Once again: National lost the election

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 pm, November 26th, 2017 - 154 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, election 2017, MMP, national, nick smith, nz first - Tags: ,

I can’t believe we’re still relitigating this stuff. Micky provided us a screencap earlier of a letter Nick Smith sent to the Nelson and Tasman areas, claiming that:

Election 2017 resulted in an unusual outcome where National won the election[1] but lost the MMP negotiations. We secured 1,152,075 votes, which is more than we did in 2008, 2011, or 2014[2]. National’s Party Vote of 44.4% was higher than Labour’s 36.9% and significantly more than under Helen Clark’s three governments.

This odd outcome is because NZ First has ignored the convention both in New Zealand and overseas that the party with the most votes gets to form the government. It is Winston Peters saying he knows better than voters.

This outrageous claim has also been reported at Newshub. While we’ve had a chance to quickly discuss the implications in the other thread, I thought I’d do some detailed rebuttal, using actual context, facts, and references- you know, those things that National Party politicians seem to love to hate, probably due to reality’s well-known left-wing bias. Strap in, this post is going to be long.

Government negotiations

Government negotiations are not unique to MMP as Smith may be implying. Australia’s ruling party frequently requires negotiations with centrist independent MPs to form a government. In fact, they can even happen in FPP systems- the UK recently had what is referred to as a “hung Parliament,” where there is a plurality winner but no outright majority winner, and a coalition or confidence and supply arrangement is required to govern, and Theresa May’s Conservatives had to form a government with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party. All our New Zealand MMP governments so far have been “hung” in this respect, but no recent FPP ones were, so the term has never really caught on in New Zealand.

Yes, National lost the negotiations. What they are claiming here is that they have some sort of moral right to force New Zealand First into coalition with them or at least get them to formally prioritize a government with National as the plurality winners, because being plurality winners gives them a right to govern. This is absolutely incorrect, even when you compare constitutional norms in New Zealand with other countries, in every country that’s still a democracy, it is understood that potential coalition partners have a right to say “no.” This isn’t unusual, it’s basic democracy in action. As for the claim National should get some sort of formal priority to form a government due to being the biggest party, we’ve already discussed that particular modest proposal.

What being a plurality winner gives you is a significant negotiating advantage, especially when your nearest competitor would need to add additional support partners to their arrangement to form a government and you only need one. National had that advantage with New Zealand First, but was unable to offer a convincing policy package that addressed their aims for New Zealand. This is not the fault of MMP, it is the fault of an uncompromising National Party that still hasn’t really adapted to the idea of a Parliament with more than two strong parties: it still wants to be able to throw its weight around against parties smaller than itself.

I will accept, of course, that we are in an unprecedented new situation with our current coalition government: For the first time, we have a government that has to function based on consensus between three parties, with the core governing party not an ascendant winner of the largest vote in the election, but still having successfully won an election by campaigning for clear change. Previously, governments have always been able to arrange multiple ways to get bills passed, making the governing party far more powerful than its support parties. In our current parliament, the only way for that to happen outside of all government parties agreeing is for National and Labour to agree, something that’s relatively infrequent, (although sadly likely in certain cases, like passing legislation for the new version of the TPP, the CPATPP) and outright co-operation between the two on routine matters is generally reserved for wartime.

Is it a norm that a Plurality Winner forms the government?

Let’s say it’s a trend due to their stronger position, but not an actual norm. This trend is strongest in anglophone countries, where we have a tradition of representation that isn’t quite proportional, a tradition MMP was supposed to end. Since the introduction of MMP in New Zealand, we have had three governments formed based, during at least one of their terms, on support from parties in the centre of the political spectrum, who could arguably have gone either way. On two of those occasions, the governing party was the Plurality winner. On two of those occasions, the governing Party was Labour. There is also the 1999 election, where National won the plurality, but Labour and the Alliance governed with support from the Greens.

If we want to look back before the implementation of MMP, however, there were coalition governments in New Zealand, in fact, that’s how the National Party came about, as an eventual merger of the Liberal and Reform parties that had twice coalesced to keep the plurality winner, Labour, out of power.

So let’s accept that we need to look outside of New Zealand to determine norms clearly, because we simply don’t have enough data, and let’s restrict our comparison to other proportional systems, and besides, if we look just in New Zealand, Smith is clearly wrong that this is some sort of constitutional convention- both law and tradition state that a coalition winner can oust a plurality winner.

In Germany, the country who our system is modelled after, it is constitutional convention that the Chancellor is only decided after a majority government is picked, (thanks to the commenter who corrected me about that, it’s hard to find accurate info on exactly how governments are formed sometimes) which is similar to our system where the Governor General appoints the PM based on an assurance of a majority in Parliament. There are four previous examples out of 18 Bundestags3 where the chancellor has not been from the party that was the Plurality winner, hardly an “unusual outcome”. Germany has also mostly avoided this in recent times due to the two major parties converging on the centre of German politics, and frequently forming Grand Coalitions which frustrate both far-right and far-left voters, arguably leading to the recent rise of the neo-nazi Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD, or “alternative for Germany”) party above their 5% threshold. This is an example National probably doesn’t want to follow, as it benefits them tremendously to be seen as distinct from Labour, even though there is arguably siginificant overlap between Labour, New Zealand First, and National.

In Iceland, as I discussed in that previous post, it is a frequent occurrence that the plurality winner is excluded from government, even though they get the first try at forming a government, as the largest parties are often three or more medium-sized parties (by New Zealand norms) around the 20% mark in their elections, giving those who are willing to consider multiple coalition options a fair degree of power in the talks. In Sweden we only have to go back to 2010 to find an election where the plurality winner lost, and this one will interest National supporters, as it was a left-wing party that was seen as having a historical loss when it was forced out of power by a right-wing coalition. This also happened recently in Israel’s 2009 election. I’m sure I could keep going here, but I don’t suspect I need to- while it’s not the most frequent outcome internationally, it’s well-precedented that a coalition winner can oust a plurality winner in a variety of list-based proportional systems similar to MMP.

Undermining our system of government

What this really seems to be about is an attack by the National Party on the very idea of MMP itself. When New Zealanders campaigned to change our system of government, National was in charge, and they tried to stack the odds against change by including what they thought would be the most unpopular options they could for genuine change, including increasing the number of MPs if New Zealanders voted for MMP, but they did anyway. In 2011, they misconstrued promises of a “review” on how MMP was functioning to mean we needed a referendum on whether the public wanted to keep it, when it was clear pre-referendum that MMP had broad support in New Zealand society, and nobody wanted their alternative options. They also refused to implement the recommendations of a committee on changes to MMP that they themselves formed, after it recommended both a slightly lower 4% threshold4, and that they eliminate the lifeboat rule which they were hoping might resurrect some of their coalition partners in the future. Now in 2017, all their significant potential governing partners are either out of Parliament or have sided with Labour, and they’re worried about where their next path to government will come from, so instead of campaigning for public support, or considering splitting off a new party to go into coalition with, National is instead trying to undermine the legitimacy of the new government by attacking how it was formed, using what can at best be characterized as misinformation.

This is scorched-earth tactics from National, and is Trumpian behaviour at best, if not simply outright anti-democratic. (I would argue that they’re the same thing, personally) National needs to sit back, reconnect with voters, and try to come up with a way to be popular enough that it can get back into government with just ACT, or compromise enough so it can get New Zealand First or the Greens to pick it ahead of Labour, or even seriously consider splitting.

And seriously, why not split? National used to be two parties, and it currently has a right-wing socially liberal wing that does well in Auckland and with urban business, and a right-wing conservative wing that does well in the regions and relates well with the farming community. Why not let Judith Collins lead one party, and Bill English or a sucessor, lead the other? A lot of National’s worse results in the past have been due to losing conservatives to parties like the Conservatives, United Future, or various Christian Parties, or losing libertarians to ACT. Splitting into two would allow both parties to more aggressively pursue their ideological constituencies, driving up voter turnout, while still going into coalition with each other, if the numbers allow. It would also mean that conservatives don’t have to rely on conscience votes to oppose socially liberal legislation. Overall, it might be an electoral win for the right-wing in the short term, but it would likely be a bigger win for democracy and democratic engagement in the long term. It would also likely mean that they could win back a fair amount of conservative support from New Zealand First, who currently represent the conservative centrist vote.

I’m not optimistic that National will ever truly embrace MMP, or seriously consider splitting, but their approach to opposition right now is just going to annoy voters who support the current system, and it’s highly unlikely it will ever sufficiently energize their base to help them in an election. In the most charitable interpretation, it could be viewed as sour grapes.


Footnotes

1 This claim is based on National being the “plurality winner,” ie. receiving the largest number of party votes. This is distinct from having a majority, (over 50% of seats in Parliament) a mandate, (over 50% of party votes in total for a government, where the parties concerned campaigned strongly on certain common issues that can be said to be broadly supported by the public) or any sort of moral authority to govern. By any measure, being a plurality winner is not a claim to having “won the election,” you would need to have either an outright majority, which has never occured under MMP, or a mandate to govern by coalition, like the government has.

2 This claim is misleading. While National received a higher number of Party Votes, they also received a lower proportion of the total party vote than in any of the cited elections. This can be easily verified on the Elections site. This is the same trick National used all the time in government when claiming “record spending” in particular areas of the budget: yes, the raw numbers have gone up. That’s because the population has grown. The relative percentage figures are also highly relevant.

