The Dim-Post

July 23, 2014


Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 12:11 pm

Updated the tracking poll. For variety’s sake this one goes all the way back to the start of 2005. It doesn’t correct for bias and the large circles intersecting the vertical lines are election results : nzpolls20140721nobiascorrJosie Pagani wrote a ‘what should Labour do now’ thing on Pundit that I partly agree with. (Although all such posts are predicated on the idea that Labour wants to win the election, and like I’ve said before, one of Cunliffe’s major challenges is a caucus filled with MPs who hate him and don’t want Labour to win the election while he’s leading it. They want to lose the election then assume control of the party and win in 2017, against a presumably weaker National-New Zealand First coalition. That’s not something Cunliffe can fix by ‘staying on message’ or ‘focusing on what matters’ or anything like that. It’s just a horrible reality that dooms him.)

Anyway, one of Pagani’s suggestions is:

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

About a month ago I wrote:

Now, Internet/Mana might make good on their promise to turn out loads of young low decile voters, which might not show up in the polls but will have a huge impact on the actual election – and good on them if they do. But at this point it looks like the Harawira/Harre/Dotcom contribution to the election will be to cannibalise the left vote and scare the centre vote over to National, possibly gifting them an historic victory.

If the trend continues Labour will have to take a risk (for once) and rule out Internet/Mana from a Labour government.

So why haven’t Labour done this? I think there are a couple of reasons. The friendship between Matt McCarten, Labour’s Chief of Staff, and Laila Harre has got to be a factor here. Also, if Labour rules out Internet/Mana they’re kind of ruling out hope. There is a chance that Internet/Mana will be a ‘game-changer’ that will swing the election. I think that chance is very tiny, but it is there, and that gives some purpose to the campaign that’s absent if you’re just fighting to get Labour back into opposition with slightly more MPs. Finally there’s the culture of the contemporary Labour Party which is very conservative and risk averse. No one would want to take ownership of a call like that in case it backfired somehow.

And the chance of a ‘game-changer’ (this has come to mean ‘event that generates enormous media coverage but changes nothing’, but I use it in the original context) increased slightly with Dotcom’s revelation that Glen Greenwald will be at his town hall meeting just before the election. Now, Greenwald might just show up and talk about the 5-eyes network. But he does have full access to the Snowden documents which includes Australian and possibly New Zealand intelligence material. John Key’s staff have, apparently, searched every piece of documentation they could think of to try and find a link between Key and Dotcom prior to the police raid and they’ve come up empty, which is why Key’s been so confident about dismissing Dotcom’s claims. But they can’t be sure Greenwald doesn’t have, say, a secret Australian intelligence report discussing Key being briefed on Dotcom.

That would be an actual genuine bombshell. But would it be a game-changer? Would a significant number of people change their vote because of it? I’m guessing no.

July 20, 2014

Strategic defeat

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:49 am

It’s been a shambolic couple of weeks for Labour. They had their congress and launched a major education policy, carefully designed to attack National where they were vulnerable and attract centre voters back to Labour, and they’ve spent every day since then talking about either Moas, or banning cosmetics, or Cunliffe’s ‘man apology’, or changing the burden of proof in rape cases, or Kelvin Davis’ support for the holiday highway, or te reo in schools – with some Labour MPs supporting this and some opposing – ie they’ve been talking about pretty much anything other than the huge new policy they just launched.

And this incoherent disunity is registering with the electorate. All of the polls now have Labour in the mid twenties. on Thursday Labour advisor Rob Salmond wrote:

While I think it would be irresponsible to blame single comments (whether about manhood or moas or whatever else) for the state of things, it is obvious now that there is no room for further slips. Closing this gap within 9 weeks will – at a minimum – require everyone of the left working hard, seamlessly, together, and well.

So, inevitably:

Labour MPS are disgusted by leader David Cunliffe’s skiing holiday just two months before the election and will question his work ethic at a caucus meeting on Tuesday, a senior party insider has told the Sunday Star-Times.

As Labour hit a new polling low of just 23.5 per cent in the latest Stuff/Ipsos poll and data suggested those numbers would climb quickly if its leader quit, Cunliffe took a week’s leave to go skiing in Queenstown. That decision has infuriated a significant number of Labour MPs, the insider claimed.

“A lot of MPs are really f….. off about it,” he said. “They are all working hard up and down the country, and f…… Cunliffe is on holiday. Guys like [Phil] Goff and [Annette] King and [David] Shearer, these guys really want it badly and they are working like their lives depend on it. And I think they are a little incredulous about what the guy is doing.”

