The Dim-Post

April 28, 2011

Downstream

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:34 pm

Actual and speculative consequences of Brash becoming ACT leader:

  • ACT will probably survive the election.
  • I think people overestimate Brash’s appeal to voters and his basic competence. Instead of ‘Don Brash almost won the 2005 election’ I think it’s more accurate to say ‘Stephen Joyce almost won the 2005 election and would have if Don Brash didn’t happen to be leader at the time’.
  • The current coalition arrangement – National + ACT + Maori Party +/- United Future – is no longer viable. Even Dunne might rule out going into coalition with a Brash-led ACT.
  • Brash and the Maori Party can enter into a mutually beneficial antagonistic pair during the campaign, in which they build support with their own base by attacking one another, ensuring ongoing media coverage.
  • Brash’s strategy will be to attack National vigorously from the right and try and take as many of their voters as possible to strengthen their position in post-election negotiations.
  • I predict we’ll see a major policy speech from Brash within the next four weeks, focusing either on race or welfare issues (probably the latter, since it defies expectations and he can use the Welfare Working Group report as ammunition).
  • This all makes Labour’s job easier. They can focus on Brash, not Key – in much the same way that in 2008 the focus was on Peters not Clark. Phil Goff could actually get to be Prime Minister, if Labour sends him off to the Christmas Islands until early December.
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52 Comments »

  1. Peter Dunne’s press release title:

    “Dunne: Brash takeover will horrify 19 out of 20 Kiwis”

    Comment by marsoe — April 28, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  2. “ensuring ongoing media coverage”

    e.g. the ACT party list. Nobody noticed in 2008. Who was David Garrett? Who cared?

    In 2011, it’s a media goldmine … Banks above Roy? Boscawen even there? New fresh talent in their 80’s, from the 80’s? Calvert gets rewarded with spot number 37, miffed, joins NZ First?

    Comment by sammy — April 28, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  3. Might a vote for ACT end up being a vote for a left wing government!?

    Comment by Sam — April 28, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  4. I think everyone is getting a little bit hysterical about Brash.

    He’s not going to scare National voters off to Labour or Winston First, if anything he will push centrist waverers into a National vote so that it is not beholden to Act. The real question is how much vote leaks from National to Act, the leak of national to the left isnt gonna happen because of this. And if it does become an issue, all Key has to do is announce that Brash will not be the Minister of Finance under a National Government.

    Act under Brash will likely get 7 or 8% at least – there is a solid rump of small business owning taxpayers who love the idea.

    Peter Dunne will be lucky to be in a position to care post the election, he’ll get rolled by Chauvel as the vote gets split between Shanks and Big Hair.

    Comment by nadis — April 28, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  5. Bad news for Phil Goff as usual…
    Don’t underestimate the power of the Labour Party to muck things up.

    Comment by Leopold — April 28, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  6. @marsoe Dunne: “Brash takeover will horrify 19 out of 20 Kiwis”

    Yes.

    Of course, 1 out of 20 is 5%.

    Comment by Richard — April 28, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

  7. nadis – where the votes fall between ACT and National has no real significance (unless, of course, ACT somehow fails to gain any seats). Having ACT as a necessary coalition partner is the issue here, as with Brash as part of this arrangement, there is going to be fewer options for negotiating with smaller ‘centrist’ parties. NZFirst is already out, MP will no doubt not negotiate with brash around the table, Dunne, if he is about is only one seat. National might just not have the numbers with ACT to carry the day.

    It will then come down to some permutation of an unholy leftard alliance to lead NZ to our promised bright future of equity with Australia… (just imagine what Goff might throw together…!).

    Comment by Sam — April 28, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  8. “where the votes fall between ACT and National has no real significance”

    it has huge significance. the fewer seats ACT get, the more likely National will have the option of going with centrist parties rather than ACT. This would give ACT less bargaining power.

    Comment by Kahikatea — April 28, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  9. Kahikatea – My position is based on the fact that whatever happens, National will need ACT support (and that ACT will have at least, if not more than, their current caucus numbers). National will not be able to govern alone, and I don’t see too many viable options for coalitions on their left (i.e. in the middle). So, you are absolutely right in principle, but I fear not so in practice…

    Comment by Sam — April 28, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  10. Do you think Bill English will be sending a congratulatory bouquet of flowers to Don Brash?

