Okay, we are 12 months out from the next election, how are the Parties faring, what are their internal dynamics and what possible strategies will they adopt?
What issues will shape the debate and what curveballs might trip them up?
Here is the political landscape going into Election 2020.
The Political Parties:
Issues: Soaring in the polls like no other Opposition Party ever, National has deep internal challenges. Judith Collins is hungry for power and her recent full blown climate denial and pending book is the momentum for her last push for Leader while the corporate elite who coalesced around Key have anointed Christopher Luxon as their chosen one. Simon’s 51% disapproval rate will be a juggling act, on the one hand National intend to enflame the angry white male vote via Facebook, on the other hand, much of the rhetoric needed to shake angry white male voter apathy will disgust the middle ground National voter.
The Blue Dragons, the Chinese faction inside National, hold an enormous amount of power and donations, as tensions with China rise, this conflict will not go away.
Strategy & Tactics: Be the biggest Party vote on election night and undermine NZ First and the Greens enough by faux supporting The Sustainability Party and Vision to bring them both under 5% and allow the MMP redistribution to do the rest to give National the Parliamentary majority.
Use a highly divisive social media campaign on Facebook to target angry white male non-voters the way Scot Morrison, Trump and Brexit did. It will be culture war memes and very little actual policy. That Simon Bridges has more social media operatives in his office than actual policy researchers shows how far this strategy has progressed.
Use ACT’s resurgence and the possibility of a Māori Party win in a Māori electorate to help it across the line if required.
Issues: Didn’t expect to win the last election, had no 100 day plan, didn’t appreciate how neoliberal the public services were and how immune they are to actually serve the interests of the most vulnerable over the interests of the rich. Made a whole bunch of promises about transformation that they haven’t managed to keep, lack of executive oversight and a Front Bench who just aren’t very good.
Strategy & Tactics: Jacinda has to use that incredible emotional intelligence she possesses and acknowledge the first term didn’t deliver, but was setting the foundations for transformation. She has to articulate an amazing 100 day vision and be prepared to threaten the public service into actually doing as they are told or else. She should seriously consider an electorate deal with NZ First so she has a level of control over the right wing of her Government and allows her to put some distance between Labour and the Greens who are sure to get more woke shrill and alienating as we get closer to the election.
Has to get Grant Robertson to loosen the budget strings for some serious infrastructure investment.
Big promise on state housing build, better wages through stronger Unions, GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and tax free for the first $20 000 are four policy ideas that Labour voters can feel in their pockets. The politics of kindness means jack shit if you are still hurting from poverty.
Issues: Even after Jacinda is falsely accused of knowing and covering up a sexual assault by right wing pundits and fourth wave feminists amounting to Labour plummeting 9.2%, the Greens only gained .1% in the most recent TV3 Poll. The Greens Middle Class Woke Identity Politics is so alienating, the only way they gain from Jacinda is if she personally announces plans to build a nuclear reactor in the Milford Sounds. The Greens over poll each election and haven’t managed to get over their dismal 6.4% 2017 election night result. Possible chance they might actually slide under 5% with TOP and The Sustainability Party both cannibalising their Party vote. An increased awareness of the woke censorship many of their online activists are examples of will become ammunition in the election.
Imagine if screen shots of secret Facebook chat rooms where prominent online Green Activists are banning people for woke thought crimes came out just before the election? That would be very, very, very damaging.
Strategy & Tactics: They must push for lowering the voting age to 16 to hold the youth vote, they must promise to have solar panels on each domestic roof by 2029 and the first $20 000 of income being tax free. The Greens have failed to make inroads on policy that matter beyond their own base and desperately need a big vision idea (solar panels on all NZ Roofs) as a means to recapture the environmental vote because being carbon free in 31 years is meaningless sophistry. Need a strong showing on Cannabis or are going to get trumped by TOPs regulated market model.
If I had just one piece of advice to the Party I’ve voted my entire adult life for, it would be this simple thought, DON’T GET INTO A FUCKING FREE SPEECH VS HATE SPEECH DEBATE YOU CLOWNS! YOU ARE SO ALIENATING YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO HELP YOURSELF BUT PROMOTE CENSORSHIP AND THE ELECTORATE WILL TURN AGAINST YOU! But obviously I’d say all of this in a nice smiley tone so that no one felt any micro-aggressions.
The Greens are in survival mode this election but have no comprehension that they are.
Issues:Serious grass roots anger at the lack of redneck nationalistic tripe progressed as policy. Winston sells his kingmaker power, but truth is that Winston hates Bridges and Bennett and would never sign a deal with them, better he drop the pretence altogether and cut an electorate deal with Labour and ensure NZ First is a viable power no matter where the Party vote goes. National are never going to give Shane Jones the billions for regional development so Labour is the only dance partner willing to tango. NZ First make most of their money from big regional fishing, tree and trucking interests, they can promote their access to the Cabinet table to those interests and keep the Party financially stable.
Strategy & Tactics: Do a lot of big talking, look like naughty rebels that Jacinda can’t tame and make some ridiculous policy announcement like only citizens should be able to vote.
Issues: Have been politically irrelevant since they haven’t managed to bring in any MPs via MMP coat-tailing, but most recent polling shows ACTs free speech fight and concessions to Gun Owners is working for them. On track to bring in an extra 2 MPs if they play the culture war card.
Strategy & Tactics: Keep hammering free speech from now until the election. Everyone with a social media feed knows that sense of self censorship and woke lynch mobs, if ACT exploit that they are 2.5%
Issues: An astroturf Party built by National not to get over 5% themselves, but drag the real Greens under 5%
Strategy & Tactics: Attack Greens relentlessly. Vernon Tava will be rewarded with some plum conservation job if National win.
