Archive for the ‘National Party’ 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:
Jim Sutton to Charles Chauvel
Georgina Beyer to Lesley Soper
Ann Hartley to Louisa Wall
Dianne Yates to Sua William Sio
Don Brash to katrina Shanks
Rod Donald to Nandor Tanczos
NZ First
Brian Donelly to Dail Jones.

The following changes are likely:
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.
Bob Clakson to Simon Bridges (Tauranga)
Brian Connell to Amy Adams (Raikia/Selwyn)
Also retiring Katherine Rich, Clem Simich and Mark Blumsky (all list)
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.


The audacity of hype

April 18, 2008

Much as I hate Labour, I can not avoid getting the impression that John Key is a man of spin, who is willing to say anything to get himself elected. In fact I at times question whether he has any goals for the country other than get himself into power.

The “audacity of hype” is the title of a speech given by Finlay MacDonald recently, outlining these problems with John Key. The speeches title is a pun from Barack Obama’s book “The audacity of hope” (although I see Barack Obama as a man of spin, almost as much as Key).

In it, MacDonald outlines several contradictions in John Key’s public statements. Consider:

On his religion, to the investigate magazine (shortly after becoming leader): “I have lived my life by christian principles”, then to the Jewish chronicle: “I will be the third Jewish Prime Minister of New Zealand”, and most recently “I’m not deeply religious, and I don’t believe in life after death”. John Key must be the only Jew who lives his life by christian priniples who doesn’t believe in life after death in the country.

MacDonald also found it difficult to believe that John Key never experiemented with drugs and can’t remember the position he took on the 1981 Springbok tour (I wasn’t alive in the 70s and early 80s so can’t comment on the drugs part of it, but as for the Springbok tour, if John Key wasn’t into politics I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, but the fact he can’t remeber where he stood on what was one of the biggest political issues at the time, as a politician, looks a little fishy).

Also consider the fact he recieved the “smoking gun” e-mail from the Brethren (setting out their plans for their campaign, and remember this was sent ot only two people, John Key and Don Brash, indicating John Key was deeply involved with the Brethren) and a whole lot of other e-mails, but didn’t open them. Sounds a little untruthful to me. Especially as the impression one gets from the Hollow Men book is that Key was up to his neck with the Brethren (although he was largely absent from the rest of the book). He also claims not to have known about the pamphlets. One of the e-mail exchanges in the book (among a large number of others, to a large number of people, including all the senoir members of the National Party) has the Napier campaign manager asking for his electorate to be exempted from the anti-Green campaign as they were hoping for a high Green electorate vote to win the seat of Labour. One notable feature of this e-mail exchange is that it shows that even someone as lowly as the campaign manager for one electorate knew about the pamphlet campaign, then knowledge must be widespread amongst the Party. It would be very surprsing if even the campaign manager in a small provincial city would know the details of the campaign, but the Party’s financial spokesperson, a frontbench MP, who had a number of meetings with the Brethren, and recieved a stack of e-mails from them (which he didn’t open) would be left comletely in the dark about the pamphlets.

And then of course there are a large number of policy U-turns. Of course we can’t accuse Key of lying with policy yet, as he isn’t in power. But the dishonesty with his relations with the Brethren, and his changing of mind over his religion, and questionable statements on areas such as his position on the 1981 Springbok tour, cast doubt on whether he is telling the truth on policy. I personally believe he is telling the truth on policy, because given his record, he is unwilling to do anything politically unpopular, but will voters?

Labour does not need to try hard to paint John Key as a liar who can not be trusted to run the country, because that is who he is.

What is most stricking about the lies is that most of them were unessescary. For instance, how many voters would not vote for him, because he happened to be pro or anti tour 27 years ago as a teenager? Who would not vote for him because of his religion?

