That Sinking Feeling: Is it already too late to save Labour and the Greens from disaster?



CHURN, CHURN, CHURN! The only political party not losing votes in the latest Colmar-Brunton poll would appear to be National. For the parties who would challenge John Key’s unprecedented domination of New Zealand politics, the news is all bad.

Labour will take comfort from the fact that its vote has remained steady at 34 percent. It shouldn’t. Unless 100,000 Green voters have undergone a Road to Damascus conversion to John Key’s easy-going conservatism and are now declaring themselves National Party supporters, the poll result is simply reflecting the extreme volatility on the left of New Zealand politics.

The most likely sources of National’s 6 percentage point surge to 51 percent are Labour and (to a lesser extent) NZ First. Buoyed by optimistic economic forecasts and dismayed by the Opposition’s presentational gaffes, the voters who had drifted back to Labour over the past few months now appear to be rushing back to National.

Fortunately for Labour (which otherwise would have seen its support fall below 30 percent) theirs were not the only voters on the move. Clearly, something pretty major has spooked a dangerously large chunk of the Green Party’s electoral base.

Most political analysts are attributing the sharp decline in Green Party support (from 13 percent to 8 percent) to Russel Norman’s secret meetings with Kim Dotcom. Norman’s purpose in approaching the German IT entrepreneur was to dissuade him from setting up a political party whose demographic appeal is certain to overlap that of the Greens. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Norman then managed to convey the impression that the quid pro quo for Dotcom’s standing-down the Internet Party would be a Green Party promise to prevent his extradition to the United States.

If the pundits are correct, then the Greens’ relationship with Dotcom has undone years of careful branding on the part of the Green Party leadership.

A critical factor in the Greens appeal – especially to left-of-centre voters – is the impression, conveyed by successive Green leaders, that their party is “above” or “in front” of politics-as-usual. The Greens’ proud claim has always been that they want no part of the backstairs, you-scratch-my-back- and-I’ll-scratch-yours transactional politics so characteristic of the National and Labour parties.

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Only when it was too late to appreciably change them did Norman appear to grasp the size of the perception problems his interactions with and statements about Dotcom had inflicted on the Green Party. That Colmar Brunton happened to be in the field at the same time as the electorate was passing judgement upon the Green-Dotcom relationship is the sort of bad luck the Greens have spent most of their history avoiding. But, not this time.

Not all the traffic, however, was in the same direction. Labour, too, was experiencing a fair measure of bad luck. Party leader, David Cunliffe, had been required to take his eye off the political ball by the departure of his Chief-of-Staff, Wendy Brandon. Afflicted with Shingles, a debilitating, stress-related illness, Brandon was forced to abandon the post she had occupied for less than six months. Labour insiders report that Brandon, a newcomer to the Labour Party’s internal politics, found it next to impossible to either understand or successfully contend with the Labour Caucus.

It is possible that Cunliffe’s failure to fire, coupled with the growing conviction among Labour’s more left-wing supporters that the Caucus ABC’s are up to their old tricks again, has generated a sudden loss of confidence in the entire radicalisation project Cunliffe’s election was intended to secure. The Greens haemorrhaging of support may have produced an even worse result had the party’s defectors not passed disillusioned Labourites heading in the opposite direction.

However complex the cross-traffic may be, the political ramifications are simplicity itself. National is edging ever closer to the seemingly impossible feat of winning more than half the Party Vote and governing in its own right. The Opposition parties, by contrast, are continuing to edge downwards.

David Farrar, at Kiwiblog, has crunched the numbers.

“One should never jump to a conclusion off one poll. However the four polls done in February average out at 49% for National, 32% Labour and 10% Greens. That is a 7% lead for National, which is a huge contrast to January when National was 2% behind Labour and Greens combined.”

If that gap between the Right and Left persists, then there will be little Labour or the Greens can do to prevent it from widening. Far from being a close election, 2014 could end up looking like 2002 – when the National Party’s vote sank to just 20.93 percent – its worst result ever.

What the Left generally – and Labour in particular – needs at this desperate strategic juncture is the courage to make a game-changing move. Something bold that signals unequivocally to the Left’s electoral base that Labour’s radicalisation project, set in motion by the rank-and-file’s election of David Cunliffe in September 2013, is still real, still in earnest and, most importantly, given the silly mistakes of the past month – still on track.



  1. Chris, like yourself, I really want to believe in what Labour stands for. The trouble is, I don’t know what they stand for, and there’s the rub. What is their vision? John Key’s vague “ashprayshuns” for New Zealanders may be totally out of reach for most, but somehow, he has got them believing that they are attainable. I have been waiting for years now for a coherent, articulate vision to be consistently articulated, and it just is not happening. Whether its Mallard et al sabotaging things for Cunliffe I don’t know, but at this rate, I will be voting Green. Labour does not deserve my vote.

    • The polls show that National is winning among the old and losing among the young.

      You want to know why National keeps getting in? Because too many baby boomers don’t want to pay the tax required to give the next generation the same opportunities they had.

  2. The TTPA, Deep Sea Drilling, and Child Poverty, are just three of the many issues DC Marvel could sink his teeth into to bite Don Key’s posterior, if only he could ignore the ABCs’ distaste.

  3. Clearly, something pretty major has spooked a dangerously large chunk of the Green Party’s electoral base.

    I doubt that very much. This looks like a rogue poll. The Greens have been at around 10% forever, and the recent Roy Morgan had them at that.

  4. A depressing poll, but not because Labour or the Greens are doing anything outstandingly wrong. Depressing because it shows how comfortable a huge number of New Zealanders are with the present government.

    • That’s pretty much it.

      Odd how people who suffer from these policies keep blaming Key instead of blaming the despicable people who vote for politicians like him.

    • And shows how manipulative our media can be, there is a pro National John Key bias going on, where is the hard questions regarding the TPP as an example – listening to Newstal ZB is sometimes akin to listening to a National party political broadcast, quite frankly it is sickening.

  5. Let’s not forget that the 51% recorded for National is a mirror image of the 51% they were polling in February 2011. By the time of the election some nine months later, the Nats had dropped to 47.31%.

    Personally, I don’t believe we have anything to panic over and instead the Left (Labour, Mana, and the Greens) should be focused on two things;

    1. Releasing good, solid, policy which fires the public imagination (NZ Power was a good start).

    2. Getting the 800,000 who didn’t vote last time to be motivated/encourage to vote.

    The polls are a distraction. They make good *SHOCK! HORROR!* headlines, but serve no other useful purpose except to sell advertising space.

