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On course for a change in government (Part Rua)

29 July 2012 6 comments

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Continued from:  On course for a change in government

The polls continue to look bad for Dear Leader and the Nats. The most recent, conducted by Fairfax Media/Ipsos, has National down on 44.9%,

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Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking   fmacskasy.wordpress.com

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Fairfax’s Tracy Watkins and Kate Chapman suggest that, at nearly 45%,  “National has enough support for a third term“.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the number of Undecided Voters – at 11.6% -will be the ones who will determine the next election in 2014 (if not earlier).  Over one third of Undecideds leaned toward Labour, Greeens, and NZ First,

See:  Fairfax Media/Ipsos Graphic

But most critically, we should not forget that National went in to the 2011 Elections riding high in polls.

For example, one year ago, a Roy Morgan Poll dated 28 July 2011,  had National on 52%.

Two previous Roy Morgan Polls  had National on 54% (June 13-26, 2011) and 49%  (June 27 – July 10, 2011).

(Sampling 895 respondents)

See: Roy Morgan Poll: Govt 57.5% Opp 42.5%

Another example, using a Fairfax Media-Research International poll, conducted between July 21 and July 25 2011 – again, about a year ago – had National on 56%.

Again, Tracy Watkins wrote enthusingly,

National continues its extraordinary run of popularity in today’s poll, recording 56 per cent support – enough to comfortably govern alone if the results were repeated on election night in November.”

(Sampling 1,004 respondents)

See:  Labour ‘not fazed’ by dismal poll result

Averaging out the 28 July Roy Morgan poll of 52% and the July 21/July 25 Fairfax poll of 56%, gives us 54%.

National achieved nothing like that figure on election night on 26 November 2011, gaining only 47.31% of the Party Vote. Not enough to govern alone.

See: Electoral Commission 2011 Election Results

National’s support from Election Night has dropped from 47.31% to the current Fairfax Media/Ipsos polling of 44.9% – a drop of 2.41%.

But more critically,  from July 2011 polling to Election Night voting, National’s support dropped from an averaged 54% to 47.31% – a drop of 6.69%.

The reason that this is so critical is that heading into the next election, National’s base polling has to start high, to take natural voter-support  attrition into account.

Remember;  in July 2011, National started high with 54% and 56% in the polls – then dropped to 47.31% on election night.

Now imagine if National’s polling stays at around current 44.9% support and heads into an election. Factor in natural voter-support  attrition of  (for example) 6.69% – and their election night result would be 38.21% – almost precisely the same figure National gained in the 2005 General Election.

See: Results 2005 General Election

The above figures are assumptions. But natural voter-support attrition is not, as Labour found to it’s dismay in 2002, after the ‘Corngate’ Affair.

With two years left (or earlier, as this blogger continues to predict), and many of National’s unpopular policies continuing to alienate the public, a loss of even 2% or 3% in support will mean the demise of National in power, and a new Labour-led government.

If/when Mighty River Power is partially privatised, expect National’s support to drop like a stone in a hydro-storage lake.

This is the simple reality that Fairfax neglected to mention in it’s story above.

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Heroes…

29 July 2012 5 comments

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These are people who have made a difference or otherwise stood against injustice and tyranny. They may not always have been successful,  but they remind us of the human spirit to resist injustice and instinctively stand up for what they believe is right.

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The “Tank Man”

“Tank Man” temporarily stops the advance of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Despite his anonymity, he is commonly (though not necessarily correctly) referred to in Chinese as Wang Weilin (王維林), as dubbed by a Sunday Express article.

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Dame Whina Cooper

Dame Whina Cooper (1895 – 1994) – Dame Cooper’s land-hikoi in 1975 raised awareness of Treaty breaches and vast tracts of Maori land that has been unjustly seized and confiscated by colonial, and more recent, governments. Without doubt, her courage contributed to the formation of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 – a model for addressing grievances from First Peoples throughout the world.

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Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis, the retired Philadelphia police captain who became a hero to the Occupy Wall Street movement when he was arrested on 16 November 2011.

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Rami al-Saidd

Rami al-Said – Blogger, Citizen Journalist. Killed in Syrian uprising in February 2012, by forces loyal to the tyrant, Bashar Assad.