I still want him and National to win the election, because I genuinely believe that the center right and conservative ideology that National represents is the best way, and whatever policies National comes up with, will reflect that ideology and be better for the country than Labours policy. In addition to Labours corrupt record on the pledge card and Electoral Finance Act making them totally unfit to govern, whatever their policies.

So far, the policy U-turns and lies on religion/brethren e.t.c haven’t done much damge, but in an election campaign they will. And I really worry that John Key might be exposed to the New Zealand public as the man of spin he is. One of the key test voters will ask before electing him, is can I trust him, and if the answer is no, they might go back to Labour.

It is worth remebering that in the US Presidential primaries, one candidate, Mitt Romney, tried the John Key strategy, of flip flopping on every issue except his Mormon religion, and despite leading in polls for months in all the early states (such as Iowa and New Hampshire) he got caught in the end (by Huckabee in Iowa and McCainn in New Hampshire) and lost, despite massively outspending his opponents. This does not set a good precedent for a John Key who has flipped flopped on every issue including his religion.

Hat tip: The Standard.

Stephen Franks is back

March 21, 2008

First we have Roger Douglas return to politics (and ACTs polling has increased to give it enough for a second seat, whether it will be Heather Roy or Roger Douglas at number 2 will be interesting) and now, to my delight, Stephen Franks. He has just been selected as National Party candidate for Wellington Central. Although he is unlikely to win the seat, I would be very surprised if he did not get a winnable list ranking (especially with National polling around 50%). He has had a solid socially conservative voting record in Parliament, which I hope to see continued in National, and as a lawyer knows a lot about the Electoral Finance Act, which he opposes, and I hope he can as a National MP help repeal it. I wish Stephen all the best with his campaign, and look forward to seeing him back in Parliament.

In Rotorua Todd McClay, son of former National MP Roger McClay, and former Cook Islands Ambassador to the EU, has been selected for National. Unlike Franks, his list ranking won’t matter much. Rotorua is now a National seat on paper (with its new boundaries) and with the tide going out on Labour, should be easily winable.

I hope both Stephen Franks and Todd McClay have excellent long Parliamentary careers ahead of them.


March 18, 2008

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much for a few days, but now that I’m back I’ll start with the biggest politics news item of the last few days: the return of Roger Douglas to ACT.

To give some background, ACT was co-founded in 1993 by Roger Douglas and former National MP Derek Quigley, but Douglas allowed Richard Prebble to take the leadership, while he took the party presidency. In the 1996, 99 and 2002 elections ACT had reasonable success, gaining 8-9 seats in each election, but never became part of a coalition Government. After leaving the presidency in 2001, Douglas left ACT altogether, after Rodney Hide was elected Party leader, despite Douglas’ opposition to Hide based on Hide’s perk busting history. They have only recently made up. Now Roger is not only back in ACT, he is going to run for Parliament as well in an unnamed electorate (there has been speculation about Hunua), and may even get into cabinet.

The news is good for almost everyone except National. Although bringing Douglas back has some risks for ACT, of confirming its tough right wing image, it does give it publicity, and may attract some right-wing voters who left for National to return. ACT’s vote plummeted last election when many former ACT voters jumped to National under Don Brash, who was seen as sympathetic to their strong right wing views. John Keys moving of National more to the center of the political spectrum has given ACT plenty of space to move into, but they have not improved their poll performance. This surprised me, and part of the reason may be the Party turning into a personality cult around Hide, more focused on publicity stunts than policy. This post summed it all up. Douglas’ return should help with this problem. ACT has plenty of potential, given it won 9 seats in previous elections, and John Ansell, the man behind National’s 2005 billboard campaign, has agreed to help them, which should help. However, traditionally ACT has been strong when National is weak, and vice-versa. This is partly because ACT supporters may like to push national in front to ensure a right wing Government, even if their favourite Party suffers.

