Key not competent to lead New Zealand

Written By: - Date published: 11:24 am, February 7th, 2008 - 76 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

The Sunday Star-Times had an article titled ‘Who Is John Key?’. It’s remarkable that we’re still asking this question a year after Key became National’s leader. Even more remarkable is this long article on his history provides no answers. Who is John Key as a politician, what does he stand for, what is his vision of a better society? It seems no-one, including Key himself, knows. He comes across as ambitious for himself, but with no idea of what he would actually do in the top job.

What would a Key Prime Ministership look like? So far he’s made small policy announcements worth a few million dollars and swallowed a few dead rats, but the Government is a $60 billion a year organisation and he doesn’t know how he would steer it. Would he build up health, education, and infrastructure or let them rot like National did in the 1990s? Would he plan for and invest in the future with programmes like Kiwisaver, the Cullen Fund and cap and trade, or would he be a populist man of the moment? Would this currency trader with little knowledge of foreign affairs keep New Zealand’s proudly independent stance or just follow wherever America leads? With little knowledge and no experience with how governing works how would Key react to emergencies like natural disasters, international crises, public service scandals?

From what we’ve seen so far Key would be embarrassingly out of his depth. He’s good at attacking the Government’s weaknesses, but would Key be a competent replacement? No.

76 comments on “Key not competent to lead New Zealand”

  1. Santi 1

    “He’s good at attacking the Government’s weaknesses but would Key be a competent PM? No.”

    Harsh words from the unbiased bloggers of The Standard, but was it possible or sensible to expect any different? No, of course.

    What PM experience Clark had before 1999? Nil, so your same argument on Key is unfounded.

    Your dislike for everything National makes you blind to the strong possibility John Key may lead the country later in the year, so better get used to the idea the socialists are about to lose their grip on power.

  2. Camryn 2

    A ha ha ha. What a silly little article.

    “Would he plan for and invest in the future with programmes like Kiwisaver, the Cullen Fund, cap and trade or would he be a populist man of the moment?”

    Or would he let individual New Zealanders secure their own future instead of depending on capricious government by ensuring greater freedom of individual choice in education and health, reducing tax, and seeking to minimize the scope of the state?

    Your weak “will he follow Labour policy or [insert something bad sounding]” line of argument is totally transparent.

  3. gobsmacked 3

    1) What does John Key stand for?

    2) How do you know?

    Please don’t answer telling us what you stand for, or what you want him to stand for, or hope/fear/invent on his behalf. And yes, we know he’s not Helen Clark, and that’s enough for some, but Brian Tamaki and Keith Locke aren’t Helen Clark either, so you’d kinda hope for a bit more to go on.

    Genuine question: where is the evidence for John Key’s political beliefs?

  4. r0b 4

    Looks like there is a new author at The Standard. Good stuff!

    And to those dismissing this posting so quickly, I do recommend that you actually read the SST article…

  5. Sam Dixon 5

    santi – hadn’t Clark been member of the 1980s Laobur govt, a Minister of the Crown, headed selected committees, and been in parliament for nearly 20 years?

  6. East Wellington Superhero 6

    What does Helen Clark believe?

    Seriously, Clark and Labour offer vague statements about socialist type attitudes toward social and economic policy but I’ve never read a clear Clark manifesto. If you have then please share it with the class.

    Furthermore, prior to 1999 did Clark outline prostitution law reform, civil unions, section 59 and extensive taxation (remember they promised only 5% of kiwis would be on top tax rate)?

    I’m not commenting on whether the above policies are good or bad – my point is that the public would not have known she intended to see such policies come about. Thus to suggest that John Key less transparent than Clark doesn’t match with the facts.

  7. Tane 7

    Yes, welcome aboard SP. I’d like to see a journalist ask Key some questions like:

    1) Do you personally support every worker having a minimum of four weeks annual leave?

    2) Do you personally think students should pay interest on their student loans?

    3) Do you personally support Kiwisaver?

    There are plenty more like them.

    If Key answers yes, then he should explain why he opposed them. If he answers no, then he should explain why the public should trust him not to go back on his word once he’s in power.

  8. Camryn 8

    He’s leader of the National Party, which is a fairly BIG clue that he has slightly right-of-centre views on the role of government and the economy, and mildly conservative social views. What more do you want?

