The Dim-Post

November 27, 2011

Post election autopsy, amateur hour 2011 edition

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:18 am

We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.

– Auden

I don’t think the above quote has much to do with the outcome of the election. It’s just cool.

The polls predicted a comfortable majority for the National Party and New Zealand First under 5%. What happened? I’m guessing it was the extremely poor voter turn-out. I read somewhere it was the worst since the 1880s. This meant that the votes cast were not proportionate to the support in the wider population. New Zealand First voters showed up. Labour voters – and to a lesser degree, National voters – didn’t.

National: Were a first term government with a popular leader, an opposition party in tatters and a public desperate for stability during a time of national crisis. They were coasting to a historic majority win until they actually began campaigning, which they did with such ineptness they bled votes to the Conservative Party and New Zealand First. They have coalition options to build a comfortable majority, but the other senior Ministers in the party must be wondering how their leadership will perform if they ever have a genuine fight on their hands.

Labour: Needs to rebuild its brand, and the best way to do that is with a raft of resignations of its incompetent, despised front-bench, so it can return some of the talent they lost last night. They need to do the same with their senior staffers. There’s a venomous culture of entitlement and unaccountability poisoning this political party.

I assume David Cunliffe will be their next leader. He could work – my reservations are (a) that if he wanted to be leader why didn’t he step up before the election, assume the throne and try to prevent what was obviously going to be a bloodbath and (b) that he was heavily involved in drawing up the party list, an exercise in incumbency protection that has cost them dearly. What does it say that Carmel Sepuloni came within ~300 votes of defeating Paula Bennett, one of the government’s highest profile Ministers, but wasn’t rated highly enough to get back in on the list because it was more important to get Darien Fenton and Rajen Prasad back into Parliament?

There will be a raft of commentators comparing this to National’s rout in 2002. ‘Oh, this is part of a cycle. Politics is like the tides. It’s fate.’ They’re wrong! National lost in 2002 because people hated the policies and values of the party. This time around the public preferred Labour’s policies. They just thought the people running the party were rubbish.

ACT: Ha! Worst possible outcome. The liberal party’s sole representative in Parliament is now John Banks. ACT is gone, but weirdly, horribly, still exists and is part of the government – so the task of building a new free-market far-right party is that much harder. What’s going to happen when National decides to pass some legislation that deeply offends ACT’s last dozen supporters, and Banks – loyal National man that he is – cheerfully votes for it?

Greens: Will, presumably, get another MP in on the special votes. It’ll be interesting to see which of the other parties lose out in this process. You’d have to guess it would be National – if it is then they could be reliant on the Maori Party to pass budgets.

Maori: Sharples and Turia will take their Ministerial salaries, vote for whatever they’re told to, be rewarded with comfortable sinecures when they retire during this term and their party will be wiped out in the next election.

MMP: Looks to be here to stay. So the long-term prospects for the left are pretty good. If the Green Party can maintain a 10% share, and Labour rebuilds and concentrates on winning votes off National and mobilising all those core, base voters who didn’t bother to support them this time around then the left can look forward to a comfortable victory in 2014.


  1. > New Zealand First voters showed up. Labour voters – and to a lesser degree, National voters – didn’t

    A Colmar Brunton poll released just over two weeks before the election had National on 54 per cent and Labour on 28 per cent. Labout polled just over 27 per cent on election night while National scored 48 per cent. That suggests that more Nat supporters stayed home than did Lab supporters, or that some who said they’d vote National decided to support one of the other parties.

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2011 @ 7:50 am

  2. Mostly fair, but I think National’s result was also due to the fact that Bill English (as party leader at the time) had the charisma of a Gerry Anderson puppet.

    Comment by Adze — November 27, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  3. National’s result in 2002, obviously.^^

    Comment by Adze — November 27, 2011 @ 7:53 am

  4. > What does it say that Carmel Sepuloni came within ~300 votes of defeating Paula Bennett

    It could say that Bennett is one of the most disliked ministers in government, and that she was always getting in on the list anyway, so voters felt they could send her a message.

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  5. > the left can look forward to a comfortable victory in 2014.

    Was that said tongue in cheek? Certainly Labour has had one of its worst election results and would expect to do better next time…though that could be at the expense of NZF. If ACT and UF are history after 2014, it will make National’s job of forming a government that much more difficult, especially if their share of the vote falls to the low to mid 40s.

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2011 @ 8:07 am

  6. I just love people who say if only the voters were rational. Well maybe the people that are saying that are just irrational.

