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The enemy isn’t on your side

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 am, November 15th, 2012 - 186 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

Politics 101 for Labour leaders: when a right-wing columnist tells you to piss off your party and your base to ‘win the centre’ she probably doesn’t have your best interests at heart. The truth of it is, Labour didn’t lose the last two elections by losing the centre and it won’t win by trying to win back votes from National. It’s the Labour non-vote that matters, and they have the same politics as Labour’s grassroots.

Here’s the graph of share of eligible votes in the last three elections.

In the last three elections, Labour’s party vote has fallen from 33% of all registered voters to 27% to 20%. That is: last election only 1 in 5 people who were eligible to vote voted for Labour. Over 1 in 4 didn’t vote at all (I’ll return to that).

Those votes didn’t all go to National, not even nearly. Their share of the registered vote went from 31% to 35% to 34%. In the last election, National’s share of the eligible vote went down so Labour didn’t lose votes to them… especially not in 2011.

In fact, if you look at all parties except Labour, their share of the registered vote has been pretty flat: 48%, 53%, 54%.

Meanwhile, the non-vote has gone from 19% to 21% to 26%.

So, basically, it nets out that a majority of Labour’s lost vote share has gone to non-vote. Last year, that’s where all of it went… it might be a bit less than that if you assume that they lost some to the Greens, which was balanced out by National non-vote, but the point’s clear: most of the votes Labour has been lost has been people who didn’t vote at all, not people who went to National. Labour will not win by trying to win votes back from National because that’s not where they went.

The inescapable conclusion is that the Labour non-vote – the people Labour must win back – don’t want Labour to be more like National. They don’t want a weak Blairite third-wayist Labour that talks big on jobs and equality but clearly doesn’t believe in a repudiation of neoliberalism and doesn’t match their criticism of the government’s status quo with a real alternative. They didn’t believe Goff because, fundamentally, Goff didn’t believe Goff. And they don’t believe Shearer because Shearer also gives the impression he doesn’t believe himself. (Key believes Key. He knows he’s lying but he believes in the objectives he’s lying in aid of). The Labour non-vote wants a Labour worth voting for.

And who best represents the Labour non-vote? The Labour grassroots. The disaffected Labour Ulterior who want so so desperately for Labour to be a party to be proud of. The Labour activists who work their arses off in those communities were all those people have stopped voting Labour and stopped voting altogether.

When Fran O’Sullivan tells Shearer to turn his back on the grassroots, on the membership of his party, she is also telling him to turn his back on the only people who can vote Labour back into power with real support. Oh yes, she knows what she is doing.

[And speaking of enemies not being on your side. I love the Herald’s advice to Labour: wait 5 years, then National will get themselves turfed out. It even claims there is nothing the Opposition can do to affect the popularity of a government (a bit like those righties who say the government can’t influence jobs and wages but also say National’s best for the economy). Yeah, I bet their owners would love another 5 years of National, uncontested by the Opposition]

186 comments on “The enemy isn’t on your side”

  1. Matthew Hooton 1

    James, there is some logic to what you say. I calculate that Labour needs to pick up just 0.92% of the voters who stayed at home in 2011 to win in 2014. So getting them to the booths should be Labour’s first priority. But you should be a bit careful about your idea that “we lost because we weren’t left wing enough.” The activist base of the British Conservative Party convinced themselves they lost to Blair in 1997 and 2001 because they weren’t right wing enough, as did NZ National after 2002. That was clearly wrong. It is a big call to decide not to target the centre. You have to remember that party activists are always more to the right or left than the general population.

    • Bill 1.1

      You have to remember that party activists are always more to the right or left than the general population.

      And you, Matthew, need to acknowledge that the general population, when our underlying attitudes and values are polled, are way to the left of the so-called center. It’s only when we are polled on the, necessarily spun, area of policy that we appear more conservative and right leaning as a population.

      In other words, propaganda is quite a powerful tool capable of framing issues/policies in ways that make them appear acceptable in spite of the generally countervailing values that people possess.

      • tracey 1.1.1

        ++ 1

        basically Labour and national keep becoming (or seeming to become) what they perceive the centre wants, and then do (as National has) pretty much what a right of centre party would do.

        Let’s not encourage our leaders to lie to us. Hager is right, too many PR people and consultants. people used to quote Shakespeare out of context by using “first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”… (it was actually said to support the notion that if you dont want freedom you jkill the lawyers)…. but it more properly now should be

        first thing, let’s killall the political analysts/consultants/commentators/pollsters/ PR people

        • newsense 1.1.1.1

          But what does it mean to come to the centre?

          Does it mean to try and be more red-neck? To actively seek dob-in-a-dole-bludger campaign? To concede the lack of job creation v tough on beneficiaries argument?

          Or to create new arguments?

          http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2012/11/13/on_the_governments_bad_week_and_general_petraeus/

          There are so many opportunities in the failures above it isn’t funny, say number 1 and number 10.

          There hasn’t been a strong Labour alternative to small government, letting the market create jobs and growth, as well as invest in development, and to try to make labour costs as cheap as possible. There has been no strong moral dimension to our public discussion. We have allowed ministers like Joyce and English to look more authoritative than they should be as they have not been challenged.

          It is unbelievable that the Nats are considered strong on the economy, but as tories they seem to get a head start there. They need to be attacked there where they are strongest, as Helen’s knowing wtf was going on and hands-on leadership was turned into a negative of being controlling and domineering.

  2. Hear hear James.

    The first thing that I would advocate is for Labour to stop using focus groups.  The trouble with focus groups is that they tend to make the party triangulate on policy and be slightly paler versions of the Nats.  It is totally conviction less politics.

    What people want are conviction politicians, people who will stand up and say what the problems are and what they will do to address these problems.  Politics should be about education and persuasion.

    And the right have been giving advice to Labour for far too long.  I do not know why the MPs listen to it.  They only mean to cause harm.

    • Matthew Hooton 2.1

      Are you sure people want conviction politicians?
      John Key.
      Helen Clark.
      Jim Bolger.
      Muldoon.
      Holyoake.
      All three (or four) term prime ministers.
      Not a conviction politician among them.

      • mickysavage 2.1.1

        Helen was a conviction politician.  She had a clear view of where she was taking the country.

        Muldoon was a conviction politician, one who thought his judgment and decisions were correct even though most of the time they were completely and utterly wrong.  

        • Roy 2.1.1.1

          I agree. I am old enough to remember Muldoon (yikes!). I think he really did believe he was making the right choices and policies for New Zealand. He was sorely mistaken, of course, but his many faults did not include being a phony…unlike Key.

      • David H 2.1.2

        Yeah and Key’s got his convictions. They are just not in our best interests.

      • Lightly 2.1.3

        Are any of us sure we want to take advice from a self-described “neo-con ultra”?

        (his colleagues described him in rather less glowing terms in The Hollow Men)

      • tracey 2.1.4

        How many of them did you and/or your industry work to get elected? Conviction doesn’t just relate to those people but the people being paid (or volunteering) to promote their BS

      • QoT 2.1.5

        How helpful it is for your data that Kirk and Savage both died in office …

        • McFlock 2.1.5.1

          From what I’ve heard of Holyoake I find it difficult to place him in the same level of duplicity and hypocrisy as Key. I wouldn’t have voted for him, but I would have regarded him as an unprincipled charlatan and possible sociopath.

      • Jenny 2.1.6

        Norm Kirk was a conviction politician and the country loved him. They weren’t as enamoured with his milquetoast replacement.

    • karol 2.2

      micky: The first thing that I would advocate is for Labour to stop using focus groups. 

      Exactly.  Focus groups are using the tool of the “market” and of business.  It is slipping into the neoliberal way of treat politics as a business and the “market” as supreme. 

      The left should begin with ordinary people, the grassroots, and to engage with them as 3-dimensional people, not treat them as statistics, and market-constructed, demographic segments.

    • KhandallaMan 2.3

      +1 Micky
       “Focus group research found that focus groups are often useless, and frequently cause more trouble than they are intended to solve, with focus groups often aiming to please rather than offering their own opinions or evaluations, and with data often cherry picked to support a foregone conclusion. A study cites the disastrous introduction of New Coke in the 1980s as a vivid example of focus group analysis gone bad. In addition there is anecdotal evidence of focus groups rebelling, for instance the name for the Ford Focus, was created by a focus group which had grown bored and impatient and the irony of this was not picked up by the marketing team. ”

      Cut from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_group

      My personal experience, from participating in two consumer focus groups, is that the convenor was looking for the lowest common denominator so that they could quickly produce their report and go home for tea. 

