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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Post election fallout contaminates TOP, the Maori Party and National

File this under “what were they thinking!?

The last few weeks has seen a number of activities which could be accurately described as “post-election fallout” as the particular “coalition oriented reality” that the 2017 September general election has imposed on the denizens of New Zealand’s political ecosystem (that of Labour, NZ First and the Greens as government) makes itself felt.

And in this case the fallout is coming from what could be politely termed as the three “losers” of the election, that being TOP, The Maori Party and National*. Further two of these cases can be seen as the direct result of bad decision making regarding a parties particular electoral strategy prior to the election while the third (in this case National) can be seen as laying the foundation for a similar type of catastrophe if ever implemented.

And as I am back from my blogging sabbatical lets indulge in a jolly game of seeing which of these three dumpster fire, train wrecks stacks up as the worse and how it came about.

TOP tops itself

First up is the Gareth Morgan vanity project more commonly known as The Opportunity Party (TOP).

 In the two months prior to the election I researched and wrote a whole 2000 word post on TOP which went in the dead end file because no matter how I spun it, the phrase “rich man playing at politics” kept repeating itself and there was really little else to say about Morgan treading down the same path as Kim Dotcom and “Creepy” Colin Craig, all of who did little more than spray round blobs of their wealth to purchase political media which had little more content on it than their respectively gormless faces.

Therefore it was not surprising to read last week that Morgan pulled the plug on TOP by resigning from the party, along with other senior members, as the odds of Morgan hauling his political carcass over the 5% threshold became starkly clear round about June when TOP had been in operation for six months and had little to show for it except Morgan looking down on people from billboards (and that metaphor can’t be labored enough) like a baby-boomer version of Big Brother from 1984.

And I will happily go on record in saying that my prediction that TOP would bring some “excitement” to the election campaign was way off the mark as in making said prediction I had anticipated that Morgan would not fall into the same trap as Craig and Dotcom had and actually run a political campaign seeking to worm his way into the voters’ minds with some clever and relevant means to tap into the fumes of discord that were rising from the political morass that FukYoo politics had created in NZ.

But I was wrong and to save space in this post I will sum up Moragn, and the approximately two million dollars he spent on the party and campaigning, as coming up with little more than his face on billboards, one failed legal challenge and the lingering stench in the publics mind that if elected his first act in parliament would be to enact some sort of rabid PC jihad on all felines in Aotearoa**.

Morgan talked big when he launched TOP in November 2016 and had some nice policy ideas buried away in the background but for all his comparison to Donald Trump, Morgan failed to live up to his hype, as at least Trump got elected, and all Morgan could do was flail around and squabble with party members, politicians and the public via twitter.

The key failing of this absurdly quixotic*** quest were simply Morgan deciding that he was to be the face of the party (which was the most obvious flag that this was little more than a vanity project for Morgan’s brittle ego) and not spending enough money to get ones political brand out in an already saturated marketplace (because two million dollars does not buy as much brand awareness as one might expect when you’re spending it all on creepy billboards and torpedoing your own polling by acting like a douche).

If I had the money to enter politics I might consider a run at parliament but the simple fact is I do not have the doubloons to buy myself a political party or indulge in the clearly obvious fantasy that Morgan was labouring under; that he was some sort of kiwi philosopher king writ large and come to save NZ with his unique brand of straight talking, common sense that only he could dispense.

The 2.4% TOP got in the polls is impressive per se for a first time out political party but when compared to what the Internet and Conservative parties polled in previous elections*4 it’s no big deal and clearly not any more resonant with the average voter than what Kim Dotcom or Colin Craig was peddling.

Going down with the waka

And from one wally called Morgan and a failed political party to another (albeit one that previously made it into parliament); this time Tuku Morgan, who recently quit his role as president of the Maori Party and was the architect of the parties disastrous campaign strategy in the recent election.

What was so disastrous about this strategy you ask?

Well for starters, it appeared to be completely divorced from the political reality of the Maori Party in 2017, polling well below the 5% threshold (often so close to zero as to be irrelevant) and being totally reliant on a single seat (all the others being won back by Labour in previous elections since 2005 when the party held all seven).

The kernel of Tuku's strategy was simple: get the Maori King (of who Morgan was an advisor to) to bad mouth the Labour Party in the run up to the election as a means to drum up support and arrest the hideous fall in seats and vote share*5 from their peak in 2005 when they swept all Maori seats in the wake of the foreshore & seabed issue.

So the Kings message was “screw Labour…” and nothing more which really was not the best way to endorse your own party and certainly not from an individual who, while royalty, seemed to have no real relevance to Maori in general and at best seemed to be an easily manipulated figurehead. And as I noted at the time royalty taking sides in politics is a dicey issue because if your side does not get in your out in the cold and that’s exactly what happened.

Labour now has all the Maori seats, Maori candidates and MPs and in the simple move of raising the minimum wage shortly after taking power did more for Maori, who are more affected by having to work in low paid occupations than others, in that single act than anything the Maori Party did in its nine years in the government.

Tuku Morgan should have known that the key to success in Maori politics was getting and retaining those seven Maori seats, as they conferred the political weight in parliament to make them an attractive coalition partner, and that what gave the party those seats in the first place was the wellspring of discontent that the foreshore & seabed issue had tapped into in 2005 and not the petty backbiting of a mostly irrelevant individual towards the one party which was the traditional resting place of the Maori voter.

