Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

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Red-Green, Blue-Green?

There is mischief-making afoot.

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Suggestions for a National-Green coalition are being floated by various right-wing commentators, National Party figures, and some media pundits. Despite Green Party Leader, James Shaw, repeatedly ruling out any such possibility – the suggestion continues to circulate.

On  election night, as TOP leader Gareth Morgan realised his party would not reach the 5% MMP threshold, he made the bizarre comment that the Greens should join with National in a formal coalition;

“I want them [the Green Party] to do what we would’ve done if we had been above five, and say to National who are gonna be the Government it’s very obvious, we will work with you, we need to work on the environment no matter who the Government is.”

To which Shaw predictably responded;

“My view is that he would have been better off backing a party that had similar ideas, like us.”

This was reiterated for the NZ Herald;

Shaw said he would not being making contact with National, but he would take a call from National leader Bill English.

“It’s my responsibility to do so. And we’ll have to see what they’ve got to say. But one of the things I will be saying in return is ‘You know we campaigned on a change of government and you know what was in our manifesto … and how incongruous that is to what the National Party policy programme is’.”

On 25 September, right-wing political commentator and mischief-maker, Matthew Hooton, again raised the proposal for a National-Green coalition on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel;

“And then there’s the other one, of course, there’s the National-Green option, which is  favoured by National party members… it’s an interesting one…”

On the same day, on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint, former PM Jim Bolger repeated the National-Green coalition possibility to host, John Campbell;

“…The Greens might be quietly reflecting on whether they, unique in the world as a Green party, should only link themselves to left-wing politics. Whereas  the environment is neither left wing or right wing, frankly. The environment is the environment, it’s Mother Earth we’re talking about.

And I just wonder whether or not they won’t reflect on towards the National government that signed up to the Paris Climate Accords and have set in place the process to reach  the goals that was set out there.

So I’d imagine in a quiet back room the Greens might be saying, ‘Why? Why are we saying we can only go with one party?’, eg the Labour party, and you might watch this space if I was you, John.”

Bolger’s hippy-like ‘Mother Earth’ musings was followed by Tracy Watkins. Writing for Fairfax media on 25/26 September, she still laboured under the impression that a National-Green coalition was a real ‘thing’;

Like Winston Peters, the Greens could theoretically hold the balance of power, after National made it clear it is more than willing to talk turkey with the minor party.

[…]  Some senior Nats consider a deal with the Greens more desirable than a NZ First deal – the Green’s environmental platform is seen within National as something it could accommodate, particularly after the clobbering it took over clean water during the election campaign.

That highlighted to National that its credibility on environmental issues and New Zealand’s 100 per cent pure brand needs some serious work – and a Greens deal would be a simple way to enhance its environmental credentials.

There is also recognition that a deal with the Greens would be more forward looking and more likely to ride the mood for change than a deal with the NZ First, whose policies are more backward looking.

Peter Dunne followed on Radio NZ’s Morning Report on 27 September, with his call for a National-Green coalition;

“The best option in my view … is for the Greens to be very bold, work out that they could make significant changes on climate change policy, and go with National.”

Note that this suggestion came from Peter Dunne, who recently chucked in his own political career rather than facing  Labour’s Greg O’Connor at the ballot box.

Where was Dunne’s own boldness?

What happened to his own United Future Party?

Even a chat-show’s sports commentator put his two cents worth in. The AM Show’s Mark Richardson suddenly decided that commentating on grown men kicking balls around wet paddocks wasn’t enough of a challenge for him. Duncan Garner decided to prompt Richardson to offer the public his  suddenly new-found “political expertise”.

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Mark Richardson, Sports Presenter (now moonlighting as a political pundit)

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Richardson complied, and sagely advised;

AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson is dipping his toe into the political pool again, this time splashing his ideas at the leader of the Green Party.

Introduced by his colleague Duncan Garner as a “political expert”, who has “decided that you [Green Party leader James Shaw] should listen to him and this is what he wants to say.”

The cricketer-turned-broadcaster challenged Shaw to form a coalition government with National, following the stalemate reached in Saturday’s election.

