Archive for the ‘Election 2008’ category

Comings and goings

June 6, 2008

This election is liklely to see a large number of changes to the composition of Parliament. From present polling, it is very likely that there will be more National MPs and fewer Labour ones. But there will also be changes in MPs retiring and being replaced.

So far this Parliamentary term, we have seen the following changes:
Labour:
Jim Sutton to Charles Chauvel
Georgina Beyer to Lesley Soper
Ann Hartley to Louisa Wall
Dianne Yates to Sua William Sio
National:
Don Brash to katrina Shanks
Greens
Rod Donald to Nandor Tanczos
NZ First
Brian Donelly to Dail Jones.

The following changes are likely:
Labour:
Mark Gosche to Carol Beaumont (Maungakiekie)
Steve Maharey to Ian Lees Galloway (Palmerston North)
Paul Swain to Chris Hipkins (Rimutaka)
Marion Hobbs to Grant Robertson (Wellington Central)
Tim Barnett to Brendon Burns (Christchurch Central)
David Benson-Pope to Clare Curran (Dunedin South)
Also going: Jill Pettis and Margaret Wilson (both list)
Expect to retire soon after the election (if lost)
Micheal Cullen (list), Helen Clark (Mt Albert 2011)
Don’t be surprised to see retire in or before 2011 if Labour looses:
Rick Barker (list), Mark Burton (will be list soon), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East), Martin Gallagher (will be list soon), Pete Hodgson (Dundedin North), Ross Robertson (Manakau East), and Judith Tizard (Auckland Central, but good chance she will be list soon). Several of the above could be defeated in the election ahead.
National
Bob Clakson to Simon Bridges (Tauranga)
Brian Connell to Amy Adams (Raikia/Selwyn)
Also retiring Katherine Rich, Clem Simich and Mark Blumsky (all list)
Greens
Nandor Tanczos to Russel Norman.

Instead of looking at each case, the important thing is to assess the overall impact of these retirements and their replacements. I’ll begin with Labour. You can see the list is quite long. I added in a list of MPs likely to retire in or before 2011, consisting of MPs who are getting old, past their political used by date, and who may not want to hang around another two or three terms in opposition until Labour returns to office. If all these MPs retire,then only 26 (half) of Labours pre 2005 will remain. Although Labour won’t have 52 MPs for a several years, there will be young people to replace them. Given the mass of MPs leaving, including at the top ranks, those who shine will have plenty of opportunities for promotion. On ideological issues, not much will change. Most of the replacements come from the same trade unions and minority groups that the old MPs came from (is there any Labour MPs who are white hetrosexual males who are not union members?) so no change there. The one area where change will occur is social issues, and sadly its not the change I want. Gradually all the socially conservative MPs will retire. John Tamihere has already gone. Tatio Phillip Field has left Labour, paul Swain is retiring, and Ross Robertson might soon. Eventually Harry Duynhoven and George Hawkins will go to. It is very doubtful that their replacements will support repealing the Civil Unions Act, Prostitution law Reform Act, or Anti-smacking law that their predesesors voted against (in the case of the Anti-smacking law that their predessesors weren’t allowed to vote against). As a result those few social conservatives within Labour will become an ever smaller minority. In fact, I think one would struggle to find one civil union bill or abortion or anti-smacking Bill opponent amongst the ranks of Young Labour. The next generation of Labour MPs (todays Young Labour) will have joined the Party during the Clark years, and thus agree with her government. They will be socially liberal, and carry the same nanny state agenda, from banning smacking to banning smoking in bars to banning fireworks in future, about controlling peoples lives that helen Clark her her cronies have. Most distirbing of all, is that there was not one whisper of dissent at Labours Electoral Finance Act, or the Anti-smacking Bill, in fact both were vocally supported by Young Labour and their associates, indicating that the two aspects of Labour I hate the most, their crusading social liberal nanny state stance (the Anti-smacking Bill being the best example), and their corrupt lust for power at all costs (the Electoral Finance Act and pledge card being the prime examples), will be perpetuated.