3 Because I know National MPs have been having difficulty adding up their figures lately, this is 22.22.%, or roughly one out of every five terms of government has included a Chancellor who was not from the party that won the plurality of Party Votes. My previous wording is careful here because during one of those terms of government, the coalition partner switched allegiances, instating a Chancellor from the party that won the plurality. Germany’s system is a little weird in this regard in that it’s parliamentary like ours, but it doesn’t allow a vote of no confidence in a Chancellor without proposing a new one, so snap elections can’t happen. It is of course, very stable and efficient, like their system for their Bundesrat, the other legislative chamber, where the seats are simply delegations sent from each State government.

4Note that I’m not supporting either that the threshold remain this high or that the lifeboat rule be repealed- I am simply pointing out that National has repeatedly tried to game our electoral system to be more favourable towards them, and continued to reject changes if they don’t go the way they like.

Correction: Andre correctly points out in this comment that in ’99 Labour did win a plurality of the party vote, my comment that National had a higher result under Shipley was in fact due to a rushed and mistaken reading of the results.

154 comments on “Once again: National lost the election”

  1. Cinny 1

    Really informative post Matthew, excellent information, much appreciated, thank you.

    nick smith is delusional and extremely bitter over the election results and it shows. Will be interesting to see how he responds to the newshub article, his ego is massive and it will be his downfall.

    Love our MMP system, we are very lucky to have such a system in NZ.

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.1

      Smith isn’t the only one, it’s clearly an agreed line by the entire front bench of the opposition, and it’s wearing incredibly thin. New Zealanders, including about some 10% or so of the people who voted National, clearly like their new government, and trying to undermine its legitimacy is only going to hurt National’s polling even further with reasonable kiwis. (although I suppose their base might like it?)

      And yes, I broadly support MMP, although I’m not saying it couldn’t be further improved- I think I’ve said elsewhere that our threshold should probably be lowered to about 1-2%, and I’ve got some further proposals written down that I’ve been meaning to send off to the Green Party to consider for next election, such as a multi-winner electorate system using STV while still retaining the Party Vote to determine list seats.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 1.1.1

        After some fluster, National now seem to be running this line in a consistent and tidy fashion – I’d say their PR company and focus groups have done their work.

        Only interested in “winning”, don’t care less about the good of NZ.

        • Matthew Whitehead 1.1.1.1

          Yeah, I expect this is the same sort of strategy they ran with Helen Clark where they said “give us any weakness, no matter how small, and we’ll repeat it over and over again and hope it sticks.”

          We should make them look stupid and then laugh them out of the room each time they try this nonsense, but if you see below, I’m not 100% sure this isn’t an orchestrated long-term strategy to get at MMP, and it’s just they’ve now run out of subtle ways to strike at it and are worried they have no way back into power for a long time- sorta like where Labour was after Clark resigned.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1

            For every four Kiwis who voted Labour, five Kiwis voted National.

            That’s the underlying fact that Nick Smith is highlighting, and helping to pour more focus on to this is only going to help them.

            • Matthew Whitehead 1.1.1.1.1.1

              No it’s not, your misframing of this as “it’s about Labour vs National” instead of “it’s about how many kiwis voted for the government” is in fact the problem.

              This government received more of the party vote than the previous one in 2014, which didn’t even get 50% of the party vote.

              I will note that the Policy page does require that we get used to the fact that New Zealand is now an MMP country, so I would be very careful about this sort of framing in the future on my threads. 🙂

            • RedLogix 1.1.1.1.1.2

              CV that’s just plain silly; as you well know Labour isn’t by itself the government. There are of course two other parties involved that quite a few kiwis voted for. Even on your own terms that’s a fail.

              What New Zealanders haven’t quite gotten their collective heads around is that in any MMP system, voting is only part one of the game. Part two happens when the parties look at the numbers the election handed them and then negotiate to for a govt. It’s a two step process.

              Most of our MMP elections, save two, have yielded fairly simple numbers from the election … such that the second stage of negotiating the govt was a mere formality. We became complacent about it; this last election demonstrated otherwise.

              • Chris

                I think what you’ve described are the reasons for CV saying that National shouldn’t be helped by pouring more focus on the point that Smith and other nats keep bleating on about.

                • Matthew Whitehead

                  Eh, if New Zealanders don’t want government decided by parties that won’t commit to what sort of governments they’d form before the election, they should stop voting for parties like New Zealand First. *shrug*

                  If you didn’t vote for them and don’t like it, you’ve already done your part to preventing coalition negotiations being a thing.

                  The thing is, New Zealand First actually did a good job handling them this time, and National was happy with them, right up to the moment they found out they lost, lol.

                  • RedLogix

                    And that’s possibly a fair point Matt. How many people voted for NZ1 in the unrealistic expectation they’d go into coalition with National? Impossible to know.

                    On the other hand Winston made it crystal clear he was not going to commit until after election, so anyone who voted for NZ1 can scarcely complain. It’s a legitimate position to take and it’s worked for them.

                  • Chris

                    Sure, that may be right, but what’s it got to do with the issue of what CV actually said?

    • cleangreen 1.2

      Count me in on this too Cinny,

      Matthew I am so over national now, they are nothing but a bloody joke now, since they had a notion “they were born to rule” then it was taken away and reality set in so they just restort to the old tried and failed repetitive method;

      say it again, and again, and again, and again, and again,;….You gert the point eh?

      “if you repeat it enough times it will become the truth”

      National = hollow politicians.

      We should ignore them as they did to us for nine years, then they will desist?

      • Matthew Whitehead 1.2.1

        I think we should at least wave olive branches at them- that is, we should offer to develop policy that they would support if they’re returned to government in a future election, (because getting things in place that we like that they won’t repeal later is a good idea) or to give them reasonable concessions where they point out legitimate areas to improve legislation from the Government parties’ perspective. (for instance, we should revisit and support their proposal for more flexible parental leave at a later date) But if they are just being obstructionists for the sake of it, we shouldn’t make any special effort to accommodate them, and we should tighten up the rules to prevent unreasonable procedural tricks.

        A good example of an area the government could take the high road on is by restoring proactive release of Ministerial diaries. It would reduce the unprecedentedly high use of written questions, restore open access to government information as per Labour’s agreement with the Greens, and provide valuable information the press can use to pre-emptively verify stories without having to go to the government for comment. The only way it ever ends up being a loss is if the government does something embarrassing, in which case, well, it deserves to be embarrassed.

        • Colonial Viper 1.2.1.1

          I think we should at least wave olive branches at them

          Why? How is increasing the prominence and role of National in the governing process going to help LAB/GR win a second term?

          • Matthew Whitehead 1.2.1.1.1

            Because not everything has to be a knock-down drag-out fight. Sometimes inviting your opponent to take a low blow in front of the ref is a valid strategy.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.2

          because getting things in place that we like that they won’t repeal later is a good idea

          Not really. They may not repeal it but chances are that they will adjust it and make it worse.

          And we’ll be the ones compromising our values in the first place because they won’t shift. This seems to be how the centre has shifted to the right over the last few years and decades. The Left compromises and then the right go even further rightwards when in power. When the Left get back in power they compromise to the right again to get policy that the right will support.

          Seems to be a vicious cycle that will end up destroying our society.

          • Matthew Whitehead 1.2.1.2.1

            Except in this case their values perfectly align with what we want to do.

            I am familiar with the arguments for opposing centrism, but, speaking cautiously, this is an area where we might actually reach a reasonable consensus with National. (If we don’t, then by all means we should bull ahead full-steam)

      • Cinny 1.2.2

        That’s exactly it CG, repeat it enough… just like joyce with the ‘hole’, nats are such an ego driven party, reflected in their refusal to admit they lost.

        Matthew I def agree with your comments, MMP does need a bit of fine tuning and the olive branch sentiments, well said

  2. Terry Bond 2

    I think the Nats are starting to suffer from “Jacinda Derangement Syndrome”.

    • Matthew Whitehead 2.1

      I think it’s more fundamental than that, they’ve been suffering MMP derangement syndrome since Clark, and the Key government just gave them a brief reprieve. It’s back in full force now that they’ve lost, even though last time they lost their first election after being in government, it was to a three-way arrangement and Labour wasn’t the biggest party. Hmmm. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        they’ve been suffering MMP derangement syndrome since Clark

        Not just National, Labour has been systematically undermining and getting rid of parties on the left, reducing the number of potential MMP partners. Labour activists celebrated when Mana went down the gurgler and Labour consolidated those votes. Labour activists celebrated when Greens repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, and Labour consolidated those votes.

        Both major parties have worked hard to remake NZ as once again a 2 party state and this recent election shows strong progress in this direction.

        • Matthew Whitehead 2.1.1.1

          I wouldn’t disagree with you on Labour and Māori political parties, for sure. If you’re thinking of the Alliance, my understanding is that their demise wasn’t really much to do with Labour.

          There are minority views that Labour should try to eat the support of every party it can, but they don’t seem to be hugely influential on electoral strategy, at least for the moment.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1

            If you’re thinking of the Alliance, my understanding is that their demise wasn’t really much to do with Labour.

            No, their demise was Jim Anderton and a few other leaders being shown to be corrupt.

            • Brigid 2.1.1.1.1.1

              “their demise was Jim Anderton and a few other leaders being shown to be corrupt.”
              Yes , and I suspect with Helen Clarke conducting from behind the curtain.

  3. Graeme Brown 3

    The local National member for Otaki, known for his powerful intellect, has been peddling the same argument in the local Kapiti Observer weekly.

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.1

      Thank you Graeme. Please feel free to borrow any of my examples or arguments in rebutting this malicious nonsense- when I blog on my personal site I license things for anyone to reproduce, even in full, so long as they provide credit, or to repurpose for their own use. Anyone wanting to use my posts on TS can consider them available under the same license. (CC-BY, for those familiar with Creative Commons)

  4. Incognito 4

    That letter by Nick Smith highlights and reiterates a deep-seated problem with National, which is that, in their view, the plurality winner should be in Government.

