mana Party 0% (no change)
  • Internet Party 0 (down from 0.5)
  • Other 1.5% (no change)

Polling from 7-20 November.

Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 858 electors in November 2016. Of all electors surveyed 6.5% (unchanged) didn’t name a party.

Remember that like any poll this is just an approximate indication of past preferences. Roy Morgan polls have tended to vary quite a bit – but there’s probably a lot of soft and shifting support at the moment.

National are ending the year at the higher end of their recent range.

Labour look dire, and Labour+Greens looks to be a failure that will be difficult to undo, they are committed until the election with their Memorandum of Understanding (or they will get rubbished if they dump it).

Greens have been on 14% or 14.5% in seven of this year’s Roy Morgan polls.

It’s interesting to see that NZ First haven’t benefited from Labour’s slide, despite Winston’s efforts to jump on the Trump bandwagon.

roymorgan2016nov

 

Gender balance in Cabinet

I think that most people would agree that having about half of MPs women and about half of Cabinet Ministers women would be a good aspiration, but I also think most people, including most women, would put ability and competence ahead of exactly equal numbers of each sex.

John Key was asked about gender balance in Cabinet on The Nation in the weekend.

Key told Nation host Lisa Owen “it would be stupid” to promise a gender-balanced Cabinet.

“I think if you went to our female ministers, of which we’ve got a tremendous group of talent – from Paula to Amy to Judith, you name them, Hekia, Anne Tolley, there’s just a bunch of very talented women in there – they are there because they’re immensely talented. Yes, it’s great that they’re women, and I think there should be balance,” he said.

Of the current Cabinet there are 7 women and 13 men. Of Ministers outside Cabinet there are 3 women and 2 men.

In total out of 25 there are 10 women and 15 men.

Labour aspires to MP gender balance but failed to achieve it’s goals due to winning less than expected seats. It gets tricky when most MPs are electorate MPs, ultimately the voters choose individual MPs and the gender balance is whatever it all adds up to.

Greens, the champions of balance, are more staunch on Cabinet ideals. They have male and female co-leaders, and their list is arranged so there is approximately the same number of female and male MPs – it’s much easier to achieve when all are list-only MPs.

Greens have a policy on gender balance in Cabinet, but it’s not clear exactly what they are going for. James Shaw put out this press release in July 2015:

Greens will ensure gender balance in Cabinet

How will the ensure that a Cabinet of Labour, Green and probably NZ First MPs will be 50/50 male/female?

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

That’s not ensuring Cabinet is balanced, it is ensuring the Green MPs in Cabinet are gender balanced (as long as there’s an even number of them) and a hope that the other parties in the coalition will do likewise.

“The idea that people are paid on merit, or appointed to senior roles like Government Ministers based on their abilities, doesn’t stack up. Women are paid less largely because they’re working in professions that are dominated by women, and they’re often not appointed to senior positions because of barriers that have nothing to do with ability.  It’s time to drop the idea that women are worth less once and for all.

Shaw leaps from an unsubstantiated claim that Ministers aren’t appointed on merit to a general spiel on inequality.

Women MPs are paid the same as males in equal positions, and Cabinet Ministers are also paid equally.

“Around the world countries are realising that gender inequality is holding them back and they’re committing to greater representation by women in many positions of power in business and politics.”

While more women in positions of power is a good thing if they are up to the task I would be interested to see evidence that less than half of MPs and Cabinet Ministers is holding New Zealand back in some way.

“By committing to a gender balance in Cabinet, the Green Party won’t immediately fix the inequalities women are forced to deal with at work every day, but it will show that we are committed to gender equality everywhere, starting with where we work ourselves,” Mr Shaw said.

Shaw finishes back where he started – committing to a gender balance in Cabinet.

But how would Greens achieve that? They can hardly force other parties to have gender balance in the MPs they have in Cabinet.

On current polling and using proportionality if Greens had four Cabinet Ministers then NZ First would also have four and Labour would have twelve.

In Labour’s top twelve MPs there are 5 women.

NZ First doesn’t seem to rank their MPs but they have 8 males and 3 females. Based on their 2014 list there was one woman in their top four.

If Labour put  5 women into Cabinet and NZ First 1 that’s 6, so would Greens agree to have all four of their MPs in Cabinet in women to ensure it was gender balanced?

