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Confidence in Key govt falls off a cliff

Written By: - Date published: 12:42 am, April 12th, 2010 - 18 comments
Categories: john key, labour, national, phil goff, polls - Tags:

Everyone’s been saying that 2010 is the year that Key has to make something of his turn in the big seat. Smile and wave is easy enough in the first year, people are willing to give you a chance. But at some point, the public expects a government to get to work tackling the big problems.

Unfortunately for National it displays no ability to do so.

The problems keep mounting: higher than expected unemployment and rising, falling wages, rising crime to name a few. And the government’s reaction is the same glib remarks that they got away with last year. Well, it looks like the public is tiring of it.

Then there’s the policy agenda. National’s making a real hash of it. It’s centre-piece policies – mining, national standards, Whanau Ora, health cuts, the foreshore and seabed, the supercity and the wealth transfer to the rich tax reforms, are all ticking time bombs and the ministers responsible seem both blithely unaware of the issues and unwilling to engage in genuine consultation.

On top of that, the stench of secrecy and corruption is tainting this government at a startling rate. It seems like the majority of ministers have been in the line for some breach of rules or ethics, and more are uncovered nearly every week. Far from being open and upfront as promised, Key’s reaction is shifty and slippery. We still don’t know why Richard Worth was fired/sacked or what was really behind the Phil Heatley resignation.

All these issues existing in the first year, what has changed is that the voters are withdrawing the free pass they gave Key last year. We can see the results.

Roy Morgan asks respondents to its fortnightly survey whether they believe New Zealand is heading in the right direction or not. This question is used widely around the world and is seen as measuring the public’s confidence in the government.

I’ve included the rough margin of error around the results. As you can see, 2009 was basically flat, averaging 45% net positive (ie people who thought the country was heading in the right direction outnumbered people who thought it was heading in the wrong direction by 45%).

Look what’s happened in the last two months: 51%, 39%, 40.5%, 37.5%, 25.5%. This is no freak result, it’s a pattern of steep decline. That’s basically one in eight voters changing from a positive view of the country’s direction under Key’s National Government to a negative one in just two months.

Where confidence in government goes, party support follows.

The challenge to Phil Goff and Labour is to make the most of this. Goff has to be prepared to take the fight to Key directly, especially when evidence of rorting or other misbehaviour by his ministers is discovered. The other side of the coin is to keep refining and articulating those simple core messages.


18 comments on “Confidence in Key govt falls off a cliff”

  1. peterthepeasant 1

    Methinks a tad too early to make any serious moves.
    Nats always said they would be gentle in first term.

    ACC bs would not have registered too high with average punter, …how many of us know or care about “fully funded” or “pay as you go”. Plays well to nat supporters.

    National standards seem to be objected to by school teachers. “Teachers” is usually used in a pejorative by nats. Plays well to nat supporters.

    Closing down night classes was never going to affect nat supporters.

    The nats are playing to their own supporters, this time around.

    Will be very intersting tos ee what is inn budget.

    This first term is all about keeping faith with nat supporters and not upsetting the rest of us.

    Just wait and see what the nats reveal after budget and next election.

    • You seem to think that they will be back after the next election. This is looking more and more unlikely. They are now under 50%, ACT looks terminal and the Maori party is two significant policy decisions away from either a walkout or a meltdown.

      If their current proposals are not “serious moves” and there is worse to come then all that I can say is God (or whatever supreme entity may or may not be in existence) help us.

  2. Irascible 2

    Disillusionment usually takes at least a full term of a Government to set in the New Zealand political scene. Smile & Wave, Double Dipton and Hide bound have certainly caused the disillusionment curve to dip early in the cycle.

    It was revealing to note that the Herald on-line filed the Whanau Ora lead under crime rather than politics. One wonders whether the Herald might sniff another rort in the offing and has jumped the gun with this story filing?

  3. Jenny 3

    Despite the the sharp drop in the polls (long may it continue) All the right need to win a resounding victory next year is a good old red scare. (Just replace the word red with Maori Terrorist).

  4. Anne 4

    Muldoon did it before every election he won. Remember the dancing Cossacks? 1975
    Remember the Reds under the beds scare and the list of supposed communist activists? 1978
    Remember sporting contacts with Sth Africa – a communist inspired uprising in NZ? 1981.