    National has cannibalised pretty much all competition on the Right and they are indeed the single-largest party in NZ. It goes against the neoliberal rulebook and dogma that when you have wiped out all competition (on the Right) and are the largest/strongest you are not declared the winner.

    I believe that National really believes that they have been denied what’s rightfully theirs, according to their ‘ideology’ that is.

    All this gives us a very insightful look into the mind-set of neoliberal politicians and why they are fundamentally unfit to govern on behalf of all of us in New Zealand since their motto is the opposite of this one: for the many, not the few.

    • Brian Tregaskin 4.1

      Also there are more young people voting now–neoliberal is dying
      There is more of us then them 🙂

  5. Macro 5

    I’m happy for National to continue to whinge.
    Whiners don’t win friends, and they are in the position they are simply because no one – apart from their puppet party (the 0.1%ers) ACT – wants to be friends with them. So as long as they continue to act in bad faith and whinge, they will remain in opposition, and they can remain there forever as far as I’m concerned. Good Riddance.

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.1

      I’m happy for them to whinge, sure, but not if doing so is attacking the legitimacy of the election result or the government formation. They need to be soundly rebutted and mocked each and every time they do so, because if they’re not made to hurt for doing it, they’ll start pulling out Trump’s bag of tricks every time an election doesn’t go their way, and nobody wants that.

      • Macro 5.1.1

        they’ll start pulling out Trump’s bag of tricks every time an election doesn’t go their way,

        You’re not suggesting they would invite the Russians* to meddle are you Matthew? 😉
        And just look at how Trumps bag of tricks is doing now in the States one year on! The Repugnant Party is in disarray. The Democrats could almost field a Donkey as candidate and it would win.

        But the fact is, so long as they continue to deny the reality that their policies do not find favour with the majority, they will consign themselves to the opposition benches, and as the majority of their policies are toxic anyway – I’m very happy for that status to continue. They were only ever able to hold the treasury benches through the support of Peter Dunne (who could never make his mind up about important issues anyway so just went with the status quo) and the Maori Party (who just wanted to be at the table). When this support melted away (and it is never likely to come back) they can never form a government again, because there just isn’t the support. One party is highly unlikely to ever form government under MMP on its own – but that seems to be National’s thinking.

        *Actually I think Putin’s quite happy to meddle all by himself… (or else he has no power over his minions)

        • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.1.1

          No, I’m not suggesting collusion, merely attacking democracy and the media, which in my books is actually far worse, and essentially the only thing that can be reasonably regarded as treachery in a democratic society.

          If you don’t like how the results of an election are determined in a democracy, you don’t attack the legitimacy of the result: you propose to change the law. The Nats know nobody wants to change the law, so they’re just attacking democracy instead.

          I’m incredibly happy the Nats are on the opposition benches, and would love for them to permanently or semi-permanently consign themselves there. While UF has finally disbanded, (hooray!) I wouldn’t count the Māori Party out permanently until 2020. I am presuming after failing to return to Parliament this time, however, that the Mana Party is effectively dead and buried as a political entity. I agree that the Nats are unlikely to form an MMP government alone- in fact, the system is decidedly unfriendly to that concept, and party votes for smaller parties tend to be slightly more effective in getting seats under MMP due to the nature of the remainder system we use to assign list seats, so our system explicitly rewards coalition-building, even though we’ve been delivering massive party vote totals to both Labour and National that discourage that behaviour.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1.1

            I wouldn’t count the Māori Party out permanently until 2020. I am presuming after failing to return to Parliament this time, however, that the Mana Party is effectively dead and buried as a political entity.

            Mana, Māori and the IP are now dead. They may continue as an organisation like the Alliance but they’re never going to be in parliament.

            • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.1.1.1.1

              I suspect you’re right by the way the Māori Party is acting in public, but my rule since New Zealand First’s brief foray below the threshold is that no political party is dead until it’s dead for two elections. 🙂

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.2

          The Democrats could almost field a Donkey as candidate and it would win.

          Don’t be so sure. Hillary Clinton would probably still lose the election if held today.

          In fact, a full year into Trump’s election win, and the Democratic Party is polling at a 25 year low.

          http://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/07/politics/cnn-poll-republicans-democrats-taxes/index.html

          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-18/finally-a-poll-trump-will-like-clinton-even-more-unpopular

    • Ed 5.2

      The only problem is the fact the media supports National.
      And a lot of people still believe what they read and see on the news.

      We need to create a democratic media.

      • Macro 5.2.1

        Ed – the media supported National the last election – and look how well it went for them.
        Yes I know the “talkback” and the Herald are full of hatred and fear and loathing of anything progressive, but even so those blowhards aren’t everyone. They represent a vocal minority but whingers don’t make friends easily. People look for positive rather than negative – unless they just want to feel miserable. So let them whine – they will turn more people off in the end and those who are turned off will then see the good that is being done.
        Actions as they say speak louder than words.

        • Ed 5.2.1.1

          I wish I was as confident about my fellow NZers as you.
          I feel many are easily manipulated by the media – through fear, envy and other tricks they use to get people to act against their own interests.
          Sadly, a significant percentage of our population is either apathetic or ignorant about politics, a situation fostered by the corporate media. This makes them vulnerable to the lies pushed by the National Party and amplified by the media.
          Look at how many people listen to Hosking….

          • Matthew Whitehead 5.2.1.1.1

            To back Ed up…

            I may have told a couple stories about my Dad, lifelong Labour Party voter, former Secretary to the Treasury, and implementer of hippy Green Party-endorsed economics ideas like a Gross National Happiness index at that bastion of right-wing thought, the Treasury before. I think it’s time for another one.

            Well, guess where he gets his news? If you guessed from TVNZ, you’d be correct. Guess what happened during the hobbit law fiasco? I carpooled with him at the time, and I think I mentioned it in passing, and he was parroting anti-union lines straight from the TV news and was worried we would lose the movies from NZ if we didn’t crush unions.

            If they can turn around a solid Labour voter like my father on a core issue like industrial relations, as used as he is to spin having been a civil servant in various capacities for a huge chunk of his life, then they can probably make a lot of headway with people who are not critical consumers of news, as my Dad will often take news with a grain of salt in both directions.

            (In fact, my habit of trying to be scrupulously fair in posts is developed from him schooling me on how government sometimes actually does have good reasons for what it does, even when it’s a National government)

            • Ed 5.2.1.1.1.1

              I have several friends who, if you don’t talk politics, come across as lovely, kind, caring people.
              Then politics comes to the fore and one hears the regurgitions of Hosking views – which of course are not kind, caring philosophies.
              It seeps in.

              This is perhaps the most famous example.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brainwashing_of_My_Dad

              • Colonial Viper

                I have several friends who, if you don’t talk politics, come across as lovely, kind, caring people.

                Have these same people contributed positively to their family, extended family, friends and community?

                Have you ever considered that their politics is just as valid as yours – and has just been as important in creating the NZ we have now, as your (neoliberal introducing, TPP signing) brand of politics?

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  What’s your point? That political positions based on lies are equally invalid?

                  Or that “he did it too” makes it ok?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    That people can be “lovely, kind, caring” even if they don’t hold the same political perspectives as you.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Funny. Their kids are so cute.

                      Deputy Clinton Pell after seeing an African American baby.

                    • Yep hit1er had a set of kitten youtubes to rival Stalin’s – Churchill was always jealous of that and their fake friend numbers.

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      Have you considered that the point is actually that their approach to politics is what’s at fault in the lack of care experienced by people on the other side of a political divide from them, rather than someone else’s narrow-mindedness? A little fairness, charity, and kindness from both sides is necessary, at least in the initial approach.

                      If people are kind in other areas of their life, they are capable of carrying that over to politics in general, and managing the anger of how their political opponents are proposing to undermine their lives.

                    • RedLogix

                      I read CV’s point as ‘people are complex and all of us fallible, none of us should be overly judgemental’.

                      Recently I was reading up some very interesting research correlating the Big Five Personality traits and voting patterns in the USA.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits

                      Turns out scoring highly on “Openness to experience” is strongly predictive of voting Democrat. And given how inheritable these traits are, it would seem voting is a much more instinctual act that we would like to think.

                      Linky for the UK results:

                      http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/populist-personalities-the-big-five-personality-traits-and-party-choice-in-the-2015-uk-general-election/

                    • Colonial Viper

                      If people are kind in other areas of their life, they are capable of carrying that over to politics in general

                      Governing a country isn’t about kindness. Not if you want the country to last longer than three generations.

                      These kinds of people get that. Governing a country is about creating a robust, creative, productive nation which is able to look ahead and respects individual ability and character.

                      Lefties are sometimes spot on – there are parts of society which are too harsh and unfair on people who don’t deserve it. Righties are also sometimes spot on – as a nation and as a society we can’t afford to be a soft touch and get comfortably flabby on the couch.

                      That’s one characteristic of a liberal democracy – all personality types and perspectives get to play a role.

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      Who said anything about governing? I was talking about us ordinary people discussing politics, CV, as was Ed.

                      Personality types can play a role, but they have to be able to work with each other, which some do better than others. It’s not unreasonable to point out that sometimes people’s tone shifts to an unacceptable one when political discussion is involved. I once had a kindly looking man suddenly start yelling at me at the top of his lungs about taxation being theft when I did nothing more than mention the Green Party. That’s not an acceptable thing to do no matter your personality type or political affiliation if you want people to treat your politics as valid.