Or would they refuse to go into coalition unless Labour and NZ First had a 50/50m gender split with their Cabinet MPs?

Or would they just hope their ideal is agreed to by the other parties?

It would be a good ideal to achieve, approximately, but with a multi party coalition it may not be easy.

And – do most women care? How many would prioritise gender balance over merit and competence?

RM rains on Labour’s weekend

The Roy Morgan polls have been as variable as US presidential polls, but their October surprise probably won’t help the atmosphere at Labour’s 100th year conference.

  • National 48% (up from 41.5)
  • Labour 26.5% (down from 33.5)
  • Greens 11.5% (down from 12)
  • NZ First 10% (up from 8.5)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (down from 2)
  • ACT 0.5% (down from 1)
  • Internet Party 0.5% (up from 0)
  • United Future 0%
  • Mana Party 0%
  • Conservative Party 0% (down from 0.5)
  • Other 1.5% (up from 1)

Polling October 10-23, 2016

Labour+Greens+NZ First = National

Labour have crashed back from a term high in September to a more ‘normal’ level. They peaked at 33.5 last month but were 25.5 the previous two months.

National are about mid-range for Roy Morgan having bottomed (for this term) last month. They have varied 53-41.5 since the 2014 election.

The rest are normal-ish.

The Conservative Party has dropped to 0% and after the Colin Craig debacle are going to struggle to get back up.

roymorganoctober2016

http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7039-roy-morgan-new-zealand-voting-intention-october-2016-201611041621

 

 

 

Time for a meaningful discussion about Super?

A meaningful discussion about the future of universal superannuation in New Zealand is long overdue, but the National Party is adamant that kicking the Super can down the road is the best way of avoiding it.

Stuff: David v Jacinda: Super changes a poison pill that must be swallowed

David Seymour:

“A political hot potato that no party wants to handle.” That’s how The Nation’s Lisa Owen last week described rising superannuation costs, and she’s almost right. Since Andrew Little last year abandoned Labour’s policy of raising the age of eligibility, ACT is the one party campaigning on sustainable super.

Now perhaps that may be sort of correct. In past terms of the current Government Peter Dunne campaigned for changes to Super, promoting ‘flex-super’ which is still a United Future policy.

Politicians across the spectrum, including the Prime Minister, treat changes to super like a poison pill for how it polls with older voters. But if this Government doesn’t make changes, a future one will. By denying this, politicians deny younger Kiwis the chance to even discuss the issue. They are showing contempt for younger voters.

It is often framed as an ‘appeasing older voters’ versus addressing issues that younger peeople will face in the future.

No-one wants to punish today’s retirees or near-retirees. The question is how super should work in the decades ahead. In the long term, policy change appears inevitable – we’re healthier, working and living longer, resulting in a rapidly aging population. This trend won’t stop – half of babies born today are expected to live until the age of 100, and in my lifetime we’ll go from five taxpayers per superannuitant to two taxpayers per superannuitant.

The effects of this huge demographic shift can’t be overstated, with its effect on super alone costing an extra billion dollars each year. It’s reasonable to assume taxpayers won’t tolerate this forever, and fair enough.

When asked about the problem, politicians gloss over the real scale of the cost and instead pivot onto smaller issues. A typical tactic is to focus on immigrants, who can receive the pension after just 10 years of residency. This period should be extended, but that would be just a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of super for the existing ageing population.

Another idea mentioned is flexi-super – letting some people take it earlier at a lower rate, or later at a higher rate. It’s a good idea, but ultimately doesn’t affect the policy’s cost. It needs to come with more substantial reform.

Some suggest means-testing – taking super away from retirees with high earnings. But it’s surely both unwise and unfair to punish those who choose to continue working and pay taxes.

So that brings us back to raising the age.

That’s something that National won’t consider, and I presume NZ First won’t either.

Jacinda Ardern:

I agree with you David, on most counts.

Where I disagree is with David’s interpretation of other parties position on this question – namely ours. Labour knows we have a problem and we knew it when Michael Cullen set up the Super fund. We knew it when we campaigned to raise the age of superannuation, not just one election, but two. That may have been rejected by voters, but we can’t give up on the conversation on how to guarantee universal super for everyone. That has to be our bottom line.

So yes, you’re right. The National Government has rejected taking action in this area, and they are wrong.