    • “1. Releasing good, solid, policy which fires the public imagination (NZ Power was a good start)”

      I agree that firing the public’s imagination is the main issue. Yes, NZ Power did that, but the insurance policy and the money for new parents didn’t.
      Cunliffe’s policies have not really interested Labour’s base, therefore they don’t talk about, therefore the rest of the electorate will not.
      Most people I know will not vote for Labour (Labour has failed us for the past 30 years and Mana & the Greens resonate with our values ), but people like us are actively talking about politics through social media or ‘at the water cooler’ all the time, and we don’t have good things to say at the moment. When Cunliffe was made leader everyone I knew was saying that this sounds interesting, now we are all asking what the fuck is going on? Nobody is talking about Cunliffe or Labour because we have nothing to talk about.
      Now Key has just announced an increase in minimum wage. We all know that it won’t decrease poverty, but it makes Labour seem even more light-blue than they have since Cunliffe took over. This minimum wage increase has come soon after National is riding high in the polls, so it’s masterful by Key.
      I am really looking forward to seeing what Labour’s next major policy announcement is, because if it does not structurally alter our system, then it has no chance of structurally altering Key’s stranglehold on the electorate. If it’s another minor tinkering then it won’t create a ripple, and it’s effect will dissipate without the average voter even being aware that it was announced.
      The next policy needs to make Paddy Gower lose his shit on TV. We shouldn’t be afraid of this happening, we should only worry if it doesn’t.

      • I doubt that will happen. Key already said that there won’t be further asset sales, and the policies he has announced so far are pretty innocuous (the teacher thing being the most memorable).

        We seem to have well passed the period of political instability that began in 1984 and ended with the election of the Clark government in 1999. Apart from the asset sales, Key is essentially Clark-lite with minor tinkering.

        People keep saying that today reminds them of the late 1970s, but the 50s would be more accurate to me – a period of transformative government followed by a long period of National supremacy where National has more or less accepted the economic settlement of the previous government (in Holland’s case that of the previous Labour government’s welfare state).

        If that’s right, it looks like a long period of dull politics is in store for us.

        • Not at all, Tom.

          National has other forms of privatisation/user pays in store for us.

          It is currently implementing Charter Schools, a form of State-subsidised privatisation of education.

          State housing stock is being sold of or passed into control by various organisations. There has also been reference to “reviews” of state house tenancies. (Code for—?)

          National is still targetting and demonising welfare recipients – a nasty attempt to deflect public attention from the Nat’s inability to general jobs and lift wages.

          Power prices have been steady thus far, as asset sales have encroached into election year. But if the Nats get back in, wait for power prices to surge as private investors demand a return on their shares.

          This country needs jobs (and not just in Christchurch), and we’re not seeing any such job-led recovery. In fact, as the OCR is increased, that’ll put a dampener on any potential jobs-led economic recovery.

          And of course, under the Nats, child poverty will continue to be ignored.

          There will be more.

          Hence why a Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) Coalition is vital.

          • You’re not really disagreeing with me, Frank.

            I agree that the National government is a train wreck, and I never claimed that it wasn’t. Apart from the asset sales, which Key has declared over, that other stuff is mere tinkering – none of it alters the basic role of government. We would still have a low tax, largely marketised system if the Clark government were somehow magically returned to power.

            Yes, National will not do much about poverty, but the electorate has shown over the last 30 years that a sufficient number of voters don’t really mind that.

            Labour doesn’t have a show of getting in if it is going to campaign on increasing taxes to the level that would mark a firm break with neoliberalism, so it’s not going to happen. You can argue until you are blue in the face that the current economic model is a disaster and I will happily agree with you, but that doesn’t change the fact that anything substantially different is unelectable.

            People assume that a democracy won’t get stuck in a rut of poor and inefficient government, but that defies the evidence of the last 30 years in which living standards have stagnated for most people, whilst voters have happily cast ballots to continue the status quo.

            So we end up with endless attempts to deflect the blame from voters. We blame the media, or the message or whatever. But the reason we have the crap government we have now is that a sufficient number of voters want it, no matter how perverse the consequences, and that is not something that can be easily fixed.

  6. This is part of the problem for Labour and Greens

    New Immigrants who are eligible to vote.

    When new immigrants are sucked into believing that “…the Conservative Party is good for Christians, Green Party good for environment, Labour Party good for the poor and National Party good for business” then it’s obviously time for Labour to get off it’s lazy entitled ass, and start shifting that perception through clever social media advertising.

    Lets not forget also that we have close to 500,000 new residents of New Zealand since 2002, many of whom are conservative immigrants and therefore “gravitate” towards National and other right leaning parties, most likely through ignorance.

    National is only good for BIG business, but sucks for our entrepreneurs. Labour is the party for the workers and people wanting to get ahead. Labour needs to articulate that it wants to ensure that all workers benefit from any economic upside – National only wants the CEOs to benefit and the people that do the hard work, our everyday workers, to not receive any benefit but to be happy with the crumbs from the table.

    The message should be that Labour is not ashamed to say it stands for ensuring that every person who wants to work, can, BUT should be entitled to receive a fair days wage for a fair days pay. Labour needs to be UPFRONT and thunder that it is WRONG and UNCONSCIONABLE for overseas corporations to treat New Zealand workers like COTTON PICKERS! The overseas interests that now dominate our employment sectors screw us down on pay packets, and begrudgingly pay the mandated minimum wage.

    It’s emotive language for sure, but emotions win elections. Labour and the Greens won’t get anywhere being namby pamby and focusing on Key. John Key is the wrong area to target, and neither party does themselves any favours targeting Key. National party policies need to be ignored and Labour/Green need to start highlighting the facts of “NOW!” Stop banging on about what National has done or not, start banging on NOW! For example

    NOW! Your wages haven’t moved in 5 years, yet the cost of living has gone up. Labour wants to ensure that you can afford to live and have enough to save for the things you want.

    NOW: Your power prices are amongst the highest in the OECD. Labour wants you to stop paying so much for power, and have money for the things that matter.

    NOW: New Zealand has lost too many workers in the forestry sector thanks to unregulated activities causing death. Labour wants every worker to be safe at work, and not be at risk of dying for the corporate.