    Comment by gingercrush — November 27, 2011 @ 8:38 am

  7. Go the democratic process:

    1. Winston Peters, list: Party leader. Was minister of Foreign Affairs under the previous Labour-led government

    2. Tracey Martin, Rodney: A member of the Rodney Local Board of Auckland Council, and chairwoman of the board of trustees of Mahurangi College

    3. Andrew Williams, North Shore: Mayor of North Shore City from 2007 to 2010. Made headlines for sending a message to Prime Minister John Key at 3.30am and urinating against a Takapuna tree

    4. Richard Prosser, Waimakariri: A columnist for Investigate magazine, and as an independent in 2007 called for the South Island to consider establishing a separate parliament, before pulling out of the election

    5. Barbara Stewart, Waikato: A former teacher, was a member of parliament from 2002 to 2008 and the party’s spokeswoman for Health, Social Services, Family and Industry Training

    6. Brendan Horan, Tauranga: A weather presenter for One News until he took redundancy in 2007 when Jim Hickey returned to the network

    7. Denis O’Rourke

    8. Asenati Taylor

    Revoke the vote at NZ super age.

    Comment by will — November 27, 2011 @ 8:39 am

  8. Re turnout, National had almost 10% LESS total votes this time than 2008

    Comment by garethw — November 27, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  9. No comment on Mana, Danyl?

    Comment by Adze — November 27, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  10. Although that 10% less figure won’t have specials yet I suppose…

    Comment by garethw — November 27, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  11. @Ross if ACT and UF are history next election its pretty certain their votes would go to National instead and give them a couple of percent more in the party vote – which would mean no real impact. However if they bleed those votes to another right party (eg Conservatives) who fail to get over the threshold then it could be tough for them as they loose those votes. If I was Nat campaign manager I would be on the phone to Colin Craig this week talking about options for 2014.

    Comment by Hakawai Online (@hakawaionline) — November 27, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  12. HO,

    UF hardly registered in respect of the party vote. They are only in Parliament because they won an electorate seat. The fact remains that National will find it harder to form a coaltion in future if their share of the vote falls and both ACT and UF are gone.

    Comment by Ross — November 27, 2011 @ 9:28 am

  13. Three years are a long time. Given that th EU and USA are both in depression (US real unemployment is around 15 percent) next time we may be out of the shite.

    Biggest problem is MMP. I despise MMP only parties — local MPs do a good job for all their constituents.

    But we have it. ACT will split into a liberal / libertarian party run by Isaac and the conservatives who will align with the churches to form something akin to the german christian democrats.

    The greens will grow until they are in gov’t. Norman will keep them out as long as possible.

    But the left has to look at Detroit, and Minnesota — and ask the real question of this decade — how do we keep a socail welfare net when there is no income, no sales and thus no taxes?

    Comment by Chris — November 27, 2011 @ 9:44 am

  14. The biggest worry for me is Labour rout in the provinces. Labour hardly exists outside the main centres now. They need to re-connect out there, because that will also get them back in touch with a lot of the real issues affecting this country.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 27, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  15. As for the rest, well, Labour will replace Goff. It will redo it’s list and dust off its image. it will hire a different, fresher PR firm. The media is already growing tired with Key, and you only have to ask Steve Coogan to find out what happens when a celebrity obsessed media decides to turn on you. National will now start thinking it is untouchable and start doing really stupid things (John Banks as minister of local government! I wonder how Aucklanders will feel about that, having rejected him as mayor only to find him white anting the city from Wellington?). Business will realise that National won’t be around forever and they’d better make sure Labour knows where the money comes from with some nice donations. And so it will go on, rinse and repeat every 6-9 years.

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 27, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  16. We need to hit rock bottom with Key at the helm. We need to suffer and bloodlet in sacrifice to the Gods of democracy. Let the streets run red.

    Dark days ahead.

    It is fitting then that Key will unlock the 2012 dawn of a new epoch. The age of motion will close on him and the age of light will open on who knows ?

    Brighter future ahead.

    Comment by pollywog — November 27, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  17. – Anita at Kiwipolitico suggested, and I agree, that the most likely scenario was the Greens picking up a 14th seat from the Nats. That would force the Nats to work with the MP if they want a friendly speaker (though they’ll probably work with the MP even if they keep their 60th seat).

    – Jordan Carter would make an excellent MP for Mt Roskill. Just saying.

    Comment by bradluen — November 27, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  18. Winston will be a real pain for Labour since he’ll be the leader of the opposition.

    He’ll get all the attention.

