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The political honeymoon that keeps on ending

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, April 18th, 2018 - 43 comments
Categories: David Farrar, dpf, greens, jacinda ardern, journalism, labour, making shit up, Media, national, nz first, Politics, Simon Bridges, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I wrote a post a few weeks ago the manufacturing of a narrative which analysed media treatment of Clare Curran’s problems with the discovery of multiple building problems at Middlemore Hospital.  The analysis suggested that media coverage of Curran’s problems were  way out of kilter with those Middlemore Hospital was facing and that there was a political agenda being served.

The post took off.  There were over 600 comments made and multiple social media interactions with the post.  It seems that the basic premise, that there was an attempt to build a negative media narrative about Labour, was accepted.

Recent media about the latest Colmar Brunton opinion poll also made me think about what to me were very crude attempts to manufacture a negative narrative for Labour.  There was this doozie from National’s pollster.

But the concept that the honeymoon is over is something that he has pushed before.  Like last December.

The Colmar Brunton poll has excited comment that Labour is in trouble.  But I am not sure why.  Yes Labour’s support has dropped back by 5% points.  But it had surged by 9% points in the previous poll.  It felt like that poll was too good to be true.  And this poll result was a correction.

Labour’s result was 4% points above its December 2017 result.  I hope there are many other instances like this where Labour’s honeymoon is claimed to be over on a gradual increase in polling.

The combined support for the three Government parties went up by 5% at the last poll and down by 2% this poll.  This is hardly crisis territory.  In fact given the negative media the Government has had recently the drop was remarkably small.

So why does the media insist on running National’s lines?  There are the usual suspects including this chicken little impersonator insisting that the sky is falling down on Labour.  Dear Mike.  Like it or not we live in an MMP environment.  The Government’s support is stable.

Of course the big headline is the debut of Simon Bridges Collins in the preferred Prime Minister stakes.  10% is not good.  Successive labour leaders struggled on or above this figure.  And despite the claims of some that Bridges is doing well it is clear that he is really struggling.  You just have to tune into Parliament during question time to see that Ardern is streets ahead of Bridges.

News of this Government’s entering into a terminal stage are terribly over stated.  Ordinary people prefer that our elected leaders actually concentrate on the big issues.  Lets hope the media follow this.  There are some very good examples of in depth media analysis but there are far too many people interviewing themselves.

43 comments on “The political honeymoon that keeps on ending ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    “Simon Collins” – that rotter!

    [Oops. Now corrected – MS]

  2. Ad 2

    You’re right, the negatives are overblown. But the government know they need to manage better than they have.

    The rest of them are just damn lucky to have Ardern rocking our MSM tv news with hot media shots paired with global leaders like Macron, Merkel, Trudeau and the rest.

  3. Chuck 3

    Any polls this far out from 2020 need to be taken for what they are, and the media will use what they can to write headlines. Any trends will be of interest though.

    It has been a disaster of late for Ardern having to deal with incompetent ministers and rouge coalition MP’s. Of course, the media has jumped all over this…just as they would if it were National in charge.

    While its true the lab/NZF/Greens have a handy buffer against the opposition, both of labours support partners are uncomfortable (for them) around the 5% threshold. 1 to 2 % here or there and they are both gone.

    It will be very interesting to see how much harm will fall the Government’s way on the latest virtual signaling from Miss Ardern.

    • tc 3.1

      “the media has jumped all over this…just as they would if it were National in charge..”

      What parallel universe have you been existing in ? The MSM never ever pursued a national minister despite glaring evidence of various breeches of process/privacy laws etc

      Go and look at old Tranzrail eyes as a reminder but then chuck you’d be well aware of that with some spin no doubt as to why that wasn’t worth pursuing.

      Tranzrail set the tone for a media that looked the other way during Nationals tenure.

    • red-blooded 3.2

      I think it’s fair to say that the media will always jump all over perceived conflict or tension between coalition partners. Ardern is a wonderful political asset, but others still need to sharpen their skills and make sure any disagreements are sorted out away from the public view.

