The Dim-Post

October 29, 2014

Hiatus interruptus

Filed under: books,Politics — danylmc @ 9:04 am
  • My friend James gave his maiden speech in Parliament yesterday! 

 

  • I’ve just finished reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Half-way through I was describing it to friends as one of my favorite books ever. One of the odd, quirky things about it was a minor character called Leonard who was obviously a deft little sketch of David Foster-Wallace. Then in the second half of the book Leonard becomes a main character and the book turns into a study of Leonard’s depression, and the fact that David Foster-Wallace is shuffling around inside this novel is just really weird and uncomfortable.
  • Here’s a point I meant to make before i went on hiatus. Here’s the aggregated polling for the Internet-Mana Party.

internetmana

 

  • So. The Internet Party and the Mana Party merged in May. They were trending upwards in the polls until August when they slumped. What happened in August? A few things – it was a crazy campaign – but the big events for Internet/Mana were the ‘Fuck John Key’ video and Pam Corkery’s on camera meltdown. My post-hoc hypothesis is that those events were terribly damaging for Internet/Mana. But when those events happened the conventional wisdom among on-line activists (on my twitter feed, the comments of my blog, places like Public Address System, see also many posts on The Daily Blog, like this one) is these events were great for Internet/Mana. They were ‘disruptors’, and although these things might have upset mainstream New Zealand, that didn’t matter because Internet/Mana appealed to radicals and the disenfranchised, and they’d love this stuff, which was tapping into this deep vein of anger among the youth of the nation.
  • And, at the time, that sounded plausible to me. After all, Internet/Mana was a radical party. It turned out to be totally wrong though, so it’s worth bearing in mind that most of the left-wing commentariat aren’t just out of touch with mainstream New Zealand, they’re also out of touch with radical left-wing New Zealand. Something I think left-wing MPs and their staffers need to bear in mind when they’re being howled at by these folks on twitter all day.

38 Comments »

  1. What happened in August?

    What was the timing of Harawira’s on-again-off-again relationship with the legalisation of cannabis?

    Comment by Phil — October 29, 2014 @ 9:56 am

  2. “What happened in August? A few things – it was a crazy campaign – but the big events for Internet/Mana were the ‘Fuck John Key’ video and Pam Corkery’s on camera meltdown. My post-hoc hypothesis is that those events were terribly damaging for Internet/Mana.”

    Correlation = / = Causation.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 29, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  3. Correlation = / = Causation.

    What does that have to do with my post?

    Comment by danylmc — October 29, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  4. Correlation = / = Causation

    What does that have to do with my post?

    I think the more relevant logical fallacy is post hoc ergo propter hoc. I.e. just because Mana’s ratings fell after the “Fuck John Key” and Pam Corkery incidents does not necessarily mean that the ratings dive was caused by these incidents. That’s one plausible hypothesis, but that same piece of data could fit plenty of other hypotheses.

    Comment by Matt — October 29, 2014 @ 11:53 am

  5. Occam’s Razor is your friend.

    Comment by northshoreguynz — October 29, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

  6. The majority of people operate in the real world…

    Surely all people operate in the real world, without exception? Or are you counting fictional characters as people?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — October 29, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  7. Simon, just a suggestion, next time you come across someone posting about a friend of theirs, instead of thinking what a great opportunity for an abusive diatribe, take a quick break from your obviously busy schedule and have a cup of tea. If you still want to launch into a political rant, the part about the Internet/Mana Party would have been ideal to comment on.

    Comment by theunderhouse — October 29, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

  8. @Danyl: I think it’s reaching to assume that Internet Mana’s popularity was seriously hurt by “Fuck John Key”

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 29, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

  9. They were trending upwards in the polls until August when they slumped.

    Let’s assume their poll rating continued to rise so they reached 4.9%, a fairly unlikely result. But even at this level the party would not have had any MPs.

    Comment by Ross — October 29, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

  10. The biggest thing to undermine Harawira’s (Mana) was the dot com link. That ploy was very badly played and they paid.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — October 29, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

  11. Occam’s Razor is your friend.

    That’s right. And in politics – and history in general – correlation does often equal causation. You don’t get to run control trials on history to see if things would have turned out differently. All you can do is try and wed plausible sequences of cause-and-effect. And I guess you’ll always get bores like kalvarnsen running around making worthless criticisms like ‘correlation does not equal causation!’ without putting up theories of their own, but whaddy’a gonna do?