Turning now to National, National has already undergone significent renewal since 1999, helped largely by its decimation in its disasterous preformance at the 2002 election. During this time, however, the ideological foundations of the party have shifted little, despite the huge change in members. It is hard to see much difference between the ideological positions and philosophy behind the Forth National Government, and those of the current caucus. National remains split between a centrist faction and harder right wing one, but the prospect of regaining power have put these divisions out of sight. In any case, what matters more here than the overall caucus makeup is the leader and senior MPs. On social issues, most of National was against legalized prostitution, civil unions, the Anti-smacking Bill, but had a substantial socially liberal minority within it. I would be surprised if this changes much, and early indications from the new MPs of 2005 is that they are similar to their predecessors. The retirements have seen 2 social liberals (Rich and Blumsky) retire, as well as two social conservatives (Connell and Clarkson). More important than these retirements is who will replace them. I did disscuss this issue in a private conversation with National Party insider David Farrar several weeks (maybe months ago), and he was of the opinion that National contained a mix of social liberals and social conservatives and that the candidate selections reflected this. It is hard to disagree, and while some social conservatives will be added ( Stephen Franks (although he prefers to call himself classical liberal), Marc Alexander and Sam Lotu-Liga), there are in Nikki Kaye and Hekia Parata new social liberals. On another note, with 7 Maori candidates, 3 Asian and 1 Pacific islander candidates, National is fielding one of its most diverse slate of candidates. Whether it will help them tap into the ethnic minority vote remains to be seen.

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The election 7 months out

April 14, 2008

Today is 7 months and 1 day until the last day the election can be held. And hopefully 7 months and 1 day until Helen Clark and her corrupt cronies get evicted from the positions of power they have abused to steal money for their last election campaign, and then rewrite electoral finance laws for their own partisan gain this election.

However, most of the New Zealand public, are still largely uneducated about the full level of corruption within the Labour Party, and its willingness to cling to power at any cost to our democratic system, the latest manifestation of such corruption being exposed today (which I will blog about latter). Although they may be aware of the fact Labour stole $800 000+ last election for its pledge card, they probably are not aware of the fact Labour was warned three time by the Chief Electoral Officer to include the pledge card in its election expenses, which it failed to do, and thus got away with overspending. They may be aware of the Electoral Finance Act (EFA), but they probably believe it helped end secret donations, instead of allowing them to continue as “protected donations”. I believe that if everyone in New Zealand knew the full truth about the pledge card and Electoral Finance Act, Labour would be polling under 20%, if not worse.

However, since the beginning of the year, Labour has made a long serries of policy anouncements, ranging from a tagging crackdown, raising the school leaving age to 18, keeping Auckland Airport in New Zealand US hedge fund hands, and other areas, and this diverted attention from the EFA. Labour has, partly from more discipline and partly better luck, managed (with the exception of the Owen Glenn story) to keep bad news stories (many of which were self inflicted) like the EFA, Taito Phillip Field, David Benson Pope, Trevor Mallard punching Tau Henare and so forth of the front pages, and time has passed since the Anti-smacking Bill turned many voters of Labour. This is reflected in the latest poll.

The Roy Morgan Poll which came out on Friday, has the following results:
National 47% (54 seats, down from previous polls, but still strong)
ACT 1.5% (2 seats, Roger Douglas coming to them has helped)
United Future 0.5% (1 seat, strugling to avoid overhang)
Total centre-right 49% and 57 seats (by centre-right I mean National and likely coaltion partners).
Labour 34.5% (43 seats, down a bit, but with coalitions competitve)
Progressive o.5% (Jim Anderton manages to escape being an overhang)
Green 9% (this could be an overestimation, unless, as Steve Pierson suggests in the Standard comments, they have gained a bounce from opposing the FTA. 11 seats if they are really on 9%)
Maori Party 3% (7 seats if they win all Maori seats, creating an 4 seat overhang, and thus hold the balance of power).
Total centre-left (defined as Labour plus likely coalition partners) 47%, but 62 seats, helped out of course by the overhang which makes life difficult for National.

This poll confirms what I and Labour already know. Labour can still win a forth term. National can not rely on Labour making mistakes to win (and had Labour not introduced the EFA or supported the Anti-smacking Bill, the polls would be very different), but must rely on making its own success, by releasing good policy and selling it well, and educating the public more about the EFA and pledge card. This is not to say Labour will win, it still has big challenges in front of it, and must shake of the perception that is destined to loose, is tired out of ideas and on its way out, but it can still win.

The election is still competitive, and if we want a change of government we will need to campaign hard for it.