Poll – political affiliation and trust

A poll by Victoria University/Colmar Brunton shows a spread of political affiliations or leanings. Asked:

Most political parties in New Zealand lean to the ‘left’ or the ‘right’ with their policies.

Parties to the left are liberal and believe governments should support the less fortunate people in society.

Parties to the right are more conservative and believe in individual responsibility.

Some parties position themselves in the centre. How would you please your political views using the scale below?

  • 30% – Left-centre left (0-4)
  • 29% – Centre (5)
  • 35% – Centre right-right (6-10)
  • 5% – Don’t know

Alternately grouping 4 and 6 as close to centre:

  • 21% – Left-centre left (0-3)
  • 51% – Centre (4-6)
  • 24%- Centre right-right 7-10
  • 5% – Don’t know

I am really not sure where I would place myself, as I have a range of leanings depending on the issue or policy. Most likely I would go 5 as a rough average.

The poll also gauged trust per political affiliation.

Victoria University: Latest trust survey explores link to political leanings

The results show the centre-left have the highest trust of any political grouping in 13 of the 23 institutions or groups they were asked about.

The least trusting group is those immediately to the left of the centre-left, the left, who have the lowest trust of any political grouping in 17 of 23 institutions they were asked about, including big and small businesses, the church and the police.

The left also have the lowest level of inter-personal trust.

However I have some doubts about the results. In almost all results the ‘Left’ (presumably 0-3) result was zero trust, with the only question registering any response from the left being on saying Yes to corruption being widespread in new Zealand Government.

If you want to see all the questions and esults (PPTX, 4MB).

Trying to shut down speech a partisan overreaction

ll media should be considering how to deal with radical and provocative speech, and speech that could bolster extreme views and potentially actions.

But this (and I’ve seen similar elsewhere) is an alarming overreaction.

I have also seem claims that ‘virtue signalling’ is also responsible for various things.

Politically motivated attempts to put blanket bans on speech are not helpful in the current situation.

Political year review – the parties 2018

A lot of politics and politicians fly under the media radar. Some MPs make the headlines, because the have prominent jobs, because they seek publicity, or because publicity seeks them, or they cock up. Here’s a few of my thoughts and impressions on the 2018 political year.

Party-wise I don’t think there is much of note.

National and Labour have settled into competing for top party status through the year, with the poll lead fluctuating. It’s far too soon to call how this will impact on the 2020 election, with both parties having problems but still in the running.

Greens and NZ First have also settled in to competing for second level party honours. Nothing drastic has gone wrong for either, but they are both struggling to impress in the polls, and they keep flirting with the threshold. again too soon to call how this will impact on the next election.

ACT is virtually invisible, and unless something drastic changes will remain largely an MP rather than a party.

TOP is trying to reinvent itself without Gareth Morgan leading but Morgan is having trouble letting go of his influence. They have a lot of work to do to build a new profile with whoever they choose as new leader. As with any party without an MP they have an uphill battle with media and with the threshold.

The New Conservative Party is not getting any publicity, apart from their deputy leader posting at Whale Oil, which won’t do much for their credibility. The media seem disinterested, which is the kiss of political death.

No other party looks like making an impression.

With NZ First and Greens expected to struggle to maintain support while in Government (as have support parties in the past), one prospect is that the political landscape and the next election will be a two party race, with Labour and National competing to earn the votes to become a single party Government, which would be a first under MMP.

It’s too soon to call on this. A major factor could be whether voters are happy to see support parties fade away out of contention, or whether enough voters decide small party checks on power are important to maintain.

If the latter this may benefit the Greens IF voters aren’t too worried about a Labour+Green coalition who would have confidence in getting more revolutionary with a second term mandate.

For NZ First much may depend on how let down some of their support feels over a lack of living up to their promises on things like immigration and dumping the Maori seats. A lot may also depend on how Winston Peters weathers another term and whether he stands again.


Labour have won back a position as a top dog party after struggling for nearly all of the nine years they were in Opposition.

National continue to win a surprising level of support as long as individual MPs aren’t trying to sabotage the party. The Ross rampage is unlikely to be repeated as other MPs will have seen it as little more than self destructive of an individual’s political future.