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See: Bloggers lament the ultimate sacrifice for freedom

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Sue Bradford

 

Sue Bradford. Ex Green Party MP. In 2005, a parliamentary ballot allowed the discussion of Bradford’s member’s bill, the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill 2005. The Bill proposed amending Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 to remove the legal defence of “reasonable force” for parents prosecuted for assault on their children. The Bill became law after it passed 113 to 8 on 16 May 2007. The Bill sparked widespread debate largely due its depiction as an “anti-smacking” bill.
New Zealand has one of the worst rates of child abuse, neglect, and murders in the world.
Death threats were made against Ms Bradford in 2007 and 2009, and she was vilified (unfairly), as her Bill was taken up by Labour and supported by National, NZ First, as well as the Greens.

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An Unknown Protester

Protester standing against deforestation crews in the Amazon.

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See:  Youtube Video

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te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi

te Whiti O Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi – leaders of the pacifist community of Parihaka, who led a non-violent resistance in the late 1800s, against theft of their land by colonial forces. They based their non-violent resistance on Christian beliefs. The colonial government responded with 1,500 armed “constables” who attacked and looted Parihaka.

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See:  The History of Parihaka

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Rosa  Parks

Rosa Louise Parks was nationally recognized as the “mother of the modern day civil rights movement” in America. At a time of legally-sanctioned racial segregation, her refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, in December 1, 1955, created a wave of protest throughout the United States. Her quiet courage changed America, its view of black people, and changed the course of history.

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See: Rosa Louise Parks Biography

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Categories: People Being People

Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties

29 July 2012 4 comments

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A previous moral hysteria surrounding welfare beneficiaries and especially solo mums (but never solo dads) took place back in August 2009, when Paula Bennett released the files of two solo-mothers who had dared to criticise the Minister for closing down the Training Incentive Allowance.

Despite having no  authorisation or right to do so, Bennett  released details of the  women’s  WINZ files to the media and three years later there is still an outstanding complaint against her. It was a nasty, vindictive abuse of Ministerial power not seen since the autocratic rule of  Robert Muldoon.

Attacks on solo mums reached a hysterical crescendo that could only be described as naked misogyny – especially from a sector of the male population that has never had much success in relating to women. There were vile comments on many internet fora that cannot be repeated in polite company.

Fast forward to April 2012, and National is facing so much bad news that the media and bloggers are finding it difficult to choose what to hone in on.  Just to remind us about some of the problems confronting National,

  • Youth unemployment up from 58,000 last year  to 87,000 this year
  • Total unemployment up to 160,000 – 6.7% of the workforce
  • The government tax-take is down by $1.57 billion  in the first nine months of the fiscal year
  • Government deficit increases to $6.13 billion, or $800 million more than forecast
  • Migration to Australia is increasing, with a net loss of 39,100 to the year ending February 2012
  • Wages continue to lag behind Australia
  • New Zealand’s sovereign debt is at a massive  $13.5 billion dollars
  • Student debt is at a record $13 billion – and rising
  • Widening wealth/income gap
  • Increasing child poverty and poverty-related disease on a massive scale
  • Increased repayments demanded from tertiary students – effectively a tax increase
  • Ongoing public resistance to state asset sales
  • Ongoing public resistance to selling productive farmland to overseas investors
  • Ongoing public resistance to mining in conservation lands
  • A growing public disquiet over a hydrocarbon-extraction process known as “fracking”
  • Selling legislation for a convention centre and 500 extra pokies
  • Ministers involved in scandal after scandal
  • Key’s ‘teflon coating’ now practically non-existent, and developing a reputation for not being upfront with the public
  • A coalition partner whose brand is now so toxic  that even right wingers are singing it’s funeral dirges
  • and numerous other negative indicators

Time for the government  Spin Doctors to swing into action, and deflect attention from National’s apalling track record thus far.

Time to dust of the Manual for Deflection, and flick through to the chapter on blaming solo mums (but never solo dads) for the ills of the country; the Black Plague in the Middle Ages; both World Wars; and most likely the sinking of the Titanic.

Time for John Key to point at some young woman pushing a pram,  and shout – “Hey! Look over there!”

It worked in 2009.

See: Benefits of 50 to be scrutinised

Why not try it again, wonder National’s faceless, taxpayer-funded spin-doctors and strategists,  to deflect  public attention from  scandals and poor management of the economy?

See: Bennett increases pursuit of welfare ‘rorts’

See: Drug tests for more beneficiaries mooted

See: New welfare law a ‘war on poor’

See: Big families mean big welfare dollars

New Zealanders (in general) are suckers for this kind of Deflect & Demonise Strategy.

It’s what National  does, when their economic policies fail; they blame it on the poor; the unemployed; widows; solo-mums (but never solo-dads), etc. It’s what the right wing do, blaming their failed policies on others. Because as we all know, right wingers are Big on Personal Responsibility… (Except for themselves.)

