Evidence against TOP

The Opportunities Party have promoted their policies as evidence based. From About on their website: TOP takes a long term, evidence based view.

However now we are down to the business end of the campaign evidence seems to have flown out the TOP window.

A few days ago on Newshub: Gareth Morgan blames landlines for poor polling, claims he’ll win 5-10 percent

“When I ask the question in the town hall shows I do every night, ‘ Hands up those who’ve got a landline, it’s 10 or 15 percent,” the Opportunities Party (TOP) leader told The AM Show on Thursday.

“What’s wrong with these polling companies? I think we’ll be somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. I’ve said it from day one.”

Where’s the evidence? TOP has a big budget, if they wanted evidence they would have done their own polling. I think it’s quite likely they have done their own polling, if so it is not evidence they want publicised.

Cut Your Hair: The evidence says TOP have no hope

TOP pride themselves on being an evidence-based party. So it behooves us to examine the evidence behind Gareth Morgan’s suggestion that TOP have a real chance of winning representation in Saturday’s election.

Question: Has any party ever achieved what TOP is trying to achieve?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Only one party has ever won representation under MMP in New Zealand without a sitting electorate MP from a sitting party. That sole exception is ACT, who had several prominent former Labour and National cabinet ministers. That happened in the first MMP election, when everyone and their mum voted minor party.

Not many parties have won representation under MMP in New Zealand, whether through the 5% threshold or local seats. Only one MP has ever won representation for a party that didn’t have an MP elected in 1996 for one party or another: Hone Harawira, for Mana.

Most of the small parties that have won representation have done so via a local seat (Māori, Mana, Progressive, United, ACT, and NZ First have all coat-tailed in). Only 7 parties have ever reached 5%: National, Labour, the Greens, NZ First, ACT, the Alliance, and United Future. The last three have all failed more times than they’ve succeeded and have basically shriveled away to nothing (or, worse, to David Seymour). Scores of parties have failed to reach 5% OR a local seat: the Conservatives, Christian Heritage/Coalition, Legalise Cannabis, Destiny, Outdoor Recreation, Future, etc.

The latest public polls (that use a variety of polling methods):

  • Listener Bauer Media Insights 1-5 Sept: 2.2%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton 2-6 Sept: 1.9%
  • Newsroom-SSI 4-6 Sept: 2%
  • Roy Morgan 28 Aug-10 Sept: 2%
  • Newshub Reid Research 6-11 Sept: 1.6%
  • 1 News Colmar Brunton 9-13 Sept: 1.6%
  • Horizon Research 9-14 Sept: 2.3%

Evidently TOP look like getting nowhere near the 5% threshold.

So they have done their own polling. It shows them very likely to come up short.

Morgan will know that if they don’t look like getting close to 5% many voters will prefer to vote elsewhere rather than risk ‘wasting their vote’.  Hence the bullshit about the polls being wrong.

Question: Might the polling be wrong?

Short answer: Anything is possible, but TOP reaching 5% would require polling error on an unprecedented scale.

Morgan and Sean Plunket ranting and abusing on Twitter won’t change things.

It’s not just history and the polls that are against TOP. Others have tried Donald Trump’s tactic of being bellicose and abusive and complaining about the polls – in particular Winston Peters, and NZ First has slumped over the last two months in the polls.

Question: Is this a good year for a minor party to achieve the never-before-achieved?

Short Answer: No—on current polling this will be the worst MMP election ever for minor parties.

It looks like it will take a major game changer for TOP to get close to or beat the threshold, and they are running out of time.

Question: Could TOP win a local seat?

Short answer: There is no evidence to suggest they will come close to winning any local seat. Morgan might have had a chance, but he isn’t standing in a local seat.

That Morgan is targeting the polls and the threshold (without any evidence) supports this. TOP dabbled with targeting the Ohariu electorate a couple of weeks ago but that effort seems to have fizzled.

In some ways TOP have been impressive. Their evidence based approach to developing solid policies has been very good. Morgan has impressed sizeable crowds at campaign meetings.