                      Like it or not, people’s social skills end up having bearing on how persuasive their arguments are.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      unreasonable to point out that sometimes people’s tone shifts to an unacceptable one when political discussion is involved.

                      Classic conservatives tend to value politeness, manners and etiquette. Of course, there are angry, volatile people from all sides of the political spectrum.

                      Who said anything about governing? I was talking about us ordinary people discussing politics, CV, as was Ed.

                      Like it or not, people’s social skills end up having bearing on how persuasive their arguments are.

                      So the main problem you have with these people is not that they regurgitate Hosking talking points (Ed’s comment) nor with their politics in general, but with their rudeness and deficient social skills?

                      Really?

                      Trying to frame the other side as being generally uncaring and nasty is a tired political trope. No one believes it apart from tribalists and partisans.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      generally uncaring and nasty

                      The alternative explanation is that they are stupid and gullible (like me), and at least that one’s backed up by Neuroscience.

                      It’s considered nasty to say so though.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      “Stupid and gullible” – sorta like pretending that the new government could have renegotiated sufficient substance in the TPP in the couple of days they had over there to turn it into a good deal for NZ?

                      Yes, the left wing is more intellectual and conceptual than the right on general personality type, but in of itself that’s far from being any more influential or successful in a real world sense.

                      and at least that one’s backed up by Neuroscience.

                      Doubt it.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      doubt it

                      Cf: The Brain Adapts To Dishonesty, Garrett et al 2016 in Nature Neuroscience for a plausible mechanism to explain why propaganda works.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      neuroscience is a great field, but psychology is the discipline which understands why propaganda works and why precisely accurate facts are not particularly important 99.9% of the time.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Although they are complimentary disciplines, I’ll pay more attention to the assertions of psychologists when their results are more reliably replicable.

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      Good grief CV. I am done engaging with you on this particular discussion, because quite frankly you willfully misinterpret every single thing I say, and it’s like talking to a brick wall.

                • Brigid

                  But Ed is referring to his friends regurgitation of hoskings blather, not their politics.
                  This is the problem.
                  People regurgitate garbage without inspection or investigation of said garbage.

              • Interesting ed. Would those same friends pretend to not know you to maintain their privilege I wonder.

            • Macro 5.2.1.1.1.2

              Yes Matthew – that maybe the case for some….
              But for others..
              Social media ‘outstrips TV’ as news source for young people
              I gather that I am of your dad’s generation.. And I don’t have TV – I gain my news from RNZ and the internet. My phone keeps me posted on breaking news.

          • Brian Tregaskin 5.2.1.1.2

            + 1 –many are easily manipulated by the media but with one caveat.
            The over 30’s are easily manipulated —-under 30’s are way more wised up having grown up on social media

            • Matthew Whitehead 5.2.1.1.2.1

              I’m technically in that former category now. =/ Still a millenial though, which I think is mostly what makes the difference. We actually like to READ our news. 🙂

      • Matthew Whitehead 5.2.2

        Yeah, it’s a huge problem with corporate media, eh? I’m not sure exactly how you’d solve it, other than having public media, like RNZ, to counter that message.

        (IMO, we should probably sell off TVNZ at this stage, because they perform no worthwhile public service to speak of, but include a lease-back provision for their studios so RNZ can make video content)

        • Ed 5.2.2.1

          I would renationalise the airwaves ( part of the commons) so they are democratic not owned by the 0.1%.
          Grassroots radio stations would take the place of large corporations running the airwaves.

          • Matthew Whitehead 5.2.2.1.1

            Can you imagine how much the Nats would start interfering with government-run media? They already tried to starve out RNZ. I’m not sure that would be a solution so much as a declaration of war, and in that sort of circumstance you should generally be pretty sure you know how to bring them to checkmate before you make the first move.

            • Ed 5.2.2.1.1.1

              Grassroots media, locally based.

              • Matthew Whitehead

                That would be great if you could come up with a sustainable funding model that wasn’t vulnerable to central government interference, although I think we might also miss centrally-produced, professional quality radio and TV in that case.

                Compare RNZ to local commercial radio- I expect you wouldn’t get much better quality than that on grassroots local media tbqh.

  6. McFlock 6

    When National “won” they invited all their friends to their victory celebration. Nobody else turned up.

  7. UncookedSelachimorpha 7

    Labour+Green+NZ1 > NAct

    Therefore, NAct LOST

    Simple.

  8. weka 8

    “What this really seems to be about is an attack by the National Party on the very idea of MMP itself.”

    That’s actually quite serious. Because assuming they have a game plan here (as opposed to just being thick and/or arseholes), the only way that will work is if sufficient NZers support it. Nasty and divisive in order to gain power. National are so far down this path now.

    • Matthew Whitehead 8.1

      I’m beginning to think this is actually a long-term game-plan playing out, right now. They’ve been trying to engineer consent to remove or gut MMP through all sorts of methods because it makes it very difficult for National to compete while still doing the sorts of unpopular ripoffs they like to.

      More subtle methods, like the 2011 referendum, or trying to kill off support for the Greens and New Zealand First, haven’t been working to roll back MMP’s gains for Parties That Aren’t National, so they’re trying to rile up the base to support them removing it on a partisan basis next time they’re in government. I don’t think it will work, but the issue is that it only has to be done once, and from then on Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First will all suffer until MMP is put back. And if National make any progress on this issue, then there is a real chance they will simply push this through on a partisan basis when next they think they’re sufficiently popular to pull it off without killing themselves in the next election.

      I think we have to treat each attempt to roll back to a less democratic system than MMP, or to “reform” it in a way that kills off smaller parties, as another potential existential threat to MMP and thus to truly representative government in New Zealand. And I think I’ve been consistent in proposing things I know would hurt the left electorally if they’re the right thing to do in our democracy (hell, that splitting advice to the Nats is one of them! If they were smart they’d pretend to have a spat and split ASAP, purely because they’ll poll better once they establish themselves as two “seperate” parties, whether it’s a reality or a polite fiction.

      • Psycho Milt 8.1.1

        …they’re trying to rile up the base to support them removing it on a partisan basis next time they’re in government.

        That looks like the game plan to me, too. National now are effectively in opposition to NZ’s political system as well as to its government, and we should keep that in mind when reading National’s propaganda like the above from Nick Smith.

        • Matthew Whitehead 8.1.1.1

          It would be one thing if they were just honest about it and said “yeah, we want to replace MMP, we don’t like it, here’s how much support we need to do it, (which might be a referendum, or a large party vote, or something else) and once we get that level of support in government, here’s our plan to change things.”

          That’s how you do reform democratically. But they tried that already, kinda, in a classic National way, by misconstruing the promised MMP review into a referendum on keeping MMP. But they lost, and they’re still trying after being told the public don’t want their dumb ideas like Supplementary Member, or STV without any proportional list seats attached to it. Arguably the only difference between this government and the 1999 one is that New Zealand First has replaced the Alliance in the the new governing arrangement, and the Greens have a formal deal including ministries instead of sitting on the cross benches. What’s changed? National’s mates are gone, because they ate everyone but ACT in a desperate attempt to hold on for a fourth term, and NZF is centrist, so trying to boss them around doesn’t fail the sniff test quite as quickly.

          I’m still optimistic they’ve misjudged this one and that it will backfire on them because they’ve opened fire way too early, and are looking like a bunch of sour losers instead of a strong opposition.

          • weka 8.1.1.1.1

            There’s also what could happen if what National are doing gets mixed up with this shit,

            That may be part of the riling up the support base. I have no doubt whatsoever that National are now a party would be quite happy to go down the Trumpian path if they think it will help them gain power.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.2

            It would be one thing if they were just honest about it and said…

            Well, John Banks (ex-National MP) did say that if he wore his policies on his sleeve he would never be elected.

            I think it’s safe to say that the same applies to National.

            Being honest would ensure that they’d never get elected and so they lie, spin and deceive.

  9. Paul Campbell 9

    I think we need to explain it to them in words they can understand:

    It’s like rugby, MMP elections in NZ are a game of two halves, if you win the first half but come to the end of the second half with fewer points than the other team, you have lost the game.

    Complaining that because you won the first half the whole game should have been awarded to you is just plain sour grapes, but saying that the rules of the game require it is telling porkies too

    • Matthew Whitehead 9.1

      Honestly, if parties actually need explaining that they can’t dictate how other parties vote in Parliament… (which is the implication of trying to control who they support into Govt) I don’t know if they honestly belong in Parliament anymore.

      • National doesn’t need it explained to them. They know how it works. they’re hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of the “Punters out in Punterland”*.

        * Don Brash as reported in The Hollow Men by Nicky Hager. Hopefully I didn’t misremember it.

        • Matthew Whitehead 9.1.1.1

          Yeah, that was in fact my point, lol.

        • Paul Campbell 9.1.1.2

          I was trying to come up with an easy explanation for the people whose eyes it is thy are trying to pull the wool over

        • Macro 9.1.1.3

          I think it was Bill actually and if IRC it was a secret tape recording of a conversation at a party function when when Bill referred to the “Punters”..
          Yep here it is:

          It’s a facsinating read. Keizer says he just walked in, went up to people and started talking. He gave his real name and said he was interested in joining the Young Nats. And they talked back. Kees says he was ‘appalled’ by how readily the Nats talked about their secret plans when among what they assumed were friends. He says that all it took for English to start spouting off about Obama and the EU was for him to mention his interest in European politics. And we can hear on the first tape that English is basically just talking freely when he unfolds National’s view of the ‘punters’, ‘Labour plus voters’, his view of Key, and National’s plans for Working for Families and Kiwibank.

          And all here on The Standard!

