Dunne calls ‘sophistry and bollocks’ on party posturing on cannabis referendum

Peter Dunne has blasted the Government and the Opposition, calling their posturing on the proposed cannabis referendum sophistry and bollocks.

sohistry: The use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

bollocks: Nonsense; rubbish (used to express contempt or disagreement, or as an exclamation of annoyance)

So quite strong language from Dunne.

Newsroom:  Sophistry and bollocks on the referendum

Next year’s referendum on recreational cannabis will be the first Government-initiated referendum not to have an immediate definitive outcome. Despite being styled as a binding referendum, it will, in reality, be no more than an indicative vote whether or not people wish to change the legal status of cannabis used for recreational purposes along the lines to be set put in a proposed Bill to accompany the referendum.

But this Bill will not even be put before Parliament, let alone passed, until after the referendum has been held, so voters are being asked to take a great deal on trust.

The Justice Minister has given a commitment that the current three Government parties will treat the outcome of the referendum as binding, and that the Bill will come before the next Parliament. But he has given no assurances that the Bill will be the same as that to be released before the referendum, or that it will not be substantially strengthened or weakened by the select committee process to follow, or even when during the term it might be introduced and passed.

Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition says he cannot say what his party’s position will be until they see the proposed legislation. The Minister tries to justify his position by saying that no Parliament can bind its successor Parliaments.

This is, to put it politely, pure sophistic bollocks.

sophistic bollocks: deceitful nonsense

Every piece of legislation passed and regulation promulgated by every New Zealand Parliament since our first Parliament met in May 1854 has to some extent or another bound successor Parliaments. Indeed, if those successor Parliaments have not liked laws passed by their predecessors, they have either repealed or amended them.

That is the stuff of politics and political discourse is all about, and governments have always reserved the right to upend the legislation of an earlier government if they have not liked it, and to replace it with something more akin to their own way of thinking.

From the referendum on compulsory peacetime conscription in 1949, through to the 1967 and 1990 referenda on extending the Parliamentary term to four years, and those referred to earlier, governments of the day have used the process judiciously to allow the voters to determine controversial issues that either the politicians cannot decide upon, or, in the case of electoral law changes, should not decide upon.

And the prime example of the dangers of having a binding referendum with little defined, and then trusting politicians to follow the will of the majority, is Brexit. It is not just a mess on leaving the EU, it’s making a mess of the whole political system in the UK.

The notion of a government-initiated referendum that might or might not be binding, or implemented quite as people expect, has been completely foreign to all of those earlier examples. Yet that is precisely what New Zealand now faces with this Government’s, all things to all people, recreational cannabis referendum.

But it is actually worse than that, which could produce more uncertainty than it seeks to resolve.

On the assumption the referendum passes, the country faces a period of uncertainty while the legislation is considered and wends its way through the Parliamentary process, over at least most of 2021, and possibly the early part of 2022, assuming the Government decides to proceed with it as a priority, and that is by no means a given.

I can’t remember how many times I have heard the current Labour led Government say a promise or policy is ‘not a priority’, which is doublespeak for ‘get stuffed, we’re not doing it now’.

Trust politicians?

All this uncertainty creates a potentially extraordinarily confusing situation, which could have been avoided had the specific law been in place before the referendum, to be triggered by a positive vote.

Everyone would have known not only where things would stand once the law changed, but it will also occur immediately, removing instantly the uncertainty likely to accrue from the inevitable post referendum delay and confusion the government’s current approach will surely cause. However, without that, the current disgruntlement about the inconsistent way the current law on cannabis operates, is likely to give way to a new disgruntlement about its replacement.

The way this issue has turned out is another example of how this unwieldly administration seems at sixes and sevens when it comes to major policy development.

Nothing ever seems to be able to be implemented quite the way it was promoted two years ago when the Government took office. The compromises necessary to keep Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens may well be examples of MMP government in practice but they are increasingly looking like weak excuses for missed opportunities.