      • mickysavage 2.3.1

        Ford Focus, that is a crack up!

        Trust ordinary people to stuff up the attempts of the corporates to understand what ordinary people want! 

      • Stuart Nash 2.3.2

        Got it in one.! The best ‘focus group’ is getting out there seven days a week talking to people who are living the reality of this dreadful govt. My experience is that you pretty quickly get a feel for what is important to people who may vote for you, and what isn’t. And its actually what politicians are paid to do. Imagine that. Hmmm.

    • tracey 2.4

      “What people want are conviction politicians, people who will stand up and say what the problems are and what they will do to address these problems”

      Actually they want that but nmostly they want people who will then do what they promised… in that context I can explain M Hooten’s post above.

      Politicians lie about what they will do, hence they don’t do what we think we voted them in to do…

    • Stuart Nash 2.5

      completely agree. I have been hammered for advocating a return to campaigning on ‘the issues that matter’, however, I will stand by this strategy for as long as I have a passion for this game (and I did better than any other candidate in the country against a sitting Nat MP in 2011 by following this strategy). My very strong believe is that what the people of NZ want from their political leaders is an acknowledgement that they understand the issues, can empathize with the situation and can offer meaningful solutions. Clear, concise communication of an alternative vision (or at least a different set of policies that offer solutions) are the keys to electoral victory. Voters are drawn to conviction politicians because they sense integrity and passion; the reason the enrolled non-vote was so high last time is because of a lack of conviction from Key and a lack of an alternative, believable vision from Labour (even though Goff is the hardest working politician in the House and deserves immense respect for the integrity and work ethic he brings to the role).

      • QoT 2.5.1

        I have been hammered for advocating a return to campaigning on ‘the issues that matter’

        Yes, that’s totally what you were hammered for. Not for trying to throw Louisa Wall under the bus because she was distracting everyone from white hetero dude “issues”.

      • rosy 2.5.2

        My very strong believe is that what the people of NZ want from their political leaders is an acknowledgement that they understand the issues, can empathize with the situation and can offer meaningful solutions

        This…. and it’s completely at odds with wooing the 2-for-1 centrist vote that pushes a strategy of different ways of doing the same thing so the centrists don’t fear voting for Shearer when they’re tired of Key. [That is a deliberate use of the leaders’ names, not the party names because Labour is not differentiating itself on policy, only on tone (sort of)].

        I don’t agree with relying on the dissaffected Labour supporters to still vote left. It’s the very antithesis of conviction politics and chances are will lead to a greater non-vote, I think.

        • Stuart Nash 2.5.2.1

          Agree. While needing to understand the policies of the other crowd, we shouldn’t be fooled into believing that we always need to respond negatively. Often the press will do this for us (and they may need a little behind-the-scenes help occasionally) – and when it comes to attacking Nat stupidity, the press have a lot more cut through and credibility. Rather, effort should be directed into coming up with a set of policies that feeds into an alternative Labour vision for the future; a vision backed by policies that represent what Labour has always stood for, and hopefully always will. People from all walks of life will be drawn into supporting good sound politics (after all no one wants poverty, crime, unemployment, inequality and all the evils that go with it).

          There seems to be a belief that there is a divide between those who want economic and social equality, equality of opportunity etc and those who don’t. By and large, I disagree with this. What people from all sides are looking for is a way forward that does differ from the failed experiment of the current govt. There is no reason why good policy clearly communicated with conviction and passion won’t appeal to all those who didn’t vote, as well as a great number of those who did. Appealing to the centre doesn’t mean alienating the left, and appealing to the left doesn’t mean alienating the centre. Just do what’s right and both will follow.

          • rosy 2.5.2.1.1

            Thanks for replying Stuart. I agree with the general thrust of your first paragraph. However, there is a link between two sentences in your second paragraph that are contradictory and probably illustrate some of the disillusionment with Labour’s current stance on social policy.

            You say “There seems to be a belief that there is a divide between those who want economic and social equality, equality of opportunity etc and those who don’t”… and … “Appealing to the centre doesn’t mean alienating the left, and appealing to the left doesn’t mean alienating the centre. Just do what’s right and both will follow”

            To my mind there has been a strategy of appealing to the centre by dividing the presumably natural voters of the left who are poor into the deserving and undeserving and making remarks that undermine the position of those who are deemed underserving. The obvious groups are people on sickness and unemployment benefits and DPB. This is the crux of the matter for me. Labour must be able to present a new vision of how society should be without undermining the position of those that need the most and have the least chance of improving their lot.

            My view is laid out in a comment I wrote a while ago that seemed to hit a nerve, so maybe that will also give you some idea about why some on this site are angered by be use of the most vulnerable people to appeal to the ‘centrist’ votes. Some in Labour – strategists and politicians – in their desire to appeal to the centre vote, seem to have forgotten that for the vast majority of people who rely on state for income do so because of what life has thrown at them, not choices.

            Surely there are enough very smart Labour strategists out there who can appeal to the decency of the centrist voters without selling out the lives of those who are only just clinging to their homes, their lives, and their dignity.

            • Stuart Nash 2.5.2.1.1.1

              Agree with you Rosy in the sense that we should never ever look to sell out those we have always sought to represent. For me there doesn’t need to be an ‘either or’. Bashing anyone in a negative ‘gotta’ style, whether wealthy or poor, doesn’t do us any good. Going after those who are dishonest and seek to rip off NZers who are working hard is a different story, but requires a more subtle strategy that can never be misrepresented or misunderstood. But I do believe that 97% of Kiwis are good hard working honest people who want what’s best for themselves, their families, friends and our wonderful country. The fact that so many are against asset sales just shows that there are thousands who voted Nat but don’t necessarily agree with their policies and / or ideologies but couldn’t vote for Labour due to the lack of a credible alternative vision. Our real challenge, therefore, is to present a vision and set of policies that challenges the status quo in a positive way and provides a credible economic and social alternative. For me, this is the real challenge: difficult but very achievable. Concentrating on the 1% diverts precious time. As mentioned, doing what’s right will be attractive to enough voters to allow Labour to once again rule the treasury benches. I know this sounds rather simplistic, but there is a much more comprehensive strategy behind the principle. Could talk about this for pages, but won’t bore you… :-)

              • One Tāne Huna

                “Our real challenge, therefore, is to present a vision and set of policies that challenges the status quo in a positive way and provides a credible economic and social alternative. For me, this is the real challenge: difficult but very achievable. ”

                And if you can’t think of any? Let me guess: “There is no alternative.”

                That’s a fail, I’m afraid: you’ve got so many examples from overseas of how to go about things. Labour has always had a better track record on the economy anyway. The problem isn’t finding alternative settings – it’s the fact that you collectively fail to articulate them, with some noteworthy exceptions.

                And then there are the ludicrous sideshows, from missing video footage and insincere mumbling to bike races with Mr. Oil.

                Get a leader.

              • just saying

                …I know this sounds rather simplistic, but there is a much more comprehensive strategy behind the principle. Could talk about this for pages, but won’t bore you… :-)

                Please do Stuart. You are in a unique position as one who, until recently, was part of Labour’s strategy team.

                From where I sit, the strategy you refer to has repeatedly proven to be an utter flop*.

                *In saying that I’m assuming its purpose was not to cut down on party membership, demoralise and outrage activists, turn Labour into a laughing-stock amongst a large majority of the electorate, reduce the numbers of those most disadvantaged participating in our democracy, and to vigilantly stamp-out every spark of an idea that anything significantly different from what’s happening now is even possible.

          • Rogue Trooper 2.5.2.1.2

            definitely writes like a politician (many identities behind the pseudonyms are common knowledge; this is the information age after all)

            [lprent: It is Stuart Nash. I checked. ]

  3. Bill 3

    Excellent post. Simple and clear. I hope it finally lays to rest the tosh we hear about he need to win over the (non-existant) center vote. Just a bit of a shame the post wasn’t made a year or so back when it might have nipped the center voters/swing voters focus in the bud. Still…looking forward to any repudiations of your analysis and expecting not a lot on the ‘sounds plausable’ or the ‘that sounds reasonably convincing’ fronts.

    • lprent 3.1

      Yeah. I think we will leave that one up top today and ignore the complaints by people who failed to get to the toilet in time when they first saw the front page.

