National’s big win

Written By: - Date published: 7:16 am, May 3rd, 2012 - 85 comments
Categories: accountability, election 2011, john banks, john key, leadership - Tags: ,

The sheer volume of ill-informed commentary about National’s “big win” after the last election was mind boggling. Stuck in old FPP thinking? John Key fanboi-ism? Unable to see past the two big parties? Whatever the cause, it was all such a crock. In reality National’s majority was reduced to a razor-thin one vote in parliament.

If any good is to come of the John Banks implosion, perhaps it will be to drive a stake through the heart of the big win myth. Key has to wake up every morning and do the numbers. His government hangs by a rotten thread. That rotten thread is John Banks. If Banks goes, the Nat’s legislative agenda is in trouble. Zetetic set out the consequences very clearly in this post: If Banks resigns.

That’s the reason they can’t afford to stand Banks down. Instead they have to burn what’s left of Key’s political credibility, as he abandons the ethical standards of the Cabinet Manual, and sets the bar at “may not have broken the law” (actual quotes here).

Banks is a self-confessed liar. Banks is prepared to stoop to any depths (the transcript here is unbelievable). And Key repeatedly insists that Banks is fit to be a Minister in his government. Because he has to. Such is the strength of National’s big win in 2011…

85 comments on “National’s big win”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    The fuse on Bank’s case is going to keep burning. Now, to open up a second front on the NATs with another scandal and another Minister. Should be a piece of cake to find.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      John Banks is the MP for

      John Key is the MP for Sky City.

      Who do Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee represent?

      • Leavin 1.1.1

        Joyce MP for Media Works and other numerous old boy fraternities,

        Brownlee MP for Canterbury property developers and major insurance companies.

      • jack 1.1.2

        Road lobby

    • Hami Shearlie 1.2

      Yes, it could happen CV!! i-Predict seem to think that Maurice Williamson may be stood down? Hmmmmmm…….

      • Leavin 1.2.1

        @ Hami, Williamson MP for Chinese capital? With links to the Wongs, Shipley perhaps…

  2. dd 2

    Can’t Banks just be stood down from his ministertial positions and they keep things as status quo?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Bank’s isn’t giving up a peanut voluntarily. The NATs also need him in Cabinet as right wing cover for their policies.

    • They could try but I don’t think the criticism is going to let up until he resigns, deliberated electoral fraud ought to be one of the highest crimes in our country, and people take this sort of thing seriously, especially when the media actually covers it.

  3. chris73 3

    This is like deja vu all over again

    • Frida 3.1

      Nice tautology. You must have had the same English teacher as James 111.

      • chris73 3.1.1

        You don’t see parallels with previous governments?

        • Frida

          Sorry Chris, I was being a grammar nazi. Hadn’t had my morning coffee and you saying “deja vu” and “all over again” in the same sentence when they mean the same thing is something that irritates me (along with inappropriate use of the apostrophe, that kind of thing). So basically I was being a sarcastic cow and I apologise. My reference to James111 was because he can barely spell or string a sentence.

          As for the substance of your question. I haven’t spent, and don’t intend to spend, any time comparing the current stinking mess to anything that went on in previous Governments. I don’t buy into that “they did it so now we’re doing it” mode of politics personally. The point is that what is going on currently is a breach of the Cabinet Manual and Banks should stand down.

          I also don’t see why Key is delaying on this given National would probably win a by-election. So what puzzles me is what are Key’s reasons? Is it because without ACT, National can’t push through some of its more extreme policies like charter schools? (or it can, but it will risk alienating its moderate, centrist voters). Or is it something more sinister, namely that Banks knows things about Key and National that, given his propensity to bizarre little tantrums, he will reveal if pushed.

          It’s all fascinating.

          Not that I’m complaining, the longer this is strung out, the more damage that will inevitably be done.

          • chris73

            Don’t worry about it, its just an obscure quote by Yogi Berra

            My view is not so much “they did it before so its ok we do it now” but why do they (both parties) do it so often

            As for Banks he should go but when it comes down to it JK had to take the word of an MP over the word of a convicted fraudster didn’t he? (mind you how he got into this country being a convicted fraudster is another matter entirely)

            I agree It is fascinating though

            • Clashman

              Whats Banks doing accepting donations from and advocating for a convicted fraudster?