    NOW: There aren’t enough jobs for everyone who wants one. Labour wants people to have every opportunity to find a job, and if they can’t, help people while they look for work.

    NOW: Education has become too expensive for many people. Labour believes in free education for everyone under 18 and will work to restore the right to free education.

    NOW: People aren’t being fairly remunerated for a 40 hour week. Labour believes that overseas interests have more than enough ability to adequately compensate their employees with a fair wage. Our workers aren’t paid what they’re worth because overseas interests put their shareholders before their employees.

    NOW: Labour believes that New Zealanders are being targeted by overseas corporates with no regard for the true cost of living in New Zealand. Labour will work to ensure that New Zealanders are treated on a level playing field with the cost of goods and services.

    It is so simple and easy to do. The soundbites are easy, and National have done fine on a “less said the better” policy when it comes to people talking about what they perceive National to be doing.

    The left get sucked into believing that they need to counter the lack of concrete substance by National with a marshmallow puffed policy which is WRONG. Labours issue when they release policy is that they release far too much of it, giving their opponents grist for the mill.

    Compare and CONTRAST:

    National: – New policy. High performing teachers will be paid more and we’ll have special principals overlooking a number of different schools. Yada yada yada, more money, no more detail, but education good! Yay!

    Nil critical aspect, nil detail, and just a vague outline of what they propose.

    Labour: First time babies, $60 per week, except and unless, first year, second year, third year, $150,000, or not. Parental leave! Look! Details! More details! Part time income! Working for Families! Entitlement! Everyone! Universal! Oh, no, it’s wrong. Stop talking! Shucks, we flubbed it.

    Too much information causes there to be too much room for interpretation.

    Far better would have been something along the lines of: New policy: First start. All parents with babies will receive assistance and support. Further details released closer to election.

    Easy! Simple! Even Paddy Gower wouldn’t have been able to fuck that up.

    There are over 4 million reasons wrong with this country, where the CEO of a parasitic organisation can earn nearly 100 times more than the people that do the daily grind in the teller role, and are arguably more valuable to ANZ than the high falutin’ CEO. The tellers are the ones that keep the customers happy at the end of the day.

    Labour lose the plot when it comes to articulating their vision for a better New Zealand. It’s almost like they don’t understand the KISS principle. If they did, they might be better off.

    Labour needs to articulate the fact that they are the government for the PEOPLE. National are the government for OVERSEAS interests.

    Sing it loud, sing it proud. No need to proffer proof. Just keep tying OVERSEAS INTERESTS back to WARNER BROTHERS – RIO TINTO – BANK OF NEW YORK (and it’s 8 million shares in our former SOE)



    Overseas Interests are the new “Reds under the Bed” and if Labour/Green can get their shit together and start building on the momentum Shane Jones has got rolling with the antipathy towards Progressive Enterprises (Overseas Interests) being exhibited by many New Zealanders who are finally waking up from their slumber and realising how cutthroat the supermarket industry is, perhaps it won’t be too long before more New Zealanders wake up and realise that 90% of the goods and services in Aotearoa are all owned by “Overseas Interests”

    Kiwis are proud to support their own, as we all know. The more that National is linked to OVERSEAS INTERESTS the more that Kiwis might just smell the coffee and realise that like mushrooms, NATIONAL has been keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit.

    Labour really needs to stop being negative and pointing out everything National are doing. We all know what they’re doing, but people don’t give a flying fuck.

    If Labour Articulate what they actually offer, they might get somewhere.

    • No they won’t. The over 50s who actually determine who will win the election don’t care about any of that.

      The truth is that your parents, and mine, are probably very bad people.

  7. I saw that they only polled 1000 people. It’s unbelievable that they put so much emphasis on 1000 peoples opinion. Every person i know hates national and will vote labour as the lesser of 2 evils.

  8. Would be interesting for one of our educated political commentators to properly analyse the results of polls and there statistical significance as they appear to be wildly out of whack. Our political commentators appear to be whipping up alot of BS without any true facts.

    Key and his spin doctors are having a Field Day manipulating the Press and Political Commentators, I think most New Zealanders are actually sick of politics and the BS that goes with it.

    • And that’s exactly the way National wants it and it’s one of the reasons they play their puerile little games. The fact is that it’s the younger more left leaning folks who give up voting in disgust, the blue brigade just pop out every 3 years to make sure their tax cuts and power company shares are safe.

  9. Could someone please tell me what ABCs are in relation to the Labour Party. I am confused and some of this discussion makes no sense. Thankyou.

    • “Anyone But Cunliffe”. Basically, the remnants of the 1984 Rogernomics government who have more in common with National than they do with traditional Labour, and who will do everything they can to prevent Labour from changing the economic “consensus” of the last 30 years…

  10. Labour, get behind the little guy, the little businesses man and his enterprise, make sure some corporate containing laws are put in place so they just can’t go on eating up the little guy.
    Make some sort of policy regarding foreign ownership of lands and housing, and no more welfare for foreign landlords, how come we pay welfare to people who don’t even live here.
    And work on getting wages up. I regard flipping burgers as reasonable minimum wage work but it is sick making to see an experienced caregiver receiving about the same.
    Start standing up for us against the big boys and you will get votes. Our reaction to Countdown could be just the start of the push back against the corporations that seem to control just about everything, even flipping burgers

    • Raegun I recently sent this to Labour’s website it is kind of similiar to your comment.

      I think David Cunliffe should read this out to all Labour MPs.

      I think the simple answer to your poor polling is to admit that you haven’t convinced the bulk of voters that you stand behind them.

      Life is tough here in NZ, whether you are stuck in traffic everyday, struggling with insurance claims, finding your pay packet doesn’t cover food, electricity, rent or saving up for a home. It is not easy and Labour needs to get the message out there that it can be better.

      What Labour needs to say is ‘we have the voters back”, that “we are your humble servant and we will sort it”.

      Not by taking from one group and giving to another. But sort it for all. Make life a little less tough for all kiwis.

      You need to say that your mission is convincing voters of this. First by words then by deeds.

      If you lose the next election you have failed to achieve this. But don’t give up because that is to walk away from responsibilities to protect our backs, there is always the next election…

  11. The ABC’s are supposedly the old guard in the Labour Party refers to Anybody But Cunliffe. I think this is just a beat up by the National Party political commentators to make the Labour Party look dysfunctional.

