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Grass roots and astroturf

Written By: - Date published: 7:56 am, June 28th, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: activism, community democracy, election 2011, national/act government - Tags: , ,

National are still cruising in the polls, and no doubt feeling pretty confident about the next election. But ticking the blue box is easy – how firm is that support? We’re seeing big protests against this government.

Nearly 50,000 people signed a petition opposing opening up protected land for mining. Over 53,000 people signed a petition opposing proposed cuts to Adult Community Education (ACE). 53,000 people called on the government to do better over whaling. Almost 38,000 signed the petition opposing the Nats disastrous “national standards” in primary schools. 6,300 people (out of a population of 22,000) signed a petition calling for North Rodney to remain independent of the new “Supercity”. Yesterday several hundred people took to the East Coast beaches, and fires burned to protest at plans for offshore drilling. And let’s not forget the thousands turning out to protest in Christchurch at the abolition of local democracy, and the 50 – 60,000 people who marched in Auckland against mining in the biggest single protest in this country since 1938.

Against these grassroots protests, we have National’s claims of widespread support. Claims like the following:

It’s been great to receive positive feedback about National Standards and our other education initiatives from parents in [insert region here]

Yes, the good people of insert region here are right behind the Nats. As are the authors of any number of instances of generic column.

So, questions. Is there any significant National policy that isn’t attracting popular protest, criticism from the experts, or both? Why should be believe National’s claims of support on issues when they are clearly running a centrally managed astroturf campagin? Where is the genuine evidence of support? And National’s poll ratings, currently high but softening, how much further will they have fallen by the 2011 election?

23 comments on “Grass roots and astroturf ”

  1. Herodotus 1

    Please do not forget the lack of support for S59. Or is that not counted, as both left and right will not follow a far larger requirement for change to the status quo?
    It is great to see people believing that their voice is being heard, and with Nat “testing the water” or “kicking the tyres” you could say that the govt was seeking a mandate from the people, which in regard to mining perhaps Nat are taking note and changing their “suggestion” !!!!
    Hopefully the new Lab will also listen to the people as for many this is the reason that Lab amost lost the unlossable election in 05, then not heedling their lesson repeated and subsequently lost the last election, and ther eis still some concerns by some that they are still not listening to their traditional support base.

    • Marty G 1.1

      the unloseable election was unloseable for National. You’ve got Steven Joyce to thank for that disaster.

      • Herodotus 1.1.1

        So a one dimensional res bankers had more to offer and greater vision than Helen?
        If this was the case why did not Lab eview and change the direction that was not succeeding and gaining public support?
        So we had Lab paying back for the support from Land speculators, the rich, land lords etc to the detramential cost of Labs tradional supporter base.
        So in return to supporting Lab we will see tax rates at the top end increase again, too bad it this hurts those who contribute the greatest to NZ social fabric, teachers, doctors,nurses, social workers. We already have indications that the continual subsidies to the likes of landlords will continue,
        “..So Cullen’s retrograde step had no other rationale but populism – he needed to be seen to be slogging the well-off, even though he knew darn well he wouldn’t be. His was the epitome of political cynicism…” . Lab gives lip service to the average man but at the same time shafting him, whithout him knowing it.
        Out of this time in opposition at least we get a review of the Res Bank act, that for many years commentators from all spectrums was saying was causing more harm than good, yet M.Cullen knew better, inflation 3% home mortgages 10.4% in ’08. Lab the peoples party … yeah right!!!!
        But we hope and prey someone within the party can read history and reclaim Labours grass roots sometime before 2014.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    The question is, who is going to replace Goff and harness this potential support?

  3. jcuknz 3

    Why change the horse while it is still willing and controllable?

  4. Bored 4

    Nice to see the level of opposition focusing on individual government policies. Does anybody else get the feeling it is 1981 again with the nation heading towards a split down the middle, that innate Kiwi conservatism butting up against the need for radical change from the neo lib consensus of the last twenty years? Are we again reaching a tipping point?

    • r0b 4.1

      It would need a catalyst – like the 1981 Tour. In my opinion, if the Nats go ahead with plans for mining Schedule 4 land, they will create that catalyst.

    • just saying 4.2

      “Does anyone else get the feeling it is 1981 again….

