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Not what they expected

Written By: - Date published: 11:02 am, November 12th, 2008 - 58 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags:

I’ve been out and about over the last few days talking to people from the left and the right as well as a few apolitical types and the sense I get is that people didn’t get what they expected from this election.

Just last night I was out to dinner with a group that included a primary school teacher and an environment officer. Both had voted Green but had done so out for cultural reasons, they are young professionals who are concerned about the environment and, from what I could gather, they found the Green brand was something they could identify with. Neither of them would be able to provide a clear explanation between left and right. In short they are typical of a lot of voters under 35.

Interestingly, neither of them had been too concerned about a National government either. In fact one of them was almost going to vote National instead of Green.

On Monday both of them read the policy for their respective areas of work and both of them were shocked.

On Sunday I went to watch a motorsport event with some National supporters. To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it as I thought they’d spend the whole time gloating. They didn’t. In fact they seemed a little concerned at the result and like so many rightwingers who commented on the “Change to what?” thread they didn’t know what they wanted other than to see the back of Clark.

While we were on the way to get a beer one of them told me he didn’t even like John Key and was concerned about ACT.

It’s going to be a hard three years for the National/ACT government.

58 comments on “Not what they expected ”

  1. Mark 1

    My daughters and their partners (late 20’s) were astounded by how many friends, work colleagues and other associates really had no idea why they were voting National apart from the change factor. What they found embarrasing from a number of the male gender of NZ (when in the company of what they considered Kiwi Blokes) was such comments about needing to get rid of ‘Uncle Helen’ or the ‘Lesbian’ . Really makes you despair about the quality of some of our Kiwi Blokes doesn’t it!!

  2. sweetd 2

    Meanwhile, I’ve been talking to my friends and colleagues who are not socialists and they are all excited at the prospect of nine years of right rule.

    IrishBill: read my post sweetd, I was talking to swing voters and National voters. Calling everyone who disagrees with your narrow right-wing prescription a socialist is exactly the sort of thought a lot of these people didn’t think National stood for.

  3. Ianmac 3

    I keep remembering the “We will do what-ever it takes, ” comment from Key and from English and implied from Lockwood Fish Smith.
    Surely the catch is in the “over-promise” and under-delivery. And how do you follow up the expectations raised? Consider the hopes of the Asian Community who this morning on Morning Report, talked of how they expected that National would make South Auckland safe – quickly. How about Pansy Wong telling Principals that the National Testing Plan is being dropped?
    And this is week One!

  4. gobsmacked 4

    Sweetd

    So why didn’t they vote for it last time?

  5. the sprout 5

    I agree with your analysis IB. Despite the damage it causes, I suspect it is necessary for voters to learn every once and a while what a right wing government actually means.

  6. Lampie 6

    “How about Pansy Wong telling Principals that the National Testing Plan is being dropped?”

    Un bloody believable

    So that Nat ad about education is just pure bullshit, already

  7. The sense I’m getting from talking to everyday NZ citizens is it’s akin to a national tragedy to lose Helen Clark, some people even admited they broke into tears when they saw Helen resign that night.

    I’ve also been reading the reaction from people overseas on sites like Digg and Reddit – they seem pretty unanimous that we have been incredibly lucky to have a leader like Helen Clark and that we have been extremely foolish to vote her out of office, they’re even more shocked (even appalled) to discover it was only for want of a “change”. On the international scene people regard her as a doer, someone who does what she says she is going to do and has made a huge impact on issues such as climate change and world peace.

    Our nation made a huge blunder and I think people are going to slowly begin to realise that. While it was good to see democracy in action our collective intelligence took an exponential nosedive on Saturday.

  8. brownie 8

    IB, I find it really interesting that people read policy statements AFTER an election. I know that not everyone is political “animal” for want tof a better word, however how can these “proffesionals” help shape our country without going out a schooling themselves up as best one can?

    This is one area that pisses me off, whether you are a lefty or righty, as Steve says, “get involved!” Learn!

    Being a Righty myself, I personally don’t think much of what the left has done however at least I get out there, read the websites for example where policy is made easily accessable.

