The Dim-Post

June 3, 2014

On the logic behind a strategic loss

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:49 pm

Rob Salmond makes fun of Bomber, which is something we can all enjoy. But I do think that Bomber’s theory that a faction within the Labour Party would prefer a National victory in 2014 if the alternative is a Labour/Greens/New Zealand First/Mana/Internet Party government is pretty plausible.

Imagine you’re part of Labour’s infamous Anyone But Cunliffe faction, and Labour manages to form a coalition with the aforementioned parties after the September election. That’s going to be a government that is (a) unpopular – the Venn diagram of voters that have positive or neutral attitudes towards all five of those parties is damn close to an empty set; it will also (b) probably be highly unstable, and (c) be a government with intense competition for Cabinet seats, so ABC faction members are likely to miss out on them. So you’re facing the prospect of three years as a backbencher followed by a crushing election defeat followed by six to nine years of a subsequent National government. If you’re Phil Goff or Trevor Mallard that’s the rest of your career.

On the other hand, if Labour loses the election because, hypothetically, Labour wins Te Tai Tokerau and all of the Internet/Mana party votes get wasted, the most probable outcomes are (a) Cunliffe resigns and your faction retakes control of the Labour Party, (b) National forms a coalition with New Zealand First which will also be a weak and unstable government, and (c) you get to run the country in three years time.

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28 Comments »

  1. The theory is implausible as it stands, but if you take Bomber’s name off of it I would probably believe it.

    Comment by pete — June 3, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

  2. When you look at the conduct of Labour’s caucus timeservers, leakers and stirrers over the last 5 years, there’s nothing implausible about that theory at all. They should all have been forced to shit or get off the pot a long time ago. The stench affects us all.

    Comment by Sacha — June 3, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

  3. I suspect the motivation of the ABC faction is nothing as Machiavellian as that. Basically, they a bunch of brought and paid for, out of touch, middle aged right wingers who will do anything to protect hat they see as their main political legacy – the NZ neo-liberal economy. They are not prepared to simply stand aside and see everything they stand for dismantled by what would be quite a radical government. My bet is that if Labour managed to form a coalition with the Greens and the IMP and looked like they were prepared to alter the neo-liberal economic carapace they’ve help build they would do a “tight five” and defect, form a new party to defend the status quo. SInce many of them have strong local electorates, the core could probably hang on for quite a while, just like Dunne.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 3, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

  4. I think the internet mana party would do quite well if they got Peter Dinklage as a spokesman.

    Comment by greg dawson — June 3, 2014 @ 2:49 pm

  5. … if Labour loses the election … [the ABC] faction retakes control of the Labour Party… and get to run the country in three years time.

    Two problems:
    1) The Labour party list will not do any favours for the ABC faction. If Labour loses seats from its current caucus, the first to go will be ABC-faction ‘pawns’ and the relative mix of caucus will move futher toward Cunliffe.
    2) Would a Nat-NZF coalition be that unstable? In 1996 everyone was still figuring out how MMP was supposed to work, and NZF was basically two parties-in-one (old-and-white, radical-and-maori) that were bound to split at some point. Today’s NZF is nothing like that.

    Comment by Phil — June 3, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

  6. ‘Cunliffe resigns and your faction retakes control of the Labour Party’ => Labour continues to collapse with Mullard or someone in charge, and becomes a support party in a Green-led coalition come 2017.

    (Maybe then, any ABC remnants walk out, found Real Labour and start voting with National).

    Comment by richdrich — June 3, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

  7. Their is a belief among national party people that if we had let Winston / Hellen and Jim form a government in 1996 it would have only lasted 3 years
    Then Jenny would have had 9 years in power
    If you were grant Robertson wouldn’t you rather see cunlife gone combined with smashing hone
    And wait 3-6 years

    Comment by Graham — June 3, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

  8. Hi Paddy!

    Comment by Rob — June 3, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

  9. Look I am just a humble dairy farmer from canterbury

    Comment by Graham — June 3, 2014 @ 8:53 pm

  10. Oh my Sanctuary you are officially a caricature of a caricature of yourself aka sucking yourself off

    Comment by Stephen x — June 3, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

  11. Er? Excuse me, when is the election? Some time away. All the above is masturbatory conjeculation.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — June 4, 2014 @ 12:20 am

  12. I’ve said it before, but what if Key wins a 3rd term in office – although probably with a reduced and precarious majority – and Jesse Colombo is proven right about the NZ housing bubble?