But TOP has been shut out of small party debates. And they have failed to attract enough positive media attention. Morgan and Plunket have also been too cranky on Twitter and possibly elsewhere in social media.

Yesterday Plunket tweeted a challenge:

A bizarre approach.

It must be frustrating to have put so much time and money into their campaign, but making up shit about polls looks desperate and not based on any evidence.

Moaning about polls is almost certainly not going to change the game and suddenly boost support for TOP. Morgan might be better trying a different last gasp approach.

It’s sad to see another new party beaten by the ridiculously high threshold. Parliament could benefit from a different approach and some fresh ideas and MPs. But facts are facts, and TOP look like failing.

TOP turn to Ohariu

With The Opportunities looking a long way off making the 5% threshold they are turning to the Ohariu electorate as another way of making it into Parliament.

Newshub: Gareth Morgan and TOP want a dirty deal in Ōhāriu

Is it dirty media attacking valid political strategies as ‘dirty’?

Newshub understands The Opportunities Party (TOP) will be asking voters in the electorate to ditch the two main parties’ candidates in favour of their candidate, Jessica Hammond-Doube, in order for Ōhāriu to get a three-for-one deal.

On current polling Labour’s Greg O’Connor and National’s Brett Hudson both make it into Parliament as list MPs, so TOP will be asking them to vote for Ms Hammond-Doube in order to get maximum representation for the electorate in Parliament.

If TOP was to gain an electorate seat, and managed to get 2 percent of the vote as current polling suggests, Dr Morgan and deputy leader Geoff Simmons would be brought into Parliament as list MPs.

It is a strategic move to dethrone NZ First leader Winston Peters as king-maker, and it’s understood TOP will even go as far as asking National and Labour to stand their candidates aside in Ōhāriu to make the move more likely to pay off.

Candidates are committed, the ballot papers must already be printed as advance voting starts tomorrow.

National or Labour could seek party votes only and tell supporters to support the TOP candidate, but I don’t see National changing their approach again starting to contest the electorate after Peter Dunne announced he wasn’t standing.

And I doubt Labour will give TOP any help either.

If TOP put up a strong big for Ohariu that will impact on support for the other candidates, probably more for Labour’s O’Connor than National’s Hudson.

It’s understood a letter will be sent to the voters of Ōhāriu on Monday outlining TOP’s plan, which will sell the idea as the best way to stop Mr Peters choosing the next government.

Ohariu voters are well versed in tactical split voting. It will be interesting to see if they are attracted by TOP’s bid.

TOP’s Ohariu candidate Jessica Hammond Doube is ranked way down at 24 on their party list.

Jessica Hammond Doube

All  candidates in Ohariu:

CLOSE, Lisa Susan New Zealand First Party
HAMMOND DOUBE, Jessica The Opportunities Party (TOP)
HUDSON, Brett National Party
MOORE, Andie ACT New Zealand
NADAKUITAVUKI, Bale United Future
O’CONNOR, Greg Labour Party
WOODLEY, Tane Green Party

 

TOP lose legal bid to debate

The Opportunities Party went to court to try to get included in tonight’s minor party leaders debate and lost. This isn’t surprising, it’s hard for a court to force a media organisation, but it’s very disappointing to see our state owned television broadcaster using ‘rules’ to be undemocratic.

The MMP system – in particular to ridiculously high 5% threshold – is stacked against new parties making it into Parliament.

TVNZ’s ‘rule of not allowing parties who haven’t got at least 3% in their last two polls to take part in the biggest debate of the campaign for minor parties is a disgrace to democratic principles.

RNZ: TOP loses legal bid to appear in multi-party debate

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has lost its legal fight to appear on TVNZ’s multi-party debate tomorrow evening.

TVNZ lawyer Stacey Shortall said it had robust criteria for parties to be involved, including either already being in parliament or polling at at least three percent in one of the two Colmar Brunton polls before the debate.

It is not ‘robust criteria’. State owned broadcasters in particular should have a responsibility to be fair to serious contenders, but TVNZ is denying TOP a prime  chance of being seen and heard.