    Personally, I’m way way further right on the economy and highly socially liberal (i.e. government to stay out of all spheres of our lives) but JK beats HC any day.

  9. Tane 9

    government to stay out of all spheres of our lives

    Hate to start an argument when I haven’t got the time to follow it through, but does that mean you’ll support the abolition of private property, limited liability and state-enforcement of contracts?

  10. Steve Pierson 10

    EWS. If you read or listen to the Labour Government they have a clear vision for New Zealand, a more wealthy, fairer society. That’s what those long-term programmes like the Cullen Fund and Kiwisaver along with all the education and infrastructure investment are about.

    Camryn. Long-term planning is necessary, otherwise you end up in a situation where your social services are crumbling and that has negative ramifications thoughout society and the economy. I’m not saying Key should have Labour’s long-term plans, I’m asking where his are.

  11. outofbed 11

    I get the feeling that John Key wants to be PM and the National party is just a handy vehicle for him to accomplish that.
    And as such is a symbiotic relationship but with no real substance

  12. r0b 12

    What more do you want?

    Clear policy, and the commitment to keep pre election promises.

  13. Camryn 13

    Lefties are getting anxious about their ‘gains’ getting rolled back. Don’t fret, kids. You’re forgetting the biggest political advantage you have… taxpayers’ money is like crack, and few politicians ever dare send the country cold turkey. No matter how much better off we’d be getting ‘clean’, there’s no political motivation strong enough to overcome the addiction until we’re near death (e.g. 1984). You can try to force JK into admitting this, but that’s only a little icing for you on the cake of this reality. Damn Socialists.

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    Camryn. The problem is that being head of National suggests that like his predecessors Key is for privatisation and underfunding of social services. Yet he calls himself a centrist. As he doesn’t present a vision or big picture policy to back that up we have to assume he is just a pretty populist face for the same old National that drove down wages and drove up unemployment and crime in the 1990s.

    I don’t know about you but I want someone with more depth than that leading our government.

  15. r0b 15

    Lefties are getting anxious about their ‘gains’ getting rolled back.

    Why is ‘gains’ in scare quotes Camryn? Decades low unemployment, reduced numbers on benefits, reducing the financial load on students, increased minimum wage, independent foreign policy, long term planning with KiwiSaver and Cullen Fund – which of these are not solid real gains for NZ?

  16. Camryn 16

    Steve – Only a socialist would say that. Long term planning has a role, but the market also has a role. Labour has the balance wrong.

    Tane – OK, no need to go any further with that one. It was an unreasonably extreme statement. Please add something like “… mostly” and we can leave the “what’s the boundary?” for some other time.

    r0b – He’ll only be as clear to be as he needs to win, as per any good politician. Strike that… effective, not good. None of them are ‘good’.

  17. gobsmacked 17

    So in answer to my question about evidence for Key’s beliefs, so far we’ve got: He joined the National Party.

    In fact, he was not a member of National until his 30’s, and then he left (why?). He rejoined National in 1998, and was a member of the National Party International Branch, in London 2000-2001 (presumably in order to become a candidate in 2002, which got him into Parliament).

    That tells us nothing except: he saw politics as a career move. But in order to do … what?

  18. Billy 18

    “…they have a clear vision for New Zealand, a more wealthy, fairer society.”

    Good one, Steve. As opposed to National who, I suppose, want a poorer, less fair society.

  19. gobsmacked 19

    This is pretty funny: Perigo dishes it out to Key

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0802/S00068.htm

    (and no, I don’t want a Lab-Libz unholy alliance, but the rant still made me laugh!)

  20. outofbed 20

    As opposed to National who, I suppose, want a poorer, less fair society.

    I don’t suppose National want a poorer society But I need to be convinced on their attitudes to fairness

  21. Billy 21

    Outofbed, I think it is more an issue of what fairness is. You people (as I like to call you) think fairness requires everyone to have the same regardless of industriousness or talent. People on the right think it is unfair that we have to subsidise the indolent.

  22. AncientGeek 22

    Cam:

    Steve – Only a socialist would say that. Long term planning has a role, but the market also has a role. Labour has the balance wrong.

    The problem is that National always has the balance wrong historically. They have never done any long term planning in office IMHO. They refuse to make decisions, preferring to leave everything to the market.