    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — April 28, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  11. In theory, Brash/Banks should be good for Phil Goff:

    1. John Banks lost Auckland mayoralty (pretty badly all things considered) and Auckland is key to any political party winning the election. Simple things like “you didn’t want him to be your mayor but you want him to help run your country?”

    2. John Key’s popularity largely rests on the fact he is viewed as fresh-faced and empathetic with the public. Brash and Banks could hardly be seen in that light.

    3. Labour’s previous strategy of John Key = vast right wing business conspiracy never worked. However, now with two former National MPs, who are not noted as being nice and cuddly towards non-rich people, it might be easier for Labour to bypass Key and attack the Government = Brash/Banks

    4. The Maori Party won’t be going anywhere near Brash.

    Of course, given Labour’s performance in recent times, any position of strength has been wasted. So this is probably bad for Phil Goff.

    Comment by dave — April 28, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  12. I think there’s a good chance National will get enough votes to govern alone.

    Comment by James — April 28, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

  13. “the Government = Brash/Banks”

    And English and Joyce and Brownlee.

    I wonder whether the judo move for the Opposition is to agree that Key is a nice bloke, and start pointing out what a shame it is he has such nasty mates.

    Comment by Stephen Judd — April 28, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  14. While John Banks did lose the mayoralty quite badly, I think that you’ll find that in the local body wards that make up the Epsom electorate he did quite well. To me this implies that Banks could win Epsom for ACT and bring Brash in if ACT get enough party votes.

    Comment by MikeG — April 28, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  15. Judd – I like that, Labour could push the idea that we shouldn’t be heading for presidential style elections, where a popular front-man hides the real intent of the party, as evident in the real powers behind him. This way they wouldn’t have to try and convince voters that Key is nasty, when he comes across as anything but – a line that is obviously impossible to push (yet they still try and try again). It seems that, with Goff as current lab leader, now would be a good time to argue that politics isn’t about the personalities of the leaders!

    Not sure that such an argument would wash in the marketplace of voters however, but, otoh, it can’t do any worse than current Lab strategies…

    Comment by Sam — April 28, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  16. “Brash takeover will horrify 19 out of 20 Kiwis”

    They word here is “horrify”. It scarcely gets any worse as an epithet in politics. To look at it another way, if 95 out of a 100 New Zealanders are “horrified” at Brash’s takeover of ACT, 99 out of a 100 would be horrified if Satan took over ACT.

    They could represent a dagger to the heart of National’s brand. They’ve sold themselves as a centrist party pleasing to the auntoritarian instincts of the middle class, with an assiduously cultivated personality cult centred on John Key as the blank canvas Kiwis can project whatever aspirational picture they want on to. They’ve done not much in their first term beyond the usual petty tory vindictiveness and cronyism (just today cutting funding to womens refuges, and having leaked a transport plan written by roading contractors) whilst constantly telling themselves that their reward for doing not much at all in their first term is going to be claiming the election in November is a mandate to do whatever they like.

    All that careful and patient propagandising is now threatened, because the left now has the simple rallying slogan it needs to combat the policy fee zone that will be National’s presidential campaign built around John Key:

    VOTE KEY, GET BRASH.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 28, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  17. I think Banks would romp home in Epsom.

    There’s still a threat the Nats will be able to govern alone. If Brash takes enough votes from Winston that NZF doesn’t make it, National would only need 48%. Less if Dunne gets done or if the Reform Party turns out not to have been a practical joke.

    Comment by bradluen — April 28, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  18. I think Banks would quite like to be mayor of the Supercity, so I’m kind of surprised to hear him being put forward for Epsom. Doesn’t seem like that great a fit.

    Comment by danylmc — April 28, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  19. I was reading this thinking. good point, sounds right, true, etc, etc until I came to the statement “Even Peter Dunne might rule out … ”
    Never. He’s the modern Parliamentary equivalent of Tim Shadbolt with the line “I don’t care where as long as I’m mayor”
    Dunne is of the creed. I don’t care who the Government is as long I can feed at the trough and share the baubles of office.

    Comment by Alwyn — April 28, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  20. Banks was only really thumped in the Supercity elections by the parochialism of South and West Auckland voters, he would do fine in Epsom.

    Comment by Anthony — April 28, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  21. Rodney Hide: gone by lunchtime

    Comment by Dr Foster — April 28, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  22. “Brash takeover will horrify 19 out of 20 Kiwis”

    This is the same Brash that took National from 20.9% in 2005 to 39.1% in 2008.