    • I think this is just a beat up by the National Party political commentators

      Anyone who saw Chris Hipkins hysterically deal to Cunliffe at the 2012 conference knows that what you believe above is not the case.

    • “Most political analysts are attributing the sharp decline in Green Party support …. to Russel Norman’s secret meetings with Kim Dotcom.”

      Every man and his dog met with DC. And whose idea is it that it was secret? If Norman really succeeded talking DC out of forming a party he has saved us from turning NZ politics into a complete circus and we should thank him.

      “Norman then managed to convey the impression that the quid pro quo for Dotcom’s standing-down the Internet Party would be a Green Party promise to prevent his extradition to the United States.” Norman did not manage that, the mainstream media did.
      And it’s all part of the ‘getting National over 50%’ game.

  12. How can any of you be surprised by this poll? Cunliffe has taken Labour to the left, away from the centre where most NZ’ers sit politically. He’s simply stripping left votes off the Greens, and bleeding centre votes to National. If this continues, the Greens will be lucky to poll 5%, and the left will be decimated.

    Labour have to shift back to the centre. There is very little votes on the far left anymore. NZ’ers are far more politically and economically savvy now. We know Labour’s ‘tax and spend’ rhetoric is a recipe for disaster, and we know the mess Labour left the economy in in 2008. People aren’t fooled anymore, either by the media bias (e.g. Corin Dann) or the barely coherent disengenuity of the leadership.

    • NZ’ers are far more politically and economically savvy now.

      I’m willing to put it out there that you don’t understand economics as it applies to the role of government. Your nick already gives it away.

      • “I’m willing to put it out there that you don’t understand economics as it applies to the role of government.”
        I understand it very well. NZ’ers generally ae increasingly suspicious of election bribes, (e.g. interest free student loans, WWF etc), which is why the baby bonus has fallen flat on it’s face.

        • And you demonstrate that you don’t right there by labelling policies as “bribes”. One might as well call the asset sales policy a “bribe” to the financial sector. There might be some point to that, but it’s failing to engage with the substance of the policy.

          The average New Zealander doesn’t understand the reason why we pay tax, and my guess is that you don’t either.

          • But Tom some policies are bribes. Plain and simple. Muldoon’s dismantling of Labour’s contributory super scheme was a bribe. Labour’s introduction of interest free student loans was another one. These are policies with little or no actual merit, cynically aimed at nothing more than a vote grab.

    • Are you trying to assert that the media in this country are biased towards the Left? If so, what fucking planet are you living on?

      • No, I specifically referred to one person. The left think the MSM is biased toward the right, the right think they are biased toward the left. Frankly I just think they are generally incompetent.

    • “He’s simply stripping left votes off the Greens, and bleeding centre votes to National. If this continues, the Greens will be lucky to poll 5%, and the left will be decimated”

      I just can’t see any evidence of that happening at all. Can you tell us which policies he has ditched and what he’s added for this to happen?

      Cunliffe has added an insurance policy and some extra money for new parents. How has that turned off swing voters by going too left? The insurance policy is classic middle class policy, and the ‘baby bonus’ was targeted welfare; no different from what we’ve had for 30+ years – it’s not even close to being a left policy.

      Cunliffe dropped the first $5000 tax free policy, which is more leftish than what he announced. Also, dropping the policy to exempt fruit and vege from GST is classic Green policy – so how is he taking Green votes and bleeding them onto National?

      Cunliffe’s problem is he is far too centrist and the swing voters would rather stick with Key because of his easy going nature. The only part of your post I agree with is in your last sentence you use the words “barely coherent” – the average voter sees Cunliffe as incoherent because the policies don’t fit with his claims that the system is broken. Your imaginary ‘centre’ of politics is not fixed in the way you assume, sure it exists, but only for a fleeting moment.
      Voters vote on a trustworthy and coherent narrative, not along the textbook political spectrum; the latter is defined firstly by the former – never forget that. Sadly, Cunliffe has muddled the narrative and let Key define the centre

      • “Can you tell us which policies he has ditched and what he’s added for this to happen? ”

        Oh that’s easy.

        1. Kiwi Power…a completely unnecessary and ideologically driven policy which most people see as just nationalising the power industry.
        2. The baby bonus…a blatant election bribe, poorly targeted, and typical socialist middle class welfare.
        3. The senseless and hypocritical attacks on John Key’s wealth…kiwi’s hate that kind of stuff, but it’s grist for the mill on the left.
        4. Opposition to the PPP, and to free trade generally.

        There’s more, but that’s a start.

        • “1. Kiwi Power”

          So how does a policy from David Shearer result in Cunliffe leaking votes to National?

          “2. The baby bonus…typical socialist middle class welfare”

          What do you mean by ‘socialist middle class welfare’. How is that even possible? You know that middle class welfare is pretty much the opposite of socialism right?

          “3. The senseless and hypocritical attacks on John Key’s wealth”

          Pointless and irrelevant. Your point was about where Cunliffe was sitting on the political spectrum, not petty personal politicising.

          “4. Opposition to the PPP, and to free trade generally”

          If opposing the PPP is “far left” (as you suggested in your original point) then I don’t think you understand what people think of the PPP. Cunliffe isn’t completely against free-trade, and kiwis are not completely for free-trade.

          “There’s more, but that’s a start.”

          That wasn’t a start at all. If it wasn’t so early I’d assume you were drunk. But I do like the term “socialist middle class welfare”…that’s a Keyism if ever I heard one

          • 1. Kiwi Power
            Yes, you are correct. This policy was announced under Sharer, so perhaps it just shows that the move to the left began before DC.

            2. Baby Bonus
            Middle class welfare is a process by which the middle class become welfare dependents. It is a classic socialist ploy because it locks more people into a reliance on the Govt. for their income. WFF is another example. Middle class welfare is not the opposite of socialism, it pretty much IS socialism.

            3. Not it isn’t irrelevant. Cunliffe’s attacks are typical of the attitude of socialists towards anyone with wealth. It’s the politics of envy.

            4. The TPP is about trade. The ‘people’ you refer to who oppose it are frequently of the left, anti free trade, and for the most part akin to conspiracy theorists.

        • “1. Kiwi Power…a completely unnecessary and ideologically driven policy which most people see as just nationalising the power industry.”