    • rosy 3.2

      +1 Thanks James, an excellent post. And as Bill says, well due.

    • Colonial Viper 3.3

      Labour is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for internal polling to be done by UMR. They are stuck in the mindset of chasing this bloody disloyal vote.

      Bottom line: don’t bother being a Labour supporter or member, because Labour will listen to disloyal swing voters more than they will listen to you.

  4. Danyl Mclauchlan 4

    “Are you sure people want conviction politicians?”

    I think that the first criteria for political leaders is basic competence, then values, and I suspect most of those non-voters in the last election stayed home because they disagreed with National’s values but didn’t feel inclined to cast a vote for Labour because they were incompetent idiots who would have been terrible at governing.

    Labour are a lot better this term, but still not particularly great. And Shearer doesn’t seem as competent as Key. Or Winston Peters. Or Russel Norman.

    • karol 4.1

      I agree with most of what you say, Danyl.  But I disagree with your apparent acceptance of Russel Norman as the de facto leader of the Greens being Norman – this is colluding with the current shift to the masculinisation of politics.  And that is following the lead of National.

      If anything, Labour lost out to women voters in the last couple of years, not just to low income voters. 

      • handle 4.1.1

        Russel Norman is *a* leader of the Greens. The prominence this year of the economic matters he has always focused on explains why we are seeing more of him than Metiria who is also doing well. Most voters do not make gender their main priority in determining which politicians or parties to back.

        • karol 4.1.1.1

          The prominence given to economic matters over social policy is part of the Nats re-masculinisation of politics – it’s also part of the way neoliberal values prioritise economics and business.

          • handle 4.1.1.1.1

            You don’t think it might have something to do with the world’s economy collapsing?

            • tracey 4.1.1.1.1.1

              have you read Key’s 2008 speech, he clearly identified a GFC underway, yet now he blames it for what he doesn’t do that he promised, in the same speech…

              As a currency dealer, anticipating future outcomes was key (pun intended), and apparently this career is what made him so qualified for the position of PM, but now people are saying he couldn’t see it coming in 2008 when he made so many promises? There’s a Tui sign right there.

            • karol 4.1.1.1.1.2

              And the GFC has nothing to do with prioritising the economy and market over what is best for society as a whole?  

              And then the solution is, let the guys sort it out cause they’re best at dealing with finance and the economy?

              • Colonial Viper

                Weren’t Margaret Thatcher and Ruth Richardson both highly capable and effective economic managers?

                • karol

                  Yes.  But they are the exceptions.  It’s still largely a male world. There’s also Christine Lagarde, who was the first woman in France to be in charge of economic affairs in 2007.

                  Under our current government there seems to be a strong association with power, status, masculinity and a grasp of economics and/or finance. And right wingers tend to lead in this regard. It’s a bit of a shift backwards with respect to gender. 

                  Of course not all men are so good at it, whether or nor they have power, status or a strong masculine image.  Phil Goff wasn’t so good with numbers, and didn’t he get hammered for it!   

                  • fatty

                    true, our gendering of occupations is not different in the beehive than it is out. Women ministers are often appointed within education and social development

        • Jenny 4.1.1.2

          It is why the Greens will do well at this election but then peak as everyone realises that they are just another bunch of mainstream politicians prepared to dump principle for votes.

          This may sound harsh. But it is a well known fact that the Greens consciously decided at the last election not to mention Climate Change so as to not seem “to radical”. Norman has continued this policy.

          After Sandy devastated New York the Greens should have been all over it. Where were they?

          They get a fail from me.

    • mike 4.2

      Which act of key is the ‘competent’ you’re talking about, assets sales fiasco, class sizes, dotcom raids, christchurch school closures, etc etc? That ‘thick as pigshit’ is the very epitome of incompetence

    • Colonial Viper 4.3

      Labour are a lot better this term, but still not particularly great.

      WHAA…? They’re polling the same as last term…or worse…

    • Lightly 4.4

      And I think that’s the point: a Labour to be proud of doesn’t have to be rabidly leftwing but it does have to have the courage of its convictions, the policies, and the impression it believes in its own ability.

    • tracey 4.5

      I think if politicians showed values (and had actions to back them) first, then competence you would be surprised at how people embraced them.

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    Great post James what you say is true the problem I have is Labours so called leaders have no idea how to get that vote out. This Labour Leadership honestly think that the people who post on the Standard are not real individual people. They dont understand that many of the people that post on the Standard who want real change and a say in the Party on things like the Leaders selection are their LEC activists, and real past and present office holders.

    Labours last two election campaigns have been train wrecks and if we have the same people running the next one with Shearer in charge we will never get that vote out. This lot dont even understand how to use social media. Our caucus is full of people who are more concerned about the Wellington game than articulating Labours values. Todays 16 year olds get to vote in 2014 do they seriously think that it is not worth using blogs and face book to influence these people? Hell why would we aye after all it didnt work for Obama! Who the hell do these MPs think go door nocking on election day because it wont be them it will be me my wife, son and other posters on the standard.

    This weekends voting on leadership percentages is my last hope that the members will finally get some say in the future of this once great Party. I want National and the Neoliberal agenda out, gone and Shearer on training wheels is just not going to achieve that.

  6. King Kong 6

    If I was National I would make it compulsory for everyone to be paid their gross salary in cash and upon recieving it they would be forced to peel off the ammount due in tax and hand it back to the employer to pay to the Government.

    We would then see how “left” everyday New Zealanders really are. It would also dramatically increase political activism.

    Numbers on a piece of paper are too easy for people to ignore.

    • Matthew Hooton 6.1

      Absolutely agree. But under my model they don’t hand it back to the employer. They have to send a cheque or electronically transfer it to the government. My view is that if yoy abolish the PAYE system there would never be a Labour government again.

      (I have talked about this with Matt McCarten. He recognises the theory, but counters that a left-wing government should abolish PAYE and introduce a payroll tax. That is, if a worker currently gets $50,000 and pays $10,000 in tax, their pay would become $40,000 and they would get it all. But the employer would have to pay $10,000 as a payroll tax. His reckons there would never be a National government again. On balance, we should probably stick with PAYE and not have the mechanics of our tax system determined by people like Matt or me.)

      • felix 6.1.1

        Fuck off back to whaleoil you two.

        [lprent: A comment that is pointless and starting to stray into the realm of treading on the perogatives of the moderators. ]

        • Matthew Hooton 6.1.1.1

          Not sure that comment complies with the rules at http://thestandard.org.nz/policy/

          • felix 6.1.1.1.1

            Not sure I give a shit what you think, troll.

            You’re only here to disrupt the thread, and your comments above have nothing to do with the post.

            • Jackal 6.1.1.1.1.1

              I have to disagree with you there felix. Hooton made a number of comments that contribute to the thread. In fact I agree with his first comment that says a careful approach on where a political party positions itself is require.

              I disagree that people don’t want “conviction politicians” though. A politician who believes in his party and their policy and can back it up with evidence is the most effective politician there is. That’s why they usually predominate as leaders… Although in New Zealand it’s probably about 50/50.

              However I totally disagree that employers should be responsible for paying employees in cash. I also disagree that sending cheques is better than the largely automatic system we have now. I mean you guys can’t be serious Matthew Hooton and KK? That kind of argument just makes you look like fools, and I can see why felix got pissed off.

              If you abolish the tax system you will send society into free-fall, because private investors don’t have the people’s best interest at heart. In fact most private businesses in New Zealand can only survive because of a socialized tax system. Now I think I’ve given your silly argument enough attention.

              • felix

                “I have to disagree with you there felix. Hooton made a number of comments that contribute to the thread. “

                By “your comments above” I meant the two comments directly above, one from Matthyawn and one from his monkey.

                Perhaps I should’ve been more clear but I couldn’t see much point in addressing it to the monkey because the monkey can’t read.

                • Jackal

                  But the monkey can type… Type monkey type.

                  • McFlock

                    “Though the Jackal and the Monkey occupy different habitats, when their paths do cross a mutual enmity often erupts, drawing the attention of other animals in the vicinity”…

                  • felix

                    Yeah well you can lead a monkey to spellcheck but you can’t make it think.

                    BTW can anyone think of a reason why Matthyawn is so keen to derail a thread about how Labour shouldn’t be taking advice from self-interested right-wing shills?