But a bigger part of the reason is that there is only one Party ACT will get votes from: National. Any ACT gain will be to National’s expense. Not only does National have to worry about loosing votes to ACT, but it may have to start defending itself from the right, something Key hasn’t needed to do so far. And ACT could make coalition negotiations for National post election more difficult. Imagine National trying to deal with Winston, promising stronger restrictions on foreign investment as part of a coalition, but ACT strongly objecting, and National needing both NZ First and ACT to govern.

Which brings me to the other party that may be pleased by Douglas’ return. NZ First now has the possibility of telling voters: “National is going to need a coalition partner. It can be ACT, with Roger Douglas, or it can be us” to get Labour voters to switch to NZ First to keep ACT out, in a similar way to how National voters switched to United Future to keep the Greens out in 2002. Labour, although it has this risk, can say (based on possible polls showing National can’t govern alone but can with ACT) tell voters: “NZ First won’t be there as it is polling below 5% and/or will go with us, Greens and Maori party won’t go with National, therefore National’s only coalition partner is ACT. A vote for National is a vote to bring Roger Douglas back in charge of the country” message to woo some National leaning voters scared of ACT back.

It will be very interesting watching how the election unfolds.

I’m back again

February 26, 2008

Hi readers (if there are any left), its been three months since I last posted on this blog, largely due to not being at uni, where my Internet access is, and spending time working and other things. But now its an election year, and I’m back at university, and I’m back blogging.

The latest polls should be very pleasing to any right wing conservative New Zealander. In the last few days we have a Colmar Brunton poll giving National a 19 point lead. We also have a Roy Morgan poll which also has National 19 points ahead. Even better still a Fairfax media-Neilson poll has an astonishing 23 point gap. And as David Farrar points out, these polls occured before the Owen Glenn story.

Lets now take a look at what would be the case if the election was now, instead of 7 months away. A realistic future parliament (by averaging the results of these polls and asuming no electorate seats change hands, and National wins the new seat of Botany) a future Parliament would look like this:
National 67 (asuming National stands candidates in all General electorates and 5 list only candidates, all except one candidate will be elected)
Labour 41 (good punishment for the Electoral Finance Act)
Greens 8 (up 2, but won’t matter much)
Maori Party 4 (including one overhang, two if they get an extra electorate seat, which is possible if Maori are amongst those deserting Labour, and especially if Turei (Green) doesn’t stand in Te Tai Tonga)
United Future, ACT, Progressive 1 each (both Dunne and Anderton as overhangs)

National of course won’t need any coalition partners.

Labour succession

August 19, 2007

Vernon Small has a good article on Thursday’s dominion Post (Clark’s leadership heir not apparent, B5) about who might replace Helen clark if Labour looses the 2008 election. Make no mistake, if Labour looses in 2008 Clark will go. There will be no appetite for returning her in 2011. Small and I both agree there are only two choices- Phil Goff and Steve Maharey. Goff is the more competent of the two (and is a strong preformer in the House), and more centrist (which could hurt him in a very left wing caucus). Maharey is the favourite of the left of the party, and appears to be the more influential of the two  at present. I’d tip Maharey over Goff, and I hope Maharey gets it, as I can’t see him beating an incumbent Key in 2011, particularly if the economy does well. Although National is polling well, it is too early to write Labour of (although with the pledge card and Election Finance Bill Anti-Free Speech Bill, I wonder why anyone would still trust Labour). We can not take victory next year for granted. If National looses, Key would probably go (although a arguement can be made for keeping him as National has had four leadership changes in the last 10 years, and another one might create an image of an unstable party). English would be likely to return to the leadership.

Danger of releasing policy too early

July 30, 2007

Earlier this month I blogged about the danger of an opposition party releasing its policy details too early. In Labour adopting National’s policy of spending all petrol tax money on roads, we see an example of these dangers, with Labour taking the credit for what was a National policy.

Personally, I see this as good news, because I agree with the policy, and Benson-Pope and other stories have kept the issue from much media attention. But it does show as an example of what might happen if National was to release too much policy now.