    What has changed since then for Brash to now horrify 95% of the populace?

    Vote Key, Get Brash is a doomed campaign. Two obvious responses from National

    Vote Key, then we don’t need Brash

    And the rule Brash out as Minister of Finance one. Creating enough seperation will be trivial, then Labour look like a paranoid, delusional conspiracy theorists. Much like they did in 2008.

    Comment by nadis — April 28, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  23. Sam wrote: “My position is based on the fact that whatever happens, National will need ACT support”

    I don’t think that is a fact. National could come very close to getting a majority on their own, the Maori party may stay around, United Future may rise from the grave, and Winston Peters may decide to work with National because it makes a simpler coalition, just like he did in 1996. There are obvious parallels with last time that United Future rose from the grave to provide Labour with an alternative to working with the Greens or New Zealand First.

    Comment by Kahikatea — April 28, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  24. Anthony. Any comments I have read so far that purported to come from Epsom residents basically said “Banks? No way!” And these were observed across the spectrum of political blogs.

    Comment by David in Chch — April 28, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  25. “What has changed since then for Brash to now horrify 95% of the populace?”

    the Exclusive Bretheren. New Zealanders have never been fans of shady fundamentalist brotherhoods whose leadership is based in Australia.

    Comment by Kahikatea — April 28, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  26. “Banks was only really thumped in the Supercity elections by the parochialism of South and West Auckland voters, he would do fine in Epsom.”

    I have no doubt Banks will win Epsom (if he is the ACT candidate) and bring Brash with him, but winning Epsom in this way could come at the cost of the Auckland middle ground/waverers that National won over last time around. And surely that’s more important overall than one electorate and a few MPs?

    But then if National win over 50% it doesn’t matter at all.

    Comment by dave — April 28, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  27. “New Zealanders have never been fans of shady fundamentalist brotherhoods whose leadership is based in Australia.”

    One would assume so, but we still bank with them.

    Comment by RedJez — April 28, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  28. nadis, you miss the point. It is not in dispute that Brash is able to give every little right wing weasel with a moth eaten moustache a right hard on, but he is also incredibly divisive. With friends like John Ansell creaming his pants and wildly claiming Brash will be PM come November 26th National’s brand scarcely needs an enemy.

    The point is Brash polarises the electorate and he will mobilise the opposition. His distaste for democracy is obvious, and his doctrinal arrogance means he will constantly be in the media throwing his toys out of the cot and trying to blackmail National. All in all, he is an easy target and he offers Labour the golen opportunity to turn the 2011 elction from being a referendum on how popular John Key is to a referendum on how much people dislike Don Brash.

    Oh and one other thing – if National is the largest party after the next election but still can’t form a majority with ACT, a “keep Brash out” coalition of everyone else will now have considerable legitimacy.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 28, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  29. nailed it Danyl.

    Comment by Allan — April 28, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  30. National has the preponderance of the electorates including nearly all regions.. thats unlikely to change much in the coming election. That leaves Nat voters with the luxury of two ticks Nats or one for party ACT with Epsom the only likely electorate exception.

    Also, as Andrew points out, Brash, many if not most Nats, and possibly some conservative Labour supporters and the Greens are in line for significant portions of the OECD report, so the Greens might steal quite a few party urban votes if they thrash the line on user pays for water and a capital gains/land tax.

    I may be wrong, but I dont think ACT is guaranteed more votes under Brash.. there’s still an ACT rump of law and order, Maori bashers and connections to the religious right that has little to do with economic issues. Brash will have to ensure this rump gets little traction in the election runup or he’ll pay some price. Maori bashing is a pastime enjoyed by both left and right, but its overrated as a ballet box decider.

    JC

    Comment by JC — April 28, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  31. oh dear I see Sanctuary is grinding the class war organ handle again.

    Comment by will — April 28, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

  32. The electorate has hardly baulked at NACT’s extreme policy announcements and now Key will be appear even more ‘centrist’ when compared to ACT.

    The Hollow Men have just efficiently executed a well thought out tactical adjustment. Hide was threatening to derail their electoral strategy. Now they have ensured that splintered votes on the right don’t go to waste, and that ACT has a good chance of 5% AND Epsom, let alone National’s 50%+ to govern alone.

    Meanwhile on the left, Labour is planning for the 2014 election. The Greens and perhaps even NZ First will be made safe by deserting Labour voters, while even more deserters will not vote at all.