    Comment by NeilM — November 27, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  19. I love how your opinion of Labour is automatically everyone’s reason as to why they did poorly.

    Comment by wtl — November 27, 2011 @ 11:31 am

  20. “..– Jordan Carter would make an excellent MP for Mt Roskill. Just saying…”

    Or Jacinda Ahdern? that would free up a list spot for, say Stuart Nash… Nash and Ahdern – now that is one fine looking leadership team!

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 27, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  21. Pollywog.

    If I understand the glorious revolution, parliament is not set up as a democracy but as a consitutional monarchy — or a republic with a monarch at its head.

    However, the dark days are coming. Nothing to do with Key, Goff, Clarke or Bolger. Heaps to do with feckless spending by Obama, Bush II and a thousand nameless weasels white-anting the economy of Europe from their nice headquarters in Brussels.

    We could lose a third of our exports. Our economy could contract. Nastily. The rich will move elsewhere and the middle class will shrink. Like ireland, the docs, nurses and uni staff could have their salaries cut by a third th half. This makes running a welfare system difficult, as there are no taxes to pay for it, and no banks to borrow from.

    I think Matt McCarten’s union health centres are a good place to start thinking from about these issues,

    Comment by Chris — November 27, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  22. Re ACT. What the hell did Don think he was doing (cause it really didnt work), and how did he manage to get everyone in ACT to believe in him?

    The liberal right is dead. In fact the liberal anything is dead. Conservative scaremongers back with a vengence. This makes me sad. NZ really is a conservative, economically left country (has it always been?). Even with a massively popular leader (and unpopular Labour leader) and with policies only a hairs breadth right of centre, the right barely managed 50% of the vote. Thats the real story which, together with MMP being retained, sets NZs path into the future.

    Comment by swan — November 27, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  23. “…the right barely managed 50% of the vote…”

    Just stop it already. One of the first things the left need to do, is to stop twisting numbers and what-ifs until the actual thumping gets retrospectively massaged into an almost glorious victory.

    It reminds me of the English football team. But for a few lucky goals they would have won every World Cup since 1966.

    Comment by Pat — November 27, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

  24. Re Labour – agree with your analysis. A series of by-elections is crucial and must start in the new year.
    On senior staff it is interesting to note there was a near total clear out of senior staff over the term with the hacks from the Clark-Cullen govt dumped through the term. If you look at the 4 “directors” at the start of the term 3 of them seem to have been sacked, presumably due to demonstrable incompetence.
    John Pagani, a long-time adviser to Progressive leader Jim Anderton, will start work as one of four “directors” in Labour’s leadership team next week.

    Mr Goff said he would be focusing on non-media communications. “John has skills that will be very useful for Labour in opposition and I am looking forward to having him in the office as communications director.”

    He will work with chief press secretary Gordon Jon Thompson, policy director Marcus Ganley and office director Murray Wansbrough.

    Comment by OnceWasLabour — November 27, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  25. As an MMP supporter, my worst case scenario was Winston back with a ragtag gaggle of inexperienced underlings and MMP having to fight for survival in 2014. I’m glad that won’t be the case.

    According to The Standard, a number of their bloggers voted NZF in order to ensure the NZF vote wasn’t wasted like last time; they see Winston as a staunch opponent of asset sales. He will be but whether he gets a chance to land any blows will be interesting. I suspect the right is already drawing up personal attacks on him and his new MPs. The new MPs will invariably do something stupid and because scandal is easier to report than policy, that will occupy the headlines. (A bit like Act 2008-2011).

    Comment by MeToo — November 27, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  26. I have to go round to my Grandma’s and wash her ceiling (put off during the campaign), so proper comment sometime soon, but I disagree with your analysis of Labour’s problems. They’re not about people, they’re about connecting with the electorate. Sometimes those things are related, but often they’re not. More often than your repeated comments about taking a knife to the frontbench suggest.

    Comment by George D — November 27, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

  27. all i can say is good summary and great comments everyone. The internet has only just begun to influence our ways of communicating and decision-making.

    Comment by tawhaowhao — November 27, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  28. In 2014, the government will be one of …

    1) National-Green.
    2) Labour-Green.
    3) National plus “conservatives”.

    Ever since the first MMP election in 1996, the “conservatives” have been looking for a viable vehicle (“conservatives” being loosely defined as “the people wot phone talkback and go on about Sue Bradford, God and gays”).

    They have tried the Christian Coalition, United Future, Kiwi, Destiny/Family, ACT (on Laura Norder), even Winston, and now they have Colin Craig.