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — June 4, 2014 @ 1:52 am

  13. ” If you’re Phil Goff or Trevor Mallard that’s the rest of your career.”

    I’m pretty sure both of their careers ended in 2008, what we’re seeing now is just a slow afterbirth.

    Also LOL @Green led coalition in 2017.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — June 4, 2014 @ 2:09 am

  14. I run with most of caucus wanting to beat Hone into retirement, loose the election, roll Cunliffe and mess around with their feet up for the next 3 years playing angry birds on a nice cushy salary. Seriously look at labours caucus…hardly a driven bunch.

    Comment by David — June 4, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

  15. >I suspect the motivation of the ABC faction is nothing as Machiavellian as that. Basically, they a bunch of brought and paid for, out of touch, middle aged right wingers who will do anything to protect hat they see as their main political legacy – the NZ neo-liberal economy

    But that is the very definition of Machiavellian behaviour. They deny their neoliberalism in order to advance it.

    I don’t think you’re correct. I think they seriously do not have the self-image of being neoliberal (even if they actually are). They see it as “pragmatic” and anything else as “radical”, which is a common mistake made by elderly people to justify not changing. It’s not about ideology, it’s about their personal self-respect and mana, which they feel is undermined by making big changes, and taking heed of the amateurs in their party membership. Also, they probably like the money. It’s quite a lot of money.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — June 4, 2014 @ 6:07 pm

  16. “conjeculation”

    now there’s a word with a future

    Comment by Sacha — June 4, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

  17. I’m going to stop comming to this site. I find myself agreeing with one of the Green Party policies and I can only put that down to brain washing via Danyl’s silken prose.

    The carbon tax isn’t a bad idea. Simple. Takes into account the economic reality of our dependence on primary production. Fiscally neutral.

    On the other hand, I have some sympathy for Labour at present so perhaps there’s hope Danyl’s influence isn’t completely overpowering.

    Labour’s announcement of tweaking MMP seems reasonable to me. Maybe it is just an opportunistic response to recent focus groups but at least it’s consistent with what they have been advocating.

    Normal transmission will resume shortly.

    Comment by NeilM — June 4, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

  18. While highly likely to just be some populist posturing from Labour to try and get some cheap votes, lets not forget that ditching the electorate lifeboat/coat tails/whatever was also pretty much *the* major recommendation to come out of the MMP review that we all voted and paid for but was then thrown in the bin by Judith Collins because National decided it would prefer to keep it’s grubby little rorts in Epsom and Ohariu.

    I think pretty much everyone except for Swan agrees that the the rules stinks and we’d be better off without it, but personally I’d be a bit concerned if it was removed without lowering the threshold from 5%.

    I do find it amusing that the left blatantly exploiting the existing rule appears as though it’s going to be the catalyst for finally getting this sorted, somehow just I can’t see the same levels of outrage being mustered if the IMP hadn’t pulled this stunt and Key had just handed electorates to Colin Craig and Rodney Hide 2.0 like everyone expects him to do.

    Comment by Rob — June 4, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

  19. shouldnt the threshold be whatever % is needed to occupy 1 seat? – perhaps theres something im missing here int the details (overhangs etc) – but it would fit with removing coat
    tailing nicely

    Comment by framu — June 5, 2014 @ 8:54 am

  20. shouldnt the threshold be whatever % is needed to occupy 1 seat?

    100% divided by 120 seats is 0.8333…%.
    Round it up to a simple 1.0% of the vote threshold and everybody’s happy.

    Comment by Phil — June 5, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  21. @Phil – this is what I was trying to get my head around last night watching Back Benchers.
    Why has the conversation been around a 4% threshold when 0.83% maintains proportionality?

    I’m probably missing something obvious…

    Comment by Gregor W — June 5, 2014 @ 11:42 am

  22. (c) you get to run the country in three years time.

    Really, with whose support? Perhaps Greens/New Zealand First/Mana/Internet Party….you missed the subtle flaw in your logic, Danyl.

    Comment by Ross — June 5, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

  23. I’m guessing its driven by the fact that pretty much any douchebag with a big enough public presence can win 1% of the party vote (e.g. Bill&Ben, McGillicuddy, KDC… ACT, UF, Mana). It may be the view of our politicians that having one of these people potentially decide the shape of the government would be a worse outcome for the country than having a less proportional system.