          Flogging off the power companies was an unnecessary and ideologically driven policy.

          “2. The baby bonus…a blatant election bribe, poorly targeted, and typical socialist middle class welfare.”

          This policy is based on the proposition that providing the new born with a good start in life will avoid social problems later on. An eminently sensible policy, but hardly a bribe

          “3. The senseless and hypocritical attacks on John Key’s wealth…kiwi’s hate that kind of stuff, but it’s grist for the mill on the left.”

          I don’t any such attacks occurring.

          “4. Opposition to the PPP, and to free trade generally.”

          I don’t think the left are opposed to either, but we are opposed to the sale of assets which belong to the people, and which we believe should remain so.

          • 1. No, a sensible policy that has freed up cash for infrastructure investment, and that was put to the electorate before implementation.

            2. When it’s paid to people earning $150,000 per year, it’s a bribe.

            3. You don’t? Google it. Cunliffe’s been drawing attention to Key’s wealth and where he lives, while living in a multi-million dollar home himself in Herne Bay. Of course Cunliffe also failed to mention the minor point that Key donates his entire parliamentary salary to charity.

            4. No, the left are opposed to free trade, and the TPP particularly.

        • Intrinsicvalue says:
          February 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

          “Can you tell us which policies he has ditched and what he’s added for this to happen? ”

          Oh that’s easy.

          1. Kiwi Power…a completely unnecessary and ideologically driven policy which most people see as just nationalising the power industry.
          2. The baby bonus…a blatant election bribe, poorly targeted, and typical socialist middle class welfare.
          3. The senseless and hypocritical attacks on John Key’s wealth…kiwi’s hate that kind of stuff, but it’s grist for the mill on the left.
          4. Opposition to the PPP, and to free trade generally.

          1. NZ Power – Oh, that is highly amusing, IV! You and Gosman have just spent the last few days on the Blogpost “Charter Duped”, justifying taxpayer subsidies for Charter Schools.

          But evidently applying some kind of similar subsidy/state intervention on electricity is a “bad thing”?!

          Oh, you National supporters can pirouette better than the Bolshi! 😀

          Anyway, why shouldn’t we re-nationalise it? It bloody well belonged to us, the tax-payer, anyway.

          2. So Labour’s Best Start policy is a “bribe”?!

          What about two tax cuts (2009, 2010) that were unaffordable, and ended up costing this country billions in borrowings?! Those tax cuts were funded from other people’s saving, from overseas, and will have to be paid back.

          At least “Best Start” is aimed at families and not the top 10% of income earners in this country.

          3. Bollicks. I don’t give a rats about Key’s wealth.

          What I care about are his irresponsible policies; not addressing unemployment and child poverty; backing away from critical environment issues; etc.

          Warren Buffett is a billionaire and at least he had the balls to call the truth on the under-taxing of Amerrica’s wealthiest.

          So your point is a red herring.

          4. Free trade is not free. It costs jobs. Those unemployed then have to be paid the dole. That comes from our taxes.

          There were approximately 72,300 unemployed according to the HLFS in 1984. That number was 147,000 in the December 2013 Quarter. (Not including those under-employed, whose numbers have risen.)

          So – you were saying?!


          If you meant TPP, then yes, damn right we’re opposed. What the hell kind of moron would give consent to an agreement they haven’t read?

          Would you sign an agreement without reading it first? (Note comment above before answering.)

          • “NZ Power – Oh, that is highly amusing, IV! You and Gosman have just spent the last few days on the Blogpost “Charter Duped”, justifying taxpayer subsidies for Charter Schools.”

            Which just confirms you have absolutely no idea.

            NZ Power is a dopey policy that will distort a market that is currently delivering lower cost increases to consumers than those being incurred by the providers. It’s not a subsidy, it is an intervention in a market that is working.

            Contracting services such as education, medical operations, dental services, etc etc are not subsidies. They are paying for a service to be performed.

            As I said on the other thread, I no longer think you’re being deliberately disingenuous. You really just don’t understand.

          • “What the hell kind of moron would give consent to an agreement they haven’t read?
            Would you sign an agreement without reading it first? (Note comment above before answering.)”

            I’m not signing any agreement Frank. I’m advocating free trade. The TPP is about free trade. David Cunliffe is being briefed regularly about the negotiations, which are being conducted in the same manner as other FTA’s including the China FTA.

            Cunliffe says he is pro-trade, but when an agreement is being negotiated that has to the potential to hugely benefit our economy, he bleats like a goat.

            “4. Free trade is not free. It costs jobs. Those unemployed then have to be paid the dole. That comes from our taxes.”

            And free trade creates jobs as well. In farming, dairy product processing, technology, manufacturing, forestry, fishing, viticulture, horticulture……

            Free trade also provides a wider product choice, and reduces the cost of a plethora of products.

          • “3. Bollicks. I don’t give a rats about Key’s wealth.”

            Getting a complex Frank? You aren’t the topic. Cunliffe is, and whether or not he’s taking Labour further left. Keep up.

            • “Getting a complex Frank? You aren’t the topic. Cunliffe is, and whether or not he’s taking Labour further left. Keep up.”

              No, you need to keep up with your own moronic statements. Frank was replying to your original point that critiquing Key’s wealth is what the left want to hear.

              “The senseless and hypocritical attacks on John Key’s wealth…kiwi’s hate that kind of stuff, but it’s grist for the mill on the left”

              God your brain is boring

              • “Frank was replying to your original point that critiquing Key’s wealth is what the left want to hear.”

                No he wasn’t Fatty. He was stating what HE wanted to hear. The left love the ‘rich prick’ rhetoric, and the whole politics of envy thing. It seems to help them feel better for their own failings. The Greens have begun to use it more and more frequently, and now Cunliffe (although somehwhat hypocritically) has followed suit.

                • He was stating what HE wanted to hear.

                  IV – you are adept at “hearing” only what you want to; reading only what you want to; and dismissing everything else.

                  Your selectivity in the (mis-)use of information is legendary.

                  But considering you’re a National/ACT faithful follower, your mind is closed to any other views and information.

                  And if the information doesn’t fit, you’ll leave out inconvenient bits and damn well make it “fit”.

                  Carry on.