              • Jenny

                Churchill was a conviction politician. He said. “All I can promise you is blood, sweat toil and tears.” And they lapped it up. All polls put Churchill as the greatest British PM of all time.

              • Jenny

                If you abolish the tax system, not only do the private investors not have the people’s best interest at heart, they couldn’t do business. Not without the roads and services and the police and the courts and all the other infrastructure that they for sure as hell won’t pay for, but just as surely make full use of.

          • Craig Glen Eden 6.1.1.1.2

            On q the enemy arrives to distract!

        • rosy 6.1.1.2

          :-) I was trying to think of a reply that said something about giving wage earners the bailout bill for SCF, the ETS subsidies and MP expenses etc at the same time as asking them to peel off the tax bill… oh and skip handing back to the employer who will probably pocket it or charge the employee for the ‘service’ of handing over the tax… but I think your reply is far better Felix.

          • Matthew Hooton 6.1.1.2.1

            That’s exactly the point rosy – under the system I propose there is not the slightest chance SCF would have been bailed out, because every worker would see the direct link from their account to its account.

            • rosy 6.1.1.2.1.1

              They might pay if the also see the bill for the cost of the kids education, grandpa’s heart attack, civil defence, policing, granny’s retirement and the cousin’s skills training/education, keeping the local beach free of stuff and ensuring there is enough fish for dinner and kiwis in the forest – stuff that they well understand as important that they can’t pay for out of their own pocket or facilitate themselves. Left-wing parties might pick up a few votes.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.2.1.2

              Hey Mr Hooten

              Every time public services get cancelled and people get fired from the public service, will that appear on the form as well, next to the extra $5 a week in tax savings that worker gets?

              • Matthew Hooton

                rosy/CV, yes and yes. The idea is to make the whole business of taxing and spending more transparent. I think it would improve the overall quality of govt spending. Which I think this would favour the right, but rosy might be right and it could also help the left. It doesn’t really matter which really. It just means that people wouldn’t talk about “the government” paying for things anymore. They would see that they were paying for them. And that would mean no more SCF bail outs, and it would probably have meant interest-free student loans would have been inflation-adjusted student loans.

                But felix is right, this is off topic so will shut up now.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Now will you have purely financial and economic measures on this little scorecard or also social measures too? Equality, happiness and satisfaction, average hours worked, quality of education etc?

                  • Matthew Hooton

                    Could do. I guess the issue is that people (voters) think that the government spent $1.7b bailing out SCF. The govt did no such thing. The bail out actually cost real people an average of more than $400 each. That is much more difficult for a pollie to get away with. But, if there was a good case for it (I actually think there was, about the need for the govt to fulfil its publicly stated commitments etc, even though it pisses me off), then that case should be made in the context of the real $400 measure not the more abstract $1.7b one. I personally have no concept of what $1.7b is (its 1000 Grey Lynn villas I suppose), and very few people do, but everyone has a concept of $400 and it would lead to better public engagement on policy issues if politics were framed that way.

                    But i will try to shut up now and do some work!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Matthew the govt provided $1.7B in bridge funding to SCF. For free. They could do similar to help boost manufaturers and other industries in this country.

                    • Jim Nald

                      Matthew Hooton does good National work here.

                      Thanks from Jim Nald – Once Was National.

                    • Jenny

                      Roger Kerr one of New Zealand’s richest men was bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of $100 million. Despite; being fabulously rich. Despite; the children of working people who parents paid those taxes gifted to Roger Kerr going without.
                      Despite; the fact that Kerr only invested $70 million in SCF.

                      For his bad investment gamble – This crook should have lost the lot.

                  • karol

                    Exactly – for the right wingers it’s all about money, especially MY MONEY, and so little about the overall health and well-being of a society, and collective efforts and responsibility.

              • TightyRighty

                Hopefully.

      • lprent 6.1.2

        Not to mention that the IRD system is kind of antiquitated (20 years old and struggling to allow even minor changes – WWF WFF damn near killed it) and could not stand either of your changes.

        If you want to change the taxation systems than I’d suggest doing it after you have thrown your full support behind getting a new system up and operating. It will take much of a decade.

        • Enough is Enough 6.1.2.1

          Excellent point Lprent

          It has been a huge failure of succcesive governments to not replace the current system.

          At the presnt time we do not have the infrastructure to support any kind of tax reform. There will be no CGT until IRD upgrades. And as you suggest that could take the best part of a decade

          • lprent 6.1.2.1.1

            There are relatively few of those transactions per year compared to something like PAYE, GST or the like – which are systems on the scale that Hooten or McCarten were considering.

            I suspect the CGT tax would be easy to implement. You are making a mountain out of a molehill

        • QoT 6.1.2.2

          The World Wildlife Fund nearly killed their computers? :P

      • Uturn 6.1.3

        This theory might work if people didn’t already use their money to pay bills for things they can’t escape, like rent, food, power, water, etc. But I guess poor people are just thick, eh? If only those poor people knew about spending money, they’d know that when they hand over a $5 note for a $2 item they get $3 change? Is that it? Born to rule, elitist conceit.

      • McFlock 6.1.4

        I reckon that for your system to be consistent, schools should send parents a bill for tuition, with a big red stamp saying “Cancelled – paid by public funds”. 
        When someone presents to A&E, they should get a bill showing the total cost of their care.
        Same with a doctor’s visit.
        Roads should have big signs every kilometre giving the projected charge if it were a toll road.
             
        Forget about cancer treatment… 
           
        But then that is a huge amount of expense just to satisfy a tory desire that’s, well, a bit dickish really. The logic seems to be “people must be stupid because they can’t comprehend money unless it’s in token form placed in their hand”. 

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.4.1

          The logic seems to be “people must be stupid because they can’t comprehend money unless it’s in token form placed in their hand”.

          Well, it’s been proven that the RWNJs are stupid and that they engage in psychological projection.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.5

        My view is that if yoy abolish the PAYE system there would never be a Labour government again.

        Yes there will – in very short order as people would very rapidly want their government back and there’s no way that they’d vote for the fuckwits who tried to abolish it.

    • BLiP 6.2

      .

      Fuck off back to whaleoil you two.

      I concur.

    • KhandallaMan 6.3

      If my Aunt had balls, would she be my Uncle?

      If employers didn’t perform the IRD collection role, would all the businesses in NZ that are making their primary living from Government spend, survive 5 minutes?

      Fletchers live off the tax payers tit. Most Ad agencies, Law Firms, professional Services firms rely on the PAYE worker deductions to fund their heroic “free market” existence. Given the extent of tax avoidance and evasion by many in the business and professional sectors it is a massive irony that these evaders/avoiders are dependant on the cash flow of the PAYE worker for their creature comforts. 

      KK! Your hypothetical argument proves only that you can’t shape an argument using realistic cases. 

      • King Kong 6.3.1

        No one said that tax revenues from workers get turned off it would just incentivise those paying them to scrutinise more closely what they are being used for. Hopefully that would mean the axe to alot of the things you are talking about.

    • tracey 6.4

      I wonder why national doesn’t have a zero tax policy it is pursuing?

      • Draco T Bastard 6.4.1

        They can’t give themselves and their rich mates lots of taxpayer dollars if they get rid of taxes completely.

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    I’m with these right wingers – greatly reduce income taxes for workers, and instead tax wealth, corporate profits and capital gains.

  8. Dump Shearer and have a good clean out, the time is coming for a new orthodoxy to be ushered in and those occupying the top 10 – 15 spot in Labour aren’t the ones to do the work.

    “The philosopher Jean-Claude Milner recently proposed the notion of the “stabilising class”: not the old ruling class, but all who are committed to the stability and continuity of the existing social, economic and political order – the class of those who, even when they call for a change, do so to ensure that nothing really will change. The key to electoral success in today’s developed states is winning over this class”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/13/obama-ground-floor-thinking

    So Shearers Labour is National with a human face?

    • fatty 8.1

      nice link redfred

      “So Shearers Labour is National with a human face?”

      I guess you could say that, but you could also argue that National already has a human face – that is the reason for having Key as leader, Mr Smile and Wave.
      I think the Greens have slipped into that territory of becoming the soft resistance which will not create change. That’s the problem with the green economy. So called politics of resistance, or politics of change is actually just continuing and legitimising our current ideology. Zizek suggests here that not only do we protest knowing that change will not happen, but we also protest because we don’t wan’t change.