    Comment by danylmc — October 30, 2014 @ 7:19 am

  12. without putting up theories of their own

    In June, Internet Mana were polling at 1.4%, so their election result was consistent with this poll, only three months out from the election. I am not sure how much more support you expected the party to get. But like I say, even if they had miraculously jumped to 4.9%, it would not have been enough to get into Parliament. My theory is: your expectations were way too high.

    Comment by Ross — October 30, 2014 @ 7:53 am

  13. Around that time there was also a Mana activist who went troppo on the IP parties cannabis law reform policy, and I remember thinking there is a reason Mana will never amount to anything – they are a rabble with no concept of party discipline, preferring to shoot their mouths of and remain pure than be tainted by the compromises required to achieve influence.

    Comment by Sanctuary — October 30, 2014 @ 8:00 am

  14. Congratulations to your friend Mr Webb: anyone who has family from Opotiki is probably extended Whanau (my Mum comes from there). The fact that 30% of Wellington Central voted Green and Webb has an army of supporters is a very important note for Labour. Wellington should be deep red: it is going green.

    Comment by pukeko60 — October 30, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  15. Snap! I got The Marriage Plot for 67 cents from a Warehouse sales bin. I can see why it ended up there. Too much exposition but if you’re interested in English literature and all that confusing post-modern stuff and religious studies and what it’s like to have manic depression the book is bloody brilliant.

    Comment by Nella — October 30, 2014 @ 9:38 am

  16. I guess you’ll always get bores like kalvarnsen running around making worthless criticisms like ‘correlation does not equal causation!’ without putting up theories of their own, but whaddy’a gonna do?

    That strikes me as a little unfair. If you were peer reviewing a manuscript, and someone made causal conclusions based only on time series data, with no control group or statistical analysis or attempts to control for confounds…. surely you’d register concern? Especially if they came up with the particular causal hypothesis only *after* seeing the data? I don’t see why it’s necessary to list alternative pet theories as a prerequisite to pointing out the flaws in this kind of reasoning.

    You don’t get to run control trials on history to see if things would have turned out differently.

    Sure, but there are plenty of scientific fields where it is impossible to run randomised controlled trials (e.g., astronomy, epidemiology). I’m fairly sure that it is not conventional practice in these fields to construct a theory to explain observed data and then assume its truth without testing a single prediction. That’s the problem I have here – hypothesis generation is fine, but in your final paragraph to jump rapidly to assuming that your hypothesis is rock-solid correct.

    I realise it’s a bit unfair to call you out on this when just about every political pundit in the world advocates their pet theories without the remotest attempt at scientific method. But a bit of scientific thinking on politics seems like something that you’re well-placed to offer, no?

    Comment by Matt — October 30, 2014 @ 9:58 am

  17. LoL

    Comment by Lee Clark — October 30, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  18. “It turned out to be totally wrong though, so it’s worth bearing in mind that most of the left-wing commentariat aren’t just out of touch with mainstream New Zealand, they’re also out of touch with radical left-wing New Zealand.”

    That’s unfair, Public Address and Daily Brlog are completely in touch with radical left-wing New Zealand. The problem is, as you mentioned earlier on:

    “…that didn’t matter because Internet/Mana appealed to radicals and the disenfranchised…”

    The radical left-wing are not disenfranchised, in fact when it comes to political involvement the radical left wing are way-over-enfranchised. These people vote. They are so political they probably even voted in student politics. Scary.

    The disenfranchised don’t vote and have a very low opinion of all existing parties – an opinion shared to a lesser extent by all voters, except the left/right wingers.

    To attract the disenfranchised is simple and difficult. You have to agree with their sentiment that existing politicians are scum. The same angry non-voter who hates John Key now, was likely a non-voter who hated Helen Clark 6 years ago. An angry disenfranchised voter might happily chant ‘Fuck John Key’ or listen to a song about killing him, but they really are expecting there to be another couple of verses where David Cunliffe and Metiria Turei get the same treatment. And the radical left can’t do this.

