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What is important to voters?

Written By: - Date published: 8:17 am, April 23rd, 2011 - 52 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, dpf, election 2011, political education - Tags: ,

What is important to voters? Good policy that gets results? Competent, well managed execution of government? A leader who is perceived as friendly and accessible? Some vague overall general impression?

I’m moved to ask because of a bizarre comment in one of DPF’s posts at Kiwiblog. The post is ordinary enough. DPF is having a hissy because his attack on Labour’s “Stop Asset Sales” signs seems to have backfired, resulting in publicity for Labour’s campaign, and an increase in donations. (Certainly it caused me and others I know to donate more signs – cheers DPF). Farrar also quotes The Standard as a leftie blog that was critical of Labour falling foul of traffic law (a bit of a departure from his usual lie that this blog is run by Labour!).

Anyway, that’s all by the by. The bit that caught my eye was:

They [Labour] do not realise that issues of policy are less important to voters than issues of competence.

I wouldn’t have thought that the Nats were going to score any points on actual competence with the electorate, their absolute bungling of the economy and the Christchurch quake recovery being two major cases in point. What DPF really means by “competence” is spin — who’s winning the public perception wars at the moment.

So in those terms, is DPF right? Is spin more important than policy? Looking at the polls right now you’d certainly have to think so wouldn’t you. By any rational criteria the Left’s policies are better for the majority and better for the environment, yet the Nats are miles ahead in the horse race. Spin seems to rule.

But perhaps DPF should look a little deeper than last week’s poll. The Nats won the last election on the basis of being “Labour policies plus tax cuts”. Their popularity was built and still rests on their wholesale adoption of Labour’s ideas. Working for Families. Nuclear Free NZ. Ownership of KiwiBank. Interest free student loans. Big Labour policies that the Nats haven’t been able to touch. How popular will they be when they start cutting in to them? (Oh – and let’s not forget one of their own flagship policies, mining on prime Conservation land. National ran away from that policy pretty fast didn’t they.)

Policy matters. Labour and the Left needs to be relentlessly focused on developing good, effective, forward looking policy. And the communication of policy matters. Get that wrong and all the good work in the world is wasted. As the election nears and the public starts to pay attention, the good communication of policy becomes the key.

All the rest is fluff. It doesn’t surprise me that National’s pet blogger thinks they can drift through the next election on a cloud of spin. But I think he is both wrong, and complacent. And I think it’s a pretty damn impoverished model of democracy.

52 comments on “What is important to voters?”

  1. Matthew Hooton 1

    DPF is right – and “competence” is not the same as spin.
    Unless a party demonstrates it is competent to govern first itself and second the institutions of government, why would anyone care what its policies are?
    This is why Labour’s incompetence when it comes to road signs (and issues like whether or not the PM knew about the BMWs) are stories.
    Sadly for Labour, the general (and accurate) perception right now is that it couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery – so why would anyone believe it could “restore the welfare state” or whatever it is you might want it to do. 

    • Peter 1.1

      National have made a fine art of hiding their incompetence with spin, orchestrated beat-ups and misrepresentations.
      Conning the middle and lower income groups to vote for them in order to advantage higher income earners is by far their best trick to date.

      • higherstandard 1.1.1

        “National have made a fine art of hiding their incompetence with spin, orchestrated beat-ups and misrepresentations.”

        Absolutely – the only difference between them and Labour is that ability at present…….. and the polls of course.

    • bbfloyd 1.2

      so what chance is there for the labour party to demonstrate “competence” publicly when the lapdogs of the right in the media insist on making up story after story that, apparently, gives substance to the “perception” of incompetence?
      the roadsign campaign in reality has caught on quite well, and has struck a chord with a large number of people, but the herald simply prints “labour signs removed for breaking rules”.
      with that kind of obvious collusion going on, how are the public able to judge the merits, or not, of their policies, and the ability to implement them?
      where are the articles making a point of highlighting john keys shifting”truths” on any issue that causes any kind of reaction, or that has the potential for causing one? or the fact that key has no spine when it comes to announcing bad news, or yet another backdown on “core policy”?
      the “truth” is that john key is the most incompetent prime minister in my memory. the only reason he isn’t widely percieved to be so is a result of the same media who ceaselessly attack the labour party for simply “being” ,relentlessly defending him, and protecting him from the consequences of his incompetence by refusing to write about his, and his govenments lack of “competence” in any meaningful fashion.