    So roads don’t get built, new technologies or technology effects don’t get regulated, shifting population balances don’t get pre-adjustments made, etc. The market is great at handling short-term adjustments – but it is bloody awful at handling anything with more than a 5 year horizon.

    Then when the shit hits the fan, the nats run around squawking that it is all so unexpected. In every case I’ve seen, it wasn’t – the nats were just too lazy in government to prepare for a future issue.

    I’ve seen it happen many times – I’m ancient.

    You have to remember that government is about handling long term changes, and short-term catastrophes. While the nats can do the latter, but as a party or a philosophy they have proven themselves to be pathetic at the former.

    Thats why, while I’m free-market in my personal operations, I don’t trust the free market in government.

    But of course you’ve heard me on this before, eh Cam.

  23. r0b 23

    You people (as I like to call you) think fairness requires everyone to have the same regardless of industriousness or talent.

    Come on Billy, that’s just silly.

    People on the right think it is unfair that we have to subsidise the indolent.

    Yes, apparently you do.

  24. Billy 24

    I admit to simplifying to make my point.

    Which might have been put better:

    Shouting that you believe in fairness is as stupid as saying you believe in, oh I don’t know, motherhood. How could anyone be against fairness? I defy you to find me someone whose policy platform is to abolish all fairness. Fairness is a two way street: it requires fairness to both the assisted and those paying for the assistance.

  25. r0b 25

    Fairness is a two way street: it requires fairness to both the assisted and those paying for the assistance.

    That’s more like it. And yes, the devil as usual is in the details of what exactly words like “fairness” mean.

    I have sometimes wondered if much of the left-rigth continuum thing can be boiled down to one simple diagnostic question. “In order to help the needy you will also end up subsidising the indolent. Is that OK with you?” If your answer is no, you’re on the right, if your answer is yes, welcome to the left.

  26. outofbed 26

    I guess that the Right, or nasty selfish bastards as I like to call them . Want to have all the benefits of a cohesive society and contribute as little as the can get away with

  27. Billy 27

    I have never understood that, outofbed. How come the selfish people are the ones who want to keep more of the money they’ve earned, rather than the ones who want something for nothing? Isn’t it a little selfish to demand that other people support you?

    And I’m with Thatcher: there’s no such thing as society.

  28. r0b 28

    And I’m with Thatcher: there’s no such thing as society.

    Come on Billy, that’s just silly.

  29. outofbed 29

    Yeah I quite the idea of living in Somalia

    Actually, athough I don’t want to defend the bitch
    “there’s no such thing as society.” was quoted out of context

  30. Draco TB 30

    Thats why, while I’m free-market in my personal operations, I don’t trust the free market in government.

    Bingo.

    The government is there to create and shape the market for the benefit of society. It is also there to ensure that everyone can participate in the market effectively. It is not there to ensure that people will have the same income and living standard – the market will do that anyway.

  31. Steve Pierson 31

    Draco TB. Yeah, and the evidence of that is all around us. The market has ensured that in New Zealand we don’t have a few people with millions and most people with very little… oh wait..

  32. Billy 32

    Steve Pierson, I thought you believed in fairness. Isn’t it only fair that those who are smarter and or work harder are better off than those who aren’t and or don’t? Or is that not your definition of fairness?

  33. K1 33

    AncientGeek, extremely well put.

    My chief concern is that we are entering a time that may need more long-term planning and less market response. Unfortunately I think that’s an ideological bridge too far for National..

  34. burt 34

    Key not competent….

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/02/a_whopper_lie_from_the_pm.html

    So tell me – did the PM lie ot is she so incompetent that she has no idea what she is talking about?

  35. AncientGeek 35

    K1: Possibly. I haven’t been unhappy with what labour has been doing. They’ve been pacing themselves – something I attribute to the MMP environment.

    They resisted the temptation in the 5th labour government to try and do everything in a hell of a hurry. Thats what they did in 1957-1960, 1972-1975, and 1984-1987. It isn’t a productive way to govern, if only because populations will only accept a certain amount of change within a given period.

    I think most of the current opposition to MMP is from people that simply don’t want to accept that the world changes, and societies have to change as well. They would like their fluffy blanket of the national party wrapped around them saying “you don’t have to change – we will prevent the world intruding”. National is the “business as usual” party, small ‘c’ conservatives lacking in any sense of history.