    The problem for Public Address and Daily Blog and your twitter friends is that they assume that if someone shares their hatred of the right wing they must love the left wing. Its just not true. The massive number of people who refuse to vote find the right and the left to be equally unappealing.

    Comment by unaha-closp — October 30, 2014 @ 10:44 am

  19. > @Danyl: I think it’s reaching to assume that Internet Mana’s popularity was seriously hurt by “Fuck John Key”

    To be fair, he did say it was a ‘hypothesis’.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — October 30, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

  20. > To attract the disenfranchised is simple and difficult. You have to agree with their sentiment that existing politicians are scum. The same angry non-voter who hates John Key now, was likely a non-voter who hated Helen Clark 6 years ago. An angry disenfranchised voter might happily chant ‘Fuck John Key’ or listen to a song about killing him, but they really are expecting there to be another couple of verses where David Cunliffe and Metiria Turei get the same treatment. And the radical left can’t do this.

    My theory is that a lot of angry voters go NZ First, on the basis that increases in NZ First’s support annoy Labour and National roughly equally.

    A.

    P.S. I presume the references to the ‘disenfranchised’ on this thread are referring to the poor and aggrieved, rather than people who literally can’t vote?

    Comment by Antoine — October 30, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  21. “The problem for Public Address and Daily Blog and your twitter friends is that they assume that if someone shares their hatred of the right wing they must love the left wing. Its just not true.”

    And Kim Dotcom was supposed to be the person who harnessed this sentiment for the first time, as an anti-politcian politician. Maybe it was Laila and Hone as professional politicians who dragged IM down rather than the other way round?

    Comment by Tinakori — October 30, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

  22. The really interesting polling would be to look at Hone’s electorate – as it was only ever on his coat-tails that Internet Mana would bring in other MP’s. 5% was never realistic. So when did Hone’s support decline? I suspect his prior majority of 1117 started to erode not long after the merge in which case the lesson would be don’t take Tai Tokerau for granted.

    Comment by pk — October 30, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

  23. Danyl, don’t stop blogging. Sure, back off the politics (and I understand why you are despondent)…. but you are a good read, you have humour and a great appreciation of culture, history and the world. Keep it coming…. please?

    Comment by Dave Mann — October 30, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

  24. “Surely all people operate in the real world, without exception?”
    [Shit: should I mention GCMs and pauses?]

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 30, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

  25. Should I even mention statisticians? Probably. Or would that be mean?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 30, 2014 @ 6:34 pm

  26. Please keep blogging.
    Your posts are well worth the read.

    Comment by Paul — October 30, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

  27. @Danyl: Believe me, there is much more to Politics and History than just noting two events happened at the same time and then saying “Sure, they’re probably related”. Especially if you are using their putative relationship as a basis for some kind of proposed norm (for example, “minor left-of-Labour parties shouldn’t do things that conservative voters might see as distasteful”). I know you view your ideas as very exciting and it’s tempting to see anybody criticising them as just a bore who hates cool ideas, but if you aspire to be a serious commentator you need to realise that criticism directed at you is as legitimate as criticism directed outward.

    But you want an alternative theory for Internet Mana’s failure, I’m happy to provide one. Internet Mana failed because the demographic they were targeting was very small, and their attempts to reach beyond it and transform into a broader left-of-Labour party were too late and too tokenist. Anybody who was turned off by “Fuck John Key” was the kind of person who would never vote for Internet Mana anyway.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 30, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

  28. I know you view your ideas as very exciting…

    Could you enlighten us as to the basis on which you “know” this? (Seeing as you’re such a stickler for every sentence having to be consistent and logically defensible.)

    Should I even mention statisticians?

    Hmm, I studied stats once but still had to take a shit every now and then. I’m pretty sure the real world has a pretty decisive grip on them too.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — October 30, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

  29. “the real world has a pretty decisive grip on them too” I dunno: look how reporters and the media struggle with margin of error.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 30, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

  30. One advantage of the hiatus, and it was one of the very few, was that there was no reason to read some crushingly dull and pretentious comments from Kalvarnsen.

