UK and EU in ‘Brexit’ breakthrough

Report of a breakthrough in talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union that will allow ‘Brexit’ to progress to the next stage.

BBC – Brexit: ‘Breakthrough’ deal paves way for future trade talks

PM Theresa May has struck a last-minute deal with the EU in a bid to move Brexit talks on to the next phase.

There will be no “hard border” with Ireland; and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be protected.

The so-called “divorce bill” will amount to between £35bn and £39bn, Downing Street says.

The European Commission president said it was a “breakthrough” and he was confident EU leaders will approve it.

They are due to meet next Thursday for a European Council summit and need to give their backing to the deal if the next phase of negotiations are to begin.

Talks can then move onto a transition deal to cover a period of up to two years after Brexit, and the “framework for the future relationship” – preliminary discussions about a future trade deal, although the EU says a deal can only be finalised once the UK has left the EU.

A final withdrawal treaty and transition deal will have to be ratified by the EU nations and the UK Parliament, before the UK leaves in March 2019.

But it is still not simple from here due to the precarious position of the May led Government.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose opposition on Monday led to talks breaking down, said there was still “more work to be done” on the border issue and how it votes on the final deal “will depend on its contents”. Mrs May depends on the party’s support to win key votes in Westminster.

What has been agreed?

  • Guarantee that there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic and that the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom” will be maintained.
  • EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa will have their rights to live, work and study protected. The agreement includes reunification rights for relatives who do not live in the UK to join them in their host country in the future
  • Financial settlement – No specific figure is in the document but Downing Street says it will be between £35bn and £39bn, including budget contributions during a two-year “transition” period after March 2019

Brexit: All you need to know

The cost is high:

A figure is not mentioned in the text of the agreement but Downing Street says it will be between £35bn and £39bn – higher than Theresa May indicated in September but lower than some estimates. It will be paid over four years and the precise figure is unlikely to be known for some time.

The prime minister said it would be “fair to the British taxpayer” and would mean the UK in future “will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS”.

So Brexit still has a difficult and potentially very expensive path to follow.

Facebook and the Brexit vote

Facebook is also under investigation in the UK to see how much Russian operatives might have interfered in the Brexit vote.

The Telegraph: MPs order Facebook to hand over evidence of Russian election meddling

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has demanded that the US internet giant release adverts and pages linked to Russia in the build up to last year’s EU referendum and June’s general election.

On Tuesday Damian Collins, the chairman of the committee, wrote to Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg asking for the company to hand over examples of adverts bought by Russian-linked accounts as well as details about how much they cost and how many people saw them.

The committee is currently investigating the influence of fake news, which critics say has thrived on Facebook in the last year amid politically-divisive votes in the US and across Europe.

“Part of this inquiry will focus on the role of foreign actors abusing platforms such as yours to interfere in the political discourse of other nations,” Mr Collins wrote.

Facebook sparked a political storm in the US last month when it revealed that thousands of adverts were bought by Russians in the run-up to Trump’s election victory.

Under investigation from Congress it has handed over 3,000 adverts purchased over two years by the Internet Research Agency, a group linked to the Russian Government. Mr Collins said he was looking for similar evidence in the UK.

The US adverts, which also appeared on Instagram and were seen by 10 million people, focused on divisive topics such as race, immigration and gun rights, and were allegedly used to help propel Donald Trump to the White House. Mr Trump has attempted to play down the impact of the adverts, saying the amounts spent were “tiny” and claiming that Facebook was on Hillary Clinton’s side.

Mr Zuckerberg has said it “just wouldn’t be realistic” to stop all interference in election campaigns on Facebook, although the company has since vowed to manually review every advert targeting people by political affiliation or race.

The Internet has become a key component in the globalisation of dirty politics.

US-UK trade deal “very very quickly”

Donald Trump said that a very very big trade deal with the UK will be done very very quickly, but others are very very dubious.

