That didn’t go so well.
Three more years of National. In what appears to be a resounding victory it has achieved what I thought was impossible, attained an outright majority in Parliament. The only silver lining is that the Conservative Party did not get elected and hopefully this is the end of this particular grouping.
Obviously we will need to see the final figures but my preliminary impression is that the left were hit by a variety of factors. Both Labour and the Greens went backwards by about the same proportion of votes. I thought that both campaigns were good but obviously the framing of issues by National was more effective.
A few comments on Labour’s campaign. I am finding it hard to believe how we could win five new electorate seats but still go backward in the party vote and I think that Labour will have to have a really serious think of this. Winning Kelston, Te Tai Tokerau, Tamaki Makaurau, Te Tai Hauauru, and Napier yet going backward is a testimony to National’s campaign but a warning to Labour’s. If I was in control of the party I would instruct every candidate to seek the party vote except for those in the most marginal of seats who I would instruct to seek two ticks. One of Labour’s strengths, the quality of many of its candidates, is also one of its weaknesses. And many Kiwi’s good intentions of sharing the love around is hurting us.
I thought Labour’s campaign was good. David Cunliffe excelled himself. He bet Key in the debates and with different circumstances and some clean air could have made a real difference. He has had only 11 months in the job as leader. He should remain and my feedback from members is that there is an overwhelming preference that he be given another chance.
The Greens also performed well. The fact that their vote declined by about the same proportion as Labour’s suggests that the change was not campaign linked.
History was against us. There has never been a two term National Government. And it is the economy stupid, when things are going well economically voters do not change. Of course New Zealand’s recovery is built on sand and rapidly increasing debt but such details do not seem to matter.
Mana is gone. I always thought that their reliance on Kim Dotcom would hurt and this is now clear. Dotcom was and is a huge distraction. His abilities to show how this Government is bending and breaking our laws is admirable but his involvement in our political process has been nothing but a disaster. His failure to show evidence of Key’s link to him last week was laughable. National’s repeated linking him to Labour and the Greens was laughable but effective.
And National’s overwhelming financial resources showed clearly. The wall to wall advertising in the last few days was incredible.
It still amazes me that Dirty Politics has not hurt National. This is third world quality bullying and corruption. Eventually it will hurt them and I suspect the next 12 months is going to be very uncomfortable for the Government but this will be no more than what they deserve.
I had a similar feeling in 1981 when National won a third term despite the destruction caused by the Springbok tour. That was however its last.
It is time for all good progressives to start organising for the next election.