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Epsom & marginal deals

Written By: - Date published: 7:25 am, July 22nd, 2011 - 65 comments
Categories: election 2011, electoral systems, vote smart - Tags: ,

What to make of Epsom? I haven’t so far had a strong opinion on the topic, but I’m starting to come down on the side of “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

I’m sure we all know the background. The Nats are standing the oddest of patsies in Epsom, and “campaigning” for the party vote only. In other words they’re gifting the seat to ACT (Nats in drag) in the hope of getting a coalition party (with all its funding and resources). It’s likely that more deals will follow:

Act look for deal to leave marginal seats alone

National and Act are working on a deal under which Act would not stand candidates in marginal seats, including New Plymouth and Waimakariri, to increase National’s chances of winning them.

The deal would be in return for National again gifting the Epsom electorate to Act by having its new candidate Paul Goldsmith campaign only on the party vote.

It would give National a greater chance of wrestling Canterbury’s Waimakariri electorate from Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove and holding on to New Plymouth against a strong challenge from Labour’s Andrew Little.

Labour has called this a stitch up and a sign of ACT’s desperation, which of course it is.  Some commentators call it duplicitous, absurd, a “naked and shameless power grab” and a “grubby transaction”.  Others have the opposite view, that “It’s a perfectly sensible arrangement if you want to eliminate certain MPs, and I’m surprised Labour and the Greens don’t pursue such arrangements (e.g. in Ohariu)”.  In my view the theory can be argued either way, but the practice has already been decided. Nat / ACT are going to use this as a tactic, so Lab / Green would be handing them a significant electoral advantage if they didn’t explore their own possibilities.

As a complicating factor, however, John Pagani raises an issue I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere:

Since National and Act are colluding over Epsom they begin to get into some tricky territory – especially if the deal takes the form of ‘endorse Act in Epsom and Act endorse National on the party vote.’  Collusion is not illegal, but it comes at a price.

Parties are limited to spending just over $1m plus $25,000 per constituency candidate Candidates in an electorate are limited to (another) $25,000.  If Act and National collude, they are at risk of breaching the spending cap because huckstering on behalf of someone else still counts towards the limit.

Well worth keeping an eye on.  In the mean time, well done David Parker for putting himself forward to represent Labour in Epsom.  Epsom voters will dutifully elect the turnip in the borrowed blue ribbon, but they’ll know in their hearts that there was a much better man in the race.

65 comments on “Epsom & marginal deals ”

  1. tc 1

    The turnip who calls labour losers and reckons he wouldn’t recognize Parker if he came across him. So out of touch and asking for a loser (supercity mayoralty) like himself to be elected……like Douglas already on a parliamentary pension, what a bunch of troughers.

  2. Lazy Susan 2

    The sycophantic Banks who portrayed himself as mild mannered, centrist & inclusive in the mayoralty campaign until the mask dropped in the last couple of weeks when he knew he was up against the wall.

    As an Act candidate no need to wear the mask – just be venal, greedy and angry and he’ll just fit in fine.

    Wonder if Ralston will be doing his PR again?

  3. Carol 3

    I’m not in agreement with the idea of Labour-Greens doing the same sort of stitch-up. They’re better to highlight Nact’s collusion & lack of coherent policies. Putting up Parker for Epsom is a great idea. He can participate in the public debates in Epsom and highlight NAct’s failings, inconsistencies and incoherence around policy. It helps to build Labour’s narrative across all electorates.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea for Labour to participate in the propaganda wars in the same way the right does. That’s ;etting the Right set the agenda. The Left needs to shift the narrative to highlight their strong points. The Right wIng is all spin to cover umpopular policies. The Left should use the most effective ways to foreground their narratives, which are likely to get wider acceptance in the long run.

    • Lazy Susan 3.1

      I agree Carol. NActs game plays in Epsom and the marginals could well be counter-productive.