“There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries. We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal – a very powerful deal, great for both countries – and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.”

“Prime Minister May and I have developed a very special relationship and I think trade will be a very big factor between our two countries.”

That sounds very very Trump but Theresa May was less certain.

May said she would not be sceptical about the Trump offer but remained “optimistic”.

Others were more sceptical. Thomas Bernes, who has dealt with the US in a major trade negotiation and is now a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation:

“I was involved in the Canada-US trade agreement and it was extremely complicated. No one will be interested in a trade deal until you know where the UK is vis-a-vis the European Union and until that point is reached you can have plenty of goodwill but it is nothing more than that.”

“I think it is political puffery. There will be no fast US-UK trade agreement.”

The Guardian Trump expects trade deal with UK to be completed ‘very, very quickly’:

Trump’s comments are unlikely to signal any confirmed trade deal being announced soon. The US president has consistently pledged to put American interests before those of any ally countries and a UK-US deal remains a long way from being agreed.

A senior Downing street official said no date was being announced for a visit by Trump, but added: “The invitation has been extended and will be set out in due course.” They suggested there were no plans for an imminent visit.

The official described a “very good atmosphere” in a 50-minute meeting, in which a “significant proportion” was dedicated to the trading relationship.

“They agreed to prioritise work so a deal will be ready as soon as possible after Britain leaves the EU. They pledged to examine areas now where the two countries can deepen their trade relations. The president made clear he believed the UK would thrive outside the EU,” he said.

The conversation did not go into any specific detail of what a trade agreement might look like, he added, but “was talking in broad terms about the determination to get a good deal for both countries”.

Maybe Trump will just very very quickly build a trade deal and insist that the UK pay for it.

 

13 point ultimatum for Qatar

Qatar has been issued with a 13 point ultimatum and has been given 10 days to comply as Saudi Arabia and their allies pile the pressure on top of the blockade.

Guardian:  Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades.

The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

Saudi Arabia and the other nations leading the blockade – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on the energy-rich country a fortnight ago, initially claiming the Qatari royal family had licensed the funding of terrorism across the Middle East for decades. Since then, the allies appear to be pushing for the isolation of Iran and the suppression of dissenting media in the region.

Ordering a shut down of Al Jazeera on it’s own should be of concern to Gezza, and anyone who values free press.

Qatar has become reliant on Turkey and Iran for food imports since the embargo was imposed on 5 June and insists with its huge wealth it can survive the embargo for an indefinite period.

Qatar is the richest country in the world per head of population.

In a sign that the UK does not regard the demands as reasonable, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday: “Gulf unity can only be restored when all countries involved are willing to discuss terms that are measured and realistic.

“The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of de-escalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region.”

Sounds sensible but ineffective.

US policy towards Qatar so far has been marked by confusion. President Donald Trump has appeared to take credit for the Saudi embargo and described Qatar as a haven for terrorism.

By contrast, the State Department under Rex Tillerson has twice upbraided Saudi Arabia’s approach to Qatar and questioned its true motives in sparking the diplomatic crisis.

In recent days the State Department has been pressing Saudi to specify the actions Qatar must take to see the embargo lifted, but warned that those demands need to be “reasonable and actionable”.

The US has a large military base in Qatar. It also has an unpredictable president.

The demands:

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10.  Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11.  Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
  12.  Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  13.  Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

I really don’t know much about how things work in the Middle East but that list seems highly hypocritical, and must be designed to be impossible to comply with because some of those demands are not just ridiculous, they would amount to Qatar being controlled by foreign dictat.

Cyber attack on UK Parliament

The Telegraph: Parliament hit by ‘sustained and determined’ cyber attack leaving MPs unable to access their emails remotely

Parliament has been hit by a cyber attack that has left MPs unable to access their emails if not in Westminster.

MPs were alerted to the hack on Friday night and have reported problems getting into their email accounts on Saturday.