              • chris73

                Playing devils advocate I’d say he probably thinks Kim did his time and served his sentence

                • ScottGN

                  If that’s the case then surely his word ought to be as good as anyone else including an MP’s?

                • rosy

                  “Whats Banks doing accepting donations from and advocating for a convicted fraudster?”

                  Maybe he has fondness for dubious business people, or maybe they just donate to a dubious politician more easily.

                  The latest developments came as Banks admitted he had dinner at the home of former Natural Dairy boss Jack Chen with bankrupt May Wang – who are now facing corruption charges in Hong Kong.

                  A source close to Banks’ mayoralty campaign team believed Chen had offered up to $50,000 at the dinner.

                  Banks says he did not recall either Chen or Wang “offering to give him support or a donation”.

                  Now that’s interesting… I linked to an item on stuff “ACT-chief-retracts-statement-on-Dotcom-gift” to get that quote.

                  10 hours later it links to ‘Banks: “I never pay full price at hotels”‘ with no mention of the dinner with the dubious rejected buyer of Crafar farms – bankrupt May Wang and Jack Chen at Chen’s home.

                  To get the one about the Natural Dairy dinner …

            • Matthew Whitehead

              No, he could have simply suspended Banks’ ministerial roles during an investigation. That isn’t taking anyone’s word, and would have been the fairest course for all. If Banks were vindicated and had borne the suspension well, it would bolster his incredibly low popularity, and if he had indeed been involved in conduct unbefitting a minister, Key could “ask for him to resign” and then “suprised” and “upset” when he refused.

              You can still spin the system while acting as if you give a rats ass about ministerial standards, let alone ACTUALLY caring about them. The problem is that National has gotten so complacent and lazy they’ve stopped bothering with image management, and it’s really hurting them in the long term, whether it will be reflected in the polls yet or not. (kinda hard to tell at this point)

          • weka

            “I also don’t see why Key is delaying on this given National would probably win a by-election.”

            Read the ‘If Banks resigns’ link in the post. It’s explained there.

      • happynz 3.1.2

        I believe he was quoting the late great Yogi Berra who also came up with such gems as ‘It ain’t over until it’s over’, ‘It ain’t over until the fat lady sings’, ‘If you come to a fork in the road – take it’, and my personal favourite, ‘Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.’

        In light of the latest political fallout maybe Banks could use this Yogi quote, ‘ I didn’t really say everything I said.’

        • chris73


          • McFlock

            The other one that seems apt to many recent events is “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

  4. Nationals win was the biggest win of any single party since MMP was implemented. Whether that translates to seats is a different story. But the win was big in relation to single party votes. 

    • That’s like saying winning a rugby game by one point is the biggest win ever for the MVP. It doesn’t matter how big your party is, the problem is that National is hemorrhaging coalition partners and probably won’t be able to form a stable government even if Labour doesn’t manage to form one first after the next election.

      • It isn’t like that at all. National got the biggest win of any single party under an MMP election. That they don’t have a bigger majority is cast upon lack of coalition partners not Nationals overall vote tally. They still beat their nearest rival in a huge rout. it is a big win, one seat majority or not

        • Yes it is, and I am saying that in MMP, a coalition is a rugby team and a party’s vote share is a player’s performance.

          My point is that, despite being the biggest party, National barely scraped a government because they essentially have one star player whose incredible performance just held the line- that would be National in this analogy- whereas the opposition had a team that almost won despite not giving a stellar performance individually. (Well, you could argue that the Greens were the opposition’s star player in this little extended metaphor)

          In that situation, you could talk about the MVP having the best game yet, but that isn’t a valid way to describe the outcome of the game, which is actually barely a victory, and headlining a match that way is terrible reporting- just like describing this election as a “big win” for National rather than “barely holding the line due to eating your coalition partners’ votes” is dishonest.

          Coalition partners count, and National’s inability to win when its coalition partners are healthy is a huge downside in an MMP environment.