And he should have known that if the party was to retain those seats it had to deliver meaningful change to Maori and not just political spin and empty promises which is why by the time 2017 rolled around the party had lost all but one seat and polled so low as to not count at all.

To be fair to Morgan though, by the time he came up with this bat-brained idea the party was already in dire straits under the leadership of Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox and was fatally weakened from the get go when Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia made the fateful choice to go with National in 2008.

But the party could have gone out in a better fashion than it did or even made a fighting stand if there had been an idea better suited than the extremely low budget wrestling smack talk employed by Morgan, via the Maori King, to try and make Maori care about the Maori party.

And if vanity was the downfall of Gareth Morgan and TOP it’s not too difficult to see that Tuku Morgan may not have been the best choice for the role of party president or campaign strategist as Morgan political credentials remain solely an $89 pair of boxer shorts and rhorting the public weal so it’s hard to imagine what else other than his own vanity was prompting him to think that his plan was going to work when every shred of reality would have been saying “Kahore, kahore, kahore!”

National’s imaginary friend

And last but not least in this caravan of, what my staff-sergeant would have politely referred to as, “s**t rushing to the brain” ideas, is the recent news that the National Party is looking to form a new conservative party.

Of course they denied it but after I ran this past my well placed National party contact, T, the response I got was more than enough for me to believe this rumour has some truth to it.

I do acknowledge the sheer science fiction scale to the idea that National clone itself as a means to pad out the illusion that it’s the only party of any substance on the right side of the political line after the coalition of NZ First, Labour and the Greens has made living under a coalition seem like a harmonious possibility and thereby politically and ideologically isolating National.

However what I did get from T was more than enough to indicate that while saner minds might have prevailed at obvious lunacy of the mainline suggestion, one particular comment from him (which I shan’t repeat here) was more than enough to make me think that National is no longer keen on supporting political misanthrope ACT and, with its previous “coalition partners” (Peter Dunne and the Maori Party) out of parliament, it may be feeling a bit lonesome out there in right (wing) field.

And while ACT is nothing more than a political welfare scheme for Seymour, National has to take the blame for creating the god-forsaken, Ann-Randian, one man sewer that ACT has become by their continual gifting of Epsom to ACT as the means to foster the illusion that there is something more right-wing (and all that such a term entails) than National out there in New Zealand.

So while national cloning itself is off the cards I would not be surprised if national sought to clone ACT, which could then be gifted Epsom and thus maintain the illusion that there is something further right of National in NZ politics while simultaneously getting risk of pesky (and uncontrollable) ACT.

However given the obvious rifts that do exists within the party (think: whoever keeps leaking documents and information to Nicky Hagar or to the media (ie the Todd Barclay scandal) and the fact that there is nothing inherently monolithic about right wing politics and it would be prudent for the party to figure out how to keep those issues contained rather than have them spill out in public.

The problem is that splitting the vote base is not the way to do this as creating a satellite party has all sorts of risks. The first (as noted in the media) is that the public may see it as nothing more than a front for National and as such have no faith in its independence while the second is that there is no guarantee that once you spilt the vote base that the other party will remain controllable (think how the Tea-Party antics in the US have hurt the Republicans).

So what to do?

My guess is this issue will simmer away in National until someone feels strong enough to challenge Bill English for the leadership and what will predicate that will be any significant drop in Nationals polling, which at this time, is not an issue but those numbers can’t hold forever given the fickle nature of the average NZ voter and with national in opposition it is only a matter of time before something gives.

So until that time I give Bill & the B Team a pass on this one but the fact that somewhere in National this idea got floated is enough to put them in the same category as TOP and the Maori party in this post under the “what were they thinking!?” moniker.

So who is the most contaminated?

The easy answer to that question is the Maori party, who pissed away the opportunity given to them by the seven seats they once had in parliament and who as per my old KP post Many waka, one star to guide them shows that the biggest problem in Maori politics is the Maori politicians themselves.

TOPs abysmal outcome in the election really only hurt Gareth Morgan and with the party now all but dead expect the 2.4% that voted for TOP to head back to Labour (based on all TOP voters I have met, all seem to be disgruntled Labour) while National can be forgiven for indulging in some off-the-wall thinking, post-election, but the real test for them is that they still need a solution to their obvious problems, that of needing to rejuvenate the party (but more on that in another post soon).

For all three parties, the brave, post election face they had been putting on has finally melted away in the extreme left/center radiation being given off by the coalition government and exposed what lies beneath.

*-No, ACT does not count in this sense as; a) they held onto their seat but more importantly b) they were losers to begin with in the more realistic sense of being purely in parliament at the behest of National.
**-something he doubled down on post-election when the PMs cat died and he decided that it would be the right time to make further comment on it.
***-yes I know it’s probably redundant using absurd as an adjective to quixotic but if the shoes fits…
*4-The Internet Party polled 1.42% in the 2014 election while the Conservatives polled 2.65% and 3.97% in 2011 and 2014 respectively
*5-In 2005 2.12% and 7 seats; 2008 2.39 and 4 seats; 2011 1.43% and 3 seats; 2014 1.32% and 1 seat and 2017 1.2% and zero seats!



  2. Some guy on Facebook

  3. Notice the datestamp tho

    1. Hmmm, nearly a year. Seems some people were not buying right from the start.

    2. Some people, but not you IIRC