The attack comes just days after reports that passwords of ministers were being flogged online after hacking groups managed to gain access.

An email sent by parliamentary authorities to those impacted by the incident described the attack as “determined”.

The email stated: “Earlier this morning we discovered unusual activity and evidence of an attempted cyber-attack on our computer network.

“Closer investigation by our team confirmed that hackers were carrying out a sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords.

“These attempts specifically were trying to gain access to our emails.

“We have been working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre to identify the method of the attack and have made changes to prevent the attackers gaining access, however our investigation continues.”

The war online continues.

So far there is no sign that New Zealand has been targeted. Maybe the rest of the world doesn’t care about what happens in our election, but there’s nearly three months to go until the election.

A UK rethink

While UK Labour are resurgent under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the Conservatives are trying to manage a mess of their own making.

ODT editorial:  Political lessons not learned

British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding on to power with the slimmest of margins and, if predictions from her own MPs are to be believed, she is categorised as a “dead woman walking”.

Mrs May has literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by calling an early election, seeking a stronger mandate to trigger a hard exit from the European Union — Brexit.

Instead, she witnessed a resurgent Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a man previously so reviled in his own party he had to win two leadership challenges and watch as some of his MPs resigned before the election in the “secure knowledge” Labour was doomed.

The snap election was one of the biggest political misjudgements ever.

Mrs May had no need to call an early election; she was secure for another two or so years.

Already Mrs May has been forced to sack key advisers. One of her challengers, Michael Gove, has been reappointed to Cabinet and the other challenger Boris Johnson, instead of being sacked as expected, retains his Foreign Ministry role.

This is a complete shambles for a woman who staked so much on the result of an early election. Her power as Prime Minister and party leader has been eroded.

There are lessons in British political history of parties coming second in the Commons ending up forming a minority government.

The Tories based their election campaign on fear — fear of immigrants, fear of EU influence in the courts and, selfishly, fear of losing control. The electorate rejected the fear politics and looked for a new approach. There is no appetite for more austerity or a hard exit from the EU in Britain. A rethink has been forced by millions of voters.

May is remaining staunch. She has just told the Conservative caucus that she got them into their current mess and she will get them out of it.

But she has lost the confidence of many in her own party.

The final step will be another election later this year.

She has also lost the confidence of voters. If as many predict another election will be necessary soon May could make an even bigger misjudgement staying on as leader – it’s on the cards she would end up taking the Conservatives from a position of strength to a chaotic and embarrassing lost of power.

Comparing Corbyn with Little

Some Labour supporters in New Zealand have been encouraged and even excited by Jeremy Corbyn’s massive improvement in last week’s UK election.

UK Labour were polling 15-20% behind the conservatives a month out from the election, came a lot closer by election day (but still lost), and polls since put them ahead of the Conservatives.

NZ Labour will hope for a similar transformation, but it is being pointed out that:

  • The political situation on New Zealand is much different
  • UK Labour moved left while NZ Labour is trying to fight for the centre
  • Corbyn impressed with his authenticity and straight talking, while in contrast to his claims of being a straight talker Andrew Little has largely become a phrase reciter.

Bernie Sanders pushed Hillary Clinton for the US Democratic nomination last year with a similar straight forward left wing authenticity to Corbyn.

If Little wants to emulate them he needs to change his style substantially, but it looks like that would take a major change of approach by Little and his media managers.

From  NZ POLITICS DAILY: Corbyn’s success highlights NZ Labour’s inadequacies

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According to Tracy Watkins, Labour are failing to emulate Mr Corbyn’s bold and authentic approach: “The Labour team seems to think this [staying on message approach] is the same as the Corbyn strategy, or for that matter the Bernie Sanders strategy, of running a campaign around a small number of big, bold ideas. But as May showed, there’s a big difference between big ideas and trite sound bites.

Little had the advantage of having little political baggage as a relatively new MP and being able to run on the anti-politician ticket but seems to be squandering it.”