I just want to say James,” said Richardson, directly to camera, “be a risk taker and back yourself, but not only back yourself, back that band of hopeful young administrators you take with them (sic),” he said.

How ‘delightful’ that National supporters and other sundry right-wingers are encouraging the Greens to be “bold”  and “risk takers”. After all, if such an unlikely coalition were to eventuate, the damage wreaked upon the Green Party wouldn’t impact one iota on the likes of Morgan, Hooton, Bolger, Dunne, Richardson, et al. But it sure as hell would destroy the Greens and eliminate the Labour Party’s only reliable potential coalition partner.

Game over for the Left.

So no surprise that a whole bunch of people on the Right and media have suddenly focused on the Green Party;

  • For media pundits, they are suffering from boredom and a debilitating psychological effect called ‘lackofheadline-itis’. With coalition negotiations unlikely to commence until Special Votes have been counted and announced on 7 October, manufacturing “news” by positing a fantasy fairy tale of the Greens linking up with National creates headlines. It’s as close to fake news as we’ll get with the msm.
  • For National Party supporters – such as AM Show sports commentator Mark Richardson (see above) – such a deal with the Green Party would lend legitimacy to a fourth term National government. Make no mistake, the Green Party is a powerful brand, and the Nats want it. Badly.
  • For the National government, should any  such a coalition eventuate, the kudos for any environmental gains would inevitably be snapped for themselves, as it did with the home insulation deal it made with the Green Party in 2009;

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Success for that  programme was claimed solely by the Nats;

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But as the fate of small parties such as ACT, United Future/Peter Dunne, and the Maori Party demonstrated with crystal clarity, snuggling up close to the National Party goliath is akin to trying to cuddle up to a ravenous lion. It will not end well.

Just ask Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox.

So National would benefit two-fold.

By contrast, it is unclear what gain (if any) the Greens could hope to achieve.

National and sundry right-wing commentators should knock off trying to use the Green Party as pawns in any negotiations with NZ First. Trying to use the Green Party as “leverage” will simply not work. The Green Party refuses to be anybody’s “lever”.

Just to be absolutely clear – because evidently, having it in writing, in black and white, on the Green Party website – is insufficient for some people;

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Matthew Hooton can’t count

Also on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon political panel on 25 September, right-wing political commentator,  Matthew Hooton, stated that National’s vote on Saturday was better than previous elections;

“Admittedly partly as a result of the decline of the Conservative Party, National has won more votes, got a higher proportion of the vote than it did in 2014 and 2008…”

It is unclear what Hooton has based that assumption on, as his statement is contradicted by the Provisional Results from the Electoral Commission.

According to the Commission’s website, the National Party gained the followed percentage and individual votes for 2008, 2014, and 2017;

Election Year Party
Votes
%
Votes
2008 1,053,398 44.93%
2014 1,131,501 47.04%
2017* 998,813 46.0%

(* Preliminary results)

The numbers are clear; National’s vote has fallen by 132,000 and their percentage of the Party Vote has fallen by over one percentage point from 2014. (And whilst National’s Party vote percentage was higher this year than 2008 – they still suffered a drop in actual votes by 54,585.

Even the demise of Colin Craig’s Conservative Party (aka, CCCP) failed to lift National’s poll results.

Whichever way you look at it, the tide is beginning to ebb on National’s fortunes.

Stuart Nash wins Napier outright

Following the 2014 General Election, I pointed out that Stuart Nash’s win in the Napier seat was due more to Garth McVicar splitting the right-wing vote, allowing Labour to slip through to victory. As I reported on 26 September, 2014;

Nash did not “win” Napier.

The National candidate, Wayne Walford lost the electorate when Garth McVicar from the Conservative Party split the right wing vote in the electorate. Remember; electorate contests are still fought using First Past the Post – not by any  proportionality or preferential voting.

The actual results were;

McVICAR, Garth: (Conservatives) 7,135

NASH, Stuart: (Labour) 14,041

WALFORD, Wayne: (National) 10,308

Add McVicar’s 7,135 to Walford’s figures, and the combined 17,443 would have trounced Nash easily.

