Game on

Written By: - Date published: 10:52 am, May 26th, 2008 - 45 comments
Categories: cartoons - Tags: , ,

45 comments on “Game on”

  1. That’s so funny. Haven’t laughed so much since I read one of Redbaiter’s pieces a couple of days ago.

  2. Stephen 2

    thing is, he has got about 5 months or so to practice…

  3. He’s had over a year and still shows no sign of having any new ideas on tax – he tries to avoid all detail and when pressed it comes out as same old national – lower tax on the wealthy, pay for it by cutting the social wage.

  4. Stephen 4

    The Grand Strategy of not leaving Labour, Greens and ACT much time to poke holes in it I guess.

  5. That’s a pretty crappy strategy. It means you think your ideas are so flimsy that much time out in the open and they’ll be ripped apart.

    But it is the new strategy. ‘small-target’ they call it, you know you’ll be shot to pieces if you say anything of substance so jettison most of your policies (flip flop and adopt the Left’s) and refuse to give anything of substnace on what little remains.

    Of course, it depends on the media letting you get away with it.

  6. Stephen 6

    We’ll see I suppose…I really don’t see them withstanding the journalists for that long, when they’ve already started on it (see campbell, Paul Henry and I think Plunket)

    edit: on TAX that is. Surely there will be more policy announcements as the year goes by.

  7. Lew 7

    I think it’s a wise strategy in the current climate of anti-Clark anti-Cullen sentiment. Key and National don’t have to be anything at this point: all they have to do is not be the status quo.

    The government’s strategy should be to attack them on these grounds with a view to flushing policy out into the open. I do hope for their sakes that Key and English and co. are doing plenty of work behind the scenes, because playing this strategy means that when you come out with policy, it had better be damned good policy.

    L

  8. mike 8

    Don’t worry Lew all will be in order when needed.

    The latest RM poll makes poor reading for labour also.
    49 – 35 which is status quo for that poll. No traction at all after Mickey C threw the kitchen sink at the budget…

  9. mike. that’s the silliest comment of the day. The poll was taken before the Budget – May 5-18.

    Lew. it might be a successful stategy but is it a moral or desirable one in a democracy?

  10. Lew 10

    Mike: From http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2008/4295/ – “This latest Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted with a New Zealand-wide cross-section of 912 electors between May 5-18, 2008.”

    We’ll have to wait until the next poll to see how the budget changed matters.

    As it happens things don’t look too bad for the government. With the Maori Party, Greens and Progressive they’re within striking distance. That’s MMP for ya.

    L

  11. mike 11

    yes you are right Lew – the radio Live news implied it was after the budget but obviously not. Still I doubt Labour will get a sustainable lift all the same.

  12. Lew 12

    Steve: A much deeper question, which I think I’ve already answered in another thread. I don’t like it and I don’t think it promotes political openness, but I’m not sure I’d call it immoral. It’s hard to say whether I’d support a party whose policy (as much as I could figure it out) I agreed with if they played this strategy – on the one hand it’s smart play, and smart actors tend to achieve more than dogmatic actors. On the other, it seems like poor form to reward behavior whcih could be used for such potentially cynical purposes.

    That said, it’s the nature of the game. Do you want your side to win, or do you want it to lose nobly?

    L

  13. Phil 13

    “it might be a successful stategy but is it a moral or desirable one in a democracy?”

    Nope, THAT is the silliest comment of the day. When was the last time morality played a part in politics? I think you’re in the wrong century SP…

  14. gobsmacked 14

    No, it isn’t a smart strategy.

    “We’re still working on a tax policy” was fine. “We do have a policy but we’re not telling you yet” is not.

    But John Key’s natural instinct is to tell people good news. He talks about “north of $50” because that’s what people want to hear. He talks about bigger and better tax cuts. It’s no longer a vague aspiration, it’s now a concrete promise. He can’t stop himself.

    The point is: the more he does this, the more it sounds as though National DO have a policy, and they’re just not telling us. The public don’t like that.

    The more Key talks about tax cuts, the more he invites further questioning, and he can’t/won’t answer the inevitable questions. What’s more, as an inexperienced politician, he’s liable to give different answers (he gave several last week), which then become National policy, in the public mind. And so it continues, with Key looking more and more evasive and confused.

    Watch National switch to different topics this week. They have lost the advantage on this one now.