Mallard or Hipkins? Probably Mallard. I think what’s happening here is that Cunliffe is signalling that he’ll stay on as leader after the election. ‘Helen Clark lost an election and stayed, and look how that turned out.’ His mechanism for doing so is to bring allies into caucus using the party list. So his enemies – who are electorate MPs – are cheerfully sabotaging their party’s campaign to prevent any new list MPs coming in.

What really gets me about this is that there are hundreds if not thousands of Labour volunteers around the country who are giving up time with their families to go doorknocking or leafleting or staff call centres for the Labour Party because they believe in it and its values, and all that work is being pissed away by the actual MPs, who obviously don’t.

July 19, 2014


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:19 am

Via Hamish Rutherford at Stuff:

[Winston Peters] hinted this week that he may stand in an electorate this year, something he didn’t do in 2011. Although he did not name the seat, the hint was it could be East Coast Bays, where there are persistent rumours that long time local MP Murray McCully could stand aside, with National not fielding a candidate, in a bid to gift the seat to Conservative leader Colin Craig.

“You’ve got political parties who think they can mess around with an electorate . . . They might do that [but] they might be in for a surprise in one of them if they do pull that stunt,” Peters said.

“We have the firepower to hit it on the ground with all the hoardings and the full hundred yards if that’s the case.”

Okay. So a possible outcome of National pulling Murray McCully from the ballot in East Coast Bays and ‘gifting’ it to Colin Craig is that:

  • National loses votes in the centre from voters who don’t like deals, and/or don’t like Colin Craig
  • National loses votes on the right to the Conservative Party
  • Peters wins and National loses a safe seat to Winston Peters
  • Craig doesn’t get a seat so all the votes going to the Conservative Party get lost because they’re under the 5% threshold.

I don’t know how probable all that is. New Zealand First got more votes than the Conservatives in East Coast Bays in 2011, but not a whole lot more. Winston Peters is a phenomenal campaigner though, and he’d be a tempting protest vote for people who don’t like electorate deals who can still party vote National.

Do Key and Joyce want to bet on Colin Craig against Peters? That seems like a really bad bet. I’m guessing that ‘Peters beats Craig’ scenario is so catastrophic that National’s strategists won’t give Craig this seat.

July 18, 2014

The Thing With Feathers

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:18 am

Vernon Small writes:

Labour would get an immediate lift in the polls if it dumped leader David Cunliffe, a new poll suggests.

The poll reveals that Cunliffe may have become Labour’s biggest liability, with a significant number of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for Labour if someone else were leader.

Click here for full poll results in graphics.

The effect is sizeable, making a 13.5 percentage point difference to Labour’s vote.

Although a similar effect is seen on National when asked the same question about John Key, it is much smaller.

Actual leaders always do badly against a hypothetical ‘someone else’, because voters can all project their own values onto an unspecified alternate leader. The question for Labour is: ‘Would replacing Cunliffe with Grant Robertson or David Shearer two months out from the election boost the vote?’

I have no idea. I’m one of the idiots who thought Cunliffe was really gonna turn things around for the Labour Party and lead a victorious left-wing coalition into government. But my guess is that no, a leadership change wouldn’t be a good idea. ‘Someone else’ would still be leading a party filled with people who all seem to hate each other and feel little-to-no loyalty to the Labour Party, yet paradoxically, want to become its leader or, alternately, remain a Labour MP in perpetuity. If they dump Cunliffe they also risk a backlash from the party activists who voted him in and see the poor poll results as a product of caucus disloyalty and National smear campaigns. It’s hard to run a grass roots, mobilisation-based election campaign without activists, and trying to turn out loads of voters is pretty much their only hope.

Speaking of hope, Kim Dotcom has given Chris TrotterBomber et al something far more valuable than $3,000,000. He’s given them a dream: that a couple of days before the election Kim Dotcom will produce . . . something that will turn the tide. Again, the big advantage of ‘something’ is that anyone can project their hopes and fears onto it. And maybe Dotcom will deliver. He’s offered a huge cash bounty for any information that could help his case, and his lawyers are still trying to discover stuff to prevent his extradition. But I doubt there’s a ‘gamechanger’ there. If WhaleOil’s taught us anything about politics it’s that people who promise ‘More to come’ never deliver. So I’m predicting a 50% chance that Dotcom will have nothing substantive, a 49.9% chance that he has something newsworthy – another opportunity for the Prime Minister to not remember something, maybe? - and an 0.1% chance that he has something that will cause significant numbers of voters to change their preferences at such a late stage of the election (nine days after advance voting opens).