          Shock revelation: Taper is Wellington Leftie

          • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.3.1

            Cautionary tale, Linda Clark; Party-going, Raymond Miller
            Posted on March 1, 2007

            The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception

            Maybe because I was an insider for so long, I am not overwhelmed by “the scale of dishonesty” the book details. But nor do I have any qualms about the publication of the leaked mail. Almost any leaked document given to any journalist has been stolen in one sense or another. That these were leaked emails makes no difference. Public interest dictates where publication is justified, and the public interest threshold is most certainly met in this case, not because of any super scandal, as Hager claims, but because the emails do inform the voting public about common political practices.

            “Punters out in punterland” (as Brash refers to voters in one email) rightly give scant regard to the minutiae of political processes and so have little appreciation of how well rehearsed and committee-driven most political statements are. This is politics as usual, and it’s better that voters are told.

            It’s the general view that National holds of voters anyway.

            • Macro 9.1.1.3.1.1

              “It’s the general view that National holds of voters anyway.”
              Yep! Sadly true.
              Arrogant bunch.

  10. Peter 10

    The Australian Labour Party gained the most votes in their last election. Will Nick Smith be advocating that they become the ruling party in the Australian government?

    • Matthew Whitehead 10.1

      You know, that example was so obvious, it entirely slipped my mind to include into the post, even though I used that same point on social media. LOL.

    • RedLogix 10.2

      I held back from making the same obvious comparison myself. Nor to my recollection has there been much puerile whining from the Aussie media about a ‘coalition of losers’. Kiwis like to think how much smarter they are, but the Ockers do seem to have a better grasp on adding up numbers and determining who can form a govt or not.

      Smith is no fool. He’s actually a smart guy; a blatant doofus lie such as this must be serving some purpose. He KNOWS National didn’t win the election; the fact of this cannot possible escape him on a daily basis.

      What’s he’s doing is channeling the same post-modern ‘there is no such thing as truth, therefore any shit I make up is ok’ meme we see with Trump. Key was a sly master of it himself. If anyone challenged Smith on this he simply resorts to playing semantic games with the definition of ‘winning the election’.

      And here’s probably a point worth thinking about. While Nick Smith knows National lost the election in terms of being able to form a govt, because they are the largest party he feels they won it. He’s clinging to a faulty model in his head, one that merges an entitled sense of ‘natural party of govt’, a post-election euphoria, a long standing resentment around MMP and no small dose of bitterness.

      National continued to poll at remarkably high levels for a third term govt, but for Key’s still unexplained resignation, National would have likely gone on to a fourth, possibly fifth term. The sense of being ‘cheated’ out something they surely feel is their due, must be palpable.

      While I wouldn’t dismiss Matt’s analysis above, I’m not sure it’s a cold cabal of cynical masterminds issuing instructions to Nick Smith on what to put in his little newsletter. That gets the order of precedence wrong. More likely this is a perfect example of emotion trumping logic in a starkly silly fashion; but from this emotive detritus an anti-MMP forment will slowly emerge as a toxic toadstool.

      • Matthew Whitehead 10.2.1

        The other thing that’s messy about the analogy with Australia is that essentially the Liberal and National parties in Australia are technically not a coalition, they are an electoral alliance, because they don’t run in the same seats/states. It’s the same thing as the CDU/CSU in Germany, who are essentially the same party. In the German examples, I counted the CDU and CSU together in terms of looking at who was the plurality winner.

        I agree that Smith is absolutely misunderstanding MMP deliberately.

        While I don’t think Smith’s newsletter is itself significant, you have to remember that this is a meme National have been putting out in its private communications to its base for quite some time now, from backbenchers’ social media, to these newsletters, likely also in internal party comms, and even some soft drops via off-the-cuff comments in interviews.

        I actually disagree with you that Key’s continued presence would necessarily have guaranteed a fourth term, as his trick was essentially never spending his political capital on anything he didn’t think would gain him more political capital, with the obvious exception of his venture into the flag referendum, and it was always a strategy that would eventually make people suddenly very tired of him. I actually think he picked his exit point very carefully and was watching polling both on him personally and on the Nats in general, and deliberately exited just as a turning point had started, and boosted the Nats by having a handoff to a credible new leader ahead of the election with much fanfare, which actually gave the Nats a bump in the polls, even though Bill English was a disaster at campaigning last time, he was up against a much more popular leader, and oh look it happened again when Ardern took over. 😉

        I think most of National’s “strong” result was from the media falling all over the stupid Joyce lie tactics.

        • RedLogix 10.2.1.1

          never spending his political capital on anything he didn’t think would gain him more political capital,

          Which is a very astute observation; being of course the essence of what a merchant banker is all about.

          I’m not knocking your analysis, except to say that the idea ‘people would suddenly get tired of him’ is speculative and hard to prove. There’s precious evidence of it actually happening.

          What I will agree with is that is was slowly becoming clear that Key really had no ideas on what to spend his immense capital on. I do agree that eventually the electorate might well have started asking him that hard question and not getting answers. But I still don’t see that as the critical factor in his resignation. I think he just got bored with it all and started seeing more downsides than positives.

          Nor am I going to gainsay Adern’s clear electoral appeal. But in many respects I still think she was the fortunate beneficiary of some wonderful timing; timing that Goff and Cunliffe never enjoyed.

          • Matthew Whitehead 10.2.1.1.1

            Well, there was a reasonably slow but steady trend away from National in the later months of Key’s leadership that had me quite optimistic about this election, and the leadership handover definitely reversed that, but I suppose you could argue that was down to something other than fatigue with key- it could just be that my own bubble was getting dramatically more tired of him, rather than the country as a whole. It’s always hard to call that one without an election to verify it.

            Ardern’s timing was definitely helpful to her, for sure. It’s an open question how well she would have done at any other, less crazy time.

  11. Wayne 11

    There is zero chance National will split into two. Parties can’t just be “manufactured.” The public would see through that easily enough.

    Perhaps Nick did not choose his opening words well, since being the largest party is not the same as winning. But there is no doubt that National respects the constitutional right of the current government. In truth New Zealand has had a smooth transition from the old government to the new. For instance both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were chosen by consensus. Hardly the case the case of National acting as wreckers, as happens with oppositions in some countries.

    National also knows MMP is here to stay. The public has voted for it twice, with both referendums organised under National, being the ones that bought it in and the 2011 referendums. Hardly the actions of a party that can’t deal with MMP.

    So National are looking to win under MMP in 2020. It would not take much voter shift for that to happen. So expect National to do its very best to show voters why this government will fail.

    Already it is clear that Steven Joyce was right with the funding gap. Economists now accept that borrowing will be much larger under this government than under National. I reckon it will get worse. I see zero evidence that anyone in this government can actually say “no”.

    Because National is the largest Party in Parliament they have the capacity (and parliamentary resources that go with size) to be a much more effective opposition than we have seen for many decades. For instance National will have a very larger and capable Research Unit than we have ever seen in the past, able to do the digging, as well as do the research on new policy options for 2020.

    [MjW: Please see the top of my reply at 11.8.]

    • Ed 11.1

      ‘It would not take much voter shift for that to happen.’

      It’s just the shift is going in the wrong direction for you, Stephen and the National Party.

      http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7419-roy-morgan-new-zealand-voting-intention-november-2017-201711220740

    • It would not take much voter shift for that to happen.

      It wouldn’t take much voter shift to take National to 50%? Oh, yes it would. A 5% difference might not sound like much in itself, but history suggests shifting that much of the centre is highly unlikely – not even Key achieved it, and he was probably the slickest operator National’s going to get.

      EDIT: although, to be fair, the extra votes the major parties arranged to issue themselves via the 5% threshold means you’d probably only need 48 or 49% to govern alone. Still a tough score to reach though, as Key demonstrated.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.3

      Already it is clear that Steven Joyce was right with the funding gap. Economists now accept that borrowing will be much larger under this government than under National…

      No: Joyce lied about the figures Labour put out before the election, and now you’re trying to re-write history, ie: lying.

      Said budget allowed for more borrowing than National had planned, because there are significant repairs, both physical and social, that must be done where National has vandalised the fabric and infrastructure of society.

      Assuming your anonymous economists can read, they would know that, so what’s this about them “now” “accepting” it?

      Why do you tell these lies, Wayne?

      Edit: Ed provides the answer to that question at 5.2.1.1.1.1: you tell the lies because you believe the lies. We need better wingnuts.

      • Matthew Whitehead 11.3.1

        I have cautioned Wayne about that particular comment, so I would suggest not engaging him about said hole, either, because it’s unfair to require him not to make any assertions about its factuality when you’re asking him questions about it. Please stick to discussing whether Robertson’s budget will be tight instead.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 11.3.1.1

          I think you’ve left Dr. Mapp in a rather invidious position.

          You should be careful which you refer to, and I will assume you meant the latter claim.

          I will take you at your word that you believe they were mistaken rather than deliberately spinning.

          Clearly Dr. Mapp has either been sloppy and ignorant, or dishonest. If the latter, he may well prefer to be seen as a player rather than a witless dupe, although obviously I think he’s both.

          We’re considering the National Party’s ability to be honest and act in good faith. I maintain that they have neither of these qualities, and that Dr. Mapp’s “mistakes” fall into a familiar pattern.

          What’s more humiliating for Dr. Mapp? Being grilled on his “mistakes” or being protected from having to defend them?

          I respect your decision as moderator, but I urge you to consider its effect upon Wayne 😈

          • Matthew Whitehead 11.3.1.1.1

            Well, to be fair, the reply thread blew up as I was cautioning him. I started writing when I was going to be in roughly your position. I’m gonna have to type shorter replies to get cautions in faster in the future, clearly.