      • Peter 1.2.1

        MSM will not help Labour, that’s why alternative methods of getting the message out must be employed. The good news is there are plenty of ways of doing this.

    • I am starting to enjoy the debate about the stop signs and with every passing comment it appears that the campaign is gaining more and more traction.

      The debate also exposes the workings of RWNJs. Their campaign processes appear to be as follows:

      1. Pick a topic, any topic but if it is an area of weakness for National then all the better. Work out something to say about the campaign about the topic that does not address the topic itself.
      2. Jump up and down as much as possible and yell and scream and bray that the topic is evidence of one of the following:
      a. Incompetence
      b. Corruption
      c. Corrupt incompetence.
      3. Keep doing this until it is picked up by the MSM. Usually Granny Herald and any Mediaworks entity can be assured of picking up and following the meme.
      4. This next point is important, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DEBATE THE MERITS OF THE TOPIC. If you do so then ordinary Kiwis may realize that National is trying to feed them a turd sandwich.
      5. Finish off by sayiing the following “Labour underGoff/XYZ will never win”.

      I am so heartened by this that I am going to buy a couple of more billboards. If anyone wants to do the same they are at http://www.labour.org.nz/stopassetsales

    • r0b 1.4

      Unless a party demonstrates it is competent to govern first itself and second the institutions of government, why would anyone care what its policies are?

      Do the Nats manage the first?  Worth?  Wong?  The Double Dipper?  BMW and chopper missteps. Key’s various lies to the public…

      They comprehensively fail the second.  Constantly abusing urgency and the select committe process, procedural bungles in the house, they are the very opposite of competent when it comes to the institutions of government.

      • Colonial Viper 1.4.1

        they are the very opposite of competent when it comes to the institutions of government.

        They are competent at achieving their aims and bringing about their vision for NZ.
         
        That is all that matters to the Right Wing: the bottom line, not the finicky details of the process to get there.

        • Blue 1.4.1.1

          “They are competent at achieving their aims and bringing about their vision for NZ.”

          Isn’t that the job of a Political Party to bring about change they are mandated to make? Would Labour have not done the same? Would any political party who has the mandate to rule implement policies they were elected to implement? Why would you expect otherwise?

    • millsy 1.5

      Got that list together of assets you want to sell to the Chinese Hooten? Is the Port of Lyttleton back on it?

  2. Peter 2

    Perception as we all know is reality. Whatever way you do it you must win the perception battle. Key’s PR people have proven, so far, to be the masters of this.
    Retaining power is much more important that what you do or stand for, that’s why National are prepared to backtrack on issues such as mining.

  3. IrishBill 3

    I don’t think the traffic law thing was any biggie – I was more upset by the failure to authorise. Which subsequently turned out to be untrue.

    I see the “protocol” quoted by Key’s office to justify the helicopter ride from his photo op turns out to be a bit of a fib – if that’s the kind of lousy spin Farrar is so proud of he better be ready for the house of cards to collapse.

    Because that’s the problem with depending on perception over fact (rather than perception based on fact). When it comes apart it comes apart fast.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “I see the “protocol” quoted by Key’s office to justify the helicopter ride from his photo op turns out to be a bit of a fib – if that’s the kind of lousy spin Farrar is so proud of he better be ready for the house of cards to collapse.”

      Was that that “PM must arrive before governor general” thing? Or something else? Because the former just sounds incredibly daft to me. Sure, maybe for major government functions, but for fund-raisers run by third parties – who cares?

  4. Bill 4

    Is it policy or vision that’s needed? If there is vision then policy flows from it kind of naturally.
     
    But where there is no vision…or no vision that offers a very clear and obvious departure from whatever it is that has prevailed in the mind of government these past decades… then policy becomes sticky and irrelevant bubble gum that most minds want to avoid contact with.
     
    And so ‘feel good’ spin it is.
     
    Which crucially includes offering up scenarios that people will relate to and that offers them the chance to live vicariously…choppering into a car race…flying around during an election in a private jet…being awkward in ‘high falutin’ situations…saying the ‘right’ thing (ie, what people want to hear) even when it’s the wrong thing and allowing the ensuing criticism to appear ‘up itself’ and negative in relation to peoples’ expectations…and so on.
     