    If they break through, National will have a friend (in Jesus).

    If they don’t, the godless Greens are in. Alleluiah!

    Comment by sammy — November 27, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

  29. “They were coasting to a historic majority win until they actually began campaigning,”

    They got a historic majority win.

    “If the Green Party can maintain a 10% share”

    They’ve got 10% before and failed to maintain it.

    Comment by Hugh — November 27, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  30. Er, Hugh, both of your statements are false.

    Comment by sammy — November 27, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  31. I like Sammy. Also spoke to two semi educated mid life crisis men, slightly neer do wells/likely govt payrollers at Pomeroys ChCh pub a few days ago who were voting Winston to ensure he got over 5%, normally I think they would have gone Labour or Green even. Meanwhile I overheard two females early 20s in bus a week ago who were voting green party to do the right thing despite not trusting the dual leadership which they found weird. Good what you hear.

    Comment by Elizabeth — November 27, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  32. For all the talk of a massive victory to National they may be adding ONE seat to their current total if specials go as predicted. Two if they don’t. And their ACT pals lost four seats.
    National plus ACT easily had a majority last time (63 seats in a 122 set Parliament). This time they need others.
    National + ACT + UF + Maori was 69 seats last Parliament. This time they’re 64 or 65.

    National adding one or two seats as incumbent is a good showing for sure. But I don’t quite get the narrative. “The Government” is actually weaker this time round although even more centralised.
    Labour losing 9 seats, now there’s a narrative.

    Comment by garethw — November 27, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  33. Sammy, they got the highest share of the vote any party has got in sixty years. There’s no absolute definition of “historic” but that’ll do me.

    As for the Greens, you’re right, I thought they did better in 1990 than was actually the case. Still, I wouldn’t feel too secure in their 10% if I was them, it’s at least as much due to Labour’s fuckup as their own ‘brilliant’ campaign.

    Comment by Hugh — November 27, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  34. ““The Government” is actually weaker this time round”

    How so?

    Comment by Hugh — November 27, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  35. Hugh – I’m unsure what the formal coalition that made up the 2008-11 Parliament actually is but assuming it was Nat + ACT + Maori (or even just Nat + ACT) they now have less seats in this next Parliament than they did before.
    The likely coalition this time will only have majority by a couple of seats – last time it was 8.

    Comment by garethw — November 27, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

  36. Sorry, that made up the 2008-11 GOVERNMENT

    Comment by garethw — November 27, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  37. @ George D – hope you scrubbed that mildew out of Grandma’s ceiling… 😉 Now to scrubbing out other forms of mildew – looking at Labour’s 34 MPs left, I reckon they need to axe the following dead wood:

    Ross Robertson Manukau East
    Ruth Dyson Port Hills
    Trevor Mallard Hutt South – maybe
    Annette King Rongotai – maybe
    Phil Goff Mt Roskill – but he will retire in 3 yrs anyway

    LIST MPs
    Darien Fenton
    Maryann Street
    Rajen Prasad
    Raymond Huo – maybe
    Shane Jones – maybe (he’s lazy, but he pushed Sharples hard)
    Moana Mackey – maybe
    Sue Moroney – maybe

    The common deadwood theme? What have they done? Ever? Tho’ Fenton is MVP for Labour – Most Votekilling Potential. And Trev did a sterling job leading them thru the Charge of the Light(ly Talented) Brigade…

    Purge all the above, and you’ve cleansed 1/3 of Labour’s caucus ( do it after 1 yr, to bed in new MPs before 2014), so it presents as a fresh face. Also purge rest of deadwood off the list to avoid Tizard-like problems, ie bring in genuine talent , not timeservers (ahem, Jerome Mika).

    Free honest advice to Labour – bet they don’t have the balls to do it!

    Comment by bob — November 27, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

  38. Hugh wrote: “Sammy, they got the highest share of the vote any party has got in sixty years. There’s no absolute definition of “historic” but that’ll do me.”

    true. but there is an absolute definition of ‘majority’, and they didn’t get that.

    Comment by Kahikatea — November 28, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  39. The polls – especially Colmar-Brunton and Fairfax – typically give National 6 to 8 points too much. I’ve been saying this for 15 years and they have been doing it for 15 years and longer The Listener wrote an article on in 10 years ago, or so…..before they were purged and right-wing-ified.

    It has proven to be so yet again…..and yet when these polls are reported, we almost NEVER hear anyone reporting them say they make National too heavy…and pretty much everyone else too light.

    Yet there it is. Yet again.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — November 30, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

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