      Labour and the Greens should concentrate on policy and occupy the moral high ground. There’s a large number of “soft centre” National and undecided voters who don’t like Act. The more obvious it becomes that National and Act are very closely linked the more likely that National will lose this “soft centre”. I’m not even sure that the voters of Epsom will perform as instructed this time given the circus that Act has become.

      • Pete George 3.1.1

        “NActs game plays in Epsom and the marginals could well be counter-productive. ”

        It could well be counter-productive, that’s the risk they take, but surely it’s their choice to do that as long as they play within the rules.

        “I’m not even sure that the voters of Epsom will perform as instructed”

        They’re not instructed to do anything, different politicians and parties will try and talk voters into giving them their votes but it’s totally free choice for the voters.

        • felix 3.1.1.1

          “They’re not instructed to do anything, different politicians and parties will try and talk voters into giving them their votes but it’s totally free choice for the voters.”

          Whether or not you follow instructions is your own free choice, and has no bearing on whether or not instructions have been given.

          • Lazy Susan 3.1.1.1.1

            Thanks Felix – I couldn’t be bothered pointing out to the squirrel that both his comments agreed with what I had said.

            • Secret Squirrel 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Wrong, I disagreed that voters are “instructed” because it’s nonsense.

              Any politician knows that they can’t instruct anyone how to vote.

              • framu

                so by running a weak candidate in Epsom, Nat arent telling Epsom voters to vote Act in order to get 2 for the price of one?

                a nod and a wink is still an instruction – just not a blatant order

              • felix

                Of course they can Pete, it’s up to the voters to decide whether or not they follow the instructions. I can instruct you to put a bucket on your head if I like, but unless you think it’s a good idea you probably won’t follow my instruction.

                In Epsom John Key might endorse the ACT candidate, for example, by saying things like ‘I’m looking forward to working with him in Parliament’.

                He might also say things like, for example, ‘the people of Epsom have shown that they know how to vote strategically for a centre-right government’.

                In the right context, these are absolutely instructions. They’re instructions to the National party faithful of Epsom – from their Leader – to give their vote to the ACT candidate.

                And for the last couple of elections, the voters of Epsom have followed the instructions very well.

                You know all of this, as does almost everyone else with a passing interest in politics. You’re essentially just wasting peoples’ time demanding proof that the sky is blue.

                Unless of course you’re genuinely confused about the definition of the word “instruction”. I can see how it could be confusing for a natural authoritarian.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    The nationwide party vote will determine proportionality in parliament at the end of the day. MMP should be retained but the threshold really needs adjusting to help end these “grubby transactions”. But it is tempting to “join ’em” in certain electorates. There will proabably be a few more nudge, nudge efforts like in Ohariu where the Greens appear to be seeking the party vote primarily, theoretically assisting Labour’s Charles Chauvel, without being as blatant as National/Act in Epsom.

    In a better world one would like to think the tories of Epsom might realise half the country sees them as prize pricks and they would change their ways-obviously unlikely.

  5. mikesh 5

    Gareth Hughes has little chance of winning Ohariu for the Greens anyway, whereas in Epsom the National candidate, in the absence of a deal, would normally be expected to win.

    • Carol 5.1

      I thought the Greens always aimed to get the party vote and didn’t seriously go after electorate votes anywhere. They stand people in electorates to campaign for the party vote.

      • Pete George 5.1.1

        It’s just playing to their srengths and there most likely chance of getting the most seats. Every party has their own ways of trying to get the best advantage possible of the system.

        The ordering of places on the list is another tactic, nothing wrong with doing it, it’s another risk in the hope of gaining something extra.

        • Carol 5.1.1.1

          Except the Greens and most other parties don’t collude with another party in order to maximise their vote & especially not to exploit the coat-tail effect the way NAct do in Epsom. The Green’s targetting of the party vote is totally their own strategy.

          And with NAct we now have one party masquerading as 2. They’ve gone way beyond anything that many of us see as acceptable in a democracy.

          • Pete George 5.1.1.1.1

            “Except the Greens and most other parties don’t collude with another party in order to maximise their vote”

            How are you sure?