On Election Night 2017, Stuart Nash did not had the benefit of a popular Conservative Party candidate splitting the right-wing vote. Instead, he won the seat outright;

Candidate
 Stuart Nash (L)
18,407*
 David Elliott (N)
14,159*
 Laurence Day (CCCP)
200*

* Figures provisional.

 

Not only did Nash retain his overall majority, but McVicar’s 7,135 votes from 2014 appears to have been evenly split between Nash and Elliott.

This time, Nash can legitimately assert that he won the Napier seat without vote-splitting creating an artificial majority, as happened three years ago.

Winston Peters waiting for Special Votes

It’s not often that I agree with NZ First leader, Winston Peters. But on 27 September he told the media;

“This will be the last press conference I am going to hold until after the 7th of October… I can’t tell you what we are going to do until we have seen all the facts.

I can’t talk to you until I know what the 384,000 people who have cast their vote said… please don’t write the kind of thing saying someone has moral authority…we are not first past the post here.”

He’s right.

Until Special Votes are counted, making statements to the media is an exercise in futility. It would be pandering more to the dictates of the 24-hour news cycle rather than offering anything constructive to the public.

At this point the media will have to exercise patience and simply accept that until Special Votes are counted, nothing can (or should) happen.

The democratic process cannot; must not; should not, revolve around the 24-hour news cycle.

The Curious resignation of  Wayne Eagleson

Something very, very curious has transpired in the dark coridors of power in the Beehive. The Prime Minister’s Number 2, right-hand man, Wayne Eagleson  announced his resignation on 25 September.

Eagleson was one of several high-ranking National figures who were informed that Winston Peters had received a superannuation overpayment.

On 26 September, both English and Eagleson vigorously denied leaking – or having knowledge of who might have leaked – information on Peters’ superannuation overpayments;

It didn’t come from the National Party.” – Wayne Eagleson

No, not all. I take people by their word that no action was taken by my staff in making that information public.” – Bill English

Now, aside from the fact that Bill English has already shown himself willing and capable of telling lies, by repeating Steven Joyce’s fabrications over Labour’s “$11.7 billion hole” and “increased personal taxes”, there remain an interesting question regarding the statements made by the Prime Minister and Wayne Eagleson.

Namely this: How can either English or Eagleson know with absolute certainty that the leaking of Peters’ personal superannuation details did not come from someone/anyone connected to the National Party?

If they truly  know – with 100% certainty – that no one in the National Party leaked the information; how do they know this? How is that possible?

In fact, it is not  possible.

In that respect, both English and Eagleson are covering up the possibility that the leak emanated from someone within the National party or government.

And if both men are willing to take that small step to cover-up the merest possibility of an internal National Party leak… would it be too much of a stretch to assume that one or both are fully aware of who the leaker is?

Why did Eagleson resign – especially at this very crucial time of coalition negotiations?

And what does Winston Peters know of why Eagleson resigned?

One salient fact fact is indisputable: someone did leak that information. The question is not who was responsible – but who else knew who was responsible.

Wayne Eagleson knows more than he is letting on, as does Bill English.

Winston Peters has had his ‘utu’.

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References

Mediaworks:  A phone call between National and the Greens would be a short one

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon Political Panel – 25.9.2017 (alt.link)

Radio NZ:  Former PM Jim Bolger on how to deal with Winston Peters (alt.link)

NZ Herald:  Green Party leader James Shaw rules out contacting National

Fairfax media:  The Green Party also hold the balance of power, but they don’t seem to want it

Radio NZ: Morning Report –  Dunne predicts ‘blood on the floor’

Fairfax media:  Mark Richardson declares himself as a National supporter, does that matter?