    Likewise I respect all people (such as the ones on this blog and KB) who set out to debate issues based on a degree of interest and learning.

    Am gutted that those two voted, armed only with a slogan in mind.

  9. IrishBill 9

    brownie, I agree with you completely. The response from the school teacher was “why didn’t anyone tell us?”. I pointed out that the teacher unions had been releasing on the issues with National’s policies since they came out as well as communicating to members and holding forums but that the media hadn’t picked them up. She’s going to join the union now (I think the fact she was not a union member in a highly unionised field shows exactly how far from the mark sweetd’s “they’re just a bunch of socialists” argument is.)

  10. Quoth the Raven 10

    I think you should start another “change to what” thread because you got nothing satisfactory from the last one.

  11. Daveski 11

    It’s difficult to respond to this without relitigating the issues that were well and truly gone over here prior to the election.

    Clearly, you’re likely to be preaching to the converted with the views you’ve expressed and I accept that.

    I think that the fact the Key has almost developed the a blue Labour brand by keeping so much of the Labour policy indicates that the fundamental issues weren’t over policies.

    More difficult for the left to accept then is why people voted against Labour.

    A number of factors spring to mind:
    – the EFA – even Goff now admits Labour got it wrong even if Standardistas continue to hold their faith
    – Winston – again, I think many here failed to grasp that a large % of the population were fed up with his antics
    – the belief that Labour was more focused on social issues which enabled National to appeal to the conservative bloc
    – Labour’s poor campaign after a great launch – “trust”, H-Fee fiasco, and a negative campaign that turned off people

    I contrast the negativity here about Key with his overt willingness to work with a wide range of parties, including the MP which I’m sure gives other confidence this will be a much more inclusive National party than we’ve seen in the past.

    Agreed it can all turn to custard but I don’t think you can extrapolate the discussions you have had with a few people to say that the electorate as a whole is regretting the decision.

  12. Daveski: I’m wondering why the EFA is the first issue you mention. There was a poll conducted sometime around it’s passing that shows less than 3% of New Zealanders considered it an issue they might base their vote on. That number would likely have gone down towards the election and as the media coverage of it faded. I don’t think it could even be considered an election issue despite Farrar et el. attempts to make it one.

  13. Daveski 14

    IT – nothing intentional in the order – in fact I just read it on Stuff and NZH.

    I can understand the thrust of what IB is saying – it’s a vote for change and at the same time a vote for no change.

    I would argue that it’s most likely not one thing but a combination of things that led to the result. Based on Key’s intense use of the word “inclusive”, it would appear that the focus groups were telling them there was a significant sector of NZ that felt their needs weren’t be listened to and they voted accordingly.

    I would add to the list the tax cuts with gritted teeth – again, I’ve seen the spin justifying the lack of tax cuts and the timing but that’s most likely not what those who voted National thought.

    I’m at pains not to relitigate the debates prior to the election but to provide a more constructive analysis of the vote for change.

    I do agree that Key has a window of opportunity to live up to his own spin and he will face real challenges to deliver.

  14. TimeWarp 15

    Good comments to kick the thread off IB. Brownie – couldn’t agree with you more.

  15. Ianmac 16

    Daveski: Winston’s circus/antics keep getting mentioned. Who created the “circus?” Who made the most of it? It certainly wasn’t Winston but a strategy from at least a year ago, to use him as a lever against the Government. Winston certainly didn’t need it in the middle of an election. Hence the continual efforts to link to Helen Clark. I would call that dirty politics actually.

  16. Daveski 17

    lanmac – Winston is his own worst enemy. As some will have noted, I have an involvement in racing which has definitely benefited from Winston. Even so, many – myself included – were keen to see him go because of the damage that he does.

    Again, I’m not trying to relitigate these arguments but I’ll happily point you in the direction of racing forums where there was a definite anti-Winston sentiment.

    The issue with HC was her reluctance to distance herself. It could well be loyalty, devotion to process etc but it was an element in why there was a vote for change and no change. IMO a smarter move would have been to say NO to Winston 🙂

  17. burt 18

    Re: Not what they expected….