            “And with NAct we now have one party masquerading as 2. ”

            That’s an unsubstantiated claim.

            “They’ve gone way beyond anything that many of us see as acceptable in a democracy.”

            Surely parties have the freedom to choose how they do things (within the rules), and voters have the freedom to judge them on what they do and vote accordingly.

            • McFlock 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “Surely parties have the freedom to choose how they do things (within the rules), and voters have the freedom to judge them on what they do and vote accordingly.”

              Well, that’s an idiotic statement, isn’t it: if what they want to do is against the rules, then they’re not free to do it.

              However, there is also the issue of whether they are behaving like sociopathic little power-whores seeking out every loophole they can to pervert the democratic process, as opposed to running a political campaign with good faith and democratic principles in mind.

              It’s a bit like insider trading laws or electoral financing – someone is found doing an act that is so contrary to good faith and basic democratic principles that the act is outlawed or at least heavily regulated, even if it hadn’t needed to be regulated before. NACT are beginning to sail a bit close to the fucktard line, IMO.

            • Puddleglum 5.1.1.1.1.2

              Pete George says “How are you sure?” to which the obvious retort is “how are you unsure?”, especially given the implied principle in your next comment – “That’s an unsubstantiated claim.”

              So, you’re opposed to unsubstantiated claims but quite open to unsubstantiated doubting (i.e., negative claims)?
               
              Also if you want some substantiation of the claim that National and ACT are “one party masquerading as 2”, try John Banks’ own comments. You would have to be extraordinarily charitable to see those comments as anything other than that Banks sees National and ACT as one.

              • Keep up. They are all colluding or colliding in Ohariu including Greens and Labour.

                Epsom & marginal deals

                • Keep up.” Thanks for the instruction, Pete George. I’ll keep it in mind.

                  Of course, my point had little to do with ‘collusion’ between separate political entities but was providing some eye-witness evidence that the notional separation between ACT and National is just that. No need for me to ‘keep up’ with events elsewhere unless they relate to this point.

      • Chris 5.1.2

        Yeah thats how I’ve always seen it as well

  6. Wyndham 6

    @ Tiger
    “The nationwide party vote will determine proportionality in parliament at the end of the day.”
    Exactly – – another example of the Nacts rorting (legal) will be in English’s electorate down south where Act’s Nicholson, late of Federated Farmers, has openly acknowledged that he is seeking the Act party vote whilst the electorate vote goes to English.
    I’m afraid I can see the supposedly ‘finished’ Act Party returned to parliament with possibly even more seats. All as a result of this grubby dealing with the Nats. But then that’s politics and we should expect little else.

    • Chris 6.1

      Thats really not bad at all. See above, that is all the Greens ever do. Likewise it is doubtful that the Labour candidate in Bill English’s electrate is serious, any advertsing there will be aimed at getting some party vote. Every party does it and I don’t think it can even be considered gaming the system.

  7. higherstandard 7

    What to make of Epsom? I haven’t so far had a strong opinion on the topic, but I’m starting to come down on the side of “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

    Eh what, you’re resigning your labour party membership and joining the Nats ! Quelle horreur !

  8. All parties have their own ways of gaming, some could be seen as less democratic than others but in the end we all get to judge and vote.

    This post suggests Labour can be less democratic:

    Head Office wanted a local trade union hack to succeed Mike since the sisterhood were anxious to expunge all memory of Mike and his loyalists as quickly as possible. Union heavies duly showed up to cast the union block vote for the floor vote. We had to ring around to make sure that every Mike friendly local party member was there to counteract the unions on the floor vote.

    So even with Clayton having the support of the 3 LEC delegates and winning the floor vote, the Labour head office delegates kept hammering the 3 LEC delegates for a solid 4-5 hours in an attempt to wear them down to have them cave to head office’s demands.