    • coolas 4.1

      I remember well Anne – left NZ in 1981 disgusted by the politics, returning when Labour elected in 1999, and now look back on their term as ‘golden years’ compared to corporatist Nact thugs in power now.

      The Muldoon style fascism is moderated under Key but again we have a Government of plotters, smear merchants, and bullies.

      Maori are being set up. And I agree that it’s planned to unfold for the 2011 election.

      • Tigger 4.1.1

        What we’re seeing now is dissent being crushed (Key’s first response to some hippies shredding a giant plastic bag getting acquitted in court is to change the law to ensure that this type of action is quashed forevermore). And when dissent is crushed it tends to fester, grow and explode. I suspect we’ll see some 1981 type of ongoing riotous action hitting the streets before too long – maybe mining, maybe disaffected Maori and their supporters, maybe beneficiaries, but it’s coming…

  5. Santi 5

    What does Key do? Other than smile and wave, the answer is ABSOLUTELY nothing.
    We couldn’t have chosen a worse Prime Minister.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Surely the phrase so often parroted here about Key “doing nothing” should be amended to read “doing nothing we like”. This is based on the significant number of articles here that complain about the things that National are actually doing.

    • Bright Red 6.1

      “do nothing” has a more of a ring to it, don’t you think?

      Rodney Hide certainly thought so when he said it.

      Of course, ‘do nothing’ is a short-hand for ‘not doing anything good about the issues that matter’ but I think we all get that.

  7. Puddleglum 7

    I agree, tsmithfield. It’s been clear since prior to the last election that the incoming government would be keen to advance very significant engineering of the New Zealand economy (and hence society) under the cover (and hence under the ‘radar’ of public opinion) of the appearance of ‘doing nothing’. Key’s role, primarily, has been to continue the impression that nothing really significant is being done (and certainly nothing that ordinary Kiwis wouldn’t see as eminently sensible). In that sense, his role of appearing to do nothing is actually a very significant action in it’s own right (and so is definitely, ‘doing something’).

    I disagree, however, that the best replacement phrase is “doing nothing we like”. I think a better one would be “doing nothing that is in the interests of the vast majority of New Zealanders”, or words to that effect. Here, I’m thinking about formulation of policies and plans to shift wealth ‘upwards’ and to embark upon a quite obvious resource ‘grab’ (the Supercity, overriding democratic decision making over the bulk of New Zealand’s water resource, opening up schedule 4 land for mining, etc.).

    Note that I don’t say “doing nothing that the vast majority of New Zealanders like”. There is a very clear definition of what anything’s ‘interests’ amount to: Essentially, ‘wellbeing and further flourishing”. In this sense, empirical findings on human decision making – and the evolutiion of human psychological processes – support the conclusion that individuals very often don’t act in their own interests. Also, as William Clark (Anthony Eden’s press adviser) once put it, as regards government’s use of propaganda in relation to the Suez crisis:

    “The power of government to deceive is so immense that fooling all of the people some of the time can successfully and easily lead to fooling them all of the time.”

  8. tc 8

    If we had a half decent msm that took pride in intelligent factual objective reporting of issues rather than fawning over the gov’t and retyping press releases the issue would be how on earth is this gov’t going to reinvigorate their agenda rather than ‘how far and for how long can the wool stay over the eyes’.

    education/environment/welfare/crime have all gone in directions that will take years to rectify but the msm report them as areas good progress is being made in……..oh deary me.

  9. Luxated 9

    Interesting, the image on the front page as been cropped (automatically I imagine) and it now appears to someone skimming through that confidence is actually undergoing a strong up tick.

  10. Gazza 10

    Looks like they have just stuffed up the pensions, they have reduced instead of increased.

  11. Lizzy 11

    They are the same as Labour – no change has been made to this scandalous human experiment by MoT in cahoots with the World Bank “to develop and refine a resource allocation model for road safety revenue” that has killed 500 NZers above and beyond what standard policy would, over the last 10 years.


  12. jules 12

    unfortunately they will get in next election ,they really are screwing our country ..privatise prisons ,the eye on insurance for welfare ,minining in our nat parks ,and more short sighted policies designed to ass lick big business and the rich!
    boot them out!

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