It happened in the 1990s. It’s repeating again.

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It’s pretty much a given that the ACT is now living on borrowed time, and will end up in the political  rubbish bin of history. It was never popular with mainstream New Zealand in the first place – New Zealanders having had a bitter  taste of it’s ideology in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.

Events over the last couple of years; last twelve months; and last few weeks, a cascade of scandals and dirty dealings have left the public wondering if lunatics had, indeed, taken over the asylum called ACT. For a Party that advocated the purity of market-driven efficiency, it was prone to one bizarre gaffe after another. They couldn’t even update their own website several months after last year’s elections.

So ACT will be gone after the next election.

The result has been media, pundit, and public  speculation of  a new potential Coalition partner for National. There has been recent speculation in the last week or so that Colin Craig’s Conservative Party might make a suitable candidate to shore up National’s numbers in the House.

I doubt that.

For one thing, does National really want a new coalition partner that appears to be every bit as flaky as ACT?

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We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Riiiiight.

Obviously Mr Craig has, um, “researched” this issue in some depth?! Did he go “undercover“, I wonder? And did he go “one-on-one”  with his “subjects“?

On this rare occassion, I find myself in sympathy with the Smiling One,

“… Colin Craig, had suggested New Zealand women were the most promiscuous in the world and therefore should not get taxpayer funded contraception.

Key resisted taking the Lord’s name in van and rolling his eyes.

But he did say “it’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

See:  John Key’s problem with partners

Indeed.  If   the government lasts full term. Which I doubt.

National has a problem in this area. It has no viable coalition partner, and is unlikely to find one in the foreseeable future.

Part of that reality is based on MMP and how it has affected Labour and National.

After MMP was introduced in 1996, Labour splintered into it’s constituent factions; the centrist ‘rump’ Labour Party; the environmentalist/social justice Green Party;  the overtly left-wing, worker’s,  Newlabour Party ; and the nationalist Maori party, Mana Motuhake. (The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP briefly coalesced into the Alliance Party, along with the Social Credit/Democrat Party and short-lived Liberal Party.)

The Greens, Mana Motuhake,  and NLP, had been part of the factional make-up of Labour. MMP simply separated out  it’s componants like a laboratory centrifuge. So when coalition talks took place, to form a Labour-led  Coalition Government, those same factions simply re-morphed.

Before anyone complains that MMP has created a “mess” – not true. These factions had always existed in Labour, and had constantly ‘jockeyed’ for influence within the greater ‘umbrella’ Labour banner.

Under MMP, these factions and negotiations were simply forced out into the open, for everyone to see. The same had been   happening under First Past the Post, but behind closed doors. This was internal party politics exposed to the glare of sunlight and public scrutiny.

National, on the other hand, did not fractionate  in such a similar, dramatic, manner. It lost two MPs to the New Zealand Liberal Party (in 1992), Conservative Party (formerly Right-Of-Centre Party), and one to the Christian Democrats. None of those fledgling parties  survived the grueling electoral process and quickly vanished into political history.

A third party, New Zealand First, had splintered from National earlier, and like Mana Motuhake became a nationalist party, but mainly from a pakeha perspective.

ACT was another party on the right, and appeared to draw support from both National and, to a lesser degree, Labour. It remained a small grouping, peaking in 1999 with nine MPs – largely at the expense of it’s larger right wing cousin, National.

It’s not that National doesn’t have potential coalition partners.  On the whole, National remains intact; a solid bloc of the centre-right. It’s potential coalition partners are already a part of National.

National’s only hope of picking up an extra seat or two is to rort the MMP one-seat threshold system, as it did by supporting John Banks in Epsom (with  success now mixed with regret, no doubt).  It could give a ‘nod and wink‘ to Colin Craig in the Rodney seat, and if he won that electorate, and if Craig’s Conservative Party polled the same as it did last year (2.65%), then it would gain four seats in total.

That might give National a chance at winning the next election.

But at what cost?

  • It would be seen to be once again manipulating the electoral system. The Epsom deal did not end well for National – do they really want to go down that road again?
  • The Conservatives are opposed to asset sales – so that policy would be off the agenda.
  • How would urban liberal voters view a coalition with a party such as the Conservatives? New Zealanders have always been averse to electing  overtly religious parties to Parliament (eg; Christian Heritage, Christian Coalition, Destiny New Zealand) and when some of United Future’s MPs were revealed as having a strong religious bent, they were pretty smartly voted out.
  • And would National want a flaky coalition partner with quasi-‘Christian’ overtones, and who seemed to view New Zealand women  in a casual Talibanesque-sort of way? How would National’s women MPs feel sitting alongside Colin Craig, knowing that he viewed them as the ” most promiscuous…  women in the world  “?