Issues: Aiming for 5% with a regulated cannabis market and a far tougher line on climate change won’t be enough. They have some convoluted tax policy, but it’s real geek stuff. If TOP have any hope of getting close to 5% they need to be able to articulate policy far easier than they currently do. On the plus side, 2020 will be a protest vote year and TOP are the ultimate protest vote.
Strategy & Tactics: Communicate the ideas as if the voters are idiots. Currently TOP communicate as if the voters are all working on PhDs. As National plunge into some truly dark spaces with their Facebook advertising, TOP can pick up liberal national voters who don’t want to be associated with political advertising that borders on hate speech.
Issues: There are a plethora of issues simmering away that the Māori Party could exploit. Oranga Tamariki uplifts, mental health, prisons, lack of home ownership and poverty all impact Māori harsher and the narrative that Labour don’t deserve all the Māori electorates is pretty well established.
Strategy & Tactics: Hit Te Tai Hauāuru hard with Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and try to take one of the electorates back and bring in more MPs off the Party list via coat tailing. DO NOT tell people that you planning a deal with National, that will only remind voters of the 9 years of betrayal you previously committed. Keep saying, ‘Independent’ until the day after the election and suddenly announce your place at the table is back with National once voters can’t respond.
Issues: Going no where fast. After the Christchurch atrocity, have had to dump their anti-Muslim rhetoric. Will run as has beens before ever being.
Strategy & Tactics: Pick up the anti-5G, anti-vaxxers, anti-1080, pro gun and anti-fluoridation vote and mix with virulent anti Muslim rhetoric and hope for the best. I’d say the New Conservatives were a joke but jokes take skill and timing. These people couldn’t get laid at a monkey brothel wearing banana costumes.
Issues:Colin Craig was able to gain over 4% with his Party, so there is a Christian electorate out there, but he did that with a very benign Christianity, while Vision is a great name and logo, to date Vision has only managed to offend people with a series of social media gaffes.
Strategy & Tactics: Hannah should be standing in a Maori electorate and instead of tweeting these things should be arguing for Christian Charity and better social services. Currently unlikely to gain over 1% with this hate message stuff.
The Election Issues:
Housing: KiwiBuild is a failure, the Government must make a significant ramping up of state house builds and offer first time home owners KiwiBank backed mortgages if it has any hope of combating the housing crisis. For National, middle class property speculators want to go back to the good old days so they will be motivated to vote National.
Infrastructure: National only wants to build roads, Labour wants to invest in public transport. Neither alone will solve the chronic under-investment in infrastructure.
Poverty: Is only going up, at some point Labour have to lift welfare payments or live with the legacy of neoliberal poverty. National doesn’t give two shits about beneficiaries and will continue to use them as a whipping boy into the election. If Labour went with the first $20 000 tax free, that could help beneficiaries without lifting their welfare.
Law & Order: As the country is flooded by cartel meth that is more pure and cheaper than domestic made, a gang war could erupt at any time between the domestic organised crime and 501s. National can play tough on crime and it will work.
Cannabis reform: This will generate a lot of electoral interest as long as the referendum is clear and easy to understand. Expect TOP to make a bigger play at this than the Greens.
Climate Change: Beyond carbon free by 2050, the Government have jack shit to offer and for those that see climate change as an existential threat, this is nothing. National on the other hand are going full blown denial, this is an opportunity to really nail National to a denier cross and paint them out as anti-science. This is the issue Labour and the Greens can go full attack mode on – the science is clear and Judith’s denial is too good a target. Paint this as a war between enlightenment and an eclipse fearing medieval dark ages. The woke scream that you can never platform deniers yet NZ is one of the largest climate denial country’s in the OECD, progressives should take the debate head on!
Mass arrest culture: As climate events get more damaging, it feeds the evidence that it is an existential risk and more people will go to mass arrests and civil disobedience in far leader numbers.
Gang War: If the gang war erupts on the streets voters will freak out.
JLR nuclear options: JLR launches his last nuclear bombs at Simon in the lead up to the election manning to only weaken Simon for Judith or Luxon.
Natural disaster: A massive cyclone or earthquake could derail all best laid plans.
Judith’s Book: You only write a book because you are retiring or making an attempt at leadership. Judith ain’t retiring.
#METOO witch trial: Even today, feminist journalist Michelle Duff is still insinuating that Jacinda Ardern knew about the sexual assault and covered it up…
We can’t, and may never, know whether Ardern knew of the true nature of the allegations. I would personally like to give her the benefit of the doubt and say I don’t think she did, but the uncertainty is there.
…for fourth wave feminists, if a woman says she has been abused then that’s enough evidence. That Jacinda broke that rule is unforgivable. No outcome will be acceptable until the staffer in question is denounced by Jacinda in public despite no evidence. This corrosive character assassination of Jacinda by her so called allies hands ammunition to the Right and won’t go away.
Free Speech violence: Imagine if the banned feminist conference finds a new venue in Wellington, imagine if that enrages the woke, imagine how out of hand the protests will get, imagine if violence occurs at a free speech protest. The script writes itself. Sigh.
Hong Kong massacre: If China cracks down violently on Hong Kong, National’s allegiance to Beijing will come under immense scrutiny.
Wall Street Meltdown: 2020 is the year many economists suggest will see economic collapse, how will the NZ parties respond? Grant Robertson has kept the budget strings tight for this event, Labour will have the upper hand in providing solutions.
2020 will be the year of the protest vote. Labour have disappointed and National are only going to get uglier in terms of messaging. The woke left are alienating and the alt right are insane.
The odds are on for Jacinda gaining a second term, but it’s going to need some big vision ideas that Labour can actually produce and a willingness to throw some punches at National.