          • “What about two tax cuts (2009, 2010) that were unaffordable, and ended up costing this country billions in borrowings?! “”

            Oh dear, more FMBS. The Labour tax cuts in 2008 were fiscally negative. The National tax cuts in 2010 were fiscally neutral. And one of the reasons we have come out of recession earlier and stronger that ay other nations.

            “At least “Best Start” is aimed at families and not the top 10% of income earners in this country.”

            Actually the 10% is about right, which reinforces my point. This is welfare to 90% of the countries families. Another word for it is entrapment.

    • I don’t think Labour has shifted left at all and it’s biggest problem is a lack of difference from the current left-wing sensitive National government.
      Let’s bear in mind Labours historic delivery of extreme right wing economic policies and compare that to the current government.
      Labour is caught, dumbstruck in the bright beam of John Keys very moderate economic delivery – bemoaned as much by the right wing and business community for his lack of brutality as he is chastised by the left for being a money trader.
      However, on some points you are incorrect – tax and spend policies are not a bad thing in and of themselves and all capitalist economies are dependent on this approach. Whether you acknowledge it as such – providing any type of public service via taxation is essentially socialist and a significant part of any local economy is utterly dependent on such wealth re-distributive policies.

  13. Chris a lot of this is speculation.

    Name your source re Wendy Brandon finding the caucus difficult? Name your source re the ABC’s revival. Both of those came from Mathew Hooton and Duncan Garner respectively. The later claimed there was a go slow on in Labour caucus, but it hasn’t looked like this to me. Jones firing on Progressive Enterprises, Annette King having a go at Tony Ryall re Sth Island Dr’s, Trevor Mallard pouncing relentlessly on Dunne. This is to name a few.

    The polls could be discouraging but it wasn’t all that long ago we were feeling very encouraged that Lab/Greens could govern alone. What’s happened since then? Key and his “shadow cabinet” the main stream media have been running a dirty tricks campaign and you have fallen for it.

  14. You know what Chris I don’t care, if the solution to this systemic nightmare is just to change the government – then the left already lost.

    Peace out.

  15. I agree the polls are too small to give a fair view of the electorate. The real test will be the election, but the trend is definitely in favor of the right. Norman was unwise to make the dotcom policy statement. In my opinion the general electorate is aware dotcom is a already a convicted fraudster in europe, and the greens statement of unqualified support of him was close to political suicide. I don’t believe it is not without good reason that kiwis don’t trust him (take your pick but I meant dotcom).

    If you don’t accept he is a crook explain why dotcom thought he could get a special matress off his tame politician Banks when he was in jail and he had a sore back. Two words corruption and entitlement. A belief he could buy his way out of anything. Second thoughts he’ll probably fit right in, fuck it I’ll vote for him if he can get broadband to my house in the next 5 years. Politics is so fickle, at least Key is a money trader, much more acceptable to the wider electorate.

  16. A lack of vision, courage and ambition sums up the woes of Labour in the minds of many I assume. While hearing the rarely used N-word (Neoliberalism) being discussed in the Labour party leadership debates on TV was pretty exhilarating giving hope I’m sure to many a different course was to be chartered by Cunliffe, post-election Labour still seems pretty committed to the status quo given their policies so far.

    Kiwi Assure, insurance not much use when all you have is practically worthless, best insurance for many is more opportunities, work and a decent income to allow a future to be built instead of merely scrapping by a living from day to day. Best Start, while allowing the next generation get a better start is great, though I doubt an extra sixty bucks for a kid would be of much use for many while the current economic beast is still lumbering around. What of a good portion of two generations who have been wrecked by thirty years of the contents of Roger Douglas’ version of Pandora’s Box? I guess higher up they’re just regarded as the necessary sacrifice toward attaining the neoliberal nirvana.

    During the last Labour Government I can remember the term “knowledge economy” being occasionally used. Beyond possible rhetoric I don’t know what they exactly envisioned or how far it progressed, but the term conjures up ideas of a vision something certainly more lofty and ambitious than anything Labour currently has to offer and definitely whatever the hell this government has to offer.

    Doing away with interest on student loans was a start, but if Labour truly wants to be ambitious why not do away with student fees? Notice in the recent election in Chile the Socialist Party achieved an overwhelming victory by campaigning on policies such as reducing inequality and free education to all, good going in a wealthy and conservative country. Students fiercely protesting since 2011 against high fees and the burden of student debt, problems we face here, vowing to continue protesting until the government honours their manifesto. South American politics seem so much more vibrant and interesting than the largely right-wing freak show we find here.

    If Labour had a similar manifesto, namely free education to all from primary to tertiary and write-off student debt, I, someone who’s been enrolled to vote for ten years and has never voted except in the recent referendum to give the government the finger it deserves, would be the first person at the local polling station to vote come election day for Labour. Cunliffe would be a twenty first century Wilberforce, emancipating Generation X and Y from the shackles of debt.

    Innovative, improved and flexible education delivery I’m sure would make the opportunity of a higher education accessible and attractive to all instead of the highly stressed, demanding and archaic system that currently exists that can often turn a person’s dreams to despair while struggling to survive. Stuff the elitists, enlighten everyone, generate and cultivate passion, dreams and imagination; assets that could lead to great economic growth by generating more community, innovation, culture, entrepreneurship, sustainability, quality production and jobs. A Universal Basic Income, Financial Transaction Tax and decent educational and informative broadcasting would further help.

    While we as a nation stick along with what seems traditional in this country for economic growth; property speculation, natural resource exploitation, environmental destruction, treachery, denials and lies. The outlook is bleak and only a minority profit, ultimately for a time. The profiteers ensure conditions are favourable through politics. The left attracts those dispossessed and among many there appears a yearning for something modern and innovative in tune with the spirit of the left regarding social fairness. If Labour really desires relevance in this age they should heed the call. Cunliffe is a well-educated intelligent fellow who can be charismatic and often described as ambitious, why not let loose and be a twenty-first century version of Mickey Savage?

  17. The older generations vote in greater numbers not because there are more of them, but because young people tend not to vote. They are very disillusioned and tend not have any faith they can affect our governance. Now, if Sheaer was good-looking or charming, or if Norman was less of a pussy, we might get somewhere with the youth. It is a huge mistake to think that the massive youth vote are going to be swayed by substance over style. The big challenge in ousting the Government this year is to engage the young voter with a leader who appeals to them. [Kim Dotcom could see that wide-open opportunity – why can’t Labour). It seems the internal political audience in Wellington makes a successful bid for any other Government impossible. There just seems to be a massive blindness to what it going wrong (ie, shoeing the current Government in for a third term, almost by default)

  18. “If the pundits are correct, then the Greens’ relationship with Dotcom has undone years of careful branding on the part of the Green Party leadership.”