            As to holding Wayne to the fire- the greater claim has obviously been discredited, I don’t think there’s any point relitigating it, it just leads to unnecessary trolling. There is plenty of room for fiscal debate on the lesser claim of fiscal tightness that Joyce briefly mentioned in his original interview then insisted was the core of his point all along when he got thoroughly discredited. (why they haven’t kicked him out of the finance portfolio after that blunder, I don’t know, he certainly deserves it)

            As to what humiliates the good doctor, I honestly have no particular interest in that just because we disagree, especially as he’s no longer inflicting laws that harm people on anyone. Most of my shadenfreude is reserved for those actively trying to deny people civil rights or economic necessities right now.

            • lprent 11.3.1.1.1.1

              That is the reason that we use the moderator construction of:-

              [handle: Give a short warning ]

              By all means follow up with a longer comment if you choose to. But writing long cautions will often fall way behind the comment cycle.

              It all feels a bit different when you start writing posts to just being a commenter. But be assured that there is generally method behind most of the procedures/madness that operates on the site.

              As an author you can edit any comment in your own posts and you can shunt to OpenMike (vague memory of when I wrote the feature). The most common reason for an author would be because people are straying off your topic. Plus there are a number of other principles in the policy. But you’re almost certainly going to run through a learning curve.

              The general rule is to not to delete either comments or content (use [deleted] for that) without reasonable transparency. Ie they either get an explanation or they look in the current OpenMike. Commenters get pissed off about stuff just going missing and so do other moderators when they have to clean up the (justifiable) whining.

              But always remember to give your mentor, the backend forums, or me a yell if you could do with advice or need a bigger hammer

              😈

              BTW: Interesting posts and mostly useful debate on them.

              • Matthew Whitehead

                Cheers Lynn, there were bound to be teething problems, hehe. I realised I had done it a dumb way as soon as I finished, hah.

        • Wayne 11.3.1.2

          Matthew,

          Well, will Grant’s budget actually be as tight as was forecast by Labour prior to the election? I don’t think it will be. Not with all the cost pressures that Labour keeps talking about and on top of that the union pay claims.

          In my view the next budget will have both more operational spending and more borrowing for capital expenditure than was originally mooted by Labour. Virtually all bank economists are now forecasting a higher level of capital borrowing than Labour originally forecast.

          The interest on the borrowing forms part of the operating expenditure. As does the depreciation on capital items acquired, and on top of that capital charge on the assets acquired.

          Now I know you don’t like me talking about this, but all this was the basis of Joyce’s claims prior to the election. He basically said he did not believe the basis of Labour’s out year budgets, that they would spend more than Labour was claiming. This is a legitimate debating point in a democracy, that at least the MSM realised that they could not “black out”.

          If you want to censor it, well I guess you can, but it says more about you than me.

          • marty mars 11.3.1.2.1

            It says you’re arrogant and you think you are above and better than others imo.

          • Matthew Whitehead 11.3.1.2.2

            OK, so you were talking about the tightness? That’s reasonable to have in contention, and I have no desire to “censor” that. What’s not reasonable anymore is claiming that Steven Joyce is smart enough to accurately read a spreadsheet that has a different labeling structure than he’s used to, or that he identified any actual error in Labour’s pre-election budget.

            And yes, I am familiar with both Joyce’s initial claims, having watched his press conferenece in full to be sure I was being fair to him when I said he needed to resign. (And it is still my opinion that he owes Bill English, your party, and the public his resignation from his current position as a spokesman about public finances, and his undertaking never again to pursue any other such position, because he has clearly demonstrated he isn’t qualified, and is not able to admit when he made a mistake)

            He initially claimed the fiscal tightness was a separate issue to the accounting error claim that he was demonstrably proven wrong about by literally every economist and data expert who commented on the matter. He later retreated to his position that the accounting problem would eventuate from the fiscal tightness so that he could claim to not have been wrong, but if you go back through and watch his press conference, you will see he initially painted them as two seperate issues.

            As to Joyce’s lesser claim, honestly, it wouldn’t bother me if it was true. He, English, and Key have run the country’s infrastructure into the ground with their do-nothing government, and a bit of extra debt digging us out of that hole is entirely reasonable. I think had PREFU been fully accurate, it would have been reasonable to say that Robertson could have stuck to the pre-election plan, but of course, on closer inspection there are looking to be hidden costs in several different ministries right now that will make things unrealistically tight even for the type of do-nothing budgets English liked to run.

    • RedLogix 11.4

      As I said above, Smith may well KNOW National lost the election, but it’s clear from such ‘ill chosen words’ that he FEELS like they were cheated out winning it. And he’s not on his own; this didn’t appear in a vacuum.

      Yes National will continue to respect Constitutional convention in Parliament, but it’s already clear from their antics in Parliament around the vote for the Speaker, and now this ongoing spam mail stunt, the entire Party is locked into a sore loser mentality for the duration of this term.

    • Red Blooded One 11.5

      “Already it is clear that Steven Joyce was right with the funding gap” Ah no! Not one economist agreed with Steven Joyce when he said at the time there was an 11.7 billion hole in the funding. He LIED, Bill English LIED, and you are perpetuating the lie with comments like that, therefore any other credible comments you may wish to make are diminished by the fact you are prepared to be dishonest.

      • Matthew Whitehead 11.5.1

        Please see 11.3.1 and 11.8 regarding restricting discussions about the rapid oxidation of Steven Joyce’s trousers to whether or not Grant Robertson’s budget will be tight, so that we can be fair to Wayne. Thanks. 🙂

    • marty mars 11.6

      Spin cycle severe a sign of panic in the gnat ranks weathervain Wayne just trying to help lol. We got enough for a remake of porkys here.

    • Anne 11.7

      Parties can’t just be “manufactured.”

      Really? What about the mid-1990s when the ACT Party was manufactured into existence to provide National with a support party? It worked for a couple of elections then it all turned to custard.

      … both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker were chosen by consensus.

      Really? Didn’t the Nats do a blackmail job on the govt. in the debating chamber just before the vote was taken?

      The public has voted for it twice, with both referendums organised under National, being the ones that bought it in and the 2011 referendums. Hardly the actions of a party that can’t deal with MMP.

      Heh. My recollection is they were forced into it by the strength of the public desire for a change of system. And the 2011 referendum was a thinly veiled attempt to try and reverse the decision and return to FPP. They lost. [btw, it’s brought – not bought]

      Because National is the largest Party in Parliament they have the capacity (and parliamentary resources that go with size) to be a much more effective opposition than we have seen for many decades.

      They’re the largest single party but in a Left/Right MMP situation that means naught and you know it. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to be a more effective opposition but definitely they will be very loud. However noise does not always equate with effectiveness.

      • Wayne 11.7.1

        ACT was not manufactured in the 1990’s by National. It was motivated by a strong view among certain people (Prebble, Douglas, Quigley, Gibbs and others) that NZ needed a proper libertarian party in the same way as the Greens have their voice for the left. National was seen as too centerist for free market libertarian types. ACT have now been on the scene and in parliament for over 20 years, although since 2014 has really been on life support. The last big win by Act was in 2008, when they had 6 MP’s (as I recall).

        Even in Epsom, National did not give away the seat. Hide won it off Worth in 2005 in a quite a fight. On that basis National has done a deal with Act since 2011. No different to Labour and Anderton in Wigram.

        Neither of the major parties can “manufacture” support parties. First, they don’t want to since they want to get the votes themselves. Second, the public would not buy it anyway.

        The most they will do is do a deal with an authentic party that already has a seat, often won off them in a hard fought contest as was the case in Epsom in 2005. Or they will facilitate a party to win a seat off their opponent. An example being Labour effectively standing aside to help Winston win the Northland by-election.

        As for the effectiveness of National in opposition, well we will see. Probably too early to really tell yet. But in my view the government has not looked very steady so far. Maybe it is early training wobbles which they will get through, but then again maybe not.

        Yes, there was the public fiasco on the first day of parliament, which was actually about select committee positions. Once this was resolved, both Speaker and Deputy Speaker were selected unopposed, as was the agreed arrangement. But the look of panic on Chris Hipkins’s face did not look good for the government. And Simon Bridges certainly showed his coolness under pressure.

        • Matthew Whitehead 11.7.1.1

          Alright, gish gallup catchup time:

          National was a manufactured party itself, a grand coalition to deny Labour government when you were all scared it would be full of communists.

          New Zealand needs ACT like it needs involuntary limb amputations.

          National has given away the seat in Epsom, it’s just not being honest about it. If they want to keep giving away Epsom, they should withdraw Goldsmith rather than making him a professional loser.

          National fundamentally is two constituencies, Wayne, and this is an outgrowth of its origin as a grand coalition to lock Labour out of government when it was the plurality winner decades ago when it first entered Parliament. Its urban liberals want very different things from its rural conservatives, and they butt heads reasonably often. Accepting MMP will mean realizing that ceding some rhetorical and ideological ground to a potential coalition partner might hurt your party, but will likely grow your bloc. If there is ever an amicable split of the National Party, I suspect it would be for the better for National, and for New Zealand. National’s liberal base is never going to ACT, and National’s conservative base can’t govern without its liberal base, but has to go softly-softly on social issues while they’re in the same party. This is not a sustainable strategy for mobilizing them.

          I think it’s too early to tell on both the opposition and the government, although to be honest I’m not yet hugely positive about either.

          • Wayne 11.7.1.1.1

            Matthew on that basis, all parties are manufactured.

            Just as National is a coalition, so is Labour. At least three elements. Traditional working class, union dominated. Left university liberals. Both Clark and Arden being the epitome of that, both actually came from reasonably well off conservative homes. And Maori support, though maybe that is also socio-economic based.