    ‘Fraid, crafted and practiced or (even better) naturally competent incompetence trumps just about anything where the winds of political vision have given way to the doldrums.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Hooten misses the point somewhat (albeit not totally) but you are much closer Bill.
       
      National do have a vision – not the one they tell most voters directly mind you – and they have competence in executing that vision. And they do so in a pretty deliberate fashion without much fear.  In other words, its leadership.

      Its a kind of leadership we on the Left hate, but you cannot disagree that National have been excellent at serving the interests of the top 5% of NZ’ers, and excellent at undermining the lower 50% of NZ’ers, financially and socially speaking.

      In other words, National are executing well, when it comes to delivering on their vision. They ARE leading the country in other words. Just in a completely shit direction, but its happening and people like to feel that someone is taking charge.
       
      At the end of the day NZ’ers don’t want a vision on its own, although you right point out Bill, if you have a vision, other stuff flows from it naturally – just like you see with National. And NZ’ers don’t want competence on its own, without vision.
       
      So the answer for Labour is pretty simple – get a clear, incredibily distinct and differentiated vision of NZ out there, and show the electorate that you are going to execute towards that vision fast, fearlessly and competently.
       
      Then you will have a Labour Party showing true leadership. It’s what the whole of NZ has been waiting for.

  5. ron 5

    Hooton – you make the pint for the left very well. Thank you.
    “competence isn’t the same as spin” then “Sadly for Labour, the general (and accurate) perception right now is that it couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery ”
    It is the perception of competency that keeps National in power and the perception if incompetence that keeps Labour low in the polls. That’s spin.
    Despite perception Labour established and successfully managed all the core policies of the last National win and is already creaming National  any time someone has to explain what’s going on in the economy. (Cunliffe’s dismantling of the NACT party line over inflation is a case in point.) And despite perception the National front bench couldn’t be more incompetent or more useless, could they?
    NZ voter want to be told that everything is ok and the nice man will sort it out. They don’t want to change their behaviour. They want to accept the scapegoats the Tories are putting up. They want their prejudices reinforced so that they don’t have to look at themselves.
    NZers will vote for the spin. They will have to take several more kicks in the guts before they wake up and realise  that the nice man is the one ripping them off- not immigrants or beneficiaries or teachers. That Buster Brownlee and Paula Benefitt are basically dumb and incompetent bullies. That the nice man doesn’t match his press.

    • handle 5.1

      NZ voter want to be told that everything is ok and the nice man will sort it out. They don’t want to change their behaviour. They want to accept the scapegoats the Tories are putting up. They want their prejudices reinforced so that they don’t have to look at themselves.

      That sort of contempt for voters explains why Labour is polling so low on the flawed advice of some allies. And I have to agree with Mr Hooten, ability to execute policy counts with all of us. Until the grown-ups are visibly in charge, the ‘kicking in the guts’ for poor New Zealanders can only get worse.

      • ron 5.1.1

        You’re right. I do have contempt for people who vote for these crooks.
        I have no ideas what you’re talking about regarding Labour. I’m expressing Labour’s opinion, I’m expressing mine.
        And of course you don’r address the issue. This Govt is surviving on spin.
         

        • terryg 5.1.1.1

          Ron, methinks you meant to write:
          “Im NOT exrpressing labour’s opinion, Im expressing my own”

  6. Lanthanide 6

    I’m expecting National poll results to deflate like a souffle down to the 40-45% mark before the election on the back of poor policy and budget.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      And closer to 40% as opposed to 45%.
       
      And that’s without considering the possibility of the All Blacks choking before the RWC final, which will end up putting the entire country in a bad mood for weeks.

  7. ianmac 7

    Carols comment at No 1 today on Open Mike seems very relevant.

    Open mike 23/04/2011

  8. and relate to vengeance killings in AfPak as build up to the RWC
     

  9. deemac 9

    of course the right have to hope that voters don’t choose on the basis of policies, because all the evidence is that asset sales and trickle-down economics etc are NOT popular. In the US the right use crude distractions like abortion and gay rights to get people to vote against their own interests, it’s just a bit more subtle here.

  10. Daveosaurus 10

    It’s easy to get good PR through the news media when you’ve bought the independent news media and installed a Party apparatchik to control the State news media.