So joint winners, sort of but with no prize, and no party deserving of a runner-up place.

Political credibility – expertise plus trustworthiness

A US publication by two academics has said that political credibility comes down to two things – perceived expertise and trustworthiness. Gordon Campbell considers the two in respect of Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges.

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the Ardern/Bridges problems with credibility

Credibility is always such a fickle, unstable element in politics. You know it when you see it, though.

In January a US publication called The Journal of Political Marketing featured a (paywalled) article called “What Does Credibility Look Like?” in which two American academics grouped the attributes of political credibility into:
(a) “the performance-based traits of competence and strength” and
(b) the “interpersonal characteristics of warmth and trust.”

In brief, they concluded that credibility came down to “expertise” on one hand, and “trustworthiness” on the other.

By the time the 2020 election rolls around, voters will have enjoyed a further two and a half years of exposure to the administrative expertise of Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges, and to their capacity to generate feelings of trust.

At this stage Ardern has had a lot of media exposure. When she first stepped up into the Labour leadership role she looked competent but the gloss has worn off, with some performances of the Labour Party rubbing off on her. Her competence has taken a hit, and this week in particular as Shane Jones and Winston Peters virtually ignored her telling off of Jones she looked impotent and weak. She has certainly worked hard on displaying warmth, but that too has looked strained recently.

Jacinda Ardern doesn’t do ruthless. Not yet, anyway. Last year, Jacinda-mania was incited almost entirely by her interpersonal skills and a general image of her being a straight shooter. Such qualities do not easily transfer to the daily grind of the bureaucratic processes of government.

Of late, Ardern’s sympathy for those seeking to end the planet’s dependence on fossil fuels has clashed with the necessity to allow the bids for oil exploration blocs to run their bureaucratic course.

At this relatively early stage of the term Labour and Ardern are suffering from having assigned or delayed many decisions, with many working groups and inquiries being one of their most biggest achievements – or non-achievements. It may be prudent, but it doesn’t look strong, yet at least.

…finding the right balance between competence and compassion in government is never all that easy. With John Key, his foibles on that front were balanced by the stolid figure of Bill English.

Ardern, unfortunately, has a far more mercurial deputy in Winston Peters and a Cabinet wild card (Shane Jones) not renowned for being a team player. Compared to what Ardern has to manage, the Key/English regime was an administrative cake-walk.

Government credibility is being stretched by attempts by NZ First and the Greens to set themselves apart, lately through publicity stunts of dubious merit.

Ardern has another perhaps larger problem – the credibility of her Labour Cabinet.

Much will depend on Grant Robertson and his first budget – spending priorities and perceptions of financial management skills will matter a lot in respect of competence.

Another critical portfolio housing. Last year Labour made a big deal of National’s incompetence in dealing with a growing housing problem, and promised a lot – in particular they promised a lot of houses, and an end to homelessness.

Phil Twyford seems to have had trouble leaving ‘opposition’ behaviour behind – like nearly all incoming Labour ministers he had only ever been in Opposition before.

It was always going to be difficult to crank up the Government house building programme, especially when starting with a shortage of labour and resources. They won’t get many built in their first year, but if by year three of the term 10,000 houses a year aren’t being built, and there are still obvious housing shortages, then Labour will have a real credibility problem. Trust they can deliver on strong words will figure in the next election campaign.,

Some other Labour ministers are noticeably struggling with their jobs, like Clare Curran.

And appointing Kelvin Davis as Ardern’s deputy may have seemed like a good idea going in to an election campaign, but even then Davis performed poorly and was quickly hidden from sight. That continues now they are in Government.

Helen Clark had a strong deputy, Michael Cullen. Key had English.

Ardern has no one in sight from her own team, and Jones and Peters are filling the vacuum, threatening even her own authority. This may get worse while Peters is Acting prime Minister while Ardern takes maternity leave.

To remain successful – and to avoid her baby-related temporary departure from the political scene looking like a retreat – she will need to lead decisively on her return.

It looks like managing and competing with Peters and Jones will be an ongoing challenge for Ardern. It will be a particular challenge when she comes back from her baby break.

One thing in Labour’s favour at the moment is the retirement of English and Steven Joyce. National need to rebuild, and they have a new leader that most voters barely know, if at all.