Is cannabis law reform therefore about to join welfare, tax reform, electoral reform and a raft of other things this Government says it would “love” to do properly, but, when the crunch comes, just cannot ever quite manage to bring together in a cohesive and comprehensive way?

The only think making the deceitful nonsense from the Government look so bad is the matching deceitful nonsense from the opposition.




Amy Adams to take Finance role

Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams as National’s Finance Spokesperson. This isn’t a surprise. Adams has been very accomplished in previous roles as a Minister, which included Associate Minister of Finance.

Bridges appoints Adams Finance Spokesperson

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams as Opposition Finance Spokesperson, saying she is the best person to ensure the Government builds on the National Party’s world-class economic record and does not squander New Zealand’s hard-won success.

“I am today announcing Amy Adams as our Finance Spokesperson and the third-ranked MP in our Caucus, ahead of the caucus reshuffle to show the economy remains the National Party’s number one priority.

“Having a strong economy allows us to invest in public services and create opportunities for New Zealanders – something the National Party has demonstrated over the past decade.

“And, as a result of our strong economic plan this Government has inherited one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world, one which is seeing 10,000 jobs created a month on average, rising household incomes, budget surpluses, and falling government debt. All this is helping ensure New Zealanders get ahead.

“However, the Labour-NZ First-Green coalition Government seems intent on squandering that through plans to impose more taxes on hard-working New Zealanders and through rolling out negative and backward looking policies which will slow down our growth and see New Zealanders miss out.

“The National Party will fight these changes and Amy is the best person to lead that effort.

“Amy is an incredibly experienced former Minister, serving as Associate Minister of Finance as well as holding a range of important and challenging portfolios, from Social Housing to Justice and Environment, which she handled with real diligence and focus.

“She has chaired Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, has a background in commercial law and is a talented and hard-working member of the National Party caucus.

“Amy follows in the footsteps of the National Party’s hugely successful finance ministers, Bill English and Steven Joyce, and I have no doubt she’ll do a great job on behalf of all New Zealanders. I look forward having her on my team.”

That makes National’s #2 (Paula Bennett) and #3 female (Adams), which strengthens an appearance of diversity. The full shadow line-up may not be known for another week, but Judith Collins is also likely to be prominent.

Adams to take fight to the Government

New National Party Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams has signalled a strong focus on ensuring the continued success of the New Zealand economy and says she will fight hard against Government policies that will slow New Zealand down.

“New Zealand currently has one of the strongest economies in the western world. That’s not an accident. That’s a result of the hard work of New Zealanders backed by the strong economic plan of the previous National-led Government,” Ms Adams says.

“New Zealand succeeds best when we are open and connected with the world. I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting with and listening to successful exporters and employers in the weeks ahead.

“National will be advancing new economic and social policies ahead of the next election, but first we have to stop the threat posed by Labour’s economic mismanagement.

“Many of the Labour-led Government’s planned policy changes will sacrifice our economic success and make it harder for New Zealand businesses to compete and succeed.

“These changes are bad for all of us. Slower business growth means less investment, fewer job opportunities, and lower wages generally than would otherwise be the case.

“Already businesses are less confident now than they were six months ago, despite the world economy steadily strengthening over this time.

Ms Adams singled out Labour’s overseas investment changes, employment law changes, and proposed new taxes as things that would ankle-tap the country’s medium-term economic performance.

“In Select Committee National MPs are constantly hearing how the Overseas Investment Bill will chill foreign investment. That’s bad for housing construction, bad for the regions, and bad for our economy overall.

“And now the Government’s Tax Working Group is clearly looking to design a more redistributive tax system that removes any incentives for New Zealanders to work hard and get ahead.

“The Government needs to focus on the quality and quantity of their new spending. They are continuously ramping up expectations. I’ll be keeping a close eye on their approach to spending taxpayers’ money.

“This Government needs to heed the lessons of success and stop trying to introduce policies that will only take us backwards and damage the economic security of all New Zealanders.”