      • prism 8.1.1

        Interesting link fatty. For those who haven’t found Zizek. This guy seems a brilliant thinker, and it might be better to listen to the clip because his tic of rubbing his nose constantly distracts. Also another distraction – the sensual painting on the wall behind their heads. Not easy for puritan NZs to ignore. No doubt Europeans are too urbane to notice.

  9. Taxes,Maxis, the bug in everyone’s pocket.
    Is Enterprise only afforded to those who already have bucks to start a business,etc, self enterprise is grandma knitting shawls,knitting jersey’s,people who want to have a small vege plot to sell to the locals, paper boys and girls should have a tax free income as well,i still find taxing those kids, pathetic politics.
    Tax is not fair and just in NZ,it does not support those who have the desire to earn a little
    extra to support any income they might have.A tax free level is needed in NZ.
    This is a stark contrast to private enterprise,banks,businesses,corporations who bleed every
    NZ’er whilst sending that profit off-shore,untaxed,oil companies come to nz and get ‘special’
    tax incentives and support and that profit is sent off-shore,where the hell is the logic in this ?
    NZ is just sitting on the sideline hoping against hope that some of it will ‘trickle down’
    into the economy,well it doesn’t,it wont and never will.
    Look at all the towns and cities in nz that have had mine,drilling etc they are impoverished,
    they dont get a second glance from these pilferers.
    Fran wants to trumpet the ‘holyer than thou’ right of politics,it’s that attitude that has bought
    NZ to its knees and closer to its own ‘fiscal cliff’

  10. BLiP 10

    .

    . . . And who best represents the Labour non-vote? The Labour grassroots. The disaffected Labour Ulterior who want so so desperately for Labour to be a party to be proud of. The Labour activists who work their arses off in those communities were all those people have stopped voting Labour and stopped voting altogether . . .

    ^^^QFT

  11. Tom Gould 11

    James, your theory holds only if we accept that the non-vote is a left wing vote. Your analysis does not provide any evidence that this is so. It is equally credible to suggest that these voters are not particularly motivated by high-minded left right polemics and dogma, rather by everyday issues. In this regard perhaps Fran has a point, however badly characterised?

  12. Bill 12

    So hang on. We’re 45 comments in on this thread and not a single comment that would argue against the central premise of the post? Not one person standing up to argue that it is not the 1 in 4 non-voters Labour ought to be targetting? Not one person arguing in line with what seems to be the Labour Party strategy of targetting those (according to the post, non-existent) floating voters?

    Okay. I’ll move the debate on a bit then by asking the following question. Is there any reason to believe that Labour would any more capable than National in targetting sections of those 1 in 4 non-voters?

    Is there an argument that would suggest those 1 in 4 are by and large the rather obvious victims of 30 years worth of neo-liberalism and so that status means they are necessarily ‘out of the picture’ from the viewpoint of any political party operating from a neo-liberal framework?

    Is there a shrinking pool of voters because there is a big difference between looking back at your family’s generations and being worried that you might not be able to achieve their standard of living and looking back at your family’s generations and realising that a torpedoed and sunk standard of material well being is all that there is?

    The first group can be encouraged to keep on believing that things will eventually get better. But neo-liberalism has nothing left to offer the second group. They’ve already received all they were ever going to get. Now they are merely a resevoir for bogey men examples of ‘the undeserving’ and ‘the bad choice makers’ …useful for bolstering a sense of belief among those who still cling to the idea that neo-liberal policies or presciptions will deliver them from increasing hardship and not into it. (Just don’t make bad choices and be deserving and everything will be okay. just wait. you’ll see.)

    Okay. Somewhat cynical – though perhaps that’s entirely warranted – rant over.

    • weka 12.1

      Enter stage left: Mana.
       
       

      • Jackal 12.1.1

        Of course voters are feeling disenfranchised with both Labour and National because of declining living standards. New Zealand has gone backwards in nearly every social indicator apart from crime rate statistics, which has actually been reducing worldwide. We do OK in education, but the current government is doing their best to stuff that up as well.

        National claiming their policy has caused a reduction in crime is disingenuous when you compare NZ to other similarly developed countries, which have seen an even faster decline in their crime rates. So National just conveniently forgets that we’re a part of a global community when they want, but it’s entirely the fault of the GFC whenever statistics show they’re failing. This sort of manipulation pisses me off no end, mainly because they actually seem to believe their own bullshit!

        Every other statistical indicator I can think of for New Zealand shows we’re not doing well, and that’s a clear indication that we’ve had the wrong kind of governance for a long time. We used to be at the top in most OECD statistics before the neo-liberal agenda was forced onto us, and know New Zealand is lucky to even be above average.

        That all pervasive governmental failure is highly detrimental to people’s moral, and it’s no wonder they’re not voting as conditions worsen.

        The lack of engagement with the democratic process this causes isn’t merely limited to a causality of resentment at not being able to achieve the lifestyles our parents and grandparents took for granted. It includes people being limited in their ability to engage through time constraints, stress, sickness and limitations to accessing technology, just to mention a few things that reduced living standards cause.

        I think in general the public is disconnected from politicians across the board because of this dynamic. It’s the social cost of the neo-liberal agenda that is turning people off, and the ability of any particular political party to cut through those limiting factors, and the publics ability to differentiate between politicians who they often view as a holism causing their lifestyles to degrade, are the only variability’s. We should not expect people to simply become more aware of cause and effect within the political realm.

        The prevailing dynamic is that as people’s lifestyles degrade, they’re less inclined to vote. This is more beneficial to the right wing because they specifically target with their destructive policy people who don’t share their political beliefs. In this way they ensure their oppositions support is less likely to vote. That’s why the million Kiwis who didn’t vote are more likely to support the left, and the left must therefore run a clever campaign to reach these people.

        Labour/Greens/Mana need to target these potential voters through active on the ground campaigns while not alienating people who don’t identify with them (easier said than done). They obviously need to ignore the manipulations of people like Fran O’Sullivan and Matthew Hooton who don’t have their best interests at heart.

        Despite the left wing needing to reduce the none vote by engaging at the grass roots level, I think we should expect there to be even less eligible voters bothering to vote in 2014, which is a pity, because only through voting can we hope to repair the damage that has been caused to New Zealand by the destructive neo-liberal agenda.

        • Bob 12.1.1.1

          Is it the neo-liberal agenda, or is it because policies are so often drawn up to hide a problem rather than fix it, with no thought put into basic human nature and the effects of incentives.

          The most obvious example in NZ being the DPB. To recieve the DPB you need to be a single parent and be out of work. If you want more money, under the current system you have two options, you can try to find work, or, you can have another child and increase the payment you recieve via the DPB (of course your costs will increase, but if you are in a desperate situation and can’t find work this is the only other legal option). The DPB was a brilliant piece of legislation for single parents in NZ, however, this same legislation can be an incentive for desperate people to bring more children into poverty and therefore incentivising a reduction in living standards for the parent and now two children. Obviously this doesn’t happen to everyone on the DPB (and will have a number of people on here seeing red), but a simple bit of forethought could have seen it and stopped this from happening. This same theory is the reason I (and many people on this site) appose league tables in schools, we can see that it opens the system up for rogue teachers to manipulate the system for personal gain, and this is also why the banking system is fucked (sorry, couldn’t think of a more apt term) due to bankers being incentivised to make as much money as possible without thought for whether people can service their debts. The problem in my eyes isn’t that neo-liberalism is broken, but more the fact that too many people in power are short sighted and incentivise the wrong behaviours.

          If you haven’t already, have a read of Freakonomics by Steven Levitt.

          • Descendant Of Smith 12.1.1.1.1

            Maybe you don’t know what life was like before DPB existed for women who had little escape from violent and dysfunctional relationships and maybe you don’t understand what a life-line it is for women today for the same reason.

            Maybe you miss the fact that women used to stay in those relationships because they had no choice and if they did leave they lived in quite abject poverty.

            I know of caves in my own local area where you can still see the white paint on them where people used to live.

            Remember that the vast majority of violence in this country is done by men on women.

            Maybe you missed the fact that all those children have fathers – many of whom take little responsibility for their children and quite a number bleat about the child support they pay even when they do pay it.

            Maybe you don’t understand that this violence has been with NZ for generations.

            In the 80’s Radio I did some research into what happens to young people when employment options are taken away from young people. They found males transitioned into gangs and women had children. Had everything to do with becoming an adult when you had few other choices.

            Males become dis-enfranchised women have children.