  15. mike 15

    “The point is: the more he does this, the more it sounds as though National DO have a policy, and they’re just not telling us.”

    What’s the problem? he said it will be rolled out in detail in plenty of time for people to digest it before the election.

    I think its smart politics – the economy is only getting worse. the longer he leaves it the greater the appetite for meaningful cuts.

  16. gobsmacked 16

    Mike, if you think the public/media are going to spend the next 4 to 5 months saying “OK, no problem, tell us later, whenever you’re ready John”, every time Key talks about tax cuts, then you’re sadly mistaken.

    Politics 101: don’t reinforce negative perceptions. “Slippery” is one, and Key is reinforcing it.

  17. Vanilla Eis 17

    Mike: what exactly is a meaningful cut? Key has attempted to put a number on it, and currently the most an interviewer has got out of him is ‘north of fifty dollars’.

    However, I believe the polls will continue in Nationals favour, Labour budget aside, until something concrete is announced. At that point I’m really not sure what will happen, as it probably depends on how well the policy is dressed.

    Almost any person answering a poll at the moment will not pick Labours guaranteed $16/week (or whatever it may be for them) over Nationals pledged $50. Once the detail is out, that might change.

  18. mike 18

    National obviously have plan for rolling out the big policy and good on them for sticking to it.

    They are making sure they set the agenda not labour or the media.

  19. gobsmacked 19

    Mike, if you think National are now setting the agenda you must have spent the last week in a cave.

  20. Lew 20

    gobsmacked: “Mike, if you think National are now setting the agenda you must have spent the last week in a cave.”

    You’re dead wrong about this. The agenda has already been set: it’s tax cuts, cutting waste, parity with Australia, and a change. Everything in the government’s recent policy, including the budget, is a response to this.

    “Politics 101: don’t reinforce negative perceptions. “Slippery’ is one, and Key is reinforcing it.”

    As long as he sees the tipping point and moves before it, this probably won’t harm him – presuming he has enough `wow’ policies to justify the wait. It’s risky but not stupid as you claim.

    L

  21. gobsmacked 21

    Lew

    Given that National’s (official) platform is very different from their last one, I’d suggest the agenda has been absolutely set by Labour (and partly, Winston).

    Time for a change? Change what?

  22. AncientGeek 22

    “North of fifty dollars” really depends on what way you think is up. Based on his current performance of flopping everywhere like a fish out of water, Key probably means that south is up. ie Less than fifty dollars.

    It is either that or hocking the kids future with government debt to sustain the local economy. The current economic climate doesn’t indicate that is something we should do yet – have to have a substantial sustained increase in unemployment first. But it is something that government should keep in reserve. Using it to get yourself elected will cause a hell of backlash from the people that have been paying for the excesses of the Muldoon government for decades.

    The other alternative is to cut expenditure. Same kind of problem. To do it in the short term required for the expectations that the Nat’s have raised, requires slash and burn in government. We’ve seen that before in the 90’s. It is a excellent way to start a long-term recession. You cannot get older people to vote for it.

    You can shift expenditure over a couple of terms but not massively in the next 3 years. Max would be in order of billions, not 10’s of billions. So there isn’t a lot of room for the Nat’s to move. They may be able to add a chewing gum taxcut next year on top of what goes through in october, but that is about it.

    I think that we’ll have to add a whole new maneuver to the political lexicon this year. “Advancing into the future while back-pedaling furiously”.

    It is going to be a massive Houdini act by Key and English. And it is going to be really funny to watch.

  23. TomS 23

    National have been hoist by their own petard. They, along with the tax cut lobby that gets virtually a fee ride in the middle class media, has created a level of expectation on tax cuts that they simply will not be able to meet. Single people in the $65,000-$85,000 seriously expect tax cuts in the order of $100-120PW and singles below that expect a minimum of $50PW from National. The only way National could possibly achieve these sorts of cuts for the middle class is either take the money from low & middle income New Zealanders or slash core government spending or borrow heavily, or more like a combination of all three. Key is already backing off promising huge tax cuts but I think it is to little, to late. National has been a single issue party for three years on this and they can’t turn the ship around so easily. The expectation they’ve created is sky high and if they don’t deliver they risk a huge backlash.