Adams may be limited in what she can do until the Government’s and Grant Robertson’s first budget in May.

More on the media and murky lobbying in politics

Bryce Edwards has continued to question the relationships between paid lobbyists and politicians, but also points out that relationships between lobbyists and media mean it isn unlikely ton get much exposure.

Political Roundup:  Lifting the lid on lobbying in politics

Recent revelations that a lobbying firm owner and director was recruited to work over summer as Chief of Staff for the Prime Minister, with the expectation he would then immediately return to lobbying, barely raised a mention in our media.

What should have been a major political scandal, was the subject of a must-read investigative report last week on The Spinoff website – see Asher Emanuel’s Conflict of interest concerns over lobbyist turned chief of Jacinda Ardern’s staff. Emanuel’s article is important because it raises unanswered questions about ethics and procedures in the hiring of lobbyists to work for the government.

One explanation for this extraordinary situation going largely unreported, is that Wellington political insiders often operate as a “political class” who are careful not to step on each other’s toes. For the media, in particular, a symbiotic relationship can make it problematic to report on powerful individuals who they depend on for stories and access.

Danyl Mclauchlan earlier this week pointed to a second, very important, factor in why so little public scrutiny had been applied to this lobbyist. He writes, “a jaw-dropping conflict of interest” such as this could have been massive: “If such a thing happened during the Key government there would have been a huge outcry: protests, online petitions, Twitter hashtags, Radio New Zealand flooded with academics lamenting the death of our democracy. Instead there was an indifferent silence” – see: Simon Bridges and the opposition vacuum.

Partly, Mclauchlan attributes this to partisan bias. But, crucially, he suggests that another important component of New Zealand’s “political class” – Parliament’s Opposition – decided not to make the issue a scandal. He says “Most government scandals need opposition leaders asking questions in the house, crafting lines so that the voters can understand what’s happening, providing optics for the TV news, and having their research units breaking new angles to keep the story live. If none of these things happen then there’s no scandal.”

The Opposition is supposed to be a check on Executive power – it’s their job to expose the government’s ethical transgressions such as any misuse of power or willingness to allow conflicts of interest to occur at high levels. So why didn’t National push the issue? According to Mclauchlan: “National has no interest in progressing such a story because they in many ways spent the last nine years acting as a vertically integrated lobbying and fundraising operation, and their former chief of staff is now a consulting partner with the same lobbying firm as Labour’s former chief of staff.”

More here from Edwards:

But with the primary means of holding power to account – the media and the Opposition – both complicit it is unlikely this will be given much scrutiny.

Good on Edwards for having a crack at it. He could be putting his media access at risk.

Is a list leaning Government an issue?

Does it matter that the Government has more list MPs that electorate MPs?


Interesting, but does it matter?

NZ Govt consists of 34 List MP’s & 29 electorate MPs.

Opposition consists 15 List MP’s & 42 electorate MPs.

All MPs have equal voting status within the parliament.

I don’t think that in general that proportion – more list MPS in government than electorate MPs – should matter.

Many people, I think, look upon electorate MPs as real MPs representing an electorate and List MPs as second class. But in honesty, with whips/party discipline, all MPs put their Party first.

I think of more interest is Government has two list only parties. There is potentially a democratic issue with them, if each of NZ First and Green MPs tend to engage within their party bubbles, dealing with a narrow range of political views and preferences.

Electorate MPs,  having to deal with constituents from across the political spectrum through electorate office inquiries and public engagements, are more likely to be in touch with a more diverse range of people.

I don’t know if this is an issue of concern or not. It depends on how the list MPs work and engage.

National Opposition spokesperson roles

Bill English has announced the roles for MPs in the National Opposition.

National Party Leader Bill English has unveiled a strong Opposition team which will hold the Government to account and ensure it does not squander the opportunities New Zealanders have created for our country in recent years.