    Comment by alex — October 30, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

  31. @Pyscho: Ouch, you got me. Still, I’m not sure Danyl’s analysis of the IMP’s electoral successes and my analyses of Danyl’s feelings really need to be held to the same standard of proof.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — October 30, 2014 @ 10:52 pm

  32. I haven’t done it, but I reckon if you go back and look at the coverage, that Pam Corkery meltdown will mark the point at which the media decided the Internet Party wasn’t just a fun gonzo curiosity to be covered in a quirky and faintly patronising manner, but an actual political party to whom they should turn a critical gaze. After all, that’s what Pam wanted, right? To be taken seriously? And it turned out, when you turned a critical eye on the Internet party there wasn’t much ideological substance or organisational rigour to it.

    The activist left seems simultaneously to believe the MSM is irrelevant and being superceded by “independent” social media, and yet also comprises brutal totalitarian mind control. Whatever strategy its vehicles adopts had probably best be based on one or other of these theories, not on both at once.

    L

    Comment by Lew (@LewSOS) — October 31, 2014 @ 9:01 pm

  33. IP/Mana lost because it couldn’t hold Te Tai Tokerau. Otherwise they’d have got 2 seats, a 100% gain on the previous performance. They lost because a very strong candidate was put forward by Labour in that area, practically Labour’s only success of the day, a perfect shot right through their own foot. Whatever extremely damaging stuff was supposed to have happened must have strongly affected the voters in that electorate, who are exclusively Maori in the North of the North Island. Being in touch with middle NZ hasn’t got a lot to do with that.

    But I guess you can tell any sort of story you like. I personally think the biggest fizzle was right at the last minute, the Moment of Truth, which was totally gazumped by several weeks of Rawshark. But we’re talking about them maybe losing half of one percent. The real analysis of the annihilation has to be entirely down to what happened in TTT. It was quite close, so it’s quite possible that tactical voting was the killer there. 1700 more people voted for Kelvin Davis than voted for the Labour Party. Only 4 parties even stood a candidate, which does rather make it a battle in which right wing voters (yes, over 5,000 gave party vote to National or NZF) tactically vote Labour as the most right wing option. That’s pretty hard for any party that’s meant to be radical to beat. ACT don’t even face that in Epsom, and they are practically instructing Nats to vote ACT there.

    >Something I think left-wing MPs and their staffers need to bear in mind when they’re being howled at by these folks on twitter all day

    It’s tough at the top. You get howled at by the left, and the right, AND the center.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — October 31, 2014 @ 11:18 pm

  34. F*** that was a good speech!

    Comment by Can of Worms, Opened — November 1, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

  35. Internet Mana lost Te Tai Tokerau because they pissed everyone off enough that everyone allied against them. But that’s not the real failure — the real failure is to poll more than a couple of per cent. Had they won it, they’d have got two MPs. Weak.

    It’s tough at the top.

    It’s even tougher where the left’s MPs are now.

    L

    Comment by Lew (@LewSOS) — November 2, 2014 @ 9:15 am

  36. It was quite close, so it’s quite possible that tactical voting was the killer there.

    Given that Winston First openly endorsed the Labour candidate and National effectively endorsed him, I think it’s more of a certainty than a possibility. But otherwise, yes fuck that was a good speech.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — November 2, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

  37. Occam’s razor is just like IPredict. A flawed idea latched upon by right wingers for their own ends. Since when has the simplest answer explained anything?

    Most often the answer to any question is far more complex than people care to fathom- climate change, gun control, drug addiction, welfare dependence etc. It’s the teapartiers of this world who latch onto simple solutions that suit their purpose.

    Occam’s Razor only reinforces this knee jerk way of looking at the world.

    Comment by Vita Thomas — November 5, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

  38. Occam’s razor is just like IPredict. A flawed idea

    It’s a useful idea for choosing amongst explanations, if, say, you have two statistical models that have the same fit to a set of data, but one model has more free parameters than another: All else being equal, choose the simpler explanation. But when people use it in the rough and informal sense of “explanation A sounds a bit more weird and complicated than explanation B, so by Occam’s razor I choose explanation A!!”, it’s not very useful. In casual conversations like this one, people
    tend to be comparing explanations where all else is not equal (i.e. the theories have quite different predictions and consequences).

    And when people invoke Occam’s razor without even considering talking about multiple competing explanations at all, as in comment #5 above, it’s flat-out irrelevant.

    Comment by Matt — November 10, 2014 @ 12:12 pm


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