Bridges has only recently become National leader and has a lot of work to do to be noticed let alone be seen as competent, strong and warm. His most noticeable attribute so far is boring, in part due to media indifference, and in part (and related) due to his manner and speech, which struggles to grab attention.

Sadly, gender gives Simon Bridges a head start on the ‘expertise’ aspect of political credibility. Trust, on the other hand, could prove to be his Achilles heel.

I think the “head start on the ‘expertise’” is debatable. I haven’t seen much to give me confidence in his expertise yet. And Bridges needs to be noticed to be able to build trust.

He also has a deputy problem. Paula Bennett has not lived up to her purported potential. She has a lot of work to do to be noticed, to appear competent, but as for every good deputy, not to overshadow her leader.

And in the modern era of media obsession with ‘celebrity’ getting positive publicity will be a battle.

Ardern is sure to get saturation coverage when she has her baby. Winning the warmth stakes shouldn’t be a problem. But whether she will come out of that looking competent and strong and trustworthy as a leader, alongside Winston Peters, is another matter altogether. We will see over the next few months.

Bridges will be overshadowed by all of this. There’s little he can do about it but build his leadership skills, take what few chances he can get to be seen and heard, and be ready to step up for the campaign in 2020.

Much may depend on whether voters are sold on the idea of having a celebrity style Prime Minister – Bridges will struggle to compete with Ardern (and Trump) on that, presuming Ardern stays in charge – or whether they are over the glossy magazine superficiality and want more substance.

Public perceptions of expertise and trustworthiness are important in politics, or at least they were. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to have a good view of our leaders beyond the media headlines and PR plastering.

Motives of Cox’s killer

The motives of Thomas Mair, the killer of British MP Jo Cox, have been the subject of a lot of speculation and denial.

Lone killer? Or connected to a radical group? Similar arguments were raised in the Orlando killing.

There have been suggestions that both Mair and Mateen were associated with radical groups, but claiming to be acting for ISIS or Britain First does not mean they are a part of those groups, just that they have used the groups for motivation or an excuse.

SB at WO claims:

Today’s face of the day Thomas Mair, wasn’t the politically motivated killer the media initially made him out to be.


There must be some political motivation in a targeted killing of a Member of Parliament.

Martyn Bradbury takes an unsurprisingly different approach in So when will the right start blaming the killer of Jo Cox on Christianity?

It’s interesting to see the muted reaction to the terrible killing of British Labour MP Jo Cox. The killer has been connected to a far right Christian pro-apartheid group yet the right aren’t calling it terrorism by Christianity.

But it wil probably take time to determine what drove or inspired or corrupted these two killers. Particularly with Mateen, as he is now dead. Mair is speaking to police so may provide some insights.

A lack of insight is dominating comments so far. SB highlighted this:

The organisation Britain First, which was founded by former members of the British National Party, has denied that Mair was associated with it and say they condemn the killing.

– theindependent.co.uk

That means little on it’s own, especially when you see some of the Independent’s headlines as opposed to one selected paragraph:

From the second of those:

Speculation has raged about the motive for the attack after a number of separate eyewitnesses said Ms Cox’s attacker shouted “Britain first” – a longstanding far-right slogan – during the assault.

“Britain First” is also the name of a far-right organisation in Britain which recently publicly advocated “direct action” against Muslim elected officials. The group says it condemns Ms Cox’s killing.

Speculation is likely to continue to rage along with accusations and excuses.

Terrorism or not is a part of the discussions.

Mateen claimed allegiance to a terrorist group but he acted alone and his killings could just as easily be seen as a homosexual hate crime.

It’s still uncertain whether Mair has wider connections or is a lone killer, but I’m sure there are more than a few politicians facing some terrifying realities of their high public profiles and the abuse and threats that are often publicly or privately made against them.

Mair’s motives may emerge in time but the scene has been set already for entrenched opinions based on scant information.


The struggle for integrity in politics

Bryce Edwards has another political roundup, this time examining the state of democracy and integrity in politics.

Political roundup: the struggle for integrity

Some soul searching about the state of democracy and transparency in New Zealand public life is warranted at the end of the year. Bryce Edwards looks back at the struggle for integrity in politics in 2015. 