Watkins seems unconvinced that Andrew Little is in any way like Mr Corbyn: “When Little has got into trouble lately it’s for dodging questions by sticking to patsy answers and one-liners rather than speaking to the heart of an issue.

This is not because Little lacks authenticity or doesn’t know the answers; it’s a deliberate strategy from the Labour team. Little has even explained it to me. It’s about staying on message apparently” – see: Expecting the unexpected the new situation normal.

I see two major problems with “staying on message”.

First, that’s the sort of politics that turns off voters and especially those who choose not to vote. There is a major left wing campaign to get out the non-voters, especially young voters. A similar campaign seems to have been successful in the UK, but Green and Union campaigns last election failed in New Zealand.

Second, trying to stay ‘on message’ is a major reason why Little sounds uncertain and fumbling – when interviewed he often pauses, seemingly to think what messages he should divert to rather than giving a straight forward answer.

And if NZ Labour want to emulate UK Labour they will have to change their direction from populist and centre seeking to being a genuine left wing party.

Edwards:

Andrew Little’s strategists have been very upfront about their desire to keep Labour in the centre of the political spectrum. Labour’s chief strategist, Rob Salmond, has blogged about this in the past, suggesting Mr Corbyn’s approach is an unpopular “hard left” one, and that elections are still won in the centre – see: In defence of the centre.

Gordon Campbell in On the lessons from Corbyn’s campaign.

Mr Corbyn’s relative success with getting young and alienated public to vote, highlights the inability of Labour here to mobilise the missing million: “Corbyn and his Labour team ran an inspirational campaign that did in seven weeks what the New Zealand Labour Party has talked about doing since 2011, but never remotely looked like accomplishing.

Andrew Little’s Labour team has been trying to outbid New Zealand First (eg on immigration and law’n’order) for the votes of the reactionary right.

Unlike Corbyn, the parliamentary centre left leadership here seems afraid to stand up in public for the agendas they profess (in private) to hold dear. It won’t end well.”

Whether moving left can be done now in New Zealand, it is getting late in the campaign game for a major shift.

Little and Labour may be able to do a Corbyn-like rise from the poll ashes, but they will have to rethink and refocus their efforts substantially. This in itself has it’s risks, it will be hard to claim authenticity after a major change.

But Little has to be himself, bold and become confident if he is to break out of his media managed mangle.

 

Trump won’t visit UK if there’s protests

Donald Trump has told Theresa May he won’t come to the UK on a state visit “until the British public supports him coming”, according to a Guardian report but apparently claimed as ‘false’ by the White House..

This probably ensures protests against him visiting.

It’s not a good time for him to visit the UK anyway, there’s enough turmoil there as it is without him stirring things up more.

The Guardian:  Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

That’s an open invitation for protests and threats of protests if Trump says they will keep him out of the UK.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.

Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

His remarks came just days after Trump criticised Khan for his response to the attack, misquoting the mayor’s message to Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased presence of armed police.

Khan’s office pointed out Trump’s error later but the president responded by accusing London’s mayor of making a “pathetic excuse”. Khan then called on the UK government to cancel Trump’s invitation. No date had been fixed for the visit.

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter tweeted to say that the White House press secretary had told her the Guardian’s report was “false” but added that the White House “won’t say when Trump plans to go to the UK”.

Now is not a good time anyway. May and the UK have enough of their own problems to deal with.

Whether the claim that Trump said he won’t visit if there are protests is true or not it probably guarantees protests if any visit is scheduled.

Trump is not popular in the US, with RCP average disapproval currently 16% more than approval. He is probably less popular in the UK.

UK’s YouGov ratings for Trump:

  • Volume: 3rd Public Figure of 2307 tracked
  • Positivity -74:  2,165th Public Figure of 2255 tracked

May in UK: chaotic and unpopular

There are reports of chaos in the UK as Theresa May puts together her new Cabinet, and a post-election poll puts the Conservatives behind Labour.