        • Puddleglum

          Hi TheContrarian,

          I think you’re confusing the word ‘win’ with the word ‘result’. 

          It was a big result for National, but, on its own, it did not allow them to ‘win’ the treasury benches. 

      • Pete George 4.1.2

        The All Blacks didn’t win the RWC by many points, but it was regarded as a huge win in rugby.

        Similar for National. Except that they scored a lot more votes than Labour in a multi team contest.

        • TheContrarian

          Say in the 2008 election National got 50 points and Labour, the next nearest challenger, got 48.
          Not a big win but a win.
          In 2011 National receives 52 but the next nearest party receives only 30.
          That is a big win even if National only increased their total by 2.

          • lprent

            The ONLY thing that matters in a parliamentary democracy is being able to form a government. Sitting around comparing dick sizes like you are doing is just politically juvenile.

            Have you missed the last 15 or more years? You know – since MMP came in?

            National managed to cobble together a coalition government in 2011 with less seats in 2008. That was because they’d sucked up almost all of the vote from one coalition partner – Act. Another coalition party dropped vote like a stone. And even the final coalition party lost vote. In fact even with all of that – National also lost vote.

            The only thing that kept the coalition in power was a low turnout… But I guess you are too dumb to understand actual politics…

            • TheContrarian

              “The only thing that kept the coalition in power was a low turnout” 
              You know how all those that didn’t vote would have, do you? 

              I am fully aware that forming a government is what matters but National won bigger than any other party ever has before with 48%. That is greater than any single party since 1996. Fact. A big win for a single party. Fact.

              “But I guess you are too dumb to understand actual politics…”
              *Cough, on my way to a MBA in political science, cough*

              • Te Reo Putake

                They say the first term is the hardest, Contrarian. Good luck with the next few years, it appears you’ll need it.

                • First term? Well beyond that my friend. Though it has taken me twice as long as others because I have a busy job so can’t study fulltime.

              • Draco T Bastard

                You know how all those that didn’t vote would have, do you?

                Statistics show that the majority of the non-voters, if they’d voted, would have voted left. That’s been known for decades.

                • “Statistics show that the majority of the non-voters, if they’d voted, would have voted left.”
                  You wanna provide those statistics?

                • I see you haven’t substantiated that. Regardless, what if it’s true? Are those on the borderline of voting more likely to vote centre/slightly right or centre/a bit left? Or any other way?

                  I bet you there were quite a few voters who tended National but didn’t vote becasuew the didn’t want National to get too much vote and rule on their own, but wouldn’t vote for anyone else.

                  It’s well known that Greens tend to poll higher than they get votes, suggesting a few that way inclined are non voters,

                  And how do you measure if any of the 999,998 others wer close but just didn’t quite vote for Labour, and how many couldn’t be dragged to a booth to vote for them this time.

                  It’s impossible to measure the many possibilities. Crying over non-voters is futile anyway, what happens on the day is what counts. National went up a bit, Labour went down quite a bit.

                  • felix

                    Absolutely, what happens on the day is what counts, but you’ve missed out the most exciting bits.

                    National went up a bit,
                    Labour went down quite a bit,
                    ACT almost sank back into the primordial swamp,
                    the Greens went up a LOT, and
                    Winston did too, from nowhere.

                    The result of all of which meant the National-led coalition slipped down a few rungs and now their majority hangs by a thread.

                  • Pete can you take your shoes and socks off and those of 5 of your friends and using one finger or toe for each MP work out how many MPs support the Government and how many oppose the Government?

                    You might also think which digit represents Petey Hairdo.  I thought someone’s middle finger, suitably extended with the rest of the digits folded would be appropriate.

              • Pascal's bookie

                I am fully aware that forming a government is what matters


                but National won bigger than any other party ever has before with 48%.

                Fascinating, but we agree that “forming a government is what matters”, so this raises the question of “So what?” (I will note here though that I take issue with your use of ‘won bigger’ here)

                That is greater than any single party since 1996. Fact.

                Again, so what? Forming a government is what matters, as we’ve agreed.

                A big win for a single party. Fact.