    I have no idea if anything like this still happens (Mana?) but it’s up to Labour to do as it sees fit and get judged by the results of their selections – too much head office interference risks alienating electorates and reducing effort and votes in electorates.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    On Morning Report this morning, Katrina Shanks was on saying that Dunne had approached her to do a deal in Ohariu, and she refused. They played the sound-bite.

    Let’s see if captain panic-pants or other parachutes in and she changes her tune in the future.

    • felix 9.1

      Also in that clip, good to hear Gareth is campaigning for the party vote only and trying to avoid splitting the left vote.

      Just the other day I grumbled that he was going to chase candidate votes and mess it all up; consider those words eaten.

      [audio src="http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20110722-0725-united_future_seeking_help_from_national_in_ohariu-048.mp3" /]

      • Oh no, one leftie party trying to help another!

        Good on him. Makes sense and is his choice. But he’d better not actually instruct anyone, that seems to be frowned on

        • felix 9.1.1.1

          Where and by who? (The frowning on, I mean. I certainly haven’t frowned on the practice)

          ps I’m not sure if you’re aware that you’re using two handles in this thread. Might want to check your details.

          • Secret George 9.1.1.1.1

            Handles don’t matter. There could be ten felixes posting here for all I know. And they might all post under different names as well.

            It’s the coherence of the comments that counts.

            [lprent: That is why there are those gravators against the name. Those are tied to the e-mail address used which is not published. And finally if I see someone trying to do an identity hijack or even use the same name they will get a hard ban in the former and a warning for the latter.

            Basically your argument is bullshit in the terms of the operations of this site.

            But I am starting to get tired of these frequent changes since we have to release new handles from the moderation. If you don’t settle on one shortly I’ll rename every comment handle you have ever done to something that I feel is more appropriate. But you’re unlikely to like it…]

            • felix 9.1.1.1.1.1

              Handles only matter to me in the sense that what someone says today can be held up against what they said yesterday, which I suppose is precisely why trolls like to change them. But anyway, I just thought you might have used your other name accidentally and not noticed.

            • Pete George 9.1.1.1.1.2

              Fair enough, it was sort of accidental but was getting a bit silly, I’ll go back to and stick to my real name.

              [lprent: Thanks. Each new handle has to have a message released manually because it is the most effective way of looking for fire and forget trolls. If they write a silly troll style message on the first one, then we just spam it. We don’t mind people having a couple of personalities (and not many do that) provided they don’t try for chorus effects – ie arguing with themselves. But shifting handles a lot gets a bit tiresome for the moderators. ]

  10. weka 10

    I don’t understand why this is seen as a grubby transaction (apart from the people involved or course) or duplicitous. Didn’t the left do this early on in MMP? I’m thinking there was some concession for Fitzimmons’ Coromandel seat.
     
    It makes more sense to work with potential coalition partners in this way, and gives a clear signal to strategic voters about who is likely to do deal with whom after the election (compared to say, the real duplicitous bastard Peters).
     
    What’s the down side?
     
    In terms of NACT, it seems useful to the left – the more swing voters who see Act as the only way National can govern the better.

    • Carol 10.1

      The Greens have always been their own party. Some Nats took over Act, compromising the original Act political policies, in order to manipulate Epsom to keep National in power. This is not just deals and compromises between parties, it’s NAct showing they have no ethics beyond a desire to keep power in their own interests.

      • weka 10.1.1

        Ok, so you don’t have a general problem with a party choosing not to stand someone in an electorate in order to give an advantage to a potential coalition partner?

      • What specifically have they done that is unethical?

        All parties have a desire for power, it’s hardly unique.
        They will say odd things to try and get power, like:

        Labour will re-engineer the tax system to bring New Zealand in line with the rest of the developed world, so those who can afford the least aren’t supporting those who could contribute more.

        That is nonsense.

        Those who can afford the least generally aren’t supporting anyone, they are being supported by those who do contribute, and Labour want them to contribute more. It’s those of us in the middle who get clobbered the most.

        • weka 10.1.2.1

          What tax rate are you on SS? Who do you think doesn’t pay tax?

