Just a personal anniversary – it is 10 years today since I moved to Wellington from Auckland.
And I still think it was a great move.
When I started in journalism I remember being told (and I can’t remember where I got this from) the best way to successfully predict an election result is to make your pick somewhere between six to nine months out – and stick to it.
If that were the case I’d be calling this for Labour but it’s been such a topsy turvey couple of months, who knows? The polls have been extraordinarily volatile and its unfortunate the least volatile of all (the UMR-NBR one) wasn’t’ able to do a last one for today.
The last one though had Labour just in front, but that was before the Brethren, Student Loans dishonesty, Bob the Dildo….
I will make only one firm prediction – the Maori Party will stay out of any coalition.
They will base this on the principle of rangitiratanga: the logic being that their party is all about rangitiratanga and it is very difficult to have that when you are a small coalition partner.
So some comments on the campaign:
Maori Party – they learned fast after the TV3 Worm debate that although a lot of their followers love Tariana she turns a lot of swinging Maori voters off. Hence the emergence of Pita Sharples.
In other words, they want this and they are not being sentimental about it. I’m picking at least three seats – Turia’s Te Tai Hauauru, Tai tokorau; and Waiariki. Possibly Tamaki Makaurau (John Tamihere’s seat) although the “mafia” allegations must be hurting Sharples there.
At least three seats – at best six.
Act – I’m still hovering on this one. The last week of Parliament saw the government stick through its changes to the Resource Management Act. Stephen Franks gave an absolutely brilliant speech on what is wrong with the Act, why some of the changes being made were good but why the whole underlying thrust of the law need to be revisited.
It was a principled speech based on a clear understanding of liberal political thought and property rights and I came away thinking ‘that’s why we need you guys there”.
I’ve also been very impressed by Heather Roy’s work on health. She has plugged away at this politically unrewarding sector and shown that this particular emperor is in danger of hypothermia. Labour has thrown billions of extra spending into health, they can’t show any improvement in services, and they can’t say why.
And anyone who makes Annette King get as ruffled as that has got something going for her.
Having said that, some Act people turn me off big time.
They need to make it in Epsom. I’m buggered if I know what’s really going on up there, so the question is a leap of faith or play it safe….
Now the Nats…if Brash wins tomorrow it will be a huge personal victory – he will have more than doubled National’s voted from the last election, and he will have made it in the teeth of a mostly hostile media.
A lot of the media just don’t get Brash’s appeal and have been too keen to write him off. They evaluate him by some unannounced checklist of what makes a successful political leader which usually boils down to a strange mix of JFK, David Lange and Helen Clark.
Voters have their own criteria. Doesn’t anyone remember how gaffe-prone Jim Bolger was? Doesn’t anyone see how unprepossessing the very successful John Howard is?
Having said that, he is going to have to get sharper. A lot of the gaffes on this campaign have been almost charming in their naiveté, but voters are much less forgiving when you do that sort of thing in government.
Both Bill English and John Key have had damn good campaigns.
Labour… I’ve called it the kakapo syndrome. They have been without natural predators for so long they’re not used to being in such a fight. They also took their position, their own cleverness and their sense of their own moral superiority as a given for too long. Tom Scott’s cartoon yesterday was a brilliant summation of this. New Zealanders don’t like governments that get up themselves, and the attitude of Helen Clark and (to a lesser extent) Michael Cullen has really grated with a lot of voters.
Will that be enough to tip them out? I don’t know. I keep hearing tales of people who have voted Labour for a long time but not this time. And it’s not tax cuts which has swung them. Its things like arrogance and political correctness.
One other thing: the photo op with Jeanette Fitzsimons keeps getting written up as a brilliant move. It wasn’t. Sure, most Labour voters see the Greens as natural coalition partners. But a significant minority view the prospect with horror. Not many, I know – but in an election this close all you need is 5% to shift and you’re in trouble. That photo op was actually a big blunder.
Winston – by their fruits shall ye know them is a damn good rule of thumb, and Winston has produced very little but noise and drama ion his 24 years in Parliament. I hope he goes. But if ever a guy was blessed with a hyper-efficient guardian angel it’s this bloke. I have a horrible suspicion he will hang on.
The Greens – in trouble. Their voters are scared of a Brash-led government and are swallowing hard and voting Labour. They are more likely to be gone than Winston is.
United Future. Safe, boring – but competent and necessary. Peter Dunne may yet build up a long lasting centre party. He’s done well.
You want a prediction? Minority, fingertip Labour government, supported on confidence and supply by the Maori Party and United Future.
Or National by a significant margin, backed by United Future.