    Electoral Finance Act needs review: Goff

    Oh dear, looks like the hard core Labour supporters already have a problem… This was such a great piece of law when Helen was in charge…

    So what is the official position now – Is Goff wrong or were the people who previously supported the EFA wrong ?

    (IE: Was Helen wrong to ram it through to shut down dissent against a corrupt and self serving govt?)

  18. burt 19

    Daveski

    IMHO Helen should have cut Peters loose when he first did his “NO” fiasco. She knew at that time he was telling porkies and she made a crap decision that clinging to power till the end of “her turn” was more important than integrity in parliament.

    She paid a fair price for her self serving behaviour.

  19. Matthew Pilott 20

    Text from a National Party supporting friend on election night: “National/ACT – what have we done?

    My reply: “We?”

  20. burt 21

    Oh, BTW. Good on Goff for taking the bull by the horns on this.

    It is very refreshing to hear “we got it wrong” from a senior Labour person. I actually think that is the first time in 9 years senior Labour people have admitted they don’t always get it right.

    Ha… Labour should have changed leaders a few years ago, perhaps if retrospective validations were not used to kill off Darnton Vs Clark the 2008 election might have been won by Labour.

  21. Pete 22

    We have yet to have a sworn in government, no policy decisions made, no legislation passed, no promises broken… Tell me IB do you suffer from premature ejaculation?

  22. IrishBill 23

    No Pete, as I understand it that condition is more the reserve of ACT supporters and right-wing bloggers. Now go back to Kiwiblog where you can have a meaningless whine with your peers.

  23. infused 24

    I could say the same as Pete. All this talk and nothing has even happened yet. Still in shock I see.

  24. I’ve seen the same thing happening. Nobody knows what they want. And Farrar’s fixated on the Labour changes! Lefties would be talking about all the good stuff they wanted to see. You useless righties seem to have nothing more than a hate hangover and defensive whinging…

  25. Pete 26

    You’re good with ASSumptions IB… when did I say I was a right-winger that frequents Kiwiblog? But doesn’t matter its easy to cast stones when you have no sophisticated argument to back up your claims – aside from spurious anecdotal data collected by a biased observer who can’t quite comprehend where it all went wrong…

    IrishBill: Banned for a month.

  26. Pete,

    the American sock-it-to-em Society will join with me I am sure in asking you not to presume too much by way of unwarranted conflation.

    Thanking you…

  27. godder 28

    The EFA was a massive issue for some of us. When the Bill was introduced I wrote to Clark as a 5 time Labour voter to warn her that if it was passed I would vote to get her out of office. And that is what I did.

    I am a staunch Labour voter but I’m not the blindly loyal. The EFA was an awful piece of legislation.

    Some issues are bigger than left or right, tax cuts or not, etc etc etc. I think for many swing voters the EFA nudged them to the right and they stayed there.

    G

  28. Felix 29

    You’re right Pete, you didn’t say you were a “right-winger that frequents Kiwiblog” but then you didn’t explicitly say you were a bipedal mammal either.

    Having known a few bipeds, however, it’s not too hard to spot them.

  29. gingercrush 30

    Sorry but to me you lot here are in denial. Since the massive defeat in 2002 where National won the party vote in four electorates. New Zealand appeared to look left. The thing was that really wasn’t the truth. Labour never got a majority like the polls were saying. And party support went to centrist parties like New Zealand First and United Future. When Bill English was ousted, the National Party insiders took the party to the right. And by the 2005 election we were able to grow back to 40% or so. Rather impressive when you consider how badly the 2002 election was. The 40% or so National grabbed could be said to be National’s base support.

    Since 2005 National kept growing in the polls. They consistently topped Labour and a National-led government looked promising. John Key of course over that time grabbed the leadership and pulled National back towards the centre. At the start of this election Labour had a possibility to govern with a centre-left vote made up of Labour-Progressive-Green-Maori. There was a slight difficulty with this. It basically depended on New Zealand First getting back in and polls consistently showed that was not possible. It depended on the Maori party getting ore seats than the five they won. None of this happened. And yet here at The Standard you said the polls were lying or likely to be wrong and Labour was still going to govern. None of this happened. Labour held its vote pretty well compared to the polls. However, the Greens who looked set to top 10% in reality grabbed just over 6% of the vote. Suggesting that the Green base is a consistent 5% vote. But they’re lucky to get anything over that.