                Nope. This doesn’t follow at all. We agree forming a government is what matters, so the margin by which you can form a government is what defines winning. The National party did not form a government, it is in a coalition, so it didn”t win the election at all. The best you can say is that they are far and way the largest party in the winning coalition, which has a majority of 1 (one).

                For your argument, contradictory as it is, to make any sense at all, you would also have to say that in an election with the following result:

                National 44%,
                Labour 28%
                Greens 28%

                The National party had a big ‘win’. Afterall, they got half as many votes again as their nearest rivals, the parties that would be sitting on the treasury benches.

                But I’m glad we agree that they would have lost that election, in spite of their solid ‘win’.

                The law of non-contradiction can go and get fucked I guess.

                *Cough, on my way to a MBA in political science, cough*

                Got long to go?

                • So you wouldn’t consider receiving the largest amount of votes in any MMP election a big win despite not receiving enough to govern alone? That is the crux buddy and isn’t contradictory in the slightest.

                  Oh yeah, as I said above I have longer to go than I would like because I have a fulltime job and I travel a lot so I can’t study full-time. I am well over half way there though

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    It is contradictory if you agree that winning government is what matters.

                    If winning goverment is what matters, then not winning government is not a win. That’s definitional.

                    It can still be a good result perhaps. But context matters, and the context that matters is that forming a government is what counts.

                    In that hypothetical election result I outlined above, (48 V 28+28), is that a win, or a loss for National, or is it both?

                    • Semantics, man. That is just semantics.

                      While making the government is what matters when actually running the country, grabbing 48% of all votes, beating your nearest rival into its worst result in….how ever many years (don’t have the numbers in front of me), securing the biggest electoral result of any single party all the while running on some deeply unpopular policies is a big win. It shows a big win in the level of support for the party. Though I would use the words “Huge achievement”.

                      In your hypothetical I would call it a big win for The Greens

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      It is semantics yes. But there’s nothing ‘just’ or ‘mere’ about semantics.

                      Semantics is about focussing on what words mean, and using them clearly so that the sense of an argument can agreed upon, and debated.

                      Many arguments come down to semantics; ie, making sure that people are using the same words in the same way, or identifying where they are using them in different ways. If you do not do this, the actual disagreement cannot be identified.

                      Quite often, when someone ‘complains’ about a discussion of the semantics, it’s a sign that their position is under threat by a discussion aimed at making clear how words in the argument are being used.

                      I’m sure that’s not what’s going here though.

                      I’m glad though, that you now agree with me that it is better to describe National’s result as a huge achievement, rather than a win. there are some historic facts in there.

                      The thing with facts though, is that they are only meaningful upon interpretation. By themselves, they don’t tell a story, they can give knowledge of a type, but not an understanding, if you catch my drift.

                      Context is everything.

                      Tell me, even if you haven’t been doing any classics in your work towards MBA in Politics, you must of heard of Pyrrhus?

                    • Hey man, that was cool story about semantics.

                      You are referring to Pyrrhic victory, no?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Gosh. Not very good at the whole contrarian thing are we.

                      Poor use of the ‘cool story bro’ meme. Looked weak rather than bored; it only really works when you’ve actually addressed the arguments in previous comments and are using it to show that the person you are dismissing is just repeating themselves, or engaging in sophistry.

                      And in any case, it got lame as a meme last thursday.

                    • That’s an even better story.

                    • Oh yeah, I think your username is fairly clever. Some wry humour there

                    • felix

                      Hey C, the detached and slightly aloof vibe you’ve been trying to project for the last three comments doesn’t really work if you keep checking in like a lab rat at a feeder.

                      It’s too late this time, but something to remember for your next handle.

                    • I am just keeping busy while I wait for dinner to be ready

                    • felix

                      Oh good, say hi to your Mum for me.

                    • She’s dead, my dad lives overseas and my wife is on the couch.
                      But it was pretty funny what you did there

                    • felix

                      Yeah I thought so. Still no answer to P’s b then?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      I think he’d rather talk about my handle Felix.

                      Have it son

                      I doubt it’s what you think, you’re not contrarian enough.

