Friday, December 11, 2015


Time to reflect on the state of the Parties as we head off into the BBQ season.   Yep, of course I'm biased, but these are my honest opinions and I've tried to edit out my obvious prejudice toward National ... so, for what it's worth.

On National ... not a particularly stellar year for the government but they ended up riding high in the polls ... still ... and able to govern alone were those numbers to be translated to an election result. Bill English is the undisputed power behind the throne ... much in the same way that Cullen was to Clark.  He threw Little a sucker punch over the return to surplus and Little bought it hook, line and sinker and ended up looking stupid.    John Key continues to be John Key, human being with faults, and that is his strength.    Steven Joyce made a pigs ear out of the Northland by-election and perhaps his star is on the wane.   Mid 2016 there will be a cabinet shakeup and a clearing of the decks leading into the election.   Key did it before and will do it again.   Hat-tip ... Brownlie for Speaker,   Carter for something nice.

On Labour ... I am genuinely unsure as to how secure Andrew Little is as leader.   The latest poll with Labour dropping to 28.5% support will be hugely disappointing for them and especially for Annette King who has consistently argued that their rolling average is around the 33% mark.    To his credit Little has stamped his authority on what had been a fractious caucus.   His ability to project Labour as a Party in waiting is hampered by a genuine lack of real talent among his front bench; Hipkins and Clark excepted.   Robertson is not a credible Finance spokesmen.   Adern, Nash and Davis represent 'new' Labour and they must be given the opportunity to shine.   I think Little made a mistake in effectively banishing Cunliffe to outside of the tent.   That could come back to bite with a vengeance.

The Greens ... Love them or hate them, the Greens are an established part of our political landscape and will remain so.   The end of the year sees them back up to 12% support at the expense of Labour. James Shaw has made his own mark on the leadership and is probably more pragmatic than his predecessors.   Metiria Turei represents the more radical wing of the Party.   I am undecided as to whether she is a asset or a liability in her role as co-leader and am tending towards the liability label.   If the Greens are determined to stick with a male/female co-leader then I think they would be better served by either Julie Genter or Jan Logie as a complement to Shaw.

NZ First ... Winston First remains the Donald Trump of NZ politics surrounded by his bunch of 'true believers'.   He can get away with saying what he likes because ... he's Winston Peters.  The stars combined to deal him a victory in Northland.   Whether he can repeat that come election time is the 64 dollar question particularly if National selects a quality candidate (and they are sniffing around).   It's an open secret he's grooming the Jones boy to contest the seat allowing him to concentrate on campaigning nationally but I'm not sure it will happen this time round.   Peter's ego is such that he will want to prove his by-election win wasn't just flash in the pan stuff.   As to the rest of his 'team' well, none of them really cuts the mustard.   Captain Mark is nakedly ambitious and wants to play General and that creates tensions.   NZ First could be a kingmaker but I struggle to see them in coalition with Labour and the Greens.

Maori Party ... The Maori Party continues to punch above its weight.    It is a niche Party and while it does not and cannot pretend to speak for all Maoridom it does provide a clear voice for Maoridom; a voice that is often submerged in National, Labour, Greens and NZ First even though they have collectively 23 MPs who identify themselves as Maori compared with just 2 in the Maori Party.  Te Ururoa Flavell is underrated.   He is a diligent worker and has wide respect.   It's going to prove interesting how the demotion of Labour's Nanaia Mahuta will play out.   I suspect you mess with the Kingitanga movement at your peril and with Tukurangi Morgan, the power behind the throne in Tainui and co-chair of the Maori Party in her Hauraki-Waikato electorate, it is entirely possible the political dynamic could change to the Maori Party's advantage.

ACT ... David Seymour was promoted by some as MP of the year.   Methinks that's gilding the lily just a tad because, while he has certainly put in the hard yards and achieved some good results, that has failed to translate though into building support for the ACT brand which continues to poll around the margin of error.   Nevertheless, he has done enough to earn himself and his Party another cup of tea come 2017 and, with the demise of the CCC Party, that could mean that ACT could pick up one, possibly two, List seats.

United Future ... National should put the country and Ohariu out of its misery and go hard to win the seat.   Dunne is past his use-by date and, as a political prostitute, he could just a easily peddle his wares to Labour in the event of a close election.    There is no way UF could ever be expected to poll close enough to get within cooee of a second seat.

The Others ... Colin Craig stuffed the Conservative Party single handed while Hone did the same with the Mana  Party when they got into bed with crimdotcon.    It could be that a new Party might emerge on the representing the so called 'moral right' but it would struggle while I don't see any sign that Flavell is at all keen to do a kiss and cuddle with Hone who will continue to promote his own brand of radical politics of the John Frum variety.

Feel free to comment.   If you are going to comment on specific individuals forget the bile please.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I don't share your view as to the ineffectiveness of ACT's Seymour. I doubt the polls ever have moved much for ACT outside campaign periods and I think Seymour has done much to encourage a lot of people back to vote for ACT when the time comes.

James said...

I agree with Adolf, come election time, Seymour will triple the number of ACT MPs. He has properly re-established the socially liberal / fiscally conservative fundamentals of ACT, and people will catch on at the election.

I'm interested in the idea of Brownlee for speaker - that will mean the fourth Defence Minister National will have gone through. Mapp, Coleman, Brownlee - then who? Amy Adams? Judith Collins? Simon Bridges? John Key seems to have realised lately the importance of having a professional and capable NZDF, same as Helen Clark did when she booted the useless Mark Burton. I think John Key has put Brownlee in there because he holds him in high regard, and will want him to stay there for at least the rest of this term. But I wouldn't be surprised if he did rotate someone else into Defence.

Just as long as Ron Mark (or his protege, Darroch Ball) don't get their slimy hands on the NZDF I'll be happy.

I think that honestly the result John Key is dreading most come next election is that the Maori Party is wiped out, and he must choose between ACT and NZF for a support partner. He dislikes both intensely for their more genuinely conservative policies, and doesn't want either.

Andrew Berwick said...

NZ needs ACT more than ever - someone needs to stop Key putting up benefits, putting up taxes, and reforming the economy not reforming the flag!

I think ACT needs just one or two policies (other than perhaps euthanasia)
- guns for cops to placate the actual conservatives who hate euthanasia
- 1% off the top tax rate for every 1% of the party vote

The Veteran said...

Adolf ... I didn't say Seymour was ineffective ... just that right now his solid performance hasn't reflected in ACT's poll numbers. I predicted that should he continue punching above his weight then ACT could well end up with 1-2 more MPs.

James ... I agree with you re Mark. He would be a disaster for Defence. He would be trying to usurp CD and micro manage the portfolio to reflect his view of how the NZDF should operate. Don't know anything about Ball. I disagree that Key dislikes ACT. National understands MMP and the roll that ACT plays. I could have walked away from ACT last election but didn't. NZF doesn't do conservative policies ... it does populist policies. Winston has walked away from a coalition agreement with National once and he could do it again. ACT plays it with a straight bat ... that's the diff. Key/National would take ACT over Winston any day.

pdm said...

I think what Adolf said re ACT was pretty much on the money. What Seymour has to do between now and the election is get growth in the party outside of Epsom and Auckland. Hawkes Bay used to be the centre for the Grasshopper (I think that is the correct name) group which was part of the foundation of ACT when it was formed. ACT is now not heard of in Hawkes Bay as far as I can tell.

ACT had my Party Vote in every election until the last when I felt I couldnot take the risk of an unknown tyro as the Epsom MP and the guy who was leader at the time did not impress me at all. If Seympour keeps up the good work and they grow their base I will almost certainly return to the fold in 2017.