But Seymour points out:

The Prime Minister promised in 2008 not to make changes under his leadership.

Not only that, Key and Bill English refuse to consider planning for the future affordability of Super.

If they get back in for another term that’s another three years of inaction, unless ACT and/or Dunne hold the deciding votes and force National to do something.

If NZ First hold the balance of power then no change will be locked in, whether Labour or National lead the next government.

Ardern:

Perhaps the courage we are now asking for needs to come from us, but also from voters – we need them to start banging down a few doors too.

It doesn’t seem to be an issue that voters will decide elections on.

A meaningful discussion about the future of universal superannuation is needed but is unlikely to happen in this decade.

‘Coward’s punch’ law

Winston Peters announced last week that a ‘one-punch’ assault should be subject to a separate law.

‘King Hit’ Sentences Far Too Light

Perpetrators of “King hits” should be sentenced to a minimum of eight years if their victims are killed, says New Zealand First.

“We want to send a message. Land one of these cowardly punches, take a life, and you’re behind bars a long time,” New Zealand First Leader and MP for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters said in a speech to the Police Association in Wellington today.

“There have been too many cases of innocent people dying from a ‘King hit’. Good people have been killed. Families and friends are suffering.

“The ‘King hit’ punch will be defined in law as ‘an event  that is unexpected and unprovoked but of such force to the head that it is likely to cause incapacitation, injury or death’.

“New Zealand First will ensure the length of the sentence will send a message that society will not accept this level of violence,” says Mr Peters.

Calling this type of assault a ‘king hit’ is a mistake. It’s a very cowardly sort of attack.

Is a special law for it necessary, beyond trying to appease a populist support base?

Manslaughter can already result in up to a life sentence, although now sometimes shorter sentences are given. Recently an Invercargill sentenced a ‘man’ to 22 months in prison. Would a longer sentence achieve anything?

Singling out one sort of assault could lead to anomalies in charging and sentencing.

Why is one punch worse than two punches? Two punches followed by a few kicks in the head? Driving a vehicle into a crowd?

Are one-punch sentences too light relative to other assaults? Or is singling them out a  knee-jerk reaction, or trying to appeal to the ‘lock-em-up crowd?

The Otago Daily Times looks at this policy in today’s editorial The full force of the law?

Mr Peters’ king-hit policy must be viewed with eyes wide open, however. This is already election season and the promises, baits, bribes and face-savers are coming in thick and fast: everything from more police, more houses and more affordable houses to less immigration and tax cuts. Crime and punishment is a favourite, and it is all too easy to promote policies which prey on fear and highlight retribution in order to make political mileage.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of one-punch laws as a deterrent. Is our current legislation really not up to the task? There is undoubtedly debate around sentencing in some cases, but there are also serious questions over whether a one-size-fits-all hard-line approach is desirable. And, if attitudes towards alcohol and issues with anger are at the root of the problem, is such a policy anything more than an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?

It is clear something needs to be done about alcohol-fuelled violence within our society. For years this newspaper has carried headlines which clearly show the prevalence of the problem, where nights out have resulted in bar fights and street brawls. Indeed, it sometimes seems this is the point of a night out for some.

Although a “quick fix” may be desirable, surely a holistic approach is more sustainable. Populist policy may tick the punishment box, but it doesn’t address the cocktail of other factors driving these crimes: alcohol availability and price, our culture of excess and permissiveness, our “hard-man” image, our focus on rights over responsibilities, and our latent anger and aggression.

All must surely be part of the mix if we are to make a meaningful difference – and help save lives.

Alcohol abuse and violence, especially when combined, is a very serious problem in New Zealand. It is deep rooted in our society, complex and  and difficult to deal with. Singling out one very narrow and infrequent type of assault may attract some votes but it is a very narrow, lazy, populist approach.

It will take a lot more than increasing sentences on specific occasional crimes to address mindless violence and alcohol abuse. Cowards who get pissed don’t care about the consequences for either themselves or their victims.

The message that Winston is sending will do little if anything to improve a problem. It looks like a cynical message to potential voters, not to thugs.

Maori party v. NZ First

The Maori Party and NZ First have been having a bit of a barney today.

It seems to have started with a chance clash between Marama Fox and a startled Richard Prosser this morning.

Newshub (includes video): Marama Fox attacks NZ First MP over Treaty let-down

Hundreds of Māori from around the country have cancelled trips to Wellington to witness the signing of Treaty settlements at Parliament on Friday.