The integrity of governance of any society is dependent on numerous pillars that hold up democracy. Akin to an old roman temple, important institutions such as the Official Information Act, public servants and watchdogs act as the foundations of a corruption-free society.

But in 2015 it became apparent that some of the pillars of New Zealand’s governing arrangements have eroded, making democracy less stable. There have been apparent failings in the OIA regime, transparency of Government ministers and departments, murky deals struck and clampdowns on attempts to get accountability.

It’s a long read with many links to further articles and posts.

It covers:

  • Tightening elite control over information
  • The OIA “Game of Hide and Seek”
  • Taxpayer-funded politicisation
  • Cronyism in government
  • Risks of corruption in New Zealand
  • Government efforts against corruption
  • Saudi Sheep scandal rolls on
  • Erosion of public information



Flag consideration or pissy political pointscoring?

It hasn’t taken long for the flag discussion process to be ambushed by pissy political point scoring.

This could be the only chance in a generation – or in a lifetime – to consider alternatives to our current flag and decide whether as a country we want to change or not.

I think the approach taken by the Stand For website is a bit strange, they seem to be trying to do more than just consider a flag change.

But to attack it as a way of attacking John Key because he instigated the process shows how childish and petty our politics can be.

And The Standard is promoting the pettiness as if it’s a win against Key and National.

Standfornz – when social media goes bad

The site www.standfor.co.nz is supposed to get us all excited about the flag distraction:

“Before our country decides which flag we’ll stand for, we want to know what you stand for”

It’s not turning out the way the Nats intended.

And the comments show that a number of blog participants don’t respect democratic process or serious debate about a serious issue.

Sad to see individuals doing this.

It says a lot about the gravitas of New Zealand’s main Labour left blog for them to be promoting this.

And they will probably be amongst the quickest and loudest to complain if a new flag is chosen that they don’t like.

UPDATE: surprise surprise – lprent is against any flag change so is against any sensible debate about it.

Who cares. A flag is a meaningless cloth to me both as a citizen and an ex-soldier. I’m usually pretty proud to be a New Zealander. I don’t need some manky cloth to remind me of that.


Tell me what the point of having a flag at all is again?

I can’t see any point nor reason to change it. Certainly the idiots promoting it have yet to make a single argument for having either a flag at all (see my post on that) or a change in the design.

We aren’t changing constitution. So what are we doing this for?

As far as I can see, only because John Key has such a pitiful track record that he wants to charge everyone for a face saving exit.

That’s how dire our political discourse has become.

Campbell Live threat commercial or political reality?

The onslaught of coverage of a ‘review’ of the Campbell Live show continues (as does the Campbell Live Show).

There have been claims that the possible killing of the show are politically motivated. For example ‘amirite’ says:

Fran O’Sullivan practically confirms that CampbellLive demotion is indeed politically motivated.

Kiwiri – Raided of the Last Shark:

Then they came for John Campbell. And what did you say?

This refers to Fran’s column Valiant Campbell may have provoked political antagonists too often.

He has not been afraid to challenge the Prime Minister directly where some of his rivals have adopted a more supine stance.

Yes. I remember when he ambushed Helen Clark in ann interview in 2002 over ‘corngate’ and she called him “a sanctimonious little creep”. Here is video of that interview.

But despite many on the left seeing the threat to Campbell’s show as political O’Sullivan also points out:

The broad underlying commercial issue is that TV3 — which is still financially stretched and is building towards an IPO — can hardly be required to keep the programme in a prime slot unless it retains and grows ratings and revenues.

And Campbell Live is performing poorly compared to TV1’s Seven Sharp and TV2’as Shortland Street – and compared to how Campbell has rated in the past.

And Anthony Robins raises it to post level at The Standard in O’Sullivan on Campbell, Weldon and Key.

So there we have it – Key’s loyal and personal friend is out to shut down the last investigative journalism left on TV. Just a bit too inconvenient for an arrogant and incompetent government in its third-term death spiral I guess.

Robins has quoted very selective parts of O’Sullivan’s column – lprent calls that sort of thing lying by omission and bans people for it…except when he agrees the slanted author message.

While Campbell tends left in his interests, sympathies and his social campaigns he works for a commercial channel that has a history of failing to make enough money.