    It’d be nice if we ever got a party on the right that actually had some imagination. Then we would actually have a decent discussion in this society about direction.

    The original Act party was a bit like that, but tended to be too doctrinaire and theoretical.

  36. AncientGeek 36

    burt: So she isn’t perfect. But who is, after all, it isn’t one of her portfolios. I’d be interested in what comes out later from sources other than kiwiblog.

    Looking through the 69 comments on that post at kiwiblog I could really only come up with two of any interest – from Buggerlugs and Rex Widerstrom, both on the MSM not doing their job in society properly.

    The rest of the comments (including yours), both right and left, were largely inane.

  37. Wendigo Jane 37

    Who are the indolent you say you subsidise? Who is it according to you wants something for nothing? People who have some kind of scale for measuring ‘talent’ and who think they are contributing sooooo much more than the next guy and that everyone else is stealing from them really crack me up. Can’t you see how subjective this shit is? Sorry all you winners and aspirants, but you really need to take a big fucking dose of get the fuck over yourselves.

    [lprent – suspiciously like d4j? Nope]

  38. Draco TB 38

    Draco TB. Yeah, and the evidence of that is all around us. The market has ensured that in New Zealand we don’t have a few people with millions and most people with very little oh wait..

    That would indicate that the market is presently biased in favour of a select few and isn’t the fault of the market but the rules we have governing it. This therefore needs to be corrected and doing that is certainly a long term objective.

  39. RANDAL 39

    if Keys is anything like the big swinging dicks in the book “Liars Poker” by Michael Lewis then he is definitely not the type of person nor competent to lead this country

  40. Phil 40

    Anyone else seen the NBR today? (Feb 8th)
    Page 20 – comedy gold from Jonkey

    Good stuff

  41. Saying the John Key is not competent to lead NZ is a cop out.

    The evidence is that he is a very good leader of the National Party, that he specializes in conciliation (synonymous with flip flop) and creating win-win political situations, (which he was apparently renowned for at Merril Lynch) and which he has illustrated with his resolution of the Nat party leadership issue and his embrace of the Maori Party as potential coalition partner. In addition his personal success suggests that he is very good at making investment and business decisions. Key has wanted to be PM since he was a child, so has moulded his career as a lead up to the big moment. At 46 he is not too young and not too old.

    To be PM is a bit like being principal of a school in that the principal does not teach but spends his/her time dealing with staff issues and the running of the school as a business. The same with being PM, the job is to impose some kind of leadership on the party team, and deal with the overall running of govt business. That Key is short on policy is irrelevant. That is the job of the ministers. From Key we expect a firm hand on the tiller.

    I would say that the empirical evidence strongly supports the notion that Key is competent to lead NZ.

  42. r0b 42

    I would say that the empirical evidence strongly supports the notion that Key is competent to lead NZ.

    Begging your pardon, I have my doubts. In trying to be all things to all people, he fudges where he stands on important issues. The evidence suggests that he would have taken us in to war in Iran. The evidence suggests that he is a climate change denier. The evidence suggests that he will reverse almost any previously strongly held belief in order to make himself believable.

    What does Key really believe in, and why won’t he tell us? He can’t remember where he stood on the ’81 Tour? Yeah right.

  43. r0b 43

    should read “in order to make himself electable”.

  44. r0b 44

    and “Iran” should read “Iraq”. Note to self – proof read before posting…

  45. No rOb, he is a conservative, which means that he is not likely to change anything that is already in place. While he may have been anti the interest free student loan and the EFB when they were being debated he is not likely to move against them when in power. It is simply not worth the effort and is counter-productive. The NZ public suffer when legislation is reversed.

    As for Iraq, for us to be involved, along with Australia, would have given us other benefits we didn’t enjoy. Key may be against going into Iraq now, we have the benefit of hindsight and everyone is wirhdrawing at this time. Having said that, I was personally against the Iraqi invasion.

  46. outofbed 46

    And that is the point. It would have been the wrong decision and a pretty big one at that along with the other aforementioned stuff.

    WE could all make good decisions we the benefit of hindsight

  47. AncientGeek 47

    KP:

    As for Iraq, for us to be involved, along with Australia, would have given us other benefits we didn’t enjoy.

    What benefits? Dead or maimed soldiers from fighting an unjustified war. A war that violates the UN charter.