    Now that its clear New Zealand chose a centre-right government. I’ve seen statements saying and Labour will get back in 2011. That people will quickly realise who they’re voting for etc etc etc. I’m sorry but there is a clear sense of denial here. It may well be that a number of people didn’t know what they were voting for. But that could be applied to any election that takes place.

    Both Labour and National could be said to have a core vote around the late 30s early 40s. And the swing is 10% or so that either side with the left or side with the right. This year they chose the right. Something that eventually they may regret. But to say that the entire 10% didn’t know who they were voting for is stupid.

    You thought Labour would get back in. You were wrong about that. You now appear to be in some denial that the country chose the right. And now seem to be making numerous posts and talking to a few people you know who clearly are the ignorant voter and making your mind that the country didn’t know what they wanted.

    To that I am sorry to say you are wrong. And its this thinking that you lot need to overcome if you ever want to be back in government. Its the same thinking I’m sure the right had in 1999 when Helen Clark went into office. And what happened there was the right lost and lost badly in 2002.

  30. Chris G 31

    Pete, got bored so just trying to pick a fight? go do something constructive you twit, if you’ve got nothing intelligent to add to the discussion go join the muck fest at whale.

    Back to the TOPIC:

    I agree with IB talking about with the odd cohort of voters who couldnt distinguish between national and the Greens other than the fact that everyone knows the Greens have a compelling purpose to care for the environment.

    Example from experience: Was doing a bit of group study for the been and gone exams, got talking politics and my mate said “So what do you reckon if I gave electorate vote green and party vote national, im thinking thats the way to go” “I think we need a change but I like what the greens try to do”
    I obviously started by saying, if you want greens to have a voice, party vote Green because thats all they are campaigning for and that will give them more of a voice (He was in a Labour lock electorate anyway)

    to conclude without taking too long, this showed how little, sadly often younger voters, know about the political spectrum and anything beyong political spin and rhetoric eg. no sound knowledge of actual policy.

    This was extended further by all those when watching Obama shenanigans who cheered on Obama and then raved about Johnny friendly. Pity the nats think hes ‘too moralistic’ and not keen enough to ‘pull the trigger’, oh and that he wont drop the top tax rate.

  31. Chris G 32

    ginger,

    I think you miss the point. The point I took from IB’s comments – and what I firmly believe – was that people voted on a change premise and didnt actually consider the left/right divide at all. That is 100% confirmed by any nat voters I talked to (Most of the voters I talked to were first or second time voters such as myself) and no I didnt pick on typically ignorant or stupid people, these were all – generally – smart, educated people, yet they all showed no evidence of Why they wanted change.

  32. gingercrush 33

    First or second time voters. And that means what? Are they solid National supporters or are they the swing? Because the swing is fickle and you could argue they just go with the winner. That I can admit.

    And are you saying Labour voters are all smart and know exactly what they’re voting for?

  33. Vinsin 34

    From my talks with the people that actually voted I’ve had a very similar experience to the experiences of Irish Bill. Some said, ‘well I’m just so sick and tired of this Nanny State we’re in,’ and when asked what example they could point to they invariably went quiet and then said, ‘the shower head thing.’ Some said, ‘well National’s better for businesses,’ when i said, ‘how and why is that important to you,’ they said, ‘… well… businesses are good.’ Only one person said to me, ‘the EFA needs to be sorted, it’s silly and Un-New Zealand like,’ to which I asked, ‘how,’ and then I realized this person didn’t actually know what the EFA was, they’d confused it with the RMA. And then the great issue of this election came up, ‘I just didn’t want Helen in anymore.’ So all round the rhetoric and political blurring of issues worked – remarkably well – and now these voters that I have talked to are wishing they could have a mulligan.

  34. gingercrush 35

    Why did you lot continue to give your vote to the left? And its to say because we didn’t want the right back in then you’re just as ignorant as the right whom you seem to be attacking.