      Been talking with all sorts of people who are saying “it’s the eighties all over again – but more dangerous” for quite a while now.

  5. ianmac 5

    It does seem strange that polls still show support for the Government in spite of the opposition to so many issues. Mind you perhaps the people might prefer a straightforward set of policies which are consistent with the stated intentions and not driven by popularity through polling.

    And who organises the response to deflect these issues, as above, with the call for Goff to be replaced? (Something to fear from him? )
    A little bird tells me that there are those on the Government benches who are getting nervous about Key’s fragile popularity. They are getting tired of his blurting, and leaving others to clean up the mess. When he crashes (Rudd) they fear that they will all crash with him. Change Key as leader before the next election they say. Sooner rather than later.

  6. Estimating the numbers of marchers seems to be fraught (and probably biased). I’ve seen estimates that put the ’81 anti-union ‘Kiwis Care’ march as bigger than the mining one.

    • uke 6.1

      It was still a “once every 30 years” kind of turnout.

    • It was the only march most of them ever went on.

      It was classic conservative politics, it was based on the idea that “it is terrible that we have this union employer confrontation, we are all part of one big happy family, why can’t we get on together and by the way I have never studied things to really understand”.

      The uber wealthy want one big happy family as long as they retain their obscene position of privilege.

  7. Citizen of NZ 7

    The reason Key is still polling so well is the lack of any electable alternative. Goff needs to go- he is yesterday’s man and Labour will never be elected while he is in charge. Look what rolling Rudd did for the Australian Labour party- big increases in poll ratings. There is no need for Labour to wait until after the next election- replace Goff now with Cunliffe. I am impressed with Cunliffe- he is intelligent and a very good speaker and would give Key a serious challenge.

    I am wondering if Labour don’t want to win the next election though- maybe they still are in disarray and don’t think they can form a government that will hang together. I can see no other reason for them to keep Goff – they are clearly without a hope of winning while he is there. It makes me really frustrated that Labour seem to have given up on the next election – I want to see National gone before they get a second term and the chance to push through the hard right policies their financial backers have paid for.

    • The reason Key is still polling so well is the lack of any electable alternative

      You are right. The left do not have a superficial multi millionaire who is happy to go and do cute things in public like cuddle pandas so that he can add a couple of lines to his CV.

      We have Phil Goff who has spent his whole life fighting for progressive causes. In 1981 when Key was wondering what he thought about the Springbok Tour Goff was already a MP. He has the utmost support from his constituents who think that his representation has been supurb.

      On the other hand we have Key…

      • gingercrush 7.1.1

        Goff lost his electorate in 1990. One can hardly say he’s had the utmost support from his constitutents. And if you want to play that game. Key won Helensville in 2002 when National recorded its worse ever electoral result. In 2005 and 2008 that electorate vote grew immensely.

        Goff did not spend his whole life fighting progressive causes. From 1984-1990 he was prostituting himself all in the pursuit of the neo-liberals within Labour. Indeed who else from Labour seemingly sucked so many dicks all so he could have his comfortable Cabinet Seat.

        From 2005-2008 he along with the rest of Labour played lap dogs all in pursuit of a fourth term. They forgot about being a government and became determined to change the rules in how elections would be played in the pursuit of that power.

        Since 2008 on assuming Labour leadership, he has played to the racist pakehas, flipped and turned on most of the policies he’s espoused since and while he’s not doing the dirty work there’s no doubt him and the rest of Labour still have their fingers in muck trying to smear John Key.

        Phil Goff is a brilliant Member of Parliament and was a perfect Cabinet Minister and may well be a brilliant electorate MP. He could even be a great Prime Minister. Unfortunately, he’s leading Labour at the wrong time in an environment where his qualities aren’t appreciated and within a caucus who with few exceptions never saw the Muldoon, Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley years and many of who weren’t even around in the Clark years. They’re a caucus with too much talent, too much potential and whose politics are more left than Goff and whose ambitions I suggest are too much for Goff to handle. And then he’s expected to face Key who may be an intellectual lightweight with no clear position on almost everything. But defeating Goff? Easy.

  8. Nick C 8

    I suspect Labour’s real problem is that its the same 50,000 or so people signing every petition.

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