If Campbell Live stays alive for the good of democracy then  the whole of TV3 could die, including other current affairs programmes like The National. And New Zealand would lose their political reporting from the likes of Patrick Gower.

And Gower is no darling of the left, so they would probably applaud his demise – some of them already virtually demand it.

So while the review of Campbell Live is undoubtedly commercial reality many of the protests are politically motivated.

(Note: I’d personally prefer Campbell Live not to be replaced by more brain dead ‘reality’ TV but I recognise the right of a commercial media organisation to broadcast any crap they like).

Whale Oil – political analyst or arsonist?

Whale Oil “critically analyses politics”? Or just trying to burn people?

Blog statistics show that Whale Oil is the most viewed New Zealand blog, by a wide margin. Credit is certainly deserved for Cam Slater’s efforts to achieve that. This success is partly due to Slater’s often hard hitting political agenda, but it is bolstered by the blog diversifying into a proliferation of click magnet pulp posts.

Whale Oil has changed substantially over the past couple of years as the blog has tried to compete with ‘mainstream media’. Slater frequently attacks mainstream news sites for lack of substance and over egging stories, which is somewhat hypocritical.

It’s difficult to know where the blog is headed from here. This is how the blog self promotes itself:

Whale Oil Beef Hooked


Whale Oil Beef Hooked is New Zealand’s number one news and information blog site where Cam Slater critically analyses politics…

That’s an interestingly respectable claim for someone who often looks more like a bull in a political china shop. And the red rag was flying yesterday Slater attempted a smear of Andrea Vance and Peter Dunne.  In response to Vance tweeting a scenic photo Dunne replied with “that’s a classic photo!”. That prompted a Bradbury flop type blog post

Cam and his blog assistants are happy to dish up shit but they aren’t so happy being held to account for it. When challenged they launched into a bout of defensiveness and attempted lash backs on the blog.

And I also challenged Whale on Twitter:

Is Peter Dunne a fool or a silly old fool? http://wp.me/p1TsC6-rRA 

Is @Whaleoil trying to bully politicians he doesn’t like using harmless Twitter banter as an excuse? A potentially insidious direction.

.@Whaleoil Funny. You have your troops busy trying to defend the indefensible. Are you too soft to fight your own battles?

@PeteDGeorge pigs, wrestling, dirty…blah blah blah loving it

@Whaleoil That mallardy is why you’ll always limit your political ambitions.

@PeteDGeorge I don’t have any political ambitions, I wreck them for others

@Whaleoil That’s not what you’ve said before now, or is you longer game ambition to totally wreck NZ politics?

@PeteDGeorge some men just want to watch the world burn

Recently on his blog Slater claimed to have long game political goals, so this is confusing. “Cam Slater critically analyses politics” conflicts with this, where Slater seems more intent on lighting fires under politicians so he can watch them burn.

Critical political analysis? Or crappy political arsonist?

It’s difficult to see him as the former when he seems more intent on the latter. In politics people who keep playing with matches burn bridges, and are likely to burn themselves out.

UPDATE: today’s critical political analysis begins with:

The kindling looks damp this morning.

John Banks’ amendment – principles underpinning GCSB functions

An amendment initiated by John Banks adds human rights requirements plus democratic and political oversight to the GCSB Bill.

8CA Principles underpinning performance of Bureau’s functions

(1) In performing its functions under this Act, the Bureau acts—

(a) in accordance with New Zealand law and all human rights standards recognised by New Zealand law, except to the extent that they are, in relation to national security, modified by an enactment:
(b) in the discharge of its operational functions, independently and impartially:
(c) with integrity and professionalism:
(d) in a manner that facilitates effective democratic oversight.

(3) The Director must take all reasonable steps to ensure that—

(a) the activities of the Bureau are limited to those that are relevant to the discharge of its functions:
(b) the Bureau is kept free from any influence or consideration that is not relevant to its functions:
(c) the Bureau does not take any action for the purpose of furthering or harming the interests of any political party in New Zealand.

(4) The Director must consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition for the purpose of keeping him or her informed about matters relating to the Bureau’s functions under sections 8A to 8C..

3 (c) and 4 provide for limits to the GCSB being used politically and provides for consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.