New Zealand First has pulled its support for the settlements and that move led to a tearful and angry Māori Party co-leader confronting one of its MPs during a chance encounter in Newshub’s Parliament office.

“We’ve had tears on our phone. They’ve waited 30 years to bring this to Parliament. They’ve been dicked around enough and you buggers on a whim, on a bloody whim – you don’t even care,” she said as a Newshub camera filmed.

Te Ururoa Flavell let rip in General Debate in Parliament:

Ron Mark responded

(Thanks for the links PK)

Newshub: Taxpayers to cover travelling iwi after cancelled signing

Taxpayers will cover costs for hundreds of iwi members who have had to cancel plans to travel to Wellington to witness Treaty settlements.

The signing was put on hold after an objection from New Zealand First.

But what’s not perfect timing is Parliament extending its sitting hours to include this Friday, in order to sign off Treaty Settlements totalling almost a quarter of a billion dollars.

It’s business the Government says is being held to ransom by New Zealand First.

“It’s a stunt, it’s got the guy in the headlines. He’s out there again, using words like constitutional outrage etcetera,” complained Minister Gerry Brownlee.

Mr Peters argues the Bills contain errors, including specific wording.

“The provisions for appointed non-voted people on the committees is back in the legislation,” he says.

“There’s never really been a correlation between the word ‘merit’ and Winston Peters,” says Minister Chris Finlayson. “No, he’s just got things completely wrong.”

NZ First knows the Government has the numbers to pass the settlements – but that’s not stopping Mr Peters from holding up a stop sign.

“Foot the bill, Winston,” says Green Party’s Marama Fox.

“This is nothing more than a stunt, and you can pull out any little thing you can find to try and validate your stance – but this is a stunt, and nothing more.”

The Treaty Settlement Bills will remain on the order paper, essentially going back into the line, and with the Government’s legislative schedule full for the rest of the year, these five iwi will be waiting for some time.

Cross party support for family violence proposals

The Press editorial: Government’s $130 million family violence package is a solid start

A $130 million plan announced by the Government this week to crack down on violence in Kiwi homes has been welcomed by most victims, support and advocacy groups, and politicians on both sides of the House.

While there are some concerns and reservations, it is good to see cross party support for this.

Greens: Family violence law reforms will help

It is heartening that the Government is finally starting to address the failure of our justice system to provide protection for victims of family violence or support abusers to change,  the Green Party said today.

“Family violence is currently embedded in New Zealand culture and we all need to be brave to face the level of changes needed to address it,” Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Too many families have been further traumatised and indebted trying to get legal protection through our courts. Changes to legal aid and the Family Court last term prioritised cost-saving over protecting victims. These reforms will hopefully go some way to addressing that harm caused.

“All New Zealanders need to hear loud and clear the message that family violence, intimate partner violence, and violence against children is unacceptable.     

United Future: UNITEDFUTURE WELCOMES OVERDUE REFORMS TO TACKLE FAMILY VIOLENCE – DUNNE

UnitedFuture leader, Peter Dunne has welcomed the changes proposed today to strengthen New Zealand’s Family Violence laws.

“Our families are the bedrock of our communities and the rates of family violence we have in this country are appalling.

“These changes signal a much-needed shift in the way we respond to family violence,” said Mr Dunne.

“The key issue that needs to be focused on in New Zealand is the alarming fact that it is estimated nearly 80% of family violence incidents go unreported.

“If these reforms make any difference towards providing help to those people who currently do not feel safe or are not comfortable coming forward with their plight, then these policy initiatives will result in positive and meaningful reform.

“UnitedFuture congratulates the government for constructively responding to this unacceptable behaviour that is a blight to our families and communities”, said Mr Dunne.

ACT Party: ACT welcomes beefed up family violence laws, but…

ACT has welcomed the boost to family violence laws announced today, but questions why non-fatal strangulation isn’t a strike offence.

“ACT believes the justice system should always put the victim first. In that spirit, we’re relieved to see new protections for victims of family violence,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Reducing the cost and complexity of obtaining restraining orders is a no-brainer, and legislating against coercive marriage is an overdue protection of basic personal freedom.