    Comment by arants — April 28, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  33. Serious question: is this good or bad for MMP? I confess I’m rather gagging on the irony that the backers of ACT/Brash are opposed to MMP unless it helps them get their man into parliament. Would Brash ever have been elected an MP under FPP as a leader of ACT? I rather think not.

    Comment by TerryB — April 28, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  34. @nadis 22: “What has changed since then for Brash to now horrify 95% of the populace?”

    Brash hasn’t done that much between 2005-2011 to justify the change in perceptions. The 2025 Report was obviously hard right, but I suspect that 2005 Brash would have agreed with it.

    I suspect that a large part of it is that National’s continued portrayal of itself as a pragmatic, slightly-right-of-centre party can give a veneer of moderation to concepts (and people) that when viewed without the National halo, are clearly hard right.

    Comment by Jordan — April 28, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  35. If Brash gets ACT up over 5%, which is highly likely, then it’s pretty hard to see how National would be able to govern alone.

    ACT isn’t going to take votes from NZFirst, that’s silly. Those guys vote for Winston as a package. ACTs votes will come from National.

    If National start saying that people should vote for them to keep Brash out, they’ll drive more right wing National voters to Brash than they’ll pick up centrists votes from Labour. This is because National have already got the centrist vote. Labour support at the moment is historically small, so I’d be surprised if there was much more fat left to trim from their right flank.

    ergo; An ACT party pushing towards 10-15% would see the centre break left or NZFirst or Dunne.

    Another thing is ACTs list. They haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory, sanity wise. God knows what the list will look like, but I’m guessing it’ll be a mix of rehashed, unknowns, and crazy.

    also, and too, if ACT goes up in the polls at Nationals expense, the tail end of National’s caucus might start getting angsty.

    A dynamic of ACT going up by taking righties from national, while National also loses a smaller amount of centrists elsewhere? Trouble in paradise for the whips I reckon.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 28, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  36. Political question: Does anyone here seriously believe that Rodney Hide won’t spend the next six months doing everything he can to take Brash down? How is that going to work out for ACT’s electoral chances?

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 28, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

  37. “What has changed since then for Brash to now horrify 95% of the populace?”

    Brash’s “success” in 2005 rested solely on the deliberate, media-assisted racism of Orewa One as clearly and irrefutably outlined in The Hollow Men.

    The Keyster’s popularity rests largely on the “nice man” perception: friend of maori, caring keeper of Labour’s welfare policies, and an (albeit dwindling) reputation for economic competence.

    That’s what’s changed. The public appetite for racism, division and the failed ideology that has wracked the entire world is gone: especially a version thereof advanced by a back-stabbing, gaffe-prone serial adulterer retread with one foot in the grave. What’s also changed is that ACT is now National’s last possible partner.

    What hasn’t changed is the private media’s agenda or Key’s vanity; now on an inevitable collion course. As the public, and Johnny boy, know all too well: a vote for Key is indeed a vote for Brash.

    Comment by ak — April 28, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  38. With friends like John Ansell creaming his pants and wildly claiming Brash will be PM come November 26th

    Roll up, roll up, see John Ansell absolutely losing it on Kiwiblog: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/04/hide_resigns.html. I’m otherwise speechless.

    Comment by StephenR — April 28, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  39. Hmmmm, having gone back and checked Mr. Ansell’s posts, I think I can see why Brash was drawn to the Exclusive Bretheren. If Mr. Ansell is any guide, both are seen by their respective believers as religious cults.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 28, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  40. Here is the latest poll, taken before Brash got the tanks rolling.

    http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2011/4661/

    Labour on 32% is not good, but is hardly a “meltdown”, even after a protracted period of stupid self-harm.

    It is simply a Hooten/Kiwiblog fantasy to expect ACT will zoom up AND despite this, National will stay up, at Labour’s expense.

    Comment by sammy — April 28, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  41. “Dunne: Brash takeover will horrify 19 out of 20 Kiwis”

    Dunne really missed his calling as a stand-up comedian. 99.3% of voters were too busy yawning to vote for… United God-Bothering With Guns New Zealand.

    Comment by Craig Ranapia — April 28, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

  42. I predict we’ll see a major policy speech from Brash within the next four weeks, focusing either on race or welfare issues (probably the latter, since it defies expectations and he can use the Welfare Working Group report as ammunition).