  11. ‘When the people lead- the politicians will follow’?
    There are a growing number of concerned citizens /voting public who, in my considered opinion, are seeking legislative changes to ensure a genuine ‘anti-corruption’ framework in New Zealand.

    NZ is ‘perceived’ to be the ‘least corrupt country in the world’ (along with Singapore and Denmark) according to Transparency International’s 2010  ‘Corruption Perception Index’.
    http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010

    However – NZ’s ‘corruption REALITY’ is actually somewhat different.

    If NZ is indeed one of the three ‘least corrupt’ countries in the world – then arguably – we should be the most ‘transparent’?
    Here are some quite specific points which clearly identify where NZ lacks genuine transparency.
    If these were turned into ‘demands’ and achieved – in my view – there would be quite a transformation in NZ – which is long-overdue.
    Which political party/parties are going to ‘pick up the ball’?
    (I predict there will be a similar public response to that opposing asset sales………………
    ie: HUGE!
    (Prepared by Penny Bright – for Transparency International 14th Conference 7/11/2010
    IACC ID D – 1198 http://waterpressure.wordpress.com ([email deleted])”
    FYI – I distributed this to about 400 of the 1200 delegates from 135 different countries represented, and got the contact details of a number of international experts from different areas in the anti-corruption field.    A VERY worthwhile event.)
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    CORRUPTION REALITY CHECKLIST – NEW ZEALAND
    1. Has NZ ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption? ……… NO
    2. Does NZ have an independent anti-corruption body tasked with educating the public and PREVENTING corruption? ……. NO
    3. Do NZ’s laws ensure transparency in the funding of candidates for elected public office and political parties at central government level? …………………. NO
    4. Do NZ Members of Parliament have a ‘Code of Conduct’? NO
    5. Do NZ Local Govt elected reps have a ‘Code of Conduct’? ……. YES
    6. Is it an offence for NZ Local Govt elected reps to breach the ‘Code of Conduct’? NO
    7. Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for NZ Local Govt elected reps? …………………NO
    8. Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for NZ Central Govt staff responsible for procurement? ……………… NO
    9. Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for NZ Local Govt staff responsible for procurement? ………. NO
    10. Is there a lawful requirement for details of ‘contracts issued’ – including the name of the contractor; scope, term and value of the contract to be published in NZ Central Govt Public Sector, and Local Govt (Council) Annual Reports so that they are available for public scrutiny?……. NO
    11. Is it a lawful requirement that a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ of NZ Central Govt public finances be undertaken to substantiate that private procurement of public services previously provided ‘in-house’ is cost-effective for the public majority? ………NO
    12. Is it a lawful requirement that a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ of NZ Local Govt public finances be undertaken to substantiate that private procurement of public services previously provided ‘in-house’ is cost-effective for the public majority? ………NO
    13. Does NZ have a legally-enforcable ‘Code of Conduct’ for members of the NZ Judiciary? ……NO
    14. Are all NZ Court proceedings recorded, and audio records made available to parties who request them?……………NO
    15. Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available NZ Judicial ‘Register of Interests’? …. NO
    16. Is there a lawful requirement for a publicly-available NZ ‘Register of Lobbyists’ at Central Govt Ministerial level? ………… NO
    17. Is there a legal requirement at NZ Central and Local Govt level for a ‘post-separation employment quarantine ‘ period’ from the time officials leave the public service to take up a similar role in the private sector?………………NO
    18. Is it a lawful requirement that it is only a binding vote of the public majority that can determine whether public assets held at NZ Central Govt or Local Govt level are sold; or long-term leased via Public-Private –Partnerships? …………………. NO
    19. Is it unlawful in NZ for politicians to knowingly misrepresent their policies prior to election at central or local government level? …………………………. NO
    20. Do NZ laws promote and protect individuals, NGOs and community-based organisations who are ‘whistleblowing’ against ‘conflicts of interest’ and corrupt practices at central and local govt level and within the judiciary? ……………………………. NO
     
    Penny Bright
    http://waterpressure.wordpress.com
     

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      Considering the lies and corruption coming out of this government my perception of NZ being non-corrupt has taken a radical shift. I now think it’s highly corrupt and the reason why we don’t know that is because we can’t see WTF is happening behind the curtain. We need more openness and we need it now.