  24. mike 24

    The credibilty issue still sits with Labour. 8 years of nothing (forget WFF the benefit)It’s obvious to all but the simplist of people that Labopur have only cut taxes to remain in power

    National have stated repeatedly that it is a priority and there will be ongoing tax relief. Thats the difference.

  25. Lew 25

    gobsmacked: `Given that National’s (official) platform is very different from their last one, I’d suggest the agenda has been absolutely set by Labour (and partly, Winston).’

    This isn’t what I mean, and isn’t what you seemed to mean when talking about `the last week’. I agree that Labour’s greatest achivement has been establishing a bunch of their core policies as political orthodoxy, but National are firmly in control of the media agenda leading into the election.

    Parties that successfully control the short-to-medium-term tactical agenda don’t fall 15-30% behind in the polls. Labour might claim to have been playing an underdog game to give National a false sense of confidence, but I think that’d be the sort of glib explanation only a true party hack could believe.

    toms: “National have been hoist by their own petard.”

    This seems to be the fashionable phrase of the year. I think it’s Labour’s intention that this be the case, but it’s far too early to call it so as yet.

    AG: I agree.

    L

    Captcha: `candidacy boxing’. Yes, please!

  26. Lew – I like the fact that you seem so sure of how the game is played. You seem to treat it as an exact science and phrase your statements as undeniable fact I particularly like the way you use phrases such as “short-to-medium-term tactical agenda”. Would you like to explain to we lesser folk exactly how you define “short-to-medium-term tactical agenda”? Because from where I sit it looks like a pretty nebulous phrase…

  27. all_your_base 27

    gobsmacked – I think you’re right about it being the wrong strategy. It was possibly ok until the Budget. Now voters are expecting to be able to compare he beginnings of two policy plans. The media are clearly tiring of National’s ‘style over substance’ approach too. I’ll post a collection of comments shortly. The next questions might be “do they even have any policy?” rather than “what aren’t they telling us?”.

  28. Lew 28

    Robinsod: Sure thing. Terms: agenda: what people think about (not what people think). Tactic: action taken toward the achievement of a specific goal. Strategy: series of actions taken towards the achievement of an more significant, longer-term goal.

    National controls the `leading up to the 2008 election’ agenda, and that is a tactical, rather than a strategic, advantage. If they get into power they get the opportunity to begin implementing strategy. The government, on the other hand, controls the long-term strategic heights, having established as status quo a lot of things New Zealanders know and love – interest-free student loans, WFF, KiwiBank, etc. Even if National’s tactical moves to win the election pay off, they’ll still have their task cut out either working around or dismantling these.

    I don’t mean to imply that this is an exact science. It’s manifestly not; this is just my read on it, but I think it’s good. If you don’t, I’m happy to debate it – but I don’t have a lot of time for unjustified `I reckons’ and wishful thinking, which makes up a lot of what I see.

    L

  29. From where I sit, Lew you’re engaged in a whole lot of “unjustified `I reckons'” but you posit them as if they were fact.

  30. Lew 30

    Robinsod: If you can make any actual argument against them other than `from where I sit’ you’re welcome to do so. As it stands it just looks like you don’t understand the terminology or the explanation, don’t agree with what I’m saying, or both, but aren’t willing or able to explain why.

    L

  31. mike 31

    Don’t worry Lew they tend to turn feral on you once their argument is lost.

  32. Lew – I can’t be bothered arguing point by point because the parameters of the argument you want to have are nothing more than punditry bingo in which all sorts of conclusions can be drawn using all sorts of evidence. I get tired of you phrasing your comments as if you are giving indisputable expert advice. Especially when you are seriously off the mark so often. You seem to believe you are above the game looking down on it objectively. What you don’t understand is that this is just your shtick.

    Frankly Lew? Your comments bore the shit out of me and they inevitably drag interesting threads into dull circular arguments about how “the game” works (which, by the way, is the worst kind of political naval gazing). Try making a comment about policy or something with substance. Please.

  33. Mike – go fu*k yourself. You’ve never won an argument in you life. Principally because you are too dumb. You should get back to work and stop stealing your employer’s time.

  34. Lew 34

    Robinsod: We’ve been down this track before.

    If you want to argue against what I write and how `off the mark’ I am, then bring it on.

    If you can’t be bothered then please – don’t be bothered.

    L

    Captcha: `rejoicing press’.