    I voted for Helen many years ago because I understood her principles, even though I disagreed with a number of them. The NZLP has a wide range of opinions inside it, the principles that they follow are the ones that are common across the majority of the party. They have stuck with those principles adjusting how they get to them as the world changed.

    With both Key, and the NP, there seems to be only a few principles it seems to be possible to detect.

    – They are anti NZLP
    – They wish to be in power
    – They live for today and do not build for the long term
    – They like talking about (but not doing) making a better environ
    for business

    In addition his personal success suggests that he is very good at making investment and business decisions.

    Why do you think this is a indicator of success in politics? Our history, and that of every western nation, shows that the skills that make people effective in business are not effective in politics. It is difficult to name an effective politician who came from an effective business background. On the other hand there are quite a lot of effective business people who became ineffective politicians, when you look at their legacy after 20 years.

    That Key is short on policy is irrelevant. That is the job of the ministers. From Key we expect a firm hand on the tiller.

    Doesn’t matter who is meant to make it – where is the policy? Are voters meant to make their decision based on a cheesy smile?

  48. Hi AncientGeek,

    The ideal of our democratic system is that anybody should have the opportunity to represent the people, not just career politicians. It is clear from the brief bio of Key’s life, his key strength in business was his ability to deal with difficult political situations. You risk making serious generalizations about people which only takes one or two talented individuals to render invalid.

    While I don’t think Key will make as big an impression on NZ as Clark has made I still think he will be an effective leader.

    It is probably true the Nats are short on policy, but that is not a fatal flaw. The negatives the Labour govt has piled up are sufficient to make them self-eliminating, wtih little effort required from the Nats.

  49. AncientGeek 49

    You risk making serious generalizations about people which only takes one or two talented individuals to render invalid.

    Sure it is – but you made exactly the same mistake – so I answered it. You suggested that key’s record in business would be of benefit in politics.

    I don’t know of many cases through most of history, where you can look backwards and say that is true. At least not when compared to people that came out of all sorts of weird occupations. I can however think of a number of examples where business people turned politicians have left terrible legacies. Muldoon being a good example.

    I’d suggest that because of the relative short-term (less than 5 year planning horizon’s) thinking of business training and operational practice, that his business background is a liability rather than an asset. The process of government is inter-generational, not intra-business cycle.

    The negatives the Labour govt has piled up are sufficient to make them self-eliminating, wtih little effort required from the Nats.

    What negatives? There has been a song and dance on the right about legislation recognising social changes that are already taken place. That follows the dictum that governments and the law follow society on social change, rather than lead it. Frankly it has been a bit pathetic.

    For the base issues in society, the economy, infrastructure development, raising overall skill levels, social inequity, environment, substainability, etc. The things that are inter-generational ‘infrastructure’ in its broadest sense, they have been extremely effective.

    There are some that would like those things to move faster, and some slower. But I think they have steered a pretty good course.

  50. r0b 50

    It is clear from the brief bio of Key’s life, his key strength in business was his ability to deal with difficult political situations.

    As is so often the case, AncientGeek has already comment cogently. But Kent, I do want to follow up on the claim above.

    Can you tell us a bit more about what you mean here? In what ways did Key in business deal with difficult political situations? Presumably he made money, sacked people (the smiling assassin) and so on. How does this relate to the long term and constructive problem solving required by politics? (Perhaps I should say, required by politics at its best, e.g. Cullen Fund, KiwiSaver, staying out of Iraq, etc.)

  51. AncientGeek 51

    As is so often the case, AncientGeek has already comment cogently.

    Why thanks (I think).

    I should leave more room for discussion, otherwise how will the young benefit from my ancient ?wisdom?. Chewing around on a problem helps with understanding it.

    I blame it all on the RSS app popping up the comments. I can’t resist…

  52. r0b 52

    I can’t resist

    Please don’t resist! It’s a pleasure to watch you in action.

    Anyway – political falmewars are tame. Emacs or vi? Gnome or KDE? Mac or Windows? Ho – just kidding….

  53. AncientGeek 53

    Talking about things ancient. I liked Moana MacKay’s post about Key’s youth policy. I love the hyperlinking in the web – got to this post by way of The Thorndon Bubble – which should be on the links on the right of The Standard, but isn’t.