            Nationals internal coalition is well held together. Many of the urban liberals actually having farming backgrounds, (myself, McCully, Collins, English, Parata, etc).

            New Zealand is still a small country. People know each other and have family across diverse socio-economic backgrounds. So the fact that parties, especially the major parties, are coalitions is a strength not a weakness.

            In any event splitting does not help with electoral mathematics. You still get the same percentage, except it is split between two parties (a bit like the Labour and the Greens). The only way it would work is if one party was seat based and therefore produced a huge overhang. But voters would see that an incredible distortion of MMP and not accept it.

            • Matthew Whitehead 11.7.1.1.1.1

              No, again, not all parties are mergers of fundamentally politically incompatible groups. Generally you need to be at most a half-axis away in an orthagonal direction on the political compass to be a compatible part of a single party’s constituency group in a proportional system like ours. Both Labour and National stretch those definitions, because they are old FPP parties trying to hold on to all of their old FPP constituencies, although Labour is doing better at shedding the dead wood to other parties than National are, possibly because of better policy compatibility with NZ First, possibly because they’ve also got the Greens to their left/liberal/environmental sides.

              Labour is arguably a coalition between rural left-wing conservatives, and a reasonably natural consituency group of mild left-liberals and centre-liberals and left-moderates in both urban and regional areas, but the “odd group out” in their coalition is rapidly being lost to New Zealand First anyway, who have varying success in vacuuming up all the conservatives.

              You’re assuming party votes stay the same when you split into parties aimed more specifically at two different constituencies, which would be true if the parties acted exactly the same and campaigned exactly the same as before. But if they each tailored themselves to the relevant groups better, that would likely allow them to grow their overall vote more than they could do individually, and to influence each others’ policies.

        • Anne 11.7.1.2

          Neither of the major parties can “manufacture” support parties.

          If you object to the term “manufacture” that is fine. It wasn’t my term. But what I can tell you is that the formation of ACT was part of a long term strategy to provide National with a political party to their Right that would support them in an MMP environment. On this subject I think I may know a little more than you.

          there was the public fiasco on the first day of parliament, which was actually about select committee positions.

          Correct. The Nats pulled a fast one over a matter usually convivially settled by all sides of the House in advance. It amounted to blackmail involving select committee positions. Bad looking start for the Opposition.

        • Reality 11.7.1.3

          Quite frankly Wayne, Simon Bridges looked like a nasty scowling sort of human being that day. Not a likeable person at all. You may call that coolness, I call it menacing and threatening. Why is it Act and National have so many of these unlikeable people in their midst?

          No wonder people are so taken with a PM who actually really likes and enjoys people and wants them to have better opportunities. National was so often hell bent on slapping people down and telling them they were unworthy.

    • Matthew Whitehead 11.8

      Gosh, so much cleanup here, Wayne.

      Firstly: Consider this a caution that I will not accept any references to the $11.7b hole being true in the comments on my posts. It has been thoroughly discredited by economists, data journalists, and the media in general. His fallback claim I have no objection to, that the budget will be tight is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s hard not to get a tight budget when you’re dealing with an infrastructure deficit like we almost always get after a National government. You should be careful which you refer to, and I will assume you meant the latter claim.

      I haven’t needed to moderate anyone on any of my posts just yet, but I will be aggressive on that topic, because it has been so well-established, and I’d like to maintain a record of light-touch moderation if possible.

      I am glad you believe MMP is here to stay. It would be nice if the party’s rhetoric would catch up with this, and they would act like any of them had ever taken a POLS101 class, or even a maths class. If you have a word with any of them, please advise them on the difference between the words “majority” and “plurality,” and inform them that forming a government is what wins you an election. 😉 As professional communicators who claim to be good with numbers and whose jobs are to win elections, it’s not really credible that they don’t already know the difference between those two, but I will take you at your word that you believe they were mistaken rather than deliberately spinning.

      It will take at least a six-percent shift from that latest poll, or a three-percent one if you want to assume that it’s out by the entire margin of error in favour of the Government. Both of those are large shifts in an ordinary campaign, and your lot shouldn’t expect that they’ll have a counter-movement to Jacinda. There is nobody in your reserves who could pull off the ten-point shift she did. And if it’s Bridges who’s looking to roll English, I’d expect to go down, not up. He’s like a more liberal version of Collins.

      National are looking to be an arrogant, mean opposition like they were an arrogant, mean government. I can’t see it working for them to be quite honest, and a good 10% of their voters think the new government is doing well. I think National are about to discover the power of incumbency from the other end of the stick, and aren’t going to like it, but we’ll see who’s right soon enough.

      If they change their tune and start being a positive opposition that tries to actually constructively implement policies, then maybe their outlook will change. But I think trying to throw their weight around as a large party isn’t going to work well from opposition.

      • marty mars 11.8.1

        Yes the gnats are playing yesterday’s game. Jacinda has changed the game. The game has changed, generationally. Some old hands are going to have to take some long walks off by themselves for the gnats to get it.

        • Colonial Viper 11.8.1.1

          Be cautious, Jacinda hasn’t changed the game much so far, although she has a foothold from which to change the game.

          LAB + GR 2017 is only 2.5% higher than LAB + GR losing after 3 terms in 2008.

          “Jacindamania” is substantial compared to the 25% level Labour got used to subsisting at, but compared to even recent history, it’s still a minimal bounceback.

          The game has changed, generationally.

          Wait. This is a question which gets to be decided ten and twenty years from now.

          • marty mars 11.8.1.1.1

            This from you? come on mate get serious. Do you just not want it to be true?

            I’m not waiting, I’m making it the way I want it to be.

            • Colonial Viper 11.8.1.1.1.1

              You can make your world however you want your world to be, not stopping you.

              But to say just one month into the new government that Jacinda has ‘generationally changed the game’ is to my mind, jumping the gun.

          • Matthew Whitehead 11.8.1.1.2

            I think that is a reasonable caution, although we should also bear in mind recent polling, (which gives over 80% odds of an outright Labour-Green government when you account of the margin of error) which likely reflects the shift in the incumbency effect. (It’s always easier to win a second term than to win a first, because you’re still a relatively fresh government, and there are numerous advantages to holding the treasury benches)

            Honestly, I think it’s too early to tell one way or another. That confidence has gone up with the announcement of a new government is a positive sign, but that’s all it is right now- a sign. There’s three years of follow-through to be achieved still. 🙂

    • National also knows MMP is here to stay. The public has voted for it twice, with both referendums organised under National, being the ones that bought it in and the 2011 referendums. Hardly the actions of a party that can’t deal with MMP.

      I’m pretty sure that National thought that we wouldn’t choose MMP back in 1993. They certainly worked, through their business partners, hard enough to try to ensure that either FPP or one of their preferred non-proportional systems would win out. Tried again in the 2011 referendum with the same actors and that time they were fully after SM which favour the largest party.

      Authoritarians don’t like democracy but they know that they can’t come out and say that and so they work to game the system in their favour instead.

      Already it is clear that Steven Joyce was right with the funding gap.

      [Citation Needed]

      Economists now accept that borrowing will be much larger under this government than under National.

      National’s pets are almost always wrong.

      Because National is the largest Party in Parliament they have the capacity (and parliamentary resources that go with size) to be a much more effective opposition than we have seen for many decades.

      Which highlights a deficiency in our electoral system. Obviously, all parties need to be funded the same.

    • Robert Guyton 11.10

      “Economists now accept that borrowing will be much larger under this government than under National.”
      Isn’t it true that borrowing under National was MUCH LARGER than under the previous Labour Government? MUCH LARGER?
      Just askin’

  12. Brigid 12

    “Already it is clear that Steven Joyce was right with the funding gap”
    Perpetuating that lie Wayne, will not gain you and National the voter shift you desire.

    Of course there’s zero chance of National splitting into two parties, because they don’t have astute, intelligent, knowledgeable advisors, with the attributes of the likes of Mathew Whitehead on their side.

    • Matthew Whitehead 12.1

      Hah, my father tried to get me to take a job doing data analysis with the nats. I didn’t think I could stomach it.

      As per above in 11.3.1 and 11.8, please restrict discussion on Steven Joyce’s truthfulness or deception to whether or not Grant Robertson’s budget will be tight, so that we’re not antagonizing Wayne into breaking the rules. Thanks.

      • Chris 12.1.1

        Wayne is a far right troll, albeit a very sneaky one. He’s often very clever at masking that with the disguise of friendly devil’s advocate. Whatever anyone does won’t change that.

        • In Vino 12.1.1.1

          I have joined in late reading a very interesting thread. I agree with Chris, based on past readings, and want to add that the thread was excellent until Wayne started pontificating. The proof of a really good thread could perhaps be the absence of trolls (until Wayne). Well done Matthew!

        • Matthew Whitehead 12.1.1.2

          One doesn’t become a National Minister without rhetorical skills, for sure. That doesn’t mean, however, that we shouldn’t be careful about being even-handed in our treatment with them. I cautioned Wayne because it looked very much like we were going to re-litigate the established fact that Joyce was mistaken about finding accounting errors, but there was room to believe that he was instead talking about fiscal tightness. He claims to have been talking about fiscal tightness all along, and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

          • Chris 12.1.1.2.1

            You need to get yourself attuned to the subtlety employed. When or if you do you’ll understand how disturbing it is.

            • Matthew Whitehead 12.1.1.2.1.1

              Oh, I’m aware of it, but I generally find that most of the time simply treating everything they say at face value is actually a very good way to expose them. (Although some of the tricks Wayne is employing here are in fact adapting to my style, so we’ll see if I have to treat him as a full-blown troll in the future)

  13. Andre 13

    Hey Matthew, I know nobody loves a pedant, but since I’m a no-mates in real life I may as well be one here too.

