As I began writing this the day after the general election (15/10/2023) it became apparent to the voters that NZ First will be needed in some capacity to support a presumptive National-Act government. This is, after all, what the voters wanted. Or at least it should be apparent. The last RNZ news bulletin I heard on Sunday night said National and Act would form government, Luxon is to be the next Prime Minister etc. oh but by the way NZ First might be needed, said as if it was a minor detail. ‘Tis no detail. This despite Luxon proclaiming victory at 11:20pm and Hipkins saying he had conceded to him by phone at about 10:00pm on Saturday. The suicidal ineptitude being played out on such a grand scale was infuriating and yet so predictable. What are you doing man!?
The whole campaign, indeed the whole government since Jacinda abandoned them, had been one slow act of falling on their sword, and last night Chippy pre-emptively completed the coup de grace by falling on his own sword when the battle was still going on and the other side hadn’t even won. An unprompted, unconditional surrender. Don’t try; rather a drop kick of victory straight between the uprights of defeat to bring things to a tidy conclusion. A ginger drop kick indeed. Christ what a fucking loser. Is he just thick? Not a hundred? Is he even on our side? Is he even on his own side? Is he wrestling with the demon of meth addiction? Help me understand. I couldn’t watch, I couldn’t meet his pained eyes on the three channels that were on when they all switched to this livestreamed untergang. Shameful. At least the lackadaisical Black Knight from the Holy Grail film had the dignity of having his enemy lop off each of his limbs in turn rather than cut them all off himself as he had done during the course of the entropic, doomed campaign.
He never expected he would be PM, he never quite knew how to be PM, he certainly never looked like a PM – and then, on Saturday night, he just gave up being PM, so he never should have been PM, should he. Not to overstate his gravitas, but he had looked like a maths or economics teacher bearing the visible anguish of being burdened with the role of Deputy Principal for a term. His team must have had little respect for him; the open wholesale caucus and cabinet back-biting on the wealth tax proved this. Hipkins was a mistake in retrospect, albeit obvious enough and safe enough of a choice at the time, but Labour’s logic was once you’re locked into a fatal spiral you just have to keep swimming with the current because it’s easier to die that way.
And he picked up that phone and called that ballhead, happy-clappy, Rolex-bashing wannabe John Key and cucked himself, and he got on that stage and made that speech of total surrender in between announcements about a girlfriend, for fuck’s sake, and threw the whole party, the Labour movement, more than a quarter of the electorate, the security and hopes of the beneficiaries and the working class under a fucking bus – a NActional bus that he let Winston drive. Monumentally hopeless with the emphasis on mentally and less. Would any other Labour leader have given up like that – hell no! Mike Moore faced a similar predicament on election night 1993 and gave the mother of all speeches vowing never surrender. A man famed only for pretending to like sausage rolls and absent any recognisable personality was always incapable of such heights. Goeth the hour, goeth the man.
Winston was clearly delighted at the return of NZ First being well clear of the 5% threshold early on. But – incredibly – the ferry from Russel leaves at 10pm so he was forced to make his remarks at 9:30pm that had the tone of a concession, telling reporters on the way out his offer to help in any way possible if needed was an act of patriotism. Hold your horses rodeo man and hold your tickets punters – the thing is not settled at all.
There was a weird lull – like the times in a big rugby game when the crowd become uninterested in the play and nothing is seeming to happen, a moment of atrophy. It is at these moments of inattention when things often turn decisively in a game precisely because they are unnoticed initially by the teams or the observers, fumbles occur. My twitter post records it was 9:54pm. A collective pause where people have the space to ruminate. Something didn’t seem right. It was a silent period. All three streams same thing. Odd. Too quiet. What is occurring? National began tanking, NZ First began rising, Labour started to claw back. A tidal shift in booths when reporting goes from rural to urban. I bet that was the minute when Mr Hipkins dialled Mr Luxon and proceeded to shit his pants and fuck it all up. Was he taking his own advice or Robertson’s? The moment of death. Hope was killed – sacrificed, for what?
At 9:56pm Marama was beside James on the stage at Greens party central just after this ebb waving her hands around wildly, pointing and jabbing and chopping and flinging. Her earrings – reputedly James’ gold-plated testicles – were dancing around like poi as she railed against Versailles. I kept the sound off, she is yelling, clearly. I have no intention of listening to her spectrum-level pitchy assailment that does her no favours, it is embarrassing. The closest I can think of is Judith Collins during the TV debates with Jacinda going full hysteria and gasping and flailing and cackling like the Joker played by Caesar Romero in the original TV series. Ma has those vibes when she’s in full Fuhrer mode. Not a fan. James just stands there like the modern man must, to support, to affirm, to listen – did he even get to speak? Wellington is doubtlessly a hermetic bubble blowing around the rest of the country’s cash into the pockets of the conformist dolts of the capital creating a subsidised artificiality where the Greens prosper – Wellington Central was predictable and Rongotai was a possibility, both turned Green with accompanying huge party votes.
Lots of middle-aged women competing with all the middle-aged men on all three streams for who has the biggest, chunkiest fuck off black rimmed glasses. It’s like a Kenny Everett show every time you check back the glasses get bigger. By 10:12pm it emerged that Te Pati Maori’s massive landslide electorate votes may well cause an overhang. The movement in the Maori seats is substantial and signals a break with Labour and the effective rise of the next generation. Waititi’s thumping majority – when he has barely been in the electorate (!) – foretold the mood was “unapologetically” for self-determination. Excitement. Trepidation. Rimmer arriving at 10:18pm. He would give his usual robotic speech, chastened as he has been in the last week of campaigning by sliding opinion polls coming home to roost after his speed wobbles caused by his own arrogance, race baiting and exposure of his weaker candidates. Brooke looked rouged, almost to the point of exhibiting human complexion and emotion, she was being coy but had beaten Godboy soundly to take Tamaki. A substation will have to be commissioned for Purewa cemetery so they can hook up Rob’s spinning corpse to the grid.