TOP polled at 1 percent in its poll at the end of August and at 1.9 percent today.

TOP’s lawyer Francis Cooke QC argued the party’s inclusion in the debates was critical to the election process and TVNZ’s criteria should be more robust.

But the political-media system remains stacked against them.

Key points from Edwards’ affidavit:

24 Fourth, in my view the use of such criteria is self-perpetuating and antidemocratic. A party that is excluded from the debates has little chance of making headway in the polls. What is more, I think that excluding them from the debates sends the message to viewers that their views and policies are not worthy of consideration. I think this is dangerously undemocratic.

25 Fifth, this year’s election campaign is proving extremely volatile. Political scientists and commentators appear to be in consensus that we are witnessing the greatest polling volatility yet recorded in an election campaign in New Zealand. Therefore, it seems unreasonable to take two Colmar Brunton polls as a snapshot of likely outcomes in the election – the flux is just too great at the moment in politics to regard such polling to be definitive.

27 Finally, the minor parties seem set to play a pivotal role in this year’s election as they are likely to hold the balance of power after the election. In my view, this makes it particularly important that the public is given sufficient exposure to their leaders and policies.

30 In my view TVNZ’s exclusion of TOP would do a disservice to democracy.

31 If TVNZ proceeds with minor party leaders’ and young voters’ debates without The Opportunities Party (TOP), this will have a significantly negative impact on TOP’s chances to be taken seriously by those members of the public looking to vote for a party other than Labour and National. It will send a strong signal to voters that it is not a viable candidate for voting consideration. It may seriously affect TOP’s electoral chances. And given the inclusion of less popular parties, it would be arbitrary and irrational.

The full affidavit: http://liberation.typepad.com/files/affidavitdraft.pdf

The judge probably had no legal basis to rule in favour of TOP, but TVNZ are doing a disservice to taxpayers and to democracy.

Large and incumbent parties (and their supporters) and large media do what the can to deny newcomers a fair chance. Incumbent also have other substantial financial advantages.

TOP announce co-deputy and party list

The Opportunities Party has announced a co-deputy leader and also their party list.

Opportunities Party Announces Teresa Moore Co Deputy Leader

The Opportunities Party East Coast Bays candidate Teresa Moore will join Wellington Central candidate Geoff Simmons as Co Deputy Leader of the Party.

“Teresa is a welcome addition to TOP’s leadership team and will play a vital role on the campaign trail and in Parliament,” says TOP Founder and Leader Gareth Morgan, “With strong credentials in environmental matters and a proven track record in business Teresa is a fantastic addition to our leadership team.”.

“I’m proud to be part of TOP’s leadership team”, says Teresa, “It was already a privilege to be standing alongside a highly skilled group of candidates who believe in the need for real change in New Zealand, to be asked to help lead such a great team of people is an added honour”.

TOP Announces Party List for 2017 General Election

The Opportunities Party is pleased to release its party list for this year’s general election.

TOP will field 26 candidates, 5 are list only, the remaining 21 will be contesting electorates across the country.

TOP founder and leader Gareth Morgan is first on the list followed by deputy leader Geoff Simmons.

Next is East Coast Bays candidate Teresa Moore, list candidate Buddy Mikaere, Rangitata list candidate Olly Wilson, and Hamilton West candidate Donna Pokere-Phillips.

At 7 is Christchurch Central candidate Douglas Hill, and at 8 is sitting Horowhenua District Councillor Piri-Hira Tukapua who at 26, is TOPs youngest female candidate.

“Ranking our outstanding candidates was bloody hard,” Dr Morgan says, “Every one of them is in politics for the right reason, to make real change in people’s lives through promoting innovative policies.”

“They are a group that represents nearly all parts of the New Zealand community in terms of age, ethnicity, gender and profession”.

“What they all have in common is a desire to shake up our political system and make it more than the same old same old being offered by the old establishment parties”.