            Look around the world – the more well-off the overall population is (rather than just those at the top) the more the birth-rate decreases.

            Add to that the research that shows when people and populations are under threat the biological imperative to reproduce increases ( otherwise the population won’t survive) you should be getting the idea that neo-liberalism and the cult of individualism incentivises the wrong behaviours.

            Looking after each other, having a more evenly distributed wealth and employment curve, not having our profits go off shore, having four day work weeks, etc are all solutions.

            Having faith in your own population however is a pre-requisite – the problem with the right is that they think they are wonderful and the rest of us are shit. You can’t believe in solutions when your mindset is that your fellow citizens are crap.

            I’d also add that the most obvious examples of incentivising wrong behaviour is lowering taxes for the well off and handing over well managed state businesses to private enterprise – telecommunications being the biggest example.

            Telecom quite deliberately, and by their own admission, ripped us off for years and invested little in infrastructure. Dividends to shareholders and big salaries to themselves were exactly the wrong incentives.

            And how you think DPB has anything to do with neo-liberalism is beyond me.

            • Jackal 12.1.1.1.1.1

              I don’t really agree that wealth means a decrease in the birth rates Descendant Of Smith, although I haven’t looked into the matter elsewhere in the world.

              In New Zealand they claim that females (I’m not a Ferengi btw QoT) from low socio economic backgrounds are having more children because they compare birth rates accross the entire population. They forget that woman are usually financially poorer than men and especially so when they’re having children. That means more children are inherently born into areas that are poorer, because those areas are the ones people on low incomes can afford to live in. However it doesn’t mean rich females have statistically speaking less children per person.

              There are simply more females having children and living in low decile areas because of how the system operates. Statistically comparing them against rich old people whose biological clocks have slowed is clearly wrong!

              In my opinion, more children are born into low socio-economic conditions simply because under the current system females are not treated equally. Young people are also not treated equally, and that’s why there’s a problem. It’s not about woman breeding for a benefit, it’s about inequality, sexism and ageism. Fix those and we would have largely fixed the problem of children growing up in negative conditions due to financial hardship.

          • felix 12.1.1.1.2

            Stupidest thing you’ve written, Bob, and that’s saying something.

            In our society, children cost money. Ask anyone you know how much it costs to raise a kid, just for the basics. I know you don’t have any friends apart from other angry bald divorced men, but I’m sure you have some workmates with children who can confirm this.

            The DPB doesn’t provide more that is required to raise a child, Bob. There’s no profit margin in it. You don’t gat to cream a bit more off the top for every kid you have. In fact the reverse is true and most people need to find ways to supplement their benefit – legally or not – to make ends meet.

            There is actually a perverse incentive in play, but you completely missed it. There is an incentive for those who want to stay on the DPB indefinitely to have another child when the first one grows up. But it’s nothing to do with increasing the payments, as any idiot can figure out that those numbers don’t add up.

  13. kiwi_prometheus 13

    “The inescapable conclusion is that the Labour non-vote – the people Labour must win back – don’t want Labour to be more like National.”

    Of course you completely ignore the fact that Labour has been dominated by Left Academics peddling Feminist “Theory”, Cultural Studies and Deconstructionism as the guiding failed philosophy – if you can even call it philosophy. Having severely degraded academic standards at Western universities with their Irrationalist mumbo jumbo, they have played a pivotal role in the rise to dominance of neoliberal philosophy.

    Do any of you standardistas seriously believe that you can win back turned off voters by prattling on about that Feminist “Rape Culture” fantasy, for example?

    Get rid of the neoliberal nonsense for sure, but clear out the man haters while you’re at it.

    • karol 13.1

      You do realise that Labour has now become a very male-dominated caucus & leadership? Maybe we should just clear out the woman-haters?

      PS: Labour and the left need to become more democratically inclusive – not less, via the divisiveness you’re preaching KP.

    • Uturn 13.2

      KP, your premise is that a reaction that uses the same methods as the established system it opposes is singularly to blame for encouraging an attitude that already exists in the original system. Call me a deconstructionist, possum, but your premise is flawed.

      Feminism is a reaction to what is now a few thousands of years old patriarchial, hierarchial system. Without something to push against, a force does not stall. Feminism, like communism, like any ism, adheres to specific laws: once the pure ism is reached it necessarily evolves into something else – if it is not purposely stalled by leaders or conditions, as we’ve seen happen historically. Should you be wary of a few people amassing large amounts of power? Absolutely, but feminism isn’t the biggest threat in that respect.

      The herding of property and identity into neat compartments for personal and specific patrons to control was entrenched in patriarchy from the beginning. If we are feeling generous, we could attribute physical laws to feminism, in that in order to get an object to move – or change to occur – more energy is required to begin acceleration – or change – than is needed to maintain a given speed – or desired end.

      In short, man-haters can only exist in an environment that allows woman-haters.

      I’m glad you put rape culture in inverted commas, because it means you can think laterally. What if, for example, there was system of beliefs and social organisation that from a simple cause and effect point of view, was always going to end in one party forceably taking what they wanted from another party? What if, under this system, the taking of objects, ideas or power was so firmly entrenched, it began to emerge natrually in personal psychology and cultural beliefs? What if things got so normalised that artists started creating their works using methods that espoused this “taking whatever you want” method? What if it was so normalised that even people who collated examples of social culture for use in solving social problems elsewhere, didn’t even question what they were collating? Yes, the inverted commas are very important, because “rape culture” is just it’s modern name – it is not a fantasy.

      I hope you have enjoyed my irrationalist mumbo jumbo. Under the original definition of cognitive preferences, the traits often attributed to the disciplines you condemn are actually rational, whereas the “macho stuff” modern society supports is irrational. Funny how words lose their original meanings via popular culture. I suspect it’s because irr as prefix means “the opposite of” or “not” and in pop culture “undesirable”. Scientists, when they’re working, often think in terms of what is, not what is desirable and undesirable.

    • tracey 13.3

      OooOOOOOOoooo a meme peddler. If I say it loudly and often it must be true aye KiwiPrometheus. You really are talking out of your derriere on this one.

    • fatty 13.4

      Of course you completely ignore the fact that Labour has been dominated by Left Academics peddling Feminist “Theory”, Cultural Studies and Deconstructionism as the guiding failed philosophy – if you can even call it philosophy. Having severely degraded academic standards at Western universities with their Irrationalist mumbo jumbo, they have played a pivotal role in the rise to dominance of neoliberal philosophy.

      Call it irrationalist mumbo jumbo if it makes you feel better, but that’s really a compliment – poststructuralism has been the most effective method of critiquing of capitalim…or put another way, it has highlighted the irrationality of rational economics. That’s what I would call the opposite of mumbo jumbo.
      I do agree that poststructuralism has been influential in the development of neoliberalism, but I see this as an unavoidable process of capitalism…once social democracy was critiqued, then the move to free market capitalism was natural – it was inevitable. But, poststructuralism is now at the forefront of deconstructing neoliberalism/third way – next comes the green economy, then I’m not sure where that inevitable failure will lead us.
      Deconstructionism offers the best method we have, and it will continue to be that way. The way you attempt to shoot down poststructuralism suggests you have a valid alternative, but you never post anything of the sort. Feel free to do so

      • karol 13.4.1

        I suspect KP wants a return to the past.

        I think poststructuralism, cultural studies et al did involve a turn to culture – deconstruction of the cultural assumptions supporting capitalism, identity issues, etc.  And for some there was a turning away from class analysis.  

        But, as fatty says, there was some very good stuff in there.  My on-going personal project is to integrate (or maybe synthesise) a materialist class-based analysis with cultural analysis – not a turn backwards, but to find a new a way forwards.

    • QoT 13.5

      Do any of you standardistas seriously believe that you can win back turned off voters by prattling on about that Feminist “Rape Culture” fantasy, for example?

      You are seriously fixated on rape culture, k_p. It’s like it seriously, deeply bothers you that people dare to challenge the thinking and attitudes which creates an environment where rapists go unpunished.

      I’m just going to point that out and let everyone else draw their own conclusions.

  14. Urban Rascal 14

    26% of registered voters didn’t vote. How many people are unregistered? What percentage of our population as a whole didn’t vote.
    Labour isn’t going to win the battle when the battle isn’t with the parties.
    The battle is really with the system. And I’d go further to say that it really boils down to generational conflict. Once boomers move out of the way we will see significant development across the board towards a more liberal socially democratic order.