  12. Chris 12

    Speaking of corruption. What was the party that had a politician sent to jail for corruption?

    And did labour ever come out and day anything? Not just that they acknowledge the sentence. It’s that kind behavior that NZ has come to expect from labour.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      AFAIK, no party has had a member sent to jail for corruption. If you’re talking about Philip Fields then, as you should recall, Labour kicked him out of the party because of his dodgy dealings before he was sent to jail. After that, ether wasn’t anything for them to say as it had nothing to do with them.

      • Blue 12.1.1

        But Bastard wouldn’t that have been judging him (Field) prior to him being convicted? Surely that was a breach of his human rights? Are “dodgy dealings” a crime? I guess thats much better than him being a Labour MP and being convicted of corruption. Did they judge Hughes in the same vain or are they awaiting the conviction? It seems a bit duplicitous to claim corruption in others when all you need to do is look at the actions of your own for some examples.

  13. PeteG 13

    What DPF really means by “competence” is spin — who’s winning the public perception wars at the moment.

    No, I doubt DPF confuses competence with spin. That is one of Labour’s main problems. You can get away with a bit of spin sometimes, but most people see through the bullshit eventually. Labour seems to think they need to just keep spinning and eventually, despite the mean media, the people will finally be duped. The more they spin the more they dupe themselves. Spinning like a whirlygig just makes yourself dizzy.
     
    Something that seems to really frustrate Labour – because they don’t understand it – is Key’s lack of spin, he’s prepared to be himself, warts and all if you want to look at it like that, he backs himself. The electorate obviously prefers a bit of genuineness even if it means a few rough edges and mistakes are exposed. That is sort of how real life is.
     
    And it is why Goff isn’t getting any traction, spinning too much in the mud. And so is Labour. If they learn that competency is hard earned over time and not a matter of waiting for some spin to hit it’s mark, then maybe they will start to recover.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      No, I doubt DPF confuses competence with spin. That is one of Labour’s main problems. You can get away with a bit of spin sometimes,

      Oh what a load of bollocks, PeteG the spin servant of National, the party of spin, trying to teach the rest of us about spin.

      because they don’t understand it – is Key’s lack of spin, he’s prepared to be himself warts and all if you want to look at it like that, he backs himself.

      So come November 26 are you going to kick John Key’s ass or are you going to kiss it?
       
      Actually i can see you puckering up right now, so I don’t have to guess

    •  
      PeteG 12

      What DPF really means by “competence” is spin — who’s winning the public perception wars at the moment.

      And it is why Goff isn’t getting any traction, spinning too much in the mud. And so is Labour. If they learn that competency is hard earned over time and not a matter of waiting for some spin to hit it’s mark, then maybe they will start to recover.”
      So how come in the Botany by-election, (the only poll that counts) Phil Goff and Labour arguably ‘out-performed’ shonky John Key and National?
      Why do you think there is such a desperate corporate media campaign happening to undermine Labour /Phil Goff.
      (I know you have an exceptionally short attention span Pete G – when it comes to reading information that doesn’t support your arguably ‘not-so-considered opinion – but have a go!
      Good luck! 🙂
      Penny Bright
      http://waterpressure.wordpress.com
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10710626
      Botany byelection loss holds silver lining for Labour Party
      By John Armstrong

      5:30 AM Monday Mar 7, 2011

      At last, Phil Goff has something to smile about.
      Exactly why the Labour leader is smiling might not seem immediately obvious given that National’s Jami-Lee Ross won Saturday’s Botany byelection in a canter, securing almost double the number of votes of his Labour counterpart.
      The answer is that everything is relative in politics. Labour did better than it hoped. National did not fare as well as it would have expected.
      Of some worry to National will be the bleeding of its votes to the New Citizen Party, which picked up 10.5 per cent of the total candidate vote and pushed Act into fourth place.
      If replicated in electorates across Auckland with large populations of New Zealand Chinese, such splintering of centre-right support could see large piles of wasted votes if the new party fails to reach the 5 per cent threshold.
      That could diminish the centre-right’s representation in Parliament by one or two seats – seats which may well be crucial for National to retain power.
      It is questionable, however, how meaningful conclusions drawn from a byelection can be, let alone one as stifled by circumstances as this one.
      Still, the debut of the New Citizen Party and National’s failure to lift its vote would seem to pour cold water on the possibility of National securing a majority alone.