    Russel stuffed up with his secret meetings with Dotcom, which may not even have been coordinated with other leading Green MPs and members. He stuffed up with talking too loosely about a possibility to consider Dotcom being protected from extradition to the US, should the Greens be in the coming new government. All this is stuff that the traditionally honest, open and fair Greens would usually not dare to engage in.

    Russel needs to do some deep soul searching and reflecting, as he as co-leader has much responsibility. He must return to focus on policy matters, on stuff that matters to debate and talk about, and to be open and transparent. His brief attack on Colin Craig may have appealed to some, but that also is a style of political talk, that is unbecoming for the Greens. I suggest Russel restrain himself in that area, and argue on facts, figures and straight talking political comments, not getting too personal.

    Winston Peters is now also paying for his secret visits to Dotcom, after initially having been highly critical of the man. Then he first denied it, and then he claimed the PM may use the GCSB to spy on him. Surely, while I would not rule out 100 per cent, that National linked individuals “spy” on Peters, it will not be the PM telling GCSB or SIS, hey, go after him. We are also waiting for him to explain the alleged Huka Lodge sale to Chinese buyers. Is he getting old and foolish, or has he really some info there?

    The poll was a disaster, yes, and it must finally send the message to the Labour caucus, but also to the Greens, that they have to finally heed some good advice, and perhaps also start listening to what their supporters write on social blog sites, like TDB and The Standard! There has over recent months, even last year, been so much in the way of great ideas, suggestions, information been offered by blog writers and commenters, but it seems that the MPs of the parties, especially in Labour, and their “researchers” do not “bother” to listen to this, or to read up on stuff.

    Indeed they could learn a fair few bits! That is if they would humble themselves, and open eyes and ears, and show a willingness to learn. So far I am very disappointed with Labour, and also somewhat with the Greens, but as it is still early in the year, there is time to shape up and get things in order, to improve performance and perception. We know though, the MSM will not assist in this.

  19. Hopefully the 50cents a hour increase in the minimum wage will get those low paid voters who dont bother voting to get off their asses and frakin do something bout it and vote

    Also Labore need to cut out the ones causing the shit:
    Goff.Mallard.King and all those who been at the trough for well since forever………. o and Grant Robertson.

    He is the abc group chairman and a liability to the party…..

  20. I think the voters flood back to National reflects the two shabby sell outs by Labour over promised tax cuts for the poor and low paid and support for deep sea oil drilling.

    As Cemetery Jones says HERE it is all about “narrative”.*

    If Labour want to create a narrative, they need first to be seen to be standing is solidarity with their preferred coalition partner the Greens and not expressing open opposition to their declared policies.

    “Is it too late to save Labour and the Greens from disaster?” As Chris Trotter posits in this post?

    In my opinion, it is not too late.

    There is one flagship policy that will create a new narrative and blow the whole election campaign wide open, a narrative that will have the electorate glued to their seats at the spectacle of a real battle between two clearly differing competing view points.

    Labour need to come out in opposition to deep sea oil drilling, and they need to explain why.

    In the age of climate change we cannot afford this.

    National will be defenceless. There is no defence for exploiting unconventional fossil fuel resources in the age of climate change. The future of civilisation and humanity is at stake. Labour need to explain this and tell the public that the Greens are right and National is wrong.

    60% of the population want the government to do more on climate change. 80% are opposed to deep sea oil drilling. These are winning policies for Labour and Greens combined, to run on. By pulling in different directions on them they are getting nowhere.

    *A narrative is a story that builds a picture that on the major issues of the day, the National Party and their allies are wrong, and the opposition parties are right.

  21. Not sure about the comment that here will be no more asset sales. Wait till Nick Smiths State houses fail his W.O.F they will be passed to the private sector (who won’t be required to pass a W.O.F.) to “save public spending upgrading them”
    For me there are too many shadowy figures in the background for Labour waiting to lose another election so they can pitch for the leadership.
    As for over 50’s only voting Tory that’s crap. I am 66 thinking of voting Mana (if Labours continues to sit out the fight) I know plenty like me who are prepared to pay higher taxes to help those who are struggling, so long as there is a shift from corporate welfare as well.
    All we are looking for is leadership and policies that differentiate Labour from the Tories.
    BTW the “centre vote” is not increasing it’s decreasing, it is the the non vote that is increasing due to the reasons outlined above.
    We are on our way to a government elected by a minority of the populace and I refuse to accept that it will be down to apathy.
    It,s down to NO CHOICE

    • I didn’t just come down the river on a cabbage boat either 😀 and not far off you in terms of time on the planet, and I have always voted somewhere left, apart from one year where I fell under Winnie’s charms, way back at the beginning if I recall.
      Personally, I think a huge number of us boomers are more concerned about the future than those for whom the future will actually unfold, having grandkids has that effect on one.

  22. The loss of Green support cannot be wholly attributable to the Dotcom business (although would not have helped), but to a relentless attack on Green policy from the media, much of our media analyse every detail of any new Green initiative announced, yet fail to undertake the same analysis when it comes to the Government, eg. what was the real reason Dunne was reappointed to the Cabinet when nothing had changed since his resignation last year, to me it had all the showings of a backroom deal going on, yet very few media types (apart from Daiklyblog) picked up on this. Have a look at the Green manifesto and you will see they have some very worthwhile and sustainability bases policies, but they are victims of a subtle smear campaign by much of our media

  23. I hate to say it but John Key is a political genius and he’s one who understands enough about NZer’s to be able gauge policy release and settings almost to perfection. The minimum wage rise announced yesterday will infuriate those on his right but on the other hand undercuts the political and rhetorical impact of any Labour Party plan to raise the minimum wage to $15.
    It’s hard to know what the Labour Party can do in the face of such a left wing National Prime Minister. He’s cutting off the left at almost every turn. Maybe it is time to give up on this election and start to think about long term strategy and how to revision the Left into something that engages the electorate.

    • Nah Key is merely a genius* at appearing moderate while selling out our interests to the lowest bidder and appears to have fooled you hook, line and sinker, Mr Bradley.