“We also support the introduction of an offence for non-fatal strangulation. However, it’s perplexing to discover that non-fatal strangulation will not be included as a strike offence under the Three Strikes for Violent Crime legislation.

“The Three Strikes law, an ACT initiative, has been working well to keep repeat violent offenders behind bars and away from potential victims, so it’s disheartening to see it undermined by the current legislation. Strangulation, like all violent crime, is a serious offence and should be treated as such.”

NZ First via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke said the measures were a step in the right direction.

“Fundamentally, what they’re saying is there needs to be more guidance, information and education on the one hand but also harsher penalties. I would have thought that that two-pronged approach is the right way to go,” Mr O’Rourke said.

Labour via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

Labour’s associate justice spokesperson Poto Williams said tighter bail conditions would increase safety for women and their children.

But she said the government should have made it easier for offenders to access services to help them stop violent behaviour.

Maori party via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said having witnessed domestic violence as a child, he hoped the changes would help reduce the appalling statistics.

Mr Flavell said family violence was prevalent in almost every neighbourhood and changes were certainly needed.

He said it was all too often swept under the rug.

“I’ve sat on a bunk next to my cousins and I’ve heard the smashing of the walls. I’ve heard the throwing of pots around the place. I’ve seen the black eyes – and no-one talks about it.”

Cabinet documents showed police attended an average of 280 family violence incidents each day.

Mr Flavell, who is Māori Development Minister, said everyone had a part to play in bringing down those rates.

“That’s the key – you’ve got to start bringing it out of the cupboard. We’ve got to put it out on the table.”

“There’s a part to play by the actual government, by changing laws but actually families have got to talk about it and do something about it.”

Flavell is right, it is not just up to Parliament and the Government to make improvements.

Families and communities “have got to talk about it and do something about it“.

While there are details to be worked out it is promising to see all parties supporting this attempt to reduce our insidious levels of family violence.

Post-truth, or the diss-information age

‘Post-truth’ is a term that has come to some prominence. It’s a lie – or more accurately, a lot of deliberate lies told by politicians.

The heralded age of information seems to have morphed into the disinformation age, or alternately the diss-information age.

From Art of the lie at The Economist – “Politicians have always lied. Does it matter if they leave the truth behind entirely?”

CONSIDER how far Donald Trump is estranged from fact.

Mr Trump is the leading exponent of “post-truth” politics—a reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact. His brazenness is not punished, but taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power. And he is not alone.

Winston Peters stands out as a long time maker of assertions that “feel true”but have scant basis in fact, or that he has no evidence for, or that he doesn’t provide any evidence of.

Most of the time Peters gets away with it, aided and abetted by an often willing media and sufficient gullible voters to keep him in Parliament. Sometimes it backlashes on Peters, for example when Tauranga voters rejected him in 2005 – although NZ First was still in a position to decide that Labour and not National or the Greens would be in Government with them.

And in 2008 when Peters tried to take the Tauranga electorate back and lost to Simon Bridges by 11,742 votes, and NZ First failed to make the threshold getting just 4.07% of the votes.

But Peters came back in 2011 and is now widely expected to again dictate which parties will govern after next year’s election. His bull continues, with a brazenness that is not punished, but is taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power.

Stacey Kirk shows that Peters is far from alone in New Zealand with brazen bullshit in Personal prejudices the fuel of a political post-truth era

There’s dealing in grey, and then there’s dealing in unashamed drivel. 

The latter is becoming the norm, though thankfully not on a Trumpian scale – just yet. 

Dipping their toes into the post-truth waters however, New Zealand’s politicians are trying the mantle on for size, seeing how flows and gaining surety in it as they walk. They’re dissembling through their teeth and embarrassingly, a significant group of New Zealanders are lapping it up. 

Kirk lists some examples:

  • Government politicians claim income inequality had not worsened, contrary to official reports from both MSD and Statistics NZ.
  • Finance Minister Bill English was forced to admit he used incorrect figures to veto an extension to paid parental leave, despite the correct figures being written in the veto certificate he himself tabled.
  • Education Minister Hekia Parata was caught out making up an official body, to support changes around special needs education when she claimed she had the support of the “Special Education Association”. What association was that?  “All those who are involved in the delivery of special education with whom I have had these discussions”.
  • NZ First MP and anti-1080 campaigner Richard Prosser claimed cats, rats, and native birds had “coexisted” for more than 200 years, yet accused the Government’s “Predator Free by 2050” of being based on “unsubstantiated” science.
  • Trade Minister Todd McClay was publicly rebuked by his own Prime Minister for being economical with the truth, over what was known about fears of Chinese trade retaliation.
  • Auckland Mayoral candidate John Palino has claimed iwi leaders were holding building consent-seekers to ransom for $50k a pop.

