The Dim-Post

January 4, 2011

Chart of the day, dead wood edition

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 11:27 am

The Herald web site lets you filter your search terms by year, so I generated the following chart showing the number of times each member of the Labour front bench (excluding Goff) was mentioned in a Herald article in 2010.

I think it makes a few points. Carter is included for obvious reasons. Goff is already signalling Horomia’s departure, with good cause. Keith Locke and Kevin Hague are in there to illustrate that there’s no right-wing bias, ceteris parabis, and to make the argument that Labour’s health spokesperson Ruth Dyson’s low profile – she enjoys the same level of visibility as Hague, her backbencher counterpart in the Green Party – constitutes grounds for her demotion. I’ve included Judith Collins score for 2007 because she was an effective and high profile opposition MP, and 2007 was a non-election year, so she provides a comparative benchmark. Twyford and Robertson indicate that competent, hard-working Labour MPs can build their profiles even, in Robertson’s case, without high profile portfolios. With MPs like them handling classic opposition  issues like health or police we might have had a few less glowing appraisals of Ryall and Collins, and National might be a few notches lower in the polls.


  1. Does Cadbury’s know you are using their purple?
    Chris will like it, being all regal like.

    Comment by David — January 4, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  2. I think that’s a flawed metric.

    When has being an attention grabbing media whore = effectiveness?

    Comment by Francisco Hernandez — January 4, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

  3. When has being an attention grabbing media whore = effectiveness?

    You do realise we’re talking about politics right?

    Comment by scrubone — January 4, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

  4. @David – their trademark only kicks in when you’re trying to sell chocolate using purple.

    Comment by Lewis Holden — January 4, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  5. That’s some low hanging fruit you’re dangling there Lewis.

    Comment by leon — January 5, 2011 @ 6:37 am

  6. I think that’s a flawed metric.

    When has being an attention grabbing media whore = effectiveness?

    The reason I put Carter in there is to show that not all coverage is good. But the Labour health spokesperson should have a higher media profile than a backbench MP from a minor party, don’t you think?

    Comment by danylmc — January 5, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  7. Great chart. Its not a rigorous proof of anything, but a good illustration of how a solid story can be told effectively.

    Comment by jps — January 5, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  8. The chart tells us about the relationship various Labour MPs have with the New Zealand Herald. (and yes, all that entails). I know that’s stating the obvious, but reading anything more from these results is fraught.

    Comment by George D — January 5, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  9. reading anything more from these results is fraught.

    Yeah, but the performance of opposition MPs is really hard to capture and this seemed like a simple yet fairly powerful way to do it. It’s not perfect – when you talk to journalists about this lot they’ll often say that David Parker plays a really important role in policy development or that Clayton Cosgrove is ‘strong in the house’. But Street, Horomia and Dyson do seem to be basically invisible. Horomia might be worth votes in the Maori seats, but I can’t imagine a single person swings their vote to Labour because Dyson and Street are on their front bench.

    Comment by danylmc — January 5, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  10. It would be a much better analysis if you included another paper – obviously the Dom-Post – to counter any Auckland bias in the numbers.

    And, as been widely commented on elsewhere, the Herald has moved to a more tabloid style of reporting in the last year or so with fewer hard political stories and more “hey look kids there are sharks hanging around off the beaches” pieces.

    That aside, I’d say it’s a reasonable way of looking at the issue without being definite proof. It also squares with my perception of Labour’s inability to articulate ideas.

    Comment by Bill Bennett — January 5, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  11. and just for arguement’s sake – not all front benchers (opposition or otherwise) need to be leading the news tonight…you might argue for four heavy hitters (for example a la brownlee/collins/quinn/english) and rock it from there….happy new year one und all.

    Comment by k.jones — January 6, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  12. I wonder if Twyford’s relatively high number of mentions might be related to his standing for nomination in various seats in recent times.

    Comment by Maximilian Pflaum — January 6, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

  13. Dazza Hughes looks marginal against this yardstick and I wouldn’t buy him if he was draped in purple, terrible colour clash.

    Comment by leon — January 7, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  14. Ah, yes, if only Labour had someone who was as articulate as Paul Quinn.

    Comment by philoff — January 7, 2011 @ 10:46 am

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