      *gets advice from Textor/Crosby who do focus groups to find out weaknesses in peoples’ views and attitudes in order to target the issues that people will be most easily manipulated by. This is a con trick – more fool you Mr Bradley and the group of soft voters that these tactics work on.

      • There has been significant concern on the Left for some time about exactly when John Key would show his true colours and emerge as the slash and burn right-winger he truly is. After waiting in dread for 5 years for this to happen I’m now convinced that John Key (and probably many of his colleagues) will not want to damage their legacy as one of the most popular and moderate governments in NZ history.
        Don’t worry the slash and burners are there in the darker crevices of the National party and their is a risk that a further National government election victory will embolden the right to push their agenda more forcefully in a third term.
        Until that starts to happen it is unlikely that the Labour Party will have the vision or policies to distinguish themselves from National-Lite.

        • The slash and burn of this government that Peter Bradley appears to have missed :

          Privatising Prisons
          Privatising Education
          Turning Higher Education into a business model
          Removed education support from people already failed by the education system who are learning to read –
          Removed education support away from people over 40
          Gutting RMA
          Removing public involvement in RMA environmental matters
          Removing funding from Dept of Conservation
          Removing legal support for families in trouble
          Uncooperative with dealing with Forestry and Mining safety issues
          Uncooperative and lacking compassion toward the Pike River Mine disaster
          Allowed a large majority of NZers to have wages not keep up with inflation
          Throwing people off welfare in a recession
          Giving Tax relief to the wealthy in a recession while raising GST & Petrol taxes in a recession
          Selling off revenue generating assets in a recession
          Culture of slackness developed – Privacy breaches – Winz ACC etc
          Novopay debacle
          Dodgy retrospective legislation affecting current court-cases and degenerating citizen’s privacy
          GCSB Bill
          Referred to objectors GCSB Bill as ‘poorly informed’ when the law society was speaking out against it
          Threatened to stop funding the Human Rights Commission when they objected to it.
          Made international headlines with the poor attitude toward the threatened species of Maui Dolphin and polluted rivers
          Deliberately degenerated the 100% pure marketing in the name of selling out to oil and farming industry including the dodgy irrigation schemes being pushed at the public’s expense for the private profit of farmers/growers.
          Sacked elected body in Canterbury in the name of pushing these irrigation schemes through and haven’t reinstated it
          Meddled with Conservation Dept reports to push irrigation schemes through
          Giving contracts to overseas businesses when NZ
          businesses existed that could do the work

          & this list is just what I recall off the cuff
          …there is plenty more

          ‘The Key government moderate’?
          Wakey wakey Mr Bradley
          You are living in a fantasy world

          This Key government is mean spirited,
          have no respect for democratic principles
          promote radical political approaches
          that have failed elsewhere
          They are sell outs

    • Nonsense, Key is simply a good presenter. In reality the popularity of the Nats, is they do nothing, but do everything not to challenge any of the fundamental outdated myths which are NZ working class peoples fundamental identity and negotiating lever. The Nats are not repeating Shipleys fundamental mistake of raising super and play on all the right or wrong talkback sentiments. ( To be outrageous I have little sympathy with the Rand Paul desire to outlaw domestic zone strikes. My view is that 90% of the calls to the two main talkback channels reveal the callers to be such cretins a drone strike should be called up).
      However I believe there is still hope for a cunliffe little government as past indicators are that huge government party leaders in March often close to a close result in Oct/Nov ie 78, 81, 96, 02. My own view is that Cunliffe/Little/Parker are quite likely to govern with much more forward looking intelligence and fiscal control than the current very conservative Joyce English Smith. However National have serious weakness and vulnerabilities. English is fiddling while Rome burns and has moved towards approval of outrageous expenditure like the Rail Loop, Disability allowance etc. Uni fees havent been raised since 1998. Collins is somesort of militant conservative feminist, Tolley lazy. Banks talentless and little more than a comic. Anthing could happen in relations with China and the middle east and ukraine could blow up. Grosser is the max point of vulnerabilty and the announcement we need to learn Mandarin to be future citizens of Aoteaora should bring out the militants. Has Cunliffe the reptile to go expliot the Mfat issue.

  24. The media are so one eyed it is hardly worth having an election. Labour are too much like National. Its time the Greens left the gay thing alone. We have gay marriage now. Leave it alone. Like Labour they fail to realise that a considerable majority are slightly homophobic. Labour need to stop trying to send the elderly out to work at a time when slave economies and machines are taking all the jobs. It is stupid neo liberal same old same old – take from ordinary people to enrich the already rich. Labour still have not changed much. The GFC has demolished the neo-liberal model. We live in a walking dead zombie economy. The rich (i.e. politicians and journalists) live in a fantasy world. Probably they will stuff it up permanently before anybody realises.

  25. David Cunliffe sounding very Prime Ministerial again on National Radio today .Compare his State of the Nation speech to Keys.Well there is no comparison really.Cunliffe spoke without notes,was engageing,informative,passionate and humourous and filled the venue to the gunnels open to the public.Conversley Key slurred and lisped his way through read notes to his own personal rent a crowd.Passionless and monotone.David Cunliffe IS the real deal and NZ is very lucky to have him.Key looks and sounds like a school boy in comparison. So how did the media report these two events?They called Labour morons for having theirs on a public holiday , ignored the main thrust of the speech and chose to make a meal out of a minor technicality.Contrasting, Key apparently was at his brilliant best and his policy announcing a step change(whatever that means) in education was roundly applauded by all New Zealanders.(They didn’t ask me, but what the heck ;it looks good in the morning papers.)So New Zealand, this is where we are at.A media with minimal credibility and no one willing to speak out.Banana republic here we come!

    • And don’t forget Key has appointed the head of the spy agency, the governor general and the chief of police just in case he needs them. Banana republic alright!

  26. I’m not too fussed about that poll. It’s months until the next election and time for the opposition to improve their respective positions at the expense of National. It’s Labour and the Greens to win or lose. Both must have a more radical approach and insist on a “close the gaps” policy in incomes and wealth that are now huge. One things for sure; 50 cents an hour increase in the minimum wage isn’t going to do it while Australia’s minimum hourly rate is well over $20 an hour. So come on Cunnliffe. The huge number who didnot vote last time are Labour voters. Give them some reason to vote this time.

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