  35. Tane 35

    Sod, can you go even a day without attacking other commenters? I know you don’t like people and all but can you focus your criticism on the arguments rather than the people making them?

  36. Ari 36

    Just a point Lew- Labour didn’t “fall behind”, National consolidated the centre-right vote and leapt ahead. Labour support is actually pretty close to what it was last election in most of the polls. The real issue seems to be that some of the vote on the Left has gone to the Greens, (which is promptly ignored due to being a third party) and most of the vote on the right has consolidated around National. (as happened last election) Overall, the left has lost about two points since 2005- which is very different from the way political commentators are framing things.

    It’s also really important to note that it really doesn’t matter whether National gets more votes than Labour- Labour has shown it can negotiate much better with minor parties. National pretty much has to ensure that it and Act have a majority of the party vote between them to win. (And that’s contingent on the Maori Party not having too large an overhang or with UF/NZF getting through and dealing with National) In that respect, National is barely scraping through on current polling.

    Constantly talking about the gap between the two main parties ignores the realities of MMP. 🙂

  37. You don’t get it I don’t want to argue “the game” with you because it’s like arguing with mormons. Easy to win but why would you put yourself through it? Look bro, your politics seem sound and you’re obviously not a moron. Why not talk about something of value? It seems such a terrible waste as it stands…

  38. Ari 38

    Running the latest Roy Morgan poll through the calculator, assuming NZF, UF, and Act all get electorates and that the Maori Party scoops all the Maori electorates, here’s what I get:

    Act: 1
    Greens: 9
    Progressives: 1
    Labour: 42
    Maori: 7
    National: 58
    New Zealand First: 5
    United Future: 1
    (Majority: 63 seats, Total: 124 seats)

    National would not be able to govern without the support of either the Maori Party or NZF- (Act doesn’t tip the scale either way) both of which are very unlikely and potentially unstable coalition partners for National. Of course, for Labour to be Government, it would need the Progressives, Greens, Maori Party, and NZF. Which would be hard to cinch too.

    All in all- it’s really, really close right now, and that’s before we consider the fact that polls traditionally favour National, and whether there’ll be any weather changes before the election.

  39. Lew 39

    Ari: This is a good point, though the first bit depends heavily on which polls you believe.

    There’s a fair bit of research on an idea of the `authoritarian personality’ which claims to explain why `the left’ tends to fragment and `the right’ tends to agglomerate – which is what you identify here. The argument roughly goes that people on `the right’ are more inclined to hold the line and allow their own needs to be subsumed by a greater force, while those on `the left’ are more inclined to be tolerant of difference and to co-operate while remaining separate. I’m not sure how much I buy the `authoritarian personality’ line, and I certainly don’t agree that National supporters should be tarred with an `authoritarian’ brush, but it seems a handy explanation.

    L

  40. higherstandard 40

    Ari

    Is Winston back over the magical 5% ?

  41. Lew 41

    Robinsod: People being unwilling to analyse `the game’ is one reason why National are ahead: the government has singularly failed to control the short-term political agenda. This is also the reason National looked like winning in 2005: Orewa set the agenda and the government struggled to respond.

    Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

    L

  42. Ari 42

    HS- in that poll I believe he was at 4 or 4.5%. If John Key is slippery, we’re going to need a new, much stronger word for Winston. It looks like he may be back again for 2008 at the moment- whether by running in Tauranga again or through picking up some extra points in the party vote before the election.

    Lew- that analysis sounds like a good general guide to me. (although the Left violated it a bit in 2005- but that election was essentially a “race to the centre” that squeezed out all the minor parties) I’d probably frame it more as right-wing voters being more conservative and looking for collective wisdom, while left-wing voters tend to vote based on ideas/ideology and thus tend to split a bit more.

    edit: and as for your later comment, there was a lot of talk along those lines at Drinking Liberally- that Labour was giving out bullet points of its achievements in true pre-election style while National was coasting along playing the game with emotive politics.

  43. higherstandard 43

    Ari

    Indeed Winston should never be written off …… no matter how much I would like to do so.

  44. Ari 44

    I’d write him off like a bad cheque if we realistically had even a chance of being rid of him.

    The one drawback of MMP is that it gives power to the bloody populists like Winston 😛

  45. AncientGeek 45

    Hey hs: didn’t have time to follow up this morning. But have a look at my comment on your link about the council and consultants this morning.

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