      The complicating factor is Saturday’s abysmally low turnout. However, the non-vote would more likely be weighted in Labour’s favour.
      The 36.6 per cent turnout – half that of a general election – meant both major parties got fewer votes than at the 2008 election. Labour’s vote proved more robust. National’s vote halved from more than 17,000 to just over 8000. In comparison, Labour’s vote fell, but far less dramatically – from around 6500 to just over 4000.
      The net result is: Labour increased its share of the candidate vote in the seat from 21 per cent in 2008 to 28 per cent on Saturday.
      Moreover, it did so in the face of a number of handicaps – notably the party’s candidate, Michael Wood, committing one of politics’ great sins early on by saying he would not win the seat.
      At a minimum, the result boils down to a psychological victory for Labour, one which Goff wasted no time milking by staging a lunch-time photo-opportunity yesterday at a cafe in Botany town centre.
      His claim the result is a “significant swing” against the Government ignores National having won about the same share of the vote as it did in 2008.
      Moreover, although such comparisons are questionable, there is not a big difference between Labour’s party vote in the seat in 2008 and its candidate vote this time.
      As for Act, Rodney Hide may not know whether to laugh or cry. The party’s candidate, Lyn Murphy, got 671 votes.
      That amounts to less than 5 per cent of the vote in the kind of seat where Act should be hitting double figures.
      However, Act’s party vote in the seat was less than 5 per cent in 2008. The byelection result suggests that while Act may still be down, the party is definitely not out.
      The party is holding its annual conference next weekend. It does so with a fig-leaf of electoral respectability – but nothing more.
       

    • MrSmith 13.3

      “You can get away with a bit of spin sometimes, but most people see through the bullshit eventually.”
      Never a truer word spoken peteG, you are almost transparent .

    • Draco T Bastard 13.4

      is Key’s lack of spin,

      You mean like the 50000 railway shares he said he owned until he finally realised that someone had done the legwork and knew he had 100000?
       
      Key is nothing but spin and an outright liar.

    • ron 13.5

      “…– is Key’s lack of spin, he’s prepared to be himself,…”
      Do you actually believe that? Extraordinary.

      • PeteG 13.5.1

        Do you actually believe otherwise? Extraordinary.
         
        Preferred prime minister stakes, John Key at 52.4% (TV3/Reid poll last week) and 85% thought he was doing ok.

        • terryg 13.5.1.1

          how many people without telephones were included in that survey?
          how many people who dont respond to surveys?
          how many homeless?
          how many people who were at work when it was taken?
          NONE.
          election polls are essentially meaningless – the only one that really counts is the one we refer to as the “election”.
          And the further a poll is away from an election, the less meaningful it is.

  14. PeteG 14

    You’re a bit blind CV. There are a lot of people reserving their assessment of Key and National, but will take a lot of convincing that Labour have learned any lessons.
    If Labour want to rely so much on hail mary spin they should at least learn to be competent at it.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      If Labour want to rely so much on hail mary spin they should at least learn to be competent at it.

      Perhaps they should hire the NAT’s firm, Crosby Textor then?

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    And I think it’s a pretty damn impoverished model of democracy.

    National don’t like democracy and will do everything in their power to disrupt or destroy it. This is proven by their actions – removal of ECAN and stopping the elections for it, rushing through legislation that removed Auckland’s right to have a say in how their city was organised and their misuse of urgency in general. Everything that they do is contrary to democracy.

    • PeteG 15.1

      Everything that they do is contrary to democracy.

      Yeah, right. Like working out democratic system to get more votes than Labour? Like including a democracy referendum in this year’s election so people can choose if they want to change anything? Like not self destructing so people will prefer to vote for them?
       
      If you overdo your rhetoric you underdo your credibility. You may believe what you say but it’s not going to be taken seriously.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        PeteG has somehow mistaken National giving people shit choices for being the same thing as “democracy”.

      • Draco T Bastard 15.1.2

        Like not self destructing so people will prefer to vote for them?

        Double Dipton, Johnkeys lies, Pansy Wong, Richard worth and others… Seems that they’re doing the self-destruct thing quite well.

      • MrSmith 15.1.3

        Are you on double time today pete?