      The one exception to this is that the Greens are free to differ from Labour & NZF on matters that aren’t covered by the confidence & supply agreement & that fall outside the range of their ministerial portfolios. I hope they don’t do this too often – the last thing we need is perceptions of instability or a government that can’t get things done – but they need to keep faith with their voters and their values and that kind of flexibility is built into their arrangement. Wise use of this arrangement will be part of what can bring them back over 5% next election, as is the willingness of Labour to allow them to own the achievements in their portfolio areas. So far, it seems to me that Labour are doing this and that the allocation of portfolios played to the Greens’ strengths.

      As for NZF, I have to admit that I find their supporters’ thinking harder to understand, but I guess if they can present themselves as a restraint on the Greens, that plays to their base, and so do any wins for the regions and the elderly. Plus people like Tracey Martin are doing solid work and hopefully her profile can increase during the term.

      As for the issue of “virtue signalling”, I’m going to use a favourite quote from Twitter and say that people who use that phrase are dickhead signalling. It’s the new “PC” catch-call. Plus, people who voted Labour or Green did so because they wanted a government based on the kinds of virtues that Ardern and others represent.

      Rant over.

      • patricia bremner 3.2.1

        “Virtue signalling”

        Oh!! Is that what people say when what they are promoting has no virtue?

        Figures, going by who is saying that!! LOL

        Like “Goody two shoes” Hehe! Just a tad childish.

      • veutoviper 3.2.2

        We should all be allowed a “rant” from time to time, red-blooded – had a few of my own just recently. LOL.

        Actually a really good comment, IMHO.

        My only comment (not disagreement) is in relation the NZF. I have followed NZF with interest for years – simply because as a public servant working in areas close to or in Parliament, I saw Peters on and off over the years and found him and NZF a bit of an enigma. It is really hard to place him and them on a right -left spectrum as they are rightish on some things and leftish on other things, so even the tag “centralist” does not really fit. As such, they seem to attract followers from both right and left.

        As I noted in another comment yesterday under the Northcote election post on NZF’s polling results since the general election, the downside to being ‘kingmaker’ after the general election was that NZF was going to lose votes whichever party they chose – National or Labour. And Peters/NZF were well aware of this and held firm and did not panic when polling indicated this reaction.

        NZF’s polling results fell progressively down from 7.2% at the Sept 2017 election over the four months to the first half of Feb 2018 to a low of 2.6%. But their polling has now recovered from that low point two months ago by 2.4% to bring them back to 5%. (EDIT – I note that Matt W calls this 2% in his new post but when you are down at those numbers that 0.4% is actually quite relevant. MW dreams of NZF being out of the picture; I think he is dreaming …)

        So IMHO it looks like the right wing voters probably deserted NZF in those first four months but some are now returning and/or other voters are going to NZF, and that this level of support may well creep back up further – bar any major catastrophes. Time will tell.

        The Northcote by-election

        Re their relationship with the Greens, I have never really seen NZF as presenting themselves as a restraint to the Greens. Yes, there has been some disagreement/tension from time to time in the past especially on Peters’ part, but since the formation of the actual coalition government I have seen a number of instances which indicate that NZF, especially Jones and Tabuteau (the semi-crowned successor) have been working hard to build relationships – eg at the announcement of the Provincial Development Fund in Gisborne when Jones and Ardern very deliberately pulled Shaw into the fore at the press conference. Despite Jones’ facial expressions ( contrived? – LOL) the more recent ban on new gas and oil licenses is also a big win for the Greens which was announced jointly by Ardern, Shaw and Jones.

        Having said that, I have often wondered whether Peters would have gone with Labour as a coalition partner last Oct, if the proportionality between the Labour and Green votes in the general election had been different. In other words, if the Labour vote had been lower in the high 20s/lower 30s – and the Greens had been say 10 – 12% and higher than NZF.

        I actually doubt that Peters would have put himself and NZF in that position. So, perhaps the drop in the Green vote coupled with the rise in Labour’s was in fact a blessing in disguise that created the only scenario whereby National was finally pushed out of government.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      It has been a disaster of late for Ardern having to deal with incompetent ministers and rouge coalition MP’s. Of course, the media has jumped all over this…just as they would if it were National in charge.