Even the ‘clean’ Greens indulge in blatant bull.

  • More children will suffer under a re-elected National government because it’s “in denial” over the reality of child poverty in New Zealand, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.
  • “The New Zealand Government makes all sorts of promises on the international stage in relation to children’s rights, but when it comes to policy at every stage they fail our kids,” also from Turei.

And these sorts of assertions are taken as evidence by many of the willingness of the Greens to stand up for the poor kids.

There is a problem with bald faced bull, in New Zealand at least – the US has major problems, not just potentially with Trump, but also with Clinton (both Bill and Hillary) and it’s politics in general.

Greens have solid and loyal followers who think John Key doesn’t care about or hates kids, but they seem to have hit a ceiling of support.

Labour’s assertions that they finally have a leader who can look Prime Ministerial seem to have a limited gullible audience too.

But Peters seems to be on a roll, with NZ First polling far better at this stage of a term than they have for yonks.

Yet the masses fall into line based on what “feels” like it might be true. 

And I get it, voting is an emotional experience as much as it is logical. Even the most well-researched voters can’t block out that gut-feeling when they’re faced with a ballot paper – the option that they feel is the right one.

Many Americans (and some Kiwis) are convinced that Trump is ‘the right one’. And it seems a growing number of New Zealand voters are buying Winston’s bull and bluster.

That politicians deal in lies is not new. What is, is the way the truth has become secondary to reaffirming people’s latent prejudices. 

Pandering to prejudices and entrenched misconceptions is not new either (Peters has done it for decades) but it seems to be growing.

Politicians lie, media do call them out on it, but they double down and repeat. Why? Because they’re not trying to convince anyone that requires it of anything. They’re consolidating a mob – Us vs Them.

Yes, they are pandering to mob mentality. But do the media call them out on it? Sometimes, but they are also guilty of feeding it. That’s how Trump got within a whisker of the White House.

And here Key and his Ministers and their PR teams play the media. Peters is an expert at extracting maximum bang for his bull from the media. The Greens are hardly held to account by the media.

The only party that is failing with the media and the gullible voters is Labour. Are they the worst liars – or the worst at lying?

This is a two-sided game, and this kind of politics only works if people are buying it.

New Zealanders have a right to expect evidence and be given information that can and should be used at the ballot box, next year. 

For that to happen, we all need to check our own biases first.

A lie is only effective if you fall for it.

This could be as true for media as it is for voters.

PR churn is a major problem. Giving bullshit from politicians the headline, not always holding them to account, giving counter claims secondary exposure, giving politicians the opportunity to keep repeating their misleading and false assertions – this is a problem accentuated by the Internet, where clicks are the revenue makers.

Social media, with many more ways of lying and a myriad of competitors for eyeballs and eardrums, has just made an old problem worse.

Forums for debate are largely ineffective. Try arguing about socialism or climate change or Islam or any of a wide range of topics, and you will find that most participants start with entrenched views regardless of the facts and are more likely to end up with their views reinforced rather than challenged.

We must stop using fossil fuels or the planet is doomed. When Muslims get to 5% of the population a country is doomed. If people with different languages or customs or religions emigrate our country is doomed.

If these sorts of assertions are repeated often enough – and there are parties and lobby groups and activists who go to great lengths to keep repeating assertions to try and make them stick – then there are significant numbers of people who will believe them, regardless of the facts.

Post-truth, lies, unsubstantiated assertions, smearing hit jobs, none of these a re new but  they seem to be becoming more prominent and powerful.

Post-truth is a lie. A lot of what politicians and media perpetuate are lies, or untruthful claims, and assertions, or smears. Or a mixture of bullshit.

The only thing I’m not sure about is how much is deliberate lying, and how much is ignorance of people who actually believe their own lies.

The age of the Internet, the information age, seems to amplify the worst and seems to have become the disinformation age.

And where negative attack politics seems to rule, or at least try and rule, the diss-information age, where false information is deliberately used to attack, smear and discredit.