RANK

1 Gareth Morgan
2 Geoff Simmons : Wellington Central
3 Teresa Moore : East Coast Bays
4 Buddy Mikaere
5 Olly Wilson : Rangitata
6 Donna Pokere-Phillips : Hamilton West
7 Douglas Hill : Christchurch Central
8 Piri-Hira Tukapua : Otaki
9 Nicola Glenjarman : Waimakariri
10 Mika Haka : Auckland Central
11 Nicky Snoyink : Selwyn
12 Richard Warwick : Hutt South
13 Ted Faleauto : Manukau East
14 Abe Gray : Dunedin North
15 Clint Ulyatt : Mt Roskill
16 Dan Thurston : Mt Albert
17 Lesley Immink : East Coast
18 Vanessa Lee
19 Paddy Plunket : Rongotai
20 Brittany Owens : Rodney
21 Matt Isbister : North Shore
22 David Hay
23 Jenny Condie
24 Jessica Hammond Doube : Ohariu
25 Kevin Neill : Waitaki
26 Lindsay Smith : Dunedin South

The full list and biographies are available here.

TOPling?

In some ways Gareth Morgan and his TOP party were a refreshingly different addition to the election mix.

They had well researched and specific policies, they weren’t after power, they wanted to influence policies. And Morgan connected well with audiences.

But the last few days in social media they look like toppling over. Perhaps it’s due to the pressure of what has already been a long campaign for Morgan.  Or perhaps it’s the pressure of not getting enough progress in the polls.

Whatever the driver, both Morgan’s PR sidekick Sean Plunket as well as Morgan have been acting like arses in social media, especially on Twitter.

This has involved petulance and abuse, and has gone as far as a sustained period of harassment of Lizzie Marvelly by Plunket.

I think it is destroying any credibility and goodwill they may have had with the media, and that won’t help their chances of getting traction.

I thought that TOP on the cross benches could have added a useful new dimension to Parliament.

But if they keep acting like arrogant ignorant arses they won’t get close (they may already have destroyed any chance they had).

Morgan targets 10% for TOP

Extravagant claims about how much of the party vote one will get are not unusual in election campaigns – until recent poll reversals Winston Peters was intimating NZ First could surpass Labour and compete with National.

The Opportunities Party has to get at least 5% to make it into Parliament, but not wanting to cut it fine Gareth Morgan says his aim is double that.

NZH: Morgan says TOP will get 10 per cent, as Green voters look for a new home

Gareth Morgan says the Green Party’s recent troubles could be his party’s gain, as disillusioned greenies will be shopping around for a new environmentally-minded party.

The Greens have always refused to be a cross bench party willing to work with anyone in government to promote environmental policies, and with their collapse this week their may be some voters looking for an environmental alternative.

Morgan’s fledgling The Opportunities Party officially launched its election campaign today in Wellington with little fanfare.

The event was held in an understated church hall in the CBD. Around 60 people attended and of those, 20 were candidates and 15 were media.

A lot more than that have attended TOP meetings around the country.

Morgan, completely straight-faced, told reporters he expected the party to get 10 per cent on election day.

Still unsmiling, he said he expected to get 30 per cent in 2020, before breaking out into a grin: “I always like a challenge.”

Asked where those votes would come from, Morgan said TOP would “skim the cream” from a few parties and would “pick up a few” from the Greens.

“They may well bounce back, but I think if they’re going to lose they’ll lose some to Labour and some to us.”

He admitted that despite securing 4000 paid-up members, TOP’s main barrier to election was getting noticed above the better-funded, old parties. It was depending largely on the “viral spread” of its policies online.

Morgan also seems to be targeting ‘stuff the politicians’ voters who go to NZ First in protest.

1 News:  Gareth Morgan launches scathing attack on major parties at launch of TOP campaign

In a speech filled with colourful and scathing analogies of how the major political parties have failed New Zealand, Gareth Morgan has launched his Opportunities Party election campaign today.

Speaking in Wellington this afternoon, Mr Morgan painted a picture of a New Zealand that has failed its middle and working classes, while the two major parties squabble over political rhetoric, and devise policies simply designed get them into power.