          • Secret Squirrel 10.1.2.1.1

            I’m on M tax code, 20% of my wages go on PAYE and EP. Plus I pay GST (probably about 10% of my pay) and all the other taxes on fuel, alcohol etc. The only tax I get back is a rebate on donations paid to charities.

            Quite a few people pay quite low if not no nett tax – anyone solely living on a benefit are nett recipients, and lowe earners gett WFF will be close to no nett tax too.

            Benefits and credits are reasonable, but it’s wrong, and perhaps dishonest, to claim that the people receiving them are supporting higher earners.

            • weka 10.1.2.1.1.1

              I guess it depends on how you view the world.
               
              By net recipient do you mean that the other taxes that beneficiaries pay (GST, alcohol, fuel) don’t count because beneficiaries didn’t ‘earn’ their income in the first place?
               
              What’s EP?

              • EP=ACC earner premium. That costs me over $1000 a year.

                The other taxes do count. There are a lot of lower earners who get more WFF credits than they pay in tax, so the other taxes they pay bring them up to zero or maybe a bit over. Heavy drinkers and smokers will pay a lot more tax – if tobacco tax is 50% (?) a packet a day smoker will pay $2500-ish a year in tax.

                And beneficiaries obviously are nett recipients.

                • felix

                  What about a landlord who’s income is from rents paid by beneficiaries? Are they also a “nett recipient”?

                  What about a supermarket in a low socio-economic area with mainly “nett recipient” beneficiary customers?

                  And the people who work in that supermarket, whose wages come from the money the store gets from the beneficiaries who shop there? They must be “nett recipients” too, surely.

                  God the world is a complicated place.

                • weka

                  Is SS and George the same person?
                   
                  I don’t know what  you mean by beneficiaries being net recipients. Please explain.

                  • Beneficiaries pay some tax – PAYE, GST and excise tax, but because their income is a benefit they get more from the government than they pay.

                    Some income earners could also be nett recipients if they receive more in WFF and anything else they may qualify for than they pay in tax.

                    I haven’t seen an anaysis of nett tax that includes all taxes, there are so many taxes and so many variables in incomes and expenditure patterns it would be very difficult to get meaningful statistics, but a few case studies would give a n idea.

                    • felix

                      And my examples above, the landlord and the supermarket and the supermarket employees.

                      Nett recipients?

                    • Jasper

                      You do realise that PAYE includes ACC right Pete? And noone pays more in tax than they earn, thats just stupid commentating from you.
                      Im not opposed to a solo mum on the DPB with two kids having her income topped up to 26k thru WFF which means she pays very little tax. Its higly unlikely someone in NZ receiving WFF pays negative tax.
                      Id rather remove GST totally, regressive tax it is, and recover that lost income thru having higher PAYE tax rates with a focus on effective rates.
                      If you earn 150k, you only pay an effective rate of 26% currently. If this was 30%, no foul. Cap effective rates at something like 39% up to 500k, but above that effective rates could be as high as 60%. Quelle horror, especially if you’re George Frazis having to make do with just $2million nett p.a.
                      Theres a definite attraction in having food prices drop 15% overnight, while PAYE only goes up by around 2-3% per person.
                      Axe the GiST, then we’re moving towards a more equitable society.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    YES. Same.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.2.2

          It’s those of us in the middle who get clobbered the most.

          Don;t be an asshat

          The median New Zealander earns $28,000 pa

          And the reason they are being clobbered is because the vast majority of the nations wealth and income lie strictly in the hands of 10%-20% of the population

  11. alex 11

    The Greens are the last truly independent force in New Zealand politics. They don’t owe Labour their existence like ACT owes National. Therefore, any deal would be counter productive for both Greens and Labour. The National/ ACT deal makes National look bad with centrist voters, and might allow Parker to slip through the middle. Unfortunately, the center is not really Green territory yet either, so a deal with Labour might have the same effect.