    Comment by Phil — June 5, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  24. As I understand it, the primary defence of voiding the threshold in the case of winning an electorate seat is the “Bill and Ben” test. That is, a party sufficiently “worthy” as to be able to win an electorate should then benefit from proportional representation, but potentially “unworthy” joke parties like “Bill and Ben” or “fringe” parties like the ALCP should not be able to get into the house without surmounting a stiff barrier (5%) lest they reduce the majesty of the parliament, or whatever.

    This year is our 7th MMP election. So what should the threshold be based on experience? The list below shows who would have been in parliament with a 4% threshold and (in brackets) a 1/120th threshold:

    1996 Christian Coalition 4.33% (ALCP, 1.66%)
    1999 (Christian Heritage New Zealand, 2.38%) NZ First got 4.26% but had an electorate seat.
    2002 (Christian Heritage 1.35%, Outdoor Recreation 1.28%, Alliance 1.27%) The Progessives got 1.7% but two MPs due to Anderton holding Wigram.
    2005 ACT, Maori Party, Progressive and United Future all came in on electorate seats, but only ACT benefited from coat tailing with one extra MP
    2008 NZ First 4.07%. Again, ACT, Maori, UF and Progressives all gained electorates seats, and again only ACT benefitted from the coattail provisions.
    2011 (Conservative 2.65%) ACT, Mana, Maori and UF all got elected on electorate seats, but none got enough votes to

    The 5% Bill and Ben defence has “saved” us from one “unworthy” ALCP MP back in 1996. A threshold of 4% would not have disenfranchised the Christian Taliban in 1996 and would have prevented all the fuss in the 2008 election (The ONLY election to have been significantly affected by ACT’s Electorate seat rort) has caused. What about the unworthy? A 1/120th threshold would have seen ALCP with one MP in 1996, two Christian Heritage in 1999, one each from Christian Heritage, Outdoor Recreation and the Alliance in 2002 and a couple of Colin Craig’s God Botherers last time as well.

    It seems to me that historically the biggest losers from the threshold is the Christian parties. Since I cordially dislike Christians, that particular morsel of information doesn’t concern me in the slightest.

    My view based on all that then is doing away with the coat tailing provision and lowering the threshold to either 3% or 4% (it actually doesn’t matter – parties seem to either fall well short of 3% or breach 4% handily) would produce much fairer results. And funnily enough, that is the same conclusion drawn by the MMP review panel (can I apply for government funding to?).

    The only person who disagreed was our heroine, Crusher herself, whose sorry incompetent finger prints are all over the subsequent correct conclusions drawn by Kim Dotcom’s advisors.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 5, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

  25. *2011 (Conservative 2.65%) ACT, Mana, Maori and UF all got elected on electorate seats, but none got enough votes to COATTAIL ANOTHER MP.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 5, 2014 @ 1:26 pm

  26. Labour also needs to consider the long term consequences of granting the Greens the legitimacy of equal partnership. Even under thhe best scenario, that would mean never being able to de facto govern alone. At worst, it could be suicide note a la the Tasmanian Labour Party. You could argue that Labour waiting to pick up 14% by expecting Green support to drop back to more “normal” levels of 6-8% and National becoming increasingly unpopular is a better mid to long term outlook if you have an overweening sense of electoral entitlement.

    Personally, I think Labour (and National, actually) is ideologically exhausted and exists by dint of the inertia of incumbency and the power of brand recognition. It desperately needs the injection of vigour Greens like Julie Anne Genter (who almost ran me over on her bike the other day, but I forgive her) might bring and the ginger of true radicals like Harre and Minto in order to renew itself. I suspect that everything would prove to be moot though. I expect that if Labour was able to form a radical government with the Greens and the IMP the ABC faction will do a tight five and defect en masse to a new party that will then prop up a National government. And since the likes of Mallard have very strong electorate seats, there is very little anyone could do to stop them mimicking Peter Dunne for as long as they draw breath.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 5, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

  27. As I understand it, the primary defence of voiding the threshold in the case of winning an electorate seat is the “Bill and Ben” test.

    There’s also blather about keeping out ‘extremist’ parties (although how you’d distinguish one of those from the ACT Party I don’t know). Thing about the ‘Bill and Ben’ test is that, as a 1999 Alliance voter, I got to experience my party vote having helped put Alamein Kopu in Parliament. I found it an unsatisfying experience in pretty much all respects. A 5% threshold did not prevent this unsavoury episode occurring – in short, it’s pointless.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — June 5, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

  28. It may be the view of our politicians that having one of these people potentially decide the shape of the government would be a worse outcome for the country than having a less proportional system.

    Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle merite.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 5, 2014 @ 5:03 pm


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