  15. taxicab 15

    Show me a tory who isn’t up with the lark casting their vote on election day . It is a safe bet that most of the 1 in 4 potential voters that don’t vote will ,if compelled to vote , vote for the left . That is why it is time for compulsory voting .

  16. Blue 16

    The low voter turnout in 2011 was due to the media constantly broadcasting the message over and over and over that National were going to win in a landslide and there was nothing that anyone could do about it.

    The result was a fait accompli.

    That’s not going to be the case this time, hopefully, if the polls keep showing that a left coalition could take power.

    The big danger this time is that people won’t be convinced that the election is high stakes enough to bother with, so they’ll stay home and let the chips fall where they may.

    That’s where an effective Opposition comes in – one that can hammer the message that it is essential to change the Government, and that they are a credible alternative.

  17. Michael 17

    If Labour reconnects with its base and provides it with a reason to vote, it can win and hold office for some time. A big “if”, though, for the current Parliamentary wing (the only part of the NZLP with any power), as reconnecting with the base requires them to get out of their middle-class comfort zones, something they show no signs of doing. Instead, Labour’s strategy appears to be one of sleep-walking to victory and waiting for NACT to fuck-up sufficiently for enough middle-class swing voters to switch their party vote. That way, it’s business as usual for the government, with the bureaucracy running the executive branch, and the legislators toadying to the one percenters. We might as well stay with Coke rather than switch to Pepsi.

  18. Adrian 18

    Here’s the problem. On last election day my friend who is in charge of a large work force was at a polling booth in a provincial S.I town along side a playing field on which there were quite a number of young eligible-to-vote young men playing with a footie and even resting on the booths steps,some of the boys actually worked for him. He approached them and asked if they had voted, when they said “No” he said get in there and bloody vote because if these bastards stay in they are going to knock your wages down to $10 an hour, and the reply was that they couldn’t be bothered! Solve that!

    • tracey 18.1

      Give them an app to download so they can vote in response to a text message from the EC saying please vote now… hit CLICK

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.1

        Electronic voting? – NO WAY. I will fight tooth and nail against opening our electoral systems up to this.

        • lprent 18.1.1.1

          I agree. I always notice that more contact people have with the actual voting process the less they want to see electronic voting used. It scares the crap out of anyone who understands how easy they would be to abuse or break.

          The current system is pretty efficient and actually probably a lot cheaper.

          • tracey 18.1.1.1.1

            I’m not a fan either but it was the only thing i could think of to address the particular problem the poster wrote about

          • Draco T Bastard 18.1.1.1.2

            It’s going to happen sooner or later. Better to start now and put in place enough protections.

            • Colonial Viper 18.1.1.1.2.1

              Nope.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Depends upon if you want to move on from the present elected dictatorship to democracy or not. Personally, I prefer more democracy.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I prefer not having Diebold Corporation or Vodafone choosing who runs the country.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Then don’t. You know I’ve always said that the programming needs to be done in-house and Open Source with the ability for the voter to check the way their vote was recorded and be able to change it if it was recorded wrong. IMO, the problem with the voting machines that we see today is that people can’t check to see if their vote is correctly recorded.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      IMO, the problem with the voting machines that we see today is that people can’t check to see if their vote is correctly recorded.

                      Jeeezus frakin Christ Draco.

                      Is that what you think is the problem? What if the voter checks, sees that it is correctly recorded, and then later on in the afternoon the vote count is flipped at the central tabulation server? Or a thousand other untraceable vulnerabilities???

                      Stop advocating for fragile, compromisable, easy to break technological systems FFS.

                    • McFlock

                      I tend to agree, CV.

                      Basically, the issue is of balancing the audit requirements with the necessity of keeping a secret ballot. Computers can provide neither. They just speed up voter tabulation.

                      The only way I can think of off the top of my head is a dual system: the voter gets their voting slip which is then assigned the random identifier manually by the current sticker method. They take it to the booth, the voter inserts the slip into the machine, electronically cast their vote, and the machine marks the card and returns the slip to the voter, who then checks the slip and puts it in the ballot box.

                      Contingencies for bust machines, crap card marking, voters who change their mind before dropping the slip in the box, munched cards, people voting multiple times (it happens – people forget they advance voted and vote on the day) etc can be worked out.

                      Where votes are tight candidates can then go for a hand recount, and a proportion of random ballot booths can be manually counted as a matter of course prior to final results being posted as an integrity check.

                      So the procedure is slightly more complicated, but the payoff is near-immediate results and less resources used in counting/recounts. But they still need to happen – computers aren’t a magic bullet.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      What if the voter checks, sees that it is correctly recorded, and then later on in the afternoon the vote count is flipped at the central tabulation server?

                      Then there’d be a record of it and proof that something was wrong.

                      The full process goes like this:
                      1.) Log in to voting website using a near unbreakable security system (There’s a couple available)
                      2.) Vote
                      3.) Vote is recorded and notification is sent via email to the voter
                      3a.) Another notification is sent after voting is finished
                      4.) If the vote is wrong the person can go to the courts and get it changed

                      Now, to actually scam this set up would require two entire databases. One to hold the correct vote record and one to hold the fixed one and that would be traceable as the machine would have to be redirected from it’s proper address.

                      The only way I can think of off the top of my head is a dual system: the voter gets their voting slip which is then assigned the random identifier manually by the current sticker method. They take it to the booth, the voter inserts the slip into the machine, electronically cast their vote, and the machine marks the card and returns the slip to the voter, who then checks the slip and puts it in the ballot box.

                      I’m fully against dedicated machines as they’re the ones that get made with secret proprietary systems. Just use peoples standard PC.

                      Yes, there’s still going to be attempts at fraud but I really don’t think it’s going to be as bad people make out.

                    • McFlock

                      I’m fully against dedicated machines as they’re the ones that get made with secret proprietary systems. Just use peoples standard PC.

                      Well, that’s just odd. The technology of a dedicated machine is the software.  But if “proprietary” scares you, the govt can design the machines and contract out the manufacture (or produce them themselves). And I’m intrigued that Sony etc didn’t select the “near unbreakable” option when designing their customer information systems. It would have saved so many compromises over the years.
                           
                      The thing about voting systems is that you don’t design them for how things are going at the moment: they need to be robust enough to stand a test of time and one or two demagogue-wannabes. No system is perfect, but to me a web logon with linked voter data and their voting history is about the most shit-evacuating thought I can have about machine voting.  
                               
                       

                    • You can do it digitally, with open source, and trap-door encryption …. easy M8!

                      I could build a prototype in a month.

                      What is it about “Prime Number” engines that makes people doubt encryption anyway?

                      That system could be analysed, implemented, and verifyably proven in 2 months.
                      (And not even I the humble programmer that wrote it could break it)

                      After that it’s “Rollout” time ….

                    • McFlock

                      Oh ffs,
                       
                      Anyone can design a system that they themselves are incapable of breaking.
                      The trick is to design one that other people can’t break.
                                 
                      That sort of “I can knock one up fine” attitude creates more systems fuckups than anything else. What it means is that the design team has preconceived use-case models and an extremely simple understanding of the problem which might or might not be sufficient for real-world rollout
                             
                      And these are voting machines, not cheap alarm clocks. The penalty for failure is pretty goddamn high.

                    • Having actually written more than one unbreakable system, I’m telling you u r full of shit McFlock.

                    • McFlock

                      Having actually written more than one unbreakable system that has apparently not been compromised yet,
                         
                      FIFY 

                    • Fair enough McFlock, I’ll add moron too that full of shit.

                    • McFlock

                      Pride goeth before the system exploit.
                               
                      Besides, we can’t be sure that super-coders like you will win the development contract. It could well go to one of Jenny Shipley’s businesses, and then we’d all be fucked.

                  • Bud you go ahead and break any local https datastream , I dare ya ….. c ya in twenty years M8!
                    Look McFlock decrypted a date and time stamp after twenty years …. well done M8!

                    U R an idiot McFlock …. don’t believe the hype buddy.

                    • McFlock

                      Oh indeed.
                             
                      System compromises are a thing of the past on the interwebz. Never happens these days. Particularly in systems that will run for decades, be incrementally updated for different eventualities and compatibility issues, and are critical to the maintenance of democracy in the country. 
                       