                    • Ah, the welcoming committee in action. Standard initiation.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      More nasty smears pete?

                      I tried to engage NZ Contrarian’s argument, but he sort of ran away from the discussion and resorted to near-decade-old 4chan memes.

                      I am genuinely disappointed. He talks a big game over at his blog, so I wanted to have a chat with him, and see where he’s coming fro;, what he’s got, so to speak.

                      No need for you to butt in.

                    • “what he’s got, so to speak.”

                      Yeah, I get that. It becomes a bit obvious.

                      Sorry, I didn’t realise this was a private thread. How do you you mark your territory? I didn’t notice the Keep Out sign.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Yeah, I’m arguing with someone who calls himself ‘contrarian’ and has a blog where he says he likes to argue with people.

                      What an awful thing to do.

                      But I’m off to bed now, have to get up at four.

                      See ya later Contro.

                    • felix

                      Oh come on Pete, out of sheer goodwill I walked away from a VERY EASY PUNCHLINE back at 8:02.

                      And it was just sitting there for the taking too, staring me in the face. That must count for something.

                    • See you tomorrow buddy.

              • McFlock

                *Cough, on my way to a MBA in political science, cough*

                MA, surely? 🙂


            • Pete George

              Working on a frustrating bug?

              National also lost vote.

              2008 1,053,398
              2011 1,058,636

              I won’t show Labour’s vote, you probably know that in binary.

              And I understand that in politics, low turnout could affect any of the parties. Labourites seem to have a belief that the million that didn’t turn up were all their’s, if only they understod…

              • Te Reo Putake

                “Labourites seem to have a belief that the million that didn’t turn up were all their’s, if only they understod…”
                Keep repeating that line Pete, it must be true if you think its true.

                • They were Petey, Labour does better when the turnout is up.  But that is one of those fact things that you do not like using so I can understand why you would want to argue something entirely different.

                  • Takingthegreg, that’s not a fact, that’s you claiming something, again unsubstantiated. I know you’re above having to botehr doing that here but it means as much as, well, actually, it doesn’t mean as much as your failure to endorse and show support for David Shearer. I apologise if you did that on another thread, I don’t read them all.

                    • Petey because I do not bother to respond to your blather does not mean I agree with it.

                      The trouble is you do not have the slightest understanding of the significance of election results whereas I have at least over the years been a very keen student of them.  This does not prevent you from thinking that your opinion is superior and you should broadcast it but can’t you actually think before commenting? 

                    • Ok, still avoiding it. I wasn’t asking you to agree, I was asking you to be brave and actually stand up and say what you think, but you don’t seem to be big on doing that. Keep diverting.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Fact, actually, Pete. Turnouts above 90% pretty much always return Labour Governments, turnouts below 90% pretty much always return your lot.
                      At least that’s what the records say.

                    • They don’t say anything, they’re just numbers.

                      1993 85.2 – National win
                      1996 increased to 88.3, National win again
                      1999 dropped to 84.8, Labour win
                      2002 dropped to 77.0, Labour win, National voters stayed at home
                      2005 increased to 80.9, Labour still win
                      2008 dropped to 79.5, National win
                      2011 dropped to 74.2, National win

                      Seems to be mixed messages there. You also have to consider on top of those numbers a general trend for voting percentages to drop worldwide.

                      Have you considered the weather on voting day?

                    • lprent []

                      Weather has a lot less of an effect than the pundits credit it with – at least in NZ.

                      You need to look at how National “won”. In 1996 NZ First won. In 2002 the worm elected some hair. In 1999 the Alliance “won”.

                      2005, 2008, and 2011 produced extremely weak coalitions with very small majorities.

                      National haven’t won since 1993, and Labour hasn’t won since 1987. You appear to still be stuck in thinking it is still a political system we dropped nearly 20 years ago.

                      What wins are coalitions. It is the parliamentary position of minor parties that determines what major party forms the coalition. Which is why National did really well last election – but is making an arse of themselves to keep the one vote they need to pass legislation that they have little support for. No significiant coalition partners left – just left over relics of the past.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Yeah, facts are so tricky, Pete. Better to just ask tiresome questions and ignore the answers. There’s 80 years of elections there, you focus on the last decade. What a bore.