NBR: Govt launches ‘Warm Up NZ’ programmed

National Party:  10 ways National is helping families get ahead

Green Party:  How you vote has never been so important

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2011 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2008 General Election Official Results

Electoral Commission: Preliminary results for the 2017 General Election

Electoral Commission: 2014 Election Results – Napier (Alt.link: Wikipedia – Election Results – Napier)

Electoral Commission: 2017 Election Results – Napier (Provisional)

Otago Daily Times:  Peters will wait for special vote count

Mediaworks:  Bill English’s chief of staff quits – but wants NZ First deal first

Radio NZ:  Timeline – Winston Peters’ superannuation overpayments saga

Mediaworks:  As it happened – Parties prepare for election negotiations

Other Blogs

The Standard: How a National/Green coalition could work

Previous related blogposts

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (tahi)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rua)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (toru)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (wha)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rima)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (ono)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (whitu)

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (waru)

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Good call Frank;

    Gareth Morgan is simply another National Party “hopeful clingon as Bob Jones was”

    “he made the bizarre comment that the Greens should join with National in a formal coalition;”

  2. “Namely this: How can either English or Eagleson know with absolute certainty that the leaking of Peters’ personal superannuation details did not come from someone/anyone connected to the National Party?

    If they truly do not know – with 100% certainty – that no one in the National Party leaked the information; how do they know this? How is that possible? In fact, it is not possible.

    In that respect, both English and Eagleson are covering up the possibility that the leak emanated from someone within the National party or government.

    And if both men are willing to take that small step to cover-up the merest possibility of an internal National Party leak… would it be too much of a stretch to assume that one or both are fully aware of who the leaker is?

    Why did Eagleson resign – especially at this very crucial time of coalition negotiations?

    And what does Winston Peters know of why Eagleson resigned?

    One salient fact fact is indisputable: someone did leak that information. The question is not who was responsible – but who else knew who was responsible.

    Wayne Eagleson knows more than he is letting on, as does Bill English.

    Winston Peters has had his ‘utu’.”

    Bloody good call again there frank,

    As there was a very ‘concerted’ effort to topple Winston/NZ First before voting day.

    By also the fact that the media was also speading ‘malicious’ suggestions that Winston may have had a ‘medical’ issue’!!!!

    So collectively all this was designed to undermine NZ First as a classic case again of National indulging again in pure ‘dirty poitics’.

    • Indeed, CG. On this occasion I find myself having some sympathy with Peters. The Nats’ Dirty Tricks machine tried their best to destroy him and I suspect he knows full well who was responsible.

      It’s a shame the public isn’t aware of what transpired. And even if it did become public knowledge, most probably wouldn’t care.

  3. If National wants to go green why doesn’t it do that itself? The answer is because it doesn’t want to brass off the people it works for – farming, mining, fishing industry etc. So that answers the question of why the Greens would never go into coalition with them. National would use the Green Party as the target for the ire of these groups if any green policies were introduced.

  4. Why don’t these right wing commnetators shut up about what the Greens should do. They clearly don’t understand that the Green Party is more than an environmental party. I for one would be out of there so fast should they go with National, people surely can see that the Maori party was ditched because they went with the nats. The Greens in german in the 2004 or thereabouts suffered enormously and was just about destroyed by going in with the right wing. None of the commentators seem to understand that I and lots of Greens see the party as left wing and if it isn’t left wing then many of us would leave, not to join another party because there isn’t one.

    Mark Richardson is a smarmy self-serving moron, telling Shaw to back himself. You know it may come as news to Richardson but Shaw doesn’t call the shots at this level, the members, the grassroots members are what count.

  5. “Morgan, Hooton, Bolger, Dunne, Richardson, et al.”

    I doubt this lot ( with possible exception of Morgan) would vote Green in a million years so why are they so confidently telling the Greens what to do.

    As far as Morgan; his TOP party probably sliced at least 1% of the vote off the Green Party, which is fine, but doesn’t give him the right to tell the Greens what to do. Perhaps he should have supported them during the election if he is so confident about what’s best for them.

    Most of us who voted green believe human well being is intrinsic to environmental well being and National has no interest in either. For James Shaw to “be minister of climate change tomorrow” as predicted by Hooton (on TV3 on election night) is plain silly. What possible use is it being a climate change minister in a government hell bent on destroying the environment.

    These people fail completely to understand what the
    green party is all about.

