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The loneliness of Phil Goff

Gem

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As a Labour party member, the sadness I feel today is tinged with a sense of resignation. John Key is the coolest, untouchable kid in the unforgiving social strata of high school. Anyone who remembers such cliques will understand feeling hopeless and powerless to change playground politics, let alone our country’s politics at a time when brand Key is pervasively popular. In the interest of gracious defeat, let me congratulate Key and National on their conquest.

Last night wasn’t entirely gloomy. New Zealand First’s gallop to 6.8% was like the class nerd scoring with the hottest girl in school.  That Winston Peters and his crew triumphed in spite of concerted media efforts by Duncan Garner, Guyon Espiner, John Campbell, Paul Holmes et al to sideline them makes the victory stunning and sweet.

Another highlight of last night was seeing the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter working at the Green party’s celebration. It is progressive and heartening to see a political party actively promoting the validity and importance of NZSL, an official language of this country.

Phil Goff – I implore you not to resign, yet I sense the inevitability of you doing so.

In a hostile, biased media environment, populated by media personnel who are reduced to slobbering stupidity in Key’s presence, you never stood a chance. You knew this, so you presumably thought, “What the hell” and you campaigned hard. You’re not a firebrand. What you are is steady, methodical and quietly determined. You have integrity.

Even while your treacherous colleagues sharpened their knives, you persisted.

While the media fawned over Key’s confident, solo fronting of National’s campaign, yet double standardly cast you in the desolate role of man alone, you trundled along.

Last night, your concession speech was gracious and moving. The journalists who lambasted you with cruel, needling questions as soon as you were off the stage should be ashamed. They wouldn’t let you have even a few minutes of dignity. Someone’s concession speech, like yours this time, Helen Clark’s in 2008, or Bill English’s back in 2002, is not a moment for gloating. It is a time to put political allegiances aside and to respect a fellow human’s intrinsic humanity and dignity, to recognise how hard it is to admit that efforts, based on someone’s strongest convictions, have simply not been enough.

Shame on our hectoring, salivating, unseemly media. Shame on your grasping, backstabbing colleagues.

If you resign, I fear that the Labour will scrabble around for another three years with a new leader who the media will maltreat in the same way that they have abused you, out of dribbling sycophancy to Key. No one else could withstand this abuse. That you have come this far speaks volumes about your durability and tenacity. If you leave, Labour will try to reconfigure but will end up in a confused, unpopular scramble of egos and treachery.

Please stay. You did experience a victory of sorts last night, despite being defeated – you came into your own and shook off the ghosts of the past.

If you resign, I will resign my membership of Labour. Suddenly, New Zealand First is looking good.

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Acknowledgement

http://writical.blogspot.com

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Post mortem #2: Phil Goff

27 November 2011 78 comments

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Phil Goff – Man of The Hour

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I must admit… When Phil Goff took Labour into the 2011 General Election, I didn’t really give him much credence as a credible alternative to John Key. Due perhaps in part to Key’s popularity with the Masses, and the Key/Media love affair, Phil Goff was simply left in the background, kicking at the sand, waiting for attention.

He seemed… ok. Nothing special in terms of political leadership. Average.

What can I say? I was totally wrong.

Phil Goff led Labour into a battle-royale against one of the most popular governments since David Lange’s administration in the mid/late 1980s. He scored significant debating points against John Key in two out of three Leadership Debates, and toward the end he trounched the National Party leader in the final debate.

John Key wanted to get away from the “Teapot Tapes” saga and focus on issues? Goff agreed, and threw issue after issue at Key.  With the odd exception, Key was left smiling vacantly; looking bored;  or unable to  even make eye-contact with  Goff as the Labour leader fired  issues at the Smile & Wave Kid.

Goff had risen to the challenge, and in my view he did bloody well.

And at his greatest moment; when he made an almost Kennedy-like speech; Goff gave a concession-announcement that I thought was passionate; stirring; and came straight from the man’s soul. Phil Goff loved New Zealand and you could tell from the raw, naked emotion he revealed. He held nothing back.

This man, I thought,  had become a worthy challenger to a National Party Prime Minister who is more about photo-ops than addressing issues; bending the truth when it suits him (or when he’s caught out); and is a fine illustration of how our society values form over substance. Oh yes, we deserve John Key 100%.

In time, we will get over Key’s “smile and wave” persona. Like the children that we are, we will get bored with his vacant optimism and endless promises for a brighter future that is always just around the corner. And we will yearn for something more mature and more meaningful.

I hope Phil Goff is around when that moment comes, because by the gods, we don’t deserve him. Not when Goff gave us a viable alternative to National’s much-disliked policies – and we failed to grasp what was offered.

I hope Phil Goff stays on as Leader of the Labour Party. He shouldn’t have to resign simply because, collectively, we were too thick to connect the populist leader with unpopular policies.

I, for one, will join the Labour Party as a card-carrying member, and will work my butt off to secure a centre-left victory in 2014 – if Phil Goff stays as Leader.

C’mon, Phil. Wadaya say, boss?

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Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

27 November 2011 28 comments

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The Green Party has done remarkably well this election, winning 10.62% of the Party Vote, and translating that result into 13 seats. After special votes are counted they may even win an extra seat in the House.

What is also clear is that Green Party voters  have failed to  use their two votes in a tactical manner. Casting their Electorate Vote for Green candidates was not only a  pointless exercise in futility – but assisted National to win electorates; lose Labour MPs; and in one instance, succeeded in returning one of National’s coalition allies (Peter Dunne).