“We’ve already moved the policy debate in this country and we haven’t had a single vote yet,” Mr Morgan said.

“We’re the new kids on the block here, so we don’t get the coverage or funding the old establishment parties have access too, but we have one advantage, we are free of the hatred of old tribal politics.”

Mr Morgan described a toxic New Zealand political culture, where the major parties endlessly play “politics” while suicide stats, homeless numbers, housing affordability and the environment all fall into the abyss.

“What’s the political establishment doing – pretty well nothing. Stuck in an outdated left versus right political ideology with a tax and targeted welfare regime that’s obsolete, they trade insults and argue at the margins while New Zealand, this land of opportunity, slips away.

“They fight not to restore the fairness of our society but to perpetuate their own political power in some vain belief that it’s an ideology that’s need to get this country back on track.”

“Let’s be very clear, TOP doesn’t care who leads the next government. Those who campaign to change from blue to red, from right to left are like a bunch of kids screaming ‘dad’s burnt the dinner, let’s get the dog to cook’.

“What NZ desperately need is ideas to restore opportunities, policies that aren’t designed to get a party into power but to fix the problems we have.”

I would consider voting TOP if they look like being able to get close to 5% (still a big challenge for them).

I presume the Greens will continue to rule out working with National so that leaves them in a weak position on the sideline.

I’d rather have TOP holding the balance of power than Winston.

Aim: TOP dog on cross benches

It’s getting hard to differentiate between attention seeking stunts, a normal day in the campaign, and official party launches these days.

Gareth Morgan and the The Opportunities Party have been campaigning for Months, but they had their official campaign launch today.

Scoop:  Labour will need more than ‘Jacinda Trudeau’: TOP

“Quite clearly, Jacinda’s a great communicator, so that’s good,” said Morgan, who welcomed Labour’s resurgence as “great for New Zealand democracy”.

“It’s an issue of whether that’s sufficient for Labour: the Jacinda Trudeau Effect, I call it,” he said, referring to the impact a young, stylish leader has had on Canadian politics through its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

On TOP:

While TOP’s plan was to “to be a 30 percent party by 2020”, he expected TOP to poll 10 percent at the Sept. 23 election, although modified that to “being realistic” 5 percent and six MPs in the next Parliament, enough potentially to help form a minority government led by either National or Labour.

TOP has polled 2 percent in three published polls and 3 percent in a UMR poll reported this week by Radio New Zealand.

The party hopes that means it has the momentum to make 5 percent by election day. As TOP expects to win no electorate seats, a party vote under 5 percent would be wasted as it would gain no parliamentary seats under New Zealand’s MMP proportional voting system.

Morgan insisted he did not want to become a Cabinet Minister and would look only to provide support to a government from Parliament’s ‘cross-benches’.

Rather than naming non-negotiable ‘bottom line’ policies, if TOP had a choice of partners, it would pick the one that promised to enact the largest number of TOP’s 15 main policies, said Morgan.

“Whoever gives us the most will get the nod.”

So Morgan wants to be TOP dog on the cross benches.

Reassessing election prospects

Last week changed the political landscape significantly, with saturation coverage of one candidate, the political demise of one leader and the lame ducking of another.

Election prospects have changed, but at this stage it is difficult to predict by how much. I’l have a go at assessing how things look now.

National 38-48%

They were always going to struggle to maintain last elections 47% with John Key retiring last year and switching to a solid but uninspiring Bill English and a so far uninspiring campaign.

If Labour retains their resurgence the question shifts from where in the forties National will end up to whether they stay in the forties. They are still probably good for low to mid forties but if the stuff something up badly could easily slip.

Labour 29-40%

There is no doubt that Jacinda Ardern has made a big difference to Labour’s prospects. They looked like they were heading to 20 or less under Andrew Little, but now a return to the 30s looks likely.

Labour now look able to pull votes back from the Greens and NZ First, finally compete seriously with National for the floaters, and the effect of the lift in excitement on turning out younger voters shouldn’t be underestimated.