I do know it won’t be helpful for Labour to have Dotcom dominating media coverage during the election campaign, reminding potential voters that Dotcom and Harawira would be power-brokers in any left-wing coalition government; yet another problem a leadership change won’t resolve.

July 14, 2014

The Western District Way

Filed under: crime,Politics — danylmc @ 2:47 pm

Via the Herald:

Former Police Minister and Papakura MP Judith Collins was told there might be a problem with how police handled statistics around the same time as police were wrongly recording incidents to make hundreds of burglaries disappear – but she didn’t investigate further.

Ms Collins, who is acting Police Minister while Anne Tolley is overseas, launched an attack on Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern, calling the leaking of a report into police mistakes “politically motivated”.

A police internal investigation revealed that from 2009 to 2012, five officers in Counties Manukau had re-coded about 700 burglaries as incidents, which are not counted in crime statistics, raising questions about political pressure to keep crime figures down.

The investigation – revealed by the Herald on Sunday yesterday – found that offences should have been recorded as burglaries for 70 per cent of those incidents. Police are calling it an isolated incident, which has now led to spot audits throughout the country to ensure the integrity of statistics.

One of the reasons I think The Wire is the ‘best TV show of all time’, over say, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, is that The Wire explained to us how our own world works. Because we’ve seen Season 3 we all know that Judith Collins would never have told the police to falsify their statistics.’ Instead she would have said, ‘The budget is tough, you’re going to have to do more with less, and your staff will be promoted based on their performance at reducing crime as measured in the statistics.’ And the district commanders are left to consider that they’re (a) supposed to get crime down, (b) they don’t have any resources to do so, but (c) they get to collect and record the metrics on which their own promotions will depend. The result is a police force in which police inclined to falsify their statistics are promoted ahead of those that deliver high quality police work.

None of which is the Minister’s fault. She never told them to make 700 burglaries disappear, although she was more than happy to issue a press release and claim all the credit when those disappearing burglaries showed up in the crime stats.

July 13, 2014

Political biohazard watch

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:54 pm

In the hypothetical Labour/Green/New Zealand First/Mana/Internet Party coalition that voters are being asked to put in charge of the country this election year, its hard to figure out which inter-party relationship is the most poisonous, or who would like to destroy whom the most. But now that Laila Harre’s gone and started pre-releasing Green Party policy on the same day as the Greens and justified it on the basis that she worked for the Green Party for fifteen months, and therefore owns all their intellectual property, somehow, I’m gonna nominate the Green/Internet Mana relationship as, from here on in, probably the most toxic.

What’s the strategy here? The original vision for the Internet Party was that it would be a, y’know, Internet Party, focused on digital issues and changing the government by turning out young non-voters. My guess is that Dotcom’s money has paid for some market research which has found that the number of non-voters passionate about copyright restrictions is close to zero, and that the demographic most sympathetic towards the Internet Party are current Green voters. Harre doesn’t share Dotcom’s interest in digital rights, or his legal problems, so her focus – like any other political leader – is purely on maximising her party vote. Which explains why the Internet Party is now a tiny cannibalistic version of the Green Party.


July 10, 2014

Doing it wrong

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:05 am

Sometimes the politically smart thing to do is also the morally right thing to do. When the government directly wrongs one of its own citizens a politician will almost always meet with that person. Partly out of decency but mostly to get that person ‘on side’ and deter them from, say, going on national television, declaring that you’re incompetent and demanding that you resign:

The woman at the centre of a case involving an alleged sex attack by a Malaysian diplomat say Prime Minister John Key looked “bored” and insincere when he publicly discussed her case.

Tania Rose Billingsley, 21, spoke on TV3′s 3rd Degree last night, after she waived her automatic right to name suppression.

She was allegedly assaulted by Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail in her home in Brooklyn, Wellington.

Rizalman was arrested on May 10 on charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.

The same day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a formal request that Rizalman, an assistant to the defence attache for the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, waive diplomatic immunity to face charges.

Malaysia has said that at a meeting with Mfat representatives an alternative was offered for the accused to return to Malaysia.

Rizalman left on May 22, a day after Malaysia declined the request to waive immunity — asking for the police case to be sealed.