                            
                      Oh, and perfect encryption only defeats one or two types of compromise. We need a system that can beat every form of compromise to do with hardware, software, and the people that work with it and maintain it. Because a single compromise can enable an undetected vote-rig. You might be an excellent programmer, but how are you on psychology or human systems design? Or mechanical engineering? Or site security? Or vetting contractors and staff?
                             
                      I might well be an idiot, but your overconfidence lays you open to the basic exploit you haven’t thought of.

                    • Na bud, and of course people are the real problem, but it’s easy too verify “Tamper” and better than any manual system.

                      All u have to do is verify the rows of data are accurate, encrypt the actual code that created them as well …. verified bud.
                      If it fails you’re down to policing the population, again made easy by software provider encryption.

                      If you have the 20K keys its fast otherwise ……

                      Nothing hard about it bud.

                      You could even print out an encrypted receipt ATM style for off the premises validation/paranoia.

                      Real time entered random passwords for the voters even.

                    • McFlock

                      Yeah, I’m still not buying it.
                               
                      If it were that easy, nobody would have any problems. 

                    • It’s the “Human” element that throws ya even 2 years to decode something, that you can’t do anything with etc …. unbreakable bud.

                      All the code is verifyable, assuming a standard underlying architecture, in a timely fashion u can vet everything coders included.

                      Like I say the end user could even have a random password.

                    • McFlock

                      well, that’s kind of the point: we need to be able to trust the coders, the administrators, the company owners/govt supervisors as well as the hardware/software, because they’re part of the system, too.
                           
                      That means that the system needs a publicly-scrutinisable audit backup. One that can have lawyers and parties observing the process, rather than taking it on faith that nobody’s playing silly buggers.
                               
                      Code that one. 

        • Populuxe1 18.1.1.2

          The only unhackable system is one that is switched off, unplugged, and probably buried in a lead-lined concrete box on the ocean floor.

    • xtasy 18.2

      It has been “solved”, has it not?

      Youth rates are going to be re-introduced, so they get what they “deserve”, for being complacent!

      Maybe this will eventually get some neuro-transmissions in the right areas of the grey matter rekindled? Once they get offered their jobs at that rate, they can ask the silly questions and get the appropriate answers.

      She/he who does not listen, will have to bear the consequences. Simple, old fashioned lesson, really.

  19. Adrian 19

    It is not that simple Tracey, this bloke actually paid their wages ( and he’s a good guy and well respected by his workforce) and they were just metres from the polling booth and they still wouldn’t do it. Is it ( voting ) not cool enough? And the problem of texting to vote is the appalling security problems.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Ignorant kids. But if they are smart enough, they’ll learn in time.

    • McFlock 19.2

      text voting isn’t a solution.
           
      It’s alienation – those guys have probably spent most of their lives with a government that doesn’t give a fuck, teachers who are overworked and WINZ case managers who just want them off their books.
             
      The only way to solve it is to work over years, not just on polling day. Goes for Labour, too.

    • tracey 19.3

      I know.

      BUT I can remember when I was eligble to vote (had to wait cos Muldoon called a snap before my 18th birthday…) many people who I knew were 18 didnt vote. I am not so sure it’s a recent phenomenon. Stats anyone?

      I don’t know how it can be made more relevant to them… I shudder tot hink that paying them to vote is what it will take untilt hey are old enough to do it because they understand the world around them, and their place in it, more?

  20. McFlock 20

    Oh – freaking awesome graph by the way: clear, informative, persuasive.
             
    As a data geek, I almost came when I saw it :) 

  21. pete 21

    Yes, please go more left!

    Given the electorate seems to think National is left enough these days.

    • tracey 21.1

      um, examples of the electorate thinking this? I can’t find any examples in education, health, law and order, economy ??

  22. Adrian 22

    CV. But these weren’t just “ignorant kids” they were mostly home from Uni for holiday work last election. They should have known better.
    The most interesting thing from the graph is that the 2005-2008 Labour vote was the same as National in 2011.

    • Colonial Viper 22.1

      Ahhhhh…talking to some of my upper midle class friends, its quite possible to be educated AND ignorant at the same time…

  23. I think that after this weekend at the Labour Party conference the Labour Party will gain a lot of support .
    I’m picking that David Shearer will surprise us all. Then the rule that allows grass root members to have a say in the Leadership will make the Labour Party the most democratic party in Aotearoa .
    This will certainly attract membership.
    There are also a number of policy remits that if passed will certainly give workers and the underprivileged reason to vote for Labour . I’m also hoping that there is some move to help unions improve membership.
    On a separate subject ,I just wish those Right-Wing scabs like Hooten and O’Sullivan would have a good look at their own sort instead of taking up valuable space on our paper .

    • McFlock 23.1

      lol – Tories are a bit like Dorian Gray: if they ever have a good look at a true representation of their souls they’ll wither and dry up into a fragile husk of a corpse.

    • Colonial Viper 23.2

      I hope so mate. I really hope Labour can charge forwards to 2014 and not have to look backwards.

    • Outofbed 23.3

      Then the rule that allows grass root members to have a say in the Leadership will make the Labour Party the most democratic party in Aotearoa

      The Green Party members choose their leaders every year at conference .Seems more democratic to me

      • Te Reo Putake 23.3.1

        Must be nice to have a party so small all the members can go to conference.

        (insert joke about Labour under Shearer here … )

      • Colonial Viper 23.3.2

        Indeed…even if the most democratic proposals go through at Conference, the Greens will still be the most democratic party in NZ because their caucus members do not get super voting powers (where 1 caucus vote might = 500 ordinary members votes).

  24. xtasy 24

    Reading Brye Edwards’ “Political Roundup” in the NZ Herald today, he showed fairly clearly what the bizarre situation of David Shearer as “defended” Labour leader is.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10847621

    When you have Matthew Hooton, David Farrar and Cameron Slater defend Shearer as leader, then Labour AND their leader have REAL cause to wonder and be CONCERNED!

    And add to that the stange going-ons in Parliament the last couple of days, where a fair few National MPs had so nice words to say about “nice guy” David Shearer, feeling sorry for him, and trying to discredit Cunliffe and the whole Labour caucus, the situation becomes so crystal clear: Shearer is now a real liability for Labour!

    Indeed, Labour and the opposition parties altogether, must look at the quarter of all registered voters, who did NOT bother to vote in the last election. That is where votes can be gained. Do NOT bother trying to outdo the NatACT on supposed “centrist” but rather hidden “right wing” and “red neck” sentiments like “benefit roof-painter” gossip.

    The few votes gained in the right of centre with that will be lost towards the other end of the spectrum, hence Labour has moved nowhere in the last few years, rather causing many former Labour voters to vote Greens and even NZ First or Mana.

    I wonder though, whether this will sink in and lead to the needed discussions at the Conference ahead.

  25. PlanetOrphan 25

    Great article James, absolutely agree with you.

    The second they segregate people for the sake of “Understanding” they stop being civilised.

    Which doesn’t say much about their actual attitude when/if they where “Civilised”

    By definition, Policy is for Every New Zealander

  26. millsy 26

    Well, for what its worth, whether I vote for Labour again will depend on the outcome of this weekend’s conference.

    I’m kinda over all the whole National lite, capture the centre BS. Not asking for nationalising the means of production, distrubution and exchange, but wouldnt mind a few deviations from neo-liberal, private good public bad crap.

    Anyway, even die hard Tory rednecks benefited from Labour’s historical policies, whether it be growing up in a Housing Corp Mortgage house, having the take the long walk to the school dental clinic, giving birth in a public hospital maternity ward, having power out at your farm in the middle of nowhere so you can milk your cows, having your income protected if you have an accident at work, etc and so on and so forth.

    Labour needs to reach out and remind people that.

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      Anyway, even die hard Tory rednecks benefited from Labour’s historical policies

      Farmers generally count on a few better years of income when Labour is in power…just quietly. They typically still vote for National, of course.

  27. North 27

    Just read the main article….the arrogance of talking heads like O’Sullivan…. big fish in a very little pond. Holmes is another. They will insist on immaculate mutterings to them dear selves. The only journalist worth his/her salt in NZ at the moment is Campbell.

  28. peterlepaysan 28

    Focus groups destroyed Helen Clark, she loved them. They can be addictive.

  29. Jenny 29

    Great post James. Simple, clear, irrevocably factual. Your facts and logic cannot be countered. In fact reading this whole thread no one has even really tried to challenge your forcefully made point that chasing the so called ‘centre’ is an exercise in futility.

    Good on you, it needed to be said.

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