                    • Recent history is the most relevant in today’s political and social environment.

                      I see the turnout dropped substantially in 1919, why was that? Also 1943, at least Labour existed then.

                      Back to more recent, 1984 when Lange won, highest turnout since 1957. How do you explain that?

                    • Back to more recent, 1984 when Lange won, highest turnout since 1957. How do you explain that?

                      Precisely.  High turnout, change to Labour.  See the pattern yet Petey?

                      And 1993 under MMP would have been a left victory as in 1996 except Peter campaigned like a left winger but supported National, 2002 agreed national were that bad their supporters stayed at home, 2005 turnout up Labour wins, 2008 and 2011 down National wins …

          • Matthew Whitehead


            National and Labour have never won alone in MMP, and their individual performance only becomes relevant if they do get 61+ MPs outright. Until then, National eking out a government by going into coalition with two microparties with less than 50% of the vote total does not a “huge win” make. It just means that National convinced its allies it should have more of their barely sufficient vote.

            Sidebar: Any party that forms a government supported by less than 50% of the vote has not really “won” the election anyway, big or small.

  5. james 111 5

    This goes to show how bad MMP is for the country. Because only 27% voted for Labour, they didnt want a government led by Labour, and 48% voted for National ,and wanted a Government led by National
    I would much rather a Government didnt have to do cosy deals to stay in power. They put in place what they said they were going to do and are judged on that by the voting public.
    Where you have MMP such as we do you have ineffective Government that cant take the bold decisions that are required

    • Pete 5.1

      James – unlike most other western nations we have very few checks on our legislature. We don’t have an upper chamber, we don’t have supreme law the courts can use to strike down legislation and we don’t have a head of state with the power of veto. All these things slow down “bold decisions” in other democracies and they seem to manage okay. MMP is the best thing we could come up with to moderate government action here, aside from the select committee process that too often seems to be ignored through the use of urgency.

      It’s actually very rare that boldness is necessary – really only in wartime or civil emergency. The rest of the time government should be deliberate and cautious in the decisions it makes. I guess my outlook makes me a little more conservative than you (but with a social democratic bent).

      • Yeah, there’s definitely a good argument that it’s too easy to pass laws in New Zealand. In some ways Labour might actually have been hurt by that fact in their campaign for a fourth term.

    • MMP isn’t about voting for the leader of the government. It’s about (almost) everyone’s vote being counted, and Parliament being roughly proportional to those party votes while still getting local electorate MPs.

      (also, if 52% of MPs comprise the parties forming a government, it has roughly 52% of the voting public’s support. That’s much better than the largest party always winning, as that lead to situations like when the Alliance got 15% of the vote and one MP)

      If you want us to vote for a leader, I suggest you start campaigning for a presidential executive in our future republic.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        (also, if 52% of MPs comprise the parties forming a government, it has roughly 52% of the voting public’s support. That’s much better than the largest party always winning, as that lead to situations like when the Alliance got 15% of the vote and one MP)

        And the times that the “winning” party had less votes than the party that came “second.”

        • I think you mean the times that a majority government had less votes than the opposition. 😉

          Oh wait, that’s this parliament too, it’s just that the margin is smaller now. Looks like we have some problems to fix after all, like abolishing electorates.

    • mike e 5.3

      Jturd Can’t handle democracy 1 person 1 vote Most kiwi’s voted for MMP!
      Get over it.

  6. Pete George @ 7:24pm, “I see you haven’t substantiated that” – referring to Draco T Bastard’s claim that, “Statistics show that the majority of the non-voters, if they’d voted, would have voted left.”  

    Pete George @ 9:34pm, “2002 dropped to 77.0, Labour win, National voters stayed at home” 

    OK, so presumably you have some ‘substantiation’ that, in 2002, “National voters stayed at home“?

    Given that history is such a poor guide to making assumptions about the inclinations of non-voters, who knows, maybe in 2002 all those people who didn’t vote were McGillicuddy Serious Party supporters who heeded their party’s call not to vote for them.

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