“New Zealand is doing well, with low unemployment, thousands of jobs being created every month, strong public services and New Zealanders getting ahead,” Mr English says.

“That’s a direct result of the hard work and dedication of New Zealanders who have operated confidently with the support of a clear and consistent economic plan and a government focused on achieving measurable results.

“We will be pushing the new Government to maintain that success and that focus.

“Today I am announcing our Opposition lineup which makes the most use of our dedicated and talented caucus. We are the largest Opposition Party New Zealand has ever seen, and the largest party in Parliament. We will ensure we make those numbers count.

“I have ensured we make the most of the experience and knowledge of our former ministers, while also utilising the talents of our large caucus who are passionate about New Zealand’s future.

“All but the latest intake of MPs have been allocated portfolios. Those MPs will be given time to understand Parliamentary processes and work alongside our spokespeople, and be allocated portfolios in due course.

“We will be a strong and loyal Opposition. We are ambitious for New Zealand – and we remain committed to building a stronger, more confident and more prosperous nation.

“We will work tirelessly to ensure New Zealand continues to succeed and New Zealanders continue to get ahead, while holding the current Government to account on any decisions that place that progress at risk.”

National Party Spokesperson Allocations 2 November 2017

Spokesperson for Associate roles
Rt Hon Bill English
Leader of the Opposition
National Security
Hon Paula Bennett
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Social Investment
Hon Steven Joyce Finance
Hon Gerry Brownlee Foreign Affairs
Land Information
Hon Simon Bridges Shadow Leader of the House
Economic and Regional Development
Hon Amy Adams Justice
Workplace Relations and Safety (incl Pike River)
Hon Jonathan Coleman Health
Sport and Recreation
Hon Christopher Finlayson Shadow Attorney General
Hon Judith Collins Transport
Hon Michael Woodhouse Housing
Social Housing
Hon Nathan Guy Primary Industries
Hon Nikki Kaye Education
Hon Todd McClay Trade
State Services
Hon Paul Goldsmith Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Hon Louise Upston Social Development
Hon Anne Tolley Nomination for Deputy Speaker
Rt Hon David Carter State Owned Enterprises
Hon Nick Smith Forestry
Hon Maggie Barry Conservation
Hon Alfred Ngaro Courts
Community and Voluntary Sector
Pacific Peoples
Hon Mark Mitchell Defence
Hon Nicky Wagner Disability Issues
Hon Jacqui Dean Tourism
Small Business
Hon David Bennett Food Safety
Associate Immigration
Hon Tim Macindoe ACC
Hon Scott Simpson Environment
Jami-Lee Ross Senior Whip
Local Government
Associate Transport
Barbara Kuriger Biosecurity
Rural Communities
Junior Whip
Matt Doocey Greater Christchurch Regeneration
Mental Health
Third Whip
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi Internal Affairs Associate Police
Melissa Lee Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
Ethnic Affairs
Jonathan Young Energy and Resources
Joanne Hayes Whānau Ora Associate Children
Ian McKelvie Seniors
Simon O’Connor Corrections
Jian Yang Statistics Associate Ethnic Affairs
Andrew Bayly Building Regulation Associate Commerce
Chris Bishop Police
Sarah Dowie Early Childhood Education
Brett Hudson ICT
Government Digital Services
Nuk Korako Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Māori Development
Todd Muller Climate Change
Crown/Māori Relations
Parmjeet Parmar Science and Innovation
Shane Reti Data Associate Health
Alastair Scott Customs Associate Regional Development
Stuart Smith Civil Defence
Earthquake Commission

Portfolio allocations with images: National_Party_Portfolios.pdf

That’s 46 of the 56 National MPs who have been given spokesperson roles.

The new Opposition

National is beginning a stint in Opposition after nine years in government. This will take some adjusting as the powerful become relatively powerless. They will have a large 56 member caucus, so they could be a force in holding the new government to account, but if not managed well they could factionalise and fight for ascendancy in some sort of new order.