Luckily,  ACT managed to gain only 1.07% of the Party Vote. Had ACT increased it’s Party Vote share over 1.2%, Banks would have dragged a second ACT MP back into Parliament “on his coat-tails”.  This is the brutal consequence of not voting tactically.

As the following figures demonstrate all too clearly,  failing to use Electorate Votes in a clever way, that maximises desired outcomes, is an indulgence that opponants to National simply cannot afford.

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Auckland Central

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ARDERN, Jacinda    (Lab)    11,823
KAYE, Nikki   (Nat)    12,358
ROCHE, Denise    (GP)    2,188

Majority to Nikki Kaye (Nat): 535
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from Denise Roche (GP) to Jacinda Ardern (Lab),

ARDERN, Jacinda    (Lab)    14,011
KAYE, Nikki    (Nat)    12,358

Revised  majority to Jacinda Ardern (Lab): 1,653
Win: Labour

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Christchurch Central

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BURNS, Brendon (Lab) 10,493
WAGNER, Nicky (Nat) 10,493
MOORHOUSE, David (GP) 1,805

Majority: dead-heat
Win: n/a

Transfer electorate votes from David Moorhouse (GP) to Brendon Burns (Lab),

BURNS, Brendon (Lab) 12,298
WAGNER, Nicky (Nat) 10,493

Revised  majority to Brendon Burns (Lab): 1,805
Win: Labour

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Ohariu

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DUNNE, Peter (UF) 13,228
CHAUVEL, Charles (Lab) 11,582
HUGHES, Gareth (GP) 1,775

Majority to Peter Dunne (UF): 1,646

Win: United Future

Transfer electorate votes from Gareth Hughes (GP) to Charles Chauvel (Lab),

CHAUVEL, Charles (Lab) 13,357
DUNNE, Peter (UF) 13,228

Revised  majority to Charles Chauvel (Lab): 129
Win: Labour

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Waimakariri

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WILKINSON, Kate (Nat) 15,409
COSGROVE, Clayton (Lab) 15,014
KELCHER, John (GP) 1,049

Majority to Kate Wilkinson (Nat): 395
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from John Kelcher (GP) to Charles Chauvel (Lab),

COSGROVE, Clayton (Lab) 16,063
WILKINSON, Kate (Nat) 15,409

Revised  majority to Clayton Cosgrove (Lab): 654
Win: Labour

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Waitakere

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BENNETT, Paula (Nat) 12,310
SEPULONI, Carmel (Lab) 11,961
TOLLESTRUP, Steve (GP) 1,582

Majority to Paula Bennet (Nat): 349
Win: National

Transfer electorate votes from Steve Tollestrup (GP) to Carmel Sepuloni(Lab),

BENNETT, Paula (Nat) 12,310
SEPULONI, Carmel (Lab) 13,543

Revised  majority to Carmel Sepuloni (Lab): 1,233
Win: Labour

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The five seats above would have gone to Labour, had Green voters voted more judiciously with their Electorate Vote. Whilst it is true that, generally speaking it is the Party Vote that counts in MMP elections – it is also true that in closely-fought elections, Electorate results can also have a direct impact on who forms a government.

Had Green voters cast their Electorate Votes for the Labour candidate, the following would have resulted;

  • Paula Bennett (N) would have lost Waitakere
  • Carmel Sepuloni would be the new MP for Waitakere – Ms Sepuloni lost the race, and failed to get back in on the Labour List.
  • Peter Dunne would have lost Ohariu, and Charles Chauvel would be the new electorate MP

In the cases above, Ohariu is the most important. Dunne’s election gave National an extra coalition partner  and his win  therefore assumes a greater relevance than a “mere” electorate MP.

In effect, 1,775 Green voters sent John Key a second Coalition partner, after John Banks.

Regarding the  Epsom seat; Green and Labour voters in that electorate are very lucky that ACT’s party vote remaind under 1.2%. Had ACT won more than that, Banks would have dragged a second ACT MP (Don Brash) into Parliament, according to how MMP functions.

Had ACT “cracked” the 1.2% (unofficial) “threshold”, Epsom National voters would’ve sent two ACT MPs to Parliament, not one. These are the sorts of consequences that voters in crucial electorates must consider when casting their two votes. On rare occassions, an Electorate Vote can become more significant than the Party Vote.

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Epsom

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BANKS, John (ACT) 14,150
GOLDSMITH, Paul (Nat) 11,665
PARKER, David (Lab) 3,093
HAY, David  (GP) 1,670

Majority to John Banks (ACT): 2,485
Win: ACT

Transfer electorate votes from David Hay (GP) and David Parker  (Lab) to  Paul Goldsmith (Nat),

GOLDSMITH, Paul (Nat) 16,428
BANKS, John (ACT) 14,150

Revised  majority to Paul Goldsmith (Nat): 2,278
Win: National

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Lucily, the John Banks’ win simply displaces a National MP, and there is no net gain for the National-led government.

In future elections Green (and occassionally Labour) voters must consider the overall effect of their voting. Sometimes, aiming for a desired goal is not a straight-forward route of getting from “A” to “B”. Occassionally, a slight detour will be required to get to our end destination.

Hopefully, I’ve provided a useful roadmap.

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Sources

Electoral Commission: Election Results – Overall Status

TVNZ: Election Results and Electoral Information

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Categories: The Body Politic