      A few teething problems aren’t a disaster and not once in the last 9 years was National held to the same scrutiny from the MSM that we’re now seeing of the Labour led coalition. If they had been then they wouldn’t have got away with so many lies.

      • Enough is Enough 3.3.1

        “…not once in the last 9 years was National held to the same scrutiny from the MSM that we’re now seeing of the Labour led coalition”

        Isn’t that a good thing?

        For the purposes of a healthy democracy I think the more scrutiny the better. The government should be able to stand up to that scrutiny and I am confident that they can.

        They should not get a free ride just because the last mob did. If they can’t stand up to the scrutiny then they should not be there.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.3.1.1

          For the purposes of a healthy democracy I think the more scrutiny the better.

          More scrutiny is better but we don’t see that sort of scrutiny when National are in government and the the scrutiny that the Labour led coalition has come in for is more attack pieces than scrutiny.

          Middlemore and the Curran Affair are a case in point. The scrutiny should have stayed on National and their fuckups rather than that being hastily dropped in favour of attack pieces on Curran’s mistakes.

          We’re talking double standards here in favour of National and that is not good.

          • Enough is Enough 3.3.1.1.1

            Agreed but I prefer to look forward.

            National won’t be back in for a decade or so. On that basis I am only really interested in ensuring that our current government is held to account by the media.

  4. Kat 4

    The msm along with all the National supporters want to see the coalition fail, simple as that.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      And are seemingly working to achieve that.

    • JohnSelway 4.2

      “The msm along with all the National supporters want to see the coalition fail, simple as that.”

      Well I’m not sure what the msn want but stating that National supporters want the coalition fail is pointing out the obivious. They are in the opposition – that’s what the opposition does

      • Incognito 4.2.1

        Well I’m not sure what the msn want but stating that National supporters want the coalition fail is pointing out the obivious. They are in the opposition – that’s what the opposition does [sic]

        You are 100% correct that this is the present reality but don’t you think it points to an intrinsic flaw in our political system?

        Isn’t it the role of the Opposition to hold the Government to account? To make sure they do the best job they can and deliver optimal performance? Do you achieve this best by trying to make the Government’s job as hard as possible, by being antagonistic, negative, filibustering, delaying, counter-productive, for example?

        It has also been said that the role of Opposition is to be an (or the?) alternative Government. If so, the same questions apply.

        Currently, the Opposition seems to be in constant campaign mode and MSM play long with this. Unless the Government falls prematurely this is inappropriate behaviour and it benefits nobody (with the possible exception of MSM).

  5. Michelle 5

    agree with Kat and the nasty dirty low down gnats are doing everything they possibly can to make the coalition look bad. After 9 years and our country is in a mess people need to be more patient key couldn’t even speak properly for f..k sake.

    • red-blooded 5.1

      To be fair, oppositions always try to make the incumbent government look bad.

    • Enough is Enough 5.2

      “After 9 years and our country is in a mess people need to be more patient key couldn’t even speak properly for f..k sake”

      This is brilliant.

      • red-blooded 5.2.1

        No it’s not, it’s childish and petty. I couldn’t stand Key, but that was because of his policies and actions, not his verbal style. Similarly, people need to get over the fact that Ardern has big teeth and Bridges has a broad kiwi accent. Who cares?

        • Enough is Enough 5.2.1.1

          It is the irony that is brilliant red.

          In attempting to criticise Key for the way he speaks, Michelle has demonstrated a pretty average expression of English herself.

        • OnceWasTIm 5.2.1.2

          Call me old fashioned possum, but Key and Bridges diction is a sign of laziness – and not just with speech. Sometimes it’s so bad, you have to wonder whether or not they’re ekshully half cut
          Besides. it’s a pain in the arse having to listen twice to anything they say in order to unna stan the meaning.
          Unfortunately my longtime Kiwi friend Madge Allsop popped her clogs a while ago, so I no longer have a Key or Bridges translator handy.