It will be important that they don’t go to negative, and pick their battles wisely, and execute them well – and fairly. A criticism of the outgoing Labour Opposition was their tendency to attack and whinge too much, with ‘barking at every passing car’ becoming a common observation.

Bill English has to adjust from being at the top of the power pyramid, for eight years as Minister of Finance and deputy PM topped by a year as Prime Minister, to battling for attention and relevancy.

English has probably suffered worse before, his disastrous attempt at leading National into the 2002 election. He should have learned lessons from that, both personally and for the party.

Competing leadership ambitions may or may not challenge the party. At this stage English says he has no intention of standing down, a wise choice in the interim at least.

He will be aware of the problems Labour had when Helen Clark announced her exit immediately on losing the election in 2008, and the subsequent floundering of the party for nearly nine years. Just three months ago it looked like Labour could be disintegrating, until Jacinda Ardern took over and dramatically turned things around.

There is no obvious leader-in-waiting in the National caucus.

Steven Joyce has never seemed to have ambitions for the top job (so far) and may be too connected to National’s recent electoral failure in the Northland by-election, and the knarly recent campaign that was probably rescued by English’s performance.

I doubt that the re-confirmed deputy Paula Bennett would be publicly popular enough to rise to the top. She may also find it difficult to fight against some rumours and some dirty sly attacks that have been fomenting mostly outside the public gaze.

I doubt that Judith Collins has anywhere near the caucus or public appeal to make a serious bid.

English may well stay on as leader through to the next election, but he will find it difficult competing if the new generation government led by Ardern is reasonably successful.

At some time, perhaps in about a year, or forced by panic closer to the election if polls go badly for National, someone new will rise to ascendancy and look a good bet. Simon Bridges and Nikki Kaye are mentioned as possibilities but neither look ready for it yet.

One danger is MPs who have been busy as Ministers now with time to foment other ambitions.

There’s no rush for National. I think English is experienced and sensible enough to see out the year and then ease National into Opposition next year, and see how things develop, both with the Government and within his own caucus and party.

It will take some time to see how well National manages it’s time in Opposition. Like the Government in this role they start with a fairly clean slate.

Members’ Bills could be dominated by National

Once they get their act together with their large size in Opposition National could dominate Members’ Bills.

Labour, NZ First and Greens will be aiming for much bigger things in Government. David Seymour is the only other MP who will be in Opposition.

Members’ Bills are mostly submitted by Opposition parties and drawn from the ballot, although some government back benchers join the lottery. As an under-secretary outside Cabinet David Seymour also submitted Members’ Bills, his End of Life Choice Bill 2017 was drawn late last term and will work it’s way through Parliament this term.

There are actually 22 Members Bills currently in the Parliamentary system.

By the look of Proposed members’ bills the biscuit tin is emptied when a term ends, so MPs will need to fill it up again.

Some proposed Members’ Bills from the last term may be resubmitted.

Some will be redundant, as Labour, NZ First and Green MPs will be getting or trying to get their legislation onto the new Government’s order paper.

I don’t think incoming Ministers can submit Members’ Bills so that will rule out some.

Parties in government will be busy trying to govern.

So this may largely leave Members’ Bills to National and to David Seymour.

National MPs will have been hoping to get things done from the Government benches, but they suddenly find themselves in Opposition.

It could take them time to decide on, write and submit Members’ Bills, but it is likely that in time Members’ Bills will be dominated by National.

This is likely tosubstantially improves the chances of being drawn, especially if the Opposition manages the type and number of Members’ Bills well.

Of course that doesn’t mean success. Any Member’s Bill still requires a majority in Parliament, and National and ACT don’t have that.

I haven’t observed the transition to a new Government before.

It will be interesting to see how National uses there advantage with Members’ Bills. I hope they submit thoughtful and potentially useful Bills, and avoid the petty point scoring (and inevitably futile) attempts of some past MPs and parties.