    In the post (end of first para below “Is it a norm that a Plurality Winner forms the government?”) and in comment 2.1 you say Labour didn’t win the plurality in ’99. But unless I really need my glasses checked, no other party won more than Labour’s 38.74%.

    http://www.electionresults.govt.nz/electionresults_1999/e9/html/e9_partI.html

    • weka 13.1

      I don’t know, I suspect that Matthew has an appreciation for pedantry usefully applied (assuming you are correct) 🙂

    • Matthew Whitehead 13.2

      Excuse me, I was furiously flipping through governments and must have misread the ’99 results. I had thought initially that they had won the plurality in ’99, so was surprised to see it differently. I think I must have flipped National and Labour in my head, a mistake dyslexia can do to you if you rush. Thank you for the correction, I will make a note at the bottom of the post.

      And as Weka says- I have an appreciation for making sure relevant details are correct- I try to stay off pedantry around details that aren’t relevant, but nobody’s perfect. 😉

  14. mary_a 14

    Many thanks for the very informative post Matthew.

    Perhaps you should send it on to National, so the scratchy old dinosaurs can bring themselves up to date, reminding them the FFP system of voting doesn’t exist here anymore and MMP is what the public voted for … twice in fact.

    • Matthew Whitehead 14.1

      I was going to tweet it at Nick Smith but it looks like he’s not on Twitter. 😉

      As an advocate of further electoral reform, making sure we don’t roll back what we already have is very important to me.

  15. rod 15

    National loved MMP when United, Act and the Maori Party kept them in government for so long. Now they don’t, Funny that !

  16. Cinny 16

    Is everyone aware that us the tax payers footed the bill for that propaganda brochure. It has the parliamentary services stamp on it, so was tax payer funded. Seems like a massive conflict of interest to me.

    Those in Tasman electorate are mega pissed off with it, everyone around town is mentioning it, they sure were today, and people from all different backgrounds from business owners to joe bloggs locals.

    Advice for nick stick to your electorate and keep your nose out of ours.

    Advice for media, do a proper story on it, come to Tasman Electorate and ask people what they think about it.

  17. Tanz 17

    National won 200,000 more votes, and ten more seats than Labour and the Greens combined. Nick Smith is right, they did win the election, they just ‘lost’ the selection (with Winny now revealing he was never going to go with them anyway, hence the pending court actions against some of the Nat MPs).

    Are you going to go out to lose the next election also, hoping that Winston will save you instead (as he did this time). How about some honesty from Labour for a change. Even Arden phoned English on the night, admitting National had won more votes. English: ‘The voters have spoken’ Ardern; ‘MMP will decide’ Speaks volumes!

    200,000 more votes is a huge amount, good luck and clawing that back. NZ First won’t be there next time, they will be under the threshold (since Winny betrayed many of his right leaning voters), so Labour will only have the Greens, whilst National will gain support from here on in. The wider electorate knows that National won the election, and you can’t change that! This is a Clayton’s government, there because of WP, not because of actually winning an election. How stupid do you take Kiwis for?? And so far, what a shambles, this govt is like a bunch of dizzy schoolkids at the wheel. Scary stuff.

    • Robert Guyton 17.1

      You’re funny!

    • Cinny 17.2

      Tanz, for you….

      So why would Nick Smith say this?

      You can understand why Nick Smith and perhaps a lot of older, traditional voters might think in that old-fashioned way – that parties win elections – but Smith, who has been in Parliament since 1990, should know that he’s not using correct language. It suggests National still has some sour grapes about the election outcome, but to come across as sore losers doesn’t really help their cause.

      So you’re saying they’re trying to save face?

      I think so. There is some genuine feeling within National that the party didn’t deserve to go out of power and they can’t quite comprehend this despite having done so well in the voting.

      The way Nick Smith talks about the election result and outcome bears some similarity to language Donald Trump has used in the past about crooked politicians, fake news and blaming others.

      http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/wait-so-who-actually-won-the-election

    • McFlock 17.3

      But Tanz, nobody wanted to be in government with you lot.
      Your only hope was Winston, and apparently he took the leaking of his private financial details a bit more personally than someone expected.

    • Matthew Whitehead 17.4

      Winning more votes does not give you a mandate to govern, Tanz. It just makes you the largest party, as I say in the post, and you can repeat the mantra that National won the most votes all you want, but they actually under-performed on the party vote share compared to previous elections- the only sense in which they “won more votes” is that there are now more voters in total.

      And yes, it is highly relevant that they lost the selection of coalition partners. Being able to work constructively with other parties is the whole point of MMP, it was specifically picked to make a re-emergence of nazi government in Germany very difficult. The National Party should never have put such a system in the ballot box if they weren’t willing to take their lumps and deal with it if voters opted to adopt MMP, like they did. If National wanted to change how governments were formed under, they had nine long years to do it. 😉 They even had six years after the public refused to ditch MMP, which is plenty of time.

      As for clawing votes back- I know you checked the Roy Morgan result, I saw you in the thread over at this post:

      Latest Roy Morgan Poll – Labour and Greens surge as National flounders

      Labour and the greens are very likely to have a majority on their own if they can hang on to that level of support, so that’s a pretty good result in terms of clawing things back.

      You can spin all you like, but right now the facts suggest that the left are winning, the public likes MMP, and that nobody is buying this dumb attack line that you’re parroting.

  18. Brian Tregaskin 18

    Tanz —read my comment that times up for you–.neo liberalism is on the way out.Im sort of guessing you are middled aged and feel sorry for you in a funny sort of way. All your beliefs and thinking (conventional wisdom has been shattered with this election result)
    The new generation of voters (the under 30’s are not influenced by MSM unlike the over 30’s.)

  19. Tricledrown 19

    Now that MMP is in National are trying to go back to FPP even after setting up ACT in Epsom and Dunne in Ohariu.
    Blind sided by Winston .
    Now still crying in their beersies.
    National made their bed now they have to lie in it.
    Leaking and lying loosers

    • Graeme 19.1

      “Blind sided by Winston”

      I don’t see anything blind about it. If they couldn’t see that coming what the fuck are they doing aspiring to run our country. Or even the corner dairy.

      Actions have consequences.

      • Matthew Whitehead 19.1.1

        Um, I was still not sure who NZF would go with until the day of the announcement when we got hints that they had been spotted talking with Labour but not with National.

        I think if you were confident ahead of time that you knew for sure what NZF would do, that wasn’t justified. I thought Labour was obviously the more compatible choice for them policy-wise, but I didn’t trust Winston and friends to make the obvious choice, they’re all notoriously unpredictable.

        • Graeme 19.1.1.1

          I was referring to the senior leadership of National Matthew. If they were going to run a campaign to destroy all possible coalition partners, to try and get 50% of the vote, they were hopeful at best. But to then expect the people and parties they tried to destroy to support a National government after the election is naive in the extreme.

          I agree about the good policy fit between Labour, NZ First, and Green Party. All three were quite compatible. NZ First and National would have required quite an accomodation by someone. I wasn’t surprised at all by the outcome, I would have been if NZ First had gone with National. But I’m not in the beltway, so just go on what politicians and parties publish, say, and are reported as saying.

          • Matthew Whitehead 19.1.1.1.1

            Well, there are some incompatibilities between the GP and NZF, but they’re workable IMO, and the new government has done a good job of sticking to areas that there are broad agreement on.

            And yeah, I think your position makes sense- National made a run to try and kill off NZF and the Greens with two-track politics so it was arguably not on their hands. They were gambling on one attempt failing but the other succeeding, (but had no idea which one it would be) I think, and weren’t prepared for both parties to make it back into Parliament. If either had dropped out, National might have had the numbers to govern with ACT.

            But both attempts failed, and then they had to play nice and were unprepared for having to work together in coalition, and they were at a disadvantage in terms of policy compatibility because they played risk-big strategies, and now they’re back to attacking MMP instead of working out the flaws in their own long-term political approach. It’s sad.

  20. Mark 20

    I’m watching from afar, but with interest. My take is that Winnie the Pooh picked Labour because of his personal antipathy towards national for allegedly leaking his personal information. His statements that he was acting in the best interests of the country etc are now shown to be BS of the first order. On that basis, the legitimacy of this coalition government is legitimately open to question, IMO.

    • Matthew Whitehead 20.1

      I think the lack of accountability regarding breaches of personal privacy for users of government services, and not taking that issue seriously before the election results, could have had something to do with Winston’s vote on the matter, but you do need to remember that this was a decision made by the entire NZ First caucus, and that there is every indication that Winston is trying to set them up to be able to continue on without him running the show in the future.

      My point though regarding those negotiations is that National could probably have made a better play in the negotiations than they did to align their policy with NZ First’s, and they probably should have been thinking about doing that during the election campaign, too, given how close things were, when instead they basically made a push for “give us a result where we can govern with ACT or where the Greens fall below the threshold.” If that issue really played any part, they could also have offered to make a genuine effort to find the person who breached his privacy. The fact that NZ First even entered negotiations with National suggests that setting the issue aside was on the table.

  21. mac1 21

    Having attended a meeting in a regional town during the election in which Winston Peters excoriated the local National MP and dismissed National as ‘corporatist’ and ‘neo-liberal’ there was real grounds for hoping that he would move as he did. The fact that he quoted extensively from a local Grey Power critique of losses in local government and NGO supplied social services added even more hope.

    Winston acted with compassion and correctly according to his own stated principles in his public speeches. Looking back, there was no surprise, but some gratitude.

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