    • patricia bremner 5.3

      “Akshuly you are right” Michelle. Not only was his diction dire his message was self serving. And I believe DP is his horrible legacy, sadly.

  6. Doogs 6

    I would take issue Chuck with your assertion that the MSM would chew bits off National were the situation reversed. You only have to look at that unfortunate little click bait site called The Herald to see that RW commentators abound, and are forever slinging their outrageous little arrows of misfortune at the current government. You only have to look at the incestuous little love affair they had with wonky jonkey until he toddled off into the sunset. They are skewed in their views. Look at Rohan, Trevitt, Hosking, Hooten (occasionally), duPlessis-Allan, Soper, Hawkesby, et al. Also remember they are joined at the hip to ZB who have Smith, Hosking, Williams and co all spraying their acidic RW corrosiveness. I used to wake up in the morning, grab the laptop and scan the Herald. No more. On one occasion I saw HDPA, followed by Soper followed by Hosking followed by Hawkesby all tearing at the fabric of a minor government hiccup, creating a mountain out of a molehill and predicting doom and collapse for the Labour led coalition. I shudder at the thought of once having been a physical Herald subscriber. Now, I have deleted the Herald’s phone app and its bookmark on Safari, immediately followed by installing Stuff, the BBC and CNN. Couldn’t be happier. One of the things I found particularly annoying about the Herald was that what you saw on line as headline/s bore no relation to what was headlining on the paper version. Cunning bastards had elevated the RW click bait stories to the top. Fuck off Herald. Another infuriating little side issue is commentators remarking on how Jacinda really should be much more like JK because he was so open and natural and you knew everything about him and he was so down home straight about everything to everybody. I nearly barfed writing that because it is so far from the truth, and legions of shallow thinkers swallowed that line, hooks, sinker and all. Truth to tell, just watch and actually listen to Jacinda a few times if you want to see open and honest discourse. Look, I could go on about small government teething troubles, some inexperience among MPs and ministers, but JA has a handle on it, is understanding and a bit more forgiving than any Natzi lot would be about their own – oh, sorry, they’d cover it all up wouldn’t they, then blame Labour. It would just be so good to read well-researched, factual, thoughtful, dispassionate and honest media stories – from both sides. MSM – get your fucking act together!

    • Puckish Rogue 6.1

      I bet you feel better after posting that 🙂

    • patricia bremner 6.2

      Doogs, Personally I feel better for your post. Biased I know, but hell it’s the truth!!

      John Key was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He doesn’t care for ordinary Kiwis, Not at all.

  7. Sacha 7

    If it’s presented as a ‘honeymoon’ then nobody needs to admit the govt might be popular for its actions rather than for being new.

    Wonder whose interests that serves ..

  8. Observer Tokoroa 8

    Auckland is a shambles

    Can anybody tell me what the Herald has ever done for the good of Auckland ?

    Thanking you in advance.

  9. Enough is Enough 9

    I wouldn’t get too wound up with this MS. Its a game we all play. Just look at the first link:

    The end of the media honeymoon for John Key

    English honeymoon over already

    National will lose the next election

    • Baba Yaga 9.1

      Good grief the comments under the third link made me laugh. Oh well, the prediction was only 9 years and 3 elections out.

  10. Chris T 11

    “So why does the media insist on running National’s lines?”

    I doubt they are

    Not everything has some kind of hidden agenda

    The poll is out. It’s a pretty boring one. They need to put some kind of narrative to it so people notice it’s there. They pick the most obvious change in the poll and chuck an easy slant on it.

  11. smilin 12

    Who was the idiot who coined the phrase Honey moon in regards to a change of govt and why is it even an analogy
    Really its about focusing on the policies elected on and whether the govt can deliver
    This stupid journoistic rubbish of a honeymoon period is a distraction and a waste of constructive focus on how far off the mark or on the govt actually is in dealing with what most of us want from this govt and how much destruction of their ability to govern is going on in the opposition also how much democracy they are going to sacrifice as the last govt did .
    Lets hope none

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