And don’t underestimate the Kelvin Davis effect – his elevation makes Labour more competitive against the Maori Party and NZ First.

I think the only question is how far into the thirties they can climb – as long as Ardern doesn’t trip up significantly. On the other hand, given the volatility of modern elections I wouldn’t rule out Labour sneaking into the forties.

Greens 8-12%

As dramatically as Labour’s fortunes have turned for the better, Green prospects have probably dived from record highs in the polls.

Metiria Turei’s beneficiary gamble looked like it was a winner but has turned to custard. James Shaw looks worn and weak. Turei and the Greens still have some staunch support, but the icing looks like it has disappeared of their cake.

Of course this could change if Turei bows to pressure and steps down as co-leader, but a lot would then depend on who replaced her. Marama Davidson would probably only appeal to the dedicated Greenies and lefties, but Julie Anne Genter would have wider appeal.

NZ First 6-16%

A week or two ago Winston Peters was confidently counting his electoral chickens. He disappeared last week, with the media preferring to pander to someone young enough to be his granddaughter.

Winston versus English and Little looked competitive, to media and to a growing number of voters.

Winston versus Ardern is a completely different look. The stuffing seems to be knocked out of the old codger. He’s a determined campaigner, but can he revitalise himself for another shot at glory?

Another factor is the Shane Jones card – he is now going to have to compete with Kelvin Davis for attention and may be exposed. The direct speaking Davis will give Jones some real competition up north.

Maori Party 1-3%

I think that Te Ururoa Flavell still has a good chance of retaining his electorate, Maori have been good tactical voters and returning Flavell and party voting Labour makes more sense than throwing the Maori Party out.

But winning more Maori seats, and getting enough party vote to retain Marama Fox, has probably got harder.

ACT Party 0.5-2%

David Seymour has been trying hard to attract attention and voters but doesn’t seem to be getting any traction. He should be good to retain his Epsom electorate, but ACT’s lack of known candidates other than Seymour doesn’t help their chances.

The media doesn’t usually care about new candidates, unless it’s plucking someone like Chlöe Swarbrick out of nowhere to try to inject some interest into a boring mayoral campaign. And the media seems to not fancy ACT unless it’s negative news. Seymour is likely to remain alone.

United Future 0.1-0.3%

It’s hard to see United Future attracting any more party votes. The media gave up on there being a party behind Peter Dunne terms ago, nothing there for headlines. The party has continued to wither.

Dunne already had a major challenge in trying to retain his Ohariu electorate. Labour have recruited a known candidate, Greg O’Connor. Greens are helping Labour by not standing a candidate.

National have made it clearer than ever that they want National voters to support Dunne.

But what looked like 50/50 prospects for Dunne may have turned against him with Labour’s resurgence. Ardern has not only revitalised Labour campaigners, she may encourage reluctant voters to turn out. This will work against Dunne.

Mana Party 0.1-0.5%

The Mana party is a one man band this election, without the money or distraction of Kim Dotcom. The party vote looks irrelevant.

Hone Harawira was always a chance of winning back Te Tai Tokerau, but with Davis’ elevation that probably got a lot harder.

There looks to be an outside chance only of Harawira getting back into Parliament, and even more of an outside chance that Harawira could make or break a Labour led coalition, but it shouldn’t be discounted entirely.

The Opportunities Party 1-4%

Gareth Morgan had a chance of picking up votes from those who wanted something different and not Winston, someone to ‘keep the big parties honest’. And picking up disheartened Labour voters. Until last week.

If Labour jumps back into contention then TOP will find it really difficult to attract enough media attention, and they will find it really difficult to get the polls up enough to encourage enough voters to get them over the 5% threshold.

The Rest

The nature of New Zealand politics and the reluctance of media to give any credibility to new parties and outsider candidates means that no other parties will have a chance of getting more than crumbs.

But…

There could be another shock wave.

It’s hard to see any other positive leadership change, unless Genter adds some solidity to the Greens.

Who knows what Winston will try to have probably his last shot at the big prize?