  12. gobsmacked 12

    I don’t want Key to get a second term, but if he does …

    Nightmare for the left: National keep the “swing centre”, and get enough votes to govern alone.

    Nightmare for the right: ACT’s addiction to self-destruction moves centre stage – from a minor party embarrassment to a government meltdown.

    Embracing the insanity of ACT in Epsom might be a short-term numbers win for Key, but it’s a long-term disaster for National. They will successfully alienate all the people Key has worked hard to attract … swing voters, Maori, women, minorities, anybody under 75 …

    Let them write their own suicide note. I’ll lend them a pen.

  13. Shazzadude 13

    If the people of Epsom use their vote intelligently, good on them. I just wish the left did the same-had Rimutaka smartened up, Helen Clark might still have been PM.

  14. battleheed 14

    Pagani is wrong on spending cap. Yes any money spent supporting another party’s candidate goes under both parties spends, but he’s stupid to think that would happen. If there were a deal in Epsom then Key would shake hands with Banks in a public place with lots of media and sit down and have a coffee, and all the signs would be epsom party vote national. No money spent and everybody knows that national only wants the party vote.

  15. felix 15

    Oh dear, poor Katrina Shanks.

    Only this morning she was adamant she would fight hard for the seat and wouldn’t back down to let Dunne in.

    And then: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1107/S00376/dunne-labour-greens-hypocrisy-behind-their-ohariu-deal.htm

    Guess she should’ve checked with her handlers first, eh?

    Surprised to hear her on the radio at all actually. I thought she was still muzzled after the last time she opened her mouth and all the stupid got out.

  16. chris73 16

    How is this any different to the deals done with Jumbo Anderton and Winnie P?

  17. Roger 17

    It is pretty clever from the right to do this so openly since the MMP referrendum is also happening, by following suit on the left there could be a serious risk that the general public will get tired of it and vote to remove MMP.

  18. jaymam 18

    Epsom 2008 results:
    HIDE, Rodney ACT 21,102
    WORTH, Richard NAT 8,220
    SUTTON, Kate LAB 5,112
    LOCKE, Keith GP 2,787

    Kate has worked hard for Epsom and never got near to Worth’s vote. David Parker will do no better.
    Therefore in 2011 Epsom will be won by Banks or Goldsmith.
    There is no other possibility.

    So who of Banks or Goldsmith would Labour and the Greens prefer? Obviously Goldsmith.
    So Labour and the Greens should ask their Epsom voters to vote for Goldsmith. Do it. Beat the Nats and ACT at their own game.
    Voting any other way is foolish in the extreme.
    If you lot had done this in 2005 we would have got rid of ACT then.

    I want to see Labour and Green billboards with Vote Goldsmith on them please. The $25,000 is wasted in Epsom anyway.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      When its the World Cup, learning to dive like Ronaldo is not a bad thing 😛

  19. jaymam 19

    I suppose I should point out what should be obvious.
    Hide got a high vote in 2008. He is not standing again because Brash doesn’t want him to. National supporters should be pissed off at the machinations of ACT. Therefore Banks may not get such a high vote as Hide did. Banks is not the leader of a party. He has also swapped parties. Voters do not like that. So Banks will not get 21,000 votes.

    Worth got over 8000 votes despite being useless. Goldsmith has no baggage and should get far more votes than that. So if a fair few National supporters vote for Goldsmith, plus ALL of Labour and Green supporters vote for Goldsmith, then Goldsmith could win Epsom. That will be the demise of ACT if they don’t get 5%, which they won’t on current polling. Therefore all of ACT’s party votes will be wasted, and the other parties, e.g. Labour, Greens and National will get extra seats.

    So, vote for Goldsmith and get another Labour and maybe a Green seat. If you are in Epsom and don’t understand all of this, just quietly ask your Labour/Green expert and they will tell you to vote for Goldsmith. OK? I’ll point out again that Labour cannot win Epsom, so don’t waste your candidate vote. Obviously your party vote will be for the party you do support.

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