The Telegraph:  Labour take five-point lead over Tories in latest poll

Labour have gained a five-point lead over the Conservatives following a disastrous general election night, according to the latest poll.

A Survation study puts Jeremy Corbyn’s party on 45 per cent and the Tories on just 39 per cent.

A month ago a Survation poll had the Conservatives 18% ahead on 48% to Labour’s 30%.

The dramatic reversal in the Labour leader’s fortunes comes after the most damaging 48 hours of Theresa May’s career.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has also revealed almost half of Britons believe Mrs May should quit as Prime Minister.

A total of 48 per cent of the 1,720 people interviewed between June 9 and 10 thought she should stand down, with 38 per cent saying she should stay.

Mrs May is still reeling from the unexpected loss of seats at an election that she called to “strengthen her hand” for Brexit talks.

The Telegraph: Theresa May begins Cabinet reshuffle as DUP deal descends into chaos

Ireland’s prime minister warns Theresa May DUP deal could put Northern Ireland peace process at risk

Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, has said he is “concerned” about Theresa May’s plan to cut a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up a Conservative minority government.

Mr Kenny, who has served as Ireland’s Taoiseach since 2011, said he feared the deal could put the peace process in Northern Ireland at risk.

“Spoke w PM May -indicated my concern that nothing should happen to put GoodFridayAgrmt at risk & absence of nationalist voice in Westminster,” he said on Twitter.

Also:

 

UK: Labour “should have won”

There are lessons from similarities and differences between the UK snap election and New Zealand’s general election.

There has been a lot of left wing rejoicing after Jeremy Corbyn led the UK Labour Party from a predicted drubbing to a respectable loss.

Here in New Zealand some at The Standard have been ecstatic :

Labour excels in the UK

Labour’s performance in the United Kingdom is phenomenal compared to expectations from even three weeks ago. What are the lessons for New Zealand Labour?

Lessons for NZ Labour?

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour just reshaped the political landscape of the UK.

Lessons for NZ?

Lesson 1 – in politics, as in sport, a loss is a loss. In sport “four more years” is a common retort to a losing world cup team. In the UK Labour could face five more years in opposition if the Conservatives manage to survive.

While Corbyn deserves some credit it’s fair to ask whether Labour there could have one the election with a less left wing and unliked (until the victorious election loss) leader than Corbyn. They started a long way behind due to turmoil in Labour under Corbyn’s leadership.

The Guardian:  Labour should have won against May’s ‘open goal’, says MP

NZ Labour ‘should’ win against a nine year Government whose popular leader resigned. But they are still a long way behind National.

Labour missed an “open goal” to beat Theresa May and should not pretend it achieved a famous victory, a former shadow chancellor has said.

Chris Leslie, who was Labour shadow chancellor during 2015, labelled it an “OK result” after Jeremy Corbyn’s party secured a higher-than-expected 262 seats and significantly boosted its vote share.

He added that Labour still lost the election, leaving his Nottingham East constituency, which he held in the election, with a Conservative government “they do not need”, and the party with questions about how to convince voters it can move from “protesting about a government into being the government”.

NZ Labour has similar questions to answer (as do NZ Greens and NZ First).

“We shouldn’t pretend that this is a famous victory. It is good, as far as it’s gone, but it’s not going to be good enough.

“Five years of Conservative government: I just can’t, I’m afraid, be a cheerleader for that particular outcome because this was an open goal for all of us. We should have been getting in there.”

Corbyn has been widely praised for running a good campaign and closing the gap between Labour and the Conservatives, but a loss is a loss.

Challenged if Labour could have won under another leader, Leslie said: “I’ve never known a more beatable prime minister than Theresa May – brittle, I think, very, very wobbly and shaky indeed.”

And at a very shaky time for the UK, which is in the process of exiting from the European Union after a close referendum result supporting ‘Brexit’.

