I love this potential post-election scenario laid out by Audrey Young today, based on the last poll of the election: National gets a bare majority, but there’s an overhand and they need the Maori Party to form a government, while Winston Peters gets back in with 5.2% of the vote.
Anyway, here’s my last-minute summary of the campaign and general thoughts:
Ran a surprisingly inept campaign. That opening mock-town hall address debacle. The ‘Stop/Go’ posters, which were a clumsy reprise of their 2005 posters presenting a binary choice between National and Labour (why even mention Labour?). The whole tea-pot tapes saga – not even Clark and Cullen were arrogant enough to pick a fight with the media during the midst of an election campaign. And whose dumb-ass idea was it to have Key robo-call everyone in the country during dinner-time?
That National might drop below 50% and Peters might get returned to Parliament is testament to Steven Joyce’s hubris. He thought he was a master of the universe moving chess pieces around on a board – but Peters isn’t a pawn. Loathsome though he may be, he is also the most talented politician of his generation, and tens of thousands of National voters still trust him. Giving him media oxygen was a stupid, pointless move.
Still, they’ll be government for three more years – partly because there was simply no credible alternative. I think many voters are still optimistic that Key has a plan, or a vision – that his financial genius will kick in and save us all. But there is no vision – or rather, Key’s vision is simply of a country in which he is Prime Minister. The gradual erosion of public services and transfer of wealth to the already wealthy will continue, because it’s what Key’s supporters and many of his Ministers want, and the Prime Minister will remain indifferent to these trends unless they directly threaten his popularity in a way his media team cannot manage.
Ran a surprisingly strong campaign. But who cares? Even now less than half of the people voting Labour want Goff as their Prime Minister. They’re facing a Massacre of the Innocents – the loss of many of their most gifting and promising new MPs due to public revulsion at the quality of the party leadership.
In terms of opposition politics the Labour Party made all the wrong choices during the last year – supporting illiberal legislation proposed by National but dying (pointlessly) in a ditch over compulsory student unionism (also an illiberal institution).
Labour’s brand is now so distinct from National’s that we forget how nowhere they were for most of the last term. In 2009 their flagship policy was a plan to cap the salaries of public servants. In 2010 it was GST free fruit and vegetables. They stumbled from one debacle to another, and the public saw time-and-time again that Goff’s judgement was poor and that he could not be trusted. But Goff isn’t the real problem. Failure to replace him as leader at the beginning of the year – after the Darren Hughes affair – revealed deeper problems within the Labour caucus. A dearth of talent. A lack of leadership. The pretenders to the throne – David Parker and David Cunliffe – calculated that they were better off keeping their heads down until after the election, even though it’s led them to this point and many of their junior colleagues losing their seats.
Labour’s policies are more popular than National’s with the public (and with me). But I just don’t have any faith in these people to implement these policies effectively. Or, frankly, at all.
What’s left to say? Banks was not the panacea the party expected. The few times I saw him fronting the media he seemed . . . inexperienced. ‘Banksy’ just repeated the same couple of phrases over-and-over again, regardless of context. Paul Goldsmith might not want to win Epsom, but by benefit of not being a babbling imbecile, he may fail in this goal.
Ran a low risk, policy-focused campaign, with their usual daft, media-friendly gimmicks (swimming with sharks) so the gallery could dust off their repertoire of puns. They were the most effective opposition party. I’m giving them my vote this election – the first time I’ve ever voted for the Greens.
New Zealand First:
There is a non-zero chance that Winston will get, like 4.9%, demand a recount, try and take legal action to prevent National from forming a government, ect.
I expect National to win – I don’t think it will be a big deal if they need support from the Maori Party. The asset sales legislation will still get passed, probably with some kind of tiered sales process in which iwi, state funds and KiwiSaver providers get first dibs. That wouldn’t be a bad thing.