Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, October 11th, 2017 - 41 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, internet party, labour, mana, national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:
Despite its scholarly pretensions, The Spinoff feature Election 2017: a vote for the status quo by Dr Claire Robinson seems little more than a highly aggressive PR strategy for the National Party.
(Robinson = Massey Administrator, media pundit, “expert” in political marketing, former Academic & former Private Secretary to Jenny Shipley)
To defend her thesis that we’ve just witnessed a Status Quo election, Robinson deploys a series of carefully contrived strategies that look very much like the sort of intellectual sleight of hand you might expect from an enthusiastic connoisseur of political marketing.
In other words, she seems like a savvy lawyer employing all the tricks of the trade.
These strategies include:
Concocting out of thin air the ludicrous notion that Labour were devastated by the Specials because (according to Robinson) they were fully expecting to pick up so many extra seats that they’d be able to govern alone with either the Greens or with New Zealand First in just a TwoParty Coalition
That fantasy allows her, in turn, to imbue Labour and the Left in a cloak of highly negative doom and gloom imagery – devastated losers after Specials set against the putative elation of a beaming Bill English and a winning National Party
Here’s Robinson for example:
Saturday’s final election results were, contrary to how they were received by some, a real blow for Labour. They didn’t pick up the number of special votes they hoped for. They can’t govern alone with the Greens. More importantly, they can’t govern alone with New Zealand First, which Labour would have been holding out hope for.
No wonder Bill English was beaming in the images at his stand up after the announcement of the final result, and Jacinda Ardern was looking grim, flanked by her equally grim looking ‘henchmen’ (her description) Grant Robertson and Kelvin Davis.
This is devastating for Labour.
An absurd misrepresentation of the reasoning behind Jacinda Ardern’s claim that the election result constituted a mandate for change
Jacinda must also know that her argument for still being at the negotiating table is baseless. She’s claiming she has the mandate for change on the grounds that “the majority of New Zealanders voted against the status quo”, and ‘the majority of New Zealanders voted for change”.
“Baseless” ? Why, Claire ? After all there are solid grounds for the notion that a majority voted against the status quo” Surely the reasoning underpinning Ardern’s claim revolves around the rather momentous fact that for the first time in the best part of a decade the 3 Opposition Parties collectively have a larger share of both votes and seats than the Govt Bloc (and indeed the broader Right Bloc)
Govt lead Oppo by 7 points
Right lead Oppo by 7 points
Govt lead Oppo by 5 points
Right lead Oppo by 8 points
Govt lead Oppo by 5 points
Right lead Oppo by 9 points
Oppo lead Govt by 4 points
Oppo lead Right by 4 points
A clear swing from the Govt Parties and broader Right Bloc to the Opposition giving the latter a majority of both votes and seats.
That would certainly be my interpretation of the rationale behind Ardern’s mandate for change claim supplemented by the fact that:
(a) A majority of NZF supporters have preferred a Red rather than Blue Government since at least 2008 (if not earlier) (I’ll post more detail in the very near future),
(b) Peters aggressively campaigned against the Nats & for change,
(c) Significant policy overlap between Labour and NZF.
But no, without any shred of justification (for eg no further quotation of Ardern) Robinson takes it upon herself to choose the most unlikely of all interpretations – she simply decides to assume that Ardern’s mandate for change claim is premised entirely on the fact that National failed to receive more than 50% of the party vote. Which, in and of itself, would certainly constitute a ludicrous basis for such a claim. After all National failed to better the 50% mark through 2008-14 yet no one suggested these elections comprised a mandate for change (Which is why Ardern did no such thing)
But, of course, having set up this blatant Straw Man – it’s then little more than child’s play for Robinson to knock it down
She’s claiming she has the mandate for change on the grounds that “the majority of New Zealanders voted against the status quo”, and ‘the majority of New Zealanders voted for change”. In reality there has not been one election since MMP was introduced in 1996 where the ‘winning’ major party got over 50% of the party vote
Robinson then provides figures in a table that surprise surprise !!! – do indeed prove her always under 50% claim (that no one is in fact denying except deep within Claire’s vivid imagination).
(3) Inappropriate-Disingenuous Analytical Framework
She tightly inter-weaves
(a) this gross misrepresentation of Ardern’s argument with
(b) a relentlessly FPP-style comparative analysis of voter support over the various 1996-2017 MMP elections that studiously avoids any discussion whatsoever of broader Party Bloc support – a strategy that inevitably flatters the current National Party (pretty much the sole electoral vehicle for Right-leaning Status Quo voters) and thus massively inflates its claims to a moral right to govern.
Moreover, at 44.4%, National’s party vote is greater than Labour’s Party Vote in 1999, 2002 and 2005 — three elections where Labour was more than happy to overlook the fact they didn’t have a majority yet still claim they had the ‘mandate’ to lead the next government.
(a) that would be due to the fact that while Labour received less than 44% of the Party Vote at those elections (39% = 1999 41% = 2002 41% = 2005) the other Parties that helped it form Govt (variously the Alliance Progressives NZF UF & Greens) gave it a combined weighting of 52% 50% & 51%, whereas National is currently bereft of chums.
(b) Labour + Greens = 43% (2017) is also greater than Labour’s Party Vote in 1999, 2002 and 2005.
(c) Once again, Ardern has never claimed that a Major Party receiving less than half the vote forfeits its mandate (that’s just in your imagination remember).
Labour will have picked up votes from the Greens (who dropped by 94,916 votes), NZ First (who dropped by 21,594 votes), the Internet Mana party (who dropped 30,452). Until we see how votes moved in the NZ Election Study, we’d also have to add some Conservative votes. And Labour got a good proportion of the 175,417 new voters who didn’t vote in 2014.
But to be a vote for change = Labour would have had to get more votes than National. In fact National got 20,574 more votes in 2017 than it did in 2014. This is not evidence of a widespread vote to change the major party leading the government. This was a vote for the status quo.
Robinson desperately wants us to believe there’s been no swing away from National
The huge swing to Labour apparently derives from everyone except National.
Right Bloc fell by 7 points
Govt Bloc fell by 3 points
National fell by 2.6 points
Labour up 11.8 points
Lab+Green up 7.4 points
Oppo up 5.9 points
So, in the context of the collapse of the 2nd strongest Party on the Right – the 4% Conservatives – (whose supporters were overwhelmingly former Nats & other Right Party voters and who strongly favoured a National led government in 2011 & 14 – NZES) = the Nats Party-Vote should’ve soared by 3-4 points rather than fallen by 2.6 points (that’s if you want to argue Claire that they’ve essentially held their own)
Don’t tell Claire but I think it’s safe to assume a Tory to Labour swing.