Ardern may keep Labour’s resurgence going, or she could trip up. Kelvin Davis could stuff things up, his agttack on English and other National ministers on Q+A yesterday looked ugly and counter productive to Ardern’s clain of positivity.

National still have the benefit of incumbency plus very good economic conditions, relatively low unemployment, and a record of steady management – but may have trouble attracting media attention.

National also have the advantage of being by far the biggest party, and they will probably only need one other party, or a repeat of the current handful of insignificant parties, to get over the line.

But housing. Auckland is shaping up as a big influence on the election.

And National has to find an effective way of countering ‘the Jacinda effect’ and the current media obsession with her.

The elephant in Labour’s room

Ardern has eliminated Labour’s biggest millstone, Andrew Little. Labour look to be on the rise.

But they have a major challenge too – Labour + Greens + NZ First

I think that many voters have real concerns about how this triumverate could possible work in a coalition.

Unless Labour can rise enough in polls to look like they might only need one of NZ First or the Greens then this remains an issue.

There could even be a voter resistance to Labour + Greens – many like a Green influence but have strong reservations about Greens calling the shots too much.

In any case for Labour to get close to 40% it’s hard to see Greens also keeping their current share.

The NZ First factor

Whether Winston finds a way to dig up something that gives him a last burst of hope or not, voters have to consider and compare National + NZ First versus Labour + NZ First as likely alternatives.

Both National and Labour can’t ignore this – the one of them that does best at convincing voters they can work with Winston but resist baubling him may succeed.

Here it is advantage to National.

National 45% + NZ First 6% looks quite different to Labour 35% + NZ First 15%.

But of course this balance of probabilities could change over the next few weeks.

The Jacinda effect on other parties

The change of Labour leadership to Jacinda Ardern could have quite an effect on how the other parties campaign, and how the fare in the election.

National already had a battle to avoid needing NZ First, that doesn’t change but how they campaign will need a major rethink.

The Greens seem generally happy. It means a rethink of their ‘go for broke’ approach, because a recovering Labour improves their chances of getting into government. albeit with a smaller share of the vote than they were hoping for last week.

The biggest impact may be on NZ First, which could be why Winston’s response to the leadership change yesterday was gruff dismissal. If Labour come back into the reckoning that could significantly reduce NZ First’s opportunities and influence. Peters could easily attarct media attention from Little, but that will be much harder with Ardern.

Peters versus Ardern is a very different contest to Peters versus Little, and swings the pendulum significantly.

The smaller parties are at risk of being ignored even more.

It reduces TOP’s chances of picking up disgruntled voters.

Kelvin Davis’ elevation to deputy makes the Maori party’s battle with Labour quite a bit harder.

Davis must be a hot favourite now to beat Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau and keep Mana out.

ACT have struggled for relevancy and support and that won’t get any easier.

Peter Dunne already had a major challenge in Ohariu and this probably makes things harder for him.

One thing is certain – the whole complexion of this campaign has dramatically changed, and it affects all parties in major ways.

And one aspect of change is probably bigger than Jacinda herself – the media. They had given up on Little long ago and dreaded a boring election campaign. They have promoted Ardern all year, helping get her promoted to deputy, and now to leader.

The media have played a major part in changes to date, and may be the deciding factor inb this election.

NZ First ‘promises’ top $10b

I think that everyone knows that promises and bottom lines from Winston Peters should be taken with a grain of Epsom salts.

But Peters seems to believe that NZ First can lead the next government, he has suggested they could even top National which means they would get a lot of say in which policies are implemented.

Gareth Morgan has highlighted the spending promises of Peters and appears to be going head to head with Peters. The Opportunities Party and NZ First are competing for floating votes and are targeting those who may vote against the status quo.

Stuff: Gareth Morgan positions himself as alternative to Winston Peters

Gareth Morgan is keen to position himself as an anti-Winston Peters “peacemaker”, shoring up a Government on either side of the political divide without introducing the instability of NZ First.

The firebrand economist and newbie politician released a press release attacking Peters on Monday, along with a costing of his “pork barrel promises”.