    He could truly defy expectations with something like education. It could be pretty core ACT policy: vouchers, freedom of choice, etc.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 28, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  43. I do agree on that Graeme and it doesn’t seem that unlikely considering it SEEMS to be one of their bigger policies…to date anyway. As long as they banned schools that accepted the vouchers from charging on top of that I think opposing parties would have a difficult time convincing that public that this is a bad thing.

    Comment by StephenR — April 28, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  44. Graeme & StephenR, I don’t think ‘school choice’ is a good platform for a party for whom the Epsom (grammar zone) electorate is vital for survival..

    Comment by Jono — April 28, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  45. Jono, in the sense that they’d be worried about their property prices, or other?

    Comment by StephenR — April 28, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  46. @StephenR,
    In the sense that those Epsom households with school-age children quite like the idea that only other Epsom children can attend those schools.

    Comment by Jordan — April 28, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  47. Doesn’t ‘school choice’ usually end up meaning that the school gets to choose? And what do you know, some always prefer the offspring of those Epsom voters. Naturally, some tax cuts will also be needed to ease their joy.

    Comment by Sacha — April 28, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  48. “Even Dunne might rule out going into coalition with a Brash-led ACT”

    Oh get a grip, Dunne would go into coalition with the Taliban if it meant he could keep his job and the perks that go with it.

    Comment by Zarchoff — April 29, 2011 @ 12:52 am

  49. Perhaps we could see the fabled Blue-Green coalition, or at least, a National party minority government supported by the Green Party for confidence and supply.

    If National gets roughly around the same amount of MPs it currently has and both ACT and the Maori Party get cut right down, then what other choice would they have?

    Comment by Juan — April 29, 2011 @ 4:30 am

  50. Doesn’t ‘school choice’ usually end up meaning that the school gets to choose? And what do you know, some always prefer the offspring of those Epsom voters.

    In the Swedish version, schools cannot choose.

    My own anecdote about all this was attending Auckland Grammar in the 90s, and the mere prospect of zoning had the headmaster railing against that system almost weekly. They specifically made a point of taking in way-out-of-zone south Aucklanders and the like. That’s my story.

    Comment by StephenR — April 29, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  51. Don Brash is an asset to New Zealand politics. He won’t stand around grinning like a cheshire cat like our current Prime Minister. He has clear, forthright opinions, he is sprightly still (unlike Peters, who is becoming increasingly senile), he is as honest as a politician can get, and he may end up having some good ideas on how to make New Zealand an economic power once again.

    We haven’t been an economic power since the 1950’s. Since then, successive Governments have worked tirelessly to remove subsidies for farmers, get rid of free tertiary education, pump money into an unefficient health system, cut benefits without providing alternative options for getting ahead, introduced and increased and further increased ridiculous forms of taxation such as GST, increased rates, kept the minimum wage at a low level, cut taxes for the rich numerous times, discouraged small property investors by getting rid of the depreciation allowance for homes less than fifty years old, introduced excise tax on cigarettes, alcohol, and petroleum at ridiculously high levels, increased the price of electricity, etc.

    This is what Brash has to work with. May God be with him to guide him, the poor man, as he sets out on a quest to right the economic wrongs that have plagued New Zealand society for far too long.

    Comment by Betty — April 29, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  52. “I think people overestimate Brash’s appeal to voters…”

    Let’s not forget, here, that Brash is a former teenage pop-sensation from the 1960s. Originally billed as ‘Little Donny Brash’ (a somewhat crass attempt to cash-in on the ‘Little Stevie Wonder’ phenomenon), he went on in the mid-60s (as just plain ‘Donny Brash’) to send teenage girls wild with his outrageously lewd hip-gyrations and pelvic-thrustings (particularly at gigs in his favoured haunts – the smaller secondary centres like Dargaville, Huntly, Ohakune, Levin, Picton, Westport and Lawrence).

    Tagically, by the late 60s, he was suffering from “Prince William Disease” and his promoters reluctantly concluded that teenage girls were slowly becoming less fervent as huge clumps of Donny’s hair started falling out on a daily basis. Premature Male Pattern Baldness thus forced Don into a life dedicated to fiscal constraint.

    However, the love of highly-sexualised music has apparently never left him. It’s been said, for instance, that on more than one occassion Brash has been walking down Lambton Quay in Wellington or Queen Street in Auckland and shocked people by spontaneously breaking-out into a very passionate (almost erotic, some say) rendition of the Porgy and Bess number “Bess, You Is My Woman.”

    Comment by swordfish — April 29, 2011 @ 5:57 pm


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