Craig’s Conservative Party may have a better chance to win seats in Parliament if the Electoral Commission’s review on MMP decides to recommend to Parliament that the Party Vote threshold be reduced from %5 to 4%.  Of course, the Commission can only recommend to Parliament, and any decision to reduce the Party Vote threshold will ultimately be up to the National-ACT-Dunne Coalition.

I suspect the Nats will adopt the 4% recommendation. Not because it’s fair (get a grip!), but because anything that assists ACT or the Conservative Party gain seats in Parliament will be welcomed with open arms by the Nats. Self interest rules.

The Greens’ submission to the Electoral Commission supported abolishing the Electoral Seat threshold as inherently unfair, and promote  reducing the Party Vote threshold from 5% to 4% to compensate for smaller Parties  such as NZ First, ACT, etc.

See: Green Party submission on the MMP Review

Likewise, this blogger suspects that National will probably reject any recommendation to abandon the Electoral-Seat threshold.  (The Electoral Seat threshold is where Party X does not cross the current 5% Party Vote threshold, but if one of their candidates wins an electoral seat, they get an exemption from the 5% threshold, and gain as many MPs as their Party Vote allows.)

This may be National’s one and only  “electoral lifeline”, as ACT heads for the political guillotine – especially after John Banks’ incredible performance over his fraudulent 2010 Electoral Donations fiasco.

See: John Banks – escaping justice

However, since Craig’s comment nearly three months ago, he has moved on from denigrating women, to gays and lesbians. His latest comment is indicative of a man who has little tolerance for matters outside his narrow worldview, when on 27 July he ‘tweeted’,

It’s just not intelligent to pretend that homosexual relationships are normal.”

See: Conservative leader says gay marriage ‘not right’

It take a spectacular degree of arrogance to decide that another consenting adult’s relationship is “not normal”.

This blogger feels it only appropriate that Mr Craig’s marriage to his wife should be put under the microscope.

It has been said often enough that those who vociferously oppose homosexuality (especially in males) often have a measure of sexual insecurity themselves. For many men, condemning and reviling  homosexuality has been an attempt to reaffirm their own heterosexuality by “proving their straightness” to themselves.

Perhaps, in this instance, Mr Craig may have something he wishes to get of his manly chest,

He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.

“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied.

See:  Colin Craig: ‘Gay parents not good role models’

Anything you want to share with us, Mr Craig? Don’t worry, we’re all consenting adults here…

Why are all small right wing parties loony-tunes?

Is this the sort of political party that National wants to cosy up to?

And more important – would a possible coalition with a bunch of religious homophobes and misogynists really endear  National’s voting-base to keep supporting the Nats?

Happy times for Dear Leader, John Key.

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National does have another potential coalition partner – the New Zealand First Party. Though their first attempt at coalition (in 1996) ended very badly for Winston Peters, that could be explained as “growing pains” after our very first MMP election. I doubt if any small Party would ever repeat such horrendous mistakes again.

But in coalescing with NZ First, National would have to abandon much of it’s right wing, neo-liberal agenda.  State asset sales would be gone by lunchtime. The sale of farmland to overseas investors would be restricted (if Peters is to be taken at his word). And the edge might be taken of other policies favoured by National.

On the other hand, NZ First had been punished previously for coalescing with National. As well, NZ First  has an active youth-wing that might not appreciate ‘sleeping with the enemy’.

Working with Winston Peters would be one very big rat for John Key to swallow. Considering how adamant he was back in 2008,

Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation.

See: Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government

And just last year,

I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.”

See:  PM rules out any NZ First deal

If Winston Peters holds the balance of power, it will be a Phil Goff-led government.”

See:  Key names election date, rules out Winston Peters

Sealing a coalition deal with someone he has categorically ruled out in the past would damage Key’s credibility even further. Our Dear Leader is already developing something of a reputation for being “untrustworthy, dishonest, arrogant, smarmy and out of touch”.

See: ‘Polarising’ PM losing gloss

Does he want to compound that perception by backtracking on his declaration that he cannot/will not work with the NZ First leader?

So Colin Craig it is.

And yes,

“It’s going to be a long two and a half years.”

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