    • Having watched “the Block” I witnessed a final result that was completely unfair. In my opinion,the pricing of the units was inept, and was the reason for the paucity of the return to the ripped off competitors. Richardson presided over all this and he obviously didn’t give a rats ass ! He epitomizes the indifference of the well off to inequality at all levels. So no surprises that he can’t get that people are part of the environment.What is it about hitting a ball with a stick that qualifies Richardson to become a political pundit ??

  6. The number of nats promoting the vanishingly improbable event of the Greens joining them might suggest that they have little hope of doing a deal with Winston.
    D J S

  7. Yes, absolutely Frank.

    And don’t forget the plethora of lies the Dipton Double Dipper made over the Todd Barcly affair – what? Forgotten that already?

    It seems the NZ voting public have major memory malfunctions.

    These right wing turds lie more than they tell the truth.

  8. The reason right wingers are calling for the Greens to go into coalition with the Natz is because they know it will destroy the Green Party.

  9. Excellent summation Frank. I think you’ve nailed many of the critical elements, including the fate of the Greens should they be foolish enough to join with the Nats. As others have pointed out, none of those right wing commentators voted green so why should we listen to them?

  10. Of course a Nat-Green coalition would destroy the Green Party.

    Isn’t that the entire point of this machiavellian scheme concocted by right-wing rumour-mongers and a compliant media, the latter being desperate for headlines!!

  11. I am not one bit surprised, this is smart tactical undermining that is happening here. The National Party knows full well, that there are some members and MPs within the Green Party, who would be open to work with National. This is some form of wedge politics, I guess, drive a wedge between the left leaning Greens and those that are the now often more vocal centrists.

    The Greens face a scenario as Labour faced under the leadership of David Cunliffe, only are the cards stacked a bit more differently. James Shaw maybe in between a rock and a hard place, after the loss of Metiria Turei. He had to mend the cracks after two senior former Green MPs stood up and criticised Meteria for her admissions of ‘fraud’, and for not fronting up with all the details about her living arrangements when on a benefit.

    Those two were already acting upon pressure that came from National and the largely ‘centrist’ MSM, so there was a wedge being driven then, between Green MPs. All the Nats need is say three to four MPs to back them to form a new government.

    The Greens would most likely split if put in a situation where some may decide to talk with National and then go into bed with them. Such commentators and consultants as Matthew Hooton know what they are doing, splitting the Greens would be a masterstroke in their views. The Greens wold be toast forever, after such a split, and National would have enough members in Parliament to get its way and to stay in government.

    So that is what is going on, the Greens, and with that an already somewhat pro business James Shaw, would be very well advised, not to fall for the bait. NOPE should be a firm answer, no thanks, Bill, we have made clear where our hearts and minds are.

    Saying all this, it is a worry, how Labour are now softening on some major policy announcements they made during the campaign. Can we in future rely on anything that party politicians tell us about policy, and bottom lines? I guess no.

  12. The Nats are obviously trying to play the Greens off against NZ First with the co-operation of right-wing activists and a malleable , headline-hungry mainstream media.

    There is no way the Greens could form a coalition with National. It would be their death warrant, a-la Maori Party.

  13. Oh FFS, now it’s being discussed on Jim Mora’s 4-5 Panel on RNZ about the “growing calls for a ‘Teal’ Coalition”!?!?!

    This is what happens when the media have no headlines to report; they make it up!

  14. National just about f&%k$d NZF when they went into Coalition with them in 1996. I don’t hold much hope for the future of the Greens if they jumped into the viper pit with National, Joyce, Bennett, Collins etc would have a feast on their unwary prey ?

  15. “How ‘delightful’ that National supporters and other sundry right-wingers are encouraging the Greens to be ‘bold’ and ‘risk takers’.”

    Metiria Turei tried going bold and being a risk taker. These same right-wing arseholes are the reason that it didn’t work out very well for her. I think it’s highly unlikely James Shaw would fall into the same trap.

  16. By my calculations, National would have to pick up about 130,000 of the special votes to match their results last election. That’s only about 1/3 of the specials. What a profoundly disappointing result.

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