    She expresses my horror at the shallowness of Key’s solutions far better than I do. The problem he is giving a quick-fix solution for was all so damn predicable, and so much easier to fix at its inception…

    Excerpts:

    My criminology lecturer in the mid-90s said he dreaded the “mother of all budgets” generation reaching their teenage years. The fallout from those families plunged into poverty overnight by a tax-cutting benefit-slashing National Government has proved his words prophetic.

    These kinds of observations always make National MPs start frothing at the mouth, claiming the 1990s are “ancient history”, but as Spanish philosopher Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

    The most important years of a child’s life are the preschool years.

    What happens during these crucial developmental years will set that child on a track from which it is almost impossible to deviate without significant resources and intervention.

    It’s no good waiting for a young person to become a serious threat before you do anything. Unfortunately the political gain for slamming young offenders is much more lucrative than for not creating them in the first place.

    Definitely worth a read

  54. r0b 54

    Talking about things ancient. I liked Moana MacKay

    Not sure what Moana would make of that! (“MacKey” for those who want to Google).

    You’re right, excellent piece. National’s whole “it’s ancient history’ defence is just another sign of their short term thinking. Political decisions have consequences, some of them directly observable for decades…

  55. AncientGeek 55

    Anyway – political falmewars are tame. Emacs or vi? Gnome or KDE? Mac or Windows? Ho – just kidding .

    I have to agree. What the The Ex-Expat refers to as ProBlos are tame, not to mention totally amateurish, compared to the IT industry flame-wars.

    You get an argument going there about some design philosophy and it can literally run for a decade. All of the time good ideas are being plugged into the design spec. The ones I’ve been following there recently is the css design debate and various ways of making the client side web more dynamic.

    With the political blogs, people seem to want to make assertions in comments without bothering to back them up. When they get pulled up on it, they just disappear rather than work the issue.

    For instance this putdown in The Thorndon Bubble again where Tony Milne tears apart a Crabbits assertions.

    Crabbit:

    All well and goodexcept that Clark has been calmly describing (or denying) problems, outlining solutions and providing assurances for years now and almost every social indicator has got worse under her government.
    Crime up.
    Solo parents up.
    sickness beneficiaries up.
    Interest rates 2nd worst in the OECD.
    And so on.

    Tony Milne:

    Crime up (in the past year yes – but that was off a base of a 20 year crime low in 2004)

    Solo parents down, not up.

    Sickness beneficiaries up – marginally. Overall benefit numbers are down 140,000 since 1999.

    Interest rates are high – why – because the economy is performing so strongly. Labour has led the economy through its longest run of economic growth since the Second World War, built an economy now a third larger than when we were elected in 1999, helped create 360,000 more jobs in the economy.

    What gets me about Crabbits comment is that I’ve seen the same assertions repeated all the way through the political blogs of the right. Essentially the same response being given by various people. No real attempt to refute the counter-claim being made. Then the same
    original assertion being made as if it was accepted wisdom.

    It is bloody urban myth territory – people prefer to believe what they want. If that happened in the IT blogosphere, then there would be a chorus of back-linking by all sides.

    As I say, the political commentators are often pathetic – more so on the right than on the left.

  56. AncientGeek 56

    I just finish saying that, and then see a effective comment….

    PaulL on kiwiblog commenting on Key’s fitness to be PM. While I probably would disagree with a lot of it, it at least made me have to think a bit.

    Whats the bet he has been in the IT flame wars as well.

  57. r0b 57

    You get an argument going there about some design philosophy and it can literally run for a decade. All of the time good ideas are being plugged into the design spec.

    At their best, yes, tech debates are usually much better informed! But on the other hand, the topics of debate are sometimes rather petty (brace style debate anyone?). Political debates, for all their many faults, are usually about things that affect people!

    With the political blogs, people seem to want to make assertions in comments without bothering to back them up. When they get pulled up on it, they just disappear rather than work the issue.
    […]
    It is bloody urban myth territory – people prefer to believe what they want.

    Yes, time after time after time. To a certain extent this is a basic feature of human cognition – we believe what we want to believe, and we rationalise the “facts” and our interpretations of our actions to fit. But political debate does seem to bring out pretty extreme cases…

    Anyway ‘Night.