Leslie said a lot of people see Corbyn as a credible prime minister, though stopped short of giving his endorsement.

He said: “We’re in an era of open, honest politics. I’m not going to pretend that I have suddenly changed my views about this.

“You know that I’ve got disagreements with Jeremy on particular issues, whether it’s security, economy. I think we’re past the period where we should be asking people to pretend they’ve got different views.”

So UK Labour does not appear to be exactly united in defeat.

On whether he would join Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Leslie said: “My worry is, if I was to serve in the shadow cabinet there would come a moment where something would come up which I would disagree with, and these are my principles, whether it is to do with security or the running of the economy.

“I might have to then resign. Who knows what happens?”

Labour united during the \campaign to try to defeat a common enemy, the Conservative government.

But the enemies within the party, or at least significant differences within, haven’t disappeared with a sort of successful election loss.

NZ Labour could learn from this, and especially those to the left of the left who may be convinced that staunchly swinging left is the way to victory.

New Zealand doesn’t have Brexit to deal with, we don’t have anything like Britain’s immigration issues and don’t have their terrorism tensions. And we don’t have Theresa May as Prime Minister. And we don’t have a snap election, we have a routine general election coming up.

We have had 9 years of a national led government, we have a less charismatic Prime Minister after John Key’s resignation last year, we have growing signs of arrogance, and we have a lack of progress on housing issues and Auckland infrastructure (Auckland City Council is at least as responsible for that as the Government).

NZ Labour ‘should’ be in a good position to win this election. However they conceded last year they would require the support of at least one other sizeable party after joining campaign forces with the Greens. And going by recent polls they are still well short of beating National.

Recent elections and referendums around the world suggest that polls and campaigns and election results are increasingly volatile and unpredictable.

UK voters punished May’s Conservatives for an arrogant power play calling a snap election, and an arrogant and poor election campaign – but they were well short of dumping them altogether.

Under MMP New Zealand voters have never given one party a clear majority, they have always chosen to require support from other parties to govern – this is probably partly by voter design and partly by accident.

That’s the most likely outcome of our September election – either National or Labour+Greens will require at least one other party to be able to form the next government.

When National ‘won’ (with the help of some minor parties) the election in 2008 one could have presumed that Labour ‘should’ win back power by 2017, but at best for them it looks like being at least Labour+NZ First or Labour+Greens, and while an Opposition coalition ‘should’ be in a prime position to win they are not, yet at least.

Some Labour in the UK are rejoicing their improvement in an election defeat, and some here in New Zealand applaud that also and hope that it is a good sign for their chances here.

But there are also signs that the Greens in particular and to a lesser extent Labour are resigned to a loss this year and are simply trying rebuild enough now so they can launch a real bid for power in 2020.

Corbyn and UK Labour probably went into their election with a similar longer term view, but reacted well to a pathetic Conservative campaign offering a virtual ‘open goal’. But they didn’t do well enough.

Labour here can’t bank on National stuffing up their campaign as badly as May – National should have also learned from the UK experience.

Labour supporters also can’t bank on their ability to score if presented with an open goal, some of their pre-campaign strategies have been questionable and unsuccessful – several ‘game changers’ have been left floundering at half way at best and have not got anywhere near the goal.

Labour are far from being in a position to win the election here. At best under our MMP system they may be able to put together a multi-party coalition despite the likelihood they will have fewer seats than National.

Labour and the Greens and NZ First are trying to defend three disparate goals, while National has to defend just one, patched up with a few bit players.

The outcome of our election will end up being determined by who voters think are most deserving of and capable of running New Zealand.

Unless voters effectively decide ‘a pox on both their houses’ as they have done in the US and the UK.

A sad indication of the sorry state of Western democracies is that voters are left trying to decide the least worst rather than the best.

That’s certainly how it looks to me in the US and the UK.

Will it be any different here in three months time?