The possibility of a monster Opposition

There seems to be a reasonable chance that NZ first will choose to form a government with Labour and the Greens. This would mean that National would be an unusually large opposition party. Depending on how they operated this could make things difficult for three smaller parties in government.

Emma Espiner at The Spinoff: National: the Opposition from Hell

Let’s imagine Peters decides to hitch his wagon to the movement for change and Bill English becomes Leader of the Opposition.

Resourcing for research units, parliamentary funding and select committees are all allocated on a proportional basis. This gives National the opportunity to coalesce around the Opposition benches with a level of power and influence we’ve not seen before – if they can remain unified.

If National go into opposition a big question will be whether English remains as leader, and if he doesn’t whether National will be united and cohesive, or whether they go through a period of division and turmoil.

We’ve come to expect a period of destabilisation within the unlucky major party who doesn’t get to form the Government. Should we expect more of the same from National if they get booted off the front benches?


Not because National are intrinsically more stable or less prone to backstabbing and eye gouging than Labour – on that front you just need to ask Bill English what the aftermath of 2002 was like – but because, united, they could make things so difficult for a ‘progressive’ alliance in Government and they will relish the opportunity to make life hell for the NZ First/Labour/Green coalition.

It must privately (or not so privately) rankle some National MPs when people genuinely believe they set out to enter politics specifically to make life harder for our poorest, brownest and least rural folks.

There must be a temptation to chuck things like the housing (not) crisis, child poverty and Pike River at someone else and say “Fine. You have a go, I’ve had a guts full.”

There could be some of that sort of temptation. National backbenchers in particular could see better prospects for their political futures if their party has three years in Opposition, cleans out long standing MPs, making room for others to rise more rapidly through the ranks.

If this transpires and National goes into Opposition, we will see a Monster Opposition – 56 seats – think what that will look like and even sound like – the debating chamber is small, your opponents close, and 56 roaring MPs facing new Labour and Green Ministers will be genuinely testing.

Of course that will be heightened by the power of numbers in Question Time. Questions are allocated on a proportional basis too – increasing the number of genuine opposition questions and recucing the number of patsies from Government-friendly MPs.

Same goes for select committees – proportionality rules so National’s numbers will be very strong, allowing them to change and stall legislation, perhaps on crucial bills.

That’s an interesting point.

It may come down to how united National can be in Opposition, compared to how united a three party government that includes Winston Peters and the Greens can be – and whether Jacinda Ardern can manage both her Labour caucus and the Government with peters intent on creating a legacy with his proposed economic and social reforms.

Question Time could be interesting today

Question Time could be fascinating today.

It will be interesting to see how John Key handles it, presuming he will turn up.

How the contenders for leadership handle it, if given a chance to speak.

How the Opposition leaders handle it.

Today’s questions:

Questions to Ministers

  1. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received confirming New Zealand’s sovereign credit rating?
  2. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Ka tū ia i runga i te mana o tana kōrero “I honestly wish I could have changed the flag”, i te wā i pātaitia ai, he aha tana tino pōuri nui?

    Translation: Does he stand by his statement that “I honestly wish I could have changed the flag”, when asked for his greatest regret?

  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that “the prices you pay for a house are ridiculous”, given New Zealand house prices have risen by over 50 percent since he made that statement?
  4. SARAH DOWIE to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: How is the Government ensuring New Zealanders gain the skills needed in a growing economy?
  5. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Does he expect an estimated 533,000 New Zealanders who did not visit a GP due to cost in the last year to continue to wait for primary care reform which might “form part of a future Budget”, possibly under a different health Minister as stated by him?
  6. MATT DOOCEY to the Minister of Transport: What progress has the Government made on repairing damage to transport infrastructure following the Kaikōura earthquake?
  7. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister for Social Housing: Does she stand by her statement, “look I can’t guarantee that”, when asked if anyone living in a car can go to a Government agency today and get a roof over their head tonight?
  8. RON MARK to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?
  9. DAVID CLENDON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement to this House that “having surpluses does not mean that the Government can go spending more money on ineffective public services or infrastructure that may not be needed”?
  10. CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Education: How is the Government helping students use the internet for learning?
  11. STUART NASH to the Minister of Police: Does she think there is any correlation between the closure of over 20 Community Policing Centres and the 13,000 increase in victimisations in the last 12 months; if not, why not?
  12. MELISSA LEE to the Minister for Women: How is the Government encouraging more young girls and women to pursue career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and maths?