  58. r0b 58

    Hmmmm – last quick comment. There’s a nice list of various kinds of biases in thinking here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    Wikipedia really does have gems sometimes. It’s kinda fun to read political debates / blogs and check off examples of these biases as you see them in action. I reckon it would make for quite a drinking game…

  59. AncientGeek 59

    But on the other hand, the topics of debate are sometimes rather petty (brace style debate anyone?). Political debates, for all their many faults, are usually about things that affect people!

    Yeah, I avoided those ones. My favorite of that type was always the argument on where and how to put comments in code.

    Bearing in mind the way that technology is transforming society, I wonder which is more important over the long term. I just finished re-reading Charles Stoss in Accelerando (looks like it is now online). Maybe it is clouding my judgment – very powerful novel.

  60. AncientGeek 60

    oops – typo Charles Stross.

  61. r0b 61

    Bearing in mind the way that technology is transforming society, I wonder which is more important over the long term.

    Fair comment.

    I’ve been meaning to get in to Stross ever since tripping over a description of The Atrocity Archives somewhere. Very encouraging to see his attitude to releasing stuff on line, though it seems that Acclerando is the only one so far:

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/fiction/faq.html

  62. Ancient Geek

    I did not suggest that Key’s experience in business would help in politics. The brief bio I have read of him said that he was good at dealing with sensitive political situations while in business.

    The negatives that Labour has piled up include a rather large gap in polling in which Labour trail National.

    ROb, the impression I get is that Key is into creating win-win situations. That is how some people get ahead in business. Like Clark he is able to cobble together unity between disparate groups. He is National’s answer to MMP.

  63. AncientGeek 63

    The negatives that Labour has piled up include a rather large gap in polling in which Labour trail National.

    I’m not a great believer in polls. They’re getting less and less useful as the decades swing by. It is another technology issue.

    They’re a sampling technique that largely rely on phones. Specifically land-line phones that are listed in the white pages. That lets me out, my landline has been unlisted and confidential for about 17 years. You have to have been given my phone number to be able to use it.

    It lets out almost all of the people I know apart from my parents. They use cellphones because they aren’t home enough, and when they are home they screen calls with caller id. If you aren’t on their list they don’t answer. Reason, I went confidential origionally was because of those damn telemarketers, and we didn’t have caller-id. So your landline survey is screwed by who answers the phone.

    Talking about that, you also have to consider the effect of teenagers on phone lines. It is hard to get a line into a house with a teenager. They hog the phone chattering about very little to their friends. It is getting better with txting.

    That makes land-line polling a bit of a technology and work and family pattern test. If you work a lot or don’t use technology or don’t have teenagers, you get bugged by telemarketers and pollsters.

    That gets even worse when you look at the demographics across the country. From what I understand, around Manakau the number of listed phones is less than 40% of the households. While on the North Shore it is about 80%. Same kind of thing everywhere. Where the population is static there are high percentages of listed land-lines. Where it is mobile or there are income constraints, there few phones to call.

    Now the pollsters will weight the people in the polls for a set of attributes to get a balanced sample.

    But I’d say that they are performing a technology intelligence test, with the losers giving the poll results.

  64. Even if the polls are wrong, they give a negative impression of the govt and voters think “Oh, hmm, that party is polling well, maybe I will vote for them.”

  65. r0b 65

    ROb, the impression I get is that Key is into creating win-win situations.

    Kent, what I’m wondering is if you have gone beyond “impressions”. It would be useful to base one’s voting intentions on something more like facts?

    That is how some people get ahead in business.

    Some people yes. It would be interesting to know if Key really was one of those, or whether he was the (more common?) scorched earth type of currency trader. I genuinely would be interested if you find relevant evidence, because what I have heard so far is not encouraging.

    Like Clark he is able to cobble together unity between disparate groups. He is National’s answer to MMP.

    Well that remains to be seen! Though I admit that he looks better in the early stages than Brash ever did.

  66. AncientGeek 66

    rOb: Definitely read The Atrocity Achives. It is the strangest cross-genre novel I’ve read for a while (actually now you mention it, I can see it sitting on the sofa).

    In most reviews they mention the Lovecraft and Len Deigton (?sp) cold-war stuff. But they usually forget to point out the parody of the conspiracy theories. It is all backed underlaid with a quantum multiverse… Fun to read.

  67. AncientGeek 67

    Even if the polls are wrong, they give a negative impression of the govt and voters think “Oh, hmm, that party is polling well, maybe I will vote for them.’