Morgan contends Peters’ policies – including the writeoff of student debt, removal of GST from food, and free GP visits for pensioners – would cost $10b every year, with no indication of where that money would come from, other than a vague promise to reduce tax evasion.

Grandiose and expensive promises didn’t matter when NZ First were a 5-10% party. If they become, as looks likely, a 10-20% party then the cost of their policies becomes more pertinent. And if they get into the 20-40% zone then it becomes critical.

So it’s important that the possible cost of NZ First policy promises is examined. The media should be doing this but Morgan has done it for them.

TOP: The post-truth World of Winstonomics

It is not unusual for politicians to make promises they can’t keep. In an attempt to restore some integrity and transparency into politics, The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.

Not all parties are this robust however. One party in particular, is writing cheques they can’t cash and therefore making promises they can’t possibly deliver. That party is NZ First and their leader is Winston Peters.

We have filtered through the long list of ‘policy’ supplied by New Zealand First on their websiteand pulled out everything we could find that resembled a concrete and significant election commitment.

Winston’s supporters are rightly looking for a change from the ‘do nothing’ Establishment parties that have led us to a society with rising inequality, forgotten regions and unaffordable housing. However, Winston owes those supporters a set of promises he can actually deliver on –  that is not the case with his current offering.

While some of the policies from NZ First have costings, the majority do not.

We took it upon ourselves to do some analysis and so far the tab has run up to around $10 billion per yearwith the promise of more to come.

By far , the biggest cost on his campaign check book  is his promise to give a universal student allowance and write off student debt for those who stay in New Zealand for the same period of their study…And what about the $4.6 billion price tag? Where is that money going to come from?

Winston has also promised to ‘remove GST off food’ as well as rates. Let’s put aside the fact tinkering with our GST system is fraught with issues, and there are much more efficient ways to make housing and food more affordable. The real problem here is the estimated $3.6 billion price tag.

His plan to return GST from tourism to the regions hits the chord that he has been playing for years, sounding the death of our regions. With minimal detail given, it’s hard to know what this really means let alone estimate the cost; it isn’t clear what money he would give back, to whom, and what that money would be used for. However, if this included both international and domestic tourism, the bill could run up to around $3 billion.

The list of promises goes on with three free GP visits for pensioners a year (there are 600,000 pensioners and at $60 extra per visit, that is $108 million), 1,800 more police ($324 million based on Labour’s calculation of 1000 police), free health checks for year 9 students ($10 million, based on the cost of the B4 school check).

The total bill for these promises alone comes to a $10 billion bill per annum. 

That sort of money cannot just be pulled out of thin air as Winston would have us all believe, and certainly, can’t be paid for by nebulous promises to ‘reduce tax evasion.’

This bill does not even include several of his more nebulous or one-off promises such as:

  • Recarpeting government buildings with wool (costed by the Taxpayers Union at $60-90m)
  • To allocate adequate resources into alternatives to 1080 which he will ban (Dave Hansford on Newsroom put the cost of this at $150m just for half of one national park)
  • He also wants to buy back the shares in SOEs that have been sold, which he will somehow do at the same price they were sold for.
  • In fact, NZ First wants to bring our banks back into New Zealand ownership as well.
  • NZ First also plans to ban inshore fishing and compensate the fishers for their losses; a plan that if it includes paua, lobster and snapper, would cost at least $1.3b.

His commitment to railways of national importance, including a rail line to Marsden Point, will apparently be funded by “revenue generated by railway service charges” and a “combination of Land Transport Fund funding and crown grants.”

And of course Winston’s biggest bribe is a long-term one; his promise to keep the age of eligibility for Superannuation at 65. NZ super alone by 2060 will be soaking up 8c in every dollar we earn, and as a result of this and rising health spending, government debt will have ballooned to twice national income.

All in all, New Zealand First is much in the tradition of Muldoonism – it promises heaps but is more than a little short of funding detail.

Is Winston likely to explain how all his promises would be paid for?

What about TOP’s policy costs?

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has undertaken means to fully cost all our policies and show where the money is coming from.