Hooton was the first to twig on the dicey numbers at 10:20pm. My own forecast published on The Daily Blog on Election Eve gave National-Act only a 20% chance of a clean 2 party government – every other realistic combo would definitely have NZ First included. It could well end up a hung parliament 60-60 (or 61-61). (My forecasts and scenarios following the preliminary count on the night are as below). But five minutes later a deflated, shattered looking Hipkins arrived at the Labour wake and the count on screen has Labour at 26.3% and National at 40.2%. At 10:30pm I’m on twitter begging Hipkins to wait another hour if he has to “Will Hipkins make his final bad call and chuck in the towel?” You betcha. 10:37pm He said he rang Luxon to concede. 10:49pm Hipkins stops to hug Robertson on the way out, you can’t see the dagger in Robbo’s hand but I’m very sure it’s there.
10:56pm and the ZB drongos are musing with Hooton that maybe Hipkins shouldn’t have conceded. And then, just to double down – as this dumbbell has done every time – Chumpkins starts popping up in each feed in sequence doing interviews which can only be to confirm that he has conceded, followed by awkward questions about his failings and future that he can’t and wont answer. So, why the hell is he doing these fucking interviews!? Humiliating and pointless – does he think this is somehow cathartic for himself, did Robbo advise him to do these rounds as well? My God, man, you loser, get the fuck out of our faces you ginga drop kick loser – how many times do I have to say it and you have to think it?
Luxon had left what must have been his John Key copycat mansion just before 11pm. And so Luxon, his pre-melanomic head dusted in low sheen make up, sporting a glowing near iridescent blue tie, under the lights, moving like an egg floating in a pool made his way to the microphone at the downtown wharf of Nats party central and announces victory at 11:19pm. The chant of “National’s back!” that went up had a hateful inflexion.
It was telling that on Newshub Nation the morning after the panel agreed Hipkins had to go and fast that when the host said who should take over there was silence. No names were mentioned, not Robertson, not Parker, no-one. There is no one. Bereft.
Forecasts and scenarios
My forecast at Election Eve v. Election night. Plus two Specials Scenarios – 2017 basis and my forecast scenario for the top 7 parties.
Vote +Electorates = Total MPs
Scenarios [difference from preliminary to final]
Forecast: 38% +41* = 48*
Election night: 38.95% +45 = 50
2017 Specials scenario: [-1.58%] 37.37% +45 = 48
Forecast Specials scenario: [-1.20%] 37.75% +42 = 48
Forecast: 24.9% +25 = 31
Election night: 26.90% +17 = 34
2017 Specials scenario: [+1.10%] 28.00% +17 = 36
Forecast Specials scenario: [+0.70%] 27.6% +20 = 35
Forecast: 13.5% +1 = 17
Election night: 10.77% +3 = 14
2017 Specials scenario: [+0.42%] 11.19% +3 = 14
Forecast Specials scenario: [+0.50%] 11.27% +3 = 14
Forecast: 8.5% +2 = 11
Election night: 8.98% +2 = 11
2017 Specials scenario: [-0.01] 8.97% +2 = 11
Forecast Specials scenario: [-0.30%] 8.68% +2 = 11
Forecast: 8% +nil = 10
Election night: 6.46% +nil = 8
2017 Specials scenario: [-0.31%] 6.15% +nil = 8
Forecast Specials scenario: [+0.20%] 6.66% +nil = 8
Te Pati Maori
Forecast: 3.5% +3 = 4
Election night: 2.61% +4 = 4 (overhang)
2017 Specials scenario: [+0.10%] 2.71% +4 = 4
Forecast Specials scenario: [+0.30%] 2.91% +4 = 4
Forecast: 1.5% +nil = nil
Election night: 2.07% +nil = nil
2017 Specials scenario: [+0.23%] 2.30% +nil = nil
Forecast Specials scenario: [+0.20%] 2.27% +nil = nil
Forecast: 1.1% +nil = nil
Election night: 0.15% +nil = nil
Forecast: 0.3% +nil = nil
Election night: 0.24% +nil = nil
Forecast: 0.3% =nil =nil
Election night: 0.31% +nil = nil
Forecast: all <0.3% each +nil =nil
Election night: NZLoyal 1.15%, NewZeal 0.56%, ACLP 0.39%
Total = 121 MPs*
*Nats to win Port Waikato by-election
Forecast: Nat+Act = 59 (need +2) and Lab+Grn+TPM = 52 (need +9)* /121 incl. Port Waikato by-election win by Nats.
Election night: Nat+Act = 61 (majority of 1) and Lab+Grn+TPM = 52 (need +9) /121 overhang of 1.
2017 Specials scenario: Nat+Act = 59 (need +2) and Lab+Grn+TPM = 54 (need +7) /121 overhang of 1.
Forecast Specials scenario: Nat+Act = 59 (need +2) and Lab+Grn+TPM = 53 (need +8) /120 no overhang.
See – National and Act will not have a majority based on what happened in 2017. I am using that basis because 2020 was such an outlier. My forecast scenario is adjusted 2017 data taking into account NZ First surging and Act declining. The Maori Party may pick up more party votes eliminating the overhang. The three seats with Labour short by less than a hundred should go back to them on specials but this will not affect the overall result. It all hinges on NZ First.
Is it too late for Labour to approach NZ First to work out an alternative? What is the mood of the Labour caucus? Neil Jones on RNZ this morning advised Hipkins to stay on for six months – keep taking his appalling advice some more why don’t they. Time to change.