    I actually don’t think that the voters are that shallow. Some of them are, but they often wind up as non-voters.

    As an aside, I’d love to see a age breakdown of people who vote because I suspect that the majority of the non-voters are under 30, and have been forever. The attitude I get from young adults about voting disappears rapidly once they and their friends start having kids.

    But it still avoids the interesting question – what does Key stand for. Talking of polls, that shows up in the latest TV3 poll in the leaders table about attitudes to Key. It is instructive to compare Key current with Brash just before the last election. Brash scores as generally more trustworthy, but Key is more likable.

    Look at the Clark equivalent figures. Not likable, but trusted and competent.

    Question is, do kiwi’s want to treat the government of NZ as entertainment?

  68. AncientGeek 68

    TV3 poll

    Too much work – I lost the link

    captch: rumours recovered

  69. I actually don’t think that the voters are that shallow.

    What about swing voters? They generally decide elections. They’re much more important than you or me.

  70. AncientGeek 70

    Swing voters. They’re a lot less important in a MMP environment than they were in FPP. They tend to split into 3 groups. They vote for you, they vote against you, or they don’t vote at all. Across the whole country the first two groups seem to balance out under MMP.

    Where they were important was in FPP. A small number of voters in particular electorates could be swayed by targeted policies or particular statements. Inevitably something designed to attract one group of swingers will cause problems for another group of swingers. So it was the balance in population between those groups in an electorate that was important. That could be enough to swing an electorate one way or another.

    Under MMP you have to appeal across the whole country, because the party vote is really the one that counts. The inducements are a lot more expensive, and the voting advantage is often outweighed by the outrage of another group.

    The closest we’ve ever gotten to it in the last few elections was probably the interest free on student loans. It was in labour long-term policy anyway, but announcing during the election campaign appeared to be to induce students to vote at all. I’m unsure if it did. I certainly didn’t notice an decrease in young non-voters from the ones I know. But it probably did no harm for the students parents voting.

  71. Still when the difference between Nats and Labour is 1-2% of the voters, then swing voters are signficant even in MMP. The only difference under MMP is, if the majority party sneaks in with 0.5% margin (but less than 50%) and is unable to cobble together a coalition, then it defaults to the next highest votegetter. This is why Key is determined to court the Maori Party, who are the Nats only significant possible ally (assuming ACT is in the can already).

  72. outofbed 72

    “it defaults to the next highest vote getter.” Is that right?
    Surely it only down to which parties can agree to form Gov regardless of which party has the biggest share If you can can get the numbers your re in as it were.

  73. I don’t know the specifics, but if the ‘winning’ party cannot form a coalition within a set period, then the runner up has a go.

  74. AncientGeek 74

    his is why Key is determined to court the Maori Party, who are the Nats only significant possible ally (assuming ACT is in the can already).

    I’ve already commented on why I think that a nat/MP coalition is almost impossible. Have a look at the discussion around AncientGeek’s comment on maori roll voters.

    Of course that isn’t going to stop parties from talking up the possibility.

    Nats need to feel it out – but the concessions they’re going to have to offer will be immense, and I’m still sure it’d kill the Maori Party in the following election, just like it did with NZF when they had a strong maori vote in 1996.

    Maori Party needs to talk up coalition possibilities, either with the nats or greens (the latter is probably viable), to get leverage with Labour.

    Labour needs to talk up the possibility because it is a way to scare maori electorate voters away from the Maori Party.

    But in the end, it is the maori electorate voters who will decide. They are probably the most sophisticated voters in the country, but they have a distinct string left of centre bias and a history of punishing parties. I’m afraid that nat/MP if it occoured would be a one term wonder, and the MP knows that.

  75. AncientGeek 75

    I don’t know the specifics, but if the ‘winning’ party cannot form a coalition within a set period, then the runner up has a go.

    Something like that. But if it follows 1996, it is more like everyone is negotiating with everyone else, and the first one to get a viable coalition will talk to the GG. If that happens to be the top polling party, then find. If it isn’t then the GG goes to the top polling party and says show me your confidence and supply arrangements, and typically they won’t have them.

    In practice, the only time the GG really has to make a decision is if there are two potential minority parties, with a party willing to support both on C&S. Or in the unlikely event (under MMP) there is a hung parliament

  76. AncientGeek 76

    This is where you need a lawyer around….

    captcha: Hippie Make

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