Little on poor poll

Labour are down 4 to 28% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, which is the same as Roy Morgan’s March poll – see One News/Colmar Brunton April 2016.

This has to be a major concern for Labour, who are failing to make any traction under Andrew Little’s leadership. Little looks out of his depth, failing to grow into his job of turning Labour around.

This is a concern for politics and Parliament in general in New Zealand. A weak opposition weakens our democracy.

In a Stuff report on the poll…

Labour has taken a body-blow in a new poll, falling back to 28 per cent while National surges to 50 per cent.

There is more bad news, too, for Labour leader Andrew LIttle in the preferred prime minister rankings where he slips into third place on 7 per cent against 10 per cent for NZ First leader Winston Peters.

…Little comments:

Little said the poll was “disappointing”.

“I had a bad couple of weeks a couple of weeks back, which I expect reflects that.”

That included his comments about legislating for trading bank interest rate cuts and limiting immigration by ethnic chefs in favour of locally-trained chefs..

The debates about a UBI was also a likely factor, Little said.

But he believed Labour was addressing the right issues.

The public were angry about the Government’s approach to the Panama Papers, which had seen Key defend the foreign trust tax regime.

But LIttle said that came towards the end of the polling period and it took longer for such issues “to seep into the public’s consciousness more deeply and more broadly”.

But this is a recurring wish in vain for Labour, hoping that the next negative news will damage National’s poll standing and hoping that by default Labour will pick up the shed support – except that Labour continue to fail to impress voters.

NZ Herald has more from Little:

“I think it’s a question of us knuckling down, understanding the need for a clarity of message, and sticking to the things that are important to New Zealanders.”

Response was very muted at The Standard, with no posts and just a few comments that reflected resignation by some and excuse making by others, with Sabine suggesting the polling methods were the problem and Jenny Kirk going further:

Totally agree with you, Sabine.

For a PM who is so embarrassing, who is clearly a sleazebag with women/girls, who has done NOTHING for the ordinary New Zealander, who just loves to play around with the big wealthy VIPs, and who deals in corrupt behaviours, and who has started to get booed in public, there must be something screwed in the way the questions of polls are asked, for his seemingly continuing “popularity”.

Neither consider that there could have been problems with Little and Labour.

Has New Zealand politics ever had such a sustained period of poor opposition? It was 2008 that Labour lost power, and they have failed to impress since then, in fact going backwards in each of the last three elections.

And the biggest worry is there is no sign of any significant improvement.

Little is not impressing, Labour’s caucus lacks strong MPs, their policy and media management has been awful, their social media support has been mostly absent or woeful – are there any positives?

At best Labour seem to be hoping for miracle shifts in their own camp and National stuffing up.

Can Labour do anything about it? They have to try. And try something different because what they have been doing has been a failure.

Little needs to take stock, rethink his approach and Labour’s approach, change some support personnel who are failing in their jobs, and somehow raise his game and drag Labour’s game up with him.

Failing to address their shortcomings will leave Labour looking like they are hanging on for the next 18 months until next year’s election and then trying yet another leader.

But in their current state they will struggle to attract quality candidates, so they will face more of the same – decline.

With the Greens having seemed to reached their ceiling of support and Winston Peters and Ron Mark as the alternative alternative options for voters look grim.

Key and National may hang on as the least worst option, again. While it’s not as bad as in the US our democracy is in a poor state.

Right now there seems little hope for Labour on another poor poll.