Are we doomed?

 

Radicalisation of the Greens and Labour

Losing Russel Norman last year and now losing Kevin Hague are blows to the Green Party. Their replacement MPs move Greens more towards a radical social activist party.

Norman did a lot to try and ‘normalise’ the Greens, to make them appear as if they were credible on business and economic matters in particular. He succeeded to an extent.

But last year he decided to move on (to Greenpeace). He was replaced by next on the list, Marama Davidson, who is more of a social activist who has attracted some attention, currently to the forefront of the inquiry into homelessness.

Hague tried to take over Norman’s co-leadership position but was rejected. Hague was one of  the Green’s best assets as a practical and hard worker who backed his principles but was prepared to work with anyone from any party or political leaning to try and achieve results.

Hague is now moving on to head Forest and Bird. So both he and Norman have moved on to environmental roles, and away from the Green Party.

Hague’s replacement will be next on the list, Barry Coates. He used to head Oxfam, and  aid organisation that has become more active in promoting social reform.

Coates has been leading anti-TPP protests in New Zealand. Social activism.

Norman’s replacement as co-leader, James Shaw, has not made a huge impression yet.

Greens’ other co-leader Metiria Turei has been involved in social activism for some time.

Greens could soften their radicalisation somewhat if they elevated Julie Anne Genter, but despite quiet rumours there is no solid sign of Turei stepping aside or down. Fortunately Genter at least looks to be a stayer at this stage.

While Greens do promote environmental issues such as clean rivers and climate change they appear to be moving more towards social activism with a strong socialist tinge.

Greens were ambitious last election so were disappointed not to increase their share of the vote in 2014, despite Labour’s weakening. They seem to have hit a Green ceiling.

This year they have entered into a Memorandum or Understanding with Labour so they can campaign as a combined Labour-Green ticket.

Labour under Andrew Little’s leadership also seem to be trying to move left and have also become more involved in social activism, promoting a number of petitions and joining the Greens in the homeless inquiry, and also appear in part at least to oppose the TPP.

With the growing radicalisation of the Greens and their closer association with a more radical Labour it’s no wonder Winston Peters sees growth potential for NZ First in the centre.

Greens and Labour may think their future lies in popular movements similar to Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK but neither of them have succeeded yet beyond exciting a vocal minority.

While our next election is probably more than a year away Greens and Labour have tied their colours to the campaign mast – fairly red colours with a tinge of green. They either know something about the future intention of voters that isn’t apparent, or are taking a huge punt.

It’s probably about 50/50 whether National would need NZ First to form the next government. It’s closer to 90/10 that Labour+Greens would require NZ First.

A more radical Greens+Labour plus the determination of Peters to remain an unknown quantity will be a hard sell to voters. Add to that recent policy announcements on education and housing indicate an attempt to outdo Labour’s large spending promises and we could have a fairly radical option next year, versus National plodding along.

 

No early election – but what about two?

Very unsurprisingly John Key has said he has no intention of precipitating an early election. There is currently no good reason for one, and the Government would be nuts go there.

Newstalk ZB: Key shoots down prospect of early election

Prime Minister John Key has shot down Winston Peters’ prediction that there will be an early election next year.

The NZ First leader said on Monday the government wouldn’t last a full term and would have to call an early election because it was having a bad run and had made too many mistakes.

Mr Key doesn’t think so.

“There’s nothing I can see that would indicate an early election, and on the basis of that it will be in the back half of next year.”

Mr Key says he’s likely to announce the date early next year.

That’s standard practice for Key, as it should be, with plenty of prior notice of the next election expected.

There’s been speculation and posturing about the possibility of an early election, but I think two elections are more likely, one near or at the end of the term as it should be, and another soon after if Peters holds the balance of power and proves too difficult to deal with (and Greens unwilling to support a national government).

If negotiations after next year’s election reach a stalemate due to National and Labour+Greens refusing to accept Winston’s terms for a governing arrangement then we may have to go to the polls again.

That could backfire on NZ First if they are seen as the cause of inflicting another election campaign on the public so soon after an extended barrage of bull.

It would also be very difficult for Labour in particular to finance another campaign.

I hope we don’t get a double barrelled barrage through two elections, but I think there’s more chance of that than an early election.

Voters (enough to make a difference) may choose to avert this, as they have done for the last few elections.