  35. Vinsin 36

    Gc, yes the swing is fickle, this is something us lefties (no i don’t include you in that group) have to remedy by 2011.

  36. gingercrush 37

    Well of course that doesn’t include me. I voted National, as I did in 2005 and even in 2002.

    [lprent: Sounds like you’re in a rut.
    BTW: the figures you did for turnout in south auckland missed the special votes. Makes a big difference and there were over 6k special votes in mangere]

  37. burt 38

    A few friends of mine said…. I would have party voted Green if the Green party had not hitched it’s wagon to the self serving & corrupt Labour party.

    I think you Labour supporter types vastly underestimated the desire to remove the self serving Labour party and in particular the self serving Clark & Cullen.

  38. gingercrush 39

    The turnout did miss special votes. But I’m not sure what your point is iprent. Its still clear that many of those voters didn’t turn up on polling day. Thus further damaging Labour. Overall, polling seems to be lower and in Labour strong-hold electorates, turnout is down even more.

    My point still stands. That a number of South Auckland voters didn’t turn up.

  39. Jasper 40

    Yes, and they’ll be sorry they didn’t turn up when their WFF is halved in April 09, only to be replaced by a “tax cut” that will return 1/3rd of that halved contribution of what they previously got under WFF.

    Where did I get it from? Why – the National Party Policy section prior to the election (which are now “invalid links” since Sunday)

    Using those figures, $70K two parents, two kids, $90 p/w under Labours WFF
    In April 09, that goes down to $45 pw
    and a tax cut that returns…. $18 pw.

    Im picking April will be when the backlash REALLY begins.

  40. burt 41

    Jasper

    $70K is rich. Please explain why a rich family need welfare when they only have two children to support ?

  41. Chris G 42

    gc: “That a number of South Auckland voters didn’t turn up”

    Old News, poorer people always have worse turnouts, unfortunately they tend to be more left wing. Labour knows that and constantly try to rock the vote in poorer areas.

    Now for John Banks, thats infact a fantastic trend, as all the rich oldies turned out in force to vote him in as Auckland Mayor with a turnout of… correct me if im wrong.. less than 40%? Thats fantastic.,

  42. gingercrush 43

    Yes well the turnout was particularly low in comparison to 2005 which actually had good turnout for South Auckland.

  43. Felix 44

    burt, they probably don’t need it.

    I’m sick of hearing from people earning that much who think they’re “struggling” if they can’t afford a 3rd car or a second plasma screen or a 4th overseas trip this year.

  44. Billy 45

    You useless righties seem to have nothing more than a hate hangover and defensive whinging

    Criminy! And all you lefties seem to be complaining about how stupid the voters are. Seems like you’ve started your own little “New Zealand Sucks” campaign.

  45. Lampie 46

    “I’m sick of hearing from people earning that much who think they’re “struggling’ if they can’t afford a 3rd car or a second plasma screen or a 4th overseas trip this year.”

    Wahooo, can tell the wife now we can get that second plasma

  46. rave 47

    Well this is really the point itsnt it Gingercrush.

    Key played as a ‘centrist’ or ‘Labour lite’ which denies the reality of class.

    Many Labour voters took him at his word and thought he would win so didnt bother voting.

    Most newer voters wouldnt even know a real class struggle or know where to look.

    But now theyre in for one because Key and co have to pay for their falling profits and speculative losses by driving down wages, siphoning our savings and ripping off the Cullen fund.

    Once this sort of ‘centrism’ bites us, it’ll be interesting to see where the centrifugal spin ends up.

  47. gingercrush 48

    Class warfare? Sheesh we’re living in 2008. Not the days of backwards and irrelevant thinking. Class is not an issue for the right or for the left. Let it go already.

    And keep thinking your pathetic thoughts about what a Key government will do. We on the right will sure be proud as Labour looks forward to a second term in opposition.

  48. rave 49

    gingercrush:

    2008, 1928, 1876, so what?

    Look at China today the elephant to our gnat.
    http://indymedia.org.nz/newswire/display/76356/index.php

    Class struggle on the up, Marx to the max, finance capital relying on the world economy being baled out by China. oops
    http://japanfocus.org/_Nouriel_Roubini-The_Rising_Risk_of_a_Hard_Landing_in_China__The_Two_Engines_of_Global_Growth_____U_S__and_China___are_Stalling___A_Debate_

  49. Chris 50

    any links to the pansy wong story?