In the 3rd Degree interview, she said she was angry her alleged attacker was allowed to leave, and called for Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully to resign.

Why didn’t McCully do the politically obvious thing and meet with Billingsley to apologise in person? Presumably because he didn’t give a shit, but also didn’t think that anyone else would either. This might not be the best guy to be handling our most sensitive diplomatic negotiations.

It’ll be interesting to see how our media culture deals with Tania Billingsley. As a young woman who talked about ‘rape culture’ and critiqued John Key and one of his senior Ministers you’d expect her to come under vicious and sustained attack, with the Sensible Blokes of Talk-radio leading the charge. But in the post-Roastbusters environment things might be different.

July 9, 2014

NZ Household incomes

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 10:10 am

I’ve been reading Capital in the Twenty-First Century (11% of the way through!) and the recent publication of the 2014 Household Incomes Report makes me wonder if the core hypothesis holds in contemporary New Zealand. Via the Herald:

Growing income inequality is largely a myth, according to the latest household income figures, though the pockets of the poor are hit the hardest by rising housing costs.

Income inequality is a major political issue this election, as the Labour and Green Parties have tried to paint a picture of a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots under the National-led Government.

The 2014 Household Incomes Report, released yesterday, showed income inequality had mostly remained the same since the mid-1990s, and is slightly higher than the OECD average.

Household incomes had rebounded by 4 per cent from 2011 to 2013, making up lost ground after the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes. The report showed:

Lower earners were hit hardest by the recession, but riches from the recovery were more evenly spread. Overall from 2009 to 2013, average incomes were stagnant for the bottom half of earners, but grew by 5 per cent for the top half.

July 7, 2014

Makes sense

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:34 am

Voters routinely tell pollsters that they consider education to be ‘the most important issue’. It’s an area where National has made themselves weirdly vulnerable, deciding that our high-performing education system needs to be ‘fixed’ by adopting a bunch of crack-pot ideas from the US and the UK, both of which rank far lower on the international comparisons of student evaluations, and they’ve chosen Hekia Parata to champion those reforms and stuck by her through a series of ongoing public debacles. It’s a natural target for Labour in a way that the health system – usually the second ‘most important issue’ – simply isn’t.

And the launch went well too. A positive lead story on TVNZ on a Sunday night is just about as good as it gets, and something I don’t think Labour have accomplished once this year, until now. So it’ll be interesting to see if this reverses their decline in the polls. It should, but if it doesn’t pretty much nothing will.

July 5, 2014

On Cunliffe’s apology for being a man

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:16 am

Via Stuff:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has sparked a new controversy by apologising to a women’s refuge symposium ‘‘for being a man’’ because they are the main perpetrators of family violence.

‘‘Can I begin by saying I’m sorry – I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man, right now. Because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’ he said.

‘‘So the first message to the men out there is: ‘wake up, stand up, man up and stop this bullshit’.’’ His comments came as Labour headed into its election year congress, and sparked a war of words on social media.

Many ridiculed Cunliffe for apologising when most men were good fathers and partners.

The theory goes like this: Sure, most men are ‘good fathers and partners’ and they aren’t directly committing abuse. But many men hold misogynistic attitudes that perpetuate a culture in which domestic violence and sexual abuse are allowed to flourish, hence there’s a collective responsibility for those crimes. The various scandals around the ‘Roastbusters’ alleged gang-rapes are Exhibit-A in terms of evidence for the ‘rape-culture’ hypothesis in New Zealand. The police who refused to investigate the complaints and the host of media figures who instantly jumped in to defend a pack of alleged gang-rapists by attacking their victims weren’t directly committing crimes, and are probably good dads, etc, but their attitudes create a culture in which rape and violence towards women are tacitly tolerated.

The problem with Cunliffe’s apology for being a man and acknowledging that collective responsibility is that while the rape-culture hypothesis is pretty much accepted as valid by most people involved in left-wing politics, at least under the age of forty, it’s completely alien to most of the rest of the population, who have absolutely no idea what Cunliffe is talking about here. Why is he sorry? What’s wrong with being a man? Most men are good dads, etc.

Also, if you’re a adult male you have an incentive not to believe the rape-culture argument. Rape and domestic violence don’t really affect you, while accusations that you have a collective responsibility for it do – which is why some people are more outraged by Cunliffe’s awkward statements than they are by any of the actual abuse that happens in this country.

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