  16. Competence does matter, as Matthew Hooten points out.

    My difficulty is trying to understand why Goff and Labour are seen as any the less competent than Key and National, in any objective sense.

    Both have had internal ructions, resignations, etc.. Both have had a number of public shambles (speaking out of turn, inappropriate behaviour as an MP, expense concerns, etc.). Both have less than competent members who struggle with the duties assigned to them.

    So, why the difference in ‘perceptions’ of competence?

    One possibility is that competence is being ‘spun’ better by National than Labour. But I don’t see how the effectiveness of spin is to be judged – apart from tautologically.

    Another possibility is simply that Labour is in first-term opposition. They ‘failed’ in 2008 and, so the (simple) story goes, it must be because they weren’t competent enough. National are in first-term government. They ‘succeeded’ in 2008 and, so the (simple) story goes, it must be because they were a competent bunch.

    That story leads to a different analysis of the same difficulties. Labour lose an MP in a kerfuffle and “it shows the disarray they’re in”. National lose an MP in a kerfuffle and “it shows how they won’t be distracted from government”. 

    Perhaps it’s just convenient (and simple) ‘narratives’ then?

    Maybe, but there’s a further question. Narratives change. Why are these narratives still running, given that both parties are exhibiting levels of competence that could result in a narrative ‘switch’ with no change in the events the narratives concern? (i.e., the narratives for each party could be swapped overnight without the need to change either set of circumstances the two parties find themselves in).

  17. PeteG 17

    Another possibility is simply that Labour is in first-term opposition. They ‘failed’ in 2008 and, so the (simple) story goes, it must be because they weren’t competent enough. National are in first-term government. They ‘succeeded’ in 2008 and, so the (simple) story goes, it must be because they were a competent bunch.
    To an extent that is correct.
     
    National haven’t done enough wrong yet (in the eyes of most people as opposed to fanatical opposition) and Labour haven’t done enough yet to show they have repented, recovered, and replenished.
     
    Far too much attention (and hope) is given to spin. Most people see through it most of the time. Trying too much over the top spin is one of the worst approaches.
     

    • Gawd PeteG.  Earning a bit of CT overtime are you?  Hope they pay time and a half.

      Your comments are really annoying because they are fact free and go like this:

      “On the one hand x may happen but on the other hand y may happen but I love John Key and it is better for him that y happens so it is likely that y will happen.”

      There is a difference between sucking enough kiwis in to get elected and being competent for the job of leading the country.  Unfortunately as is being currently displayed the difference can be vast.

    • Puddleglum 17.2

      Far too much attention (and hope) is given to spin

      Spin does one thing well: It frames narratives (rather than persuade people of a particular version of reality).

      If the framing is ‘competency’ then everyone runs around trying to find out who’s most competent. My comment was really trying to highlight that (a) competence is important, but (b) the actual issue is why there are narratives about competency at all.

      The ‘spinning’ is that the Labour/National comparison that matters is competency. You say “[m]ost people see through it [spin] most of the time”. Well, they rarely see through the framing – because a frame is just how you see anything at all. That’s largely because human conversation is a to and fro about whatever it starts with (e.g., the weather).

  18. PeteG 18

    Well, they rarely see through the framing

    Well, sometimes they make up their own ideas on what is being framed, and at the moment Labour are in the middle of a fumbling and bumbling frame, and they are finding it very difficult to escape that focus.

  19. Mike1765 19

    Unfortunately, I agree that spin could easily win. Amongst people I know, some of my friends say they think John Key is excellent and doing a good job. When I press them on this, they actually have no idea why they think he is excellent and have no evidence to support their claim he is doing a good job. So it must be spin coz it ain’t evidence based.

    Also I disagree with a few things posted. National won the last election mainly because voters had had enough of Helen and labor after 9 years in government. It was bound to happen. I didn’t necessarily agree with her style of leadership or many of her polices but she was one of our best ever Prime Ministers. After 9 years, it is very difficult in the modern age for a party and leader to stay on for another term. People just wanted a change. Policy is never the main reason that most people vote. For a large number it is simply because they always vote Labor or always vote National regardless of policy. For many more it is simply who they like best out of the 2 Prime Ministerial candidates and policy is not even considered. Sad I know, but our education system really falls over in terms of educating kids about money, politics and political systems and human rights.

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