  50. Proctor 51

    I’ve had the same experiences as IB. A number of friends and colleagues who told me that they were voting National – and then admitted that they didn’t really want to, didn’t trust Key, and really admired Helen Clark.

    To which the only response was WTF.

    Price of infotainment I guess.

  51. Lampie 52

    class issue should be let go, real no event

  52. mike 53

    “It’s going to be a hard three years for the National/ACT government.”

    I agree, but the second term should be easier as we work our way back up the OECD

  53. Hi Mike,

    With what I wonder will we work our way back up the OECD I wonder, in three years time.
    With the collapse of America’s currency in the next 12 months looming. The US bankrupt and not in a position to rebuild since it’s lost all it’s jobs to China.

    With China collapsing because it’s biggest market is gone and Europe will fall too because they don’t have jobs any more either, other than the service industry.

    Half off all the big container ship companies have gone bankrupt already because nobody is ordering anything.

    The world economy is gone, kaput, because of the machinations of a few Wall street banksters. Irreparable, Unfixable, no longer there.

    We are just going through the motions of some semblance of normalcy but Fonterra has a hole of 300 million in it’s budget. The reserve bank has been offered loans of billions by the Federal Reserve in order to keep this bankrupt system tagging a long just a bit longer so the Banksters can get a couple of more bailouts for their thieving banking mates.

    So with nobody able to buy our expensive milk and beef and with the US house market no longer in existence and nobody needing our wood, what will we sell for that pie in the sky growth?

    Because Mike, JK’s promise of growth is untenable and will remain just that: a pie in the sky promise but it’s my guess you’ll find that out for yourself any day now.

  54. Rave,

    Thanks for those links.

  55. tracey 56

    Daveski

    I agree with you. I also think this comment

    “While it was good to see democracy in action our collective intelligence took an exponential nosedive on Saturday.”

    can be almost directly attributable to two things;

    the method of politiking being about branding, slogans, “hot buttons” etc and less about actual policies.

    the media which seems to repeat verbatim the slogans branding efforts and hot buttons without examining and prsenting and educating its listeners, readers, and watchers on ACTUAL policy

    I wont exucse 20-somethings from responsibility to go online and read policies. It’s what I did and I am twice that age. I found that apart from Nat Rad and the occasional journalist piece (usually deep within a newspaper and nowhere near the front) actually policy was hard to find.

    People cant know what they dont know, and that is surely one of the goals of the media?

    I’m wondering if our political journos are too embroiled/ensconsed in the political culture and in fact have on many occassions slanted their reporting whenever they think an election will get boring (ie one-sided) they have done this to both Nat and Lab Governments in our past. The only other possibility is that they actually take everythig thrown their way at face value. If that is the case the collective intelligence of our media is frightening.

    We need some editors with balls, to pay their people to investiugate not regurgitate. Frabkly these days a democracy is only as good as its press is responsible and journalistic. We seem to have reporters moe than journalists.

  56. Alexandra 57

    The presidential style campaign as well as the media obsession with Peters and and trivia, diverted the real issues away from the public eye. I agree that too many people did not know what ‘change’ means. I think many believe it means a change of leader and little else. Ive had a couple of conversations with family who are confused about the implication of their support for the Maori Party. In no circumstances would they have voted in support of National and yet indirectly they have. Maori voters wont make the same mistake twice.

  57. NeillR 58

    I’m so glad you’ve managed to find so many people who are concerned about National getting into power. It means that Labour’s obviously a shoo in in three years time.
    Of course, if it doesn’t come to pass will you bury your heads in the sand (like is occurring at the moment) and blame it on:
    a) the right wing media conspiracy
    b) the ‘flawed’ MMP system
    c) voters who wanted to vote one way but voted the other in a moment of insanity
    d) limitless amounts of big business/religious right money who ‘stole’ the election from the rightful winners
    e) a policy bereft Labour party who were rejected because they were so out of touch?

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